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Wanting to make better use of this forum

AntiHero posted 10/9/2019 03:05 AM

I havenít posted in a long time, and frankly, donít really have much to say. I just feel that SI is an invaluable resource that will continue to help me grow and heal, but that Iíve not been motivated to use it recently. I will sometimes read to see if Iím prompted to respond, but it feels like Iím lacking empathy or connection. Iím posting now just to post, in hopes of igniting some thought-provoking commentary that will inspire additional soul searching.

BH and I have been continuing with couples counseling. Itís taken a weird turn in the past couple of weeks in that itís become more of an IC session for him that I listen in on. I had actually suggested we take this route because I think thereís a lot of FOO stuff BH isnít acknowledging and itís preventing us from moving forward in couples counseling. Whether thatís true or not, there is the benefit of getting a better understanding of the person he is to help me identify where or why we have conflict. Itís a vastly different experience looking in as a third party. I donít get emotionally charged and donít take what he says so personally. I also donít have much to say in therapy either. I feel like weíre unpacking quite a bit in counseling but it doesnít feel like reconciliation. The hysterical part of the aftermath seems to be over and weíre back to the daily routine of our family life. I donít feel particularly fulfilled. Iím reconnecting with friends, hobbies and bucket-list items, but experiencing limited joy from those things. Everything feels so functional.

So, I donít know...whatís happening here? Is this a different post DDay stage Iím in? Am I depressed? Or is this normal when you start to come out of crisis mode?

Chaos posted 10/9/2019 08:46 AM

Hi there AntiHero. No stop sign so I'll throw in my 2 cents. Hope that's OK.

The hysterical part of the aftermath seems to be over and weíre back to the daily routine of our family life. I donít feel particularly fulfilled. Iím reconnecting with friends, hobbies and bucket-list items, but experiencing limited joy from those things. Everything feels so functional.

I felt like this too for a very long time. DDay shock and awe was over and I was just carrying on.

In one way it was a relief - the sharp stabbing pain was gone. I could breathe again. I no longer felt like the bottom was falling out. I no longer felt on edge. I was no longer triggering over every little thing.

In another way it was a bit surreal - I wasn't waiting for another shoe to drop, but wouldn't be surprised if it did. I wasn't triggering over every little thing but bracing myself for when one would hit. The sharp raw pain was not just a dull and constant ache.

I was detached. I was watching and waiting. I was existing. I was slowly clawing myself back to the fabulocity that was me pre DDay. I was rediscovering old hobbies and connecting with friends to keep my mind occupied. But I was all the while ...just...there. Trying to figure it all out. So lost and confused and tired.

I don't know the WS side of things. It is interesting as a BS for me to read that you are experiencing something so similar. And ... it is also helpful and encouraging as a BS to read you experiencing this.

I feel like weíre unpacking quite a bit in counseling but it doesnít feel like reconciliation.

Good. That's not sarcasm. That's honest. Good - you are unpacking quite a bit. Get it all out there. Off your chests. Out of your system. An IC for you each may be beneficial as well. That allows you to individually get the ugly out without the other one watching.

Good that it doesn't feel like reconciliation. Again, not sarcasm. It shouldn't feel like that yet. You can't force it. You can make it a goal. You can make it your desire. You can have it as something to work towards.

Affair recovery is a roller coaster. And that 2 - 5 years to heal. That's conservative. It takes time. And desire. And will. And sometimes sheer fucking grit not to throw in the towel. Because it is hard. But I'm working towards it. My WH is working towards it. I think it is a worthy path.

I guess ask yourself why you feel a lack of empathy and connection. Are you done and don't want to admit it? Are you waiting for him to finish his roller coaster ride from Hell? Are you detached? Are you wishing he'd ask for D so you don't have to? Are you afraid if you gain empathy and connection you will then get stuck in a downward shame spiral? The answer to why you lack empathy and connection [or won't let yourself] may help you.

I'm curious how other SIers - both WS and BS respond.

hikingout posted 10/9/2019 10:09 AM

Hi Anti-hero -

Please correct me if this recap is wrong, but I think it will help provide context of your situation for those wanting to help or respond:

There was a time you felt that your BS was having an emotional affair or too much emotional dependency on a friend. You decided to give yourself about 6 months to see if improvements were made if you just worked on yourself, your own perceptions, and tried to work on connecting with him. You began to seem to feel like his best friend (a woman) was in the way. Your affair was a couple of years ago, if I remember correctly.

I don't know if you are depressed. I think you are still numbing your feelings. I can see how that would be your natural state of being because of the way you have existed in this marriage. Your husband had anger issues and some of your interaction was toxic (again correct me if I am wrong). It sounds like he is getting some help, and you feel a bit removed because you can clearly see that his issues have nothing to do with you (which in my view is probably true and healthy).

