Life has a funny (or not so funny) way of putting things into perspective for us. I am less than 2 months from our 2nd D-day Anniversary. That fateful night I was able to catch him on line, red handed, propositioning ME for sex while thinking he was talking to a stranger. The night that months, no years, of denial and forgiving and looking the other way and hoping for the best, came to it’s royal head.
The night I have been closest in our nearly 9 years to literally walking away without looking back and actually feeling relieved that I might be free of the games, the bullshit and the emotional manipulation. Not to mention the mood swings, the depression and the negativity he sometimes carries around with him.
It is the night I have come closest to deeply hating and despising him and the night that I could no longer conjure up any respect for him or any belief that he was anything other than a narcissistic, weak willed, foolish selfish idiot who was destined to destroy or undermine any woman who loved him or any life endeavor he set out on.
I’ve written all about how the approach of the 2nd anniversary has weighed on me and left me feeling confused and pressured. Sad and angry. Afraid that I might not reach that 2 year milestone that so many therapist site as the turning point where we should find ourselves able to begin to believe again in our betraying spouses or lovers. I’d like to thank the commenters on that post for letting me know they struggled with similar feelings. I’ve also written extensively about his efforts to grow and develop and prove himself, along with his inability to know how to help me and his still lingering selfishness and his weaknesses that make it that much more difficult for me to find faith and forgiveness enough to rebuild the relationship without also building the walls around myself.
I’ve ridden the pendulum back and forth between a faithful hope that we’ll grow strong through all of this to become one of those amazing true love stories and a terrible doubt that trust will never truly exist for me again. I find that, for now, trust is really not a heartfelt emotion so much as a mental resolve to not allow myself to dwell on the things I know he is capable of. It’s kind of an act of self deception that I employee in the absence of any true faith.
I’ve learned that trust doesn’t regenerate itself quickly and that it shorts out frequently along the way. I’ve questioned why I stay and how weak it must make me. I’ve questioned my own self worth every day in one form or another since that fateful D-day, sometimes consciously and without mercy and sometimes subconsciously without wanting to. Not that it was our first D day by any means. But it was the D-day that finally had enough weight to crush me into a million pieces. And the first one to pull him up short and let him feel fear where he once felt entitlement and feel remorse where he once felt justification. The first one to make him realize how much I really knew, how much I had known over the years and how much I was capable of uncovering about what he was really doing and who he really was as a person. The gig was up.
I don’t yet allow myself to believe it to be permanent. If anything, the more time passes the less I find myself able to trust him. Simply because the odds are stacked against us. Simply because he is a man who bores easily and has a weakness for feeling sorry for himself or skewing the circumstances until he feels justified in acting out. Because he is not a man proven to have long term willpower and resolve and because he is driven by his ego, his physical needs and his insecurities to such a very large degree and all of those are dangerous things when it comes to trying to be a faithful and trustworthy partner of any kind. But also because he’s never known anything else. It shows in everything he does and every way he goes about living his life, it shows in his family relationships and it shows in the way he perceives the world around him. It would not matter how much I do or don’t trust him. He will either choose right because it’s who HE wants to be or he will choose wrong because it’s what he wants to do. Don’t let a betraying partner blame you for their indiscretions by saying you didn’t trust them anyway. They will be what they want to be and nothing more, nothing less.
I’ve written about all of these things and then for a while I just stopped writing. Walked away from the blog completely. Stopped reading my notifications and my messages and refused to set down at the keyboard. I was tired of the internal debate. I was tired of advice. I was tired of trying to rationalize my screwed up life. I was tired of trying to call him out for who he is and trying to defend all of his good qualities at the same time and of trying to reconcile the strength I have with the weakness I was feeling.
Writing helped me vent and sort but it didn’t help me forgive or forget and it didn’t stop the deep dull ache that was surrounded by a growing numbness. I wanted to write more. In fact there were many days I wanted to write endlessly and pour it all out. But my rational mind would always take over, sensor things out, smooth things out and tell me real strength was in keeping the pain to myself the way a strong woman should.
But then the choice was made for me when all hell broke loose. I had surgery and a false cancer scare. I was also handed a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and then later Ankylosing Spondalitis. It’s still unclear what my official diagnosis will be. I transitioned a special needs child from one system to another and was reminded of how much she depends on me. Which is sometimes very overwhelming and frightening. I watched my 20 something son have a breakdown before my eyes, discovered his alcohol and drug use, and went on suicide watch for almost 3 weeks while he hit bottom. I made dozens of phone calls searching for help from the VA and civilian resources, hundreds of hours on the phone with his father, endless nights walking the floor or just sobbing uncontrollably in the bathroom and I had to find ways to accept the full extent of his PTSD and TBI.
