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Newest Member: Beschaedigt

Just Found Out :
H is a complete stranger with a second life.

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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 7:29 PM on Friday, October 7th, 2022

But if I see myself as that one real thing, then I always have that solid foundation. It's painful beyond belief. I have never EVER wanted to be a solitary lighthouse, I wanted to be yin and yang with my husband. But I'm not, I've never been. So if what's left of solidity in my life is me, then that's what's in my control and it absolutely IS in my control.

I know you've all been telling me this. It's just somehow in the therapist's office with the cards it was right in front of my face.

Sometimes it just takes the right framing, but yes.. well done! That was a really eloquent way to put it too. I think the index card idea was a good one as well because it really does make your decision process a physical one. You've literally got something in your hand that needs to be sorted into a pile and it's no longer a nebulous thought floating around without substance. Very well done indeed! smile

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)Married 38 years; in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

posts: 6167   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8758650
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beauchateaux ( member #57201) posted at 11:05 PM on Friday, October 7th, 2022

We so often hear on these boards about therapists fall way short of the mark and just don’t seem to get it, but I have to say - yours sounds like a gem.

The lighthouse analogy is beautiful. And if you take it further and think about it in a broader context, your son is trying to steer his own little ship through this storm.

You are the lighthouse that will see him through this. As a mother of three, I adore that.

I edit pretty much every post because I always hit submit and then think of 'one more thing' to say.

posts: 315   ·   registered: Jan. 31st, 2017   ·   location: Chicago
id 8758680
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fareast ( Guide #61555) posted at 11:22 PM on Friday, October 7th, 2022

Good luck with the difficult days ahead. Your therapist is very wise and I love the lighthouse analogy. If you read here you will see so many BS struggle with the same insight as their reality falls apart due to infidelity. You haven’t changed. You are still the great partner and mother you have always been. Good luck moving forward.

Never bother with things in your rearview mirror. Your best days are on the road in front of you.

posts: 3353   ·   registered: Nov. 24th, 2017
id 8758681
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swmnbc ( member #49344) posted at 4:21 AM on Saturday, October 8th, 2022

It actually kills me that his OW, who wrote to me outing their relationship, told me that he said he was in a happy marriage. He also posted that on his cheating chat group, that he was in a good marriage. To me it means that there isn't a single thing that he was even using to justify his affairs, just the fact that he wanted to and considered himself to not be monogamous. It's chilling to me. From the beginning the one thing that clicked into place was that this is who he is, not something he did.

I hear you, and I agree. I really can't comprehend being "happy" while I'm disregarding the desires, expectations, and well-being of the person I'm supposed to care about most. It's chilling because it indicates a total lack of . . . something fundamental to the human experience. Not only that, but it indicates an ability to feign those qualities convincingly. It's sinister. It's beyond your average, boiler-plate cheating. I'm sure this is a lottery you never wanted to win.

What's clear is that he was a really convincing facsimile of a devoted family man and husband. You must not blame yourself for not seeing what he was. Were you supposed to think, "Ah yes, we have a nice home life and my husband really seems to care about me and our son, but maybe he is just play-acting while he lives some sordid double life?" Of course not. Because even though that turned out to be the tragic truth, it's just so out of left field. I do believe that a lot of people have affairs. A lot of people have unresolved issues. But I think that it's rare for a person to have a lack of empathy combined with a shrewd understanding of what other people expect and an ability to emulate that.

Going back over your past knowing now what you didn't know then . . . I'm sure little by little realizations of what he was really doing will come to you. With 17 years worth of betrayal you will have a lot of memories to reconcile. Hopefully your IC can help you with that. But as you said so eloquently, you remain solid and unchanging in the midst of his chaos. You were always an authentic, whole person in this story. You were not play acting. So you have nothing to regret or reprove yourself of. You just have an awful lot of shit to wade through, or not. You get to spend as much or as little time and energy going back over things as you want and need.

I wish I could end this note on some kind of rah rah rah, you go girl high note, but that feels forced. I'll just say that while he has turned out to be the absolute opposite of trust-worthy, your trust in yourself has never been misplaced.

posts: 1822   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2015
id 8758702
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BigMammaJamma ( member #65954) posted at 2:48 PM on Tuesday, October 11th, 2022

How are things progressing, Sigyn? You getting things checked off your list? How is your son holding up?

Me- born in 1984
Him- born in 1979
We both have 3 kids from previous marriages and we share a four year old. I might be a BS, but at this point, I don't know if I'll ever know.

