I sent something very similar to the above to my husband very early on in our healing. I asked him to think before he spoke. A lot of times he didn’t speak at all. I did all the talking and it was oh so frustrating. I cried out my truth, my pain, my agony every day, for months, and he just sat there. My words weren’t usually very kind, but they were true and they were necessary. Two outta three ain’t bad, right? Well, no. But, this wasn’t about me being a good and enlightened adult. This was about me trying to understand my new reality… and that new reality sucked. It was all part and parcel to the trauma. I truly felt it was necessary at the time for him to understand what he had done, how he had devastated me. I kept at it and kept at it because, unbelievable to me, he didn’t seem to get it. He didn’t seem to get what he had done to me. I hoped it would help him understand why he could not continue the behavior and have me in his life at the same time. And by his “behavior,” I’m not even talking about the sexual acting out. He had already stopped that. I’m talking about the continued lying and hiding and rationalizing his bad acts of the past as well as his current behavior, which seemed to center solely on his own needs. As he had rationalized me out of his addictive behaviors, he was also leaving me out of his healing path. As I watched him distance himself from my pain, I wrote out my truth and writing about it prompted numerous discussions on this blog about empathy.
Eventually, when Blue Eyes started talking, responding, whatever, some of what he said was very hurtful. He seemed so understanding and empathetic regarding stories he heard at his 12 step meetings. He seemed devastated by what he had perpetrated on our sons, but me? Not really. I got the impression that he felt like I was a given. I would understand and if I didn’t right now, well, I would eventually. I just needed to “heal” or “forgive.” Or, I would walk away and that was that. I was utterly overwhelmed by the cruelty of his obvious dismissal of my belief that I was living a pain greater than I had ever known and it was all at the hands of my life partner? How could this be… and how could he not understand the enormity of the crimes he perpetrated at my expense? I later learned that this inability early on (or even for a very long time) to be empathetic to the betrayed is part of the mechanism they built in order to cheat in the first place. They cannot tear down those walls overnight, and some never do. Some just move on and away from the mess they created. Why? Because it’s all too much. With time and healing, in proper recovery, the enormity of their betrayal is laid out before them, but not at first. I actually think his inability to relate to my pain allowed me to heal faster and to realize how crucial it is that I believe in myself. That I know deep down that I will survive no matter what. His inability at first to be empathetic allowed me to truly know I could live without him, and that is something I needed.
I know Blue Eyes is not a mean person, so I wondered what really drove him to do what he did. Cruel acts like sitting next to me on our bed texting another woman. Leaving me for days on end with no communication while he shared a hotel room, visited places we had been as a family, shared his inner most feelings, with another woman. But most of all the lying… the lying about me. I started to realize the level of anger and resentment he harbored from his childhood drove much of the rationalization that he deserved his drug. His coping mechanism for the abuse just happens to be something that is not conducive to a loving, caring intimate long term relationship. Lies and secrets all around controlled his life. He did his best to have it all. He wasn’t happy, but he also wasn’t willing to give up me, or his drug. I know I’ve said this dozens of times before, but he truly believed he needed his drug to survive. He believed that because he never shared his truth with anyone in the real world. If he had, someone certainly would have set him straight. From an outsider’s point of view, what sex addicts do is fucking crazy. They risk their very lives to get their drug. WTF? But, but, but, by keeping it all a secret, they are also protecting their drug to the detriment of everything and everyone around them.
When I asked him to stop and think, he started using the acronym wwKd… what would Kat do. It bothered me. I am not some pinnacle of propriety or perfection. Just do what in your heart feels right. Just do what is kind. Stop putting me up on some weird pedestal, especially when you are also willing to be so cruel and dismissive of me and my needs.
So yeah, I have heard over and over that what he did was not about me and I get what everyone is saying. I did nothing wrong. I get it. But, once an addict has been diagnosed (realizing no one is perfect) it is time to stop rationalizing and start absorbing the fact that what they did affected us deeply. Cheating is cruel. Cheating on your spouse is cruel. Cheating WITH someone else’s partner is cruel. But the disease goes much much deeper than that. Blue Eyes is (I’m counting this up here…) 4 years, 8 months, 13 days sober, and yet, he’s far from recovered. No, he doesn’t text/call/email/or fuck other women anymore and hasn’t for a very very long time. He doesn’t view porn or masturbate. Those sexual behaviors were the drugs of choice for 40 years. Once he was “caught” those drugs weren’t much of an option anymore. The truth was out and the risk was too high. He could no longer rationalize getting away with those behaviors, BUT…. he still has the wounds. He still walks around with emotional holes that need to be filled. Even after a fuck ton of therapy. Yeah, a FUCK TON!!!
How is he filling those holes now you might ask. He’s filling them with his other addiction, workaholism. He thrives off the attention, and again, he will get it no matter the cost. He still loves grandstanding and being the center of attention, being a salesman and many outsiders might think that is just hunky dory. What’s the big deal, Kat. You have a successful husband whose business affords you many luxuries, you spoiled brat. Yeah… no. I have said numerous times that I would give up EVERYTHING just to have a husband that hadn’t betrayed me. EVERYTHING!!! I don’t fear that he will act out again sexually. But what I do fear, is that he will go so far down the rabbit hole again that my happiness will be contingent on leaving this whole mess behind and starting over. The truth is, Blue Eyes still ignores some of my most important needs. He still makes decisions that affect me, without my knowledge. He still puts himself first and he still harbors anger and resentment regarding just plain old daily life. I know we all have issues. I never expected him to be perfect before I knew he was an addict, so I certainly don’t expect him to be perfect now or any day in the future, but I do expect him to listen to me and take my needs into account.
I’m pretty well healed from the betrayal trauma. That does not mean, however, that my marriage is safe. That I no longer contemplate what it would be like to be free. Yeah, FREE. Living with a recovering addict is hard. They have to keep the path. It’s super easy to get sidetracked. It’s super easy to fall into the trap of a co-addiction and rationalize it away, because it’s not THAT. It’s not fucking other women, so it can’t be THAT bad, right???? Wrong. It can.
Some might call me spoiled. I mean he just planned a fucking awesome trip to London and Wimbledon for me, because he knows what I LOVE and I did absolutely love that trip. But then not two weeks after returning home, he scheduled business visitors to stay with us at our beach house. Something he has promised… “he will never do again.” He’s promised that a few times now. He knows I don’t like it. He knows I want our beach house to be our sacred retreat. He knows I don’t like entertaining business people (especially people I don’t know) on my time after he has been working 12-14 hours a day all week, plus working on weekends. He knows I HATE it. And yet, he claims I agreed. Why would I do that? I just said… I HATE it, and he knows it. I asked him to send me the itinerary he had worked up, so he sends it AFTER he has sent it to everyone participating. Get it? That means I am stuck. I can’t make changes. He scheduled a mindfulness afternoon with even more business “friends” attending, at my beach house. Also people I don’t know.
In the end, I decided to stay home, in Portland. He is at the beach house being all mindful and shit. I’m not happy. I threatened to find him an apartment today. I actually did look. It would be nice if he got a real feel for what it is like to live by himself after 35 years of living with me. He hasn’t lived alone since college, in a dorm surrounded by lots and lots of other college students, before he met me. When he still went home to Mommy and Daddy on holidays. He was 19 years old. Or wait, there was the time he lived for a few months in a company dorm in Kyoto, Japan, surrounded by his work buddies and friends. They totally took care of him. Earlier this year I was gone for 10 weeks, but he was still here in the home we built together, with our pets, and our son.
Sending him off alone isn’t an idle threat. I mean, don’t get me wrong here… I’m glad I’m not kicking him out because he’s being a man whore, but honestly, I don’t think he truly realizes what it would be like to not have me in his life anymore. It’s time to go back and re-visit the boundary list I created four years ago. I spent a lot of time on that thing for good reason.