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Living with it...

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numb&dumb posted 9/11/2019 13:09 PM

8 years out. Antiversary came and went without me noticing. Granted my new work responsibilities are very distracting, but trauma isn't the kind of thing you can willing put out of your mind at will, is it ? So I take that as progress. My W remembered, but saw how stressed I was and waited until after to bring it up. Of course I did not like her withholding from me, but I appreciated her aligning with my priorities at that time. I also realized that the day carries a lot more negative thoughts for her than it does for me. It was an attempt to work through them on her own, which is very healthy too.

We are further out that a lot of people here, but I think that pattern remains consistent for couples who are still together this long after. The BS makes their peace with it until It is just a memory of a bad time in our lives that we had no control over. A WS choose to enter into that terrible time and has to own that choice. That really never goes away. JMHO.

I gave her genuine forgiveness and through that it has helped me let go of that pain. I know it sounds like new age-y bull, but I am beginning to see the individual benefit in forgiveness.

In a weird way I think it allowed me some agency/power back. It was a choice I made on my own. I made that choice and I choose to live that choice. I did for myself. I set myself free from things I could never control without time travel. It has really free'd up a lot of space in my emotional brain. I am free to think about much more pleasant things. I can focus more on what I want out of life.

I know my W remembers. She tells me when she does (most of the time). I also know that seeing me truly letting it go sometimes makes it worse for her. Don't get me wrong she is beyond grateful, but she is insecure in the fact that she doesn't believe there is something equivalent to show just how selflessly she loves me. It puts a burden on her to work harder. She may never find the equivalent and in turn has to remember that I had to forgive her because she did just about the worst thing you can do to a spouse. See how fast a positive becomes a negative ? It is her issue and she needs to work on that. I've done all that I can.

Don't get me wrong she is functional and doesn't let it her drag her down like it used to, but the memories are still there. People are meaning giving creates and a lot of our healing has been to assign meaning to those memories.

The memory for me is a triumph against very unfavorable odds. I am wiser, more resilient and I don't sweat the small stuff anymore. It evidence I can use to bolster myself when I begin to doubt who I am. I am awesome BTW .

Hers is a lot more complex. It is a story of redemption that always circles back to her failures in life. She survived and is happy she did, but the self imposed trauma goes a lot deeper than that. At some level I don't think she sees her choices as forgivable. It is hard not to see your own propensity for selfishness and just how cruelly you treated those people closest to you.

All mothers have guilt, but my W carries a lot of extra guilt with her. She choose herself over her family and I think to who she is (and probably always tried to be) that is hard to take.

Ok, enough deep heavy thought ? There are really good times too. Our kids are doing so well. My career just took a major step forward. Our M has never been stronger. We don't sweat the small stuff, but we do talk about it. Big things too.

There is no "ideal life," there is just life.If you are happy on more days that you are not. . . I'll take that. The past doesn't matter as much when you can look to the future with optimism.


hikingout posted 9/11/2019 15:13 PM

Numb&dumb,


Thank you. You articulated so much that I was trying to reach for here. Some important things I took from your post:

1. I have been thinking for a while I traumatized myself, but I don't throw that around lightly because I still don't think it's the same kind of trauma that I inflicted. And, I am always cognizant of that. But, what I did changed me.
This is exactly how I feel:

It is a story of redemption that always circles back to her failures in life. She survived and is happy she did, but the self imposed trauma goes a lot deeper than that. At some level I don't think she sees her choices as forgivable. It is hard not to see your own propensity for selfishness and just how cruelly you treated those people closest to you.

2. I think my husband is moving on from it. Like unbelievably so. And what you are saying here I think is what caused this post is precisely what you said here:

I also know that seeing me truly letting it go sometimes makes it worse for her. Don't get me wrong she is beyond grateful, but she is insecure in the fact that she doesn't believe there is something equivalent to show just how selflessly she loves me. It puts a burden on her to work harder. She may never find the equivalent and in turn has to remember that I had to forgive her because she did just about the worst thing you can do to a spouse. See how fast a positive becomes a negative ?


I could not articulate that, but it's exactly the weirdest thing about it. H says that I am punishing myself for something he's done punishing me for? But it's weird to me, because I almost feel like I can't be at the end of it and that I may never be?

At the same time what you say here is true:


Don't get me wrong she is functional and doesn't let it her drag her down like it used to, but the memories are still there. People are meaning giving creates and a lot of our healing has been to assign meaning to those memories.

