Who knows what went on?
"Oh, why do my actions have consequences?" ~ Homer Simpson
"She knew my one weakness: That I'm weak!" ~ Homer Simpson
If she doesn't, do you know what you will do?
I tell her I'm sorry but there isn't a day that goes by that this shit doesn't cross my mind. Also that it is easier for her because she knows what the past is. I have about half the picture and I'm trying to peace the rest together and weed out the lies at the same time.
I came across this article some time ago:
By Anna Fels
AS a psychiatrist I find that friends frequently seek me out to discuss problematic events in their lives; it comes with the territory and I’m usually happy to do it. But I was surprised and shaken to hear from an old friend that her husband of nearly 25 years had long been accruing and hiding from her a huge credit card debt (in the six figures). Even after divulging his secret, the husband had lied about the amount, with the sum increasing every time it was discussed. And right from the start, he refused to document where the money was spent. He left it for his wife to ruminate on, trying to puzzle it out. The disclosure wreaked financial and emotional havoc on their family.
After my initial shock at this unsuspected betrayal, I began to recall patients I had seen whose situations were not that dissimilar. They were people who had suddenly discovered that their life, as they knew it, was based on a long-term falsehood. They were people who might have stumbled across family secrets on the Internet or found old bills from a spouse’s long-hidden liaisons.
This predicament, a sudden revelation of new, pivotal information about one’s life, is the subject of many memoirs: Bliss Broyard, in “One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life — A Story of Race and Family Secrets,” discovers shortly before her father’s death that his family of origin was black and that he had “passed” for white. Katha Pollitt, in “Learning to Drive,” writes about discovering the infidelity of her long-term partner. Geoffrey Wolff, in “The Duke of Deception,” unearths evidence that his father had lied about virtually every aspect of his past: his religion, education, career and military record.
But what if you’re not a writer and don’t have the option of metabolizing this kind of toxic experience through the process of writing? Most of us can’t seize control of the narrative by publishing our side of the story or get the sweet revenge of going public with the other’s misdeeds.
Discoveries of such secrets typically bring on tumultuous crises. Ironically, however, in my clinical experience, it is often the person who lied or cheated who has the easier time. People who transgressed might feel self-loathing, regret or shame. But they have the possibility of change going forward, and their sense of their own narrative, problematic though it may be, is intact. They knew all along what they were doing and made their own decisions. They may have made bad choices, but at least those were their own and under their control. Now they can make new, better choices.
And to an astonishing extent, the social blowback for such miscreants is often transient and relatively minor. They can change! Our culture, in fact, wholeheartedly supports such “new beginnings” — even celebrates them. It has a soft spot for the prodigal sons and daughters who set about repairing their ways, for tales of people starting over: reformed addicts, unfaithful spouses who rededicate themselves to family, convicted felons who find redemption in religion. Talk shows thrive on these tales. Perhaps it’s part of our powerful national belief in self-help and self-creation. It’s never too late to start anew.
But for the people who have been lied to, something more pervasive and disturbing occurs. They castigate themselves about why they didn’t suspect what was going on. The emotions they feel, while seemingly more benign than those of the perpetrator, may in the long run be more corrosive: humiliation, embarrassment, a sense of having been naïve or blind, alienation from those who knew the truth all along and, worst of all, bitterness.
Insidiously, the new information disrupts their sense of their own past, undermining the veracity of their personal history. Like a computer file corrupted by a virus, their life narrative has been invaded. Memories are now suspect: what was really going on that day? Why did the spouse suddenly buy a second phone “for work” several years ago? Did a friend know the truth even as they vacationed together? Compulsively going over past events in light of their recently acquired (and unwelcome) knowledge, such patients struggle to integrate the new version of reality. For many people, this discrediting of their experience is hard to accept. It’s as if they are constantly reviewing their past lives on a dual screen: the life they experienced on one side and the new “true” version on the other. But putting a story together about this kind of disjunctive past can be arduous.
