The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sometimes I can't feel my feelings

Sometimes I can't feel my feelings for Husband and it scares me. The Junky's Wife captured my fear when she said she's "afraid of finding that switch, finding that it's turned to "OFF." This man has meant the world to me, and the idea that I could stop loving, stop caring, stop being invested in participating in a future with him is terrifying."

I realized today that some of the intense waves of sadness I've been feeling over the past two days have a lot to do with that fear. Not finding out something about how Husband feels about me, but finding out something about how I feel about him.

I think I still love him. Sometimes I feel least I think I have. But right now I can't feel the kind of love I used to feel. I'm sort of numb with regard to Husband, and it makes me deeply sad. And it's not that he's not trying. But there is no undoing what has been done. The only way through is through. I am so tired of feeling like my life is so messed up.

The only path I see that offers anything I want is the spiritual path. More meditating, yoga, reading, prayer (still wondering if I can do that,) breathing. Not running away. Not drinking. Not too much sugar. Feeling whatever there is to feel.

The only thing I'm going to allow myself when the feelings are too overwhelming is exercise. I haven't been exercising for the past week and I really feel it.

That's what I'm going to do right now.

More emotions coming to the surface

Today we took a trip to Legoland with Son and his best friend and his friend's parents. It was a fun day, and I was feeling generally good. But tonight in the shower I found myself wondering how I can know what it is to be loved when the person who says they love you hurts you so much.

Usually when you're hurt this badly by your partner, the ultimate message is something along the lines of "I don't feel the same way about you I used to." That is clearer to me. But Husband has caused this pain, and yet is telling me that he still loves me as much, and is more present to it than before even. So is this intense pain part of what love is? I'm confused. How does he really feel about me? How do I feel about him? How do I feel about myself? I'm still afraid that someday he won't want me anymore. That sounds so horribly pathetic. But what I mean is that I'm scared that I'll let myself feel something for him again only to be hurt like this again. I'm also afraid that love really is there and I won't be able to get past our past and I'll miss out on the chance to have that relationship because I'm so fucked up by the confusion of it all.

I think the answer lies in meditation, more reading, talking...maybe prayer if I can figure out how to do that.

Some moments I feel so sane and clear, and others I feel so crazy and confused.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Reading about fear has helped

After a lot of anguish last night, I woke this morning feeling better. I'd started reading and article in the Shambala Sun called Fear and Fearlessness: What the Buddhists Teach.

The whole article gives me a lot to think about, but one passage in particular stood out for me last night:

"Fear arises in the moment you ask yourself, what is this all about? Inevitably, it has nothing to do with right now. It has to do with the future, but the future doesn't exist. It hasn't happened yet. The past doesn't exist. It has already happened. The only thing you've got is what's right here, right now. And coming home to the moment makes all the difference in the world in how you deal with fear." - John Daido Loori, Roshi

The author goes on to say, "You can't develop fearlessness - really, compassionate, generous fearlessness - without fear. Fearlessness is born of fear."

I'm more convinced than ever that I've unwittingly set off on a spiritual journey, and that Husband is a teacher for me. Not that he's talking and I'm listening; but he's being and that is providing an opportunity for an awakening for me. I am co-existing with fear and pain beyond anything I've experienced before, and it's taking me to places I've never been. If I find peace and serenity as I face this rather than turn away, that will be a strength I never knew I was missing, nor imagined I'd possess. I think I'm beginning to have a relationship with myself, or maybe, more accurately, with everything, that I never knew was possible.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Where does the pain come from?

It feel like things are improving overall, and yet I'm still getting hit with bouts of pain. And it seems like pain I should have experienced already somehow, but it's hitting with a force that is surprising.

Drinking too much for the last couple nights in a row made me realize that there is something trying to come to the surface. While numbing it would feel better, I don't want to go down that path. So no more drinking.

What's coming up is that I'm really sad and angry because I don't see how I can ever be close to husband in the same way again after he's lied to me. And I'm sad because I used to feel so good about the model our relationship was for our son. Lots of hugs and kisses, respect, sharing responsibility, lots of laughing and enjoying each other. I don't see how our relationship can be deep and spontaneous again when I feel so guarded. And it's sad for me that our son might lose that.

How do you get past lies? How do you build trust with someone who has lied to you for years? I could leave this relationship hoping for something better, but is that just running away from the reality of being an adult? The reality that nobody is perfect, that everybody has it within them to hurt you.

