June 2014

I don’t know if anyone will even read this; it’s been so long since I last wrote anything.  I write this as much to keep a diary of my feelings as anything else.  I haven’t looked at this blog in months so it’s been interesting to read my past posts.

So here we are, nearly two years after my affair ended.

Nothing has really changed, yet lots has changed.  We continue to battle along.  My wife has found the voice she lost for all those years.  She’s says she’s got over the affair, the mental abuse and the humiliating actions but she cannot find a way to get past the sense of abandonment when she was pregnant and when our youngest was born.  The last counselling session was on her own as I had one on my own a couple of weeks earlier when our youngest was ill so my wife couldn’t go.  The counsellor likes to keep sessions balanced; if I have one on my own then my wife gets one on her own. During her session, this is what came out, basically this is the block that stops us re-establishing our marriage.  And as a consequence, she still doesn’t know if she can come back into the relationship or not.

Meanwhile, family life continues and is great fun.  I’m so close to our youngest, she’s three and a half and she’s had her daddy full time and 100% present for nearly two years.  She comes to me every morning when she wakes up and it is awesome.  My son is thriving and my 16 year old twin daughters have just finished their GCSE exams and are very settled and happy. We’re all about to go on our big summer vacation again next month.  This time it wasn’t even a debate, we booked and we’re going.

My mentor sent me a book today.  The Book of Forgiving by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  The blurb says the path of healing has four aspects: Telling the Story; Naming the Hurt; Granting Forgiveness: Renewing or Releasing the Relationship.  I guess we’re at step three on the three points above and step two on the abandonment issue.  Only then will my wife be able to decide if she wishes to renew or release the relationship. Until then, I do my best to hold the space for her and demonstrate as best as I can that I’m committed to us.

Oh, one thing has changed; when I tell her I love her answer nowadays is “I know you do”.

I pray I’m able to keep strong; this has a long way to run yet.

 

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Update

I know it’s been a long time since I last wrote something.  In reality, there really isn’t much to write at the moment.  We continue to attend counselling every week, I’m still at home in the guest room.  My relationship with the kids has improved immeasurably and they are all thriving as a consequence.  During counselling over the last few weeks, we have been stepping through my affair in chronological order and we have now reached January 2012.  The really difficult period to cover is January 2012 to August 2012.  Those were the months when I was at my worst, the lowest point of my life and when I did the most terrible things that hurt my wife.

At the same time, I really believe now that we will get through this with our marriage not only intact but stronger than ever.  We are now getting on really well.  I would definitely say that we are good friends again.  My wife is allowing me to help with her parents (her mother has developed dementia).  Tomorrow, I am going to their house to organise for door alarms, personal alarms and smoke alarms to be fitted.  I take this to be a huge sign that trust is developing again.  I am sure my wife would not allow me to participate in assisting her parents unless she trusted me.

We laugh and joke a lot nowadays as well and we laugh at ourselves in front of each other if we do something silly.  It’s a million miles from where we were a year ago or even 9 months ago when she asked for a divorce.

Don’t get me wrong, I do still feel frustrated at the lack of intimacy or the fact that the bedroom door is shut every evening but I recognise that this will be the last thing to come back.  We have talked about going away as a family for a week during Easter.

So in conclusion, we’ve moved so far and I’m feeling very positive.  Perhaps most importantly, my wife has now found her voice again.  She is very close to being the very strong and opinionated person that she always was and that I had managed to suffocate.  It’s such a far cry from the PTSD diagnosis of 13 months ago.

That’s it for now although I do have another post that I will write.  The title of this blog is fulfilled entrepreneur.  I’m pleased to say that I have now found a way that I can harness my skills and experience and still remain very happy.  I guess you could say that I have finally found my way of being a fulfilled entrepreneur.

End of the summer

I wouldn’t be British if I didn’t talk about the weather so I thought that would be a good place to resume blogging after a 2 month absence!  I am writing this on what looks to be the last day of summer in London.  Today is baking hot much like most of the summer but tomorrow promises a 15 degrees C drop in temperature!

It feels like it was a glorious, long, hot summer and similarly I enter autumn full of hope and optimism that the work I’ve put in over the last year will yield fantastic results.