Understandably, some feel cynical if not downright paranoid. How can they know what is real going forward? How can they integrate these new “facts” about family, origin, religion, race or fidelity? Do they have to be suspicious if they form a new relationship? As my friend said in despair, “I’m just not a snoop; it’s not in my genes.”
And the social response to people who have suffered such life-transforming disclosures, well meaning as it is intended to be, is often less than supportive. Our culture may embrace the redeemed sinner, but the person victimized — not so much. Lack of control over their destiny makes people queasy. Friends often unconsciously blame the victim, asking whether the betrayed person really “knew at some level” what was going on and had just been “in denial” about it. But the betrayed are usually as savvy as the rest of us. When one woman I know asked her husband, a closet alcoholic who drank secretly late at night, how he could have hidden his addiction for so long, he replied, “It took a lot of work.”
FREQUENTLY, a year or even less after the discovery of a longstanding lie, the victims are counseled to move on, to put it all behind them and stay focused on the future. But it’s not so easy to move on when there’s no solid narrative ground to stand on. Perhaps this is why many patients conclude in their therapy that it’s not the actions or betrayal that they most resent, it’s the lies.
In this situation, therapy can be one path to reclaiming your past. Creating a coherent narrative of one’s life has long been seen as a central goal of psychotherapy. It provides the internal structure that helps us predict and regulate future actions and feelings. It creates a stable sense of self. But if, to quote Louis Cozolino, a psychologist who writes on the neuroscience of therapy, “memory is a form of internal enactment of whatever is being recalled,” how do we retroactively create a life story out of events that were never experienced? There is a disturbing bifurcation: memory no longer corresponds to objective fact.
As a psychiatrist, I can tell you that it’s often a painstaking process to reconstruct a coherent personal history piece by piece — one that acknowledges the deception while reaffirming the actual life experience. Yet it’s work that needs to be done. Moving forward in life is hard or even, at times, impossible, without owning a narrative of one’s past. Isak Dinesen has been quoted as saying “all sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.” Perhaps robbing someone of his or her story is the greatest betrayal of all.
Anna Fels is a psychiatrist and faculty member at Weill Cornell Medical School.
Norabird- I've given her some time to set up the appointment. She has finals this week and I really didn't want to bring this up until she was done with them but couldn't hold it in any longer. So she has a month off between now and summer courses. So I expect her to get in there while she is off. She has lots of issues to work on with rape and csa in her past that I didn't know about before marriage.
I've not posted my story yet where is the correct place to do that?
Anyway she proceeds to tell me that she tries not to think about it and to focus on the here and now
She won't understand that because she knows the truth.
What does she say when you ask her a question?
Have her write you out a timeline of everything that happened during the affair.
Rug sweeping everything under the carpet is not good and can easily lead to the same behavior later on.
Everything should have been discussed with complete honesty, including WHY she did it in the first place.
If she does not know why she did it, than how can she stop it from happening in the future.
There is a good book she should read called After the Affair.
Also, there is something here in the Healing Library under Articles titled Joseph's Letter. Print that out and give it to your wife.
ETA: I just read this in a post of yours "She has lots of issues to work on with rape and csa in her past"
Those are issues she needs to deal with right away. They most certainly can affect her and the way she thinks in her adult life and can most certainly cause her to have affairs.
Does she have low self esteem or think she is not worthy of you because of the CSA?
[This message edited by craig2001 at 5:18 PM, May 5th (Monday)]
She is getting better at answering my questions and not getting bent out of shape. She actually did really good at this last night. She did break down and start crying, this just annoyed me though. I feels like she does this to get me to feel sorry for her.
Getting her to read is not very promissing. She complains about her school work and falling asleep trying to read it. In counselingour therapist gave us the book "the five love languages" and she has yet to finish it. That was about 2 years ago. So I wont hold my breath to get her to read anything.
That make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Tells me where I stand...
