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Am I there yet?
Just like those long summer vacations we took as kids, the road to forgiveness and healing seems to go on and on forever. Each day I ask myself with increasing anxiety…..are we there yet? I’m having such a hard time handling expectations. His, mine, societies, etc. I’m sick of the hurt and anger and yet I feel like I’m turning myself inside out and upside down trying to fix it all fast enough. I’m trying so hard to hurry up and get over it and move on!! The feeling of the pressure to just be normal is at times just flat out overwhelming. I’m trying not to upset my partner who still maintains what may be a permanent imprint of his previous narcissism and who apparently views my continued struggle as some kind of affront against him. He may be trying very hard, and I do believe that he is, but he’s still unable to understand what is happening inside of me. It takes enormous strength to humble yourself in the light of your own terrible deceptions and put yourself inside of someone else’s sorrow. To truly understand what living on the other side of yourself must feel like. I think that so far in our journey he’s showing that he still doesn’t have that strength. He has the strength to say I’m sorry, I was wrong, I’ll do better. But he doesn’t have enough to wear my pain. To try it on for size and learn to understand how far it reaches or how complicated it makes every aspect my life. Where does this leave me? Trying to fight against my own emotions, and beating myself up for the hurt and anger inside of me. Questioning my self worth in every sense and feeling weak for not being stronger. either strong enough to pretend everything is ok or strong enough to just walk away after so many attempts to forgive his repeated offenses. Where it leaves me, is in some kind of powerful state of suspension that I can’t even find words to describe.

This past weekend was awkward and strained.
During a difficult attempt at a discussion Sunday night, I found myself feeling like I was falling down a black hole. Nothing I said got through. It was probably close to the most profound sense of hopelessness I’ve felt in all of our years together. I was met with defensiveness on one end and what felt like blame on the other. His question is, if I’m so miserable, why do I stay, why don’t I just leave? His perception is that I don’t really want to make this work and that I’m only staying because I feel like I have to. His position is, that clearly he is doing everything he can do. He hasn’t gone backward in the past 6 months, and that he wouldn’t be trying to make a difference (through reading or counseling) if he didn’t want to be here AND, wait for it…………………….…that I’m too negative about it all. BAM! Ouch. How’s that for a slight absence of empathy and a kick in the head?

Each time he utters those words, that if I’m so unhappy why am I staying? I take another step toward the door and another brick goes up in the wall I’m building around myself. I don’t want to leave. I understand that these are the hurt feelings within him crying out against me despite the fact that he’s the one who put us here. It’s a hypocrisy that’s part of human nature. That way we can choose to blame someone for hurting us or making us feel insecure while we completely disregard the hell we have just drug them through, the lies we have told or the deceptions we have built around them. In his case it’s a pattern he falls back on. It’s a little bit like a bank robber who hurts an innocent bystander but complains loudly about the injustice of the bullet police put through his leg. For the robber you see, preoccupation with his own injury is paramount. Accountability comes far behind. My partner may truly want to do the right things but when push comes to shove and the real heat is on, he’s still seems to me to only be able to see the world through the ways it affects him or makes him feel. He hasn’t learned to step outside of himself and understand another. I’m not saying he isn’t trying. I’m saying he hasn’t learned.

Leaving would be easier.

Not that it wouldn’t be painful. But, it would be simpler. Staying and trying to work through the complexity of this whole mess is what’s difficult. It’s exhausting, painful, frustrating and eating away at my confidence and self image. I think that more than half of all women would probably deem me either crazy or insanely weak to stay with a man who has, with complete disregard for commitment, screwed as many women and broken as many vows and promises as he has during our time together. It’s really disheartening that he chooses to fall into his old habits of expecting me to be the strength so that he doesn’t have to endure any lasting discomfort from his actions. It’s a bit infuriating to me that he can even imply that I’m being too negative when everyday I already beat myself up for not being able to heal fast enough and make this all go away. I’m angry that the burden should fall to me. I’m hurt that he isn’t trying harder to reach me instead of being frustrated with me for drifting further away from him. He feels like he is fighting hard for us. I suppose from his world view that is true. He making efforts he has never made before, for me or anyone else. But I’m still sad that I don’t feel him fighting .

