Anniversary Recycled

Today is our nineteenth wedding anniversary.

It’s always been a bit of a joke that I have trouble remembering the date (we don’t really celebrate dates – the thinking is that it quickly becomes an ‘arms race’, especially Valentine’s Day where you have to outdo yourself with the  stuffed toys, chocolates, roses, cards, etc, etc, and neither of us want to play that game).

Our wedding was a very quiet one at our request – registry office, a couple of friends as witnesses, the kids trussed up in dresses, suits, hats; me in a Summer dress from M&S. My aunt asked if she could come. His mother absolutely insisted on coming: she was better-dressed than I was. His dad and step-mother turned up (although they did not approve… they genuinely believed God had told them personally that we were not suited for each other – it would have been nice if God had told us as well). AP forgot his tie. I couldn’t be bothered to do anything with my hair. Neither of us cared – it was about committing to each other, not to a massive credit-card debt. We went back to our house afterwards where my aunt and I put on a lovely spread, British Sunday-tea buffet-style.

We promised his gran and my family that one day, when we could afford it, we would have a blessing to which they could come: stuffy, formal outfits and hats welcome. They are still waiting. We didn’t lie, we have just never prioritised it – especially as there have always been other expenses which seemed a better idea (like my daughter’s big white wedding two years ago).

So every year my aunt sends an anniversary card and every year I put that lone card up and joke about how funny it is that she remembers for us. This year, when the card arrived, I put it straight into the recycling bin. Harsh? I don’t think so… as far as I’m concerned, our original marriage has been voided by his affair and I do not want any reminders.

We have spoken about having a blessing at some point in the future, when we have defined this brave new relationship we are striving to build. How ironic, that the event which we promised our family members all those years ago (and which they would consider a re-affirmation of our original vows) would actually be the foundation of something entirely new.

Advertisements
Anniversary Recycled

D-Day: Part 5, The Second Confrontation

I have put this post off for a while – it means I have to relive that awful night when I learned the full extent of my husband’s cheating. But  once it’s out there, I can go back to concentrating on the present, so here goes… I suggest you go and make a cup of tea – this could be a long one.

We got back to the car and AP drove us home. In a constant string of texts – with no time for me to respond – Muppet continued her exposé via text messaging. AP kept asking what she was saying. I delivered choice bits, almost gaily, like everything was normal and I was relaying a light-hearted bit of banter between myself and a friend… but my heart was hammering in my chest and my mind was caught up in a tornado, desperately trying to gain some control but feeling my sanity being dashed to bits with every message she sent.

She said: “I’m sorry you had to find out about our affair from an email. I know he didn’t want you to find out like that. He always planned for u to be secure n in a good place before he left you. He has played it down n told me what to say to you. We met nearly three years ago at the Xmas party where we had a little kiss. We never took it further than that n he just flirted n teased me for months. I left work n we became friends on FB. We would talk from time to time n flirt occasionally. But in April [2014] we started the affair. We have talked openly n truthfully. I know about him leaving u whilst pregnant, how you got back together. That he married u n gave u full control for security that u needed. By the time you were in the USA [holiday, May 2014] he had told me he loved me. We have spent a lot of time together. We have slept together n planned a future together. We both dreamed of moving to California. It was never going to be soon, we both wanted our spouses in a good place n children happy n settled. AP used to call me his beautiful muppet n he was my wombat. I know he told you recently he didn’t love u still in an argument after u made him sleep on the couch. But after we met at the craft fair n you questioning him his depression got worse n he started to push me away. We have slept together since then but AP needed time n space to get better.. But I pushed n pushed him. I should have backed down but I didn’t want to lose him. We r soul mates. He sent me a song once and said it was how he felt about me. Ellie Goulding “How Long Will I love You”. He was so affectionate n loving at the start.. he embraced a loving, tactile relationship. He even named his blanky Muppet. But now I see what a clever liar n manipulator he is! Oh btw I wasn’t the first!

I have emails and pics if he denies any of this. I was fooled into believing u two had no future and he wanted a life with me. I won’t give you any more info as some of it is bad. He is a very psychotic narcissist.. who has sent me nuts btw. But I won’t let him mess with my head anymore. You shouldn’t either. I have the emails CC. Seems like he was the game player. I want to talk to him now!! I’m so angry, he made me consider leaving my husband. He told me yesterday he still loved me and to play along with his story as the wait in the end would be worth it. He has lied to me. He has lied to us both.

