Advertisements

Weighing the balance


Sometimes I fantasize that the other woman reads this blog.  I don’t know if she would stumble upon it, or if I would simply lead her to it, but there are days when I want her to read it, and then days when I really just prefer to keep it private and quiet.   It is my place to vent my feelings, in a safe way, free from her criticism, her belittling commentary, her rude and insensitive laughter.  I definitely vacillate between wishing she’d find it, and hoping she never does.

Pros to her reading it:

  • She’d finally get a chance to see for herself that her delusions were….well….delusional.
  • She would see once and for all that my husband never loved her, and that she meant nothing to him
  • She would finally understand that he was with her only for sex, not because he found her attractive, or felt she had any redeeming qualities (other than the fact that she was easy and available)
  • She would realize the degree to which we both find her repulsive
  • She would see that we are close despite her efforts to ruin us
  • She would realize that most of the time, she is the butt of many of our jokes and it is the laughing about her that gets us by.  I happen to know that would drive her crazy, as she hates people talking about her, and is incredibly insecure, which is what makes her knowledge of it so delicious to me.
  • She might be hurt, and let’s face it, after what she has done to me, I think she deserves a little twinge.
Cons to her reading it:
  • Along with the above, she would also have knowledge of the pain and suffering that she has caused
  • She would see the ongoing pain we both still live through, and she would find something perversely satisfying about that
  • She would realize that we are seeing a therapist, and knowing her, she would see that as a sign of trouble, not as a sign of rebuilding and strength and possibly feel elated at the possibility that we are struggling
  • She would immediately sick her freebie lawyer on us, claiming public flogging, and demand that this be taken down, which of course has no legal footing, but just going through the process of responding to her lawyer would cost us even more money than we’ve already doled out on this issue.
  • With respect to the above, she would see the grief I have over the amount of money we’ve spent on this legally, and smile thinking she is causing us financial harm while still maintaining her personal monthly baby-stipend.
I think I want her to think she hasn’t touched me, and that is why point #1 of the cons is there.  When I fantasize about running into her, I imagine her seeing us happy, and unaffected and it driving her nuts.  The feeling that she has had no impact, causing her to melt like the wicked witch of the west in the Wizard of Oz.  I think that by showing her my weaknesses and vulnerabilities, I am seen as weak and defeated, and so I don’t want her to become aware of what impact she has had….and yet, I think she should be, on some other level.
I think when we harm others, we should be very aware of the fallout of what we have done or said, and how it has impacted others.  We should see firsthand how we have harmed, to gain a full appreciation for how our actions can magnify and envlop others in negative ways that we perhaps never anticipated.
Would she feel remorse?
Would she feel shame?
Would she feel regret?
Likely not, given her incessant battling with us and squabbling to obtain more money and drag my husband’s name and reputation through the mud.  She feels entitled, and when people feel entitled, they also feel that the fallout of their actions was deserved.  Personally, I would love for her to answer me this:  What did I ever do to deserve this?
Advertisements

“Would the white elephant please stand up”


If I’ve learned one thing from this journey, it is that I am not  great communicator.  I like to talk, that is true, but I do not communicate well.  I am intensely sensitive, and I think I often recoil from saying what I really feel, or expressing what I need if I think it is going to upset another person, make them think less of me, or question their affiliation with me.  I guess I just have a lot of open wounds about having relationships be conditional upon me being perfect, doing and saying the right things.  Thanks mom for that crutch.

My husband and I are very sensitive people.  We listen, we care, we want to help.  We genuinely enjoy talking about our feelings.  We just don’t do it well with each other in a marital context.  We have great intentions, but we need tools.

What we have come to learn from marital therapy is that there is a way to communicate, and while it is so simple, it eluded us for the longest time, and is something that doesn’t come easily.  Even though I know the formula now, I still revert back to those old patterns that get me and us stuck.

My a-ha moment in therapy happened many months ago.  We were discussing how I hadn’t mentioned my feelings of sadness that week to my husband, and had chosen instead to keep them to myself.   They festered, they grew, and I found myself feeling excessively sad.  As the days went by, my sadness grew, turned into despair and on some days, turned into a desire to end my life.  When our therapist asked me why I chose not to talk about the pain of my week, I mentioned that I felt as though all I was ever talking about lately was how depressed I am, how sad I feel, how lonely I am, how fragile I feel….”what a downer I am”, I thought.

