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, November 30, 2009

We've started telling people

When I first discovered Husband's secret life, I told only three close girlfriends - two that are sisters to me but live far away and one that lives close to me who I knew would be more inclined to listen than to judge (she's the one I made a pass at in the early crazy weeks after I first found out!) We also told one close friend who is like a brother to both of us. And Husband told his real brother when we went back for his sister's wedding a few months after I'd made the discovery.

Now, two and a half years later, we are opening up to others.

We'd already agreed we both felt comfortable with trusted friends knowing more about what's been going on with us, but neither of us had actually taken the step of telling anyone else. Last week, Husband went to dinner with a guy he's known since college and came home to tell me that he'd shared about his sex addiction with this friend. I know they guy, too, and think highly of him, so I didn't have any anxiety and felt happy that Husband had the courage to talk openly about something so "real" with someone else in his life. I know it's not easy for him to move beyond pop culture and intellectual parrying to reveal himself. They didn't talk long, but the friend expressed his concern and support.

Over the weekend I told a very close girlfriend I'd been wanting to tell for some time. She'd moved away just a week after I found out, and has recently moved back. I'd felt a wall between us because we talk deeply and openly about so much, but there was this important part of my life I wasn't sharing. She knew that something had happened, because I'd asked for a therapist referral and she new Husband and I were in counseling. But I hadn't wanted to color her relationship with Husband because they are friends (for 12 years), too. And I didn't feel comfortable with her telling her husband, nor did I want to ask her to keep a secret from him. So I hadn't told her, despite the fact that she is someone I'd normally turn to for support. Last weekend as we sat in the park watching our kids play together the moment felt right. She was sad as she imagined what it must have been like, but like Husband's friend she was mostly just concerned and supportive of both of us. She called me today, and she's still processing it. "It's still new to me, but I'll catch up," she said.

It feels great to have finally told her. I feel more authentically connected with her again. And she's another person I can count on when I catch myself in my typical MO of trying to handle things all alone. With most of my friends it doesn't feel strange that they don't know about this very personal thing in my life so I probably wouldn't have any reason to tell them. But with her, it was strange to withhold the life-changing events that I've gone through.

We're not going to shout it from the roof tops (for example I'm NEVER going to tell my mother because that would not be helpful to me,) but I think the fact that Husband and I can talk more openly about this part of our lives without shame, anxiety or the need to blame, justify, vilify or otherwise explain is indicative of the healing that's taken place for both of us. It feels good to be in this place, to have some distance from the pain and see the progress more clearly.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Seeping and shedding

After having so much peace and resolution about Husband's lies and infidelity, and a lot of growth and learning under my belt, I'm always surprised when I backslide. Grief still seeps in some days, even though there's no logical reason for that to happen.

I think despite progress I still grieve the loss of what I thought I had, the life I thought I was leading, the man I thought I married. And that feels like a deep thing, a heart thing. So I guess not something that my mind can resolve for me. Maybe it's just like grieving a death. Over time you come to terms with it, but there is still a loss that may always be felt as a loss.

And I still have days when I wonder if I love my husband - the new man I'm with now that the truth is out in the open. I think he's definitely a better partner than he was before, but he's still different from the man I thought he was. He's done things to me the man I though he was never would have done. He's stronger in ways, but he's weaker in other ways. I guess he's just human, and before in my mind his honesty and integrity were infallible, and his belief in himself consistently strong. Those qualities felt real to me and I miss them a lot.

I wish I could snap my fingers and give myself 20 years with this new man so I would know if the distance I'm sometimes aware of is just a defensive layer that will wear away with time and the continued growth of trust; or if it really is that I don't love this new person as much as I loved the man I though he was.

The truth of it is that I'd stay either way because of my son. I'm not unhappy - not unhappy at all. (If I were I wouldn't stay because I don't think that would benefit anybody.) I'm just missing that deep, passionate level of intimacy and connectedness that I used to feel. And sometimes I get sad about it. But as I write this, I realize that Husband is one of my very best friends and that intimacy and connectedness have a very strong chance of deepening over time.

Sex is an issue. Right now I don't feel sexually attracted to Husband the way I was before and sometimes I think about how my 40s are probably my last chance for another hot, sexy romance. If I don't do it now, I'll never have the chance. But since I'm staying in my marriage for now and I don't really want to have an affair if I think about it for any length of time, I suppose a fantastic sex life not in the cards. At least for now.

