Years of stuffing that shit away (something that did not come 'naturally' to me) and dealing with a non-remorseful spouse who, while not cheating, was definitely a Dry Adulterer (wayward thinking all over the place), was just TOO much when the anger and depression of a surprise pregnancy hit. Up to that point I was already starting every single day at such a low that the smallest thing threatened to bust that crack wide open, I couldn't take anymore. I tried to 'do' something about it, hitting the gym religiously and losing weight, going out with friends, getting back into a hobby, reading self help books, and a bunch of other distractions. The better I felt about me, the more I just HAD to deal with this. This nasty cancer in our marriage. I had a sort of do or die freak out.
It has not solved all of my problems, but it has accomplished much. The moments I feel disgusted with where I am, I work to remind myself of where I was. I was invisible, and now I have my voice back!
Affairs, lies, TT, gaslighting...they're all emotionally abusive, but for some of us, our whole marriages have been emotionally abusive. It may seem that we are in the early stages of dealing with his A (which is accurate), but we are more in the early stages of dealing with a VERY dysfunctional relationship with two clearly dysfunctional people. Of course he lied about the A and treated me like dirt, of course I laid down and took it, what other way would we have handled it, it was a well rehearsed dance.
Just five short months ago I was still invisible, playing a supporting and very non-important role in my H's life. I have come a long way. I have a very long way to go.
的 don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well." ~ Diane Ackerman
Emotional/Psychological abuse/manipulation/vague intimidation...it's a damn hard thing to describe to people who haven't experienced it. And where do you even start? Like all forms of abuse, you don't tell anyone. It's your shameful secret that leaves you so isolated. Before his A I hadn't even necessarily realized myself what exactly had happened/was happening. It's a quiet, slow, insidious process that takes over your existence. By the time you have a clue, it's very very bad.
When push came to shove (the discovery of the A), our dynamic was solidified. I was too weak to walk, too broken to face it, too tired and dysfunctional to face, much less deal with, my own issues; so I stayed. I stayed and killed myself a little more each day trying to fix a problem I didn't create and couldn't fix. I stayed and died a little more each day to not face the problem I could fix, me.
We are not those same people today, but we have a long way to go. Will he do the work? Who knows. For now I am many steps ahead of him, time will tell where he and we end up.
If the A were not a part of our story, I can actually say I have about the best H a woman could ask for, now. But of course, we can not remove that part, or the way in which he still handles it, or more accurately doesn't handle it.
The abuse that defined the first 6-7 years of our marriage is gone, so completely removed over the last 5 years it's hard to believe it was real. For a few weeks during my epic freak out, that man attempted to make an appearance once again (boy can he just not face his A!), but I am not the same woman I used to be. I admit that for a heartbeat I almost fell right back into my 'place' the transformation back to there was so sudden and shocking, but the newer me hit me with a quick 2x4. His reaction to himself was the ONLY reason I didn't leave then, because thank God he horrified himself!
His A had one positive effect, when he chose that he went too far. I may have still had major issues to deal with, but no way was I going to take that any longer. About 1-1.5 years out from his A, he started to work on himself, at least that aspect. If not, I'm pretty sure our moment of reckoning would actually have happened much sooner.
In every aspect of our life that is not related to the A and his handling of the A afterwards, we have a great marriage. We could be amazing...and this was and is our downfall. I had reconciled to living the rest of my life with who he had worked to become. Yes, I accept the fact that this is major settling, but it's where I was. No one is perfect, we will never have a perfect partner. I was raised though to take that a major step further, suffice it to say, I didn't know any better than thinking settling was normal. Who he had worked to become was SO much better than who he used to be that I felt grateful, that asking for or wanting more seemed to be the 'wrong' way of thinking.
I know better now. See, I really have come a long way
Running out now with a friend to shop, will enjoy coming back later to read and post more.
Thank you so much to everyone who has replied, it is so cathartic to get this all out!
[This message edited by Exit Wounds at 1:34 PM, December 18th (Wednesday)]
IMO it is not a case of the grass being greener, there reaches a point where staying becomes an act of self harm. It certainly was for me whether I was willing to admit it or not.
