Strap yourself in, it’s a long letter today.
I feel that I’ve been honest with you always throughout this process, probably more honest with you than I’ve ever been in our relationship, but specifically today I want to talk about Trust, and you know I don’t and can’t trust you. I know this wont hit you hard, I know it’s not impactful because you know it.
I wrote before about Safety First but I’ve not really spoken much about trust or why safety has become so much more important to me but I thought I would try and explain it. It’s a bit of a strange concept really to people who haven’t had their bubble burst by an affair, how many people have you heard say over the years “without trust there is no relationship”. Well, sorry society, I’m calling bullshit on that one. I don’t believe that our relationship is any less valid because I don’t trust you. I don’t love you less because I don’t trust you. I believe that it is very much a societal and conceptual thing rather than an actual bond.
This is a major shift in my understanding of relationships. I’ve had a lot of those because of your affair. My whole concept of relationships and intimacy has changed, along with so many other things. Sometimes I go out and I just walk and walk and I ponder these things, how constructs that I fully paid in to not that long ago have just fallen away with this experience.
Trust After An Affair
Trust after an affair feels like a massive ask. After all you broke the biggest promise that you’ve ever made to me. You broke the inferred promise. You broke your very own rule that we set the day we got together as a couple long distance, no sharing. Trust seems a joke a lot of the time, a distant memory. A weakness.
A weakness that led to be being abused and destroyed. Broken by the person I trusted the most. Trust it’s really just a concept isn’t it? It’s not a real thing, it’s something we believe in, have faith in, but I’m struggling to define it. It’s a belief in someones fidelity I suppose. I believed in yours, always, even when you were cagey with your phone, my “paranoia” quelled by you even when her name would light up on your screen again and again. I believed the words you said the day we got together, the day we got married, and everyday since. It was implied.
Now trust is something so different. I never understood it’s a vulnerability, that will take time to allow myself to be vulnerable again, I have so many walls in place right now to protect me from your betrayal. To protect me from the ongoing pain and difficulties that you’ve put our relationship through. I can’t just have faith right now. I can’t just believe. You’ve lost all claim on faith, all credibility, your word means nothing and trust is not available to you.
Safety After An Affair
Safety however is real. You create safety. Like adding an alarm to your home its a thing, it’s real not belief. Safety is created in so many ways, access to your electronics just like sensors on windows, knowing your movements an alarm code, no personal contact and telling me about your interactions with your affair partner (unavoidable work place interactions) is locks on the doors. Full disclosure was like a CCTV system. It gave clarity. Your engagement in recovery work and therapy was a smoke alarm.
You started to build a scaffold around us, one that held us up and together, helping the anxiety calm and the strong emotions from discovery start to fade away. You didn’t get there straight away. Those first couple of months I felt like we ran from one fight to another, you didn’t “get it”, you weren’t doing recovery work, you were still chit chatting with her – albeit within the rules of ‘about work’ – you didn’t get that unnecessary conversations about ANYTHING were triggering, and just that, unnecessary. They caused unnecessary pain. Unnecessary distress. Unnecessary fights. You were defensive. You couldn’t understand. You wanted me to get over it. Focus on us not her. Focus on the future not the past.
Then you got it. When you engaged in that work, when you started hearing the voice of someone else who had done the things you did. Hearing them say that actually it was YOU that needed to get on with it, YOU who needed to suck it up, and YOU who needed to change. You learnt about safety and you taught me. You asked me what I needed and we started to work on it. You’ve grown in strength everyday, that scaffolding wasn’t needed so much because you built new foundations, stronger ones than we ever had. You started repairing our bricks and our roof, you created those locks and security. Because of it a funny thing happened. There was trust in amongst it all. Because whilst it’s not secure, I believe in your ability to do this. I believe that you’re not seeing her. I believe you are where you say you are, but all of it, it’s backed up with proof.
I could pick holes in your foundations, I could knock away the pillars supporting our roof, I could disconnect all the wiring of our alarms but what would that give me? Undermining our marriage for what end? Whilst you’re doing everything to create it why would I tear it down? I don’t need to hurt you, I see you are hurt. Your hurt is driving you to heal us both. To change deeply rooted maladaptive coping strategies that you’ve developed after your own abuse. Your hurt damaged us, but not beyond repair, but your hurt can’t fix us both alone. I’m responsible for my own healing and you’re there to support that with your scaffolding.
WE are responsible for our marriage repair.
I made the choice to do this journey. I have to actively engage as well. But I couldn’t do that before you built that support. You got there in the end and now I feel myself healing. Gently, slowly, but I have to live in reality now. I don’t have the luxury of faith, concepts, constructs, or blind belief anymore. I have to have facts. Proof. Safety.
Safety can evolve. What I needed 6 months ago, and 3 months ago is different to what I need now. I don’t need to know every interaction you have with her but I’ll ask if I need to and believe what you say. I don’t check your phone everyday because I trust that I will find what I need to if you’re doing something wrong.
All I need right now is still seeing that you take responsibility, seeing you take real ownership, that provides safety. Feeling that genuine connection between us grow again, that provides safety. Knowing I could check anything of yours, from anywhere, at anytime, that provides safety even if I don’t use it.
Right now, I have what I need, and because of that, I want you more than I have in a long time.