5 Years Ago This Weekend...
This is the weekend that my wife was out of town 5 years ago where I started digging on her old phone because I didn't believe I had the REAL story. For 15 months, she had sworn up and down that it was ONLY phone calls & texts, that they had NEVER met up outside of the house (he was the contractor remodeling our master bath) and that there was NOTHING physical between them.
The digging (thank you Dr. Phone) revealed that she had been lying the entire time. They had met up. Multiple times. It had been physical.
D-day v2.0 was better than v1.0, though. There was no shouting. No anger. No outbursts. I just sat and listened-in silence-as she responded to my "confrontation". I had simply printed out the recovered text strings and laid them on her pillow for her to see when she had gotten home. I never said a word.
Over the years, this "segment" has gotten easier. I had hopes that it would merely "come and go" this year. Those were dashed on Friday night.
As some of you know, AP is part of the same Tae Kwon Do center where my youngest studies. Typically, he takes the classes at our gym (AP is never there) and does his sparring on Thursday nights (AP is not at the center on Thursdays).
But, because I had a speaking engagement on Thursday evening and Mrs. Cap had a migraine that day, we had to do the Friday sparring.
I expected that AP would be there. Not the worst thing in the world, since he is often at the belt testing as one of the judges. I am able to sit in the back of the gym, focus on my youngest, and generally not be bothered.
But last night was just one reminder after another. AP was assigned to work with the group my youngest was in. I had to watch the interaction all evening. At one point in the sparring, my little guy brought over what I thought was his belt that had come off to have me hold onto it. Turns out, he has picked up another kid's belt (who was looking for it at night's end). AP actually had to come up to me and point out that I was holding the kid's belt.
As I pointed out on Dorothy's post regarding physical violence, had this been 5 years ago, I couldn't have been in that room, let alone carrying. Yesterday, however, was a 180° different story. I didn't get upset (internally or externally). I merely looked up, looked him in the eye when I was addressed, told the kid "Oh, sorry dude" handed him his belt, and went back to what I had been doing.
In that brief moment, I could see how uncomfortable he was having to speak to me. That was a warm fuzzy.
But still, I had hoped to not have things quite so front and center. Obviously, it is on my mind moreso than I had hoped, otherwise I wouldn't be posting about it.
But, for those who are fairly new in this game, I wanted to pass along hope. Hope that the sting does dull over time. Hope that you can bump into the AP without a visceral response. Hope is available.
13 comments posted: Saturday, March 18th, 2023
One More Thing...
After 2 mammograms and an additional 2 ultrasounds, the doc concluded that there are a couple of cysts (not tumors) and all is well for now. There will be new imaging done in 6 months to check for any changes/new growth. That's the plus side. Stressful part is that this is EXACTLY what Mrs. Cap's mom was told as well. At her 6 month follow up, it was determined that she nor only had cancer, but that it was stage 4. Here's to the imaging and understanding having come a long way in the last 30 years.
The last 6 months have been a virtual roller coaster. It was about 6 months ago that I nearly died because of a staph infection. I spent 2 weeks in a hospital in a different state, hundreds of miles away from anyone I knew. The staph flipped my genetic switch for being a Type I diabetic & aside from the new daily regimine of insulin & finger sticking (and trying to get an atrial clot that the staph also caused to dissolve), it's pretty much back to normal.
Today, my wife came home from her doc appointment having gone over bloodwork. Nothing out of the ordinary except being low with estrogen levels. The doc was getting ready to prescribe estrogen for her but then decided to look at her thermogram.
He said that they needed to hold off on the estrogen. Based on the thermography, it appeared as though she has "quite a bit" "vascular development" going on. Which means that a diagnostic mammogram was called in for scheduling to see what can be detected.
She's the same age that her mom was when her breast cancer became aggressive. Her mom passed about 5 years later.
We had a nice conversation. She told me that she was sorry for putting all her energy and focus into the kids over the years because she was afraid that she would end up dying when they were young. She wasn't sorry that she poured into them, but that she did so at the neglect of me and our relationship. She again apologized for her A, all that she has put me through, etc.
