WELL, this one's gonna be a long one, but its worth the read. Full disclosure- part of this story involves sexual abuse and incest-based childhood trauma, So read on with caution if necessary.
I am 33 and I recently discovered that my partner has been having an on-and-off affair with an ex, for the entirety of our relationship.
For context: He and I have been together for 4 years and our lives are entirely intertwined. Our families are connected, we have all the same friends, we live together, own a car together, share bank accounts, etc. We have no children, but do not want any. From the outside looking in, we have the perfect relationship, and it really did feel that way... until 8 weeks ago.
Now, back to the affair. After discovering this information I called the woman myself and she confirmed my suspicions. She sent me screenshots, messages...everything. They had jokes, made plans, and even talked about the future together. It was heartbreaking to read, to say the least. (afterwards, he told me it was "just what she wanted to hear". whatever.) But she had no idea existed, she thought he lived with his MOM!
The funny thing about it, is that this girl was lovely. I almost feel like she and I would have been friends, had this not been how our paths crossed. She was smart, strong and passionate and she genuinely cared for this man, just like I do (did? idk.) We literally cried together over what he had done to us. Both shocked, both disgusted, both heartbroken.
So how did she NOT know? The truth is, that he had cheated on her years ago, when they had originally been in a relationship (in their 20's). So this time around, they both kept their hookups a secret from their friends and families- her because she was embarrassed to go back to him, and him because of the life that he and I shared. It was the perfect situation for a man trying to hide a mistress.
After discovering this affair and hearing the lies he had told this other woman, my soul just KNEW there was more; he swore there was not.
He suggested therapy and I obliged, still not sure if I wanted to stay, but I knew that the life we had built was worth trying to save. I had been a loyal partner, why should I be punished by HIS actions? I do not deserve to lose the life we've built! And just to be clear, this is not a financially driven decision -- I can support myself without him, I just simply love our life together.
Anyway- we began therapy. We began having some of the best and most honest conversations we have ever had. We oddly felt closer than ever, and he was suddenly an even more perfect version of my perfect partner....but I still had that nagging feeling that there was more to come.
...WELL YOUR GUT IS ALWAYS RIGHT, RIGHT?!
One month into therapy, I discovered Uber receipts, dating back years. Trips to multiple addresses that I didn't know, in neighborhoods that we didn't frequent. From our home and back.
All different addresses. All homes. All different dates. All visits were about an hour. All on nights that I am working, busy, or out of town.
I KNEW IT.
I called him immediately and he faked sick to leave work early. He came clean to me and admitted that in addition to the affair I had discovered, he had also been soliciting sex online.
He admitted to me that this was his deepest darkest secret and that he cannot stop. He has tried many times over the last 10 years, and sometimes been successful, but always goes back to it eventually. Typically once every month or so, right around pay days. He swears he used protection. He tells me that sometimes he couldn't even have sex with them because he was too uncomfortable to perform, and he even admits that some of the women gave him cocaine to try to take the edge off.
I am in shock. Mind you this is a man with high functioning anxiety. Someone who is admittedly shy, awkward and has never even smoked weed! So, you can imagine how out of character this story is.
At this point I am feeling so many emotions at the same time that I don't even think my heart works.
I tell him its over but he begs me to help him get help.
Now, for some back story on him, and this is where it gets HEAVY, so TRIGGER WARNING--
He was a child from a very abusive home. Both of his parents were drug addicts and both did prison time. His father was a pedophile and raped both of his sisters at VERY young ages. All of this is proven and factual.
He maintains that although his father did physically abuse him, the abuse towards him was never sexual. However he did witness the sexual abuse inflicted upon his sister and mother in their home. This was all before the age of 4, when he and his sisters were removed from their parents care. Knowing all of this about him, it has always been a miracle that he was so "normal".
In the process of therapy, he has begun to have flashbacks of sexual abuse that he DID in fact suffer as a child, at the hands of his father. Memories that he has been so ashamed of that he has hidden somewhere in his brain for 30 years. He shared the memories with his mother and she has corroborated many of them. As a child, his mother knew something was going on and took him to many doctors/therapists, but he always denied it. He never told the truth about what was going on behind closed doors. Even after both of his sisters admitted to being abused, he continued to deny that it had happened to him. His mother thought he had dodged a bullet, as did he. It was not until now that he admits that he was also a victim. Suddenly he is afraid of his own mind, and of these memories that are flooding back. He has also begun to have night terrors, recurring dreams and screams in his sleep. He hasn't been able to have a single sexual thought in weeks, to the point that he is afraid that he won't be able to ever again. He admitted that he tried looking at porn but couldn't even get aroused. He is also discovering through therapy that so many of his personality traits are directly related to this trauma. For example, his anxiety, his inability to say "no", his people-pleasing, his insecure tendencies, his need to be liked by everyone, his habitual lying, his sexual tendencies, and his compulsive personality, just to name a few.
Apart from all that has unfolded in this story, I should also say that although very troubled, he is a great man who has overcome A LOT. He is a wonderful son to his mother (who has since turned her life around completely, and is now a Counselor herself!), everybody's best friend, and also an Emergency Responder in our county. His entire life is devoted to helping others. He's the guy everyone counts on, and he comes through every. single. time. No one has a bad word to say about him and would be SHOCKED to hear this story. Which is why I'm writing it here.. because I cant tell ANYONE right now.
The problem is, that now he has handed me this burden to carry. His secret is out, but now its mine to hold. He has told the truth to me and to his family.. but now I have to bare the weight IF I choose to stay. But can I?
Can this be forgiven? Is it weak to stay? Would staying with him mean I allowed him to walk all over me for all these years? Does it make his actions acceptable? Does it make me "that stupid girl"? Or should I feel empowered by going through something so hard with someone and coming out on the other side? Is there even another side? Can I get there? Will I be proud of myself if I do, or will I feel ashamed? Is it wrong to leave someone who is working so hard on themselves? How can I walk away knowing that my discovery has spilled more trauma on the doorstep of of a family that has already gone through SO many years of healing?
He has done so much work in the past 2 months to prove that he wants to be fixed, he has been so vulnerable and so honest and so transparent. He wants to be better SO BADLY, for himself and for "US". But how do I trust his intentions?
I need to make a choice but both options feel wrong to me. I see shame and weakness in staying, but also in leaving. I just refuse to lose myself in this. I want to feel empowered and strong and resilient, I want to be proud of the choice I make, but H O W ??
[This message edited by SecretsOut09 at 3:19 PM, Wednesday, September 7th]