Love is…

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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.

There was a message from my favorite kiwi Paula sharing an article from marriage.com about how damaging betrayal is on the marital relationship. Article Here

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.

37 thoughts on “Love is…

  1. This has long been my question: If love is based on trust, and that trust is irrevocably broken, how can love ever be restored? I struggle with this every single moment of every single day. Our hearts have been broken and broken hearts don’t truly mend…they will forever have a scar which affects the way they function. I feel your pain, my friend. 💔

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure selfless love is based on trust. I think we give selflessly because that’s who we are. Our husbands never learned how to do that. Or if the ability is there when we are born, it was trained out of them. I give love because it comes naturally to me. BE struggles to love himself. I think that makes it harder to love others and/or to show it genuinely versus the constant ‘I Love Yous.’

      I love my father and yet I don’t trust him. He’s a lying, cheating, bully. With him, I have loved him as a daughter but with very little expectation in return.

      With BE I had it in my mind that he would love me the way I loved him. Not possible. The lesson I learned from raising kids… throw expectations out the window. They will learn and grow in their own way. Me putting my expectations on them will stunt them. My kids taught me a lot. I never thought I would have to apply this concept to my husband. It was a different kind of relationship, I thought. Not a parent raising a child to send him out into the world, but a partnership where I received as much love and respect as I gave. I was wrong. 💔 indeed, Leighkay. I was dead wrong. xoxo

      Liked by 2 people

      • Funny you should point this out. Recently a Facebook quiz to describe someone with one short phrase came back to me with several people answering “Loves fiercely.” I DO love fiercely and I think you probably do as well. For women like us, it is so very difficult to understand that not everyone loves as we do. That has been the most painful realization throughout this whole crappy thing. I don’t know that I am capable of understanding that on a deeply emotional level. Love means love. But, for me, that includes honesty, loyalty, and trust. The concept that our husbands don’t metabolize “love” with those addendums is mind-boggling to me. 🤷🏻‍♀️ **big hugs!**

        Liked by 1 person

    • I think love is built on commitment. We love through the good and the bad because we committed to, we vowed and promised. Even when we don’t like our spouse, we stick to our commitment because this what emotionally mature, responsible, honest people do. This is where I struggle. My husband cheated, so he was not committed. So, how can he claim to love me? To me, his idea of love is that I make him feel loved so he must love me. When I don’t make him feel loved, he fails because he has no commitment. This is definitely not love, it’s pure selfishness.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s like they never grew up and matured into loving humans. I know that is the case with my husband. He really was neglected and mistreated and felt no love, compassion, or worth from his parents. By the time he found me, I don’t think he thought he was lovable. I think he thought any day I would mistreat him or abandon him and that allowed him to carry on with his addictive habits. I know my husband appreciates me, who I am, what I have done in our marriage, how I raised our children, etc… but he is simply not capable of the kind of love I learned as a child. He lives in a state of fear of abandonment. Hopefully he is working on this in therapy. Who knows.

        I agree with you though, even if my husband and I separated or divorced, I would still love him and be committed to helping him in any way I can. It’s just who I am.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “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.”

    No, no, NO…

    You didn’t lose anything.

    He MURDERED it. He MURDERED your love innocence. He MURDERED your faith…

    Except you’re still alive. You’ve had to endure this… emotions and innocence and faith and love being murdered while we remain alive. We have endured this while still being alive… we have endured this while watching them try and bend over backwards and change who they are in order to love us the way we did joyfully.

    That makes you one hell of an amazing person. You lost nothing… it was stolen and murdered.

