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Being played. Paralyzed.

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pureheartkit posted 2/2/2019 09:52 AM

Speedy, we could have cried together on that hike.

I remember the same thing happening. Sitting in my favorite viewpoint bawling my eyes out, wondering how I got so thin, so sad, so unloved. But I wasn't unloved at all. Look at all the love surrounding you Speedy, you are loved!

Those texts......I couldn't bring myself to read my WS texts. I think it's good you left it ambiguous. He'll probably work on the place in hopes that it helps you forgive. I'd be asking for photos of the progress. This is good for him. He ought to throw himself into the work. He can chew on his decisions while he finishes things. A good long solitude would be good for him. He is looking for a fast bandage from you. Don't give it to him Speedy, let him face his thoughts.

If you ever have that thought sneaking that somehow you earned this abuse or you were too weak and made it too easy you tell those thoughts where to go!!!!! They can go live with the neighbor from you know where.

SpeedBump posted 2/2/2019 18:40 PM

I can't believe this thread has gotten to be 17 pages of support, advice and shared wisdom. I'm truly humbled anyone cares enough to sit and help me through my problems, allowing me a safe space to mull over details and look at the collective experiences and see how and if what others have done can apply for me. I'm wondering if it would be better and easier to follow under a new thread? How does that work?

Today, well really, everyday since, I have been pondering how I got to where I am. One recurring thought has been making noise in the background of my mind and so I thought if I wrote it out here, maybe I can find a way to properly deal with it and get advice on it.

As I mentioned, both WH and AP have been widowed. I also know this is a topic my WH and I have only superficially really dealt with as thankfully I am completely clueless about what it must be like and so feel unqualified to discuss. He has also usually addressed it by saying it was a long time ago and in the past and has said it would be awkward to discuss with me as the new woman and love in his life. I never asked if he felt awkward for himself or for me, as in he didn't want to hurt me by discussing the first woman he loved for my sake. I only know that I have internalized it as I am not "the love of his life." I have convinced myself that she was the love of his life and that is why he doesn't really want to discuss it with me, it's too painful for him. Upon reflection, that's a pretty sucky place to be but it's also honest on my part.

I have also come to accept, and allowed, that as we age, that romantic "soul mate, love of my life" belief in a relationship is a youthful wish and that what is more meaningful is to have a comfortable, dependable, committed relationship where we have each other's back and are in alignment about how the second half of our life will go, free from the stresses of raising a family and accepting crappy work and bad management for fear of financial instability from losing a job. All this to explain that I believed I accepted a comfortable and calm love and partner for my next and final chapters of life while maybe he still searches for a love that matches what he lost. Probably worth clarifying that he was loving and attentive toward me. There was affection and attention so I don't want anyone to think he was completely cold and callous - it just was never the over-the-top, can't-keep-hands-to-self relationship.

Clearly OW was able to connect with him on the matter of losing one's spouse to death. In that respect, she was immediately able to connect with him at a much deeper level on the issue of meaningful relationships lost and the resulting struggles about that in a way I would never be able to. Believe me, I am not making excuses for where that relationship ended up. I am just dissecting my own timeline on where this all went sideways and trying to reconcile how I let this go so far.

I know that when we learned AP was widowed, I thought to myself that it could be good for them to talk because I know I feel like he still struggles with that, even though he has had other relationships between me and his wife who passed away. He dated one woman for over 3 years and the reason he gave me for their break-up was she would constantly bring up what she thought were unresolved feelings he had for his deceased wife and her death. So it is a subject I always tread very lightly around, though when or if he ever mentions her, I let him talk and feel safe that he can discuss her, her sickness and her death with me. But, as mentioned, I felt he now had someone he could discuss who could understand and so I think in some way, I 'encouraged' they spend time together in hopes they'd commiserate and he could have someone to help him deal with it. Of course in hindsight....completely idiotic!

Anyway, sorry if that is all over the place but my brain is scattered and I have come to realize that I was never 100% completely comfortable in my marriage because there was always this piece of him that seemed hidden away and I was ultra-sensitive to making it an issue. To be fair, he only once told me he just wasn't comfortable going into to great detail about his feelings about her and her death and from there, I made my own conclusions and began acting accordingly. He would mention her in passing as we all do when we speak of our histories, places we've been, people we know, etc, and seemed completely comfortable and normal in doing that.

To that end, and because of all that I wrote above, I sent an email to WH and simply asked, "Why her?" And that was the entire email. For some reason it matters to me. Why her? Not so much "what does she have that I don't have" but just "why her?"

