And that would be gas lighting

Monday, February 16, 2015: couple’s therapy

Due to traveling schedules, we had not been to see Ms. Second Chance for two weeks. I could barely remember what we talked about last time. I’m pretty sure we left needing to further discuss my thoughts on bringing a period of celibacy back in order for Blue Eyes to more fully connect with his emotions. But I’ll talk about all that in a later post. The situation is currently unresolved.

The appointment began with shares, as always. I was in a really good place and honestly could not think of anything specific that I was really concerned about. Well, Blue Eyes fixed that for me and by fixed, I mean he came up with a couple instances over the past week where I got angry, and he was frustrated and so he shared first. Of course, his story about the events in question was disjointed, had no order, was confusing, and self centered, in my opinion. I am not saying these things because I am mad at my husband. I am not. I am saying them because they are true. His life is disordered, his thought processes are erratic, his real emotions are pushed down, and well, he is a mess. He is a recovering sex addict. Duh. What was nice about what Blue Eyes decided to share, and how he shared it, was that it gave the therapist a chance to see how we each describe a situation, in this case one altercation, and one conversation.

In the case of what I am calling the altercation, Blue Eyes had just returned home from work. It was dinnertime and I was chopping vegetables. I had just, about an hour before, read a post by a fellow betrayed spouse blogger about a situation in NZ that had been all over the news. The story of a man and woman who worked together (older man, younger woman) and how they had decided to have a romantic interlude at the office after hours. What they did not realize, apparently, was that their sexual escapades were in full view of everyone outside the building, including all the customers at a bar across the street. Their entire sexual encounter was caught on camera, both still and video, and then plastered across the internet for the entire world to see. Unfortunately, the man was married with kids, and his wife very sadly found out about this sordid affair on Facebook. Wow. I could not have felt more pain for this woman, wife, mother, human being. It breaks my heart. My husband had sex with his secretary in his office for a couple months way back when. My guess is one of them closed the blinds, but I just cannot imagine watching my husband have sex with another woman on the internet. As I was standing there at the cutting board in our kitchen while Blue Eyes was happily cleaning up some dishes in the sink, I told him I had just read this story and I started to explain the situation. He cut me off, very abruptly, mid sentence and told me I had already told him the story. I said, no, I had JUST read the story (even though the post was from earlier in February, I am so behind on reading blogs, I knew the actual events had happened at least a couple weeks ago, but I had definitely just read about it and had not heard of it before). He kind of chuckled and said, wow, you really are losing your memory. You told me about this, they were having sex and a bunch of people in a pub across the street video taped it. First, using the word “pub” where we come from is not that common. Bar, yes, pub, no. So that stood out to me. The other thing that really stood out, was that I knew for a fact that I had not heard anything about this story until about an hour before. I had not talked with him about it, EVER. The more I told him he had not heard it from me, the more adamant and belligerent he became and he was still going off on how my memory is really failing, chuckle, chuckle. Not only was he belittling me, but he was also acting like the story itself was some kind of joke. For the first time, I used the term “gas lighting.” Then he really looked at me like I had lost my mind. I had had enough. I told him he most certainly had not heard the story from me. I finished getting the food in the pot and walked out of the kitchen.

