This is a chain of emails between me and my dad about what has been going on. He really helped me to put this whole situation in a context that I understand, and I am actually able to start processing how to handle this.
This is such a huge step in the right direction.
It isn’t better, it isn’t fixed, but I feel like this is the first tangible piece of evidence that we are making progress.
Sent: Tuesday, August 06, 2013 11:44 AM
Subject: warning; not a happy email
I thought I should tell you guys what has been going on.
Things between me and Rob are not good. We’ve been having issues for a while about me feeling like I can’t depend on him. Like he’s not really invested in this relationship. Stuff with the fertility brings every other issue to the forefront, probably because it is such a trying time, and our relationship is really suffering.
For a long time Rob has struggled with addictions. First alcohol, then tobacco, and finally pornography. I told him over and over how what he was going was hurting me and he always said he was going to stop, going to change, but he never did. About a year and a half ago I caught him after we had had an argument about money looking at porn. That was kind of the last straw. I told him I couldn’t handle it anymore and he needed to make a change. I told him I was tired of telling him over and over that he was hurting me and him not doing anything about it. I told him that if it happened again I couldn’t guarantee I would stick around. He started talking to our therapist about it and attended Sex Addicts Anonymous online. For a while things were good.
Then last fall he started slipping. Not with the porn, but with saying he would do one thing and then either doing another or not doing it at all. Again, I told him over and over that what he was doing was hurting me, and a big part of that was that I felt I couldn’t trust what he was telling me. We had fights over it and he would say he would do better but he never did. I told repeatedly that I wanted us to fix this before we got to a breaking point, like what happened with the porn addiction. He would do a little better for a week or two but then we’d end up right where we were: him not being true to his word and me getting hurt.
It’s gotten steadily worse the last few months. I knew he had been struggling with school and not liking his job and I tried to help. I suggested he look for other jobs, hang out with friends, anything to make him happy. And I thought that if I could take care of him then he would be happy. So I started essentially baby-ing him. I did everything. All the chores, all the work. I took him to his dr appointments, I did things for him because he ‘didn’t feel like it’.
Now i realize I was just enabling him. We talked yesterday and I said that I felt like I was the only one giving in this relationship. That I felt like I was pouring love into him and he was taking everything and giving nothing back. I told him I didn’t feel loved. He admitted that he hasn’t been dealing with things he needs to, and that he had been taking advantage of my love. When I asked “if you know then why are you doing it” all he said was “i don’t know”. I told him he needs to figure it out.
I had an appointment with Sheila yesterday and I told her everything that was going on. She knew that this had been an issue before and how much this exact situation has hurt me in the past. I basically reached a breaking point and wasn’t feeling PTSD safe (things trigger my PTSD, like Rob breaking his word over and over until it builds so much that I feel trapped or unsafe and will have PTSD episodes when I’m in the situation) and I knew things had to change now.
So I’m staying at hotel for a few nights. I checked in last night and am scheduled to check out Thursday. I told him I can’t keep going through this over and over again. I can’t handle always wondering if the one person I love and trust most in the world is going to hurt me again and again. I told him he needs to make some serious changes, and he needs to do them alone. I’m not going to hold his hand through this. I’m not going to give him the answers. I need to know that he is truly thinking about what we need as a couple and is willing to do it. He says that us not being together isn’t even an option for him, that he will do anything to fix this, to make me feel loved and safe.
I don’t know if we are going to be okay. I think he understands how much he’s hurt me. We’ve both agreed that we want to do whatever it takes to fix us, and I know I mean it but I’m still not sure if i can trust that he means it. We are done trying to have a family, at least for now. Because of all this drama going on we didn’t try this weekend, so I hope that we can focus on fixing us. I’d rather have a good loving relationship with him and have no kids than have this relationship with him and have kids. He’s my whole world.
I’m just really struggling. I know i’m doing the right thing but it is just so hard. I talked to Tory last night and I realized if I keep going through this over and over then eventually there isn’t going to be anything of me left. I just can’t imagine my life without him. I want the Robby who would do anything for me to come back. I want us to be okay. And it terrifies me to know that I can’t control that. God knows, I’ve tried to control it. Now it’s up to him to make the changes and show me he really does want to be in this relationship. That he wants to be a partner. I’m so scared that he will fix this, that he will make me trust him again, depend on him again, open up to him again, and then hurt me again. I told him that the porn addiction blowup was our first crisis, and this is our second, but the thing is I don’t know if we will get through this one, and if we do and there is a 3rd I really don’t think we can recover from that.
