Saturday, July 10, 2010

How I Got Here (Part 4): The Next Four Months

After the phone confrontation, he told me I would never see him again.  He had planned all along that if anyone ever found out about this, he would kill himself.  I considered if he was using the suicide card as manipulation, but my gut and my training as a social worker told me that he was incredibly unstable.  At that point, my anger and hurt at the betrayal was replaced by my desire to keep him alive.   No matter what happened with us, I did not want him to kill himself.  I desperately pleaded with him to come home or go to a hospital.  I told him I would be at home waiting for him.  I left my son with my dad and went home to wait.  I remember sitting in my empty house imagining the scenarios that might be playing out.  Not knowing if he was dead or alive was agonizing.

He eventually came home around one in the morning.  It was surreal when he walked in the door.  We talked, cried, embraced...for a moment I saw the man I loved.  But I knew he was a different person.  It was incredibly confusing.  He promised me that I knew everything now, that there were no more secrets and that he wanted to get better.  He seemed to be at rock bottom.  Then began the "honeymoon period" during which I actually felt closer to him than I had in months.  It seemed like everything was on the table and we were committed to working through it. 

The next four months played out in a pattern:  something resembling normalcy, retreat into depression/moodiness, lies, explanations, acceptance and repeat.  He never truly apologized for what he had done to me.  He portrayed himself as a victim who was powerless and not responsible for what he had done, because he was an addict and sex was his drug of choice.  I struggled with the issue of his homosexual experiences.  He continued to say that this was a sex addiction and he was not gay.  I did a lot of research but was still confused.  Was he gay?  Was he bi-sexual?  Was he an addict?  Was he just making excuses?  I still don't know those answers.

Looking back on it I am amazed that I went through it so long without seeing the truth.  But when you love someone and you desperately want to believe, you miss signals that seem obvious in hindsight.  You tune out those gut level instincts.  I don't see it as denial but rather the process I needed to go through.  I had taken a vow for better or for worse and did not want to abandon him if he was truly sick but was committed to getting help.  And he did get help:  counseling and a 12 step group.  I made some adjustments like never leaving my son alone with him and I stayed.  And yes, I did get an HIV test - cried through the whole thing.  Luckily it was negative.

One thing that was prevalent during this time was his ability to make me think that I was the crazy one.  Every time I would suspect something or feel something was wrong, he was able to turn it around on me.  What I know now is this was part of the manipulation:  keeping me off kilter and confused so that I would not discover the truth.

Things culminated in April, 4 months from when I found the list.  I was having a tough week and decided to visit my sister out of state.  I was contemplating separation and needed to think away from home.  When I returned, our fighting continued and I asked him to leave so we could have some space to think.  He checked into an extended stay hotel. 

A few weeks later I noticed a gas charge on our credit card bill from the weekend that I was gone.  The charge was from a gas station over an hour away on the turnpike.  He said he had just gone driving to clear his head but I did not believe it.  This time I followed my gut which I had ignored for so long.  I checked the cell phone log and found a number of calls that weekend to an out of state area code.  I had a friend call the number.  It was a woman whose name was on the list.  A woman he dated in high school.  He had previously denied an affair with her and said her name was on the list because of emotional support she had provided him.  I always suspected he had an affair with her but I had no clue it was still going on.  At this point I knew our marriage was over.  I had given him so many opportunities to come clean, but he continued to lie.

It was Tuesday and I knew he should be on his the way to his 12-step meeting.  I called his cell phone.   I had never felt anger like this...from deep within my soul. I told him that I was going to give him something to talk about at his group.  I told him he should talk to his group about why he was continuing to lie to his wife after all the support and forgiveness I had given him.  I asked about her and he admitted the affair.  He went into a rage and said he was going to kill himself, that he was sick, that he was a monster and hung up. He called back and left two of the ugliest, rage-filled messages I had ever heard.  I finally picked up and told him I could not make any promises about our future but I begged him to go check himself into a hospital.  Regardless of what he had done, he could get help and I wanted him to live.  He hung up.  Once again I waited, unsure if he was alive or dead.

He called two hours later from the emergency room to tell me he was being admitted to a psychiatric hospital.  With his permission I went to clean out his hotel room.  I asked him what I would find there and he said I would find a letter from her that I did not need to read but might as well.  He also told me about things in our house that he had hidden.  I found all of it and so much more...notes, cards, lists, letters, photos.  I spent hours reading and processing what I had found.

I went to the hospital the next day and he presented me with a letter stating he had hit bottom and was coming clean with everything because he had nothing left to hide.  He was cold, angry and distant.  That letter hit even harder as I once again realized that there had been more secrets and more lies.  The biggest shock was that he had abused children when he was a teen and that he remained sexually preoccupied with minors.  Some of the names on the list had actually been teen boys.  I was physically sick. 

I told him that he could not come home.  I filed for divorce a week later.


  1. thinking of you~ You're stregth then and now is inspiring!

  2. Wow girl! You have strength beyond belief! *hugs*

  3. I totally understand the need to believe the excuses. I did that for a long time, too. I'm so sorry you had to go through this.