Monday, October 18, 2010

Once a cheater, always a cheater?

Its it true? Is it true that someon who cheats will always cheat? Learned behaviors can never be unlearned? Are we all condemned to forever repeat our pasts and never improve?

I don't know. That thought is always in the back of my mind. Is II capable of learning to be faithful? Once upon a time, he was a faithful spouse. He was faithful to our marriage for the first six years of it. I don't believe he lies when he tells that detail to me. Does that count as faithful if he jumped off a cliff never came back until he was caught? Is it relearning, or simply learning.

I can almost except the addiction issue. I can accept that he can stay sober and never go into the addiction again if he fights it--just like an alcoholic. Except...that workplace affair with his co-worker never fit the pattern in the first place.

I've asked him often in the last year why that affair happened. It wasn't annonymous. It wasn't a one night stand. It was a co-worker he saw every day. And, even after he stopped sleeping with her, he maintained an inappropriate emotional connection with her until the very day I caught him in all his lies. For heaven's sake, when my son was lying in an ER waiting to be admitted to the hospital, this man ignored my frantic calls for 20 minutes so he could chat with her. He wasn't still sleeping with her, but by golly he was still intimate with her. Yet, she was (and is) a self-centered primadonna. After the shock that he would have long-term affaird, who he choose to have it with was more shocking to me than that he even had it. Of all the women he could have had an affair with, he was able to conceal her from me because I never would have suspected an affair with *her*. She was vulgar, and still is. There is not one redeeming quality about her that I knew before the affair, and yes I met her face to face many times. Its not just his word that she was an unpleasant person, she just was.

While II has dug deep into his issues, his pain, his addiction, he's never come very far in understanding her. Its his belief that he was already so far gone in his addiction that when she offered the opportunity of free, consistent sex, he was more than happy to take it. I think there is some truth to that. Certainly financial and phone records to prove that she was the insigator. She financed the bulk of everything they did together. She initiated 99% of all phone and text contacts. And yet, its never been enough to fully answer the question for me.

In the last month, I've realized how that affair happened. I've realized because I'm seeing the potential for another one unfolding in front of my very eyes.

II is heavily involved in Cub Scouts with our boys. He always has been. The Cubmaster in the current Pack is a perfectly nice man with a perfectly nice family. He's also essentially a puppet for his wife who truly runs the Pack. She's a perfectly wonderful woman with two sweet boys and a powerhouse in the Pack. She has terrible hero worship regarding our family, but especially II.

I was taken aback several weeks ago when II took the Scouts on a camp-out and returned telling me that he thinks there has been infidelity in this other marriage. He began to relate to me the comments the wife has made to him when no one else was around, and yes they are fairly telling of infidelity. From his telling of things, she seems to be wracked with a lot of pain right now.

Except....she's not showing that to anyone but II. When she sees me, she makes an effort to come and tell me how wonderful II is...again, and again, and again.

She is calling II's cell phone at least daily now. Sometimes, more than once a day. Yes, its related to Cub Scouts. But, the fact that I can tell its her by the change in tone of his voice--instantly, is NOT related to Cub Scouts. His tone sounds like it did when we were dating and engaged, plain and simple.

This weekend, the two of them took 4 boys to a festival to attempt to sell Cub Scout popcorn. The sales were abysmmal. The boys played. And, she spilled her guts about her marriage to II.


That's how it happens.

I don't believe they have slept together yet. I don't believe they have had a chance. And, I'm not sure she has made a concious decision that she's going there. But, she's clearly going there, and II is going there WITH her.

We had a very LONG conversation Saturday night. The bottom line is that I don't trust him. And, I'm very angry that I had to point out to him where things were headed because he didn't see nor stop the brakes himself. He counters that its better than he's been for years, that he did feel something was inappropriate and wrong, which was why he was bringing it all to me, and he hasn't cheated.

He has agreed to some clear and stronger boundaries in this situation. We can't walk away from Cub Scouts. And, thankfully this family is moving next year--army orders. However, I'm not convinced boundaries and awareness will be sufficient. She is clearly attracted to him. Unlike the last one, this woman is a good person whose morals and values are things II admires in a person.

My deepest fear that he will continue down the path he is already headed on and end up having a relationship with this woman. Except, this time he won't find it so easy to walk away. He likes her. He likes her boys. They adore him. I could see him falling for this woman and leaving me. Quite frankly, even the thought ticks me off so badly that I can't see straight.

I don't intend to fight and fear this situation. I honestly am not sure I care. However, it has caused a lot of the healing and connection we have had recently to be heading the wrong direction. I feel like I'm just waiting for him to cheat and consequently just don't want him around me at this point.

He does seem to be aware now. He has problem solved his own boundaries to set up and cease where this is headed.

I don't know where this will end up. I hope it ends up a teaching experience for us, and we come out of it stronger. But, I have no control over his choices, nor hers. I can control ME. I won't live with a man who engages in active affairs. So if he does let this continue and sleeps with her, we will be finished. We will likely be finished if he continues to let this progress into a full-fledged emotional affair even if he doesn't sleep with her. Its been a good lesson in understanding what happened with the last affair. She too pulled at his hearstrings and trigger some strange "Knight in Shining Armour" response. And, I saw and felt ALL of the things then that I'm seeing and feeling now. The difference was that time I had blind trust that my husband would NEVER betray me like that. Seeing it start again, and not having that faith means I can clearly see where this can go. I can see the writing on the wall that would destroy everything about us, this marriage and my children.

Either he can also see that writing now, and makes a conscious and personal choice to walk away, guard his heart and put his marriage as the only thing that matters to him. Or, in a year I will be a single mmother of eight children.

I'll still be standing, no matter what he does. He gets to choose if he can buck the saying, or if he is condemned to never learn from his own past and actually be faithful to me this time.

