Sounds like the title for a trashy novel. Or a poorly scripted “Lifetime Movie.” Sadly, the story I’m about to share is not fiction. It’s real and it’s painful. I went back and forth about whether I wanted to put down in words what’s been happening in my life the past few months. My first reaction was to set this blog to private, close down my Facebook account, curl up and whimper.
But then I thought…why do I have to give up something that’s given me so much enjoyment over the years? What did I do that my first instinct was to shut down and hide like I’d done something wrong? That makes no sense but it was my response to the pain of betrayal.
On June 30th, I discovered the Mister has cheated on me and lied about it for over a year and a half. He’s been having an emotional affair with the wife of a couple we met traveling in the spring of 2013.
This affair was online, with emails, texting, Skyping, and long distance phone calls. When we met up with this couple in Sicily back in April, the Mister and this woman left for a two-day cooking course, and now I know that the plan all along was to spend time alone together. And then we shared a condo in Copenhagen for a week and then travelled with them to their hometown for another week. Where the Mister and her spent all their time together under the guise of planning meals and going for early morning walks, while her husband and I slept in. She and the Mister made a fool of our respective relationships and our trust in them. It makes me sick just writing this as it’s bringing back all the things he said to me over the past two months.
When I first made this discovery I thought there was hope for our relationship. But as we talked and more of the truth came out, I realized I’d be making a huge mistake if I allowed someone like this to stay in my life.
This is a man I thought to be perfect. My perfect match. The man I’d happily spend the rest of my life with. But how do you continue to live with someone who expresses no remorse for his actions, shows no empathy for the pain he’s caused, and refuses to stop the affair in the hopes that I will come to accept this relationship if I want to stay married.
That is seriously fucked up thinking. But wait, there’s more. Here’s an excerpt from an email he sent to this other woman days after agreeing not to contact her until we had a chance to figure out what we (him and I, not him and her) were going to do. It’s not very nice so imagine how I felt when I read it:
“My love if I have a plan it is to give her time to recover from the shock to hope that some semblance of reason prevails. And in that time talking but at the same time clearly declaring that I will not give up my friendship with you…the theory being that if I remain steadfast that she will see that to keep our marriage she will have to change her approach. ..which currently is an unequivocally demand to end our friendship…I am not really sure how long that approach can last perhaps only days perhaps longer…I just do not know…If that does not work the only other option I am contemplating is her moving out. I know the other option of capitulation is there in the background but I block it out my love…”
Frankly, it’s disgusting that he’d ever think I’d agree to anything like this. And what normal person would think their partner could get over this kind of betrayal in a few days? The man has no moral centre. Actually, no morals whatsoever. What normal person would think that it’s acceptable to put their partner through this kind of pain and suffering? It’s emotional and mental abuse, and a clear sign of serious ego issues.
The Mister said he thinks he’s only got 10-15 good years left. (The man’s 63 *eye roll*) He said “he didn’t want to be on his deathbed and say that he’s proudest of the fact that he was faithful to his spouse.” That is a direct quote from a note he wrote about why this affair happened. Funny but I’d be damned proud to be able to say that on my deathbed.
Throughout all this, he never once apologized. For anything. Not even to say he was sorry for hurting me. The closest he got was to say he knew this was going to be hard on us both. Translation: financially. And that’s when it really got real for me. Understanding that his only concern was to come out of our relationship with as much of his money as possible.
And what about this other woman’s husband? In an email to the Mister he said, “I can’t understand how you can live with someone so distrusting.” My husband is having an affair with his wife and he finds me distrusting? I asked the Mister if the husband knew. Over the course of three days, here’s the progression of lies:
Day One: “he doesn’t know we’re having an affair”
Day Two: “I think he knows we have a close friendship and he’s fine with that”
Day Three: “he knows about our affair and he’s okay”
What does that tell you? It tells me that this man knows nothing about what’s going on. And get this…this woman is a former therapist. Who is, in the words of the Mister, “devoted to her husband and will never leave him so why are you so upset if we have a relationship?” Cue flying monkeys and crazy talk. Because how can you say you’re devoted to your husband then have an affair and think that’s even close to being okay? How can you be devoted to someone and yet actively participate in the breakdown of another person’s marriage? Another person you pretended to be friends with for over two years? Yeah, like I said, crazy talk.
