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Trial Separation

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BraveSirRobin posted 11/17/2019 22:39 PM

That was a really excellent post, gmc. I'm so sorry about your daughter. That's a lot of stress to be coping with on top of infidelity.

JBWD posted 11/18/2019 01:08 AM

Problem with guilt and shame is it keeps us self-referencing. If all you think about is how bad YOU feel, youíre NEVER going to be able to assimilate and process the pain youíve inflicted on others.

The minute a new WS comes on eager to be eviscerated and taken to task, itís a real challenge to not oblige them- The problem is that just refocuses on the cheater.

You need to feel the guilt long enough to recognize that it informs your knowledge of how you acted against (presumably) values you prized. Once you can process that, your pain needs to take a backseat to the suffering thatís far more pressing- Pressing because leaving it unaddressed validates that you are selfish.

I think a lot about this so I apologize for the dissertation. But the bottom line is it wonít improve you to remain focused on the past. Thereís of course a fine line- My BW doesnít really want to hear Iím hurting because that will only inflict more guilt in her direction. But itís not all rainbows and unicorns. So all Iím saying is that yes you did terrible things to your family. Everyone with a W in front of our name has. But the value in recognizing it (especially in the face of moving on into the world) is to know that wonít be you again. Itís there as a reminder, a cautionary tale and a litmus test for what not to be moving forward. Detach from the emotion of it, observe it and put it in your scrapbook.

This is hard stuff but the strength to persevere is a resource to be cultivated. One foot in front of the other, plan for how to work through parenting challenges and be kind to yourself and others. You got this.

LifeDestroyer posted 11/18/2019 06:41 AM


All I think about is what they are feeling. It goes: what my daughter is experiencing→what he is experiencing→what my daughter will experience as she gets older→ will he be happy in the future→ what I am experiencing. All day long I think about what I did to them, how I did those things, how I went against my morals, how my choices have changed my kid's life.

nekonamida posted 11/18/2019 08:04 AM

LD, I don't think you're understanding what's behind the message that JBWD wrote. It's not about thinking about those specific things all day every day. Moving forward and focusing on you isn't about not feeling guilt and shame either. It's about working through those emotions and using them as the motivation to change yourself as a person. It's about acknowledging them and choosing to do something about it instead of sit and wallow. That something could be reading a self-help book, journaling, listening to a podcast about infidelity, or even reading about other people's experiences here. You could also turn some of that to self care - working out, mindful meditation, a creative hobby, etc. That's helpful to healing yourself as well.

LifeDestroyer posted 11/18/2019 08:11 AM

Thank you Neko, I didn't understand it that way.

Pippin posted 11/18/2019 10:22 AM

Gmc, that was a really helpful post.

LifeDestroyer, I hear echos in your posts of learned helplessness. It's an idea that if you fail over and over, you will give up trying and have an implacable belief that there is nothing you can do that will create a different outcome. You see it in kids who are learning disabled or dyslexic; when they are finally diagnosed and get the help they need, even if the teacher is skilled and empathic, the child has ceased trying because they believe in their gut that they will never be able to learn. They won't open a book, look the teacher in the eye, they'll avoid going to class, etc. It's what keeps enormous elephants "chained" up with a small rope at the ankle - they initially had strong chains and fought against the chains, but after fighting and fighting and not being able to escape, they stop trying and are kept chained up essentially by their beliefs.

The initial learned helplessness studies were really unpleasant. An average rat is a fantastic swimmer. A rat dropped in a bucket of water will swim and swim for hours before drowning. 60 hours on average. The researchers created learned helplessness in some rats by squeezing them until they stopped struggling, over and over. They learned not to bother with struggling because they couldn't make the squeezing stop. Those rats swam for an average of 30 minutes before drowning, even though they were physically as capable as the others. They believed there was nothing they could do to survive and gave up.

There are other studies with dogs and shocks. They're very depressing. Learned helplessness is critical to keeping systems of slavery in place and might explain why many emancipated slaves in the south "sold" their labor to the very plantations they were liberated from, re-entering the same life despite their apparent freedom. The point is, it's an extremely common and cross-cultural/cross-species thing, and probably the basis of depression in many people.

I hear some of that in your posts and in your actions - everything is awful and nothing can be done. When I make practical suggestions sometimes, you write back how it won't work instead of trying to figure out how it can.

I'm not blaming you for this or judging you or disliking you or any of that. When I see learned helplessness in kids or in adults, it makes me furious for them! What I wonder is, where did that come from? I wonder if when you were very little there was nothing you could do to manage the chaos in your house or family, if you tried to make things better but over and over you couldn't, so you learned that in relationships or in families there is no point in trying because nothing will change.

I'd also like to say, if any of this resonates with you, those people who made you feel like that are horrible! Your child is 5, can you imagine making her feel like that!? That when she says she is scared, there's nothing that can be done about it but stay scared? When she says is cold, too bad, she just has to stay cold? And if she goes to get a blanket it's taken away from her for some random undefined reason? If she feels ill, there's no point in going to the doctor or taking medicine, she just has to suffer with it? When she makes some effort to do something, she is told that she can't change or fix anything? That is a TERRIBLE thing to teach a child. It is among the WORST things you can do to a child. To deprive them of agency and hope.

