Naughtiness

I haven’t posted for the last two weeks or so.  This afternoon I have been catching up with the posts from the blogs I follow in my Reader and I am just about back up to date now.  There has been lots of stuff going on for me.  Work has been frantic, but it has been a good frantic.  I had felt woolly headed for a long time, really only treading water with my workload and doing the things which were shouting the loudest.  But just recently I have been a bit more in control, and have started to take back some of the initiative.  I have started to run quicker than some of the jobs that are chasing me.  I am making some progress.  I don’t feel quite so burdened by the pile of admin on my desk when I walk in in the morning.   The paperwork doesn’t make me want to run and hide.  I was at that ‘I am so busy and there is so much horrible stuff to do, I might as well just do none of it because it is all awful and what is the point anyway?’ stage.  But this seems to be passing. 

I have also been doing lots on the home front.  The ironing pile which threatened to engulf me has been tamed to a manageable state.  I have caught up with most of my odd jobs.  The sewing pile was tackled last Sunday afternoon and the items have now been through the wash again (they had been there so long since being laundered I thought this was cleaner!)  I have organised and sorted out some of the home admin jobs which needed doing. 

I say ‘I’ but there has been a lot of ‘we’ as well.  We have been pulling together, doing jobs to get them done, rather than aimlessly looking at them and thinking ‘sod it, we will do it tomorrow’.  The energy and impetuous has been good.  I have felt positive. 

I think this drive partly comes from the time of year.  The recent snow falls in the UK have meant there has not been much chance to be out and about (avoiding the boring, necessary stuff) and we have knuckled down and got on.  In a complete turnaround, the weather this weekend was positively spring like and we went to the local park on Sunday morning.  We fed the ducks, we walked together.  The sun was out and it was nice.  It felt normal. 

I am trying not to obsess on that thought, the ‘it felt normal’.  It somehow feels frightening to think it felt normal.  I didn’t imagine for one moment I would ever feel completely normal again.  I thought there was no chance.  I wonder whether sometimes I have resisted accepting nice things (when we have had nice times and my husband has said sweet things to me) as a defence of some kind.  If I let him back in he has the power to hurt me all over again.  But also I wonder whether I do it to somehow keep making sure he knows how much this has all hurt me.  Perhaps if I don’t tell him everyday how much his affair has hurt me, he might forget.  He might think I have forgotten.  He might think I am over it.  I know that all sounds mad, and as I type the words I can see the warped logic to it.  But I didn’t say there was any sane reasoning behind my thought process.

It is strange because this progress has come on the back of some triggering and a seriously messed up action I have taken.  Valentine’s Day has been something which, for the last two years, has been a nightmare.  The shops filled with the pink, hearts and flowers just after the new year and since then I have been avoiding the shops like the plague.  In 2011 we had a very muted Valentine’s Day – it was only two months on from the first and second D Days and it was (although I didn’t know it then) in our false recovery period.  Bitch was still very much on the scene.  In 2012 again it was very soon after D Day three and I had obsessed myself into a frenzy as he had told me she had sent him a card in 2011.  I should have taken heart from the fact he had deposited it into the hotel room bin and she had seen it there.  He couldn’t risk bringing it home or having it hidden somewhere.  That must have got up her nose.  But I was too raw at that stage to see any of that. 

This year we had agreed we wouldn’t do any of that stuff again.  Before the day I was triggered by the thought of the whole gushing expressions of love and how I would get through it.  But it was ok.  We did buy each other cards, and my husband chose a very sweet card with a meaningful verse.  He signed it with 18 kisses as we will have been married 18 years this year.  We bought each other small gifts.  He was pleased with his Scooby Doo DVD (I know!) and I liked my toiletries.  It was thoughtful and nice.  We didn’t put the pressure on and it worked.  Instead of going for a meal on the day we decided to go out for the day on Saturday.  We went sightseeing to a city we had never been too.  I took pictures of the cathedral.  I lit a candle for my late mum.  It was a beautiful day.  I understand now what our counsellor means about making new memories and banking those. 

My husband had a business trip away the week before Valentine’s Day and this was a major trigger for me.  It was a conference in a hotel in the north and it was a very similar type of gathering to the one where he met Bitch.   There were lots of women there, and it felt far too close to a repeat of the opportunity which he had taken advantage of in 2010. I did start to get very charged up about it, I started to feel out of control again.  I shouted and told him he couldn’t go.   But my husband was calm, he told me he understood.  He went out of his way to make me feel safe.  He checked in all the time.  I told him when I felt really bad. He rang me during the evening meal, he rang me when he was back in his hotel room.  He didn’t have more than three pints to drink.  He told me he could see all his co-workers getting pissed from the free bar. They were necking back the doubles and getting plastered.  He could stand back and see what was going on.  He felt he didn’t want to join in, he didn’t want to put himself in that situation.  He didn’t even make an excuse as to why he wasn’t drinking – he had thought about saying he was on antibiotics.  But instead he chose to say he didn’t want to drink much.  He was happy as he was. 