Many people have asked me why I don’t share the Mister’s emails with this man. But that’s not who I am. I’m writing this one post as a way of purging and moving on but I would never do something to hurt someone else as a way of hurting my husband. And being the type of man he is, if I did do something like that, he’d figure out a way to make it my fault that he’s having an affair with your wife. And while I find it totally foreign to me that a person could even contemplate blaming others for their mistakes, I now know this is exactly how my husband operates.
People are finding it hard to believe the Mister is the sort of person who could behave this way. He’s good at hiding behind a mask of Mr. Charming, Mr. Helpful. He’s the guy who will do anything for someone else. Except for the one person who should have been most important in his life. But I’ve discovered that this persona is really not because he wants to help. It’s because it makes him feel good when people tell him how helpful he is. It’s an ego response and one of the classic signs of a narcissist.
Except the Mister is not just a narcissist. He’s a covert narcissist. Covert narcs come across as charming, caring, do anything for anyone. All the while they are plotting how to get the most adoration and sympathy from you. If something goes wrong in their lives, they will move heaven and earth to make sure you know IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT! It was their boss, their wife, their child, the stranger at the gas station. It’s never them. Because, after all, they are perfect so how could it be in any way their fault.
In a typical case the only person who realizes that there is a problem is the person who is closest to the covert/stealth narcissist, who is usually unwillingly forced to suffer covert narcissistic abuse (very subtle emotional blackmail, mental abuse and psychological manipulation). Narcissists end up obscuring the truth and twisting literally every little detail back round onto the victim. They expertly mix the truth with a lie in order to distort the truth in their favour.
This abuse is so well hidden within the communication dynamics of the relationship that the victim often doesn’t pick up on it and is left scratching their head wondering ‘is it me?’
The last two months have been a real education. I’ve learned so much, most of it bad, about the man I’m married to. I’ve learned I have a people-pleaser personality. Translation: co-dependent. I want everyone to get along and to make that happen, I put aside my own wants and needs. I’ve been a doormat in many areas of my life. And while that is hard to admit, it’s also freeing. Because while I’ve made mistakes, I can own up to them and acknowledge where I’ve gone wrong. I’m also willing to put me first for a change.
I’ve never had boundaries…never felt I really had the need. Because the man I married was perfect. He’d never intentionally hurt me. Or so I thought. Shows you how wrong you can be when you live with someone whose natural state of rest is to lie and who hides his insecurities behind a mask.
I was in a toxic relationship and didn’t know it. But his mask slipped and now I know what he never wants the world to see. A man who, deep down, doesn’t think very much of himself. He knows he’s a bad man who does bad things. The really sad part is he knows this and yet chooses to continue to live a lie. He chooses to lie to himself and those around him.
Narcissists ultimately know the difference between right and wrong and good and evil but deep down inside they just simply don’t care – protecting their true (and self-denied) emotions is essential.
A covert narcissist may make it clear to the person closest to them that they understand they have a problem, that they simply don’t care that they have a problem and that they are not willing to do anything about it even if that means losing the people closest to them in their life.
And he’s not done with me yet. The more I talk to friends and the more I discover about his behavior, the more I uncover about what he’s been saying about me to friends and family. He’s building a wall of lies and half-truths, and taking things I’ve shared with him in confidence, to try to garner sympathy and support.
He’s a sad and lonely man. I feel sorry for him and the pain he’s going through. But what’s gotten me through to a point of acceptance and, yes, relief, is knowing that he will never admit he’s at fault. For anything. It will always be someone else’s fault. It’s never him, it’s you. Because to admit that he’s not perfect, that he is a flawed human being, like we all are, would mean revealing the truth about who he is as a person.
For me, the truth has set me free. For him, the truth is a prison and he’s locked inside without the hope of ever finding the key.
I am genuinely sorry that he decided to end our marriage. That he wasn’t the man I thought him to be. But every day that passes I get more and more okay with that. There is life after betrayal. And it’s going to be fabulous.