We left off with me pondering how many sexting partners Zack had. We also left off with me feeling a little vindicated that he was potentially cheating on Harley the entire time, too. Seems only right since she’s allegedly cheating on him.
Is it crazy that I feel better knowing there are more out there? Is it crazy that I’m kind of relieved to discover that Zack is, if not a sociopath, definitely on the sliding scale of being one? I have read a lot of the entries on Chump Lady. There is a lot of dysfunction that many of her readers have dealt with. I was feeling like I had one of those “Exit Affair/He Went Poof” cheaters. Nothing to see here; move along. Others have had the spouses that have cheated since day one of their marriage, or they’ve had multiple affairs over the course of their relationship. Obviously, if they’ve been cheating since day one it’s nothing the cheated on spouse did. They talk about what narcissists the X’s are, or what sociopaths they are. I wasn’t wanting my very own sociopath. I’m not a psychiatrist so I can’t even say for certain that Zack is a sociopath.
I guess the short version is as follows. Sometimes, despite my rational knowledge, it was easy to think that I was the problem. Not necessarily the problem as in I did something wrong, or I didn’t do enough of something, but as in I wasn’t the right one for him. Kind of like if two people love one another but one wants kids and the other doesn’t. That’s usually a deal breaker; there is no compromise on that. One child is not a compromise. You are either a parent or you’re not. Similarly, you could have two people who love each other but one wants to get married and the other doesn’t. Again, there’s no compromise. You’re either married or you’re not.
If what he had was an exit affair then that meant our marriage was a miserable place for him and once he was able to extricate himself he might find happiness and live up to his full potential. He might become a happy person, full of life, who was pleasant to be around. I know; I know. Personality transplants are not a real thing. But maybe… Maybe if he really was unhappy with me because, for whatever reason, I couldn’t meet his needs then he could be happy with someone else. Maybe Harley really was the right person for him and she could make him happy whereas I could not.
I suppose I felt that cheaters who had an exit affair were somehow different from cheaters who just cheated for the hell of it. Afterall, the point of an exit affair is in it’s title. It’s meant to help you exit your marriage. Haven’t you ever heard a cheater proclaim, “I didn’t leave my spouse for the OP. Our marriage was dead long before that. The OP simply propelled me into taking that next step,”? Isn’t it nice to have someone warming your bed while you go through the divorce? You’ve got someone to hold your hand and tell you everything is going to be okay. The thinking seems to be that when someone has an exit affair it may not necessarily be about the spouse, but it is definitely about how the cheater isn’t happy in the marriage. It’s portrayed almost like if the marriage hadn’t been this poisonous prison then the person never would have cheated. After all, the cheater didn’t leave for Sparky; the cheater just didn’t leave until Sparky came along. In other words, Zack isn’t really a cheater. He’s a loyal guy who tried so hard to make his marriage work and totally believes in fidelity; however, under the right circumstances he can be pushed too far and make “bad choices”. Zack never wanted to cheat; he’s really a stand up guy. You have to understand he was miserable and felt so unloved and neglected. He was practically forced to cheat. Now that he’s happy with Harley he’ll never cheat because he has no reason to cheat.
I think that was the main difference for me between him and other, long-term and/or serial cheaters. If you have someone who has cheated constantly obviously the problem is them and not you. As Chump Lady herself said once, “He was cheating even before he asked me to marry him! How could it possibly have been my fault?” If your spouse has been cheating since the beginning of your marriage how can they possibly say they cheated because the marriage had died, or you were paying too much attention to the kids, or you gained weight and he was no longer attracted to you, or any of the myriad of excuses they give to justify their actions? If your spouse cheats once and you forgive them, probably taking on “your share” of the problem and improving yourself, and then they cheat again even with all of your improvements, then how do you blame yourself? The conventional wisdom with this sort of cheater seems to say it’s nothing that the wronged spouse did or didn’t do; these are people that like to cheat. They like the thrill of the secrecy and they like cake. But the exit affair cheaters? Nah, they’re just unhappy. Clear that up and everything will be fine. It will never happen again. NOTE: I am NOT saying that those people who are in those situations don’t feel exactly the same way I do. It’s simply my own thinking and how I blamed myself.
