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I should have ran at this point. If I were bloody stupid enough to stay through all the other lies and games and warning signs, this, THIS, should have been the wake-up call that I’d lost all common sense. But I fell into his elaborate story, I watched his tears flow , soon after this he discovered he suffered from depression and required medication, I listened to his oaths that he was making a new start as a new man. That he was going to find god. And…… I stayed.
When he said he didn’t know what he wanted, I went off about my life and when he pulled me back to him I went. I had convinced myself that the things he had done were not him, they were the depression. I told myself he didn’t plan to fall so deeply in love with me when he found me on line that day and that I had changed his world. That I was the one he truly loved. The one he had been searching for. With his divorce finalized I convinced myself that we would put it all behind us and start over. I believed him when he said I was the love of his life and he had made a terrible mistake because he thought he could never truly have someone like me. I fell for it all.
I was mistaken. The cheating didn’t end there and once again we embarked in the games. All while his life continued to unravel professionally. Actually, to unravel in every way while he fought his depression and they tried to find meds that would work. I worked hard to try to help him find answers, meet his bills, develop a plan. I drained my entire savings. I mortgaged my home. Yes, I know, this is the stuff I read about on line and now I’m writing it myself. The stuff you watch on tv about con artists, and now I’m writing the script, right here for you to read and shake your head. Stupid girl. Stupid, stupid girl. I know what you’re thinking. I’ve thought it a million times myself. But that is the black and white version. There is still the gray matter to deal with.
While this all continued I knew something was profoundly wrong. We were back to the old push and pull. Push me away, pull me close, push me away, pull me close. Everything was always me. I was always the problem. Anything I did to help him made him feel inferior and angry, anytime I got frustrated I was being not supportive enough, these were the times he was spinning tales in his head about me, about how I was leaving him, using him temporarily. I knew much of this was the manic depression but I also knew where that led. I knew what he was doing and sure enough, I found him on line. I said nothing to him about it. I didn’t want to upset his fragile state. (translate into.. weak me) Then I discovered erotic chat between him and old school mate that was clearly leading to a rendezvous if it hadn’t already gone there and while I very nearly left that time, I stumbled on my way out and I stayed. I was getting sooooo tired and so drained and the walls were going up around me one brick at a time. And then our recent D-day arrived….
For most of the past four years I have suspected that his old habits remained. By the time we reached last year, I was determined to catch him. To catch him with irrefutable proof so I could leave him. He was beginning to suck life out of me with his moods and his lies. I felt like I had to save myself or sink with him. Time after time the feeling washed over me and I would just know that someone else had been added to the list of women. It’s been a painful,difficult road. What was he searching for? Why wasn’t I enough? What had I done wrong? Why couldn’t he change? Why couldn’t he be the person he swears he wants to be? What has it meant when he says he loves me and wants a life with me? The feelings of shame help to keep me here. Too embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t enough woman to hold on to my man. Certainly not enough woman for a white knight to have saved me. I am ashamed of my judgment. How does such a capable woman make such poor decisions in love? And then of course there is love. For some reason that I still cannot completely explain to myself I loved him. Love him now. He is truly multiple sided and there are sides that made me happier and more content than I’ve ever been. The question is, are they enough to endure the rest of him? He has serious issues to deal with. I believe he wants love. I don’t think he’s ever known how to love.
I have become an expert on internet sluething. It didn’t take me long to find him in multiple locations. It only took a couple of weeks to find an irrefutible connection on line with another women. Some research on her quickly showed their was an affair going on. I signed up for a profile on Plenty of Fish one night when I seen he was on line, I initiated a chat. He responded, WHILE he was on the phone to me. I carried on the conversation as long as I could. I wanted to prove it was him and not jump to conclusions but with each line he typed it became clearer and clearer and finally I just lost it. Here we were again! I felt like I could vomit, my hands were shaking, I wanted to break down and sob but I was too angry, too much rage pounding inside of me. How could he do this again? When would it end?! And at that moment the only clear thing to me was to leave. The thought of just ending it calmed me some and so I called him and confronted him. He was caught and he knew it. I listened for about 30 minutes to all the ways it was my fault. All the ways he felt neglected, all the ways my children took priority, how I was holding him at bay, how he was bored and lonely away from me, and on and on. I first felt the need to defend myself. I called him out on his excuses, I explained my feelings and he became very quiet, and then very apologetic but by this time I had reached numbness and an hour later I felt we were just talking in circles. I said good-bye. Good luck. But good-bye and I hung up. It was painful but it was a relief. I didn’t know how I would deal with it when the numbness wore off and I couldn’t even think about trying to explain it to everyone who would have questions about what happened to the “perfect” couple many people see us as. I didnt sleep that night, but I didn’t cry either. Mostly I sat in the dark in stuper. Dazed. Of course there would be much more to come and much more to reveal.
There are 5 admitted affairs in the past 4 years alone. I’m not so stupid that I don’t believe there are others. Multiple others prior to that, prior to the second wife discovery, and there are hundreds of online affairs. I suspect there may be more that he is not admitting to. He has been grossly selfish in his methods and his timing. Taking women into his bed, the same bed I visited every other weekend. In an apartment that I had tried so hard to make feel like more of a home for him and to feel part of myself. If you are a betrayed partner you understand the hurt in this. How it makes your skin crawl to think that you were seduced in the same bed he f*cked someone else in. How much rage it creates inside of you. There was traveling right past my house to pursue a woman 50 miles further than me, and feeling no guilt as he drove past. Only hoping not to be noticed. There was taking advantage of my generosity to pay for vacations, only to screw someone else a week or two later before we left for our next get away. There were affairs at times I needed him most in life. Needed his support. But he seen me as strong and independent and gave no thought to what I might need, only what he craved at the moment. I don’t believe he felt any remorse at the time. I believed he felt he was entitled. He tells me I am wrong that he always felt deep guilt each time but he also tells me he felt he was entitled or justified because I made him feel insecure. Wasn’t attentive enough. Didn’t look at him the way I used to. He took my attempts to help him dig out professionally as criticism. He felt I had been waiting for an old flame to reignite with someone else and that I would eventually leave him behind. And wouldn’t let him move in with me so he felt I was holding him at a distance for the reason. (Hello! You’ve been screwing around on me for 7 years, remind me WHY I am going to risk bringing you that much deeper into my life?) But in his mind it was my fault.

