My BH and I have been married 20 years this May. We met in the States when I was on my OE at 21, and I met him at 22 (Im now 43). I had been sleeping my way around the US, with what I realise now was a total disregard for my physical and mental safety. No protection, no contraceptives, just a real “fuck it” attitude. I was very fortunate to not get raped, STDs, HIV or pregnant. Someone must have been thinking I deserved to live. It certainly wasn’t me.
Anyway, I met my future H when I went up north, and he pursued me. He fell in love with me he says as soon as he walked into the bar I was at (I was with his ex gf who I had met in Florida and who thought we would make a good couple and introduced me). But I was pretty nonchalant of his advances as I was too busy getting drunk and giving myself to anyone who wanted me, and then finally decided as he was cute, and interested in more than a ONS, it would be nice to have a boyfriend. We started spending a lot of time together and it got serious fast (he was 31, I was 22). We were talking about our future and the possibility of him coming over to my country. So what did I do to myself and this lovely man who was the first person I felt loved me fully in a long time? Well, what I had always done (and to every bf Id had previously) I slept with his best friend while he went home for the weekend - in his house, in his bed. Fucking charming. 6 months down the track when I found out I was pregnant to my future H, and I was heading home, with my soon to be H following in 7 months, his best friend said it was best not to tell him as would only hurt him. Of course being the coward I was, I agreed with alacrity.
That was my first infidelity 21 years ago.
After being married for approximately 1 year, I lost weight, felt I looked great, was going out to bars after work with workmates and of course ended up kissing a guy. I told my H, he was upset and angry but we minimised, rugswept and went and brought a house. That would fix it.
1 year after this (17 years ago thereabouts), I had an affair with a slimey car salesman at the place I worked at, which was rife in the 90’s with sexual harassment and anything goes mentality. I of course, just went along with my usual wayward behaviour, except I ended up getting very drunk when out with this guy and others from work (after months of flirting and hideous sexual talk at work) and fucked him -first time drunk, and then again in the morning, hungover but sober. Shameful. I remember him dropping me off home and my H had gone hiking for the night and just lying in the bath crying, feeling sick. I never told my H about that. I just freaked out a week later and said I didn’t love him anymore, that he should go back home and take our son with him. Then I got scared at the drama, retracted it and we tried to pretend it didn’t happen. Major rugsweeping that we were in trouble. But I still didn’t confess.
For the next few years, I was what UO would call a “dry cheater”, may not have done anything physical, but wayward thoughts, behaviour nonetheless, ie, depressed, numb, drinking too much, restless, but in between I would try desperately to reach my H, telling him I wasn’t Ok, we weren’t Ok, alternated with “I don’t think we are going to make it” and then going back to business as usual. Just pretty fucked all round, bad communication and sporadic intimacy, but usually non existent. Lots of boozing.
Then one night, I kissed a friend of my H’s who he had worked with when he came round to visit and my H was away, and we got drunk and I kissed him. I probably would have slept with him if he had wanted it. He felt so mortified after I kissed him that he left. My H wondered why he never came round anymore to visit.
And then, a year or so after this kiss (2006), I started a new job (had thrown in my cool other job because I was a wayward, restless, filling the hole mess) and initiated an affair with a guy there. I was very premeditated about it and used the old line of getting someone to pass on to him that I had had a very sexual dream about him. Of course I knew that would intrigue him, and it was all go from there. You know how it goes, the flirting, the sexual tension building, then the kiss in the office when no one there, the texting, then the organising to have sex. When it was all over, only because he dumped me because he never had any intention of leaving his wife (who was pregnant at time of our affair starting) we agreed to not have contact. He seemed to stick to this very well, and I now realise he was probably relieved he had got away with it and be left with - “Il always treasure these memories” (ugh). I of course had lost my job, and was texting him, trying to draw him back in. This ended up tapering off. A month or two later I confessed to my H. Who took all the blame, and I allowed it. So there was me, still a wayward, and besides some HB, it just all went back into limbo because I never addressed what was going on with me.
I then started a new job, went to university to study psychology which kept me busy and engaged (marriage was limboing along) and was “good” for a bit, and then pulled the same trick with a sleezy co-worker (I had a dream- but not in the cool MLK way) and then proceeded to go down the kissing track with him. I pulled away and didn’t see him again. No confession this time. Put it out of my mind.
I finished my degree 3 years later, graduating in 2011 with honours of top scholar, and on the surface had grown a lot, watched a friend leave her marriage and be true to herself, honest with others. But now I realise, I was still a wayward, filling the hole with study for awhile, marriage OK, but not connected, study finished, what now?