Husband is sick, and his sickness makes him a self-aggrandizing asshole who could lie to his wife. He's also loving, tender, a great father, a great partner, funny, smart, generous...the list of his qualities that I appreciate is long. He is not mentally or physically abusive. He is in recovery, working his programs. But I'm afraid of him...that he's going to break my heart again. That the asshole part of him is going to build up resentments, start giving him reasons why he deserves to do this thing or that thing. Just this, to make himself feel better. Then when that doesn't explode in his face, maybe just a little more, and then maybe cross another line and on and on. I think finding out that he was thinking about looking at porn online really made me realize how this is never really going to be gone, just managed. For the rest of our lives together.

I don't know if I have the energy, and I'm afraid of who I might become if I do, and afraid that I'm missing a major growth opportunity if I don't face this now.

No clarity whatsoever in this haze of sobriety I've resigned myself to.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Higher power speaking again

Online looking for rituals for a new year, I came across this in an article on New Year's Rituals for Families by Meg Cox:

"In Scotland," explains Jim Sanford of Warren, Vt., "they say the first person to cross your threshold at the new year should be a dark, handsome young man in a kilt or black tie, and he brings four gifts: coal, to symbolize warmth; a black bun for healthy food; a bottle of Scotch whiskey for prosperity; and then some salt, to remind you that all the good things of life don't come without sadness."

I was looking for a way to put closure on the pain and disappointment of this year and along came my reminder that there is no closure on sadness. Like joy, love, peace and happiness, loss, grief and sadness are all part of life, and to expect otherwise is to be naive. Which I've been for so long I think. It's good to be growing.

On a positive note...a sign of my growth

When I was confronting Husband about his Internet activity yesterday I said something mean like, "Why don't you just go and get a job at fucking Burger King if you need to keep yourself busy?!"

So angry he could barely get the words out, he sputtered, "Judgement is the enemy of honesty!" My mind went, "Huh?" but I think I retreated a bit. We talked more and I told him I was scared and angry and needed time to be those things and that I'd be understanding later. He agreed.

But after some thinking time I realized that his retort had piqued my spidey sense because it put the responsibility for his honesty on me! So I told him later that evening what I thought about that statement, and that I refused to accept that responsibility. "What I think is that cowardice is the enemy of honesty," I said. Able to be more rational now that he was out of his immediate reaction to conflict and to the possibility of losing me, he apologized and said I had every right to reject responsibility for his honesty.

So it's good. Some shit just ain't gonna work on me anymore. That's progress.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

There is still grief

More Christmas shopping today - bricks and mortar instead of online. A reaction to yesterday? I don't know.

Anyway, I decided to buy myself Melody Beattie's book The Grief Club because I'd had some inkling that I was still holding onto unresolved grief.

I read the sentence, "Yeah, it really does hurt to watch alcohol destroy our love." and I break down sobbing. (On my trusty treadmill again, thank god.) Grief washes over me as I realize we're dealing with addictions and compulsions that do have that power to destroy - even something that feels as profound and deep and basic to life as the love we've shared.

Beattie's book deals not just with grief from loss of a loved one, but grief from life's major losses. I'm on chapter 2 and so far it resonates with the journey I'm on.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yes, I really live with a sex addict

What happened today re-presenced me to the confusion, anger and pain that is still close to the surface for me.

Husband's version of what happened is that when he heard he wasn't getting a job he interviewed for, his impulses kicked in. "I thought I'd look at some pictures and jack off and then I'd feel better. But then I didn't do it."

And the fact is, he didn't do anything he promised he wouldn't do. Looking at porn is not in his inner circle. He didn't break his SAA abstinence. But finding the evidence of what he had done scared me. He's not exactly down the path of sexual compulsion, but he's at the beginning of it. And he hasn't gone near that path for months now.

So now what? Do I live the rest of my life with a bag packed just in case? Allow myself to rebuild trust and love...but hold back just a little bit of both. Keep part of myself walled off from Husband like a bit of sourdough starter in case I have to start over again? That's not the relationship I want. On the other hand, if I find another partner, one with whom I don't share a past of lies and betrayal, does that necessarily mean things will be better? I know enough now not to believe that. Husband is fucked up, but he truly loves me. He truly cares about and for me. He's a great father to our son, a great partner in so many ways.

I know I'm supposed to regard Husbands compulsion as a disease. And I wouldn't leave him if he were diagnosed with a serious illness. And if he were, my life would be forever different just as it is now that I've found out about his sexual compulsion (although my past would likely have stayed relatively intact.) But I struggle. Truthfully, I'm not feeling all that noble. However, as I sit here and think about it I realize it's not so much the disease that's hard to live with, but the unknown. But we all live with the unknown. I just happen to be married to the embodiment of that.

The addict among us

Just sat down to do some Christmas shopping on the computer when I looked up at the toolbar to see the name Ashley somebody in the search field.

My heart stops for a moment. I know I'm not searching for the Ashleys of the world. I click the search button to see where Google will take me. For those of you who don't know, Ashley is a porn star.

So I ask Husband about this immediately, but I already know. We've had a visit from his addict. He says he didn't actually look at anything. (Sounds familiar to my ear now.) Says he didn't go near any inner circle behaviors. Etc... Fine. Good. No fucking other women, no rubbing up against strippers or getting those blow job "massages." Just looking at porn on the internet like any other normal American male.

But I don't know what's normal any more. I don't know what I should accept. I accepted too much for too long. I know I can't control him, and I don't want to. But I don't want to go down that slippery slope back to those things I definitely know are not normal.

I'm scared and angry right now.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Learning from dogs

Reach out to touch him
He is the dog that bites you
What does your heart do?

Reach out to touch him
He is the dog that licks you
What does your heart do?

This dog will teach you
That there is only one dog
What does your heart do?

December 15, 2007 7:08 PM

Friday, December 14, 2007


So I took the test and I'm having my surge. I should ovulate within the next 24 to 48 hours if my 43 year old body will cooperate.

I took it today when I got home from work. I texted Husband: "I'm ovulating!" Went out back to hit the treadmill. Read Eat, Pray, Love. I'm getting close to the end. A little disappointed to see that it's come back to men.

Get off the treadmill and go inside to say goodnight to Son. Husband is reading to him. Son is on the brink of sleep. I lay down beside him. He opens his eyes and grabs my head. Husband reads some more. A Scooby Doo book. Son begins to snore lightly.

It's Friday night. I ask what Husband wants to do. I know part of the answer will be making love because we've been trying for another baby for...a year or two now? I can't remember. Anyway...he suggests that we go downstairs, have some wine, watch Project Runway and go to bed. But I don't want television. And I don't want wine. That's fine, he says. But I want something. I want something that will distract me from the thoughts I have when we make love. So I can make love with abandon, and hopefully make this baby we both want so much. Make love and be present instead of bing distracted by thoughts of him with other women. And I realize that I feel like I need a scotch or a chocolate vodka to distract me from those thoughts I usually have when we make love. Those other women, what they might have done, him kissing them, having sex with them, how did he touch them, what did he think while he was going down on them, were they beautiful, flat stomachs and full breasts, what did he think about when he was fucking them, where was I.

After a trip to two stores I have that chocolate vodka. And I'm enjoying the distraction from the feelings I don't want to have. I'm ready to have fun without the pain. Pathetic. Dangerous. But I'm a mother. I will be responsible. I won't let my son down. And eventually I'll have the serenity, the peace that will get me through these moments better than chocolate vodka. But for now, it's the easy way out. And yet I think to myself, what am I doing? Tomorrow is a new day.

The Shield

I haven't been able to escape the feeling that I've withdrawn in some small yet fundamental way from Husband, and this morning I realized why.

Things have been as good as I guess they can get given the events of the past 6 months. Husband is actively in recovery, growing, knowing himself better, discovering the power of spirituality, reaching out, taking risks, getting happier and more self aware, feeling more deeply connected to me. He expresses love in many ways - words, touch, flowers, cooking, caring, listening, encouraging, supporting, etc. Great, right?

I used to feel like we were combined on an energy level. Like our auras (or something) mingled and danced together whenever we were near each other, whenever I heard his voice, whenever I thought of him. Not that we were one, so much as that we were profoundly co-mingled. And when he said "I love you," when I saw him, when we touched, I'd feel loving energy spread warmly through my body.

That isn't so anymore. I feel totally and completely separate. Disconnected.

