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.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Husband's success brings up fear and anxiety

Husband has spent the better part of the past year working on a big project. The project is now done, and he's handed it over to people who can possibly make something bigger out of it and it's getting good response.

I should be happy. We've been living on just my income so he could do this project. He's also been the primary caregiver for Son during this time - taking him to school, picking him up, taking him to playdates and swimming lessons, cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner. So for that I'm thankful, although maybe somewhat resentful as well, because when I took time off to pursue a personal project he started hounding me to get a job after 4 months, just as my efforts were starting to come to fruition. I'd be pretty happy pursuing my creative projects and taking care of Son, too.

But I've been choosing to support him because ultimately his success could benefit both of us, so I need to let go of that resentment. Working on that.

My character defects aside, thinking about Husband's potential success has me riddled with fear and anxiety. The crazy thoughts going through my head (in no particular order:)

1. Husband will become infatuated with his own success, and I will no longer be needed or important. (Husband enjoyed success and admiration before I found out about his sex addiction, and he rarely made me feel secondary, so I don't know why I'm afraid of this. Maybe it's related to #2...)

2. I feel like I have nothing to offer. I'm having trouble feeling emotionally connected. I have fear, anger and resentment about the past. I feel like damaged, unpleasant goods. Why would anybody with a choice pick me if they have other attractive, interested women (not hard to find in my hometown) hanging around and singing their praises.

2b. I have no great accomplishments of my own. I'm working as an underpaid consultant. My professional peers have passed by me in titles and salary. I've produced no great works of art or business deals or social change. I'm not known for anything special. I have talents that give me joy, but little or no opportunity to use them. I'm nice. The one thing I've been working hard at all my life. Great.

Right now I feel like a victim. I know that's totally disempowering. But there are things he took from me that I'll never get back, and I'm sad and angry about those things. I never had any choice in the matter. By the time I found out about it, those things were long gone.

I lost 19 years of being with someone who always had my back and who I could trust without doubt. I lost the ability to trust that I'd built up over all those years. I lost the self-confidence I'd grown out of feeling like I was truly enough for him. I lost my most intimate relationship which has now been replaced by my best attempt at it. I won't ever be able to look at him without knowing that he made the choice to lie to me and to have sex with all those other women.

Is that part of staying with someone who has betrayed you? Even if you do all the recovery and the therapy and read all the books and go to church and get all the spiritual the pain of being lied to always going to be there?

Over and over again the feeling/thought/image that goes through my head is that I disappeared. I didn't exist for him. Why was it so easy to forget about me? Why was it so simple to lie to me? Why did I not matter enough for the truth?

The answer that will always have to be good enough is that Husband was sick. He was a sex addict. He wasn't acting rationally.

So now that he's on the path to healing and recovery, becoming more and more whole and complete, I'm here trying to deal with the discontinuity, the kind of mind-fuck turn my life has taken. The thing that pisses me off is that he always had the full picture. He always knew what was going on. He doesn't have to deal with the crazy making feelings and thoughts that come with finding out you thought you had one life when you really had another.

I've been exercising, and that helps I think, but I'm still struggling with the anxiety and fear. Maybe it's exacerbated by the fact that it's June - the month I discovered it all. But I was fine on June 1. I don't know...I don't know what the source of this is. All I know is that right now I feel anxious, twitchy, nauseous, and really sad.

I'm talking to another SAnon tonight, and I highlighted all the people in my group who are also staying with their SA partners. I have to pick up the phone.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ebb and flow

The heaviness is lifting. Not gone, but not crushing either.

I need to remember when I get down like this...things change.

But the past doesn't change. And therein lies my struggle. When it comes down to it, I still grieve what I lost, and I still wish for a different June 1st, 2007.

The self-loathing part of myself says I should be past this by now. But the healthy part of myself, which is much stronger from these past 3 years, knows that self-criticism will get me nowhere. I've been doing it for 45 years, and I can see that. Maybe that self-loathing is my addiction. I wonder what would happen if I treat it that way. Will have to think that through and see if it applies.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ask me no questions

Like MamaMPJ says, its the lies.

I've been down lately, and I've realized that part of it is I'm still not over being lied to.

Trust is not an easy thing to build or rebuild. I believe it's possible. But rebuilding 19 years of trust is going to take time I suppose.

And it's not that I don't trust him now. It's that I'm so angry at him for lying that I don't know if I'll ever get over it.

And I know I'll have to find a way if I want to stay in my relationship. Which I do.

He's a good man, a better man now.

But I can think of few things worse you can do to someone than betray their trust.

I've also been wrestling with self esteem issues that have been exacerbated by this betrayal. My great unspoken fear is that when it comes down to it I'm not good enough. Knowing that husband had sex with prostitutes he picked out of an online catalogue who were 15 - 20 years younger than me solidifies these self-doubts in my crazy head. I know these fears are mine to overcome, but they loom larger after all of this.

