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, September 27, 2008

Love without truth?

Having little opportunity to deal with Husband's recent lies and omissions has left me sitting with anger and pain and confusion that only seem to increase with time.

I did an outreach call today, and the woman I talked with suggested I write down some of my feelings as a way of releasing them.

I feel so disrespected. How could he lie to me again? After seeing the pain and agony it caused before? He said he couldn't promise me that he'd never slip, but he said he'd never lie about it.

On the list of boundaries I drew up and talked about with Husband, I'd specified that one of the things that wouldn't work for me was lying, hiding or omitting anything he thought I might want to know as his partner. I also drew up a list of consequences as part of that exercise. Those we agreed I didn't need to share with him. I referred back to that list the other day to see what I'd thought, in more rational moments, was the appropriate consequence for lying, hiding or omitting.

"He moves out" it said.

But while this incident has crossed that boundary, I feel like I just can't make that move yet because of my son. I'm not sure yet that I want to take this to that next level, and I need to be sure before I disrupt my son's life in that way.

I'm so angry that I caught him. Why didn't he come to me and tell me about the cigarette and the shot? How could he make the choice to sneak that money knowing how fragile my ability to trust is, and how I felt that I was actually beginning to make progress in that area? He may be an addict, but doesn't he have a memory or a brain? Can't he think? Is he so overcome by narcissism when he's anxious that I just cease to exist?

I feel like this is happening all over again. The betrayal feels almost as big as the first time I found out, even though it didn't involve sex with other women. I wonder what else he's been doing in the inner circle.

I don't trust him anymore. And I don't know if love is possible without trust. I don't know if I love him anymore. But I'm not sure. I can't tell if I'm just too afraid to be alone, too afraid to give up on what I thought I could have. Or if I'm too afraid of him to feel feeling that are still there.

I've been so afraid of his resentment, and it's that resentment that's taken us down this path again. It's that resentment that's allowed him to justify lying and hiding and not telling me things.

Sometimes I hate him.

He tells me he's afraid of my anger, yet he does the one thing that is most likely to make me angry. So now that I've discovered his deceit I'm mad and I'm imagining that he's slipping into that place of self loathing and self pity that turn to resentment. But my only other choice is to put his experience before mine, and show him that he doesn't have to fear my anger, that he can make mistakes and be flawed and he won't be abandoned. But that doesn't work for me anymore. If he feels like telling the truth and not hiding qualifies as walking on eggshells around me then I guess we should come to terms with our differences sooner than later.

How do you demand truth from an addict?

How do you stay in a loving committed partnership without truth?

I hate him for taking away the person I thought I married, the person who would never lie to me.

How does he feel about me that I'm not worth telling the truth to, not worth having the courage to be honest with?

Someone wrote to me from the perspective of the-other-woman saying that sometime she was jealous that the man she was having an affair with loved his wife enough to want to lie to her and keep their affair secret. But being lied to feels so shitty. He may lie because he is afraid, but it doesn't feel at all like love to me.


Ingrid said...

I don't know how love can exist without trust. But then, I have too little relationship experience and thus may be somewhat idealistic. To me, consistent lying would also likely be a deal breaker.

I also know - from cultural background (Eastern European) and from the insight I've had as an escort - that I would never demand monogamy in my future relationships. I don't believe in it anymore - not as a general rule anyway. It seems to work for some couples - but from my experience, those are a minority.

From the combination of experiences and theoretical reading I came to believe there is too much we don't understand about sexuality and its implications in our life.

I don't know what goes through the mind of a man who's been discovered. I know that most of my clients are married - and that they hid their tracks well hoping to never cause the pain of discovery. Some of my clients stopped and went back to focus on their relationships - and I was extremely happy for this decision. But it was done out of their own choice, not forced by a discovery.

I also have an eating disorder, and even though I know I shouldn't be doing it, and that I would feel bad afterward - some times when I am very low I buy an enormous amount of food and eat it, and then purge. It only happens every month or two now - instead of daily at the height my disorder, but it's still there. The little comfort and numbing that it gives me during the process momentarily blacks out the consequences.

I am very close with my mother - so close that we call each other best friends and she even knows about my escorting. But if she asks me how I am doing - I would lie about being in the clear. The thought of hurting and disappointing her is too much to take, so lying kicks in. But she is in a different city and not in a position to find out.

I also wanted to thank you for this blog. I have 2 problems with the sex industry: one is the people who are here for wrong reasons, and another is cheating. None is enough for me to quit when it fits so well with enabling my future goals in life (and my personality). I also have less ethical problems with escorting than some of the corporate jobs out there. But nonetheless, I want to continue with eyes completely open to the indirect impact of my profession.
So thank you!

I know this message was scattered and confused but I just came across you blog and was overwhelmed. Whatever happens and whatever choices you make, I wish you best of luck!

MSY23 said...

You wrote that list of boundaries for a reason - to guide you precisely when you were in such a situation as this. I think you need to stick to it, as hard as it is. It doesn't mean the end necessarily, but it means you will be true to yourself. I know how it is. I have my own almost 20 year relationship, and 3 small children who adore my husband, and I kicked him out for the time being. My list of intolerable behaviors now has the consequence of divorce and he does know it. He is with us a lot on the weekends and we connect but it is not until he leaves that I can think more clearly and be more confident in whatever outcome that happens. I think maybe you too need a break to clear your head. I hope I don't sound too obnoxious coming from someone so far behind you in the recovery process.

