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Year Four Update

DaddyDom posted 12/2/2019 22:29 PM

As my wife and I begin to enter year four of R, I thought it might be helpful to look back and recap on what has transpired, and where we are today. We knew this would be hard. We knew it would be painful. We knew it would not be quick. We knew there were no guarantees. I don't think anyone actually ever truly reconciles from infidelity. The act itself is unforgivable, a deal-breaker in every sense of the word. The only way to reconcile is to truly understand that the marriage you once had no longer exists, and to start over, and build something new. Which is, of course, very easy to say, but so very precarious a thing to actually do.

We have found that each year seems to have its own "theme" for lack of a better word. Year one was spent mostly in shock. My wife spent the first year trying to come to terms with the fact that the rug which had once been her life, had just been ripped out from under her by the one person who she trusted to never do such a thing to her. At the same time, I spent my first year flailing, trying desperately to bring order to the chaos within myself. I just wanted to hit the "undo" button and make it all go away. I think we both did.

Year two brought a new change... The shock wore off and the reality of it all sank in. This was both good and bad. One one hand, for my wife at least, she began to see "the real me", long before I could see myself. This realization brought a lot of anger with it, and disgust. However, it also freed her. If there is anything beautiful to be found in anger, it is that anger gives you strength, and in this case, it gave her the ability to stop worrying about me, the person who betrayed her, and allowed her to instead begin focusing on herself, what her own needs, desires and boundaries were, and to begin focusing on her own recovery, at her own pace, and to let go of feelings of being responsible for anyone else's happiness in life other than her own. For me, I'll be honest, it was torture. For the first time in my life, there was no one there to "Mother" me. I was "doing the work" but didn't yet "see the real me" in the same way that she could. Instead, I hustled for my worth, constantly trying to do anything to please her, but instead I just kept doing more damage to her, because my efforts were still based in selfishness and in worrying more about my own pain and fear, and my inability to face who I really was only served to cause more damage to everyone involved.

Year three is when the real movement began to happen. I found a good IC, as did she, and slowly, very slowly, I began to grow up, and was able to start to let go of the fears and insecurities that had plagued me my whole life, and that had ultimately led to the infidelity in the first place. Whereas in years one and two I had done all that I could to try and hold on to my wife and our marriage, I now realized that what I was actually doing was pouring gasoline on an already raging fire. The answer wasn't to fix my marriage... I had already destroyed that. The answer was to stop being a needy little prick. What I needed to do was to grow up, man up, and start to be responsible for my own happiness and self-worth, and to take responsibility for my own actions. I needed to be able to honestly know, for myself, that I was going to be okay, no matter what, even if the marriage failed, even if no one ever loved me again. I stopped being a victim of my childhood and instead decided that who I am is enough. Ultimately, I had to decide who it was I wanted to be, and then be that person. I chose to be someone I can respect, someone who can be strong and share the load, someone my betrayed wife could begin to count on for strength, instead of a needy man-child sucking the life out of her.

I know some of you might be thinking to yourselves, "Hey, where is your wife in that picture? What about her?" And that's the thing. She was right. She kept telling me that she didn't need me anymore, that she would be okay no matter what, that she loved herself and didn't need anyone else to make her feel whole or happy. Until I was able to find that same strength in myself, I continued to be a leech on her life. I couldn't see her or feel for her because I was always too worried about myself. By removing my own neediness, and learning to love myself, it removed all the drain and pressure from her. Me becoming confident in myself freed her from what had been hurting her the most, namely, me asking her to make me feel better about myself when she was the one who had been hurt by me. When I was able to become her partner instead of her burden, she was free to be open with me again without the same fear of being sucked down into my pain and shame. And for me, being able to take a "step back" from her, gave me the room and ability to then take a "step forward" towards her again. I guess what I'm saying is, I needed to find, know, and love myself first. Once that happened, it opened the door for me to stop asking her to be there for me, and instead love her as a partner, as an equal, and to own the pain I had foisted upon her. That allowed her to finally let her protective walls down, and when she did, our mutual healing was able to begin.

I am not saying that we are "all better now". Rather, we are finally on the same path towards healing, at the same time, and able to walk beside each other and support each other in the process. I am able to be honest and open with her because I no longer fear being alone. She is able to open up to me because she no longer fears being sucked into my neediness. For the first time in years, she is wearing her wedding ring again, which she says is a sign that she feels more comfortable in where we are at together. Had we not each taken the time and effort to "fix ourselves" first, I don't think this would have been possible.

