A little over a year…


It’s been a little over a year since I started this blog, by over a year I mean only by a few days. Last year in April I celebrated the life, and mourned the loss, of 3 Marines on the 15th, found out my wife was having multiple affairs on the 16th, and half of my family forgot or didn’t say anything to me on my birthday, the 28th.  Over time this blog evolved into more of a personal venting and thought-discharging space.  That isn’t a bad thing, it just means that the blog has been what I needed it to be when I needed it to be different.  While there are a number of bloggers that I’ve received constructive input and conversation from, Samantha Baker and Beautiful Mess have been some of the most supportive people in my recovery as a betrayed husband, through blogging and participation on Samantha’s website/forum After The Betrayal.  

So, what is in store for the next year?  I’ll change things as I see fit.  Starting with posting more.  I get on WordPress every few days now, which is a huge change from 10+ times a day when I first started blogging.  I hope to write some more posts about my endeavor to learn more about bRaving Bipolar’s illness, and what is unique to her as someone who “has the bipolar”.  

This post wouldn’t be complete without thanking bRaving Bipolar for her continued commitment to me and all the progress we’ve made.  There have been abrasive periods of time, but we’ve done a good job in therapy of understanding what made it abrasive in the first place, our great communication.  

 

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1 year and 4 days ago


16 April 2012 was probably one of the worst days of my life.  Prior to that it was 15 April 2006, followed by 19 February 2012.  15 April 2006 is the day three Marines in my platoon died in Iraq.  19 February 2012 is when I discovered my wife had set up an alternate email account and online dating profile an was 18 hours away from meeting another man in the area for sex in a hotel–during the work day, while paying for a babysitter.  Prior to 19Feb I discovered a text message sent to her from her boss, with a video of him masturbating attached, and a picture she had taken of her lady parts within 2 minutes of receipt of that picture. 

16 April was an interesting day.  Late night 15 April and early morning 16 April I woke up to her writing in her “therapy journal” by phone light.  This isn’t something she normally does, and ever since I know she had been emailing that man in February while I was sleeping next to her, seeing her phone on in the middle of the night was and will continue to be a trigger of anxiety for me.  Throughout the day I noticed that her journal was not left out in a random place like it usually was; my suspicions started to rise and when she went to work that evening, I put the kids in bed and went hunting.  It took about 30 seconds to find it, in the first place I looked.  After I found it I flipped to the less-worn pages to find the newest entry(ies).  About 5 seconds in to it, I thought I was literally going to die.

“I’ve slept with y boss, 4 times…” was the first secret in Pandora’s Box.  While reading I lost the ability to hear anything but rushing wind and my own heartbeat-not the kids playing happily in their rooms and not the kid’s show on the tv.  The next thing I see is that she slept with him the first time on the day before our wedding anniversary, which happens to be 2 days after Christmas.  I couldn’t think, didn’t want to think, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t eat, drink, couldn’t do anything but read more. 

Strangely though, for a brief glorious moment, I felt validated, and good about myself.  All the lies she told me about what I was suspecting, and all the misery I put myself through trying to “better” myself and correct all of the faults she continually reminded me of, and how crazy I was driving myself because I KNEW she was doing it but I refused to believe it, it ALL was wrong and I didn’t have to believe my head, I could trust my instincts again because I KNEW what was going on the whole time, even if I didn’t know all the details.

So here I am feeling a little down because i a few days I’ll have 3 Marines to mourn, followed by the 1 year anniversary, or antiversary of finding out, from words written by her own hand, about the affairs.

Braving, I’m sure you’ll read this-don’t fret, I’m not upset with you, these are just feelings that will go away with time, so just keep doing what you’ve been doing because it’s been making me feel good.

“I am the Master of my fate; I am the Captain of my soul.”

