June 10 is a date I will never forget.  It is a date that is ingrained in my mind as much as my own birthday, my anniversary, my mother’s birthday.  It will live with me forever.  I am accepting that fact.  It is my D-Day.  The day that my world fell apart.  The day I fell apart.

I was under the impression (actually, I was hoping) that the two-year mark was some kind of “recovery finish line.”  I’ve read a lot of blogs and books and advice columns, and most of them say that it takes about two years for the betrayed spouse to recover from an affair.  Obviously, I realize that the two-year mark for recovery is something that is written about in general terms, and it comes with a disclaimer like: every person is different, some take longer or shorter time to recover, blah, blah, blah.  So, as June 10 has neared, I was expecting (hoping) to be “recovered.”  I was hoping to be free of the pain, released from the grips of my anger and resentment, not to still thinking about it or Her on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, to be back to my old self, to be happy again, in my marriage and in my life.  Things are better than they were on June 10, 2012 — much better than those first few months after discovery.  But, I am not free from the pain of what he did.  I am still sometimes angry, hurt, sad, resentful, or just confused.  Sometimes, I still cry, but not so much anymore.

I have noticed a change in me in the past six months or so.  I’m stronger and have most of my confidence back.  After the blow of learning of the affair, there were months where I thought I would never have my confidence back; frankly, I wondered if I’d ever be able to work at a full time capacity again.  I am once again decisive and quick in my work and able to handle a full time load, though now I choose not to do litigation — why stress myself needlessly?  I am again able to make decisions in my personal life, although sometimes I still struggle with making them.  I still have some insecurities, particularly when it comes to him and me not feeling like he desires me enough or loves me enough or that I am attractive or young enough.  But, for the most part, I am comfortable in my own skin again and feel good about me.

I’ve become more compassionate.  I look more closely at things before making a judgment or rendering an opinion. I stick up for people when I hear others talking about them, and I remind them that we never know what motivates someone to act a certain way.  I used to think that I would leave his ass if he ever cheated.  But the truth is, you can’t say what you’ll do until it happens to you, and you can’t judge someone else for staying until you’ve stood in their shoes.  The same goes for everything in life — you cannot judge the choices other people make — I see that more clearly now and recognize and respect other people’s choices.

I often question myself whether I still love my husband the way one should love their spouse.  Of course, I love him, but it’s not the same kind of love that it used to be.  How it’s different is hard to explain.  Sometimes, I want to rip his face off.  Sometimes, I want to have my own affair so he will know at least some of the pain that he has put on me.  Sometimes, I simply want to disappear and never see or think of him again.  But, those are fleeting fantasies.  Most of the time, he is still the only person that I truly want to spend my time with.  I still want to protect him, encourage him, take care of him, do little things to make him happy.  Sometimes, I feel love for him in a way that fills me completely and even makes my eyes tear up.

But, it is not that all-encompassing, all-trusting, blind, generous and unconditional love that I used to have for him.  It is now a more “cautious” love, if that makes sense.  I’m still kind of working out in my own head how I feel about him because it is so different from how it was before D-day.  It’s hard for me to accept that my love for him will always be different now, and I still question whether he loves me enough.  I mean, if he had loved me enough, he wouldn’t have gone and given his love to someone else, would he?  Why would he take so much away from me – his time, his affection, his love — and give it to someone else if he really, truly, loved me?  And, I question: Is the love we have now enough?  Is it enough to weather the rest of our lives together and the problems and issues down the road that we will surely have to face?  I don’t know.  Maybe I never knew, until he cheated, that love is an uncertainty.  Maybe no one knows, and we’re all just taking a chance.

I’ve also come to realize that I actually could leave him if I wanted to, that I am strong enough now.  When I initially discovered the affair and the months that came after that day, I frankly did not have the strength to do anything, let alone leave him.  That’s different now.  I know I can do anything, handle anything.  I’ve been through hell and survived.  I would be sad about divorcing him and him no longer being in my life, I would miss him terribly, and life would look very different, but I now know that I would be just fine.  In fact, I might even thrive.  I’ve considered leaving him many times, as recently as two days ago.  Sometimes, I only stay because I love what we have built so much — I love our home, our friends, our plans for the future — and I don’t want to give those things up.  Mostly, I stay because I still love him, and I believe that he loves me, and because I hope that one day we will be happy – truly happy – again.

