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Would you take their place?

Pages: 1 · 2 · 3

foreverlabeled posted 9/21/2019 09:01 AM

When I think of the question here, its not so much trading places in a full sense of I'm now the BS and he's now the WS. Its more so the pain, trauma, and all shit emotions/thoughts that come with it and absorbing only that portion.

I'm a MH, but don't always feel like a BW, in fact I rarely do, I aslo wasn't traumatized by his cheating and I aslo feel like my cheating was on another level than his and that I took away from him more than he did from me. There are plenty of things I understand about being betrayed like this except for what really counts and it's the mind altering trauma coupled with the immense pain, I'll never understand it except as a witness. And yes I would trade it tenfold if it meant he never had to feel it to begin with.

so is it possible to make a truly informed choice to switch?
completely irrelevant I'd make the choice blindly without a clue of what would hit me.

And maybe what you read in another post meant it more along those lines too, (idk) if it meant trading places and taking away a BSs integrity, I'm not so sure I would.. I mean how much are we going to take from them, everything? There's not much left they have to hold onto in the aftermath, I'd let them keep it, they are completely blameless and I wouldn't allow them to come down to my level.

I do find it interesting that when you think of BSs you think of morally superior, and I'm putting emphasis on "superior". The use of that particular word and that you're asking is it healthy or not, well that depends on if it comes with an unusually high opinion of oneself in a dominating snobbish way. I think you are on to something that you aren't happy with your status and have reduced yourself to less than superior. Maybe traces of perfectionism.

hikingout posted 9/21/2019 09:17 AM

I think you are right foreverlabeled. The perfectionism. Hadnít even put it in that lens. Having a permanent ďstainĒ is not something I have ever had if that makes sense.

I wouldn't want to take away my hís integrity. I would want to take it all from him, in the absence of not having done it in the first place as a choice. I would take the pain.

But no I didnít mean superior in that way. That statement was ill worded but I didnít want to edit it because chamomile tea had already responded and that would have them made her response sound different. What I really meant is would that side of things come with its own benefit of not having compromised my morals. Some of that is as bad as the remorse I feel for my husbands pain. But then I realized thatís stupid and quite ignorant of what the bs experience actually is.

I feel like this is another phase, where the pressure and turmoil is off but dealing with the pain that lingers for some time after? I regret this post sounded arrogant in places but that wasnít the place it came from. Thanks for responding forever labeled. There are very few long term here that are active and itís invaluable.

[This message edited by hikingout at 9:17 AM, September 21st (Saturday)]

nightmare01 posted 9/21/2019 10:27 AM

But here is what I am not sure is healthy - If I were the bs I would probably feel morally superior. I would be the one who did nothing wrong and took the high road. I would have lived out my life guilty of nothing, with no need to convince him of anything. My head would be held high, so I think some of it is not liking the status that I gave myself. Not being happy that is the position I put myself in.

All we have is our opinions of course. But do BS's feel morally superior? Do you see ANY sign of that here on SI?

NO. You would NOT feel morally superior - in fact you would feel inferior in every possible way. Not good enough that the person you love with all your heart would remain faithful you you. Not interesting enough.

Look at romance books, like Bridges of Madison County, the BS is always wrong, disengaged, uninteresting, and mean. AP gets to be the soulmate - the one the WS should have married. Look at the way society regards us. Losers. Failures. Not physically able to do the things the AP did in bed. Not loving enough. Not good enough at anything - inferior in every way.

No, believe me, you do not want to take our place.


Emotionally, I think I canít adjust to the idea that I am probably going to be able to keep my marriage but may never feel like I deserved to. New shame to process I suppose.

My WW tells me that she doesn't think about, and often forgets all about her affair - until I bring it up. I don't have that luxury. Her LTA swims into my mind several times every single day. It's never far way, lurking there, waiting to remind me that I'm not good enough to be loyal to, and that I'm an utter failure as a husband and as a man.

[This message edited by nightmare01 at 11:11 AM, September 21st (Saturday)]

Unhinged posted 9/21/2019 11:06 AM

What I really meant is would that side of things come with its own benefit of not having compromised my morals.
As Skadu wrote: "It's the world's worst consolation prize." Feeling "moral superiority" did absolutely nothing at all to help me in any way, shape or form that I can remember. Questioning my FWW"s morality, on the other hand, was certainly something I thought about quite often. And vocalized, upon occasion.

