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The things I had to accept

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DaddyDom posted 12/16/2019 13:32 PM

I know I tend to write "books" so I'll try to keep this intro short and get to the meat of things. I've spent the past several years "spinning", having all the right information but unable to process it in a way that would allow me to heal and move forward. This also had the added effect of continuing to harm my spouse and others in my life. I made some realizations along the way that I hope will help others, if even in some small way, so I am sharing these things here. Please take whatever works for you.

I had quite literally destroyed our marriage and our entire relationship along with it

I fought this concept like all hell. I could say the words, and in concept I knew it to be true, but in my heart, the old marriage still existed and I still wanted it back. I thought she really still loved me and that everything was going to be okay once some time had passed. I thought I could resurrect our marriage from the dead. I thought what I did was forgivable on some level. I was wrong on all counts. I had to accept that what I did was not only unforgivable, it was also permanent, and real. When I had the affair, the impact and consequence of that choice meant that I had left her. I spent the next several years under the illusion that she might leave me or choose to end the marriage. The truth was I had already beaten her to the punch. I had already done both things to her. I just couldn't allow myself to face that truth. Somehow I felt entitled to be forgiven. There was simply no reason for that to happen. I was sorry for her, yes, but I was more sorry for myself. And when you are busy feeling sorry for yourself, it is impossible to truly be sorry for anyone else. So even though I was there with her 24/7, she was utterly and totally alone, because the only person I was capable of seeing was myself and my own fear.

Takeaway: Your marriage is over. You are not the person your spouse once knew, and your spouse is now changed as well, from the trauma you have inflicted upon their entire paradigm of what truth, love, loyalty and honesty are. For the first time in your relationship, your spouse now sees you for who you truly are, and sadly, now they likely doubt who everyone in their world really is, including themselves. There is nothing you can do to make things better, period. Why? Again, your marriage is over. There is nothing to make better. The "you" you are now, the one who thought it was acceptable on some level to have an affair, is not someone worthy of, nor safe enough for, a relationship. If you are to have any relationship moving forward, with your spouse or otherwise, you will need to accept who you are, and just as importantly, learn to be someone better. You also have to accept that if your spouse chooses to move forward without waiting around for you to get your shit in order, then you should be feeling more sorry for them than for yourself. Because this wasn't their choice. Their choice (you) did this to them in the first place.

My choice had been made, so I needed to learn to be okay with it

On some level, whether I was willing or able to accept it or not, I had left my wife. I had betrayed her, I had betrayed myself, I had betrayed my family and most everyone I knew. And for reasons that were mine to figure out through hard work and determination, I had made that choice and acted on it. I did what I did on purpose, and absolutely knew what the consequences would be. When it came time to face those consequences however, I refused to accept them. At least, I tried to. I felt so damn sorry for myself that I did to myself exactly the same things that I did to my wife during the affair. I lied to myself, I gas-lighted myself, I tried to bargain with myself, anything, everything, to make myself feel better, because facing the reality of what I had done was simply too painful to feel. I had spent most of my life avoiding feeling pain, and I was an expert at going numb or going to pieces. I had no coping mechanisms that involved feeling the pain, dealing with the pain, or stepping up to the plate and being responsible for the pain or what caused it.

At the end of the day, I think the time had come for me to grow the fuck up. And perhaps that need is where the affair itself was born? Maybe my marriage was a skin that needed to be shed, because it was based on a lie, my lie, the one I told myself. It was the lie that I was someone other than who I really was, that I was someone who would never cheat, someone loyal, someone happy with themselves and capable of true love and joy. I was not. I was a sad, hurt little child who never got over his own demons, and chose to live life as a needy individual, rather than as someone who can love themselves and be strong for others. Instead of reaching out for help, I chose to repeat the abuse that was dealt to me. I needed to accept, as a fact, that I had chosen to be alone, and to be hated, because that's what I thought I deserved, what I felt I was worth. I don't think I was actually capable of understanding that at the time of the affair. It is, nonetheless, exactly what happened.