I worry that I look at him so differently now, that it will ruin whatever hopes for a happy future we might have.  I see his flaws like glaring, flashing neon signs.  All things that I never really noticed before or simply didn’t give much weight:  he lies, even to his friends, about things that are of no consequence, to make himself look better; he always needs to be the center of attention; he can’t handle any criticism, no matter how slight; he rarely accepts responsibility for his own role in things when they go wrong (his affair being the sole exception); he complains about everything, as if no one has ever been as tired, hurt, sick, you name it, as him; he has no understanding of the concept of delayed gratification, and never says no to himself; he doesn’t educate himself or take the initiative to learn anything new and depends on me to do and figure everything out for him and us in life.  I realize just now that I have described a narcissist.  Yes, he has many narcissistic traits, and I worry that I have been codependent on him for so very long that neither of us knows how or is capable of living any differently.

But, all that being said, he does love me.  He shows it every day in the changes he has made in his behavior, his lifestyle, the way we communicate, the list goes on.  I know that he wants to make this marriage work as much as, if not more than, I do.  So…. I’m still hanging in there.

 

 

Two years ago, my husband and the OW ended their relationship.  It would be another month and half until I discovered the affair.  I cannot help but reflect on that time, what was happening then, how confused I felt, and now, knowing all that I know, it all makes sense.  Sort of.

In the spring of 2012, my husband and I had sold our house and were moving into a neighborhood we had always dreamed of living in.  I thought that the house hunting and move should have been such a happy time for us, a time to celebrate how much we had accomplished, how truly blessed we were to afford to live in this neighborhood, and to enjoy our good fortunes.  It was not any of those things.  It was miserable.  I was being treated like shit, ignored, blatantly disregarded, and had been for some time – over two years to be exact.  To this day, my husband cannot admit that he treated me badly, or any different than he treats me now.  I have a hard time with this.  I feel that he should own up to the fact that he was a total jerk.  But, I digress…

The weekend we moved in to the new house, I had much hope that things would be better.  I was hoping that the move would lessen my stress levels since it eliminated a long commute for me.  I hoped that we would bond over the shared experience of exploring our new neighborhood.  I hoped that we would find each other again.  And we actually did, for the next month and half after we moved in, he was back.  My old husband.  The one that was affectionate and wanted to spend time with me.

That Sunday, the day after we moved in to the new house, he was in the backyard talking on his phone – a habit that drove me insane – all of the phone calls that he took outside so I could not hear.  After he got off the phone, he came in to tell me that he needed to go help his guy friend with something.  He’d be back in about an hour.  I thought it curious that we were in the middle of moving, putting things away, trying to get things in order before the end of the weekend, and he would suddenly leave.  But, being the non-nagging wife that I am, I said nothing.  I said sure, okay.  He was gone hours.  Not one hour.  Almost three hours.  Again, being the cool-wife I am, I said nothing.  No questions ever asked.

Evidently, he went to meet Her.  And, they broke up.  A month and a half later, when I discovered the “email that confirmed the affair” I also found this string about the “break up” and Her realization that he had been lying to her all along.  He responds with additional lies to make himself look and feel better about The Lie.  He neither confirms nor denies the truth, and instead attempts to shift the blame and create sympathy for himself in the process.  It breaks my heart in so many ways – how he manipulated her the same way he manipulated me, how nothing is ever his fault, how easily the lies flow from him, and, most painfully, how obviously serious their relationship was (at least to her).  I am so sad today thinking about it, and I am short with my husband.  My husband asked me what was wrong this morning.  I told him that I still have bad days, but I know he doesn’t want to talk about it, so I never say anything.  Silence.  Nothing.  He can’t handle the guilt and shame.  Doesn’t know what to do or say.  So, he is just indifferent towards me, ignores me.  We pretend like everything is fine (old habits are hard to break).  This makes me even sadder.  What I need is comfort and reassurance, a hug, an “everything is going to be okay,” something to let me know that he wants me to feel better.  What I get is nothing.  Today sucks.

My comments and changes to names are in [brackets].

From: [HIM] To: [HER] Subject: RE: I dont even know where to begin….. Date: Fri, 4 May 2012 00:05:45 -0600

I’m not ignoring you, I lost my phone at the gokart track last weekend [this is a lie, he did not lose his phone, and he was not at the track]….but figured you’d take that a another excuse so I didnt bother trying to call you from another phone.  I figured you were probably freaking out but was hoping you were just trying to move on with your life.  You are totally over-ananyzing this and I cant take this in my life right now….you have no idea whats going on inside my head right now.  You know I am hurting inside and you still want to push me mentally by coming up with these theories of yours?  I’m sorry but I’m just trying to deal with myself right now.  Its coming up on a year of my Dad’s death and I am having a hard time…I realize you cant relate to any of this, but having you scrutinize me (on Facebook) and constantly ridicule what Im doing or what Im covering up is beyond what I imagined from you.  I’m sorry I can’t be the one for you and I’m sorry I mislead you.  I just knew in the back of my mind that we could never work and I should have really said so.  I just think its better we go separate ways since you seem completely confident that Im a total liar…I really didnt mean to hurt you, I do feel like it was selfish on my part because I needed a close friend who thought like me and who looked at things like I do, and to get me closer to God.  I now realize it actually didnt do me any good because I hurt you and Im sorry for that.  Please forgive me..

