Please be warned that my tone is very flippant and snarky, but I assure you that I'm taking this all very seriously. It's just the only way I know how to communicate, especially when things are uncomfortable.
The short version is that it turns out my ex-husband was/is a cheater and was/is a drug addict, which is also special, because he hid that garbage from me, too. The slightly longer version is that my story (which I thought was super-duper unique until I actually started listening to people and stopped talking) might serve as an object lesson to others. If you are reading this site, it probably won't, because nobody armed with the knowledge people here regularly discuss would make such ridiculous life-altering decisions as I did.
I could also use some advice, because even though I am free of him, I still feel a codependent (it gives me chills admitting that) urge to go back and fix his trashcan life. Oh, and there are unresolved emotions from over a decade ago that decided to fall on my face like a million tons of bricks.
So, on with the story.
I was involved in a long term relationship with a woman throughout my teens and my early 20s. One day, I discovered that she was having a long distance affair with a Canadian dude, a guy I played board-games with, and my childhood best friend. Well, it wasn't all discovered on one day, it was TT-ed like mad. Anyway, I flipped, felt completely betrayed, and did all the normal stuff people do when they find out something so goddamn humiliating, so I did the rational thing and told her that I was completely okay with this behavior.
This was after I decided to get my emotions under control. Feeling spun for 3 weeks was just too much for a smart guy like me to handle, so I went to a shrink and lied about my condition so I could get put on Fluvoximine and walk out with a diagnosis for obsessive compulsive disorder. There was some doctor shopping involved, but I was a psyche major, so it wasn't difficult to bullshit my way into not thinking about her affairs. Within no time I convinced myself that I actually was OCD, and other numerous lies that would make my situation much easier to handle.
Not long after my self-medication, WGF decided to hook up with my best friend and form a poly unit. I said this was super cool when she told me, which was minutes after she gave him a blow job. I lied to him and said that I not only knew about his affair with my long term girlfriend, but I approved of it. That is how “under control” I was. A goddamn puppet master and not at all like a person who could be hurt by the actions of others.
A phenominal rug-sweeping was done. I thought that accepting the past and officially hooking up with my friend would somehow stop the behavior that hurt me and we could just be happy. This was obviously not the case, so the cheating continued with my WGF, who became my WW not long after the poly relationship began (not legally, of course).
I did everything I could not to focus on her continued affairs, and lied and misdirected everyone who was around me, but mostly myself. When cracks would form, and when I would see that she was still hiding things from me I would up my dose and gaslamp the shit out of myself because facing up to the fact that I wasn't in control was so horrifying that anything else would be better.
So, at this point we have....
Her (WW who was WGF)
and Him (WH who was OM)
there was also a cat, but that's not important
So I became more distant from her, and latched onto my WH, who would never ever never ever ever ever EVER cheat on me. I put him on a pedestal so high his ass blocked out the sun. I couldn't even imagine him ever screwing around when he took all those private trips where he stayed in some chick's room... they were only saving money on hotel fees, dig? So what if he did some sexual roleplay online? What's the big deal, he can do whatever he wants because he would never actually fuck someone outside of our completely equalateral and closed poly unit.
Eventually, someone was added to the poly unit. A lovely female plaything for my wife, who was also given a line about how equal and liberating this experience was going to be. This addition was made behind my back, but whatevs (I was sooooo cool with that, see?) She was encouraged to form emotional and physical bonds with the two guys, me and the WH, but she really had to stay primarily attached at the hip to the WW. So, for the sake of this narrative, let's call her BGF (foreshadowing!)
We all pretended this was totally cool and we were all allowed to do whatever with whomever we wanted within the closed poly unit. There were four of us now, and I was in a completely hopeless codependent relationship with WH, a dry and emotionally devestating relationship with WW, and I didn't seem interested in forming a romantic relationship with BGF, because I just wanted to sit around with her and talk about Star Trek and didn't see the appeal of dating her because she didn't constantly lie to me and make me feel just like when the guy who abused me as a child abandoned me.
