I woke up this morning to my husband hugging me and telling me he loves me.
The first thought that ran through my head was… he would say the same thing to any warm bodied female he happened to wake up next to, and I’m sure he has. I know he said it to the other woman. I wish it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside when he tells me he loves me, but it doesn’t. Five years into this healing journey and the truth is, he stole a portion of my ability to feel his love for me. Whether that love is deep, genuine, true, or not. I wouldn’t know. I gave him everything for 30 years prior to discovery, and he still told other women that he loved them. He will tell you that he HAD to tell the women this, to keep them on the hook for his addiction. But to me, it doesn’t really matter the why. He betrayed me, and lied to and about me, and it burned that place inside of me that loved him innocently and unconditionally. It’s gone. I used to give it freely, because to me love is about giving it away. It’s about how you act towards others. Blue Eyes acted in a very very unloving way.
I rolled over to see what time it was and check messenger. That’s how excited I was by my husband whispering sweet nothings in my ear. It’s not like this every day, not most days, but today it was.
Most of what the author states in the short article is obvious if you are a betrayed spouse. What struck me first though, was this statement:
Some failure is inevitable in every marriage. Therefore, trust is not built on the absence of failure as much as on the genuine attempts by both partners to take responsibility for and try to repair those failures. In healthy relationships, the failures can actually lead to greater trust when they are handled with honesty and love.
I know the author is talking generally here, not specific to betrayal at this point, but cheaters actually have a real tough time with honesty. If the failures are handled with honesty and love, he says, it could be a good thing. But cheaters are liars. Their goal is always to protect themselves. They’re selfish. The trickle truth and/or just never getting the whole truth is devastating. To expect a cheater to just spill it, all of it (and how would we ever know???) is unrealistic. They don’t, which leads to further destruction. And love… how does a person build back love when they have betrayed us in the most intimate of ways? How do we know they even know how to love. A recovering sex addict has a real tough time showing the kind of loving remorse necessary to convince the loyal partner that they actually understand the devastation they have caused. My definition of love does not include lies and betrayal. My definition of love does not include me cheating on and lying about my husband for years. Those are acts of unkindness and cruelty, not love.
Later in the article the author states:
A spouse who has been betrayed begins shutting down the desire for relationship. The one betrayed feels that no one can really be trusted and it would be foolish to ever trust someone to that extent again. He or she begins to experience a deep feeling of deadness inside because that is safer than risking further betrayal. It is much safer to expect very little from any relationship.
The ultimate damage of this type of betrayal is the belief that authentic relationships are unsafe and a loss of hope for real intimacy.
I know from speaking extensively with Paula that this is part of her fear. Fear that she will never be able to trust someone again. That she has lost the one true love of her life. I know how she feels. I am with my husband and I still have those feelings. Things are frankly just different now. I lost my love innocence the day the other woman called my phone. I lost my faith in my husband’s ability to love me in the way I love him, or even, sometimes, in the way I feel like I need to be loved. People will tell you… lots of people, that my husband loves me. They can see it. In front of people, he is demonstrative. With friends and family he often showers me with affection. He does this at home when we are alone too. I used to take it for granted. I thought all those ‘I Love You’s’ were his way of showing it. Now I know, for some people, I Love You is an easy phrase to toss around.
He’s on his healing journey of recovery, but his ability to be genuine with his emotions without wanting anything in return, just isn’t always there yet. He loves me because he wants to be loved. He holds me because he wants to be held. I understand him wanting those things, but I want to feel his love coming from a genuinely unselfish place. It often doesn’t. And, I am different now. I see his love differently now.
I have always felt that I loved unconditionally. Now I know, unconditional doesn’t exist. There are definitely different kinds of love, but I can’t imagine falling out of love with someone I have loved intimately. And really, that person is Blue Eyes. I have never loved anyone the way I love him, but I can see why people start over. I can see why cheaters want to walk away from the mess they made. That mess may not be salvageable. The devastation is real. Most likely they’ll create a whole new mess, but in the process they have also changed us. Unfortunately, like Paula, loving intimately and wholly may be a thing of the past for me. I do love Blue Eyes, but it is a different kind of love now. It is a bruised and broken kind of love. A more guarded and protected kind of love. It’s not the same and it never will be, with Blue Eyes, or anyone else. I’m not saying this because I necessarily feel sad about it. A lot of the sadness has turned numb. I’m saying it because it just is.
What I gave Blue Eyes frequently and in abundance has now become guarded and conditional. I hate that about betrayal.