It sounds like many of you are in a platonic friendship so to say...noting that, would you have left earlier if you could go back in time? What happened that you stayed?? Sobriety? Therapy? MC?
I'd say my husband is more of a roommate than a friend. But I'd also say that we seem to have reached an awareness that we will take care of each other as we age and especially during this pandemic. So is that friendship? Or something else.
Yes, if I went back in time I definitely wish I would have left my husband. I wish I had left him about year five of our marriage. One of the early things my therapist told me was "you don't have to forgive him." That was so healing! I just let go of forgiving him. I focused on forgiving ME! I forgive myself for marrying him. I actually left a worse sex addict (didn't know that was what I should have called him at the time, but know it now) for my husband. My husband was a better person than the man I was with before him. I have a seriously broken man picker. And in my first years of marriage, being with my husband made my life better. The sex wasn't very good (surprise, that, eh?) and he wasn't a very passionate or romantic partner (once I said "I do"), but my life became more stable, I was better off financially, we did fun things.
But I knew fairly soon that my husband was lazy and selfish. Didn't know he was dishonest. Knew something was off sexually but could not get him to talk about it. Was clueless about this addiction. I tried to address it by taking myself to therapy, going to MC, getting him to IC. One of the worst things that happened to me was my IC told me that I was "projecting disappointment" about my husband and that the problem was with me. I believed her and doubled down to be more appreciative. I look back now and realize how abusive that advice was. She never met my husband! My current therapist sees this as therapy induced trauma and said that IC just didn't believe me.
Then my MC told me that my husband was one of the most devoted husband's she had ever seen. What the????? Another therapist who was an idiot who didn't believe me and couldn't accept my truth. So my husband got off from having to change and I was told, again, to be more appreciative and work harder on my marriage. Both these therapists were women!
I threw myself into work and that turned out to be life saving. I enjoyed my work, enjoyed my colleagues, felt valued and spent lots of time at work since my husband clearly didn't want to spend time with me.
Then I got sick. I got diagnosed with lupus. I was up and down for years. Then I shattered my leg and had to get hardware. That took a long time to heal and rehab...about two years. Then lupus made me very, very sick. It got in my central nervous system and nothing they gave me made me better. As a last ditch effort, I had a new chemotherapy approach. That "reset" my immune system and after the chemo, I got fungal/bacterial/viral infections and almost died from those infections. But I lived, and I have been in remission for six years. I take no drugs anymore. It's a miracle. And during this time, my husband's addiction really escalated as he tried to "find my replacement." I will never, ever forgive him for that.
So, I was trying to stay alive and didn't have the energy to leave. I was still doing lots of interesting volunteer and community work while all of this was going on.
Then D-day. I was so shocked. I got lousy advice from my MC and moved to the place I am now with my husband. Wish I had moved him to a different state. I knew about the addiction at this point, but not about just how long it had been going on and how much he had been doing. I found that out after the move. That is when I found my current IC who specializes in trauma and is healing me from all of this pain.
I stayed because I believed the message that I was the problem. I stayed because early in my life I was taught that I was worthless and unlovable. I was shocked at how low my self esteem was. I was shocked at how I truly didn't take care of myself. Now I do take care of myself.
In fact, they now think that I got lupus due to my early childhood trauma.
And, I got the strength to get through to my husband that he was an addict and that I would leave him. And over the last six years, he has worked on getting sober, then to address his significant issues.
I know some of you have character disordered partners. Mine isn't character disordered, but he is profoundly broken: immature, no self esteem, unable to relate to others in a healthy way. He's working on this with a very good team of therapists. He's made tremendous changes, which surprise me. He's got a long way to go.
I waited too long. I got trapped in the idea I was the problem. I got hooked on hope. Hope was the last thing I let go of...the hope he would change, that I would have a better marriage. My hope now is only about me.
I realize I will always have grief about my past. How could I not? Sometimes it overwhelms me. But I also have learned to have compassion for myself, to forgive myself, to be kind to myself, and to take care of myself. If I had been able to do all of that decades ago, my life would have been much different.
My husband is trying so hard to get me to fall in love with him again. But it's still immature and self centered. He's clueless about what interests me, what I like and desire. He's sober, but still fundamentally a selfish and lazy little boy. I see changes, but it's slow.
To see me with him, I'm polite. I don't shame him in public. But I never smile. I never touch him. I look incredibly cold. Which is true. I look dislikable. And I don't care. Sometimes, though, I will be triggered and my rage and contempt will leak a bit and then I scare people. They don't know about the "before" of my marriage. They don't know my truth and I'm not interested in spilling it to everyone I know. I'm so done with the addiction and the insanity of it all.
I've detached from the addiction. I detached from the craziness. And I detached from my husband. I started letting go of small pieces of my marriage and letting go of the hope things would change. I felt so much better! And, wouldn't you know it, when my husband saw and felt those changes, he became much more serious about getting his act together. It's pretty clear to me that he didn't think I would every leave him. He knows now that I would.
With all of that, I still have my life. I'm still working with people who enjoy me. The pandemic and social distancing is sad for all of us. But I feel so much better about me.