Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum

Time, the great leveller?

17 Comments

Although I didn’t experience trickle truth to the same degree that many other betrayeds did, there is certainly a parallel with how time uncovers or changes perspectives. Roger was very aware that any further lies would mean I would lace up my marching boots and get the fuck outta there. I also think the relief he felt at discovery was palpable. He no longer had to lie and be deceitful. He could once again be who he used to be, and tell me the truth, tell me everything about his world, his day, his feelings.

That said, I didn’t/couldn’t know the whole truth on D-night. There are nuanced things that pop up from time to time, yes, even now! I told him about my recent bout of recurring dreams – I still have them most nights – about the first night he fucked her, and my mind movie of how it panned out. He was horrified, and said, “it wasn’t anything like as sexy, or romantic, or hot, as that. No way, this is what I remember happening, and my memory of it is not great, I thought I had told you this,” as he then described what he could remember of him entering the dangerous and slippery slope to where we are today.

I was very conscious my ignorance of the truth, and that I would never really know it, even as my head swam and I felt the earth shift on its axis on the night I was told of their affair, by the OW. I didn’t have a clue about the length, or the scope of the affair that night, but I did know that it (as I later discovered, 15 months of sexual affair, the period leading into that and the two months since he had ended it) meant I had (over 18 months of) a completely different reality to his. I knew it would take quite some time to align the two to any real degree. How could I know the nuances of their conversations, the looks they exchanged post-coitally, the way his skin reacted as she stroked him, whether she liked it when he revelled in the scent(s) of her body, like he did mine …? And so, over the next few months, he started to tell their story. To me. It began to deconstruct the pretty little picture they had painted for themselves. The rot started to invade their castle.

crumbling-castle

And he knew it. He was helpful, disclosing things as I asked. Uncomfortable, of course, but also told me ‘private’ things about her/them when he recalled them, without prompting. It was an act of goodwill. To try to let me know that he wanted me to stay, that he loved me. That he wanted to try to right his agonising wrongs. That he hated how he had behaved. That he was embarrassed and humiliated. That he was grateful that I even considered staying with such a hurtful scumbag. He hated telling me, but instinctively knew he had to. He even understood that every ‘secret’ he shared with me, handed me more power, and eroded hers. It was – and still can be – utterly and agonisingly beautiful.

I have noted a real shift in the last year or so. Yes, once I decided it needed to end, things changed a little again. Not a large earthquake shift like D-day, more aftershocks, tremors as things settled down to a large degree. Albeit that I would never trust the earth to be still ever again.

We still have a fair bit of contact. And he is still my best friend and greatest advocate. He is softer still. Occasionally, we talk. About IT. But not really about IT. We talk about our feelings, and our journey to here. To today. I note a real recognition of his ‘shit’ – more than ever. And I also note that he is even more open to the reality that this really was one of the most damaging things a person can experience. That I will not ‘just get over it’ eventually with time, love, work and mindfulness. This is a scar he carved in and on me. And himself. He, like me, thought we would do the work, and with the passage of time, we would be completely healed. He admits he thought a year or two would have us sorted – hey, me too! Over seven and a half years later, he sits with the permanence of the wound, and I think he is far more accepting of it, not fighting it, not wishing/hoping/willing that I would just get better. I always felt he thought I was wallowing in it, because it felt good. He denies this, saying, “why would anyone do that? Make themselves sick, sad and tortured? That makes no sense whatsoever. I know you want to get better. I know you want a better life. I know how hard you have worked to overcome this agony I wrought on you.”

We have connected nicely over the last week. Probably catalysed by a visit to ‘our’ lawyer. Who explained how we could conceivably unpack the intricate legal wrapping we had constructed around our joint assets, rendering us unable to split them, as they were no longer under our own ‘control’ which had made me (and him) feel like I would never be able to properly break free. It was liberating, but of course, not an immediate cure.

I like him. I like being his friend. I like listening to him talk. I like sitting quietly in silence with him. I like being near him. I like his calm. I  like the way he smells. Despite what others tell me is ‘healthy’ – we have a real and deep friendship and bond that I doubt will ever be fully severed.

