Lies in the Attic

I was watching a BBC version of Jane Eyre. I began to think about when it became one of my favorite books. I was just about 12 years old. I identified with the young Jane. Bookish, didn’t belong anywhere really. One good friend. Losses. Abuse.

As I got older, the relationship between Jane and Rochester grew as my understanding of a love between a man and woman grew. Somewhere, deep inside, I wanted my Rochester. My man that would see beyond the girl who was still a bookish wall flower. The one to draw me out. The one to declare his love and how being separated from me would cause a heartbreak he’d never recover from. My innocent mind glossed over the mind games Rochester played on Jane. Of the three stages of the book, only one mattered. The one where they loved and were together.

By 18 years old I found my Rochester. Dark, strong and somewhat brooding. I just knew there was love sleeping inside of him. At first, it seemed like I was right. Here was a man (well, at 18 physically a man if not otherwise) loving me. Seeing beauty in me that nobody had seen before.

I was naive and didn’t see the tricks. That this type of man was often angry and entitled. I didn’t realize that if a man was dark and brooding, there was a reason for it. And as long as he kept that reason hidden in the attic, those around him would be affected by the visits of the specter he tried to lock away.

I’ve been injured by my Rochester’s attic secret. He’s kept secrets from me and himself. That doesn’t make them go away, just get crazier. That’s what brought the affairs on. A man who believed he could lock away secrets and take what he wanted. Childhood issues he can’t or won’t face. Some I knew, one I didn’t until at least a year after the second affair had ended. He was angry and snapped at me that others had had a hard life too. That others could forgive. He had. When he was six or seven a neighborhood teenage boy molested him for a few days. He kept it to himself until he was about 12 years old then told his mom. A year’s worth of therapy and he was fine and had forgiven the perpetrator. It was all in the past.

Except to me it wasn’t. It was one more secret in 15 years of secrets and lies. Again, years have passed and I don’t know any more than what I’ve shared here. I believe that a person who cannot talk about a wound still has healing to be done in that wound. Our son’s birthday was exactly a month before the second affair started. He turned the same age my husband was when he was molested. I believe it was a trigger. My Rochester refuses to see it. He’s keeping his blind spot.
Even if he’s right and my research into the long term effects of molestation are wrong, he has more issues from his childhood he’s never faced.

He’s wounded and crippled. I’m not Jane though. I didn’t find my support system and get validated. I don’t have the strength to nurse him back to a whole man who can see clearly. I have my own scars. Many he helped cause and even layered one over the other. Rochester can love me, but can he be whole enough to pull me out of the web he’s created?

I wanted my Rochester. I just never realized how true to form he would be when he pulled me from the shadows.

Just the Facts Ma’am

NO.

I realized today that I just report the facts. No mean feat considering just the facts are so emotional too. I gloss over so much, even then it hurts.

My first d-day. Some would call it c-day. Confession over discovery. It’s a d-day to me. Devastating. Demoralizing. Dream-shattering. It was only a confession day because Sorry decided to force MrJJ’s hand. “Tell her or I’ll tell her in the most hurtful way possible.” What could hurt more than knowing your prince, your happily-ever-after, your man of honor loved someone else? That someone else was your friend?

I’ve written about it here before, that day. As I write it this time, iTunes has shuffled a song called “Friends and Love” into the playlist. I can’t even remember where it came from, it’s beautiful. Friends and love should be beautiful. This friend, this love…not beautiful.

Watching one of those spy movies recently, I was wondering why I triggered. The woman was trying to escape someone, going in and out of buildings. I’ve done that. Not life or death, but as it turned out, a part of me died that day.

I sat in the floor of my closet, crying.  I felt frumpy. She made me feel frumpy with her little comments, though I did not connect that until later. MrJJ stood over me, angry. What was my problem? Please, please let’s go out…but not with her. Just us two. Just this once, I begged.
We already invited her, she’s been having a hard time, you know that. You’re holding us up. It was a sneer, a disdain in the reply. I imagine that he also said they’d go without me and I bustled, but that might not be the truth. It would fit with the whole picture.

We went to Denny’s. I can’t remember ordering. I can’t remember anything but sitting next to the window, the morning sun streaming in. I think MrJJ sat next to me, but I couldn’t swear to it. There was some movement under the table. The wait for the food was forever, each moment a torment as we all just sat there. I don’t think I talked, all my memories come later. The movement under the table clicked something in me and I got up and left.