And I've been wondering what's wrong with me that everything seems to be going so merrily in the right direction and yet I have a persistent feeling of distance from him. It's not a canyon, but but a quantum gap - almost imperceptible yet profound. It's not that I don't love him. It's not that I want something or someone else. It's not that I think he's lying to me now. It's my body. My body doesn't believe him. My intellect understands that he is a different person now, but my molecules aren't taking any chances. Darwinian survival instincts at work. Beautiful and sad at the same time.

What I realized this morning is that when he lied to me, that betrayal not only destroyed something that was there (trust); it also created something that wasn't there before (a strong shield that's protecting my cells from the perceived threat of annihilation.) Right now it's easier for me to imagine having that co-mingled, energy-tendrils-caressing-and-exploring-each-other feeling with someone I just met than with Husband because a new person would not have to contend with The Shield.

So it's around this Shield that my work needs to be done if I want to have the deep connection as I had before with Husband. It's around this Shield where the ground is most fertile for my own growth. So now what? Is this where I ask my higher power for some help?

Meditate and pray...if I don't unearth answers, at least I'll be treading the path of peace.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Your needs? I don't really care

This morning I was feeling the way I've been feeling for a while. Out of sorts in a grumpy, distant way. I don't remember what we were talking about, but Husband said, "I love you." I replied that I need to hear that. "I need as much love and attention as I can get right now."

He thought about it for a moment, and then said, "I do too." I looked over at him, and he was sitting there looking kid of mad (my interpretation.) So I went over and gave him a kiss and a hug. He immediately brightened up. I don't know if he was brooding waiting for that response from me (unlikely, I think, given how he's been lately) or if he was just having some painful gas. Either way, after I applied the fix he responded with a happy smile and hugs.

As the morning progressed I was feeling more dissatisfied and distant. In the car on my way to work I realized why. When I told him what I needed, I didn't want to hear his needs in response. I wanted to hear him say, "I know that I'm the person who taught you that you can never again have the level of trust you had in me with anyone. I know I'm the one who had sex with prostitutes and lied to you about it for years. I know I'm the one who has given you every reason in the world to doubt me. And for the rest of my life, because of what I've done, I'm not just going to give you 100%. I'm going to give you 200%. Every day for the rest of my life my first thought upon waking is going to be "how can I make my wife feel safe, special and loved?" I will do everything in my power to make you feel extra loved and extra secure because I am the one who helped you realized how alone you truly are in this world, how you must, as an adult, be responsible for protecting yourself and never make the mistake of passing any part of that responsibility to anybody else. Those lessons are valuable, but I know that because they came from me, you will always have a kernel of fear. You will always be guarded with me in some small way, like one would be guarded with a beloved animal that bit her. You will know that with the love comes the potential for being bitten and that you can never again have the one without the other if you choose me. I know all of this, and because of this I'm committed to making you feel extra special and extra loved every day for the rest of my life."

That's what I wanted to hear.

I know there's freaky codependency mixed in there. But that's what I want. Because I got less than 100% of what I was promised and lead to believe I was getting for so many years, now I want more. More than 100%. That's how I feel right now.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Checking my thinking

Practiced checking my thinking today. One friend questioned my reaction to Husband quitting his job. I began to worry that I was being too nice about it when I should be angry instead. But I really didn't think I felt angry. I didn't want Husband to suffer just because I had suffered.

So I called another friend to get her input. She said she didn't think I was making myself a door mat - that I wasn't sacrificing my own happiness for Husband's. She saw us as two people trying to make our lives together better. That's how it felt to me, and it was good to find out that at least one person I trust didn't think I was out of my mind. (I trust my other friend, too, which is why I began to worry so much.)

It's not a clear and easy path, especially when I now have reason to question what I think I know after living ignorantly inside lies for several years.

Just as I have to learn to trust Husband again, I need to learn to trust myself. I think that will come out of support from my community of friends and support groups and therapists. I guess it also takes a village to help life make sense sometimes.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Sad for the days

Chocolate vodka has gotten me to a place where I see that I am sad for the days when I thought I knew what it meant when Husband said "I love you."

Sad for the days when I thought I understood the world.

But I'm also happy for the new understanding I have.

I am responsible for myself. I can face the things that scare me and live.

I can be okay no matter what.

But I am still sad for those days. Those simple days when I felt so absolutely loved and cared for and profoundly connected with another human being.

I am sad for the part of me that no longer believes I can be that free again. I am sad for the wall that will never be down completely without conscious choice.