Takeaway: This was a choice you made. You wanted something other than your spouse, and now you have it, whether it is still what you want or not. You need to be prepared to move forward WITHOUT your spouse, and more importantly, you need to be OKAY with this. Not because it is what you want now, but because it was what you wanted when you had your affair. Unfortunately, since you already made your choice, you now have to live with the consequences, and part of that means learning to accept moving forward alone, as a possible outcome. I am not saying to give up on R! Rather, I am saying that part of being able to be someone that your spouse or anyone else can ever love or trust or depend on, you must first be someone who loves themselves, who can carry their own weight in this world, and is worthy of being loved back. Yes, we are all worthy of love, but the only way others can show us that love is by us loving ourselves first, otherwise, the love of others cannot get through to us, and the love we hold inside cannot get through to others.

My spouse had no part in this. This was my shit-show the entire time.

Part of "the lies I told myself" (a great book title, no?) was that my spouse had anything at all to do with the affair, the aftermath, or the recovery. No, my spouse was the victim, collateral damage, and she was simply doing her best to stay alive after being stabbed in the back and left in the gutter, by me. This was my show, from the get-go. There was nothing my wife needed to "get over" or "forgive" or do or say for my benefit. I spent years trying to manipulate her actions and decisions in order to achieve the outcome I wanted. The truth was, my behavior during R was in many ways the same as it was during the A. I was dictating what I wanted/needed from her and doing all I could to make it happen, she was just responding to my continued selfish behavior. Her actions were responses to my actions. I continued to be selfish, and so she continued to be hurt by that. As long as I continued to be selfish, she continued to be hurt, and pulled further away from me. I had no idea that I was still "driving the bus", and convinced myself that pulling away from me is what she wanted. All she really wanted was to stop hurting, and for me to stop being the one hurting her.

Takeaway: Your spouse doesn't need your love, your apologies, your excuses, your reasons. What your spouse needs is your honesty, your integrity, your remorse, and your empathy. More than anything, they need for your selfishness and "the fog" to go away. There is nothing that your spouse "needs to do" for your benefit. In fact, if there is to be any hope or reason to build a new relationship together, it must come from you to begin with. Your spouse feels as if they trapped in a meat grinder and are doing everything they can to stay away from the blades. You can help the most by simply turning off the grinder, which is you.

It all comes down to self-love and self-respect

We said above that the destruction of your spouse and your marriage are simply "collateral damage" from the affair. In that same way, the affair itself, is also collateral damage. Its root cause was you. The affair did not happen to you, it happened because of you. Everything that happens from here on out will continue to be because of you. Yes, your spouse will now need to make decisions for themselves based on what feels safest for them, however they can still only operate within the boundaries of the choices they are given. If you are still a selfish and harmful person, then building something new with you is no longer an option for them to choose, so they will be forced to choose an option that doesn't include you.

Shortly after D-Day, my wife told me that the real root cause of everything was that I simply "did not love myself". At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about, but in truth, this was the key, the sole reason, for everything. Not just the affair, but my entire life, how I built relationships, how I handled jobs, how I saw myself and others, my addictions, my loves, my hates, my politics, my beliefs, how I dealt with and processed things - everything. The damage done to me by my abusers left me feeling unworthy, so my life was a constant struggle to justify my own value through the eyes of others. As Brene Brown puts it, I was "hustling for my own worth". I was a funny, loving, supportive and intelligent person, and so I thought that meant that I was okay, that I was great in fact. But all those traits were "faulty coping skills" that I learned in order to make other people love me, because deep down, I could not value myself. My only value came from others, and when others didn't shower me with praise, I felt ugly and worthless inside. This would prompt me to only try harder to impress people, because their approval and love were like emotional oxygen to me, and I could not live without it. When it was taken away from me, I would get angry, because that is how the fear manifested itself, and because I was mad at them for not giving me what I needed, what I could not provide for myself. Here is a simple fact - you cannot love or respect others when you cannot love or respect yourself. In other words, you cannot give what you do not already possess. There was no way I could love my wife, not because she wasn't worthy of my love, not because I didn't care, but simply because love was something I was not capable of feeling, not really. Love, to me, was a reflection of myself. Every day I hustled for my worth. Every day, I wondered why anyone would have any reason to love me.

