Sunday, April 18, 2010

Plausible Deniability

Last night I found out that my ex-husband of 8 months is living with a woman...I knew he was living with a woman beginning in January, so I had already adjusted to that idea, and honestly didn't think too much of it. Then I found out last night that this is the same woman I accused him of having an affair with over 3 years ago. I found all this out when my 6 year old came home from a visit with her dad and told me that daddy had a girlfriend, and that he was going to marry her, and what her name was. As soon as I heard the name it felt like a sucker punch to my gut. I tried hard to control my reaction, because my daughter was distressed. She wasn't ready for her dad to have a girlfriend. Like most kids, I think she hopes we will reconcile at some point, and so the girlfriend doesn't fit in the picture very neatly for her. I reassured her that it would be ok, that after all she likes this woman, and that it is ok. I'm not sure how convincing I was. Her eyes searched my face to see if I was really ok with daddy having a girlfriend. I could tell she wanted to gauge my reaction to see if she should be upset. I did my best to be positive and happy while she was there. But I have to admit I feel a mixture of anger, sadness and humiliation.

In November, 2006, when our son was only 6 or so months old I began to find evidence that my husband was having an affair. Given that I was a divorce lawyer working for a firm that specialized in this kind of stuff, it wasn't hard to identify the patterns of my spouse. I went on a mini-investigation and it didn't take me long to figure out he was certainly seeing someone. If I think back to earlier days in our relationship, certainly there were signs that he likely had had affairs before this one. For whatever reasons I chose to ignore the evidence before me back then. I continued on, and reassured myself that I was just being reactive and paranoid. However, the incident in 2006 was undeniable. It was in my face. There was really no ignoring it. No pretending it didn't happen. While my husband denied that he was having a sexual affair with this woman, he did so half-heartedly. I wasn't overly convinced, but still there was some part of me that wanted some plausible deniability.

At the time I was struggling in a job I hated, contending with an active 3 year old and trying to care for my infant who was having a multitude of health problems. Additionally I was dealing with a major fall out in my family of origin over my brother's issues with addiction and the legal system. It was a hectic time in my life, and quite honestly I was ill-prepared to be confronted with my husband's infidelity. Initially, I raged at him. I cried for days. And then, I acted as if it never happened. I swallowed it down like a bitter pill. Life went on. Within 6 months his father died suddenly, and I tried my best to take care of him, to keep us together by the sheer force of my will. I ignored the misgivings I felt, and plowed through. Somewhere along the way I developed some sort of plausible deniability about the whole thing. After all I didn't know *for sure* that he had cheated. Maybe I was being paranoid or crazy or both. And of course my husband wanted me to believe that so he continually promised me he would never be unfaithful to me. I wanted desperately to believe him.

Even now, after divorcing this man, I must admit that part of me still clung to some notion of plausible deniability, part of me still hoped it wasn't true, that my husband had loved me enough to remain faithful to me. It is much easier to cling to plausible deniability than it is dealing with the feelings of hurt, betrayal, anger and pain over what I have always known happened. So, when I found out last night that indeed the relationship between my ex-husband and this woman was ongoing and now open and notorious, plausible deniability became impossible. It is right in front of me. There's no more hiding behind the illusion. I wasn't prepared for this. It seems overwhelming and hurtful, as if the scab has been ripped off the wound suddenly, without warning.

Someone said to me recently that it's a hell of a lot easier to live in denial than it is to live with the pain and disappointment life brings. I agree. But now there's no more denying what I know, what I've always known. And that's tough, but perhaps shaking off denial is just the first step. No more denying the truth, even when it hurts. No more hiding behind excess weight so that I can shield myself from my feelings, my heart. No more denying what I've always known was my path even if that path doesn't seem convenient, easy or simple. No more denying God, denying who I am as a child of God even when I'm sad, hurt and lonely. No more denying the gifts God has given me because denying them is safer, easier and comfortable.

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