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Living with it...

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Amarula posted 9/25/2019 11:14 AM

I totally agree with Zug and Jayne: you don’t need artificial boundaries if you have changed yourself. After this psychological change, the boundaries are internal, you carry them with you wherever you go. It is much more than a cognitive reinforcement where you tell yourself: “I must not flirt; I must not give advice to this man/woman on their marital problems and feel great because I am needed; I must not strike a friendship with a person of the opposite sex at work as I could easily slip on the slippery slope because of my vulnerabilities.”

You can’t cure a sickness by treating only the symptoms, you have to address the underlying disease. fWW must continue to address her struggle with worth, and how she hustled for worthiness.

I absolutely agree. The underlying “disease” here is lack of self worth (emotional immaturity, an empty internal fridge). Cure the “disease”, fill the fridge with self love (self esteem, self worth, internal contentment with oneself, ie.emotional maturity) and the symptoms disappear.

Even if she strengthens herself and does the work, just like an alcoholic, she has to have hard boundaries where she did not before. She cannot flirt, she cannot allow herself to get into situations where she could backslide into bad habits.

And here I disagree: she will not “have to have” hard boundaries if she has cured the “disease”. She will not be like a recovering alcoholic who goes to AA and has to erect a boundary everyday between alcohol and her/himself by saying “24 hours without drinking”. The fact is she will not feel the need to flirt, she will not have anymore “bad habits”, and she will not fear any backsliding because she is internally fulfilled, self loving, and she relies on her internal fridge to nurture herself.

I agree with Jayne: I would feel my husband is unsafe if I did not see a profund internal/psychological change in some aspects of his personality. I was blessed to meet a psychoanalytic psychotherapist 20 years ago who became my “mother” for two years and who gave me the strength, confidence, self worth, self love that I never had. None of my previous destructive “habits” ever came back. The change was at a deep level, not like an alcoholic who needs to say everyday: “24 hours without alcohol.” I would not feel we are on the right path indeed if I felt that my husband needed to erect boundaries to prevent him from being a KISA. The change would only be artificial when it needs to be a deep internal one. the need to be a KISA needs to disappear. WHY was he a KISA, WHY this need to rescue (his mum, his friends, his colleagues, and the damsel in distress he had an affair with)? And so many other WHYs ...

That is why I do not agree with Shirley Glass’ take on infidelity, which would just be a matter of some external boundaries which we need to be aware of, of some bad habits that we need to fight against by erecting those boundaries. There is this example in her book of an unfaithful husband who recommits to his wife, is very serious about it, but carries on flirting. So Shirley Glass had to explain to him that it was a bad habit and gave him the tools not to flirt anymore (he had to be taught how to become more business like in his ways of dealing with his female colleagues.) So she told him: “these are the boundaries, don’t do this but do that” but the story does not say WHY this man needed to flirt in the first place.

The true self? It is for me the adult with his unresolved psychological childhood traumas, and it is also the adult, with his now resolved psychological childhood traumas.

I am sorry if I was long. I hope HO, who so much resembles my husband (who also had an exit affair) in what she says about herself, will forgive me for replying to Wounded Bear when she herself said so much.

woundedbear posted 9/25/2019 11:19 AM

Hikingout, I have loved how this thread is able to happen without the anger and other emotions we see so often. Each poster has offered their view with love and care. It is...needed.

Last night, laying in bed, I pulled out my tablet to catch up on some threads I have followed. FWW asked what I was reading, so I told her. We had talked of this thread. The talks have been healing, and she has opened in ways I have not seen in the past. I think she feels less alone, and more understood. A couple quotes really got to her.

The ticking time bomb was more about managing my life inauthentically and being so conflict avoidant. Instead of saying "I am not happy I want a divorce", which is what I was really thinking. I latched on to someone else like a teenager who didn't want to break the news to her boyfriend. Instead of being the woman who said "this isn't working we need to do something very different. I am miserable here". I made some feeble attempts of that and I escaped my responsibilities to that from there forward.
I also now understand that all the resentments I was carrying were my fault. First, because I was being passive on getting my needs met, and secondly because I didn't ever try and address them.