I appreciate the sentiment, hikingout, as much as I would if it came from my FWW. Trust me, though, you don't want to know what this is like. You don't want to know what's like to be a BS. Empathy is great and I hope you show your WH tons of it, that you try as hard as you can to understand what he's going though. Still, I wonder why you're so curious to know what it be like to trade one type or pain for another.

Pain that is not transformed is transferred. Work on transforming your pain rather than wondering what it would be like to transfer it.

It seems to me that a good percentage of BSs who offer R struggle with the idea that staying married to a WS is a compromise of their own morals. Infidelity was always a deal-breaker for me. That's a very simple principle. In real life, sometimes, simple principles aren't so simple.

hikingout posted 9/21/2019 11:27 AM

I wasnít that curious about trading before - some of this is in response to a bs saying that remorse to them would mean the ws would be wiling to trade. I would be, I may not understand all that entails but if there was a magic machine I would do it. This was more about going down the rabbit hole of the second effect if that post - where the bs all piled on saying they canít answer the question because they would never cheat. It made me realize there was a point in time that I would have said the same thing - and I would never be able to have that moral integrity intact?

Again, not a contest or a which is worse - more this is about coming to terms with it. I think there has been a theme to my last few threads that I have started and it feels like I am close to understanding something important but canít quite grasp it. And I think itís an emotional process and not a logic that needs understood so itís a bigger reach.

So again, not trying to insult or compete - more just trying to understand. And I guess I have gotten vulnerable enough on this site to really expose some of this to you all in hopes that I can roll around in it and get to a better understanding of that I am grappling with. Secondary to that I have made a decision to continue to show parts of the journey we donít have much documentation of and that is what does being a ws look like past the recovery stage? I get I am only one example of that but that part of it is the pay it forward.

[This message edited by hikingout at 11:29 AM, September 21st (Saturday)]

hikingout posted 9/21/2019 11:39 AM

Also I think this might be a theme sometimes on the bs boards- they see their spouse getting better when they are not. Itís differentfor the bs in that they were the victim and I would imagine itís insult to injury that the ws can sleep and be happy or whatever... but when I read that I often think ďIt really sucks to be the ws,and itís not like thatĒ but it IS like that for them. And it may not suck for THEIR WS and thatís why they feel that way.

My BS is actually doing very well. I am so happy for him he deserves to be happy. He could do that no matter what, itís in his skill set or personality to be able to detach effectively, I donít know why but itís great for him. I donít resent his happiness and I realize it should be great for me too. But I am still working on some things and It makes it hard for us to relate. I actually feel like I am bugging him now when I bring it up. Itís very weird, I havenít seen anyone on here where that is their story. I am terrified of rugsweeping, I never want to be in this place again. Not ever.

[This message edited by hikingout at 11:40 AM, September 21st (Saturday)]

nightmare01 posted 9/21/2019 11:55 AM

Hikingout - glad to hear you're doing well.

I think this might be a theme sometimes on the bs boards- they see their spouse getting better when they are not. Itís different for the bs in that they were the victim and I would imagine itís insult to injury that the ws can sleep and be happy or whatever... but when I read that I often think ďIt really sucks to be the ws,and itís not like thatĒ but it IS like that for them. And it may not suck for THEIR WS and thatís why they feel that way.

I've noticed this trend as well. My take on it is that the WS can dismiss their affair because they have no questions about it.

They know everything that happened, all the things that bother the BS they know the answers to - and I believe many WS hold back some information. Whether the sex was good or bad and how the BS compared, along with whether 'I-love-you's' were exchanged, they know the complete depth of the affair. The WS also knows where we (BS) where while they were with their AP - how we were tricked, the lies that worked, and also the close calls.

All that is unknown to a BS - and mysteries demand attention and are difficult to let go, which is why can't just let it go.

JBWD posted 9/21/2019 12:44 PM

If I can try and restate the original thesis to try and frame this-

ďIf I could trade my position as WH for the position of a BH, would I?Ē
We all like to think that we would prefer to have this pain while knowing that we remained integral as a person. But that satisfaction has a distinct wayward potential in the capability to fuel self-satisfaction at the imbalance between two partners. Does that explain your concern/question, HO?