Somehow, during those 6 years of the 4-person unit I grew up a little and then discovered that being fucked over and out wasn't cool, and the BGF and I did actually hook up so we could talk about Star Trek and not lie to each other. She felt obligated to have a relationship with WH, who I still loved and thought would never do me wrong.
The update is:
and Better Her (BGF)
My relationship with BGF was unacceptable to the group, so after some very tense attempts, it fell apart and BGF got the boot, and I went with her. My WW didn't seem too put out by this, and the dissolution of our 20 year relationship couldn't pull her away from online roleplaying long enough for her to say goodbye. WH and I were still best of buds, so there was no need to mourn the end of our marriage, because we were bestest (codependent) buds.
While drinking at a local pub, my WH offered the opportunity for me to continue my sexual relationship with him on the down-low, which I declined. I told my new Only-Girlfriend about it (the BGF from the poly unit) and called his proposal “Sixpack Mountain”. I thought that was incredibly funny, because I deal with uncomfortable situations through humor.
Years go by. WH and I are still kinda besties, but there is something... gnawing at me, almost like there might've been some deception going on. BGF and I are married, so I'm going to just call her my wife now. My wife helped me start dealing with this thing called, “me”, which has been very good at bullshitting itself into getting hurt over the last 35 years.
My wife and I move to a different state, I get a great job, and we make a life. In the back of my mind, and my heart, I still love my bestest bud, the guy who would never ever betray me, the dude I met when we were just kids and would tell me EVERYTHING. But, as these things go, we became a little distant.
One day, I start reading a website called “Surviving Infedelity” because this subject has some sort of pull over me. There's a feeling I get when I read some of these stories, like a dry sucking horror in my chest that makes me want to cry and shout and roll on the floor and curse everyone who has ever known me. I read and read and read and my wife asks me questions about what I'm reading. It takes a little while to realize I'm reading all of the mistakes I made, and that I'm reading about a process I should've gone through years ago. I'm reading about what it's like for people to admit that they were hurt, and that they didn't change their lives to suit the terrible situation they were in... like I did.
I just sighed when it all became clear. I swept all my hurt under the rug because I couldn't possibly accept that I wasn't in control. Reading more also explained my relationship with my WH, and how I turned a blind eye to him, put him on a pedestal, and had a mercilessly codependent relationship with him. All the hurt of my life came crashing back, so I had to confront him.
That confrontation happened Saturday, and it turns out I had no idea who that man was. He did fuck around on me, but he was on drugs, so he can't remember exactly who he banged so it doesn't count. Drugs. I have known him for his entire adult and teenage life, and I had no idea he was doing drugs. Of course I didn't, because he was hiding it from me and I didn't want to see it. My relationship with him, our SUPER AWESOME alternative marriage, stick-it-to-the-man lifestyle.... it was all horseshit. I loved a lie, and I thought the lie loved me.
During our talk, he blithely asked why it bothered me so much now that we weren't together any more, and then proceeded to say that we were still “inseparable” and “cosmically linked”. I thought about vomiting on his shoes when he said that. Yeah dude, you can lie to me and make me your chump for decades but we're still cool. Go fuck yourself.
The confrontation itself was so fucking insane and darkly comedic that I can't write about it now, but at least I got all the truth I needed. He wouldn't give me names, but I don't need them. I just needed to know that my suspicions were right, and that I need to work on coming to terms with some shit. I go between laughing about the encounter (the night before, in a drug addled stupor, he managed to misplace his car, his wallet, his keys, and his fucking pants in a nearby residential neighborhood) to crying to feeling rage... but thankfully my wife is here to keep me from going completely batshit. I'm trying to remind myself that this is all for the best and it's not a Good Thing to change your brain chemistry, living situation, and life just to avoid dealing with emotions.
Me (BH - 37)
The Her That Matters (BW – 30)
and some people from our past who we are no longer with
...and a new cat
Thanks for reading my long and ridiculous story, and I'm looking forward to absorbing the wisdom you all have to offer. Even though it sucks to be going through all of this crap now, it finally feels as if I'm making progress in seeing my past for what it was.