Meanwhile, he seemed distracted and then he said, “you know, maybe I did hear about this in my recovery meeting.” I asked him if, indeed, he had heard about it in his recovery meeting, why was it brought up? Did it relate to the daily topic. Was it a “share.” What? He said he couldn’t remember. I was really pissed that he was so adamant he had heard the story from me, but now he was thinking it was in a recovery meeting, but he could not remember the context at all. And what is really ridiculous? WHO CARES! It was no big deal, we did not know these people, but the story was a trigger for me due to his acting out with a secretary in his office. I wanted to hear what his thoughts were after I told him the story, but we didn’t get that far. I left the kitchen and went up to my office to check my recipe since I hadn’t printed it out and I was going off memory. Eventually, he came into my office, without knocking, of course. Even though my office is supposed to be one of my safe places, where knocking is required before entering… the way my desk is set up, mostly due to glare from the window, is that my back faces the door, which always keeps me slightly anxious. I have a bit of a phobia about facing away from doors, mostly in public places, but even a little in my own office. If there was a better way to handle it without blocking all the natural light from the window, I would do it. Anyway, he enters my office with his phone out in front of him and tells me he now remembers where he heard the story. It was on a national public radio show called “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” and he proceeds to play the sound bite, and the show is comical, so they are making fun of the whole thing. It’s a very short version of the story and they do not use the word “pub.” I still do not fully believe him that this is the only place he has heard the story, not sure, but red flags are going up. Most people would say, big deal. But when you have been pathologically lied to for 30 years, EVERY LIE matters and every single thing I read written by betrayed spouses says to trust your instincts. Lying is not acceptable in our relationship in any way. And even if he wasn’t lying, and he truly does not remember, he was still gas lighting, and I have no idea why. So once the story was out on the table, I asked him what he thought? And what he said was so fucking predictable, I could have written it down in advance of him even saying it. He said the guy was really out of control. That it must have been really humiliating and he would probably lose his job over it. Yup. That’s what he said. All valid points, sure, but who fucking cares about the dickhead who got caught with his pants down. Can guys only relate to guys? I realize I am always going to be way more connected to the feelings of the betrayed spouse because guess what, THE BETRAYED SPOUSE IS THE VICTIM. Not the idiot who couldn’t keep his pants on, or the secretary who couldn’t keep her panties on. STOP COMMISERATING WITH THE LOSER AND START FEELING SOME EMOTION TOWARDS ALL THE PEOPLE YOU SCREWED OVER, ASSHOLE. Man how I hate even being in a situation where I am writing this at all. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that I would be writing about strangers in a foreign country having sex in their office. Because who could have guessed that my husband would have done the same and created a situation where something like this is a trigger to me.

Soooo…. back to the therapy session. Blue Eyes’ explanation of what happened around this event with the office sex is that I tried to tell him a story and he couldn’t remember where he had already heard it from and probably because he didn’t want to talk about it, because it was uncomfortable, his brain blocked it out. “It” being where he had heard the story, but he didn’t explain this to the therapist. She asked him some questions about whether he thought maybe it was his way of dissociating. He hadn’t thought of that. I felt like I was a bug on the wall of a private therapy session between Blue Eyes and his therapist. He barely mentioned me at all in his description of how things went down. I had forgotten all about this incident. But his strange and discombobulated version sure brought the actual facts back to the forefront for me, real quick. When it was my turn, I went through the story as I remembered it. I’m pretty sure the therapist knew how things had gone down, but since he had not mentioned, AT ALL, about gas lighting me, I thought that might be worth a discussion. In the end, she talked a lot about Blue Eyes not running away. She talked about him acknowledging how uncomfortable he can be in these types of situations with me and scheduling a time to come back to the discussion once he has had time to think about things… once he has had time to remember facts and feelings without feeling interrogated. His childhood baggage is constantly putting him in fight or flight mode, which does nothing in helping him get to his underlying feelings and emotions. I get all this, it is just really incredibly frustrating and some days I want to scream.

That was the altercation. The conversation was about his experience with the mindful meditation. I expressed how frustrated I still am with Blue Eyes appearing as if he has no emotions. I believe he does, have emotions, but he is unable to communicate them. Since I am overly emotive and communicative, I am often distressed by his apparent lack of feelings. I know blocking out a lot of his natural instincts and feelings was what allowed him to compartmentalize and rationalize his behavior since he was young. Ms Second Chance suggested the same solution as with the altercation. When he is not connecting with me, and he can see I am getting frustrated, which further exacerbates his distress and he is not prepared to evaluate the conversation to my needs, Blue Eyes must ask for a reschedule. This will give him time to really evaluate what he wants to say about a specific circumstance. His emotions do not flow out naturally. He needs to work towards this, but in the meantime, he asks for a break and a reschedule. He must ask for it, and he must reschedule. That gives him time to evaluate, on his own terms, where he is really at emotionally without the pressure he feels from me. When Blue Eyes is put on the spot, he reverts to childhood and all those feelings of being emasculated, distressed, deficient, and unworthy and he puts up walls. Walls that he thinks are protecting him from the outside world. He now needs to realize that we, his family and friends, the people that love him, want to hear what he has to say. We care. He is worthy. The walls need to come down.