I was proud of him then.  I know how hard it is not to be influenced by the crowd – my old husband would have gone along with them, not wanting to be the odd one out.  He would have got peed because they did.  Now he was happy to stand up and say no.  I told him that made him a bigger man.

 I was pleased when he came home.  I felt like I had been able to use some of the techniques we are learning in our book.  We haven’t got to the next chapter yet as he has been away, and the time we have had we have been enjoying together. 

My husband is away again at the moment and I have wondered whether it is ok to feel like this.  I suppose this is the doubt creeping in again.  Am I safe to feel safe?  What if it happens again, what if I am being too naive and he is up to no good again?  But I am working on that.  I am focussing on the good stuff, the progress I have made.  The progress we have made.

There is one little (big) thing which I have to confess.  I know I have said before I had been obsessed with Bitch and what was going on with her life.  I have been following from a distance, keeping up with the comings and goings via her boyfriend’s open access Facebook page. However, it has never been quite enough for me.  I know I should just move on from her and should not give her headspace, but that is so damn hard to do in practice.  I know everyone says the way forward is to forget about her, to not let her have power and to leave her behind.  

So, I did something rather devious (stupid?).  I created a fake Facebook profile in her name.  I acquired a few ‘friends’ and then send her a friend request.  I couldn’t help myself.  I felt sick when I sent it, but only 12 hours later she had accepted.  I am amazed to be honest she could be taken in by such an obvious ruse.  But there she is, in her full glory.  Status, pictures, everything – open, accessible and available.  I think she has moved on to such an extent it wouldn’t even cross her mind that it could be me.  I am so insignificant in her eyes.  I laughed she could be so stupid. 

When I first got access, I poured over her site.  I looked at every entry from 2010 and 2011 – and that is three hours of my life I will never get back.  I found entries on the days when the first, second and third D Days took place. And yes she was hurting.  She was posting all sorts of stuff.  And there was stuff about when she was lonely at the weekends, when we were away on holiday and she couldn’t talk to him.  There was one particularly sick inducing moment when I found she had ‘liked’ one of his favourite sports pastimes.  But it was a window into how she was feeling and, awful as it sounds, I was glad.  I was glad she had been in such turmoil.  It also clarified some of the texts she had sent in 2012.  She had been made redundant, she has now got a new job.  She is back with her new man (their separation didn’t last long). 

Now I know I have got to be careful.  At the moment having the window into her life has been something of a facing of my fears and knowing I can survive them.  Typing her name in everyday has been a bit like I imagine it would be if I had to hold a huge spider (terrified of them) – horrid to start with but done to limit the effect the fear has.  Exposure therapy I suppose.  (Although I don’t think I could manage the spider bit for one second.)  But I know it is easy for this to get out of hand.   I cannot go to stalking her every day.  But getting that bit of power back, it has been quite liberating for me.  I have felt I have the upper hand, getting one over on her so to speak. Childish and ridiculous really, but another little victory.  And when I keep chalking up those small battle wins, eventually I am going to win the war.  So for the moment I am keeping my window into her life (albeit that it is a Facebook window and what goes on there is normally an edited version of reality).  I am taking it in my stride and if it starts to hurt I will let it go.  At the moment I am laughing at her poorly shoulder and the large injection she needs to have to fix it……..wicked I know but hey ho!

 

 

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Revenge

There is a story in the UK press at the moment about a MP who is about to face jail time for letting his ex-wife take speeding points on her licence when he was in fact at the wheel of the car when he was caught by a speed trap.  The incident took place in 2003 and as he didn’t want to risk a driving ban (already having points on his licence) his wife agreed to say she was driving at the time and she took the points and the fine.  So far so good.  But then the MP had an affair.  Their marriage broke up over the affair and things between them became very acrimonious.

The MP’s wife then (so to speak), let the cat out of the bag, and told a newspaper reporter what had gone on.  Both of them have been charged with the offence of perverting the course of justice.  The MP has, until yesterday, denied any wrongdoing and said he would fight his corner all the way.  His wife has attempted to use an ancient piece of UK legislation called spousal coercion to say she is not guilty of the offence and that she was only forced into doing it by her husband.  (She must have a very expensive legal defence team who have scoured the statute books to find a defence to use like this!)

But yesterday the MP finally admitted it had happened, and he plead guilty to the charges before the Court.  This is the end of his political career and he is facing the very real prospect of going to jail (probably more to make an example of him as a public ranking figure rather than this being a suitable punishment for the crime he has committed – but that is a different post altogether).   This change of plea at the last minute caused his wife’s trial to be delayed until today. 

Today her trial has started and the knives are out.  The headlines in one particular paper are :

‘I want to nail him, I would love to do it soon’

A quote supposedly made by the MP’s ex-wife to the newspaper reporter when she revealed what had gone on in 2003.  The commentary then follows :

Chris Huhne’s ex-wife Vicky Pryce only revealed she had taken his speeding points to gain revenge on her cheating husband after he left for another woman, a court heard today.