I think that our homelife or other relationship connections can be a source of great joy, but that's not a source you have been able to rely on. You are kind of trying to take some stabs at being responsible for your own happiness and not really knowing what that will be because it truly is a trial and error type of thing. Try practicing vulnerability with someone close to you. It would be good if that person can be your husband, because it sounds like he is having to get vulnerable with you and the counselor to work on his issues. But, if not him try a girlfriend or family member. Human connection, being seen, feeling identified with all starts with our ability to be vulnerable. In some ways this message you have posted is vulnerable because you are basically saying "I need things, I don't know what those things are" and that's a step in the right direction. I like the book "Rising Strong" by Brene Brown to get some thoughts about what that looks like, what it means, and she uses very small relatable day to day things that helps us understand how that works into our daily lives - not just these long heartfelt discussions we have.

I think by and large, when someone has cheated, it means they have become callous in some way. Callousness is a result of numbing, and Brene Brown spends some time explaining that when we numb bad stuff we numb the good stuff too. We can't selectively numb.

One thing that helped me a lot with connecting joy in my heart was a gratitude practice. I would spend 5 or 10 minutes each morning thinking about what I am grateful for and really trying to feel the joy associated with those little things. After a month or so, you will notice a lot more of those little things throughout the day either because you connected with them already or you are looking for things to put in your next day's assignment. Joy is self made, and gratitude is a big part of that.

I know it's hard to reach out sometimes in this forum. And, sometimes it's less active than the others. I sometimes have a hard time relating to some of the posts, but I would say look for ones you have some sort of experience to, and try and write a response. Even if it's something you delete and decide not to post. I have a feeling you are all up in your head and for me the act of writing to the others here helps me actually identify quite a lot of the things I feel and experience. It makes me concentrate on them and realize them. So, while you read it and feel flat, try and respond anyway because you will find there is a lot you can relate to and it's a good way to reconnect with your own self and how you are feeling. To me, this was some of the cure for the numbness.

I am glad you posted, I hope even if you feel like you don't have something to say you will do it more. It's good practice for the real world in a lot of ways. Take care.

AntiHero posted 10/10/2019 02:18 AM

Chaos, I really appreciate your response, coming from the other side of the table. Although our experiences are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum, I am grateful that there is still space for us to share a commonality and that we can talk about this in a completely respectful way. So thank you so much for your words.

I think that, while the betrayed spouse is the obvious victim of an affair, both parties actually really suffer (when the wayward is truly remorseful). The reasons why are different, but the level of pain can be quite the same. This may be oversimplifying and probably better saved for a different thread, but this makes me think that the healing process can be similar for both parties as well. I recently heard a professional fighter talk about the depression she spirals into after each fight because she has spent so much time training and building up adrenaline, and then itís over. She said a really famous pop star described the same thing to her after wrapping up a tour. I suppose what weíre feeling is some kind of low after coming off a major high (in terms of energy and focus). Itís somewhat reminiscent of my experience with postpartum depression. And it makes me believe that itís a human condition, regardless of the source of pain.

Itís hard to say why I feel like Iím lacking empathy. It feels very chicken and egg. Am I lacking connection because Iím depressed? Or am I depressed because Iím not making connections? But I will say it was more about the posts I was reading on SI where I wasnít feeling my usual levels of compassion. There were plenty of comments that I could relate to, but in a way, I felt like I had read some version of that post a million different times.

Iím trying very hard with BH. Iím really trying to meet him where heís at. Some of the FOO issues heís been talking about in therapy, however, make me feel so disconnected from him. It felt this way before the affair. Weíre such different people and I wonder if we can overcome our differences. Our marriage lacked trust from the start, so it makes it exponentially more difficult to rebuild from here. He has said that heís never trusted anyone and is constantly scanning for threats, as a result of his relationship with his parents. He doesnít trust me for obvious reasons, but I work hard every day to build trust. However, if I do something, say, that puts his needs before mine, heís suspicious of my behavior and his guard goes up even further. But I keep trying.

I am choosing to live an honest life. In many ways, I did not do so before the affair. But now, I feel like if Iím showing up and still getting my ass kicked, then Iíve done my part. I donít get as emotionally charged as I used to, and I donít internalize things as much nor try to be so controlling. Iíve done well with the last one. And while it all feels right and good, itís weird to not get riled up the way I used too. Iím definitely not fearful of being shamed. Iíve really worked through much of this and no longer feel Iíll spiral. Iím neither running towards nor away from the possibility of divorce, but fully accept either as an outcome. Iíve let go of so many expectations and I feel so neutral that Iím a little bored. I may just be tired of my own story and others that remind me of it. Or, maybe because Iíve let go of most of my codependent tendencies, Iím no longer feeling the urgency of having to manage everyoneís business. I donít know, but this is what Iím coming up with right now.

AntiHero posted 10/10/2019 02:27 AM

Hikingout, glad youíre still here. Yes, youíve pretty much have my story down. And I also thank Brene Brown every day for helping me become more vulnerable (as I use her arena words above). Incidentally, I think having practiced it since discovering her at least over a year ago, I feel incredibly liberated. My life feels way more transparent and manageable. As I mentioned in my other response, I really feel like Iíve left 99% of my codependent behaviors behind me. I donít even know what that 1% remaining is, other than I canít imagine Iím 100% free of codependency. I really wonder if this liberation is just so foreign to me. That my mind isnít consumed with overthinking the next thing and everything just seems so flat. I am finding joy in so many small things. I laid down with my 5 year old daughter tonight. Iíve been watching her breathe. Sheís farting in her sleep and itís so damn cute! I will miss these moments more than I can imagine and am so grateful to have them now.