I know I'll get answers from you all here that the "her" doesn't matter and that it's a defect in him and that anyone would have met his need but really, why pick the person closest to our new home where no matter whether I ever found out or not, she was always there, right next door. Why be so destructive?

Intellectually, believe me, I know it doesn't matter. But emotionally, it's there and I feel, right or wrong, I need to know.

If, when, WH and I do begin to deal with this, I do plan to raise the issue of the deceased wife, my feeling second to her and how it's not a healthy space for me. I have previously accepted I could live with that and so far I was doing fine with it. Until now. And now I know I am no longer fine with it.

SpeedBump posted 2/2/2019 18:42 PM


Speedy, we could have cried together on that hike.

Oh how I could have used that shoulder to cry on and thank you for making me feel so less lonely and understood.

The1stWife posted 2/2/2019 19:04 PM

So his prior relationship commented on unresolved issues being widowed and now you are noticing the same thing.

So the AP is able to connect through a shared experience that they were both widowed.

And at some point he will leave her too.

Because he is searching for something he will never find. He cannot replace his deceased wife unfortunately.

Just know the AP could have been anyone. She’s not special. Though she may appear to be. But she will be replaced one day. Because he has issues.

So sorry for you.

Cooley2here posted 2/2/2019 20:47 PM

They might have connected through grief. She might have comforted him. All that is true. So why the mind games with you as the victim?
The husband of my lifelong best friend is a history buff as I am. He and I can talk on the phone for hours. Not one time in all these years has either of us said one thing that could be misconstrued. Their shared grief should have been that and only that.
I realize it looks like I am pushing for divorce. No such thing. I just hope you don’t lose sight of the real cruelty of your husband. If he says it was for the thrill tell him to start riding roller coasters, or become a matador. Torturing your wife is not a sport except to sadists.

Stevesn posted 2/2/2019 21:15 PM

Hi Speedbump

Personally I recommend keeping to 1 thread as long as you can. The limit is 50 pages It just makes it easier for us to find your latest thoughts and needs.

As for your WH and his bonding over lost spouses, do you know specifically that they did discuss it? Of course that was probably the doorway to the Emotional Affair. Of course if he ever honestly tells you what it was, when and if you are ready to discuss, then you’ll know.

Do you know if he did grief counseling after his wife passed? He himself probably has unresolved issues he never worked thru. And not wanting to discuss it with a former gf or new W probably was that he didn’t want to hurt her or you by saying his heart is still broken from losing her.

By not doing that work, he may have still cared about and loved and even was in love with you, but perhaps the release of talking about it with POSOW created a false sense of affection that caused an EA.

Absolutely doesn’t forgive it. And the playing games behind your back is still close to unforgivable. He’s a grown man, he needs to be better than all that.

I ask if you told him he needed IC. You may not be ready to tell him what he should do yet besides buy the house. But if I was advising him as a WS it tell him to find himself a therapist and get his as into twice a week sessions. I hope he has
Figured that out if you haven’t been kind enough to tell him.

Good to hear from you.

Shockedmom posted 2/2/2019 23:20 PM

You are pain shopping right now. I do understand the need to rationalize his actions however his answer may not be truthful. He will be in CYA or he think he is protecting you from further pain. Honestly I might have done the same thing.

How I wish I had a magic wand to erase this entire episode for you. You have done nothing to deserve this. The self doubt and fear of trusting in the future are a part of this whole ugly mess that is infidelity. Hoping he could find some ease by sharing common experiences does not make you naive.

Keep eating and take those walks and build up your stamina for hiking. You are getting stronger, it shows,

fareast posted 2/3/2019 07:00 AM

Hi SpeedBump:

I wanted to respond to your last post. It seems like all of us you are grasping trying to understand. I get it. For what it’s worth let me tell you what my experience and my gut are telling me. Please ignore if you think it is nonsensical. You asked your WH: Why her? The answer IMHO: it was never about her and it was all about him.

The shine had come off the rose on your European experience for your WH for quite a while. He was bored and allowed resentments over the situation to start to build. He knew that this overall was a great opportunity for you both, and it was a great opportunity for your career. He knew his concerns were petty and selfish and he never mentioned them except in passing comments like: “ you could just hire a handyman to do what I do.”