> From: [HER] > Subject: I dont even know where to begin….. > Date: Thu, 3 May 2012 22:02:04 -0600 > To: [HIM] > >

I have so many things I want to say to you, but I am not sure of how much of it is necessary at this point. I guess the first thing is that I will never understand how someone that claims to love you and care about you…..can just ignore you. I have asked you 3 times now for the case # for your divorce filing with not even a single word response from you. So, I have to unfortunately face the truth of what that means: You can’t face me now that I know the truth. Now that I know that the past 2 years have been a lie. At least the past year has been a lie, but I say 2 because now I don’t know what to believe anymore. Was it all a lie? It would have been so much easier for you to have been honest with me from the beginning. I am sure our relationship would have been put on hold, but it would have been temporary…..not like what has happened now. Now we are damaged. > > For the past week, my mind has been replaying all of our moments together. Like a movie, that at one point seemed so hopeful and wonderful, filled with so many promises. Now, I replay those moments with a very, very heavy heart because I do not know what is the truth and what was a lie. From the very beginning of our relationship, the one thing I asked from you was honesty. You looked me in the eyes and promised to always be honest…and I believed you. You are the only man in my life that I have completely trusted. I felt that you would never lie to me, so I never had any reason to question anything. After so much time that has passed and your divorce not seeming to be any closer to the end, than it did a year ago, I started questioning. Even though I was questioning…in my heart I felt there was absolutely no way that the man I loved so deeply would be dishonest with me. I was just looking for some validation from you that you were a man of your word. When that didn’t happen, I was in a state of shock. That is why I keep asking for the case # because I am in such denial. I just refuse to believe that the man I love, and claimed to love me back, could so easily look in to my face and lie to me. Even when I questioned you about it, you were so convincing that I knew there had to be some sort of misunderstanding, so I believed you. I have always believed in you. That is why I have stood by you through so many of your heartaches and troubles over the past two years. I believed that you were worth it and that one day we would get through all of this together and everything would be okay. I feel like such a fool! How could I allow this to happen to me? How could I not see it? Because I loved you so much! I gave you everything that I had: my heart, my soul, my body, everything was yours. I was completely vulnerable with you. I have never let all of those walls down with anyone before. Even Sunday, when we mutually decided to end our relationship because you just couldn’t deal with everything, I still wanted to believe in you. I told you that I would still be here for you, as a friend while you get yourself healthy. That was something I knew would be hard to do, but wanted to because of our history together, because I loved you and because deep down I was holding on to a glimpse of hope that after you got healthy through therapy and learned how to better deal with the things going on in your life….. we could be together. But I said in order to be able to be a part of your life, I needed to know that you actually had filed for divorce last year. I needed to know that I was right about you. I needed to keep believing that you were a good man and would never, ever had lied to me. Especially for such a long time. If there was a divorce and there was a case #, you would have given it to me. I decided to send you one last text today, asking if there even was a case #. Since you didn’t even respond……I knew, that my deepest fear was true. Why?? How?? How could you claim to love me and want to share your life with me and then lie to me at the same time? How could you talk about being around for [her daughter] to grow up? How could you look at rings with me? How could you look at houses with me? I feel like a very cruel, mean joke has been played on me. I can’t even comprehend that! I would NEVER have lied to you, cheated on you or hurt you in any way. I could never do that to someone that meant so much to me. I have so many questions spinning in my head, but I feel I will never have an answer to any of them.  you cannot even imagine that pain that this has caused me. This is more than my heart can take. I am forever damaged by this. Do you have anything to say? I don’t understand how you could do this to me and I will never know how you could do this to [my daughter]. Knowing how much she loved you and wanted you in her life…..how could you take such a risk at potentially damaging both of us? There will never be a good enough reason to lie. I would have rather been told the truth a long time ago and suffered the smaller amount of pain, then be going through what I am going through now. I never deserved any of this . I am a really good person with a really big heart. The only thing I am guilty of is loving you and trusting you too much. No one will ever love you as much as I loved you. I will never understand how you could throw it all away. > > This also causes me a great deal of guilt. You know how guilty I have always felt for being in a relationship with you, while you were not yet divorced. I was foolish and justified it because I knew you were in the process of getting a divorce. Now that I know that the divorce never happened…. I feel even more guilt. I can’t believe that I put myself in a position to have potentially damaged someone else’s marriage. If there could have been a chance for you to have worked on your marriage and it didn’t happen because of me…… I feel horrible. I know I have asked you for forgiveness but I still carry so much guilt. I wish I could ask [me] for her forgiveness. I have learned a very valuable, yet extremely difficult lesson through all of this. This one I will have to work out with God. > > I do hope you end up getting some clarity in your life.

