I recently passed the 8 year mark of ending my A, joining SI and confessing to my H. And I found myself thinking today about the journey - long and arduous at times, but also character building and soul satisfying in the end.
The person I was in 2006 is a world removed from the person I am today, thank God. That person had horrible boundaries, non-existent coping mechanisms, shoddy self-esteem, and zero respect for those around her. And it manifested in me acting entitled and selfish and restless, and certain that I deserved more. I demonized my husband and projected the ugliness inside me onto him to justify my actions. I was 1000 shades of messed up, but I was too busy blaming others (or romanticizing my toxic EA) to recognize it.
I'd love to say it was my idea to stop the EA and confess. In fact, I believe I DID lay claim to that in my early posts here. Yet looking back in complete honesty, I only stopped it and confessed because I was certain we were on the verge of discovery. His wife had an email I sent him. It was clear from its contents that our "friendship" had crossed the line. I confessed to minimize damage, and prevent her from exposing me first. And then I posted about it here and sucked up the accolades for doing the right thing. What a phony I was.
I used SI for my fix after I ended the EA. Mostly I read, and mentally judged those who didn't "understand that what was happening with ME was different!" I had a husband that didn't communicate! He had no interest in me! I did all the work! The times I posted, I complained about how hard I was working to fix our marriage - how saintly I was for ending the A - but how horrible he was because he still wasn't interested in our marriage. I whined about being stuck because I was unable to forgive myself for the EA. To all who reached out to me in 2006-2010, please accept my apologies for using you. I didn't fully realize what I was doing at the time, but in retrospect, I am so ashamed and embarrassed what a parasite I was.
I was probably a "dry adulterer" for four years. Maybe even five. I "felt bad" about what I had done, but mostly because I knew feeling bad was how I was supposed to feel. I stayed true to my marriage in the sense that I didn't communicate with other men (though I thought about what it would be like to have a connection with other men), but I certainly didn't do anything to try to improve the marriage. I still believed I was the victim... poor me.
It was around 2010 that my husband and I sought marriage counseling, finally. What drove us there was actually an issue with our DS. We were at odds on how to deal with some behavioral challenges... of course, *I* had the right answers, and my husband was wrong. Of course, he had been so "absent" in our marriage and I had been doing all the heavy lifting, so what would he know?! This was going to be my chance to show him that we were failing as a couple because of him. Not because of me. No sir. I was not broken. He was.
Holy crap. Some how, God was watching over me during those sessions, and He opened my ears and eyes to the reality of my life, one that I had both created and was continuing to destroy. I wish I could tell you the defining moment in which I realized who I was, and what I had done. I mean, I recall distinctly walking out of one session, getting in the car, and bursting into tears. I turned to my husband truly in horror and said "Oh my God... I'm a monster. I did this. All of it. I am so, so sorry." But I don't remember what happened at that session that showed me the light.
From that moment on, I vowed to change. Really, truly change. I CRAVED each counseling session, the discussions at home with my husband, the introspective alone moments with myself, the reading... It was hard damn work, and sickening to look full-on in the mirror, but the most fulfilling and healing work I have ever done.
Turns out I am married to the most forgiving, loving and nurturing man alive. That guy, the one that never talked and never participated at home? Yeah, he's a great conversationalist when I give him the opportunity to participate, and stop marginalizing and discounting his contributions. And all along, he really did SO MUCH - quietly, behind the scenes - and probably is the one who really kept our household together. Only I didn't recognize it, because I was so busy admiring myself.
Today, I am proud to say I recognize and enforce my boundaries, make healthy choices in dealing with difficult times, accept and appreciate who I am, and value people who share my existence. I am truly HAPPIER than I have been in my entire 41 years of existence.
Just yesterday, I sent my husband - my best friend and partner in life - a text message telling him what a great time I had with him this weekend. Know what we did that was so great? Simply sat on the porch together each night, sometimes in comfortable silence, sometimes in conversation. Eight years ago? I would never have been able to SLOW DOWN and savor this moment... it would have annoyed me. Today? This is exactly how I want to spend the rest of my life, and he's the ONLY person I want to spend it with.
I know this post was nowhere and everywhere all at the same time. But I just felt like I needed to share it... there's hope in what feels hopeless. But you have to be completely HONEST - and that starts with being HONEST with yourself. It's OK if you're ugly right now... you don't have to be that way forever.