The killer about dealing with a situation like this is that you never know when something is going to emotionally derail you. I have whole days where I feel like I am on an even keel and then "our song" comes on the radio or you realize that your shopping list has changed to accommodate the missing person in the house. Or when you realize something that never had significance before now does in the worst way. This weekend was fairly draining for me as J took the boys to visit his mom in Montana. The trip north is one we have taken as a family for more than eight years. It is also the place where, after he took me up there to meet his mom while we were dating, we both realized that we were in for the long haul and loved the feeling of a future together. I still have the love letter he wrote me after that trip and if I needed anymore torture this weekend, I would take it out and read it to remind myself of what we once had.
But I didn't. I already know what it says.
So, I have always had a special place in my heart for that little Montana town and the idea of never going back as a family hurts. What hurts even worse is that he will continue taking future trips without me, probably to introduce new girlfriends.
So, I thought I was already "triggered" for the weekend and was being careful to stay away from country songs and my friend Britny has been screening any trigger potential chick flicks. While cleaning files off the computer, I came across one from when I decided to get digital with my journal entries. Based on his time line for the affair, I wrote these entries shortly after his first "encounter." They all said things like "he feels more distant" and "He swears he doesn't love me less, but it feels like something has changed." At the time, I chalked it up to post baby weight or stress from work/school, or "I am probably being super sensitive right now". At no point did I assume he had given himself elsewhere. Silly me.
The good news? I am NOT crazy. His take throughout this situation has been to try to convince me that I am basically an idiot and would not be able to tell the difference between being loved for real and someone who was faking it. I remember what it felt like to really be loved, even if I haven't really felt it for years. There was a difference between "before" and "after" regardless of how much he tries to assure me that that he was just a "very good faker" throughout our relationship. I love/loved that man, but do not have that much confidence in his acting abilities regardless of what he chooses to remember. I never did believe his version, but finding the entries helped confirm it for me. He got lost. Looking back through my own memories and our written correspondence I can almost see it happening and I want to go back in time and warn old me to help him. I did not realize at the time how serious his issues were. I do now. He still doesn't.
I learned through therapy that when something like this happens, you often realize that in hindsight, whether you knew about "it" or not, you still knew on some level that something wasn't right. I knew. I also know that it was not always like that. As an emotionally healthy individual, I have far more confidence in my own ability to know when something is genuine (even if there are issues and secrets brought into it). I have confidence in my ability to remember things accurately. He has many reasons to want our past to be bad, I never did. I have less confidence in any version of events from the individual who is morally compromised and has carried a heavy load of guilt for so many years. I can't imagine carrying that and not trying to "make it okay" even subconsciously.
The bad news? I was vividly reminded through loving descriptions of my boy who was still so little just how long it has been since we have genuinely "had that lovin' feeling.' How long it has been since I have been his girl. In a way, his version would be easier to handle overall because it would allow me to hate him. My version forces me to grieve for him and miss the man who used to love me. The man who told me years before we ever thought of dating that we were a great personality match. the man who told me that he "could be his most real self with me" and that I was his best friend. The man who told me that he 'scorned to change his state with Kings.' My version forces me to continue to be shocked at the emotionless man who refused to look me in the eye when he said that he did "love me in many ways and on many levels, but we are not a match..."Daily, I miss the man he was before he chose to damage his soul so thoroughly.
The other bad news? It doesn't matter how accurate I feel I am about our past. His story is his reality and the good times are mine alone to remember unless/until he gets to a healthier place in his future. He would probably call this denial or self preservation. He can go ahead and call it that if he wants. I'm saying what I am saying with a clear concience and with honesty. That's MY story and I'm sticking to it. Every relationship hits snags. Ours obviously did. But we did have "it" once. I know that for sure.
I would never have married him otherwise.
There is a quote on the wall of the therapist's office that has made me cry for months. It says "every child deserves to be preceded by a love story." My memories have changed and I hate that. It feels like opening a water damaged photo album. All the pictures are still there, still the same, just not as bright and beautiful. But they are MY memories and I was happy when they were made. I have begun writing them down for our kids to read someday. It's therapeutic because once they are on paper, I feel like I can let them go a little. My little ones may never care, but in case they do, I want them to know our marriage was more than secrets, wrong doing, sadness and betrayal that led to the fracturing of their childhood. Even through my hardest times, I loved my marriage and I loved my husband and I have wonderful, loving memories that "precede" all three of them. They will know my version and if they want to, they will read every love letter and they can judge for themselves. If it helps them at all, regardless of what they may hear from him in the future, they WILL know that their mother loved their father with all her heart, and that they are not the result of a relationship that was doomed. Our path now might be dictated by the choices of another, but I can give them reassurance that we began in the right place.
Maybe it will help.