I had been thinking for some time now that my therapy has run its course, and I may be ready to handle things on my own. So, last week was my last session.  Of course, I can always go back.  And, I promised myself that if I ever do need to go back to therapy, I won’t wait until I’m near suicidal!

Joy asked me what it was that I thought helped me the most.  Without a doubt, it was the realization that many most of my feelings of insecurity, fear, distrust, the triggers and the mind tricks, were just that.  Mind tricks that I was playing on myself.  Her explanation of limited thinking patterns and how to overcome them was the single most positive thing that I got out of therapy.  Now, when I am triggered or start to go down the “crazy train” of thoughts as I like to call it, I immediately, and almost as a matter of second nature, eliminate the limited thinking pattern and thus, eliminate the bad thoughts.  Sure, I’m still triggered.  I will always have triggers.  But, I can change how I let them affect me, and I can defuse the pain by stopping all the negative thinking, mind reading, and catastrophizing that I was doing.

Plus, I have started working more again, and I realize that I have my confidence back – something I never thought would return.  I thought that I was so broken that I would never have the sharpness that I needed to be good at my job.  But, recently, I had an experience at work that proved I hadn’t lost “it” after all.

I don’t regret a single penny spent on couples counseling or my personal therapy.  It’s been thousands of dollars.  All worth it.  My marriage would not have survived without the help of our marriage counselor in the beginning, or the last eight months of individual therapy.  I know that we would have given up, or at least separated, had it not been for their help and what we learned about each other and ourselves.

And, while I feel that I had to put more (in terms of time and effort) into the therapy, I also was more wounded.  My husband was able to move on from the affair and start anew much, much sooner than me.  I was not ready, and I needed to work through issues – sometimes the same issues, over and over again.  But, at some point, I felt it was unfair to keep forcing my husband to talk about the affair.  As unfair as that sounds to the betrayed (and it felt unfair to me), I believe that at some point, you have to stop beating them over the head with it; otherwise, the talk of the affair becomes a toxin to the relationship.  Don’t get me wrong – he was willing to talk about it, but after over a year of talking about it, I could see the effect it was having on him.  He was becoming more withdrawn and distant.  He simply could not bear any more shame and had exhausted himself with apologies.  That’s why I needed therapy.  I wasn’t done talking about the affair, and I couldn’t move on.

I think I’ve mentioned on here before that I have told very few of my friends about the affair:  two of my girlfriends, my mom, and my aunt.  One of my girlfriends, we’ll call her T, has been a friend for over 15 years.  We know each other’s families well, and everyone in her family knows my husband.  T and I had a chance to go to dinner last weekend, and although I told her about the affair more than six months ago, she told me that something just occurred to her that was probably important, but at the time she dismissed it and never thought about it again until recently.  I could tell she was fighting tears, as she told me that about three years ago, her 26 year-old son came to her and her husband (who is good friends with my husband) and told them that he had seen my husband at a restaurant with another woman and a little girl (Her daughter).  He said that he was certain that my husband recognized him, and that by my husband’s body language, he felt that he was not welcome to walk over and say hello, so he didn’t.  He told them that it was obvious that my husband and this woman were romantically involved.

My friend and her husband argued with her son; vehemently defending my husband and convincing her son that he was wrong, that it was not my husband that he had seen that day, that my husband wouldn’t do that sort of thing, couldn’t do that, and that he must be mistaken.  She said that they were never able to convince her son, but he agreed to drop it.

She began to really choke up and apologized to me, stating that only if she had believed her son, if only she had told me, that maybe she could have spared me some of the pain I’ve endured.  Of course, I now know that no one, except my husband, could have spared me the pain I’ve been through.  I also told her that it would have done no good even if she had told me about it.  He was such a good liar.  There would have been an excuse, a strong and believable denial.  And, I would have believed him.  Then, he would have made sure that my contact with her was limited.  He would have made excuses for the four of us not to see each other.  He would have held a grudge against her, and created a wedge in our friendship.  So, I told her, it’s all in the past.  Yes, it was my husband that her son saw, no doubt, but she shouldn’t let it bother her.

