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Feeling Stuck in Anger/Plain of Lethal Flatness Phase

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Missredd1 posted 10/28/2019 15:28 PM

Your post is my reality right now! I started finding out about my partner’s cheating a little over a month ago. There were the lies to try and sugar-coat the situation, but every since I first found out he was cheating on me I’ve revealed more and more information each week. So far it’s involved four women he’s slept with, and multiples he has snap chatted or messaged explicitly. All of this was going on during my pregnancy and continued after I had our baby in June. Like you, I feel all these emotions and I don’t even know what to do at this point. As soon as I found out l quickly responded with “We can work through this!”, but as the weeks have gone on, and more information has revealed itself it’s hard to even fathom seeing any light at the end of this tunnel. What makes it even more difficult is that we have, now, three young’s kids we’re raising together so I feel obligated to work things out for that reason and a couple more. There’s days when I feel like everything is going to be okay, and get better. Then there’s days when the emotions hit and they hit hard, and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry but I can’t because I have kids that depend on me, I have work, and I have a house to maintain. To make matters even better I discovered Saturday night that he was still communicating with someone he had slept with in the past, and had ask been one of the women he was messaging sexually. I feel defeated, and I hate feeling this way. As far as the triggering goes, everything triggers me for a few reasons. One being that al the women he either had slept with, or was contacting, had every single characteristic he told me he didn’t like (I.E overweight, attitude, piercing everywhere, tattoos everywhere), and to put the icing on the cake he fat shamed me for over a year before I got pregnant because I had gained around 60-70 pounds from stress eating so to see the type of women he slept with felt like a slap in the face.

So to make matters worse, one of the women is pregnant and he isn’t sure if the twins are his so we are waiting on that (I can’t even wrap my kind around this reality), and he never used protection with any of them. He tried to downplay my feelings and told me I didn’t have all the facts and was making out to be more then it was because I didn’t know if he had slept with each one multiple times, or just once each. However, that really shouldn’t matter right cause cheating is cheating at the end of the day. I also asked him to complete an STD panel to which he replied that “men know when they have caught something” so now I have to go through the embarrassment and complete one🤦🏽‍♀️. Overall, I’m just in disbelief because I have never and I would never do something like this to him.

Thumos posted 10/28/2019 16:57 PM

Missredd1, I am beyond sorry you are going through this. This sounds magnitudes of order beyond my own situation.

I don't want to sway you one way or another, but you need individual counseling. I've only been one time, and it's already helping me. You can find good help and perspective here.

I will say that reading your post was incredibly painful and my heart aches for you. I believe your WH is being incredibly abusive, and you should not have to put up with it for one day longer.

Thumos posted 10/29/2019 13:54 PM

Wanted to provide a quick update.

Over the past two weeks, I took a week long vacation, followed by a week of business travel. So I’ve not really been in a place to collect my thoughts and provide an update until now.

Between the vacation and the weeklong business trip, I was able to have my first appt with individual counselor. My second appt. is this week.

The therapist specializes in betrayal trauma (so fortunately no rug-sweeping, blameshifitng, pathologizing of the victim, etc.) and sees betrayed spouses all the time. I’m encouraged. Therapist really gets it. Therapist also works as a “team” with another therapist who is seeing my WW — and they manage a disclosure process as well.

I learned a lot from the very first appt. In contrast with the marital counselor we unfortunately made the mistake of seeing right after D-Day, this therapist immediately empathized with my feelings of ambivalence and emasculation and gave me concrete details to begin to understand it. I was stunned and validated all at once. I never felt like I had to argue my case with this therapist or get him to pay attention to what I was trying to say.

For example, I didn’t know that men release both oxytocin bonding hormone AND vasopressin when sexually intimate, while women only release oxytocin. In addition to the “bonding” nature of oxytocin, vasopressin (according to my therapist) has a stronger “possessive” bonding impact on a man — and this goes a long way toward understanding the chemical and empirical basis of emasculation from wives’ affairs. After having been intimate with one woman for years, a man’s physical body has been sending reinforcing signals that this woman is “yours” - it’s not a toxic social construct; it’s a physical reality.

