GONE

If I had to name all the occasions that lead up to the moment of my leaving last week; it seems as though the list from the past five years might be endless.  A small part of it might look like this:

Maybe it was the fact that you told our tour guide (TG) the second day you met her that “you will be my second wife” contributed to the demise of our marriage. For you have worked very hard to make that statement come true by putting TG on a pedestal while you wiped your feet on me as you dusted and shined your Vietnamese FANTASY. You know, the fantasy whom you have spent five whole days with over the past five years. Maybe that led to my leaving.

Or maybe it was the fact that you sent her so much money that it was the equivalent of 20 years salary in Vietnam. With that much money she began living high on the hog…fancy dinners, beautiful clothes, fixing her father’s home… while I bought shirts at TJ Maxx for $14.99 to which you would comment, “When did you get that?” as if I had done something wrong.

Perhaps it was all the time and care you took into ensuring her needs were met and picking out gifts for her. Necklaces, perfume and oh yeah,,,that engagement ring that she wears on her wedding band finger.

Maybe it was all the lies…thinking that you had ended it so many times after your assurance that you did…only you didn’t. The phone call you had me witness and participate in telling her it was over. The letter you wrote to her saying the relationship could never be.

Although it might have been the daily “I love you’s”, the hugs, the great sex, and the kisses that were so faked (according to what TG told me) that you could have made Vivian Lee swoon.

Maybe it was making me feel “less than” while you struggled to choose who your heart would belong to….a competition that I could never win. Making me feel as though I could never do enough…and I couldn’t… because in your mind TG would always do more. Or the fact that you were hiding a quarter of your take home pay in a private account and couldn’t understand why I would wonder if you were sending money to TG and then getting upset when I mentioned her name.

Yet, another fact could be the day that I opened an envelope from J.P. Morgan stating that you changed your beneficiary of your investments with it going half to your sister instead of taking care of your kids. You said it was so she could divide it among your siblings because they had been left out of your father’s will 15 years ago but if that were true why not divide it with 33 1/3% going to each?  Instead I believe that she was instructed to give it to TG. Frankly, doing things like this without discussion with your partner seems kind of suspicious and slimy to me.

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But it really boils down to was a few days in which clarity arrived like a freight train as it plowed into my ears through my mind…its horn loud and piercing my heart until all the blood from my body seeped out of itself, spilling onto the tracks, along with all of the love that I once had for you. And like a bullet train, my love was here one minute and gone the next and I was left standing, suitcase in hand, on the platform of life deciding which direction I wanted to take. And now I am here ….alone….without my children….my heart breaking. Yet, I have been wise enough to put that suitcase down along side  those tracks and refuse to drag it along behind me for the rest of my life. For you and your lies are packed in that suitcase and it is has been a heavy load to carry around with me the past five years. Now, I never want to open that suitcase again.

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But really what drove me to leave were these few things that all happened within the past ten days. The first was the night that I told you how I had been working with my therapist to come up with what a needed to feel that we were working towards healing and that our new life together was on track. You know, that night I told you, “Honey, I need a new symbol of our commitment and would like for us to go on Sunday to pick out new rings and re-new our vows on our anniversary.” And you said something along the line of “I am not sure that I can do that because I don’t know that you can change to love, honor and OBEY me. ” That was definitely the beginning of the end because if you loved me you would have said, “Whatever you need to make you feel safe in this relationship. I will do whatever it takes.” Yet, you had never, once, throughout these two years of me knowing about the affair been willing to do whatever it takes. And you should have. I deserved no less.

 

Finding the love letters between the two of you and the naked pictures of your time in Singapore didn’t help the situation especially as I ran through my head the number of times you told me that you had nothing left from the affair.

But really it was the butt-dialed conversation I heard between you and your sister that drove me away. Hearing the distain you have for me in your voice just about did me in. Hearing the two of you laughing at and about me was one of the most painful things I have ever heard. You know that conversation:

“…I asked her what she was seeing her therapist for and she said PTSD.”

“…from my affair?”

