In the context of support for those of us who find our worlds imploding, I think I won the Shittest Friends in the World Olympics. Feel free to contest this if you feel I have wrested your title off you!
When D-day went down, as I have shared before, I drove out to my best friend’s house the following morning, in shock, knowing this had really happened, but wondering what the hell to do next, I still loved this wanker! Who could hold me up as I bore the brunt of the weight of what the only man I had ever fully trusted enough to totally, without reservation or filter, love, had done to us. This mate and I go right back to middle school, and she was my bestest friend in the world. I had a cup of tea with her, and then asked her if I could go for a walk with her down their farm. And then I told her what they did, my love and our old school friend. She gasped and shook her head, “no, no, not TOIL, no, no, you guys were so in love after all these decades, no.”
But then as I told what I knew (which was quite a lot of the full story, we had sat up all night and he had answered every question I posed, with the exception of when it started, which he said he was unsure of) it dawned on her that it was indeed true, and this lovely man that she adored and respected, had indeed been fucking our friend. For a long time. I think she seemed almost as devastated as I feel now – I might have still been in shock. Then she started telling me that there was no way that she would have “let her husband spend the kind of time talking to Leanne that I did.” Mmmmm, no surprises there, blame the betrayed for not being the marriage police, and yeah, comparing my previously very honest and trustworthy partner with her strip club, brothel creeping husband. But he hasn’t been caught out yet by her.
For a year, she was my main support, and I do appreciate that she cared, and was there for me to vent to. But with hindsight, I know that telling her was where the whole town knowing came from – the old story, you tell a secret to one person and it is no longer a secret. The town started to judge me. “Wow, Paula, she must be a real bitch/a slack fuck/a real slob/insert insult-of-your-choice here for TOIL to cheat, he’s such a great guy.” The story roared around town like wildfire, “Stupid Paula, look how stupid she was, he was FUCKING her friend in her house and on her farm, what a total numbskull she must be, we could all see this.” I asked a thousand people if they knew, but they all denied it, but many said they did notice his relationship with his ex was close, and two and two were computed after the fact! The problem for me was that he was always like this with women, and it NEVER bothered me. We trusted each other, and friends are to be encouraged, right? (Of course, in the light of what he did with this skank, I revisited every close female friendship he had had for the past twenty-one years!)
But when I eventually decided that friend fatigue would set in – if it wasn’t already – after a year, I withdrew any comments or discussion about how appalling I felt. I didn’t want to be pitiful Paula anymore. I still was inside, but my public persona had to change. I managed with this facade quite well for another year, still dying inside, and feeling very alone, but trying to show that I was strong, and I would recover somehow from this absolutely cataclysmic event. I told J. I said it was not up for constant discussion anymore. About this time, she kept pumping me, telling me I should be healing and better by now, urging me to “not be sad.” But, I couldn’t switch it off, I just didn’t think sharing any of my pain was helpful, it was just keeping my head under water. I found out that all of my innermost thoughts that I shared with J were shared with everyone else. As I looked at my circle of friends, I realised that I had become the source of gossip, innuendo, and a fair bit of defamation.
So I decided I needed better friends.
The problem is that without exception, every single person I have tried to connect with since all of this to forge a new friendship with, has turned out to be suffering from betrayal also! I mean, is this reverse Midas Touch?
I looked at myself, and wondered why I have turned into a shit magnet. Am I/was I attracting this subconsciously? I don’t know the answer to that, I can’t see how I am, but it seems too much for coincidence.
The only real support I have had during this most arduous climb of my life has been a woman I met online a few years ago now (thanks lonelywife xxx) whose husband had an EA, his second of their almost three decade long marriage. She is completely different to me in so many ways, and so similar in so many others. She is American, southern, Christian, a stay at home mom, the owner of a set of right wing political views, I am a Kiwi, northern, an agnostic, employed/student, with liberal political leanings. But she loves hard and true, and she is passionate, and caring, with deep empathy. She is a problem solver, she doesn’t sit and accept stuff, she gets off her arse and strives for improvement. I am deeply thankful for her friendship every day.
Yes, there is a but.
I don’t have anyone in real life to be a friend. I never told my family, as they would be of no help. And I miss my Mum. She would have been amazing.
