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Nine Years

plainsong posted 12/22/2019 17:35 PM

Today is nine years since dday. This year has been a hard one for me, but productive. Various memories, images and issues have resurfaced, which has been painful but productive. My sense and that of my therapist is that things are surfacing now for resolution that I could not have dealt with earlier.

I knew as soon as I heard about the two to five year timeline for possible reconciliation and healing, that my timeline would be longer. I thought at that time that ten years was more realistic, and that appears to be the case. I am hopeful that with one more year I will have healed my own internal issues enough that I will be accepting of myself and therefore available for my relationship with my BS. I have actual periods of time now where I feel sane and present, and they have been increasing.

I expect hearing how long my healing is taking will be daunting for many new waywards. I hope that the fact that I have continued to progress and can see the light at the end of the tunnel will also be encouraging. The goal of being sane, loving and loved is worth it, however long the process takes.

WalkinOnEggshelz posted 12/22/2019 17:53 PM

If itís any consolation, I knew it was nowhere finished at the 2 or 5 year mark. I honestly believe that healing has an ebb and flow to it. There are definitely times that being healthy in all aspects of my life comes naturally and others that I have really work for it. I believe thatís normal.

What makes the difference these days is knowing what to look for. Knowing yourself well enough to say ďhey, I need to work on thisĒ., rather than burying your head in the sand of denial.

With healing comes new perspectives and I can guarantee that you have been developing those for years now. Keep moving forward. I imagine you have healed much more than you are giving yourself credit for.

foreverlabeled posted 12/23/2019 18:52 PM

I personally never attributed the healing timeline to us, or the M. I always thought of the 2-5 as a BS thing, mostly recovery from being betrayed. Dealing with the trauma of it all. Our healing is so different that it could span a lifetime. A continuous endeavor. But plainsong, that is not daunting, that is reality. Is there ever a time that change, for the better, isn't welcomed? I should think not. Growth and betterment never peak if you ask me. Not with us simple humans.

I think after our BS can recover some in that 2-5 is when they are only coming out of their pain. It could be who knows how long before true R sets in. I feel like the 2-5 gives us a lot of time to show up with our A game, and gives them time to know they are ready, and only then does it shows our potential in a new M. And after some healing our BSs can make a better choice for themselves if they want to continue. And it's just a "let's see where this takes us" at that point.

As much as I want to be all better coming up on the 4 year mark, I'm not healed. Have I climbed mountains? You betcha. Am I a better person than I was, for sure... I see myself on the same timeline as you. This shit takes time.

EvolvingSoul posted 12/23/2019 19:27 PM

The goal of being sane, loving and loved is worth it, however long the process takes.
This. Oh so much this. BS and I were also on the slow track, more like 6-7 years. It's only in the last two years that it has felt like we are fully reconciled.

My own work is ongoing, and I don't think I will ever consider myself to be finished, really. I'm really happy with myself now but mental health is just like physical health. You don't get in shape and then it's just done forever. It requires continued effort.

It's really nice to see you, plainsong. Peace and health to you from a fellow EvolvingSoul.

plainsong posted 12/28/2019 09:15 AM

Thanks so much for the encouraging words. That was a good insight, forever, about 2-5 years being the time frame that a BS might need to recover from their initial pain. And it is helpful to hear from all of you that healing is a continuous, lifelong process. My goal is to be kind to myself and others, and I do find it discouraging that the more I become aware of my inner process, the more I see of ways that I do not live up to this goal. But I know I have made progress in both parts of my goal, and as mentioned in one of my 12-Step programs, expecting perfection of ourselves is grandiosity, not "being good".

Best wishes to all during this season of light counteracting darkness.

Pippin posted 12/30/2019 14:10 PM

Plainsong, I agree that 2-5 years is more a BS thing and therefore also defines the reconciliation timeline. And when I see that timeline stated I often read it as "It's going to take longer than you think but not your whole life" in shorthand that people can easily read and understand. And of course, it's not a law of physics. Some move through more quickly, especially if they have support and intention and a WS who works with them in the way they need, and some never heal.

I wonder about this:

that my timeline would be longer

Why did you know that, or rather why did you choose to believe that, nine years ago? As someone with a mental health background, you could also have believed that you had a lot at hand that you already understood, and you could very well have believed that it would be faster because you could apply what you already knew to yourself and put it into practice. I'm not contesting whether or not it could or should have been ten years. I'm asking why you thought that, as soon as you heard 2-5 years.

And I also wonder about this:

My goal is to be kind to myself and others, and I do find it discouraging that the more I become aware of my inner process, the more I see of ways that I do not live up to this goal.