Slipping under


Been a rough go the last couple of weeks.  bRaving Bipolar told me last week that sometimes she feels like I’m asking her to “buy” some of the time out of the house that I offer her/suggest with sex.  This came up when she asked to get her nails done before work, I suggested that she leave early and go to dinner before work, and subsequently told her if she was in “the mood” that I’d like to before she left or after she got back.  I can understand how she could feel that way; I did my best to assure her that I don’t do anything with the expectation that she’ll have sex with me because of it.  On the flip side, I tend to go above and beyond around the house hoping that she will reward me with sex.  Since she made that comment last sunday, my sex drive plummeted.  Then I had the most awkward sex (with my wife of course) I’ve ever had a few nights ago and it’s virtually gone.

She still has an emotional burden and flashbacks of things she did in her manic episode which prevent her from really participating or enjoying sex.  I feel broken and undesired, she doesn’t really pursue me, sex usually starts with a “do you want to have sex” or “we have to do this tonight, do that tonight, have sex, take a shower” in what sounds like a slightly annoyed tone that most people use when they verbally list out things that they don’t want to do before they go to sleep.

We were also incorrectly told by a VA representative to expect $650 the first week of this month.  When the money didn’t come I called the VA and the person I talked to informed me that it would be the first week of November.  We could have really used that money; our daily “meals” combined together equaled about what a single meal should be.  We’ve gotten really behind since I took my leave of absence from school and stopped getting the GI Bill benefits.

Last week I also stopped taking the Restoril because those nightmares and dreams were just getting to be too much, and the time it took to tell the difference between what I was dreaming and what reality actually is after I woke up was getting longer and longer, and arguably could have gotten violent.  I can’t remember posting about it here previously, but on Restoril I would have EXTREMELY vivid dreams and nightmares.  I was “aware” in them, in that I could control what I did, my thought process and how I reacted.  I could not escape the feeling of anxiety, fear, or a sense of lack of control.  The dreams/nightmares were always active with things that would cause anxiety, fear and a sense of no control, such as fighting, dreaming that my wife moved one of the affair partners into the house one day while I was at work and acted as if he had taken my place, losing my kids, losing my job, losing my health.  When I would wake up from the dream/nightmare, there would be a period of time that I could not tell the difference between the dream and reality.  Sound weird yet?  Let me continue.

When I opened my eyes upon waking, I could obviously tell that I was in my bedroom.  The bedroom then became part of the dream.  In that period of time, there was no house surrounding the bedroom, no back yard, no hallway; everything literally outside of my bedroom was the dream world.  I would eventually get to a point where something would “pull” at me and remind me that something wasn’t real; either the bedroom and the reality it represents, or the dreamworld outside the bedroom.  I would have to literally tell myself that my bedroom was real and everything outside of it wasn’t.  As time went on, the time it took for me to come back to reality increase; my phone was beside me and when in its dock it displays the time.  The worst transition I had was when I was up looking for someone that I was sure was in my house.  I dreamed that I came home to my wife in bed with another woman, and that after they were done I got in bed and we all went to sleep.  When I woke up and it was still dark, I naturally wondered where the chic went; so I got up and started stalking through the house, listening for sounds indicating she was there and looking for signs that she had been there.  When I covered every room and closet, I opened the door and looked out front; no car.  So I realized it was just a dream and went back to bed.  I think we’re pretty lucky that there wasn’t another woman in the house; when I checked downstairs and couldn’t find her, I went upstairs with the intention of being violent when I found her-only my children sleep upstairs and there would have been no reason for her to be up there.

Sometimes they were fun, enjoyable, fulfilling.  Imagine walking in a world that looks like this:

I did; it brought the kind of joy and peace that I’ve only felt from one other place in all of my travels.

Speaking of that place, I started EMDR in therapy last week and my therapist verbally described a “safe” place for me while I kept my eyes closed, imagined it in my head and tried to allow my senses to experience what I would experience if I were there.  I already have one, and I find it interesting that it was in one of the most dangerous places I could be at the time: Iraq, just outside of Saqlawiyah.  It may have something to do with the fact that I word protection, in the form of body armor, so I didn’t feel “naked” and I had the means and authority to retaliate against anything that I felt threatened by, and retaliate with the kind of force that brings finality with it.