With this new information I am shown once again that he is a liar and a cheater. In fact, he’s a run of the mill type cheater. A serial cheater. It had nothing to do with being an exit affair. He will never be happy. It was never about me. It was always about him. She’s not special; she’s just available and willing to fawn over him. More importantly, it wasn’t about ME. It wasn’t that I didn’t make him happy or that I neglected him or treated him badly. It wasn’t that I “stayed for the money” or that he felt like nothing more than a handyman and a wallet. It had nothing to do with sex. It had nothing to do with our marriage being dead or us living like roommates. It had nothing to do with ME at all. He is a broken, entitled, pompous asshole who thinks the world should bow down and kiss his ass. He would have cheated no matter what.
Believe me, I am completely on board with the line of thinking that says you didn’t make your cheater cheat. I am adamantly against this idea of looking at your own behavior and accepting your part of the blame for the affair because “affairs aren’t the disease; they’re the symptom.” No, affairs occur because the cheater has poor character and they’re entitled nitwits. It’s hard to explain because on one hand I do believe that. Even with Zack I could reasonably say, “If he was unhappy he should have talked to me or he should have left. He is not justified in having an affair.” But hearing all that talk about serial cheaters it made me feel like maybe… maybe he’s not one of those disordered flaming turds shot straight out of Satan’s ass. They lie constantly. They take things underground. They get better and better at cheating. Maybe my cheater was different. Maybe he was unhappy and that’s what caused all of this and truth be told, if I had just danced a little harder or a little prettier, then I could have made him happy and he wouldn’t have cheated. Rubbish, I know! The thing is even knowing all I knew there was still a little part of me that thought maybe I deserved this and perhaps Zack wasn’t like all those other guys. You could clearly see the crazy shrouding them. I just had an exit affair cheater who basically vanished. I didn’t even realize all of that was buried in my psyche until I found this other woman.
Acts 9:18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.
The above Bible verse keeps running through my head. The scales have fallen from my eyes. I have a new reality. Zack is every bit as disordered as the ones I hear about. He didn’t have one affair. He had at least two, probably three, and potentially many more. He has been lying for God only knows how long. He can look you right in the eye and without missing a beat feed you a line of bullshit and convince you it was the truth.
Now that I know this I think back to a co-worker of his. She was young, I think early to mid 20s. I remember a text message exchange I saw between the two of them after we had moved. Nothing that really stood out at first. She was talking about work. She was back at the previous plant and we were now in BFE. He said he still got tons of emails and texts from people back at the old plant because they had questions and the person who had taken his place didn’t know the answer so they would still come to Zack. Oh, more professional advice! I’m sensing a theme here. As I said, the text started off innocently enough. After they talked about work he asked her what her plans were for the day. She wasn’t going to spend her Saturday working, was she? She told him she was only working half a day and then she was going to a cookout. His reply? “Good girl.” That lit up all sorts of warning signs because that was something he would say to me when we were intimate. I did not appreciate him saying that same phrase to this young woman who was supposedly coming to him for professional advice. I’m not sure I would have found that to be an appropriate response even if he didn’t say such a thing to me in the bedroom. I even mentioned to him that they seemed to be texting an awful lot. His response was that she was asking him questions having to do with work. As I said, oh, more professional advice. I never saw anything inappropriate but then again I’m pretty sure he knew I checked his phone randomly so if he was sexting with her he would have deleted the messages. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out they, too, had at least an emotional affair/sexting fling.
While in a weird respect I am relieved to find out he’s just an ordinary lying cheater in another respect I sometimes sit here slack-jawed wondering, “Who in the hell did I marry? And how did I never see it?”
Isaiah 35:5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped.