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Working to find my whys

SeekingABetterMe posted 10/6/2019 20:44 PM

I am about 3.5 years out from Dday and we are still struggling. It is my fault because I have spent so much time in denial, shame, and rugsweeping. I came across these questions in another post and stole them to answer myself. Seeking the answers to these and many more things, such as my whys, is what I need to be doing if I have any hope of building a new relationship with my Bh. I am going to post them here because I want any and all feedback I can get to help me gain insight. I want to use every means available to me to get to the bottom of each of these questions and possibly more. I know there is more that needs to be understood about every one of these questions.

There are always the standard (but true) answers. I was stupid. I was selfish. It felt good to be desired. You were good enough, I was the problem. You werenít able to meet my unrealistic expectations for my life.
Yeah you're going to have to dig deeper.
I was stupid. Not helpful, and really very likely untrue. "Stupid" here implies that you weren't mentally up to the challenge of knowing right from wrong. Was that the case? If not, axe that one from your "standard" list.

I have said those very words, that I did this because I was stupid, I wasnít thinking. But the truth is that I am not a stupid person in general and I absolutely knew right from wrong. I did not stop to truly evaluate the consequences of my actions, however I knew that my BH would be hurt if he found out. I chose to gamble on him not finding out. Which I guess leads to the - I was selfish and I ignored the risk to you and how it could affect your life and also because I wanted to and fulfilling my needs and wants were prioritized over all else.

Recently, while driving home, I decided to try and put myself back pre-affair/affair mindset in order to try and understand what I as feeling or thinking around those times. I found that every time I allowed my mind to wander, it slipped past the uncomfortable things I was trying to think about and the next thing I knew I was thinking about some unimportant trivial matter. I called myself out on this, actually talking out loud to myself like a crazy person. I don't think that I had every paid attention to my brains ability to autopilot away from things I really didn't want to think about. It makes me question how often I do this and I am not aware of it.

Thinking about the standard answers 'I was stupid' or 'I didn't think', makes me think that this played a part in allowing myself to do this. I wasn't stupid, I am an intelligent person, I knew lying and having an affair was wrong, I did it anyway. Consciously and unconsciously avoiding thinking about anything that was uncomfortable or ugly allowed me to ignore the pain and damage I was creating by having an affair. I think that I used this to avoid thinking about things even pre-Affair, times when he expressed that he was unhappy. I didn't like hearing it so I just refused to think about it at all.

I was selfish. General, but worth exploring. How were you selfish? Was this selfishness out of character for you? If so, when did it start? What is the first moment you can remember thinking "fuck it, I deserve this"? If it wasn't our of character, start looking back over other times in your life when you were selfish, particularly when you made the decision to get the thing or feelings you wanted even though it turned out to be at other people's expense. Follow that thread back as far as it goes.

I think being selfish has not been out of character for me ever. I would have never believed this was true before the affair and the fallout. I thought that I was a selfless person, always doing for others. Now I see how I was selfish. I wanted to get my way in all things no matter the cost. I donít think I ever even realized that I was fighting for what I wanted, but I can remember thinking this at a young age. I can remember really hoping that I would get what I wanted, but not wanting to appear selfish, so I wouldnít ask for what I wanted. But if I didnít get what I wanted then I felt disappointed, but I think that I also felt unloved. I felt angry that I didnít get my way, but I think that I felt angry that they didnít care enough about me to figure out what I wanted and make it happen.

Thinking about it now makes me realize that this is exactly how my mother related to others. She would make it clear that she was angry about something, she would pursue her lips, be short with you, slam things, etc. But if you asked her if she was upset or to to find out what was upsetting her, she would deny she was upset. Ignore her and she would seek you out and force interactions. The only way to deal with her when she was like this was to chase her around trying to get her to tell you what was wrong or racing around trying to please her by cleaning, etc. Just as with my mother I would make it clear I wasnít happy with the results, then when I made the person I was interacting with feel bad, I would finally get over it. I guess seeing them hurt was enough to convince me that they cared. Then I would shrink into shame about hurting them and feel shitty about that. It was a no win situation for the other person. This shows not only how selfish I could be, but also how manipulative. Being selfish but not willing to admit to it, hiding it so people wouldnít think I was selfish.

I also think that I was just plain selfish in many ways. I think it frequently didnít even occur to me that he might want something different than me. Or if I was actually paying attention and I realized that we differed in opinion or wants, then I would go about trying to convince him that I was right. Eventually he would concede, then I would feel badly about it, pester him about what he wanted, all the while still wanting what I originally did. I donít know how to describe the feeling that I get when I donít get my way. I feel like a child, I feel angry and petulant.

