To R or not to R? that is the question
D-day 2 to 2 weeks
As vivid as my memories were of D-day, my recollection of the 2 weeks that followed are a big blur. Aside from the huge stress ball of infidelity and deciding whether or not to attempt reconciliation life just had to throw in some more problems to complicate things.
My company was involved in a BS product liability suit and we were screwed from the get-go. The plaintiff was an all American girl who was already blind in one eye and the injury caused damage to her other eye. The weird thing is that they didn't even have the "defective" product for evidence in their law suit. (they threw it out) Add the fact that we have no way of proving if she had even used the product correctly. Yet just days after d-day I had to be deposed for 9 hours. Their scumbag money grubbing lawyer grilled me for hours and twisted my words and put me through a really grueling session. I sometimes wonder which was worse, going through the infidelity discovery or having to deal with Mr. Asshat Lawyer.
THEN add in the fact that auto-immune disorders tend to get bad during times of stress. So my wife ended up with tingling hands and a new lesion on her spine. She was put on a steroid drip for 5 days. The steroids didn't help her mood much as it made her very edgy, as if she wasn't edgy enough already.
During that time period, I just remember spending a lot of hours on the back porch steps with my wife talking and smoking, our hands always shaking. We talked about lots of things, my parents' affair, her affair, whether or not I would stay with her, problems that led up to the affair, etc etc. At least I was dropping weight in record time. I know it's not the way you should lose weight but I lost close to 22 lbs during those 2 weeks. I eventually used the stress to kick start a diet and keep losing weight on purpose and lost over 50lbs in 7 months.
The subject of marriage counseling kept coming up. My wife was bringing it up more so than me. For starters I wasn't even sure if I wanted to work things out. I left my wife in a limbo of sorts for 2 weeks. I never quite made the commitment to stay or go and hung it over her head, all the while making her do the things for proper R. (it was the least I could do-LOL) My hesitation on MC was also predicated by the fact that I had been dealing with therapists for over 20 years. I knew that shopping for one was a pain in the ass, insurance only covers so many sessions, and having been to countless therapy session with 10 different shrinks, I was aware of how they operate and felt that the service could have been done by ourselves with setting some ground rules during our talks. (more on this later)
My poor kids during this time were being neglected by the both of us to an extent. Well, at least, they were being fed, clothed and made sure they did homework, but we certainly didn't give them the attention they needed. Thankfully, they were at an age that they didn't require constant monitoring.
The one big regret other than the kids that I have at this time period was not requiring that my wife quit her job. I became a super sleuth during those two weeks and was able to monitor everything from computers to phones to the house to her car. The one thing I had no access to was her work. Which was even dumber when you consider that she was only going to be there for 3 more months. I did, however, get OM's schedule and would actually have my wife call me at 2 am on those nights and have her talk to me during her dinner break (she now stayed in the break room instead of the cafeteria and brought her food). I lost sleep, yes, but gained peace of mind.
Though I wasn't aware of it at the time, I was in full hyperbonding mode with the wife. Even with all of the nerves, stress, depression and lack of sleep, we were having sex more than we ever did, even during our courtship. I even found her g-spot a week after d-day (she didn't ask me to, I was just experimenting during oral) and was giving her mind-bowing multiple orgasms. The one thing that made me feel weird was when she would go to give me a BJ as I knew that was "their" thing. I would often stop her and move onto something else as a result. (I've since gotten over this). I know there's a split camp on whether this was a good thing for us, but at least it was fun and pleasuring each other certainly helped the healing process in my opinion. The main caveat being was that I felt pressure to perform. In some ways I attaching my sexual prowess with "keeping her". Thus on the occasions that I either came too soon or was too tired to have sex I felt nervous and jittery about it.
The last thing about this period was that I was conflicted about telling the OMW. I didn't discuss with the wife what I wanted to do but decided that since the poor woman was due to give birth in a week, it might be best to not say anything in case the shock or stress would complicate her delivery and harm the baby's health. I had no idea if OM said anything to his wife that night of D-day and my threats. My wife claimed she didn't know either since she was purposely avoiding him and no one at work mentioned anything. (she only heard about when the baby was born and he was off a few days as a result so we figured he didn't say anything)
Instead of exposure I hoped the threat of exposure would work to keeping OM away from my wife. This would eat away at me, however and I will get to what happened in the next part.
As the 2 week period ended I finally told my wife that "I'd give the marriage a shot". I reiterated the ground rules about her affair (NC, transparency, etc) and then added that we would try the following instead of MC-
Spend 30 minutes a day of just us talking alone.
We would talk calmly
It would be a blame free zone, when someone expresses something we would not argue with those feelings but rather listen and react with our own feelings
We could not get defensive and rather try to understand the other's point of view of why they are upset
We would offer constructive solutions to the problems brought forth
Most importantly we would NOT hold any truth back- even if that meant it would hurt the other
I said if we couldn't pull this off, then we would give MC a shot
Her "Does this mean you forgive me?"
Me- "Not yet, I need you to forgive yourself first"
The fight, the mulligan, plotting revenge and telling OMW
2 weeks to 5 weeks post Dday
In this time period both of our fogs started to lift. Before us lay a mountain of rocks and these rocks required lots of heavy lifting. To my wife's credit, she did a lot of it.