I can recall the discovery of BWís RA ONS. One co-worker (ONLY friend of the A, glad to have transferred to another office) was so excited to point out that now we ďwere even.Ē And there was a second where I bought it. Itís not trading places at all. It was an ok shortcut to remorse to better understand how betrayal felt, but it wasnít a leveller.

All of our situations are unique and as I think through this itís remarkably powerful to recognize that I CANíT EVEN IMAGINE this happening. Which informs the level of pain and betrayal involved. Becomes an almost unanswerable question. So Iíd take the switch, but it would never happen.

maise posted 9/21/2019 12:55 PM

I think in this regard, I have to ask whether youíve forgiven yourself? While the BS forgiveness is something WS look to for healthy R, itís important as the wayward to forgive yourself too. Have some compassion for the broken parts of your mini-selfís damaged esteem that got you here and forgive your adult version for making these decisions from that place.

You deserve your own forgiveness and compassion too, Hikingout. Youíve come a long way.

ETA: Iíve only managed to read page 1 prior to my response so Iím hoping Iím still on track here.

Compassion is an interesting thing to develop with ourselves. I see it as a layering process. Weíve grown with the coping skills developed from our youth - and then applied them throughout our lives. As we heal ourselves and begin to see where weíve been hurt- I believe applying the compassion for ourselves at each individual level is critical to our overall process.

I know Iíve had compassion for myself in some areas, but as I gradually move to other areas I find new places where I have to find that compassion and forgiveness of myself again. Itís the journey to self-love :)

[This message edited by maise at 1:48 PM, September 21st (Saturday)]

sisoon posted 9/21/2019 15:56 PM

Something written above (first by Skadu, then by Unhinged) deserves to be repeated IMO, so ...

As Skadu wrote: "It's the world's worst consolation prize." Feeling "moral superiority" did absolutely nothing at all to help me in any way, shape or form that I can remember.

I take some pride for keeping my commitment to fidelity, perhaps because I was afraid I wouldn't, but it didn't help me decide to R or to do R. We were just 2 people who wanted to be together and who had a big set of problems to solve.

Since I obviously had to choose between being a BS or a WS/MH, I think being the BS is the best choice. Even if my W were were a narcissist who had great sex with numerous aps, I'd prefer to be a BS than a WS or madhatter. That probably stems from some sort of moral superiority....

Striver posted 9/21/2019 18:07 PM

I, a BS, have said this. Point is that WS caused the pain of BS. To take their place would be to take the pain they ate feeling because of you. Take their pain away and feel it yourself. Not to really make them be a WS. Actually wanting to take their pain shows empathy.

foreverlabeled posted 9/21/2019 19:32 PM

I went back a read this thread and particularly your posts and there is something that I would like to talk about.. also you are right, what about a WS after the recovery and repair stages? What does that look like? I can only go as far as I am..

I suppose remorse can grow and grow and grow but at some point you wonder if letting it is even healthy.
Look, I'm no expert so I'm only expressing my own thoughts/opinions/feelings here, but I don't think remorse works that way. I don't think it's something that technically continues to grow. I think it can be a slow build for some at first, but once you've got it, it remains the same.

I think regret, shame, and guilt get a bad rep around here sometimes. Like it's a bad thing. I think there's such a thing a healthy guilt it taught me a lot. And I mean of course I regret the choices I made. What's so wrong about that? I'd take it back in a heart beat! And while I don't wallow in shame anymore, I still feel it when I think about my actions. This whole paragraph (a very short way to put it) you could call that remorse. Don't you think? Like I could break down each of these and tell you how it had an effect on me and why it was the very reason I then made the choice to do something different, to change, to repair my relationship with my H and myself.

I'm going to pull guilt to the forefront here. Because it can become obsessive, and it can become unhealthy. We can retain it when it doesn't serve a purpose. The real purpose being to teach us something, to help us grow, redirect our moral compass. But when the true purpose isn't there, yeah it can grow and grow and grow and become obsessive.