Work is work, no harder than usual.  bRaving Bipolar is working only on the weekends and only during the day shift so we are getting good time to strengthen our emotional intimacy and in general enjoy each other’s company.  This is nice, because she has demonstrated the ability to take over things when I get overwhelmed from work, school and the kids, several times over the last few months, which is very relieving.  We are finding that more often than not, we maintain a balance between responsibility and tasks; whenever she’s feeling overwhelmed I find it easier to take over so that she can rest, when I feel overwhelmed she finds it easier to do the same.  I am very thankful for that.

I love her so much, I just wish we could be physically intimate now.  I want back what was taken from me and I feel as if I’m being punished even though I didn’t do anything wrong.  We’re working on it, and she tries very hard.  Thanks for your hard work babe.  I see it; it goes a long way.

My Hard questions revisited, expanded


My original post on hard questions is here.

I chose to revisit this topic not because my wife did anything to make me upset or not trust her, but because, during my recent trip, I had a LOT of time to sit and think. The answers are always painful to hear, and they sting every time I play the mind-movie of my interviewing her in my head. Some,people may not want ot need to hear to the levelof detail I required her to tell me. It may actually set some people back and make the reality much worse. So, why did I ask that level of detail and what did I ask?

I needed to hear everything. There is an uncountable list of reasons why, but I will recall as many of them as my fingers can type. In my gut, I knew something wasn’t right, and I had suspicions from the very beginning about AP1. When I found some evidence, I didn’t wait to find more, I just jumped the gun. She was so confident in her explanation, and I WANTED to believe her, so I did. Thus deepening the negative feelings I had about myself, those that were already present because she said that the 20 pounds I had gained made her not turned on by me, and then finding out 3 nights later that she was ok joining another couple for a threesome. Bit by bit it felt like I was losing what I imagined my life and marriage was. Soon after I discovered her attempting to have one-night stands by way of an online dating site. I thoughtwe were doing better, but I coudn’t feel the connection from her, even though she was doing and trying to act like she should. Then in April I accidentally discovered the affairs. I say accidentally because she had written some details down in her therapy ntebook so that she could confess to her therapist what she was doing, and eventually me.Thankfully, she was at work when I found out. She wasn’t at work when I found out about the online profile, she was in the middle of getting the kids to bed. She had literally just gone upstairs when I grabbed her phone, located her hidden email account, and followed the trail. I called up to her and let her know that I knew about the hidden email account, and her hidden online profile, and we would talk when she came back down.  Putting the kids to bed usually takes 3 minutes or less; she didn’t come down for 20.  I don’t blame her, I was fuming, I was animated.  I yelled, and lied to the kids, telling them that mommy and daddy were happy and just playing a game.  Later that night, I calmed down, she went on a late-night Taco Bell run for me, and then we had sex; of all things we had sex within hours of me finding out about her attempts to have one-night stands.

So, back to the point.  After spending so much time thinking that everything was wrong because there were things wrong with me, I just lost complete trust in myself.  I felt what was going on around me, I just chose to ignore it and place my trust in my wife.  After all, she has my best interests in mind, and if I can’t trust anyone else I should be able to trust her, right?  That is why I asked for the most minute details.  I lived in a HUGE vacuum of truth and honesty for months, the whole time thinking I was doing something wrong, or that things about me (like my weight or unwillingness to let her have sex with another woman AND her husband at the same time!) were wrong.  What did the details actually do for me?

They gave me a sense of control, of reality.  What I was torturing myself with in my head was FAR worse than reality, although the reality still stung very badly.  I had her run me through her first sexual encounter with each affair partner.  No stone left un-turned.  What did I ask?

