Infidelity trauma is real. Emotional abuse trauma is real. The insecurity, pain, and anxiety that comes from being manipulated, used, and controlled is real. Being gaslighted makes you think you’re crazy and the constant lies make you second guess everything you know is truth. This is trauma and trauma can cause PTSD. The triggers, nightmares, and depression are exhausting. The desire to just go to sleep and not wake up is strong and you pray it nearly every day.
In 2015, just days after our 18th anniversary, I discovered his affair. He didn’t confess this one. In fact, when confronted, he lied for a month about it even happening and continued to lie about details for months. He would deny and lie even when I had the proof in my hands. He made me think I was crazy, I may have actually been crazy. I spent the next two years researching every detail of his life like a mad woman. I found messages to old girlfriends, google searches for women from his past, including the one he had bragged about a few years before of not having an affair with. I found every single detail of the woman with whom he had an affair. I contacted her husband and told him. It wasn’t her first. While talking to her husband as he sobbed on the phone, he told me she was pregnant. I spent the next three months waiting for that child to be born to see if it could be my husband’s. He said it wasn’t, but he lied about everything, and I couldn’t believe him. I was devasted and completely broken.
He finally admitted to having a porn addiction our entire marriage. He had never been faithful to me. He had never fully committed. He had lied to me about his past and about who he was. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep much, and when I did sleep I was so disappointed when I would wake up and still be here on earth. I prayed every night for God to take me away from all this pain. I cried all day, and barely managed to get out of bed, get the boys to school, and shower. I had to remember to breathe. I had nightmares every night of the two of them together. I had nightmares of them laughing at me and making fun of my pain. She lived nine hours away, but I still feared leaving the house because I couldn’t stand the thought of seeing her. I was constantly looking over my shoulder expecting her to show up. I spent a year of my life just fighting to stay alive and I don’t remember much about it at all. I missed so much of my boys’ lives in that time.
You would think that seeing me in all this pain would have moved him to seek help, support me, or even just read a book to see what he should do, but he didn’t. He had lost yet another job just days after he came home from the work trip where he began his affair. He was so focused on himself and his loss, that he left me there to suffer alone. I bought him book after book, he just told me he wasn’t a reader. I sent him article after article, he barely skimmed them and then told me he read them. I begged him to get counseling and he refused at first, then started going sporadically. He promised me every other week, but he only went six times in a year. He didn’t fill out any of the worksheets or questionaries the counselor sent, and he never read anything that was given to him. He went to two more counselors after the first one told him he didn’t need to come back, he actually thought it was because he graduated counseling, and he repeated the same behaviors with those.
When I finally woke up enough from my pain that I could set some boundaries, he broke every single one numerous times and then blamed me for it. He said he cheated because he was drinking, so we agreed on a boundary of no drinking without the other one present. He drank with the guys at his new job after work because I didn’t make it clear that he wasn’t allowed to drink at work. He drank with guys at their home because I didn’t specifically state no drinking at others’ houses without me. We agreed he wouldn’t add women to his social media or create new social media without my approval. He friended women on LinkedIn and then told me he didn’t know LinkedIn was social media. He then continued to friend women on LinkedIn and then claimed I didn’t make it clear that he couldn’t friend women he worked with. The woman with whom he had an affair was a co-worker! He was to have NO contact with his affair partner ever again. About a year after discovery, I found that he had a second Twitter account that I didn’t know about. She had created a new user name and had been following him from the day he cut off contact with her the year before. He claimed he didn’t know he had two Twitter accounts. I could list hundreds of lies and manipulations just dealing with the crossing of boundaries.
Every promise broken, every boundary line crossed, and every lie just added to my trauma. I began to feel like he wanted me to hurt. I believe now that since he couldn’t get any more affirmation from me that he was a good man and a “catch,” my pain filled his addiction for ego kibbles. By seeing me in pain, he knew I loved him, thus he can’t be too bad. I asked him to attend Celebrate Recovery at our church since he had a porn addiction. He went for a while, but when his group got serious and started a step study, he quit. He told me once that he wasn’t like those other guys blowing up their lives. He was still deeply embedded with a sense of entitlement and arrogance, even though he had blown up the lives of everyone around him who loved him. He still hasn’t lost that. He lives his life constantly letting everyone know how important he is and how talented he is. He just keeps losing jobs, because he can’t swallow his pride and do what his boss says. He needs to be right all the time and he needs everyone to know he’s right.
I forced him to take a job in another state about four hours away in 2019 because of another violent episode. For the most part, he was nicer to me and the boys, but when he wasn’t getting his way he would still blow up. He was literally screaming at me while punching his fist in his palm because I wouldn’t let him start a company in yet another crazy idea he had. I was hoping he would just go ahead and hit me so I could walk away with zero guilt of breaking up my family. He didn’t, but I told him he had to go. I truly thought that being separated from his family would make him want to change to get them back. My ever-optimistic self was wrong again.