When you are wounded from your spouse having turned to another, your self esteem plummets.  Suddenly, you want to show him that you are the best thing in the world, and hope that he realizes his error in judgment.  Determined to show myself in the best light possible, I didn’t want to constantly be a mess of despair and tears.  I didn’t want him to associate me with pathos.  I felt pathetic, but I didn’t want him to think I was pathetic, so I chose to keep my pathetic feelings to myself.

Our therapist has taught us that seeking and offering clarification is key to communicating.  Getting your point across and knowing that you have been heard, and your message interpreted as intended are important.  To this end, he often has us turn our chairs toward each other and ask one another for clarification, or seek information to help us better understand the other.  If we find ourselves taking action or building a case based on assumptions, we are to ask the other person to clarify so that we don’t have a misunderstanding.

Being in therapy is like having a marital referee for an hour; someone who analyzes and evaluates what you say, how you say it, and the subtle undertones that underlie communication, in order to help you navigate a conversation at a deeper level.

So, back to the therapy a-ha moment…as the therapist asks me why I haven’t been sharing my feelings.  “I don’t want to be pathetic.  I feel like a loser and it is ALL I ever talk about anymore”.  Some more probing questions revealed that I had been withholding because I didn’t want him to see me in a pathetic light.  To see me as anything less than perfect makes me vulnerable to him leaving me (remember that relationships are conditional in my upbringing), so I didn’t want to always be projecting negative feelings and being a downer.  He had us turn our chairs together, and the conversation went something like this:

Me: “He is going to think I am pathetic”
Therapist: “You think he will see you as pathetic if you share your feelings of sadness?
Me: “Yes”
Therapist: “Have you asked him whether this is the case?
Me: “No”
(We turn our chairs to face each other)
Therapist: “Perhaps you can share with him why you haven’t been sharing”
Me: “I am afraid that if I continuously share sad thoughts, look sad, act sad, talk about the affair, ask questions, cry, etc., that you are going to think I am needy and pathetic and I worry that you won’t find me attractive”
Spouse: “I would never think you are needy for expressing your sadness.  It is understandable that you are sad.  I’ve done a horrible thing to you, and I expect you to be sad and to talk about it.  I don’t want you to hold things back from me”
Me: “But it is all I ever talk about, and I am afraid it comes across as needy and pathetic”
Spouse: “Of course you think about it all the time.  So do I. This is a hard time for both of us, but I would rather you share your feelings, good and bad, rather than keep them to yourself. I want to hear your feelings, and I want to help.  I don’t find you needy, nor would I.  I am prepared to listen to whatever you have to say for as long as you need to talk about it. I did this to us, and this is my cross to bear too.  I will do whatever it takes to make this better”
Me: “So  you don’t find it pathetic and unattractive?”
Spouse: “No, I don’t.  I find it understandable”

That conversation was an a-ha moment for me because I realized that a lot of what *I* do is make assumptions about what I think others will think or feel.  I then change my behaviour to suit my paradigm, and much to my surprise, I guess I am not often right.  Shocker!  At key moments when I feel myself pull away, recoil, distance myself emotionally, it is because I have a fear.  A fear of what the other will think, do, feel about me.  So the trick, as I have learned it, is to call out the white elephant in the room, and label it for all to see.

It would look something like this:

“I have some feelings that I would like to be able to talk to you about, but I am scared to share them with you because I fear that you will find me needy and unattractive for continuously harping on my sadness, so I am finding myself pulling away”

As you can see, the above follows the pattern:

a) what I need
b) what I am scared of / what is holding me back
c) what that fear is doing

Putting your fear right out in the open, allows the other person access to it, and an opportunity to address it and alleviate it.  Telling him that I was fearful of his evaluation of me and what it was causing me to do (withdraw), allowed him an opportunity to educate me on how HE feels and how my actions are TRULY interpreted by him.  Only when you call out that white elephant, and ask it to stand up, can you truly find out how someone else is interpreting you.