By this time we had arrived back home. AP had begun protesting that she was a pushy fantasist who was exaggerating the whole thing… true they had met but only a handful of times. Yes he had told her he loved her, but only because she demanded it. She had pushed him to send the photos.He had never promised her a future together, it was never supposed to end with them being together. He had made a huge mistake and had been trying to ditch her for a few months but she wouldn’t go away and he was terrified she would tell me if he dropped her abruptly. In the middle of all this she called me and demanded I pass the phone to him… I heard her ask “What the fuck, AP…” before he cut her off.

“Back to the car park?” I asked, aware of our son being in the house. He agreed and off we went. Again.

Meanwhile the texts continued, more details from mine and AP’s life, such as how we met, telling me how “cold, non-tactile and not very adventurous in bed” I supposedly am…  She explained how she was going to go along with AP’s story of just being friends, until he accused her of being a fantasist: “How would I know all of this? I don’t care, I will not be made to look like the bad one… he is the one in the wrong!” Then  snapshots from emails he had sent to her, telling her he loved her, calling her his little porn star, wishing her “Good morning, beautiful” and to “Sleep well, beautiful muppet“. Then came the photos. Head-shots taken in our bedroom. In our bed. Then worse photos – much worse.

She continued:”I’ve messed up! I’m sorry, really sorry. I believed him and thought we had something special, he lead me to believe that. I honestly thought u two were over n just waiting for your son to leave home… he is going to try everything CC, the depression did it, I chased him. He will do anything. I think he even believes his own lies tbh. Plz tell him he plays the victim well. This is for him: I never thought I would say this to another person… I actually fucking hate you! You lying twisted piece of shit!!!! Sorry CC.. I really am.

At this point I switched off my phone and turned to AP. He was in a terrible state, crying and saying he had made a terrible mistake, that he loved me and didn’t want to lose me. “Perhaps,” I spat at him, “you should have thought about that BEFORE you fucked somebody else.”

The next couple of hours are a bit of a blur… I asked why he had lied about sleeping with her when I confronted him the night before: he said he knew I would leave him if I found out. I told him I could not see how I could stay with him, since I will never be able to trust anything he says again. He asked me what I was going to do: I said I would need to make arrangements to leave, get a job – I had already looked at some house-shares in the South West part of the country, the night I was deciding how to confront him. He told me he would move out of the house and let me stay; I told him no, I needed to get far away. He cried again and asked if there was any way I would reconsider… he offered to support me whilst I got my life together and said he really wanted me to stay in his life, even if it were just as friends. I lost count of the times he whispered “I’m sorry.”

I should point out that AP is not an emotional person: I can count on one hand the times I have seen him cry in nearly twenty years. To see him in such a state whilst trying to assimilate what he had done to me – to US… well, it literally felt like my heart was breaking in two.

“Why did you do it?” I asked.

“I don’t know…” he began, then stopped. “I thought you had stopped loving me,” he carried on. “I would come home every day and wonder if it was today that my bags would be packed and you would throw me out. You were so cold towards me. You made fun of me in front of the kids. I have seen you change as you did your degree – you have far surpassed me intellectually to the point that I had no chance in any argument. You have no fucking idea how miserable my life had become. I have absolutely nothing to offer you or the kids. I have no value to anyone. I should have killed myself a long time ago, let you get on with your life.” He paused then wept again as he said “I was so happy when we started to reconnect in August – so happy…” and then he broke down.