It’s funny (not funny haha, but funny strange) how even a friend of mine has been doing the same thing I have spent the last year and a half doing: going back through the events of the past with a new light.  Suddenly, with this enlightened knowledge, something that you previously dismissed now looks curious and suspicious.  I don’t care to describe how much I have re-lived the past few years, going through every mundane detail of my life and looking at it anew.  Things that were so innocent and not the least suspicious are now riddled with skepticism.  In a way, though, it’s a relief.  I now have a reason for the strangeness I felt between my husband and I.  There is an explanation for why I felt the way I did: jealous, insecure, angry, lonely.  Before, I thought I was losing my mind.  Now, I can re-play all of the events of those two years and know that I was not wrong, that I was not crazy, that it was not my fault.

So, I was fine the rest of that night, and my girlfriend and I really had an enjoyable evening.  But the next few nights.  Not so much.  I couldn’t help but think back to her conversation with me; the fact that someone we knew had actually witnessed his affair; the fact that he neglected to tell me about this run-in when I had specifically asked him if anyone ever saw him with her; the fact that he had humiliated me; the fact that he had everyone, including me, so fooled into believing he was someone who he was not.  I began to think again that maybe he is still not the person he says he is.  Maybe he is fooling me yet again.  The “what-ifs” began to take hold and were threatening to take me down to that depressed state.

But, my therapy proved helpful here.  I recognized the pattern, and  first attempted to use some of the imagery that I’ve been learning in therapy.  I locked the what-ifs up in a safe, sent them to the bottom of the ocean, but somehow they kept getting out of the safe.  I had my therapy session this week and told Joy about it.  She said that the what-ifs were not getting out of the safe – it was locked; new ones were coming in, and I needed to lock them up too.  I had a hard time with that imagery – it seems kind of silly to me to imagine such things in the hopes that they disappear.  The game is not based in reality, and while I get it, it just doesn’t work for me.

So I moved on to another technique I learned in therapy.  I mentally create two columns: one is evidence that supports the what-if, and the other is evidence against the what-if.   When I got to the ultimate what-if:  maybe he is fooling me still; the only thing I can put in the column that supports the thought is the fact that he had an affair in the past.  I have no evidence that he is lying or cheating or doing anything else bad presently.  On the other side of that column, I can list many things that I can verify that support that he is doing exactly as he says.  I’ve used this technique many times, and always its the same: the only fact that I can list to support the bad what-if thought is the fact that he had an affair once.  Powerful stuff, I think.

Last year I spent the holidays in great pain – everything was a trigger, and I was depressed.  This year, I was still triggered, but the pain and obsessive thoughts were short-lived.  Instead of exchanging gifts for our anniversary and Christmas, we took a vacation with another couple that we’ve known forever and really enjoy spending time with.  We had a major argument the week before vacation, and I was really unsure of whether our marriage would make it to the new year.  I haven’t written about it because I needed for us to work through it “alone.”  I needed my mind to be clear and unclouded by the blogs.  The vacation was perfect timing and proved to be a great bonding experience for both of us.  Since then, we have seemed to be closer and more connected.  We both agreed that we needed to take more vacations, even if they are just a weekend away.

I am still in therapy, and last week I decided to go only every other week.  I have learned coping mechanisms for my obsessive thoughts and triggers, which have helped.  I have accepted that there will always be triggers and I will always be reminded of the affair - which was very difficult for me, as for a very long time I wanted (needed) for someone to tell me that I would someday not be affected by the affair.  I wanted to be the person I was before the affair – trusting, happy, carefree.  I have accepted that I will never truly be that person again, and some of those traits that I had (e.g., blind trust) were actually harmful to me.  My husband wants that person back, too.  Particularly the blind trust.  He is having difficulty accepting that he will never have that kind of trust again.  I wish he would go to therapy by himself.  There are so many things he could work on – from issues and resentments from his childhood to self-forgiveness for the affair.  But, I accept that he does not want to.

Though things are better, and my depression seems to be lessening, I still have not forgiven him, and that is why I am still going to therapy.  I want to be able to let go of all of the anger and hurt and truly forgive, but I’m just not able to.  At least not yet.

