Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum


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No contact

I recall the long journey that ultimately culminated in me going no contact with my alcoholic, narcissistic brother.

I had absorbed decades of abuse from him.

All in the name of family loyalty. To honour my dead mother.

Once I decided, for sure, to go no contact, it got better.

I didn’t have to endure being called names, being put down, being used as a bank. Trying to be supportive to try to help him. I just said, no more. I can be civil if we need to be in the same place. But nothing more.

Tough love. I guess.

He has since had moments of begging to be in my life, always followed by verbal abuse when I don’t respond. Or in the one case where I did, to try to explain it was best for both of us, some very nasty, really immature name calling, trying to shame me into further contact. He’s used family members, friends, his partner…all to try to engage me. Guilt me into contact.

I have stayed stoic this time. It’s been years now. He was around a bit last year, as we dealt with our father’s ill health. We were civil. Until he wasn’t. Micromanaging me (the lead carer for the father.)

I have him blocked everywhere now. Opened communication via phone/text for that period. It was closed again when he abused me for leaving Dad at home one night for a couple of hours, him much recovered, curled up by the fire, with soup, toast and plenty of Wifi and TV access.

I blocked him again.

No contact is the most peaceful way of dealing with toxic people.

I read Don’t Lose Hope’s insightful post about trauma responses.

And whilst I didn’t fit the fawn response entirely (because I did ALL of them, fight, flight and freeze included) I did include a lot of fawning. A lot of puck me dancing. A lot of, look how fkn marvellous I am, Pick Me!!! It’s pathetic. I felt pathetic.

Last week, I looked back over my communications with Rog, during that period we lived together, while he was eating my cooking, wearing the clothes I bought and laundered for him, having sex with me, all while he was eating cake by doing the same with Trinket.

I was sweating reading the messages. Totally embarrassing. I knew I was being desperate and pathetic. But I was fawning all over him, hoping he’d wake up and see me! Ugh. I feel dirty even recalling it.

Shudder.

So not who I imagined I was! But I was desperate. Desperate to wait this whore out. Desperate not to lose “my man” whom I really, truly still loved completely, and all we had worked so hard together to achieve.

Desperate not to have “failed.”

My stomach is literally churning now, gutted at my needy grossness. The words I read – I can-but-can’t remember being that sad, sad, pathetic person. Your love leaving you for fresh meat does terrible things to your self esteem. To your values. It deconstructed my picture of who I am.

I am often asked if we are friends now. Now that our lives are divided. I’m told regularly that we were the couple that appeared to be such great mates. As well as very into each other.

Sadly, no.

No, we are not friends.

Neither will we ever be.

I have had to learn the hard way, friends don’t treat you like he did me. I was just collateral damage to his wants, needs, desires. He had to fuck me over to get to the wonderful Trinket. I have zero worth to him.

So why would I accept that in any friendship?

I don’t anymore.

I don’t accept it from the Switzerland friends. My abusive brother. Nor Roger, the man I still love, but know he doesn’t value me in any way whatsoever.

I got pushed too far.


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Why won’t s/he just get over it?!

Chump Lady addresses the narrative from the cheater. Why won’t my betrayed spouse just get over it?

Until the person you trust with your life shatters your heart and your world, you haven’t a clue.

About the PTSD. The dealing with the health fallout. About losing yourself. About the traumatic, nightly nightmares. About the loss of your world as you know it. About the battle with self harm and suicidal ideation. Home. Job. Friends. Peace. Joy. Security. Safety.

Your ability to trust anyone ever again.

Gone.

The reality is, the cheater thinks they made a booboo.

And now everything is okay again.

Right?

“I had no idea my wife cared so much about our lousy marriage! It means nothing to me and I thought I could just fuck strange and brag to her about it and she’d go back to cooking for me, raising our kids, and washing my shit stained underwear. But she isn’t functioning correctly now! I don’t want to have to get another wife appliance, how do I fix this one?”

That’s not how it works, dude.

Your spouse is now affected by your choices, your actions, your sharing of STIs, forever.

Forever.

Yes. Forever.

We do so much work on ourselves. We heal a bit.

But the effects are permanent.