I know in some ways this may have been a learned behavior from watching my mother, however I wonder if that is all there is to it. I think that in some ways I felt like I deserved to be spoiled in some ways. I grew up with a lot of shame around my family. When I was growing up, our house was disgusting, we frequently had no money, electricity was being shut off all the time. I grew up heating with wood or kerosene heaters, losing the use of the upstairs of the house when winters got to cold to keep up. Several times over the years rooms of the house were unusable due to being filled with junk or filth. I could never have friend over due to this. I also had to deal with my motherís health issues, my dadís drinking, and my sisters constant drama. My dental needs were not taken care of. The list goes on. This is all the complete opposite from how my sisters grew up in the same family. I think I have harbored resentment over this for a long time. So in a way I think I started being selfish because I felt owed. I guess I felt like it was the least my mother could do was to give me what I wanted, even if I didnít ask for it directly.

I think this ties into my selfishness that I carried into my relationship because I treated him the same way. I brought the entitlement and placed an expectation on him to give me what I wanted without me having to say what I needed. Part of what I tied into caring was him taking the time to dig and try to figure out what I wanted. If I didnít get that then I felt like he didnít care, the same as if I didnít get what I wanted. All of this made me so focused on myself and getting love from him that I paid no attention to him or what he needed.

This selfishness tied into how I showed love as well. I have never been very giving in my relationships, even with friends. They are more about what I can get. I feel like I have always known that I was lacking in my relationship with him. I donít know if I have really understood how or why, but I feel like that is why I took any complaint so badly, why I was so sensitive and defensive towards him. I tried to tell myself that it was because I loved him so much that anything he said carried so much weight, but if that were true then why wouldnít I have been a better listener. I would have jumped to help with anything he wanted and wouldnít have waited to be asked. I was only concerned with how I felt when he had valid complaints, how I felt when he told me he needed help. Because of that selfishness, when he voiced valid complaints, I felt awful because not only was I not getting what I wanted, validation, and thus feeling unloved, I was getting the opposite.

It felt good to be desired. Yes, sure. That is a normal human thing. The question you need to answer is, why was I able to accept hurting and harming my BS and my family and my own integrity as an acceptable price for having this good feeling?

I guess the hard truth to the question of how could you do this to me, is that I rarely ever really considered anyoneís feelings but my own. I have been so manipulative and selfish, that I have always been just looking to fulfill my own needs. The affair was not the first time that I accepted hurting a loved one in order to satisfy my own desires or needs. To add to the messed up nature of all this, I did all this through manipulation, getting them to give me what I wanted without ever having to directly ask for it myself. I was also then able to lie to myself, to tell myself that I was such a selfless person, always trying to do what other people wanted first.

I think also that I prioritized being liked by other people. I think that I valued being liked by other people even more than liking myself. I think this is because I was looking to get validation from them, taking from others. Liking myself didnít get me anything because I did not self-validate.

I also think that because of this lack of validating myself really led me to not have much integrity. Integrity defined as being honest and having strong moral principles. When you are running around trying to make people like you, not just being yourself, you have neither honestly nor strong moral principles. You do or say whatever is required of you to make them like you,

You were good enough, I was the problem. Was he? Do you need to dig deeper on the filters/lenses through which you were viewing your BS and your marriage? If your thinking was distorted, how was it distorted? How do you think now that is different from how you thought during the affair?

Sitting here now, I know that he is better than what I deserve, he always has been. But I know that my thinking was distorted, that it has been for a very long time. He had legitimate complaints about what I was doing or not doing, but I only interpreted them as criticisms of me. I reacted in one of two ways. I would either become defensive and not hear him. Telling myself that he was just frustrated and that he would see that I really was a good partner when he was less frustrated. Or, I would go into full meltdown mode, spiral into shame, telling myself that I would never be good enough, that he was going to leave me, that the world was ending. I would change for maybe a week or so and then go right back to how I was.

I know that I still struggle with this idea that his frustrations with me stem from an issue within himself. I still find myself telling myself that he is frustrated right now and that is influencing how he feels. This not only devalues his perspective, but also paints him as an emotionally driven, illogical person.

I am sure that I was taught this from dealing with my BPD sister growing up. I learned at an early age to be dismissive of people's feelings. She was full of drama, something was always wrong, something she always needed attention fort and overreacting to everything. But he is not her and I canít keep treating him that way, ignoring valid complaints or interpreting them as criticisms is disrespectful and devalues him as a person. It also doesnít take into account who he is as a person. He is not someone who reacts to things based on how he is feeling without first thinking it through. I am the one who reacts based on my emotions before I stop and think about the situation and ask if how I feel is rational and in reasonable as a response to the situation. So I guess that like with so many other things, I am projecting this onto him. I would react out of frustration and make a comment that later looking back I would regret because it wasnít really true. Projecting my feelings and ways of thinking on to him is a huge problem for me, and not just with him, I know I do it with other people as well. Right now I am working to remind myself constantly of the work that I need to do on myself to try and improve myself and be giving him what he has said he wants.
What is behind my issue with projection? Why am I always projecting how I feel and thing on to others.

