I havent written anything for a few weeks. It seems that my way of operating is to grow silent when bad things are happening. I do not know why I do it. Maybe because I want a solution to manifest before I share it so that it will have a “happy ending.” Sometimes I am just processing and trying to make sense of it all. Most of the time, I just do not know what to say. My life is so, well…weird. If it were not happening to me I would think it was a fantastical work of fiction full of drama, triangles, intrigue and suspense. What this story is NOT, is a love story. No love here. Just pain. Raw. Primal. Screaming pain. Before I go on; you have to know this isn’t going to be pretty, not even close. And there isn’t any happy ending that I can see. So if you are not up for it, I get it. if you keep reading – you have been warned.
So here is what has been happening:
My Ex has happily announced for all of Facebook to read, that he has a serious girlfriend. Already you ask? Yep. Turns out the ink wasn’t even dry on the divorce papers. I knew it was coming. I just didnt think it would be quite so fast. But this was so fast that it sent shockwaves of hurt and anger through the lives of our kids, and of course, me. Nobody is happy about it, but it’s not our call. Let go, and let God and all those palatitudes we tell ourselves to feel better, right? I can deal with it, it was bound to happen. He can’t seem to live in his own skin without a woman around to tell him how wonderful he is. I have no illusions, at this point, that he will wake up one day and realize how awful he has been and shower me with love and work to mend my shattered heart and family. I sometimes indulge in that fantasy, but it really is just that, a fantasy. No sense in sugar coating it.
However, to my great surprise and amazement, I thought the fantasy might materialize over the past two weeks. I don’t want to get your hopes up and I hate to be a spoiler, but it didn’t happen. How it went down is, perhaps, instructive for someone else experiencing what it is like to be at the end of the line in rough game of “crack the whip.” I have used words like nightmare, merry-go-round and rollercoaster to describe the heart pounding, breathtaking (not in a good way) and dizzying ride my Ex has had me on over the last, almost, 2 years. But this is especially cruel, although, I understand, not uncommon coming from a “non-addict.”
So it turns out that, said girlfriend, makes an amazing observation! She believes that Ex is still in love with me. Therefore, she cannot move forward in a relationship with him until he resolves his feelings for me and the rift he has with his kids. So Ex trots off, dutifully, back to me to fulfill her request. He wants to see if he really has any feelings left for me. Awesome. Right?
He tells me he wants to see if there is any chance at reconciliation. I tell him what I have always told him, for the entire past few years. “You are always welcome back in my life if you do the necessary work of recovery, which is, to provide me with the safety and connection that I need from you. To remind you, the way to provide safety is with honesty and transparency about what you have done and how you will stop it from happening in the future. You provide connection with open communication and by reparing the damage you have done.” I beleive I deliver this request with clarity. Succinctly and honestly. No beating around the bush. Just straight up. There is no need to be coy at this point. This is what I need from him, and the reason I divorced him is because he couldn’t, or woudn’t, do it.
So I decide to let him make his case to me, again. I tell him what I need and he agrees to finally be honest with me and listen to me so that I feel seen and heard. It goes ok for a few days. He is doing better than he has ever done up until this point, at holding my pain and listening to how his betrayal has really effected me. I tell him how I am shattered. I share articles about PTSD and Betrayal Trauma and what it takes to heal from that. It gets to be too much and he can’t quite handle my rock of pain. I don’t blame him, it is quite large and heavy, I know – I’ve been carrying it around for almost two years. And when I have tried to hand it to him to hold for a while, it scares him and he runs away. I would run away from it too, if I could. (Incidentally, being ignored has the same effect on the mind as being physically abused. So if you are being ignored and it really, really hurts, it’s not in your head. It is real! The pain is real! (Read about the study here.)
After endless conversations that are starting to run in circles again, I decide it is time to get to the bottom of what he is trying to do. What does he want? Really want? It turns out, that what he really wants is her, so he is trying to convince himself he doesn’t love me. This is where it takes a turn for the worst. I call him out on his “plan” to use me to justify his behavior. This is where he starts turning the tables and all of the old excuses come flying out of his mouth at me like daggers. His aim is true and each dagger makes its way straight to my heart. I have, unwittingly, left myself exposed again.
Here is the bottomline. He can’t give me what I need because he needs to have some sort of assurance I won’t get mad and just leave him holding the bag, so to speak. He needs for me not to be so angry with him. He isn’t sure I am worth the effort. I will never really forgive him so why should he put in that much effort. If I really still loved him I would not have divorced him in the first place. So here we are stuck. Again. In the same place our “discussions” mostly end up. He wants assurance from me. I need assurances from him. Works to back up his words. The problem is that he doesnt understand that he is the betrayer, I am the betrayed. In this instance, the betrayer ALWAYS has to go FIRST! Ladies, it is HIS responsibility to provide you with the safety, honesty, transparancy and connection that YOU need. THEN once HE does that it is YOUR job to respond with appropriate encouragement. Not the other way around. He betrayed me, not the other way around. It is critical that you keep this perspective.
Notice all the denial statements above. It is common behavior for the addict to use all kinds of denial tactics to keep from taking the responsibility for their actions. So they have a litany of denial weapons to choose from and they will use them all, sometimes all in the same conversation.
Denial looks like the following; blame, rationalizing, turning the tables, lying, guilting, and my personal favorite, gaslighting. Gaslighting is dangerous and if it is happening to you then you are more prone to develop longer term trauma and even PTSD. Do not allow yourself to be gaslighted. Also, most “non-addicts” will display many narcissistic tendencies because the lying causes them to be so self absorbed in protecting the lies that no one or no thing can be as important as keep their secrets.
If you are experiencing any of the above, the best thing you can do is to trust your gut. Your instincts will nearly always be correct, listen to them and follow them. The one thing I regret more than anything is not protecting myself from addict abuse better. I allowed myself to continue to be abused far longer than I should have. Please don’t make the same mistakes. Above all, do not think you are able to overcome this alone, you are not. You need a support system and some professional guidance to navigate the world of a “non- addict.”
The only thing I can tell you, is what was told to me the first day I went to therapy. “A man has two tongues, the one in his mouth, and the one on his shoes. Ignore what the one in his mouth is saying, and watch what the one on his shoes does. That is the only way you will really know when he is telling the truth.” To me, this is the only way to really know for sure.
Stay Strong, Be Sweet (as best you can)