I was told last week by one of our mutual friends – who nonetheless does see Roger for who he is. Does understand that he is a cheater and a liar – that she is so impressed by what I am building. How far I have come. Her: you have a better life now, Paula. You’ve shaped your own destiny. You have surrounded yourself with empowering, supportive, interesting, fun, educated friends. The (name of small hometown) detritus. You’ve shed that. All those small town entitled bores, you don’t have to deal with them anymore! Yay! Roger’s friends are still in the same mindset. He still operates the same way he always did. You, on the other hand, have completely reinvented yourself, keeping the parts of you that are unique and admirable, and shedding all the crap that came with being “someone’s wife. Someone’s small town mother.”

Yeah. I think I mostly have.

But it doesn’t mean I am healed.

Or am “over it.”

Because you never really recover fully. You just learn to live around the pain and reconfigure your life to cope.


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It never goes away

I loved this passage. It is exactly how I feel. Describes it perfectly.

I feel the loss. The grief is in my bones. Roger was a part of me. Loving him was a part of my identity that I will never be able to lose.

And I will never love like that again.

I have learned not to. I’ve learned not to be too vulnerable.

I will carry my closed book close to my heart forever.

He, on the other hand, just doesn’t care.

He never loved me. Just used me.

And walked away, never looking back.

I’ll never understand that.


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All the hard

Had a really hard conversation with BG last night.

I had found he had “liked” an article about an ex on LinkedIn.

And somehow it didn’t feel right. Didn’t fit the story as I know it.

He rarely uses LinkedIn. They only dated for a few months, and I only heard that she was “needy” and it ended fairly badly. All about him being in her city when he knew she was busy, so didn’t contact her and she got seriously pissy, blah, blah, blah.

So, the “like” was only nine months ago.

Hmm.

Gut was screaming, “Paula! Remember all those red flags you ignored with Rog, because he would never cheat….wake up girl! This is a bit weird. Talk to him.”

Eff you, gut. I like burying my head in the sand!

So, I made myself call him last night. I also needed to communicate with him that I am missing our daily good morning texts.

As expected, he got on the front foot. Defensive. A bit loud and blustery. That is him. I know this now. So, disappointed, video chatting, I sat waiting for him to run out of steam.

And listen.

I quietly explained that it felt off. Asked if he is in touch with any other exes, other than the ones I know about. The mother of his adult stepchildren, and our now mutual friend, Colleen.

No. He said Chrissy (his “big love”) contacted him last year on his birthday. I knew that. He told me at the time. I saw no replies. I believe he didn’t respond. His actions have indicated he is not in touch with her.

But Rog had an exGF he apparently didn’t like.

Except to text multiple times a day. Oh and to fuck as often as they could manage to get together…

So, I am now the suspicious girl. Neat, eh???

I HATE IT SO MUCH!!!

But, the chat went well after his initial defensiveness. He understood why I had to ask. He was surprised, as he couldn’t recall liking the article. And said he thought I had stopped the good morning messages, so he stopped, not wanting to look the needy one.

I said to him that we are at the hard, meaty part of a relationship. When shit has got real. The honeymoon is over, and we are trying to work towards a way to be together. He said it worries him, as “all he has to bring to the relationship is earning power.” His decent salary. And he is trying to give that up, and reinvent himself. It’s risky. And scary as hell at nearly 57.

Of course, it isn’t all he has to bring. But I get what he meant.

I quietly explained that communication and trust – things we have been pretty good at – are more important now than ever. I am finding separation harder and harder.

So is he. He physically exhales when he sees me and has become quite mushy about me, something he held back for the first years.

But I can and will continue to do it, until we both get on our feet, securing our respective financial futures as best we can.

I told him that me asking him that question was extremely hard for me. He doesn’t know the old Paula. He’s only ever known the post apocalyptic version of me.

I used to be so chill.

I told him that.

He threw his head back and roared laughing, “you are sooo chill, babe. You must have been practically catatonic before!”

But I NEVER had to ask Roger, “why did you like your ex’s article,” like a whiny, jealous bitch.

Did I tell you how much I hate it???

There are other, personal things we talked about, too. I didn’t bring it up, he did.

I’ve shared before about our mismatched libidos.

I have kind of left that conversation for now. There are more important things. And I have assured him that the lack of sex is not a deal breaker. I love him for being a good, honest, fun human. Not for how he can make me writhe in bed!