At this point I finally began to cry as I realised that I had contributed to the circumstances that had led to his having an affair. We had always worked in the same industry (sometimes together in the same company) so had always had plenty to talk about – until we agreed that I could get out of our line of work and return to full-time higher education… and soon after, yes, we had begun to drift apart. And yes, I had treated him badly – made fun of him, even mocked him as I made it clear I wasn’t interested in his work anymore (I was too busy studying). He had been ill with stomach pains (turned out to be gall-bladder polyps) and he wasn’t happy at work; to me, all he ever seemed to do was whinge. I remember that I began to doubt our relationship and at some point I had even questioned whether I wanted to stay married, as it increasingly felt like I was living with a room-mate and not somebody I loved or even respected anymore. He had increasingly grown more distant, then came the secrecy and the suspicions on my part, culminating in a big argument and my question “Don’t you love me anymore?” He had said “I’m beginning not to,” and it was this statement that awoke me from my dogmatic slumber, so to speak, as I felt my life shatter into tiny pieces. At that point (around August 2014) I had realised how much I loved him, that I did not want to lose him and had resolved to do something about it: so I had started to take an interest in his life and try to do more things together. In short, I began to put right all the things that had gone wrong.

“But if that’s true, if you realised we could be happy again, why did you continue to see her?” I asked him.

He told me he had been trying to get rid of her since then but she just would not take no for an answer and he knew that if he upset her she might contact me – at which point we would be finished. Again he begged me to reconsider my decision, repeating that he did not want to lose me, that he was sorry, that he would do anything – ANYTHING – to keep me.

I asked if there was any proof of what he was telling me: he said he was always careful to delete everything but I was free to go through his email account and see if I could turn anything up.

In the end I agreed that, as there were mitigating circumstances which led to him reaching out to somebody else, I would consider staying with him… BUT there could be no secrets and his flirty behaviour had to stop. He agreed to tell me anything I needed to know about the affair and to make his phone and email accounts available to me to look through whenever I felt like it. He had already blocked her on his phone. I also asked him to make an appointment with the doctor the next day, as it was abundantly clear he was severely depressed.

So we went home. He deactivated his FB page and blocked her on his email and Skype account. That night (and for the next few nights) he slept on the sofa until I was ready to make the decision that yes, I was definitely going to stay with him and we would work through this pig-fuck of a mess.

 

D-Day: Part 5, The Second Confrontation

D-Day: Part 4, The Eye of the Storm

The 20th of November 2014. The previous night I had tackled AP on a couple of issues that had been bugging me, such as why – if they were just friends – did she talk about wanting to be held and reassured that they would ‘get through this’ (whatever that meant)? Or saying she sobbed after AP told her he wouldn’t spend her birthday with her? More to the point, why on earth would she assume he would spend the DAY with her when he doesn’t even do that with me on my birthday? It certainly smacked of more going on than he was admitting to. He said he had realised that she was pushing for more, and that as soon as he had grasped what a fantasist she actually was, he had tried to distance himself. He had been trying to distance himself for a while but she was very persistent and just wouldn’t let go. He hadn’t told me because he thought I would get the wrong end of the stick and leave him.

This led to a discussion about appropriate behaviour: AP has always been extremely flirty with the opposite sex but has never hidden that side of his nature from me so I had never been particularly worried about it. He immediately agreed to stop all flirtatious behaviour, no matter how trivial he feels it to be. l felt like a parent talking to a teenager. Looking back over our married life, I can see that he has never really understood what is acceptable and what isn’t… he is still completely inept at reading people, he thinks flirting is just friendly banter and cannot see that his teasing may sometimes be misunderstood as something other than what is intended.

It was therefore quite possible that Muppet had misconstrued his intentions and thought he was wanting to be more involved with her than he ever intended; her email seemed to back up what he was saying about her not accepting his attempts to shut their friendship down… so I chose to continue to believe him and try to put it behind us, although I thought it highly unlikely that she would just lie down and play dead if she was anywhere near as pushy as he portrayed her. “Tell her it’s over. Tell her not to contact you again. If she sends any more emails, texts or messages, you need to show them to me and we’ll just have deal with them,” I said.

That evening we went out and had a great time; we left the pub around 10pm and crossed the road to go back to the car, about a ten minute walk away.  It was very cold and there was the hint of frost in the air. He pulled my hand into his pocket and put his arm around my shoulders to keep me warm.

My phone went off. It was a text message.

“Hi is this CC?”

“Yep. Who is this?”

“Muppet.”

Heart pounding I pulled away from AP, reading and then typing as we walked. He asked who it was and was anything wrong? I totally ignored him, my whole attention on the tiny screen in front of me.