There are really good times too. Our kids are doing so well. My career just took a major step forward. Our M has never been stronger. We don't sweat the small stuff, but we do talk about it. Big things too.


That last part, first congrats. That's amazing. Second, while not exactly the same thing, there are so many exciting things happening for us and our kids right now. I have one getting married shortly and so many fun events planned around that. The other just finished getting her practitioners license. The third is well into college now and is flourishing and learning so much about herself and life and she is such an old soul.

H and I have made some huge plans for downsizing, we will be moving in the next 6-8 months into a transitional situation that will allow us to retire ahead of schedule by a lot. We plan to travel the country - spending time in the national parks hiking and seeing as many concerts as we want. So life is moving on, I am happy and excited about things, it's just this whole other area of my life still feels like it should be tended to, and it's a weird feeling that it seems like I am the only one who wants to continue to tend it? It's like you are kind of saying, I am happy for him that he's able to feel removed from that, and I am happy with all the things that are happening, but this undercurrent is still part of my day to day and it's my issue to figure out. But, I guess if anything I can just try and have patience for that, and be thankful for some of the things I reap and learn from it. We spend part of our lives feeling a bit lost but from those times we learn. Anyway, I am still kind of free typing, but overall what you describe is the closest description of what I am experiencing and there was such relief from that I guess it's causing me to gush a bit.


[This message edited by hikingout at 3:34 PM, September 11th (Wednesday)]

numb&dumb posted 9/11/2019 15:42 PM

H says that I am punishing myself for something he's done punishing me for?

I have to laugh. Your H sounds like me.
(Not just liking Seger part either)

For awhile my wife punishing her self was a sort of re-assurance for me. It showed me that she remembered what she did and was owning it. Fine. As I have healed I don't need that kind of assurance any more. I need a more direct and positive kind. Thanking me for this gift is never unwelcome BTW.

I do have to caution you thought. My W incurred a debt that she can never repay. I forgave that debt of my own free will. I did it for me, not her.

Really and truly forgiving it means that the debt is no longer owed. It was my choice to do that. She can pretend that the debt is still there, but what does that gain either of us ?

What do I want? I want my W, who has made many mistakes, to share in those happy days. Who supports me and wants what is best for me. If she is busy pretending to owe me some kind of debt . . .that is hard not to take as a rejection of the greatest gift I have ever given her.

It was not her debt to forgive. It was mine.

KWIM ?

Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to just live your life knowing that none of us are perfect. You know what ? It is ok not to be perfectly healed. I got scars, baggage and everything that comes with my past. In reconciliation we focus on the bad stuff for so long we forget to focus on the good too. When your BS says they forgive you and don't hold it against you anymore all you have to do is believe them.

hikingout posted 9/11/2019 16:13 PM

I can see perfectly what you are saying. And, I do think that's what frustrates my husband.

I think it rolls back around to the idea of self forgiveness. The debt I feel to him is only one part of it, I think I can come to accept that he's released me of it. There is also the ways it changed our relationship (which neither of us can do anything about - we can only move forward in the relationship that we have and keep working on the relationship that we want - but we live in those consequences, both of us), but also the whole concept of self forgiveness and old truck hit that early on as the biggest suggestion of what I need to look at. I really think that might be where the leap hasn't been made. I have self compassion, I can understand how and why and what I have done since. I can understand that no one is all good or all bad. These are all leaps that I have made, it all takes time.

I do feel I can be present in the moment and happy though. And, I feel I am more present when I am with him than I have ever been. When we have something to celebrate, I definitely can fully take that in. So, it's like you are saying, I am functional, I am in it. But, I could start seeing the part where if he could forgive me then maybe I really do have to do it too. I have never had to forgive myself of something before so how that is framed and internalized I am really not yet sure. I will think on that part of it some more.

woundedbear posted 9/11/2019 16:37 PM

BH here. Living with it.

So, I broke my ankle a few years ago. Really good. I had surgery to put a plate and 9 screws in to hold it together. Did my therapy, 12 weeks of PT with strength and flexibility in mind. I was committed to getting past this. Like I said to the PT, I got a lot of life ahead of me, I got shit to do, and it does not include being crippled. I was able to end therapy with a 3% disability (most have 10 to 15%) Still, on a cold, damp morning, it aches. Still, when I step wrong, I can count on stumbling, and some pain. I still see the scars on both sides of my ankle, and can feel the plate and screws. My ankle is probably stronger, but not how I would want it.