After my study ended I tackled some family shit and confronted a controlling stepmother, got angry with her (not allowed in our family) and then had to face my biggest fear of my father loathing me and them withdrawing support (which due to my wayward behaviour involved financial assistance as was always getting into debt etc). I was no longer the ‘good’ but ‘needs help’ daughter. It was hard, but freeing in a sense in that I could be myself, but the price was high. And I could no longer take from them, knowing how much resentment I had. So I stopped that, and started being accountable for our financial situation, and living my life without their permission/approval.
Marriage on the surface seemed Ok, but always the nagging feeling of needing more, feeling disconnected from my H (who avoids conversations about Us like the plague). I then felt myself become resigned, we had separate bedrooms and both pretended this was great. He was on his ipad, I was on mine. No snoring, conjugals every now and then. No big ups, or downs. Just getting along, and sometimes it could be quite good, and I felt settled.
And then last year, we went back to his country (US) for a month. I hadn’t been back for 16 years. I knew I had changed a lot, but didn’t realise how much. It did my head in. I saw how shit peoples boundaries were, my politics, my anti-racism views, my abhorrence of injustice, were not the norm amongst many of his friends and family. I felt freakish, fat (summer time there, oh the horror), he caught up with an ex gf, I went mental and punched him in the stomach (not cool I know and unusual for me). This brought up a continuing relationship he had kept with a first love the whole time we’d been married. Nothing sexual, as in different countries, but a couple of fb messages consisting of “if only” type discourse under the guise of ‘closure’. My hurt erupted. And I realised how fucked and lonely I felt in our marriage. I hurt. Bad.
We came home last August, and I sat on our verandha pretty much since then, thinking, crying, about everything. My eldest son who I had let down (he went off the rails at 14 during my A as I was just not present), my parents and the pain of their abandonment of me because I got angry, my relationship in that I could not break through this barrier I could feel all the time with my H. His drinking to self-medicate, my drinking to self-medicate, my affairs, and the ones I hadn’t told him about, his disconnection through excessive fb use, always on his ipad. All of it. It was all fucked.
But I felt alive for the first time in my life. I wasn’t hiding. I was pulling out all this shit and sifting through it, crying until the snot ran down my face. I went to some pretty dark places and I allowed it to happen. Didn’t turn away from my pain. And for the first time, sat with myself and stayed there. Didn’t rush off to distract myself. Hardly saw anyone except my H, my BF, the odd family member and work.
And then I realised what this was all leading to. I had to tell my H everything. The thought was terrifying. I posted on here that I was going to do this. And I did. I have never done anything harder. And I have never felt so proud of myself. But of course now, the fall out is happening.Initially, he was numb with pain, slept a lot (always has though), then a bit of HB, and then he started noticing things about me, being more present, and I felt closer to him than I have in a long time.
Now, my H has retreated into his own thoughts, mindlessly trolling sports, fb on his ipad. And this is happening because he sent a message to his ‘old friend’ who I slept with telling him he knew and was pretty fucking hurt and angry and what did he have to say, and his friends response was pathetic, no apology, no acknowledgement of his betrayal to his friend, nothing. Just basically “it was one night, you are still my brother, the rest is immaterial”. My H is gutted, angry with his friend, at me for destroying this friendship. All understandable.
And I know I have to just keep working on my shit, but its hard to change the habits of a lifetime and not keep looking over to him to soothe me, talk to me. ME? Im the one who just told him everything is a fucking lie, and I want him to do what I want? I just told him his friendship of 30 years is a fucking sham, and I want him to share his thoughts with me? The one who betrayed him? I know this is fucked and still selfish wayward behaviour, but today, that’s how Im feeling (a UO 2x4 probably good round about here).
And yet I do. Despite my shit fucking behaviour over the years, and choosing to deal with my H pushing me away by taking myself outside our marriage (yeah, like that’s gonna bring us closer…pffft!)and what was it in me that ever thought this was Ok? - I feel sorry for myself and feel rejected and kept away, as it’s always been. I know that’s fucked, and obviously I am not quite getting fully that at this point, I need to just keeping working on myself, my co-dependancy, figuring out the whys (which I have been doing) and really changing myself, and self-soothing.
And some days I do really well at this, and I make strides, and a recent interaction with a wayward friend and putting boundaries around our conversation and not to bring it into my house out of consideration toward my BH (and myself), was one example (and a test too) of my newfound boundaries, and actually sticking to them. It was surprisingly easy. I felt proud.
