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Admitting it vs. Getting it vs. Owning it vs. Living it

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DaddyDom posted 12/5/2017 16:21 PM

My progression through WS-dom thus far has been both difficult and frustrating, certainly for me, and most painfully for my wife. There is a progression that a WS must make in order to heal and more specifically, in order to "fix themselves" and become that safer partner and better person that we talk about so often on SI. The progression is very linear in definition, but far from linear in practice. Each step in the progression gets exponentially harder to achieve, and back-sliding is a very real challenge. As the WS, I'm not sure that I'm the right person to define at what point I am at in the process. That's sort of like a mental patient telling the doctor, "I'm cured now!". I find that I am often positive that I am at one point in the progression when in fact, I have actually back-slid to an earlier state.

This is how I see the progression - this is just my personal opinion and observation by the way, nothing clinical. If you have other opinions or ideas about this, I welcome them.

Admitting it: The most basic first step but hardly the easiest, especially when still "in the fog" of wayward thinking. Many WS's never really get through this step. Simply put, it is admitting, to both yourself and others, what it is you've done. Simple enough in concept, but as most of you know, WS's struggle with TT and denial. Since infidelity by definition includes things such as lying and gaslighting and sneaking, the WS really ends up lying to themselves before they lie to anyone else, and the lies we tell ourselves are the most powerful. Admitting what we've done is hard. No one wants to be a liar, betrayer and abuser. All those justifications and compartmentalizations that we created in the first place (in order to enable this to happen) now have to come down. But those rationalizations are our armor... taking it off means we are now not only vulnerable, but also wearing a target on our backs. That's a scary thing to deal with. Which is why some WS's choose to stay in la-la land regarding their true selves and what they've done.

Getting it: Once admitting it, the next hurdle is "getting it". This is the point where empathy and compassion start to come back for the WS. Getting it can mean a few things, but generally speaking, it means that the WS is capable of putting themselves into their BS's shoes (at least to some degree) and actually understanding the outcomes and consequences of their choices and actions. Empathy and compassion were lost during the affair for the WS, they did not really exist. This again is a protection mechanism for the WS. What you don't acknowledge cannot hurt you and does not exist. Getting it is the first step in which the WS begins to truly understand that there were victims of the crime(s), and that your loved ones and even themselves are counted among them. In my personal experience and opinion, this is also the stage that often allows the BS to begin their healing journey if R is being attempted. At this stage, the WS is able to at least somewhat acknowledge and empathize with the pain of their BS and their family. Since WS's are selfish and self-protective by nature, coming back to this step over and over is often necessary.

Owning it: At the "getting it" stage, the WS is usually more fully out of the fog, and is able to say, "I did this, on purpose, to you, and it hurt you". At the "owning it" stage, they are also now able to say, "I had no right to do those terrible things, so I now need to put others needs before my own needs, accept the consequences of my actions, stop trying to control the outcomes, and do what I can to repair the damage I've caused". The WS starts to feel a little more "human" at this point, and is more self-motivated to take corrective actions. They are now "walking the walk". They usually start to realize that, not only are they broken, but how and why they likely came to be that way and begin to take corrective steps to fix themselves and be more accountable for their actions. They can be less defensive and more proactive about helping their spouse and family heal. Even if separated or divorced, a WS can get to this point and start to better themselves. In my opinion, this stage is crucial for R. Feelings can really begin to be shared between BS and WS, and often there is now a sense of "this happened to both of us" as opposed to "this happened to me" feeling.

(Fixing it: I didn't list it, but generally speaking, there is a pseudo-phase in between owning it and living it. This phase is where the WS, along with the BS, is taking steps to fix themselves and their marriage. This stage involves a shit-ton of work, patience and stick-to-it-tiveness, and is part of why healing from infidelity takes so long. This part is marked by huge gains and losses as both spouses struggle to come to terms with the reality of the situation, and acceptance of both what happened, and what is. Generally speaking, I don't think this stage ever really ends, it's a journey, not a destination.)

Living it: The last and most crucial stage, although I can only guess at what it involves as I am most certainly not there yet. It is a goal stage. At the living it stage, the WS knows exactly who they are, what they did, and the affair is now a part of their story. That is not to say that it is forgotten nor forgiven, more simply, it is part of who they are now. Back-sliding is now rare or non-existent, and the WS is living a more honest and authentic life. At this stage, the WS should be capable of self-love and empathy. The work done to get here is now a habit. I think that self-forgiveness would also mark this stage.

(Follow up - this post was part of some heavy journaling the past few days. I know it's a little more clinical and dry than my usual stuff, but I figured some folks might find it either interesting or worth discussing, so here it is)

swatter555 posted 12/5/2017 16:56 PM

Outstanding post, thank you.

ChangeMe1 posted 12/5/2017 17:31 PM

I needed to read this today, it speaks to something I have been struggling with and puts things into a clear light.

Admitting it is not owning it, and owning It does not by itself fix anything.

[This message edited by ChangeMe1 at 5:32 PM, December 5th, 2017 (Tuesday)]

FearfulAvoidance posted 12/6/2017 10:59 AM

Thank you for this post. It is very much needed, for me and countless other WSs.

