A lot of things have happened since my last update. M. finally got into town and we faced each other, and then things continued to go steadily downhill from there. In many way, the panic and the fear that I felt a month ago are but a whimper. They are like that constant sound of a ceiling fan, if you pay attention you will hear it, but you can also easily ignore it.
M. and I are now getting a divorce and no longer working in our marriage. We are also not talking or trying to be friends, although we handled all financial matters in an amicable way. We are legally separated, or will be once the paperwork gets processed. M. wants us to go through the official 6 month separation and then sign divorce papers. I know that he just wants time to be able to change his mind, but I think he has finally misplayed his hand, for there shall be no return.
When M. and I originally agreed to a separation, he made it clear that for him separations were nonexclusive. The other girl, we’ll call her X., was abroad visiting her family. She would be back to his city at the same time that M.’s family would be visiting to help him pack his summer apartment, take it back to his hometown (in Europe, but about 12 hours away), and spend some time with him. M. cancelled his parent’s trip, and drove their car back to his hometown a week early, while X. was gone. This was M.’s way of ensuring that when X. came back to town, they could be alone, and alone they were. M. and her spent his last 4 days in Europe in their little honeymoon, while I was in our home crying my heart out. M. told me that they were not in a relationship but “friends with benefits”, although who knows by now. M. had sex with someone else 12 days after agreeing to separate with me but saying he still wanted to work things out. He cornered me into accepting his separation deal and then engineered alone time with someone else in order to sleep with her and still refuses to consider that cheating.
I forgave him, because I was willing to work in our marriage, even when he had shown zero respect for my wishes or my feelings. I forgave him, even though he felt guiltless; he felt justified and explicitly told me that I had no “right to an opinion”. I forgave him, without an apology, because I loved him more than I loved myself. I forgave him, because I was afraid of how my life would turn out without him. Because, since I was 16 years old, I have dreamed about growing old with this human. This human could be absolutely wonderful, but had betrayed me and was not even a bit sorry about it.
I forgave him but I realized I could not continue the separation in the terms that M. wanted. I physically could not do it, the levels of stress and pain and anxiety that I felt knowing he was still talking to her, and maybe even meeting new people were just too high. I felt like everyone in his life was a new target he could cheat on me with, and then not consider cheating. He had to make a choice, whether to stay and fight for our marriage or run as far as he could. M. was leaning towards running. I gave him a week and half to think about it. Then, in front of our marriage counselor, I told him: I needed “fidelity and commitment” just to keep working on it, just to step forward one tiny step. For a bit of context, M. is travelling back to Europe for 2 weeks in October, so I was asking him to not sleep with her again, or with anyone else, to choose that, as we worked in our marriage, he would remain faithful to me. This journey of self-exploration would be just that, exploring the self without other people. M. said he needed space and that he didn’t know who he was. So much of his identity had come from being married to me; he needed to figure himself out. I still don’t understand how he expects to figure himself out through other people. Simply put, I was not going to sit around while he went back to Europe and maybe fucked X. out of his system.
I was sitting there, next to him on a small couch, asking M. for fidelity, telling M. that I would give him all the time and space he needed. I sat there with my heart open, my hand outstretch (metaphorically), my body shouting for him to listen, just begging him to say yes. I was begging M. to stop being a coward and say that he could commit to us. “Commitment and fidelity”. It was the bare minimum. M. said that he loved me more than he loved anyone else in this world, and that he didn’t want to hurt me. He didn’t want to hurt me, and he loved me. What a strange world it is, when someone says they love you more than anyone else and yet they treat you like you are a disposable and replaceable ornament. M. couldn’t do it. M. couldn’t agree to the bare minimum. M. left my hand extended but empty, my heart open but wounded.
I had to walk away, I had to ask for a divorce. Even then, M. wants a separation. I do not know why I don’t divorce him. He has refused to accept responsibility for his part in damaging our marriage, he felt entitled to cheat, and he cannot respect his promises to me, those he made the day he married me. At every step of the way, M. has blamed me and belittled me. He has seen my boundaries and walked all over them. I kept redrawing and redrawing the boundaries for him. Until I set the widest limit I could muster, until I asked for the bare minimum. Then M. still made me be the one to walk away. Now, I’m the minder of boundaries. It falls up to me to dictate the terms of our friendship (which I simply can’t deal with right now). I can choose to accept him or reject him. I am the keeper of limits. M. just continues to live his life and do whatever he pleases, without the bare minimum consideration for my feelings. Who the heck is this narcissistic asshole? Because I can swear that I did not marry him. I can barely recognize him.