Former Energy Secretary Huhne was clocked driving too fast in March 2003 and persuaded Pryce to take the blame so he could avoid losing his licence.

The couple separated after 26 years of marriage in 2010 after Mr Huhne admitted he was having an affair with his PR adviser Carina Trimingham, 46.

The MP’s barrister then said in Court :-

‘The ending of a long marriage in circumstances like that would undoubtedly be ‘a cause of immense distress to any wife, or husband come to that’.

‘And there is no doubt at all that Ms Pryce was distressed.

‘But there is also no doubt at all that she was not only distressed but extremely angry and she wanted some revenge’.

‘And her revenge was in the end to pass the story about the 2003 crime to the newspapers so that it would be published in the end, that it would destroy her husband’s career.’

Ahh revenge.  Yes, cheated spouses know all about revenge.  I know I have harboured fantasies of all sorts of horrible fates which could befall Bitch.  I am not proud of them, and I know in my heart of hearts that they do not achieve anything.  They keep the person who should be left so far behind – in the dirt where they belong – in the forefront of your mind.  The act of revenge rarely has a good effect on the person who undertakes it, it normally has a spectacular way of backfiring. I also know in my rational moments that any pleasure derived from any revenge undertaken is fleeting and still doesn’t make the whole situation better.  What do they say, two wrongs don’t make a right.

But I do feel  sympathy with the feeling that revenge is the only way to get back some control, to wrestle back what has been taken from you, to inflict some of the hurt and pain you are feeling.   To get even.  I understand that.

I know the Barrister is doing his job, he is trying to muddy the waters and make it look like his client is an innocent victim, his ex-wife is a crazed lunatic who is so damaged by the breakup of their marriage that she will do anything to get her own back.  But this misses the point.  Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of whether she should have done it all those years ago, she did accept the points for him.  He knew this was illegal, he was committing an offence by letting her.  And she was committing an offence too.  So they were both bound together by this.  He seems surprised she would bring this up when their marriage broke down – perhaps thinking she would say nothing because of the situation she would find herself in if she did admit it.  He underestimated her position.  Yes he has hurt her, but boy she has a way to hurt him back.  Healthy no, but understandable yes. 

So his defence is to make her look like a warped, uncontrollable, horrible woman.  A woman scorned who is doing all she can to destroy him.   How awful for him.  He brought his ‘new partner’ as the papers are calling his affair partner to the trial with him yesterday.  If his ex- wife had any doubts about what she was doing, I should think that was enough for her – seeing him arm and arm with his ‘new partner’ would have been fuel enough for most cheated spouses.  Yes she hasn’t moved on.  Yes it is hurting her too, but she may feel that hurt is worth it (even if long term it isn’t). 

 I may have to stop reading the papers about it as it has triggered me today, the commentary from this perspective.  I wish someone would come out and say, well what did he expect?  His wife has been hurt enormously by his affair, she has come out fighting in the one way she knows she can hurt him.  What did he think would happen?   It seems he is going to find this out the hard way.  It will be interesting to see what spin they put on it when he comes out from any jail time he may do.  He will probably write a book about it and make money that way.  His ex-wife will no doubt be the loser in all this – she is risking her career and everything she has too – but that doesn’t seem to factor in the commentary I have seen so far.  I hope someone puts the balance right. 

I know the best revenge is to live well and leave the hurt behind, but I have to give a little smile. I can see why his wife may think, at the moment, the best revenge is to see her husband lose everything he has.  Revenge is sweet as they say, and a dish best served cold. 

First Chapter

Wednesday night was when we had agreed to review the answers to the tasks at the end of the first chapter of the book we are reading together.  We had agreed, after we had read the first chapter together, we would go away and do the answers to the questions separately and them come back and discuss them together.  I have said in my previous post that the questions were taxing.  There were 6 in total.  At first glance I had thought perhaps this won’t be too bad, perhaps I will be able to come up with answers quite easily.  I normally have quite a bit to say about most stuff.  But when I got to actually sitting down and doing them I was flummoxed.

I didn’t really know how to start answering them.  I thought I would type the questions out and hope the answers would flow.  I did them while I was at work, on my work machine.  All the data on there is stored to our central server so there was no way I could save the document to come back to (well unless I wanted all my work colleagues to be able to access the document if they chose to), it had to be a one shot attempt at getting something down on paper.   I didn’t want to do them at home, I wanted a bit of space to them on my own.  So early on Tuesday morning, before the rest of the office arrived, I tackled the list.

The first one asked whether we thought we actually saw the problem in the same way? This was followed by: have the arguments always been the same or is there a particular date when they started?  Then came : what do you see and feel when you are arguing?  Then there were a couple of questions about why you wanted to change and how do you envisage your life to be once you have made that change? 