So, we add it to the pile. One more thing to an already stressful life. Hopefully the mammogram comes back and all is well. But even if it doesn't, I know we will be fine. Stress just sucks sometimes...
23 comments posted: Thursday, January 12th, 2023
Crazy Dream ***trigger warning***
After almost 6 years, I had my first A-related dream last night. The family was staying in some sort of mountain lodge. I had come inside from being out in the snow. Kids were all in bed. I checked on them and then went to the living room area where there was a fire going and the lights were down low.
I walked in and Mrs. Cap was sitting in someone's lap in a high-back chair. Couldn't see a face,but knew it was a male she was sitting on. He kissed her neck. She turned & looked directly at me, smiled at what she was about to do...that smile that says "I know what I'm doing and don't care that Im doing it right in front of you", and then started kissing him back.
Woke up right then with that familiar "terrified" feeling. I have no doubts about her fidelity these days. That was just one messed up dream...I feel for everyone who has to deal with those on a more regular basis. I'm still a bit shaken. Woof!
8 comments posted: Sunday, November 27th, 2022
I've changed...and I don't know if I like it...
Only a couple of folks here know this, but I nearly died 6 weeks ago tonight.
After dropping my oldest off at college, I tried driving home (about 800 miles), but was so worn down (I thought I was probably dehydrated) that I couldn't make it more than a couple of hours without having to stop and rest. I called my wife and asked her to get me a hotel room in the town I was in. She got me a room, but she also called an Uber to take me to the hospital.
What happened next is still mostly a fog, but the ER doc's report said "The critical care time was performed to assess and manage the high probability of imminent, life-threatening deterioration that could result in multi-organ failure."
I spent two weeks hooked up to various IVs and being poked & prodded every 4 to 6 hours. Let me tell you...that sucks!
Ultimately, it was discovered that I had a staph infection that landed in a variety of places & ways. It settled into my lower back (which could have rendered me paralyzed from the waist down). It created a small clot in the upper right atrium of my heart. It flipped the genetic switch on Type I diabetes (both grandparents on my mom's side were Type I).
I have only a few more days of my at-home antibiotic treatments (have had a PICC line in the last 6 weeks). I have a lifetime of insulin ahead of me. And I've had many medical folks, from docs & nurses at the hospital where I was at to folks that are part of my friend network, tell me that if I had not gone to the hospital that Sunday night, I most likely wouldn't have awakened on this planet Monday morning.
Near death makes a man think. A lot. And it changes him as well. In my case, it.has changed me in two distinct ways. One way, I like. The other, not as much.
I believe that I'm still here because there is work that I need to complete. Not just work as a dad or in my line of business. Ministry-type work. I don't 100% know what that is yet, I just know that it isn't done.
The other way that I've changed is that I find myself being a lot less inclined to deal with anyone's BS. I have found myself more willing to cut people loose and walk away rather than try to "work it out". I've become more blunt about various things (emulating Unhinged most times), especially when there's no rhyme or reason for whatever garbage is being pushed/promoted/spewed. And this isn't a keyboard warrior, social media thing. It's face-to-face, real life stuff.
I don't like it. And I don't know how to turn it off. Stupid things just piss me off more now than they ever did before.
And the scary part is that I've become MUCH more blunt with Mrs. Cap. She had made a comment about not feeling like her acts of service towards me were being appreciated because that's her love language. I plainly said "But it isn't mine. Why would you think that I would feel loved by you using things that make YOU feel loved? It's like trying to tell me how much you care, but instead of English, you're speaking Mandarin. How in the Hell am I supposed to understand if you aren't speaking a language I understand?"
That led to a blowup about how I don't appreciate all she does, etc.
I need to talk to my IC to figure out how to fix my bluntness before it blows something up in my face.
42 comments posted: Sunday, October 9th, 2022
You Can't Make Them Change
Not that this is a surprise to anyone, but you really can't. You can hope. You can lay down expectations. You can set boundaries. But the only one who can make the change is them.
I have waited 5+ years to see any TRUE changes in Mrs. Cap. The MC we are still with, that we started seeing 18 months ago, has helped considerably. She has held Mrs. Cap's feet to the fire, has dug deeper to find issues pre-A, has not let Mrs. Cap off the hook when it comes to empathy. In short...she's good...REALLY good.
