Since that day

via Daily Prompt: Exposed

i am exposed. Like a raw nerve that has been revealed by sharp metal. I am bare, exposed, embarrassed, seen.  They all know, all of them who look at me. They know his secret and they know my stupidity.  They know I wasn’t enough. Not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough, not funny enough, just plain old not enough.  They see my shame, my hurt, my fear, my sheer panic. You all see it, too. You see that I am pathetic, lonely, scared, and stupid.

I am exposed. My faults, my lack, my shortfall, my failure.

I was not enough. And now that I know, I am even less.

I am exposed.

What Next?

So, where do I go from here?

As a society, we seem to look down at women who stay with a man who is unfaithful to her.  Honestly, I feel pretty stupid.  But, what are my options? And more importantly, what do I want from my life and my marriage?

If we start at the beginning, I would tell you about the guy I met when I was only 17 years old.  He was funny and extremely charming, and very good looking to boot.  He was my manager at work.  We worked together and we got to know each other a little more.  At work, we had pictures of the employees on the shelf with their choice for the customer.  I stole his picture before his girlfriend could.  I had a big crush.  I told him about it, and he seemed interested.  But, he had a girlfriend and I had morals.  I told him I was interested, if he became unattached.  I didn’t encourage him to break it off, I told him I would be there if he ever did.

Not long later, he did.  And we began spending a lot of time together and quickly moved in together right after I graduated.  We made life plans together and ended up buying a house 5 years later.  At that point, we were not married, but we were ready to start a family.  We decided to have a baby.  While I was pregnant we got engaged. We got married shortly later and then had our first child.  2 years later, we had our second child, and then 2 years after that we were blessed with our third.

Having children can be a strain on any relationship.  It’s important to remember to put your significant other before your kids, even if ever so slightly.  Anyway, we began to live different lives, the whole ships in the night metaphor.  I loved him still, and I thought he loved me.  We sold our first house and bought a new one.  I think we both hoped it would be the fresh new start that we needed.  We were still distant and we finally started talking about it.  That’s when I discovered he was having an online conversation with his ex.  She was not as considerate of my marriage as I was of with her relationship with him.  They talked about things that were very inappropriate. I confronted him, we fought, he left.  Three days later, he asked to come home and I said he could if he made us an appointment with a counselor.  He did.  We went 5 times, maybe.  Counselor sucked, we made no progress, we fell back into old routines.  And here we are 7 years later.

He needed attention, he needed to feel important.  But, he needed the easy way out.  He didn’t want to make the effort with me.  He never really apologized for the first incident, he didn’t really feel he did anything wrong.  He never made an effort to understand what I needed from him.  He only thought about what he needed for himself.  He thought only about himself.

So, here I find myself.  Unsure of my future, questioning my past, unsteady in my present.  How can I trust him? He’s gonna do it again! How can I stand to be around him?  All these things that I have heard from other people and from my own head do not make me feel any better.  I try to convince myself of his love for me and for his kids.  I try to make myself believe that he is committed to this marriage that he so easily stepped out on, at least twice.

I have been with this man for longer that I have been without him.  I love him.  I don’t want to.  I want to hate him, I want to be disgusted by him, I want to deny him all the things that he told her I denied him, I want him to hurt as much as he hurt me. As much as he hurt our family. But what value does that really have for me?

So, again, what do I want for my future and what do I want for my marriage?

As of this moment, I still cannot say for certain.