Update: As of 5/8/2020, my WH confirmed I belong in this club

posts: 254   ·   registered: Aug. 23rd, 2018   ·   location: Deep in the Heart of Texas
id 8759063
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josiep ( member #58593) posted at 3:44 PM on Tuesday, October 11th, 2022

Thinking of you and hoping you're doing well.

A couple of things others wrote that bear repeating:

If you read here you will see so many BS struggle with the same insight as their reality falls apart due to infidelity. You haven’t changed. You are still the great partner and mother you have always been. Good luck moving forward.

I'll just say that while he has turned out to be the absolute opposite of trust-worthy, your trust in yourself has never been misplaced.

BW, was 67; now 73; M 45 yrs., T 49 yrs.
DDay#1, 1982; DDay#2, May, 2017. D July, 2017

posts: 3161   ·   registered: May. 5th, 2017
id 8759075
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DobleTraicion ( member #78414) posted at 12:11 AM on Saturday, October 15th, 2022

I trust you are doing as well as you are able under the circumstances Sygin, I truly do.

"You'd figure that in modern times, people wouldn't feel the need to get married if they didn't agree with the agenda"

~ lascarx

posts: 92   ·   registered: Mar. 2nd, 2021   ·   location: South
id 8759668
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 Sigyn (original poster member #80576) posted at 4:51 PM on Monday, October 17th, 2022

Hi all thanks for all of the continued thoughts, advice and just being here and getting everything I'm going through. I have a good system at home but none of them have been through this or really get the massive sickening emotional vertigo that comes with it.

As far as an update, my attorney and I drafted a separation agreement. We don't have legal separation in our state but we do have the ability to draft a financial and custodial agreement for separation that can be used as a template in divorce. I was set to hand it to WH during a talk earlier last week and I backed out of the talk entirely because I wanted to feel strong and resolved and I had nonstop dreams the night before in which WH loved me again, held me and reassured me that we'd get through this together. All of the things I've wanted him to say in real life, but he never has. I woke up feeling heartbroken and desperate for him to hold me gently and talk to me with love. The strongest thing I did that day was cancel our talk. He would have picked up on my need and he might have even held me and said what I needed to hear. But I knew it wouldn't be real. I would have caved and felt weak and had to go through the pain of letting him go again.

So I read back over the OW's messages to me and the pictures and screengrabs she sent, the 'timeline' WH gave me weeks ago that was filled with nothing, lies, admissions of things like thought crimes and no admission of any of the things I'd asked for or knew about. I wanted to get back to that anger stage I'd been feeling but it just broke my heart all over again. I loved him so so much. Just spent the day in disbelief again that all of my love, our home, our family, our life together was not even close to enough for him.

Woke up one morning later that week and was like: this is the day. I wasn't angry, just sad and resolved. Those days of being heartbroken I think were necessary? I don't know, I just felt emptied out inside and I think that was okay. I asked WH to take off of work, I did too and I sat across the table from him and asked him to tell me one thing (something specific I already had proof of, it doesn't matter what) and he again denied it and that felt like confirmation to me of my own path forward.

I handed him the envelope with the financial and custodial documents in it and he absolutely lost it. He saw the lawyer's return address on the envelope and before he even opened it he immediately admitted what I'd just asked him. I told him it doesn't matter, if it took inclusion of an attorney for him to be honest with his wife then who even is he? This is who he is. He's a man who is incapable of being honest. Probably even with himself. I'm sorry for him. I would hate to be him.

As some of you predicted, this is when more of the truth came out. He cried a lot, looked at the legal papers without really seeing them while crying, admitted to various things I knew about and some I didn't. Admitted he was fucked up in the head. Begged me to help him. Begged me to help him be a better man, husband, father. Apologized over and over. For the first time he said he's sorry he hurt me, sorry he lied to me. But then he said "If you told me you did these things to me, it would have hurt me badly. So I didn't tell you" as if his lies and denial were something he did FOR ME. To save my feelings somehow. I wonder if he even believes what he's saying as he's saying it. That he heroically remained quiet while I was begging him for answers, while I was crying and begging him to tell me one real thing, one honest fact about himself - all so that he wouldn't hurt me. I can't fathom the picture he has of himself in his mind if he believes that was in any way 'for me'.

I let him confess a lot of things until he wound down and then he asked again for marriage counseling, and I told him I needed space and time and to see how he handled this current situation before I agreed to it. I don't currently have any intention of going, but I want him to keep telling me things and I want him to agree to the very simple financial and custodial separation agreement.