It hasn’t been that long.
It’s just approaching 6 months. Much of that time was consumed with other priorities. Holidays, event and family commitments, frustrations with his job, etc. For most of this time I’ve stuffed it all inside. There never seems to be a good time to deal with it and I’ve grown so tired of the sense of deflation or dread I feel from him when I try. So, I try not to bring it up and I close down. I feel like he doesn’t value me enough to suck it up and deal with all the uncomfortable things his infidelity has created. I’d rather face this ongoing hell every day for a short time and make progress than deal with it only when there is no other way to avoid it, and let it drag out 3 years. We won’t make it 3 years. I’ll be so shut down from him that I have no emotions left for him. This is already starting to happen and he CANT UNDERSTAND that the power to draw me out is in his hands. He’d rather blame me for shutting down and abandoning him when he’s trying so hard.

How does disclosure or discovery affect things?

Another element is disclosure. That’s when the betrayer shares the truth with you and answers your questions. HONESTLY. It’s a critical part of the healing process and a requirement for trust to be rebuilt. Full disclosure for us took months and to that same point I still don’t have faith that full disclosure has ever taken place. He’s lied to me about nearly everything for 7 years in order to preserve his pervasive habit of cheating. My heart feels there were more women than he’s admitted to and worse betrayals committed than he’s owning. How do you heal from all of that, knowing that the other shoe might drop at any time? That some new painful discovery might reveal itself at any turn? Not to mention the insanely vivid scenes that play out in my head from all the open questions I still have. Strangely enough I could’ve handled the truth a lot more in the beginning. If he would’ve just poured it out when I asked for it. I was already numb from discovery, already in denial. He should have told me EVERYTHING then. Sure, I might have thrown in the towel. But at least it would have been swift and not drawn out. Instead, he chose to string me and my emotions along. He was determined to share only as much as he had to and it took many fights and denials before he did that much. He was determined to deny the reality of what he did and so he had to modify and alter his stories little bit by little bit as I discovered more information. He didn’t allow me to have all the facts so I could try to process it and in doing so he undermined his credibility as a man to be trusted. He prevented me from facing the stages of grief and loss in their natural order and caused the cycle to repeatedly reset back to zero where I would have to start over again. It caused me to constantly second guess my instincts and my sense of reality, leaving me to try to sort out this jacked up mess of tangled lies and deceit on my own. Because of his need for self preservation I’ll never ever know how much he’s still hiding and with every day that passes he’s less likely to tell me. And honestly, I become less likely to be able to try to accept it. I’ve existed in a constant state of questioning and imagined images for the past 6 months wondering how much worse it really was. Considering how vast the scope of his betrayals already are, imaging even more has become almost paralyzing. What he’s done through his choice to try to hide the truth from me is created a deeply engrained lack of of trust, a daily routine of questioning and imagining and comparing myself and wanting to know why why why. Because of his choice to continue to lie to me, he gave me no solid footing I could use to climb upward. Bit by bit he chipped away my ability to believe in his long term ability to be something more than this cheating man. He chose to hide from the truth and to keep me mired in the muck of this mess , and NOW he can’t understand why it’s taking me so damned long to heal? To forgive and forget and try to trust? Is it REALLY that hard to understand why I’m stuck in this process and unable to move forward? Am I just crazy?

So what do I do with this?
This is the man who claims to love me with all his heart and want to share a vow of forever with me. Who promises to never deceive or hurt me again. Yet he’s the man who did this and THEN chose to put his own self preservation ahead of treating me with respect and honesty. A man who says he’s sorry but who is still unwilling to face the extent of the injuries he’s caused, let alone rise up and find the strength to fight for me before I drift too far away. Instead, he accuses me of having too many negative feelings and being stuck in the past. What the hell am I suppose to do with that?