So as we enter year four, I do so with a hopeful heart. I don't know what the future will bring, but I do know that we are both better prepared for whatever may come. Do I wish we still had the blind-trust and unconditional love that we once had? It sounds nice, however I think I prefer where we are now. We are living in reality, and in some ways, I feel like more of a husband than I have ever been before, because now she is no longer my "mother" but my partner and my wife, and I am able to be there for her in the way(s) that she needs me to, for now. We both plan to continue working in MC and on ourselves. This is surely a lifelong process.

Thank you to everyone here at SI. You've given me endless amounts of love, support, advice and 2x4's, and have not been afraid to tell me when I'm on the right track and when I'm going off the rails. Thank you for being there for my lovely wife as well. So many of you have been great friends to us both. I'm not sure we would have ever had made it this long and this far without the SI community.

Oldwounds posted 12/3/2019 17:19 PM

This is surely a lifelong process.

As are all relationships as it turns out. I've found this isn't such a bad thing. The process of healing together should gain some momentum with this very cool update DD.

I don't know that I ever swung a full on 2X4 your way, but I definitely doubted your effort for a while. Despite being a very intelligent and articulate person, you also artfully dodged some really good, tough questions from members and from ISSF those first two years.

Congrats on finding YOUR value in all of this.

When my wife connected with her self worth and value again, I knew we were going to be more than okay. A fully authentic relationship is a rare and beautiful thing.

I hope you get similar results for you and yours as you continue on together!

DaddyDom posted 12/3/2019 18:39 PM

Thank you OldWounds.

... you also artfully dodged some really good, tough questions from members and from ISSF those first two years.

This comment stuck out to me simply because my wife said the same thing to me over and over again at the time. In fact, she often kept telling me that everyone could see exactly who I was, and that I wasn't fooling anyone. I was not in the right headspace to be able to understand or accept that for a long, long time.

I remember early on that several people had said to me, "You have to be willing to lose the relationship in order to save it", which made zero sense to me at the time. Truth is, for us anyway, I think that was the key.

I didn't write about it at the time, but a few months ago, I asked my wife if we should just part ways. I was sick of hurting her, and she seemed so disgusted and done with me. Of course, this went over like a lead zeppelin at the time, and she felt as though she had been putting all this time and effort into the relationship only to have me give up on it, and on her. It was, however, the turning point back to reality for me, the one I needed in order to "let go" of my own bullshit. The scared, needy, selfish, wayward person I had been would never have been able to get past my own needs and fears enough to care about what she wanted or needed, nor would I have been able to allow myself to even consider being alone and okay with that. My IC did a fantastic job helping to rebuild my own self-worth - too well in fact. When our MC heard what had transpired, she said that she (my IC) had done a great job with me on a personal basis, but that we weren't incorporating working on things from an EFT/relationship standpoint into that paradigm. Once we got those two things integrated, changes happened quickly.

Thank you for being a kind and steady voice throughout this process. I know a lot of people come on SI and get upset when hit over the head with truth. Today I rely on that kind of bold honesty from the community. It is a rare gift.

still-living posted 12/3/2019 18:57 PM

It makes me happy that you two are doing so well.

ChanceAtLife35 posted 12/3/2019 20:06 PM

This is amazing to hear. So happy for you both and i hope you continue to heal and become the best versions of yourselves and live life to the fullest.

Followtheriver posted 12/4/2019 07:15 AM

DaddyDom,

All I got to say is, it's about damn time. What took you so long? (Just kidding, you know that's not all I have to say.)

If I remember correctly, there was a very wise person, wise like Yoda or Forrest Gump, who strongly suggested to you that it was time to face your demons and kick their ass. It kind of sounds like that's what you did. Pretty good feeling, isn't it?

Life is good and you are most welcome.

hikingout posted 12/4/2019 08:23 AM

What I needed to do was to grow up, man up, and start to be responsible for my own happiness and self-worth, and to take responsibility for my own actions.

Yes. I think that most all of us who have been working towards this can truly appreciate how much work really goes into this one sentence. It's a very difficult thing to get something you have never had and figure out how to get it. And, it's a slippery little F-er isn't it? Because we approach it by propping it up with external things, just different external things because that's how we have had some semblance of it in the past. I think this in itself could be an interesting post, and one that would be hard to express - how do you get those things and how do you make sure the foundation of them are solid? I know my answers to that (as it stands right now - still evolving), but it would be an interesting collaborative sometime.