I also think it will continue to hit us until we've fully worked through our betrayal. I think too with remorse we go through the grief process ourselves. Even being our own doing, we still feel the loss, how could we not? (even the remorseless may feel it for different reasons) but with any loss you may experience that process, we have added guilt in there so it makes it different from our BSs but the same steps. I hope that makes sense. And as you may know a person can cycle through the grief process many times, guilt/remorse intertwined in each step. The key to keeping it in check.. don't obsess, engage and work through the feelings.

I actually feel like I am bugging him now when I bring it up. Itís very weird, I havenít seen anyone on here where that is their story. I am terrified of rugsweeping (really everything you mentioned here)
I feel ya here. My H is pretty resilient too, seemingly happier these day and fuck happy with me! I honestly don't think he is rugsweeping, if something is bothering him he'll talk, in fact yesterday he brought some bits up and it's been a minute now. You'll notice as time goes by our BSs here talk about the distance in triggers and A related thoughts. That is what time does with trauma, it finally gives some, you'll also notice that their WSs did the work and were remorseful. When I think about our long timer BS that unfortunately had to do some work themselves but took that work seriously, they are the healthiest posts I read, they tell you that happiness can be found again, and even better for us in R, WITH their WSs even.

And that leaves me with my last thought on guilt. Survivor's guilt. This is where I am right now. I feel it's a thing even in this situation. This hit me not that long ago I didn't understand what it was I was feeling and then I did, and at first I dismissed it thinking I'm stupid for even going here. Like its somehow reserved for something serious like survivors of the Holocaust or 9/11, but trauma is trauma and this is a living death blow for our BSs and it hits directly we nuked the fuck out of our home, it is huge, and I survived/escaped that part of it when he didn't and it's my fault. And right now that guilt can hit hard. I'm literally having to go back to acceptance when I thought I had that down. I'm going through a mini grief process just for this. It's difficult to shake. And maybe it's not your text book survivor's guilt but I feel like it can be applied to this. But that's all I have on that, as I am currently working through this. And wanted to give some food for thought on what life is like for me anyway at this juncture on my journey past repair.

Sorry that this got longer than expected

[This message edited by foreverlabeled at 8:07 PM, September 21st (Saturday)]

Unhinged posted 9/22/2019 00:04 AM

...moral integrity intact?
Do you think you migth be feeling a litte less morally superior than you'd like to feel about yourself? Is it difficult to realize that you are, after all, just as human and flawed as the rest of us?

I've long believed that the journey a WS takes in R is far more difficult than the journey taken by a BS. This querry of your certainly reinforces that belief.

My wife often said to me that she was a good person who did something terrible. Early on, maybe three or four months out, she asked me if "this negates who I am?" At the time, I didn't have much room in my head for yet another question or deep thought to ponder. In fact, I haven't much thought about that question in years. I'm reminded of it here, because your question seems related.

What does it say about you, as a person, that you had an affair and all that went with it? What does that say about your sense of "moral superiority?"

A big part of acceptance is accepting that we're only human and that none of us are perfect (or even close).

Owl6118 posted 9/22/2019 06:37 AM

I think FL is onto something really important. The grief is iterative.

There is a longtime member here, a BS, who has something is his Sig file. He has a tag for himself, and a tag for his WS. The latter goes:

"Her: thunderstruck by what she did."

That has always stuck with me. Thunderstruck by what I've done, by who I became.

But the thunderstrike happens more than once, as layers peel and empathy grows and distance and introspection reveal additional perspectives. Thunderstruck, again. And again.

[This message edited by Owl6118 at 9:14 AM, September 22nd (Sunday)]

Striver posted 9/22/2019 09:33 AM

On the moral superiority angle, never a thing for me. I wanted to be a team with my ex. Not competitive and jealous. That was one of her issues.

twicefooled posted 9/22/2019 10:31 AM

"Moral superiority" is a huge label and the intent of the user is the important part.

Do I feel morally superior to my WexH, when it comes to fidelity? Sure do. I've been tempted before and I never once thought about breaking my vows. I can hold my head high that I'm a forever loyal person. Would I ever cheat on anyone? It's one of the few things I can say absolutely that I would never, ever, ever, ever do to someone. It's helped me heal and see myself as a valuable human being that deserves loyalty, because I'm the partner that will give loyalty forever once I make that decision.

