Fairly soon after I discovered my husband’s affair, I made the decision to forgive him. He’s human, he makes mistakes. So many (both men and women) once discovered simply walk away and don’t look back. So when he said he wanted to stay together and make it work. He said he had ended the affair. He said he was sorry. So I took what he said at face value, decided to be the bigger person and offered forgiveness for past transgressions and tried to move forward positively.
Squarely thinking we would be working together at this reconciliation. It seemed like it was working, for a while. But everything just started not to feel right. I didn’t feel better, everything seemed to trigger me, and I was always feeling like shit. Apparently I wasn’t supposed to share those feelings with him. I was always told I’m over thinking it, or just get over it already. I thought maybe it was too soon to have forgiven him? But I did. I couldn’t just take it back. My thinking about it was I need us to be on the same page about this working together to put it behind us. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I thought it was the right thing to do. And in many ways I still do.
I forgave him also for myself. I thought if I just let it go, it would fade away, not bother me and I didn’t want to dwell on it. If he had been genuinely remorseful I think it could of worked. But here’s the thing:
it’s difficult to be in a place of forgiveness without taking enough time to process your feelings and emotions about all of it, even when they are remorseful. Especially when you don’t have all the information needed to understand the severity of it all. If husband had exhibited any of the behaviors of a truly remorseful spouse, and meant what he was telling me I think early forgiveness could of worked. We could of moved forward in a healthy way.
However being married to a narcissist, I should have realized that much of the conventional wisdom on healing and reconciliation after affairs, doesn’t really work/apply for us. As a matter of fact, most advice to spouses of a narcissist says to run as fast as humanly possible to get away from the harm that these people cause.
Despite the fact that a year has passed since d-day, I felt we were slipping further apart. All our interactions seem superficial and forced on his part (sometimes on mine too) and everyday I was feeling more and more resentment because I felt something was missing from this picture.
What was/is missing? A true heartfelt apology that shows his remorse. Not the excuses, and blaming and justifying type of (non)- apology that I received. But an apology that showed his understanding of the severity of the situation and what it has done to me. An apology that was focused on how his choices had caused me severe trauma and how he would help the healing of wounds inflicted by him. But that’s not what I got, no what I got was basically a non-apology camoflaouged as one. But I didn’t recognize it at the time.
I wish that I had been able to record those very few discussions that we DID have about the affair. That way I could go back and listen to what he actually said (now that my head is clearer). Because I now feel like there never was an apology just excuses and blaming. I understand no one likes to be confronted about mistakes they have made and many times they are upset and feel forced into apologizing. So instead they twist their apology to reflect their lack of responsibility. They will say things that sound like:
I’m sorry you feel that…
I’m sorry but…
I was just trying to help…
If I hurt you, I’m sorry…
If you think…
If I made a mistake…
Fill in any of the blanks and you’ll see an attempt to apologize without it really being their fault. A great apology includes an ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF RESPONSIBILITY, and when it’s lacking, what they imply is they think they did nothing wrong. In my opinion no apology would have been better than his half-ass, piss poor excuse for an apology that he gave me.
“A cheater who refuses to acknowledge and address their failings is a cheater who expects you to accept them as the person they were on the day they decided to have the affair” Wayfarer
I realized at the moment I read this quote that he never apologized because he doesn’t feel that he has done anything wrong. Nope, not him true entitlement. He will never apologize to me. He doesn’t think he was wrong one single bit. He will take years of a not so great marriage and twist the story to fit his needs. He has re-written our history to fit his behavior, this has become his reality. Twisted as it may be it is now “his truth”.
In my situation by forgiving him too quickly several things happened: I had not worked through any of my emotions and feelings regarding his affair. I guess I was so glad that he hadn’t just walked out the door and never returned giving us a chance to make it through this. I thought it was his way of showing me he still wanted to try so I felt that I should show my willingness to work things out by offering forgiveness. I thought I had established a couple of boundaries and made sure I heard what he was saying about what I wasn’t giving that he needed. Believing he would be doing the same for me. And for a while it seemed like it was working.
And secondly, there really were no consequences for him. Not that him being a narcissist it would of really made a difference. I thought asking him to end the affair, him doing (saying) that he did was a consequence. It should be a given not thought of as a consequence. But you know I really wasn’t thinking clearly those first few weeks. Getting through a day without crying and a new discovery took everything I had. Oh that and trying to be a better wife. I thought that’s what he wanted. That’s what I heard when we had talked. Those few times that I was allowed to bring the subject up.
I would initiate a discussion about our circumstances (which he never wanted to do, but did so a couple of times reluctantly) and I would get these non-apologies, twisted blaming and projecting his bad behaviors back to me. Don’t get me wrong I’m no angel, I have done some pretty crappy things in this relationship as well (not infidelity). He is the one that is the emotional abuser but still cannot, will not, refuses to see that!! But I always have owned my mistakes, took responsibility for my actions or in-actions. Him, Hell I can’t think of a time that he didn’t think that I was responsible every thing wrong in our relationship. It is a classic example of projecting everything that he sees as wrong in our marriage as only coming from me. Unable to see any wrong doing on his part WHATSOEVER!!
So while I tried to forgive him I realize now I am holding a grudge against him. He has inflicted emotional abuse on me for a very long time and this affair is just coup d’grau for his sick little mind. Yes his perfectly charming, twisted emotional abuse, it eats you alive. I have zero trust in him. I know that he doesn’t follow through on things he says to me, even though the outcome is detrimental to him as well. (Like refinancing the house because we have a terrible interest rate, he just refuses to make it happen.) Doesn’t he realize that when he doesn’t keep his promises he is telling me he simply doesn’t care. I mean if he can’t or won’t change his mind why is being honest about it so bad.
Yes if he is using this past year as a way to make me leave this marriage (because he is a coward and won’t do it himself) then I’ll have to say he is doing a fine job of it. Because like the song by Lifehouse says:
I’m halfway gone
You were always hard to hold
So letting go aint easy
I’m hanging on you’re growing cold
While my mind is leaving
Talk, talk is cheap
Give me your word you can keep
‘Cause I’m halfway gone and I’m on my way
And I’m feeling, feelin, feelin this way
‘Cause your halfway in but don’t take too long
‘Cause I’m halfway gone, halfway gone
Do I know what I am going to do yet? No not yet, but I have hired the private investigator and before too long the truth will be set free. Then I have what I need to confront him, even though I don’t think it will make a difference. His eyes are shut, and I don’t think he wants to open them. Too bad he’s gonna loose a DAMN GOOD WOMAN!!