Takeaway: Every WS must do a "deep dive" into their "why's", and then do the hard work to make corrections to their broken perceptions. It is my personal theory that all WS's, for their own reasons, lack self-love. I believe this to be true, because I believe that it is impossible for someone capable of self-love to have an affair in the first place. A person who has self-love would have the boundaries, integrity and decency that would never allow them to disrespect themselves and their loved ones in such a way in the first place. They would never allow themselves to hurt and use others in such a way. In fact, the mere thought of betraying, lying to and hurting others in such a way would not even be considered an option, because they could never live with themselves or the thought of doing such a thing. It would feel like committing murder, something so far past the bounds of what is reasonable that it is not even a thought to begin with. Once the WS is able to discover the origins and reasons for their own lack of self-love, they can then take steps to correct this, and to develop healthy coping skills and personal integrity that will help guide them to a better life, and to better versions of themselves. It will make them a safer person, for themselves and others. Their decisions and actions will now be guided by a belief system, healthy boundaries and integrity. This is not an easy task. It will take courage. It will involve pain and growth. There will be loss. There will be enlightenment. More than anything, perhaps for the first time in your life, you will need to discover not only who you are, but why you are who you are. And most of all, you will have to do this alone. Of course there may be people along the way to encourage you, but like healing a broken bone, the only person that can do the actual healing is you. You will have to be your own cheerleader, your own coach, your own shoulder to cry on, because at the end of the day, the person you are today lacks these critical skills, and leaning on others (in their entirety, without any support from yourself) is what got you here in the first place. It is time to grow and change, or wither and rot. The choice, and the effort, is yours to make. Until this is done, nothing else can progress.

I had to be willing to lose the marriage in order to save it

Someone said this to me early on, and it made no sense to me at the time. How could I accept doing anything other than fighting for my marriage? Wasn't my willingness to let the marriage go the real problem in the first place?

The fact is that the marriage we had was lopsided and based on a foundation of quicksand. There was one person who was constantly emotionally needy, and another person was constantly picking up the slack and being made responsible for everyone's happiness and security, at the loss of their own. As long as I continued to cling to the already dead marriage, nothing new could grow. It was like keeping a dead plant in the flower pot and watering it anyway.

Marriage is not an entity. It is not something you deserve, nor is it something you own. Marriage is a decision, and it is one that you make every day, every moment of every day. Marriage, a real marriage, is made by two individual people, who have made a commitment, not to each other, but to themselves, that this is what they want, and what is right for them, and that it is what they are willing to fight for and believe in. We cannot commit to others if we can't commit to ourselves first. If you are not strong enough to make it on your own without the relationship, then you are not strong enough to be a partner in a relationship. A selfish person has no concept of self-sacrifice or empathy, and yet, these are things that a relationship is founded on.

Takeaway: In order to have a marriage, a real marriage, you must be willing to accept that you must be a healthy individual in order to be a healthy partner. If the relationship is more important to you than your partner or yourself, then there is no relationship, because you are deriving your self-worth (and your partners worth) based on your happiness (or lack thereof) with what you are getting from, rather than giving to, your marriage. Love and trust are earned through giving. Your needs are your own to meet, as are your partners. Helping your partner to meet their needs is where love grows, however requiring your partner to help you meet your needs is where love dies. Meeting your needs at the expense of your partner is how love is murdered.

If you and your spouse (or someone else, if it comes to that) are to have a relationship moving forward, it MUST be built from the ground up, as if you had never met before, as if nothing had ever existed, because in truth, that's what is needed. You must change and your spouse must change, because what you had before was a lie anyway. As I said before, you cannot get back what you never had to begin with. So move forward with that in mind. Be someone worthy of being loved, and be someone capable of loving back. Love may indeed be a "need", the only real question is, who is responsible for fulfilling it?

[This message edited by DaddyDom at 10:42 PM, December 16th (Monday)]

gmc94 posted 12/16/2019 14:31 PM

Thank you DD. I really appreciated your thoughts on the need to recognize that the M is over.
t took my WH 6 months to remove his wedding ring (something I asked him to do on dday), and at the time he said he fully recognized the M was dead... that he had "accepted" the death of our marriage, but hoped to build a new one. A couple of months later, I read his journal as he lay in ICU, with doctors unsure if he would live, and I came across his journal entry for the day he removed his ring, where he said he felt forced into it.

