I have been having some lovely conversations lately with a couple of betrayed spouse blogger friends. I really do cherish these relationships… I’m pretty sure they know that, because I tell them all the time.
As we all struggle through, with very different situations, very different lives, very different partners, living in three different countries on two separate continents, running themes pop up. When I first started this blog, it was all pain and confusion. Then, I slowly started to accept and understand my new reality. I was still in a desperate situation, with excruciating emotional and physical pain, but I was moving forward. There were such low lows back then, and a few little glimmers of hope. Now, after months and months of my own recovery from complex post traumatic stress disorder, which from everything I feel deep inside, was mostly temporary, I have realized a few things. Some of the things I could do to help myself, were gently, and not so gently, communicated to me by friends, blog commenters, therapists, and others, but each of us is on our own journey. We bring to each situation a unique set of circumstances and personality traits, and trauma from our past, some experiences help us, some hold us back. I am determinedly working on those traits that hold me back.
I figured out early on that I needed to focus on myself, on my situation, and on my life. Outside sources often caused me greater pain and confusion. Some of those sources were books designed to be informative and helpful, books about infidelity, books about sex addiction. Some were actually helpful in allowing me to understand the disease that is sex addiction. Some were designed to be helpful to wives of sex addicts. Those were hit and miss and often traumatizing and mired in antiquated co-dependent themes. The sources I found the most destructive to me personally were forums. It is difficult for me to separate mine and my husband’s actions and personalities from those of others and many are stuck in negativity, self loathing, hate, or even more destructive to me, sadness. Frankly, the only person I really know, is myself. I want to be able to rely on my own instincts and judgment. In a comment to a friend yesterday, I said the following: “I do understand wanting answers, but I think in the end the only one that holds the answers is us. It just takes a while to realize that many of these people that talk about and write about infidelity and betrayal are doing it for the money. Many of them have no idea what it feels like. I felt so much more grounded the day I decided the Internet and the books really held no answers for me. My situation is mine alone. I am the person I need to master. I am the person I need to listen to. Blue Eyes will never be able to hurt me like that again. I have released myself from his torment. But I do understand…. it took me months to get to this point. Only I know what I have, who I am, what I’ve lost and what I’ve gained.”
And I continued with the following… “I realize getting to this better place, with the betrayal etc… takes time and everyone is different, but my story really changed the day I realized Blue Eyes wasn’t who I thought he was, and was never gonna be and the choice is mine. It’s all fluid, day by day, but I’m (mostly) not influenced by outside sources anymore.”
So, I do believe everything I said, it was just yesterday after all. Even though I can understand seeking answers from outside sources, and honestly I think the thing holding Blue Eyes together right now is his connection to 12 step, therapy, and the buddhist community, all of which are outside sources and include lots and lots of reading materials and new practices he can use to replace old bad habits with new good ones. Unfortunately in the end, for me, I realized those questions that actually do have answers, can only come from me evaluating my own situation with a keen eye, an open mind, and a forgiving soul. Whether I stay with my husband, or not, I needed to take my hurt out of it. I have the power to do that. The power to release that pain is mine alone. I know the trauma therapy helped me build a better foundation for self reliance. I do know that having this betrayed spouse blogging community has helped me not feel so alone, but as far as the rest of it, the Tedtalks, and videos, and books, and forums, they are just noise to me.
I also talk pretty openly with these friends about sex, and our sex life specifically. They are safe and understanding like that and I appreciate the outlet. Although sex is a big part of my relationship with Blue Eyes, it is not a part of his sex addiction recovery… “And when I say ‘Blue Eyes is a sex addict’ kind of jokingly about …. and whatever, I am just a sarcastic person. How we deal with sex is the same as always, and irrelevant to his healing. The bigger deal is Blue Eyes needs to learn to love himself and forgive himself. That doesn’t have a whole lot to do with me (and NOTHING to do with sex). That’s all about him and that is why recovery resources for him are so critical and not to be downplayed. That was what was always wrong with him. He didn’t think he was worthy of love. He didn’t love himself. I see so many people write about how they don’t love themselves. If we don’t love ourselves, how can we truly be healthy and happy?”