These made me stop and think.  I did, after much thought and backwards and forwards deleting, manage to get three pages of stuff down to answer them.  I re-read them before printing off and deleting the Word document. 

Neither of us mentioned what we had agreed to do on Wednesday evening.  We had supper together and then watched a little TV.  Eventually, after the news had gone off my husband asked if we were ready to do ‘our work’.  I have to admit I was half hoping he would have forgotten about it.  This is perverse really as if he had forgotten I would have then stewed about it and used this as a stick to beat him with.  How could he forget something so important?  But I suppose a little (big) bit of me thought if he had forgotten and I said nothing this meant I would not have to deal with this and face the answers I had given and the answers he had come up with. 

I don’t know why but it always feels awkward, a bit surreal when we try and do anything like this together. This is the first time we have read a book together, but we did try some relationship cards when we were in our false recovery period immediately after the second D Day.  But I suppose they don’t count, they were during the lying phase.   Perhaps it is a bit forced.  Uncomfortable.  But I think for me I was worried as this time I had not left anything out.  I had not restricted what I had said for fear of upsetting him, for fear of sounding mean, for fear of him hearing something he didn’t like.  I am fine at making lots of noise about his affair, his AP and all of that, but actually talking about how I feel about ‘it’ and other stuff, life outside of the affair – I don’t tend to go there.  I have stuffed a lot of my feelings down, hoping they will go away.  Avoidance, not a great tactic, but one I have used a lot to avoid having to confront, head on, the fear and pain I have felt.  I commented on another bloggers post this morning that I don’t cry because I am afraid if I do I will never stop.  It will be like some floodgate opening and I will be overwhelmed by the rush of emotions which will spill out.  Blogging about it anonymously is one thing (I have dealt with some of my fears, feelings and emotions on these pages) but actually, in the flesh, in front of someone – that I have not been so good at.  I realised I have even done this in a lot of our counselling sessions.  I have wanted to maintain a front, not let anyone see the chinks in the front I have carefully put around me.  My defense mechanism in full action.  There is nothing to see here, all is fine – move along please. 

But the answers I had given were a true picture of what is going on with me.  How hurt and damaged I have been by the affair; how I have felt that I cannot carry on, that there is nothing to salvage.  That sometimes I feel like a complete idiot for staying; that he had had his fun and got away with it; that by staying I have condoned his actions; that I was worth so little he could throw away our 15 years pre affair for something so meaningless.  How I can swing from happiness to deep sadness with one little (or big) trigger, a word or a random thought which swerves in when I least want or expect it.   How I can feel such rage, such a burning hatred.  How I can think such horrible thoughts about his AP, wishing her such ill.  How I can take glee from her misfortune. 

How I feel scared, angry and sad – sometimes all at the same time.  How when we argue and he walks away this just increases my rage level.  How I feel he cries to make me stop (he knows I cannot stand to see him cry so this normally stops the worst of my raging).  How I feel manipulated when he brings up the nice things we are doing (and this makes me feel like I am spoiling them by bringing up the affair again).  How I so want to be able to go back two years.  How I wish he had never been on that bloody course, never met her.  All things which I know our counsellor would say would have made no difference, we were a vulnerable marriage and it was only a matter of time – if it had not been Bitch it would have been someone else.  Well I know that – but I wish I didn’t have to be in counselling, that I wish I didn’t need to spend Wednesday evenings reading from a book because of some Bitch he happened to meet on a random Thursday evening and couldn’t keep his trousers on. 

So it was honest.  My husband had done his replies too.  It was surprising how much stuff we actually agreed on.  He had written he felt my anger, he knew he was the cause of that anger and he was sorry.  He said he was scared, scared that he had damaged us too much, that I would decide I could no longer stay with him.  That he had hurt us so badly there would be nothing left.  That he could not envisage a future without me.  That he wanted to grow old with me, he wanted to be there for me.  He wanted to be married to me.  He wanted me to be married to him, to love him.  This is the first time my husband has ever said any of these things to me. I wish he could have remembered and realised those things before he got with his AP.  

We worked through the questions together and, after some time, it didn’t feel awkward any more.  It felt real, honest and I thought we achieved more in that hour of talking together than we have done for months.  Perhaps because I let my guard down and let him see the real me under the wall I have built to protect myself.  I am struggling to let that down, for fear of being hurt again, but perhaps that is the action I need to take. 

At the end of our session we agreed to start the second chapter last night.  To read until the next set of exercises and then revisit again next Wednesday evening.  We didn’t quite get there.  We had a row last night.  It started out of nowhere, and was turning into something which could have got out of hand.  But both of us made a concerted effort to implement some of the techniques we had discussed in chapter 1 and we largely succeeded.  The book says it will take time and things might get worse before they get better (they can’t be much worse than they have been so I hope they don’t).  But even if there is a 1% difference in each argument then eventually that 1% will get you to where you want to be.  I think it was at least 1% better than our usual row pattern, so I am taking that as a good sign.