The last few sessions, we have covered my stuff, my low "connection" numbers (higher than the 0-1 from a few months back, but still not generally above a 5), and have been getting to the heart of the issues.
Yesterday, we talked about the times across the last 28 years where I have been scrutinized at the molecular level, nitpicked to the extreme, held to impossible standards with the "bare minimum" being absolute perfection. I talked about the feelings of unfairness, of feeling unloved & unwanted.
And for the first time in the MANY years of off and on MC, Mrs. Cap cried. She cried and she actually said "The reason you feel like the villain is because that's what I did. I did do all those things."
(FYI, she had NEVER admitted to doing any of that before, always saying that it was my misperception).
Then she did some things that even further shocked me. She said "I was a terrible person then. I am so sorry that I did that to you for so many years. I can't believe that I allowed myself to do that to you. To go through all of that, capped off by my A and then how I continued to treat you afterwards...that is more than anyone should have to bear. I can't imagine the burden that must have been to carry. I don't ever want to do that to you again. Will you forgive me?"
And I thought...who are you and what did you do with Mrs. Cap?
She didn't deny anything. She went on to talk about what she was feeling through those years (not defending anything, just saying things about her bitterness and anger and, on some level, hatred of me...that was hard to hear) how she did everything she could to tear me down.
And unlike times past, she did it with remorse, with what looked like true sorrow, not driven by shame, but driven by actual care about what she had done, who she had been, and what she wants to show up like now.
It was a peek into the cha ges she has been working on in herself.
And it felt good.
33 comments posted: Wednesday, July 13th, 2022
And then, it clicked...
The last (roughly) three weeks have been an interesting ride. If I use the MC session from 3 weeks ago as the starting point, what was basically 1 1/2 days later, something in Mrs. Cap "clicked".
We had a conversation the next day about her countenance, her being silent (for roughly 24 hours) and the unfair expextations placed on me (you should do X for me because I didn't do X for you and you know how that felt).
As I went through the "your reasoning is a bunch of selfish BS" response, something in her changed. The look in her eyes was different. It seemed as if someone totally different was inhabiting her body. She immediately stopped her "woe is me" and had a look of concern on her face. She opened up and said that what she had done, how she had treated me was horrible. She lost all concern for herself and was sad about how she had treated me. She used the phrase "I can't believe I was that kind of monster." She seemed genuinely heartbroken about having treated me like garbage, yet asking for grace in how she was being treated.
I have to say, I'd never seen that before. Ever. As in for 33+ years kind of ever. I was shocked.
Since then, we've had 2 more MC sessions. At last week's session, she thanked me for not walking away and not giving up. This week, she apologized for the "stolen years" as I had called it, as well as for being my harshest critic throughout the years.
She apologized for not responding the way I needed after her A. She apologized for all the hiding & lying that happened.
She told me that she was sorry for ignoring my pain, for minimizing it, and frankly, for not caring about having inflicted it.
And that is just the MC sessions.
Over that time frame, Mrs. Cap has smiled. She has been intentional about touch & words of affirmation. She has genuinely shown care about my stress levels, the causes, etc.
It's a totally different person at my house.
One of the biggest things is that she hasn't run away or gotten silent when I've voiced my concerns about whether this is real or an act. And I have voiced that concern. Multiple times.
She has said that she understands why I would be wary and that she is going to keep showing up to demonstrate that consistency over time.
And for the first time in years (yes, plural, and not exaggerated) she said "I love you."
That hit hard. My initial internal reaction (not surprisingly) was "I don't believe you." I didn't say it out loud. But I thought it.
And she continued with "I don't expect you to believe that. I wouldn't if the roles were reversed. But I do. And I want to show you that every day."
There have been discussions regarding the sadness she feels for the pain inflicted and the things that I still struggle with. There have been discussions where she has asked what she can do to help with my sadness/stress/whatever is going on.
This woman has NEVER shown up this way for this long before.
I don't know what happened with Mrs. Cap. I don't know how things clicked. I simply don't know.
