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That’s not exactly what it sounds like. It doesn’t involve tracking down my partner or his string of lovers with a weapon. Although wielding a baseball bat on his truck did cross my mind. Briefly. Hey, I’m just sayin…
If you are or have been through affair recovery, you know just what a trigger is, how it feels and how quickly or senselessly it can happen. If you’ve ever experienced PTSD you also have an understanding of how a seemingly senseless thing can flood you both emotionally and physiologically. It’s a predictable response that hits you quite unpredictably. It’s a universal experience. Though in the moment you may feel like you must be the only one in the world who cannot control their thoughts, pain or emotions.
I haven’t kept a list of those innocuous daily events that send me into a frenzy or reduce me to a sense of self worth that tops out at less than zero, but if I had to boldly venture a guess I might imagine that it may be reaching somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 zillion. Yup…you heard me. zillion!
Oh, so you think I exaggerate do you? Alright, perhaps a zillion is overstating things just a tad, but the point is… the list is looooong. Almost incomprehensibly long. It’s also infuriating at times. To be so affected by things that are so little. The lyrics of a song or cooking a certain food tied to a once significant event, or running across a favorite shirt that you now suddenly think must look hideous on you because now you see yourself through his eyes of rejection. For me, I have the sudden nagging need to trade in my car because it is just one more thing that represents a time when he was cheating. Actually everything from our past 7 years represents a time he was cheating because he was always cheating, but I can only address them one at a time. I can’t erase my entire past. Though I’ve pondered on how to do so more than once during all of this.
One day last week I went down like the Titanic when thinking to myself how absolutely gorgeous the day was. The sun shining, the birds singing, a warm almost humid breeze. Just perfect! Wait…. Did I say perfect? As quickly as I enjoyed that moment the coin flipped out from under me and I lost all perspective, feeling that familiar stabbing pain in the stomach. A rapid succession of thoughts and images instantly flooded my brain. Summer was coming. Summer means wearing less clothing, less clothing means displaying my flaws. Flaws that have proven me not perfect enough to hold my lover’s devotion. Insert here a string of mental images of “perfect” women,running through my mind. The women my lover would probably move heaven and earth to be with. Or at least tell a whole lot of freaking lies to get a chance! The kind he would walk away from me in a heartbeat just to screw them one time. I’m nothing. Return to image of myself. Ughhh…. Proof positive, I’m not attractive enough. Will never be. Damn summer all to hell. Summer is when he cheated. (actually he cheated year round but during this particular melt down my brain certainly believed that summer was the epitome of all his cheating.) Insert memory of a wedding last year in June that I missed due to a car wreck, add memory of how that day played out as I also found myself coming down with severe bronchitis. Flash to scene of our lovemaking later that night, (yes I felt I had to, miserably achy, worried about my car, it didn’t matter. I knew I was being compared to who ever he had pulled into our lives lately and would lose serious points for refusing sex and besides… I really wanted to feel loved right then when I felt so awful). Switch now to my new knowledge that he had used that bed with someone else. Flash to the memory of how many times I arrived at his apartment to find him washing the sheets and my inner gut reaction that he was hiding evidence, trying to clear his conscience. I had been right. My stomach flips again, pulse quickens more, I can feel my heart beating against my chest bone now and I start to perspire slightly. I think about him being half moved from one apartment to another at the time. Imagine how he thought he was leaving the old apartment and the little sex festivals he had there behind. How he thought he pulled that off without ever getting caught! Recall then how the police man who lived upstairs, the one he said never spoke to him, would give me that pitiful smile each time I passed him. I wonder now what he knew. It shames me and embarrasses me. Makes me feel pathetic. The stupid used girlfriend. Flash back to my car wreck.. I have no idea why, and now to the memory of the route I took to the wedding I missed that day. How I was traveling near the vicinity of yet another of his lovers, now I have a sudden recollection that it was the same lover he was screwing within days of this wedding. Was it before or after? I don’t know. He hasn’t shared that particular date only that one of these rendezvous was during the time frame between one trip we took and another that followed two weeks later. This family wedding wedged between the two. So I ponder the thought for a fraction of