And I am so very thankful for that.

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17 thoughts on “Time, the great leveller?

  1. I wonder if someone will ever do a study of the aftermath of infidelity that I will believe. I took a couple of statistics courses in college and became very suspicious of their ability to change the “story” just by rewording a question. That old saying that there are lies, damn lies and statistics is true. Stats can be manipulated simply by reframing the questions. Still, an in depth study needs to be made about the long term shrapnel that ricochets through the marriage for years. Your writing shows that no matter how hard you tried your marriage died a slow death even though you both worked hard to fix it. Am I right in assuming that his affair killed your sexual desire tor him? I wonder how many betrayed spouses ever find peace of mind again. Or joy. Or desire. Or hope.

  2. Hi Anon. I guess there are similarities but also differences in the ways we (don’t) recover, react and develop after the infidelity bomb explodes. My theory is that there are those in poor to average marriages who split, those in poor to average marriages who take the opportunity to build much kinder, more loving and honest marriages, those in poor marriages who are too fearful to separate, and those of us who had very rewarding partnerships who really struggle to deal with the loss of the honesty and exclusivity that an affair causes. I was not negatively sexually affected for the first four years. I still felt passion and desire. But I was very heartbroken and the grief and previously squished down disgust for the filth of the diseases he inflicted on my body caused me to completely shut down. It was quite sudden. And complete. I attended sex therapy for six months, having lost all sexual ability. Even alone. So I thought it was time to give up. That we needed to stop the gigantic daily effort to stay connected, to preserve our love.

    I wish I believed a study would be able to explain and convey the depth of grief, the real effects on wellbeing that lying and hiding illicit sexual and emotional liaisons cause on both parties. I don’t expect to find peace, joy or desire again. I fought for seven years to regain some. It still feels absurd that the actions of two other people has caused this. I really tried to disallow that from happening, to stop other people’s choices from negatively affecting me. It has been a mighty battle. And I lost. Dammit!

  3. We just got through celebrating Thanksgiving here in the US. I was at a huge family gathering and decided to have a talk with a family member who cheated on his wife. They have been divorced for a couple of years. I ask him what it was about her or their marriage that caused him to cheat. He said it had nothing to do with her or the marriage. They were overextended financially, had bought a house they could not afford, had a couple of kids who were acting out, and a job that was driving him crazy. He said all he wanted to do was run away from home. His affair partner was a friend before and after the affair which lasted a couple of months. It was long enough for his wife to tell him to get out. There was no reconciliation try. She has gone on to become engaged to someone else. This man has, and always has had, a great relationship with his children. He said that idea that he could harm them that way is so appalling to him that he cannot believe he did it. I ask him how he could hurt his wife like that and he said at the time he was so frantic over his life that really it was a chance to just hide.
    One thing I do know from training adults about life issues is that men describe themselves by what they do. If you give a man a chance to list the three most important things in his life he will inevitably put his job first or second. I remember you saying Roger had made a bad financial decision so he must have felt worthless. That is what my relative said he felt. I have come to the conclusion that it is a trade off with men and women. For the most part we are emotionally much stronger than men though we are weaker physically. They are stronger physically but they are so susceptible to anything that demeans their sense of self worth.
    I am not making excuses for Roger. I certainly think someone that lied to you for 15 months abandoned his role as partner and provider. I just wonder how he decided it was the right thing to do, it was the necessary thing to do. Did he never stop to think what it would do to you? Again, I asked my relative about that and he said there was no soul-searching. He was in so much in pain emotionally that nothing mattered to him except hiding from it. He even started drinking more than usual along with the affair. He said it took him a while to get over the alcohol need but as he has gotten further away from the craziness he has seen the alcohol made things worse not better. He also said there was a changing of the guard at the management level which made things a lot easier at work. He and his ex-wife have settled into coparenting very well. Although he was lonely for a while he is now dating someone but he said nothing, and no one, will take precedence over his children.
    I write this as no suggestion for forgiving or reconciliation or whatever you need from Roger. I only offer it because I had a chance to sit down with someone who did the same thing to his wife Roger did to you. What was interesting was the fact that he said his wife never factored into it. It was always about feeling hopeless and helpless.

