The original 6 emotions

The original six recognized emotions are: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise.

After I found out about my husbands infidelities I experience 5 of those 6 emotions on a daily basis for a very, very long time.  But we made it through all of that and I’m happy to report that my emotions are regularly in the happiness orbit most of the time now.

I got through those 5 emotions, but there is a secondary emotion that I’m not sure any relationship can truly rebound from.  It takes disgust and anger and churns it into one big, powerful & gross feeling.  That intense mixture makes you feel like you are better than the person you hold that feeling toward.  It is a feeling so overpowering that it makes you see the other person as so little and useless that it wouldn’t matter to you if they disappeared altogether.  This feeling is contempt.

During all of the pain and suffering I felt over the past 7 year I never went so far as to feel contempt.  There were times I wanted to ACT better, but that is not to be confused to thinking I AM better.  I could get angry and sad but never saw my husband as anything but an equal who is very sick and made a big mistake.

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Reclaiming my safety

When my husbands years of indiscretions and lies came to surface, my trust in him, in life, in marriage, even in myself was obliterated. If you read my blog you will know that I chose to stay married to my husband after the discovery, and our relationship has been surprisingly good – dare I say rewarding – over the past year.  We have both done loads of therapeutic work and have made huge strides in overcoming the obstacles that got us to this place to begin with.  But I would be lying if I didn’t say that rebuilding trust is happening at a staggeringly slow pace.  In fact, the more time goes on, the more that I may be digressing in this area of my recovery.

I have a fear that the more sobriety days my husband has under his belt, the closer we are getting to experiencing a slip.  Addicts can get comfortable in their routine and can get lazy in their diligence to their program work.  They can get overconfident about the risks they can handle.  How often has an alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in a year thought it was ok to go play pool at a bar…not intending to drink…thinking he can handle the temptation…only to end up in the gutter.  All humans love to fool themselves…but add an addict gene in the mix and look out.

I have made a list of boundaries that my husband is happy to respect.  These boundaries are in place to try to make me feel safe and eventually should lead to trusting him again.  However, when I have to implement one of them I feel a multitude of unwelcome emotions.  Take for instance checking his whereabouts on GPS.  Here are the feelings I go through when I push the “find my iPhone” button:

– before pushing the locate button I am triggered and feeling FEAR

– as I push it I feel ANXIOUS about the results I may get (is he really at a lunch meeting…or at a strip club?)

– when the GPS shows he is where he should be I feel ANGRY that I am in a relationship where this kind of behavior is necessary

– then I move onto judging myself as WEAK that I decided to stay with a man who hurt me do deeply

– when I have to tell my husband that I looked at his whereabouts I feel SHAME that I don’t trust him

– It all culminates with a deep sense of RESENTMENT & HUMILIATION

I have not always shared with my husband when I go through this cycle of emotion.  Usually when I look at the GPS (sometimes 10 times a day, sometimes once a week) he is in a safe place and I block the experience from my mind.  But I will start sharing with him when I feel the need to check up on him.  Together we can explore the triggers and emotions that are set forth.  It is his behavior that forced me to put these safety measures in place, so he should be a part of and bear witness to the sad and unfortunate cycle of my experience.

I realize that consistency over time should start to lift some of my fears and hopefully someway, someday I will begin to trust, at least a little bit, once again.

If it’s hard for me to stay true…it must be almost impossible for him

I have been worried more than normal lately – worried that my husband is cheating and lying again.  It may be related to my knowledge of his having multiple ‘program’ friends fall off the wagon lately.  When I hear about these men who have been acting sober but who have indeed been cheating and acting out for a long time it reminds me of the pain I went through last summer.  It was almost a year ago that I found out that my husband who I believed was sober was in fact lying for 6 of the 6 1/2 years that he claimed to be sober/loyal/faithful.  It was heart wrenching and humiliating and is a place I don’t wish to return to.  I know full well that the only way to guarantee that it won’t occur again is to leave him.  So far, I have been unwilling to do that.

The 12 step program clearly states that I can’t control his behavior.  I respect & understand why that is true.  But is it a coincidence that lately when he has a business lunch his phone goes off line or he simply doesn’t answer my calls or texts?  Could this mean that he isn’t where he claims?  It’s a frustrating question for a wife to ask – and one that I shouldn’t have to.  But I am married to a sex addict so it is the path I have chosen and these worries are a part of my daily life.  All I can do is to share my feelings with my husband and keep doing the work that has gotten me this far.

A part of my fear stems from my own occasional feelings about wanting to ‘act out’.  I know how hard it can be to resist the urge to do something that I have made off limits.  Everyone who has ever tried to diet knows how difficult it is to stay on the right path – no matter how badly you want to.  Craving is a universal feeling, but is taken to another level for an addict.  A few months ago I struggled with an almost overwhelming need to contact my ex.  I shared this with my husband and my therapist and when I succumbed to that desire I told my husband about it.  So if I, a non-addict with every desire to be a part of a faithful marriage, can stumble and give in to a ridiculous whim it seems pretty likely that my husband can do the same.  As always, all I can hope is that he can tell me before it spirals into something that neither of us will be able to manage.