First, I would like to thank the people running this site and everyone who has shared their stories here. When I first found out (2 weeks tomorrow) I thought about who in my life I could confide in about my WH's misdeeds. The answer was a very scary no one. If I wanted to keep my options open, I couldn't share this with any family members and most of our friends are OUR friends. Then I found this board and read for hours. It gave me a much needed place to go for support, confidence in my own ability to get through this no matter the outcome, and hope.
My story: I have been married for almost 19 years. (I'm 41, he's 43) Like everyone, we have had some tough times (most notably, I had a breakdown after September 11th and went through a significant period of depression and anxiety, as well as 3 years of therapy, during which my husband was my rock), but overall we had what most people would describe as a successful, happy marriage. I've had more than one friend say that our marriage is what they wanted in their own lives. A true partnership of best friends. I remember thinking you can never really know the truth of other people's relationships, but do admit to feeling a little bit of pride at the time. I thought we were pretty much doing it "right." Which is why this has been such a shock.
Friday afternoon. My laptop had died, so I went on WH's computer to use my Gmail account. I needed a document we were sharing because I was helping him with an issue he was having at work. I typed in gmail.com and it pulled up a mailbox for a name I didn't recognize. At first, I thought it was some weird computer glitch. Then I noticed the profile pic. It was a male torso w/o a shirt in spandex swim trunks. But it was the shower curtain pattern to the right of the body that caught my eye. It was our old shower curtain. I felt the room move away from me. Confusion, betrayal, more confusion. What was this? I started reading some of the messages, but knew my husband would be home soon. I wrote down a name and email for the woman he'd been messaging exclusively for the last 5 months and hoped I would be able to access it again on Sunday to gather information while he went alone to see friends(a rare occurrence). He came home and I tried my best to act normal, but I spent most of the evening on the verge of tears and went to the bathroom extra times to hide it. I went to bed early to get away from him, crying, my mind racing. When he came to bed I waited until I heard his first snore, got up and started searching for answers on the internet and found this site.
I went to group meditation on Saturday. I barely made it through, but felt a little better afterwards. We'd scheduled dinner with my mom to celebrate WH's birthday that night. It was surprisingly normal, but felt surreal, knowing what I had found. A day in, I'd already seemed to have hit the emotionless plateau.
On Sunday, I spent the day creating a log of who he had messaged, when, with occasional quotes. Having read much of the advice here I wanted to gather evidence before it could be covered up. It took me the whole day just to get through the IMing, barely even scratching the surface of the main woman he'd been emailing/messaging/video chatting with. I closed everything (or so I thought) thinking I'd spend the upcoming week going through the rest and trying to figure out the passwords for other emails, profiles, etc. I think part of me thought, if nothing else, the sheer volume of the correspondence might shock him into the reality of what he had done. I went to bed early, soon after he came home, as I always do for my early Monday morning job. Unlike Friday night, I fell asleep right away, clearly emotionally exhausted.
About 2 hours later H came into the bedroom. He startled me initially and he said he was sorry. I thought he meant about startling me and I said it was okay. Then he said, no. Not that. He was sorry. I'd accidentally left up a download window with photos of his "friends." He'd found the document I'd started with pages of info. and my occasional notes of response and he'd read it all. I wasn't sure I was ready to talk about it, but I figured once he knew I knew it was better to deal with it.
We were up for hours. He was remorseful. In fact, he acted exactly as people on these boards had said someone who is truly remorseful should act. He took responsibility for his actions, he made a point of saying that everything was his fault, and that I hadn't done anything to cause it. He answered my questions fully. He cried a lot. He apologized for hurting me, for betraying my trust. He agreed to me being able to look at everything there was -- he gave me all passwords. He agreed to send a NC letter. He said he wanted to try to fix what he had broken in our relationship. He agreed to CC and said he had actually brought this up in IC he was going to for the work issues at the end of his last session (although that didn't alter his actions in the week that had followed). He said he knew it was a serious problem and recognized he needed help.
I found out it was worse than I thought, but not as bad as it could have been. He had opened this account in 2008, but really started messaging OP regularly in 2011. He'd had frequent sexual online encounters. In January he'd started an online relationship with a 24-year-old OW that was more serious than the others. She knew his real name. They talked about their lives. They messaged every day and chatted or video chatted almost as often. He'd do it while he was in the other room working on homework for his online class. He did it while we stayed at my aunt's house while I visited with family. There was an intense sexual component as well, although, thanks to the distance, there was not an in-person component. At least not yet. He said it wouldn't have happened, that talking about meeting IRL is just something you say, but the few times he mentioned it, it sounded real to me.
I have surprised myself with my reaction. I am usually a very emotional person. And although I had to hold in tears that first day, and I did cry a lot when we finally talked, I've found myself mostly calm. Even WH commented on how I didn't yell once or even swear, things that smaller injustices often bring out in me. And that he appreciated it, although he wasn't sure he deserved it. I have my first IC appointment this afternoon. I'm hoping to better figure out what's going on with me. I did a lot of work on myself back when I had my breakdown, but this is something I hadn't ever imagined that could happen to me.
It's such a cliche. It's ridiculous as Carlos Danger. I'm the same age as my mother was when my dad left her. We'd just started dating at that point and WH was so mad at my dad for the pain he'd caused me during their break up.
Even worse, we were trying for children. We knew it was a longshot with my age, but we'd been trying since January. He talked to her about us trying. That often hurts more than the sex stuff.
The biggest issue for me is trying to wrap my head around the person I thought I was married to and the person who could do this. He is such a loving, caring, sensitive person. My sisters have literally called him a "saint" on multiple occasions for putting up with my idiosyncrasies. No one would ever suspect he was capable of this, including me. Even worse, he is the one person I have always trusted to be in my corner, no matter what. When I've had big hurts like this in the past, he is who I would turn to for comfort. It makes this especially confusing. I want to be consoled by him, but he is the one who has caused this pain.
I have had sexual feelings for other people in the past. It actually first happened during my therapy, as I came to terms with my own sexuality. I had put my sexuality in this side area separate from the rest of me -- something I didn't share with the outside world. Therapy helped me become one whole self and accept that part of myself as part of myself. My therapist at the time said it was normal to have these feelings, and what was important was my actions. When I've had those kinds of feelings since, I have always thought how I would never do something like that, not just because it was wrong, but because I could never hurt H like that. He is so sensitive that it would crush him.
The other main issue for me will be intimacy. I've only ever been with him. He's the only one who has ever seen me naked. I used to be the only one who'd seen him naked. That's no longer true. And then there are the things that they've done together, even if it was over the internet. How can I feel safe that he's with me and not thinking of someone else while we're together, something he at least told the OP he was doing?
We have not scheduled CC yet, since I am hoping he can sort out some of his own personal issues first - like why he did what he did and how he could compartmentalize what he was doing and act so normally with me. He has sent the NC letter and all accounts have been closed.
I know I am at the beginning of this process and am thankful to have this community of people to share and learn from during what is truly a horrible time in our lives.