Triggered

I often have days when I’m triggered. Triggered by words, pictures, days of the month, dreams, memories of those times when I thought our life was good but really it wasn’t, they were just the times in between. They were the days that the lies continued, that promises were made that things were changing and that our relationship was the only one he really wanted. I wish I could stop these triggers that make me sad, sometimes angry or even make me stop second guessing my decision to stay in this marriage. Sometimes the what if thoughts that grab the pit of my stomach and sit on my back like a hundred pound weight feel like too much and I want to run as far away as I can, like the night when I first found out.  

It has been three years since I found out and sometimes it feels like it just happened. I hope eventually I will escape this feeling, I’ve chosen to stay and keep trying to overcome everything that has happened. I try not to let the what if days run away with my will to try and stay. I hope that I can trust him now to be the guy he says he wants to be. I hope that all I have repeatedly sacrificed of myself wasn’t for nothing and that he’s realized my life is just as important as his and that he won’t selfishly take advantage of me anymore. 

I don’t know why these days keep creeping in. I just want to be happy and strong again. I’ve been told I am so strong to have endured everything but I feel weak. I always thought the strength would be in leaving, that staying and accepting the affairs would be weak.  It’s all in perspective I guess. 

I guess it’s only really been a few months since Marjorie left, and that could be why I still have the days where I think maybe I should have made him end things on his own with her. The outcome would be completely different, I know this. He would rather have continued to lie to both of us, and I just couldn’t live like that anymore. After so many years of being his wife, I deserve better than to be a second choice. He tells me he never stopped loving me, and I don’t believe him. If he really loves me like he says he does why does he still want to know if I’ve heard from Marjorie and how is she doing. I feel like I’m never going to be enough, that he’s only here because he couldn’t let me go and watch me start a new life with someone who really loves me.

Some days I have regrets. Some days I overthink my choices and try to analyze why I didn’t chose to go the other way. I’m really trying to focus and stay looking ahead but sometimes the hurt and brokenness sneaks in and leaves me crushed. I wish I knew why he cheated, why he made me stay in a relationship that he so selfishly abused, why he wouldn’t let me have the freedom to just be if that’s what he wanted. I know that this is all on him, that nothing I could have done would have changed his path. What about my path? It’s changed, and I don’t know which way to go anymore. 

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Afternoons with Ann

Ann has become the person I trust the most. She’s the only person I trust. She doesn’t offer her opinion on how I’m choosing to deal with this mess that is my life. She listens, she watches my body language and she asks me to explain what I’m feeling when she notices my foot and crossed leg start to move as I’m talking about recent events. Sometimes I wish I could ask her for a hug but I’m not sure if that is part of her job description and it probably crosses a line between patients and therapists. 

A lot has happened since the first time Dave and I sat on her couch. Now it’s just me. Last week was the first time in months since I had seen her and I felt so much relief when she opened the door to her beautiful new home and welcomed me into it. It feels like a home. It is a place where I feel safe. I know that I can laugh or cry, be angry or whatever I need for that hour. She listens, observes and then asks if she can make a suggestion or can we try something. I’m here, I will do anything at all if it will make me feel even the tiniest bit better. 

Ann knows my biggest secret. She knows that Dave and I have separated. In January this year he dropped out on me like a few times before and I knew he was with his girlfriend. He denied it and said he just needed space on his own. I told him it was time to try therapy, I felt we needed some sort of intervention to help us sort out if we should stay together or be apart. During our sessions he was there but I could tell he wasn’t really there. I was pretty sure that he didn’t end his relationship with his online girlfriend like he promised he had. When it comes to reading Dave, I’m really good at it. The only problem is as a cheater he is also a very good liar who makes me second guess my instincts. I should never doubt myself, because every time I’ve had a feeling of disconnect, my feelings have been correct. 

In July, he disconnected. I asked him what was going on, he said nothing was wrong and carried on. The problem is I knew something was going on because my anxiety was back and so were the sleepless nights. In July his online girlfriend moved to the city, our city, where we live. Only instead of telling me the truth he let me feel crazy, again.