Our home flooded. Not once but twice in less than 5 weeks. I lost a third of all my treasured family photographs and another third were severely damaged. It’s cost a fortune in lost furnishings, computers, carpets, walls, and the damage is still not fully cleaned or repaired. But the main floor is fine and it could have been sooooo much worse. We were lucky in so many ways!
There wasn’t time for writing or sorting through betrayal and self doubt. Sure as hell wasn’t time for fanciful endeavors like finding myself and re-evaluating my dreams and hopes, let alone for relationship assessments and rebuilding.
So, that is where I’ve been and why my efforts at healing through writing kind of went up in smoke. There are times that I feel cheated out of that healing time. As though the last few months I had to use for sorting things out and finding my way out of the hole where stolen away and now I have landed just inches from a finish line I’m not certain I’m ready to cross . There are times I feel resentful, as though my partner was let off the hook when he least deserved it in life. The same way he always slides by and escapes responsibility without ever really learning anything about himself or about being a better person for others. That in the end he managed to beat me again by letting me deal with it all alone and leaving me with this writhing bag of emotions to dispose of.
Then there are times, most days in fact, that I just don’t care anymore about D-day or what it stands for or whether or not I have reached forgiveness by the 2 year milestone or even whether or not he will repeat his past behaviors. Days when I’m able to look back on the past 3 months of hell in my life and say I survived to this point! I’ve learned even more about myself along the way. I allowed myself to be afraid, to be desperate, to need help, to sob until I couldn’t breath anymore, and guess what? I didn’t disintegrate. It didn’t change my ability to do what needed to be done when it needed done, to be strong when I needed to be strong. And guess what else? D-day didn’t even compare to it. I thought D-day was terrible. A pain I might never survive. The end of all my dreams. A giant stamp on my forehead that read I am unlovable. D-day was nothing in comparison to the knife in your chest feeling you get when you take a call at 3:45AM and think you are talking to a son who has just overdosed and you don’t know where he is or if you will reach him in time. Thankfully that was not the case, he had not overdosed, but for 7 minutes I thought it was and those 7 minutes literally snapped me in half. Yet they also relieved me of a tremendous burden.
They taught me that we fool ourselves when we talk about how no pain compares to the betrayal of infidelity. Believe me, it is possible to feel more pain! We do ourselves disservice when we beat ourselves up for feeling weak or needing help or feeling anger or feeling sadness. We THINK we have to be strong, and we have to tough but the truth is, it is ok to crumble now and then. In fact it’s necessary. And I think I have learned that perhaps when we refuse to do so; when we refuse to let down the walls, let ourselves cry, ask for help or surrender to a prayer, that life will be forced to do it for us. To knock the defiant stubborn air right out of our freeking lungs and stomp us until we bleed.
I also learned that I am here by choice and that means I can also leave by choice just as easily. I don’t have to justify why I am still in this relationship whether people understand it or not and if he reverts to old behaviors I also won’t have to justify why I leave. I’m not settling for less than true love, as I’ve feared I might be doing for so long now. I’m choosing to give true love a chance to grow and that means that I can also choose to accept it if it doesn’t work out, as well. As I said in the beginning of this blog I’m not a victim. I believed it then and I believe it still now. Except that now I also understand that the pain and the anger and the self doubts that felt so crippling have less control over me now by understanding that I’m choosing to be here and not trapped here. I understand that out of everything in my life, this is probably the area I control the most. The one thing I can change if I choose. I can’t change a disabled child, I can’t change an aging parent, I can’t change the trauma my son faced in war, I can’t walk away from being a grown up with a mortgage and taxes and other responsibilities, I can’t change it when a loved one gets sick, or sadder yet,.when a loved one dies. There are many things we just cannot change. But we can choose who to love and how long to love them and when to say enough is enough and in that regard we have a simple choice to make (though it can at times feel quite complicated and difficult) We can choose whether to walk away because of what we know about our partners and the way they have treated us, or we choose to stay and give healing and relationship recovery a chance. The choice is personal and different for each person. Just because you choose to stay doesn’t mean you’re trapped. It doesn’t mean you are foolish or stupid, provided of course that your partner is not abusing you. I’m talking about staying with a partner who tries to make a change and make things better. Maybe the odds are slim, maybe it won’t work out. But staying long enough to see if he or she can really walk the walk and not just talk the talk, does not reflect on your intelligence or your strength. You only have to realize that the choice to leave is as open and as real as the choice to stay. You only have to realize that the pain you think is overwhelming at the start of this journey is not the worst possible pain you could ever feel. You only have to remind yourself that you are in control of your choices and your actions. You are in control. No one else. Except perhaps whatever higher power drives the universe. But even then….You are not powerless.