We make a lot of assumptions.  I know that I do.  My assumptions are probably wrong most of the time, and yet I allow them to navigate my decisions.  I am trying not to do this, but it is so hard.

This, of course, works in all relationships, and is something that I want to practice more with my friends also, to avoid those disagreements that come from silly misunderstandings.

Therapy has truly been a gift in so many ways.  I find myself excited for Fridays when my husband and I have a chance to reset our batteries, recharge our emotional connection and spend an hour focussing solely on us.  Oh, and leaving that office feeling extra connected, emotionally cared for and heard does something for my libido.  Good thing therapy is on Friday and I have the entire weekend to express my appreciation 🙂

Reprieve


I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks.  Usually I blog when I feel the need to express something because I am angry, sad or happy.  Right now, I am just….BEING.

Things have been good lately, and I am pleased to say that I am spending considerably less of my day thinking about the affair or the mistress, and the reprieve feels wonderful.

It’s interesting, I don’t mind so much having the affair pop into my mind, but I do mind the mistress invading my thoughts.  I think that is because where the affair is concerned, I have reasons, explanations and repair work that has been done. so when I think of the affair, I also think of the work that is being done, the commitment my husband and I have to working through this, and I try to refocus my thoughts on the positive.  Where the mistress is concerned, that wound is still very much open, raw, and inflamed.

The other day, while looking through my tax folders for income tax submission, I came across a file folder called “Legal” and peeked inside.  Low and behold it is all of the communications between lawyers and my husband about the details of the affair and the fallout as a result of same.  We have had three lawyers working this case, at different times, across three different firms. An employment lawyer handling the paternity and child support claims, an employment lawyer dealing with the wrongful dismissal suit she has launched because she was fired, and a criminal attorney we retained to assist us when we were considering criminal charges against her for the ongoing harassment.  Wow.  Three lawyers, two consenting adults, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Where do I fit into all of this?

So, there I sat on the floor of the home office looking through this file folder at the volumes of letters, lawyer fee statements and official documents.  One document in particular stood out for me, and I read it.  I really wish I hadn’t because the content disturbed me.  It was a dictated account of an exchange between the mistress and our family lawyer when she came to his office insisting to speak with him about why my husband and I were “bullying” her.  Is she serious?  We are bullying her?  Because we stand united, and refuse to allow her to break up our family, we are bullies?  Because he fired her after the shit hit the fan, and she no longer had any power over him, that makes him a bully?  Because we won’t stand idly by and allow her to douse us in her poison, and request legal protection, we are bullies?   She really is fucked up.  Pardon my language…

The lawyer, upon meeting with her, had asked his law clerk to sit in on the meeting and take notes.  Those notes informed the document I was reading.  In the document it stated that the relationship was romantic in nature, and that it was consensual.  She stated that she loved him, and he loved her.  It also stated that the only reason that they aren’t together is because of me.  Somehow *I* messed things up for him.  Did she really expect me to step aside?  Was I supposed to bend over and take it up the ass from her?  I don’t think so.  Where does this sense of entitlement to what is mine come from that she thinks that it is wrong of me to interfere?   So it’s wrong of me to interfere in their relationship, but it is OK for her to interfere in a 10 year marriage?

I can’t express how beyond angry and sickened I am by her, and when I read these things, or hear of her latest actions, I am livid in a way I can’t explain….and that is a big deal since I like to use words, and when I can’t…you know its BIG.

I continued reading the account of that meeting.  Towards the end it stated “She maintains that their relations were quite frequent. i.e. 5-6 times per week . Was I reading that right?  She claims to have been sleeping with my husband 5-6 times a week?  That is like everyday except Sunday – what the hell?

This upset me for two reasons:

1. He has never had sex that frequently with me
2. He told me it was infrequent so this sent up red flags that he was lying

I told him immediately about what I had read.  Therapy has taught me not to keep these things inside.  He reassured me that her statement was false.   They were not together that often, and he chalked it up to her making more of this than it really was.  He mentioned that the lawyer had joked to him that as a result of that statement, he was considered among his office staff, to be quite the stud.  My husband later quipped that for a 42 year old man that would be quite the feat – 5-6 times per week.