It’s been well over a month since my last entry, and, while I didn’t mean to take a break from blogging, I just couldn’t find the words to post an update.  It’s now been 18 months since I discovered the affair, and I really thought I’d be “better” by now.  I am better in many ways, but I’ve been frustrated and plagued with doubts – about my husband, about my marriage, about myself, which has made it difficult to write.  As I’ve said before, while therapeutic, blogging tends to keep me in the same place – mentally speaking – and that place is full of pain and heartache – a place I’m sick of being in.  I’m still seeing my therapist, Joy, and it has helped with some of the obsessive thoughts, insecurities and doubts and triggers.  I’ll continue seeing her as long as I need to and for as long as I feel it’s helping. 

Earlier this week, my husband told me that he could not stand one more mention of the affair; that he wants to move on and put it behind us.  I thought about it for a day, and I agreed not to bring it up again.  While I don’t think it’s a fair deal for me (after all, I am still suffering), there does seem to be some feeling of relief between us.  It is very slight, but I feel that there is a new sense of ease in the way we interact.  

My birthday was last week, and I feel completely ripped off.  I’m 43 now, and the last three years have been nothing but pain and misery.  What should have been some of the best times of the twilight of my youth were stolen from me by the affair.  I’m pissed about that.  But, I don’t want to feel this way again next year.  I want to be able to look back on the year and think that it was a good one, and remember the good times I had, and cherish my memories.    

Next week we leave for a short vay-cay with some good friends.  Our anniversary is also next week while we’re on vacation (18 years).  I wonder if we’ll celebrate it – it feels sometimes that there’s no reason to celebrate our anniversary since our vows were so severely broken.  But, at the same time, I do remember that before the affair we loved each other so very much and I do still cherish those memories.  The two young people that we were back when we were married are different people now, though.  I guess I’m a little torn about the date and it’s a bittersweet time for me. 

Overall, though, I’m okay.  Not great.  Not terrible.  Just okay.  I’m fine with just being okay for now, and I’m taking one day at a time. 

I met with my new therapist again yesterday – her name is Joy (a great name for a therapist, I think).  I think it will be a weekly, Monday routine.  We talked about the last week and how it went, how I felt about my last session.  I was glad that I decided to come and to do something for me, to help me, because clearly, I am struggling.  She noted that my husband and I are very different, and those differences could be a source of conflict.  I agreed.  Although, I never used to see our differences.  I used to think he was the proverbial ying to my yang.  Now, post D-day, I see that we are completely opposite in many, many ways.  Possibly even incompatible.  But.  I do love him, and do still want to work on this marriage.

She asked me what it was that I was struggling with this week.  I told her that my husband has somewhat disconnected from me again; that it’s likely linked to my being sad and down lately; and his distance only makes me more sad and down, which, in turn, makes him more withdrawn, depressed and ashamed.  A cycle of sadness, if you will.  But, he was often disconnected when he was in the midst of his affair, so it’s a trigger for me.  And, just another layer on top of what I am trying to work through.

We then discussed what my husband does when he sees me sad or crying.  He only says he is sorry and not much else.  He is too consumed by his own shame, guilt, sadness to offer much more by way of support.  He is remorseful, but he has difficulty expressing his feelings, and, Joy noted: he is not doing everything he could do to help me.  I expressed how frustrating this is to me, especially when it seems so obvious to me that if I am feeling insecure and express to him that I feel insecure, the natural response should be to offer words of reassurance.  My husband can’t seem to do that.  It’s such a natural reaction, I think, and I can’t understand why he can’t give that to me, and maybe he can’t give me reassurance because he doesn’t feel it.  Joy observed that I am projecting my own thoughts about what I think he is feeling, when, in fact, I have no idea what he is feeling at that moment.  I am engaging a “limited-thinking pattern” known as “mind-reading.”  It’s a common thing that depressed people do, but it only makes things worse.  I am assuming what he is feeling and why he is acting a certain way, when he has not told me what he’s feeling or why he is acting or reacting in a certain way.  She’s right.  I have no idea what he is thinking or feeling.

She handed me a list of 8 Limited-Thinking Patterns that she says are common for people suffering from depression or grieving, and tend to make things seems worse:

  1. Filtering.  You focus on the negative details while ignoring all the positive aspects of a situation.
  2. Polarized thinking.  Things are black or white, good or bad.  You have to be perfect or you’re a failure.  There’s no middle ground, no room for mistakes.
  3. Overgeneralization.  You reach a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence.  You exaggerate the frequency of problems and use negative global labels.
  4. Mind reading.  Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they doe.  In particular, you have certain knowledge of how people think and feel about you.
  5. Catastrophizing.  You expect, even visualize disaster.  You notice or hear a problem and start asking, “What if?”  What if tragedy strikes?  What if it happens to you?
  6. Magnifying.  You exaggerate the degree or intensity of a problem.  You turn up the volume on anything bad, making it loud, large, and overwhelming.
  7. Personalization.  You assume tat everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you.  You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who is smarter, more competent, better looking, and so on.
  8. Shoulds.  You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act.  People who break the rules anger you, and you feel guilty when you violate the rules.