Are you sure that is the right goal? If you have a life-long habit of not being kind to yourself and to others, perhaps there is a different goal, where the OUTCOME of the goal is being kind to yourself and others, but that is not the goal itself? So your goal may be, to catch your inner and external critic at work, reframe your thoughts, and do a behavior to yourself or others that is received as kind. Do you see the difference? With the first goal, if you go through the day and have 10 unkind thoughts, you have failed. With the second goal, you have 10 opportunities to succeed.

[This message edited by Pippin at 2:11 PM, December 30th (Monday)]

MrsWalloped posted 1/2/2020 07:34 AM

Hi plainsong. Itís really nice to meet you.

I'm asking why you thought that, as soon as you heard 2-5 years.

Iím curious about this as well. Why did you think it would take longer? I totally agree that as long as youíre progressing then thatís what matters, but what made you think you would need 10 years?
I am hopeful that with one more year I will have healed my own internal issues enough that I will be accepting of myself and therefore available for my relationship with my BS.
Could you please clarify this? Have you been closed off from sisoon? How has your internal work and your timeline affected your fBH?

Iamtrash posted 1/2/2020 10:56 AM

Hereís how I see it. 2-5 may be realistic for a BS healing. (Again, MAY be. Depending on the intensity of the affair, the healing of the BS, and the continued growth and change in the WS.) As a WS, I didnít get to this point overnight. I didnít learn all these bad behaviors and habits overnight. I didnít become the person I was during the affair just out of the blue. As much as it sucks, it took me decades to become this person. I have to change a lifetime of behavior, habits, and thinking. As much as Iíd love to be fixed overnight, I know it takes work to undo a lifetime of poor behavior. Some days itís daunting, but I know I never want to be that person again. Iíd rather spend a lifetime digging through a mountain with a spoon in hopes of coming through a better person than spend a lifetime taking the easy route and being the same terrible person Iíve been. Itís worth the work to not hate yourself and cause pain to all those that matter.

plainsong posted 1/7/2020 16:58 PM

Pippin - I thought it would be a long time because of my experience with my process and because of my diagnosis (dissociative disorder - not otherwise specified).The specific length of 10 years came from my inner voice, which I consult with for spiritual guidance and often (though not during my affair) gives me good advice. I knew the specific time could be wrong, and that it would only be right if I kept working during that period.

When I first started therapy about 45 years ago, I visualized my self/issues as an entangled ball of twine about 6 inches in diameter, in which each strand was interwoven with multiple other strands, in an almost impenetrable ball. I made a commitment to myself then that I would keep working on untangling it until it was completely free, however many years or decades it took. As I kept working over the years, I identified the issues behind many strands. But identifying is different from healing. And each individual strand was supported by parts of multiple other strands, forming a self-reinforcing structure of dissociative coping mechanisms. In the end, only a quantum change of letting go of the attempt to "cope" could allow any movement. And over the last year and a half or so, I have experienced this different state of being for brief, but increasingly longer periods of time.

I take your second point, and doing something like that is part of what has let me sometimes make the quantum leap to a healthy state. Again, I can't work at changing my thoughts or behaviors - that is still the framework of "I'm bad now, but I'll be good if think or do something different." Instead, I have to start by accepting myself as I am, with all my faults and flaws, and no matter how much pain and harm I have caused and will cause - the spiritual concept of surrender, which I have never before understood. Then I can feel love for myself and others.

Thanks again for your input, and all the best in finding the path or paths that work for your healing.

plainsong posted 1/7/2020 17:55 PM

MrsWalloped - Nice to meet you too.

The time question I answered above. What follows may be Too Much Information, so you are certainly free to skip over it if you wish.

I have been closed off from sisoon for as long as I have known him, because I have been closed off from every human I have met since early in infancy. I had trauma in the womb (my mother's anxiety and smoking), birth trauma (ruptured placenta which cut off my oxygen supply), attachment trauma after birth, and then sexual abuse trauma starting at 6 months from a grandfather and great uncle. My mother, I believe, had been abused by my grandfather as well (her father). I remember her as being uncomfortable with holding me, recoiling if I reached out to touch her face, and turning away whenever I tried to make eye contact. She did want me and loved me to the best of her ability, but she could only be close by being distant - sharing activities but not feelings. I believe that at maybe 3 months old I had concluded that I should do the same.

Meanwhile, my mother was raising me without much support from my father, who was in the army and only home on weekends for my first 6 months, after which we moved back with my grandparents and he was being prepared for the invasion of Japan. That must have been very frightening for her, and cause her to shut down eve more. She was not close to her parents or most of her extended family, who were almost all extraverts, while she, my father, and me were introverts. She felt rejected and unsupported by her family, and our family script as I was growing up was that "other people won't like you, and may be dangerous, but they may let you hang around the edges of their world (the real one) if you take care of and please them".