The whole thing left me with a sour taste in my mouth, but since that day almost 2 weeks ago, I haven’t really given the affair much thought.   My husband and I are communicating better than ever, and I no longer feel as apprehensive about raising my fears and feelings about it to him.  I know he is there for me, and wants to help.  I trust that.

I look forward to the day when I can go a whole day without it invading my thoughts.  I can’t wait to feel free again.  This burden is so heavy.

Stolen


Therapy can be a wonderful thing.  It helps you to identify themes and patterns in your life, your childhood, which have caused you significant emotional distress and how those threads and themes weave their way through the rest of your life.  It also helps you understand why the things in your present affect you in the way that they do, and the coping strategies you’ve built to help deal with these issues.

My mother is a kind and caring person, for the most part.  She is a nurse by training, and although that means nothing since I’ve met my share of maniacal and morally depraved nurses, it allows her to classify herself as sensitive to others, giving and warm.  She is also a thief.

I sat in therapy this morning dissecting the common threads that run through my life, and one that was most prevalent was the feeling that what is mine is not mine.  What is mine can be appropriated by whomever desires it, and there won’t be any consequences, and as much as I would like to defend my rights to my belongings, my cries will fall on deaf ears.  I am powerless to claim, defend, or hold onto what belongs to me.

My two grandmothers passed away when I was 20 years old.  My paternal grandmother died leaving a lot of items bequeathed to family members in her last will and testament.  To me she left all of her furnishings.  It was her dying wish that I be left these possessions, along with some jewelry.  At the age of 21, I moved out of the house.  My grandmother’s furniture, which was mostly in the style of Bombay Company Mahogany, was being housed in my parent’s basement, awaiting, I thought, the time when I would need it, and request it.  When I moved with my then boyfriend (now husband) to the big city, the need for furniture was there.  We had some things, which he’d acquired from having lived on his own, but I also wanted to contribute, and have something of mine to contribute – it only felt fair.  While the Bombay Style wouldn’t have meshed well with the furniture he had, it didn’t matter.  We just needed a place to sit, some occasional tables and a coffee table.  I asked for the furniture and was denied.  I was told that I was too young to take on such a big responsibility, and that we would likely have some careless friend who would put down a wet glass without a coaster, leaving a white ring on the pristine surface of the tables.  Since I’ve never been one to throw wild parties, or to have irresponsible beer-guzzling friends, it left me wondering if she had the right daughter in mind when she made those statements.  Had she confused me with some other daughter she had never had?  So the furniture sat, unused, in my parent’s basement.

Two years later, my parents sold our family home, and moved an hour east to a smaller town.  They sold many of the furnishings because they were downsizing to a smaller place.  With my brother and I both moving out, it was time to pare down the “Stuff” and de-clutter.  My mother sold sofas, chairs, tables, beds, mattresses, headboards, dressers, etc.  The money, I suppose, would go towards purchasing some new furniture for their new place.  Or maybe, as it turned out, they would simply use the furniture that was willed to me to furnish their new place.  And that, they did.  When questioned about it, my mother states “I am holding onto it for you”.  My version of the story is that she has appropriated what is mine, and is using it, not storing it, or keeping it.  Oh, and there is a white ring from where one of her irresponsible friends put down a wet glass.  Interesting indeed.

Within thirty days, my other grandmother passed.  She was older and more frail than the one who’d passed earlier, so she was less of a surprise, but it was nonetheless very painful to lose her, as I was closest to her.  When I’d been a young teenager, my school boyfriend had given me a puppy.  His mother bred puppies informally, and they had a litter of pups.  I brought her home and raised her for a year before my mother suggested that it might be a nice idea to let her live with my grandmother.  She would keep her company, give her a reason to get outside and talking to other neighbours.  I agreed, and aided with the transition.  When my grandmother died, the dog returned to living with me for the year, and my mother, perhaps in the loss of her mother, bonded with the dog, perhaps seeing it as a living reminder to her, in her loss.   When I made plans to move out, I had intended to take my dog with me and made that known.  I was denied.  The dog, as it was, would remain with my mother.  I can’t recall what her reasoning was, but as usual, it would be something that fit with her agenda.

