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.

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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.

Time to re-Focus

forewarning- I didn’t bother to be PC in this post.

First, let’s get this straight.  I am Christian.  I belong to a conservative church.  Am I conservative?  Yes and no.  According to conservatives- more no than yes I am guessing.

I was listening to a radio program (which will remain ‘nameless’) today and the hosts were going on and on about voting about gay marriage.  Marriage should be between a man and a woman you see.

Biblical principles aside, as I have yet to see a completely convincing argument, homosexual marriage is hardly the death knell to the traditional family.  Infidelity and its growing acceptance in society (refer to sites such as Ashley Madison) is far more dangerous than the less than 10% (just throwing a number out here) of the population that happens to be queer and also want to get married.

When current estimates put infidelity rates somewhere between 50 and 85%, I believe that reveals a much larger risk to the traditional family.  Infidelity leaves a footprint on the family that is not easily washed away.  Even many experts do not understand the psychology of an affair- and recovery from affairs.  Infidelity carries it’s damage into the next generation.  I would say that most people on the support forums I have visited were children in a house that was affected by infidelity.  How it plays out usually depends on the gender of the wayward parent and the gender of the child.  I wish I could remember the study I once saw quoted, but I am pretty sure a daughter of a betrayed wife is more likely to also be a betrayed wife.  Also, the son of a cheating father is more likely to cheat.  In my case, P.’s father was a serial adulterer.  I recently learned that his mother likely also cheated, if not on P’s father then on the fiance she had after the divorce.  My mother cheated often.  The three times I know about include the final other man, one of my dad’s friends and one of my mom’s friends…yes, a female.

The legacy can be crippling.  There are also real life “Fatal Attraction” scenarios, some to differing degrees.  If you are tempted to cheat, even if you are not the spouse be aware of the high emotions that run through a betrayed spouse after discovery.  Though I am more prone to self harm, at one point I had a vivid vision of confronting the other woman and stabbing her with a screwdriver.  It scared me, but what about the spouses that it motivates?

In geometry a triangle is the strongest shape.  In love, it usually means at least one person is unbalanced.  You are taking a risk when you create that unbalance.  The papers are littered with any person involved in an affair- the other person, the wayward and the betrayed, snapping and committing a crime.

This brings me back to my point.  If we want to protect the family institution, we should legislate the breaking of a marriage contract.  Infidelity increases the occurrences of STDs (after all, your ‘soul mate’ can’t possibly be ‘unclean’ so why use protection?), children born outside of the marriage, emotional abuse (by its very nature affairs are emotional abuse) and divorce.  When we signed our marriage license, we signed a contract and it should be treated as such.

So please, let’s not focus on the fags.  Leave them alone if you want to preserve the image of family.  Go after the infidels…the cheaters.  Those that help a spouse break their vows.  The companies like AM and the ‘alibi’ company that promote it.  This is a much more insidious issue.  It affects Christian couples as much as anyone else.  There is definite harm…and definite strictures against it in the Bible.

My guess is this is such a shameful topic that nobody wants to touch it.  That and politicians, not known for their fidelity, don’t feel the burning desire to pass such brave legislation.

Though, keeping on the course a wayward is on, one is bound to feel something burning eventually.

Focused and Unfocused

If we were to keep with the curtain metaphor from the last entry, we’d call this intermission.

A new dawning had happened in our lives. Our darling son, Silly Son had been born. Suddenly what mattered didn’t and what didn’t matter did.  I went from working full time, as I had been doing for so many years up until then, to staying at home.  Sometimes I felt at a loss.

All I had learned of having kids while working with kids flew out the window.  The things you were told were right felt wrong.  Given my background in child development, I began researching.  We became an attachment parenting family and it felt right.  I honestly could write so much more about the different aspects of parenting like this, but I know it’s a tangent that will just avoid the painful topic this blog is about.

MrJJ was a loving and doting father.  At some point, that began to taper off.  He was always loving, but Silly Son began to matter less.  I began to matter less.  MrJJ began to push the boundaries we had established after Sorry.  He began to talk to female co-workers about their relationships.  This is how he told me Sorry. drew him in, by asking for a ‘guy’s perspective’.  We agreed…that was a boundary not to be crossed.  He crossed it and told me it was ok- as long as he didn’t reciprocate by talking about us.  There were other incidents of me struggling with my trust.  But I had been counseled to ‘forgive and forget’.  MrJJ had insisted I don’t show my pain, or even be overly effusive in my love.  He called it manipulative.

So I buried it.  I focused on our family.  I had already been exposed though, and the illness began to take root.  The depression that slowly grew was blamed on postpartum depression, on my Gram dying, on the lifestyle changes. Never once did anyone dig deep enough to make the connection.  Finally, on the heels of a job disappointment, MrJJ decided to take a job in Hawai’i.  He believed the sun would wash away the depression.  He refused to listen to me when I told him that it was the situation that needed to be changed.  I felt unloved and ignored.  He thought things were just fine.  My attitude needed to be adjusted.  It wasn’t him.  It couldn’t be him.  I had the cause of my pain buried so deep that even I didn’t realize what this was all about.  I just longed to be heard, to be loved.

This habit of not listening is deeply ingrained in MrJJ  I watch him totally tune out his mother.  I can’t stand for it, it’s so disrespectful to me- not acknowledging a human being is speaking to you.  He didn’t listen to me either though.  Our first home he insisted on buying.  Our first dog, a Greyhound.  The move to Hawai’i.  Even the house we bought in Hawai’i…and another Greyhound.  As though the first hadn’t been so emotionally unstable we had to return him.

We lived in Hawai’i for a year and a half.  During that time, MrJJ was pretty much in paradise.  He could play gold of his lunch breaks, go the the beach whenever.  To be honest, I don’t really know what his life was like then.  I know I suspected him of cheating, but I had on and off over the years and he still denies it to this day.  Silly Son and I were isolated.  We didn’t fit in unless we were in a tourist area.  There were very few stay-at-home-moms and those I met were hard to wedge myself in with, I was an outsider.  I was also trapped by this mild but chronic depression. I found a church, the only fellowship I got was when they learned I used to work in childcare.  Suddenly I would get phone calls asking me to volunteer.  When I sat alone during fellowship time, tears streaming down my face, I was not good enough. We did go through an intense period of lovebird nesting.  So much so that by the time we had an opportunity to move back, I was six months pregnant with our second child.

We moved back home.  The housing prices had come up.  We had to live in a rental.  I had a hard time fitting back into my old life after being isolated for so long.  Our second child was born about two months after we got back to the mainland.  Unlike Silly Son, Sweet Daughter was a fussy one.  She was great at first, but then fought sleep as I paced the rental.

I was fighting depression all the time it felt like.  I found a therapist and went onto anti-depressants.  The problem was, no dose was high enough to take away the suicidal thoughts.  I began to have full body shakes and insomnia.  The anxiety attacks were the worst though.  My therapist refused to switch me since Sweet Daughter was breastfed and she didn’t want to play with meds that were working for her.  Even when I researched other alternatives.  I eventually ended up just never going back.

After two years, MrJJ decided it was time to own our own home again.  He looked at the other side of the D.C. ‘burbs.  It wasn’t as built up there.  He found a house.  We agreed- it just wasn’t for us.  I had been watching the signs and I knew the housing market was finally falling.  No, that wasn’t to be.  MrJJ insisted on buying the house even though we had agreed not to.  So we moved.  Two hours from my closest friends.