I also told him I wanted to see him in therapy for himself, as our son and I are both doing, and he agreed to that and said he'd already seen his old therapist. I think he would have agreed to anything in that moment so we'll see if any of this sticks when his tears dry. And then I told him that we needed to focus on our son now and back off of focusing on each other or our marriage. Let's make some choices right now that are directed at son's health and safety and sense of security. We talked about that for the remainder of the talk, and WH left with the envelope in hand. He was totally deflated, just had tears streaming nonstop and kept saying "This is surreal. This is all just surreal. I can't believe this."

The part about focusing on our son right now was a suggestion of my therapist and it really worked well. It made WH and I some kind of team rather than the opponents we have been. He could hardly say no to that and also I think we both really meant it. WH has been on the surface a highly involved father day to day, moreso than most of our friends with kids.

I feel lifeless and deflated. I forgot that somewhere in there I asked WH to start looking for a longer term living situation. I don't know if he even took that in, but that's the next step. I hope he signs the papers. I assume he's looking for an attorney.

posts: 76   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2022
id 8759944
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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 5:31 PM on Monday, October 17th, 2022

Well done. You handled that situation superbly, including waiting until you felt strong enough to do it. So smart, and at a time when it's super hard to do the smart thing. Brava! smile


He was totally deflated, just had tears streaming nonstop and kept saying "This is surreal. This is all just surreal. I can't believe this."

This sounds so contrite, doesn't it?.. like a guy who finally gets it, like he finally sees the gravity of the situation? But think about what he's really saying for a minute.. he's in disbelief that there are real life consequences to fucking around on your spouse with coworkers and prostitutes and then bragging on the internet about it. Think about it.. he's SHOCKED. It's "surreal" that there are actual consequences for his actions. That's entitlement. That's believing that you're above the law still in terms of monogamy. He's awakened to a world that's upside down because there are consequences to his actions. I'm sure he didn't mean to reveal himself so completely, but wow! It's all right there in a nutshell, isn't it?

You've done so well to not be drawn back in by that. It's easy for us to sit on the other side of our keyboards and not be moved by these emotional displays cheaters make when their fantasy world is crashing down, but it's so hard when you're right there in person with someone you've shared your life and your bed with, and who you've loved with your whole heart. Never doubt that you are amazing.

((big hugs))

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)Married 38 years; in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

posts: 6167   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8759950
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 Sigyn (original poster member #80576) posted at 7:00 PM on Monday, October 17th, 2022

he's in disbelief that there are real life consequences to fucking around on your spouse with coworkers and prostitutes and then bragging on the internet about it. Think about it.. he's SHOCKED. It's "surreal" that there are actual consequences for his actions.

This keeps playing over and over in my head. I read back through this entire thread and I feel so naive for thinking that my husband, the detail oriented planner, must have had a plan for the eventuality that his second life was revealed. But it turns out he wasn't a criminal mastermind, he had an out of body experience just from being held accountable. Being called out actually sent him into some dissociative fugue. "This is so surreal" like he couldn't believe that there would be a consequence - not this is so awful, this is horrific, I feel like a monster - but just that he almost didn't think it could possibly be real. All of those women, all of those decades and he never thought he'd have to look squarely at what he was doing. Much less accept consequences for it. That has to be some kind of mental illness.

Meanwhile I am the one who had my husband's second life revealed on a random afternoon out of the blue, my entire marriage a sham, my life shattered. THAT was surreal! Having your wife know who you are as a person is not surreal. It's like he's even trying to co-opt for himself the emotional reaction that I alone experienced. He KNEW he could be caught - I didn't know my husband could be a serial adulterer. He KNEW his marriage was on the line - I didn't. Yet he's the one wandering around as if he was slapped by life out of the clear blue sky. It's unbelievable. It's just so unexplainable to me.

posts: 76   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2022
id 8759974
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jb3199 ( member #27673) posted at 7:03 PM on Monday, October 17th, 2022

Once again, just reaffirming that you handled yourself very well, and also sorry for what you are going through. It probably feels like one more step towards a finality that you so wish was not true.

I don't know if your husband has it in him to make the changes to be a good, safe partner. But what you DO have, if you are willing to wait, is time to make your future decisions. It was a very good idea to get the separation agreement in motion, and now, there is some time to plot out your next course(s) of action.

