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Wayward community

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BraveSirRobin posted 10/23/2019 12:48 PM

Here's one for my fellow waywards.

Lately, I find myself thinking about the role of community on SI. I've seen a lot of discussions on the BS side about the appropriate way to provide support. There's an ongoing push-pull on JFO between compassion through empathy (I've been through it, I know how it hurts, I understand) and tough love (look what they did to you, run, file, blow it up ASAP). There's not a consensus there on the "right" way to welcome a new BS, but there is at least an understanding that everyone is 100% on the side of the BS, unless and until something like physical abuse emerges. Newcomers have found a community that has their back.

Over here in Wayward, community is, of necessity, a more complicated concept. We are on the side of the new WS in the sense that we want them to wake up and become a healthy partner to their spouse. We know the benefits of doing the work, for our own sake as well as for R. But there's never going to be that unconditional support that a BS gets from fellow BS. We're never going to say that questionable behavior is totally understandable given the circumstances. If we feel a fellow WS is crossing a line, we can't stay quiet and let it go by because we know they're hurting or confused. And a lot of us have loyalty to the BS as well, because we have woken up to what we did to our own BS, and it's devastating to watch someone else who is actively tormenting their betrayed spouse and won't admit it.

It also doesn't help that WS are inherently untrustworthy until proven otherwise over time. It's unusual for a BS to come here and lie. There's the occasional troll or madhatter-in-denial, but most BS are honest because there's no reason not to be. Most WS arrive here with a trunk full of lies, to us, to their BS and to themselves. It's hard to form a rapport with someone that you know is trying to shine you on.

And yet... we need to form that rapport. A WS who needs to take that first trembling step towards honesty is less likely to do that if they know our pitchforks are already out. And I get it, I have wielded my own 2x4s, because sometimes what I read is so egregious that no other response feels rational. But just because a newcomer's feelings are misguided doesn't mean that the feeling isn't true. "I'm scared, I'm lonesome, I'm grieving, I'm confused, I'm frustrated" -- these struggles are no less real for being self-inflicted. And sometimes I feel like we don't allow for any of them here, that every show of weakness is treated as an opportunity to go for the jugular, or at best a cold reminder on why the WS is to blame for their lot.

And we never seem to bond, at least not in the forums. Maybe by PM. Online, it's like any show of camaraderie is an unspoken affront to the work. Maybe that's unavoidable, but it's also lonely, and I wonder if it ultimately helps or hinders our progress. It feels like there should be some middle ground between enabling and judgment where warmth towards each other can form.

I'm curious if any other WS have thoughts about this. Do you see us as a community? Why or why not?

hikingout posted 10/23/2019 13:27 PM

Wow. This is a great post. I think the fact there is little sense of community lends itself to the idea we really don't have a lot of WS who stay here past their recovery stages.

A lot of what you say, I struggle with as well. With maybe a caviat of - if the WS has been around a while and seems to "get it", I will let my guard down with them a little more because I don't feel like I am trying to combat the lies anymore. I feel that there are posters here I feel a true kinship with, and many of them served me my 2X4's when I got here, clueless and directionless.

I have come to believe that a variety of tactics works with a variety of people. There are people that will chime in a bit when they get here and then I stay hands off with them because I recognize they are not ready to take me in, and I post a ton and would rather my posts go to someone who is ready to take me in.

One thing I have to say about you BraveSirRobin is you have an uncanny insight towards others. Sometimes you have told an unflinching truth, and I was right behind you with a slow clap because your instincts were so true they were just undeniable. You can get right to the heart of the matter. There are many times that I have seen you defend and take in other WS under your wing as well, and I think you walk that line pretty nicely. I personally always look for your posts because there has been many a time you will deliver something to another poster that applies to me and my situation. I will say "oh,shit. She is right, I am going about this wrong too"

The one thing that is true about this site is that the WS get a big sampling of different trains of thoughts and it is only ever going to be helpful if they will weigh what is being said against some of their distorted thoughts. This site can only be successful when that happens, and it's really based on whether the WS is willing to get introspective and acknowledge painful truths.

