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.
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.