The "new normal" is settling in. We had an interesting evening last night that I would like to share. Started when Mr Psych came home and reminded me that he had an appointment to meet with his IC for a "closure" type session. Last meeting between them was over 2 months ago, maybe longer. Asked me to ride with him and we'd go out afterward.
I went shopping during his session then picked him up afterward. We decided to take a walk near a downtown lake and ended up stopping for a drink, then to another location for another drink and dinner. It was a lovely night. Conversation turned to his affairs, of course. But it was different this time. While I did feel my anxiety rise at different points, I told him this and it felt honest and genuine and felt like a bit of closure for he and I as well.
Some of the things we talked about included our "awakening" as a couple as well as as individuals. Those who know me from here know my backstory, in that our M was on life support, barely surviving. I had checked out, and once he entered into the EA with the younger COW he checked out as well. His awakening was to discover why betraying me and his own integrity was his solution to his unhappiness. My awakening was to discover why I accepted the lousy M, the factors that lead me to withdraw from him. But the one thread that we both held on to was that at our core, we both still loved one another. We just didn't know how to build and keep a healthy relationship. That was our FOO issues to work through, that was the grieving we both did alone and together for the lost years, the dysfunction we raised our DD in.
So we spoke of how fortunate we are that we "awoke". Again, I stated my happiness with where we are, but my intense displeasure for how we got here. The reality is, however, without his Affairs as the blaring alarm, we would likely still be asleep, lying to ourselves, unsure why we are unhappy and unclear how to change things. His infidelity forced us to put it all on the table, even when we didn't know what to do with half of it. I used the puzzle analogy a lot. The pieces that fit, the ones that did not. I used to drive myself crazy trying to fit pieces of the A-story in that just didn't work. And usually it was because there was a flaw in the story he told me, more to be uncovered. And that is much how our R went early on, the "work" part of it. Him learning to be honest and share all the hard truths with me, me learning to not react defensively at each new revelation, but to absorb it, to see how this new information fit into the narrative I was creating about what had happened and how we got to this place.
One thing Mr Psych told me that struck me is that being happy with where he is now is easy because there is nothing from the past that he felt he gave up or had to compromise on. He never really fit into that world, despite it filling his needs for attention and affection during those nearly 4 years (the last year was the one with the 2 consecutive sexual affairs). So there are no regrets about the past except that it occurred. No wishful thinking about what might have been. No wondering if his life would have been better had he made the choice not to R. I know in my heart that this is where he wants to be. Where he always wanted to be. But to know how far he strayed will likely always haunt me to some degree.
But it made me take a deeper look at the man I married. To really see him, inside him, to know what makes him tick. I had glimpses and ideas about that earlier in our M, but we never talked about it. I filled in the gaps of my knowledge not with facts, but with my own answers. Similarly, I did this with the narrative of his affairs as well. And we talked about that last night, too. So we rehashed a few things that we've gone over numerous times, but with the new goal of me listening and allowing his words to fill in my gaps, rather than me assume I know why he did such and such, what he must have been feeling, etc. I consciously made my mind blank so I could take it in. And it occurred to me that in the past I would ignore some of what he said because it didn't "fit" because honestly, I didn't want to know it. Because it hurt, because it revealed things about his feelings and actions that my brain didn't want to accept. But I'm ready now to accept things that early on I brushed aside or ignored. Nothing earth changing, thankfully. But just knowing how my mind played tricks on me has been eye opening. Just as a wayward rationalizes their reality, I think I as a BS have done the same. Rationalized information about the A and about my H to make it more palatable. Less hurtful.
I shared with him that I recently had a dream in which I walked into a restaurant and found him and OW2 talking at a table. In my dream, I lost it and screamed hateful things at both of them. In my dream he tried to calm me by telling me he was only there because she reached out when she received some devastating health news (like maybe she was terminal). In my dream, and now also in reality, I told him that if that was the case we were done, because I need 100% of him, and no one else can have even 1%. If he's not in this 100% for me alone, I want nothing. And I believe that is my truth. It's always been my truth. Hence the devastation of DDay and the discoveries.
All in all, it was a beautiful evening. Not without a few tears, but they were the good kind of tears. Mostly from Mr Psych as he processed yet again the harm he caused through his actions. Not only harm to me and our DD, but harm to himself. His apologies were heartful and specific. Not the generic "I'm so sorry, Psych". But the kind that specifically identify the physical and emotional betrayal perpetrated. Sometimes it's still risky for us to drink, and having 2 drinks was a bit usual nowadays. It once would throw fuel on the flame and blow into a huge fight about the past with all the hurts and anger surfacing without any restraint. I felt a bit of those old feelings under the surface at times, but was this time was able to push those feelings aside and again simply listen.
For me, this is what R looks like. Mr Psych told his IC that this is the most content with himself he's felt possibly ever. He took off the mask, he's revealed his true self, and he now has the life he's always believed he wanted. Nothing fancy, nothing too exciting. Nothing to hide. And with a wife who his nearly 60 years old. He mentioned that it's my wisdom and strength and ability to have endured all I have over the past 4 years that has really opened his eyes to who I am and the role I play in his life. He knows what he owes me because of the risk I took on him, the opportunity I gave him. Before DDay I didn't always reveal these parts of myself, they were always there, but only when I found myself struggling with the betrayal did they come forward to guide me. So as much as Mr Psych has "fixed" himself over the past 4 years, I, too, have fixed a few things of my own. I have a ways yet to go, but that's a story for another day.