    • Yes. Of course. At no point have I thought his affair was on me. I have, however, felt diminished by it, despite knowing that this was never about me. It feels like instead of being front and centre, as he was to me, I was a mere sidekick to his life, in his choosing to ignore the consequences of his choices on myself and our kids. But I knew I was a loving, supportive and strong partner. Who deserved/deserves better. He agrees entirely. The dishonesty and altering of my reality is the crux for me. Not so much that he had sex with someone else. I believe I had addressed that multiple times over the years. Stressing that honesty was best. That we promised monogamy, but if something happened to talk about it, be sexually safe and not hide.

      Your point about the gendered differences in male and female thinking is a valid one, I believe. However, one male relationship counsellor we saw mentioned at the second appointment we had with him that he believed that we were a ‘reverse brain’ couple. That I have many traditionally ‘male’ thought processes and attributes, and that Rog has many traditionally ‘female’ traits. You would not think it to look at us. But I read it this way. I grew up the eldest in the family, with only brothers, and Rog is the youngest, with only older sisters. I always thought it was an ideal situation, as we seemed to connect, to get each other. I am drawn to talk to men, finding the gossip and inaneness of middle aged women’s conversations somewhat stifling at times – I want to talk about more than fashion, kids and recipes – and I like fashion, kids and cooking! But I like getting out of that rut. Rog has always found it easy to talk to women. He’s a blokey kind of farmery bloke, but he gets women, always has. And they like him. His easy, calm, witty manner. I always saw him as emotionally intelligent. He is. He was. But for 18 months, he lost it. It is his life’s greatest regret.

      As far as ranking what is important in life, Roger doesn’t feel that his business has ever outranked his family. I asked him to list the three most important things in his life, and his business/work did not feature. He sees work as a means to an end. To educate our children and to provide a way of life. Farming is all encompassing, in that you live where you work. He enjoys the environment, is a bit of a greenie, and appreciates the outdoor lifestyle and freedom of self employment. He also understands its limitations and drawbacks – loading lambs this morning at 5.30am in the rain, for example! He is a bit unusual, I guess. He made a conscious decision to change his business into something he felt would be more rewarding, more ethical. He knew the payoff was going to be a decreased income. I think he underestimated somewhat. And my opinion (which I voiced – but AFTER the move was completed as it was so rushed) is that his timing was off. I felt it was a decision best made AFTER the kids went to university etc. But opportunities don’t align with your life course. This was a truly unique opportunity and doesn’t come up more than once per decade or so. His self doubt was more fuelled by my struggle to settle into the new as it was thrust on me very unexpectedly. I struggled for a few months, then chose a new career – that was too much – 6 months after the move. He chose an affair several months after that. It was a perfect storm, and I really thought understanding that and his deep remorse would get us through this awful period in our lives. Everyone has periods that are much harder than others, I remember others in the past nearly-30 years we have shared. I think maybe I somehow underestimated the ripples from infidelity that last a lifetime? Not sure how, as I knew it was ‘forever’ the moment I got Leanne’s text disclosing their affair.

  4. I like this post. It sounds like you are in a stage of acceptance. No point in ever having to dislike the person you love. Dislike his actions and the consequences of such, but not him. I hope your path from here forward is gentle, peaceful and self fulfilling. Much love to you, Paula. ❤

    • I have got ‘acceptance’ oh, maybe 20-odd times over this period. Actually, I remember this odd kind of calm in the several hours between Leanne telling me, and me letting him know I knew. Even as we sat in the car, pulled over on the way home from the party we had been at when Leanne texted me early in the night, I felt a great deal of acceptance. This was it. This happened. And now I had to find a way through the pain. Through the embarrassment. Through the grief. I have never disliked him. Sometimes I wish I did. Seems easier. To move on.