You may not even want to wait, and to move forward with the next chapter of your life. That is for you to decide. At least we still have control over our own decisions. As much as you do not want to believe it, your handling of this betrayal, to this point, has been just about as good as I have ever seen in all of the horror stories posted here. Do not forget to give yourself some credit....it has been well earned.

BH-50s
WW-50s
2 boys
Married almost 30yrs.

All work and no play has just cost me my wife--Gary Puckett
D-Day(s): Enough
Accepting that I can/may end this marriage 7/2/14

posts: 4122   ·   registered: Feb. 21st, 2010   ·   location: northeast
id 8759975
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DobleTraicion ( member #78414) posted at 10:55 PM on Monday, October 17th, 2022

Just a note to say that I affirm your actions and admire your fortutide in the midst of this hellish reality of your WHs making. Youve taken another step out of his life of infidelity and toward taking your life back.

You are made of some tough stuff ma'am.

"You'd figure that in modern times, people wouldn't feel the need to get married if they didn't agree with the agenda"

~ lascarx

posts: 92   ·   registered: Mar. 2nd, 2021   ·   location: South
id 8760031
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LostInHisFog ( member #78503) posted at 11:21 PM on Monday, October 17th, 2022

You can gauge where he is at least "it’s surreal" is a inward statement, it’s a different way to word "I cannot believe this is happening to me", he is yet to think beyond himself therefore still unable to achieve enough empathy to reasonably see that it’s surreal for you. Definitely not able to understand the impact on you still.

[This message edited by LostInHisFog at 11:23 PM, Monday, October 17th]

They can make as many promises as they want, but if they don't put action behind it, it doesn't mean anything.

I edit because I'm fluent in typo & autocorrect hates me.

posts: 300   ·   registered: Mar. 14th, 2021
id 8760036
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beauchateaux ( member #57201) posted at 12:01 AM on Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

I think the 'surreal' comment speaks to the level of compartmentalization that went into his existence until the moment you found out. Almost like he's experiencing a collision of worlds, in a way more intense way than the average person experiences it. He was living a complete double life, so we can only imagine how jarring it is for him to have to confront his 'shadow' life with the key player in his 'main' life (for lack of better terms). It's not that I feel sorry for him, lol - not one bit. I'm just saying it goes to show how absolutely detached his little fantasy life was from his 'real' life with you. He never thought he'd have to navigate this situation, which seems so unbelievable but it's obviously where he's at.

That said, it means he's FAR from being even close to processing this in a way that allows him to feel empathy for anybody but himself. This is still something that's happening TO him, something YOU are causing, rather than something he did to himself through his own selfish and inexcusable choices. It'll take a LOT of therapy to unravel how the hell he got to the point where he could think or exist like this, and for therapy to work a person has to be self-aware enough to realize they have a problem to work on in the first place. He's not there yet. Maybe he never will be, but that remains to be seen.

Hang in there, you're doing great.

I edit pretty much every post because I always hit submit and then think of 'one more thing' to say.

posts: 315   ·   registered: Jan. 31st, 2017   ·   location: Chicago
id 8760041
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NowWhat106 ( member #35497) posted at 9:01 AM on Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

Oh, Sigyn. If we didn’t know that you well and truly are amazing after that "lighthouse" post, you just keep showing your metal over and over. I am downright envious of your presence of mind to realize that your emotions would betray you if you kept that first meeting and to honor your need to do some processing of your feelings. I found the incredible emotional hurricane so overwhelming and the waves so unrelenting that I tended to not have that level (or any level) of control. And you were exactly right in your choices. I too would have been so much better served by hearing and honoring my own voice better.

It's not fair that my own future life path becomes nothing more than a consequence of WH's choices. Because both life paths are intolerable to me. I don't want to divorce. I don't want to be married to the man WH has been revealed to be. I want something that doesn't exist and isn't possible.

This thought tormented me too for so long. I said over and over that now that I knew the truth of my marriage and could make informed choices, the only choices that he had left me were shitty ones, choices I never would have wanted. I wanted the choices I didn’t have, and it was mentally extremely hard for me to wrap my head and heart around that. I had been put in a situation I never would have entered by choice.

One of the first things I said to him was that I had always had immense respect for my one life. I understood its fragility. I valued it and took pains not to waste it. I took care of it, of myself. I had substance-abusing, risk-taking siblings. I understood the value of my life and appreciated it. I protected my health. I would never have voluntarily entered such an unhealthy situation and I NEVER would have put my kids in such a situation. He knew all of that. I have NEVER been treated with anything close to the utter disregard and disrespect for my very existence as a human being as I was shown by the person that I trusted with my and my children’s very lives.