a moment to establish a date then give up on it. It just makes me want to puke. Recall instead his coldness on the second get away. Full of attitude, somewhat distant, borderline rude in the way he avoided a connection, acting as though the trip was an utter bore to him even while I was footing the bill. He seemed oblivious that I was struggling with a fever and bronchitis or what I was experiencing during some of the major disorientation coming from my special needs child which always stresses me and breaks my heart all at once. I am reminded that he never held my hand, kissed me, opened a door, spoke affectionately to me, but he DID try to have sex. I wonder now who he was screwing the night before he drove in to meet us and then I recall how he made it a point to tell me all about some blonde named “Angie” who was just so cute it made him chuckle, at the hocky game he supposedly went to with coworkers the night before. What was his purpose for sharing that? Did he F*ck her too? Flash back to summer wedding. Didn’t he feel anything when I missed that wedding? Didn’t he think about us? Did he ever think about what was holding up our possible wedding one day? Did he day dream about his most recent lover Cindy instead? Or someone else? Did he just zone out? The disjointed thought crosses my mind that maybe I would like a summer wedding someday. I try to imagine my wedding scene, I can’t focus it in, I give up trying. Where did that come from?? Then remember it’s a nice warm day and I need to unpack the shorts, feel the panic all over again as I remember the original train of thought….I feel like shit about myself, now I feel the deep pressing weight on my chest. The one that makes you feel like you can’t breath. I want to pull over the car and just bawl. Just cry until I have nothing left inside of me.
I think to myself, you are leaving him. No matter what!!!!!!!! You can’t (won’t) live like this. Then I refute myself, you’re weak, you’re not going anywhere. You’re nothing. Men will always cheat on you. A tear runs down my face. I wipe it off. In my head I scream DAMN IT! NO.. MORE.. . FREAKING.. TEARS. Enough already!!! I’m now in my parking space, I have to walk into the office in just a couple of seconds. I tell myself to pull it together. I think I now hate springtime.
Rapid repair mode
ALL of this. In a span of about 2 or 3 minutes. If the triggers are not exhausting enough, the real energy comes in the sometimes instant need to pull yourself together and face someone who has no idea what is happening in your life. Those moments when you are fully immersed in a trigger event and someone walks up to you. The moments you break down in a restaurant and right on cue the damned waiter appears. Those instances where you are blinking back tears that are pooling faster than you can control them and an employee knocks on your office door. At those moments you push down emotion harder,with more force than you have ever choked back, your adrenaline surges through every vein in your body and straight out the top of your head, your mind scrambles to regain touch with reality so as not to blurt out something completely insane, and just like that you transform yourself to normal again. And when it’s over and they are out of sight you realize how hard your heart is beating and how you are practically holding your breath, and still holding a smile that feels like your face will crack and suddenly you are exhausted.
I personally am thankful that no one knows what’s happening to my life. Because as long as they don’t know, I have to pretend that everything is ok. I leave on the superwoman cape. If I give in, break down, admit to what I’m dealing with……I risk it all. Risk a flood of Noah proportions. EPIC melt down. No, it hurts like hell but it’s better to play it strong. Push it down. Push it way, way down!
As I say, not as I do.
No doubt about it. Triggers will run you through the mill and make you question your sanity! But I want to be clear about my paragraph above. It is NOT my recommendation that you hide your pain and push it way down. Find someone to talk to!!! This is my terrible habit. This is part of who I am over a life time of trying to compensate for events in my past. It’s NOT healthy, it’s NOT recommended to hold it in. I’m well adjusted enough to recognize it, but not emotionally logical enough at this moment to stop it. I’ll find a way. I always do. That’s why I write. But for now I have limited choices. Push it down and deny it and live a pretend calm. Or give in to it and risk truly having to face the pain this is creating in my life. Or confront the rage, and god help me if I let that rebel rage loose. Not one of those is a healthy solution. So I wait for the day the triggers come less frequently so that I can regain my balance and see the healthy alternatives. I’m not as crazy as this blog may suggest I am. Honestly! I’m just a woman who is temporarily shattered and I’ll rebuild one day. With or without him. I will find my way. Only this time, I will be stronger. This is the inheritance of affair recovery and anyone who’s visited this strange planet of infidelity, understands it.