Another dark road, part one

As I sit here in trigger “happy” Tokyo, I decided I would post this entry from back in Hawaii in December. My words then represent some of my feelings as I sit here in a place where my husband traveled with his affair partner three times over a period of four years. I am journaling, but I am trying to take things a little slow as it is incredibly painful for me to be here, basically retracing their steps. My first day in Tokyo started out pretty rough, but things are slowly improving.

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Journal Entry: December 17, 2014

It has been 11 months, 6 days, and 4 hours since I found out about my husband’s secret life. Yesterday at breakfast I started cycling again. I don’t recall what brought it all on. It often does not take much. I do remember telling Blue Eyes that he has ripped me in two. I feel a kind of duality to my soul now, the part that remembers how my life used to be, and the part that is completely broken.

I poured my heart out. I think my husband actually thought at one point that taking me out to restaurants would be a good thing because I used to be the kind of person who would not fall apart in front of others, certainly not in public. Well, those days are long gone. Since dday, I have probably been triggered more in restaurants than anywhere else. My husband is now afraid to eat out with me. Just last night he suggested we order room service because he was not sure he could handle another emotion filled meal out in public. Then he apologized, realizing he brought this all on himself and he will now have to take it all, wherever, whenever.

As I sat at breakfast, I told him he had robbed me of the strength I once claimed as my greatest asset. He stole my self-esteem, my confidence, and my self-reliance. My entire life before January 11, I felt loved, respected, nurtured, and appreciated by my friends, my family, and my husband. Now I have moments every day when I feel empty and alone, unloved, and unlovable. Part of me realizes I still possess all my positive qualities, my strength and security, and part of me, every day, feels lost.

Every day I feel the same desire as I have always felt, to love and nurture and be compassionate towards others, always, and this makes me feel like a good person, a good wife, a good mother, and a good citizen. But now, I have this other side to my personality, the side that is subconsciously protecting me from danger, from being hurt again, the side that stops me in my tracks multiple times a day with the feeling that I am falling into a trap. The part of me that says, “Kat, you are too giving, you are not keeping enough for yourself. You are expecting others to behave the same way you do towards them, and they may not, do not, have the ability to do that, at least not yet.” I can feel a part of my mind protecting me from the part that gives too much away.

After breakfast, we go on a drive around the island. As we drive through Waimea Town, we pass lush countryside strewn with Hawaiian plantation houses sitting high up on cinder block foundations, surrounded by green pastures dotted with cows and goats. We pass a little market named Oshima’s, which makes me think of Japan, and then, snap, just like that my mind goes to Japan where my husband is traveling on a train with his affair partner. They are heading out of Kyoto, where we lived together for a year, on their way to Nara. My husband took me to Nara 27 years ago when I first joined him in Japan. We walked around the area that is strewn with pagodas, and temples, we watched the turtles in the pond, and fed the deer. It was snowing that day and my husband took a picture of me feeding the deer. That picture is framed and sits on the credenza next to his desk at his office downtown. I am 23 years old in that picture, with a big smile on my face and snowflakes everywhere. My husband and I took our boys to the same place and did those same things with them about a dozen years later. And then, in 2012, my husband took his affair partner there and did those same things with her. I can feel my heart splitting in two.

I decide, as we are driving, that I am tired of living this pain by myself. So many thoughts and images flooding my mind, pushing out the good. It is time to start sharing with my husband every time this happens to me. Every time my mind takes me off to a place that causes me great pain. Many times it is nothing he is saying or doing in the present, it is just a moment in time that throws me into a memory that is not my own. It is a picture of something he did to betray me, but my mind has conjured a very clear image of that day, of them, of the things they did that were eating away at my happiness, my marriage, of everything I hold dear.

