Had a dream Friday night that my husband — in a voice dripping with contempt — told me that I was an asshole. The sneer on his face didn’t fade when I looked at him, shocked and hurt. My older daughter (from a previous marriage) was standing nearby, and in a moment I learned he was dumping me and marrying her, his stepdaughter.
One of the terrible feelings in the dream was that, without even knowing what was going on, I had been judged and found to be a terrible person, and he was moving on … with my daughter.
This feeling of being contemptible in the eyes of the people who know me best goes deep to the heart of me. I suspect it has its roots in childhood.
It took a while after I woke up to shake off the residual grief from the dream. After a little while, I realized that my husband’s actions in the dream exactly mirrored what he did when he had an affair with an old girlfriend.
The affair haunts me because I was judged in the total absence of being allowed to know what contempt was forming in his mind. He was angry at me, feeling deprived, and was silent toward me. He turned all his efforts at intimacy toward her.
Part of my recovery from his affair is either changing or coming to terms with the fact that I’m now aware that it could happen. I feel on heightened alert. Constantly tense. I guess this is PTSD or something similar. I need to talk about this with my therapist.
I think I may stop telling my husband when I am triggered or have spontaneous thoughts/emotions regarding his affair. I will instead put that energy toward taking care of myself, just as I would if I were living on my own. My appointment this afternoon with a dietitian is my first act, a new dedication to self-care. I am going to take responsibility for being healthy, for being true to my values and dreams, and for nurturing myself.
When I say I may stop communicating on the affair with my husband (at least for a while), I am not talking about giving him a punitive silent treatment OR forgiving him and forgetting it. I am just going to put it on a shelf for a while. It will be there if I need to revisit it. Does that make sense? I feel like I’m bludgeoning the nice things that are happening between us when I bring up the past. I want to heal, but I also want to get back among the living.
I probably can’t stop the ruminating about him, our marriage, the affair. But I can be more choosy about what I share with him.
Part of me says that this is letting him get off scot-free. Part of me says it’s time, if we are to continue being married.
I’m trying. I swear to God I am.