I wonder if this is why you didn't speak up more when there were things in your relationship with your husband earlier that you didn't like. And I wonder if it's why the affair held such appeal, because you feel like finally you had agency and effect on another person and there was something you could do to lift your underlying depression.

Maybe I'm totally off base but I think it's a useful idea for you to think about. There are exercises and protocols for learned helplessness, and even acknowledging that's what's happening could be helpful. And it would be so helpful for your husband to have some sense of why the affair happened. If he's like most husbands, he's over there thinking that you had an affair because he's not a good enough man, and he needs a compelling narrative that jives with what he knows about you to combat that narrative.

MrCleanSlate posted 11/18/2019 11:07 AM

Going through some self evaluation is a good thing.

For myself, I was always against infidelity. Friends of ours suffered through the wife leaving for her AP and I was so livid towards her. Then, a few years later what did I do? yup. It hurts to actually shine that mirror on ourselves and realize that the affair was the absolute worst thing I could have done. But, it also led to me finally facing some hard truths, and dealing with not only my own issues, but the issues within my marriage.

We can't change the past. But be the smart one and learn from it.

As for the relationship with your daughter and BS, that will evolve. You'll figure out a new normal.

LifeDestroyer posted 11/18/2019 11:43 AM


I can absolutely see that. As a kid, my parents always fought, intensely. Alcoholic father and extremely jealous controlling mother. No matter how many times I put myself between them or screamed for them to stop, they never did. No matter how many times I asked my dad to stop drinking, he didn't until I finally gave up on him.

I also don't like conflict. I don't know how to hold my own ground, so I give up with arguments/debates. But I get defensiveness here, I know. That's because I can't see any of you. I'm being that dumb keyboard warrior. If we were in person, my mouth would be shut and I would start to cry because I felt the pressure of being wrong. When there were things I needed to say in our relationship, I would have my whole speech ready to go. Then as soon as I said the first thing, he would ask for examples and I would clam up. I heard his words as being accurate and mine being completely wrong, so I would stop. My husband is a very smart guy, so he had to have been correct. I had to have been seeing things differently. Trust me, I know that isn't correct. I didn't want there to be tension that would then lead to him being upset which would lead to him rejecting me which would lead to me feeling like shit←←←←← all according to my mind, not what actually happened.

With the affair, I was in control. The om never argued with me, I was always right, he always understood me. He had done this before, so he knew exactly how to act. If only I actually knew that.

I know we can't say "never," but I will make damn sure that I never do this again. I don't want to put him again, if we get back together, or anyone else through this. Before anyone says it, yes I shouldn't have wanted to put him through this to begin with. I didn't. I was deep in that fog of this never getting out or hurting anyone.

When he did find out, I was shocked at his emotions. I did not think he cared that much about me. I had never seen these feelings from him. In the beginning sure, when he would go on deployments yes, but then that all stopped. As he put it, we got complacent. He stopped the I love yous. I stopped trying to say because I didn't want to be hurt if he didn't reply back with it. The intimate touching just for the hell of it stopped unless it was going to lead to sex. We would talk about that, make a plan to change it, stick to the plan for like a week, and then back to "normal" we went.

No, none of that is my excuse or reasoning. I'm just explaining my life. These are things that I started to discuss with the therapist and with some wise people on here.

Alpargata posted 11/18/2019 15:11 PM

[This message edited by Alpargata at 3:40 PM, November 18th (Monday)]

LifeDestroyer posted 11/18/2019 20:10 PM

Ahhh, apartment living. You can have fleas in your apartment even if you don't have any pets. Good times.

BraveSirRobin posted 11/18/2019 21:27 PM

Ugh! Bomb the little suckers. I know too many people who tried herbal methods until they got eaten alive under a cloud of diatomaceous earth.

LifeDestroyer posted 11/18/2019 21:33 PM

Pest control only comes out on Fridays, so they get to continue having their flea circus for a few more days.

Benbetter posted 11/18/2019 22:43 PM

Way too triggered to reply in a positive way to help you with infidelity stuff but if you are able to (as per your lease) buy a fumigator Raid makes one that Iíve used forever. It works for at least 6 months and kills everything. You just have to be out of the house for like 4 or 5 hours. I hate bugs in my house.

Justsomelady posted 11/19/2019 03:02 AM

Wow, Pippinís post and your response are powerful. That is a thread you may want to pull further. I know I am mulling that over personally too.

Why do you think you assumed he would not care about the affair? Was it the lack of affection/affirmation alone or is there more to explore in that vein? I am sure that built up some feelings of resentment perhaps you could not express. Resentment and entitlement mixed with an inability to communicate are at the heart of so many affairs. About clamming up, I get that, are there ways you can practice gentle versions of confrontation or speaking your truth IRL?

Sorry about the fleas. Iíd stay at a hotel after the treatment just to get it good and aired out. You donít want to breathe - or have your daughter breathe- that residue in.