I had one of those. He made me very sick.

He broke me.

He shattered my ability to trust people.

He stole my joy. My peace. My ability to sleep through the night.

My financial future is much harder since he left.

I think I can manage without constant, passionate, mind blowing sex, with this kind man. Doesn’t mean we can’t be more mindful of each other’s needs.

And I know he feels this, because he brought it up.

“I thought distance would make me hornier. Seeing you irregularly, it’s such a delight when we get together. But then I get all anxious. That I’m not pleasing you.”

So, performance anxiety. We all know about this. I never thought I would cause it, lol. Me. So intimidating! Lol.

I just said, “we’re okay babe. As long as we keep communicating. Keep being kind to one another. You have nothing to prove. It’s just me.”

He has struggled when I bring up hard stuff. He tends to catastrophise things. “Oh, you have a problem, that must mean you want to leave me!”

I spoke to that. After he wound himself up.

It’s not relationship ending, to talk about problems, or question things. We talk so as to try to prevent the relationship ending.

He has never had decent relationship last past four years. So he’s always assuming he does everything wrong. That it’s just a matter of time before I walk out on him.

And I continue to blog, to help me stay accountable to myself.

And to try to overcome my triggers, blocks, fears. To try to reinforce my recovery from abuse and trauma.

It’s important. To de-stigmatise the traumatic effects of infidelity. Of being thrown on the rubbish pile after giving yourself to another for decades.

Until he used me all up, believing I was worthless now.


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Traumatic birth

I was lucky with my birth stories, really.

However, I just read an article on traumatic birth, and I know that there is stuff that I gloss over.

Our first was born in the main base hospital in my region. An ambulance transfer, as my waters had broken prior to admittance to our local birthing unit, and I laboured through the night, requiring lots of pethidene for the pain (posterior presentation, spine on spine, so painful) and was only 2cm dilated 12 hours later. I vomited constantly. So was dehydrated and so drugged I couldn’t think straight. My birth plan was abandoned because I had no lucidity to remember it.

I was admitted via ambulance staff, alone, definitely not lucid, and scared.

Things went reasonably well. Lots of people in and out of the delivery room, I avoided the Caesarian I had been admitted for.

But was left with an enormous episiotomy to repair.

And yeah, that repair caused sexual problems for me for quite some time, probably up to two years, at least.

I couldn’t bear any pressure on the back of my vulva, so rear entry positions were an absolute nightmare for me. I had extreme pain if I needed to insert even a tampon. I thought I was sexually damaged for life. Only just over five years into being a sexually active person.

I now believe it may have been the scar tissue being reopened and repaired again, from the very messy rape injuries I had. I was stitched up then, from the gaping tears my rapist ripped into my genitalia. Maybe the cutting through that caused difficulties in the healing from the episiotomy?

And so, reading this, made me want to vomit.

And admit to myself that I did have some residual trauma from birthing. I have mostly told myself I was lucky. And I was. Three healthy, great kids. And nothing compared to some of the stories I have read!

You don’t hear much about birth trauma until you’ve experienced it yourself, then all of a sudden, women you’ve known for both minutes and years open up about the horrendous things that happened to them. Some are too terrified to have another child. Some have suffered crippling post-partum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Some can’t even use a tampon without experiencing a visceral reaction.

That tampon reference got me. Oh fuck. Yeah. That made me tear up, and the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stood on end.

And people wonder why I wanted home births. I had the second and third at home, without the trauma. I am not advocating this for everyone, but it was what I needed, and I’m so grateful I did, as I think those birth stories were healing for me. I never required another drug, nor vaginal stitch, birthing at home. I had PND after the first, but never again, after my home births.

And then my blood ran cold, thinking about the terror I had about large penises.

And how I nearly passed out in fear, seeing BG naked and aroused for the first time. The very strong urge to literally jump out the window.

When you put the pieces of the puzzle together, you start to see the patterns so much more clearly. The veins of trauma that run through my life.


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Emotional

Truth.

Emotional pain is embodied.

I’ve never felt more intense physical pain than this emotional pain.

I just had a series of very bizarre dreams. But the weirdest one was at the end. More hyper real than the previous bizarre ones.

