Knowing too much and yet not enough

My coach has told me a number of times that I know too much.  I know too many of the sordid details of my husband’s affair and he says that makes it even harder to forgive and to move forward.  I think there are many betrayed spouses like me who know the details of the low and dirty things our spouses did.

Some experts say that betrayed spouses shouldn’t ask for details about the affair for this very reason.  Both of the marriage counselors my husband and I saw felt that way.  My coach says that it depends on the couple.  Some betrayed spouses have a great need to know before they can move on.  He understands that I was one of those.  I needed to know in order to move beyond the grief and trauma stage.  I have a strong need to make sense of my life and finding out about his affair threw all sense out the window.  So I turned into the FBI.  I created a timeline of my life and constantly worked to figure out how their affair fit into it.  I studied their emails to find dates and events.  I went through phone records and bank statements and receipts.  My husband never throws anything away and everything was still there, all six years worth.  I have so much information that I could write a book about their affair.  I know more about it than he does.

But you know, the depth of my knowledge has become a plague.  I know too much.  I needed to know.  I had to know.  But now it haunts me.

Was it wise?  Was it necessary?  I believe it was.  I would never have been satisfied with just vague ideas about what happened.  I would still be looking for answers if I had not gotten everything I wanted.  It would haunt me even worse than the details haunt me now.  But still, it’s so very hard to know the exact words he said to her and what he bought for her and what hotel room they were in and what songs they sent to each other.

And in spite of all my knowledge about his affair, the things that I really want to know are beyond my reach.  I want to know what is in his heart but I don’t trust what he says.  He lied to my face for six years!  I have caught him in lies since then, too.  So trust is not something he has earned.

Is he truly repentant?  Does he love her still?  Is he truly in love with me?  How did he fall back in love with me after believing he was in love with her for so long?  If I believe my timeline and the details I found, it does not look good.  What he tells me today and what I know from his history with her are two different things.  What do I believe?  I don’t know.

I thought I had gotten past this point, but I guess I have come around to this side of the spiral again.

I guess I am still stuck.

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24 thoughts on “Knowing too much and yet not enough

  1. I am like you, I needed to know EVERYTHING. I can’t heal from what I don’t know.

    Have you read Not “Just Friends” by Shirley Glass? She talks about this in a way that makes it very easy for us (and the wayward) to understand. Thankfully our Marriage Counselor understands my need to know and is supportive of it.

    I’ve had periods of being “stuck” and it’s such a struggle. Right now I’m “stuck” wanting closure and wondering if I should write a letter to his AP. So I get it.

    I hope you can find some peace in this horrid mess.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi Samantha – Yes, I have read “Just Friends.” It was like my Bible for a while there at the beginning. My husband would never read an entire book like that, so I picked out excerpts for him and he did read them. That accounts for some of the details I know – he answered my questions for a short period of time back then, based on the advice in that book. Then we started our first round of counseling, and the counselor didn’t think we should talk about any more details and he stopped. He has not answered questions since. But I know enough. I am not plagued by a lack of details. I am plagued by my lack of trust in how he really feels inside, and by the very details I sought to find.

      I also wonder sometimes if I should send a letter to his OW. Actually, the one I’d really like to get in contact with is her husband. If he is like us, he would want to know that she continued her affair for two years after his last D-day, no matter how much it hurts. I hurt for him.

      Closure – for me, that seems like something far off on the horizon.

      Thank you for writing and for your kind thoughts. I pray the same for you.

      DJ

      • I too have wondered if cosure will ever come. Plagued with so many thoughts, some that I wonder if I will ever get answers to.

        I’m sorry that you had the experience with the MC that you did. I can’t imagine my therapist telling me I shouldnt know answers. *sigh*

        I too have wondered also about what my husbands AP’s spouse knows. But there’s such a language barrier…

        Hang in there….

      • Not Over It says:

        Thank you, Samantha. And here’s wishing your husband a speedy recovery.
        DJ

  2. Knowledge is both a curse and a salvation. With honest knowledge you can work through the pain…it just takes time to get there,
    Like you….I needed to know everything. This was hard but helped me (and I thought us) after her first round.
    Even though it has now ended for me….I’m glad I know. It is painful but needed.
    Keep on the path DJ. Do all you can….and you will always know that you did your best. It was wrong of your husband to have chosen his actions unwisely. Obviously though, there is a bond between you that is strong, even if it feels strained and stretched..
    Peace to you.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi LFBA – how’s the wise sage of the blogosphere? I’m always glad to hear from you.

