Gosh, reading those emails is so hard. I can't imagine what it felt like to read them, for you. But haha it's also so stupid how those in an A will gush, as if either person really ever talks/emails stuff like that in real life or even to the person they promised to love & honor!!
Those emails were brutal for ME and I don't even know the people involved. I guess one way to look at it is to chalk it all up to the affair fog and the foggy things people say when in their la la fantasy land. Just put them all into one big bucket and throw it over the cliff.
It is very raw for me obviously to read what my husband said to her. I think it's the perspective of time passing; these were obviously emails in the throes of infatuation.
And just in case you were wondering, I am not a 'stunningly beautiful woman' by the stretch of anyone's imagination, but she isn't either. I've never brought this up when people make comparisons, she wasn't really a trade up / trade down, she was sort of even, in the superficial sense. She's plenty smart, she's pretty but not beautiful, I don't really see anything about her that's better or worse than me looking just at the outside / stuff on paper.
I think I did get the "best friends" line back in the day, and "lover" is a nickname he has always given girlfriends, it doesn't have sexual significance (not a comment on whether it was a PA or not, just it doesn't mean that to him). But "soulmate" pretty sure I never heard that one.
After watching Soulmate Shmoopies and hearing the word bandied about so much by APs, not sure I want to be anyone's soulmate. It implies that two people are destined for no one in the history of the world but each other, and that isn't something I believe in, especially if it's the preferred term of two people who are married to someone else.
Try this on for size: soulmate is the verbal tattoo of one AP for another. Just 'cause you say it, doesn't make it so.
So, I had never heard of TAM or CWI at this point. I did read the book Divorce Busters and looked at that site a little bit. But basically did the standard thing; I assumed that my husband was done with his AP. I assumed that even though he had hidden his emotional affair for 1.5 years (recall my injury took me out of commission for most of that time), he wanted to stay married and he loved me even though he wasn't in love with me.
So I did a little research and found a marriage counselor. Now, we live in a major metro area. This isn't just any MC. This gentleman lives in an area (a couple towns over) where suffice it to say, I'm absolutely certain he's counseled couples whose names you and I would recognize. He's well-respected and highly experienced. And expensive. Probably charges 1.5x the cost of our current MC on an hourly basis.
Anyhow, we started going. I have tried to figure out precisely when. I assume it was 3 to 5 weeks after DD#1 which was in February 2009. We told him about the EA. My FWH totally admitted it, acknowledged it, etc. But of course he told the MC it was over. I would learn the truth later...MC itself was really pretty worthless. Looking back we talked about very superficial things, like the fact that my FWH would call from his desk about leaving to come home and then arrive much later than expected because he got caught up in work. This was a habit that predated the AP by years and she had to pick up her son from daycare at 5 so, as far as I know, this had nothing to do with her and everything to do with my FWH always being late for everything.
My recollection of what we talked about was this superficial and trivial. I mean, our concerns about how we treated each other were serious, but it never dug any deeper than that. It was as if EAs are the natural consequence of being exhausted and taking each other for granted and not showing love. That was how it seemed in MC.
So we trundled along this way for 6+ months. Nothing seemed to really change. Eventually our regular babysitter moved and MC ended. Seriously, that was why we stopped going to MC.
And so 2010 and most of 2011 went by. We were still not having sex. We did try a few times, but my FWH could not perform and the one time we really got going (sorry this is a little graphic) he could not penetrate because I had not had vaginal sex in a really, really long time (and I had c-sections). Maybe also I had vaginismus because of his affair and I was subconsciously unable to trust enough.
We talked a LOT about not having sex. And that was pretty much all it was, was talk. At times I would break down because I was living the life of a nun and figured I was in my early 40's, so this was it for me. I knew it was because of the EA and our problems and I knew our marriage wouldn't get any better if we didn't have sex. I knew deep down that he was no longer physically attracted to me. I had gained 40 lbs. since having kids; but I also felt that his romantic love for me had probably died.
I should also say that from 2009 to 2011, I learned SLR photography and won some prizes; learned how to knit; started a blog; was the room parent for both our kids and volunteered for our local food pantry. September 2011 I started RCIA (the process for becoming a Catholic, my H's church, due to my own research and personal conviction) and joined a protestant bible study group. I started exercising (although I had not lost any weight).
I call it the unwitting 180 now, I basically concentrated on being the best 'self' I could be. Colored my hair, dressed a little more nicely, etc.
So, fall of 2011. Our marriage is actually doing pretty well. We aren't having sex, but we are pretty happy with each other. In December, for Christmas, he gave me a gift of a class that I had set my heart on. It meant a lot to me, when I opened the card I nearly cried, because it made me feel that he was perhaps falling more deeply in love with me again.