You probably can imagine the flood gates that opened up for fWW. I can't tell you how those statements gave focus to things she had a hard time seeing. It was a great talk, and we finally fell asleep exhausted. Some of the conversation continued this morning as each both drove to work and talked on the bluetooth.

So,living with it...requires understanding your why's, building firm boundaries, and committing to a life you can be proud of. Living with it is using the past not for shame, but as a lesson. Living with it is not holding on to the trauma, but also not forgetting.
Living with it is finding your voice and living authentically. And I will add this. Living with it is being "we" instead of "I" most of the time.

Oldwounds posted 9/25/2019 12:00 PM

So,living with it...requires understanding your why's, building firm boundaries, and committing to a life you can be proud of. Living with it is using the past not for shame, but as a lesson. Living with it is not holding on to the trauma, but also not forgetting.
Living with it is finding your voice and living authentically. And I will add this. Living with it is being "we" instead of "I" most of the time.

Very well said woundedbear!

This may be the most thoughtful and succinct recap of a cool thread I've read -- and I tend to read a LOT of threads around here!

More important, it's a great way to approach the rebuilding of a relationship from this very specific form of trauma.

hikingout posted 9/25/2019 12:39 PM

I totally agree with Zug and Jayne: you don’t need artificial boundaries if you have changed yourself.

I very much agree with this statement. The way you have stated it comes across more clearly for some reason.

I am actually not at all a flirty person. Nor am I really one to ogle over other men, not mentally or outwardly. I am quite introverted with most people to be honest. The "boundaries" that I speak of are really about avoiding conflict, and feeling "worth" getting my needs met, being able to say "no" to protect my time and energy.

I do think validation *can* be an issue for me. For a long time I got validation by doing an unhealthy amount for the kids. Big birthdays, Christmas's, staying up late to make them things they want, or going out of my way to run and do things for them without notice. I got a lot of validation from my husband when he would say "you are the most selfless person that I know".

So, when you take those things and turn them into unhealthy - the kids are gone, a big dose of validation goes with it. When you keep doing things to show your husband you deserve that lable of "selfless" then you aren't doing them from your heart. In fact, you get to the point you resent that you have to keep doing those to fit the picture you have now decided your life is. This is when it hit me that I wasn't living authentically if all these things weren't coming just from my heart but with a price tag attached. I don't think that was always the case, I loved them all and I genuinely wanted them to be happy. But there is a difference between enhancing their happiness and making myself responsible for it.


ALL of these things come down to what Amarula said - self love, self worth. That is something I think you can have and lose, but in my case I think its something I never had. So, part of living with it, or the struggle is getting something you were never able to get in the first place. So, the state that I am talking about being in is having it for long periods and starting to lose track of it. Allowing the guilt or whatever it is at the moment to sweep you over. The vigilance really comes down to keeping that core thing healthy.

That's where I was actually disagreeing with zug - I didn't understand what he was saying in the way you are stating it. So, maybe I didn't disagree if this was the way he intended it.

So,living with it...requires understanding your why's, building firm boundaries, and committing to a life you can be proud of. Living with it is using the past not for shame, but as a lesson. Living with it is not holding on to the trauma, but also not forgetting.

Living with it is finding your voice and living authentically. And I will add this. Living with it is being "we" instead of "I" most of the time.

I think this is accurate as well. Some of these I have down pat, some I am still practicing. But, this is a good statement of the goals.

ETA: This is extremely profound, and IMO accurate:

The true self? It is for me the adult with his unresolved psychological childhood traumas, and it is also the adult, with his now resolved psychological childhood traumas.

[This message edited by hikingout at 12:43 PM, September 25th (Wednesday)]

JBWD posted 9/25/2019 13:58 PM

I took longer to pitch in on this and was trying to formulate thoughts- Hopefully rehashing is OK with folks here...

NEVER. Hard word to parse. I think given the common context it’s truly understandable why it’s met with skepticism when discussed. And it’s kinda the central question of the whole matter, isn’t it? Does a WS ever truly stop being a risk to safety and security? The observer bias in this community is what makes this such a challenge- We as cheaters are remarkably good at self-deception, and perhaps the most hazardous form of that is hubris. Those of us who have subjected partners to more than one soul-crushing betrayal have used the word never before, and likely believed we meant it.