We are doing chapter 2 tonight.  I hope the exercises on that one are easier than the first.  But I am going with it, onwards and forwards.  And I am chipping at those bricks in the wall.

 

Karma?

Oops, I really was trying to reign in my stalking tendencies.  I had gone from looking at her boyfriend’s Facebook page about five times a day, to perhaps once every two or three days and then only for a few minutes – not the pouring over every word and picture.  So progress for me.  I think I had started to break the habit forming part of it too.  Before my concerted efforts every time I logged onto my own account before checking my own timeline and seeing what the people who I want to be friends with were up to, I was logging straight into his page.  Unhealthy and bonkers.  I had stopped doing this too.  If I did look it was after I had done the things I wanted to.  Slowly but surely I felt I was getting somewhere.  My cold turkey I could not manage completely, but I was in the withdrawal stages. 

We had a calm weekend this week.  After the recent heavy snows the big thaw was underway.  It was Burns Night on Friday and we went out for a traditional neaps and tatties dinner.  Saturday was shopping and Sunday was a house day – catching up on jobs and pottering about.  Last evening I was messing about on the computer while my husband was watching Top Gear – three chaps larking about with cars.  Light entertainment of the best kind for a lazy Sunday evening.  I don’t really know what made me have a look at his page last night.  Perhaps because he is a photographer and I wondered whether he had posted any more snow pictures – perhaps I was just feeling nosy.  Scrolling through his recent posts I can across one from mid afternoon yesterday.  A rather cryptic :-

‘I have just fallen out with my best friend – why did I do it, and more importantly why am I writing about it on Facebook’

There were a series of comment underneath this post between him and a male friend and in one response her boyfriend had put –

‘I better have a whisky with that pint she has de-friended me on Facebook. Jeremy Kyle would love this’.

My curiosity could not resist and of course I looked at his friends to see whether Bitch was still friends with him.  It appears there may be trouble in paradise.  She has disappeared from his friends list, nowhere to be seen.  The ‘best friend’ he has fallen out with appears to be Bitch. 

There was a further posting later yesterday where he references thunder and lightening in his home town (yes I did check the weather forecast (desperate!) and no thunder or lightening was about so I assume this was another oblique reference to whatever had gone on between them).

Hmm, now I know this is not healthy and is not doing anything constructive towards our healing – but whoop whoop perhaps the karma fairy has visited her at last.  I can read all sorts of things into his words and make all sorts of fantasy scenarios in my mind about what has happened – my particular favourite is that she had fallen hook line and sinker for him, wanted to spend the rest of her life with him and he has cheated on her.  What karma that would be!  The irony would be lost on her I am sure, but I can imagine that this might be what had gone on.  With some glee.

And that is the point which really worries me.  After all the hooting and laughing which (I am ashamed to say) was my first reaction to his post (mean and horrible I know but that is how I felt), there is a sad edge to all of this.  How have I become this bitter person who finds glee in someone elses hardship?  How have I changed so much from the person I thought I knew?  This leads me to all sorts of other thoughts too – Why am I still interested in her and what is going on in her life, I should have left her behind long ago?  Why do I want to even think about what she may be feeling, whether she is happy or sad?  Why does she still have this power to get inside my head? 

I also wonder whether this is a time she might, just might stop and reflect on what her actions have caused.  When she left her husband she was still having an affair with mine.  When the final D Day happened within days she was with her new boyfriend.  Assuming his words do reflect this is something ‘he’ has done – ‘Why did I do it?’ – perhaps this time she will be feeling some of the pain she has inflicted.  Will she look back and wonder whether if she hadn’t chosen the path of having an affair with my husband in October 2010, would her life now be as it is? Or would she still be married to her husband with her life as it had been for all those years before.  I know really I should not be concerning myself with any of this stuff – this rubbish.  She is nothing to do with me, I don’t need her in my head or in my life.  I am giving her the power back by wondering about it.  But why is it so hard to stop it?  I know she will probably not even stop to think about anything, she will move on and be with another ‘victim’ within days.  She is not the sort to dwell.  Either that or it is a lovers tiff and they will be back together now – I will resist seeing if she has been added back to his friends list for as long as I can.

My mind flashed back to the last text message she sent in November last year – ‘I am with my new man and looking forward to the future’.  Well perhaps that future isn’t looking quite that good now.  Perhaps her Monday morning is looking a bit grim.  That karma fairy may just be doing me a favour.   Now I need my common sense, moving on fairy to come and visit me.  Either that or log off the computer for the day to still my stalking fingers. 

Stop Arguing, Start Talking

We went for a counselling session last night.  We have been seeing our counsellor for over a year and a half now.  Initially we went for seven months from January 2011 to the end of July that year.  Immediately after the first and second D Days.  That was during our false recovery period.  My husband was seeing his AP for the whole of this time (and indeed afterwards too).  So our initial experience with counselling was not all that positive.  But I did learn a lot about myself during that initial period.  I didn’t realise then you have to do so much work on yourself to be able to even think about healing from the pain.  But for me a lot of what we did during that first period of counselling really didn’t count.  I suppose I still view it through my tainted filter, tainted by ‘her’.