And after realizing that my business partner really regards me as an employee, I'm struggling with self worth issues around that, too. We've been splitting the income from our work (with him getting 10% off the top for business expenses and 20% more than me of the remaining share.) Last week he told me that I'm making more than I should be given my contribution to the business. Not in those exact words, but very close. Another fear, the fear of accidentally overvaluing myself and then being found out, reinforced. I disagree with him, but I have all those feelings of not wanting to cause conflict, wanting to be reasonable, and there's also the fact that he's incredible at what he does (strategy and business development) and my role (account director) supports that. But it hurts to be told you're not worth what you're being paid. It probably hurts even if it's true, which in my case it isn't.

I'm done with this kind of partnership. I'm looking for a job.

So I'm an unworthy fraud this week. I skipped my 12-step meeting (bad idea) but all I wanted to do was go to bed. Sometimes I wonder if the trauma of discovering Husband's addiction has caused me to slump into depressions. I don't remember having these lows before. I wonder if medication would help, but I don't want to take medication.

Right now I feel alone and isolated and confused. I don't know why I feel disconnected and joyless, but I do. "Fake it 'til you make it" the saying goes. But I don't want to fake it. I want to find it. I want to find the good, find the joy. But it feels like there are too many motions to go through, and not enough time to just be present. Are these the problems of the over fed, over examined, and over privileged?

Could this be an opportunity to surrender to whatever it is that I am? Oh, yay!

Where did all this self loathing come from? I really wish I knew. Because then I could grab the end of that thread and untangle it from the rest of my life.

I wish you get get self esteem from eating ice cream.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Triggered by Get Him to the Greek?

I usually like movies like this because I have the sense of humor of a 13 year old boy. Slapstick, poop jokes - funny stuff to me. But there is a scene of the guys in a Las Vegas strip club and as soon as that came onto the screen I got nauseous and my heart started racing. I haven't really seen lap dancing before, although I've imagined it since learning that Husband received this service regularly throughout our marriage, and even before.

Seeing a room full of barely clothed women mingling and rubbing up against men as other women swiveled around poles while groups of men gawked and talked instantly brought images of Husband in that situation into my mind. And they've been hard to shake. I went through our computer history last night and checked his email for anything suspicious - found nothing.

But it really repulses me that he participated in this. I think some of my current lack of interest in sex has to do with my being unable to separate the person in him that can objectify women that way from the person he is in our relationship. (I know that repulsive objectifier is still in there with the person I knew. Unfortunately I wasn't aware of that aspect of him for the first 19 years of our relationship.) I've never felt objectified by him. But for a long time now I get a queasy feeling when I think of doing any type of fantasy activity (dressing up in sexy lingerie for example) and I think that's because it feels like it would be part of that ugly fantasy world that also included lap dances and prostitutes.

I wish I had the opportunity to grow and change without having to think about our relationship at the same time. I know sex is part of a healthy relationship, and we've had good sex off and on since his sex addiction became known to me. But a lot of times I just have too much going on in my head to be present. And if I'm not present - well that's just not the kind of sex I want to have with anyone. I'd rather just not. But I know for him my lack of interest in sex feels like rejection. So I worry. Will this perceived rejection cause him to give up on our relationship? Because I'm not ready to do that. But I'm not ready to be vulnerable either.

I'm in a little bit of a freak-out still, although I know I have the tools to keep this from spiraling out of control. But I also feel that I have a lot of work to do to get some things out that are still inside me. Anger, fear, grief. Things that are keeping me from being present.

I don't know how to access these things. A friend from my recovery group is going to a funeral and I said to her that she should really take the opportunity to grieve, not just the loss of the one who passed, but other losses as well, because we get so few opportunities to do that. I think I was speaking in part to myself. I have this image of scraping out from inside me the things I've been unable to express, like scraping out the inside of a pumpkin, so I don't get snagged by the past over and over again, so I can authentically both acknowledge what has happened and internalize that this is a new and different moment. So I can feel peace, instead of fear and anxiety.

I don't feel that peace now. Just queasy, anxious and closed off. I can intellectualize myself back to peace using the tools I have, but I want to use my tools to work through this, not to fly above it. I want to stay with these feelings instead of going to my "enlightened" place about why I don't have to have them. Maybe these feelings and the resulting conversations will drag me through what is here for me to learn so that I can get closer to free.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My year of trusting God

Well, it's 3 days past the 3rd anniversary of my discovery, and I'm starting in on Step 3.

Turn my life and my will over go God.

Wow. Not something I ever imagined I'd consider. Ever.

I'm afraid that means giving up, giving in, being helpless. I know I've endorsed surrender many times, but to surrender my whole self? That just feels wrong.

"It's God's will that I have this job when I really want another job." I don't understand how that sits side by side with creating / causing a job I really want. How do you turn your will over, and still have power in your own life? I don't want to just float along saying, "It must be God's will" as I'm going nowhere fast like a ship without a rudder, a piece of bark spinning helplessly along with the current.

I can't control others and I'm fine with that. But I want to control me! I want to have some kind of say here!

The thought that just flashed across my mind: Maybe it's about taking action and then turning the result over to God. So maybe that's how those things sit side by side. Take action and let the result be what my higher power sets before me as my next catalyst.

I'm thinking maybe I'll make this my Year of Trusting God, kind of like an experiment, and see how it goes.

Frankly, I'm skeptical. I don't know if I can really do this. Ugh! I don't want to turn my will over to anything!

I can tell this is going to require a lot of deep breathing.