Trinket floated in (yes, like a ghost) and apologised for all the pain she has caused me.

Said she was ashamed of believing Roger. That slowly, his lies were revealed. That she recalled me saying we were not separated, that I was shocked and appalled at what he was doing with her, when I still loved him. That his love bombing of her blinded her to his lies, made her think I was the liar. She “forgot” what I told her, the pain in my eyes…

And my mind flashed back to the searing pain of reading a text he sent me, meant for her 🗡🔪🗡🔪

I felt a sense of calm. Of healing. And it was briefly soothing.

Strange thing to dream about after the dreams that preceded, about shootings, paranormal happenings, and supernatural creepiness.

I woke, prickling with sweat.

I wish the nightmares would end. So sick of them.


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Forgive. Forget

Wow! Yes!

Roger painted me as unforgiving.

The reality was, he wouldn’t do what I needed, to make me feel safe.

I asked him to please change his phone number. He argued it was best to keep it, as then he could “manage” Leanne’s apparent crazy.

This left me in a constant panic. That they were still playing me.

And yeah, well, after all his assurances that he was done, he went and fucked her again, two years after “he was done.”

He never tried to work out why he did it. Who he is and why. He never bought a single book, read a single article, or booked a single counselling appointment.

Oh, not true. He booked a psychologist. For ME!

Because I was the problem. My reaction to his actions. That was a problem for him.

Secrets are his stock in trade.

When I finally discovered Trinket, I started digging again.

Marriage fucking policing AGAIN!

And I got as far as online dating profiles on three different platforms (technophobe, riiiiight) going back at least two years. I gave up digging after that. No doubt it went on much further back. I honestly had no clue about this behaviour. Why would I, when he kept telling me he wanted only me, kept touching me, holding me, “loving” me, and “only” me. I was the only woman who got him, the only woman FOR him. He’d never have with anyone else what he had with me….

Sigh.

Played.

By a fucking maestro.

But, my gut knew. I knew not to let my guard down. I knew deep down what he was capable of. I wasn’t fully conscious of my own intuition, but I struggled with forgetting. I could and did, forgive … enough. Not complete “forgiveness.” Deliberately breaking the person who adores you’s heart is actually quite literally the definition of unforgivable.

Deceit. That was always him. While stroking you softly, he would plunge the knife in.

So, I was made to feel not good enough.

Not a good enough forgiver.

Despite staying (and he knew my stance on cheating) and busting my arse to heal us, from what he did. Despite all the time taken and paid for, in therapy. Despite four years of cramming in two degrees (to help me understand human behaviour, and to try to rebuild some absolutely shattered self esteem) whilst working, raising kids and running the accounts for our farm.

He did it again.

Sadly, proving all my intuition to be spot on.

He didn’t change.

He just got even better at hiding his duplicity. Better at the soul rape. Better at fooling me that he was only having sex with me. Better at getting non-consensual sex, because I never consented to share my body with others, to expose myself to the diseases I now carry in my body, because he shared his with others.

But, I still feel “not good enough.” Even with all of this knowledge.

That’s the terrible scar left by a cheater, on a loyal, loving partner. It never fades. You just learn to dress to hide it better.


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Active relaxer

My kids told me recently that I’m an “active relaxer.”

Meaning I am always “doing” something. As we chat. As we play games. As we watch a movie.

Et cetera.

I am home from work with a nasty cold. But loving being alone.

Have all this storm chaos to clean up, so got out there and piled up sticks and branches, to burn later. Mowed some lawns. Re-baited rat bait stations. Did laundry. Washed floors. I have come inside, out of breath. Absolutely wiped out.

I have noted this about myself, too.

Before I knew Roger was a cheater, I thought it was SAHM guilt. I was a farmer, and a mother. But didn’t have a 9-5 paid job, so always wanted to be seen to be contributing.

After I found out, it ramped up.

I can’t sit still.

I’ve been struggling with some home repairs, and there are power tools everywhere.

But today, I’m tired. And I am trying to give myself permission to rest.

Fucking trauma. It’s such a nightmare.


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Authenticity

My blood boiled this morning reading Chump Lady.

I mean, holy hell!

One of the things that you have to learn after being chumped is, that you don’t have to take that crap from anyone anymore.

