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When the Self-hate Returns

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kairos posted 1/8/2020 23:10 PM

I wanted to post the following. I guess I am posting it now, but itís not the reality, just a moment of weakness. And I guess I just need someone to know who much regret I have, and how much I hope to change, but sometimes I get stuck and wallow in this pain. And it's only a fraction of how she feels.

My thoughts tonight: ďSome days are ok, others not. But tonightÖ. I hate myself. Itís been 17 months since dday, 15 months since she told me to leave forever. She was the love of my life, and I threw her away. When I had the affairs, I convinced myself that I would somehow, someday get help, heal from my issues, and find a way to be a good husband. Of course this was the lie I told myself, the cowardís way. I told myself that the affairs were a stopgap to prevent disaster, what a self-manipulation. I am so angry with myself I can barely look in the mirror. The man I became is utterly disgusting to me. This is not a feeling of embarrassment or shame. Iím not running from it. I stand in the audience of those who would throw stones at me, and I want to be with them. I want to kick myself down into the dirt and watch myself get beaten down. On nights like this, the dark thoughts return. Somehow I assumed I had gotten past this self-hate months ago. The reality is that I donít want to lose her, but I already lost her a long time ago, and I hate the man who threw away such a wonderful woman. I hate me. The man who tore her heart out. There isnít a baser thing in this world than a cheater. Mornings are the worst. For a moment, during the transition between dream and waking, I hallucinate that she is with me. Those are the best moments. I look forward to that dream tomorrow, before the terror of the world that I created. I cannot claim to have loved my wife, because it contradicts my actions. A person who loves could never do this. I loved myself. The answer to why: pure selfishness. I tried to understand the why for the past year. Sure thereís all of the unresolved childhood issues, the un/subconscious, etc., but as my brother would say, ďyou are the most selfish person Iíve ever met.Ē I have no excuse other than I am selfish. Over the past several months I really thought I could justify a future where I changed. But right now I pray for self-destruction. To all of the betrayed spouses out there, we donít deserve you. You deserve better. Donít waste your time.Ē

I know this isnít true. I know I need to love myself, unravel my issues, evolve. Iím just so angry, so sad, so regretful, and these feelings are embedded in my body. When I told my wife, she collapsed on the floor. She was in so much pain. Why? I want to take that moment away from her, reverse everything, but I canít.

I want to punish myself somedays. I really do. But I donít know how to do it, or how it will help. I know this feeling will pass. But shit tonight is hard.

DaddyDom posted 1/9/2020 00:04 AM

I'm sorry that you are struggling. The self-hate thing is hard to escape. And before I give you "the pep talk", I actually just want to congratulate you for having the bravery to sit in this pain and to take an honest look at yourself. While the pain hurts, it is the unprocessed pain that really gets us into trouble. At least you are learning who you are, or at least, who you were.

Once you are done sitting in the regret however, I urge you to take the next step, which is do whatever is necessary to bring something good from this. Destroying your marriage and your spouse is a horrible thing. What is worse however is allowing that to happen and then not even have some meaning or progress come from it.

Here is a weird question for you. I want you to pretend for a moment that you are a fly on the wall while your wife is talking to a friend about your marriage and the fallout from it. The friend says to your wife, "Well, I'm sorry things didn't work out for you two, but I'm glad you got out of that abusive relationship and are moving on with your life. Speaking of which, how is Pdxguy handling it now? Is he still the same selfish prick he was while you were together?"

My question for you is, how would you like your wife to be able to answer that question? The answer depends on you.

On one hand, she could say, "Yes, actually, as far as I know, he's still sitting at home and feeling sorry for himself. He lost me, he lost everything, but it still wasn't enough to get him to change. I guess that's proof that I made the right decision. I didn't matter enough for him to fight for me. Worse yet, he didn't matter enough to himself to fight for himself. He still thinks he's unworthy and unlovable, so he is. I hate that he still carries this self-loathing around but it is his cross to bear. I only hope some day he finds happiness in himself."

Or, on the other hand, she could say, "While I'm still not ready to put myself back into that situation, I'm actually pretty proud of him for stepping up to the plate. I know it killed him inside when I left. But instead of wallowing in the pain, he took the reigns and started to work on himself. It's like he's a new man. When we talk, he's "all there" like he used to be. That neediness and selfishness is gone now. Instead, he's confident and caring. He worries about me, not because of how it makes him feel, rather, he just wants to make sure I'm okay and to let me know he's there for me. He's conquered his demons and he's making the best he can from the mess he made. I know he'll be okay. And that's the thing, I know he'll be okay because he no longer needs anyone else to make him feel okay. I just wish he had found that inner strength before it came to this."