But I'm not jumping out to grab on to hope, either. There is a glimmer that I have allowed. Everything is still being viewed with a wary eye. But that wary eye is open to trust IF there is consistency over time.
I've seen the "I'm all better" movie before. I know the facade doesn't last long.
I'm open to the possibility that it has clicked, for real, this time. Time will tell.
But I can tell you this: it has been close to 20 years since she went to a baseball game with me. She's never gone to one since we moved from the Chicago suburbs 15 years ago.
But she went with me this past Sunday (yes, we did Easter at Coors Field). And she said she enjoyed it. She liked being with me at a place where I found joy. And she wants to go back. And she wants to plan a trip to Chicago so I can go back to Wrigley Field (haven't watched a game there in 15 years). She wants to see me enjoy things AND she wants to share in the experience.
I don't know what clicked or how with that discussion. But I am looking for that consistency over time. Three weeks in, and she has shown up every day thus far.
25 comments posted: Tuesday, April 19th, 2022
Five Year Insights
This week marks 5 years from D-Day v1.0. I could not have imagined then what those 60 months would look like (or, quite frankly, how LONG they would really be).
For those who have followed, you've ridden the ups & downs, you've seen the hopes and the hopes dashed, you've listened to me gripe and complain, be at my lowest and my best. Thank you for taking that ride with me. To quote the late, great Jerry Garcia...what a long, strange trip it's been...
So, what have I learned thus far?
1. Whatever you think your time frame is for recovery, you're wrong. I thought "I'll beat that 2-5 years thing. Nope, didn't happen.
B. You can't reconcile by yourself. It takes two. Every. Single. Time.
III. You can't make your WS get it, no matter how hard you beat them over the head with it. Best to detach and work on yourself. That was a long, hard lesson I had to learn. Thanks for sticking with me on that one, Unhinged.
4. Give yourself grace & time to heal. Powering through a 22 hour road trip is one thing. Taking care of yourself while in the midst of this storm is another entirely. Healing is messy. It leaves a lot of scars. Those may or may not lead to a good story someday.
🖐. Not all IC/MCs are created the same. I've had experience with both all over the spectrum. Bad ICs make things worse (we are still unraveling things from my wife's first IC who convinced her that I was abusing her and she needed to leave immediately...because I yelled at her when she sent a text that said "Heartsick. Miss you." just 2 days after D-Day v1.0. Our original MC agreed that it was "abusive". The current MC laid out the difference between "abusive" and "traumatic". She's doing a great job working with Mrs. Cap to understand the difference. My current IC is also working with me on a variety of things, including being able to trust again. I'm quite grateful for our current counseling lineup. Experience truly does matter.
F. There are going to be some great internet strangers along the way that you will eventually call friends. Oldwounds, sisoon, ISSF, DaddyDom, W2BHA, and many others, you have walked alongside so wonderfully over these years. I cannot say thank you enough. And even an old RiverChicken fan like Unhinged can be a great guy to watch a ballgame with at 20th & Blake.
VII. Patience is a virtue...but it does ebb and flow. I've had patience. I've lost patience. I've had to get it back. Then I've had to change focus to regain a new patience. Dealing with your wife's A, especially with a story that changes/trickles out over 24 months isn't a straight line. Messy, messy, messy. It takes a lot of work, a lot of stamina, a lot of perseverance...and a lot of SI support to walk that path.
8. You will want to quit. More than once. And that's OK. We all get tired. This stuff wears you out, even if you have a perfectly remorseful WS from day 1. It's exhausting mentally, physically, emotionally & spiritually. Be kind to you. Eat. Sleep. Exercise. Cry. Vent
Rest when possible. Be good to you. You're the only you that you have.
I. When there's a REAL change in your WS, you will know it. It won't look or feel forced. It will be at a core level. They will be 100%, 180° different. You won't have to guess.
X. And sometimes...they are incapable of change. That is the one thing our first MC said that has actually resonated with me the entire time. What if Mrs. Cap CAN'T change? What if she is incapable? I didn't truly understand what was being asked, nor could I understand what the MC meant at the time. Now I understand. We are two broken people. One of us made the stupidest, most hurtful decision of their life. The real reconciliation is about what am I willing to accept and what glasses will I be wearing? They won't be those old rose-colored ones (moment of silence for Betty White...aka Rose Nyland), but they can be filled with either grace or bitterness. And I get to choose each day which ones I pick up.