When your woman has offered herself for sexual conquest to another man and has been “taken,” betrayed men thus feel completely violated and emasculated. Their physical chemistry inside their own bodies has been disrupted. This is probably especially true in a case like mine, when I’ve only ever been intimate with one woman, ever. Men also routinely describe the pain of viewing their wives as damaged goods. It probably also at least hints at why men are perhaps a little more inclined to cut their losses after a wife’s betrayal.

Emasculation seems to have been a constant puzzle and debate on SI in many forums, so I wanted to share this, as it seems a logical and scientific basis for understanding the undeniable reality of emasculation.

Further, it seems that vasopressin release levels are probably linked to somewhat higher T levels. Cuckolding a man may be the “Samson haircut” or Achille’s heel of men with more robust T levels — something that lays them quite low indeed. Lastly, it’s not something a man can talk themselves out of or try to rationalize away. When it happens, it happens. It is physical and real.

This made me oddly feel better about myself.

I thought also that WW’s on SI might be interested to learn this. It helps make sense of the very real physical pain that betrayed men seem to feel. It also suggests WW have (more than likely unknowingly) triggered an ancient and unalterable physical process inside their husbands. They have permanently altered the relationship, any relationship going forward, and they have permanently altered their BH’s brain chemistry — and while we always say here on SI that marriage 1.0 can never be retrieved, it may be even more true to say this in the cases of BH’s. I believe this accounts for the oft-expressed feeling of BH’s here on SI that the ‘specialness’ of their WW’s is gone (and that this feeling seems permanent). While this may be discouraging in some respects, I also find it realistic and a way of looking at a new relationship with a WW moving forward. It won’t be particularly “special” even if you build something new, but neither would any relationship with any other woman. WW’s won’t typically be “special” in any sense in a BH’s eyes after innocence has been shattered, but a BH can decide on their own terms to have a relationship that is still rewarding with this woman.

I believe this vasopressin phenomenon also accounts for the “ache” that BH’s often seem to feel every time they look at their WW’s, hug their WW’s or are intimate with them. For me, it’s a raw nerve pain I would liken to herpetic neuralgia (having had shingles as a younger man, I know well what this particular nerve pain feels like — and the “ache” of loss when looking at a WW is very similar). A particular type of severing has occurred — and for BH’s it may be more acute in a special way, and firmly grounded in the lived, physical experience of being a man in three-dimensional time empirical reality.

I also learned something from my appt about “liminality” which my therapist described as feeling like an astronaut cast adrift into deep space. This describes the feeling of ambivalence and limbo that many betrayed spouses feel almost perfectly. “I miss the earth; I miss my wife / It’s lonely out in space” - from the lyrics of “Rocket Man” encapsulate the experience of liminality.

Combine this with the very real nature of emasculation and you have a recipe for alienation, feeling stuck, feeling uncertain, feeling flat etc.

Liminality is also a rite of passage. The astronaut can’t go back to the spaceship; it has been destroyed. The only way is forward — through dark, deep space into an unknown future. This also made me feel better, because it suggests that my feelings at the three-year mark are quite normal. It’s somewhat like the Joseph Campbell hero’s journey model — and indeed, that model may be the best way of making sense of a betrayed spouse’s journey (something I hadn’t thought about before).

Other news: WW continues to work on the list of things we’ve discussed. She is on the verge of sharing her detailed timeline with me and we are working with both IC’s on a disclosure process for that.

So mostly good news.

On the mixed news front, after having initially agreed in September to a polygraph, my wife is now balking at having a polygraph. I consider this a non-negotiable and have been quite clear about this.

She is trying to use our therapists as a way to object, opting for the disclosure process instead. However, I have been clear about a “both/and” approach for the disclosure and poly — and the therapists have no objection to this (they simply don’t use polys themselves).