I am somewhere around 4 years out from the Dday of my fWWs EA, and less time from finding out that she had a series of short As, some physical, throughout our 30 years together. Still, I committed to therapy and the thought that I was not going to give up on what I had for her shitty coping and boundaries. If she did the therapy, if she strengthened herself and got better, we could make it the rest of the way together, she did. But sometimes it aches and sometimes we stumble.

The questions change from me. No more questions like, what did you do, when, where? More questions like was how did you see an A fitting into your life plan? Couldn't you see it was beneath you and your goals? How did you get so low as to allow yourself to think something so wrong could make you feel better? Why didn't you tell me you felt worthless? How did you get to the point that you would do that for a man just to get them to like you? Some of it is just baffling.

What I found was that the pain inside me was devouring me and robing me of joy and crippling my capacity to love. I had to let it go, for me. In the process, I showed my fWW that someone could love her enough to be this hurt and still want her. That made all the difference. Still, it aches sometimes, and we stumble. But unlike before, we do it together.

I hope that helps.

hikingout posted 9/12/2019 14:42 PM

Thank you wounded bear. Your explanation was very clear and really quite beautiful in some ways. Thank you.

Zugzwang posted 9/12/2019 18:10 PM

Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to just live your life knowing that none of us are perfect

I adopted this differently. Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to just live your life knowing that we can and do learn from our bad choices. That to me is what it is. I will always have the bumper sticker and it does not bother me anymore because I accepted that I am guilty of that and owned who I chose to became. Instead of focusing on the past, I focus on who I want to be. I never really had problems with focusing on the past or sitting in the shame long though. So, I think once I was truly disgusted with myself it was easier to choose to get out of it. My focus was never about no one is perfect, only because I used that as blameshifting and justification in the beginning. I had to focus more on the future. I could choose to be better and I could gain pride and integrity by fulfilling that choice. I focus on that pride and integrity of choosing to do the hard thing. Being vulnerable. Being honest with myself and others.

Rideitout posted 9/13/2019 07:44 AM

I'll chime in for a quick one on the "punishing yourself" comments that I saw in here. That was NEVER what I wanted from my WW. In fact, if she never punished herself for the A, I'd be fine with that. I didn't want her to hurt, I wanted her to work to fix our relationship. And that SHOULD NOT hurt, she should want to do that (as should I) and it should be a mutually enjoyable experience for us both to grow our relationship.

I do sense some BS's seem to want their "pound of flesh" from their WS, and, I can't blame them for feeling that way. But it's never what I wanted, tearing a pound of flesh out of my WW just makes us both a pound or 2 light in the skin department. Doesn't help me at all to see her walking around with wounds. What does help is her tending to my wounds and trying to put back what she tore out. And that process doesn't involve, at all, her tearing off her own flesh to give it to me.

hikingout posted 9/13/2019 08:16 AM

Thanks rideitout. I donít feel my husband felt that way either. Consequences are different than punishment, and I donít see that he doled that out - more that they were natural. They are natural. Moving past this in our lives is difficult in some ways for both parties. I guess a lot of what I am talking about is just gonna be there if that makes sense? Honestly my husband has been amazing in every way.

nightmare01 posted 9/13/2019 10:14 AM

I kept expecting to get over it, but I realized at some point that instead it's more like something you live with and kind of grow to accept.

That's the bare bones truth of it. There's nothing we can do in the present that will change the past. It happened. It was awful, heart wrenching, horrible. We were abused in the worst way possible by the person we trusted the most - the person that stood in front of our families and friends and swore an oath of love and fidelity. That person tortured us, emotionally and physically, and we are left scarred in its wake. It happened. All we can do is hope that the abuse is in the past, and move on. The only thing we can do is accept that THIS is our life.

It's not fair, and it's not right. But it IS. All that's left is to get up and move on.

We are 18 years post Dday. I still struggle with the injustice of it. I resent that THIS is my life - I'm a good person that has never deliberately hurt anyone... I didn't deserve this sort of life.

I'm not suicidal, but some days I just wish my life would be over. It's been awful - and I just want to go home.

hikingout posted 9/13/2019 10:29 AM

I often think when someone posts that far out of it would not have been better to divorce? But I am learning there are nuances to it that sometimes make the answer no. Still I will ask, would that have been better for you? Why not find a way to live a life that you are happy with?

woundedbear posted 9/13/2019 10:47 AM

In the wake of Dday, somehow, I think with the help of a really good IC, I was able to find proportion with the A. I weighed what she did with the balance of our lives. For me, that was why it was not a dealbreaker. (It certainly would have been is she had not immediately went NC and started working her way out of the fog)

"In sickness and health" that was the vow I took. Yes, she did too, "forsaking all others" but she was sick, and she needed me to help her get better, so I stayed, as long as she did the work. She is still a work in progress, but who isn't?

Maybe that is the answer we are all looking for...how do you get past this? Do you just live with it or does it go away? I think, as time goes on, and new experiences are built on the old, the proportion of the A in your life becomes less and less. And if each of you are able to let go of the debt, and quit feeding the anger, shame and bad emotions, they fade, the hard, sharp edges get rounded and smoothed until it does not hurt as much. Maybe, someday, they erode away with the passage of time.

On punishments. No one gets away with anything, everything bares consequences. I never needed to punish my fWW. She did enough of that on her own. As the fog cleared, she had to face the person she became in the mirror. I did not have to do a thing. Sometimes it was too much for her to bare and even in my pain, she needed me to understand, even when she did not have the words to tell me what she was feeling or the words to help me with my wounds. I recognized early, that both of us were wounded. Compounding those wounds with new ones were not going to help either of us. Still, there were times I had to take a sledge hammer (figuratively) to that hard set of armor that she held onto so strongly. She needed to let down her armor to learn from what happened and grow as a person and a partner. That has been the hardest part, because when she put down the armor, she was vulnerable. Vulnerability was her biggest fear.

gmc94 posted 9/13/2019 12:33 PM

Why not find a way to live a life that you are happy with?

HO - I know you try hard to understand this stuff, and I appreciate all your sharing and vulnerability here, etc.

but (yeah, I know)

That statement is not very empathetic IMO. It's not really "getting" the depth of the trauma involved. And as we all know, that depth and ability to climb out is dependent on a host of factors. I've not read NightMare's posts (or don't specifically recall his story), but have every reason to believe he's spent these years TRYING to do just that.

As I'd bet you know, relational betrayal from an A is a profound, EXISTENTIAL trauma for many. Maybe your BH came to dday with a different skill set that enabled him to better cope. We all come to the table of dday with different skills. And there are always nuances about the A that may impact/trigger those skills differently, eg I'm quite confident that I'd be far better able to cope with my WH's A if it had been of a shorter duration. Doesn't diminish the pain of any BS - it's just having a sense of my own ability to deal with abandonment, hypocrisy, etc. Others will have different "buttons" from the betrayal.

I'm confident that EVERY BS is "Trying to find a life that [they] are happy with" . Some are more successful than others. Some may never get through it, for a bunch of reasons. Some get stuck. Some have a certain level of "happiness" but NEVER to the extent they felt happy before dday (whether R or D). But we are ALL - every last one of us - trying the best we are able.

[This message edited by gmc94 at 12:35 PM, September 13th, 2019 (Friday)]

woundedbear posted 9/13/2019 13:14 PM

Some are more successful than others. Some may never get through it, for a bunch of reasons. Some get stuck. Some have a certain level of "happiness" but NEVER to the extent they felt happy before dday (whether R or D). But we are ALL - every last one of us - trying the best we are able.

Maybe it is about perspective too. I was able to look at her issues as separate from me. She did not intentionally "do it to me". She just did it, and did not think of me. Something she was doing made her think it was making her feel better. Feeling worthless was part of her everyday that SHE had created. Flirting and getting the feedback she got when she did it gave her the chemical rush she was missing. Someone healthy would have looked for it in a different way. But she had to push it to keep getting the rush, and it turned physical.

We were abused in the worst way possible by the person we trusted the most -

So how do I get over the injustice? I guess I look at myself as collateral damage. She didn't do it to hurt me. She just did it, in the process, I got hurt, disrespected, etc. I am certain she never thought "this will teach Woundedbear". More likely she gave me little thought other than covering up what she was doing.

So now that she is healthier, I look at that time and realize she was not evil, she was sick. Her actions were evil, but they hurt her as much as they hurt me. She has to live with the fact that she got on her knees in front of men who could care less about her, and did what she did. Talk about being reduced to worthless.... She knows I would never do that to any person. But she let herself be treated that way, for what? Some ego kibbles?

