Coming from such trauma can actually have some upsides. Primary being you learn very early that those that are supposed to care for you the most won't, or if they do they really suck at it. That's actually a pretty valuable lesson.
You also find your strength. That's where I needed my real work. Honing that skill and learning how to use it and when to sheath it.
My bet...and I could be waaayyyyy off, is you have a bubble sea of rage just under the surface. People have stopped existing for you as individuals and just became caracitures lacking all nuance and frailties but disappointing at best and dangerous at worst.
Your children and their needs were sapping from a depleted pool and I can imagine you being somewhat resentful for any already scarce resources drained.
That rage may be your start. I had boat loads of it. Still have a few reserves.
'til the roof comes off. 'til the lights go out. 'til my legs give out, can't shut my mouth
I am a repeat offender, years apart, like you. Thing is, you can't just white knuckle this shit and promise it will never happen again. because we have to change certain things , some big some small, about ourselves or it will happen again.
It will happen next time we are bored or sad or feeling unloved or whatever. And there is a shiny OM ( new penny) who sees us as beautiful and funny and whatever we need.
This is your Husband's fear. This is my husband's fear.
Self- esteem, coping strategies, FOO issues, boundaries, justifications.
These are the core issues.
You need to become a safe person for your BH. You need to dig deeper than sadness and boredom. Because next time you feel sad or bored or resentful , you need a new way to deal.
The second affair was an escape from the mundane reality we were living in.
I don't know if you said this to your BH, but be careful going there. Because that's the reality of married life and there's very little he can do to change it. We can take nice vacations once or twice a year, have a weekly date night, hire babysitters, whatever. But the fact is that real life for most of us involves mortgages, bills, groceries, full-time jobs, laundry, rushing around taking the kids from here to there, etc. That's just reality, and it's that way at least 90% of the time. A real, committed relationship can never compete with the fantasy escape aspect of an affair, where there are no bills, no crying babies, and nothing really except for stolen moments, sex, and ego strokes. Nor was it meant to.
And that's exactly the way your life with the OM would be if you had to deal with each other around the clock every day. Just throw some stepchildren into the new reality mix. I wouldn't emphasize to your WH the mundane nature of your life together unless you want him to give up hope because he can't change day-to-day reality.
Take care of yourself, babbs.
If I were in his place I don't think I would ever be able to trust you again. I would always be checking on you and that is no way to live. Good luck with your recovery.
I saw this and had to respond. As a BH, what you call mundane reality IS my escape. There are few enough people in this world that I/we can trust or depend on so it's an escape from that shitty world that I look forward to at the end of the day. No matter how *mundane*, it's supposed to be safe.
My family, not my FoO, but the one I have voluntarily chosen, is my escape. Now that has been proven to be false. Where does your BH turn now? What are you doing to prove it's *safe* for him to *escape* again.
You've been getting some great counseling here and it seems like you are having some "aha" moments. I see that as good. At least you are trying and you want to work it out. That is a very good place to start. Follow the advice all these wise souls have been giving you. As BS's, we have lots of ideas on what our WS could do or do differently to make us feel safe and help our recovery.
Understand this is a LONG journey. Your H has been traumatized in the worst possible way. You will need to work on this for years. But it can get better. You seem to understand that you are the one who needs to do the work. Again, I see that as good. Whether your road ends up bringing you together or not, you need to do the introspection and self-analysis for your own healing. You don't want to bring that same baggage to your future relationship with H or anyone else. So, keep doing the hard work. It will pay off.
BTW, I wanted to suggest a quick read for you. "How To Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair". Maybe ask your H to read it and write in the margins on things that speak to him. I read it first and made my notes and gave it to my WH. Hit him like a 2x4, but he stayed up all night to read it and then couldn't sleep. It sounds like you're ready for that kind of "therapy". It will give you a lot of insight into how this is affecting your H. He will also likely feel a little better when he reads that what he is feeling is "normal" and is explained to you by someone other than him.
Wishing you luck and courage on your journey!