Since then, I haven’t been back to the apartment (in fact I gave up the lease a month ago) and we’ve been on a 3 week vacation to Portugal, all together as a family.  I’ve done some more work on me, reading Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, undertaking primordial sound meditation and reading the Four Agreements.  By coincidence, I met a life coach who taught me the difference between trying and doing.  As a consequence, I am no longer trying to save my marriage, I am saving my marriage.  That act alone and the change in attitude as a result is paying off.  I am no longer scared to say the things I want to say and now go right ahead and say them.  It helps that we agreed at counselling a few weeks ago to spend just 5 minutes each per day speaking about our feelings.  This has given me the opportunity to say what I want to say and that has been liberating.  I also feel that this is a discipline that many married couples probably miss but I plan to carry on as it really does avoid misunderstandings that can chip away at a great relationship.

Despite having separate bedrooms and not doing anything as a couple (only as a family), I had the best vacation I have ever had.  For the first time perhaps ever, I was 100% present and in the moment.  I did not do any work, I obviously am not having an affair and therefore my mind was 100% focused on my wife and kids.  The result is we both felt very relaxed and happy throughout.  

We went to counselling yesterday and we both said that we had a great vacation despite some days effectively being a 20 hours long! Our youngest was awake at 6.30am and my oldest girls have now reach nightclub age and so curfew was 2.30am on some days!  The counsellor said that a vacation like that would normally cause huge stress to many couples but we managed to divide the work, be respectful and aware of each others needs and so came out smiling, relaxed and happy.

So here we are.  Our son has gone back to school today, our youngest starts nursery tomorrow and I’m staying in the guest room.  Last night was the first night that our son had to go to bed early (with it being a school night) and after my wife had put my son to bed, we sat together and alone, chatted and watched TV.  It was beautiful. 

In the last week or so, my wife has said that she is now ready to start talking about my affair.  I think this is probably good news.  The counsellor said yesterday that the affair remains a chain around my wife’s ankle that it stopping her from moving forwards.  She said that I, in typical me style, have now broken free and am now living my new positive life with positive values but for my wife to join me, we will need to talk about and understand the affair.  And then she can chose if she wishes to join me or not.

As for me being at home, I’m really hoping this is permanent.  Returning to the apartment after my son’s bedtime and going home again early in the morning was very difficult for me and it had become clear that it was beyond my personal boundaries.  I am a little worried that now school has started, my wife will ask me to leave again but my instinct is telling me that this is unlikely based on last night.

Lots more to follow, I have a feeling this story is going to start to accelerate in the coming weeks.

 

 

Lightbulb!

I was just reading this post and had a lightbulb moment.  Until now, I’ve managed to get clarity on why I had an affair in the first place and why I will never do it again but I didn’t really have clarity on why I kept going back time and again, and certainly not enough clarity to articulate it.

Every time I broke up with my AP, I sat there and waited for those around me to change.  When they didn’t change, I quickly became disillusioned and found myself back with my AP.  I was increasingly unhappy with everything in my life; even questioning why I was here on earth in the first place.  I wanted my wife to change, my kids to change, the rest of my family to change so that I could at last find the happiness that I was looking for.  It turns out I was so arrogant, it never once dawned on me that the only way I could find real happiness was to look for the change within myself.  I spent years trying to get others to change and never gave one ounce of thought into what changes I could bring about within me.  It sounds so simple and yet this simple observation led to the mess that I created.  Now I feel like I am on the right track and that I am fundamentally happy despite everything going on in my marriage.

To think, the answer was right there all along, uttered by Mahatma Gandhi many years ago “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

 

Beautiful poem

I spent the weekend with my Hoffman friends.  I have to say, it is amazing to know there are 23 others out there that care for me, love me for who I am today and have forgiven me for the mistakes of my past.  During the weekend we had some group reflection time and someone opened with the following poem.  I think it is beautiful and it resonates completely with me;

Autobiography In Five Chapters

1) I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
2) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out. 

3) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

4) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

5) I walk down another street.

Portia Nelson
From: Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

I believe I am somewhere between chapters 3 and 4 right now.  Sometimes I slip back into old patterns but I recognise them and catch them.  Most of the time, can see the hole and walk around it.
I hope to undertake chapter 5 of my life with my wife.

Praying for a breakthrough

I know I owe you all an update.  We’ve now done 5 or 6 joint counselling sessions.  The journeys to and from counselling represent the only times my wife and I spend alone and together and they are pleasant and friendly.  So far during the sessions we have spent a lot of time discussing my wife’s family history and in my mind we have revealed that her family really don’t talk about large issues that affect them, preferring to make light of them through sarcasm or jokes. 

