Hey friends...its me, the wife! I felt like I needed to blog and contribute so here we go:
I have been told that the grief I feel is comparable to the grief one feels when a death occurs. I think I agree. I am in the middle of the most profound mourning process. Just when I feel like things are taking a turn for the better, I fall two steps back and am instantly re-acquainted with my grief. So, if no one physically died, what exactly am I mourning? I figured some things out as I wrote this post.
1. I am mourning trust. I thought I could trust my husband in everything. When he said he would be somewhere, I trusted that that was indeed where he was. I trusted that when he told me he didn't have a pornography addiction or wasn't having an affair (because I did ask early on) that he was telling me the truth. He is the one that is supposed to look out for me, and I for him. We took sacred vows to support and defend one another. How am I supposed to react when the one person that I am supposed to rely on to protect me and love me is the one person that betrayed me? It is such a vicious, vicious pain. Who can I trust now if not my eternal companion?
Here's the good news: My husband is working so hard right now to re-gain my trust. When he has to leave his office, he calls immediately to tell me where he is going and why so I don't wonder. His cell phone and office computer are now open books to me. I find that refreshing. When he has even the smallest setback or urge, he immediately tells me about it. For now, I need him to do that even though it surprises me and can be a bit painful to find out what his "triggers" are. He and I attend our 12 step meeting once a week along with meetings with our Bishop and Stake President. He volunteers at the Bishop's storehouse every Wednesday so he can feel like he is serving even though he can't currently hold a church calling. So, he is trying! And, ever so slowly, that trust is returning. I know it may take years to fully return but I appreciate that I can now send him to work and not have a panic attack!
2. I am mourning our intimacy. It has been hard to get back on track in this department, I will admit it. (To be fair, I think it has been hard for both of us but I will let him explain why it has been hard for him.) I can't shake the feeling of having that "third person" in the room with us. I despise the fact that he has been with other women. I truly hate it. I find myself self conscious about my body and everything else that makes up our intimate life. Is he comparing me? Is he wishing I was like the others he has been with or perhaps he wishes I looked like one of those women on the computer screen. (You know the one...the porn star that has an impossibly perfect body that no woman in real life that has born five children could ever hope to have?...yeah, that one.)
Here's the good news: It is getting better. We communicate more in that department. After being tested for STDs and finding ourselves negative, it has been easier to relax. I am hopeful that there will come a time when we can be together and I won't "flash" onto images that I have created in my mind that are painful. (I won't go into detail...but I am sure you can guess what those images might be.)
3. I am mourning the life of honesty that I thought we had. I honestly didn't see this coming! I had Zero...and I mean ZERO idea that pornography was the third member of our marriage for 17 years. He kept it from me so easily. And therein lies the biggest problem. He kept it from me by lying. Do you realize what that means? For 17 years, he has told me a lie perhaps daily. When he was late from work or mysteriously in the bathroom at 3 in the morning...he had to make excuses for all of it and over time, those lies got easier and easier until eventually, they just rolled off his tongue. He got so adept at it that by the time his sexual addiction was full blown and had moved into the physical realm, the lies were simple and natural. This allowed him to get away with a 2 month relationship/affair without me even knowing. I sometimes feel like such a fool. Why didn't I see it? Were they laughing at me as they planned their next rendezvous and the ways they could manipulate me to keep me in the dark? Was I just the butt of some big joke? So, yes, I miss being able to just accept what he is telling me as truth. I hate questioning and analyzing everything he says, trying to determine if it is true or false.
The good news: My husband has been so good at being honest post Dday. (At least from what I can see) He is a different person now that his lies and secrets are no longer in the dark. He doesn't have to carry those lies around anymore and he feels liberated. As a result, he tries to be 100% honest with me...even when I am asking questions that he doesn't want to answer. I have appreciated that so much!
4. I am mourning my self esteem. My girls have a Young Women's activity tonight where they are going to dress as their hero. When my 15 year old told me she was going to dress up like her aunt, I fell apart. Why not her mother? At that moment, I felt so disposable. My children don't appreciate the pain and anguish I am going through in order to save our family from oblivion. They don't see it because we have been very good at hiding it to spare their feelings. Furthermore, for 2 months, another woman (practically a stranger) was more important in my husband's life than I was...his wife of 17 years. Yeah, I was disposable. I look in the mirror and I am sometimes disgusted with what I see. Why couldn't I have a more desirable, skinny body? Why couldn't my face be prettier, my hair be better, my clothes be more sexy? I am just a busy stay at home mom to five kids. When do I find the time to be glamorous? Why should it matter? It now matters to me because for some reason my husband decided to look for other bodies to be with outside of what I could give him. His addiction told him that I wasn't enough. He needed to experience more and more and more. Were they prettier than me? Perhaps....probably. So how do I get that self esteem back? I wish I knew.
The good news: My heavenly father has been telling me for 10 weeks how important I am to Him. My friends have taken me to lunch and the spa. They have brought in dinner and flowers (and most of them don't even know what is truly going on...just that we are struggling.) My husband has gone overboard in telling me that he loves me...and I don't feel like it is an act. When he tells me he loves me with tears in his eyes, it is not an act. As he comes out of this horrible addiction fog, he is seeing what he has done to me and is trying to make it right.
5. I am mourning our memories. I can't look at a picture of our family in those 2.5 months without feeling intense pain. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, parties, movies, dates, concerts with the kids... these are all memories that I thought had meaning and happiness attached to them. Now, after finding out that when we were doing all of those fun things as a family that he had something sinister going on behind the scenes, I ache when I think of those months and see those pictures. Oh the carnage! Infidelity has so many fingers of destruction.
The good news: Because we have made the commitment to stay together, get help and treatment for him and work through the pain that adultery has caused using the Atonement, we have the hope of many new memories. Hopefully (and I can truly say that I hope for this) this whole debacle will be looked back on one day as just a bump in our journey together...the bump that made us stronger and better.
So, in a nutshell, that's it. I am mourning five things (and a few more) and I am trying to heal by taking them one by one. I have lost a lot but I have faith in this scripture: