I started off the week sitting heavily with the idea that my marriage would not survive. My husband plead into a felony charge which has its own set of repercussions, but most prominently in my mind was the sex offender registration. A label required as a result of his conviction. We spent last weekend having some open conversations about the imminent changes and I was on a high horse about the open flow of communication and then it hit me like a brick wall. We were at dinner on Sunday – his treat, celebrating my recent promotion – and I said something along the lines of “I am the only shot you have to a normal future; I am your light to what would otherwise be darkness. You are the only darkness in my future that would otherwise be light and full of opportunity.”
Two major things occurred as the result of those few words:
1. He agreed. Initially I felt validated, but a day passed and I was beside myself. This was one of the core issues. My continued practice of mandating our emotions on every issue and his tendency to just go along with it – even when it is completely diminishing his self worth. Wasn’t all his therapy supposed to be helping him find his self worth and speak his truth?
2. My thinking needed to change if I wanted my marriage to survive. At the suggestion of my therapist I was to do some serious thinking around where I could see my husband bringing expansion and light into my future, despite the legal repercussions and why I wanted to continue living in this partnership and marriage.
Each time I sat down to put words on paper, attempting to answer those two questions, I found myself completely stumped – unable to verbalize this connection I had been holding onto for years. I felt total insecurity about any thought that popped into my mind – struggling to determine if this or that was reason enough, convinced there had to be something more. And so I left each session frustrated and doubtful. And my actions the remainder of the week fed into those insecurities.
Trust – as my insecurities grew, I lost my trust in our relationship and particularly in my husband. I convinced myself that if I was having such a difficult time identifying the light in our future and the reasons why I wanted to remain his wife, there must not be a foundation to our partnership. So I doubted everything.
- I came home in the evenings looking for evidence that he had been on my computer
- I left work a couple hours early one day and thought it best to surprise him rather than calling to say I was on my way
- I discovered he had thrown away a dying plant and instead of asking him about it in a straightforward manner I said “do you have something to tell me,” wondering what tidbit of honesty may pour from his mouth
- I became anxious when he texted me to say he would call when he was off work and his call came 30 minutes later than he normally gets off work
So how did I deal with these surfacing emotions? I had brief conversations with him about how I was feeling, but felt paralyzed by expressing the actual largeness of my feelings. What was the point? How far can I really drive the message into our conversations without causing total discouragement all together – how will we build the trust back up effectively? Is it even possible?
And so I shifted my thinking. I fantasized about what I would accomplish without him. The opportunity to move internationally with work – something we have both dreamt of in the past but where the possibility is now real for me. I took strides into making myself look and feel more attractive. I changed the motions for getting ready in the morning – laying emphasis on things I generally pass over. I bought a few new pieces of clothes to highlight the weight I have lost over the past year. I began to look at men as possibilities – both those that I interact closely with and those that I passed by in the course of life.
I took my insecurities and lack of trust and shifted to a place where rather than putting work into getting to the root of those issues, I assumed this marriage could not survive and started living life accordingly.
And last night I played a fine game of manipulation. I had spent part of the afternoon at a child’s birthday party which brought up a separate set of emotions that I was not in the mindset to face. When Steve got off work we had planned to head into Denver for a street food event – originally presented between us as a fun date night idea. But that idea quickly dwindled and we fell into our old, pre-recovery roles. The night played out as it would have years ago, before we even got engaged.
He invited another couple. I got excited about heading into Denver and mentioned it to a couple of my coworkers and friends. I started planning what else we could do since we were already going to be in Denver. I made commitments without discussing them with my husband and spent the original event and reason for going into Denver thinking about how I was going to convince my husband to get the rest of the evening I had planned to play out.
One of those plans was to meet a male coworker at a bar. That alone should have been a red flag but more importantly, this is a male coworker who knows what is happening in my personal life, whose wife was out of town, who was drunk and asking me to meet him at a bar. I focussed mentally on the innocence of meeting him – my husband is with me, we have a professional relationship, he is just a good friend. But my subconscious flirted along the lines of the scandalous possibilities. And that is where it went. Though we were at the bar for less than an hour, I spent my time evenly balanced between participating in a group game of Jenga with my husband and our friend that had gone into Denver with us and having sidebar inappropriate discussions with my coworker, eating up his compliments and sexual innuendos. And my interactions with this coworker validated the idea that my marriage was not going to survive and gave me satisfaction because I was taking the upper hand – I was setting into motion the events that would lead to its demise. I was owning a role as an unfaithful wife, not the wife of a sex addict.
I woke up feeling awful this morning. What was I thinking? Where do I go from here?
I need more time to answer the original questions posed by my therapist. Could there be a lesson in this?
If you believe in it, it will happen. I have the power to make a choice. I have to determine what I want that choice to be. And if its to end my marriage, I need to expect better for myself – repeating this pattern is unimaginable and my actions last night didn’t show promise.