“I'm losing my mind in a bedroom with a ghost
and I'm losing my mind in a bottle while I choke
I stayed years with you, no one knows (but I want them to).”
– Thought Industry
I'm sorry honey but I find your story hard to follow.
My general take is that you are bi and have been in poly relationships and have been betrayed.
I have never been part of this world so find it hard to understand.
What I do understand is pain and fear and confusion.
So I can relate.
I am so sorry.
All I can offer is BIG HUGS
And as one who also takes refuge in humour can I suggest you check out this:
And there is nothing wrong with "dark humour" - sometimes it keeps us sane.
When the pain is overwhelming remember that you DO matter.
There are almost 40,000 people here who have some understanding of what you are feeling and empathise.
It feels like you've only touch the surface of your pain. Decades of stuffing pain away for later is going to be very difficult to take. You're going to need a serious support mechanism very soon when the real emotional backlog hits.
I'm not trying to scare you, just hoping to prepare you for a flood. If the anger phase hits with a deluge the size of Wisconsin, very bad things can happen.
And I hope the new cat is a very good listener.
[This message edited by Twitchy at 7:05 AM, June 5th (Wednesday)]
Away you will go, sailing in a race among the ruins.
If you plan to face tomorrow, do it soon. Gordon Lightfoot
IMO, for you to have peace, you must change your own behavoirs.
Get out of all the "poly unit" thoughts... This is what happens to most in your situation. It takes special rare person who can emotionally handle multiple partners. Almost Sociopathy types.
Humans are built for only one partner. When anyone introduces others, it lead to pain, not peace. All kinds of interpersonal emotion erupt.
So, you eliminate anyone in your life who has values of poly unit and your good will come. "...and a new cat" I predict will bring you pain again.
Focus your energies on good things.. good hobbies, adventures, and keep only one good person close to you. Place any drug users at a big distance.. You will find peace.
Your good will come. Peace.
nobody armed with the knowledge people here regularly discuss would make such ridiculous life-altering decisions as I did
Surprisingly, when you take away the details, like polyamory, you'd find that most stories read just about the same. And most BSs who end up here experience similar emotions.
Sure, one person may spend more time in denial. Another may skip the bargaining and go straight to anger (but will get back to bargaining, in some form, during some part of the rollercoaster ride).
So, despite the more unusual aspects of your situation, you're not alone.
For example, my husband's first infidelity---which turned out to be far more ...involved than I'd imagined---was rug-swept for about a decade. He accomplished this with skillful lying. I accomplished it by "believing" despite the fact that my gut screamed and his secret-keeping erected a barrier between us that effectively ended the marriage I was fighting so hard to convince myself, him, and the world was doing just fine.
We were pretty darn good at convincing. When the shit hit the fan (as it will, when you've stuffed feelings for so long; he cheated again---and again and again and again and again and again---something I learned about with the "last" d-day), I sped from denial to anger in record time. Well, anger alternating with bargaining, profound sadness, and other horrible, I've-been-lied-to-and-betrayed-for-my-entire-marriage feelings.
I didn't choose polyamory. There was no love involved, at all---my husband did not love me. He can't. He's too broken. I would suggest that your xWH is similarly broken. He is not showing love.
The result was a wife who was as close to insane, post d-day, as is humanly possible. I completely fell apart.
The ONE thing that helped me tremendously was the 180. This is located in the Healing Library (in the yellow box in the upper left of the page), in the BS FAQs. I think it's #11.
Though to many it seems to be designed to manipulate the WS, it is not. Its aim is to give the BS strength to detach. Once you've achieved a bit of healthy distance from the situation, you can process it (in IC, preferably) far more effectively.
I was lousy at the 180. It took me about 7 months to get to a place where I could apply it consistently, and even then, I slipped.
But it saved my sanity.
I don't have anything scholarly to back me up, but it seems to be that the length of the infidelity, lies, and gaslighting, the harder the battle, particularly if you believe you have "worked through" infidelity issues and then learn that they extend further than you knew.