We went through the list and talked about each one.  I admitted:  I engage in 7 of the 8, if not all 8.  And not just once in a while –  I engage in these patterns multiple times each day!  My assignment is to track how often I engage in these over the next week.  Not because it’s necessarily wrong, but to make myself aware that I am doing it.  Since yesterday afternoon, I’ve engaged in four different patterns already.  Geesh!  It’s strange, but I already feel better knowing that my thinking is not necessarily correct.

Last week and the week before I was feeling down.  Really down.  Crying every day down.  Sure, some of it might be blamed on PMS, but not all of it.  I had to admit that I have been struggling.  Struggling with getting past it all, struggling with doubts and insecurities, struggling with anger and resentment.  So I got on the computer and found a counselor near our new home.  I didn’t tell my husband at first.  I finally told him over the weekend that I’m still having some problems and have been down lately and that I made an appointment.  He seemed a bit surprised, but not too surprised given my catatonic state lately.  He felt bad for me, apologized and asked if there was anything he could to help – which, by the way, is a huge step for him, as he usually cannot get past his own pain to ask how he can help me.  So, I credit him for that.  The year of couples counseling did some good.

So, I saw a new counselor today.  She seems nice enough, and was compassionate.  I did most of the talking, but she summarized that my wounds run very deep, that I must not yet be through the grieving process, and that I cannot find my path to the life I want until I go through that process entirely, without skipping any of it, and that only after I grieve can I truly forgive.  That kind of rang true with me, since I do feel like I have always wanted to skip over the pain and move on to the next chapter.  But, seriously, haven’t I felt enough pain already??  Shouldn’t the last year of living hell be enough?  I get it - it’s different for everyone.  And, it makes sense that my process is going to be long.  I have never had a relationship where I have not been disappointed.  Every man in my life has cheated.  Every boyfriend, my dad, my brother, every one.  My husband was supposed to be different – he was the one person in my life that was not supposed to do this to me.  But.  He did.  So, yeah.  My wounds are deep.  Fuckin’ sucks.

I was reflecting last night and thinking about how far we have come since D-day sixteen months ago.  A long way, for sure.  I feel tons better though the thoughts and fears still linger…. not a day goes by that I do not think about it, about what he did, how he hurt me, and daily I think about whether I will run into her someday, what I will say, what she might say, whether he’ll hurt me again….

I woke up this morning and remembered what a friend told me about a friend of hers that went through a similar experience:  she tried to forgive her husband and they seemed better for two years; then, she woke up one day, and was done with the marriage.  Left him right there and then.  She simply did not love him anymore.  Will that happen to me?  Was she, like I am, haunted by her husband’s affair?  Did the haunting never stop?  Will I some day wake up and decide I do not love him?

When I was very young, I was in an abusive relationship.  I hid the abuse very well, and no one ever knew about it.  It lasted two, long and tortuous years – years that should have been the best of my life.  I had tried to end it so many times, but I feared him, feared what he might do to me, what he might do to himself, and my attempts to break up were never successful.  Then, one day, driving home from work, I decided I had had enough.  I vividly remember the very moment that I decided to leave him.  I didn’t care if he killed me, or if he killed himself, I was not going to live that way any longer.  So, I turned around, drove to his house, and told him that I was breaking up with him.  Unlike all of the other times, I was not afraid.  He sensed this, and he said to me “you’re serious this time, aren’t you?”  And, he let me go, unharmed.

I think that either my husband and I will grow old together, or, one day, I will wake up and decide I’ve had enough.  Is it the fear keeping me in this relationship (like it was keeping me in an abusive relationship so long ago) - fear that he’ll leave me, fear that I’m not good enough or lovable enough, fear of being alone….?  Will I, like my friend’s friend, decide one day that I’m done?  That I deserve better?  That I don’t love him?  I don’t know.  I hope the fears I have pass in time.  And, I hope my love for him is still there when they do go away.  But, I really don’t know.  I can only tell you that for now, I’m here.  I’m staying.  For now.

We did more than a year of counseling and through it came to a few relatively simple agreements, the most important being that we would have complete and total honesty.  I knew that my husband would have trouble with total honesty and that there would be slips he would have along the way.  After all, he was raised to tell “white lies” to avoid anything that might be difficult or hurtful in his life.  It’s a habit, and habits are hard to break.