I have found if I go to soft then the WS gravitates to me to tell them what they want to hear (which they can not rely on me for which then probably feels like a slap to them), and if I go too hard they will never listen to me again or it will take a long time to see that I am not just trying to be a hardass. Most of the time I try and hit down the middle. Deliver some hard things to process, but with some empathy.

Being a WS is hard, it's hard on this site because of the nature of this site is so emotionally charged. We are the perpetrators, no matter how long we are here or how much change we make. But, I sometimes think that it can be natural selection as well. If you can't take it in, you aren't going to take anything in. You aren't ready. People can't be helped unless they really want to be helped and really want to help themselves, and let's face it there is only going to be a percentage of WS that land here in that space. I will say that I see a few WS showing up lately that have taken in things and built from it, and I have been somewhat impressed with that. I wish I had it as together as they did getting here.


I'm scared, I'm lonesome, I'm grieving, I'm confused, I'm frustrated" -- these struggles are no less real for being self-inflicted. And sometimes I feel like we don't allow for any of them here, that every show of weakness is treated as an opportunity to go for the jugular, or at best a cold reminder on why the WS is to blame for their lot.

I can see what you are saying here. There are a few WS posters that I think can maintain the sensitivity. I wanted to name them by name but then I edited it because I was afraid I would miss one and feel awful.

My WS to WS post was part of my attempt at community. I was hoping putting it behind a stop sign would garner some WS to WS feelings of community. To be honest it stemmed from the post about what remorse looked like (Affair Sex versus Married Sex) because I saw so many WS come together on that post in commiserating with one another and truly sharing ideas as peers. I think the WS to WS post is starting to peter out it probably would be good if we had one that didn't seem to be "owned" by a particular WS member. I started it and keep responding to it to try and get that feeling back of "hey, this is something that I experience, anyone else?" and others going "Yes! I didn't realize that was a Wayward thing, I thought it was just me!"


Here are a couple other things that I think about a lot in terms of my role on this site - it maybe doesn't completely matter if we are putting a lot of effort into someone who then turned out to be lying to us. Other WS still benefit from the conversation. I try and think about that when I post and I know it's going nowhere with the person. Look at that last Milwaukee Mike post - even after people knew it belonged to him they kept going because they were enjoying exploring that conversation. So, the validity of the poster doesn't dictate the value of what is said on the thread always.

The other thing is my learning is reinforced by responding to other posters. I still got something out of it because I had to dig into myself to make that response. So, while I do have a lot of discernment as to whether I am going to be a regular on someone's threads, the person who benefits the most from my posts is me (and probably my BS). I learn about myself by responding to others.

[This message edited by hikingout at 1:30 PM, October 23rd (Wednesday)]

MrsWalloped posted 10/23/2019 13:48 PM

I do see this Forum as a community, but not a very strong one. There are people whoíve been here a long time who are really supportive and caring and it was a huge help to me when I came here knowing they understood what I was dealing with and what I was trying to do and especially the obstacles and ups and downs.

But I know I hold myself back a little because of what you said. It seems like if we become too much of a community that weíd appear unauthentic and like itís all fun and games and ďisnít it great to have a community?Ē that weíre not treating what we did with the seriousness it deserves. I was hesitant to even write that sentence because now I have to be concerned people will say that my holding myself back is unauthentic and therefore Wayward behavior. As a WS we are always judged. I get it, but sometimes it can be unhelpful.

I donít think itís true though. I think we can understand the gravity of what we did and still be there for each other with support. Like I know I get defensive sometimes when a BS delivers a 2x4 to me. Thatís because when it happens I first look at the post to see if they have a good point and if itís something I should really think about. But then I ask if itís coming from a place of support or caring or is it a projection of their pain or is it simply a way for them to make me feel bad? Sometimes itís one, two or all three. A WS will understand why I might feel defensive and also understand if itís appropriate, misplaced, avoiding uncomfortable truths, and so on. Of course a BS can too and they have but itís different I think. A post of support from a WS saying that no, pay attention here, they have a point, or to just ignore them validates our feelings and helps us from feeling that is me against the world. We need that. Because it is lonely.