I fought acceptance of the no-win scenario that was my reality for far too long. Let me say it again: you are amazing.

The fact that you had a dream that was about your deepest longing to escape your reality and return to the past, woke up, and recognized that your WH would use your love for him to manipulate you is just.. .have I used amazing already? This is how far you’ve come in a very short time. You saw him so clearly. You recognize who he is. It is so powerful that your mind was able to work through all of that and know how to best take care of you, and it’s a testament to you and your work with your therapist. You truly are the lighthouse.

His reaction is also so revealing. In another post this week, a BS asked for the truth and her WH asked: What would make you feel better about me? What are you hoping to hear? My WH asked similar questions. What will be made better by you knowing these things? It can be a true mind fuck to realize that you have such diametrically opposed notions of the intrinsic value of the truth. That they don’t think of THE TRUTH, but rather "the truth."

Your WH has convinced himself that there is no value (TO HIM) in telling you the truth. He very likely thinks in typical wayward ways. He gauges what to say and how to say it by the end goal. He tries to figure out what will produce the best effect. He puts no intrinsic value on telling the actual truth at all.

Today, he very suddenly saw a value (TO HIM) in revealing some of it—when he felt HE had no other choice. And you were completely on the money: the value was in using the truth to try to change your course. He only gave up snippets when his back was against the wall and he had no other options. He only gave it up when something was important to HIM (trying to manipulate you and change your mind). Don’t let yourself forget that you have been begging and telling him how much you needed this, but your need didn’t even register on his self-absorbed barometer.

You’re right to ask if he even believes what he’s saying as he’s saying it. I never got an answer, but my guess is that my WH’s brain moves so facilely from outright lies to half lies to lies with just enough truth to be convincing that there isn’t even a solid understanding of the concept of truth for him. He definitely told himself many different narratives to justify what he did in his mind, but if your WH is like mine, he had probably become SUCH an easy sell to himself. By the time I caught my WH, the explanations that he presented were downright. . .dumb. I literally would just sit and stare at him and wonder if he had done actual damage to his brain and his ability to think rationally. At this point, I believe that denying yourself access to the reality of your actions and life actually does some kind of damage to one’s ability to process logically. My WH has never regained the ability to not come up with patently bizarre rationalizations and excuses and reasons for doing stupid, heinous shit. This is why they can say heinous things like, I was protecting you by not telling you the truth of the horrible shit I was doing being your back. Right. Or, and it’s just a thought, you could actually not DO that horrible shit at all as a way to protect me.

This ability to convince themselves that it’s okay to do awful things is not to be confused, however, with not knowing that he was doing something that wasn’t okay. The secrecy, the hiding, the cover stories, the elaborate planning. All of these reveal that he CLEARLY knew what he was doing would not be acceptable to you. They also reveal that he knew those things wouldn’t be acceptable in his everyday world where he was an upstanding citizen. He knew that it was some awful shit—at least in most people’s world. He also sought a world where he could brag about it and play the big man who was fooling all the straights. So yeah, he knew that what he was doing was not accepted behavior and that he should hide it. I’m sure he felt like quite the outlaw.

His reaction of utter disbelief today just shows how phenomenal his sense of entitlement is. He was entitled to have you completely devoted to him while showing no actual devotion to you and your son. He was entitled to live as an upstanding husband and father without any real responsibilities to be upstanding or faithful or loyal or honest. He has felt entitled for weeks to stonewall and gaslight and lie and wallow in his sense of tragedy over losing his life, while showing no compassion for your losses. And ultimately, he obviously felt entitled to your continued devotion and support in spite of what he’s done.

And like my WH, he has the absolute, unmitigated stones to think it’s now your job to help HIM escape from HIS pain and misery. What everyone has said about his sense of unreality and shock over you presenting him with papers is on the money. In spite of having been caught in YEARS of lies, infidelity, betrayal, and just plain fraud, he has NEVER truly believed that you would leave him. He has had weeks to digest that you KNOW what he’s been doing for years, and it still obviously never occurred to him that you might not want to stick around. That’s what he found so surreal today—that you would actually consider leaving a prize like him. He’s a real piece of work. That is exactly how much he took you for granted and believed that nothing would cause you to leave him. It is disbelief in reality, for sure, but it is also wizard-level narcissist entitlement.