So I will focus on creating a deep, connected, loving partnership with this new man, my great friend with whom I share so much history. Maybe I leave behind the simple, passionate, unfettered kind of love I felt in my 20s and 30s for something more complicated in this part of my life. And maybe it will turn out to be even more satisfying. I have yet to see.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I made the outreach call

And it was a good thing. I asked my friend what I should do about all the feelings I was having. She recommended that I make sure to acknowledge Husband's progress at the same time so he wouldn't go into shame. (Sounds very codie, but we are.)

That's what I wanted to do - I wanted to avoid Husband going somewhere unproductive when I knew I was having feelings about who he'd been and what he'd done, and not who he is and what he's doing.

It worked pretty well.

I was able to talk about how angry and frustrated and agitated I was about having to go back to that time in life to resolve these tax issues, about being in this position, about realizing how much more this had really cost us financially, etc. (which he could feel wafting from me like steam off a bowl of hot oatmeal even though I hadn't been saying it.) And at the same time I acknowledged that these were feelings about the past and that I knew that; and that he was a different person now and that I appreciated how hard he's worked and is working, and all that he's done and is doing to make amends. Husband thanked me for my grace, expressed his appreciation for how I communicated, said he was sorry for all that he'd done and caused, and we were both able to walk away from the discussion about a potentially triggering topic with a feeling of completeness. Nothing was left unsaid. I was able to openly express my feelings and be heard. So was Husband. It felt a lot better than "processing the feelings by myself" which was my codie-deluded Plan A; or telling him about how angry and frustrated and resentful I was feeling and leaving it at that, which felt like my only other option.

Today I'm still dealing with the financial issues, but the big feelings of anger and resentment are dissipated and Husband isn't spinning in his own morass of shame and/or resentment. The issue is still charged for both of us, I think because it brings both of us face to face with consequences of a past that neither of us really want to revisit. But there are no cells of the unspoken waiting to grow into a cancer of resentment, assumptions and pain.

It's a very fine line, but what I think I was able to do successfully was not MANAGE my husband's response (because I can't) but I was able to CLEARLY AND COMPLETELY COMMUNICATE what I needed to say. That was the important thing for me. But it's a super-fine line that I need to watch. I don't want to fall into thinking I can communicate in such a way that I can control the outcome. But I do want to find ways for me to say what I need to say in a way that will help me move forward instead of leave me spinning.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Still pissed after all these "I'm sorries"

What do you say when you are still angry and resentful toward someone who has sincerely apologized 1000 times already?

I'm sitting here on the phone with the IRS getting to the bottom of all the taxes Husband didn't pay while he was in the throes of his illness, some of which could have been handled if he'd skipped a few visits to the $500 prostitutes.

I'm so angry to be in this position, and so angry about the lame way he's handled resolving these issues. He is trying, and the deeper into recovery he gets, the more honest his efforts are. And he is sorry.

But I'm still pissed. I don't want to dump all over him because there's little he can do. The past is past, the mistakes have been made (and they weren't all his, because I could have paid more attention.) So I guess I just air out here and move forward?

I know! I'll make an outreach call! (I never do this, so it's a good contrary action.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Back to basics

Getting back to practices, facing outward and connecting, focusing on the present, taking care of myself - working all these things is grounding me and getting me back to a peaceful place.

It's like the fog suddenly comes in and settles, and then lifts just as unexpectedly.

Was life like this before? I don't remember.

I was asking Husband if he remembered how things were before all of this. I think I idealize the before time, which I know is not healthy.

Maybe this is the difference between being conscious and oblivious.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All things point to surrender (again)

What I'm left with after reading and church this week is that I can find peace and freedom in surrender and gratitude.

Notes to self (again):

Step one: I'm powerless. Just admit it and surrender (over and over and over again!)

One day at a time.

My most important relationship is with my higher power, which I am an expression of.

My most important actions are to use my life and my abilities to be of service as an expression of love, compassion and non-duality, and to celebrate everything I have.

If I listen for it I will always hear the voice of higher power.

Pain, fear and all kinds of adversity are opportunities. I can allow both good and bad to be gifts.

What am I resisting?

I can always choose the most empowering context.

Surrendering to the moment at hand is usually the most powerful response.

Have fun!

If I forget all of this, remembering is the next part of my journey.