I think itís great when I see a WS come here and another WS tells him or her about their experiences and that they understand and relate to them. Itís like throwing them a life preserver. Look, I Ríed so itís possible or look, I Díed and Iím still standing. I think itís great when a WS sensitively ask questions and peels away the excuses too. We need all of it.

I wish the WS community was stronger. In fact, I think I might start posting more instead of mostly reading. I donít really feel qualified to give advice but I can give support. Maybe if we want a strong community we need to start making one ourselves?

HeartBreaker11 posted 10/23/2019 13:58 PM

I think most of the WS who have been here a while do a good job of balancing responses between empathetic and 2x4s.

I think that having BS post here makes this community different.

Personally, I have found many BS responses to generally be insightful but also lacking in sensitivity. As a new WS and even sometimes now, I wasn't ready for some of those hard responses. This is why the threads I post only have stop signs.

MrCleanSlate posted 10/23/2019 13:59 PM

Hardly feel that I should be offering my 2 cents, I only officially joined a few days ago, but lurked a lot 4 years ago (just before and then after d-day). Maybe that puts me in a grey spot as I am not a new WS but am new member to this community.

It's a bit like when I quit smoking a year ago. I needed support from others who either recently quit or were quitting. Surviving an affair is similar. Too many try to do this in isolation.

Maybe the distinctions should come in at the types of affairs - there are so many: LTA, exit type, there's the player, the one who maybe says they were seduced/drawn in willingly, etc.

I think that is where this community could maybe take some strides to separate and understand.

I'm here 4 years later, maybe out of some sense of guilt still, as I approach the 4 year D-Day, and wanted to reassert that I am progressing in my reconciliation with my wife. Last few weeks I noticed she was getting nervous and dare I say suspicious of me. I dealt with it head on with her by opening up a dialogue. But was I doing everything I could?

Maybe the camaraderie can come in by doing some more focused topics/discussions? hikingout has some 3300 posts, maybe a new post providing some guidance by long time posters would help?

hikingout posted 10/23/2019 14:03 PM

I wish the WS community was stronger. In fact, I think I might start posting more instead of mostly reading. I donít really feel qualified to give advice but I can give support. Maybe if we want a strong community we need to start making one ourselves?

Mrs. Walloped's post brought me a bit of clarity too. If you have ever found yourself in a support group for weight loss or some other type of thing that is less emotionally charged - that community is about cheering someone on when they need extra support, but also the bigger thing is they rely on each other for accountability. It doesn't have to be some sort of club of not taking in the 2 by 4's. More, I've been there, I know it hurts...or like she is saying "hey now, I think you are missing some of this". I recently had to push on a lady I think is kind of a peer, we got here around the same time. And, I was lucky because she finally said to herself "Hiking wants the best for you, you don't see it the same way she does, and she is not saying it's 100 percent true. Let that thought sit and marinate and at least be open to it" It's HARD to push on someone that way, especially knowing we never really know the people on the other side of the screen.

On the other hand, we are all further out, we are probably more willing to do that than a new person.

I guess it comes down to how do we grow that sense of community? What does it look like? What can we do to foster it and also get others to foster it?

I don't think the solution is no more 2 by 4's. I think there are a variety of voices out there and they all can be helpful, and we never know what combination is going to work for that poster, or if anything will work for that poster. I remain here to learn. I do like to help, and I think I do sometimes, but the only thing I can rely on is what I show up to get from it. It comes down to the idea of only being able to control yourself.

Owl6118 posted 10/23/2019 14:05 PM

I post sparingly.

I had an EA, I am a WS, but my healing is halting and imperfect. There are ways in which I have not followed SI best practice in pursuing recovery.

That's my choice and I live with the consequences of it. One of those consequences is cutting myself off from the full SI community. I don't want my decisions and my story to be a challenge to the consensus. That inhibits me from posting fully openly about it.

But you call me a bit out of hiding with this post and this question.

I dont think of my fellow waywards as a community. Communities are built on elective affinities, and are optional. We opt into them.

I think of my fellow waywards as family. Brothers and sisters. Like family the tie I feel to them is permanent.

And I love them. I love broken people, because I must, if I am to have any love for my broken self. And self-love, on healthy foundations, is a part of healing and growing toward life again. So always there is love love.

