If you’ve read our Memoir you’ll know right from the start that Dave nor I profess to have ‘arrived’ anywhere, we are still very much in the thick of this recovery journey. It’s taken us a lifetime to get to this starting point so it’s likely going to take us another lifetime to complete it!
Yes we’re different, yes we’re further down the road but there is still a ways to go. We’ve written our story with complete authenticity so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that our blog posts are no different. Real time rawness!
In our chapter “WHAT DOES RECOVERY LOOK LIKE?” we describe how our recovery road is made up of potholes which often feel more like sink holes. Well we’ve just hit another crappy sink hole.
If you are of faith, the timing of this ‘relapse’ will come as no surprise. Stepping out to share our story in church and on radio has left us wide open for an onslaught of arrows.
Here is how last Sundays slipping into the sinkhole unfolded…
After church Dave and I grabbed lunch, spent a little time in conversation about a question posed to us during the radio interview, it was around the topic of boundaries. We were both on the same page and in agreement with how we felt the interview went. There was no distance or tension between us.
After lunch we headed into Woolies to do weekly groceries. All is going well…
Dave was pushing the trolley while I tossed bits ‘n’ pieces on top of the ever mounting load.
A tall slim young and attractive woman, dressed in black active wear, was shopping with her young child and partner. She took no notice of us while she went about her business while heading down the same aisles as us. I cast a glance noticing how pretty she was and thought nothing more.
Dave, on the other hand, looked, and looked, and continued to look, and while he was busy looking he failed to realise that I became fully aware of him checking her out, not once, not twice but over and over.
Some might say, what’s the problem? That’s just normal, he wouldn’t be male if he didn’t, there’s nothing wrong with looking, and Noni don’t be so insecure, right?
Let me try to explain how this scenario played out.
By the time I was fully conscious of what he was doing we were skirting around the outside of the dairy section, this is when Dave began behaving like a kid caught with his hand in the lollie jar. Dave has little interest in food shopping yet started talking about juices, butter and yoghurt in a somewhat familiar and anxious manner, so yeah, I noticed. I’m not saying that he was lustfully drooling or anything super creepy, gosh, Dave doesn’t do that, it’s nothing quite so obvious. This is more like sneaky glimpses, when he thinks no one is watching.
It is is painful to witness, it’s humiliating, infuriating, disrespectful and unfortunately far too common in men who have affairs. It’s not that they actually seek or desire the person their attention is fixed on, well not at this point anyway, it is more akin to this being one of the first steps of them acting on their vulnerability.
Let me explain the cycle for those who don’t understand how it works.
The formerly unfaithful is doing really well but an area of fatigue/conflict/stress has risen (this could be work, relational, financial, health etc, we all experience these moments, it’s called life). It looks different in everyone but happens to everyone.
Anyhoo my formerly unfaithful husband is an exceptional man, he’s been courageous, present and committed but there has been a few minor stresses recently that may have been weighing on him without him even realising, so if he doesn’t realise, how can he share?
Unintentionally and unconsciously, he finds himself in a vulnerable state and I’m left in the dark. This becomes the first stumbling block to reduced self awareness.
We are still only in a pothole at this stage, what happened next is when it gave way collapsed into a sinkhole, taking us with it.
We packed the groceries into the boot of the car and drove off in deafening silence. Dave broke the ice with a tentative, “Non, is something wrong?”
My verbal response was intentionally measured and calm even though beneath the surface my heart was aching.
“How about you tell me what happened back there?
“What did you focus your attention on?” (a few more quizzical huh’s followed)
“I saw a woman in a black gym gear and thought she looked like D**** M*****” (an acquaintance of ours)
Now, us betrayed partners have finely tuned inbuilt BS meters, they are rarely off, whilst an unfaithful partner has honed their gaslighting skills to be able to twist and turn even the simplest of conversations around. I called BS.
“Right now would be a good time to stop talking and really think before you say anything else”.
Dave didn’t heed my advice and continued mansplaining, the smarter thing to do would have been to pause and consider his next course of action.
He may have initially thought this woman was D****, but apart from her having blonde hair, she bore no other resemblance at all. This woman was a few inches taller, about 20 years younger and had a young child on her hip… Still, this was the story Dave was telling himself and trying to sell me on. The other reason I knew it was complete BS—when we were in the deli section Dave spotted a guy he thought looked like someone else we knew, he turned to me and asked directly, “Hey Non, is that J*** C****?” Now, why wouldn’t he do the same with this woman rather than continue to follow her with his eyes and get all awkward about juice, butter and yoghurt?
I hate to stop midway but this is too big a post for one entry, Dave can continue the story next week…
Recovery is an ongoing process, much love, Noni xxx