There are many more things I have learned along the path. It's full of turns, potholes, detours & puddles. Sometimes you trudge forward slowly, sometimes it feels like a racecourse. Either way, it is an adventure, so enjoy the company of your fellow SI travelers along the way. Bear one another's burdens when possible. Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes!
24 comments posted: Tuesday, January 4th, 2022
Sometimes I'm So Confused...
New MC session again today. It's as if last week never really existed.
Session started with MC saying that she didn't actually check in with me at the end of the last session, knew that Mrs. Cap had thrown a lot at me, and wanted to know how I was doing.
Told her that I felt pretty beaten up and downhearted. Felt like I got blindsided by things that I never knew were issues and that I got painted as the villain. Said that, deep down, it felt like we were right back to where we were pre-A.
MC said that was what she was afraid had probably happened. Mrs. Cap told the "story" that I had left without saying anything. I corrected it to say that I did leave, I did tell Mrs. Cap that I was leaving. When asked where I was headed, I answered "Not sure. I just need to get away and process things." Mrs. Cap then had an a-ha moment and remembered that I did, in fact, say that I was leaving for some alone time.
At one point in the session, I brought up how I wasn't able to talk about painful issues because Mrs. Cap runs away from them and how that further destroys any semblance of connection. Mrs. Cap said "I won't run away, I want to be able to support you."
MC asked "what was that look about?" [Because yes, I flashed a look]
I said "That's odd because last week you said that you didn't feel safe discussing anything with me unless we were in session, and just one week before that, you made the statement that you aren't willing to talk about anything. So that look was one of 'I don't believe a word that was just said.' Basically, I'm not a believer in that statement."
MC said "That's fair. You have good reason not to trust what has been said."
MC then looked at Mrs. Cap and said "There is a lot of pain still in him. The only way this gets resolved is if you are willing to sit, to listen, to not be defensive, to not make excuses, to be willing to not use his pain against him. You need to simply be present, to hear his heart speak, and to recognize that you caused it. You can't say 'yeah,but...' You can't say 'well, you...' And you can't say 'that was the old me.'
Then, the MC went on to say that if Mrs. Cap has actually changed, then her actions need to show it. She can't just say "but I'm different on the inside" because the same bad actions with "different" motives are still bad actions.
Mrs. Cap finished up the session saying that she was sorry for how she held me out as the bad guy last week, that she didn't mean for it to go that way, and that she was glad that I was willing to come back and share. Then she told the MC the EXACT thing I posted last week...she can't go that long between sessions again. I just shook my inner head (because I couldn't ACTUALLY do that in session).
Had to table the discussion about our sex life until 2 weeks out. MC suggested that we go back to 90 minutes because 60 leaves too many loose ends.
12 comments posted: Monday, October 4th, 2021
Too Long Between Sessions
A very frustrating MC session today. It has been 8 weeks between sessions for us (and I don't know how many weeks between IC session for Mrs. Cap...I go every 2 weeks for mine) because of COVID, delivering a kid to college and just a general lack of actually making it a priority (Mrs. Cap, not me, I asked every few days if she rescheduled).
Eight weeks is definitely too long for her to go in between sessions. Today, I was back to being the villain in her story. She's too afraid to talk to me because I voice opinions on things like bad drivers and people making non-sensical decisions. She won't be physically affectionate and pursue me because I have "objectified" her sexually (nevermind that we only have sex once every 10-12 weeks and she always has an excuse as to why she wants a "raincheck"). And she doesn't feel like connecting because I don't say "I love you".
I'm tired of being the villain. I'm tired of the round and round about how horrible I am as a husband. I'm tired of always being the scapegoat.
31 comments posted: Monday, September 27th, 2021
Sad & Frustrated: A Dialog
Today was a very long day. I generally try to have 10 business/client meetings throughout my week. I did 5 of those today. A week after getting over COVID. I'm exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally.