I’m sorry I haven’t kept you guys in the loop with all this. As you know, I have a hard time being forthcoming about areas in my life where I’m struggling. I thought I could fix it, but I’ve had to (am trying to) accept that I can’t, and that isolating myself and trying to go through this alone was only making it harder for me. So i’m reaching out to you and mom (please don’t tell the girls) and Tory.
And please don’t hate Rob. I still love him so much it would kill me to think that you hate him. I don’t need you guys to take sides, or try and fix us (advice is fine, just please recognize that this isn’t something anyone else can fix), I just need you to listen and love and support me, no matter what happens. I’m praying that we work this out. I know it won’t be easy and it won’t be soon, but I pray that even if it takes years that we end up together and happy. It’s so hard to even think about the idea that even though I don’t want to leave him, in the end it might be what is best for me.
I’m going to lunch and a movie to try and distract myself. If you want to text that is fine but I’m not really up for phone calls right now.
I love you guys so much
Sent: Tuesday, August 06, 2013 1:20PM
Subject: RE: warning; not a happy email
so… quite the email!
let me preface this by saying
1. we will treat this confidentially
2. we appreciate you opening up to us – I know that is very hard for you and you were very brave to do it
3. we are about as far as you can get from having any knowledge or expertise or qualifications at dealing with at addictive behavior, PTSD issues, and the like
4. we do have some competence at relationships, family issues, etc
5. I/we can at least be a sounding board for you, and might be able to give you some bits of help/insight/guidance, and will almost certainly say something (unintentionally) wrong/offensive/hurtful
6. we love you BOTH – don’t worry at all about us hating Rob (details follow)
it’s hard sometimes not to get mad at Emma for not doing the things a “typical” 5 year old should be able to do
however, she’s Emma, and she is who she is, and it’s not fair or reasonable to expect her to be able to do it
I have a much easier time not getting mad at her when she fails to do something a tall person should do, because she’s not tall, so why should she be able to do tall-person stuff?
but when she goes slower than a 5 yr old should, or doesn’t listen like a 5-yr old should, it still frustrates me and there are still time I find myself mad at her
I think addictive behavior is similar – maybe It’s just part of who Rob is?
you said yourself he struggles with it, and that is the right word. if (when) he fails, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t; love you, and when you feel betrayed (a very reasonable response), it doesn’t mean you don’t love him.
many (most? all???) couples have struggles a few years into their marriage. I know it doesn’t make it easier, but it can be gotten thru, and does not mean you are failing in any way.
It sounds to me like you still love each other very much and are still very committed to each other
I’ll let you digest that much for the moment…
—————————- Original Message —————————-
Subject: RE: warning; not a happy email
Date: Tue, August 6, 2013 1:42 pm
I think your analogy with Emma is the best advice I have gotten so far.
I do know that this is part of him and it is something we will always have to deal with. It’s like me and the PTSD. There are times when it gets the best of me but I know he still loves me, just like I still love him when his issues get the best of him. With the PTSD I have learned ways to manage and cope, just like he has learned how to handle/help me when I am having a PTSD episode.
I think what needs to happen is that he needs to learn how to manage and cope with his issues, and I need to learn how to handle/help him when he has an episode.
The main issue we are trying to overcome is that he hasn’t been willing to learn how to cope and manage his issues. I know if we can get past that, then we can work this out. He has made small commitments, taken small steps before but always backed down as soon as things started to get better between us, so it’s more like taking an advil for chronic migraines. It will help a little at first, but the underlying cause is
still there. To treat something chronic you have to have a regimine and be willing to maintain it, and that is what I need him to do.
Thanks again for your email. I knew logically that there would be
struggles in our relationship, but I was woefully unprepared for this, so
I am trying to get as much help and support as I can
-----Original Message----- From: Dad Sent: Tuesday, August 06, 2013 3:59 PM Subject: RE: warning; not a happy email I got a phone call and forgot to finish my though on "typical" struggles a few years into a marriage... you guys have substantially more to deal with than is typical, so if it hard (and it IS very hard) for typical couples, you guys will have extra-bonus hard fortunately, from what I've seen over the last several years, you two also have extra-bonus love & commitment to make up for it! it is very hard and some days will be worse than others, (and some will be better too!) you are right, you can’t make his decision to manage/cope with his issues - you can and should let him know how it is affecting you, and in the end you can decide that (or if) you will work trhu it together, and likely it will be something you guys will be dealing with your whole lives long we will pray for both of you - hang in there! I'm closing up here in the next 5 min. will have cell phone access in ten min if you want to talk. I won’t call you since you asked me not too, but you can call/txt/email me anytime at all we love you guys love, dad