He is at home a lot and begins to talk with the OW neighbor. They commiserate over having lost spouses and shared experiences. He begins to share with her how he is feeling disconnected and not useful in your current experience. The OW if she was your real friend would have told him at this point to talk to you about it. Instead she is a snake. She senses his vulnerability and feeds him ego kibbles and validation: “A real W would never neglect you like she does.” “ You deserve to be treated so much better than she treats you.” Your WH makes the terrible decision to fall for the ego kibbles and validation. You see it all the time on this forum. The WS likes the attention and validation from the OW/OM. Your WH and the OW bonded over making you the enemy. You were the one ignoring your WH. As long as you were unaware of their cruel game it gave him a momentary feeling of power to pull their “dares” and she kept egging him on, knowing how destructive it was to you. “They were like two 7th graders playing two’s company and three’s a crowd.” Yes, it was that immature. This is not to excuse your WH in any way. He is a grown ass man making his own terrible decisions. But his motivation was never about her or that she was a soulmate or special. She provided a validation for his built up resentments and made him feel special. You will often see a WS do anything to keep the ego kibbles coming. You mentioned once that he did not seem that into her. He wasn’t. Sex with her was the currency he had to pay to keep the ego kibbles coming. It was all false. When you confronted him he has since demonstrated he is overcome with shame and consistently wants to make amends. He knows he was pathetically weak and made terrible decisions and fell for a false fantasy. This is just my two cents and it is probably worth that much. Please remember that he is totally to blame for the decision to have an A. He had lots of options to talk to you about how he was feeling and any resentments.

As you move forward from my perspective, if you decide that you want to talk to your WH and give him any chance after the cruel way you were treated, foremost, he needs to get IC or therapy to deal with his brokenness in having such weak boundaries and such an inability to talk you about his real feelings and not let his resentments build up to the point he could make such a terrible decision. Good luck.

[This message edited by fareast at 11:42 AM, February 3rd (Sunday)]

realitybites posted 2/3/2019 07:26 AM

But his motivation was never about her or that she was a soulmate or special. She provided a validation for his built up resentments and made him special.

This above ^^^^^ is what I feel is probably true.

You are still so new to this and so raw, no one expects you to know exactly what to do right now, in fact I think the fact you were at least smart enough to get yourself on that plane and go see family and get some distance speaks volumes of how strong you are, but this infidelity stuff goes deep so give yourself some time.

Its also super hard in the beginning to not look at who the WS has an affair with and think "why them". Sadly infidelity does seem to put the burden on the BS and being in some kind of competition with the OP.

But truly the enemy in your marriage, if you want to call it that, was your WS's silent resentments, his own sense of self worth and his inability to be able to speak with you about it. Because in his own way he did like the life you guys led, he was probably pretty proud of what you were doing I might say, but he was also silently feeling resentful of his "power" position in the marriage. And so he sought out validation and attention elsewhere.

When you read the above however, please don't take this as something you can fix or you can help him with.... he willfully chose to do this, he knew what he was doing, don't ever think he did not. He chose to betray the person he was in a partnership with to make himself feel better. He chose very poorly.

Since you are a business person lets put it in business terms, if you had an employee you really enjoyed working with, they had been with the company for a long time, you trusted them with business and financial transactions, a true trusted business partner.... and then they were caught stealing from the company. It would hurt, you would feel betrayed, you would be shocked, they would have to probably be fired from the company and possibly even go to jail. There are consequences to lying and cheating and stealing.

A marriage is about love and partnership, but it is also a business. And in that business you felt that he was in agreement with you as to how you both were going to live within that partnership, and you thought it was all going fine.... until he decided to lie and cheat and betray you. He chose to "steal" from the marriage and go elsewhere for what he thought he needed. Unfair and also unknown to you and there was no way you could have seen this coming as he did not talk to you about it.

Of course not as easy to sever a relationship or a spouse/loved one as it is emotional, painful and it has you reeling with trying to figure out the "whys" of how it happened.

Keep working on you, keep trying to take care of yourself and your health, that is what is most important, put the oxygen mask on you first... this stuff takes awhile to work thru and your emotions will go all over the place.

I just want to strongly keep saying to you as every BS needs to hear this over and over... it was not about you. Yes you were in the marriage and any marriage can have its ups and downs, but his way of only thinking about himself and taking the ultimate act of betrayal as a tool to "fix" your marriage was not the right way. He excluded you from being a part of any decisions because he wanted what he wanted. Sure he could feel "bad" now cuz he got caught, but the hardest part of figuring out an affair is realizing that the affair was just the tip of a much bigger iceberg.

Keep swimming. Keep working on getting yourself healthy.