It's been several weeks since our last MC session (we were 2-3 weeks between, but COVID canceled our session last week & it isn't on the calendar for the next one yet). I would say that there has been a fair amount of growth since we re-started MC earlier this year. Tonight's dialog is a good example.
Getting home after 8, my wife could see that I was clearly worn out. She also asked if I was sad about anything. I told her yes, I'm sad. She asked if it was about her. I said more or less. She asked what that meant.
Me: Three of my five meetings today all told me the infidelity stories in their lives.
Mrs. Cap: I'm sorry. Ill bet that was hard.
Me: It was. The hardest part is not being able to show empathy. I'd love to be able to say "I'm so sorry. I know that must have been hard on you." but I can't do that. I have to sit there with my poker face on. Otherwise, I know that they will be able to read it all over my face as well.
MC: I'm sorry that you can't connect with your clients because of what I did.
Me: I know. It's just one of those unintended consequences.
I will say that Mrs. Cap handled that 1000x better than she used to. A. she had an actual conversation about it, and 2. she didn't find some way to blame me or to defend herself. Definite progress there. But, onto the real purpose of my writing this evening.
I hate those unintended consequences. It just sucks that there are so many things that we as the BS have to deal with, all because of the choices our WS made with absolutely no regard for us whatsoever. It's frustrating and all part of that sandwich we are force-fed. Just once, I'd like to have life say "you know what Cap...I'm giving you a break on this one." Maybe there are breaks I don't know about or realize. But dadgummit, I just want that break shown to me at some point.
Yes, I'm tired. I'm exhausted, really. I need to sleep. But today took a lot out of me.
17 comments posted: Thursday, August 26th, 2021
Today's Session: Unbelievable...
Years ago when I was teaching my marketing students, I told them that the perfect answer to questions like "How are sales?" or "How is business?" is to respond with "Unbelievable."
Could be unbelievably good, could be unbelievably bad. Who knows? But it's unbelievable, regardless.
So, that's the word I use to describe our MC session today. Unbelievable. In this case, unbelievable in a good way.
I discussed how being "opportunistic" in discussing things comes across as minimizing whatever I have brought up to tell me how I should be better at approaching conversations.
This eventually moved into a conversation about my hesitancy to discuss anything because for 20-something years, the typical response has been to minimize and steamroll.
The MC turned to Mrs. Cap and asked if that was her recollection. To my utter amazement, she answered "actually, it was probably worse than that."
Mrs. Cap then went on to describe in detail how she would look for a weak spot and then exploit it to the Nth degree, finding ways to tear me down and crush my spirit.
I was shocked. For the first time in however many years, I wasn't the only one in this reality. Not only could someone else see it, but she flat out confessed to DOING it.
She talked about how she did everything she could to tear my self-confidence to the ground and that she recognized that her affair absolutely razed anything I had built up over all the years.
She owned it. And not just from a minimized "I did some things that weren't right..." perspective that is her MO. This was an "I've come to understand that everything I was supposed to be as a wife...I did the exact opposite...and I did it on purpose..." confession.
She had great sorrow in her eyes. She apologized in ways I've never heard her apologize before. Specific. Owned. Heartfelt. Recognizing the depths of the knife stabbing over and over and over.
For the first time in a long, long time, I truly felt seen. This wasn't a "poor me, I was a bad person" thing. No, this was an "I have hurt you for such a long time. I can't begin to even ask forgiveness. What I have been was such a horrible person and I can't begin to imagine just how deeply I have caused pain, not just from the A, but in all the years prior."
I must have had some look on my face, because the MC said "What are you feeling right now? Because it looks like shock."
Yeah. I am shocked. Because I never thought I would hear anything like that.
At one point, we had discussed the Codependent/Narcissist scale that goes from -5 (CoD) to +5 (Narc). My wife said "For most of our marriage...I'd give myself a +5...or more...especially when I was stramrolling him about everything." I'm better now. More like a +1.5.
What!?! She RECOGNIZED that behavior?
That was the point when the session ended & the MC said that we will pick up from there the next time.
So, yes, today's session was unbelievable.
39 comments posted: Thursday, July 29th, 2021