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.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Something to come to terms with

I was re-reading the letter I gave to Husband as part of disclosure. While I've grown and changed a lot, so much of what I expressed is still relevant.

This morning I asked Husband if he ever re-reads that letter, and he said that though he hasn't in a while, he does go back to it. I was feeling very emotional as I have been over the past couple of days, but it was not the time or place to initiate conversation about big things. We were getting ready for work and Son was in the next room. So I remained silent.

Husband asked what I was thinking about. "Just that I still need your reassurance," I said. "Reassurance that I love you?" he asked. I didn’t think I could speak without bursting into tears, so I just nodded. He came over and kissed me on the cheek and said, "Well, I love you."

Then he said, "I need that, too." I couldn't understand what he meant. Did he mean that he needed to tell me he loves me, too? That telling me he loves me was as important to him as it feels to me? "I need reassurance that you love me, too," he said.

I immediately felt resentful. In my mind, Husband has to be the one to go the extra mile right now. If I'm taking the risk of staying with him and trying to rebuild trust in the face of his monumental betrayal, he needs to give me the extra support and attention I need whether or not he gets any reassurance of my love. He needs to be willing to risk jumping into loving and supporting me with no net, just as I feel I'm doing. It doesn't sound fair, but that's my thinking. In short, I guess I really think he owes me.

That thinking doesn't feel entirely healthy to me, so I'm going to talk about it in therapy. But it brings me to what I've realized again that I will need to come to terms with in order to move forward: Husband will probably never fully understand the depth of the pain he's caused me. He's going through his own stuff to be sure, but he did not have the discontinuity of betrayal to deal with the way I have. His understanding of reality has had at least a thread of continuity, while mine was completely severed by his betrayal. Though now that I'm writing this, I suppose that discontinuity was also brought about in part by my idealization of him. But no, on second thought, I don't think it was deluded of me to expect honesty and trustworthiness. Those are pretty basic elements to a respectful relationship.

But the fact is, whether or not Husband is ever able to fully grasp how devastating his betrayal was for me, in order to move forward for myself and my own recovery, I must disconnect those things in my mind. If Husband must grasp something in order for me to heal, I may never be able to heal. And I don't want to base my healing on someone else's response or actions. I want to empower myself to give myself everything I need to heal. So to have what I want I must let go of my attachment to that outcome. Husband will grasp it or he won’t. Can I love and trust him anyway? That is the question that remains to be answered.


Catherine said...

Honesty and trust are basic eliments to expect. I agree. I hope you find the answer you are searching for and I hope that your husband reminds you daily of how much you mean to him and how grateful he is to still have the chance of a new day with you.

MargauxMeade said...

I loved the last paragraph--it really summed up the dilemma I've been wrestling with. You're much farther along in your recovery than I am, but I keep flip-flopping between feeling like my husband's addiction is a gift (something forcing me to learn to give myself what I need) and feeling like it's a huge pain in the ass (because my husband won't give me what I need). When I feel the latter, I fall into despair. When I feel the former, I feel hopeful, lighthearted and free.

Stefanie said...

WA7 - I'm only one month behind you and am looking forward to the one year anniversary, because in my mind, it will be the beginning of a new start and I need that. H has displayed amazing gratitude every day for the past year without me asking, and for that I am very thankful. I don't think I have the ability or the desire to ask him for reassurance, as I personally feel like asking him for that gives him power over me and my feelings and makes me feel very vulnerable. I'm wondering if you ever feel that way when you ask your H for reassurance of his love? Congratulations on having such strength and courage this past year!

woman.anonymous7 said...

Stefanie - I share your feeling of not wanting to ask for reassurance. My comment to Husband was more of an observation. I've identified that I need to get to a place where I have a core that I have defined myself that doesn't need reassurance or approval from anyone else. I've spent so much of my life understanding myself via the responses of others. I was caught off guard at that moment by realizing that part of me still craves that reassurance, despite the growth I've had over the past year.

With regard to vulnerability, I'm still trying to find the sweet spot in terms of balance. I'm afriad to open myself up to the kind of pain I've felt over the last year, but neither do I want to put up the walls that would be so easy to activate to protect myself from the risk that being open brings. I still go back and forth between feeling okay to be open, and feeling much more comfortable in control, with all the defenses in place.

davka said...

i think its ok and healthy to need reassurance from someone else. human beings are built like that- we are pack animals. we should definitely work on loving ourselves, but reassurance is needed. you are reassuring him BIG TIME by staying with him and he should be kissing your ass every single day to help you feel powerful, wanted, etc.

not only did you have to deal with the betrayal that he did, but you also had to deal with the body issues and all that other shitmuck that women have to wade through in life. when you find your husband you hope and pray that you finally found a partner that can love you truly and spare you from that shit, especially as you both age together. this is my biggest fear about men and getting married. i watched my mother's self esteem shatter because of my father's infidelity. ugh....

your blog is always such an emotional experience for me. thank you for sharing and i think you are made of such amazing beauty and strength and anyway this goes, it will go better and you will grow.

woman.anonymous7 said...

Davka - One of the things I've begun to contemplate is that I can get to a place where nobody can shatter my self esteem irreparably.

As with many other things, I suspect it will be a one-day-at-a-time kind of thing. But I really do feel like my body is beginning to understand that I can be my own source of self in a profound and authentic sort of way.

Based on my experience I'd say it's the terrifying things that give us these gifts.