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.


Trixi said...

"Is that part of staying with someone who has betrayed you?"
I think it's part of staying with someone who you still do not trust.
You still don't trust that he loves you..enough. And the unpleasant truth is that maybe
he doesn't. Not because you're not enough but because he's not yet able to love at that true level.
I think you need to keep planting this firmly back in his corner not yours.

You're much more than nice by the way. From your posts it's easy to see that you're deeply insightful, compassionate, mature and loving. And as I've discovered
these traits are much rarer in the world than I had previously thought. He is privileged to have a life partner such as you.
Whether he is capable of grasping this fully is clearly still an unknown for you. You talk a lot about the work you are peristently
putting into yourself and this relationship to get it back on track...I hope he is working even harder.

woman.anonymous7 said...

Trixi - Thanks for your words of support.

Husband is working hard, which is why these persistent insecurities are perplexing to me. A lot of what this whole thing has unearthed for me is how much I depended on him for that I should be depending on myself for - primarily self-definition.

I think these lows come in part because I'm still working on developing that tool, that strong relationship with myself. I get there sometimes, but it's far from second nature to me. And sometimes I lose site of the line between strong self-definition, where I can know I'm fundamentally worthy and operate from there, to I-don't-need-anybody-else mode, which feels strong because I feel in control, but is actually borne of fear and is ultimately isolating and painful.

My head understands all this, but the gut part of myself where the fear and anxiety sits has been consumed by doubt.

Thanks again for your support. As you must know, at times like this it means a lot to feel the goodwill of others.

MargauxMeade said...

((Woman Anonymous)) I'm sorry to hear you're going through some tough feelings. Anniversaries are always really difficult for me. Sometimes the actual day will come and go and I won't be aware of the date, but it's like my body still holds the pain and the memories and it all ends up coming out. Sending some good vibes and serenity your way.

Trixi said...

Very much relate to your struggle with self validation. On an intellectual level I now 'get' where
I'm supposed to be going with this but the reality of actually getting there is very difficult for me.
I'm still with my SA-H (in recovery) but I wonder that
if I do achieve this nirvana of being a self-validating, emotionally healthy woman then surely I won't choose
to stay in such a risky relationship. Self-defined or not, betrayal is still a devastating blow.
Where does self care come into staying with an SA-H? It seems contradictory to me. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this.

woman.anonymous7 said...

Thank you, Margaux. I appreciate your support.

Trixi - For me, self-care means that I can only stay with a SA in active recovery. If Husband weren't working hard, I don't think I could do it. It wouldn't be healthy for me, it wouldn't be a good model for my son, and I think the pain and stress would make it hard for me to be a good parent because I'd either be too wrapped up in the SA's activity, or emotionally withdrawn.

I think this is an interesting question,and I'm going to take it over to the JWC to see what others think.