But not always like. Like family I sometimes can't stand them either (and by the same token sometimes I can't stand myself). And sometimes I know the only loving thing to do is to detach and not to enable. It's complicated.

Another side of my thinking about this comes from being an addict, a sober alcoholic. Like many, I got sober with the help and teaching of AA. The lessons I learned there guide me every day and will to my last day. But I no longer go to meetings, have not in decades.

That's a thing that can happen in recovery. If you get a hold of it, keep at it, there comes a point at which you want to simply live, and are mostly healthy enough to. Sobriety becomes who you are, what you are, an aspect of your truest you. And some of the scaffolding then gets left behind for some of us.

[This message edited by Owl6118 at 2:27 PM, October 23rd (Wednesday)]

Owl6118 posted 10/23/2019 14:11 PM

I post sparingly.

I had an EA, I am a WS, but my healing is halting and imperfect. There are ways in which I have not followed SI best practice in pursuing recovery.

That's my choice and I live with the consequences of it. One of those consequences is cutting myself off from the full SI community. I don't want my decisions and my story to be a challenge to the consensus. That I habits me from posting fully openly about it.

But you call me a bit out of hiding with this post and this question.

I dont think of my fellow waywards as a community. Communities are built on elective affinities, and are optional. We opt into them.

I think of my fellowmwaywards as family. Brothers and sisters. Like family the tie I feel to them is permanent.

And I love them. I love broken people, because I must, if I am to have any love for my broken self. And self-love, on healthy foundations, is a part of healing and growing toward life again. So always there is love love.

But not always like. Like family I sometimes can't stand them either (and by the same token sometimes I can't stand myself). And sometimes I know the only loving thing to do is to detach and not to enable. It's complicated.

Another side of my thinking about this comes from being an addict, a sober alcoholic. Like many, I got sober with the help and teaching of AA. The lessons I learned there guide me every day and will to my last day. But I no longer go to meetings, have not in decades.

That's a thing that can happen in recovery. If you get a hold of it, keep at it, there comes a point at which you want to simply live, and are mostly healthy enough to. Sobriety becomes who you are, what you are, an aspect of your truest you. And some of the scaffolding then gets left behind for some of us. Not all. Some feel a calling to stay in the rooms and help the new ones. That it God's work. But others want to live a sober life but in a way which applies the teachings in other ways and venues.

I think being a betrayer in recovery can be like that too. We are what we chose. Our betrayals are part of us, part of our history. We do not stop practicing the lessons we learned to help us become safe again. But it may be we may find the time comes that we practice them broadly in life and in our relationships with all the people in it, and less in a space devoted exclusively to our identity as former betrayers.

[This message edited by Owl6118 at 2:28 PM, October 23rd (Wednesday)]

pinkpggy posted 10/23/2019 15:29 PM

I don't feel that way. But again, I don't probably post like a typical wayward. I feel like it does a disservice to your healing to post so that BS will like you or that you won't ruffle feathers. I feel like a lot of WS sensor themseleves in that regard. I do not think ANY space here on SI is a safe space for waywards.

I don't use WE statements because I only speak for myself. No situation is the same. I am on my own path but all of us can take away something from reading or posting here, community or not.

[This message edited by pinkpggy at 3:31 PM, October 23rd (Wednesday)]

BraveSirRobin posted 10/23/2019 16:48 PM

That's something I wonder about too, Pink. Sometimes, if a WS has really publicly blown it on SI, reading their posts is like walking into the high school lunchroom and seeing them sitting alone at a table while everyone else whispers. It's one thing if you decide it's not a day you're up for drama, but if you only avoid/revile them because of what the cool kids might think, then you've crossed over into using SI for validation, and that's bad news.

It takes a while to establish credentials here, and so I guess it's natural to want to be seen as "getting it" and to be reluctant to say things that can undermine that reputation. At least, it is for me. I audit myself frequently to see if I'm falling into that social media-style trap. There's no doubt, though, that the blunt things I say are always going to be more popular.

foreverlabeled posted 10/23/2019 17:02 PM

I feel the Wayward Side is very much a community. It's just different, for obvious reasons that you've pretty well explained already.

