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When I Can'T Stop The Dreams

I tried to go out with some friends last night. A group of people I have known for 10+ years. Casually. People who don't understand how lonely I have been inside the cold walls of my marriage, but people who see me smile and assuming I'm doing just fine.

I go out with the intention of trying to have a good time. Dinner, bowling. Then down to the bar district for drinks and dancing. A mixed group of us. From 26 - 40. Male and female. Attractive professionals.

Conversation was good. Lots of stories and memories. And the phones come out to share photos old and new. As I sat at the table, my heart heavy with regret, I realized how much of my life has been a fraud. I haven't been true to myself. I haven't been true to my heart. I've stayed in a marriage where I received so much less than I deserved because I thought my kids deserved hat. In the sacrifice- and yes, it's been a personal sacrifice- I've grown bitter and hard.

When some old pictures turned up of my birthday years and years ago I was sad to see the sadness my eyes held. The feelings of being trapped are always just under the surface of my carefully constructed controlled smile. Two things struck me about the picture. My look of sadness on what should have been a day of celebration and the giant diamond ring on my left hand that sparkled and held the the light of the flash in the photo.

My husband, always the great provider. Gift giver. Mr. Generosity. Except when it came to my feelings. Except when it came to my needs. I was forced to wonder why I wasn't enough. Why he didn't desire me or have a natural need to reach for me. A want to hold me and kiss and touch me.

It has been a long journey. A painful path to find the self I lost over the years. I feel better than I can remember in a long time but I dread the mess that is going to be created as I end this marriage. The kids. The family. The friends. The frenemies. The collateral damage caused by my need to feel loved and be loved.

B asked me the other day if I would stay in my marriage if he wasn't in the picture. And I lied. I told him I would have left anyway. But, that's not the truth. I don't think I would have felt the awakening and wanted to pursue what breathes life into me again if we hadn't become involved.

I feel incredibly selfish. I feel guilty. But I also feel vindicated. I am not undesirable. I am more than a token wife. I am a person with depth and passion. I begged my husband to recognize that. To feed my soul and cherish my heart. He decided it wasn't important.

I am a horrible person for entering into an affair. I am aware of the wrong. I have no excuses. But I do have the feelings inside me that make me realize I have to leave my marriage if I ever want to feel whole again.

Since finding out about the affair my husband has tried to be more attentive. He has made some attempts to hold my hand and talk to me a little bit. While I appreciate the effort, and I hope we can find a way to remain civil - and maybe even somewhat friendly - for the sake of our children, my heart is unable to trust him with my deepest needs and my deepest thoughts.

I cannot trust my heart to a man who so carelessly tossed me aside when I was inconvenient on a daily basis. When I think about my next 10 years. The kids moving on to their own marriages, watching the health of my older realitives decline, and my own life change into that of a true emptynester I cannot imagine leaning on him. I wouldn't it. Just as I haven't shared my feelings with him over the last 12 years. It's been lonely. I hate the hard shell it has created. I want the me back that I have missed to much. The carefree spirit with this huge weight lifted off me.

I have given myself 6 months. A 6 month plan to exit. To try to end this marriage so he can find his own hapiness as well. I have asked him to sit down with me to review the bills and our money. I have asked for my own accounts. I have done this numerous times. But something always comes up and he never has time.

I work as well. The money is not all his. Tomorrow I'm going to the bank and I'm going to establish my own checking and savings account. I'm going to take the heat and the argument that is sure to ensue. I am going to take my life back one step at a time. Living under the pretense that we are both fulfilled is a lie I cannot smile through anymore. I have experienced passion, and the feelings of being alive again drive me to pursue a lifetime of more, not a lifetime ot empty.

I hope you are all pursuing the dreams that awaken you. My mind is clear. My heart is heavy, but hopeful that my future will be one that fulfills me.
carpediem2 carpediem2 36-40, F 4 Responses Jan 27, 2013

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I could have written your story for you. Exact same issues (kids, boyfriend, feeling like a fraud, seeing photos that captured the "real" you, wanting yourself back and to ditch the weight of it all).

"The collateral damage caused by my need to feel loved and be loved." That line struck me as so simple and perfect. There is damage--little or a lot, who knows--but there is also good. You have no idea how your actions will uplift your children, your family, your friends. I think we're conditioned to see only the bad. But most important, there is no turning back once you actually do know what it likes to feel loved and be loved. I went the very same path as you and though I do actually believe I would have left without the boyfriend, it made the path easier to see and follow and I am grateful for that relationship every single day.

Last, your comment about not sharing with him for 12 years mirrors mine. Over the years there is so much I haven't shared it almost amazes me how I could live with someone and have them know so little about me. I would never lean on him or confide in him again. Like in your experience, the last-ditch effort as I plan to leave is sort of nice and trips me up some, I guess, but it is as you say: too little too late.

I wish you the best in achieving the future that fulfills you.

You CAN do it. Let me suggest a little helpful trick . . . When he acts out or gets mad, stay calm. I can see you shaking your head and asking "How do you think I can do THAT?" Well it really isn't all that hard, believe it or not!

Simply CHOOSE to not react to his anger, criticism or abuse. Tell yourself he is acting like a "playground bully" and you are following the advice you would give your children ("Ignore him - if he doesn't get a "reward" for his bullying behaviour - ie. you responding to him - he will stop doing it.")

When he argues, pleads and insists he will "change", tell him you look forward to that - but it will not affect your current decision.

When he says you are cold hearted, mean and selfish, tell him you are sorry he feels that way, but it will not change your behaviour.

When he says you are cheating by having your own bank account, tell him you are making sensible plans for both of you for the future.

In other words, think about the sorts of responses you might get, and plan for these. Stay cool, rational and polite. Don't criticise, attack, apologise, cry or beg . . . . . Don't agree to give him "one more chance". If he says "Is our marriage over then?" tell him you don't know - that how he acts from this point forward will help to decide that. In other words, put it back onto HIM.

If he insists you promise not to leave him, tell him you cannot promise anything at present. You are simply evaluating your circumstances and will let him know when you decide one way or the other . . .

He is used to you giving in. He expects you to cave in under his criticism or demands. He simply will not know HOW to react if you are calm, rational, respectful and FIRM in your attitudes. Please give it a try - it becomes easier each time you do it.

A six month time frame for your exit is actually pretty sensible. There is a lot of logistical work to plough through, that takes a while.

But you do need to start NOW. As in TODAY if you are going to be where you want to be in your life plan by July 27th 2013.

Lawyer first.

Tread your own path.

Carry on...