I have talked about this with my husband and he has said he feels he was really living two lives.   Those lives were separate and it was only when they threatened to meet that he had to think about the situation he had put himself into.   He was able to go to the counselling sessions with me and feel he was getting something from it.  I believe this.  He did respond to a lot of the questions and points our counsellor brought up.  But it still stuns me that he could then package this up, place it away and go back to his secret, fantasy life with his AP.   But he could, and he did.

Without knowing what was going on, when we came to the end of our initial sessions, I felt like I had achieved something.  We went once a week to start with.  That eventually became once a fortnight and then we went to once a month.  At the end of July 2011 I (we) felt we had done enough, that we were back on track.  Our counsellor agreed and we signed ourselves off.  Positive about the future.  Feeling relieved we had got through, we had some validation we were doing OK, our counsellor agreed with us.  We were safe to be out on our own again, without her input.

We resumed counselling again in December 2011 the day after the third, and final D Day.  That first session back was awful.  To admit everything we had done up until then had been another lie.  Recovery of our marriage, but with the AP still there, still exerting her influence, still occupying a place she never should have held.

This time the counselling sessions did feel different.  I suppose the first time round you have no idea what they should be like.  This time they were harder, more emotional, more intense.  We were so close to the edge, close to it all coming crashing down around our ears.  I had no idea whether I could even contemplate staying in my marriage.  The hurt was so intense, the betrayal so awful.  But there was also difference in the reaction from my husband.  I think he finally realised how close he had come to losing everything.  Suddenly the reality of the situation hit him, full force. 

We are seeing our counsellor now on average every three to four weeks.  We are still learning things about us as individuals, and us as a couple.   We have been struggling recently with arguments.  We have got into a pattern.  There are a few calm days, then a gradual building of pressure and tension.  I start to feel as if I cannot cope with it anymore.  I cannot imagine always feeling like there is this ‘thing’ between us.  I cannot ever imagine a time when I won’t feel the need to go back to it,  I feel I cannot deal with my feelings, it would have been easier if we had separated after the first D Day.  What am I doing?  The list of questions goes on and on,.  The pressure builds and eventually it comes spilling out. The row which ensues is vicious, damaging and emotionally draining.  It hurts us both.  It puts us back in our healing.

So we decided we needed some strategies to help us out.  In the early days after the initial D Day I scoured the internet looking for something to try and make sense of what I was feeling.  I bought countless books from Amazon.   I realise now they were far too early in my recovery.  I thought they would contain answers to help me and us, but I couldn’t take the information in.  They were too painful I suppose.

So the books were packed away in a drawer, and largely forgotten about.  But we realised recently we had two copies of a book produced by Relate – Stop Arguing, Start Talking.  I had ordered two copies of the same book without realising it.  But now that may be helpful to us.  The book is broken down into 10 steps.  10 practical steps to stop the destructive cycle of arguing.  Each chapter has a section of questions and exercises to do (some alone and some together as a couple).  We have started it tonight, each of us reading one copy of the book.  We are going to try and do a chapter each week.  To work through it chapter by chapter at a time.  I have read the first chapter and the first set of exercises.   I have no idea where to start with the answers.  They are searching questions, no doubt designed that way to challenge you to think long and hard.  I have a feeling this is going to be a hard exercise.  But one I am glad we are doing, and doing together.

Could I have imagined my husband doing this with me 12 months ago, even six months ago.  No, I couldn’t imagine it, it would not have happened.  So this is progress.  Yes, the progress is slow (and sometimes I feel like I am going backwards) but it is progress, and I am going to take that as a good sign. 

Words Said

We went to the local last night for a couple of drinks.  There is still a lot of snow (well a lot for the UK) at the moment, and it is bitterly cold.  We both decided we would dress up a bit for our Saturday night, rather than our normal jeans and jumper combo.   I chose a plain black dress, teamed with woolly tights and black snow boots.  Not the normal choice of footwear with the dress, but practical for the walk to the pub.  We both felt quite calm last night.  We had been confined to the house for the day because of the snow and we had spent most of the day pottering about.  Relaxed and comfortable with each other.

Our trip was nothing special, just a break from the house really.  We were talking about all sorts of things, enjoying each other’s company.  It felt nice.  We tend to sit in the same area of the pub, and we sat at one of our favourite tables.  We had been there about half an hour when a family group came in, a couple of ladies with a daughter who would probably have been about 7.  I noticed them really because the pub had set their reserved tables with a space for a high chair.  When the little girl came in she made quite a bit of fuss about not needing the high chair and her mum moved it out of the way.  She was far too grown up to be needing it.  They were joined about five minutes later by the men from the party, who must have been at the bar as they were coming back with drinks, nattering with each other.  I realised at this point I knew one of the men professionally.  He had been someone I had seen quite regularly up until about three years ago when he took a promotion and moved away to his businesses head office.  I now see him perhaps a couple of times a year, and we are friends on Facebook.  We comment on each other’s photographs and status sometimes.   We are not really friends as such, more colleagues who know each other through work.  

