I’m going to start this post with a little word of advice: if you want visitors and followers to find your blog, don’t forget to tag it with meaningful phrases. Almost all of my original followers from four years ago (!) have gone quiet, but I got a bunch of hits on Monday’s post. This has me thinking, any new visitor to this site is probably like “what the fuck?!?” So let me recap the story of the last 5 years and then I’ll update you on the latest events. Continue reading
I’m coming up on the fifth anniversary (if that’s even the right term for something so odious) of my affair. Five years is somehow more significant than 4 or 6 years, just like our fifteenth wedding anniversary just passed was more significant than the fourteenth. It’s had me thinking lately, not of the affair – which I almost never think of explicitly – but of the long bumpy road my wife and I have walked. The revelation, the dark times immediately afterward, the recovery followed by her hospitalization and finally both of us getting medicated, the second revelation, more recovery and therapy, and then this past year of finally feeling like we’re clear of it all. It’s been hard, but she and our marriage are worth it. Continue reading
I’m trying a new medication because the SSRI I was on had some… side-effects that I wasn’t too fond of. It’s not going so well.
I’m fully off the SSRI and have been on the new stuff for a month and I don’t think it’s working.
I don’t know how depression affects other people, but for me, it has a few major manifestations, one of which is the inability to control my emotions. I get it – emotions aren’t supposed to be completely controlled. But when I get choked up over every little thing, that’s a problem, too. I can’t watch TV. I can’t listen to music. I can’t not do either of those things because silence tends to leave way too much room for self-reflection. The cross-country flight I was on last week was rough.
The ideation is back, too. Not like it was – the constant thinking of ways to do it or the constant longing to do it – but it’s creeping in at the edges. Little thoughts of “I could just crash this car” or “maybe the solution to my problems – to who I am – is to just end it.” I’m not really serious, but I’ve been thinking about that lately.
I think the reason you’re reading this is because I never got serious. I had a million ways to do that and at least as many reasons to do it, but I knew that when I got serious – that was it. I wasn’t going to fail, and death is as final as it gets. So yeah, I walked up to the edge plenty of times (and hurt myself in other ways), but I never took the plunge (thank god).
Anyway, I hoped that the door had closed on that chapter of my life, not just with the meds, but with therapy and with distance from the affair. I guess not. Oh well, this med isn’t for me. On to the next (hurray!).
I’ve been pretty busy lately and haven’t even taken the time to read through my blog feed, but today I’m sitting idle waiting for other things to finish. I particularly like something Bee wrote the other day, a post titled Love Is a Four Letter Word. I started to write a reply, but then I thought it probably needs its own blog post as I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.
Affairs tend to bring up these what if kind of questions for everyone involved. Both the betrayed and the cheater might wonder “did I marry the wrong person?” or “am I making the right decision to stay (or go)?” Both might wonder, “is there something better out there for me?” Both would be a bit daft if they didn’t wonder “would I have been better off now without this affair?”
Early on in my recovery, I would have sworn that I’d be better off without ever even meeting the other woman. The pain was so great and the damage so devastating, that there didn’t seem to be any question that we’d all be better off if I’d have never started down the road to infidelity. I’d still say there’s so truth to that – my wife and I would both have a lot less pain in our lives if I hadn’t done that.
But that’s not how the world works. Every choice we make and every experience we have changes us. Some things change us in big ways, others in small ways, good ways, or bad ways. I’d be a different man than I am now if I hadn’t had an affair. Who is to say that everything would have worked out well if I had turned away from the other woman? There are other women. There are other ways to hurt my wife or myself. For example, I remember very clearly thinking just a month before the affair began that I needed to kill myself. This was not a single idle thought, either. Who is to say that I wouldn’t have killed myself?
It’s not all negative things either. I have learned more about grace and forgiveness in the last three years than I would have learned in 30 years if I hadn’t betrayed my wife. It’s easy to say the price wasn’t worth it, but not learning those lessons have consequences, too – consequences I can’t see now but can only imagine. How happy would my wife and I be if I had continued living in an ungracious and unforgiving manner? Who is to say she wouldn’t have despaired of our marriage and sought the love of another man? How many people that I’ve helped since the affair would not have received the help they needed (and I’m not just talking about this blog either)?
Now if I listen very carefully, I can almost hear the sounds of angry replies being pounded out on keyboards across the globe, people saying “you’re just trying to justify what you did.”
I’m not, because there is no justification for what I did. My point is not to justify or ameliorate the effects of my poor choices. What I’m trying to say is that insofar as closure is a real thing to be seen and experienced, it comes at least in part from recognizing that it all makes sense even when we can’t see it.
I have to make peace with what I’ve done, just as everyone else has to make peace with their choice of spouse, their choice to have an affair, even their choice of what to have for breakfast. You cannot live your life constantly comparing your current existence to what you think it would be if only you’d chosen something else. You don’t know what would be. You don’t know what part of yourself you would lose if you’d have done things differently.
Call it faith if you want, but I believe that good can, does, and has come from my bad experiences and wrong choices. I have hope that as badly as I’ve fucked up, I’m a better person now in spite of having taken the wrong path to get here. The scars I bear are a reminder of what I’ve done but also of how I’ve survived and learned from it. As much as I want to change the things I’ve done and the things I’ve seen, I can’t and I’m better for it.
That’s acceptance. It’s hard and it sucks, but I am who I am meant to be. I just pray that my next lessons don’t come by my own sinful hands.
Based on some of the comments I’m getting, I have no been sufficiently clear on what happened when, especially as it pertains to the writing of this blog. The easiest way for me to clarify this is to post the timeline of the last three and a half years. Dates for some things are approximate because after this amount of time I just don’t remember some specifics.