So, Iíll have to consider how much of this numbing or just something Iím not used to. I recently bought a bike and love how free my mind is when Iím riding. Iím getting back on my skateboard next week, taking a couple of days off, and scheduled myself for a couple of private lessons. Iím looking forward to it, but not particularly excited. In the recent past, I wouldíve viewed this as being impulsive (i.e, rebellious, careless, adrenaline filled and chaotic), but now itís more of something I just want to do that could be part of healthy living. But I am proud of myself for not feeling any guilt that I have no PTO left and am taking these days off unpaid, just so I can take care of myself. If I recall correctly, self-care was something neither of us had been very good at. But itís finally something thatís coming a bit more naturally, as I think it did for you. And I think Iím still getting used to the calm, after eliminating many of the self-made crises I have been living in for so long.

That being said, I see my BH through a different lens now. I have tremendous compassion for him and feel overwhelming sadness. While he is allowing himself to be vulnerable in therapy, 75% of the time, he catches himself and goes into protection mode, anger surfaces and he ends up refusing to make the necessary changes that would allow him to live a happier life because he is too fearful of getting hurt. This is not just with me, but with life in general. And this is not my assessment, but rather, a conversation I listened in on between BH and our therapist. Itís heartbreaking and also feels hopeless. I no longer have the desire to jump in there and fix it, but just watch while I hear Sarah McLachlan music playing in my head. Maybe Iím feeling the weight of this sadness and hopelessness, coupled with the lack of chaos. I donít know. But I do feel more open now, after having a couple of things to respond to. I will certainly keep coming back, and hopefully keep this momentum going. Or, just show up and talk about the weather.

[This message edited by AntiHero at 2:29 AM, October 10th (Thursday)]

hikingout posted 10/10/2019 08:19 AM

Oh, now that you have explained that, it sounds very different than where I thought you might be.

Depression could be it. Getting used to how you look at things so differently could be another. BUT, I suspect at it's core it may just be plain loneliness. I think sometimes the loneliest place on the planet is not when we are single and on our own, but when you are married and feel alone. And, when you are reaching out but it continues to feel hopeless I can understand how that would reinforce that feeling. I think that happiness feels most plentiful when the joy can be divided. And, while you are pursuing things you want to be doing, not having someone to do them with probably does flatten it to some degree?

I hope your husband stays in therapy, even if down the road this marriage can not be saved he will be healthier for your daughter. It sounds like you are doing what you can in being in therapy together and it seems you are trying to practice inauthenticity and you have gotten yourself out of the drama triangle. You are kind of just hanging out and are very much wait and see. So, I think that might be adding to the flatness as well? Sorry, I did misinterpret where you are at, but hadn't heard from you in a while and I think I kind of took it from back then.

What is your plan moving forward? Your six months must be running out, are you giving it another six or are you ready to call it?

[This message edited by hikingout at 8:21 AM, October 10th (Thursday)]

AntiHero posted 10/12/2019 02:54 AM

Hikingout, Iím not really sure what place you thought I was in, but a lot of your initial thoughts and advice are still plenty meaningful. Honestly, I donít really know when my six months are up. But Iím not yet calling it quits. Iím also not so uncomfortable with the possibility of calling it quits any more, and even being the one to initiate that decision. I think youíre right in that Iím lonely in this marriage. Weíre both doing our work, but itís not been a joint effort. Weíre on parallel tracks with the individual work, and weíre both making major strides, but weíre not synced up, like weíre working towards a common goal. The same goal, maybe. But not a common one.

gmc94 posted 10/12/2019 10:14 AM

the loneliest place on the planet is not when we are single and on our own, but when you are married and feel alone. And, when you are reaching out but it continues to feel hopeless
That is what it is to be a BS.

AntiHero posted 11/21/2019 01:35 AM

Itís been about a month since Iíve logged onto this site. I read a lot and post very little, but have come to know some of you as well as one can in an anonymous forum. I have nothing but gratitude for everyone who has provided me with thoughtful feedback, both from the wayward and, especially, the betrayed perspective.

But I am deciding to sign off of this forum for Iím not sure how long. I donít feel like my presence was significant at all to make this a new thread, but also didnít want to just leave without saying thank you to everyone who had chosen to support and question me here. I feel like I have done some of the hardest work in my life in the last two years, and this forum has helped with that. A lot of the work I donít necessarily share with this community. I wish I had the time to dedicate to it, but I donít. I applaud those who do.

I also wanted to leave a thought with anyone who may be reading this, which is: appreciate that people evolve, and hopefully, they never stop. I hope all waywards push themselves to do this, and to understand that the ah-ha moments keep coming. To know that, when you think youíre making good progress towards improving yourself, the universe will find a way to kick you in the ass and tell you that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I really do wish I could put in writing the transformations I have experienced. How I believe I am actually a different person. But itís just so much, especially when you see it in detail. So all I can say is: be kind to yourself and keep working.


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