Cooley2here posted 2/3/2019 10:54 AM

Forgive me for hijacking this. I would like to ask the men who have responded to this what they think of his behavior. In my job, and occasionally in my private life, I’ve run across cruelty. It has not dented my sense of self worth, fortunately. I still have a strong loving support system. In fact one of the cruelest was against a friend of mine and she has never recovered completely from it because there was no reason for it except jealousy. So, men, what do you of his behavior? There are millions of affairs around the world every day and this one is probably no better or no worse than any of them except for the utter cruelty of playing with her like a mouse being played by a cat. What was the outcome going to be? It could not have gone on and definitely. So as men how do you see his motive?

Booyah posted 2/3/2019 13:45 PM

Cooley, in my opinion ALL of this is on her husband!!!

To call his action(s) "immature" is a weak excuse.

The sex and emotional betrayal is one thing, but freakin pales in comparison to the PSYCHOTIC mental games he was playing with SpeedBump.

It was HIS wife for crying out loud.
Who gives a rat's ass if she was a snake as he's the one who never shut it down and protected her and took pleasure in it.

He's WORSE than a snake!!!

This coming from a man who lost a wife to cancer and should have hopefully learned how fragile life is and to turn around and do this shit?

Who cares if things weren't playing out in this new venture the way he planned. Go talk to your wife and if you want to go cheat behind her back and break your vows and be a piece of shit cheater have at it BUT to play these PSYCHO mental games with someone you proclaim to love????

In my humble opinion Speedbump's H has NO clue what love is and if it were me (after EVERYTHING he's been through in life thus far) if he doesn't understand what it is (and he doesn't) he's never going to get it and life is too damn short to have to explain it to him.

That's my two cents Cooley.

That said SpeedBump it's YOUR decision and whatever path you decide you want to go down I'll support it as I'm sure most of us here on SI will do.

HouseOfPlane posted 2/3/2019 14:50 PM

I would like to ask the men who have responded to this what they think of his behavior.

Freeme posted 2/3/2019 14:52 PM

I sent an email to WH and simply asked, "Why her?" And that was the entire email. For some reason it matters to me. Why her? Not so much "what does she have that I don't have" but just "why her?"
I'm glad you sent it. While I feel like you've been great at "moving on" without dissecting everything they did or said with him in the room... I don't like the fact that he has been able to call it ... a mess or a bad situation, something he wants to forget, help you move past... or blame it all on her. I think your question raises the question if she was so easy to throw under the bus, and so vile then how could you throw it all away (us) for her?

You know it's not about her or you it's about him being broken but... I'd like to see what he says. If he realized how broken he is to have done this.

ChamomileTea posted 2/3/2019 16:24 PM

I can't speak to every affair, but I can tell you that my own WH's cheating was, at least in part, about his hostility toward me. I saw the emails, and I read the horrible things they said about me. One particular OW had even made jokes about coming by my house so she could knock on the door on some pretext just to get one over on me, so that she'd know what was really going on and I wouldn't. My WH didn't shoot it down. He laughed. Another one came by my work, again on pretext, and when I mentioned it to him, he told me that she was the girlfriend of some guy he knew and that she was mentally retarded. Weird stuff, I know. But OWs get off on it. Proving to themselves that they're more interesting, more bold, more clever, or whatever inane competitive benchmark they've puked up is WHY they do what they do.

Doesn't explain my WH though, does it?

I think what happened with him is that I had become the target of everything he felt was wrong in his life, like I had some big, fat bullseye on my forehead where all his angst and disappointment was directed. There had been this passive-aggressive energy emanating from him like a cloying stench for YEARS. And don't get me wrong, I don't think it was all about menacing me, not by a long shot. The larger part is about wanting some strange and all the excitement that goes with it. Not only was I at fault for everything bad in his life, my very existence was keeping him from getting porn star sex with multiple partners.

I don't know what's going on with your WH, Speedbump. But you can't rule out underlying hostility. If it exists, even he might not be aware of what's causing it. Sometimes people aren't honest with themselves about their feelings, particularly when those feelings are irrational or ugly. Sometimes, it's just as simple as getting old and not having anyone to blame it on, pointless anger with no obvious target. Who knows? The only thing for sure though is that this is about HIM, not you.


SpeedBump posted 2/3/2019 16:42 PM

Fareast - wow, your last post really resonates with me. It makes sense in many ways, mostly if I look at it through the lens of an impartial observer. It all makes sense. It's hard not to see that and even somehow "understand" it, while sadly also sounding so damn cliche.

