Thanks for the support, friends. What a road we have walked-- the good news is that we have fellow travelers who can help us along our journey. Thank you all. BlackRaven-- Yes, I've seen some of Dr. Ramani's videos. It's funny, once you have spent enough time living with a narcissist, I don't think you even need to learn about it-- you just need to know that all of these things are finally given a definition. It really did help me to know that it was useless to continue- that this man literally is fueled by the attention of others and that wasn't going to change. I mean, I guess there's always a chance for a miracle, but there has never even been a glimmer of that. No empathy, just a bottomless pit. Also, no, I don't think he is a Christian. At all. I think he thinks he is. He uses the church just like he uses everything else. I think he thinks if he does something 'good', like going to work at the homeless shelter once a month, then it cancels out his emotional affairs, selfishness, and lack of empathy. No, his temple is his empty body, with muscles of a 40 year old on a face that matches his age. It's all pretty pathetic.
taken4granted-- I am going to work very hard on not knowing what he is up to. While I know he is a horrible human being, for whatever reason it has been hard to let go. And when I say let go, know that I have physically left and moved hours away from him because knew that it was going to be too painful for me to be in the same small-ish town with him. What I knew the day I found out about the last affair (6 years after the previous affair), was that he was a monster. I don't know if that is too harsh of a term, but that is what I called him, and the damage he has done to me over these past decades is one I feel only a monster can do. It's the narcissism. It is dehumanizing.
cbgrace1980-- thank you. I too, look forward to counseling. I definitely can use some tools to re-train my thought patterns and break free. I'm sorry we share the same story. It's been rough for sure.
LostInHisFog-- yes, distance is going to be key. No contact-- which he has been fine with since he is so happy he is back on the open dating market. The thing about church-- I quit going to church with him for the past six years. It was after his second affair (that I know of), and I just felt sick that he could go to church while being so deceptive. And not just go, but be an usher. That was the hard part. To me it demonstrated what I had already knew on some level, that he didn't have shame or much of a conscience. Because I moved far away, I am now able to go to my own church, and there is an authenticity that I feel in church that I haven't experienced in a long, long time. I don't feel that I am living a lie. I pretty much cry throughout the whole service, but again, it's where I'm at and it's real. I don't have to sit next to my fake husband. " start thinking "this is my sanctuary"/"I feel safe here"/"This is a beautiful space" that might give you a subconscious boost of esteem and safety that you need at this time? IDK, that is helping me at least so wanted to share." Yes, I will definitely take this advice. I really can see that a lot of the work that I need to do come from changing the voice in my head. To reframe things. My sweet brother encourages me to 'embrace it'. The good, the bad, the ugly, 'embrace it'. Considering he has walked a hard road too, I know I can trust his advice. And yes, my hair and nails-- it's just awful! I have been eating pretty good and decided the other day that I am going to make a plan to try to put myself back together a bit. I can't do much about the hair right now, but I can work on some other things in the meantime. I know that where I am at emotionally, physically that I need to focus a lot more attention on myself- in tangible ways- rather than staying in my brain and retreading all of this ground over and over and over. It's like a treadmill that is hard to get off of and I think that it is just because it had gone on for so, so long. I really feel God did not want me in that marriage one moment longer- I never doubted that leaving was the right thing to do. I didn't want to do it, and I think there was a part of me that really wanted him to want to change, but it never happened. If anything, he was colder than I have ever seen him in my life. The classic narcissist discard. As I lay very, very sick with covid, all alone in a new place with a very high fever that lasted weeks and pneumonia, I told him on the phone that I wished he would have protected me and made me feel safe. His response was that he was thinking about a girlfriend that he had before we started dating. Like 38 years ago. I felt like dying that day and am ashamed to say that I really began wishing for it. I'm still struggling, but not as low as during that time. I look forward to the day when I actually feel happy. It's been a long time. Until then, I just am going to just keep working on the things that should get me there.
I really thank you all for the support. Reaching out has been one of the things I have been proactively working on. I kept so much to myself over the past 4 decades-- really all my life. I have never known how to ask for help and there was such shame in what was going on and so I just kept trying and trying to 'fix it'. I did come to the realization that it was not my shame to bear and my husband has no shame. Over the past few months, I have had friends, old and new who didn't understand the depth of the problems in my life, step alongside me and love and support me. Sadly, I've had to move away from many, but thank goodness for technology. I joined this site, under a different name about 6 years ago, when I found out about my husband's second affair. While I didn't leave at the time, I found a lot of comfort from seeing how everyone supported each other and really helped people out of infidelity. I really feel the humanity of good people, who take time out of their lives to share what has helped them, because as we all know, this stuff is brutal.