This morning

Blue Eyes had decided he wanted a reschedule on the conversation regarding his mindfulness meditation experience. He said he was still struggling with the emotions. That he agreed with me that he needs to work on letting himself feel more. I explained to him how difficult it is for me when I realize how far he still needs to go when he tells me about an experience that I feel would have emotionally drained me, but I don’t feel any emotions coming from him. We are different people and I am not a sex addict. I do not really know what it feels like to be him. I have to be patient, but I think he can at least see where I am coming from. He can feel my frustration even if he cannot yet feel all my pain. He may never feel all that pain. I get that. His acting like a mature adult and agreeing to revisit the conversation after having thought about his feelings, is progress.

He also, apparently, had read my recent post where I talked about my anxiety around the stalker. His solution, maybe if he appears less afraid of her, my fear will dissipate. Well, unfortunately, I can feel his fear even if he tries to hide it. Like I told him, even if she was just randomly checking up on us through the internet, or even if she was ‘harmlessly’ stalking us because she had nothing better to do in her life, I don’t think it would bother me. What bothers me is the not knowing how destructive and violent she is/or could get. We have not “seen” or heard from her in two months. I want to fall into this comfortable place and forget about her, but prior to her showing up on the plane and then the fiasco in the airport, we hadn’t heard from her in five months. She is patient. Which scares me even more. She is never going to truly move on from this thing with my husband because she is addicted to it. Addicted probably even to the waiting for him to come around and call her. She is so stupid. If she hadn’t called me, he wouldn’t be in recovery, and there was a lot higher likelihood that he would have gone back to her. She doesn’t know about the flower lady or any other ladies because I am sure she is delusional and thinks she is the only one that could satisfy him, or the only thing he wants or needs. This woman is also violent. She has hit my husband before and she also threatened to take a gun from a police officer and turn it on him. Who does that shit? I think the alcohol and the mental illness make her extremely scary. I think my fear is viable. I just do not know what to do about it.

I scheduled an individual appointment with Ms. Second Chance for next week to talk about my fear. The therapist explained to me that normally there would be conflict issues since at this point she is seeing us as a couple as well. She said that she could not keep anything in confidence, that I should know that anything I say in individual therapy is fair game in couple’s therapy. I was very happy that she said she realized this would not be a problem for me, but she needed to inform me anyway.

Hell no that is not a problem for me. I AM AN OPEN BOOK!

16 thoughts on “And that would be gas lighting

  1. Oh be careful – although it sounds like gas lighting, he has all the markings of a sociopath and a smart one at that… Be safe. You are so articulate and perfectly able to express what’s happening (your story is all too familiar) so I get it, I really do. I tried for several years of therapy, and being triggered and thinking it was just addiction …etc…

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    • Well, I understand your concerns and warnings, especially if you have dealt with a sociopath, addict, or narcissist, or all of the above. I’ve known my husband for 30 years, and I have read a lot about what “makes” a sociopath, and about what “makes” a sex addict. He definitely has some signs of being a sociopath and all signs of being a sex addict. He is charming, he is intense, he is highly intelligent, and sometimes I do believe he believes his own lies after he has said them long enough. But he is not dangerous, or incapable of love. He has felt shame most of his life and he feels incredibly guilty and remorseful. He is on a path to recovery and for now, I believe in the good in him. If he was incapable of telling the truth, or love or he was dangerous, I would not have spent the past 30 years with him and had two kids with him. I am not delusional, but I am now cautious. I understand he was abused, and therefore he has abused, and empathy on my part can only go so far… but at this point, I mainly write here about the 10% of the time when I am struggling with something he did. I am not writing about the other 90% of the time when he is doing everything he possibly can to save his own life and in turn, his marriage.

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  2. I wonder if sex addiction is like other kinds. Whatever the emotional age of the person when drug/alcohol addiction begins is the emotional age throughout. Does your husband respond as if a child? Gaslighting is trying to get control of you in any way he can. Just like temper tantrums of a three year old. What you do is recognize immediately that he is playing mind games with you if you have any sort of negative feelings during the conversation. Arguing with him allows him to take charge and steer you away from the original objective. Just calmly say you need to stay on target and do not let him pull you out of your original goal. Just remember that every negative feeling on your part is your body telling you someone is bull shitting you.