As to how my timeline and internal work have affected sisoon, you'd actually have to ask him that. He doesn't like how long this has taken, but he doesn't criticize me the way I criticize myself. He has always seen something warm and valuable in me, and has been willing to stay with me for my slow unfolding. Which means that my betrayal of him with the affair was even more devastating. Having put his emotional well being in my hands, he found that I had lost my awareness and connection with him in my drive to "save" my AP/client (I was a psychotherapist) and fulfill my script of working hard at pleasing others. When I ended the affair, he was adamant that he was not willing for me to switch my co-dependence back from her to him, both for his well being and mine. Since I had spent almost my entire life relating to others from a place of co-dependence, that has been very hard, and it has been very hard for him, as well.

As far as how my internal work has affected him, that has also been difficult. One of the things we have learned in the therapy following my affair is that we process things very differently. He has successfully worked on his own issues by changing his conscious thinking and internal dialog, and from me he has asked for changes in behavior. For me, change comes from experiencing and identifying my feelings, and processing my unconscious beliefs and thoughts. The "good girl" behaviors I had used all my life didn't stop me from having the affair, and I couldn't trust them to keep me from doing something else destructive to our marriage. Luckily our therapist (we see the same one) can interpret us to each other. So far sisoon is satisfied with the changes I have made and that I continue to make. He would be free to change his mind at any time, of course, but our goal is to keep learning to be closer and to be healthy as individuals.

plainsong posted 1/7/2020 18:02 PM

IAT - Yes, that's how I see it too, as shown by the tome I wrote above. It may be like digging through a mountain with a spoon, but if you don't start you won't remove any of the mountain.

All my best in your project to keep moving forward toward being who you want to be.

MrsWalloped posted 1/9/2020 07:49 AM


Thank you very much. Not too much at all! That was very insightful and helpful. We are different people but I can really relate to what you said about sisoon not letting you shift your codependent tendencies from your AP to him, which was very wise. I also relate to how your good girl tendencies didnít prevent you from having an affair and how itís the internal changes that really needed to be addressed. For me, my good girl tendencies were to be ďperfectĒ in everything I thought mattered like being the perfect wife, mother, cook, housekeeper, lover and so on. And all of that was just a mask for what was going on inside me.

hikingout posted 1/9/2020 08:31 AM

I have been away for a few weeks so I am sorry I am late in replying to this thread.

I find this thread fascinating in so many ways. Having watched Sisoon's wise posts closely in the time that I have been here and now getting some insight from his other half. And, so much of this I relate to.

The drive for perfection is one of the strongest forces I have had a lot of trouble conquering. I never realized how deep it went. And, because that perfectionism has worked very well for me in so many ways it was really hard for me to see the ways it worked against me in the ways that mattered the most to me.

It's funny, when I started the process and I saw 2-5 years I thought, well that's for other people. LOL! I always work doggedly and get things done more quickly! I had no idea how long personal growth and intentional change would take. And now, in the middle of the third year and approaching A season, I can see I am not even half way there now that I truly have an understanding of where I am in things and where I want to go. But, at the same time, I don't feel that's any longer about infidelity specifically. It's more about healing the person I am. I think sometimes perfectionism itself can get in the way of connecting to another person because in the middle of people pleasing you are always gauging "what it's going to take" rather than just being. You are constantly sending yourself a message of you are not worthy on your own. There are times some things seem in grasp and others they just seem far away.

I have some questions for you... (and I am so thankful that you posted - I hope we will hear more from you from time to time)

1. I wondered how you went about finding you have dissociative disorder? I think often even in therapy situations I come across as being very highly functional. I don't know if I am just bad at showing vulnerabilities, or I come from a professional background (I am stereotypical COO/CEO) I am not thinking I have that specific disorder, but I do think there is something going on that I can't get at, and I don't think I have seen someone who can help me figure out what that is. It's a deep self protectiveness that creates distance and anxiety in all my relationships. I have worked hard to form new friendships and things in seeing how much I was isolating myself, but I still think a lot of it is superficial. I don't think mine stems from a fear of being alone. I think I don't like to have negative feelings and it's easier to keep from those if you approach most situations with a lot of detachment. Detachment to me means that I can often just feel the way I want to feel regardless of what is happening. As I have removed it, and tried to be more connecting and experiential, I find the negative feelings of anxiety are really hard to deal with. I don't have this experience as much with my husband, it's forming these deeper outside relationships that I am finding terribly confusing. I am way better at surface friendships.

