Those of you who know me well, know that it’s very unlike me to share personal, private things online. If you’re not comfortable reading something very personal, or if you just don’t care, that’s okay, just skip it. No worries.
But I’m struggling and could use some help.
I've been divorced for about 1 year officially, separated for two more before that. But for the last 3 years of my marriage... (*deep breath*) ...my wife couldn't have sex with me—as if it were some deep psychological block. The very suggestion of it could drive her to shuddering tears, as if her entire being was rejecting it like a bad organ. We had only been married 6 years when it started—happy years, it seemed. There was no incident or conflict that could've provoked this.
She claimed she had no understanding or insight into what was happening and that I had done nothing wrong. Medical causes were ruled out. She swore she loved me completely and wanted desperately to save our marriage. But she also was sure that her aversion was limited to me. We went to two different couples counselors, the first one giving up and passing us to a colleague who specialized in sexual dysfunction. But nothing. As you can imagine, it was humiliating and emasculating for me. I struggled to stay focused on what the therapists assured us—sexual problems are never about sex. They’re invariably about something else going on in the relationship, emotionally, psychologically. But they could never find what.
After three painful years—yes, I toughed it out, celibate, for that long—we sadly divorced. I relocated to LA hoping to distance myself from heartbreak and open new horizons. But it's been maddening not knowing why it all happened. Even months later, when I asked her if time and space had afforded her any new insight, she had nothing to offer; it seems as if she's moved on and doesn't think about it anymore. But I do. All the time.
Recently, I learned that she is now in a relationship with a man I suspected her of having an affair with 6 years ago. At the time, she assured me that it meant nothing, that it was all over and in the past, so I forgave her and let it go. But I'm not stupid. I know what this means. The whole ordeal was most likely about him all along. Why she couldn't just say that and spare us years of agony, I'll never understand. She still asserts that they were always just friends; that I blew a harmless flirtation out of proportion; that her romance with him is new and just a coincidence of timing (he was married with 3 kids then; is conveniently divorced now). She still swears that she has no idea why she withdrew from me. But basic common sense tells me which explanation is more plausible.
She now lives happily in this new/old relationship, still comfortable in the home that we built together. Meanwhile, I'm a mess. Shattered. Unable to gain closure or move on. I'm on an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety pill, and see a therapist weekly. But it's like a crushing weight on me that I can't shake. I loved her so much and loved our life together and was a dedicated, good husband. I was convinced I was going to spend the rest of my life happily married to my true love and best friend. And this is how I was repaid—with betrayal, and the insult of being denied an explanation added to it.
In my mind, I know that I'm better off without her. I can list 10 reasons why my life is better now, even though I'm living in a rented apartment in LA. But for some reason that fails to translate to what I'm feeling emotionally. I don't want her back. My hatred for her is beyond any anger I've ever felt; white-hot rage; a painful, unwelcome emotion (one that I fear is also eroding my spirit from within). But I can’t escape the feeling that she’s destroyed me, ruined my life. I have my work—exciting creative endeavors ahead—but I can barely function well enough to focus on them for even an hour, which doesn’t bode well for my future.
I'm drowning and I don't know if I'm going to survive this. I'm not suicidal, so it's not like that. I know first-hand how horrible suicide is and would never, ever consider it for a second. Some of you know that I had a first wife who commited suicide; I’m sure those scars are making it additionally hard for me to cope with this. The same feelings of abandonment; of having control of my own life taken away; of having to rebuild my life all over again. But my awareness of that doesn’t help. I still have trouble seeing anything but a bleak and bitter future ahead—this from a person who's always been a happy optimist, who always attacked life and work and love with laser-focused energy and high spirits. But I'm 55 now and I'm feeling like the best years of my life are behind me—or stolen from me.
I know—it's up to me to turn it around... don't look back... just do it... etc. But it’s like a 10-ton weight that I simply cannot budge no matter how much effort I muster. To put it bluntly: I hate my life; and I hate myself for hating my life when I know I have much to be thankful for. For the first time ever, this person who was always a winner, an overachiever, a leader, a do-er... is utterly lost. And scared to death.
I know some of you reading this know my ex-wife. Please understand that I’m not trying to trash her—that’s not my goal here. I’ve stayed silent for all this time because I’ve feared tarnishing other people’s opinions of her (as if I’m still strangely devoted to her). I want to forgive her—I sense that I need to forgive her—but that feels so far away right now. But If you’re friends with her, keep being friends with her. If you love her, keep loving her. But if you have a thought to share with me that you think might help, please do so. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call/text me at 201-602-9351.
I’m in such pain and have been for so long that I think I need all the support I can get, most of all from trusted friends.
Thanks for listening.