You know, when I signed up here I wasn't looking for friends or to find a home away from home or any kind of bond. I was looking for one thing and one thing only, getting us out of infidelity. Oh and I needed help, a lot of it. I got that, unconditionally. This very WS (and sometimes BS) community was there for me when I needed it the most. Even though many of those people are no longer around, it still feels very much like a community. I don't think it matters how long you've been here and if you stick around. It's the nature of SI, the helping hand, the shared experience. If anything I think it's easy to be a WS here, who else has worn our shoes and understands the gravity of our choices?

I'm not worried about my popularity and likability, I'm just trying to get my shit together and help you too. I will always want to see my fellow WSs succeed. I will have their back and cheer them on. When they take two steps back I'll help any way I can to get them moving forward again (even if I have to push and deliver a hard truth) that doesn't make me a heartless bitch out to get you. But sometimes that gets me on their shit list, I've been asked to not post and I've also been told to go eat a bag of dicks or completely ignored, it's not my problem if you aren't ready. I understand that there is only so much I can do to help, I can't make them a safe partner or hold their hand, that's not my job, and I feel like our role is limited there.

I will never forget what it feels like to experience those early days. I was scared and panicked, lost with no end in sight. I didn't have a clue, I did everything wrong. I hand no sense of anything that resembled being centered and grounded. Every day for months felt like I was drowning. And my H's reaction and trauma was harrowing, explosive, frightening. It was also very painful to witness, no words can express the sorrow in my heart for what my actions caused him. With that said, as time went on, and recovery took place, some healing, just the distance, it's like my tolerance level for this shit just dropped to zero. Maybe I was just exhausted, but my compassion was lacking in my advice, very straight forward, no bs. Called it as I see it.

BUT

I rarely see anyone (myself included) just come out swinging the 2x4s. I think it's true that we usually just hit newbies with the work or try to get more info, empathize on the wrong. It's never, hey I know it's scary for you right now how are you holding up? Are you eating, sleeping, breathing.. But then, many times our newbies are months out, doing everything wrong, and are desperate for the right answers and actions. So, what do we do, we slam down the work that is proven to get you on the right track. And that's the thing too, we show up looking for those answers, looking for help. Again, that is what this particular community is built on.

I think that is just a bonus being here, the community. Personally I never expected that, I wasn't interested, it just happened to work out that way because of the people here. I've made great friends and even met some IRL. But, I never assumed that I would be well received or "safe" from harshness and truth. I did a terrible thing, I came to a place full of people who are suffering from the hell of infidelity. However, there are a few sites dedicated to this and I chose to come here because everything about it felt right and felt welcoming to someone like me. It's the only protected forum for us. So in a way it is safe. I appreciate that now, I'm not sure how it would have been elsewhere and I'm glad I didn't subject myself to it.

All of that to say, I love this community. I think we each have our own contributions and I think it's pretty solid all around.

hikingout posted 10/23/2019 19:30 PM

Well said foreverlabeled. You tried with me early on but I was still too defensive and fearful.

As for what pink and bravesirrobin are talking about...

I have had my fair of scuffles in this site but in hindsight (other than the one where there was an insinuation made that was baseless) I feel I brought them on myself. It was time for a dose of humility. This is an Internet forum. You have people here who are healthy but a whole lot of them are just struggling and with situations that are beyond what my imagination is. Way longer histories of dealing with shitty spouses. Itís hard to paint a wayward a victim in that scenario. I canít make my problem more important than someone elseís, itís not kind and itís self centered. I donít feel the need to censor myself because when someone lashes out itís one of two things - itís a statement about them and where they are in their life or itís something that I should slow down and listen to. I put them in the two buckets and I move on. I have grown tremendously through some of the things that made me feel defensive because I asked myself why they did. In the end this is a site of mostly everyday people who donít work in the mental health field and we can decide what fits and what doesnít. Once you can do that then you donít really have to fear what you say. They might get mad today but often itís short lived. They have their own ws to worry about. I find that if you are kind to others most are kind to you even if you disagree. I get my hate mail like everyone else probably but it bothers me zero - people see us through the lens of their experience, they donít know us or who we are. How can I take that personally? This is what I learned after having a lot of struggles this summer and a lot of the issues you guys are describing. It reminds me of the saying - how can you ever get smooth if you bristle at every turn of the sand paper?