This is the final part of a three part series I wrote in March. It will make much more sense if you go back and read Friday’s and Saturday’s posts. -Anonyman
When I finally told my wife the awful truth I had been keeping inside, she told me she was done. She told me to get my things and get out of the house. I don’t really remember what was said. I think she asked some questions about what I had done and I answered them truthfully. She was nearly hysterical with anger and anguish, and I couldn’t blame her.
I sat stoically as she poured out her righteous anger on me. I took the verbal and physical abuse I so richly deserved. I didn’t put up any defense because there was none for my actions. I gave up. I don’t remember what my plan was, but it involved cashing in my life insurance policy to everyone’s satisfaction and benefit. I don’t remember if she asked and I told her my plan or if she just guessed it.
What I do know is that I broke down and sobbed like I hadn’t sobbed in a very long time. My wife, the angel that she is, couldn’t help but try to comfort me once I got started. I didn’t want her comfort and I certainly didn’t deserve it.
I had betrayed her again and again, both physically and emotionally, and I had held my poisonous secret for almost two years. When opportunities had arisen to come clean, I had hardened my heart and said in my heart that I would take the awful truth to my grave. The pain of keeping that secret became my atonement for the deeds I’d done. I convinced myself that through an act of sheer will I would be a good, trustworthy husband in spite of the lies I had to tell to spare her the pain of the truth.
As I sobbed, having finally unburdened myself of the awful lie, I had nothing left to lie for and nothing left to live for. I wanted to sink into the ground and never been seen again. I didn’t even care if there was an afterlife that I would be headed to. What I very much preferred was a permanent end of existence – the end of Anonyman and his endless string of betrayals, fuck-ups, and mistakes.
But it was not to be.
Instead, my wife held me in her arms as I sobbed and told her all the ways in which I didn’t deserve to exist, all the ways in which I was unworthy of her or anyone else. She told me she loved me and that she wasn’t going to give up on me. She told me that, in spite of what I had done, I wasn’t worthless or evil or any of the other things I thought of myself. She told me that I was going to get help.
And I did.
As soon as the health clinic opened up the next morning, I was there. After all the struggles I’ve previously written about on this blog and many more beside, I finally got on an antidepressant and I scheduled a visit to a therapist. There were no more excuses. I had hit rock bottom, and I had done it with my wife beside me. We gave each other the strength to get back up and get help.
So in spite of all I’ve done, she loves me and she saved me. God bless my wife.
This is the second of three parts of the post I published earlier. Like the first, I drafted this in March, but am just now getting around to publishing it (with some minor edits). – Anonyman
The second worst thing I’ve ever told my wife is that for approximately 9 months I had some additional, intermittent contact with the other woman. This was 9 months after I swore to her that I would not contact her and that I wouldn’t allow her to contact me. It wasn’t every day or even every week or month, but there was contact and I hadn’t told her until that day two years after D-day.
I’d like to say the why doesn’t matter, but it does. It is not for nothing that I tell people that contact is not healthy. I contacted her, or more accurately allowed her to contact me, because I missed her. I was depressed, at least somewhat suicidal, and my heart ached. I hated what I had done, but I didn’t hate her. Towards the end, I didn’t even really have strong feelings for her, but I couldn’t or wouldn’t allow that illicit relationship to die. In a way, to go strict no-contact for the rest of my life was to treat her as if she had died, and there were times when I refused to do that. I refused to let her die in my heart and I refused to treat her that way.
Another part of why I didn’t want to let the relationship die is because I’d never had a break up as an adult, let alone one in which both people had parted unwillingly. I was in my late teens when I met my wife. I never dated anyone else before or since (except for the other woman) and never had a girlfriend more serious than a crush before my wife. In short, I had no experience, no frame of reference, and so I romanticized and inflated the importance of everything, even though what I really wanted was to have never met her. I guess my pragmatic subconscious figured if I had made this huge mistake, why not inflate it into some big thing so maybe it wasn’t all bad.
There were also unanswered questions from the affair that I wanted to know the answers to – everything from how she really felt about me to how she was doing now. I questioned many things that she had told me, at least in my head, and I questioned myself. Had I really felt love for her or was I fooling myself? Was I really as special to her as she had said I was?
There were many other questions and I never got to them all, but as the contact continued, I never got any satisfying answers – at least none I trusted. She was then, and remains now, an enigma – her true feelings hidden by the fog of doubt and mistrust that naturally come with an affair.
As much as I can ever know why I kept responding to her messages instead of doing the sane thing and ignoring her, those are some of the reasons.
The how is much more straightforward. The contact was electronic messages. There was no meeting up for coffee, no riding in a car together, no getting a hotel, no physical contact at all – and thank God for that. The way it worked was she would contact me out of the blue, invariably when I was at my weakest and most vulnerable. (I don’t want to over-spiritualize things, but the timing was just a bit too convenient to be mere coincidence) We would talk for a few days and then one or both of us would realize we were being stupid and selfish. After that, contact would end – ostensibly, for good – and then 2-3 months later I would start missing her intensely and would be just on the verge of contacting her myself when she would contact me.
There’s a lot I regret about that contact. I regret being so stupid and selfish. I regret gambling with my marriage. I regret flirting, however briefly, with the idea of resuming the affair. I regret how every time I had contact, it would restart the process of getting over her and giving my whole heart to my wife.
Most of all, I regret the lying – pretending for almost two years that I was succeeding at being a good, faithful, loving husband – that I had changed. I regret making her feel like a fool for believing me. I regret the intense pain my infidelity caused when it was finally revealed again. I regret living in constant fear that if I ever told her what I had done that it would destroy us as a couple and individually. I regret creating a shared secret with the other woman that kept us bound together for so long. I regret that I kept this awful, poisonous truth hidden from my wife, friends, family, and therapists for so long.
In the end, it was the lies that nearly killed us both.