At least, I no longer feel the need to ask why and how that last affair happened. Suddenly, I am seeing up close and personal all of those answers I didn't understand before.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I intended to write an introspective post on infant loss today. Yesterday was National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Day, where families who have lost children through miscarriage, stillbirth and infant deaths remember their lost children.

Instead, life takes over and I'll have to save that post for another time.

Of my eight children, I have two with serious mental health issues. M is my child with a dozen problems going on in his body and his mind. He had been in my home less than 2 weeks when he physically attacked me for telling him no and began screaming for someone to "call the police and take mommy away."

Other, wiser adoptive mothers emphatically told me to get him OUT of my home then and there. I was so overwhelmed with the knowledge that documing his violence would guarantee he would never have another foster home in the system. The last foster home capable of managing his medical conditions was the he had left to enter our home. She had clearly told the state that either they moved him to our home immediately, or they removed him as soon as the school year was over because she was DONE. We thought it involved his potty behaviors, his "tantrums" and his low functining ability. We figured out pretty darn quickly that we had a raging, violent child on our hands--the likes of which I had never encountered before in my life.

M was eventually diagnosed with both severe Autism and Bipolar disorder, to round out his low IQ he came home with. It takes heavy doses of psychatropic medications to control his rages and violence. We've had him in a good place for the last year, medically. However, he gets insufficient sleep while attending school now, and that frequently means that he's higher than a kite when he goes maniac on the weekends. Sometimes, we can get him to crash and sleep all weekend. Other times, the change in routine from school means he's simply out of control. Last weekend, he thrice went violent to our shock after having it under control for a year. I was prepared to call his Psychiatrist about a medication adjustment except the routine of his school week immediately brought him back to functioning.

Meanwhile, to my heartbreak and horror last fall, my oldest birthchild appears to be heading down the path of her father's mental illness. Combined with the normal hormones of pre-teen adolescence, she's stymies my understanding of how to reach her much of the time now. Normally, I try desperatelly to not engage unless absolutely necessary. I find options for her to participate in the family in ways she is agreeable to. I don't take the nonsense coming out of her mouth personally and simply walk away.

Today, I knew I was going to have to engage her. Today is Saturday, and on Saturday we do our chores. The most dreaded of chores is the kitchen. Last weekend, we were re-arranging rooms in the house so we didn't do Saturday chores, and the house has shown the neglect all week. Everyone in the house has known for two weeks that its E's turn to clean the kitchen this weekend. Everyone has been dreading today. Yesterday, I had the homeschoolers "pre-clean" as well as they could. Yes, it needs cleaned, but its not nearly what it normally is.

So, she decided to get up at 11:30am this morning. The first words out of her mouth were, "I'm not going to clean the kitchen today."

Le Sigh. I have a FIRM policy as a mother. I don't engage in a battle of the wills unless I'm absolutely sure its worth fighting. When I do engage, I don't back down. This is one of those battles that I must engage. I must because everyone else in this house is expected to do their Saturday chores, because this house cannot run with all these people if we don't all contribute as we can, and because her siblings are hurting knowing that she's having lax rules right now and they don't. This one, I will engage, and so I have.

What I didn't anticipate is that one mentally struggling child would cause the other mentally ill child to feel in competition. M was having a fairly decent day before E arose. He started having a nominally difficult day as she wound up for battle. However, when she went into full fledged melt-down, raging and screaming through my house.....he decided to join her.

At one point, I had the two of them in an acutal face off. I've known other adoptive mothers of kids with severe emotional issues who have had to bodily seperate waring siblings. The closest I've *ever* come to this scenario was when C and Ch would engage in fistfights starting at age 7. Those were fairly age appropriate and rather boyish responses. And, these days those two prefer to be the Hardy Boys--joined in adventures with arms around each other in love.

Today, I nearly got to bodily seperate two children. They wound up and were in a glare down while screaming at each other. I had to repeatedly remind E what the Psychiatrist has told her repeatedly--she is NOT M, she CAN learn to control her impulses and she does NOT have an excuse to resort to violence simply because she is struggling. Nothing reaches M but medical sedation. And, I work very hard to minimize that because every pill he swallows to allow him to remain safe in this home is another hit his dying liver must endure. He had his normal meds today but I'm not ready to sedate him simply because he is feeding off her mental instability and bringing it into his own.

Sure enough, an hour after she began, she is nearly stable again. And, he is stable because there is no more chaos for him to feed. She has *not* done her chore. But, I promised she could take her meds and eat first. Its going to be a LONG day, and I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy it. Yet, this is the life I live some days when the mental illnesses are front and center.

These two are no longer homeschooled. They both go to public school. He has an IEP and attends a special classroom. She's on the verge of having an IEP invoked. We, her parents and her school, are monitoring her functioning and stability carefully. At least sending these two to school allows me the opportunity to provide calm and effective time with the other siblings.

The biggest challenge about today is that they are both falling off the cliff of instability and I'm solo parenting all day long. II took the Cub Scouts to sell popcorn, and I am home with six chilren alone. Its not his fault, he's parenting as well, and I have the most helpful BIG BROTHER. However, when I am left solo parenting the higher needs children and their needs become front and center, I am always struck by something. Until last fall, I did ALL of this ALONE.

Its not wonder my health was failing and I shut down for the vast majority of J's pregnancy. No one can do what I was doing alone. I never would have admitted I was doing it alone. But, I was. And, since I wasn't about to let my CHILDREN lose out when something had to give. It was ME and MY HEALTH that gave. I think I *finally* this fall got my thyroid to stabilize from that nightmare. My blood pressure is still higher than where it needs to be and my asthma is far from being under control. Its really no wonder I had the rare phenomenon of developing anaphylatic allergies past the age of 30!