It's been a while since I've been able to find the heart and the words to post here. I do a lot of journaling to write my feelings out and just recently have tried to read back through some of the things I've written to look for signs of growth or understanding inside myself, but it really just feels like a lot of pain.
You all have been predicting pretty much everything that's happened, so functionally I don't think there are any surprises. WH after having a few breakdowns and moments of honesty has now gone on the offensive and has rewritten a lot of the story of our marriage casting himself as a victim and all of his affairs and one night stands and sex work as "acting out" against expectations that have placed upon him by the women in his life. His mother gets the bulk of his blame, but I'm right in there with her. Since his mother isn't here to defend herself, when I push back at him about his vague accusations against me, he is unable to support them in any specific way and just pivots back to his mother.
One of his revelations that he says he's arrived at in therapy is that he's been the family "rock" in our marriage, and being "a rock" doesn't leave him any room for vulnerability, hence his need for sex from literally SCORES of women. When I ask him what being a rock means to him, he says it means "stoic". When I ask him to give me an example of him being stoic, he says he's not "allowed" to express emotion. When I ask him which emotions he doesn't feel comfortable expressing in our marriage he backpedals and says okay yes he feels free to express emotions in our marriage, but in childhood he wasn't "allowed" to express them. So I redirect to our marriage - what does he see as the role of the family "rock" in our marriage? He says it's taking all of the responsibilities of the family on his shoulders. I ask for examples, he just says his work. I say okay, I work too, so if it's just the act of having high-level careers, are we both the family rocks together? And he says no, it's more than just work, it's that he's expected to be a responsible person. I ask for examples and he literally cannot think of any! None! He just keeps saying "you know, being responsible!" I ask what responsibilities he feels are uniquely his, and not shared by me, and again he just says his work. So I try to close the loop and say "You feel like your job makes you want to act out sexually?" and he says NO, it's the combined expectations of his job and "taking care of the family".
Here I have to say that if you're smelling bullshit, it's because WH is literally made out of it. We both have very advanced professional careers. WH works from home and always has, I work at my workplace. I do the bulk of the housework and cooking, we have household help for cleaning and our son is in school. We hire out all fix-it type jobs because neither of us is particularly handy. WH has an athletic hobby and also a creative hobby that he does quite a bit outside the home (or maybe he doesn't, maybe the time management of fucking 40+ other women has been his real hobby). The division of labor (including emotional) is incredibly skewed towards ME and always has been. I am the fixer, the arranger, the reminder, the driver of kids and friends, the driver on road trips, the one who takes the cars in to get fixed, the one who gets quotes from house painters and landscapers, the one who arranges our vacations, and the ONLY one who sits and listens at the end of my own long work day to let WH decompress. WH has had the time and freedom to travel alone enough to have had at least two long term OW that he's gone on multiple week-long vacations with every single year. This is not a man carrying the weight of his family on his shoulders. He's a man who resents ANY expectations whatsoever. This has never been clearer to me.
So after about five different conversations like this I told WH I won't discuss any of this again because it's a loop that never closes. He very very vaguely blames me for everything, when asked to explain any one of his accusations he admits it's actually not me, it's his mom, and there it ends. So essentially he blames his behavior on me when he's in therapy, and this empowers him to blame me to my face, and then when he remembers that of course I already know what he's saying doesn't make sense he backpedals and blames his mom. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
So down to the nuts and bolts of it, he signed the separation agreement. There will be NO couples therapy, but we have met twice (both of us, no son present) with our son's therapist and she will act as a family therapist for us to all meet together. WH is very good at his role play of concerned co-parent willing to bravely overcome our separation issues to be there for our son and I hope he keeps that up. Our goal is to help our son with the transition of his parents living separately. The sticking point is that I do want to tell our son we are divorcing, WH does not. WH still thinks there is a hail mary play in his future (this is what I think he believes anyway) but in any case he has agreed that our mother in law apartment isn't a good living situation for him and that he will find a local place to move into with two bedrooms, one for our son, and it will be dog friendly so our son can bring his dog.
I'm relieved that he's moving, I know I'm beyond lucky that we had the external apartment but living life either looking out my back window or trying not to look out my back window, wondering where WH is when his car is gone, trying to interpret what his lights being on at 1am is about - it's been terrible, just never ending mind games and obsessive thoughts and feeling like I can just summon him over every time I want to lay into him because he's just across the yard, then when I see him walking over I get a panic attack and feel like I made a huge mistake and just want him to leave. It's been awful having him right there. I am terrified and also desperately need to have him out of my sight.
I know the real question is divorce, and the answer is I've decided that no matter what I do want to divorce. I don't want to divorce WH as much as I want to divorce myself of the fake marriage I've been in. Does that make sense? I want the thing I've been calling a marriage to be severed and removed from my life. I can't see past the sham to even know what I want in my life. As long as I'm trapped in this fake marriage I can't even see who I am, who WH is, what I want in my future. Somehow in my mind that's different than wanting a divorce from WH. I want out of that contract that has me as a secondary actor in a play put on about a marriage. I want out of that pretense.
For some reason when I think of WH I see him separately than I see our marriage. More and more I wonder what is inside him taking the place of a mind, heart, soul and compass. What is he filled with? Is it all just self pity and blame and refusal to accept responsibility? Does he really believe that his laziness in our marriage was what being a rock for his family really means? Can he think of one thing he's ever sacrificed for his family? He hasn't even sacrificed his right to have sex and fall in love with other women! Which should be one of the bar-on-the-ground basics. Our finances are more or less equal. There is nothing I can see that he's done to nurture us that hasn't also benefitted him. But I CAN see that in myself. I DO sacrifice, I can name those things and my thoughts behind them and my motivations and the love that makes those sacrifices feel GOOD to me.
More and more I see that we are not equals and never have been. With WH out of the house, my work load has actually reduced! After work I can actually decompress, rather than sitting and listening and taking on WH's every detail about his day, his every problem, laughing at his retelling of the lame jokes he told coworkers that he didn't think got a big enough laugh, his worries, his outrage at various coworkers, all of the details of his work assignments. He hasn't asked me about my work in YEARS. If I have a hard day at work he cuts me off and immediately tries to one-up me, "Before you go any further, let me see if you can beat this!" and then he talks for the rest of the time we have for talking. He uses up all of the air, the importance, the attention, the empathy. When I come home from work now I can call a friend or my sister, journal, go for a run, listen to a podcast, pick my son up from his sports and ask him about his day and have all the patience in the world for him because someone else hasn't used up all the time and emotional energy.
I'm sorry this is so long, I guess I found the words I didn't think I had to vent about this! I could probably keep complaining for hours.
But I really just wanted to say that things are in some ways moving forward and other ways stagnated in a terrible place, but there's light in front of me somewhere. WH will be moving (this hurts so much, also can't wait to be on the other side of that move!) and while I have decided I want to divorce, I am not in any hurry and need the space of WH moving out of the apartment to really think and be myself some more before gathering energy to move forward.
Also I'm very sorry I was so short with some of you who encouraged me to divorce ASAP. I know it came from a really caring, empowered place and I get that now - I got it then, but it hit so close to a nerve that I couldn't look squarely at it. The help and understanding I've gotten here have been incredible.