    Give yourself all the slack. We live with men who murdered our trust and faith and hope, hoping they’ll never do it again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, IH. I have often spoken of my husband’s betrayal as murdering part of my soul. How could they have rationalized such hurtful behavior, committed such heinous acts, and then expect us to take them back and to love them? The love will never be the same and for me, my life will never be better than it was before I knew. It will be different from how I envisioned it, that’s okay, but it will never be better. He stole something I cherished without even knowing it. And even if I had known how important his loyalty was to me (the loyalty I took for granted), he still would have betrayed me. He has to live with that reality. I sometimes ask myself, does he even care?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh Kat…we are running parallel lives. I so needed to read this today. You are amazing at expressing your feeling. I, too, react the same way with his many “I love you’s” and hugs. It feels empty. I am guarding myself. I gave 1000% for almost 40 years before D day. Felt there should have been more warm and fuzzy feelings in return. But there were none, just every day raising kids, laundry, cleaning and errands. And now, after all the drama of the last 10 years, are we where we should be? Yes, life is good. Most people who do not have a clue of the unfaithfulness think I have the best life. Travels, the Harley, horses and grandkids (been blessed with two after our tragic loss in 2014). But I feel a huge empty spot in my heart. Sometimes I think it would have been easier to end the marriage. But I trudge on. Thank you for reassuring me that this is probably “normal” and that I am ok in putting up the Wall. Love you. Deb

    Liked by 4 people

    • I miss you Debbie. I need to visit you, and hug you, and pet your horses! Congratulations on the precious grand babies. What blessings!

      Yeah, our hearts have been forever scarred, and we put up walls to protect ourselves, and protecting ourselves is okay! I enjoy all that I have, and I have a lot, but there will always be that part of me that believes my husband doesn’t deserve me. I didn’t deserve to be treated so poorly. He says I was never supposed to find out. I find that excuse especially disturbing.

      Ride on sister!!! xoxo

      Like

  4. Hmmm… well when I confronted my ex, for some reason he decided for once in his life to tell me EVERYTHING (he lied so much, half the time he didn’t know he was lying— not just with me, with everyone). It did not make me love him more LOL. The suggestion is ludicrous. I never experienced such awful feelings in my life. It was like he killed me but I wasn’t dead. I know if we would have worked things out, I’d still be forever broken. To some extent, I am, but time and distance heals so much.
    As for unconditional love, I think it only exists between parent and child, not in romantic relationships.
    I respect so much your efforts to rebuild. I think it was a harder choice than the one thrust upon me. I don’t think about it that much anymore, while you see BE every day and it is still very much part of your reality.
    ♥️♥️♥️

    Liked by 5 people

    • I completely “get” the lack of awareness around lying. It’s like a reflex. At least in our situation, I can connect the dots and see how it developed in him as a young child b/c of his family. Yes. Very sad.

      I do think *some* of these guys can wake up and work to become better people and stop lying, manipulating, etc., IF and only IF they want to change and improve their flaws.

      Unconditional love? Sure it can exist between a parent and child I think, but it’s not guaranteed. My mother’s love was only conditional. I’m 51 and I realized it was not healthy, so when I was 20, I sought therapy, here and there, over the years, to deal with that. I have unconditional love for myself. And the other unconditional love I’ve experienced? Dogs. With my current dogs and previous ones who’ve passed. The purest love there is.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You know, beleeme, I almost posted a photo of my dogs at the bottom of that post with the caption ‘unconditional love.’ But I couldn’t find the picture I was looking for and just wanted to get the thing posted. ❤️

        Liked by 2 people

    • I do indeed see him every day, thus needing a Miami getaway! 😚

      I believe I love my children unconditionally, but that has never been tested. They are amazing people. I do love BE too, tons, and you know that, but it is different now. I would still take a bullet for him, but I don’t believe he would for me. I wouldn’t have said that 6 years ago. He’s a broken man. It’s okay. I have a lot of love and compassion in me, but it takes a toll some days.

      See you soon! xo

      Liked by 2 people

      • Of course I am an outsider looking in, but I always felt that despite it all BE loves you terribly. Maybe when u have a low moment, it’s not so easy to see it?

        I am soooooo excited to see you. My vacation days are approved and we are going to have an amazing time.