You don’t have to pretend to be friends with someone who has serious character flaws.

You don’t have to spackle over people who cheat, as “having made a mistake.”

In this case, the woman’s actions made her previously beloved husband so miserable that he felt his only out was to shoot himself.

If you disagree with her cheating – and you absolutely should – then you are not a “bad friend” for not forgiving her. You are a person with morals, integrity, character, and any loyalty you are being made to feel to her is seriously misguided.

I no longer tolerate people like this in my life.

I have unfriended cheaters. I don’t accept any excuses that, “oh, but other than that, she’s a lovely person.”

Bollocks.

Lovely people don’t cheat.

Either on, or with partnered people.

It’s that simple.

I have culled people. And I’m good with that. I never had before. I thought you had to accept all the bad. Just ignore it, and play nice.

I worked so damn hard to survive the discard after a serial cheater made me feel unworthy of living. It was a special kind of hell. Trying to stay in the world, when it was too painful to do so.

Buggered if I am going to allow any cheater apologists wriggle room in my life.

I make very deliberate choices now. For my mental health. For my own survival.

The comments got me. Those asking not to talk about suicide.

Fuck that shit.

We need to talk about it. Infidelity, gaslighting, lying, they make loyal partners fucking crazy. Miserable.

Some of us want to die.

Sadly, some of us do.

It needs to be talked about. It isn’t a mistake.

It is abuse.

Unbearable abuse that sucks all of the joy in the world from our beings.


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I didn’t want it to be true

Don’t Lose Hope recently shared a story about the end of a marriage, due to cheating.

And it describes it perfectly.

I loved Rog. I didn’t want our life together to be over. But I knew he was a serial liar and cheat, and somehow I had to let him go.

I didn’t want our life together to have been a giant lie. I didn’t want to lose those long friendships, my home, my way of life.

I didn’t want our children to have parents who never spoke to each other. To have them think we never loved each other.

Or never loved each other enough.

I didn’t want to admit that I was not enough for him. That I had failed to be lovable enough.

I was in shock. Grieving. This couldn’t really be happening, right?

I begged the other woman for her to stop. To show me some compassion. Some mercy.

In the snippet below, Seema talks about her personal experience of betrayal, and how she felt about having to end her marriage.

I didn’t want it to be true. Not just because it was terrible. Unbelievable. Shocking.

I didn’t want it to be true because I actually loved the life I had.

You see, we did everything together. We had the same interests and hobbies. We shared many of the same friends. Many of them couples we had known for years.

We had a good life. A fun life. A life that, until that point, I was perfectly happy with.

So I didn’t want to give it all up. To end everything. To have to walk away from a life that was familiar. A life that I wanted to keep on living.

I think this is something people don’t understand.

They expect you to be so appalled and horrified that you want nothing more than to end it all. To have nothing more to do with this man you now hate.

But I didn’t it want to end.

I simply didn’t want it to be true.

I wanted to put my fingers in my ears, and close my eyes. I wanted to go to bed and, when I wakened up again, for it all to have been a bad dream.

I didn’t want it to be reality.

You lose so much when your husband is unfaithful. When you learn he has been living a double life. When you learn he’s been seeing someone else for years, when he’s been away on business trips.

You are forced to think straight. To do the right thing. To do what you know is in your best interests. Even though it doesn’t feel right, and it doesn’t feel good.

Yes, I knew I was going to have to end the marriage. After all, he was a liar through and through. I had to prioritise keeping myself safe – because I already had an STD that he’d picked up from the other woman.

But I still wished that I didn’t have to throw it all away. I had enjoyed being with him (I know that’s hard to believe but he’d treated me well when he was home with me.)

In so many ways, he felt like my best friend. We’d been together for three decades. Our lives were intertwined.

And I really didn’t want to have to sell my home. To break my family apart, and start all over again.

Because, until I learned the truth, I’d really loved the life I had. And now I was being forced to say goodbye to that life. I couldn’t have imagined ever being in this place.

And, yes, it was the right – it was the only – thing to do.

But I wish I didn’t have to give up everything I loved

People think it’s easy. To leave a cheater. People think it is the only option. That you must have zero self respect if you try to stay. I know I felt that way.

Until it was my love who was the lying cheater. My life that had to be demolished.