Hi everyone. I really appreciate finding this site. I’ve spent some time reading others’ stories but this is my first post.
My story may be a little different than most. I have been married 40 years. I am 64, she is 62. We have a great relationship. We are financially successful, we have our health, we have two grown daughters and three grandkids. We are best friends, true soulmates, and our sex life would be the envy of couples half our age. So, what’s the problem?
A couple of years ago, I started revisiting some old memories. I won’t call them repressed memories, because they’ve always been there, but I began reliving those memories through the eyes of a much older, wiser man than the young, naïve 20-year-old I was at the time.
Before we were married, we lived together for two years while in college. This was my first real sexual relationship, as I was somewhat of a late bloomer. In my mind at least, this relationship was exclusive and monogamous. But, looking back now, there were some pretty obvious signs that I just didn’t pick up on. The more I thought about this, I began to piece together different pieces of the puzzle, including what I now believe were at least three different guys she slept with during that time. One of them was my best friend. This is a friend that I keep up with regularly although we rarely see each other as we live in different parts of the country.
This began eating away at me and it just won’t go away. It’s snowballed inside me until it has just become overwhelming. It haunts my sleepless nights and ties my stomach into knots during the day. I have lost a lot of weight and I was already pretty thin. I feel I am literally driving myself insane and may actually doing myself physical harm. I secretly started IC a while ago, and she has tried to coach me in mindfulness but I guess I’m not very good at it yet.
Then a week ago, I finally snapped and said something. To say she was shocked is the understatement of the year. At first, she denied everything and said I was crazy, but when I started to present my evidence, she lashed out and said "Well, you slept with Lisa!", which absolutely didn’t happen. She said "I know you did because you told me". Of course I didn’t tell her that because a) it didn’t happen, and b) I don’t think I would have told her even if it had. When I continued to deny it, she switched to "Well it was Kathy then, wasn’t it?" Again, didn’t happen.
Then I broke down, like nothing I have never before experienced, I was curled up on the floor, convulsing with sobs. I could barely breathe, much less speak for what seemed like an eternity. I think she was genuinely taken aback by my reaction that she got down and hugged me and held me and I eventually recovered some semblance of sanity.
She has committed to work through this and I think she is terrified that I might actually leave her, even though I have assured her that I won’t. We have slowly begun discussing things. What I find puzzling is the difference in our memories concerning even just basic timelines and circumstances. Maybe that’s just to be expected after 40+ years, even though I feel my memories are as sharp as if they were last week. At this point she is mostly listening and hasn’t said much. The cynic in me would say she first wants to find out what all I’ve figured out, so she knows how much she doesn’t have to confess to any more than she has to. She has said she will see my counselor if I want her to.
She has told me that she has "done some terrible things" and that she is afraid that if she tells me everything it will change the way I feel about her. To quote Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men: "You want the truth – you can’t handle the truth." I do wonder how the truth could be any worse than my imagination. I do believe she is deeply ashamed of something. I can read her pretty well after 40 years.
Anyway, I have some some random thoughts I’d like feedback on:
1.Why can’t I just let it go? It doesn’t change the life we’ve built over the last 40 years, or the truly wonderful situation we are in today. It was so long ago, and isn’t it just kids doing what kids do before they get their stuff sorted out?
2.How do I stop obsessing over it? I can’t turn my brain off. I lay awake at night and read or watch TV until my eyes finally close on their own, but then I jar back awake with my vivid imagination racing out of control. I lay next to her as she sleeps and I resent that she can sleep when I can’t. I think I’m lucky to get 3-4 hours a night, and I know I’m harming myself physically, but I don’t want to drug myself.
3.I’ve read more than once on here that "Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater". If that’s true, should I be concerned about what might have gone on after we got married? I now realize from reading on here that I’ve spent most of married life being "hyper-vigilant" even if I didn’t know that’s what to call it. There have been a handful of times in our marriage when I felt uneasy about some situation, but I always just let it go. I have no real evidence of anything, but have I just been too naïve?
4.If she goes to see my counselor, how would that work? Does she first go on her own, to tell her version of things? I assume whatever she says stays with the counselor and so does everything I say. How then, does the counselor work it from there? Does she prod
Anyway, kind of a long-winded story, but there it is. Thanks for your patience.