Now, that you’ve shaken him so completely, I think you should be prepared for a possible deluge of erratic and bizarre responses. Right now, he’s crying and sharing, but you will likely also see fury and attack, verbal nastiness, and lots of other wild swings of emotion if he doesn’t immediately see the results (the cookie) for giving you some of what you asked. I think I mentioned that my WH finally admitted to something that I already knew one night and, when I was angry, proclaimed, See? The truth never gets me anything. Getting something was literally the only reason that he could see for giving up a secret nugget of truth. Your WH has never really faced any of this before. He sees information as bargaining chips. When he doesn’t "get" something for it immediately, watch his reactions closely.

I am the one who had my husband's second life revealed on a random afternoon out of the blue, my entire marriage a sham, my life shattered. THAT was surreal! Having your wife know who you are as a person is not surreal. It's like he's even trying to co-opt for himself the emotional reaction that I alone experienced.

This all over the place. You are right on the money. Every time I made a statement about how my life had been devastated, my WH would reply with some version of, Mine too. As if we had both been equally innocent, standing on the corner, hit by the same bus. Nope, we were not going to bond over our mutual victimhood. They were not the same. When I explained how crushing it was to feel that I had lived my entire married life without having been really loved by the person I gave everything too, his reply was that he didn’t love himself either. Nope, NOT the same pain, not the same situation. If I look back, my WH was always able to make every situation about how bad it was for him. No one ever suffered like he did.

It really does boggle the mind. Ultimately,

I'm sorry for him. I would hate to be him.

And

he never thought he'd have to look squarely at what he was doing. Much less accept consequences for it. That has to be some kind of mental illness.

Don’t feel too sorry for him, but yeah, imagine being like that. Or being married to someone that you know is like that. It really is a mental illness, but it is one that they have been horribly committed to in a non-involuntary way.

You’re doing just, have i said it?, amazing, Sigyn. You are going to get yourself and your son through this. Let your WH see what he can forge alone here. For your son’s sake, it’s critically important for him to see if he has it in him to be any better at all, whatever else happens.

Me BS
Him WS
LTEA with old HS GF from 25+ years ago
DD #1: 10/6/2011
DD #2: 10/21/2011
2DS under18
My marriage didn’t survive but I did

posts: 516   ·   registered: May. 2nd, 2012
id 8760083
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swmnbc ( member #49344) posted at 1:44 PM on Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

I'm sorry Sigyn. Reading your WH's clueless, self-absorbed shock at experiencing the natural consequences of his choices makes me want to shout, "Are you effing kidding me right now??!?!" so I can only imagine how it makes you feel.

To frame it like HE was saving YOU from pain by lying, lying, lying . . . it's just such a disgusting act of disrespect and disregard. There are people who are non-monogamous by choice and that's great for them . . . he took your choice from you and then he has tried to manipulate you and the situation every step of the way. I'm sure you know "DARVO" . .. Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender. He's a master at it. "This is surreal!" he kept saying. He meant, "It's surreal that I can't control the situation and maintain a relationship I want even though I am unwilling to be honest with my partner. I can't believe that my wife is an autonomous person who might reject ME, even though I was clearly working from that assumption when I decided to make our marriage open without her knowledge or consent."

Yeesh. My 10 year old has a friend "Ann" who is unkind. This friend will say, "Oh, I'm so annoyed with our other friend 'Beth'," and then my daughter will say, "Me too," and then Ann will tell Beth that my daughter is annoyed with her and then Ann and Beth will call my daughter to confront her over it. We have had many conversations about how you cannot force someone else to do anything . . . to apologize, to treat you how you want and deserve. All you can do is walk away if they won't. She finds this very heart-breaking because she wants to be BFFs with Ann but she also wants Ann to apologize and stop manipulating her into fights with other friends, and what she wants is not on the table. All she can do is avoid the "I'm annoyed with our other friend" trap and stop chasing Ann during the times when she ignores her. If she still wants what Ann brings to the table when she IS being kind, then she can accept that, but she needs to know the bad always follows the good in the pattern.

All this is to say that I know it's hard. You deserve to be treated right. This is a grown ass man, not a 10 year old girl. There is no excuse for him. As a mother I think it's really important to show my kids what it looks like to walk away from someone who won't treat you right. Now they don't know about the affair but I believe we model good relationships for them. I have a friend who recently ghosted me, maybe because of an article I shared, and I want my kids to see that I'm not going to chase someone who apparently cares little enough about me that she wouldn't even address whatever her beef is. I want them to know that some people are too broken to have a healthy relationship with and that is very sad, but there are plenty of people in our lives who do treat us right, and we should lean into those relationships.