Another lens I had was one of laziness. I have toyed with this idea a bit, I have tried to convince myself that was actually perfectionism. Maybe it was but, I feel like more than anything it was laziness. I would not do things because my BH knew how and I just knew that I wouldnít be able to do it as good as hm. I told myself that I was a perfectionist who wasnít going to do something half a good as I knew he would be able to do it. I really think it was just me being lazy. I think I have been lying to myself this the whole time. I had done a lot of reading here and there and really convinced myself that I was a perfectionist. I have always sought how to do things as quickly as possible and with as little work as possible (another lie - telling myself that I was just being an efficient person). I think that I was happy with him as long as he was working his ass off for me and not asking anything of me. I feel like I equated doing everything possible for your spouse as love - yet I did not reciprocate this view. My view of love was very selfish and very transactional. My transaction was occasionally cleaning and going to work every day. I think that I compared myself to my sisters, who didnít work at all (but were stay at home moms) and thought working was something I was giving, despite the fact that we didnít have kids.

Maybe this idea of being lazy is exactly why we are still here today. I have been waiting for him to come along and fix it all just like he has with a million other things. I know that he will not be doing this even if he could. He canít be the solution to a problem that starts with me.

I think that he was beginning to expect more or at least take less excuses. Being a lazy person I felt resentful and was looking for the lazy fix.

Self Esteem - Is it possible to have low self-esteem yet somehow act or believe that you are special and better than others. I feel like that is how I have acted our whole relationship. Like he got lucky getting me, even though I was and now for sure really am far from being a catch. I frequently will read on SI or where ever and come across stories of others that I deem worse than myself. I say well at least I am doing x, y,or z. And yet if I look at this situation with any sense of reality, I am not doing much at all. I again ie to myself. I feel like I tell myself that I am special in order to cover for the fact that I donít really believe this.

We discussed this idea just the other night, it's like I am always needing to be thought of or seen as a 10, when in reality I am a 7 in most things. Not just looks but in everything. I have been looking constantly for outside sources to tell me how amazing I am and if they contradict that view then I feel angry towards them and want nothing to do with them. My AP did nothing but feed me the ego kibbles and tell me what a ten I was in everything. Looking back I know that it was bullshit, he would have told me that even if I was a 1 because he was using me to get what he wanted/needed, just as I was using him.

Endy posted 10/7/2019 15:27 PM

Welcome to SI, I hope you get the help you seek for in this forum. This is an amazing forum with angelic people wishing to help.

hikingout posted 10/8/2019 08:09 AM

This was a very good start. A lot of things in it were true for me too. People pleasing, conflict avoidance, holding secret expectations that eventually landed in a pile of resentments. You are hitting some very important truths in your life. My experience was once I was self aware enough to acknowledge them I could practice changed behavior. That part is a bit harder because sometimes it feels very scary and unnatural. Learning to communicate effectively and to listen in return is sometimes a hard one.

I think you should share this post with your husband and talk about some of your intentions moving forward. It helped me to do that with my h because it gives him a way to reference the behaviors back to you when he sees you using them. Not that itís his responsibility to fix them, itís just more about having that shared language.

The other thing it helped was as I was improving my husband had an understanding about the work I was doing. It kept him in the loop on seeing I was trying to be very mindful of it. It encouraged me to continue to be open and vulnerable which was and still can be a difficult feeling for me. Rising strong by Berne briown is a good book about that, btw.

This is really great work - I forget are you in IC? Writing is a good way to keep your thoughts focused, as well as being able to talk in IC. I think someone already recommended yoga/meditation - that can help you stay more present with your thoughts if you practice. Keep posting!

Zugzwang posted 10/8/2019 11:05 AM

Another thing to look at is choosing to take people for granted and then taking advantage of them. Did you put your spouse in a parent role? Yeah, I love my father and it didn't stop me from breaking roles or taking him for granted like most teens do. We were everything like an immature teen when having our affairs. Stupid is just like saying mistake. It isn't owning shit. No cheater is stupid.

Here is the hang up with most new WS. The "desire" thing. The I want what my BS isn't giving me. We set our needs and wants. We choose to rely on people to fill them. Whose fault is it when it isn't filled. Is it even realistic for a normal relationship? It sure as Hell is never realistic for us no matter what. Even if it was for a normal relationship. Why? because we choose to do cruel things to get it filled. So, it will never be a realistic desire because of the way we feed it. EVER. For myself, mine were always unrealistic and unhealthy. I needed attention and validation like a goldfish.

Self love is something to dive into to. No wayward loves themselves. If we did, we wouldn't have chosen to hurt ourselves and become a cruel person. What we did to ourselves and became lacks self love and self respect.

Buffer posted 10/14/2019 00:31 AM

Self realisation, key in any element of recovery. Just remember it was never BS fault just your own consciousness

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