[This message edited by Justsomelady at 3:07 AM, November 19th (Tuesday)]

Pippin posted 11/19/2019 11:54 AM

LD, I'm glad you found that line of thinking helpful. The "big" example that came to mind for you - not being able to interrupt your parents volatile fights - that's probably the tip of the iceberg. You might start to realize that there were other things, much earlier. Your mother expecting you to try to make her happy and you never getting feedback that your efforts were working. Or trying to get a snack when you were hungry and adults criticizing your initiative rather than praising it (and redirecting it toward less messy/more healthy/less close to dinner snacks). It's the sense that you always fail to meet your needs when you show initiative that is deadly. One of the saddest forms of learned helplessness is in silent orphanages where babies have learned that their cries don't elicit help. I don't think that's you (or you probably wouldn't be functional; the outlook for those babies is bleak) but look through your memories for earlier examples.

And there is a lot you can do about it! There's a good article in Psychologycompass called 3 methods to overcome learned helplessness and boost optimism. It teaches you to notice how you attribute problems - internal vs external, stable vs temporary, and global vs specific. Helplessness comes from internal, stable, global explanations for problems. You can begin to change your self-talk to external, temporary, or situational, and start to notice that your efforts to make things better have impact and effect. It has other good, practical, baby step type of ideas in there too. You don't have to do it all at once. I kept a huge notes file of tools that I could try and use and go back to. It all helps.

I also think that this is not the only concept that will be useful to you in figuring stuff out. That thing where you shut down when you two have a disagreement - that may be coming from something different. I have a different experience than you do around emotionally charged discussions - my family never had them, so I have no experience with it and I also used to shut down and be incapable of expressing myself or hearing my husband (I still do at extremes but it's getting much better). Your family was emotionally destructive so you probably think that when emotions start to come into play, you are in danger. So I think that while learned helplessness is one useful concept, it's definitely not the only thing that that will be helpful in understanding where your warped thinking comes from.

Which brings me to something that worries me a lot about you. Have you heard of Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs)? Those are events that happen in your childhood that harm children's developing brains (they literally change the structure of the brain) and damage the immune system so badly that the effects show up decades later. There is increased risk of mental health issues, of course, but also cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke. And ACEs score of 4 or higher leads to an average reduction in life expectancy of 20 years. And I think I've counted 4 ACEs in what you have written and possibly 5. So addressing the whys of your affair and the patterns of thinking and behaving that led to it are important not only for your relationship and marriage and well being of your child, but literally a fight for your health and your life.

There are many, many things you can do to combat the effect of ACEs. All those self-care things we talk about on wayward, and that your IC asked about in your first session? Those do it. They change the chemicals in your brain, the same ones that continue to do damage because you see threats everywhere that don't now exist. Those self-care techniques lower the chronic stress response you have. They become something you practice and have at hand so you can lower the acute stress response you are having when you have one of those conversations with your husband. It helps you, it helps him, it helps your physical and mental health.

For more on ACEs, if you are interested, a good website is Acestoohigh(dot)com, Paul Trough wrote a great book called How Children Succeed, the CDC has a good website on it that lays out the science, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang has some good TED talks and Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is a fantastic speaker with many TED talks and interviews. She's the doctor/researcher who was first on to ACEs as a public health crisis in the 90s.

Anyway. I'll stop for now. I know it's a lot to process. If you start with very basic self care, taking vitamins and exercise and doing mindful moments throughout the day (maybe in place of SI time sometimes ) you'll be addressing both the ACEs stress and the learned helplessness, by feeling competency and agency in a healthy way. It's a circuitous way to help your husband, and not the only way, but it's will help him, and your daughter. You'll probably be spending the next decade healing, or I hope you will. Take it one step at a time.

LifeDestroyer posted 11/19/2019 15:07 PM

I spoke with a new therapist today on the phone. I have an appointment with her next week. She asked me what I was wanting out of therapy. She said she has experience with these issued and felt like she could help. We shall see.

NoOptTo posted 11/19/2019 18:28 PM

You should be able to get flea bomb spray at your local hardware store. Set it off before you leave for work. You should be able to reenter by the time work day ends.

LifeDestroyer posted 11/20/2019 06:51 AM

Taking care of myself....I signed up for a hot yoga/barre class tonight. I have no idea what I just signed up for!! If nothing else, I figured I would get a good laugh out of my sweaty mess of a self at the end of the class.

Have any of you done a class like that?

Justsomelady posted 11/20/2019 07:00 AM

Barre is painful but productive. You will tone and hurt (good way) in places you didnít know existed.

Hot yoga basically is a futile attempt at serenity for me because all I can focus on is how it smells like feet and I canít concentrate. But you may be able to stand it if you do it in a facility that isnít carpeted.

[This message edited by Justsomelady at 7:01 AM, November 20th (Wednesday)]

Pippin posted 11/20/2019 07:02 AM

LifeDestroyer!! You are taking action to take care of yourself and starting to figure out your whys!! Yeah!!

I'm quite busy for a few days, just wanted to say that you are doing great and keep it up!

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