I had never had any experience with counselling or therapy until after Roger’s affair with Leanne. I felt pretty self aware, knew what drove me, what my flaws and strengths were. I made sure I communicated about these to the people I love.
No counselling. Not after a violent rape. Not after my “happily married” parents suddenly (to me) divorced and I lost my childhood home and my respect for my father, if I had any (I think I did as a child) forever. Not after Rog sent me away to the other side of the world because “I was not fulfilling my potential. It’s for your own good.” Not after I lost four pregnancies. Not after my mother dropped dead at 55. Not after his sisters smeared our names all over, and completely rejected us.
I must say, it does annoy me no end that I now have a lot of experience with it, and as every single counsellor has underlined to me, none of this is any of my doing. I am dealing with a set of circumstances and feelings that have been caused by the fact that I loved a selfish and entitled man, who could not, or would not communicate with me. That totally pisses me off, because we talked.
But he never communicated. Ugh. Talk, talk, talk, tell me what I want to hear, make me feel safe, so treasured and special with your words, don’t for God’s sake, ever tell the truth about your actual feelings!
Latest session, my therapist (Grace) kept asking me why I make excuses for his shit. Hmmm, here we go again, I had this in couples’ counselling, “stop defending him, Paula.” I wasn’t even aware I was doing it, it is me trying to be balanced. To see things from his point of view. I even did it to Trinket, when I met her, in utter shock, all those months ago, “oh, well, despite all of that bad stuff, all the personal stuff about you he shared with me, he is a truly delightful guy.” Bloody hell, go me, I should have turned up in my cheerleader uniform, with his face embroidered on it.
And what did Grace say to that?
“That is because you have been wired since you were 20 years old to ALWAYS see things from his point of view, to back down to his way or the highway. And you are a FIERCELY loyal person, once you give someone your heart, you will die for them. I will say it again, you were in an abusive relationship for thirty years, and the one time you took a stand, when it was clear that it was over, to tell him not to keep bringing other women into your house, what happened? What happened when you pushed back?” Um, well, I didn’t really disagree with too much, so the harmony was easy to achieve, for the first 20 years. I did always know to pick my battles, though. If I REALLY wanted it to happen, I would stand and argue for it.
And honestly, I REALLY HATE it being called abusive. I don’t for a minute believe Roger did any of this deliberately. He made mistakes because of the set of emotional skills he brought to our relationship. He just never followed through with mindful change after he learned about it. After he totally shattered my heart. Because apparently I didn’t mean enough to him. And I am terrified he is being better for her. Of course he is, because at the moment they are not fully living together, etc. And I guarantee he is trying harder for her, with her. But, I have this awful feeling Grace may be right, I tolerated being second class because it was all about Rog and the kids. What a dick I have been!
Ugh, I thought I was so independent, strong-willed, etc. Nope, just another stupid woman, bending over backwards to make sure he was happy. Because when Rog is happy, life is so, so amazing. He makes you feel so content with life, and the physicality: cuddles, kisses, stroking your skin, talking softly, licking your ear, nuzzling your neck, fondling your bum, telling funny stories, laughing at the same things you laugh at… Grace then said, so, when you needed to find you again, after he was fucking around on you, what happened? What happened to your self esteem? What feedback was he giving you about those 4 years you went back to find your 20 year old self, your true self, by studying your butt off? By finally “fulfilling your potential?”
Yuck. Yep, she’s right, he resented every bit of it. The time I was physically away, at classes, the money it took (and hey, I was a scholarship student after my first year back) and the “rise in my formally recognised academic status.” Oh God, really? No. No way! Surely he was not that small? I thought he was all about equality. Um, not quite. Not really sure why I even thought that, when I look at how we were. I feel so, so sad about it all, my beloved was not backing me the way I backed him. Much like his eldest sister, “yeah, equality!” until you ‘overtake’ me on something, that is. Shiiiit. Wow.
But yes, he was mad. He resented me being focused on “not him.” I have said it before, but our youngest child said that to me the day that her dad told me he was leaving me. And the middle one said it to me the other day. Dad resented your individual achievements, Mum. Ick. Isn’t that awful? I probably, sort of, knew it, but kept pushing anyway, as he SAID he was okay with it, and I knew I needed to do it to rebuild all the self esteem he tore down.
And most of all? I wanted him to be proud. I wanted him to think I was amazing, like I think he is amazing. Like I told my friend the other night, when someone does this – even though the affair is all about selfishness, needing to feel desired, and special, and the buzz of the naughtiness of fucking someone who is not your partner, the adrenaline rush (good or bad, because hell, Rog used to tell me it was not a good rush, but hell baby, IT WAS A RUSH! Go you!) of all the sneaking around, I can’t put this on my credit card, because the woman I live with, “who is not my partner” (yeah right) can’t know I took you out for dinner and a fuck, all those clandestine plans, keeping secrets, feeling like you can fool your partner, because hey, you are SO much smarter than their silly trusting selves…. the betrayed partner, me, STILL feels like an ugly, stupid, fat, crap-at-sex, bad listening, bad life partner, NOT GOOD ENOUGH person. And, YES, don’t worry, I KNOW intellectually that is all bullshit, but I FEEL it, because of HIS choices, to constantly choose other women over me. She looked at me like I had fallen from Mars. “What? You can’t possibly feel like that after being loyal and all you gave? You are a bloody special person, who loves hard and he doesn’t deserve you. He traded down.” But, I don’t see it that way in my heart, I see it as him replacing me with someone who is better than me. I know it is stupid, but… Um, yep, yep I do. I feel like a piece of shit he now wants to scrape off his shoe. And what is worse is, I am an intelligent person, and STILL TOTALLY LOVE him. Bloody hell, give that girl a good hard slap, will ya?! Complete BWS right there.
Anyway, through all the tears today (I cried a lot in therapy today, ugh) I asked why I am having such a hard time now, with all the knowledge, with the final rejection so obvious? Why after doing okay(ish) for three months, trying to learn that I am okay and will be okay, am I feeling so damn low? He hates me. Why? Why is it taking me so long to get with the program? And it is because I have a brain that was built-by-Norm. My reward centre is ruled by the feedback I got from him. I need to keep going with building my own version of me. What are my core values, why did I compromise on them for him over and over?
So, I booked another massage, ew. People. Strange people. Not Rog. Touching my body. And have to keep pushing through the agony of this new life, until I actually GET through it. I keep thinking of our dear, dear friend, who killed himself after his wife left, and how I was so sad at the time that he wasn’t able to outlast the agonising pain he was dealing with. I want to outlast the pain. I don’t want my kids to only have Roger and Trinket as parents. I miss my Mum.
I hope I am strong enough, because right now, I just want to go and lie down.
And never wake up again.
But, apparently, that is not an option….