Do I feel like a superior person to my WexH? No, I don't. We are all flawed and he is flawed in the area of fidelity. But it was a fundamental area where we were incompatible and it was enough for me to end the marriage.

Zugzwang posted 9/22/2019 12:34 PM

Foreverlabled. I sooo agree with your observations. Another about the shame and guilt getting a bad rap. Shame and guilt are good things. Again why I have some issues with so many self help books that shy and rugsweep shame. Shame born of guilt needs to be faced and owned. Not run from and not dismissed as we are all only humans. Guilt is simply to me that we are guilty for the action we did. We cheated. We are guilty of cheating. We should feel shame. We should work through that and make amends, change, own it, the whole nine yards. Too many though mix up shame with some negative notation of punishment. What most state is shame is not shame to me. It is something else entirely unhealthy and needs/probably has another label. Self pity maybe? IDK. Shame to me is feeling bad for a guilty action and comes in steps. Shame out of regret and then shame (hopefully) out of remorse. Both healthy. Both needed to drive change and introspection.

they see their spouse getting better when they are not

I don't think any WS gets better before their BS here except in extreme cases. I do think there are many WS that false R and rugsweep making it seem like they do. With the whole, why don't you get over it already and my BS still is angry and has no trust in me. I have to say if a WS is complaining about their BS not healing fast enough then they are no where near remorse of most likely still aren't doing what the BS needs to do to heal. IMO, I think many WS think they are healed and find out they really aren't when other BS and WS challenge them when they come to complain about why their BS aren't healing. Which is understandable when many tend to white-knuckle it and focus only on boundaries and not why they want to cross boundaries.

hikingout posted 9/22/2019 14:38 PM

A lot of really great replies and a very helpful discussion to me. I am limited in time right now but I will just do a few quick impressions. I want to spend some time rereading and reflecting.

First - striver - the nuance of changing it to where my h would not be a ws, I would still take his place if I could. I truly mean that even if I have only an inkling of what it would be like. In fact removing him as a ws makes it more appealing because I am not sure I could choose as easily if he had to live with the other end of it.

Second - sweet Maise. You are fundamentally correct - self forgiveness comes into play st some point maybe. A lot of the time I can feel self compassion. Way moreso than early on. Again I logicallly can know the issues it just doesnít translate to my emotions catching up yet. I have really been impressed with how much you are growing even if the reasons really suck. I keep an eye on your posts.

Foreverlabeled- I think I took a couple of big things from your posts. You are right, itís obsessive guilt. I translate it to remorse, which I also feel only because it does relate a lot to what I did to him. He is really freaking good to me and to me that is the harder thing to accept. I understand that is part of the self worth piece and I did know I was still working on that. And why it ties so much into what you have said about it being remnants of perfectionism. I am way better in both ares but it illuminates the path ahead a bit for me.

Survivors guilt and grief... what you are saying rings true to me. I never put it in that context but it makes some sense. Having guilt of outcomes that could have happened but didnít. It gives me some solace that I am not the only one struggling with this further out. I mean I have honestly done a lot of work, I can earnestly give myself that credit. And h is good. It seems weird and whiny for me to be in this place in that context, ya know? And none of this is as hard as year one when I was swimming in shame. I donít think I wallow in it anymore but do feel it like you said when I revisit my actions. At some point if you were ever inclined to make an update to the post you had about ruminating on your work in the context of further out that would be very interesting to read.

I would love to respond to all the great replies on this thread, I heard them all and will reread them - unhinges, sisoon, nightmare, owl and zug and desert lily and so many others I I want to go back and look at your posts again.

I am still talking to h about things - trying to keep the openness of this but I am not looking for him to do the heavy lift on this. So I really appreciate you all who have been the heavy lifters on this topic and on my last few threads. Hís attitude is good - he told me this morning that I am concentrating on what was lost or the sacrifices that I perceive that he is making. Instead he wants for me to focus on what was gained and the fact he has done this with me because he knows his life is far more with me in it. Thatís beautiful and also has to be respected and cherished. But the way through is my work to do and thatís kind of what I mean. I donít lose site if the fact I am truly and richly blessed by so much. I wanted to add that part because I am trying to explain there is a balance still being had in this struggle. I donít see this with a doom and gloom, just not through rose colored glasses? And sometimes I think that in itself is a step forward.

