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Understanding your "why"?

Eaglethedog posted 9/6/2019 09:50 AM

Only a year into recovery when a memory resurfaced and and I told my wife about it in MC. I know this resets everything to zero. One of the many things I struggle with in IC is my why I had the affair to begin with? All my answers seem hollow and not the truth when I explore them. Working on it in therapy. Just wondering if there was any advice out there for things I should be doing (or doing better) that I can try. Thanks.

hikingout posted 9/6/2019 10:26 AM

Well give us some ideas on some of the things you explored?

For me the process was a tracing and not all the answers came at once. On a basic level why did we do it? Because we wanted to. But why did we want to?

Some of the first answers tend to blame the bs. But look closer if that’s the case for you. If there were resentments building up over specific issues why did you choose not to address those as they came up?

What were you struggling with in the period before the affair? Often that can give clues over how you cope and you can explore what would have been better ways to cope. And then you trace that because usually the healthier ways were not hard, so why didn’t you choose them?

Our thoughts are typically distorted. When we look at what we thought at the time, we believed it. When it hits the light of day then you can see how false they were.

The whys are important so you can be aware of what needs to change. Some of the clues might be in changes you have already made over the last year, if any.

Why do you think you had the affair? We can help you build on that.

JBWD posted 9/6/2019 10:53 AM

How is your therapy structured? Does your IC “work well” or do you have lingering doubts that might leave you unsure about effective IC?

What worked well for me: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT.) Dr David Burns’ “Feeling Good” was extremely helpful in categorizing/recognizing cognitive distortions- When we choose to believe feelings over empirical fact. Folks like us allow such distortions to feed terrible decisions, and understanding where/when they arise and what triggers them allows you to anticipate and counter. My .02 on an effective start to “whys.”

(You said this “resurfaced memory set things to zero-“ That sounds more like trickle truth (TT.) Is that accurate? If so one thing to consider is how upfront you are in disclosing, that kind of timidity/risk aversion (if you ARE minimizing and TT) needs to fade quickly.)

Eaglethedog posted 9/6/2019 16:57 PM

I don't think that the memory of the ONS was a TT. I did trickle truth the details of the affair a year ago before coming clean about a month afterwards. The IC therapy is CBT. I guess I'm not sure about the path that it's taking because it's exploring some things that I didn't think we're trauma from my younger years. Mom/dad's multiple affairs, abandonment, etc. I agree that the original answer to why we did it was because I could. I'm starting to explore my feelings more and we'll terrifying it's been helpful.

JBWD posted 9/6/2019 19:12 PM

Just re-read your first post. So understand that you were married/committed at time of ONS(?) Bear in mind (and I’m sure you heard this) that the fact that you could forget this act is as bad as holding it to yourself. Just to hammer that point home if you hadn’t already grasped it.

Examining deep rooted issues is necessary and there will likely be things that don’t seem/aren’t traumatic but play a part in your flawed decision making. MacDonald highlights several risk factors and exposure to parental infidelity is, IIRC, one. I don’t know what you would expect to be looking at but FOO issues are from my perspective good indicators of the environment that fed cognitive distortions.

I am a little surprised in that the books I started with worked more at the “acute management” level of distortions, and then encouraged deeper analysis of the underlying whys- Starting at the outside layer of the onion and peeling it back, if you will...

I disagree with the “because I could” train of thought- That answers the potentially equally important question of why one didn’t STOP, but if we are here examining how our decisions were flawed with the end state of becoming a safer partner, we have overwhelming evidence that one doesn’t stop “could-ing” infidelity. It’s never truly an explanation, and doesn’t provide feedback or insight. It is a fact, and a disappointing one, but doesn’t adequately address the flawed thinking- Unless you get to the category of person who legitimately doesn’t give a shit: There’s a lot out there but I don’t anticipate them being on SI regularly.

sorrowfulmate posted 9/7/2019 08:22 AM

One of the waywards who isn’t on much anymore use to say continue to ask why.

This lead me to writing every why I could think of. It didn’t matter if it was a surface why or a bit deeper. Even the surface why’s are a crack into the basement door that leads down to the deeper whys.