Today I feel like a piece of shit, and lonely, and bereft. And I know I need to learn how to sit with myself and my anxiety, and know it will be Ok, no matter what happens. Today is just not that day. And tomorrow may totally be different.
So that’s my story thus far, as best as I can relay it. Of course I can’t include all the nuances, and context of a 20 year marriage, but Ive done my best.
I didn’t want to be one of those posters that puts a few posts up and then is “fixed” and “sorted” and can now comment on others dilemmas, experiences. I need to be honest about where I’m at, I desperately need others perspectives to look over my shit, and hopefully see something that I’m too close to see (UO…I value your insights…feel free to go hard). Im in this for the long haul. And its gonna be long. Ive always been impatient, I want things to happen, move, progress now. I need to suck it up. Its not all about me. Jeez Im still a selfish cow. I don't want to be.
And if you are still reading this, I thank you for taking the time.
So are you in a one-sided R? Is that going to make a difference in whether you keep working on yourself with your BH or without?
Can't help asking...what's the status of his "if only" FB schmoopie?
Do you mean that what you took from my post is that I seem to be the one working on R? It's funny, because it has always felt like I was working on R. Ive always brought stuff up, desperately wanting to talk to my H, and then feeling the pain of seeing the "how long until I can get out of this" look from him.
I've been afraid to leave my H because of our situation. From Different countries. He left everything to come here...for me. The pressure of that. What a fuckin prize ive turned out to be aye? We have two children so that makes it more fraught. This doesn't excuse my affairs. Jeez. On paper, I look like a pathetic fucking mess. But I am actually strong, kind of. And I'm a fighter too. Made some pretty fucking awful choices though. I feel ashamed for myself. And recently, embarrassed.
As to your question about fb first love. I made him defriend her last year. I modeled to him for months my pain and hurt over that, because through my own realizations, knew it was fucked. Was kind of hoping he could do the same to me now after my revelations, as you know now what happened after my confessed affair 7 years ago. Funny enough, since we going through this, she has rung, sent messages via fb and he is feeling panicky too because he has to tell her why he defriended her. He can't avoid it any longer as she came out and asked him. The problem is, is that compared to my litany of betrayals, he feels he did nothing wrong. He knows I'm watching to see how he handles it. I've told him even if he doesn't "get it" right now, that all he needs to ask himself is "is this hurting my marriage to continue contact"?
So all this shit is kind of going on at present. But my growth comes from looking at my waywardness. It's up to him to figure out his own boundaries.
He needs to look at what he was getting from her, and no doubt it's all tied up on our lack of real intimacy for most of our marriage.
I can't do anything about that though, only keep looking at me.
So yes, it may be me in the end that says Enough, I need more. I am slowly letting go. So regardless of what happens with me and my H, I'm not going to stop figuring out me.
That's a new realization. And one I go in and out of. But it's starting to take hold.
I can feel it.
(ps typing this from iPhone so if disjointed or typos, please forgive)
I think I must really be going mental.
You are also recognizing what is causing the restless feelings in you, the difficulties in self soothing, the problems with letting our feelings sit for a bit and processing them and knowing that they won't last forever and in the end everything will be ok. These are all lessons you are trying to teach yourself, in the midst of a husband that is detaching.
Not an easy feat. One that many of us waywards have been through. Finding out that we can do this, and we can fix what is wrong inside of us, can restore a lot of the self respect that is lost.
Your right, you can't choose his boundaries, I couldn't choose my H's either and he detached a lot after his DD due to his own lack of tools. All I could do was get healthy for myself. I think you are firmly on the road to doing that. Remembering empathy is the best way to keep from pitying yourself, that was what I found in the first two years.
Good luck in your journey.
You are right, having my own pain, whilst dealing with an understandably detaching husband, who has always rushed past any hard feelings, is a constant tension between falling into the poor me pit (and "but I was braaaave telling you that" wail) and remembering the bitter blows to his heart I have just dealt.
A friend of mine observed that in many marriages an unspoken contract is adhered to. Our arrangement is that I am the crazy, unfaithful one who rushes around saying "do you love me, do you want me" and my H keeps his head down below the parapet, never asks me anything, never asks anything of me. I pound away, while he looks on bemused. Then I rush off in my hurt. if he doesn't ask, then I can't tell, ergo, can't hurt him.
A month ago, I ripped that contract up.
I want to change that pattern. And it really starts with me. It's taken me a long time to get that. And I'm still not there yet. But I see a glimpse on the horizon of real freedom from my inner turmoil.
I love him a lot. I'm losing my fear. I realise how crippled with fear I've been for years. As is he.