The A can never be addressed until the abuse STOPS. There is zero chance of effectively working on A issues with an abusive partner. You have to get to the point where you're ready to face the REAL problem before you can deal with all of it's disgusting and damaging symptoms.
When I was finally strong enough to face his A and he started to go back to his awful ways as a defense, that was my aha moment. So I put down my affair related books and started down the path of abuse help books instead. The next couple of months for us were bad, really bad. I moved out of our bedroom for about 6 weeks and started to formulate a plan to leave. Finally fearing some real consequences, he went back to work figuring himself out. He had spent a very long time internally rewriting our history so facing the actual reality of it, and the horrible reality of who had been, was an extremely difficult thing for him to do. He had to accept the reality of who he was before the A, during, after, and through all of his various stages to the present. It was an ugly picture for both of us. But it was a freeing picture for me as well. My hell had a name; abuse...and it sure as shit wasn't my fault!
He comes from an abusive, culturally conservative home. He may not have hit me or our children, but he had become his father in every other sense. Trust me, this is NOT the man I agreed to marry, this is not the man than anyone but me (and I'm sure his fiance before me) has ever known. He was nice, smart, hardworking, responsible, not a womanizer, kind and a gentleman, NORMAL! He had only had sex with one other girl and took relationships, love, and above all else commitment, seriously. He was the polar opposite of my ex. We dated for 2 years before getting married. I was unbelievably unprepared for who he would turn out to be. But I was conditioned for abuse, denied the warning signs while I still had a chance to come out relatively unharmed, had a bunch of kids, quit work and stayed home, all while it slowly got worse.
I really am doing much better than it probably sounds. It is just that it is A season, the first of which I'm facing with my eyes wide open and a hell of a lot of years of hurt behind me.
I do not want to paint FWH as a monster. There were times when I surely felt that he was. During the A, it doesn't get much worse than he was, save actual physical abuse, although even then I feared it was coming. Today, if our past had never happened, I can honestly say that there isn't a whole lot about him that doesn't make him a wonderful father and husband. But our past did happen, and until he can completely own that and do the real work to repair himself and our marriage, we will fail. I have come too far in my own healing to accept even an ounce less than I deserve any longer. I would love for him to do this, but I no longer hope for it. He either will or he won't and I have nothing at all to do with that, that is his choice.
SBB, that I do agree with. Self harm is a great term for what I've been doing for the majority of our marriage. I honestly have moved past that point. I can not simply up and walk away quickly, so for now I choose to work on me. I am not actively trying to detach, but I am not actively trying to keep our attachment strong. As for my comment on the grass not always being greener, for me, it mainly just means that I've BTDT so I know there is no rush as it is not a guarantee of great things. If FWH was actively being a total POS I would have to move up that timeline.
He could go there and be whoever he wanted to be, a tired hard working family man out of town, except he was living like he was single. Me staying at home with the kids made him more attractive, he was sole provider to a lazy wife who he couldn't do enough for, big man at home and big man at work. I'm sure many of their talks were about how hard he worked, how tired he was, how much he gave me that was never enough for me, how much I didn't appreciate how good I had it, how much I just couldn't understand how difficult his life was, how much he needed, how grateful I should be with ALL of things I was given in my easy life. A man and a life she would have appreciated and never take for granted. I'm sure she expressed late into the night over their expensive drinks and dinners exactly how she'd show him that appreciation too
Too bad that was all delusional. If she could have been a fly on the wall of my home for just one day, she would have seen the real man, and it wasn't pretty.
My H and I met at work when I was a single mom to my then 5yo. I worked long, hard hours to provide for the two of us. To this day he maintains that his biggest attraction to me was how smart I was and how hard I worked, too bad he forgot that then. I know all about hard work and sacrifice, something he failed to do while he was living it up. I'm surprised the two of them didn't get fired they were up each others butts so much at work; while I was at home with FOUR kids, no help, and married to an a**hole. A man who was a prude and would rarely have sex with his wife (throughout our marriage). He had a lot of FOO issues and beliefs that gave us a terrible sex life and made me ashamed of my sexuality. This is still one of my biggest hangups with his A. No matter how bad he treated me, I never thought he would sleep with someone else, imagine my shock! He's worked through his issues and our sex life is amazing, now...what a fool!