        ♥️♥️♥️

        Liked by 2 people

      • Oh my Kat. You are a much better woman than I. Where I once believed I would take a bullet for this man I now believe I’d step aside. Sad but true. I once loved him unconditionally and thought that was how he felt but alas, I married an addict who always was incapable of loving anyone except himself. Yes, he tells me every day that he loves me and yes I respond but I rarely feel anything close to how I felt prior to disclosure. The first couple of years after his disclosure he worked hard to wine and dine me and win me over again. Life feels so different now and he has really slacked off from those early efforts to win me back and I believe it is because he no longer fears that I will leave him. For the better part of 40 years I worked hard to build a life for us but now I focus on building a life for me with him in it. At this point, I don’t even care if I ever feel that kind of unconditional love again because it left me so vulnerable and open to being crushed by his thoughtless actions. It is not productive for me to dwell on what I once thought “we” had in our marriage and there is no going back. As long as I can continue to work on the life I want for me, I am moving in the right direction. Once I slip into the mode of wanting bad things to happen to him to eliminate my feelings of pain and loss, I’ve let him win the fight inside my head. I am much much stronger than him and the ongoing fight against letting his past negatively affect my present or future is very real. He lived with the knowledge of what he was doing for all of our married life without changing anything and he will continue to live with all those details. When headlines happen like the recent ones around the trafficking bust in Florida and the men who got “caught” it just disgusts me all the more knowing I’m married to “one of them” even though he has not participated in any of those activities for over four years. Big whoop, right? I’m supposed to praise him for this success? No, I need to praise myself for not crushing him and destroying him because although I was completely devastated I was able to exercise restraint like the adult I am.

        There is something very special however about the unconditional love I feel for my grandchildren. Just saying. I so appreciate your raw emotions and candor in this blog.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I feel all your feels, Marie. Children, like animals, are innocent and need and deserve our unconditional love to thrive. We gave our husbands unconditional love, but someone had already messed them up. BUT, adults understand consequences and if they want us in their lives, they must do and be better. We’re not punching bags! Thanks for appreciating my candor. I’ve never been able to keep my emotions locked up! 🤗😘

          Liked by 1 person

  5. “He loves me because he wants to be loved.” I feel this constantly, and I wonder if I’m “loved” because I’m the only one left to offer him that indicia of love in return (due to his apparent sobriety). The last-woman-standing kind of thing. Handsome would deny this, for sure, but I do wonder.

    The loss of that love innocence is brutal and I believe it is impossible to recover. We all move forward hoping that we can rebuild together or separately around that void, but I certainly wish we didn’t have to do so.
    xo

    Liked by 3 people

    • I believe it’s one of the greatest losses I have experienced through this discovery/recovery process thus far, blackacre. The loss of the feeling that I picked the perfect partner for me. Someone who wouldn’t hurt me. The kind of love that led me to believe he loved me the same way I loved him. No. Blue Eyes picked the perfect partner for him. Someone who is strong where he is weak. Someone who was always there, good and bad, sickness and health, long before we walked beneath the Chuppah. He won the lottery. ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

      • I totally agree. It isn’t that we thought our husbands were perfect. (I could have always rattled off a list of what my husband’s major flaws were.) Instead, we were willing to love them in spite of those flaws and work with the flaws and around them to build a life together because, as you say, we thought we had picked the perfect partner for us. We trusted that they valued us, respected us, and would protect us. Our trust was misplaced. They did not (and, dare I say do not) love us the way we love them. It’s different.
        Xo

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, it’s different. Love, to me, is something we show, not something we say. All the ‘I Love Yous’ in the world will never replace simple human decency, honesty, openness, caring, sharing, integrity… these should come naturally in a safe loving relationship. *sigh* 🤗

          Liked by 1 person

  6. The married man with whom I have had a very long term (more than 10 years) difficult-to-label relationship, who very well might be at least a love addict if not a sex addict (we have never even kissed), randomly told me he loves me recently. Completely coincidentally on Valentines Day, by the way. We have not seen each other in more than 3 years, though we don’t live far from each other, and this call was after 3 months of not talking. He is really fucked up, possibly an alcoholic but definitely a drinker, with a very similiar set of childhood traumas as BE. His saying this did not endear him to me. They are just words. But I do believe it is what he experiences as love.

    We have had a lot of drama over the years, and I have drawn significant boundaries that another guy would just walk away from. But he keeps coming back. I think the fact that I gave so much, invested so much in him emotionally for many years, is what he understands or feels as the closest thing to “love” he is capable of receiving. He is completely self-absorbed and his life with his family is neverending chaos and drama. For a long time I wanted to understand why he stuck around me, especially after his wife discovered the depth of our emotional connection, but I don’t care about that anymore. I finally came to “radically accept” that he does love me in his fucked up way. I think I have learned that we cannot understand another’s experience or “definition” of love.