While there is a good deal of debate about the efficacy of polys, my intent is to simply use the poly to “force the issue” on truth I suspect I’m not getting. My WW has said our decision to reconcile or not is “a matter of the heart” not a legal trial. My response has been that our decision to reconcile is indeed a matter of the heart, but the truth is a matter of facts, and if the truth is being withheld, I can’t make an informed decision.

If my WW refuses to move forward with a poly, it’s a deal breaker for me, and I’m prepared to walk. A refusal to submit a poly would be a tacit admission that she is simply continuing the pattern of gaslighting, burying information, refusing to let me see texts, withholding details, trickle truthing me, etc. Obviously I find this untenable, if that turns out to be her decision.

I’ll update soon with more information.

[This message edited by Thumos at 2:06 PM, October 29th (Tuesday)]

Butforthegrace posted 10/29/2019 20:42 PM

This also made me feel better, because it suggests that my feelings at the three-year mark are quite normal.

The "plain of lethal flatness" at the three-year mark is normal based on other threads here.

The chemistry thing is interesting. The great majority of betrayed husbands report the feelings of emasculation and the loss of specialness, etc., so I know it's a real phenomenon, but it is interesting to hear that there is a likely biological component.

What I've learned from reading SI is that the variables -- the unique factors that impact the trauma experienced by an individual betrayed spouse -- are infinite and their impact on the specific betrayed spouse is often unpredictable.

We often see here on SI that what a wayward spouse does in the aftermath of DDay can be more injurious than the actual A, or can be the first step toward healing. The unique factor in your thread is the profound degree to which your WW gas-lighted you during her A, and continued after the A, adding to the gas-lighting outright insults, belittlement, DARVO, etc. Bottom line is that she vociferously guarded her cocoon of intimacy with her AP against you and your M with her, to the point where much of the data that would shed light on it is now permanently destroyed. Therefore, though a plain of lethal flatness phase of some degree is common at three years, your specific thread is not common because I can't think of any way that she can now undo what she has done to the point of giving you the basic respect of transparency and honesty. It seems irreversible. I will be interested to see what her "disclosure" will bring. I believe she promised this to you many weeks ago. In the end, though, my guess is that you'll have to decide to either simply live with your current reality, or not.

[This message edited by Butforthegrace at 9:12 PM, October 29th (Tuesday)]

nekonamida posted 10/29/2019 22:08 PM

Stand strong on the poly, Thumos. You are spot on that any disclosure without it will be full of lies, minimization, and gas lighting. A timeline without a poly with a WS like yours is basically useless.

gmc94 posted 10/29/2019 23:33 PM

Thanks for the update.
The biochemistry is fascinating (tho I suspect every BS wishes they had no reason to care). I guess my feelings of female 'emasculation' are rooted in plain old pride.

Keep us posted (and i'm glad to hear you are sticking to your guns on the poly. I realize some therapists don't do the disclosure + poly model, but MANY do, it seems to be the standard for SA).

Thumos posted 10/31/2019 13:29 PM

I am most definitely standing firm.

As you have said, this is really the only empirical backstop left to me since she elected to destroy other information and refused to provide me with a detailed timeline for three years. It’s the only thing I can lean on for any support, the only thing to provide me with even some assurance that I’m not moving forward under false pretenses.

If she won’t do this, it speaks volumes about how she actually feels about the marriage and me.

And if she refuses, it would in all the essentials prove she is lying to me — so why would I want to continue to be married to someone who is so attached to their lies, and so untrustworthy?

The logic is pretty clear for me on this, and I’m not budging.

HouseOfPlane posted 10/31/2019 19:47 PM

my wife is now balking at having a polygraph.
There's that scene in the movie The Sixth Sense, where the young boy either steps toward the Bruce Willis character when he gets things right, or away.

Let her know that you are taking steps away every time she argues the point of the poly. The stepping away is occurring now.

She just needs to give herself over to you, and do whatever you need.

Sending strength!

stolenyears posted 10/31/2019 22:57 PM

Thanks for the biology lesson on oxytocin and vasopressin. Never had this info presented together and it makes sense. Need to do some research on this but it definitely hits the nail on the head in terms of emasculation.