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    • You know, I do not know about the age thing. I think addiction happens over time, well, in my husband’s case, the abuse happened over time. The therapists believe he was neglected from birth. As he went through life, his parents belittled him, disrespected him, emotionally abused him, and then he was sexually abused. The actual self medicating with sex addiction begins at puberty because that is when they learn self gratification. I think middle school is when a lot of kids start medicating, but the abuse started way before then. My husband behaves more like a 7 year old, in my opinion, when he cannot handle a situation. Actually, in his addiction, he would just ignore difficult situations and go medicate himself later in order to cope. Now that he does not have the drug, his emotions are more raw.

      Gas lighting was not a chronic situation with my husband, but now that I know what it is and I am healthy enough to recognize it, yeah, he won’t be getting away with that bad behavior. And, I am trusting my instincts all the way around. I know when I am being bullshitted. The difficult part about thinking back over the years… I didn’t see any of it. Who knows what tactics he would have used if I had questioned anything. He did all his acting out while on business or during work hours. I am a busy person in my own right, I just assumed he was working. He never had to make up a lot of stories or make me feel like I was crazy for my suspicions. I never had any. I trusted him. Man, this sucks!

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  3. Did BE have any emotion when saying the reading? Did it sink in what he was saying? It is a beautiful truthful and lovely reading by the way. I am not at all a religious person but if I was then I think I would be a Buddhist cos a lot of what they say makes so much sense. Do you have any Buddhist retreats for meditation nearby? 😀
    That NZ office sex triggered me as my H used his office as well. Euwwwww.

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    • He didn’t read it to me, just showed it to me. Not much emotion in his retelling of his experience at the meditation, but since he brought it up in therapy both at couple’s yesterday and his individual this morning, he says he was nervous to even bring it up to me because he thought it might trigger me being as the reading talks about all those wonderful things he was not able to accomplish in the past. I would really like him to be able to say that in the first place without a bunch of drama and two therapist’s involvement, but I guess I can’t expect miracles overnight. He said he also felt like an imposter, reading that out loud in front of strangers, and he was able to do it without breaking down, which is what I would expect. He has an uncanny ability to hide his true emotions, which would be the issue in the first place: hiding emotions and feeling bad and then acting out. He still has a lot of recovery and emotional growth before he is able to not be afraid when sharing things with me. I am trying to be patient.

      There are Buddhist retreats for meditation near our home. As he gets more comfortable with it, it would be nice to attend one together.

      And on the office sex thing… yeah, people, grow up already. Eww is right!

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  4. Gas lighting sucks. I didn’t have a name for it until recently myself. I thought Maybe I was crazy. But I’m not. I have been gas lighted for years. I’m so glad to know it’s not me. To know others understand this, and that it’s not okay, and does not need to be endured.

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  5. I remember it like yesterday, xmas eve 2012, him sitting in the passenger seat, my kids in the back, and Im driving. We were going to have a good day, we just had sex and it was early and we were meeting my family to have breakfast at our fave taco place. I was telling him the plans for the day of last minute shopping and he started to tell me he had to go to work at 2. I said no u dont..he said I already told you this on Friday. I said no you didnt I would remember that! I hate you working there and I would remember that! – We need the money stop getting upset- I would remember! You NEVER TOLD ME THAT! — By that time I was screaming and crying and driving. He spent the next 5 hours holding me, touching me affectionatly, kissing me, comforting me, making me feel like his wife and all he wanted. So i took him home, he got dressed for work, and I jumped his cAr because it would start (God? Fate? Karma? My guardian angel? who knows but his car wouldnt start) And I jumped it so he could go play house with his whore…

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  6. I skimmed this. Im sorry, A lot of times still I cannot read blogs fully because it brings my hurt back like flood I cant control..
    I was interested in the gas lighting part. And because of as
    much as my hubby did that to me, he is NOT allowed to tel me – i told you this already- or ANYTHING to that avail because I will blow a f&@king gasket. He drove me crazy during his affair..

    Liked by 1 person

    • My husband did not do a lot of gas lighting in the past. A lot of lying, yes, but not gas lighting. I never felt crazy, I never actually knew anything or suspected anything. But gas lighting now, after the fact, I will not be putting up with that! It is so much easier to drive me crazy now that I am broken. Being gas lighted is a horrible feeling. I’m so sorry you have had to deal with it.

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