“and she said yes.” (chuckle, chuckle, laugh. laugh)

“…oh that is the new diagnosis. Everyone has it. But if anyone should have PTSD it should be YOU from living with her!” (chuckle, chuckle, laugh, laugh)

Or maybe it was hearing her say you were lucky to be living in Texas now… for the divorce and hearing your answer. Your words made me finally realize that there was a strong possibility that you had brought me to Texas with you in order to get the kids with you (since they were with me in CA) so you wouldn’t have to pay child support nor spousal support. If that was your plan it was so deliberate and cunning that it sacred me and shook me to my very core. It was that moment that I also realized just why you didn’t want me to come to CA to work on my house until after the 30th. Texas law required that you be a resident six months to file and in just a few more weeks you could file against me for divorce and try to get the jurisdiction of our pending CA divorce changed to the  State of Texas; a more favorable state for you. My heart started bleeding with that realization because my intensions to start over and be with you and our family were true while yours were not.

Hearing how you made yourself out to be the victim of the housecleaning wars was also interesting as was when you asked your sister how the TG was doing and it became obvious that your sister was in contact with her for you.

But it is conceivable that what really sealed the deal was how, when the next day arrived and I asked you if you had talked to your sister you said, “No, I haven’t talked to her in at least a week” while looking directly into my eyes.

“Really, you haven’t talked to her?”

“No, not at all.”

“Stop lying to me I know you talked to her yesterday.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You butt-dialed me (or did he…maybe it was intensional?). I heard every word!”

“No, I didn’t.”

How…how can you stare into my eyes and continue lying? And at the moment I realized the price I was paying was too high and I didn’t want to pay it anymore. That my sanity was worth more than I could ever lose remaining with you.

So I have left your fantasy land. Mine too. Our “trial” reunification in Texas is done.  I have been stripped of everything I thought was true about you, about me, and about our life together. I no longer know what was true the past five years and what you made up to appease me and to protect your guilty self. In fact, upon reflection, I don’t know what was true EVER. And that makes me angry. I am angry that I was so stupid and trusting. I am angry that you set me up. I am angry that you and your girlfriend fucked up our lives and that now I am left alone…our kids living with you because I loved them enough not to just take them with me.

Why?

Well, Paul is in his senior year of high school. He will graduate in four months and is finally doing well in school. His high school has worked hard to help him succeed and feel good about himself despite all the challenges his disabilities present. No…I could not pull him away from that because of my own needs. And Gracie? Well, she has two more years of high school and loves her new coach. Finally, she is getting great coaching which is paramount for a kid wanting to go to college on an athletic scholarship. No, I couldn’t do that to her either.  And Andre…well autism serves him well. He doesn’t care if we divorce or who he lives with as long as he gets to remain in his room.

I am back in my house in CA. It had not sold while I was in Texas. Unfortunately, about six weeks ago it also flooded due to a sump pump failure which insurance would not cover. So I am spending close to $50,000 to repair this house and living in at at the same time. This week I am going to try my hand at tiling a bathroom floor as well as get back to studying my textbooks so I can have a “career” again after I divorce at 59 years old. (I mean who starts a career at almost 60…let’s be real…it won’t be a career like you have had rather it will just be a job). And with it my lifestyle will go from vacations and having to worry much about money to cutting coupons and shopping at Good Will while you wine and dine your fantasy.

We haven’t talked since I left except for 40 seconds about a crisis occurring at the rental house.  Thirty-two years of marriage and we have sent less than a half dozen texts. And while I hurt like I have never hurt before it is also incredibly freeing not to be living with a narcissistic liar anymore. Knowing that what I see and what I hear everyday is the truth is calming my brain and helping me to experience a sense of peace that I have not known in many years.

My friends are concerned. They are afraid that I will go back. But this time I won’t for it is done. I am done. Forever. Just hearing his laughter and distain did more to drive me away than the past five years that he deliberately tried to get me to leave. And because of his warped thinking he can now tell himself the story that he is innocent….that I left him…that I am the bad one….in order to feel good about himself. Yes, B, you’ve won but so have I in a way that I never imagined…I am acting with a sense of purpose and Dignity and Grave. I am treating myself well.

In fact, the other day I bought myself something very nurturing for my re-birth. It makes be feel very safe and cocooned-like. It also brings relief to my set on “high alert”  sensory system has been under attack for the past many years. This gift to myself is contributing to my sense of feeling grateful, peaceful, and calm.

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So friends….don’t worry about me… I am cocooned…I am safe… And B can no longer touch me or my heart. I am GONE. And one day I will feel safe and happy again. It can only get better…and it will….one day at a time. Wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

 

Shame On Me

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“Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Shame on me. Shame, shame, shame.

We are just about ready to close on our new house. We are packing boxes for the move. B is acting like the man I used to know…loving, taking my hand, looking into my eyes, telling me he loves me numerous times a day. I feel like a school girl again. Life is good. Until Tuesday.

At 7 am B walks downstairs and tells me he has not been feeling good since Friday. He needs to go to the doctor. Oh, and he feels guilty that I went for HIV test after finding out about his three year affair with our tour guide in Vietnam and he will get tested just in case.  Oh and he has something on his dick.

He returns home.

“So did the doctor look at your dick?”

“NO, I didn’t show it to him, He just ordered panels.”

“Okay, that makes no sense. Why would you go and worry you have something but not show it to him?”

Let me look. I see nothing. My antenna are now a mile high in the sky. Well, actually they were when he told me he was going to the doctor in the weird way he did so. That is just not like him.

On Wednesday morning he has had night sweats for three days and is up at 2 am. He is frantic. He tells me he is feeling really ill and has been sick for days and lost 6 pounds yesterday. He needs to go to the ER now. The man is out of his mind kind of frantic. Crazy nuts kind of frantic. Weird. As he is about to leave he grabs my hand and says:

“I think I caught something. While you took our son to a specialist on Friday (he fractured a bone Thursday) I went to a massage parlor and had unprotected sex. I swear I have never done  anything like that before. That is why I have been avoiding you sexually. I think I caught something and don’t want to give it to you.” (He is still waiting for those Brownie points!)

“Wow,” I say. “If you wanted a divorce all you had to do was ask.”

And off he goes.

That morning I hired an attorney. I am filing for divorce. I also asked the court to step in and oversee a large sum of money that is coming our way the last day of the month. I have to protect our family and make sure that he won’t get the money and skip town to Vietnam with all of it, leaving me unable to care for our kids. Do I think he would do that? NO. Am I sure? NO. I don’t know anything anymore. I can’t believe anything anymore. I have been living an illusion for these past many years. I also wonder if he is suffering from mental illness that runs in his family.

He, of course, is down on one knee begging for forgiveness. Trying to get me to move  with him while he “works on himself.” He is currently at a Catholic church praying for God to help him. He keeps sending me articles like “Five Reasons Christians Fail to Overcome Lust.” (Maybe the problem is you are not a Christian or you are trying to act like something you are not?)

Meanwhile, I flew to New York yesterday to clear my head and be with my son. I am trying to practice compassion for myself, love myself and just be kind to myself. I have had three years of chaos and I just want the freedom to grieve, take it easy and let someone take care of me for a change.

Our children who live at home are unaware of what is going on at this point. I am:

heartbroken

beyond sad

and wondering how I will ever be able to trust again.

I am trying not to be angry or bitter as It will only hurt me in the end. BUT…

my dreams have been thrown down the rabbit hole again but this time there is no soft landing. I am bruised and broken but somehow I will survive.

 

 

How Long Did You Ask Questions After Your Spouse’s Affair

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Today I was painting my woodwork when a thought about B and his mistress came into my head. The question was this: Why was he insisting that I get a job and said it would be “easier for me” (meaning him) if I did? I wondered, was it because he was supporting her and he needed the money or because he was planning to divorce me and if I had a job it would be better for him in court?

So I asked and although he answered the question he made it very apparent that he was not happy that once again I brought her up. Further talking revealed that he feels I talk about it several times a week. Sometimes he is right. As an example he said that earlier this week I brought her up when we pulled up into our driveway. And I had…there was a woman who looked like her standing on the street by our house and it just freaked me out and I said something about it.

So my question to you, dear reader, is how long did it take you to stop asking questions regarding your spouses affair. How long did it take for you not to think about it? A week, a month, a year? So far I am 14 weeks into knowing and sometimes as I am busy doing something (like painting, mopping the floor, etc.) something about the affair just hits me and so I ask the question that has come up in my mind. While I think this is part of the PISD, I would like to know that there is an end in sight at some point. After all, this  three- year affair of his has been exhausting and I would like to be over it…I am sure he would like that too but frankly it is my discomfort I am worried about…not his! Yet, I wonder with all these questions how do I ever grant grace and leave it alone so I leave behind the chaos? Any suggestions?

Post Infidelity Stress Disorder

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It’s been a while. Quite a long while actually. I haven’t been able to do the things I normally do as I concentrate on ridding myself of the negative thoughts and images that have floated through my mind since I found out about B’s affair.  There has been a lot of canceling going on.

“He is a jerk”

“Cancel, cancel, cancel” (don’t say cancel out loud or the guys in the white coats might come for you) Just say “cancel” in your head and then look around and take in what you see:

“Oh the clouds look big a fluffy today”

“Look at that beautiful orange tomcat”

Anything that take your mind off the negativity and onto something different.

Anyway, last week I had an extreme reaction to something B said in the marriage counselors office which cause me to stand up and say that I needed to leave. NOW. We were discussing a possible move when B said, “I can move and get used to the job while you stay back at home with the kids!”

End of discussion on the part of B even though we have had this gone over this scenario before and I had said that this solution was unacceptable to me.

And so:

My heart started pounding.

My blood pressure and anxiety soared.

I felt like that walls were closing in on me and tried to flee the therapists office.

I flashed back to the time when B would not take me to China with him and I “knew” something was up when suddenly he was taking a side trip to Singapore (which I later found out was to rendezvous with our Vietnamese tour guide) I didn’t understand what was going on at that time but I knew that I felt intense confusion and pain about why B was so adamant that I could not go with him and why a discussion was not “forthcoming.”

I broke out in a sweat.

I began to itch.

The therapist looked at me as I kind of said something like:

“WHAT THE F***!!!! OH,HELL NO! YOU MADE THIS MESS AND YOU ARE NOT LEAVING ME TO CLEAN IT UP WHILE YOU GET TO TAKE IT EASY!”

I explained to both B and the therapist that this scenario was unacceptable to me. That I didn’t want to clean up B’s mess and have to deal with angry kids who would be afraid we were divorcing and couldn’t understand why we were not together as a family. I would not be alone with a child whose rage would be intense if he felt abandoned and I didn’t understand why someone who swears he wants to be with me would even consider that an option and if that was the way it was going to be then we might as well not be together.

I heard something about B thinking of the logistics in a “practical” manner while I was looking at them from the heart. And then I left.

The next week I was at my therapists office and I mentioned to her that I thought I might  have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and began to relate what happened to me at the marriage counselors office.

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“Of course, you have post traumatic stress disorder after what you have been through with B for the past three years. But in your case it is referred to as Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD) and there is a set of recognized symptoms that are brought on by the trauma of infidelity, ” she said.

WHO KNEW? A big sigh of relief escaped my lips…so I wasn’t going crazy after all.

According to her, often the offended partner has extreme reactions to circumstances because they are now operating from a hyper-vigilant state where nothing feels safe or real. And while it may not be as traumatizing as prolonged war or physical abuse, the experiences of the cheated on spouse often echoes the symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms of PISD include:

  1. Exposure to a perceived life-threatening event (end of marriage, constant lies, betrayal of trust, etc)
  2. Emotional numbing
  3. Inability to stop seeking more information about the affair or what your spouse is currently up to
  4. Increased anxiety
  5. Intense feelings of fear or helplessness
  6. Feelings of irritability and rage
  7. A re-experiencing of the event or events
  8. Avoiding things that remind us of the affair
  9. Repeated intrusive thoughts
  10. Anger or blaming of ones self (“If only”)

Obviously, I am no expert on the subject but since I have discovered that I have symptoms of PISD, I am learning what I can about it and how to heal from it. The one thing I do know is this it will take time.

For those of you interested in the subject you can find a good article that discusses PISD it here:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rediscovering-love/201709/how-infidelity-causes-post-traumatic-stress-disorder

I have also started reading a book on the subject on the advice of my therapist. The title is Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder by Dennis Ortman, PhD which is available on Amazon. It has been extremely helpful so far.

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So I continue on this journey. It is a trip I didn’t ask for and one I didn’t plan. Sometimes it angers me that I have been forced down this rabbit hole by the person I trusted most in the world. A husband who selfishly who pushed me into this land of self-discovery. Yes, many of the things I have learned or done have been helpful but I still wish I had been the one to decide if and when I wanted to confront the issues that I have been working on. But for now I try not to dwell on the “what if’s” and instead I attempt to embrace this new post-affair life of mine. Some days I succeed and some days I don’t but if nothing else I am teaching my children that if life throws you curve balls you keep swinging that bat until you connect even if that connection is only with one’s self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Good Enough” Parent vs. The “Golden Ladder” Parent

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I’m a loser parent. In an age when parents rush to get their children in the most prestigious pre-schools, spend a fortunate on multiple language, music and sports lessons, and attempt fill their children’s social calendars with more dates than the CEO’s of major corporations; I am happy to report that I am not one of these “Golden Ladder” parents. I strive not for excellence but to be just a “Good Enough” parent.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your views; my kids do not have a “Golden Ladder” parent. I am not the type that believes that each rung that their child climbs has to be new, exciting, educational, worthwhile, and play some important role in getting their child where they want them to be in 20 years. For these parents each lesson and each task must have some sort of fundamental purpose that will serve their child well in their future life and help them score in the top 1% on the ACT. Everything their darling tries is of earth-shattering importance and each rung of the ladder must be comprised of something meaningful to give their child the competitive edge that they will need when they attend a prestigious Ivy league school. They think their children must attain perfection and be model citizens as they climb their way to the very top rung where the golden ring awaits.

The trouble with all this expectation on a child is someday the “Golden Ladder” kids will fail and both they and their parents will not know how to handle it when they do. I met one of these “Golden Ladder” parents a couple of years ago in the doctors office. At that time our autism behaviors with both boys were in full swing (read LOUD) and this “gentleman” proceeded to lecture me on my children’s behaviors while pointing out how quiet, still and properly behaved his three sons were. Meanwhile the nurses slowly nudged open the reception window to hear this blowhard’s comments. They quickly called my family back apologizing for the lout who probably never would have had the nerve to say to my husband what he said to me but felt he had the right to berate a woman to make himself feel powerful and get his rocks off.

I went home and I was feeling like crap.I was tired of trying my best but not measuring up to the “Golden Ladder” parents standards. But what this man didn’t understand is that what he could show his child once and have a successful follow through; I have to show my boys 200 times each. In a day sometimes. That is autism for you. Parents with autistic children also have to work 100 times harder day in and day out than parents whose children are neuro-typical dealing with such things as food issues, anxieties and toilet training problems. Many of us have autistic children with insomnia which means we inherit the condition via osmosis so we are perpetually exhausted. In fact, many parents suffer from PTSD disorder due to the high alert status we contend with every day. Being a parent to a special needs child is not for sissies.

Having raised three successful and wonderful children to adulthood I wished I had just turned around and said to that idiot “I hope you are right about your kids. Unfortunately, you will learn someday that they have their own voice, their own dreams and their own ideas which more than likely will not be in step with yours. So before you lecture anyone else about their kids I suggest you wait until yours are grown and then we will talk. Because what I have learned from having all my children is that we all have expectations and sometimes they must be dialed up and down accordingly. Don’t make the mistake of forcing YOUR will and desires on your kid.  For if you expect your child to constantly achieve “the highest/be the best/” then you are setting them up to cheat in order to make you happy and achieve your expectations. And if you stress constant achievement and teach them that being the best is all they should strive for, then most-likely they will not learn to be content.”

That is what I wished I had said. Instead, I whispered in his ear that he was an horse’s ass because I knew if I said it out loud ass would become my son’s new favorite word. To everyone.

One of the best things I have learned from having two boys with autism is that climbing the “Golden Ladder” is not what is important. What is important, autism or not, is being able to encourage your child without being vested in the outcome and to let them have room just to be themselves. And knowing that sometimes their actions will make your cringe. But do it anyway. But perhaps the most important thing I have come to understand is that by laying the ladder flat and just putting one foot in front of the other, that is more than good enough and it is just what they need. Even if your child does their walking on their tippy-toes.