    Not sure how much sense this makes but I have thinking about this very topic the past couple of weeks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve been thinking a lot about definitions too. What is love? What is infidelity? (Some people think that an “impure” thought about a woman other than their wife is unfaithful.) What is intimacy?

      It’s not easy to have a concrete definition of many concepts. We can have our own definitions, though, and stay true to ourselves and what we believe, eh?

      Like

      • I think it is self-preserving to accept that not only do people have an unquantifiable number of ways to demonstrate love, but also the experience of feeling love is unique for each of us.
        This guy and I have had many, many conversations over the years, many during conflict, about how each wants the other to be more like ourself, especially when it comes to communication. I think these conversations are somewhat easier for us because the stakes are relatively low; we can acknowledge how different we are without having to make a decision about the “relationship”.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Amazing. That’s my thought with every compliment, hug, etc, after 5 years too. I’m replaceable, like batteries. I remember going away for weekend and him sending text upon text about how much I deserved this time, to enjoy it, blah blah blah. It didn’t come from a place of love, it came from a place of get this roadblock outta here. But I believed him. He didn’t love the ow, but he loved how she made him feel, so can’t any whore with holes do that? He really has done a ton of work, but yes he killed my propensity for feeling his love. Or knowing if it’s genuine.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I question everything now, lemondrop. He never wanted me to go away by myself or with friends. He used the opportunity to act out. But he also used his own chosen business trips to act out. I was never going to win. Go, stay… it was always about him and his addiction. So many lies and so much manipulation. Not sure how he could possibly think I am the same woman as the one he knew before. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ugh so much of my life I loved reading this Kat and was saddened all at the same time. It’s true Charles I love yous mean so little veg rarely does he say anything of substance to me because I don’t think I would ever love him like I used to or even could. And these facts are just facts I’m not happy or sad about them but truly just are..
    Oh the days where I was excited for date nights or time with him even sex
    I really evaluate do I really want to have sex? Am I comfortable giving my body to him and if it’s a nope he needs to back off
    And he does but back then oh Kat is was amazing to just have sex😂😂 if that makes sense
    My husband is just a man who I am tied to because I made a covenant with God and 4 shiny babies who look to the both of us
    My love is very much conditional however it was given so freely to Charles and he did not care. All the work I put in I gave up he did not care..
    I hope he feels a great loss when he thinks about Kendra and I.
    I also hope that I never waste another day of my life with him.
    I do not do things for this marriage like I used to.
    And that is okay
    I’m not in this for love or to build a bond with him
    We have a job to do and our mission is our family
    But I do remember the love I had for him and it makes me feel too many emotions all at once ❤️❤️
    Here’s to all of us ❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • I get it all, NH. I’m so sorry you lost who you thought your husband was, and also you lost your best friend. I also lost a friend, but it wasn’t someone I saw every day. I know exactly the feelings about sex. I still enjoy it and never had problems after discovery. Somehow I was able to separate sex from love. Sad but true. I totally get the family aspect of this. It’s incredibly important for children to feel loved and not abandoned. Same for us, but we are adults now. Much love to you, NH. So glad you are enjoying being out in the workforce. It does help take our minds off of what we lost sometimes. xoxo

      Liked by 2 people

  9. You. You really have an incredible wisdom and way with words. Thank you. I am always amazed and incredibly grateful you came into my life, Kat. I adore this post. I hate that it has changed your outlook, and agree entirely about the myth and frankly, unhealthy idea of unconditional love. And may well find a way to reblog.

    Exhausted after pretty much zero sleep for three nights. Gonna try to get some now. This caused tears. But relieved ones more than just sad ones. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You know I feel the same about you! I am truly blessed by the people I have met through the blogging community. Who knew it would be my lifeline. BE has so many resources available to him and yet I found such a loving community right here. AND, as you know for me it is not just an anonymous world inside a screen. I LOVE meeting people IRL and bonding with other warrior women. Even though we never would have chosen this path, we’re stronger for it. These aren’t just words to me. xoxo

      Liked by 2 people

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