What I hadn’t realised was the lady who moved the high chair was the chaps wife.  I have met her twice before I think.  The last time I saw her (and him) was while I was grocery shopping before Christmas.  He had come up to me and said ‘boo’ while I was oblivious to everything.  Because I hadn’t seen him and wasn’t taking much notice of anything it had startled me and I had been quite shocked, making a sort of ‘oh’ sound out loud.  This had caused all sorts of laughing.  His wife who was with him had said something like : ‘Oh he is always doing that’.  We had had a chat for a couple of minutes and that had been that. 

When I realised it was him, I said to my husband I was going to go over and say hello.  He was sitting with his back to me and I went over.  We were probably only sitting 3 or 4 yards away from each other, so my husband could hear everything that was going on.  He said hello and we had a quick chat about the football result – he supports the same team as my husband and they had won yesterday, somewhat out of the ordinary as they are not the best team in the world.   I turned and said to his wife when I had said hello to him, that I was sorry I had not recognised her.  She didn’t say anything to me, but I heard her say to the other lady in the party : ‘Oh straight for the man’. I was a bit amazed really, and thought perhaps she wasn’t talking about me.  But when I got back to our table my husband asked me whether I had heard what she had said. 

Yes I had heard it and it upset me.  It set all sorts of stuff off in me.  I wondered whether I had upset her by not recognising her?  Whether she thought I shouldn’t have said hello?  Whether I should have said anything at all or should I not have gone over to say hello….the whole works.  I am a bit of a whittler and I worry about stuff.  I would hate to think I had upset her in any way.   Then I wondered whether I did come across that way, did I come across to her that I was talking to her husband and not to her?  Did she think I had ignored her on purpose and only wanted to talk to her husband? 

We talked about it between us – in hushed tones as they were still sitting very near to us.  My husband said really it was her problem.  He didn’t feel I had done anything wrong, he said why would I be expected to recognise her, it isn’t her I know?  But I still worried. I asked him whether he thought I was too friendly?  He said no, he didn’t.  In some sort of mad way I thought perhaps it made me as bad as bitch.  Completely insane really – all I did was said hello to a work associate in the pub.  Nothing more. 

Then, to add to the worrying, I wondered whether this was how I react to other women speaking to my husband?  I have been super sensitive to it since the affair.  I have already blogged about the women who work at my husband’s office.  I suppose if I am completely honest I saw something of my own reaction in the reaction from his wife.   I wondered whether something had happened between them which had triggered this reaction from his wife, and I suppose this could have been it.  But I don’t know, and to be honest I don’t want to.  I have enough troubles of my own to deal with.

When I thought about it this morning when I got up I wondered whether I should have said something,  should I have asked her what she meant?  But that is not me either, I don’t like confrontation.  But I did feel quite hurt by it.  Never in a milion years would I have done something to upset her.  Clearly she thinks I am some sort of monster who only chases men, while I wonder what has happened to her to make her this way.  She has no idea about what is happening in our life, and I suppose that is what I need to keep in mind.  I have no idea what has made her react this way.  I can only say I was completely innocent and I am happy with my actions.  That makes me feel a bit better, I have got over feeling like bitch this morning.  But I do feel that pehaps if I hadn’t gone over and said hello, this wouldn’t have happened.  Then I could be worrying about whether he had seen me and thought I was being rude by not saying anything!  Why are human interactions and relationships so mired with booby traps?

 

 

 

Sex and TV Triggers

Last night we watched a TV programme about fetish and the lifestyle choices some couples make.  It was a National Geographic documentary so It was tastefully done, not gratuitous and overtly sexual, although it was looking at sexual behaviour.  The programme had four separate couples and various experts analysing the lifestyle choices people were making. 

I suppose we both thought it would be interesting to see what other people did in their lives, what other things people were in to.  I must have led somewhat sheltered life I think as I had never even heard of two of the scenes these individuals were into. 

The first was a woman who liked to play act that she was a doberman puppy.  She wore a collar and lead and liked the undivided attention that her mistress gave her.  She slept every evening in a cage in the kitchen.  Yes it sounded and looked bizarre but she said it gave her comfort, it was an escape.  Her mistress clearly loved her dearly.  They both enjoyed what they were doing with each other.   The experts decreed it was an escape fantasy, a world away from the real lives they were leading.  Harmless when enjoyed by both parties. 

The second couple dressed in head to toe lycra style suits, covering their entire bodies.  They felt liberated as they were completely covered but felt completely naked.  The material of the suits is constructed in such a way that they could see out of the face part, but the outside world could not see in.  It was not possible to see their facial features.  Their bodies were traceable due to the tightness of the suits themselves, but they were completely covered, you could not actually see them, just the outline of them.  Again the experts were in agreement.  It was harmless, something both enjoyed.