The town wasn’t built up in that area yet. The black roads and drying fields yawned ahead of me. Everything seemed too bright to have shape.  I hurried away, tears blurring things even more. Half a block down, I see they have gotten in the Jeep to follow me. I ducked into a Hardees, only to be told I’m sorry, we’re closed for renovation. I look down at what looks like a Carl’s Jr. star. Huge and waiting to be hung. I was confused- those are from when I lived in California as a child, not here in rural NC. I stumbled out of the door and walked as fast as I could to the next building. A hotel.

The confused faces of the staff blurred past me as I rushed upstairs, down the hall. I wanted to hide, there was nowhere to hide, just the maroon carpet and shut door. So I went down the other stairs, two flights of stark tan walls and stairs. I couldn’t even find an ice machine to hide behind. I rushed out, hoping MrJJ and Sorry were looking somewhere else.

There they were, in the parking lot. I ran to the back of the hotel, hoping to escape there. The deep and wide ditch stopped me. There was nothing but a wide dying field ahead of me. No cover. As I teetered on the edge of the ditch, MrJJ came to me, pulled me to him and hugged me. Kissed the top of my head. Promised me he loved me and it would all be ok.

I peeked over his shoulder and Sorry glowering, arms crossed and, despite my gut feelings, my head wondered why? Why?

MrJJ walked me to the Jeep, put me in, buckled me up and I leaned my head against the window, crying. When we pulled into our apartments, I begged him to drop her off at home. She couldn’t stay here. Of course she wasn’t staying, he said, I’m dropping her off. Then do it, don’t leave me alone. Don’t worry, I’ll be right back, I love you.

It felt like forever. This was before cell phones were ubiquitous. No choice but to wait. I don’t know why I didn’t call her house. I finally couldn’t take the torture. I gather all the pills in the house and some wine coolers. I got into my car, intending to drive down a long country road, take the pills with coolers and stuff the tailpipe of the car. Let someone find me, just let the pain go away. I got to the nearby community college and suddenly felt I had to turn around.

It turns out that they were there, in a gazebo. Thought I had seen them. That’s the only reason MrJJ came home soon after I got home. The rest…well, i can be read here.

I was left to die or not. I can feel the summer day almost like you can feel Maximus’ hand over the field in Gladiator. The same colors, same surreal reality.  Five days before my birthday and I’m left behind like the leftover filled Styrofoam boxes from Denny’s. By the time my birthday rolled around, celebrating my life was as unwanted as those leftovers. I was closer to death, slowly dying. I can see the wires protruding from the new Hardee’s sign. I can feel a blur of diners around me in Denny’s.

This happened June 19, 1999. We buried it all almost immediately. The last year of a millennium, and here we are on the cusp of a new decade in the new millennium and I can still remember. Even buried, it was STILL there.  If it won’t go away, how do I move away from it. I can’t randomly delete it. Those feelings, they come back. It’s a PTSD thing. The first time I saw a Hardee’s after the second affair came to light, I triggered. I didn’t know what it is, or what it was called at the time, but it was there.
Now I’m supposed to recover? HOW? How do you forget when you’ve tried so hard and it WON’T GO AWAY?  How do you heal sleeping next to the person who hurt you, let you hurt but won’t let you go- and won’t help you fight the demons he gave birth to in your dreams, in your life?

Cheating and Reality TV

Yeah, people like to call it ‘reality tv’ but the fact is it’s scripted. There is more room for ad-libbing than in a totally scripted show, but when it comes down to it, it follows a script and a pattern. So does an affair.

There are sometimes stand-ins for the participants when things don’t look quite right and have to be re-filmed. At those times, it’s usually a close up of part of a person, like hands. Or a far away crane shot. An affair is much like this, where the affair partners either just look at bits and pieces or look at it from such a distance they can’t see the details that truly make a person recognizable for who they are.

While these shows are going on, it becomes the participants reality. They go through character changes that sometimes make them unrecognizable to their loves ones watching from the outside. They often change their morality to fit the situation, using whatever justification they can come up with. This is just like the funhouse mirror you see when looking at an active wayward spouse.

There’s usually the promise of a prize that is worth all the debasement, conniving and acting they have to do. It is rare that a person gets it, and rarer still that they are happy w/ the reality of the fame and issues that come along w/ the prize. Just like cheaters.

Jem

Not my fault

I was reading an affair recovery book today. The author said something along the lines that betrayed spouses have to take an account of what they did to make the marriage an environment that an affair could happen in. Like so many of us involved in affair recovery be stressed that the choice to have an affair was solely in the lap of the wayward spouse.

This began the wheels of my mind, circling over and over. I have read time and again the affair is 100% the choice of the unfaithful but the problems in the marriage are 50/50. Some people, like this author I was reading make it sound as though the betrayed could have taken preventative measures though.

The fact is a spouse that is broken enough to cheat will cheat. I have seen many betrayed spouses reporting that their marriage history was re-written and they were villianized (certainly true in my case). Then there are the other spouses that claim, “You were too perfect. I felt I didn’t deserve you.”

To me this is a prime example of how a person that is going to cheat will cheat no matter what. Will justify mo matter what. I need to know that because for years I tried to fix our marriage only to be ignored until one foot was out the door. I tried. You can only get so far alone.

What percentage is it when the betrayed had actually tried? Does it even matter? Because many times it would have happened no matter what. Whether you were ‘too good’ or ‘always unloving.’ Anything could mean an affair to a spouse willing to ignore their vows.

Where’s the standing ovation?

Everywhere in the news I see adultery and the wages of cheating. It’s always some form of pain.

Even on the recovery boards, there’s debate as to who should shoulder the blame. This clip says exactly what I have been saying all along.

Embedded video from CNN Video

ETA- sorry, CNN seems to have deleted the video.

They Call it d-day

Sunday morning, MrJJ encouraged me to go to one of the churches I had picked out to try.  I felt lonely every time I went alone.  After the day before, I had hope and wanted to be close to him.  Instead, he spent the day cleaning up his study, listening to a Hawaiian radio station streaming live through his computer.  I’d pop in now and then only to be brushed off.  Pretty soon, it was only the kids that went in to greet MrJJ now and then.

Sometime in the late afternoon, MrJJ went upstairs to go to the bathroom.  He thought I was taking a nap.  Urged by some inner sense, I went into his now clean study and touched his computer.  The Hawaiian music was still playing as I went to the Hotmail site I had noticed weeks before.  Unlike the last time, this time it allowed me to log on.  All the emails were from one person, a woman named Harlot.

Shaking, I forwarded all the emails sent and received.  MrJJ had learned from the AOL incident and this time had deleted all emails as they came in and went out.  The exception was that day.  Harlot happened to be online at the same time as MrJJ and they volleyed emails back and forth while he hid from his family under the guise of cleaning.

My heart was in my throat as I feverishly moved my evidence to my email account, then ran to my computer and changed my password.  My vision began blurring, I was dizzy.  I checked MrJJ’s email one more time and reeled, reading his email to her about how watching the movie “Click” the night before was making him reevaluate what was important in life.

I tried to hold it in, but I rushed upstairs.  Throwing open the bathroom door, I shot out, “I know about her!”

“Her?  Her who?  There is no one!”

“Harlot ***” I answered, putting as much sarcasm and disgust as I could into her full name.

“Oh, you have it wrong, we’re just friends.”

“‘Every time you are with me instead of your kids, I am thankful.'” I sneered the quote from her recent email.

His normally tan face blanched, I could swear it did at least.  I supposed it was good he was on the throne, he likely needed it.

“Just a minute, we need to talk.”

I agitatedly left, allowing him to clean up.  He came into our bedroom and closed the door.  I was calm, eerily calm.  He confessed to an affair with Harlot.  It had only been going on a little while, he claimed.  They had sex once, a few weeks ago.  Shocked that MrJJ admitted to sex with Harlot, I asked if he had had sex with Sorry all those years ago.  I got a strenuous denial.

He did it because I was depressed and didn’t bother to get help, he said.  MrJJ was tired of me and so sought someone who did not have the drama of me.

