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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Got a sponsor (I think) just in time

Finally after a year I'm ignoring that voice in my head that's telling me I can do the 12 steps on my own. I ignored that voice tonight when it told me that I didn't want to bother someone else and when it told me that I didn't want to ask for help in case that person I asked didn't want to help me but would be uncomfortable saying so. And I asked. And she said yes, maybe, most likely. And I was so nervous afterward that I forgot where I'd parked. And when I told her that she said she was so nervous after I asked her that she'd almost walked out the window instead of the door. And we talked a bit about how just like the sex addicts, we have issues too. Like intimacy issues, for example. That create such anxiety that we forget where we are and walk out windows instead of doors. She'll let me know next week if she accepts.

I realized last night that something very specific I'm grieving over is the loss of the feeling that I'm special to Husband.

I used to feel like the intimate connection we had was private, precious, and something shared only between the two of us. And though intimacy goes beyond just the physical, now that I know he's held, caressed, kissed, and had sex with so many other women during our marriage, it's hard to believe that I'm special - or at least as special as I thought I was. And that makes me sad. Perhaps that need arises from a childish fairy tail picture in my head that doesn't really exist between adults. Perhaps it's my own narcissistic tendencies or my need for validation that leaves me sad that I no longer feel special.

I've always loved the song English Rose, and that's the feeling that I miss. That some one person on the planet loves me so deeply that nothing can come between us.

Husband had a bad day today. He woke up not having slept well (sleep apnea) and went on to have a frustrating day - one little annoying thing after another. I went to meet him this afternoon after he'd discovered he'd left his headlights on and drained his battery. He was cranky and I felt like he was full of contained frustration. What made it worse was that this morning I sat down at the computer to find that he'd created a Resentment List in his Google Docs account. I assume it's part of his work with his sponsor or therapy group or something. And it took everything I had to close that window and not read that list. But this afternoon, and later in the day I couldn't stop myself from feeling like he was resenting me for some reason. When he's tired, I think he resents the world. Anyway...I imagine this is what he felt when he justified sex with prostitutes and the lies he told me. And that scares me. Scares me, scares me. I'm afraid of his resentment.

Why? I can't quite figure it out. What comes to mind is that I'm afraid he'll stop trying, stop loving me, break my heart again. His resentment is a big part of his sickness. I'm afraid of how much it allows him to justify.

I also see this is part of my pattern of being afraid of any bad feelings I think he has because of what they might mean about me. A symptom of my lack of self-definition: In my crazy head I'm constantly defined by the thoughts and feelings of people around me. This leaves Husband feeling absolutely no space for having these kinds of feelings where I'm concerned. He's said many times that he feels he can never express when he's angry with me, and his experience is that I turn his anger into a character flaw while justifying my own so thoroughly that I don't see what I'm doing. "When I'm angry, there's something wrong with me," he says. "When you're angry, there's something wrong with the world."

While I was helping him with his battery, he went back inside his office building to use the restroom and I started looking through for his phone, which he said he thought was lost somewhere in the car. (His car is a pretty big mess, so from time to time he does lose his phone in there.) Suddenly my heart started pounding as I thought about the possibility of finding a porn magazine among all the magazines, papers and other stuff in the back seat.

I didn't find anything. But I did realize that it's still a very strong possibility in my mind. When I sense that resentment, targeted at me or not, I get afraid of what he might justify as a result of that.

I know he has help, I know he has tools, and I know I'm powerless. That helps me stay on my side of the street, but it doesn't help so much with the fear I feel.

This is why I'm so happy to be getting a sponsor and starting on the 12 steps. This is my Year of Self-Definition. This is the year that I will learn to value myself, whether Husband values me, loves me, thinks I'm special or not. So that if things do fall apart, I will still be whole.


Willow said...

I experience that same feeling of wondering if I'm ever going to feel special again to my husband. In a way my, husband doesn't get it because he tells me that he thinks I'm amazing. Even when he tells me he loves me, I can't really feel it.

Scribbling-Mum said...

I sorta feel like SA's relate through Saran Wrap...they can't quite get the feelings/intimacy efforts through...& We can't quite feel anything REAL...

I feel the loss-of-assumed-Specialness also...after 20+ years of marriage 'twas quite the shock...but my H. has always "adored" , loved & complimented me regularly...VERY confusing...

I have a sponsor in another 12 Step program...but I do need to get one in S-Anon...
glad you made the effort!

MargauxMeade said...

Getting a sponsor was the best thing I've done since beginning recovery. At first, I was really worried about bothering the person or calling at inconvenient times, but she's been so understanding and nice. The thing is, it helps the sponsor work her program too. She always thanks me for calling. It will be a little awkward at first, but I'm sure you'll feel completely at ease after a while--just like going to meetings.

davka said...

One thing I've found that women do when they are cheated on is let their imaginations run wild. I doubt there was much kissing, caressing, or romance involved with these affairs. It was probably quick, unfeeling, guilt-inducing, and sad. I don't know if this helps, but it might be important to remember that he didn't have some prolonged emotional affair with any one woman. Know what I mean?

woman.anonymous7 said...

Davka - I think you're probably right. No intimacy, caressing, tenderness. I wonder why I'm so afraid of something that is highly unlikely. Something for me to think about. As my therapist would ask, "What would that mean if it were true?" What would it mean if he did kiss, caress, and seek to please all or any of those prostitutes? My mind is making it mean something...otherwise it wouldn't continue to come up when I know how unlikely it is.

Something for me to think on - thank you.

Ruby said...

My ex had full-blown romantic affairs, so there was a lot of kissing, caressing, tenderness, poems, cards, flowers and jewelry involved. All those things he used to make me feel special he used to make other women feel special too. And when one of them found out about me, he told her that I was a summer fling, that he didn't love me, and that I had moved away. (We lived together.)

I think what got me through is that there's some block in my mind that just stops me from thinking about it, the sex he's had with other women, from imagining it in technicolor detail. I've done it once or twice and lost it, but I just stop. I just don't go there.

He also "adored" me, told me he loved me every day, and treated me and made me feel like the best girlfriend in the world. I don't know how, but when I found out, I knew it wasn't about me. It had nothing to do with me. I'm special and amazing, and if he has an illness, and cannot treat me like the special and amazing (and singular) person that I am, well, tough for him. I don't need to be around or interact with that. He knows what to do for that, and it's full-blown recovery, and it's his choice. I think you're very blessed that you and your husband are as committed to recovery and your spiritual journies as you are. It's illuminating to read about the progress you both have made.

I've read about how you question your beauty and sexiness. I'm hoping, that as I read in your Year of Self-Definition, you find how to own your own beauty, so that no matter what someone else does, you know that you are beautiful.

I think our culture does devalue women as they age, but I think that's changing. Women over 40 OWN primetime TV. Weeds, Medium, The Closer, Desparate Housewives...our culture is now able to accept older women as beautiful. And look at Ellen Barkin and Helen Mirren! Those ladies are HOT! I hope I look like that when I'm that old! I just watched the french film "I've Loved You So Long" and Kristen Scott Thomas wears practically no makeup the whole film. She's 49. And throughout the whole movie men tell her how beautiful and luminous she is. How ethereal and mysterious. 49. No makeup. France. It's wonderful. Because she is beautiful. She's gorgeous. Without makeup. I hope our culture is moving towards recognizing that women can be beautiful at any age. And also that women are more than their beauty. That's just one small part of a person. A very tiny one.