2. I also want to save people. I have gotten a lot better about personal boundaries and letting things like that go, but I think that some of my "saving people" is opportunistic. Meaning, my level of self worth still isn't where it should be and often when I encounter someone (or actually it's often more situations than people) that I can be good at or be helpful for, I go full throttle. I just don't think it comes from the same place that a normal or healthy person has. I think my usefulness in saving something/someone is an ego stroke rather than having a true meaning that enriches my soul. It leaves me feeling shallow and superficial, which is the exact opposite of how I want to feel. I wonder if you would elaborate on what you learned about your tendency to save people? Was it groomed during FOO or did it manifest later in life from something else? Did you ever change it over to healthy or is it more about suppressing the behavior? I really don't know where mine comes from, and while my counselor shared some ideas, they do not resonate as true to me.

Okay, I will stop here for now. I know that is a lot of heavy stuff to ask of you, but if you have time it would be interesting to compare notes.

Pippin posted 1/9/2020 10:33 AM

Another question!

something like that is part of what has let me sometimes make the quantum leap to a healthy state

What else has let you sometimes make the quantum leap to a healthy state? It's funny you use that word, my husband uses it about me too, in a somewhat different way. When he uses the word quantum about me, it's about whether the childish/trauma response voice is in charge or the wise adult voice.

the framework of "I'm bad now, but I'll be good if think or do something different." Instead, I have to start by accepting myself as I am, with all my faults and flaws, and no matter how much pain and harm I have caused

This part of what you said aligns very much with what I have come to believe, and I include forgiveness, love, and compassion in acceptance.

The "will cause" part of what you wrote, that immediately follows the phrase above, that I'm thinking about. Forgiveness for "Pain and harm I . . . will cause." It's a complicated contradiction isn't it? I don't want a free pass of self-forgiveness in advance of causing people harm (I know that's not what you meant) because that kind of thinking can lead to doing what you want and planning for forgiveness. But on the other hand I know, or think it very likely, that I will cause people harm, and self-forgiveness then becomes necessary after it happens. To have when needed but not to plan for. I'm not challenging you, just thinking out loud about "pain and harm I . . .will cause."

plainsong posted 1/18/2020 12:41 PM

Hi again.

I need to go back to focusing on my daily responsibilities IRL, so this will be my last response to this post. The issues raised have been useful in stimulating new thinking for me, and I appreciate your contributions.

hiking out - Perfectionism has been a big part of my inner structure, along with workaholism, pleasing others and numbing my feelings. I found it helpful to dig into my thoughts to figure out what I was anxious about, and I also got a lot of insights from the Workaholics Anonymous program.

I found out about dissociation through a presentation I heard at a Transactional Analysis (TA) conference. I already knew from TA therapy about different parts of the self, but the information on dissociation explained to me why I couldn't switch from one state to another, as other people seemed to do. The missing piece was information about trauma.

I found a therapist who knew about dissociation by accident. When I mentioned my trauma history to a physician, she referred me to a trauma therapist she happened to know, who was also much closer to where I lived that the therapist I was seeing at the time. I have also read on SI about people who had therapists who weren't knowledgeable about trauma and dissociation originally, but were willing to educate themselves when the issue came up.

About saving people, Transactional Analysis makes a distinction between "rescuing" someone and helping them in a healthy way. A "Rescuer" sees the other person as not capable, and does things for them that they haven't asked for. Eventually the Rescuer feels victimized by "having" to do all the work, and ends up as a resentful "Persecutor" of the person they are helping. This is a cycle I have gone through again and again.

Another insight from Transactional Analysis is that people will often try to take care of other people by rescuing them because they do not have internal permission to take care of themselves. This was a major motivation for rescuing behavior with my AP/client. Some part of me felt that if I could save the AP, that meant that some day it would be possible to save myself too. As I said in my response to Mrs. Walloped above, for me it started in prenatal, birth and early childhood traumatic experiences, though it can originate in a trauma at any age.

pippin - I can sometimes make quantum ego state change if I consciously see an internal picture of sisoon being supportive, which overlays the dysfunctional pictures of "everyone" being hostile to me. This kind of change is described by chaos theory, which talks about complex systems (like the self) being "self-organizing". You can't make a complex system change by main force, but if you keep feeding in new information to the system, it will eventually reach a tipping point and reorganize itself into a new state.

The two voices your husband hears sound like examples of what TA calls Adult and Child ego states. The third category they talk about is the Parent ego state. The Parent is originally introjected from our actual parents/caregivers.Functionally it carries values. The Adult is based on our innate ability to gather information and process it logically. The Child is based on our innate ability to sense, feel and act, and on the memories of our actual childhoods. Many TA therapists talk about the result of therapy as the creation of an Integrated Adult ego state, which lives in the present and integrates feelings, thoughts and values.

Thanks again to everyone.

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