Oh, the other nice thing about him being out of the house right now is that it forces me to stop my co-dependent behavior of worrying about what he is doing at night because he is not home on time or anything. I am forced to let go of those thoughts. I find it freeing in a way.

GentlePath said...

I agree with Msy23. You wrote that list of consequences when you were "sober" to help you remember what the sober you thinks is right and rational. That sober you realized that asking your husband to move out would affect your son.

The truth is that your son's life has already been disrupted. You are not the mother you could be while you are dealing with the day to day realities of living with an addict.

THE PROBLEM - Codependents are fine, sincere, godly people. Because of their needs for approval and their lack of self-esteem they live for others, using others for their needs of worth, feeling they are responsible to fix what is wrong in those around them. Unable to relax and say no, to see their own needs as legitimate and their own feelings as true, they push until exhaustion. They end up bitter, drained, lonely and depressed and withdraw into isolation. They go to the opposite extreme to compensate. What a waste this is of a fine, gifted person.

I found that at a website on co-addiction because I couldn't come up with a nice way to say that you're a co-addict and setting boundaries and them moving them later when the addict crosses them is what co-addicts do.

It's just my opinion though - I don't know anything about your situation beyond what you've written about in this blog. I do wish you well.

Willow said...

I'm so sorry for how much you are hurting. If it feels the same as the beginning, that is such an excruciating place to be.

I have many of the same feelings and questions you have. How can you have a meaningful relationship w/out the truth?

So many women are going through the same thing that you are right now and it is so confusing for me. As I see the same thing happening on so many blogs, I almost feel that I would be foolish to not think this is going to happen to me as well.

I really don't know if I can take it if it does. Each person has there own set of values. I realize that personal truth is an evolution for us all but I do firmly believe in living as close to the truth in any given moment as possible. I make a point to be honest even in the small things - I do it for myself. Integrity is really important to me as a person and it matters a lot that others know that they can count on me to be truthful.

I think the only possible way I could continue to work on things is if my husband does not lie to me. If he hits a wall or has a problem, he needs to tell me.

It's a tough decision though and a deeply personal one. Look what you wrote on your list and now it feels like maybe it isn't what you want. It's hard to know what one will decide until they are in that place.

You are doing a great job of staying in touch with your feelings, being honest and truthful with yourself. Stick with your own truth and you'll find your way. And most of all remember that you have greater skills know than you did the first the time.

super lady said...

i feel you on this post, I do, I have been there, I have BEEN there. I will only echo what my ex and many many other alcoholics and addicts I have heard speak (i go to Alanon, ex was drug addict too) is that they will do ANYTHING to stay in the house. By ignoring your boundaries, he doesnt think you're serious. You could be keeping him from his lowest point by enabling him. Believe me, he does not think you are serious about asking him to move out. Of course it would be so much easier to just know the marriage is over so you could have ONE conversation with your son. But it's never so easy.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Whew, WomanA. I've had your last few posts open in my browser for days now looking for the right thing to say and the right time to say it.

I have a different perspective on truth, love and boundaries than I did before. My husband and I were talking about some of these things during a wonderful night out. He and I were both talking about how we now believe that the truth cannot every really be hidden. The truth will always out. I think because I trust in that, I don't worry as much about the lies themselves anymore.

I've also found it helpful to draw boundaries only around my own behavior and not my husband's. If his behavior determines my behavior, I'm still stuck in codependency. I find that boundaries around his behavior are my attempts to control outcomes and they end up making me feel worse when I can't stick to the rules. I try to work on myself, pray, meditate and then trust my higher power for his behavior and the health of our relationship.

I don't know that any of that helps or makes sense. I've been trying to write a blog post around it for a long time, but I can't yet articulate it in a way that I think will be understandable or helpful to others.

MargauxMeade said...

Reading this post, it seems to me like you're feeling some responsibility for your husband's resentment. His resentment, however, is out of your hands. If he's upset about something, it's his responsiblity to come to you and tell you why he's upset. That's what adults do--they assert themselves and talk it out. They don't bottle it up inside and sleep with prostitutes or do other sneaky passive-agressive things. As for his fear of your anger, well, that's also his responsibility. He needs to tell you how he would like to be treated when you're angry. You can't control whether or not you get angry, but you can control what you do with that anger.

I'm having the same issues with my husband. He lied to me this past weekend--not about acting out, but about some stupid thing. I explained to him that had he just fessed up to the initial action, I would have been mildly angry for 10 minutes. However, because he lied about it, I was boiling with rage for two days. He told me the same thing--that he's afraid of my anger. I told him if he shoots straight with me, I'll be a much more rational person.

woman.anonymous7 said...

ingrid, msy23, gentlepath, willow, superlady, mpj, margauxmeade - Thank you all for your thoughts and support. It helps so much to have perspective when one is in the middle of a crisis and can't necessarily see with "sober" eyes. Your words and compassion have been a source of strength for me. One of the things I'm so happy to have learned from all of this is that I can't do it alone, and taking in the voices of my online community are part of my way to surrendering to that.

Thank you.

Scribbling-Mum said...

your post was spot on about how i feel...but yes, I agree that it's wise to stick w/ your consequences/boundaries...

Sophie in the Moonlight said...

Every one here has such wonderful insights and advice. There's not much to add except this: addicts are MASTER MANIPULATORS.

Of course he's blaming your feelings for his actions. I mean, really, why should an addict be responsible for his own actions? So, let him be responsible.

and, for you: to thine own self be true.