Admitting it is not owning it, and owning It does not by itself fix anything

And thank you for this as well. I should get this tattooed on my forehead backwards so I see it everytime I attempt to look at myself in the mirror.

Root posted 12/6/2017 14:18 PM

For me it was I think like the stages of grief.

Denial: lying

Anger: well if you’d have spent time with me then I wouldn’t have needed to cheat (ea)

Bargaining: ok ok i cheated I’ll get off the Internet and give you all my passwords if you’ll let this go. I’ll even clean the house and cook.

Depression: I’m a pos and I can’t believe I ruined my life over some man.

Acceptance: yes this happened. It is part of my past. I’ll never forget. I am now free to forgive myself and move forward. (Not here either)

[This message edited by Root at 2:19 PM, December 6th (Wednesday)]

pigpen64 posted 12/6/2017 16:19 PM

Hello sir. Can you write a better book? I've admitted my affair. I know what I've done and the destruction I caused. Guess if I'm just pretty sure I feel what my BS pain is, I don't get it fully? Backsliding is a bad thing I've done more than once and forward motion is questionable. It's now at when we return home again, she will get out of the truck and bid me farewell. She is worse off now than 1st dday.
I will be having my 5th therapy with the new one on the 12th. He does challenge me. Only problem is I've started this too late, I fear. Conversation with BS yesterday, not sure if all good change came over night, probably wouldn't be enough to save our marriage. Too much damage done.
Not whining, just stating the awful reality done to my wife.

Brokenbeyondrepair posted 12/6/2017 16:51 PM

I don't know you and being a BW I would normally not have a kind thought about someone who could inflict this kind of pain onto another human being, but I actually believe you understand and are sorry for what you did. I wish my WH had an ounce of remorse and was a little more passionate about fixing the mess he made. Maybe in time he'll get it. Maybe in time I'll be able to walk away. Good luck to you. I truly hope you and your family make a full recovery and can start enjoying your lives together.

QSN11 posted 12/6/2017 18:04 PM

Thank you... this post spoke to me!

DaddyDom posted 12/6/2017 21:35 PM

@swatter555 - Thank you. I wish had been wiser sooner.

@ChangeMe1 - We all struggle with it, myself included. Knowing it also does not inherently fix it. The really insidious thing about being a WS is that our broken parts are themselves roadblocks to recovery. Not insurmountable ones I think, but challenges nonetheless. Speaking for myself only (although I tend to see a lot of myself in other WS's):

1) I have trouble loving myself and so I define my own self-worth and happiness through others
2) My learned coping skills involve selfishness, self-protection and conflict avoidance
3) Almost everything I do and am is based on fear

At the end of the day, this means:

1) Since I do not love myself, truly loving someone else, honestly and authentically, is not possible
2) I lie to myself and others, sometimes through justifications and compartmentalizations, sometimes just through plain-old direct and deceitful lying.
3) The fear makes it hard for me to see my real self, because I am too afraid to admit who I really am and what I have done. Not only the affair, but throughout life. The fear drives me to lie and compartmentalize (see #2) to myself, which prevents me from seeing the real me and instead I see a version of me that I think is good and self-loving (see #1), but it is still a lie I've convinced myself of.

I basically end up fighting my own efforts to heal. But I am bound and determined to overcome this in my life and in my marriage. My wife deserves it, my family deserves it, and I deserve it.

@FearfulAvoidance - thank you. I find I'm now posting things I wish people had said to me earlier on in the process. When I first joined SI people often gave advice such as, "Sit in it for a while" or "fix your own shit", which while necessary, are very fuzzy in terms of "what does that mean"? But mostly, I think I just need to solidify for myself where I'm at and where I want to be. Hopefully it helps someone else too.

@Root - your response floored me. You are so damn accurate as well. All the self-bargaining and justifying and more than anything, the constant "me me me" point of view... What shocks me now is not only my inability to see it then, but the continued inability still to see it now sometimes, even when I'm looking for it and aware of it.

Thank you for posting this. Maybe it sounds ass backwards, but sometimes knowing it is "not just me" that has this problem helps.

@pigpen64 - I'm sorry brother. I know you are trying, and I know it hurts like hell when you let both her and yourself down.

Imagine that I sold you a very rare and classic car, one you've wanted all your life, your dream car. But the engine doesn't run right, the brakes are shot, the drivetrain rattles, and a dozen other things are just mechanically wrong with it. I keep trying to repair the problems, but every time I fix one thing it seems like another breaks. You may love the car to death, but if it can't be fixed enough to be at least be usable by you, then it doesn't leave you with many options, does it? In truth, I should have fixed the car before ever selling it to you.

As WS's, we are broken cars to our BS's. You and I are very lucky. We are the broken cars and our wives are giving us a chance to fix what's broken. But they need to see us working our asses off to figure out what's broken then get the problems fixed. Until we achieve that, we're just not useful for the purposes we were meant for (i.e. being a faithful, protective and stable person and partner).

Give yourself a little leeway. You can't fix everything at once and if you did, it would be a half-assed job at best anyway. So pick one thing, whatever makes the most difference, and work on it first. This is just my opinion, but I'm guessing that your wife doesn't expect perfection, she expects effort. As long as you keep making the effort, you'll get to the perfection eventually. What I'm positive of however is that if you give up, so will she. So don't let that happen, okay? Cry it out, punch holes in the walls and drink yourself to sleep if you have to, but when you get up in the morning, do so with the sole intention of being a better person today than you were yesterday. If you do just one thing today to be a better person, it counts. Keep making it count.

I'll share a quote with you, from Brene Brown:

“When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness—the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness—that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging—lives inside of our story.”

Try this. Pretend for a moment that you and your wife broke up. She asks you for one last favor however... she asks you to find a man for her that will treat her right. What kind of man would you pick? What qualities would he possess? How would he treat her? Who does she deserve to be loved by? Figure that out. Then go BE that man.

@Brokenbeyondrepair - Thank you, you are very kind to say that. I too hope that your H finds his remorse and empathy, for both of your sakes. I see that you joined SI in September of this year, is that when you found out? Please know that at that point in my own recovery process, my head was still so far up my own ass... my inability to "get it" just kept causing my wife more and more pain. The only thing worse than being lied to is having the person who lied to your face look at you and deny their own culpability, or simply not care. Eventually, I started to see myself in the mirror. Maybe it will happen for your H as well? ((hugs))

@QSN11 - Thank you, I'm glad it did :)

TwilightBed posted 12/7/2017 00:05 AM

@DaddyDom, thanks for some insightful thought-provoking stuff, your efforts are appreciated.

Lucky77 posted 12/7/2017 06:32 AM

During the thick of the fog of my A I felt what is the harm that I'm emailing and texting this person non stop. What harm can that be? So we connect for feels where's the harm there? Now I see the A will define my life just as much a other huge life milestones.

I like your post DD. I also feel a need to play out the non quantifiable parts of my A so I can A-proof myself for the future and not get into this mess again. There are many mysteries in life that can't be put in a neat package and quantified by a multi step list.

I am finding now I have to eliminate a complete class of relationship now from my life......that being "friend" status of opposite sex. I am being so mindful of boundaries now. So calculating in what I say and avoiding what might be misleading comments or something that might even be remotely flirtaceous. That saddens me a bit. Who does't enjoy the pulse race of a little flirty flirt. Time to go buy my W some flowers now.

pigpen64 posted 12/8/2017 18:29 PM

Hello sir. Thank you kindly! Being a car nut and wrench, that makes perfect sense.

I'm not sure just why, but after a serious posting, something always changes in our struggle. We spoke for an hour or so, or more she asked and I answered without the usual anger and venom. That created a new start. Found an audible book about emotional focus therapy and listened. WOW! Talk about a click!! We looked at each other and said " she is talking about us!"

We're at the house for a short weekend the back our for a few weeks before the holiday. I asked if she would stay in the truck and had a resounding yes.

That part about picking out the new guy then being him is cool. Thank you sir. It's yet another tool to add to the ones recently found that I can really dig.

Still here...

DaddyDom posted 12/8/2017 18:36 PM

That is so awesome to hear Ray! I'm glad things are positive for you. What book was it that you listened to? I should check it out.

I hope you guys have a nice weekend. I too find that after a big blow up, things get better. I'd prefer to find a way for things to get better without the blowup first, of course. :) We went out to see a movie last night and are going to see a performance at our daughter's school tonight. I think it's helpful to get out and spend some "us" time together. Maybe you guys will get to do that this weekend?

pigpen64 posted 12/10/2017 08:18 AM

The book is called Hold Me Tight by Dr Sue Johnson. We will finish listening on Monday then relisten to hear all we missed.

Yes, good without a blow up would be awesome and one more thing to strive for!

Working for a better tomorrow while making new memories today.

Still here

pigpen64 posted 12/12/2017 21:26 PM

Hello sir. Finished listening to the book today and got to the questions and exercises. Gonna hear what they are then relisten to catch what was missed the first time.

Up here is the frigid( 16° without wind chill) and deliver in the morning. Stay true and walk the talk. It's a wonderful thing to have the one you love still wanting to be with you.

Safe travels and Still here.

OneInTheSame posted 12/13/2017 15:43 PM

This BS thanks you for that thoughtful post.

islesguy posted 12/20/2017 06:04 AM

DaddyDom,

This is an excellent post and at the same time is so heartbreaking to me because I can see myself as going through these steps again and again with each betrayal with defensiveness (one of my biggest problems) again and again injecting itself and causing me to go backwards instead of forwards through these steps.

Also, can you provide any specific examples of things you would attribute from your life in the fixing it stage?

EvolvingSoul posted 12/28/2017 22:01 PM

Bumping this because it's just so darned helpful.

brokensavage posted 12/30/2017 11:41 AM

Hey,

Do you mind if I print this out and hang it on the wall? I really don't want to ever lose it; it's that useful. I want my F's perspective on it too, but he never comes near this place.

DaddyDom posted 12/30/2017 11:45 AM

(((brokensavage))) Please do. I'm glad you and others find some value in it.

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