  5. Thank you Horsescumin,
    I understand you!
    Hugs
    E

  6. I empathise with everything you say. I too know that this permanently remains an ugly scar my OH has carved into me. No matter how much time passes or how much work I do on ME, our relationship, our love will NEVER be fully healed. I believe after all his work, OH now loves me more than he ever has, even in the early days. But for me, I will either need to accept a “lesser” love in my heart as I cannot look at him and not see the man who betrayed all I believed in, or I will need to end the relationship. 2½ years out from DDay I haven’t yet ruled out that decision.

    • Roger also says he loves me more now. I don’t fully get it. I mean sorta. But my version of the story is that we were very deeply in love. I thought he was, too. He said he was. He acted like he was. So how can it be more now? I think it has to do with respect. Respect grows with consistent and respectful behaviour. Time is a contributor. I recall telling my best friend that I didn’t think I respected him anymore, a few months in. She drew in her breath. And said that worried her. That relationships rely on respect to flourish. I agree. He has a huge amount of respect for me. For staying true. For trying to save the love. For forgiving and working to find a way forward. I think I have some respect for him in his journey from D-day. But zero for being so fucking selfish, reckless with my heart and health, and downright stupid. I don’t love him more than ever. I loved him more than ever in the hour before I received the OW’s text. My love for him grew and grew. But yeah, hard to compare long, deep love with first flush passion. I felt blessed that the passion never faded. We were still very sexually attracted to each other. But there was so much more to us than that.

      I guess that is what I wanted to tell Leanne. That she had wrecked something real. But I soon realised that she had never experienced that in her life. So how the hell could she understand my grief at its destruction?

      • Yes, the AP would never get this as she is incapable of loving deeply and unconditionally.
        The AP of my husband is exactly like that. A selfish person who will never be able to love as I did. Even if I would honour her with a letter, it is utterly pointless as she has no idea of the hurt she has caused me. At least my husband gets that as does yours.

      • Indeed, Elisabeth. I think I fell into the trap of giving her my qualities in the early days post D-day. Surely she would want to talk to me and apologise. Listen. Because if I had hurt someone in that way I would want to try to make it right. I didn’t quite fully get that she is not built like that. Life is a competition. You kick, bite, punch and scramble your way to the top of the heap, using the bodies of others to elevate yourself. I kind of knew. But my own pain clouded what I knew of her. I gave human characteristics to a narc. Silly me!

      • I did the same. We all awakened to the ugly truth that narcs are more common than we would like to believe.

  7. Re: ‘loves you more now’ … I see it as understanding the loss. Hub says things like ‘we have to get back to good. your new boyfriend wont like it very much when we get remarried in 5 years.’…. I dont even know what that means.

  8. I found this to be such a powerful post. I had a similar conversation with my husband back when we were in counseling. The therapist kept asking me why I wanted to know some of the details and I told her because I pictured the affair as some sort of grand romance, and I strongly suspected my imagination was FAR worse than the reality. In truth, the affair was a disgusting thing littered with guilt, erectile dysfunction and (unbeknownst to him) HPV. He too, was horrified when I read him the scripts of my mind-movies.

    I have arrived at a place of acceptance. Four years on, I love him but not the way I once did. He, on the other hand swears he loves me as much as ever and maybe even more. I can see changes in him, I can see that he is much more appreciative of me and our family. He values us and I believe he fully understands what he almost lost. I think it is painful to him to know that he has killed the amazing relationship we had. Together over 25 years, married over 20 and he threw it away for the false flattery of a whore. He has to live with that. I focus more on myself these days, instead of the old days when I threw my being into the support of him and his career. We are slowly settling into a new normal. I will never stop longing for what we had. It was wonderful.

    • You know that I understand this, EG. I ft the same until I couldn’t live with the grief of the loss of the intense love. I’m not sure what happened. There wasn’t a moment where I threw my hands up in the air and said, ‘that’s enough. I’m done.’ It was a slow burn. The grief. And I still don’t know how to get happy. With him or without him. It is a taint I am still struggling to deal with in my life and it is frustrating to be so unsuccessful at doing so.

      I also think your therapist’s question is sad. The lack of understanding by mental health professionals about the reasons why we ‘need to know’ details reiterates my thoughts about no one having a real clue about the impacts of infidelity until you experience it first hand.

      Keep taking care of you. And keep loving and living well 😚.

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