      My coach has told me that I’m the only one who doesn’t see that my husband and I are in love with each other. If that is truly the case, then my husband sure doesn’t know how to show it sometimes. But if you also think the bond is still there, I will think seriously about that.

      Thank you, LFBA. Your words always make me think and often help me to see things from a different perspective. How lucky I am to know you.

      DJ

      • People get attached to what they want. Sometimes in that attachment, they lose site of how to get it and the thing they want most is often the hardest for them to hold. Then feelings, ego, concern, questions, fear….all get in the way. As they see it slip and guilt rears, they become more obfuscate in their attempts to hold because they just don’t know what to do.
        My guess is that this is a burden for both you and your husband.
        and of course this is just my guess. But, although it may not apply to you, I think it applied to me and X….and human behavour is pretty consistent…and patterns in this situation are often consistent.
        You have more knowledge of the patterns than we did and I believe there is more hope for you.

      • Not Over It says:

        Yes, you describe a familiar pattern. And he’s done a really good job of working it for all he’s got, and pushed me away in the process. I sensed that this was the pattern he was falling into, but he refused to see it and I’m just tired of the struggle right now.

        Thank you again. You are so often a lifeline for me, LFBA.

        DJ

  3. Bec says:

    For me, I wanted to know everything too. I was cautioned by my therapist to not ask too much. I asked more than she said I should, but I finally did get to the point where I felt like I knew enough. I think that place is different for everybody and nobody can judge that. Everyone takes a different approach to healing. Sometimes there are moments when I am triggered by something and I think I want to know more details, but deep within myself, I know that I know as much as I truly need to and I probably wouldn’t be able to handle any more. It’s hard not knowing everything, but I already have a hard time not letting the thoughts of what I do know consume me sometimes.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi Bec – Nice to meet you. That’s very true that everyone has their own limits and needs. I would not have been satisfied with less than I know. I know I will get past it in time, with or without my husband’s help. It’s without his help right now and I’m learning to be ok with that.

      How long has it been for you? Have you been married long?

      Take care –
      DJ

  4. Heidi says:

    I am almost two years out of D-day 2, but still struggle at times. Not so much of what happened, but I struggle with trust. Both my husbands affairs started innocently by chatting on sms and facebook. Some weeks ago I discovered him chatting with a woman on wordfeud. He immediately stopped playing when I discovered, and deleted his profile. But was angry that I reacted on something so innocent. I couldn`t get him to understand that both his affairs started innocently with chatting also……
    And he don`t want to talk about the affairs because he has put it behind him, and think that I should also after all this time. Discussing our relationship is almost impossible because the affairs will come up in the discussion, and then he just gets angry. So I have no one to talk to when I struggle.
    One of the affairs was told to me by his mistress`s husband. We had close contact in the beginning and played the two of them up against each other to get to the truth of what happened (1 1/2 years). There was a lot of lying and the story and timeline just doesn`t add up. At a certain point their stories suddenly were identical, with no more added information. It still doesn`t add up. It was almost as if they had made a pact to not reveal any more information. That bothers me, because I feel that he is continuing lying to me. It is not so much the events, but the fact that he witholds information I have a right to know. A couple of days ago I contacted the husband, and it turns out that his struggle is similar to mine. It was good to talk and get a confirmation that I am not crazy to still struggle. I suggested to him that I sent him a sms where I said that my husband finally had told the whole story, and that he should ask his wife to finally come foreward also. Then he can show her the sms and see if there are more to the story that she will reveal to save her own ass. That way they will have no oportunity to contact each other to check if the “pact” still is on, or if it has been broken. If she has no further information, at least we can put behind the feeling we both have that there are more to the story.
    Without my contact with the husband, my husband would have lied through his teeth, I am sure.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi Heidi – I believe that when you feel you don’t have the truth and when your husband refuses to communicate about his affairs and work through any problems with you, then you will not heal, no matter how many years go by. I have corresponded with people whose partner’s affair was 10 or more years before, but because it was not dealt with, the betrayed spouse continues to suffer. Oh, they go on with life – but they still hurt and they are still bitter and resentful.

      Trust will be impossible to rebuild under these circumstances where you feel your husband continues to lie and hide things.

      This is also where I am. My husband was probably more open than yours at the beginning, but before I really started to heal, he closed the door and I have been left hanging. I no longer need details of the affair. I need to talk about what it all means, how to recover, and how to keep it from happening again. This, among a number of other things, have brought me to the point where the bitterness and resentment are mostly what I feel.