My wife passed her poly and it gave me peace of mind that I had the complete story. Stick to your guns on that...all the best to you!

3rdstrike posted 11/1/2019 13:05 PM

Thumos, This has to be one of my top three favorite threads. Sorry it took you so long to get to this point but for my own personal healing, I am glad you are here at this point in time of my own recovery. The scientific side of things definitely helps me feel like I am not so crazy.

sisoon posted 11/1/2019 14:14 PM


You've set the poly as a boundary, it's unhealthy to give up boundaries, so the question that follows isnt about doing the poly or not.

The poly is a one shot, point in time event. Building a good sense of your own ability to read cues/non-verbals accurately probably is even more important.

How confident are you in your own abilities to separate truth from fiction?

20yrsagoBS posted 11/1/2019 17:08 PM

Never give up your boundaries.

It’s isn’t their humping like bunnies that kills the marriage.

It’s the lies.

Hiding old texts isn’t forward momentum.

It’s her JOB to be a wife open book.

I wish you luck. This whole thing sucks!!

ISurvivedSoFar posted 11/2/2019 09:51 AM

Thumos - thank you so much for the update. It is amazing when one connects with a good therapist. It is so validating - helps us diminish the "I'm crazy" mantra that pounds through our heads and is supported by the gas lighting. I'm glad there are some scientific revelations that explain the reaction you are having.

I want to address a comment here.

If she won’t do this, it speaks volumes about how she actually feels about the marriage and me.
I'm going to provide another perspective. It expresses how she feels about herself. We all know our WS's were willing to throw away us and the M. That's a fact by their actions of infidelity. However, and this one is easier to accept intellectually than emotionally, it is more of a reflection of their fear of themselves than anything else. I've been in IC for quite some time using EMDR and EFT. Although it really distresses me during the sessions, the EFT helps me understand and realize the true meaning of my WS's actions. While having to concentrate on my WS is at times frustrating for me, I can see the value now, this far into my therapy. It allows me to see his actions differently and not as an attack on me. That realization doesn't change my boundaries nor my ability to be clear on my requirements for a healthy relationship. However, it helps to see that their actions are largely born out of trying to save the loss of us as BS's.

The good part about this is the healing that comes with such a realization and the ability to put the infidelity in the past finally. It has also helped to stop seeing my WS as poison to me - to stop be disgusted by him (analogous to damaged goods I suppose). The relief is amazing. And it opens up the opportunity to relate differently as partners while keeping the boundaries and requirements for a relationship.

Mostly it addresses this

Building a good sense of your own ability to read cues/non-verbals accurately probably is even more important.
It helps to move from tactical encounters that attempt to suss out truth from fiction to more holistic relations that dig deeper into relating on a level of honesty and vulnerability. Your WS isn't there yet although her work seems to point to an attempt to get past her own blockers.

It is so healthy for you to continue on your path to get emotionally healthy and process this. I hope that your W can do the same so that you are able to come together.

Keep us posted!

Thumos posted 11/3/2019 17:07 PM

How confident are you in your own abilities to separate truth from fiction?

As to this, not very. I would have said before the affair, very. Since the affair, my confidence in my intuition and ability to discern truthfulness is shot. That's seemingly what happens when the monogamous life partner you trusted above all others betrays you.

Thumos posted 11/3/2019 17:10 PM

On the poly, I don't view it as the end-all/be-all. I do view it is an important symbolic step, and something that will provide me with at least some empirical grounding for moving forward.

So it's a big deal -- and it's a non-negotiable. It's a hard boundary that probably represents in some respects hard boundaries I should have put in place much earlier.

I'd like to move on from the tactical debates on truth and fiction, as well, but I don't feel comfortable doing that until I feel I'm not moving forward under false pretenses.

ramius posted 11/3/2019 22:15 PM

So it's a big deal -- and it's a non-negotiable. It's a hard boundary that probably represents in some respects hard boundaries I should have put in place much earlier.

Better late than never man.

As Neanderthal thread showed, the poly is a useful tool. Once you know exactly what and who you are dealing with you can then plan a future course of action.

sisoon posted 11/4/2019 13:22 PM

separating truth from fiction is less intuition and more tuning into very real non-verbal communications.

Thumos posted 11/4/2019 16:32 PM

Unfortunately things took a strange turn this afternoon.

I had let the issue of the polygraph lie dormant through the weekend, though I had been very clear last week about it. And then on Friday my therapist had given me the name of a reputable examiner.

Around noon today, I texted my wife on her way to her therapist appt and told her I'd been given the name of an examiner, that I was calling him and that she could talk to him as well before we set up any examination.

No response, but I felt this was bc she was driving and would be busy in her therapy appt.

In the afternoon, I ended up talking to the examiner. As I was on the phone talking to him about how the exam works, how long, the cost, etc. I got a text from MIL informing that she was in the ER with WW, and that she'd had to go up and pick up my WW bc she was having a full blown panic attack at the therapist's office.

I informed the examiner this was happening, he sighed and said, "Yeah, unfortunately you may not need the polygraph."

I immediately called my MIL who was cold and distant and began talking to me about how bad my marriage was. She said my WW did not want me to come, which is ok bc I need to be at home with the kids in any case.

I'm here at home with them now and cooking a meal we had already planned that my WW said she was looking forward to. I've told my MIL that if they sedate my WW it may be best for her to spend the night with her parents but of course she may also want to be in her own bed.

My SIL was much warmer with me on the phone, and seems to be continuing her pattern of being sympathetic with me but also supportive of her sister. My SIL is retrieving my WW's car this afternoon from the therapist's office.

I don't know precisely what to make of this, but it feels like D-Day three years ago all over again. Oddly, I feel surprisingly calm and at peace. I feel bad for my wife and I don't want to cause her pain, but the path is becoming clearer for me every single day.

This feels like a critical juncture obviously.

My WW does have some anxiety but she's not on any medication for it, and she hasn't had any panic attacks requiring an ER visit EVER in the quarter century we've been together. I want to be empathetic and supportive, but as anyone on this forum knows, this points to bad news for me.

All signs point to significant truth being withheld.

I've said the poly is a hard boundary with me and it is.

If my WW has been lying to me for three years, I can't see how I would want to continue a committed monogamous relationship with that person.

I'll probably go see an attorney tomorrow to visit about my options. Believe it or not, I had not done that this entire time.

Robert22205https posted 11/4/2019 17:00 PM

Her mother is not your friend.

Stay strong and stay the course.

Thumos posted 11/5/2019 08:07 AM

Quick update: my IC is able to see me this afternoon to help process what happened yesterday. I talked to WW last night - I tried to be empathetic but my anger came through. She was lightly sedated so a little easier to talk to, but now just merely talking about the adultery or associated issues causes panicked feelings in her.

That seems like an untenable situation. I don’t think she was faking a panic attack but I do think the walls are closing in and this is her reaction.

Of course, She did use the panic attack as a reason to refuse the polygraph. I told her no one was forcing her to do it, but if she can’t bring herself to do this simple thing for me, then we need to separate. She said “you’re going to blow our marriage up over this?!” And then proceeded to DARVO me. Why was I doing this to her? Etc. Also saying that she’s done everything else I’ve asked so why am I drawing a line in the sand here?

I was gobsmacked because it was the same old wayward thinking showing itself. She has demonstrated empathy the past month but the real feelings are seemingly always under the surface waiting to come out.

At the end of the discussion, I tried to reason with her by saying if she refuses the polygraph, she’s guaranteed to lose me. If she does the polygraph, she may still lose me or we might be able to reconcile, so what does she have to lose? That seemed to sink in. She agreed, but I’m just waiting for her to change her mind again.

I can’t keep doing this. I’m seeing my IC today, I will move forward with the IC’s disclosure process, but I’m also going to try to see an attorney this week to at least understand my options and what a separation and divorce would really look like.

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