I'll spare you my sordid story. Suffice it to say it involved personality disorder. In your situation, I would not rule that out; those who are able to manipulate and gaslight effectively over years and years----even if they have a partner "willing" to participate with self-delusion--quite often are personality-disordered. You might want to spend a little time perusing the library and board on www.outofthefog.net; if the shoe fits, there is TONS of useful information there.
Now. Your current wife. She was the
lovely female plaything for my wife
I know that many wouldn't see the betrayal here--but if you had ground rules, an agreement about how your polyamorous relations was to function, and it was breached, then of course you were betrayed.
The question is: what have you done to heal from this?
My first recommendation: no contact with OM. No contact with your ex-wife. Start with the 180--it will give you the strength to detach.
Unless you have children together, there is NO reason to interact with your ex-wife. If you do have kids, limit it to kids only.
The OM? He's not your friend. He wants to horn in on your marital action. That's his thing. I'd recommend NC for him.
What kind of relationship do you and your wife want now? What coping tools have you gathered to get through the infidelity you experienced? How have you worked past the fact that your current wife was, in effect, the OW to your ex-wife?
It's a complicated situation, but .... well, once you sort out who was betrayed and by whom, you can erect boundaries to protect yourself and your marriage.
Are you in IC? I would strongly recommend it. Your initial manipulation of a doctor for (inappropriate) meds to deaden your feelings indicates that you need to gather some coping tools. These will help you throughout your life--they are well worth the pain that comes with collecting them.
I'd recommend IC for your wife, also. She was brought in as a "plaything," which is not particularly respectful of her as a human. Clearly, you view her as more, but has she dealt with the lingering feelings associated with the initial, poly relationship?
Finally, I'd attend MC together to learn ways to erect boundaries to protect your marriage. One of these MUST be to get OM out of your lives forever.
[This message edited by solus sto at 11:46 AM, June 5th (Wednesday)]
Concerning my current wife, she went through all the betrayal and healing stuff years ago, like when we actually split off from the other two. Her status as a "plaything" was a major catalyst for the dissolution of the poly unit.
No kidding. Poly relationships are nuts. The cat isn't part of it, though... he's just a cat.
Yeah, I should've been more clear. I am a bisexual male who was in a deeply diseased poly relationship.
I'm trying to cut off all ties from him, but goddamn it's hard. His life is such a disaster and I feel myself getting sucked back in. I've already created a filter on my mail to remove my xWH's messages, I have him blocked from my phone, and I told our mutual friends that I need to not hear from or about him for a while. I already go back to the DETACH acronym several times an hour to keep myself away from calling him.
We live in different states now, so some no-contact things are fairly easy.
Trust me this is going to take a bit to get there. You are fortunate to have a spouse that get what you have gone through and is supportive. I would say that you probably need some real, intensive IC though to start way back at the beginning where you were abused and abandonded. Working through to the present.
You are obviously an intelligent, funny guy. You are capable of doing this, but you can't hide behind meds, and manipulate the help you have.
As far as the XH goes, you need to stick to NC, and not open that door again. You got your answers, he is beyond messed up, and is content to live that way. You can never make another person make the choices you want. Allow yourself to write a formal farewell, and be done with it. You are luck to have a wife that loves you and is helping you. When you feel the desire to talk to XH talk to her, discuss it, find alternate things to do that take the focus off of him.
You will find many here who will offer lots of good even great advice.
A hug to the little boy that was abused and abandoned and to the wonderful man he grew up to be. ((((Decade))))
"Oh, why do my actions have consequences?" ~ Homer Simpson
"She knew my one weakness: That I'm weak!" ~ Homer Simpson
Was he your first encounter with a man?
After we discussed how he fucked me over, he laid a huge guilt trip on me for leaving, begging me to "get him out of this dump" while suggesting that my religion sorta demands that I help worthless slobs like him.
I want to be free, but I feel guilty as hell for letting this guy obliterate himself and his new family when he's asking for my help. So I feel like I should give him a hand even though I want to punch his face in.