      I hope you don’t end up where I am. Keep looking for a way or something that will help you get your message across to him.

      Thank you for commenting. It means a lot to me to hear from others in our blogging community.

      DJ

  5. Ariella says:

    I am one who costantly needs to know everything. I have done exactly what you have. I have looked through his pre-paid phone and matched the dates and time to our cell phone bill. I wanted to see if he was talking to me and texting her and so on. I became obsessed with trying to find out everything possible about this woman. You must also understand, that the first time, it lasted less then 2 weeks. I cannot imagine having to investigate years worth of stuff. But I believe that I knew everything about it because I searched 24/7. I would ask him questions, and although he would answer me, the answers were never good enough for me. They may have been truthful answers, but it was never good enough for me. . . I have driven myself crazy and my mind constantly is spinning. How do we get it to stop?

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi Ariella – In the books I have read where the couple has successfully gotten past it, they talked about it and talked about it until one day the betrayed spouse just came to the point where they knew they had said enough. Most of them scheduled times for these talks. The cheating spouse would not be able to handle a constant barrage day in and day out. So the betrayed spouse had their chance regularly to get it out and talk about it, and the cheating spouse knew when to expect it and that there would also be time where he/she got a break from it.

      That is not happening in my marriage, and I think that’s one of the reasons I think I am stuck.

      I am definitely better, though. There are good days and bad days. On good days, I hardly think about his affair at all. On bad days, some trigger or other will set me off and I will think about nothing else all day. I guess it will slowly diminish. It is better than it was before.

      I will get better with or without my husband’s help. I think it’s a matter of attitude and determination.

      Hope you are off to a good week –
      DJ

  6. nmwf1 says:

    Hi All, This is exactly what i struggle with along with jealousy of the other woman, And should I or should I not contact her, or her live in what ever the hell he is, I do not have closure and its driving me crazy, I want to know everything. The way I see it, my mind tortures me anyway, so why not know the whole truth? At least the lies would be out. I think my husband owes me that much. After all; I was faithful and true to him for all these years. If it makes him uncomfortable to tell me the truth, than to bad ,( he deserves that,) I’m not the one who cheated. I’ve be more than uncomfortable ever since I found out. ( And I DON’T think I deserve it at all.) I want to discuss the cell phone history details with him in detail, so that I can get past my obsession with it. But I haven’t found the right moment, (What do you think?) by the way thanks for the info. hope you have a good day, I did have a good weekend with my husband but he had to head back out of town this morning, to where he works.

  7. Not Over It says:

    Hi NM – I don’t know if I’ll ever feel closure because he left her with a kind of open-ended statement that he would hope for a day when he would be free to be with her. I have so far not wanted further contact just so he could straighten that out. It seems like it would open a can of worms. So I bear with it… so far anyway.

    I’m glad you had a good weekend with your husband. He seems like a sweetie.

    DJ

  8. Morgan says:

    I wish my husband didn’t know all the details and wouldn’t have seen so much….it still pains him after 2 years.

    • Not Over It says:

      Morgan! I’ve missed you and wondered how you were doing. I hoped that not hearing about you meant that you no longer needed to blog.

      I’m sorry to hear that your husband still has pain after two years. If he is like me, then the worst part would be knowing how hard it was for you to get over your xap. It has not been that long since you said you felt nothing when thinking about him, so perhaps it is still too soon for complete healing. Linda and Doug on Emotional Affair Journey are at three years, and Linda still goes through phases where she doubts and has pain. But her husband did not cut it off right away and so the time that she knew he was done with the AP is not three years.

      With your love and continued open communication, I’m sure it will fade away in time. I wish my husband were more like you in dealing with the aftermath.

      I continue to pray for you.

      Love & prayers,
      DJ

  9. tashal78 says:

    My husband is one that wants to know all details and I can see how much those details hurt him. It has been hard for him to understand that my silence to his questions is not about me hiding, it is that I’m so ashamed for the hurt I have caused. I want to just move on and heal, I’m praying that he is able to still forgive me even though he knows all the details.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi Tashal – I understand how it feels to be ashamed and to want to stop thinking about something, but as my coach says, you will not heal by trying to put it away and not talk about it anymore. It will just fester and rot until it becomes a cancer. This is about acceptance of what you did. Acceptance is not only for the betrayed. The betrayer also needs to accept it and work through it, not around it and not over it by burying it. It will probably be the hardest thing you will ever face, but for your husband it will be worth it, from what the successful couples say.

