I get asked this question a lot. By women I meet through social media, this blog and also by my close friends and family. It's something I talk about very often with the wives I have met who are in my position. I think it's something that you can only understand if you have been through it. Otherwise, you're simply speaking from a perceived view. An idea about what you think you would do or feel if this ever happened to you. I used to be one of those people. I have talked about that quite a bit in previous blogs. Every time I write, I am honest and real and this blog will be no different. This is my perspective, my feelings and my opinion. No one elses and I do not speak for all betrayed wives, just for myself.
The short answer is no. I can't trust again. That ship has sailed for me. I am definitely changed and changed for life. It is with a heavy heart I feel this, but it is the truth. My experiences of the worst of people, and not just my husband, but the nastiness of the other woman, the other people who passed opinions, talked about me, passed judgement on me and treated me so despicably at the very worst time of my life, has scarred me forever. I do not believe in the integrity of others. Full stop. All of us have the potential to let the worst of us come to the surface. You, me, your spouse or best friend, EVERYONE. Even if you swear on your mother or children that you are as trustworthy as they come, you have no idea how you would behave in any given situation and how justifications or judgements may come to affect any decision you make. I have come to believe that you cannot trust anyone to not betray you. Anyone is capable and when the chips are down, most people choose themselves. Now, that's not a criticism, that's just real. The only thing, and I mean the only thing you can rely on, is the internal integrity and strength of that individual. That is all, and that is down to them and them alone. Not what a ceremony states, not words they have said, or what society believes to be true or acceptable. Not love or honour, or what you perceive those things bring. NOTHING except that sole individual and their desire to do the right thing, for no one else, but their own sense of self. In the light of that, no, my trust has gone.
When we first returned back from living abroad, before I started counselling, there was a phase where I just didn't want to leave the house. I was genuinely terrified of people. Of people, their judgements, their views, their thoughts on others. I didn't trust anyone, not anyone. I was sick of it. Sick of society, sick of humans, sick of the bullshit people project onto others every single day to deflect away from themselves. Sick of being on the receiving end of other people's shit, at such a severe cost to myself. Sick of how people spoke to each other and treated each other. I was God damned fucking SICK. OF. IT. I still am to some degree. I see things every single day that make me hate humans and I never really felt that before, except for really huge atrocious acts.
I love my husband dearly. We are making it work, he is looking after me, making efforts to be a good husband and a better man. I cannot fault that at all. He struggles with what he did. However, I do not trust him. Now, I don't check his phone, I am not paranoid, I don't wonder where he is or who he is with every minute of every day, that is no way to live. I am talking about trust on a totally different level to that and it would be the same for anyone coming into my life now, whether I stayed in my marriage or not. He, and others, have shown me what people are capable of and in the light of the previous paragraph, I don't trust him.....but I'm not sure I ever did fully. I'm not sure I have with anyone. I'm not sure I even know what that feels like. Delving into this has been a big part of my recovery journey, so I will try to explain.
I grew up in a very untrusting environment. My experience of my parents' relationship was that of distrust. If you've read "The Moment My Heart Shattered" and "If You Can't Trust Your Parents, Who Can You Trust?", you'll know how my dad had affairs (his fruitloop other woman followed our family on holiday with her husband and kids!) and I had overheard my mum's own d-day as a 12-year-old. I never told anyone I knew. I just saw my dad come home that day with a bunch of flowers for my mum and one for my older sister (as she had been the one who discovered it). What I saw that day, and from that moment over the next 10 years of a clearly uncomfortable marriage, taught me about relationships, and life I guess. Cheat on your wife, give them flowers and carry on as if nothing had happened, then continue to cheat. I know now that my mum was trying to protect us by keeping things from us and keeping our family together, plus she had no idea that I knew, but I was 12 and what I saw was my mum did nothing but take it and was miserable.
Because of all that, I have always been fiercely independent and delving into my experiences of trust with a counsellor, because of my husband's affair, has helped me to see this drive as a reaction to fear and trauma. I always knew I was controlling, but I always played it off as independent and capable. I didn't need anyone to look after me. I was clever and capable and could look after myself. However, over the last six months with some help in the beginning from my counsellor, allowing myself to truly feel into the need for control, I have realised how much anxiety was actually underneath it. I didn't feel safe in my life, EVER, unless I was completely by myself. I never knew what was going on with my parents. Would they stay together, would they split? So I realised I had actually lived with this constant feeling of life being very fragile under my feet. I didn't know exactly what my dad had done, but I knew he didn't want to be with us and I also didn't know what my mum was going to do about it. The perception of my family felt constantly fake, although I wasn't aware that it felt fake at the time, although I did and didn't know that's what it was. I'm not sure if that makes sense. When it came to relationships, as I got older, I was in them wholeheartedly but as I have realised recently, I absolutely never fully trusted. I genuinely don't know how to do that and have never, ever fully managed it.
Also, what I've come to realise is that my experiences created a constant state of cognitive dissonance. I was led to believe in the sanctity of marriage, vows and the connection of two people, however, the actions of those in that marriage didn't match what I had been led to believe. Believe in marriage, believe in family, but don't trust your husband, make sure you're able to look after yourself because that belief actually counts for fuck all. So I was constantly anxious and controlling, but didn't realise. I was in love, wanted to marry my husband and be in a marriage but I didn't trust him properly. I had to push my assertiveness and level of control all the time, to deal with the anxiety I didn't even know I was feeling. I understood that trust is what you're supposed to do in a marriage and I blindly accepted that because of what I had been led to believe about marriage, but I never truly trusted he felt the same, and looked for proof of this constantly. I masked a level of insecurity and anxiety with control and excessive striving and doing.
And I was right, you're probably all shouting! Well, yes and no. I think he believed in it too, but his example of marriage was just as bad as mine. His parents' relationship was and still is terrible. He didn't go into a marriage knowing he was going to cheat. I think between us, our experiences and conditioning, we created our own self-fulfilling prophecy. One big fucking painful mess.
Now, I'm just too frightened to trust, but trust anyone, not just my husband. I don't trust people and I genuinely have no idea what that would feel like. It's too much and I'm not ready. I'm not cynical or difficult about it, just wary and always feel like I'm leaning back expecting the next blow. I'll let you know if that ever changes, but it's not today.