OK, tangent here, sorry! You sound like a lovely person and I'm sure you have plenty of kind and honest people in your village. I hope they can provide some succor as the main person who was supposed to be there for you proves his true colors over and over.

posts: 1822   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2015
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ThisIsSoLonely ( member #64418) posted at 8:35 PM on Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

The whole time I was reading your post I was thinking exactly what you said:

I am the one who had my husband's second life revealed on a random afternoon out of the blue, my entire marriage a sham, my life shattered. THAT was surreal!

I think that a big part of the reason that so many of us are so impressed with the way you are handling this life-altering clusterfuck is because you are actually doing what so many don't manage to do from the outset: YOU ARE CARING FOR YOURSELF AND PUTTING YOURSELF (and your son) FIRST. It took me a sold year to really really really start looking out for myself. It took me two years to really really really understand how broken my WH was/is and to disconnect myself and my feelings from his broken-ness. None of this means that after that point I didn't hurt anymore or have those wishing moments like you dreamt of - it just means that so early on I was still, even though I thought I wasn't, looking out for "us" and I bought into the trap of comforting him when he broke down back then, and I ignored some of the language that he used which could have clued me into what was really going on in his head, and what I should have been doing for me because doing anything for him was pointless and detrimental.

I was fortunate in that I didn't have to go through the denials about what had happened - instead I had to deal with the "Why are you asking AGAIN as I already told you everything?" I point this out as I think you need to prepare yourself for this:

I think you should be prepared for a possible deluge of erratic and bizarre responses. Right now, he’s crying and sharing, but you will likely also see fury and attack, verbal nastiness, and lots of other wild swings of emotion if he doesn’t immediately see the results (the cookie) for giving you some of what you asked.

My WH cried and admitted to everything (except little details that were not lies of omission - there was just so much for him to tell that it would have taken 6 months of solid talking for him to tell me everything - and the lies to him were means to an end so he forgot some of the ones that I considered the worst) - but after that was done, he felt exonerated almost - and yes he would get furious that I did not see his coming clean as a "good boy" moment. Do not be surprised if your WH comes to you with a few more tidbits (which may or may not be true) and expect absolution - like their confession = everything is okay now.

My WH admitted to having sex with the AP at a time/place I did not "know" about for 100% sure. I had said something like "I know you fucked her on X date at Y location" and he just stonewalled me and said nothing. As it turned out he could not even remember. So after I walked out of the room and went to bed, he apparently reconstructed the details that night by looking at his work scheduling orders to see if the date I cited matched, and it did. So he got up in the morning and told me I was right and apologized claiming he had thought i was wrong the night before so he "said nothing instead of argue with me." Upon telling me this I questioned him about something else - and he was instantly furious because he had come clean and told me, of his own doing, about something I would never be able to prove. HE had done that "for me" and here I was "grilling" him about other stuff - how dare I?!?! He was honestly astounded I was so upset. I recall like it was yesterday - he looked me straight in the face, with clear anger and disdain in his eyes and said:

I don't know what your problem is TISL - you should be happy. Isn't this what you wanted, for me to admit, out loud that you are right again? You said you already KNEW we had sex then. You already knew it, so I don't know why you are acting like this is such a surprise. Apparently telling you things is just an invitation for you to trash me and remind me of what an asshole I have been. That's what I get for telling you something you already knew - more harassment."

Aside from the fact that my WH was convinced I had hired a PI to follow him for the better part of a year (I didn't), which is why I seemed to "know" so much, his anger at me for failing to be grateful for his honesty was (or should have been) very telling. I would expect you will endure the same visceral outbursts from your WH at some point soon.

So just keep on embracing that you are the prize worth winning here - it allows you such clarity.

As time when on and I needed to remind myself of how much he was NOT the prize (that he thought he was), I would think of one of those games where you have five beautifully decorated cards to turn over to reveal what you have won, and behind them are: the $1 million dollars; the new car; the 2 week luxury vacation package; the shopping spree; or the fifth card - the pile of dog poop/flask of poison. My WH was the poison - the booby prize - the total bummer. Eventually, before he decided to become a better human, I recall he was talking and carrying on and lying (to himself) and feeling a bit sorry for himself, and he reached out towards me like we were "in this together" - and I imagined him with a big pile of dog shit in his hand and I burst out laughing. Don't take the dog shit - it's the booby prize. Let him clean it up himself.