Then in February, nearly 3 years to the day, my FWH was thousands of miles away on work travel. A couple of days had passed and I had not heard from him, which was unusual. In fact, the cell records show I called him 8 times that night, no answer. I finally gave up trying to call and texted him. Late on a Thursday night, I texted
"Where r u luv?"
And he responded
"[Strange name]. Cold frosty."
For some reason, the text struck me as odd. First I should say we virtually never texted. Like once every couple months. I had learned that he would respond to them when calls and emails didn't get an answer, because he could text back even if in a meeting or at lunch etc. But the text seemed odd and I couldn't put my finger on it...as if it was in the middle of a conversation. That was it. I googled the strange name and pulled up a restaurant I'd never heard of in the city he was in. So that explained that (cold frosty a reference to beer obviously).
I texted back, "What?" and then went to bed.
The next morning I went through the routine of getting the kids ready for school. I thought perhaps he had responded to my texts. As I looked at my phone, it appeared that he had texted me back. Like a bunch. I scrolled through the many texts (10 I think) and then stunned, I saw
"Oh my [AP]. [AP]. U mean so much to me. Why after all this time do I yearn for u . . . Hope ur doing ok? And am content, every time, when ur near?"
My heart dropped and I had that same horrible sensation I had had 3 years before. Again, a weird, not altogether unpleasant feeling. Like I wanted to smile or laugh inappropriately. I immediately understood that he had thought when I had texted "where r u luv" that the text had come from HER. My hands started to shake as I tied my kindergartner's shoe laces. My 8 year old said, "Mommy, what is wrong?" I said, nothing! I just don't want to be late.
We got in the car and I started calling him. (I look back now and that would have been SO DUMB to reach him with the kids in the car.) I was a wreck. I felt like I had little control over the car, as if I would crash with us in it any second. I don't know how I got to the school or how I got home. Calling and calling and calling.
I also carefully re-read the texts. I was terrified that she was there in that city WITH him and maybe in his bed. But in one text (all sent in the space of minutes) he said he was glad she was visiting her cousin in a town near us and having fun.
It was 4:30 am his time when I started calling, so little wonder he didn't pick up. Although from cell phone records it appears he figured out he texted ME instead of her around midnight, texted her, and she got through to him for a 36 minute phone call when she woke up very early Friday morning.
Finally after calling for an hour he picked up. He said, "oh, iheartlife" and I said "I forgive you everything!" And he broke down and cried. I wish I could recall more of the conversation, but he said he would end the affair. I asked if she was with him, and he said she wasn't (cell phone records would confirm this later, as they spoke daily).
After reading lordmayhem's story, I was reminded of something that he and I both experienced: between DD#1 and DD#2, while things were ostensibly okay, my husband and I had many petty arguments. I felt like they came from a basic lack of good will. That he seemed to think I was deliberately being hurtful or argumentative, or something like that, and so he'd snap at me.
But many times I had said something entirely innocent. Sometimes I had to be very careful how I spoke. I didn't walk on eggshells, but I did sometimes think that I couldn't communicate very well and I was the one with the problem. I would think back to how he was "soulmates" with the AP and she understood him better than anyone in the world, and I thought, well, maybe that is a problem that I have.
Anyhow. FWH flew back into town. I still had never read any books or visited TAM. I was totally flying by the seat of my pants.
I started to think back over the previous 3 years. How could I have been so blind? I remembered how he bawled his eyes out at the thought of it ending. I decided (wrongly) that he must have resumed it after we had stopped MC.
I also thought about how daily, then weekly, then monthly over the last 3 years I would re-read those hurtful emails. He would take a shower just a door away from where I'd sit at the computer. Countless times, countless countless times, I would read the emails and then hear the shower turn off and I'd say from my seat, "Have you heard from her? Has she tried to contact you?" And he would always let out this big sigh and say, no. I don't know if he ever lied to my face about it. I'm sure that he did. Too much time has passed now to remember it all.
I remember how his cell phone had remained surgically attached to his hand and passworded. He often slept with it under his pillow. It was never out of his sight. If he gave me the phone to use, he always 'checked emails' first, i.e., deleted all texts and phone history etc. before handing it to me. (He does work around the world so he receives work emails night and day.)
I also recalled an odd event from the past. I had kept the secret email account and would check it periodically. It always stayed the same, untouched. Then in July 2009 (5 mos. post-DD#1) she sent an email from her own account with nothing but a couple of smilie faces. I immediately emailed back, do not ever contact my husband again. Then I disbanded the account.
I thought about all this and more during those first days after DD#2. The first thing I did was to expose the affair to a good friend of mine who knows my H. She recommended a great IC for me.