After 2-3 days of trying our own little MC sessions, she started to open up about everything, and so did I. It's not an easy thing to do, to open yourself up like that after suppressing feelings for so many years. Aside from learning more details of the affair, we delved into the reasons why. I learned some details that to this day I kinda wish I didn't know, but nonetheless I felt if we were to get past it the truth needed to be known.
As a side note here, I learned that OM had an interesting sexual desire that certainly made it easy to belittle him in my eyes. He told my wife that a "friend" mentioned that a male can have an intense orgasm by being penetrated by a dildo in his ass. My wife wasn't necessarily turned on by this but didn't say much about it, thus OM continued to bring it up and even mentioned that he a strap on which he might bring one day. (they never did) As much as I am the type of guy who believes people have the right to their own sexual proclivities and fantasies as long as it doesn't involve rape or children, I couldn't help but laugh at his attempts. And anytime you can feel superior to OM is a good thing because my confidence was shot.
One of the things that kept popping up in our discussions was whether or not to tell friends and family. Of course the wife was felling shame and regret and was truly afraid of exposure. Me, I wanted an outlet to at least one or two people to talk things over as I was more social. Up til this point, my brother was the only person outside me, my wife, and OM who knew. (if you recall I told him the short story of what was happening to get out of work) As much as I love my brother, he and I are opposites in many ways. He never married or ever had a long term girl friend and was very private. I didn't think he was capable of providing me the emotional support I needed as much as he would have wanted to provide it.
We decided that telling family and everyone would probably be a mistake as too many people will judge. (mind you, had she not stopped the affair I would have exposed to everyone in a heartbeat) But I did press on the issue and we agreed that not only would I talk to a very close friend, she would also confess to one of her sisters and talk. I'm glad I pushed for this as her sister was able to provide perspective and actually help us in finding forgiveness without looking to sweep it under a rug like some people would look to do. My friend also was very helpful to me and helped me recognize that the affair wasn't my fault, and while yes I could work on improving the marriage, I shouldn't take any blame for the affair itself.
While we certainly were starting to make great strides to reconciliation, healing and recovery during this period, we also had our biggest fall backs during this time period.
Looking back, I now view recovery from trauma as non-linear. In other words, imagine one of those line graphs that looks like a mountain range.
The graph has lots of ups and downs but the general trend is one that eventually reaches its peak.
Recovery for me was like that. We would have some great days and then hit a bad day but would eventually keep trudging along and things improved.
We both were also feeling PTSD and the nerves and depression were starting to affect me in my daily life. I was worried I might soon swing into a manic phase and thus went to see my GP to have him proscribe some medication. At the doctor's appoint I was amazed at how much weight I was losing and we ended up having a 45 minute appointment. (guess I made the other patients wait for their sniffles) He gave me a new drug for my depression/bipolar disorder (Abilify) and some Ativan for the anxiety. He scheduled me for STD testing and told me my wife should also come in. (she was also his patient)
I told my wife that I made an appointment for her to not only get some anti-depressants/anxiety pills herself but also for STD testing.
We then had our first fight since d-day
Instead of the calm manner in which we were discussing issues, she got emotional and got angry that I would even imply that STD testing was needed.
Her-"It was only oral to begin with and OM has only been with his wife in the past 10 years."
Me (sarcastically)- "well forgive me if I don't trust OM, and neither should you"
After a heated exchange, she grudgingly agreed to get tested but the fight got refueled when she complained that she will forever be put in spots like this where she will be the bad guy.
Me-"Stop the self-pity, you aren't the bad guy, but you certainly did a bad thing. It's time to atone for it"
To make things worse, she had a previous engagement to attend that night with her work friends. (she said OM would not be attending) They were to go to a bar in honor of a coworker who had passed 3 months prior to cancer (it was his favorite hangout). Since this coworker was not in the same department as the OM and didn't hang out at dinner break I was fairly confident that he wouldn't be there. Despite all of that, her going out so soon after d-day really triggered me and I got angrier at her during the fight over the std testing and said a bunch of nasty things. (probably the first time I had let my anger come out in full force.)
She stormed out to go to the bar and I stewed at home with the kids and got impatient as to when she would get back home. I called her cell in a stern tone telling her that her time there is done and to come home. Of course, she flipped out and we had a fight that ended in her hanging up. At that point I was really questioning whether reconciliation and accepting her back was truly worth the work.
She came back home in about an hour from hanging up and tried apologizing before even coming into the room. I cut her off and said, "I don't want you to answer this right away and really think about your answer- Do you want to stay married because you truly love me or because you're afraid of being divorced?"
There was maybe a silent pause of 10 seconds.
It's cliche to say that time gets longer in such moments but it really did seem like the second hand was rusty and had to make a momentous effort to get to the next second.
Her eyes filled with tears, and she replied that while she was indeed of afraid of divorce and everything that comes with it that fact she truly loved me was the main motivation for staying. She then went on to how she keeps hurting me and perhaps that I would be better off without her. I wasn't certain if she was looking for pity again or she truly meant that, it turns out that she said it because of what she was about to tell me.
Her-"I think you should know, after I hung up on you, my friend went to the ladies room and left her phone behind. I took it and called OM."