I asked her to give me every action she, the AP, or they together, did from the time she decided that she was going to go to their home and have sex, until she left.  As she began recounting the events, she was very uncomfortable about giving details.  Her initial recollection involved her going over there, kissing on the couch, going down on him, he going down on her, him finishing and her leaving.  Not enough detail for me.  I wanted to know what pushed her over the line, made her want to go over to AP1’s house.  I asked her what she was thinking and what she was feeling when she decided; she was invited by text message after she worked out with him.  I asked what the drive over there was like, how was traffic, how much attention was she paying to driving and what she was thinking, how her body felt (shaky, calm) and all of those things again after she pulled in his driveway.  Following that, I wanted to know about the short amount of kissing; was he good at it, was it enjoyable, how did it make you feel, what did it make you think about.  What made her decide to go down on him, was he already hard, what his size and shape were, were his pants still on, did he wear underwear, how was he positioned, how were you positioned.  Then I asked about him going down on her, did he ask her if he could, was he good at it, how was she positioned, how was he positioned, was it hard, soft or mixture, was it enjoyable, how did it make her feel, what did it make her think about, did she ever feel like any of it was wrong.  Then I asked her for details about the sex: how was she positioned, how was he positioned, was he in it for him or did he want her to get some enjoyment, did he thrust harder or softer, did he go fast or slow, did he make her wet, who put the condom on, what brand was it, did he cum in her, how long did it take, were her eyes open/did she look into his eyes during all of this, how did it make her feel, what did it make her think.  I asked about lighting in the room, what time of day it was, what the house smelled like, if the air was easy to breathe or felt thick, was she sweating, what was the temperature like, what did the texture of the couch cushions feel like, what did the carpet feel like?  What did the drive home feel like, how did she feel when she saw me for the first time after having the affair.  I asked if it ever occurred that the next day was our 6 year wedding anniversary.

I asked the same questions about the second AP, and I asked more questions about subsequent encounters with them.  She actually had sex with him twice in the restaurant, and gave him oral sex separately, once in the restaurant.  I asked if she loved them, if either of them loved her, what did she tell them about me to justify her actions to them (she said she couldn’t remember everything she told them on this subject), if I ever came into her thoughts during her romps with them.

This is actually a very difficult thing to write, I can hear all of her answers in my head, and I can feel everything I felt when I heard them then, now, as I type this.  Right now, we’re sitting at just over 4 months from when I found out.  Back to how it made me feel in control.

It made me feel like I could trust myself again, because I could feel what was going on, I knew I wasn’t crazy, my mind just hadn’t caught up to my body yet on what the truth really was.  It softened the blow of what I imagined in my head had actually happened, and it helped me speed up the process as far as internalizing and torturing myself.  Remember, I was still under the feeling that I was all sorts of fucked up, physically and mentally, and that all of this was my fault-even if she did say that it wasn’t me.

When I talked, I felt like I was in a position of being informed.  There was an added benefit of forcing her to admit to herself everything that she had done and how she felt when she was doing.

There are still some issues that will heal over time.  I recently drafted an agreement for us about how to behave, how to treat each other, and how to communicate.  She wasn’t too happy about it, not at all.  Each item in the agreement applied to both of us equally, and nothing specifically targeted her because of her actions.  I did it at my therapist’s recommendation, reinforced by a few other people who have done things along the same lines.  Almost all of my issues right now stem from a feeling of having no control over my things that happen in my life.  This agreement was my attempt to regain some control and make myself feel safe again, at least at home. I still haven’t really talked to my wife about putting it up here, we may just leave that little as a private thing between us.

Interesting to note, that she had the same kind of behavior with the boyfriend she had for years, just before she left him, and later we got back together and got married.  She was open about what she had done behind her boyfriend’s back.  I wondered before we got married if she would ever do that to me; she had already proven that she could do it to someone.  I knew she loved me, I could feel her love.  Every now and then when I couldn’t, after we were married, I wondered if she was behaving the same way and I just didn’t know it.  It’s hard knowing what happened, it’s almost just as hard knowing that it was because she was in a manic episode; I can hold her responsible, but it isn’t fully her fault.  It is difficult to be mad at her under those circumstances.  I love her so much, I know she loves me.  She’s the best thing that ever happened to me.  We have times now where one or both of us isn’t connected to the other, and that kind of thing is going to happen after having this kind of traumatic stress placed on the marriage.  For 4 months though, I think we’re doing alright.  I can still say that, even though she hurt me more than anything or anyone ever has, she is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I am happy to be married to her.  She is a wonderful person, she just did some bad things.  She’s getting better, I’m getting better, we’re getting better.