The story in my head plays out. I am a happily married 50-year old woman with two amazing and mostly grown sons. My husband and I have been best friends and partners for 30 years. We share everything. We are passionate, loving, kind, and show each other mutual respect, until I realize, one of us isn’t living the same story. I receive a heartbreaking phone call. The truth is revealed. Within days my husband is diagnosed as a sex addict and I find myself suffering from extreme PTSD as my new story includes years of lies and betrayal. Suddenly I am living a nightmare. I fear I cannot survive. Someone please wake me, soon.
We’re nearing the two year mark of discovery day. It wasn’t a nightmare guys, it was reality. There is no waking up from my husband’s betrayal, infidelity, and sex addiction. I was living a real life, but my husband was living a false one. The agonizing pain that played out after the phone call from the other woman was horrendous and lasted for months and months, but guess what? I SURVIVED! My worst fears were unfounded. I am stronger than his betrayal, and I am stronger than his addiction. I am resilient enough to handle anything anyone throws at me. I still have rough moments, but I now know I am a survivor.
As far as my marriage goes, it could still go either way. Relationships are not stagnant. They are never all good or all bad. They grow and adapt and some become stronger, some die. Before discovery, I would have said my marriage was strong and I couldn’t imagine anything destroying what we had. After all, we had been together for 30 years. I also would have said my husband cared about my welfare and that he was faithful. I would have been wrong on all counts. I honestly thought anything that could have destroyed our relationship would have already reared it’s ugly head. Like the in-laws. Oops. I was wrong. There was no way I could have known what was coming. I am not a stupid or gullible person. I was not in denial. I was being systematically lied to by a very sick human. I will say that I trusted him more than I normally would others as I had chosen him to be my life partner and I did not do that lightly. I believed he would not harm me. Coming to terms with the fact that he did harm me has been a big part of my healing.
Actually, realizing I can really only count on myself is the lesson learned here. I only have control over me and my own actions. If I cannot live with him and be happy knowing I will never really know what he is thinking, or possibly even doing, I must walk away. Blue Eyes may be able to change some, he has been “sober” for nearly two years, and I do believe that, but that doesn’t mean he has changed the underlying brokenness. Confronting the wounds and obliterating the bad habits will take years, if in fact he is able to do it. He still struggles every single day with decision making and honesty and selflessness. I am not going to deny it. I have to be honest with me and everyone else. Does he behave with kindness and compassion and buy me fancy things. Yes, a lot. Is he sweet and gentle and does he purchase me gorgeous flower arrangements just about everywhere we go. Yep. Does he write me pretty words. Yes. Does he take care of me when I’m sick and does he do the dishes and take out the garbage, and even do the laundry. Yes, yes he does. Does all that prove he is faithful and he is mastering his wounds, and making good choices. Yeah, no. No it doesn’t.
Every day I evaluate my situation. We are still in the early stages, I have been told. I am hoping by year three I can say we are no longer in the first phases of healing. In 2016, the goal would be that we both are healthier and happier on a consistent basis. For now, it is a bit like walking in a mine field. I am still in a bit of trauma. He still does things that remind me of how he used to behave. At the time, none of it bothered me too much. The scales were tipped in his favor. The pluses outweighed the minuses, by a nice margin. He appeared happy, and engaged in life. He was quirky and eccentric. He was successful and enjoyed working and traveling. He was fun to be around. He was present and active in our every day life with our family, when he was home. After d-day, after the truth was revealed, the scales were seriously tipped against him and against a long term relationship with him. He balanced all that goodness on the back of an evil addiction he had nurtured for four decades. Now that I know the truth of what he was doing and how sick he was(is), it’s all a trigger. I handle the triggers much more adeptly these days. It has been a while since I sobbed. It has been a while since I felt like I had no choice but to walk away. It has been a while since I felt like I couldn’t do life anymore. But, things are still more difficult than they need to be for me to be happy. Day by day. I give it everything I’ve got.
I have faith in what will be because I know I have the power to choose, day by day, what is good and healthy for me, for me as a woman, as a mother, as a friend, as a partner, as a human being.
Even though I had my share of life’s challenges before d-day, I now realize I hadn’t a clue about what real sadness feels like. I had no idea what trauma can do to a person’s soul. I have to remain diligent in my quest to do what is right for me. I have to keep reminding myself. It is not selfish to put me and my needs first. It’s not. Selfish.
I hope we can all find peace, on a daily basis, in this rather unpeaceful world we live in.