Last week, her best mate, a gay man (heck, you would think my Mum only knew gay men, but actually, other than Dad and Philip – and Philip’s long term partner M, whom he is no longer with, but they raised Philip’s three awesome kids together when their alcoholic mother died suddenly when they were very small, and they remain close and co-parents/grandparents to Philip’s brood – no, there were no other gay men in her life really.) Philip now works in a nearby town. He is an antique dealer, and he texted me to let me know that he had a pretty tea set for my eldest daughter, he’s been looking for the right one for her 21st which was last March. So I went to pick it up on my way home from uni, and sat with him on Tuesday afternoon, and he asked me how I was. TOIL shared with Philip what he had done to us some time back. I was very surprised at the time when TOIL told me he had blurted it all out. Philip came to visit us when he moved nearby, and TOIL took him for a farm tour. They talked. TOIL shared the whole sordid story, telling Philip that he was so gutted about the damage he had caused due to his selfishness and lack of appreciation for all I have done for him these 26 years.
That was about a year or so ago. I can’t remember, could be longer. Philip asked me if I was okay. I told him no, but that neither one of us could undo what happened, and we had had shitloads of counselling, to no avail.
So, on Tuesday, he asked me again. I just said, still no. I sent him a text that night saying that one day I will talk to him about “us” but that I couldn’t do that in the shop, as I know I will lose it. I have really needed a parental figure. I have borne this pain alone for so long, and the load is so damn heavy. I know he will be awesome when I eventually find a time a place to talk to him. He cares so much, and sent me a text back that he was sending his mate’s girl a big hug, and that I could always talk if I wanted to, but that he understood why I haven’t so far, and it was none of his business if I wanted privacy. It’s not that, I just don’t know how anyone CAN help other than the old load shared. But sharing the load didn’t help before, because ultimately, it doesn’t lighten anything, it doesn’t change how you feel, it doesn’t stick the pieces of your shattered heart back into the pristine condition it once was.
TOIL and I talked late into the night last night. I seem to go okay for longer and longer periods of time – not good, just good at hiding my pain, at holding it inside, close to me – but I still seem to come to the end of my rope inevitably at some stage. This happened yesterday. I was in agony. So we talked. One of the things we talked about was my frustration at my lack of progress, that I hear of so many people who are with selfish and disordered people, and walking away seems a little easier then. I can’t imagine trying to deal with one of those, I know I would have walked immediately, and kept my distance. But TOIL is not like that, and that is hard. He is truly remorseful, he has worked hard to make me feel safer and loved. He was immediately fully transparent and doesn’t tell so much as a white lie anymore. But I can’t seem to climb that mountain. It pisses me off. I mean, for 21 years (or so I thought – make it 20) I adored this man, he was truly lovely. We were truly fantastic. We had such a lot of fun, and backed each other all the way. It was fucking perfect! Then he had this fucked up thing for fifteen months. Then he came back. The good guy won the internal battle he was fighting. But I can’t seem to find my way back to any kind of equilibrium. I know I don’t owe him reconciliation, but I also don’t want to ever let anyone get close to me again, and I am left with serious sexual dysfunction. I am so sexually frustrated, but can’t seem to get any relief, self or otherwise, which is just bizarre! He discussed how he felt that when I am on my own properly that I will heal.
But I don’t.
I have been on my own, and the pain never lessens, it actually intensifies, because I still mourn the loss of my “soulmate” – whatever the fuck that is anymore. I seem to have serious trouble changing my thinking. I know if I concentrate REALLY hard, I can change it, but it never sticks, it never takes root, it is always fleeting and very temporary. So then he said, “well, why do you think you can’t love me again? I am the same person, but a better version, that I was BEFORE I fucked up, I know so much more, and I am far more in touch with you and I.” I explained it as being a bit like a Big Bang. The discovery of cheating, long term, in-my-face, dirty-no-protection cheating blew up my world. It changed it so badly. And I haven’t had another Big Bang to shift it again. Yes, I can see he is a better person. I can see how genuine, how authentic he is to himself, how humble, and how ……. self sacrificing(?) he has become. But there hasn’t been a matching shift in my feelings for him. The unending love that I felt we had – ended. For some fucked up reason, I can’t seem to picture growing old and being so in love with this guy, and he is a great guy (but my mind says, yeah right – he fucked your friend in your beds, under your nose, and gave you cervical cancer, GREAT guy alright.)
And it is all so fucking pointless. I just wish I could leave it alone. I want my mind to be a serene and quiet space. I have tried hypnotherapy and meditation. Nope. No help. I have no fucking control over my thoughts! Who can’t think properly? Who can’t, after all this time, just cull the shit? Me. I can’t. I am torn. The tear just keeps ripping at the edges.