[This message edited by ThisIsSoLonely at 8:41 PM, Tuesday, October 18th]

"Sometimes you're going to have to let one person go a thousand different times, a thousand different ways, and there’s nothing pathetic or abnormal about that. You are human." - Heidi Priebe

posts: 1914   ·   registered: Jul. 11th, 2018
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BrokenheartedUK ( member #43520) posted at 10:19 PM on Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

Those days of being heartbroken I think were necessary? I don't know, I just felt emptied out inside and I think that was okay.


I know it doesn't feel this way, but you really are doing amazing. Use the days like this day when you feel resolved but you will still have days of heartbreak ahead. Be kind to yourself. You are grieving a life you thought you had. That will take time and there will be some hard days ahead still.

As for your H's response... JFC. Dude is a major class one narcissist. He didn't confess when you needed it, he confessed when he did. As a previous poster said, it was a last ditch attempt to get you to stay. This is all about his gigantic pity party and the mental gymnastics he'll use to make himself the victim in this. It will continue to shock you the shit that will come out of his mouth, like it already has. As you rightly pointed out, the surreal experience in this is the one that you've had--the one where one day your entire existence is blown to smithereens-not the other way around. His tears are all for himself.

I let him confess a lot of things until he wound down and then he asked again for marriage counseling, and I told him I needed space and time and to see how he handled this current situation before I agreed to it. I don't currently have any intention of going, but I want him to keep telling me things and I want him to agree to the very simple financial and custodial separation agreement.


This is smart and canny. You do need him to stay "onside" as it were to get this done as quickly and amicably as possible. Keep this up as well as the "teamwork" focus on your son.

I think it was a few posts of yours ago, but you spoke about the surprise that he "didn't have a plan" for this to happen. And by "this" I mean getting busted. He never thought it would happen, as I said before, he thinks he's the smartest guy in the room. And that insight, that they don't think they will face consequences, that all of that is unimaginable to them, is key here. It's the clarity of the old guy behind the curtain in Oz. We may have loved them and that gave them "abilities" that they don't actually have. There was no plan, no consideration for you, no shazam chess playing "Check mate!" moment from them because in the end, they are just selfish entitled assholes who don't have the emotional, moral or psychological bandwidth to imagine two steps ahead of their actions. And for a while, that was working for him. He had you, your child, a beautiful life, and an array of shitty decisions. It's quite something when the scales fall from our eyes to see who we've really been married to for all this time.

Big hug. You're doing great.

Me: BS
He cheated and then lied. Apparently cheaters lie. Huh. 13 months of false R. Divorced! 8/16 3 teenage kids
"The barn's burnt down
Now
I can see the moon"
-Mizuta Masahide

posts: 3369   ·   registered: May. 24th, 2014
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ThisIsSoLonely ( member #64418) posted at 10:29 PM on Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

[H]e thinks he's the smartest guy in the room. And that insight, that they don't think they will face consequences, that all of that is unimaginable to them, is key here.

This - 1000% this. My WH admitted to this - even after he was caught by me (easily I might add - he was so sloppy unlike your WH) he still thought he would not get caught again. He straight up told me that "yeah, even after you caught me, I was sure I would never get caught again." Note, second time was even easier....

But that IS their mindset. 1) You are an adversary; 2) They are smarter than you; and 3) Tricking you is proof of their genius.

In my WH's mind he got caught the first time because he didn't think I even noticed so he did little to hide it. The second time he was stunned he'd been caught - he had no plan at all. I mean WTF is wrong with him that he already had been caught, yet thinks he won't be caught again. Like rolleyes ?!?!?!?!

"Sometimes you're going to have to let one person go a thousand different times, a thousand different ways, and there’s nothing pathetic or abnormal about that. You are human." - Heidi Priebe

posts: 1914   ·   registered: Jul. 11th, 2018
id 8760178
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BrokenheartedUK ( member #43520) posted at 11:02 PM on Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

ThisIsSoLonely-- same!!! The second time I caught my Ex, one of the kids asked him why he continued contact with the AP knowing that it was a dealbreaker for me and he said to her(mind you she was 12 years old at the time): I didn't think I would get caught. It was probably one of the most bizarre but truthful things he ever said.

It's *almost* funny.

And you've never seen anyone fall apart more than my Ex during divorce proceedings. Jeez.

Me: BS
He cheated and then lied. Apparently cheaters lie. Huh. 13 months of false R. Divorced! 8/16 3 teenage kids
"The barn's burnt down
Now
I can see the moon"
-Mizuta Masahide

posts: 3369   ·   registered: May. 24th, 2014
id 8760182
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