So the only rational thing I could think of was to block him from my email and phone, and just let his shit rot... but it still eats away at me. My wife is helping me with the 180 thing, and I'm being completely honest with her about all this crap so I don't fall into old habits. I'd never sleep with this asshole again, so there's no risk of that, but there is a risk that I would end up playing caretaker for his problems and float him a few grand, but that's not exactly appealing either.
As far as the first man I was with, the answer is a very uncomfortable "sorta". I was sexually abused when I was 8??-13 by an older guy, and I'm pretty sure that contributed to some of my relationship issues (no kidding, right?)
What about the kid? He's like 6 months old and his dad is an addict. Christ, what a mess.
Goddamnit. Yeah, I'm cutting him off at all costs. I can't do this shit any more. This prick already gnawed away over 10 years of my life, so he doesn't deserve shit. Bailing him out has already cost me too much.
Be easy on yourself. Try not to accept that guilt. Find peace within yourself. Your Wife must be an amazing lady, you will get through this, and be a better, stronger person in the end.
One of these MUST be to get OM out of your lives forever.
Done. It sure isn't easy, but letters have been sent and mutual acquaintances have been notified. He did attempt to break it almost immediately, but I have safeguards in place to make sure that doesn't happen.
I'm telling my wife everything that I'm feeling (even the shitty thoughts) and we're working through this together. Bottling emotions is like second nature to me, so letting all this pain come bubbling out has been very difficult, especially because she didn't cause it so it sucks that she's bearing so much of the load. She encourages me, but I hate it when people know I'm in pain so there's always a temptation to just hide everything away...
Anyway, I wanted to thank you all for some excellent advice. Even though NC is tough, dealing with his garbage would be far more challenging.
Next week, IC (without doctor shopping). Hooray!
D-Day, June 10, 2012
There isn't a religion in the world that tells you to be an Enabler (unless it's the religion of Codependency There is ZERO chance of you doing a damn thing that would 'help' him in any way, even if he deserved your help.
You seem to be quite a smart man so I'm sure you know that already, just had to get it out!
You say he has a 6mo boy that you were/are worried, and may feel some sense of obligation to help.
There's always a lot of talk on here about what we do or don't owe OBS. I never told the OBS, and I've felt a lot of guilt for that over the years. Back then I did it for my FWH Now I keep my silence because to do otherwise would bring the OW back into my life, making her once again part of our focus, which would suck because it took me 5.5 f*ing years to learn she doesn't matter and this wasn't and isn't about her; I don't want to run the risk of taking a step backwards. So I have a little internal battle between what obligations do I have to OBS versus my obligations to myself. Do I owe him something? Is doing the 'right' thing more important than doing the 'safest/smartest' thing for me?
You don't owe the WH a damn thing or anyone related to him or the situation. But if at some point down the road you feel compelled to help the child in some way (because he is child and not because he is HIS child), you can always call CPS. There is absolutely not one thing you (or anyone!) could do for FWH that would benefit his son.
I promise I'm not trying to give you something else to worry over or feel obligated to get involved in. You seem as if you're on the right track, finding ways to detach and a plan to maintain NC. I just thought I'd throw this out there, in case the need to help becomes too overwhelming one day and you feel you have to do something; this is the only thing I can think of that would help the child the most and involve you the least.
It sounds like you have a great support system, which is a blessing. Because of the shared history with your W, she's in a place of truly understanding the dynamics of the situation, which is a piece that is often missing in a marriage where great healing needs to happen. This should help you greatly since healing requires a tremendous amount of openness and honesty no matter the origins of the pain. Having said all that, I highly recommend getting into IC as soon as you can. CSA in and of itself is awful and traumatic and not something you should work through alone, adding in everything else, it seems that's the best place to star.
Big hug DC, you may have quite a lot of work ahead of you, but you do sound up to it! Remember to be realistic and patient, check yourself when necessary, but rejoice in the small accomplishments when do they happen!
* A whole lot of SI'ers have really got their shit together...but I don't think you'll find too many that didn't have their own road to travel to get there. Don't beat your old self up too much. Explore him, examine him, get to know him; then love him and heal him. *
“I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well." ~ Diane Ackerman