On Friday September 13th my husband rode with me to my counseling appointment and took the kids to Costco to pick some things up while I had my session.
My counselor looked concerned when she saw me. I was feeling pretty okay emotionally, I was just very tired. We talked the whole time. That probably sounds like a given, but the reason I started seeing this counselor was to have EMDR done for this trauma but she hasn’t deemed me emotionally well enough to do it yet, which seems an irony to me. She had told me the week before that we would do a visualization together this particular week. She had it written down on the paper on her clipboard so I knew she couldn’t have forgotten. But I guess I looked too distressed for visualization because we just talked. I can’t remember now what we talked about but I remember it being really helpful. I’m sure the reason I don’t remember is because soon after, chaos struck.
I left counseling feeling pretty well, better than when I went in. We drove the 30 minutes back to my husband’s office together and I was feeling connected to him. All was well, relatively… all was about as well as it gets these days. We arrived at his office and it was still lunch hour. He said he was going to go in and write some patient notes and it occurred to me that he might be alone with a female employee. There had been several mornings over the previous few weeks when he had left for work early. I had felt triggered by that and he assured me that his business partner was already there and that he would not be alone with an employee. I believed him and trusted him and kept carrying on doing my best to accept the situation. As we pulled into the parking space I was expressing concern and he was assuring me his partner was there and it was okay. Just then we saw his partner walk out to go to lunch. My husband got out of our van and went to his car to get a box out that he needed to give to me. I was just sitting there watching his partner walk out… it was like watching a car accident in slow motion right in front of you… I’m sure this sounds crazy, but this is trauma. The horror of the scene was that my husband was about to walk into that office and be alone with a woman… the same office he had made out with, felt up, and receive a hand job from a female patient in just months before… he was completely unphased and casual about it and I’m just watching it play out like a nightmare I can’t wake up from. He opened my door and handed me the box and kissed me like nothing was wrong. I said to him simply and directly that I was NOT okay. He attempted to comfort me by telling me his partner was just grabbing lunch and would be back in 20-minutes or so. He did nothing to console me, took no time to discuss it, he just seemed totally okay with it and closed the door and walked to the mail boxes to get the mail. And I drove away knowing he would then be going into the office with a woman.
I was in a panic driving home. My world had just taken a turn into downward spiral. It wasn’t just the fact that he was alone with a woman- the most upsetting part was that he thought nothing of it. An addict in recovery will naturally be mindful of risky situations for the rest of his life. I had expressed to him many times that I was not okay with him being alone with women. As a Chiropractor, most of his patients are female and he often treats them alone. His office is set up with private treatment rooms with closing doors. When I first found out about the affairs and we were working with our Stake President and going through disciplinary action he had said, in our Stake President’s office, that he would treat his patients from then on in the front treatment room with the wall of windows. There’s a screen to keep the desert sun from blaring in, so you can’t really see in from the sidewalk but it’s better than him using the other room… the one with no windows that he had the sexual encounter in. Well, a few weeks prior to this I had found out that he WAS still using the dreaded room. He had been using both rooms all along. Each room has a different table in it and for some patients he needed the table that was in the dreaded room. He hadn’t told me this. He didn’t even remember promising not to use it (big surprise, wait, no it isn’t). I was stunned. I was SO upset. After me babbling and in shock over this detail for a while he did share that he wasn’t shutting the door all of the way, he was leaving it open a crack. That’s something at least. The door is SUPPOSED to be closed when he does Graston technique (which is what he was doing on the woman he acted out with) because the patient is unclothed from the waist up and in a gown. He had been leaving the door cracked for safety and accountability anyway, or so he says. I find it strange he shared this with me after the conversation had been playing out for quite a while. You’d think he’d share the comforting detail at the beginning if it were true. Anyway, that had left me feeling uncertain about trusting his word and his judgment as it were. The real issue here was just that- his judgment. A normal thinking person would see the logic in a few things here. First, if you’ve acted out with a woman in that room, don’t use it. It will be a triggering space to you whether you’re aware of it or not. Second, if you’re addicted to attention from women and have had more affairs than you can remember well enough to count, it’s probably common sense to take extra precaution to never be alone with a woman. Third, if your wife has expressed anxiety over such situations, don’t do it. Ever. You know what he said to me when I brought up the fact that he HAD to know I would not be okay with him being alone with women because of the anxiety I had had over it several times in the morning? “Yeah, but I thought that was in the morning.” What??!!! Welcome to addict brain, folks. Real person brain- “If it’s not okay in the morning and he has a history of acting out all hours of the day and night it’s a given that it won’t be okay at lunch time or at any time if it’s not okay in the morning.” Addict brain- “She doesn’t want me to be alone with women in the morning so I will try to avoid that and if it happens just not tell her, I’ve got this, its fine.” And no other thought given to it at any other time of day. The absence of logic is absolutely maddening.
I did notice a few days later that the table from the dreaded room had been moved to the windowed room. We also had a conversation about being alone with female employees. He told me it could not be avoided at times. I called BS and reminded him he has legs. If his partner exits the office, he can exit too. According to him he has made several such emergency exits since this conversation took place.
What was happening here was that I was realizing I wasn’t as safe as I thought I was. He wasn’t as honest as I thought he was. He wasn’t as in recovery as I thought he was.
I went home and started texting my group of WOPAs (wives of pornography addicts) on our ongoing group text. I needed a crazy check. (Here’s what just happened. Am I crazy?) I love having friends who will always tell me the truth! I was assured that I was in no way crazy, that I was feeling unsafe, that I was in fact unsafe, and that any woman in my situation would feel similar and justifiably so. I spent a few hours talking with them and contemplating. I was so angry with my husband I actually feared I would hurt him if I saw him. I made the difficult decision to do a therapeutic separation. I had felt this coming for over a month. The whole month of December was very difficult and it took all I had to make it to Christmas. We would have celebrated Christmas together either way, but I wanted us to be fully in tact because I wanted my kids to have the best Christmas possible. By the grace of God, Christmas day was actually an absolute dream. It couldn’t have been better. But every day before and after was very difficult. I had a weighty darkness over me that I could not shake. I was so emotionally exhausted that my body had shut down. I was sleeping until noon and still struggling to force myself out of bed while my kids were left to themselves just watching TV and fighting with each other unsupervised. When I did get out of bed (which I would not have done at all had I not had kids to take care of) I would just sit on the couch unable to get up and accomplish anything. There were a number of nights of triggers and/or him falling asleep while I was upset and me feeling abandoned and then several days after such an event that I would go into downward spiral mode and just be stuck in a deep, dark, mucky hole. I couldn’t talk to him or be near him during those days and I was very shut off to my children. I was in a very bad way. I tried my best, beyond my best, to try to heal with us together and to avoid separation, but I couldn’t avoid it anymore. I texted him and asked him if he would like me to pack a suitcase for him or if he would like to me leave that evening so he could pack it. And I felt the closest thing to peace that I had felt in over 5 months.
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(This entry was written 164 days after D-day on January 28, 2017)