My husband is a good man, and, yes, despite everything he did (and some of those things were truly shocking, unbelievably disrespectful and immeasurably painful) I still stand by that. He is a good man and even if I choose to leave this marriage, I would still say he was a good man. Because he is. If I took it on face value of how he behaved during those 6 weeks and for quite a few months afterwards, would I be saying that? Absolutely NOT! However, I have the benefit of twelve previous years of knowing him. I have seen who he truly is. I have made two beautiful humans with him and a truck load of memories. Was he perfect? No. Was I? No. But who is?
How he behaved was despicable. He was selfish, arrogant, cruel and downright disrespectful. He allowed the worst of himself to come to the surface and stay there while he indulged for a while. His ego took over and he revelled in the attention. He didn't think about the consequences. He didn't think about who he was hurting. He didn't think about anything except himself. If he was like that all the time, which some people are, I wouldn't touch him with the old proverbial barge pole. I would never have even entertained him in the first instance, let alone marry him. I've never been someone who needed to be in a relationship. One of the things I loved about him when we first met was how modest, yet so confident he was in himself. I was an independent single woman with my own career, flat and car and he just carried himself with such surety but wasn't full of himself at all. He was different to anyone I had met or dated before. I had been on the dating scene for a while after leaving a long term relationship. I met a lot of really nice guys but something was always off. One was loads of fun, but a bit too macho, one was so lovely, but not quite manly enough. One was not quite bright enough for me, but absolutely gorgeous (a fireman who was an amateur boxer!) and I had so much in common with another, but he felt like a brother. My husband just had that right balance of everything. Looks, personality, manliness, sensitivity, confidence, life experience. So many things he did in the early days of dating that just blew me away. Thoughtful, amazing things that just made me think, "who is this guy?"
The bottom line is he made a big mistake. HUGE! (in the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman) He fucked up on the grandest of scales. One of the hardest things for me, and that sounds ridiculous as this has all been stupendously, off the scale fiendishly hard, has been how to view him in light of this monumental fuck up. I mean, I think it's fair to say all men (probably women too, let's not be sexist about this) are all on the dickhead spectrum somewhere. We've all acted like a dickhead, spoken like one and chosen to do something that is so dickheadish we think we'll be mortified forever. What do you do though, when your husband does something so enormously dickheadish, that it blows the spectrum to smithereens, destroying you in the process and your view of them completely changes? It's a very weird sensation when you look at your husband in a completely different way to how you did before. That was very frightening. I had no idea if I was even going to recover from that. Then there's the issue of what he did on his return overseas, after the affair was disclosed that allowed the other woman to do what she did. Set me up like an oblivious, bewildered sitting duck being led out in front of a firing squad. This takes on a territory all of its own, and being totally honest, has been the single worst aspect than the whole of it put together. It goes to such depths of betrayal and disrespect, it's so difficult to go there. It is the single biggest cause of the most pain, the most anguish, the most shock, the most tears and the most decisions to leave him. The single biggest reason for feeling like a completely stupid, pathetic doormat for not leaving. I think I have written it before that being cheated on when you don't know about it is one thing, but when you do and your husband knows you do, it reached levels of shock and pain that is incredibly hard to come back from, and...... straight up? I am certainly not there yet and I'm not sure I ever will be. I still get this knot in my throat and my breath tightens up. At times, I genuinely believe leaving is the only way I am going to feel empowered about it. Just walk away and leave him with the knowledge of what he's done and pride in myself intact. I still think about doing that several times a week, but I just don't think I have fully completed this process yet. So I stay.
Above all I am just incredibly, heavy heartedly disappointed in him and unbelievably, immeasurably hurt. Whatever meltdown, triggered or flooding episode I may have, however I cry and sob, scream and shout and express myself these two aspects are where I usually end up. I am still grieving. No matter how much effort I put into understanding affairs and humanising his actions, it is the most hurtful thing EVER to know your husband has deliberately and knowingly deceived and betrayed you. To have believed, no matter how deluded, short lived it was or how many times he says what "ridiculous nonsense" it all was, that he thought someone else was worth doing that to me. It utterly kills me. When the anger subsides and everything else is stripped away, it's just me sitting there, with tears pouring down my face, bewildered and bare with a knife in my heart and one in my back. Nothing left to say, nothing left to do, in fact, nothing left at all. Nothing. What else is there?
But then, there's him.
Oh shit! The tears are coming. I write this whole page with nothing and those four words set me off.
He's my husband. The man I chose as my person. The man I created two precious, amazingly awesome lives with. The man I felt so proud to have by my side. Who always made me feel so safe and looked after. Whose arms feel so strong and secure when they're wrapped around me. Whose cheekbone fits into my eye socket. Who came along and showed me what the point of having dreams was. Who made me believe in life and love again. Who gave me someone to walk through life with. The man I made promises to, who I have supported all these years. The man I love with all my heart and soul. Through all the hurt and all the disappointment I have not been ready to give that up. It's too familiar and I don't want to. When we got married I distinctly remember having this sense of contentment and achievement. Like I'd finally done it and could relax now. I genuinely felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I honestly thought it was all too good to be true. Some of you may think that it was after all this, but I don't. What he chose to do has not negated all the amazing stuff he was before and still is, and that is what is keeping me going at the moment. Yes, it has hurt more than anything else I have ever experienced in my life, and still does. No, I am not the same person I was and have really suffered emotionally, mentally and physically. I have been pushed off the edge, smashed into a thousand pieces and have been trying to put myself back together ever since. Do I still struggle? Absolutely. Am I still hurting? OMG yes. Do I wish every single day this feeling would just fucking go away? What do you think? But I am still here, still sticking it out. Still believing in him, in us, in our family.
God, I am bawling now.
That's what I feel anyway, it may be a different story for others, but that is what the journey after adultery is for. Discovering what is true for you. Finding out and working through how do I feel about what my unfaithful spouse did? There's no right or wrong to that at all. It's 100% a personal decision and takes time to explore. I have multiple feelings about it that all coexist together, so it's not a black and white decision for me. I swing back and forth and up and down with irregular consistency and I think I've said it before, I wasn't going to make a huge decision, like breaking up my family, without taking this time. That's the whole point of the recovery process and he has been in charge of a lot of that in how he behaves towards me. The levels of remorse he shows, the amount of compassion and understanding he's offered, how he's stepped up to earn back trust and mend what he has broken. I can't do that for him. It's something he has had to commit to on his own. He has not always done this in a way I felt I needed or in a way I would like him to, but he has done it. I have had to learn to drop my fixed expectations of what I think he should be doing and decide what I am willing to accept and what I am not. I have had to learn to communicate what I need and expect from him without attacking, berating or blaming him and I have to learn to be grateful for what he does do. Just because it's not what I had in my head, doesn't mean it's wrong or not good enough. We made a commitment to being "all in" through this process and I had to trust he was going to be true to his word. Yes, very difficult under the circumstances, but I've done it. I'd had 12 years of a pretty good marriage before all this. I wasn't going to throw it all away for just a few weeks and I wasn't going to discount what I felt I knew about my husband before finding out for sure. My kids and I are worth way more than that.
Pain is temporary. My family is forever. One day I may feel differently, but it's not today.