I have actually had a harder time with feeling I needed to censor myself with other waywards. Pushing on a wayward raises so much more conflict than pushing on any points with a bs around here. But yet they are the ones who need it the most. I have gotten stronger in that regard, but there are still certain ws that I try hard not to scuffle with.

When I am successful at feeling peace in my own life (thatís still intermittent, I am still working on things) then I can let a lot more stuff go. I can look at things people say more objectively and I personally think this might be a good goal to get to as a ws.

MrsWalloped posted 10/23/2019 20:08 PM

T/j

hikingout,

Youíre at your PM limit.

End t/j

pinkpggy posted 10/23/2019 20:26 PM

I wasn't referring to it like that. I just meant I think people are afraid to be 100% raw and honest.

Example: How many WS say they really didn't like the sex? How many BS insist their WS didn't like sex. That's a taboo subject. I think a lot of times WS try to minimize or downplay things for the sake of their image or the sake of not getting backlash. Some stuff is harsh but you can grow from it.

hikingout posted 10/23/2019 20:32 PM

Pink - agree with that.

Mrs. W. I am on it!

Lucky77 posted 10/24/2019 06:31 AM

I fear "community" a bit. I engage when I feel I can teach or need to be taught. The term community gets me close to being among peers and as a guy who came here because of my extremely thin boundaries that can tend to put me in a vulnerable place. Also I don't conform to many SI norms of what a good wayward is. That said, this place is a great blessing and I'm continually amazed at the raw intensity of real heartbreak and healing that happens here. The tireless hosts and guides are really providing a wonderful service. I read here all the time and am so much smarter about my A because of SI. I had my 2 year NC anniversary this week. Yay!

anxietydepressio posted 10/24/2019 07:06 AM

You do feel isolated. That is quite true. Who is going to support you? Do you feel bad for the person who commits murder? No one is going to "have your back"

The difference arrives at validation vs support. You can support someone with advice without validating their behavior.

I would imagine a BS is looking for validation of their decisions. Their life has been turned upside down. They don't know what is real anymore. So for them they need validation. They also need support because they don't know who has their back anymore. They don't want to feel alone.

WS need support to make changes to their life and their behaviors. That's where validation and support are much different for them. a WS should never get validation for their negative actions, but support for their positive actions.

pinkpggy posted 10/24/2019 07:25 AM

I kind of lost where I was going with my comments, my train of thought escaped me.

I guess my point is WS can use this forum in all sorts of ways. Use it to heal, to commiserate, to learn, to grow. You get out of it what you put into it. I'll always try to help a WS out if they truly seem like they want the help. Some post here because they are told they have to as a condition of R. There are so many situations and stages of infidelity recovery it's hard to form a true bond or community.

MrsWalloped posted 10/24/2019 07:32 AM

You do feel isolated. That is quite true. Who is going to support you? Do you feel bad for the person who commits murder?
I disagree. I think you can feel bad for the pain and turmoil a WS is going through even though theyíre the ones who caused it. It doesnít have to be a ďyou made your bed now lie in itĒ type of thing. I would never expect a BS to sympathize with a WS, but in the Wayward Forum, I think a WS can relate to what another WS is going through and struggling with and sympathize with that. The support is through knowing other WSís can relate to what youíre going through and the support they give as you try to make positive changes in your life.

a WS should never get validation for their negative actions, but support for their positive actions.

I donít recall ever seeing a WS get validation for their negative actions here. I have seen them get validation that their feelings and the issues theyíre dealing with are normal, and then advice or 2x4ís for the things that need to be fixed, which I imagine is one of the reasons this forum was created in the first place.

BraveSirRobin posted 10/24/2019 07:37 AM

The difference arrives at validation vs support. You can support someone with advice without validating their behavior.
I agree about the validation. The dynamic is never going to be the same as JFO, and shouldn't be, because new WS often are looking to have their actions validated. They confuse "I understand" with "I approve" or "I excuse." But are advice and compassion mutually exclusive? Is acknowledging a WS's pain the same as validating what they did?

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