He claims he loved me deeply but was afraid of me. Intimidated by my success, or my strength and afraid I didn’t see him as my equal. He didn’t want to lose me or leave me but in my opinion he also didn’t want to try to love me. He didn’t want to give up the chase or the thrill. He turned me into an excuse for his behavior. To me, that feels cowardly. Is that even real? Is this just another elaborate manipulation from a master of deception or lies to cover the possibility that he is incapable of love? Is he truly this unstable in the mind? Will he get better? Will it all just happen again the next time he convinces himself of some warped view of reality? What happens the first time he feels I’m not having sex often enough? What happens the first time I speak up when I think he’s making a mistake? Do I walk on glass the rest of my life to ensure that he won’t go seeking validation from someone else? Do I sacrifice all of my needs in a relationship to assure I don’t make any demands too hefty for him? That is INSANE!
What kind of mess is that? What have I gotten myself into? What do I even do with that?! And why in Gods name am I not running for my life? Those are all the questions that have gone through my head and still do at times.

Eventually we reached a point where he swore he would fight for me if I would just try one more time. He wouldn’t let go. He would do WHAT EVER it takes. He would get checked for STD’s. He would seek counciling, He would be more regular with him medications. He would quickly sort out his financials and build a life for us. He is currently seeking counseling through an affair recovery group weekly. He says all the right things. Reads all the right books. He is being very patient in some ways, and less than patient in others. He is more focused on home life, on the kids, on family. He clearly is struggling with my emotions. Each trigger I experience seems to cut him deeper and that leaves me torn between tending to his wounds and trying to heal my own. I am constantly torn between my instinct to nurture him and my anger that he can not make this go away for me. Though he has given me access to his email and password it means little to me since I will never know how many alternative emails he may have. There were many, so far the ones I have found have been closed down.

The constant pain of the past 7 years still reminds me he has often said the right things and never followed through with them. This is the first time he has made this kind of effort. The first time he has been humble about it rather than cocky and defensive and twisting it. But it’s less than 6 months so far. Can he maintain it? He says he is a different person, never going back. Experience makes it very hard for me to believe him. His persistent hope that I heal from this quickly tells me that he is still unstable and in my mind that still makes him risky rather than safe. My faith in him died a little bit at a time through out these 7 years and I’m trying to rebuild it. It’s not going to happen overnight. It is remarkable to me that I managed to hold on to it for so long. Needless to say facing this now also brings back all of the emotions of my fathers affairs and the infidelity I have encountered since then. I don’t know how to learn to trust again, or learn to trust period, other than to wait for him to prove he can do the hard work required to make this better. But he doesn’t know what to do. He looks to me for guidance. To be the strong one and forgive him.

There in lies another truth about infidelity. No matter how things work out that the wayward partner pays some price or feels some of the pain, it’s in the end really the person who was betrayed who has to pay the ultimate price. We can never get back what we’ve lost. The truth of what has been done can never be completely erased. It falls to us to either forgive or walk away from it. There’s no solid hope for the future until we can forgive and only the betrayed spouse can make that sacrifice. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, but it does mean forgiving the other person for making part of your life into a horrible lie. It’s the acceptance that your life will never be the same again. It CAN BE better in the long run, but what dies on that d-day when the last straw falls, is never reborn again. It’s lost to you forever. You have to be able to lose it, to let go of it. To accept that a portion of your self dies inside of you and still be able to grant forgiveness and participate in building a new beginning. The wayward has to be strong enough to learn to understand that the death you are experiencing inside of you has to be mourned or it’s going to haunt you both and will be the destruction of you in the long run. The wayward partner needs to reach an understanding that no matter how much they want to justify the behavior as a symptom of a damaged or suffering relationship (and yes, I know these are real factors)there is an even greater reality, and that is… that there were choices. They had a choice. When you commit to someone you can choose to fight for that commitment or you can choose to escape it. No matter how much they may feel entitled, no matter how generous they feel for “forgiving us” our flaws and our part in making the relationship less than perfect, they are still asking for the ultimate sacrifice from us. Forgiveness, while a part of us dies.

I don’t believe they have a right to judge or try to speed along our rate of healing. In my opinion it is critical that the person who betrays someone they say they love, learns to know the difference between having and not having a choice. We both had choices, we both had responsibility in the relationship to meet each other’s needs, we both had opportunities to do things differently. I agree with that whole heartedly!!!! Here is the critical difference….they made a choice to pursue infidelity, to cheat on their love and in that….we who have been crushed by this action had no choice. No say in the matter. No one came to us and said “How do you feel about me sleeping with someone else? Or would you prefer that we improve our relationship and build something better between us?” We were NOT in this alone when it comes to meeting or not meeting each other’s needs and we were NOT given a choice about whether infidelity would take place. That is a choice the betrayer solely held.