AP said u might contact me to get my side of things. I’ve been waiting for some kind of contact since last night. If you don’t want any info from me I will carry on with my life. I’m sorry u got hurt.”

Hurt? By a friendship? Interesting use of words…

I said: “Does ‘your life’ include my husband?” “I think he chose to stay with you,” she replied. Mind frantically racing, I decided to push her. “Oh yes? What makes you think I will stay with a cheater?”

“What exactly has he said? Is he there with you now? It wasn’t supposed to go like this.”

Setting the trap, I said: “Friends, yes? Talk about ‘us’ and sobbing cos he wouldn’t meet you. Not forgetting wanting to be ‘held & told everything will be ok’. I don’t talk to my male friends like that… and he ‘chose’ me, did he? That denotes more than one possibility, yes? As in you OR me? That indicates more than friendship, my dear – unless you subscribe to friends with benefits, of course. Truth? You screwed around with my husband.”

There was a long pause. Then: “Truth. I thought we had a future together. I did screw around with your husband but I didn’t think all was ok at your end.”

I finally looked at AP who was becoming frantic with his questions. “Who is it? What’s going on?”

I took a deep breath.

“It’s your girlfriend and she’s about to bring your world of lies crashing down around your head.”

D-Day: Part 4, The Eye of the Storm

D-Day: Part 3, Camden

November the 19th 2014: son#1 (DR) met me off the train and we headed to Camden Lock. Ah Camden… one of my favourite places to have a mooch around, find inspiration and feel that life isn’t so bad – only this time it wasn’t so good either. We went for coffee and I brought DR up-to-date with my decision to stay with AP and work things through.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay a few days?” he asked.

“No – he’s freaking out, thinking I’m going to leave him as it is… and he’s in a very dark place. I can’t risk it.”

“Mom. How can you be absolutely sure he didn’t sleep with her?” How could I answer that? I really wanted to believe AP when he said it was an emotional affair that he had admitted had gone too far (but not that far). Over the years we had discussed affairs, especially when a couple that we held in the highest regard got divorced over infidelity. We had both agreed at the time that it revealed a flaw in their marriage – the only reason, we conjectured, for either partner to go off with somebody else was because their needs (emotional, sexual, intellectual) were not being met at home and we would never allow ourselves to get to that stage, certainly not without tackling things that were making us unhappy, because that’s what sensible, mature people do, right? They talk about issues. In addition, an affair is never, EVER going to be worth the pain and heartbreak caused – not just to the people caught up in it but also to the kids – and all for a bit of excitement. Not worth it. Never going to happen to us. We agreed.

I found myself telling DR about AP: about how his own parents’ acrimonious divorce had led to him being fucked-up emotionally (as well as fucked-over regarding his education – new wife refusing to pay private school fees, snobby mother who absolutely would not let AP attend a ‘common’ public school yet quite happy to let her bright child leave education at the age of 15 with no qualifications, effectively wiping out his future at University and leaving him crippled with a fear of academia and shame of his high achievements due to his own bloody hard work and sheer determination). I remember fighting back the tears as I recounted how he was dragged away to another country at the age of 17 from everybody he knew by his mother and an uncaring (but rich) step-father (like lots of money should make all the difference in his mother’s eyes), leaving behind his life, friends and the girl he was in love with, which added to his sense of helplessness. How he quickly learned to suppress all emotions and shut down in times of stress (this particular bomb exploded years later in deep depression as emotions he had suppressed for years and years burst through his hard exterior – more on that another time). And just because these are ‘first world problems’ does not negate the terrible emotional damage that resulted – all because of his parents’ divorce, based on cheating (possibly both of them).

“I don’t think he’d do that to me, not after all that we’ve been through, especially as he knows it’s been done to me before and it took me a long time to trust him. No… I think I believe him.”

Nevertheless I promised DR that I would talk to AP again when I got home; now we had both had a day to calm down, we needed to talk about it anyway.

“And if he did cross that line, mom, what then?”

“Then I will leave him. I will pack an overnight bag and get the next train back to Kings Cross and take you up on your offer to stay for a while.”

