“Where are you going?” I asked. Anxiety filling every part of me. I could especially feel it in my chest, my breathing became shallow, and I wanted to burst into tears again. I don’t know why I continued to hope year after year. A New Years kiss, oh how I longed to have one. New Years came and went, he wanted to celebrate, but not with me. This year was no different. As I stood in the living room with my two tiny boys and he proceeded to tell me his plans. I felt sick and powerless. I complained, I begged, but he walked out the door without another comment. I stood there sad and numb.
A Reputation Proceeded Him
I was especially nervous, the friend that he was going to spend New Years with at the bars had a reputation, and It was not a good one. He was in his late 30’s and single. He was a player who sought out distressed women, he would tell them that he wanted to come back to church. His dates would start early in the day and he would play on their compassion and loneliness. Many nights he would coax them into bed and leave in the middle of the night with a laugh. Ha…Ha….He had done it again. I had heard and seen his exploits and wrote a disgusting blog about his exploits. I could only imagine the shame and increased loneliness he left the women with and I cried for them.
Choosing Something Different
In years past I had stayed home and cried myself to sleep, but this year I got up enough courage to call a friend. It was frightening, I hadn’t shared the darkest parts of my life with many, and I was afraid to share with her. What would she think of me? Would she know that I was a bad wife? She didn’t hesitate and invited us to come and stay with her and attend her family party. I have few memories of that night, but I do know the gratitude I felt that I was not alone. My little boys had so much fun and my oldest still remembers the other kids that he met. I managed to not cry, and I even have a picture where I am smiling.
I went home the next day. Again, I have few memories, I think the burden and stress was too much for my brain to handle. I was panicked when he came home. I was fearful of what he may have done with his friend. I asked a few questions and he downplayed the entire night. Boring! Uneventful! They had just talked, he said. I waited until he disappeared into the bathroom and snatched his phone.
Did you get her number?
Sure enough, his stories of boring and uneventful were proven wrong with his own text messages. The messages went back and forth between him and this friend about this particular woman at the bar. His friend kept asking if he had gotten her number. A sick feeling washed over me. Had he gotten the number? Was it in his phone right now? Was he planning on calling her the next time her left town? Had he slept with her? Question after question flooded my mind as a sick hopeless feeling washed over my body and tears filled my eyes.
When he got out of the shower I tried to stay quiet. My brain trying tirelessly to put together the pieces to finish the story. I didn’t want to fight, but the new information was too heavy for me to carry alone. It wanted to pour out of me with 100 questions following it. Before I knew it I was mentioning the messages. I asked him about the woman and he said, “What woman?” Even though I had the evidence right in front of me, I was holding his phone in my hand, he would try to gaslight and confuse me. I am embarrassed to say that for years and years it worked. Of
I am embarrassed to say that for years and years it worked. Of course, he would keep trying that same technique. I wanted so desperately to believe that he was telling me the truth. To believe that the evidence right in front of me was a lie.
Today, I have to own that I asked him about the girl because of fear. Maybe deep down I wanted him to convince me that it didn’t happen. At this point, I thought that his actions were my fault. Maybe if he could convince me that none of it happened then I would be okay. It meant that I hadn’t caused it.
I have deep compassion for the old Norma, I cry today because I was in so much pain. I wanted so badly to believe that he wouldn’t do that to me. I wasn’t in denial because I was dumb, or bad, I was in denial because of pain. I couldn’t handle the shame this brought me. Denial was a coping mechanism that probably saved my life during the roughest times. I am grateful for it.
If you find yourself in a similar place this year, My heart is with you. I am so sorry for your pain. I believe that there is a place for denial when our brains really can’t handle anythignt else. There also comes a time when denial does more harm than good. It took me almost 17 years to get to a point where I was ready to look at the denial and make a change.
If you are ready I can help. Join me for a free one-on-one coaching session.