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.

I’m Sorry

For those that come here looking how to recover, I’m sorry.  I’m a piss-poor example. I’m trying to do my own healing, even with various therapists and a recovery class, I’m failing. The hurt is still there, still so real. Even when I try to ignore it, it appears from nowhere.

I’ve let my marriage remain in limbo.  MrJJ hasn’t taken any real steps to help heal our marriage until recently. During the years in between, my heart for my husband has slowly been dying.

I hope you find the help and healing you need, and maybe even a little of it from here. Please forgive me for a blog with few merits.

The Subconscious and Triggers

I was in my recovery class last night learning about the subconscious. How it’s formed, what’s stored in there and so on.

One statement that was made was very interesting to me. The speaker said that the subconscious cannot tell reality from fantasy (ie- a memory). I discussed it with my facilitator and how that plays out in real life is a large part of how triggers work.

For instance, you hear a song or smell something that brings you right back to a moment in childhood. It’s your subconscious recognizing what you don’t consciously and recalling that memory like it’s in the present. Not differentiating the memory from the actual present.

This is what happens when we trigger. We have certain experiences- sight, sound, taste, touch and so on- that bring us back to a moment that has been cemented into our subconscious and when it recalls that from the memory banks, it’s almost real to us and we react accordingly because of those strong feelings.

Reminding ourselves that the actual memory is of the past and things are changing helps. Lingering reinforces the memory and creates another layer in that moment.

I don’t know about you all, but that is very hard for me. I’ve buried my pain for years and it’s very hard to recognize when I am doing that again or if I am acknowledging the feeling, letting it pass then dealing w/ the new, present one the trigger has brought up. It’s a learning process that I hope to get better at, because the stuffing isn’t working any more than wallowing would.

Stalled

I’m stalled writing here. I find that even as the years pass, the pain is fresh. This was intended to be my catharsis. To help me give words where I have felt silenced.  Each post is like ripping stitches out of a barely healed wound.

Mr. JJ has been loving, remorseful, honest and transparent.  What he hasn’t been is proactive.  I tell him nobody had to instruct him on how to accomplish all the lies and subterfuge it took to conduct an affair.  That I have told him my needs, if he’s forgotten them or partially met them, he also needs to do what I did- seek help for moving forward.

His new favorite song is Lead Me by Sanctus Real and it makes me cry.  Part of the lyrics are show me I’m the love of your life…that you’re willing to fight.  After two full-on affairs and a couple of flirtation-type infidelities, how do I even begin to feel like the love of his life?  I don’t see him willing to fight.  It’s this limbo that tortures me.  Just good enough yet bad enough.  To tear my kids from an intact family when things have gotten so much better feels selfish; like it’s only because I want more rather than need more.  We talked about the song this morning and Mr. Jem claims he’s ready to fight.  We’ll see, I’m not pinning much hope on it at this time.

I know so many would have been gone before now.  As I am learning in my Lifeskills class, I stayed because I was taught I deserved no better.  The abuses, neglect and abandonment of my past brought me to accepting crumbs.  Now I have kids though and how do I tear their family apart when I have a good marriage after all this just because I want a great marriage?

I get little bits of encouragement that makes it harder to let go and yet when those seeds fail to bear full fruit, it makes it harder to hold on.  The most recent one was this weekend.  Mr. Jem was searching his email for a registration confirmation.  In the process, he found an email he had written in 2006 to me during the affair.  Usually his theory is don’t dredge up the past.  He read the email anyhow.  When I came downstairs, he told me about it.  That it was a cruel and hateful email and he was sorry.  He didn’t realize that he had truly been that mean.  I have yet to get a straight answer from him about what he thought when I referenced his attitude during that time, but my guess is he thought I was rewriting history to make him the villain as I sometimes do to Harlot.

I will try to keep this blog updated and finish my story.  I hope to share my walk through recovery and what I have learned.  I know so many of you that come here are searching for just that.  Each of our walks has it’s own path and I will share mine, hoping to shed some light on yours.  Meanwhile, please visit some of the resources I share here.

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.

Betrayed Spouse Bill of Rights

I posted this today on a support board and felt I should share it here.

Betrayed Spouses Bill of Rights
In a world where a marriage is as likely to end as not, we sometimes forget what a partnership is in the early days after discovery of infidelity. We lose ourselves in the desperation to hold onto your loved one. Remembering your rights will help you no matter which path your marriage takes.

1- You have a right to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. By having an affair, your spouse has closed off the relationship with you and opened one with the OP (other person). You have a right to insist this is reversed for your healing and to assure that loyalties have been realigned.

2- You have the right to trust- but verify. Trust has been broken, ‘snooping’ is not snooping. It is verifying that someone proven to be a liar, sneak and cheat has changed their ways. Like an addict, a WS(wayward spouse) will often go back to their emotional fix. You have a right to verify this is not happening.

3- You have the right to insist there are only two people in the marriage. That choice was made when you made vows to each other. Even a moment with a third person is too much. You owe your WS no time to ‘think about it’. There’s a marriage or there’s none.

4- You have a right to know who the OP is, the flip of this is you do not have a right to harm or harass this person. Hold yourself to a better standard than the OP did.

5- You have the right to choose to give the gift of reconciliation or to divorce. You have the right to take some time to make that choice. If you one day realize you cannot live with the truth of what has been done, you have the right to walk away.

6- You have the right to insist your WS gets STD testing done and to see the results. Even if the WS claims it has not gotten physical, as many WSs will admit to “only a kiss” when it has gone much further.

7- You have the right to insist that your WS initiates and honors NC (no contact) immediately. You have a right to have input and to be a witness to how NC is established.

8- You have a right to set and enforce boundaries. This is not blackmail or any of the other negative words your WS might use. This you protecting yourself.

9- You have a right to hold onto evidence for as long as you need it to feel safe. Your WS has created an atmosphere of risk and danger. It is natural to have a safety net to counteract what has been brought into your marriage.

10- You have a right to know who your WS’s friends are and the nature of their interactions. If it is kept a secret, it is not healthy for the marriage and therefore something is amiss.

11- You have the right to out the affair to anyone you deem will help you and/or your marriage. This is not your secret to keep, this is not your shame to hold. You owe no protection to those that failed to protect you.

12- You have a right to heal on your timeline. As long as you are making steady progress, you are healing. It is a slow process and a WS that says things along the lines of, “You’ll never get over this!” does not have a full grasp of the damage betrayal causes. This is a healing process that takes from 18 months to five years.

13- You have a right to yell, cry, fall apart and otherwise handle this in any way that relieves some of the devastating pain, shock and loss of trust. Your world has been turned on its end. You do not have the right to physically, verbally or otherwise abuse your spouse.

14- You have the right to insist on a true marriage. A marriage of partners, where you love, honor and protect each other. If you feel your marriage is missing one of these components, either fixing it or leaving are your only two options. You don’t have the right to cheat and/or turn someone else into a betrayed spouse.

15- You have a right to love yourself. Often the betrayed have forgotten themselves as an individual. This is the optimum time to remind yourself that you are unique and lovable in your own right. That as much as you might love your spouse, you should love yourself enough to refuse any sort of mistreatment.

The Curtain Opens…a New Day Dawns…

Well, you would think so, right?  We’re still young, just pushing into our mid-20’s.  MrJJ has the job that will open up doors and windows and bring us into the world of fresh air.  We’ve rededicated our lives to each other and Christ.

Yes, the curtain opens.  Sorry and her husband Jerk are out of our lives.  MrJJ is a few states away training for his new job.  But he comes home every chance he gets.  Even through Hurricane Floyd.  His school was evacuated, he was supposed to go west.  He came north to be with me.  Water was riding high over the headlights of my little Dodge Neon.  He still drove on and stayed with me through the aftermath of no drinking water, no power, nothing.

In those early weeks of September, Sorry paged MrJJ’s pager, only I had it.  I wore it in case my friend Olive went into labor.  She had her baby right around that time.  Seeing baby Beauty was the first time I ever had baby fever.  MrJJ and I discussed it and decided to ‘stop preventing’.  We weren’t trying, but we would accept a child if God chose to give one to us.  By Halloween I knew I was pregnant.  I kept it in until MrJJ could come home.

I had obeyed MrJJ and Pastor G.  I did my best to stuff those feelings of pain and mistrust.  It came out with my pregnancy announcement to MrJJ though.

“Are you sure I am the only one you want forever?”

MrJJ was puzzled and defensive, “Of course!”

“Well, too bad, someone else is going to be in our marriage.  A little boy or girl.”

MrJJ was over the moon.  Bought a little moose for the baby.  Started talking names.  He graduated soon after that and began working in VA.  He had to live with relatives and commute until we had a home.  My father-in-law still has many of our possessions from that time, including the boot camp letters.  He says no, but I saw a few the last time we visited his house.  Sorry for the tangent, but I feel enough of my life has been taken between being a military brat and having divorced parents.  He’s just one more on the pile.

MrJJ wanted the best home for his family that he could afford.  I just wanted to be with him.  I gave up driving up there to find a home and left it to him.  We wouldn’t agree anyway.  By December we had a home and were just waiting for all the paperwork to go through.  I had also found a job near MrJJ’s at a federal daycare.  Daycare hours, school teacher pay.  Perfect for our fledgling family.

I spent New Years Eve ’99 babysitting and rubbing my still tiny belly.  I had lost about 30 pounds in the aftermath of the summer of ’99 and was feeling good for the most part.  There was still this nagging sadness, but I did my best to concentrate on the future and pushed it aside.  I talked to MrJJ on the phone, he was working too.  He asked what I was doing, I said I was in bed with a guy, the little boy I was babysitting.  He had been afraid of all the noise.  And so rang in the year Y2K.  This century had to be better than the last, right?

The next day I moved up to live with MrJJ in a motel while we waited for our house.  I began my job and was initiated into the Washington DC mixing bowl traffic.  We did travel back to NC in that first month for a funeral.  MrJJ’s paternal grandfather had died.  Even in her mourning, his grandmother managed to ‘joke’ that MrJJ wasn’t the father of my baby.  I bristled at the implication and could almost see some respect for MrJJ drop away as he said nothing.

We moved into our first home.  It was a sweet little townhouse in the far ‘burbs of DC.  We began nesting and planning our future as a little family with so much promise.  The problem is, you can live in a new house with fresh paint and throw the curtains open to a new day.  But if there’s a body under the rug, it’s eventually going to stink.

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