Ann calls it “Crazy Making” and it does make a person feel a little crazy when someone acts like they love you and want to be with you but then they do things to push you away. I can deal with a girlfriend but I cannot deal with lies and deceit. Tell me the truth, leave me and be with your girlfriend but don’t try and hang on to me while you are out enjoying your freedom. 

A few days before Thanksgiving I find out through Facebook that she has moved from Georgia and now lives here. My whole body is vibrating, I want the truth, all of it and now. By the time Dave arrives at the house to talk, I suggest we need to go out because I’m not sure he wants to have this conversation where our boys can hear us. I’m almost certain I will not be able to keep my voice down or hide the shame I feel for trusting him and letting him do this to us again. He promised it was over, never to happen again. Lies. All lies. Being blindsided sucks.

Ann wants to know what I want out of my sessions with her, what do I expect? I tell her, I’m not sure.  I don’t know if I just need a safe place to vent, and have someone listen to this insanity or if I need her to actually fix whatever is broke in me that keeps allowing him back into my life, so that he can bulldoze it again, when I start to feel like I’ve built a little bit of security again. I tell her I wish someone could just tell me what to do, tell me if what I do is right or wrong or build me a flow chart to guide me. Yes, go in this direction. No, go in that direction. She laughs a little and says “Yeah, wouldn’t that be nice”

Life is all about choices. I need help to make choices now because I thought I was making all the right ones but I still ended up in this spot where my husband had an affair. I have to retrain my brain, though because the poor choices were his not mine, but somehow I’m left wondering where I went wrong? I felt like I was a good wife, and mother so why did he make it all feel like everything I did meant nothing. I have to quit giving him so much control over my happiness. I should be very happy with the type of mother and wife I am. I am very proud when people compliment me on how wonderful my kids are, and I like to think that all that credit falls to me for being a stay at home mom their whole lives. I have to give credit to Dave too though because he worked so hard so that we could make that happen. It was very important that our kids were safe and being raised by us. I love him for that. 

The problem is that we’ve been a team for so long that I don’t know how we will make out being apart for good. We’ve been separated for two months now and it’s very hard. I want to cut him out of my life completely and he won’t let it happen. I’m willing to talk about the kids and come up with a schedule for our youngest son to see him but right now I just want space until he can do what he says he wants to do. He says he wants to make things right and come home to his family. What does he have to do to make that happen? I tell him what he would need to do and he “says” he would be okay with it but when it comes right down to it will he be? 

I can’t worry about what he needs right now. I need to worry about what I need and how I can get my feeling of strength and independence back. I don’t need him. I love him and I know that I will never have this kind of relationship with anyone else, I don’t even want to. 

Eventually, I will move on. I have set a boundary and a deadline of how long I am prepared to wait after that, I begin removing him from my life for good. He will go into the mental box that I have, the one that I keep people in who’ve hurt me. They don’t get out of the box, they get put there because there is no room left for them in my life. It might be a sad way to live but it is a method of protection for me. 

Ann knows I had things happen to me as a child and I wonder if they’ve contributed to how I perceive things now. She wanted me to think how far back I could remember the feeling of anxiety. I tell her I think it might go back as far as grade one and having to carpool with this teacher who was mean to me. Seriously? What kind of teacher or person even is unkind to a six year old? I remember trying so hard to not be scared or crying when she finally came to pick me up, so that she wouldn’t call me a baby in front of the other girl who we carpooled with. I hated every minute I had to be in that car. To this day, I even remember how it smelled. 

Ann wants to know about that six year old me and I don’t like to talk about her and the experiences she had. I feel scared when I think about the things that happened. Even at six I knew they were wrong, but had no power to control them. I wonder if that teacher ever thinks about that time and those mean things she said and did to me. It makes me wish I could go back and make that little girl feel safe and protect her from that woman. 

Most of this was in a very short hour this afternoon with Ann. She makes me feel stronger. I think she knows that deep down, I have the answers to all of these doubts that I have. I just need to find the courage to say what I need, out loud.