Not unlike many young Mormon women, I was married for the first time at entirely too young of an age. I went forward with naivety and hope that I was completely prepared for an eternity with my first real boyfriend. 14 years and 3 husbands later, I’m even more convinced of that. But 5 years into that marriage, #1 and I couldn’t see making it another month together. We envisioned a life of blissful date nights, unified bill paying, delightful couple outings to the grocery store, and more specifically never-ending, never-fading lust, infatuation and butterflies. Pff, ya’ll know how that works out. So we concluded in a very dooms-dayish resolve that perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be and each of us, along with our preschool son, would be happier, better adjusted and all around more whole if we parted ways and sought greener pastures.
Let me tell you what I now know about really green grass. It’s actually not. Or it is because the members of the household distribute fertilizer quarterly, have the sprinklers set to sprinkle every other day, they edge and mow and till and aerate, and they walk barefoot on it all the damn time because it’s so lush, green, and heavenly. And they should, because they busted their asses trying to ensure that theirs is truly a lawn of dreams. And when crab grass starts taking root, they don’t stop attending to their lawn and go walk on the neighbors grass; they dig that shit up and plant and tend to new seeds. You, my lawn-loving friend are bad ass. I salute you.
My lawn has had a vole infestation twice in the last year. Apparently, a vole is a highly reproductive rodent that considers himself the freaking maze runner. Anyway, my neighbor’s lawn is glorious and not showing signs of the burrowing bastards. Even still, I’ve set out poison (sorry PETA), had an exterminator out on two occasions, and even adopted a full grown cat to instill fear in the hearts of these little pests. I like my house and yard. Lots of redeeming qualities. I think I’ll keep it and do my best to see that I do everything I can to help it recognize its beauty and potential for backyard BBQ’s and impromptu soccer games and a little back porch sitting.
I think we all know where I’m going with this. My dearly beloved husband #2 is a helluva story, and maybe we’ll come back to it. But because I am in recovery for an eating disorder and betrayal trauma resulting from #3, I’m sadly pretty focused on that. And you’ll notice. I’m preoccupied with all of the ways that what should have been my final and best marriage and the blessing that God had been preparing me for, turned out to be the greatest sorrow and heartbreak of my life. To date. Knock on wood.
From the moment #3 stepped onto the scene to very literally rescue me from a horrible situation, it seemed that he was the exact thing that my entire life and hardships thus far had been preparing me for. He was new to me yet perfectly familiar because of the history that our two families had and all of our very closely connected associates. I was so vulnerable and broken from having just left a marriage plagued with deceit and the ferocious effects of drug addiction that I was eager to feel whole, validated and connected.
#3 wasn’t necessarily all the things that I wanted, but he was tenderly, hand-feeding me all the things that I needed at that time. He loved me so intensely and hurriedly that I couldn’t help but love him back. He adored and fussed over my son and insisted on including him in everything. He seduced my family and friends and had everyone shouting “go team #3”. He was kind and attentive and very actively seeking to show that he could be trusted. There will be some truly hideous things that come forward about #3 throughout these journals, but in all fairness, *that* guy, sincerely lived in him also. There are legitimate reasons, that recovery has been so hard. His absence and the many beautiful parts of him, are so very missed. It will be a testament to addiction and the very real and ugly way that it changes everything.
#3 was charming, flattering, and madly in love with me. And he couldn’t get married fast enough. I hit the jackpot. My son and I had found this amazingly, beautiful human to share our lives with. We married just 10 months after we started dating. I found out I was pregnant 3 days after returning from a brilliant honeymoon in the south. Everything was coming together. Until it wasn’t.
3 weeks into our marriage, I logged into my computer to find that he was the last one on Facebook. Having been married to an addict previously, one could say I had trust issues, and that would be a conservative statement. I noticed that he had new messages so I not-so-innocently began to review them. I found two strings of messages with two different women that weren’t adulterous, but definitely inappropriate for a newly married man. I mentioned to him that I had personal experience with a seemingly innocent situation getting out of control and thought that it wasn’t a good idea that he entertain such interactions. He agreed and apologized and promised to get off of Facebook. I assured him that that was extreme and it wasn’t an issue but to just be mindful. Shortly thereafter I found evidence of heavy porn usage. I still didn’t engage in any serious emotion. Prior to this, I wasn’t anti porn and had even wondered if my cultural insistence on abstaining, was perpetuating the problem. Later, I would learn that it was his prolonged use of porn that lead him to ease his way into adultery. I simply asked him if it was an issue and when he swore that he hadn’t even looked, I let the lie slide.
When I was 3 months pregnant I was doing his laundry from the previous weekend in which he had gone hunting on his own. I found physical evidence of an affair. 5 years later, I cannot imagine the world in which I lived where I let his “it’s not mine” story suffice. But I did. As well as the other found evidence that would manifest itself over the course of my pregnancy even up to delivery day, the duration of our marriage and subsequent attempts at reconciliation. It’s what you do when you’re hopeful and in love and also massive with child. But mostly I was desperate to have my family.
I would allow/ignore the lies for the next two years. Until a cell phone would expose an affair with a married woman, preventing me from continuing to dismiss the signs. Who am I kidding? I would have allowed this as well if he could have committed to or attempted to stay on the course that would later be determined for us by a marital counselor.
Unfortunately, I have since learned that full disclosure for an addict, is tantamount to death. In the grips of addiction, you are literally convinced that having your demons exposed will surely equate to the loss of love and loved ones. You cannot believe the promise that full disclosure will free you and bring love and acceptance.
This was the case with #3. Over the next two years I would go on to uncover countless lies, an Ashley Madison account, and many other married women. And the realization that no matter what I did or said, his healing wasn’t in my control. But mine was.
At different times I will recount all of the ways that I handled D-Day (the discovery of infidelity) in the wrong way and my desire to handle things differently. And I acknowledge the horrific way that I approached my early days of grieving. But this story and the 5 year timeline in which it unfolded in my life, represents the discovery, culmination and ultimate implosion of my eating disorder…and also kind of my life. And *this* is the trauma that so often has me reaching for my laptop, to pour out the grief as it takes shape in my soul. So if you find yourself immersed in a journal entry wondering at the repeated reference to #3, now you know. It is from this betrayal, that I work to break free; to heal while banishing ED and to ultimately embrace and move forward. I will always love #3, but my hope is no longer in a whole and healed family, but in a whole and healed me.