I believe it was just over in a post on General where a BS, looking for affirmation, was met with “I’ll try not to do this again.” Cheaters place ourselves in an unwinnable conundrum where there MUST BE the patience to see results- No WS is owed that patience and some BSs can’t hold on, nor should they be asked to.

But I like HO’s use of it as an affirmation. Unmasking the true self, undistorted and renewed in some ways. Helps bridge the gap between words and deeds.

[This message edited by JBWD at 2:23 PM, September 25th (Wednesday)]

Zugzwang posted 9/26/2019 17:58 PM

The only reason I don't think there was a propensity for cheating specifically is I was never tempted to do it - ever.
Yeah. Neither was I till I did it. It doesn't mean anything to me. IMO if I finally decided to do it, then I always was capable because of the reasons why I chose to do it. There was just too many other things that manifested themselves in different ways before I took the bait. Been baited plenty times before and turned women down. If I wasn't always a person capable of cheating, I wouldn't have cheated. There are many WS that state the same quote. Then they find themselves here stating it was soooo out of character. I have to ask what unhealthy things were going on before this grand finale to their decent.

IDK, this approached worked for me. I am healthy. I have zero need for what I wanted or needed before. I am happy. Happier than I was before in my entire life. I have true intimacy with my wife. I know it came at a great cost. I know myself. I see the relationships I have with my mother and sister. I am comfortable in my skin and I don't feel disgusted by myself when I look in the mirror. I was a cheater and I chose to realize that was who I was deep down. Not just in marriage but so many other areas of my life. I have cheated people out of attention my entire life. Center of attention by being the "prodigal son" the "undivided attention significant other in dating and marriage". Cheating goes beyond just infidelity.

Amarula said it well.

I think never is good to use. Especially if you have already become vulnerable and transparent and YOU know the depth of your selfishness. I said never before. True. When I got married. While I was cheating. I was also selfish. I am not anymore. I can say never because I know the reasons why I chose to cheat don't exist anymore. I can say never because I am vulnerable and honest about how selfish I was. I wasn't back then.

Zugzwang posted 9/26/2019 18:05 PM

IDK, I guess I find it difficult to see how it would all just balance on that one stressor. I truly believe there are people that have the moral character like my wife to never cheat. No matter what. No stressor would trigger them to do it. They don't have any reason to do so. I mean my wife has been through a ton of shit I could never have survived. I proved it. I cheated. Over a pretty fucked up insignificant thing. No horrible stressor. Just because I wasn't getting what I wanted. Not getting undivided attention after my kids were born to build the self. It comes down to self. Like Amarula said.

hikingout posted 9/27/2019 07:34 AM

I am not sure what you are referring to - one stressor?

Prior to the affair And then into it and just beyond- I was in full on crisis- midlife, empty nest, and was diagnosed with emotional exhaustion ( this is what they call it these days. In older times it was called a nervous breakdown). I feel 100 percent responsible for my decisions and that no reason constitutes an affair but “stressor” is an understatement. With bad coping skills I turned off my feelings. I wanted out of that numbness. I wanted things to become simpler, I really thought I needed to get out of the marriage but I had no strength to deal with one more thing. As I have gotten better I can see exactly what role crisis played in my affair. It’s a state of mind I struggle to describe. I didn’t talk about it a lot at the time because I don’t think I could really fathom the impact and also at that time I didn’t know how to talk about it fully without sounding like I was blaming it. I don’t blame my state of mind - it was a result of mismanagement of my life for so long which was fully my responsibility to begin with.

Zugzwang posted 9/27/2019 08:36 AM

The one stressor wasn't directed to your comments. It was towards others. The whole idea that everyone would cheat if exposed to that one stressor or breaking point. I just don't believe that because there are plenty that die and never cheat and they have been through shit too. Often times more than what the cheater has been trough. Though you prove my point. Having an affair was a climax to a long series of unhealthy decisions and character mindsets. Hence, why I think a cheater was always a cheater due to their innate character.

hikingout posted 9/27/2019 08:46 AM

I agree with that. Thanks for clarifying.

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