The third couple made me smile.  They were into fruitism.  Apparently this is an erotic like of fruit.  They believed fruit needed to be particularly ripe and they ‘dumpster dived’ for fruit restaurants had discarded.  An odd choice of erotic fantasy yes, but they appeared to be very in love which other other.  They were almost new age, hippy types.  They dreamed of being out of the rat race, away from the normal trappings of society – even if they did have to come back into reality for at least part of the day to fill their converted bus which they live in with petrol.  Harmless, if strange to me. 

So far so good for us.  We have tended not to watch things on TV about sex, or indeed any programmes with story lines where there are affairs because of the situation between us (even though sometimes I have been glued to things I should not have been torturing myself with).  But the fourth one was much harder.  Not because of the couples’ kink, but because of what the expert said when she was talking about the driving force behind it. 

The fourth couple were in a relationship, but she was a prostitute.  Her partner knew this was what she did.  She would take bookings from clients and they would come to her home she shared with him to have sex with her.  Her partner made himself scarce while they were there, taking the dog out for a walk.  She spent quite a bit of time before a client arrived re-arranging furniture and removing all visible signs of her partner from their apartment, saying that the paying client was entitled to the fantasy, he would not want visible reminders showing another man was in her life.  Her partner was a part time writer so they relied heavily on the more regular income she was able to make from her trade. 

This was my first trigger.  The prostitute’s comment about removing traces of her partner so the client could have the fantasy made me remember my husband’s AP coming to our house. 

Immediately before the first D Day I was away for an evening and the AP to came to our home.  It was the first time she had been to our house and she stayed overnight.  She came again on the first D Day.   I have tortured myself with the images of her (and him with her) in my home on that evening.  I have also gone over and over the encounter we had on the first D Day.  Two times too many she was in my home.   I have had to do a lot of work to get over these mental images.  I did seriously consider having to move away, to lose the constant reminders.  But I thought I had largely conquered this, I did not have the constant flashbacks, I had reclaimed my home. 

I had long thought about how she had managed to be in my home.  Everywhere there would have been signs of me.  All my possessions would have been there, in her face.  My dressing table with all the lotions and potions for daily use, right there in front of her eyes.  If she had pretended up to that point that I did not exist then there, smack bang in front of her was the evidence I was very much about.  I have never understood how she managed to stay in my home.  I think now it is just because she is such a bitch and has no feeling, didn’t care.  Thought she was winning, getting one over on me.  Probably that is giving her too much credit actually, she was just glad my husband was willing to see her, to throw her some crumbs.  Sad really.  How my husband let her stay is another question.  I cannot go there again.  This is one of the things I have had to let go, to have any chance of being able to move on. 

So I was triggered.  The expert commentary then just dug the knife in a bit more.  She was talking about how it was unusual for a man to be able to accept his partner with another man.  She talked about the jealousy, the anger and the aggression most men would feel if they knew their partner was with another man.  I think she went on to talk about the act of sex being separate from the act of love within a relationship.  I had stopped listening all that much by then to be honest.  Because what she had said had cut me to the bone again.  She said the act of having sex with someone was the closest, most intimate thing you could do with another human being.  You are in close contact with them, you are feeling, seeing, smelling them.  You are one with them. 

I have tried very hard not to think about the actual sex act between my husband and his AP very much.  Too painful to consider.  Too many mental images to process – I couldn’t keep going back there after the very beginnings of our recovery.   And I know that the sex act between a prostitute and a paying customer is probably nothing like the act between a couple.  It is a transaction, a job to her.  But her partner didn’t seem all that bothered about it.  He could separate out the paying customer act from the act between them.  I don’t understand that at all.  Although perhaps it is different because he knows about it and condones it.  Perhaps that is why he can deal with it.   

I also know the act between a cheater and an AP is not the same as sex within an honest, marital relationship or partnership.  I asked my husband in the early days of our discussions what the sex was like between him and his AP.  He admits it was mechanical, he could have taken or left it to be honest. It was nothing special, there were no fireworks for him.  She didn’t do anything better or different.   But it was offered on a plate and he took it.  He knows just how awful this makes him sound, but admits that is how it was.  But still it hurt me immensely to hear the expert say those words.  Because it is true, the sex act is something which is very personal (even at its very basic level) and that is something which should never have been shared with someone other than me during our marriage.   

I knew this really, but why oh why did I have to have it slapped in my face again last night while watching something which was supposed to be a bit of light entertainment?  The only good thing I can say is it didn’t turn into a huge incident.  My husband knew I was upset and he tried to comfort me.  I didn’t want to talk about it last night and this morning, before we left for work, he asked me if I was OK.  I am OK, I have recovered some of my equilibrium now.  But I wish these triggers would stop blindsiding me.  I wish I could stop them once and for all.