My FWH had to go into the office that weekend (he'd returned on a Saturday). I still believed him that he was done with her--and he was, but again I didn't have TAM in my corner.
A few days later I had an epiphany--I should set up an online account for his phone. This literally never once occurred to me before. I had never once verified that they weren't in contact. NOT because I think that verification is wrong--I believe exactly the opposite. The thoughts just never entered my head.
So...and I've already drawn out a story much longer than it deserves...
anyhow, I remember that BEFORE I looked at the phone records, a couple of other things happened.
First, the day of discovery I sent a message to the AP via Facebook. My FWH and the AP were never friends on facebook (I hacked his account and have her unaccepted 4-year-old friend request to prove it.) They didn't need facebook because he constantly texted and called her with the cell phone that was surgically attached to his hand. The message was simple:
"You will not win. You think you will, but you will not. You think you know [FWH], but you really don't. And now it HAS to stop."
My husband went to his office and called her to break it off.
I KNOW!! ROOKIE MISTAKE. Still didn't know about CWI. He has told me in this phone call that he informed her that the affair was entirely over.
Naturally we had many a conversation over the next two weeks about what they said. Of course I asked him if this was a tearful 'goodbye,' or 'till we meet again,' or 'you'll always be the love of my life.' He claims that it was not like that, that he chose to be purposefully cold because he needed to make it clear that things were final. He also claims that she wailed to him, "What was it all for?"
I asked for her email address and composed an email to her. I cc'd my FWH's work email. Using the emails that I had read from her before, I wrote to say that she WAS a home wrecker, however she might like to pretend otherwise, that she was purposefully stealing my husband away, but that she didn't know the true him, that I had known him for far longer than she, and that he and I were soulmates, not the two of them. For those keeping track, this email was another ROOKIE MISTAKE. I will say, however, in my defense, that my husband's AP is very private and painfully shy. Plenty arrogant in her way, I'm sure, feeling superior to me because she needed to "rescue" my FWH from a "terrible" marriage.
Okay, the phone records. I always thought that because my husband's phone was for work, that I couldn't create and view an online account. Wrong! It was actually quite easy to do. It did send an email notice to my husband's phone that the account was made viewable online, but since the affair had ended it didn't matter. Plus, I had the password.
What I recommend now to anyone reading this is that you immediately print off the 12 month history and the current month's texts because Verizon, at least doesn't keep things beyond that for viewing online. One day's delay can mean you lose a month of records.
Anyhow, I printed these off and started highlighting. I was horrified. As I've said before, what a waste of a good highlighter.
My husband never texted anyone else. They texted a LOT, when you recall that 2011 was their fourth year of texting each other, it kind of makes you wonder what 2007 and 2008 looked like. (Let's just say in retrospect that my husband LIVED in the bathroom.)
They also made lots of phone calls. The patterns were pretty clear. They'd have a 15 minute call as he drove to work, and a similar call on the way home. Sometimes I called while he was on a call with her, he'd hang up on her and call her back, or put her on hold. They spoke late at night on the weekends. They spoke for a couple of hours during our annual vacation. They spoke for 25 minutes on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Day (and let me tell you, I have no idea how those phone calls could even take place, I was there!).
The most hurtful calls in addition to holiday calls were calls he made while on business trips. The patterns are appalling. Every business trip, you see a few minute conversation with me maybe just once during the trip. Then you see nightly long conversations with her. He spent nearly $400 in phone calls on a trip to Asia early last year.
The phone records also showed how much he texted and called her after he realized he had accidentally texted me. He told me he was certain I'd divorce him once I connected the dots that next morning. He says he was shocked I was willing to take him back.
Iheartlife: You have me on the edge of my seat following your story. Just had to post after reading about your H's phone calls. Wanted to say how sorry I am this all happened to you, as I can really relate. After my D I checked my xw's phone records (feel so stupid I didnt before, but never even had any idea that she was having an affair, idiot me) and found that six months before DD she had called him at 1 am on Christmas day (after finishing having sex with me) then immediately upon waking up on Christmas Day. When I saw those two calls it hurt so much! To think I was happy, excited to see my grown children, for the family time. And she was excited to talk with the POS she was having an affair with, my former good friend. Like you, I dont know how she did it, as I was there, but she did. Those two phone calls will haunt me to the end of my days. First because of the betrayal, second, because I was such an idiot to not know what was going on! Best of everything to you.
I should also make a note for people who haven't gone through phone records before: Verizon online has various usage tools that even include graphs and pie charts. In this way I was able to find her home phone number (obviously I could obtain this via spokeo and other methods) but the point is, cross-check phone records for alternate numbers, don't just assume they always use the same one. You might find they are communicating even MORE than you thought before.