But, we also agreed that if She ever attempted to contact him that he would immediately tell me and WE would decide how to handle it.  Together.  That was another agreement that we made during our counseling.

I had some free time on my hands the other day and went through some of his emails - something that I rarely do.  He has an email account that he set up only for use with UTube, and he doesn’t post to Utube hardly ever, so the email has very little use.  But, I decided to check it for some reason.  As I’m scrolling through the unread messages (it’s obvious he hasn’t looked at the account for months) I see a welcome email from ChristianMingle.com – a dating website – from about three months ago.  I’m immediately triggered and panicked.  I log into the website using a password that only he would use, and sure enough, I’m in.  The profile is not set up and it appears as though he only logged in, but never completed a profile or even read any of the messages he received.

Now, this is a huge trigger for me because I discovered his affair because I found a bunch of emails from Match.com.  Then, when I dug deeper into his email account, I found old emails from Her.  They had broken up about a month before he created his profile on Match.com.  The reason I was told that he was on Match.com:  he wanted to make sure she was moving on; he was afraid that if she was not moving on, that she would try to hurt him or me as she was a very vindictive person and since she now knew that he had lied to her, he was afraid she would try to contact me.  Do I believe this story?  Eh.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It doesn’t matter now.

So, here I am looking at another dating website.  This time, however, it’s clear he never did anything with it.  But, what’s disturbing is that he did it on the one night I was out of town.  Really?  I can’t leave him alone one night!

So, then I decided to look at his phone records for that night.  I see that there are couple of calls with a friend of his who’s wife also happens to be friends with Her.  I am not friends with these people, have only met his friend once, but have never met his wife.  I have told my husband that I prefer he not be friends with this person – not just because of the connection to Her, but also because he happens to be a cheater and total womanizer.  He has significantly cut down his contact with this friend, but they do still keep in touch.

I stewed on it for a day.  I didn’t want to sound angry when I confronted him about it.  It’s important for me to be calm when talking about things, otherwise, he either lashes back or shuts down.  So, after a day, I had finally calmed down enough and asked him why he created a profile on the site.

At first, his old habits kicked in.  “What profile?  I don’t remember doing anything like that.”  Clearly a stall tactic; I’m not buying it.  I keep pressing and tell him that yes, he does remember it because you don’t forget something like that after what we’ve been through.  Then, he vaguely recalls doing that, a long time ago.  He was just making sure she had moved on.  I keep pressing, telling him that that makes no sense, why would he be looking for her?  He says he’s just so nervous that she is going to try to do something to him or to me if she hasn’t moved on to someone else.  Again, I tell him that’s not how this looks, and after all this time, why would he suddenly be looking for her again?  I can see in his face the moment that he broke and decided to come clean:  He saw her car one night sitting in the lot across from his work parking lot, and when he came out and spotted her, she took off.  He’s not certain that it was her, but the car looked like hers and it definitely drove off when he looked that way.  So, he called his friend with the wife that is friends with her and tells him about the incident.  The friend tells him that she’s not moved on, that she’s told his wife that she will never date again, that she doesn’t know if she can ever trust again, and that she is heartbroken.  My husband says that he only logged into the website to see if she was trying to date again and to make sure that we had nothing to worry about.

I told him that I was glad she was suffering.  I hoped that she hurt as much as I did.  She deserved it for sleeping with a married man.  I also told him that he needs to let it go.  She is the one that has broken off all contact with him.  She blocked him on Facebook; she told him in an email that she wanted a “clean break.” I told him that it was him that kept searching her out, and that it looked really bad from my view.  He agreed that it looked bad, but said that it really made him nervous when he saw her and when his friend told him that she wasn’t over it yet.

The next morning, I told him that I wanted to talk about it some more and then we would never bring it up again.  I told him that we made a deal in counseling that if she ever tries to contact him that he is tell me immediately, and WE will agree on what to do.  He agreed it was a deal, and he was sorry he didn’t handle it well.  Then, I said something that I didn’t plan on saying:  If you ever try to contact her again, if you ever go looking for her again, if you ever even call your friend to find out what’s going on with her again, I will leave you.  I’m done with it.  I love you, but I’m done with it.

It’s the first time I have ever said that I would leave him.  And, I said it very matter-of-factly.  As I was saying the words, I didn’t know what was coming.  I was almost as shocked as he was.  He just nodded.  I smiled.  Kissed him on the forehead, and got up and finished getting ready for the day.  I felt liberated.  I said something I had not planned on saying, had not really thought about that much, but I knew, after I said it, it was true.  I am done.  No more second chances.  No more slips.  No more falls.  I’m done.

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