      Not talking is so easily misinterpreted, especially when the betrayed spouse has been devastated and is insecure in many ways. You need to be open and share honestly to help your husband move forward. Reassure him every day that you are where you want to be and that you choose him. This is so much what I wanted from my husband and never got.

      But you do have to be careful about too much detail – I’ve read that the best way to deal with that is to ask your husband if he really wants to know when he asks something you feel would be too hurtful for him to hear. Have him think about it overnight. If he still feels he absolutely must know, then tell him.

      I know it hurts for you, too, but your husband is the one who has been shattered. Help him through triggers. Be loving and open and share everything. That’s what I would want. I would be healed and moving on in a new life with my husband by now if he had done those things. I really believe that. Forgiveness is a process which, for most betrayed spouses, depends on the repentance and willingness of the betrayer to make amends and to be there even when it’s not pleasant and not easy. Not saying you need to be a doormat, but you need to be fully present and involved in the process of recovery.

      Good luck. I will keep you in prayer and check in with you on your blog.

      DJ

  10. SHAPE says:

    Like some of you above, I don’t think I need more in-depth details, but I do need to talk about how I felt I just knew something was going on, but was lied to. I need my husband to know how I felt while I was suspecting him and how his lying then makes me feel now. I need him to explain how it is he could really feel he was so in love with someone he mainly had an email relationship with, who was 22 years younger, and how he could just put me into second place so easily. It is so darned difficult to get him to talk about it I really would like to schedule a weekly time to talk, but he just doesn’t agree to do this. I am always the one to bring it up, and then it never goes well. I just wish he would take the initiative in asking me how I am doing. That would go a long way in making me truly believe he is sorry for what he did. I have just started to read the book “The Five Languages of Apology,” by Gary Chapman and am pretty sure my language of apology will be high in my husband’s saying something like “I’m sorry,” or “I was wrong in what I did,” AND “What can I do to make it right.”

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi SHAPE – I have heard of the book but haven’t read it. Let me know what you think of it. I have read the Five Love Languages and I’ve been to one of Chapman’s workshops and learned a lot. Great stuff.

      I am glad for you in that you are able to keep your relationship together even with this difficulty. My marriage is not doing so well. At this point, I don’t know if we will make it.

      Maybe your husband needs someone else to tell him he needs to open up and talk. Would he go to a counselor with you? I have found that many couples seek counseling more than once in the process of recovery, and those couples are frequently the ones who successfully move on.

      Hope things are going well for you…
      DJ

  11. SHAPE says:

    Not Over it–
    I will let you know what I think of the book. I started reading a library copy but decided I wanted to highlight stuff so have just ordered my own copy. My husband and I did go to some counseling, but then he didn’t want to after about 6 times. I kept going; then my counselor went out of town for 3 months – and I have not been back since she returned the end of May. I don’t think my husband would go again, but it might be worth a try.
    I think I could get him to read some pages in a book (he won’t read a whole book), and I think this is what I will try to do next to open up the conversation. I have some really good days and then some really not so good ones. Just wish I could get all my questions answered and feel that he really wants to answer them and help me recover. Right now I just feel like he prefers to pretend it never happened. But we both know it did!
    It is the lies that are the worst for me to deal with. I want to believe him now, but he was so good at telling me he loved me all the while he was telling her the same thing – so now I have a very hard time believe him when he says it.

    • Not Over It says:

      Thank you! I will look forward to hearing about the book.

      I mentioned counseling because that was the only time my husband changed his thinking about anything. When the counselor told him it was natural that I was still thinking about the affair, he finally accepted that. When the counselor told him that my nightmares were not abnormal, he finally accepted that. When the counselor told him that writing to an online coach was a great idea, he stopped insisting that I stop. You get the picture… it couldn’t come from me. It had to come from the counselor.

      My husband will also not read an entire book about relationships, but he used to read excerpts that I picked out.

      Coach James said that pretending it never happened means that he has not been able to accept his own behavior. It is so incongruous with his image of himself that he cannot face it, so he prefers to bury it. But burying a big issue like an affair will only cause it to fester and rot until it turns into a cancer. James says he often prefaces new counseling sessions with a warning that the affair cannot be swept under the rug.

      I also find it hard to believe it when my husband says he loves me. But we will get there, my friend. We will one day smile as we remember how difficult it once seemed. Whatever path we take, we will make it.

      Sending you love & prayers,
      DJ

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