Example:

I didn’t feel loved. If we remain here it’s really is a blame shift on the BS but we move deeper into this by opening up the door and going into our darkness.

Why did I not feel loved? Because I am insecure.

Why am I insecure? Because I never felt I was ever good enough.

Why do I feel I was never good enough? Because my father told me I could always do better.

This lead me to explore my father’s constant messages that I was not good enough. That nothing I would ever do would please him. I tried for years to do things that were up to his expectations. I still, to this day battle this demon. He is dead and I still have this need to gain his approval even now.

Even typing this I feel the pain of that rejection and the message that was programmed inside me that his approval equaled his love.

That is one of many deep holes inside myself which I used many thing to fill. Drugs, alcohol, affairs, masturbation.

The problem is that isn’t my only why. I had to do this with many more and go down that rabbit hole and find those deep things in myself which I try to fill with outside things.

I’ve learned that nothing fills them. I have to find my self worth inside me. This is a long hard process of self discovery which for me is ongoing. I’m 55 and at least 40 of those years have been spent in either learning bad life skills or living life using bad life skills. The last 5 years has been learning new ways of living which involve me looking at my reactions in all areas of my life and checking myself if I’m reacting to my old ways or am I using new mind paths.

Essentially I went down the rabbit hole multiple times with each member of my FOO (Family of Origion)and others around me at the time and looked into the family dynamics and the tools I used to cope with them. Those coping mechanisms didn’t work. They were a defense against a dysfunctional environment. The problem is I brought those into my marriage and helped create a new dysfunctional environment with my family.

One example of this is my lying. I learned early on that I lie almost automatically. My first inclination is to tell someone what they want to hear. Now when I’m asked a question I have to ask my self am I telling the truth before I say it.

Early on in R I learned a technique to pause a few seconds before speaking as I considered the answer. I talked with my BS about this and she understood that if I don’t answer quickly it’s because the snap answer which formed isn’t me just automatically lying. 5 years ago there were quite a few stops like this, but now them work I continue to do on my self has helped me tell the truth. 98.9% of the time my first answer is the truth. The rest of the time I’m quicker at spotting the action of wanting to say what the person asking wants to hear and then give the truthful answer instead.

Eaglethedog posted 9/7/2019 10:23 AM

I don't think that the memory of the ONS was a TT. I did trickle truth the details of the affair a year ago before coming clean about a month afterwards. The IC therapy is CBT. I guess I'm not sure about the path that it's taking because it's exploring some things that I didn't think we're trauma from my younger years. Mom/dad's multiple affairs, abandonment, etc. I agree that the original answer to why we did it was because I could. I'm starting to explore my feelings more and we'll terrifying it's been helpful.

Eaglethedog posted 9/7/2019 11:24 AM

Jbwd- which books did you read?
I've read out of the doghouse, how to help your spouse recover from your affair and I forget which ester peral book

Zugzwang posted 9/8/2019 20:44 PM

I agree that the original answer to why we did it was because I could.
That is a shallow answer because technically we all could do anything really. We all just don't want to or would. So, Why did you want to?

JBWD posted 9/9/2019 00:50 AM

The only infidelity specific books I’ve read are
“Not Just Friends” and “Helping your Spouse Heal.”

I mention Dr David Burns’ “Feeling Good” frequently in discussion with WSs- It exemplifies the Socratic approach Sorrowfulmate showed in this thread- Continuing to re-evaluate and demand of yourself that you ask again. CBT as Burns describes it looks to arrive at the root causes and counter the underlying distortions that lead us to flawed decisions.

This approach actually just got me to some remarkably “trivial” memories from pre-adolescence that I think explain a lot of how my insecurities about women led me to mistrust- This was NOT a train of thought I was actively pursuing but I think I have remembered some remarkably formative details. None of which was really anywhere on my agenda at the moment- Just to encourage that the more continual your evaluation the more instinctive/intuitive it becomes...

assjack posted 9/9/2019 04:23 AM

Another book that I have found to be extremely helpful has been The Journey from Abandonment to Healing. Not so much in finding your why's but in accepting them and being there for yourself. If this makes any sense.

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