My brother is two years older than me.  Being two years older, and a guy, he had a size and weight advantage, not to mention he intimidated me.   I used to babysit on the weekends, and had a part time job that paid me.  I used the money to buy clothes, or to finance trips to the movies with friends.  He would enter my room at will, take the money from my cash-drawer, and use it.  I often questioned him about it, and he feigned ignorance about anything being stolen – told me I couldn’t prove it.  My parents didn’t do much to stop the theft, and were fully supportive when I went down, on my own accord, to the hardware store to install a new door handle for my room with a lock. To make a long story short, he stole the key and made a copy for himself.  We went through three door handles.  What was mine was his, and I was powerless to do anything.

What was mine was his.  What was mine was also my mother’s.  What belonged to me?  Only my feelings belonged to me – and nobody wanted anything to do with those.

All of the above has the purpose of illustrating why this affair stings me so deeply.  It is, once again, a reopening of old wounds. What belongs to me is taken, appropriated as one’s own, and I am powerless to take back what is mine.  My husband was stolen, taken behind my back, and appropriated as someone else’s.  If not for the obvious reasons that betrayals like this hurt, it certainly strikes a deeper and a more painful chord when it touches on those very themes that impacted you emotionally as a child.  Now, not only are you struggling in the present, but the little girl inside of you is struggling to understand why she can’t have things without others claiming them as their own.  Why do people feel entitled to what is mine?  Why am I so unimportant that my possessions are negotiable?  The little girl inside of me wants her stuff back.  It was stolen.

Stop this rollercoaster, I want to get off


Rollercoasters are wildly exciting, taking you on a high speed tumultuous journey of ups and downs where you feel completely disoriented and hang on by a thread of hope that you will survive. The rollercoaster that you ride in the wake of infidelity is anything but exciting, and while the ups and downs are the same, and you are also hanging by a thread of hope that you will survive, this was not a ride that you had ever willingly agreed to take.

In the weeks after the discovery of his affair, we sat in the therapist’s office, and I said that I felt as though I was in a speeding car, recklessly headed to a place I didn’t know, and holding on for dear life, hopeful that my family would survive this unscathed. When you are thrust into that car, that rollercoaster, that speeding train without having willingly placed yourself there, the mix of emotions that washes over you is like something I’ve never experienced.

Have you ever been sad and angry at the same time? Absolutely – we all have. But to look at your husband’s face, and to simultaneously hate him, wish hurt and pain upon him, love him, blame him, intensely crave him, despise every ounce of him, feel protected by him, feel abandoned by him, cherish every ounce of him….it is an incongruence I never knew was possible. How could these conflicting feelings all happen at the same time, towards the same person, in this one moment? Believe me, it is possible.

I liken it to a corkscrew. A corkscrew spirals around in a circular pattern, and if you follow the path of a corkscrew, you’ll notice it comes back around full circle, but when it comes back, it is in a slightly different place. Depending on whether you are following that corkscrew down or up, you will either be higher or lower than where you started. It’s familiar…but slightly different. Your perspective on that place is shifting.

This is how the emotional rollercoaster feels when you are on it. One day you hate his guts and wish him out of your life forever, and the next day you crave his closeness so badly that it physically hurts. An hour, a day or a week later, you are back to the same place of hating him, except this time, the hate is different. Maybe today the hate is mixed with sadness instead of anger, and instead of wishing him dead, you long to be held and comforted. The hate is still there, but what accompanies the hate has shifted. It’s kind of like ‘same entree, different side dish’.

For someone who lives for consistency, this back and forth unpredictable mood-swing-to-the-extreme experience is unsettling. I like predictable things, and I like to be predictable for others. This was as far from predictable as I’ve ever been.

A year later, my feelings are still inconsistent to a degree – I have good days, and I have bad days. The one thing that remains the same is my level of commitment to my marriage. I won’t give up on this marriage without a fight, and I am fighting hard – we both are.

%d bloggers like this: