This past year has seemed like both the longest and the slowest of my life. But as I stop and stand back from the vantage point where I am today I can see so many things so clearly.
March 19th 2016 was the day I knew, without any doubt or trying to use it as a bargaining chip, that I was done staying in a marriage with a man who was going to continually, purposefully, heart me. I knew that day I was done being hurt by him.
I had told him the month previous that I would not be moving with him when he had to report to his new duty station with the military. We had been “separated” for the 6.5 months previous due to his deployment but within two weeks of him being home I knew he was not interested in changing anything on his part. My spirit and sole was literally dying living with him again after being separated for so many months.
I had felt for months that he truly wasn’t interested in honest, true, recovery. He had told me he never planned on telling me about his pornography and sex addiction (although he doesn’t believe he has an actual addiction) and that he never truly wanted to give it up. The work I had done on my own healing, through therapy and 12 steps, had begun to show me what recovery really looked like. But I think more important even than that was I was learning to trust my gut again, to trust that God would tell me the truth, even when my husband wouldn’t. I knew I was changing my life. I knew I would never be able to go back to how things used to be. I could not go back to my old marriage which was full of abuse, neglect and control. I was done with that relationship. I hoped and prayed my husband would want to change with me, that we could build a new future together. But once he was back living in the same space as me it was very clear that was not going to happen, at least not any time soon.
So I offered him one last chance. I told him I would stay behind with the children and he could move back east. I told him I wanted a true separation and that I would give him one last chance to show me, not tell me (his words meant nothing to me after discovering he had been lying to me for nine years) that he was truly going to change.
He left and didn’t speak to me for a week because he was mad that I didn’t hug him goodbye. One of my very early boundaries after D-Day was that I wanted no physical touch of any kind unless I initiated it. I needed this to feel safe. For the eight years before d-day I knew we didn’t really connect emotionally. We only occasionally connected on a friendship level and that was always on his timetable. One way I had always thought we connected, the way I always felt close to him was when we were intimate. That’s all I had to grasp onto during those years of marital loneliness.
Finding out that those times were not real, that he did not honor or respect that aspect of our life either was devastating. Learning that he had been fantasizing about other women when he was with me, discovering that he constantly turned to other women, even just virtually, to share that part of his life with, destroyed me.
I had begun to find hope in the possibility that we could heal from this, that through the grace of God and hard work we could build something new from the ashes. But only if absolutely everything changed. And until I felt those changes, not just heard them, I was not at all interested in sharing a physical relationship with him. To do so would have re-traumatized me all over again. If he truly cared about the pain he had caused me and was honestly working on recovery and learning empathy he would not have thrown such a tantrum about honoring the boundary I needed to feel safe.
On March 19th I had opened our shared amazon music account. I saw that he had added a new music album, but not just any album, Carrie Underwood.
To put this in context, two years before, when our twins were less then a year old and when I was practically drowning in taking care of my 2 year old and infant twins, as well as doing all the house care, meals and diapers, I had set up a special anniversary date night to celebrate our seven years together. I surprised him with tickets to see Carrie Underwood. He loved her music.
He had done nothing in return for me. Not so much as an anniversary card. Nothing. After d-day and learning about the different components of a sex addiction I knew that anniversary night he had not been with me. He had been with her, even if only in his mind. It hurts even now, after all the work I have done to heal and all the time that has past. That betrayal hurts.
When I found that he had added her album I texted him letting him know that it hurt me, that it triggered the pain I felt about his betrayal. I was trying to be honest about how I was feeling, no longer content to hide or numb how I truly felt. I wanted a relationship built on honestly from both parties.
He wrote me back telling me that this was why we would never fix our marriage. Because I wouldn’t “let things go” and kept “turning molehills into mountains”. I remember breaking down in tears. Not only was I hurting because of this trigger, he was also telling me it’s my fault I was feeling that way. I knew right than and there I was done letting him hurt me like that any more. And I have never gone back on that.
He was wrong then and he is wrong now. His choices directly created the pain I felt then, before and since. When you betray someone, especially so intimately, so vulnerably, you do not get to decide how the grieve, how they hurt or how they heal. He simply wanted me to forgive and forget (which he has actually told me more than once) and move on, or more correctly, go back to how things were. Where he would abuse, neglect and control me as well as cheat on me emotionally and physically (even simply “in his mind” or “with a 2D image” – pornography is infidelity)
I could not then and would never now, go back. Life is hard as a single parent, battling a narcissistic addict in court, but there is a peace and a authenticity in my life that was not there during my marriage. I am finding who I truly am and building the joyful life I have always longed for. There is not room for abuse, abandonment, or oppressive control in that life.
March 19th, 2016 was the day I knew I was done living with an active addict who had no desire to change and every intention of continuing to hurt me. I knew I was worth more than that. And I believe that even more strongly today.