Out of the million lies he's told in the last 2, 10, or 20+ years, that lie haunts me, in that is is indicative of them all: the ability to lie to himself and then to his wife, even while knowing deep down that it is a lie.

And it does all come down to self love and self respect. It still sounds completely crazy to me, but I can find moments of gratitude for this shitshow, to the extent that it has forced me to come to terms with some ways my own self love & respect has been lacking, despite a ton of therapy about it long before dday.

DaddyDom posted 12/16/2019 15:01 PM

Out of the million lies he's told in the last 2, 10, or 20+ years, that lie haunts me, in that is is indicative of them all: the ability to lie to himself and then to his wife, even while knowing deep down that it is a lie.

That's the thing here. All the lies. I think the mistake we all make is assuming that somehow the lies started with the affair when the reality is that the affair started because of the lies.

I'm curious, with the benefit of hindsight, do you now see any lies that you may have told yourself as well? You were lied to (by him) for 20+ years. Perhaps, when betrayed by the people we love, the lie we tell ourselves is that it isn't true, that they aren't really that person, that they really do care?

I think we all have an inner dialog that we use to protect ourselves from harm. The hard part is in letting those inner-lies go, because when we do, it means we have to deal with the reality of it all.

ibonnie posted 12/16/2019 15:26 PM

👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

Well said.

DevastatedDee posted 12/16/2019 16:10 PM

When I had the affair, the impact and consequence of that choice meant that I had left her. I spent the next several years under the illusion that she might leave me or choose to end the marriage. The truth was I had already beaten her to the punch. I had already done both things to her.

That's a very important realization. I said it a million times to my XWH, but he never did get it. I'm glad you do now. Don't forget all this stuff, DD.

Somehow I felt entitled to be forgiven. There was simply no reason for that to happen. I was sorry for her, yes, but I was more sorry for myself. And when you are busy feeling sorry for yourself, it is impossible to truly be sorry for anyone else. So even though I was there with her 24/7, she was utterly and totally alone, because the only person I was capable of seeing was myself and my own fear.

That you are still alive after that is a testament to how incredible your wife is, lol. I had more rage fits about this at my XWH than anything else.

MrsWalloped posted 12/16/2019 16:13 PM

A person who has self-love would have the boundaries, integrity and decency that would never allow them to disrespect themselves and their loved ones in such a way in the first place.

Once the WS is able to discover the origins and reasons for their own lack of self-love, they can then take steps to correct this, and to develop healthy coping skills and personal integrity that will help guide them to a better life, and to better versions of themselves. It will make them a safer person, for themselves and others.

More than anything, perhaps for the first time in your life, you will need to discover not only who you are, but why you are who you are. And most of all, you will have to do this alone. Of course there may be people along the way to encourage you, but like healing a broken bone, the only person that can do the actual healing is you.

Everything you wrote was really on point, but this really hit home for me. Thank you.

hikingout posted 12/16/2019 16:18 PM

Awesome post. All of it!

Onlyjan posted 12/16/2019 16:35 PM

Thank you for this. It was like balm to my heart, as a BS. I always respect your honesty, and your willingness to dig deep and to share.

layla1234 posted 12/16/2019 16:49 PM

Really really wish my husband would get this...

thatbpguy posted 12/16/2019 17:25 PM

I know I tend to write "books" so I'll try to keep this intro short and get to the meat of things.

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...................

That said, a very worthy post.

MyAnimals posted 12/16/2019 17:32 PM

Thank you

Thissucks5678 posted 12/16/2019 18:23 PM

That was a lovely post, thank you.

EvolvingSoul posted 12/16/2019 18:48 PM

Hi there DaddyDom,

This post is strong medicine for those WS who are still struggling to come to terms with the breadth and depth of the affair's impact as well as what it's going to take to recover.

At the outset I (like so many) viewed recovery the way I would a bad cut or a broken bone. It looks and feels horrible, but you go to the ER, they stitch you up or set the bone and cast it and then time does the rest. Recovery from infidelity was not...that. It took a long time for me to get my defenses down to the point that I could help BS remove the spears from his back that he was simply incapable of removing for himself. I feel terrible now when I think how long I let him suffer with those spears in him.

Thank you for this post, it's going on my "bumper" list.

Best to you and your BS from this EvolvingSoul.

ChanceAtLife35 posted 12/16/2019 20:17 PM

This got to my soul. Thank you for sharing all of your insight and experiences. I am still working through some of these things so i will for sure take some good notes here. Keep it up.

Maia posted 12/16/2019 22:25 PM

<3

DaddyDom posted 12/17/2019 15:49 PM

Thank you all for the kind responses. I just hope that by sharing our experiences, especially the hard ones that everyone seems to get tripped up over, maybe it will save some other couple some extra pain, or at least help to make things seem... possible. It sucks to feel hopeless.

FacerOfShame33 posted 12/18/2019 13:52 PM

All of this is a great reflection. Thank you for sharing.

kairos posted 12/18/2019 14:06 PM

DaddyDom, excellent words. I completely agree at every level. Way to demonstrate the hard work that you're doing. Some of my own thoughts to add:

1) I had quite literally destroyed our marriage and our entire relationship along with it: CHECK!

The truth is, I had never truly entered into an emotionally available, vulnerable relationship with my wife. In not doing this, I was never 100% committed. And for the remaining commitment that I had, I ‘quite literally destroyed our marriage’. It all comes down to a lack of self-love.

2) My spouse had no part in this. This was my shit-show the entire time: CHECK!

This couldn’t be clearer or truer.

3) I had to be willing to lose the marriage in order to save it: CHECK!

I lost my marriage before the cheating because I never fully gave of myself emotionally to her. I had the choice to be in it, and I lost it. But I also want to suggest that this connects to the notion of letting go of the outcome.


4) It all comes down to self-love and self-respect….

And herein lies the doozy. This is the thing I have been battling with since day one. At first, the challenge was eclipsed by the shame and regret of the infidelity/betrayal. That lasted about a year. But after that fog cleared, I started tracing the issue of self-love/truth/respect/awareness to the very beginning (earliest memories of childhood). And now I know that I will never be able to love if I don’t love myself. In a weird twist, this is where recovering from being a betrayer means being a bit selfish. We have to find a way to love ourselves. For my own part, I was tortured by my own existence since before I can remember. I felt worthless, useless, not worthy, all that. Thankfully, by being aware of this issue, reminding myself daily of self-value, and long-term therapy, I am starting to build a foundation for self-love. I’m not there yet. I have had to reconstruct issues from childhood and really unwind the lies I told myself from the beginning. The truth of the matter is, my wife was married to a man whose own self-worth was completely vacuous. And so I betrayed myself, and then her.


DaddyDom posted 12/18/2019 15:06 PM

In a weird twist, this is where recovering from being a betrayer means being a bit selfish.

This exactly. This was something very hard to wrangle as a WS. Amidst all the voices, both internal and external, telling me how selfish I was and how that selfishness was the root cause of everything horrible that happened... it is also what I had to embrace because self-care and self-respect depend on it.

The trick was in learning what "healthy selfish" was and how it presents itself. I think better words to describe this might be "healthy boundaries" and "self-care" or even "integrity". These things too are based on the self, but they are not at the expense of others.

The truth is, I had never truly entered into an emotionally available, vulnerable relationship with my wife.

This too. I remember a time when I was telling my wife that I had always been a "good guy" and she reminded me that in fact, I had displayed many of the same qualities I displayed during the affair (just to a less painful degree) for as long as she's known me, such as being an addict, being financially irresponsible, and hiding things from her (purchases, etc). That was another thing I had to accept - that I was not the "good guy" I had always seen myself as. That one was tough to let go of, while at the same time trying to learn to love myself. Again, this is hard, hard work.

Smallwonders posted 12/21/2019 06:19 AM

This has to be the most powerful post I’ve seen here or anywhere. My heart breaks that it has taken infidelity to find these truths, for all of us. Thank you for posting.

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