Sigyn I dont know what line of work you are in but I recall you and your husband mentored young couples through your church? You have so much more to offer to those young people now than you did before. I was naive to covert abuse (or understood it intellectually but not enough to see what was going on in my own relationship) despite working with DV victims for 15 years. Gaslighting is very effective like that ~ how can you leave if you dont even know you are being abused.
I've been thinking about this so much. I keep reading my old journals, the written texts and emails WH and I have exchanged since this all started and it's all so clear to me now. I never thought of him as being controlling, because the way he did it was (in hindsight) so manipulative and passive-aggressive. He tends to see every conversation, interaction and experience as a competition he feels the need to 'win'. His day had to be harder, his job more important, his joke funnier, his opinion more weighty, his order at dinner had to taste better than mine - I mean there was no interaction too inconsequential for him not to care about. If there was anything I had, did or achieved that was (to him) objectively better, he would passively punish me for it. Cut it down, degrade it "jokingly", make fun of it, try to attach it to something bad or negative, ignore it and never speak of it, give me the silent treatment, withdraw affection but with a smile on his face as if everything was fine ... in other words I was made to pay for anything he perceived as outdoing him. Never yelling, he never once over the years raised his voice or was even slightly aggressive. But it was like whack-a-mole - any time I mentioned my work, my education, any achievement, my close relationship with my family - he would make it so uncomfortable for me that the next time I found myself almost mentioning something on the red list, I'd suck it back in. No more moles to whack.
I would never, ever have thought of that as abusive before this. I thought WH had a lot of deep insecurity and I didn't, so I made myself live in a world comfortable for his insecurity. I rationalized it at the time as being similar to if WH had a physical disability and our house accommodated that - our house, our marriage would accommodate the person with the greater needs. But there were so many times it was so dehumanizing to me. I never once had the 'greater needs' and he always did. So not to be able to talk about my thoughts, my career, many of my problems - yeah it was literally dehumanizing. I played the role of the lesser human in what should have been a marriage of equals.
It's only since his secrets came out that I see how incredibly pervasive this was and how it WAS a sign of abuse. I was less than human to him. This whole time I saw myself as the stronger one in our marriage, at least in terms of WH's insecurities, and he was indeed even more insecure than I could ever have imagined and was staging his own secret war against me. How many times did I not mention my work so he wouldn't get defensive, and 30 minutes before that he was paying for sex or f***ing an OW and chuckling to himself at how I didn't know, how he only ever lied by omission? I was focused on him, he was focused on him, his scores of sex partners were focused on him, yet he would still throw a 5-day passive aggressive fit if I referred to something that happened 'in grad school' because it was a reminder that I have more degrees than he does (something I don't care at all about but he obsessed over). There was no amount of attention, approval, accommodation, sex, focus, energy or love that was enough to fill the gaping hole inside him.
It is abuse. It is someone weaponizing their emotional needs. And I can see it ALL OVER now, looking back! I rationalized it for so long. I'm at this stage now where I'm so angry at him, not even just about the affairs but about his selfish stealing of all of the emotional energy in our marriage, his dehumanization of me, the way he arranged our entire marriage to meet his needs. I didn't consent to the marriage I was in. Literally everything that I did agree to was under false pretenses. Why does he not have to pay for that??? And looking back OF COURSE he has barely admitted to anything about his affairs, even though he knows I know so much about it! I can't believe I actually ever thought he would tell me! I can't believe I ever expected him to admit to something terrible. That entire encounter when I confronted him was still just another encounter that he had to 'win' and to him, winning means being the person with the most information. If he couldn't come out on top, his only other move has always been to make the other person come out even farther down than he is. Dig a hole under them so by contrast he appears higher. And that's exactly what he did.
It was, if you can believe this, WH's religious organization that had us peer-counseling young married couples. Neither of us are anything like counselors, therapists or anything even close, this was really just peer type mentorship. And I don't belong to a religious community at all, so WH was really the lead in that, as he enjoys being in all things. I shudder to think any of the couples we've spoken to over the years noticed what I now see as the grossly imbalanced dynamic between us! I may have done far more harm than good by being part of that farce. I can't tell you how much that kills me inside.
If you have spare time, my story is the 'After 9 years of R, I think I'm polyamorous afterall' thread in this forum. Even re-reading it makes me wonder if its real. And thats 9 months out.
You know I avoided reading your thread because of the word 'polyamorous' since it was SO much like what my WH was declaring to his online cheater friends, that he was 'non-monogamous at heart' - and so the title of your thread was so triggering to me. And now I'm reading it fascinated because it seems like this poly crowd has absolutely no remorse for hurting other people, when I'm fairly certain poly/non-monogamy is NOT about lying, sneaking and exposing everyone involved to STIs and emotional inequality! Your exWW tried to cage her cheating as taking a feminist stand, my WH tried to frame his cheating as "coming out as non-monogamous" as if it were a sexuality that he was born with. And even if it was either of those things (feminist stand or sexuality one is born with) in neither of those two cases does lying to loved ones play ANY sort of role. Sure, take a feminist stand against monogamy - but feminism does not include lying! That's not feminism, it's just cheating and then lying about it. Likewise sure, non-monogamy can be your born-this-way sexuality, but nothing about that makes you lie and sneak around. If your ex and mine were so justified, why wasn't this discussed openly? "Honey, I'm cutting the shackles of bullshit monogamy/coming out as having some other sexuality" and boom, that's it. They could live their lives with their heads held high, just with other likeminded people. The real issue is that no one's sexuality and CERTAINLY not feminism ever advocates depriving someone of consent. And we were deprived of the ability to consent to the marriage we were in.
They're both full of shit.
Once the judge has approved the split, I plan on outing her to all and sundry in totality, I don't see why I should have to worry about protecting her character accordingly. That's not as revenge, or to hurt her parents; it's to give context to why I'm moving forward, and why I'm justified doing so. You sound like you have a similar rationale?
I'm coming around to this way of thinking, you're farther ahead in the process than I am - but mainly for me it's that I fear retaliation. So it's less about protecting his character and more about protecting myself and our son from any retribution when his ego gets stung. And also, until recently, because I felt sorry for him. I know that's weird after all he's done, but I'm not the one who lost my humanity. I still don't want to see the father of my child deprived of the only good people he seems to have access to (my family). I (or my family) might change on that. I'm becoming less sympathetic towards him by the day.
[This message edited by Sigyn at 9:08 PM, Saturday, April 22nd]