Here's one of those quirks about getting married the second time around: you tend to be more experienced in several areas. Sometimes there is photographic evidence of this experience.
Once again, I find myself musing over how the digital age has kicked me in the rear end when it comes to love and sex. This time it was in my shiny new, second marriage. My prince charming; my perfect, divorced, single dad, who left me breathless at every encounter; my reason for getting up in the morning, had a sex tape. Ok, so the word 'tape' doesn't apply anymore, we all know I mean 'sex .mov.' And it's not singular either. Let's be honest, we all have gotten trigger happy since we don't have to make the commitment of actual rolls of film and frequenting one hour photo shacks, haven't we? I have 17 photos today of my son eating a Popsicle. I can't choose the best one, because I don't have to. So who would have just one sex tape when you could have dozens of files?
What was I doing on his computer when I had my own? I can't remember. He set me up there and showed me where I could do whatever it was I was doing, and then he retreated upstairs. Somehow I found folders that had nothing to do with my task at hand, and if you've read anything of mine you know I am a habitual snooper. Why was I snooping on my perfect husband who had never given me any reason to mistrust him? Because once an insecure snoop always an insecure snoop? Because my snooping had proved so fruitful in my past marriage I wanted to prove this one was different and I would find nothing. Because I was still irreparably damaged and convinced all men are lying, cheating pigs and I would always find something?
Yes. The answer is yes to all those and more. Within minutes I found a folder marked Private. Which is snooper's code for 'LOOK HERE NOW!' I got exactly what I deserved. An eyeful of thumbnails of a naked woman that I knew. I knew her because she was Facebook stalking me, I knew her because I Facebook stalked her back and compared every one of her public photos to myself. She was very pretty. I knew her breasts were perkier than mine when fully clothed, I knew her makeup was more professional looking, I knew she had higher end taste in attire. Now all a crazy, insecure woman needed was proof that she had no visible scars or stretch marks, that she didn't break out in hives after a bikini wax, and her breasts were perkier without the help of any undergarments.
My stomach sank into his leather office chair, the chair I felt extra privileged to be sitting in because this was his work space and the children and I never violated this space. He had welcomed me to this chair, and here I was violating his privacy and feeling like I would vomit on it. Nausea. Severe, acid tearing apart the walls of your stomach nausea. Would a sane woman stop there? I guess we'll never know because no sane woman lives here. I couldn't click play fast enough. His headphones were already plugged in so I could hear the noises, the noises of my perfect new husband screwing his ex. I had the visuals and the audio. There were still pictures too, but those pale in comparison to cinema.
I don't recall how many I watched. I do recall exactly what was done that I had never done with him, and the things I had never ever done. I do recall what was said that he had never said to me, and things I had never said to him, nor anyone. My hand was shaking on the mouse, and yet I persisted. The only thing that finally broke my horrific private screening was perfect husband coming downstairs. He smiled sweetly coming to check my progress, having no idea the shit storm he was walking into. I was crying, trembling, and how was it possible I was also turned on, and disgusted? I blurted out 'Am I not enough for you?! Sexually?!?' When he caught up he was bewildered how I found something he forgot existed. He was supportive and nurturing and apologetic throughout the process as I coped with this for a very long time. The rest is epic relationship history.
I can't unsee what I have seen. No one is meant to witness that. There was a time I didn't know if I would recover. For a long time when we were intimate, those images were all I could associate with and it was very difficult for me to enjoy those moments with him. It took months, probably years, I'm still coming to terms with it, but here's what I have learned so far from this experience:
1). You've had sex with people before each other, and that's a great thing. All those things that are perfect in the bedroom, that sex that is the best you've ever had, a 'Thank you' to the exes who came before you is in order.
2). Don't get complacent. You will always compare each other to the past. Strive to be the best. You have the rest of your lives to accomplish this so don't stress out, but don't get lazy. It's easy to fall into a rut and stay there. I am fortunate enough to have precise, visual motivation reminding me where the bar was set, you'll have to use your imagination. Keep it fun, try new things, but also see number 3.
3.) You are you, you will never be the ex, and for good reason. You don't ever have to do everything they did, or like everything they liked. There are many reasons you are in the exes place now, and that one position you don't care for is not one of them. Don't put too much pressure on yourself and just keep being the you your lover fell for.
4). We aren't exactly the same person in every relationship, and that's ok. Some things we grow out of, or grow into, some things are just roles we play based on the relationship we are in. Why did he like that thing with her and not with me? Where did those decorative pillows come from if he hates pillows now? Why is he wearing boxers if he only wears briefs with me? IT DOESN'T MATTER. None of these things are defining the stability and success of your relationship. You wouldn't recognize yourself if you watched footage of a past relationship, this is no different.
5). If you dig up the past you are to blame for all the dirt that gets thrown around. Sure, I was hurt and angry and I wanted to put the blame somewhere. Initially, I called him a sexual deviant, I accused him of holding on to these files for his sick pleasure, but I new by the time stamps in the file properties they hadn't been accessed since way before we got together. I knew many consenting adults try this form of sexual expression, and even though I hadn't, it's not out of the realm of possibility for me. I got the shovels out, I dug, I dug deep, I am to blame for the mess.
While I wouldn't recommend popping popcorn and settling in for a night of your spouse's homemade pornos, I wouldn't undo what I've done now, because it forces me to accept these things and face my insecurities head on. Maybe you can learn from my experience, without being haunted by the images.