Early on, she used to say, "I destroyed you, I made you feel worthless". I said no, you did not. I always knew I was worthy, even in light of what you did. I was never destroyed because I knew my own worth and value. She did destroy my trust, my image of her, our friendship. R has been about building new trust, a new image of her, and a new friendship. And boundaries, so she never again gets on her knees to anyone.

nightmare01 posted 9/13/2019 14:34 PM

As gmc94 mentioned - I have tried to find a life I'm happy with, and I've succeeded in some ways. It's taken me 18 years to get this far, part of that may be that I'm a slow learner, but the larger piece is that I have a history of self esteem and abandonment issues.

At 12 years old I was literally abandoned by my parents (and their extended families), and so had to grow up in Juvenile Hall, and (abusive) Foster Care.

[side matter] I now know several adults who went through foster care - and my experience of being beaten and used as a servant around the house is not that unusual.[/side matter]

After a while I ran off from Foster Care and lived on the streets - and sold heroin to junkies for several years to stay alive.

Needless to say - I had (have) trust issues. But I worked my way out of it, I got better, and when I found the woman that would become my wife it was like winning the lottery. I was so happy. I loved her. More than that - love is easy, I TRUSTED her completely. Can you understand how hard it was for me to really trust someone? Yet, I gave it all to her.

And she betrayed me with her long term EA and PA. OM met my kids. Slept in my bed. Took showers in my shower. He stole some of my things as souvenirs. This went on for YEARS.

During that time I also betrayed myself - it was obvious that something was going on, but I refused to believe it. I TRUSTED her, and so I lied to myself, thereby allowing her LTA to go on even longer.

So, there was a Dday - WW confessed over email while I was at work. WW blamed me for her affair. Her IC and MC agreed with her - they said our marriage was the problem, and because she was the one to cheat, I must be the one that drove her to it.

Her IC also told her not to answer my questions or give details, so in many ways I still don't know the full extent of her affair. I have pieces through, enough to know that they constantly professed love for each other, and dreamed of divorcing their current spouses (me and OM's BW) so they could be together. They were soulmates after all. That whole plan fell to pieces on Dday.

I stayed partly because I didn't want some other man raising my daughters. The abuse rate among step father's is scary high. And also - I thought that I wasn't worthy of a loving partner. Everyone of importance had abandoned me, so if I divorced my WW, the next woman would probably do the same thing she did. What difference would it make?

So, THIS is my life. What else can I possibly do but accept it?

gmc94 posted 9/13/2019 15:20 PM

sorry for the t/j:
Nightmare: I have a similar history of abandonment and FOO. I was old / fortunate enough to have not had to go to foster care, but have been on my own since age 15. Took me a LOT of therapy to get to a place of trust with my own "won the lottery" WH who had a very long LTA EA turned PA.

Everyone of importance had abandoned me, so if I divorced my WW, the next woman would probably do the same thing she did. What difference would it make?
I have also experienced these feelings, and am working really hard to reframe. Those old wounds - that I thought had been well healed - were burst open again on dday, but I am trying, every day, to change this mindset.
You are heard.

end t/j.

sickofsurviving posted 9/13/2019 15:36 PM

T/J round 2

I was kicked out of my alcoholic parents house at 14. Been on my own since.

Abandonment/Foo crap here, too. I went to therapy. Thought I was good. And now, this is my life. It has left me paralyzed. I just cant pick up the pieces. Again.

hikingout posted 9/14/2019 08:30 AM

Yes I knew there would be nuances, but sometimes when I ask a question like that itís because I want to get to know more about a poster. I am not at all familiar with nightmare so when he posted I wanted to hear more. I tiotally do understand that infidelity often puts the bs between a rock and a hard place and no decision can make it better. It was not meant to be a statement of why donít all bs leave when they canít be happy with reconciliation. But I was definitely not trying to be insensitive, more just wanted to understand the perspective in which nightmare posts from. I can see how the question could sound judgmental or over simplified.

Nightmare that is truly truly awful and yes I do understand. Thank you for sharing that with me.

[This message edited by hikingout at 8:37 AM, September 14th (Saturday)]

gmc94 posted 9/14/2019 12:22 PM

Thanks for clarifying HO.

nightmare01 posted 9/14/2019 19:12 PM

For what it's worth, I wasn't at all put off by Hiking's post. We all learn by asking questions - isn't that kinda what this site is about?

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