So, after a few more hours of discussion and feeling absolutely emotionally exhausted (despite the amazing support and offers of help provided by DR), I boarded the train home and sent AP a text to let him know I’d be back by 6.30pm but that I was picking up our grand-daughter en route (her mom, a performing arts student,  had a late rehearsal)… what I actually said was that I was picking little ‘un up. This was followed by a series of frantic messages and missed calls as he had misunderstood what I was saying and thought I was coming home to get my dog and then leave him. He was so upset and he confessed he had fought to hold back the tears all day at work.

I remember that I felt like such a terrible person for not being clearer.

D-Day: Part 3, Camden

D-Day: Part 2, The First Confrontation

The 18th November 2014: AP woke up and got ready for work. He asked me if I was alright, I told him I hadn’t slept very well. He said “See you tonight”, I replied with “Yeah I’m sure you will.” I could tell he was disturbed by my flippancy but I just smiled and he left.

I don’t really remember much about the day I waited for him to come home; I spoke to my oldest son (in London), who suggested I go and stay with him for a few days . I probably spent most of the day hashing things over with son#2, but this was not uncommon (we had been suspicious of AP’s behaviour for a while). I Facebook-stalked her. I Facebook-stalked her husband. I considered contacting her husband but decided against it – I did not yet have all of the facts and besides, spreading the pain is not my preferred way of handling things. I considered contacting her but felt I needed to hear what AP had to say first. I printed out a copy of the incriminating email.  I asked one close friend for his perspective and sent him the email (I have known this guy for almost twenty years, he is one of the only people I know who will tell it ‘like it is’) – he told me that based on what she had written, there was no concrete proof of anything sexual going on and that you cannot hang a man unless you have concrete evidence… if anything, it looked like AP was trying to back away from whatever was going on with this girl BUT he agreed it was obvious that this was more than a casual thing. I know I was preparing supper when AP arrived home and I remember being quite shirty with him although I can’t recall the details. At some point he went upstairs; I washed up and tidied the kitchen then followed him.

The bedroom door was closed, the lights were off. I went in, turned on the lights, and he was already in bed. Heart pounding, I threw the folded copy of the email at him and said “Well THIS is interesting – I would be interested to know your response.” He unfolded it, blinking in the light, and started to read. As the realisation of what he was reading sank in, I saw his eyes go blank. I watched him fall into a deep abyss. He dropped the page and got up. “Well that’s that then,” he muttered and headed out of the bedroom and down the stairs. I ran after him… I kept asking what he had to say, what was going on, was he cheating? I think I was shouting. “You owe me an explanation!! You have to tell me the truth!!” He pretty much ignored me and started to kit up (he owns a powerful sports bike). I got scared. I knew he was depressed (I’ll unpack that in another post), I knew he could be suicidal, I saw that he had made a decision, it was there in his eyes. I grabbed his arm: “Please, please don’t go out on your bike… please just talk to me… we’ll go get some fuel for my car, park up and have a chat, yes?” He nodded and I followed him out to my car.

We went to the nearest Tesco superstore and parked up at the far end of the car park, in the dark. “Like a couple of teenagers” I thought, and the juxtaposition between that and the truth was like a dagger in my heart. It took a long time to break through: he was non-responsive, mainly offering yes/no answers. Yes he had an emotional connection with her. Yes it had been going on for a while. Yes he had met her apart from the time I knew about (at a craft fair about a month before – more on this in another post)… maybe three or four times… at the nearby services in his lunch hour. No it was not sexual. Yes he had kissed her but not like that, just a peck on the cheek as friends. No he did not love her. Yes he was trying to end it with her but she was pushy and wouldn’t let go. He had thought for a long time that I was going to leave him, he was kind of testing the waters to see if he was still attractive to women and had not thought through the consequences. Yes he was depressed and that had probably contributed to it. But he still loved me and had realised he didn’t want to lose me. He cried. I cried. He asked what I was going to do? I said I needed to get away for a day and think things over, decide whether or not I believed him about the extent of the ‘affair’ but as long as he was not lying, I might be willing to try and work through it. However, if he had lied, I was gone.

We went home and I booked a train down to London for the next day.

D-Day: Part 2, The First Confrontation

D-Day: Part 1, The Beginning

It was the evening of the 17th November 2014, somewhere around 9.30pm. I don’t remember what had happened during the day but I suspect it was a normal one…I had probably taken the dogs out with my 17-year-old son. I had cooked supper. AP (husband) had come home from work, probably watched some tv and he had just gone up to bed, I was tidying up, planning on following him up in minutes… all very normal.

