Well, it’s the milestone I’ve been waiting for, the real anniversary. We’ve been together for a year now. I don’t know if she’s aware of that. I haven’t said anything yet. Besides, I like to think of it as tomorrow so it at least falls in the same month of our original anniversary.
Conveniently, we will be alone together tomorrow so maybe I’ll say something then. Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that if someone says “happy anniversary” around mid August, I’ll pretend that they’re talking about the new one. If anyone says happy 12th or 13th anniversary, whatever year it was supposed to be, I’ll laugh. You don’t get to celebrate x number of years after infidelity. The original marriage has been voided. Just because one of us thought we were married doesn’t mean we were. If you decide to be single, even if it’s on the condition that your spouse is under the belief that you are still married, well, you’re not.
What is this anniversary to me? I don’t know. Our relationship has all the attributes of a marriage but it isn’t, in a way. We wear our rings from the old marriage but it’s just to complete the illusion that we’re ‘still’ married, that the first marriage never ended. The rings of old mean nothing to me. Yet, we still live as husband and wife. I’ve been with her for a year, sleeping in a bed with her, raising children with her, having sex with her. I’ve been faithful, which is the easiest thing in the world to do, not sneaking and courting and fucking someone else, but hey, somehow it don’t come easy for everyone.
Are we married though? On paper, yes. By our actions, yes. As far as everyone is concerned, yes. By the rings on our fingers, yes. In my heart, no. And perhaps not until new rings are purchased, new vows are exchanged, I feel something akin to this idea of ‘forgiveness’, and/or I stop seeing this as a temporary situation.
I do talk to her about the fun times we’ll have when the nest is empty. I also think about whether it’s even possible to get that far with her and whether I’ll want to stick around at all once the child raising part of our lives is over. You see, being a family unit is so incredibly important to me, I know it’s a major factor that is keeping me fighting for my family. I know the times we go out together as a family are forming memories for our kids to cherish for a lifetime: fun times with mom and dad, not awkward times with mom and Fred, or dad and Liz. These times together mean the world to me and to hell with therapists saying I need to leave if I’m not putting myself first, so I can go out and find the elusive magical bean called happiness. ‘Happiness’ is having my goddamn family together: Sam, Sarah, Carol and me. So, while I sit here, unsure of my future, unsure of whether I even want a future with Carol, I’m going to stay put and keep going this way because it’s better to be a whole family.
Do I even love Carol? I can’t tell. Everything is just so muddy now, I can’t tell what I’m feeling about anything. The funny thing is, I only seem to get emotional at movies. Following a fictional life accompanied by a score gets a reaction out of me. Then I can tell if I’m feeling happiness or sadness or anger or whatever. It wasn’t like this at the beginning of our new start. I felt things, but I had no interest in TV, or my hobbies. Now I don’t feel things but I enjoy TV and I’m deeply into my hobbies again.
And I resist. When I start to feel that things are going to work out, I make a point to tell myself to stay guarded, sometimes even thinking, “remember who the enemy is.” It’s become clear to me that, at times, I am actively resisting feelings of love, security, and hope. It is completely understandable that I am doing this, but fighting my feelings isn’t going to help me figure out who I am and what I really want.
So, what about Carol? Well, she’s doing great, it seems. She’s going to therapy less because she’s ‘happy’. She’s getting more comfortable at her job, she’s acting the right way and she’s doing all the right things to be a good wife. She’ll admit to anyone that while she is always aspiring to be a leader at work, she is not nor does she want to be the ‘boss’ at home, which is fine by me since I’m never in the mood to be bossed around by someone who had become such a mess that she nearly destroyed everything. Apparently she needs someone to care for her and I’m that person since I don’t fold under the pressures of life or other people.
I have Carol’s phone password but I don’t bother to look at it as she never seems to be hiding any of her phone activities to me. It’s like a game: we all know the betrayer must lose their privacy until they regain trust, but I’ve never asked for her password for that reason, nor has it been formally discussed. She just gave me her password when she needed me to check her phone for her, and anytime I want to see what she’s up to, I playfully tease her about taking to Lydia or something then take a peak at her screen. She has never obscured her activities from me and I’ve periodically unlocked her phone while she wasn’t around to ensure I still had access. We don’t want to speak out loud why I have her password or would need to look at her screen, we just talk around it.
Carol has answered any questions I had about the affair. She didn’t always answer truthfully, especially at the beginning when she feared I would leave her. After I discovered the truth, I gave her one huge verbal lashing and interrogation. After that, the conversations became brief then eventually they fizzled out all together. It’s clearly not a subject she wants to discuss, but she has never refused to talk about it, and I believe that because of that, we’ve moved past the discussion phase already. I don’t want to disrupt our flow by bringing it up and it wouldn’t do any good to talk about it now anyway. Anything I needed to say or ask has already been said, and she has listened and responded.
Still, I feel something must be discussed, such as her happiness, as she explained to me was the reason why she needed less counselling. I want to know if she forgives herself already and if so, why? I want to maybe have a check in with the marriage counsellor. I believe that if I bring up any of these things at any moment, she will follow my lead and that’s important.
The point is, Carol is doing all the right things. It is good that she is doing all that a betrayer should do to reconcile, and when my ego is telling me to kick her to the curb, sometimes I’m just waiting for a reason, and she isn’t giving me one. Whether that’s good or bad all depends on my mood.
But what if she does forgive herself? How would I feel, knowing that I have yet to forgive her? Would I understand it? I suppose I do, in a way, but it’s just so unfair. We have to accept and let go when we’ve done terrible things so we can survive, so she’s going to need to do that in a reasonable amount of time. Being the betrayed and having to eventually forgive someone else, well, we can go on for a long time being angry at the ‘other’, not having done the terrible thing ourselves so there’s no self-preservation at stake in that forgiveness. Of course, there’s the anger eating at you, but the point is, you don’t need to forgive another person to be able to look at yourself in the mirror, but you need to forgive your own sins to do so, so naturally the betrayer is likely going to forgive his/herself before the betrayed will forgive the him/her. This makes sense to me, but I still don’t know if I’d be very thrilled to hear that Carol forgives herself while I continue to struggle with the terrible thing she did to me.
Okay, that’s enough for today. Tomorrow, I should just take Carol out to dinner or something. New anniversary, new life together. Will I ever put the past in the past?