So I told him, right then, what I was feeling. That my mind had thrown me into a painful place. I did not want to be there, but I was, and I wanted him to know it. Instead of going with me to that painful place and gently trying to coax me out, he tried to distract me. He started pointing at things along the way, especially animals since he knows I love all animals. He tries to distract me with benign comments about meaningless topics, which does not help at all and actually hurts because it feels like he does not want to validate me, or my pain and he merely wants to run away. The more he deflects, the more painful it is for me. I get past this one conjured memory and we move forward on our journey to the Waipio Valley.

Later as we drive south along the highway from Kawaihae to Kealakekua Bay, Blue Eyes is completely silent. He is totally inside his head, not saying anything, not sharing anything, actually just not present at all. His silence catapults me back, once again, into the dark place that I will never understand. The place where my husband of 20 some years plans an 11-day business trip to Asia with another woman over Valentine’s Day. I am home with our sons, one has just finished all his college applications and is anxiously awaiting replies from the schools. Our younger son is struggling to make it to class, but totally engrossed in his sports. They both desperately need a father around, not a part time father who travels more than he is home, but an active, available, present father. I once again start questioning my husband, asking him how he could do this to me, to us. He doesn’t have any answers, he doesn’t know what to say, and this is ultimately what drives my torment. I just need him to talk, to say something, to take responsibility, to acknowledge the destruction. I, once again, ask him to talk to me, to share his thoughts, to be my partner. He opens up, a little and I can see how painful it is for him. I want him to feel the agony that I am feeling, I need him to share this moment of despair with me, not continue to hide behind his protective shield. After 15 minutes or so of me asking why, how, and him saying he doesn’t know… the ‘I don’t knows’ start spilling out of him with a deep and remorseful force, with an understanding of some of the damage he has caused. I want him to feel it. In my mind, if he can’t feel it, he can’t heal. And I can’t heal.

I focus back on the here and now, where I am supposed to be. We arrive at Kealakekua Bay, a gorgeous spot where, on a different day, sometime in our future, we will probably go snorkeling with the dolphins and sea turtles, but today, we enjoy the gorgeous view and I take some photos and we are mesmerized by the little black crabs that are crawling all over the rocks as the tide splashes in and washes them away.

We then drive a few miles down the road to the Place of Refuge Historic Park and take some amazing photos of a glorious pink sunset. My Uncle lived on Kona for years and he has mapped out this little sightseeing tour for us. Next stop, Teshima’s Japanese Restaurant back up on the highway.

Despite the gorgeous Hawaiian sights we have witnessed today, I am still very uneasy. We enter the Japanese restaurant and the lady who seats us is thrilled we speak some Japanese. She is happily chattering on about coming to Hawaii with her family decades ago and how now when she returns to Japan, her friends cannot even understand her Japanese because it is spoken with a Hawaiian accent and slang. She is laughing and amusing herself with her anecdotes. My husband leaves to go to the restroom and I am alone. I start feeling anxious. John Legend’s ‘All of Me’ is on the radio. I realize this is going to be another trigger filled restaurant meal. My husband returns to the table and we open our menus. He knows I am not doing well. He asks if I want to leave. I say, “no.” The first thing I see when I open the menu is that they have Beef Curry. Japanese Beef Curry is one of my husband’s favorite comfort food dishes. When he was with his affair partner in 2010 in Tokyo on Valentine’s Day, they went out for dinner and shared Japanese Beef Curry. I feel sick. I order the Teishoku Bento Dinner #3, as does my husband. We should have shared, the portions were huge and I was already not feeling well. I pick at my food. A Great Big World’s ‘Say Something’ plays overhead. Tears stream down my face. I tell my husband I am going to wait outside in the parking lot while he pays. He asks if I want the key to the rental car and I say no. As I head outside I can feel the pain envelop me. I start to sob inwardly, silently at first, then my cries come out as a wimper. I bend over from the pain, and sit down on the ground. The restaurant is very close to the two-lane highway and cars are going by at a pretty good clip. As I sit near the building on the asphalt of the parking lot, my chest is tight and my sobs are low and quiet now. I look out into the lights of the cars and I think, I could just walk out onto the highway and the cars would take care of the rest. There would be no time for them to stop. They would end my pain for good.

13 thoughts on “Another dark road, part one

  1. Hi Kat.

    Have you determined whether he is capable of empathy? And if he is, is he unable to demonstrate it? It seems to be what you need most from him. So if he is capable, then perhaps there are ways you can help him learn to demonstrate it without fear. And if he is not capable, then perhaps your ultimate decision to stay or go depends on if you can truly and profoundly let go of the wish for it.

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    • Hi B. Yes, he is capable of empathy, and yes he is able to demonstrate it. BUT, he is not able to demonstrate it on command, or all the time. Sometimes he demonstrates it at inopportune times (in my opinion) or when I am not in an emotional state, so it may be helpful to him, but not necessarily helpful to me. I will not be able to help him overcome any of his fears. That is all on him. Recovery is a work in progress. This is why it is so difficult for both of us to heal together at the same time. Sometimes I need things he is unable to give me because his addiction still controls a lot of his daily thoughts (not the sexual acting out part of his addiction that is a byproduct, the actual anger and resentment he holds onto from childhood and that previously drove his behavior), and sometimes he needs things that my trauma will not allow me to give him, because it is still too painful. That is why this journey is a long one. As long as we are both moving forward, I am committed to it. He spent years rationalizing his secret life. It is going to take a while for him to live in his own reality 24/7. Again, that’s all on him. He needs to decide what kind of life he wants to lead. He hated his secret life before. It caused him immeasurable stress and pain. I am still blown away every day that he is a different person than the one I thought I married and that he had a secret life at all. It takes some real getting used to. There is no way he will ever be that person. Some of it was a facade. Hopefully I love the person he becomes as much as the person I thought he was, if that makes sense. I imagine I will.

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      • Thanks for your reply. Can you recommend any reading that explains your statement about not being able to help him overcome his fears? I am trying to understand what appropriate support for an addict looks like. I have no clue what “detaching with love” (a common 12-step term) means.

        Thank you 🙂

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        • I don’t really get involved in his 12 step work. You see, that’s the thing… I can’t help him. He has to figure this out on his own. All I can do is be there doing my 50% for our marriage. We all have to do the individual work ourselves. I spent many months working on myself. The thing I needed to work on was being strong enough to leave if I had to. Basically, realizing I could admit that my marriage, and therefore my life, was not what I thought it was. Or what anyone thought it was. We get so caught up in what we look like from the outside, to friends, family, etc… that when our reality is blown to pieces, we don’t know what to do. I am lucky that I had supportive people around who love both me and my husband and want to see us work, but realize we have to do the work. It still feels like shit, though. Knowing the “dream” was a lie. I had to mourn for it and realize I could go on, with or without my husband. I have heard the term “detaching with love” but I don’t really have any resources because I haven’t detached. I know that when they enter a 12 step, they are not supposed to have any contact at all with the “acting out partners,” whether they are married, or not. Ouch, I know. How my husband detached from his APs has always bothered me and this is the step my husband never accomplished properly with any of them. He just heartlessly, and pathetically, told them he couldn’t do it anymore. They all thought he loved them… and who knows, maybe some part of him did. The Patrick Carnes book is called “Don’t Call it Love… ” but I think defining love is the hard part. At one point, I asked my LA trauma therapist how I was supposed to know if my husband actually loved me. I mean, if an unrecovered sex addict is incapable of real emotional attachment, what was our 30 year relationship all about. We have two kids, and years together building a life. She never was able to answer my question because she never did any work with my husband. It left me empty and cold and I still think about it. I believe my husband loves me, but I am not convinced he didn’t have feelings for the APs. He compartmentalized everything. I think he has feelings for anyone that has sex with him, or even that listens to him when he is needy. What he is working on now, is self coping versus self medicating. His self medicating including porn and masturbation, grooming covert relationships with women, nurturing covert relationships with women including sexting, emails, phone calls and hookups or multi day business trips with lots of sex. All his drugs are gone. If your male friend is a sex addict, you are a drug, so I understand the desire to detach with love in order to help him, even if he never gets the other help he needs. I will ask my husband about this. He has been in 12 step for almost a year. Maybe he knows of resources. Right now he is on a train from Kyoto to Osaka, Japan 🙂 .