I can only speak for myself and not WH but I really felt the shine had not worn off of our Euro adventure. We still were in exploration mode, going on wonderful little side trips to nearby villages, beaches, cities and countries. We explored the area we lived around from restaurants and shops and entertainment venues. We discussed in long detail where else we'd like to go and maybe live once I was done working. It really seemed he was still into it. But as far as any hit to his ego with regards to me still having a job to go to and making the money, I can't speak to that dynamic for him but I know I was sensitive to it and made sure he knew I saw us as equal partners pulling the same weight to build the life we both seemed to want. Maybe he didn't believe that himself or maybe in his mind, as the man, he needed to be pulling more weight. I don't know but he is a very traditional type and I can see this could be have an impact on him but he wasn't communicating that to me.

But I know you're all right. About so many things. The hardest thing to reconcile is the cruelty. It's as though I can look outside my misery and see how the A unfolded (so effing common) and think to myself, "wow, if he had just had the affair and it ended, maybe I can see a way to fix this," but I just can't comprehend the cruel games. All at my expense. All. At. My. Expense. (Crying now.). Why couldn't I have the cookie cutter "not feeling like enough of a man" WH? Why did mine have to take it to the nth degree and take great pleasure toying with me, while watching me desinegrate before his very eyes?

Obviously this is what I can't see past. This is what I can't grasp, understand, reconcile in anyway, shape or form in my mind that brings any level of understanding. He would have been less cruel to just put me out of my misery.

What a g0@d@3m mess!!!

SpeedBump posted 2/3/2019 16:53 PM

Chamomile Tea - You make me feel so much better by feeling I am in such good company with incredibly strong and smart people, as sick as all this is. Your perspective makes me feel so less lonely...and less stupid. I can believe that WH harbors resentment for me...well, clearly he does, though I was clueless before.

I'm so sorry for what your WH and the evil APs put you through. I guess in my fairytale life and mind, I chose to believe people were inherently good and forgot that evil does walk among us.

Thank you for helping to dry my tears, straightening my tiara and getting me back to forging ahead.

steadychevy posted 2/3/2019 19:18 PM

Cooley2: What Booyah said.

Cooley2here posted 2/3/2019 19:27 PM

Another thing. His anemic response to your falling apart.

He sat and listened to you list his cruelty and watch you fall on the floor and he just laid down next to you.
He did not insist on going with you when you left. Instead he stayed home to berate the OW
When you were hospitalized he showed up but leaves. I don’t care if you demanded it he could have stuck around.
He left you alone in a condo.
And he has the temerity to call what he did a “mess”.
Is he always this robotic?

He seems divorced from reality.

In this world, when the chips are down, people show their true colors. First Responders go toward the problem. People show altruism in hurricanes, tsunamis etc. Then there is your husband. His idea of dealing with anything is being mean. I rest my case.

Stay safe. Be healthy.

[This message edited by Cooley2here at 7:32 PM, February 3rd (Sunday)]

Booyah posted 2/3/2019 20:54 PM

"I did have WH drive me (when you got out of the hospital) and we pretty much drove in COMPLETE SILENCE with me looking out the window and him completely clueless how to start any conversation with me beyond asking if I was comfortable enough, warm enough and whether I wanted him to shop for me".

ChamomileTea posted 2/3/2019 21:40 PM

Glad if I could help. It's an up and down kind of battle to remember that the cheating isn't about you. Believe me, I know. The weird thing about infidelity and healing is the duality of it all. Your perspective wants to shift between anger/empathy for your WS and anger/empathy for yourself. Finding balance is so hard because it's not like we can crack their heads open to peer inside, and even if we could, chances are they'd be just as hard to read as what's inside our own. I've had a very difficult time being compassionate without engaging more extremely in pity, both for him and for me. Pity, and worse, self-pity are traps though.

Pity for the WS can cause us to forgive too soon or to abandon our boundaries. Self-pity can drag us down into despair and depression. Post-trauma compassion is a whole different animal than the compassion we've experienced previously. It needs to be tempered with the new boundaries we design and then maintain.

Anger is likewise difficult to manage. There just doesn't seem to be any good place to put it. Often, we end up turning it inward. Our internal dialogue suffers and we become our own worst critic. This leads to MORE despair and depression. And turning it toward the WS doesn't assuage it. Even the most remorseful of WS can never feel what we felt.

For right now, your best bet is to keep trying to convert all that energy into self-care and getting strong. Time does its thing. WS's reveal themselves to either be open to the hard work of repair or they show their true stripes. And for the BS, we absorb the initial blow, start working our boundaries, and our preferred path begins to reveal itself. I remember when I was just a few weeks in, much as you are now, that I couldn't see a future at all. It was terrifying. The path before me seemed to have fallen away and there was just all this empty space ahead of me, unformed with no footholds. But trust me when I tell you that your view will start firming up, that there IS still a path before you and that in time, you'll be able to see your way.

((big hugs))

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