I want more for me. But I can't make him want more for himself. Letting that control go is really hard.
But as I said, I'm starting to see a light - Faint, but there.
Just gotta keep heading towards it.
No, you havnt changed your name. I'm certain I saw spud something.
I think I must really be going mental.
I guess it was a Easter thing. All the mods and guides had different names.
[This message edited by EmotionalFool at 3:58 AM, April 2nd (Tuesday)]
I think your post will and can help many people already on this site and anyone who may join. I don't think any of us waywards who post say that we're all fixed and that's how we are able to give advice now. I know I will give advice on one thread and then start one of my own about where I am stumbling in my progression towards a better me. I feel it is a lifetime thing, the work will never stop, the growth and the self examination will always continue. That doesn't mean I won't give advice where I can. We can all help each other no matter what.
No longer together
Do not let others be your reference for who you see in the mirror.
Stop allowing people to hurt you, because you don't love you enough to walk away.
want to change that pattern. And it really starts with me. It's taken me a long time to get that. And I'm still not there yet. But I see a glimpse on the horizon of real freedom from my inner turmoil.
I love him a lot. I'm losing my fear. I realise how crippled with fear I've been for years. As is he.
I love him a lot. I'm losing my fear. I realise how crippled with fear I've been for years. As is he.
This is huge. Realizing a pattern inside of a marriage and actually seeing it and trying to stop it are really hard.
Hlessons and I have really tried to stay on top of this, and have both realized that fear can motivate a lot of things, but mostly the need to control. Letting go of the outcomes will be huge for you.
Like TG says you're doing great. You're taking responsibility and self correcting.
Your husband has his own work to do. Focus on yours and be there to answer questions, transparent, consistent, safe.
None of this is easy. I'm seeing things that shake out all the time. You are strong, have courage and a sense of humor. You'll do this.
'til the roof comes off. 'til the lights go out. 'til my legs give out, can't shut my mouth
Unagie – Thanks for those kind words. I do hope my post and continuing realisations will go some way to helping people on this site, W and BS. It really is quite a fascinating process, and one in which I know can only be good for me and those whom I love and who love me. I feel Im getting safer, for others, but most importantly, for myself. I hear you about posting on other threads, and you are right. It is not as though we get to the ultimate understanding and are suddenly enlightened and that’s it, no more to do. For me, I felt the winds of change ramping up when I told my stepmother off at Christmas 2011. Standing up for myself, and breaking the contract of silence in my own family, was a huge step to what I am realising now is leading to a freeing of the self, as to be authentic and real and truthful. As to my BH minimising, I have told him in a hundred ways why it wasn’t Ok, have asked him many times WTF did he need in putting that out there, but he still not there yet. I am thinking that with what we are going through now, may in fact change that for him, but I suspect that will be further down the track. At the moment, this is all rather huge, so am careful not to assuage my own culpability by using his transgression to deflect from my own. I can wait.
TG – Yup. I am the ultimate ‘needs to control outcomes’ person. I have constantly told my H he is wrong in how he feels, because of course I know better than him (Pffttt!). This has no doubt contributed to his less than enthusiastic response to having any conversations about the dreaded “Us” and I need to learn to keep my mouth shut a bit more, and he needs to open his. It’s taken me 20 years to see the patterns, hopefully it wont take another bloody 20 years to change it. As my friend says often “ we are all crouched in fear” , and I for one am tired of feeling frightened. She also says “show me a grown up, coz I don’t know many”. Being grown up for me is holding yourself accountable, taking true responsibility for words and actions, and having integrity and respect, but also holding others to those standards as well. This means not letting people fuck with you - standing up for yourself, which of course can take many forms.
UO – How are ya! Yup. My sense of humour is still intact, albeit, hanging on by a thread -could do with a good belly laugh though. This getting to know oneself is some tiring shit, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do feel alive. I feel like Im really living, not just trudging directionless through each day, tossed around by the winds of my wayward thinking. This pain feels like it has a purpose. I can feel myself unfurling. It really does feel like a metamorphosis. Wonder what my wings will be like when I emerge? Tattered and shredded no doubt. Ha! My H is not one to inundate me with endless questions. Actually he doesn’t want to know any specifics, but what he is doing differently is standing up more for himself, telling me he is fucking angry (he always been afraid to show his anger for fear of me leaving) and that he hasn’t even begun to process the first betrayal with his friend, let alone the rest. In his words “I haven’t got to them yet”! That’s quite a big thing for him, who is the ultimate rugsweeper. So there are changes to the patterns emerging -and from him too. He is like a glacier though, and I am like a penguin jumping on and off the slow moving glacier. Lol.