“Mom, can I have a word when you’re free?” My son was standing in front of me, looking worried.

“Oh great – is it something bad?” I asked, smiling, expecting ‘bad’ to mean my son had broken something or needed cash to buy fuel for his motorcycle. “Yeah it is,” he said. I remember a surge of adrenaline because he avoided eye contact. “Well show me now, let’s get this over with,” I said.

He showed me a photo of an email which he had taken on his mobile phone. I recognised the sender: it was somebody my husband had worked with a couple of years before but he had since left that company for a better job. She had sent him a FaceBook request over a year before – I remember because we had a friend round for supper (a friend who still worked at the original company) and when the request notification app pinged, AP read out her name and said he didn’t know who she was… the friend said “Oh that’s so-and-so, you remember, she worked downstairs…” So, just like that, she was added to his friends list.

I realise I will need to call her something. I don’t like OW (Other Woman), it’s too removed for me. But at the same time I can’t just ‘out’ her… so I’ll call her by the pet name that he gave her: Muppet. Seems appropriate.

Back to the photo. My son sometimes uses one of his dad’s laptops (with permission) to play Minecraft (faster processor). The previous night he had duly asked, been granted permission and opened the laptop. The browser was open and displaying this particular email. My son took the photo then closed the browser. He sat on it for 24 hours, He contacted his older brother in tears, asking for advice… terrified that he was about to bring our marriage to an end but all too aware he could not keep it a secret from me. A bit of background – he and I had been discussing all Summer whether or not it was possible that AP was seeing somebody else… he had become very secretive with his phone and email accounts, changing passwords and putting a pin on his phone (I was not in the habit of going through his personal stuff but I’m guessing he wasn’t taking any chances).

She had written: “I’ve done nothing but care about you maybe not gone about it properly but I’ve been reaching out to you I’ve asked two…[this bit is outside the photo]…bday n reassure me. You say I don’t think about your mental health what about mine too, Hun? Do I not matter, am I not important to you anymore…one day just one day to spend with me n u can’t. I sobbed after talking to you… I’ve spent days going out of my mind worried u did something n u didn’t let me know u hadn’t. U say I’m game playing… if u can’t see what’s wrong here then we have no hope. I’m broken n just want u to hold me n tell me we will get through this. Please please dig deep n feel what I’m saying. If u can’t then what’s left for us. Two things I’ve asked then I leave you in peace Hun Leave u to get better. I’m racking [should be ‘reaching’, I assume] out n asking for help here. X

I had to read and re-read the email. I was shaking. My brain turned to mush and I couldn’t process what I was seeing… being suspicious is one thing, having it confirmed and having to deal with it in that moment is something else. My son kept asking if I was ok. I said I would be, just to give me a minute. At some stage I must have handed the phone back. At some stage I must have regained control and stopped shaking. At some stage I decided to leave it until the next day to confront AP. At some stage I must have gone up to bed. He was fast asleep, blissfully unaware that his secret was about to be blown open.

I didn’t sleep at all that night. I waited until he was asleep and checked his mobile (my son and I had eventually figured out the pin)… absolutely nothing incriminating. I then compiled a list of things that I would need to set in motion (such as remove name from tenancy agreement, transfer funds from joint account, contact divorce lawyer – that sort of thing) were I to leave him the next day.

He slept like a baby, got up the next day and went to work. I planned my tactics and waited for him to come home…

D-Day: Part 1, The Beginning

Aftermath

Well, here I am, five months on, living in the aftermath of finding out my husband is a cheat. Despite always saying that I would NEVER stay with a cheating, lying git, he continues to live here and we are trying to figure a way through this. I can only say in my defence that there were mitigating circumstances leading up to his actions and twenty years ought to mean something – at least they do to me – so that walking away without even trying is just not going to happen on my watch… too many things have already gone wrong on my watch and I am nothing if not determined to attempt resuscitation before walking away, if that’s what ends up happening.

I will start by recounting those two awful confrontations before trying to outline my rationale for staying with him.

Aftermath