Now the confrontations began in earnest. I had overwhelming anger and hurt. But it was an out-of-body, dissociative experience. Almost like the person I was mourning for was the woman who had found all this out back in 2009. That poor person who was going to be fooled and lied to and tricked for years. That person who had done so much and put in so much effort and had made all kinds of changes that they never thought they could or would.
I experienced a lot of feelings and thoughts that I'm already starting to forget. Looking back now to just a few weeks ago--I was in a state of hypervigilance that I could not shake. The sensation was very much like someone slamming a door and spooking me, except that fear just would not go away. I felt like another shoe was going to drop somewhere. Perhaps they were planning to wait until the children were grown. Perhaps they were planning an alternate means of communicating.
I felt a very fractured sense of reality. I had to reconcile THREE YEARS of what I thought were at least moderately happy times with plenty of highs and few lows with this new knowledge. I was shaken to the core by his ability to lie to me so well and thoroughly. But I never really tested him. When I had asked if they were in touch, I believed the answer was no. I was mostly asking to see if she was fishing. I couldn't imagine they were right back where they started.
I also felt a LOT of anger. But just as before (after DD#1) I knew in my core that punishing him with my anger was not the answer. Vicious things, once said, cannot be taken back and are often remembered after the speaker has long forgotten them. I knew that there had to be a marriage to stay for. I have a choice--but he does too.
But sad to say, many of my emotions weren't as powerful as they had been after DD#1. I had processed the worst of it before. I had faced down the fact that my marriage might end over this woman once already. My husband's swift choice to stay also helped keep me out of the intense pain of limbo.
Over and over again my husband said (and still says): It's over. Many times I would respond, but you said that once before.
During the week after DD#2, I spent a tremendous amount of time researching. I reviewed the phone records at least 3 or 4 separate times (we're talking a very thick stack of paper). My thoughts would drift to the AP. I had never actually met her, although my FWH worked with her for at least 2 years or more. I would not have been able to recognize her if I'd met her on the street. I knew she was going to grad school in our city. My thoughts would drift toward confronting her in person. Then my next thought would be that this was an insane idea and that I shouldn't be wasting my time.
One week from DD#2 I woke up one morning and for reasons I can't explain I prayed to God for guidance on what to do that day. I sat down at the computer for my usual activity now of researching the AP a bit and analyzing the phone records.
My thoughts were following that vein of confronting her. I could feel my mind split in two. One part of my brain was planning a normal day, grocery shopping, cooking, errands, volunteering. The other part of my brain was googling directions to her grad school.
Around 11 am I grabbed my keys and got into the car. I was still half in denial about what I intended to do. But I followed the directions and soon was in a part of the city to which I've only been once before. I spotted the street where the main building sits but missed the turn. I drove down to the next intersection and reversed course. This time, I made the turn correctly. I paid the parking meter on the deserted street and crossed to enter the main building.
As I entered the foyer I saw a male student coming down the stairs. Another male student stood to my left. I walked past them and wondered how I was going to find someone I had never met. I knew she was Asian and in her early 30's. I believed she had long black hair. But that was pretty much it.
I stepped through the foyer and turned to the left. Beyond me was a small student center, with tables for reading and eating. There were two male students in the rear of the room that I could see through the glass doors. At the back of the room were doors that opened to the outside, possible to a porch.
As I stood there, a young woman stepped through those outer doors and swiftly crossed the student center. She fit the description that I had. The hallway wasn't very wide and I stood my ground. I decided I would stare this approaching person down. I knew that all they might say to me was, "do I know you?" and I wasn't afraid or embarrassed of that.
The woman started to walk past me and I continued to stare at her. All of a sudden--just as she was fully past me--she swiveled around and said, "iheartlife?" And I realized it was her.
Thanks for sharing..very compelling. I could feel my anxiety rising as I was reading thru your story.
So I gather this person was asian?
FOr me the fact that H's EA was asian seems to make it so much worse for me...like I said when we were in the restaurant the other day and the cute asian girl serving us..I just wanted to die inside. Two days later and my mind still goes wild thinking that is he thinking about that girl because she reminds him of his EA or is he thinking what would it be like to be with an asian woman? Especially when the woman seems so nice and friendly and I look at how I have been acting at times all angry and venting...
I am sitting here right now wondering if I will ever get thru this range of emotions and feeling so angry at my H's seflishness to do this to me. I feel like it was all about him and I am now the one that has to live with these crappy feelings. Sometimes I feel so hopeless about ever feeling better..is it going to be like this forever where I see an attractive asian woman and feel that sickness/tighness in my chest. That insecurity that comes rising up....
It is amazing how reading your story and thinking about how insecure I felt in the restaurant makes it all so fresh....I honestly do not think unless anybody has been thru this how much it hurts.