Nights like tonight, the really painful and sad nights, are the ones we need the most. Because nights like this are when we get sick and tired of being sick and tired, and decide to do something about it. Please don't get me wrong - it is perfectly okay to hurt! It should hurt. The infidelity was a trauma in many ways and on many levels, and what happened will never go away. We need to process that pain in order for it to not turn into PTSD and get "Stuck" in our heads. However, what would suck the most is to lose all this and then not at least use it as a catalyst for change. In that case, all that pain and loss... was for nothing. In fact, it would only serve to continue to prove to your wife that she never really mattered and that nothing could ever have been different.

SO when you are done hurting, take a few moments, and ask yourself, "What am I going to do about it? Who am I going to be? If I don't love myself, then why not? And how can I start to be someone I can respect?"

LLXC posted 1/9/2020 01:01 AM

Another way to look at this: if you hadn't cheated, you would not need to work on yourself and become a really great guy, work through your childhood trauma.

It is not as though you were this really great guy who made a bunch of bad decisions. You were someone with problems and you cheated because you had poor coping skillss.

And now you are paying the consequences. At the same time, you are becoming a truly authentic person, which i bet you never were before. And you can be someone you are truly proud of. And your ex wife can be proud of you.

Btw. I do not think you didn't love your wife. I think you loved your wife in the best way you knew how, which wasn't good enough. And you were selcish and inconsiderate.

But it seems like you are learning from your pain, which is highly commendable.

Btw. I do not think your ex would want you hating yourself like this. It serves no purpose. She wants you to change - to be the man she tboight you were, the cather her kids deserve.

Part of why i despise my ex is that he says he is sorry but nothing changes. You are changing. Be proud

DevastatedDee posted 1/9/2020 10:11 AM

On one hand, she could say, "Yes, actually, as far as I know, he's still sitting at home and feeling sorry for himself. He lost me, he lost everything, but it still wasn't enough to get him to change. I guess that's proof that I made the right decision. I didn't matter enough for him to fight for me. Worse yet, he didn't matter enough to himself to fight for himself. He still thinks he's unworthy and unlovable, so he is. I hate that he still carries this self-loathing around but it is his cross to bear. I only hope some day he finds happiness in himself."

OMG this, this all day long. I have two ex-husbands. The first was an emotionally abusive ass whom I left because I don't play that game. When I speak of him now, I praise how he has and still does struggle to change and become a better man. He has owned why our marriage failed and has been there for me when the current marriage failed to ensure that the kids and I were okay. He is a much better man than he was and he and I are friends. I feel safe as his friend. I no longer hold anger towards him. He no longer causes me pain and emotional harm.

My second ex, the one who brings me here, is living jobless in his mother's house feeling sorry for himself more than a year and a half after I declared us done. I don't respect him. I don't want to be his friend. He brings nothing but pain into my life and I don't need that. He is the victim, always. I wish for him to become a better man for his own sake.

What you wrote is promising. What you felt is an indication that you may be on track to becoming the kind of guy my 1st husband is today. Not perfect, but self-aware and working towards being better. I think this kind of self-hatred is not a negative thing. You were really awful towards your wife. She may never want to be your friend. I can tell you though that you getting hold of your issues will do something towards helping her feel less pain in life. Even if she doesn't anymore, at one time she loved you dearly. I'm sure she would rather see you rise up and above your past than see you waste away into the gutter.

BraveSirRobin posted 1/9/2020 10:23 AM

These responses are the Wayward Forum at its best, IMO.

hikingout posted 1/9/2020 11:44 AM

This is a hard process, even if your spouse had chosen to stay - it's a reckoning none of us escape, we just experience it in a different way. Destruction is destruction. I think there is a possibility that some who do get the gift of R squander it because they still haven't faced that destruction. But, those who look it in the face, there is no choice but to change and to go through the struggles needed to get to the other side of it.

I understand how when it comes back around it hits you like a ton of bricks. I guess my question for you is, what have you done to create real life support? Are you still in IC? Seems like you might have also been in a 12 step (I could have you confused?) Who can you talk to that can help you create the path you need to stay on? Do you have reliable close friends or family?

I also think it helps if you celebrate what you HAVE done. You haven't mentioned any other relationships, so have you abstained from them? That in itself can be a dramatic change, that you aren't hiding yourself in acting out or just by getting in another relationship. What other accomplishments have you made that you can be grateful for?