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        • I have no idea if he is a sex addict, as I have said we have had zero physical contact (other than hugs). It is more about my trying to understand how to stop being codependent with him generally. I take on all his problems and I believe I am his sole confidante (aside from his wife, to whatever extent he confides in her. I have no idea). We recently discussed this (how heavily he leans on me) and I try very hard to help him with a lot of both work and personal issues (not related to his marriage) but I realize intellectually that is not possible. Just trying to learn how to listen and support without taking on his problems.
          (I think the “detaching with love” concept is from al-anon and its ilk. My crude understanding of it is you assure the person you love them but you will not enable or rescue them. How that works is beyond my understanding.)

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          • If it comes from the 12 step materials, my husband will know as he has immersed himself in the program. Since everything is out in the open with my husband, I guess it is easier for me to detach from his healing process… since he is on a healing journey. All the 12 step materials are based on the first step: acknowledging they are powerless to their addiction, and seeking help. Without that, I’m not sure how applicable it all is. However, that being said, the Anon meetings, I believe, are for people dealing with people with addictions (whether recovered or not?), which might be a better place to start? As I read a lot of other blogs and listen to other women from the seminar I attended in October, a big part of the healing process for anyone involved, is admitting there is a problem. Being a good friend is difficult, regardless of the situation. Have you ever looked into S-Anon? It might be interesting to attend a meeting in your area.

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  2. My breaks for you and I totally get it. When you step into the reality that your life was not actually what you thought it was, its intense and emotional. Devasating is not even strong enough to describe the absolute hell you go through. Dday for me, coming up on 4 years in a few days and it will be every bit the reminder of the life I thought I had that I lost in the blink of an eye.

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    • 😦 . Good luck with dday. We will never forget. I know that to be the truth. I just hope that all the really negative shit fades deep into the background. Today is a crappy day, but I am glad my husband is getting the help he needs, whether we end up together, or not. Peace to you!

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      • Thank you – dday is something only partners of addicts truly get to the core of their being. Someone just says that word and I am overwhelmed with compassion for where they were at that exact moment when the world became surreal for them and reminded of the intense grief and loss I felt. I am hoping this year it will be a little “d” day and that in the future it will just be a day. It always makes me feel happy when couples can make it through stronger, so I will be pulling for you both,

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        • I can still remember her voice and her exact words from a year ago. That phone call is stuck in my brain forever. It was the moment of impact. I will never forget it. Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. It is such a daily battle for both my husband and I, in different ways. As she said in that fateful phone call, “I can’t even count the number of times we’ve been to Tokyo together… ” By the way, it was three… so I guess she can’t count very high. And here I sit in a hotel room in Japan while my husband is at meetings, feeling like there is a hole in my chest where my heart should be. I truly hope your dday is as easy as it can possibly be. I cannot wait for 1/11 to just be a day. If not for that phone call, however, my husband would not be in recovery. I would bet my life on it.

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          • That day will get easier, I promise. You just made me chuckle with the “three” comment – it made me think of the 24 year old “professional” cleaner I had the pleasure of being forced to endure. I continually had to remind myself that it wasn’t her fault that 1 out of every 3 words I said to her, were well outside her cognitive realm of understanding. In the end, I would just look at her and think “you poor thing, good luck with him.”
            In terms of the phone call, for me discovery was bitter sweet. I miss my old life and want it back some days but that life was a fantasy. It wasn’t real. What I have now is real and it was a blessing I didn’t catch any diseases. Many of the spouses in my therapy groups found out because they caught an STD and that would be an awful dday for sure!

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