Anyway, I digressed. I meant to make a point of saying this little sentence is the hardest work there is for any of us wayward people. Recognizing you aren't doing it is a big step and taking new leaps because of that is truly awesome, and brave! (It's annoying because I found I was at this step a few times with a few other answers, which is kind of what you are expressing here too- but, man they don't teach us this in school do they??? ).

Me becoming confident in myself freed her from what had been hurting her the most, namely, me asking her to make me feel better about myself when she was the one who had been hurt by me. When I was able to become her partner instead of her burden, she was free to be open with me again without the same fear of being sucked down into my pain and shame. And for me, being able to take a "step back" from her, gave me the room and ability to then take a "step forward" towards her again. I guess what I'm saying is, I needed to find, know, and love myself first. Once that happened, it opened the door for me to stop asking her to be there for me, and instead love her as a partner, as an equal, and to own the pain I had foisted upon her

I hadn't actually framed it that way before, but I can see that I relate to this a lot. My h and I never had quite the parent/child thing going, but he is older than me...and has always been healthier than I am. It's interesting to find that sometimes he still holds back things he thinks under patterns that we established long ago, where my maturity probably didn't allow me to receive it in a healthy way. I never got mad or ugly with him, it was just it would send me into an insecure tailspin in which I would overcompensate. So, we are still working on him eliminating that from his thought process. Until we can both always be truthful and not avoiding conflict I think we will struggle with some of the things you are talking about later in your post.

And, by the way I am sorry I am relating it back to me, but in many ways there are so few further out sharing that I absorb anything that you all are finding with a sponge. Your situation is certainly different than mine but I think wayward roots, they aren't hard to see or relate to.

Anyway, congratulations on getting to year four. Your wife has a strength that I as a woman could only aspire to have. And, the patience of Job. That's not a cut towards you at all - it's just I can see how that has had to be an inspiration for you and something looking back you can appreciate her more fully for. There couldn't be any woman in the world who will ever look as beautiful, strong, capable, and worthy of the world to you after what you all have been through in the past 3 years. And, it sounds like you are starting to figure out what it is she deserves, and also what you deserve to give to yourself. These are really fucking hard things, Dom. I don't take what you are saying here lightly. I could write paragraphs and paragraphs off of some of these sentences.

I think there is a lot of things in your experience that by exposing can truly help others if you have the time or inclination to post more. Either way, treasure that woman. You will never find a better one I promise you that. Take care.

Oldwounds posted 12/4/2019 10:48 AM

DD -

If I ever said anything that actually helped, then you're welcome. But I think my words were always about supporting and cheering on two people who are kind and reasonable human beings trying to overcome unreasonable behavior.

It ain't easy, but I think it's amazing neither of you gave up (even though you each offered to give up along the way). Overcoming this level of adversity -- that's something to build on right there.

DaddyDom posted 12/4/2019 17:46 PM

@hikingout

I'm glad to hear from you, as I often find a lot of wisdom and commonality in your advice. I think you progressed a lot quicker than I did, which is good, and I hope it saved your relationship the pain and damage that my arc of progression has taken.

It's a very difficult thing to get something you have never had and figure out how to get it.

And that's the thing, isn't it? Many times, I've compared the experience to having been raised by wolves, and then being asked to join human society again. The thing is, up until that point, you never actually realized that there was anything wrong or that needed changing with who you had always been. That behavior was our "normal".

I'm not sure what anyone could have said or done any differently that would have made the process any faster. I did (and still do) have a lot to learn, and a lot to unlearn. What does help is hearing from you and others on SI and knowing that I am hardly alone in this. We all struggle with the same guilt from the same sin, however...

but, man they don't teach us this in school do they???

Exactly.

treasure that woman. You will never find a better one I promise you that

Amen to that as well. My wife is a mixed breed, part angel, part pitbull. The pitbull makes her very determined and once she clamps onto something she wants, she doesn't let go until she has it. The angel part brings that patience you mentioned, and allows her to love a very broken man such as me. So yes, I'm a very lucky man indeed, because I can't imagine anyone else in this world that could bear what she went through so far and still be here, still hopeful, and trying. Honestly, I'm just glad that I am getting to a point where I can start to be there for her, because for the past three years, she's been more or less on her own from a relationship standpoint. She deserved better.

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