Baxter BFF - If you look here again, just wanted to say how something you said on the BS asking W questions thread held some truth for me in my BH fb exgf situation. You wrote that when your wife pointed out the EA for what it was, you were angry as it burst the fantasy for you. And you were not going to admit it was wrong. Too scary to admit that about yourself and it was too much reality. This sounds a lot like how my BH has responded to my saying those messages are not Ok. Actually, the entire continued “friendship” is not ok for him, me, or us. He does tend to live in the fantasy of ignoring all the crappy stuff and just focussing on the ‘good parts’. The reality I put in front of him of this being lala land shit, has not gone down well. But the thing is, I do live in the real, and truth is what I want, not fantasy and things that look pretty and nice on the outside. Hes with the wrong woman if he wants ‘nice’. Bugger that!
Doesnt mean Ive totally cracked it as always have to watch my safety around alcohol, and Im pretty staunch now on who I have around me, but its all connected to this work.
Now hopefully it will extend to my body and taking better care of it, ie giving up the smokes and getting off my arse to exercise it.
Who knows where this all could lead.
Can I ask you, with the benefit of hindsight, what would you have done differently?
Yes, I do feel there are similarities in our BH and the very different (from us) way they have of processing. I actually got alot out of reading Aubries response to you. I too have done the "but your not acting/responding/talking like I want you to" approach and finally realised its all about ME ME ME. Yes, I too have felt lonely in my marriage with a man who although I know thinks deeply about things, doesnt necessarily share every single thought that comes into his head, like I do. I have realised too that a large reason for this dynamic between us, is that I have hardly been a safe person to open up to, as my full story here will attest to. Keeping secrets and the fear/guilt/self loathing that stems from that and infiltrates every corner of our marriage, is hardly a safe place for him to share his thoughts/feelings, even if he didn't know quite why he felt so wary. He describes his fear in our relationship as "hiding under the desk", which is what he did to keep safe as a boy living with volatile parents, and never knowing what was coming at him. He just continued protecting himself like that with a volatile wife, who he kept at arms length when even a whiff of hurt looked like it was coming at him. And he wasn't wrong, as I have once again ripped his heart out and stomped on it, just in case he didnt get it the first time.
What I am finally starting to realise is that I need to make me safe for ME, learn to sit with myself, my uncertainty and pain, know I will be Ok no matter what happens.
You asked in hindsight what I would do, well not fuck other men for one thing. Not be afraid to look over my hurts and actually FEEL them rather than numb them with booze, new jobs, having kids (thought that would fill the yawning chasm....nup), and trying to FORCE my H to be who I thought he should be, and just be fucking true to myself and stop being an entitled selfish c*%t.
So better late than never I guess, just hope its not too late for me and my H.
Talk about filling one's life with to avoid feelings.. I've been seriously thinking about having another baby. "Not now, but in 2-3 years time". It's kinda like a back-up plan. If all else fails, and if I still am as empty as I am now a few years down the line, then hey, at least I can think of something that will fill that unhappiness.
I am learning from you. Thanks. I don't really know what to say to you other than well done for sitting with yourself and dealing with all the dark stuff after so long.
Do you ever feel like you want your H to man-up? I've been thinking lately why I'm angry with my H when it's me who's cheated and broken things.
I'm angry at him for not soothing me as this has been his role.
Your bit about "self-soothing" hit home.
I have always been protected and looked after by my H. It's a dynamic I've enjoyed as it frees me from taking too much responsibilty. It's limited my growth as when I don't want to do something, I abdicate and know it will get done somehow.
We would benefit from MC as I don't actually understand him and he really doesn't understand me.
I've mentioned it to him. He wasn't super enthusiastic but has agreed.
We're now off on a 5 day family vaca. We have both pledged to peace and harmony until we get back.
The emptiness we feel inside is not up to our SO to fill. Man, it takes a long time to change that way of thinking. Im still figuring out where that giant sinkhole comes from (no wonder I cant watch anything about sinkholes - too close to the bone).
That restless, unfulfilled place is where affairs come from too. The buzz, the excitement, the newness. But its all fleeting and has nothing to do with the AP, but everything to do with us.
Took me a long time to realise this. Feel sad for how much time Ive wasted looking outward for validation rather than inward.
Keep in touch Trying. PM me if you want. Would be nice to share this path with someone who going along a similar one. Enjoy your vacation, and for gods sake, dont conceive on it with some HB. A child should not have to carry the burden of keeping your marriage together.