We talked, who knows how long.  I don’t even know what the kids were up to at that point, likely watching t.v.  We took a break.  I know now that he likely contacted her during that break, though he claims now he can’t remember.  We talked more when the kids were in bed.  I revealed how I had put all the blame on myself for our distance.  I had shopped for sex toys, our first ever.  By the time they came he had rejected me so often, I just packed them away.  I was trying to be who he seemed to want.  I was searching for answers, never knowing that the problem was something I couldn’t have changed.

Every loving action, every attempt at growing closer, was twisted by him.  Or, if he shared it with her, she found a way to twist it.  I was fighting a losing battle, one I did not even know I was in.

He promised to ‘take a break’ from her so he could concentrate on our marriage and family.  So he could decide without undue influence.  I fell into his arms.  I don’t know why.  I had always said I would leave if it happened again.  Here it was, worse than before.  Yet I yearned for him.  We had passionate sex that night.  What I now know is termed as ‘hysterical bonding’.  That dual need to feel wanted and to claim your territory.  At the time, it was so uplifting.

I came to regret it later.

I had had my d-day.  Discovery day.  Unbeknownst to me, I was yet again on the early discovery ride.  Stops include rounds of trickle truth, minimizing, blame-shifting, gas-lighting, fence-sitting, and (as I found out later) cake-eating.  I will explain all of those in the next posts.  If you are a betrayed spouse, or suspect you are, I highly recommend checking out some of my links.  Each affair is different, but they all follow the same script.  Leonardo DiCaprio may have played a modern Romeo, swords may have been replaced with guns, but the lines were still the same.  So it is with affair partners.

“I love you but I’m not in love with you.”

“We’re just friends.”

“It was only a kiss.”

“It was just the one time.”

“We used protection.”

“You drove me to it.”

“We’re soul mates.”

“You never understood me like this.”

All to excuse the inexcusable.  Each time, each word, each careless phrase, is a bomb into the betrayed heart.  Everything will be said to protect the affair and its participants, no matter that the betrayed will be obliterated until our tears feel like they are rivers of blood.

Each d-day is its own pain, own destruction.  I am two years away from the one I share here and my heart still quakes reliving it.  I can go to that day in June ’99 and feel the utter devastation of having the man I love tell me he loved my friend.  It is like an emotional time machine.  Suddenly I am standing in the doorway to my bedroom and its the first Sunday of December ’06.  My husband is telling me that the woman he is seeing is everything I am not.  Believe me when I say, there is a mark left on you forever.

My world was invaded, my family facing destruction.  Where would we go next?

Have we found the core?

Just got of the phone with MrJJ  The longest and most productive conversation we have had since he left.  Maybe even the most productive conversation we have had in years.

We’ve agreed that he will answer any and all questions when he gets home, face to face.

I also found out that he has believed for ten years that when we separated I cheated on him.  Three friends were supposed to come visit at once.  One guy put off his visit so he missed my other two friends.  Yes, we had a close friendship, and there was some kissing that apparently MrJJ saw when he stopped by my apartment.  I quickly realized that the guy had no real attraction for me, so when MrJJ knocked on the door it was a relief.  I was driving Mr. Bad Kisser to the airport that night (2hrs away) and falling asleep at the wheel so we rented a hotel room.  Honestly, there was a pillow between the two of us as we slept a couple of hours and I got up and dropped him off.  I can’t even remember saying goodbye.  I do remember stopping by the mall on the way home and getting myself some cute PJs in celebration of just being me and happy and alone.

MrJJ and I reconciled shortly after that, but he found the hotel receipt in my car.  Apparently all this time he has not believed me when I say nothing happened.  He went through this pain of betrayal all alone…I would not wish it on anyone, imagined or not.  It is a debilitating pain.

I have often tried to figure out where we went from being best of friends, although he got rough (the reason for the separation in ’97) to growing so far apart.  Knowing that not having the answers and feeling you can’t trust drives such a wedge, I get so much more now.

He still doesn’t believe me- doesn’t see how it could be possible two people in a hotel room don’t take advantage of the situation.  But he says that he never stopped loving me and wanting me.  He’s not using it as an excuse, he just wanted me to know he does understand my pain.  He’s been there.

Now, he wants us to talk all this out when he gets home (a huge step for him, esp. if he’s been holding onto it for 10yrs).  He says he wants us to grow old together.  I know it doesn’t erase the past, and there are so many hurdles yet to jump.  But I think it’s a big step for him to have finally let that pain in the open.