Last Monday we started to focus on my family history.  There’s a lot to go through so I think this will take weeks.  One of the big stumbling blocks that we have reached twice during discussions is my wife’s rejection of the idea that a persons childhood affects their behaviour through the rest of their lives.  My wife simply does not buy into that idea, preferring to believe in nature versus nurture.  I can’t help that feel that unless that belief changes then we have no chance as I profoundly believe, particularly after my Hoffman work, that nurture is everything.  I believe when I look at a photograph of my four year old self, that there sits a boy who is full of joy and happiness; a person that would not hurt anyone.  A middle ground might be “here sits a four year old that wouldn’t hurt anyone whose subsequent experiences turned him into a controlling bully but who has now laid to rest his negative experiences and has reconnected with his real self.”  Let’s see. 

A few other things have happened that I see as hugely positive. 

Firstly, during one of our counseling sessions, I asked that we speak about the summer vacation.  You may remember this was the subject that caused my wife to become angry and say we should get divorced when we spoke about it about 2-3 months ago.  The thing I said that tripped her over the edge that time was the fact that I asked why she didn’t come out for the entire trip rather than just part of it as she had suggested.  “You don’t seem to understand that we’re separated!  We are not husband and wife!” she said at the time in an exasperated voice.  Since then, the kids have been talking continuously about the summer vacation (as we always go to the same place for 3 weeks and they have lots of friends there) so I asked during counseling that we discuss it.  And guess what? It was resolved in less than 2 minutes.  We’re all going for the whole time but my wife and I will have different rooms.  So this week, we’ve booked 3 weeks in August in the usual place and we’re all very excited about it!

Another thing, last weekend on Father’s Day, my wife arranged for my parents and my brother and his family to come to our house for the day for a BBQ.  She said during counseling the next day that she had a really lovely day and felt strong enough to host my family.  A few months ago, she completely avoided my parents whereas now she seems happy to spend time with them.  Also, in the middle of July, my wife has arranged for my parents to spend the night at our house; the first time they will have done that since July 2012.

But then there are also negatives.

This Saturday, there is a surprise 70th birthday party for my wife’s uncle.  My wife made it clear the other day that I am not going.  “My brother does not want to be in the same car or share a beer with you after what you did to me” she said.  I told her I found that hurtful.

So that’s where we are at the moment.  I think my wife doesn’t yet know whether she wants our marriage to survive or not.  I keep doing my work and hoping.  There are so many small signs that keep me positive.  We laugh together a lot more nowadays, and I really love that.

Fourth session

Yesterday we had our fourth session.  It started with my wife saying she still feels the same so hardly an encouraging start!  During the session, there was a big understanding about her patterns of not discussing or bringing up anything that she doesn’t like.  Of sweeping it under the carpet.  We then talked about how my negative patterns of being aggressive and controlling stemmed from my childhood and so we were in a vicious cycle years before my affair. This made my wife very angry with the counsellor.  My wife’s view is that if I was treated like that as a child, then I should have learned from it and not acted the same way.  So this is effectively the real heart of the issue.  She did say outside of counselling a few weeks back that she believes people are born aggressive so in her eyes, nature plays a bigger role than nurture.  This feels like something that we’re really going to have to work on if we are to survive as a couple.

There was also acknowledgement that there were issues in our marriage long before my affair.  I suspect we will explore this further in future sessions.  I know I felt for example in our sex life like I was being “serviced”.  It was really good that she was able to air the fact that I wasn’t particularly supportive and that if ever I helped, it was always conditional and therefore she didn’t much feel like sex.  I haven’t had the opportunity to air my view of being serviced yet.  So far, the sessions have been about her.  We will begin to focus on me from the next session, which is scheduled for next week.

I can see so clearly now what led to many of our misunderstandings and complete lack of communication.  I don’t know if it is clear in my wife’s eyes yet.

Positively, sessions are booked in blocks of 3 at a time and we review at the end of the third. After the last session, my wife talked about booking the same babysitter for the next few weeks so it seems like she is committed to more sessions.

I still feel very positive.  My love for her knows no bounds and I am fully committed to doing whatever I can to save our marriage.  Let’s see how my wife feels in a few weeks time.

Love and light!