I am sad for the loss of the part of me that was able to trust like a child.

Perhaps it's inevitable. Perhaps it's coming way too late for the adult I should be. I don't care. I miss that part of myself. And I miss that feeling.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

He came home last night

Despite my fears, Husband continues to show by his actions that he is becoming a different person.

I was at Sophia's last night for our weekly visit when he called to tell me he'd gone to a friend's birthday celebration at a restaurant downtown. It was 11pm, and he called because I said I'd be home around 11 and he wanted to let me know where he was. He said he'd be leaving in about half an hour.

I'd heard that before, but in the past half hours often turned to hours when he couldn't bear to bring himself to leave before the party/event/evening ended in case something great happened. Some once-in-a-lifetime experience that was not to be missed. And then he'd have to stop at a drive through window on the way home (a ritual unbeknownst to me until recently.) So he was often later than he said he would be.

And this particular day we'd talked about making love at night, so I was acutely aware that he might be choosing to stay out rather than come home to me.

So I decided to assume he'd be late, take the edge off with a scotch on the rocks, and then meditate and go to bed. I get that scotch and meditation are a crazy combo, but it felt like the right medicine for my growing sadness.

I hopped in the shower so I'd be ready to make love just in case he came home. As I was drying my hair, my painful sadness growing every moment, I heard his voice asking where I was. I stood there, still, as I took it in. He really did it. He really came home when he said he would. He didn't linger, one more drink, one more conversation, just in case. He really wanted to be with me, and he came home.

Still feeling the distance

I go back and forth on a day to day, hour to hour basis with feeling close and then distant.

Last night I was wondering if I'll ever be free of thinking about the other women he's had sex with when we're making love. Will I ever get to the point where I don't think daily about his lies and betrayal? At this point it seems hard to imagine that's possible.

Today I began to get scared that he was slipping into his old "I deserve a break" mindset. After we talked about it and decided we'd be okay, he gave two weeks notice at his job. As his last day approaches, I'm having anxiety about what will happen with those large blocks of unstructured time he'll have without a job to go to. He's got some good possibilities, and also a lot of things we need to handle regarding our finances that he can work on next week in addition to job hunting. And he plans to be writing as well. But I know how easy it is for the day to get away from you when there's no structure. And the addict in him must be waiting for this kind of "freedom" again - freedom from the perceived injustices of being above it all, and yet bound by the constraints of the average person. Narcissistic tendencies such as grandiosity and entitlement pave his path toward his addictive behaviors.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Getting past the past

Last night I was wondering how Husband can live with himself. If I'd done what he's done I don't think I could ever forgive myself, or believe I'd been forgiven.

So in that way, I guess I'm more screwed up than he is.

I also understand that he has to believe. In order to move beyond all of this to something better, to grow and learn from the experience of being human, he has to forgive himself and believe he's been forgiven.

I have to apply this kind of thinking to myself, for example, at work. When I make a mistake (like secretly fucking prostitutes for 3 1/2 years and lying about it, although I don't do that at work)I have to believe others have the capacitiy to forgive me and move on the way I'm working on doing. But when I do something "bad" I feel completely unredeemable. Even if "bad" is just delivering the wrong version of a document.

It's kind of weird that there is so much for me to learn from this experience Husband and I are having. I go back and forth between opening myself to what I'm being offered the chance to learn, and being frightened, sad and angry about having to learn some of this stuff.

And it's not surprising that Husband is turning out to be one of my greatest teachers in his own way. He's a gift in so many other ways. I guess if I had to go through a difficult lesson, and this has been the most difficult lesson of my life, he would be one of the few people I'd pick to be with me on that journey.

In this moment I'm feeling grateful for the gifts in my life, and that feels good.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Blind spots

Couples therapy this weekend offered me another opportunity to see something I didn't know I didn't know.

In my family, people don't take responsibility for their feelings. In my mother's mind, every emotion she has ever felt has been because of somebody else.

What I didn't realize is that when my husband expresses a feeling, I hear two things:

1. I have done something wrong
2. I will be made responsible for his feelings, and making them better, no matter what

As a result, when he is telling me feelings, I respond to 1 and 2 above (what I hear) by getting hurt, angry and defensive. And he feels I angry, alone and resentful because I don't get/hear what he is actually expressing, and is also unaware that I'm responding to 1 and 2 above instead of his feelings.

It's a wonder anyone can communicate at all.