I don’t think my husband has been unfaithful since I found out about his long, long, long affair. But other than that, the story in this post could be about me: https://www.chumplady.com/2018/10/dear-chump-lady-please-kill-my-hope/.
The woman who inspired that post talked about uncertainty, unhappiness, guilt and more.
I want to hug her and give her a safe place to talk. And when my thoughts turn to myself on this topic, my heart just sinks further.
I’ve been wavering on the cusp of leaving my husband now for seven years. I need to stop calling it wavering. Not deciding is really a decision in itself, isn’t it.
My husband has been sorry. I enjoy his company. But our relationship has never been right since his affair.
I feel …
- small and petty for wanting out of a marriage that no longer has that spark, just familiarity.
- stuck and non-resilient because my unhappiness seems fixed and disproportionate to what I actually suffered. He only (<– read that with quotation marks) had an online emotional affair with a married ex-girlfriend who lives about a seven-hour drive away … for four years.
- guilty because I know our marriage was suffering in the couple of years that preceded the affair. Even though I know his choice in how to deal with his unhappiness was entirely his fault, I still feel guilty for being depressed and angry and mean before and during his affair.
- old and ugly because I’m 57 with health problems, an old woman’s boobs and too much fat
- selfish for wanting to be out of a marriage because I know it would hurt our daughter for her parents to divorce.
- cowardly because I’m afraid of being broke and alone and unloved if I did leave.
- mercenary because I want to keep his very good insurance.
- weighed down because I should stay until our daughter finishes college and grad school, so that she keeps getting both our financial support.
- secretly unworthy because I think our daughter doesn’t love me as much as she loves her dad, and I don’t want to alienate her.
- stupid because I would miss his familiar face, his weight on the bed beside me, and 24 years of shared history and inside jokes. I don’t want to be alone.
But when I look at his face — like I did this morning when he dropped me off at work — all I can think is, “Why are you looking at me with that moony*, loving expression?” It was hard to smile back. It was hard not to grimace over my gut reaction of mild revulsion. He is being LOVING. But it comes from a weak, weak man.
It’s like something much worse has to happen before I feel permission and motivation to actually leave.
It’s time. I’m ready to either find a way to move past my unhappiness, or move past him.
I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me. I keep saying I’m strong and he’s weak … but he’s the one who keeps trying to outlast my hurt, resentment and mistrust, and I’m the one who hasn’t been able to forgive or leave.
* Side note: I so wish I could find a stock image online that captures that smile. I’ve searched online for photos of smiles that are oily, unctuous, insincere, uncertain, uncomfortable, adoring, ingratiating, weak, simpering … nothing is quite right. It’s when the bottom lip is pushed up like the person is about to pout (a little over the bottom edge of the top teeth), but the corners of the mouth pull up into a smile, and the eyes are half-closed, almost sleepy-looking, and a little sad. It’s similar to Trump’s smile, but without the confidence or arrogance. It’s equal parts fearful and adoring and resentful and relieved and “thank God I’ve got ’em fooled about what I’m really thinking.” Maybe it’s the combo of sad eyes and a conciliatory smile. Not sexy or predatory or confident or evil. Just weak and secretive and appeasing … and a little defeated.
These poor examples are the closest photos I’ve found yet: