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Life is combusting

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EvolvingSoul posted 11/6/2019 18:51 PM

Hi there devastated717,

I don't know if you've had the chance to read it but if not, the book "How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair" by Linda MacDonald is a fantastic resource. It's written for WS and is short enough to read in an afternoon. It concisely lays out a pretty good road map for WS who wish to reconcile, giving specific advice on which behaviors are likely to help the chance for reconciliation and which are likely to hurt it.

Your instinct that you need to focus on fixing you is a good one. Regardless of the outcome of the marriage, you will be co-parenting the kids you share with your BS for a long time to come. He needs you and they need you to be a mentally healthy person upon whom they can rely. And even though things feel terrible right now, becoming that person is not beyond you. It will take time and lowering your defenses enough to be able to examine the kind of thinking that got you to where you are now, and then actively working to change those thought processes. It's 1000% worth the work. Your marriage may not be salvageable, but you definitely are.

Something to keep in mind as far as the depth of betrayal your BS is feeling, even those these events happened a long time ago the betrayal likely goes beyond the events themselves. From his perspective not only did you sext/send images to someone who had been clearly established as his enemy even before you were married, you further betrayed him by keeping it a secret from him for all these years. Had he known the truth, do you think he would have divorced you back in 2011? Do you think he would have chosen to have kids with you? So it's not just the fact that you did these things, it's also that you let him make choices that will impact him the rest of his life based on a false belief about you. That is something that is really hard to accept, I know. None of us wants to be the villain of our own stories or in anyone else's story but it's only when you stand inside your story, when you claim all the parts of yourself, even the ones that you aren't proud of, that you can begin to truly heal.

Something that will serve you well is to start looking at what tools you have at your disposal to help you deal with difficult feelings without getting overwhelmed. If you're like most Waywards, that tool box is probably underpopulated. A mindfulness practice with daily meditation as its foundation can help you learn to pay attention to the present moment with openness rather than judgement. It will help you differentiate what is from what you imagine or what might happen in the future. It is a terrific way of helping you cope with stress. It won't stop your thoughts and feelings but it will definitely help you relate to them in a way that you don't over-identify them or get swept off by the story line that you may be attaching to them. There are a lot of good resources for developing this skill, many of them free. Ask if you want to know more about which resources I've found helpful.

You are going to be okay. I remember in the first week after D-day just wishing that I could fast forward my life 10 years, and that whatever was going to happen would have already happened and it whatever the outcome it would be in the past. I'm over 9 years out now and when I think back to my past self thrashing around in those early days I hold her tight and, with as much compassion as I can, I tell her the truth: "The only way out is through."

It's a long, circuitous path to healing from infidelity and it crosses some difficult terrain. I know it's daunting but like all journeys it begins with the first step. You will find many fellow travelers here. Some are far ahead of you on the path and can provide guideposts for your journey. Some like you are just stepping on and can relate to exactly what you're feeling right now because they too are immersed the chaos. Most are someplace in between.

Proceed with conviction and valor. Welcome to the path from a fellow EvolvingSoul.

Zugzwang posted 11/6/2019 19:26 PM

Why is it always so terrible?

And I deserve what is coming to me.

You might want to reword this in a way that is empowering instead of self defeat, pity, or loathing. How about I earned what is the aftermath. You did. You did the actions that left you here. You can do the actions to fix this. You can earn a better you.

devastated717 posted 11/6/2019 20:43 PM

Thanks for the thoughtful replies. I really do appreciate and take in everyoneís advice, Counseling always feels terrible because it just seems hopeless. BUT tonightís session actually went well, I felt like we really listened to one another. And we went out to dinner afterwards and had a nice time and talked about normal things. So for the first time in a month, I felt like my BH felt a little relief and comfort. A break from the anger. This is all so traumatic for him, so I was so happy to see that he was more relaxed and less anxious, even if it was only for a little. Heís at the gym now and Iím putting the boys to bed.

He definitely would have divorced me in 2011 had he known what I did, and we never would have had kids. So heís definitely upset that I concealed that from him and took that choice away from him.

devastated717 posted 11/6/2019 20:43 PM

Thanks for the thoughtful replies. I really do appreciate and take in everyoneís advice, Counseling always feels terrible because it just seems hopeless. BUT tonightís session actually went well, I felt like we really listened to one another. And we went out to dinner afterwards and had a nice time and talked about normal things. So for the first time in a month, I felt like my BH felt a little relief and comfort. A break from the anger. This is all so traumatic for him, so I was so happy to see that he was more relaxed and less anxious, even if it was only for a little. Heís at the gym now and Iím putting the boys to bed.

He definitely would have divorced me in 2011 had he known what I did, and we never would have had kids. So heís definitely upset that I concealed that from him and took that choice away from him.

EvolvingSoul posted 11/6/2019 21:17 PM

And we went out to dinner afterwards and had a nice time and talked about normal things. So for the first time in a month, I felt like my BH felt a little relief and comfort. A break from the anger.
Be careful with statements like this. I used to interpret a "good day" exactly the way you described this. It took me a while to learn that his difficult feelings were always just below the surface and he was barely holding it together. Just because he was keeping it tamped down inside didn't mean it felt good and normal to him, or that it was a break from anything.

In truth, those times I thought were good days for him were in fact good days for me. Days when I felt more normal. Days when I got a break from his sadness or anger. For him, during those first few years, a good day was when we could talk about what happened without him having to bring it up, without me getting defensive. He needed me to pull the spears out of his back and I spent a lot of time arguing that there were no spears and, even if there were, he was the only one who could pull them out. It was only when I was able to actually start giving him what he kept telling me he needed to heal that he began to feel any relief at all.

MC might not be the most helpful thing for him this early in the process, especially if it 1) is geared only to saving the relationship and 2) is trying to address relationship issues instead of the betrayal. He's like an accident victim that needs to be in critical care. The focus has to be on him. Is he in IC?

devastated717 posted 11/7/2019 09:12 AM

Yeah, the anger and hurt is still there. Iím just grateful that he seemed to be able to relax for a bit.

MC is very focused on the betrayal and not our marriage issues. Itís also, at this point, not focused on reconciliation as the goal. Right now he wants a divorce, and we are in MC so if that happens, we can move forward as healthy co-parents.

He is in IC, which is very important.

MrCleanSlate posted 11/7/2019 11:48 AM

Devastated,

It is a long process with IC or MC.

My MC is still ongoing 4 years later. Although it has transitioned from the affair aftermath, to rebuilding our relationship and working on our marriage to dealing with life issues such as kids, work, money, family. You know, one thing I learned was it takes a lot of effort to make a marriage work.

It took 4 years for my BW to say that she has reconciled, but I know she will always have trust issues.

devastated717 posted 11/9/2019 11:37 AM

Well, he woke up really angry and we spent the morning in the bedroom with him venting at me. Saying thereís no chance we are staying together, etc etc. itís a roller coaster. Trying to stay as level headed as possible, not be concerned with outcomes.

Zugzwang posted 11/9/2019 15:02 PM

Actually it is a merry-go-round. We cycle the same stages till we heal. At least that is what our MC said.

devastated717 posted 11/9/2019 16:36 PM

Merry go round... I like that analogy. We have a babysitter and are going to dinner then seeing a movie tonight. I hope it goes well.

devastated717 posted 11/9/2019 22:32 PM

Well, great. Things were going on but a trailer for the movie ďmarriage storyĒ played before the movie.... and that pretty much gutted us. Itís about a divorce. Pretty much the mlst triggering thing we could have seen.

Zugzwang posted 11/10/2019 08:20 AM

Media triggers suck. When we were going through the harder times, we were watching the first season of American Horror Story. All centered around the husband cheating and not acknowledging what he did to his wife.

EvolvingSoul posted 11/11/2019 17:34 PM

Hi again devastated717,

It's going to go on this way for a while. The recovery and healing process is very non-linear. They don't call it a roller coaster for nothing.

One of the best things you can do is get some skills in place for learning to deal with difficult feelings. By difficult feelings, I mean things being different than you wish they were. That is the essence of our suffering at its heart. We see our BSes in pain and we wish we could take it away or change it. We think of our choices in the past and we wish we had not made them. We aren't alone in this. It's the human condition. Every human alive suffers in this way. As a WS, though, especially in the early days as you are, it's very intense and we are acutely aware that we brought it onto ourselves and our BSes.

Even years and years down the road, you're still going to encounter these triggers. We had one just this past weekend, while watching a movie, and we're over 9 years out. Just sometimes something bumps that old wound and it still can ache. I'm mostly to acceptance that this will always be a possibility. I don't get mad or defensive when it happens. I do get sad, and I do my best to just let that sadness be felt and then dissipate naturally.

The good news is that it's a skill that can be learned. You can learn to experience whatever's going on in the present moment with openness instead of judgement. It would be nice if you and I had learned how to do this earlier in life, if we could have practiced on low stakes stuff like having our burger overcooked instead of being faced with learning it on the high stakes stuff that comes in the aftermath of infidelity. Nevertheless, start where you are. In fact the book "Start Where You Are" by Pema Chodron would probably be a good read for you about now. In it she teaches how to embrace rather than deny the painful aspects of our lives and to use them as a path to awakening. Her work has been so very helpful to me and I hope it could help you too.

Proceed with conviction and valor.

Best to you from a fellow EvolvingSoul.

devastated717 posted 11/12/2019 09:18 AM

Thanks for the book rec! I'll definitely check it out.

I, too, wish that I had started IC and working on myself before this crisis blew up and shattered everything. But bottoming out is a powerful thing, with the highest price paid, and I am using this experience to work as hard as I can to better myself. For him, for my children. Regardless of the outcome. One day at a time. Breathe in , breathe out.

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