There have been many

[This message edited by hikingout at 2:40 PM, September 22nd (Sunday)]

BraveSirRobin posted 9/22/2019 18:04 PM

I'm really struggling with forgiveness in my own M, and the irony of not being able to accept it now that my BH is finally able to offer it.

I spent something like 8 years after the A waiting for my BH to say that he forgave me. At that point, I asked him to let me know if he ever did, and he said he'd keep that in mind. At the 28 year mark, he told me that he was never going to be happy about me cheating, but he had come to accept it and move past it. I don't think he actually used the word "forgive," though that was sort of the feeling of the exchange, that we had reached a point of making peace. Of course, I had no right to ask him for forgiveness, not only for the general reason that no BS should feel pressured to grant it, but also because I had minimized the A, and he didn't even know what I was asking him to forgive. Meanwhile, I think he was saying it more wishfully than anything else. He'd been stuck in a decades-long rumination about the A and felt guilty about his inability to let it go. Neither of us was coming to the table with authenticity, though I think that conversation was what triggered us both to pull back the rug and start dealing with what was underneath it. D-Day 2 was about a year later.

I understand that's a very different scenario from yours, but it's context for my unexpected reaction when, a few months ago, my H announced that he had forgiven me. This was around my 50th birthday, and I'd been waiting to hear him say that since I was 20. And my reaction wasn't the pure gratitude and relief you'd expect, although I was grateful. It was an internal cry of "No, not yet, I'm not ready."

I'm still coming to grips with who I have been, and I'm not ready to forgive that toxic person who wasted so much of our lives with lies. Who looked back at the A over the years, not with disgust, but as as a form of mental kibble. Who felt regret at having hurt my BH, but also at having hurt the OM, and none of the repulsion that would have come with true remorse. That's such a recent development, a tiny percentage of our relationship.

I'm not ready. I'm just too guilty, too pissed off. And sometimes that feels right, and other times I can't tell if that self-judgment is just another way to distance myself from my actions. It's occurred to me that instead of accepting responsibility for what I did by refusing forgiveness, I'm actually dodging it by "otherizing" the wayward version of myself. Like I've assigned myself the role of judge and jury as a way of no longer being the person on trial. I so desperately don't want to be that person anymore.

Or maybe it's just that I finally understand, in a way that I didn't for all those years that I passively waited to be forgiven, that no benediction from my BH will absolve me. I have to take my own hand and lead/drag myself out of the darkness. Even if, on some days, I just want to kick myself down the well and run away.

I don't really have any brilliant insights to offer, just an arm of fellowship on the journey.

DevastatedDee posted 9/23/2019 10:42 AM

I am morally superior to my XWH. I am morally inferior to many other people on this board. There is a range in moral uprightness and we all fall somewhere on it.

As for not deserving R after infidelity, well...honestly HikingOut? I don't think anyone "deserves" R after infidelity. So many factors go into why a BS might want to try to R with their WS that it's impossible to break it down simply. Deserve never really has anything to do with it. That concept can be taken completely off the table from the start. You can feel gratitude for it and do your best to make sure it's worth his while in the long run. I'm positive that I don't "deserve" how awesome my parents are. They mowed my lawn for me while I was recovering from surgery this summer and after I recovered, surprised me with a self-propelled lawn mower because they said my yard is way too much work with a regular pushmower and they didn't want me to have to work that hard to mow. That is beautiful. They are beautiful. All I can do is appreciate their love and grace and never forget how fortunate I am to have them as parents. I will never be able to repay them for all they've done for me in my life. It isn't possible. Same for any WS who is granted the opportunity to R. It is what it is.

Your unequally yoked comment had me thinking, though. You are right about that in a lot of cases. That's a hard one to get past for a BS. Being with someone who did something to you that you could not have done to them can be a complete mindfuck. You have to get through the whole "I don't even know this person" and then you have to truly see the person you're with, and sometimes that clarity is a very ugly thing. In my case, it certainly was. That is often where R comes crashing down because the BS realizes that he or she is trying to R with a figment of our imagination. I don't see that being the case in your situation, though.

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