Since confessing his affair (amongst other infidelities) 15 months ago, my SLAWH and I have undergone a series of drastic transitions along with ordinary challenges: a child leaving for college, a seriously ill parent, the death of his father, lots of promotions (necessitating way too much travel and absolutely no pay raise)--plus his addiction. Little by little, though, and almost agonizingly slowly, he's been making progress. This past week has been one of the most stressful, work-related ones I've ever endured with him in almost 23 years of M. Yet two nights ago, he finally told me--seemingly out of the blue--that although he was way too tired to talk about it right then, he wanted me to know how regretful and remorseful he feels about what he did. I respected his wish for no discussion right then (late at night, exhaustedly cuddling in bed), but I couldn't stop from crying (silently but he could feel it). When he asked why (men!), I told him I'd wondered if I would ever hear those words. He responded that he didn't know he'd ever feel that way and hugged me more tightly.
The more "broken" (a somewhat controversial word, but apt for my WH, I think) a person is, the longer it takes them to completely heal. For me, it's taken a combination of 180, love, acceptance, anger, determination, prayer, therapy, and patience. For him, it's taken my actions, his IC, dissipation of the fog (NC helped with that), and time. Luckily, after he confessed, his slips were countered with observable progress, so . . .
Like you, I don't have the whole picture. More than half and definitely all the major timeline events, but there's an incredible amount left to discuss and deal with. Once the fog lifted, I think the shame/guilt "got his tongue." But it has loosened as knows I'll still love him. I may cry when we discuss difficult topics, but I don't rant and rave and rage.
Good luck to you. I hope you see progress soon--enough to keep you going.
And, Razor, I LOVED that passage. How spot on! Thank you for sharing.
I also wanted to thank Razor for the post. I found it very helpful and insightful.
She does have low self esteem but she hides it well.
The why she had an affair is probably because of the low self esteem. She might not even feel worthy of you. She might need what they call external or outside validation.
Guys other than you, telling her the things that validate her and make her feel better.
This is most likely all because of the CSA.
She could be using school as an excuse to hide and run away.
If she does not come to grips with the things I mentioned and her childhood, she will probably continue to have affairs just to seek that outside validation.
IC is most important right now, maybe the most important thing she ever does for the rest of her life. Since the CSA will affect the rest of her life if she doesn't come to grips with it.
my wife said fine that she didn't think it was effecting her at all anymore
Both of those are not the character of a someone who is in control of their thoughts or emotions.
Amazing how one bad MC can ruin everything!
Your needs to understand that having affairs is NOT normal. How can she even think how she acts is normal and she is completely over CSA issues, when all she does is deny and ignore them.
I think you should call some MC and discuss this with them first and find a good one yourself. Also IC for your wife is needed right now.
Otherwise, like I said before, your wife will continue this behavior for many many years to come. And even worse, she doesn't even see the wrong in it.
Most WW's at least know they are doing something wrong.
You wife is living a totally compartmentalized life. She boxes up her bad past as if it doesnt matter, she has affairs with others in another compartment and then there is the married life when she gets around to it.
That is how she gets around thinking she is doing anything wrong.
How is she meeting these other guys? At work, internet or what? How many OM are emailing or texting her.
The reason I ask is because you never know what kind of nutcase she will meet and bring into your families life.
Anyway all of the contacts she has had have either been with people she worked with or or friends. There have been no internet dating sites or anything like that that I know of. She does admit that some of them were wrong. Some of them however she claims to be innocent. She has weak boundaries when it comes to someone paying her attention. I have access to most everything now and from what I see there is nothing inappropriate going on now or since d day. She just won't deal with the aftermath, she would rather not bring it up and this is wearing on me. So right now I am fine to give her another this week to get past finals. Next week I want to see some action though and am planning to make things unpleasant if nothing is done.
She just won't deal with the aftermath, she would rather not bring it up and this is wearing on me.
In the healing library here, under articles, there is something called Josephs Letter, it is a great letter from a BH to his WW about needing to know the truth.
You can give that to her.