“We have to learn to live in our own reality. It takes a while to realize we cannot have back what we had, or even what we thought we had, or what we want. When reality keeps slapping us in the face, at some point, we have to pay attention. I lost the man I knew, but he was only partially real. I’m still a bit blown away, but I think I can live with this new man. Again, day by day… in my new reality, knowing I have full control over only myself and my feelings, and my decisions. It is enlightening and heartbreaking all at the same time. I think Blue Eyes is eternally grateful and damn fucking lucky I am actually the person he married and I am, at this point, sticking it out with him.”
I also said, specifically to one of my friends: “What he says doesn’t matter, it is what he does. We know from you telling us that he [her husband] is a wordsmith. Those words need to translate into action. When that happens, your roller coaster will even out and you will be able to get off, safely.” Pretty sure she knew how opinionated I am when she asked me to join her in a chat that now spans thousands and thousands of comments, and I love it!
And no sooner had I “counseled” someone else, in my very opinionated way, about eventually being able to get off the roller coaster, I found myself back on it again. Back on the damn fucking roller coaster. This is a journey, not a destination. A fucking long, rocky, twisting, grueling journey.
Last night during a late dinner, Blue Eyes and I were discussing the schedule for today and some things that needed to be done around the house, and Blue Eyes dismissed me with “I will not be able to help you out.” No explanation why, just those words. He was, at the time, standing at the kitchen sink. As I left the room feeling completely ungrounded, I said, “well, as long as you clean the kitchen up, that will be helpful.” I went up to our room and a wave of loneliness hit me. I wasn’t quite sure where it was coming from. Blue Eyes stayed downstairs in the kitchen, or his office, or somewhere, for quite some time after that. I was tired. I am fighting menopause, and continued construction on our bathroom, and lack of sleep, and anxiety over that big upcoming family event–my sister’s wedding, and next week’s trip out of the country, to Japan. I never know when the feeling of being overwhelmed will hit me. I felt like I was back on that roller coaster that I despise. There are no feelings of wonder and excitement, there is only dread and fear. Blue Eyes arrived to our bedroom late in the evening. We watched a couple comedies on television. There was no real communication between us. By the time I woke up this morning, he was gone.
After going down to the kitchen and realizing it was a big, fucking mess with dishes in the sink, stuff all over the counter tops, and perishables left out, I cleaned it and returned to my office. I sat at my desk, looking at our golden retriever with her big sad brown eyes behind the cone of shame she has to wear due to another burst sebaceous cyst on her side, that she cannot seem to leave alone, I realized why I was so ungrounded. Two years ago, one evening, while planning to take Blue Eyes’ then mini Aussie puppy in to the vet, along with the big golden retriever, for shots, I had asked him for help. That’s a lot of animal to wrangle and he had said, “I will not be able to help you out.” No explanation other than he had business meetings. There were no business meetings. The truth, he had met the other woman at a coffee shop, they had gone for a stroll, he had kissed her on the public street, they went back to her house and had sex. All while I was juggling a squirming 20 pound puppy not so elegantly in my arms while trying to maintain the leash of a 70 pound golden retriever with the torque of a mac truck. I remember the day vividly. I also remember the day I found out what Blue Eyes was really doing while I was taking his puppy for shots. That big hole in my soul opened up there, again, for a bit, and threatened to swallow me.
But, it didn’t. I let the pain out. I collected myself. I put it all back into perspective. I communicated my hurt and concern to Blue Eyes so he knew what he had said, and how he said it, had mattered to me, and then I moved on. I am fucking moving on.
You know the other thing I don’t read about, because it scares the fuck out of me and I am in denial, menopause. I hate menopause. I used to be regular, like clockwork. For the past two years, I have had a total of four menstrual cycles and then this past week, I wake numerous times in the night, covered in sweat. I am living with debilitating cramps, horrifying lower back pain, and buckets of blood. WTF?
Another ride I don’t want to be on. Let.Me.Off!