I will preface this long story by saying that it's a story of everything leading up to me finding out and the emotional challenges that we face in trying to live our daily lives while we're in this crisis. It's particularly important to me because I haven't had the opportunity to tell anyone this. I've been carrying it around for awhile. Thank you for listening.
Five years ago, a long-term relationship I was in ended due to my then boyfriend cheating on me for several months with a younger female co-worker. When I found out, I was blindsided. He left me for her, and now they're married. It was horrifying, and still somewhat is when I really think about it. But I moved on, and I met my now husband shortly after.
My husband and I have had anything but an easy relationship, but we've made a lot of progress and we complement each other well most of the time. He's not a saint, but I've weathered all the trauma knowing that he's constantly improving himself and that eventually he will recover from all of his challenges. The one thing I told him so many times that I couldn't handle was if he cheated on me. PTSD? I'll support you. Recovering alcoholic? A nightmare, but we've gotten through it. Depression? Ok. Cheating? No. No, no, no. Can't do it. I don't know how people do...I've read so many comments on other websites about how "everyone cheats" and "it's no big deal" and you should just move on. I don't understand the mentality. I guess it's my poison, where I draw the line in the sand.
So in one of my H's bouts of deep depression, I noticed he started messaging some new people on f-book. He was transparent, showed me who he was talking to. Men and women, normal conversations about travel, food, etc. I warned him about getting wrapped up in how good it feels to get attention from people you don't know. He assured me everything was fine. And it truly was for awhile. Then he got better, stopped using f-book altogether. The cycle repeats though, and last year he got pretty down and I lost control of what I was able to find out about who he was talking to. I knew he was talking to this college girl (H is 40) and some other people, and I demanded he stop, specifically with the young girl. He just became sneakier about it and I had no way of knowing. I tracked phone numbers, messages, etc like the good spy I am (I'm a teacher) but I couldn't peg him. I let it go because we'd get in such bad arguments about it. I hated that he talked to other women, but I figured that at least he'd keep his promise to me that he'd never cheat because he knew it would ruin me. I know that sounds so naive.
Things got better last summer. We did a lot of travelling, he got a new job, we were closer. Then he hit a low again and things around Christmas were distant. I went away to visit my family. Things felt so distant from him that I thought about what it would be like to be with someone else. When I returned from my trip, things were off. I found out he was talking to people online again and that girl. I hated that girl. One day when I got out of the car, I noticed a really long hair on my seat. I asked him about it. He said I was paranoid. Then I looked up phone records. I noticed he had called his guy friend more than normal. He made some reason. I wasn't convinced, so I called the number. A girl answered. I pressed him about, didn't drop it, and found out that it was actually her number. He admitted he had met her for coffee. I asked a billion questions, of course. I stood there in front of him crying and begging to just tell me if it was anything more. That I needed to know, even if it was horrible news. He convinced me that's all it was. I didn't fully believe him for a couple weeks. I brought it up a couple other times and I'd always get the same answer. I decided that I needed to just trust him, and believe him because he was my husband, and again wouldn't do THE THING I asked to never happen.
Then things got a lot better. Starting in February, we started looking to buy a house. He was in a better state. His drinking was rare, his emotions were really stable, we were getting along really well, he hadn't used f-book for weeks. Got a house, talked about kids, he was so happy to be moving forward and that we were closer. I had completely forgotten about her.
Three weeks ago, I left for a trip back to visit family and go to a friend's wedding. This was the first time I was able to leave and not worry about him (if he was going to drink, be depressed, etc). The second day I was there, I got a phone call from an unknown number. There was silence on the other end, then a girl fumbling for words, and I was worried it was someone calling to tell me someone had died or something. She finally told me her name. It was her. The reception was bad, so I told her to call back if we got disconnected. She said, "You know I'm really young, right?" I said yes. Then the call dropped. I waited for her to call back. She didn't. At that point, you all know what I was feeling. And then I had to do the only thing I could at that point, which was suppress every emotion I had, because I had to go help my friend get ready for her wedding. Humans have an amazing ability to compartmentalize emotions. That is the only way some of us can cheat, and the only way people like you and me can get through the day. I helped my friend decorate, she showed me her wedding ring, we talked about my wedding. It was surreal. By the time I left, I knew my husband would be done with work. I didn't know how to handle the situation. I wanted to just drop it, and deal with it when I got home. But I was so emotional, and I'm not that good at putting on a poker face with him. I pulled over in front of the church in the small town I grew up in. I called him and screamed and cried and asked him to just admit it. I lied to him and told him she had told me everything. He ran in circles for a few minutes, then finally admitted he had slept with her over Christmas. I couldn't believe I was sitting 2000 miles away from him, bawling my head off in front of this church, learning that this would be my fate. Again. Then I became really numb. I had another friend to visit. They have 3 super cute kids. We visited, I laughed, it was torture. But when you're not at home, you don't have many options except put on a good face or sit in your car on the side of the road and cry. The next few days was a lot of this acting...sitting through a beautiful wedding, hearing the pastor's sacred words piercing your heart, seeing your pregnant best friend, spending time with your parents, taking breaks at the end of the day to cry as silently as possible in your mom's bathroom. I made it to the end of the 2 week trip. It was obviously difficult, and I ended up having to lie to my parents and say I was going back home (I had driven there) but I checked into a hotel instead because I wasn't ready to face him. That and I had been spending time with a friend who doesn't know my H and I felt safe telling because he doesn't know any of my good friends. Being with him was the only escape where I could just act like myself and forget about what had happened. But now I'm home and he's not here.
And therein is what I deem to be the most difficult thing for me right now. Yes, being back home with my H is hard and painful. There are days I want to kill him (like finding out he had also slept with her over the course of a month over a year ago in addition to Christmas) and days I miss being close to him so much. I know I'll figure out what I should do about him. That wil come in time. The challenge is the every day stuff. Visiting my in-laws, whom I love dearly, and having this secret. Going to work and acting happy for my students. Not knowing who, or if, I should tell about this. I don't have anyone to talk to about what's happened. And that's why I'm here. I'm scheduled to see a counselor this week. I dread being in the same seat, saying the same thing I said exactly 5 years ago.
I know it's a long story to just ask the question, "How do you get through every day knowing you have this big, crazy thing going on in your life but you have to act like it doesn't exist?" But I guess it took all that to realize that's my question. That and managing every other thing that's going on. There's this, but on top of that moving into the new house, trying to move out of the old by the end of the month, going to work, my dad's coming to town tomorrow, ugh. It's just too much.
Thoughts, questions, insight, anything... Please brighten my day.