JBWD posted 1/9/2020 12:09 PM

This oscillation is normal. You have to face that aspect of the A: I was thinking about writing this in another post yesterday but ran out of time, and I think it fits better here. I can vividly remember the days post DD where I focused on me- One of those episodes was truly unavoidable though, and that was the moment I truly saw the mask fall:
I literally saw darkness swallowing me, and had the distinct impression that what I once felt was a body inspired by a soul was now an empty container, a sack of meat that was just going to pump through life until the rot would overcome it.

I know now that was not the case. But I stood the risk of smothering that forever if I didnít do like you and use it to fuel change. DaddyDom and I frequently echo each other on this point, and itís the only thing I can see to do with this mountain of shit each of us has created. I have it at night more than morning, interesting to see it reach different people at different places/times.

Long story short, I know youíre tired. Youíre heard. Like BSR said this is what this forum is for. If youíve ever seen the riot squads holding the shields, look at the rows behind them. I frequently tell those struggling that weíre here to prop them up. The image Iím referencing is that- The body BEHIND the one holding the shield. Youíll feel that shield pop and bend and bruise your arms, but thereís weight behind you, and itís steady. I think less about ďlife as conflict,Ē and I certainly donít see this as a physical process, but itís the same kind of fatigue. Weíre here right behind you. And on a better day YOUíLL be the second row.

Strength and resolve.

thatbpguy posted 1/9/2020 12:13 PM

DaddyDom's reply is jaw dropping perfect. It took my ex about 10 years to finally make a heart felt apology and ask for a measure of forgiveness. And I did appreciate it.

Mortified posted 1/11/2020 11:31 AM

I never thought about my cheating this way. I too told myself that i would one day get better. not knowing when or why. i can relate heavily to what you have said. she just found out about my affair 3 days ago and it is so tough. it happened over a year ago and i realized what i had done. cut off communication with her and started to rebuild. it has all come to an abrupt halt. she wants to divorce me and never see me again.

Zugzwang posted 1/11/2020 14:22 PM

We have talked about this before. What are you doing for you? To build yourself up? To acknowledge the change and to feel pride in each choice you make that is harder and good?

Punishing yourself isn't going to help you or her. Moving forward does. Dwelling on how she reacted at the moment of Dday isn't good for you either. It happened. It is in the past. Live for today and the future. Live for learning. Not for being stuck. You can't change the past. Use it as a mantra. You can change the future. You can change today. Live it good. Live it right. Live it for feeling integrity, honor, and pride in yourself.

JBWD posted 1/12/2020 22:23 PM

Any updates PDX?
Any thoughts on what made those changes for you last week?
I can definitely see real struggle as BW and I get back into our regular co-parenting routine following the disruptions around the holidays... Any thoughts on if that brought such thoughts back to the surface?

Hoping youíre doing better.

kairos posted 1/13/2020 17:45 PM


Thanks all for your words of admonishment and support. Before I wrote this, things were going ok. Weekly therapy continues to build me up. I have come to terms with my childhood, and I even see a way to forgive myself for what I did to her. I guess I just had this feeling come to me. A sense of regret and sadness, knowing that I committed these terrible things. Knowing that I threw awayÖ.her. Beautiful her. I was a destroyed man when I married her, and it was I who chose to allow that to destroy me. So I had a moment of self-hate, because I thoughtÖ how could you do this? How could you, despite your strengths, have such a huge blind spot in life? Well, I know Ďhowí now. And Iím ok with it. Iím choosing a new path, daily.

I look back and know that I have been doing the hard work over the past year. There were setbacks, initially. I acted selfishly. I squandered the little bit I had going for me. The 2% chance of R turned into 1%, and then to 0% chance, and then to oblivion. I am less sad about myself, however, than about the hurt she felt. I regret the pain I caused her. She didnít deserve it. But Iím choosing to use this to motivate me. And every time I face the reality of what was (the horror of my actions), what is (the hard work), and what will be (the choices I make daily to grow), there is a sense of letting go, just Ďbeingí, and trusting that it will be ok.

As a side note, I will admit that I read a lot of BS stories. They are so, so, so painful. I see myself in those stories and it hurts me. Itís so sad. There are days when I wish I could apologize to every BS on behalf of everyone WS because I see just how fucked up the pain we caused is. Itís crazy and absurd and sad. Reading BS perspectives is just a constant flow of seeing the brutality of what I did. Itís a reminder. When I posted this, it was like all those stories came crashing back onto. But having this sense of complete self-disgust makes me not want to be that guy anymore. And I can look back now and see that Iíve proven to myself that Iím not going to be that guy anymore. Iíve made progress. And Iíve done so knowing that I canít change the outcome, ever.

DaddyDom, thank you for this analogy and the words of support. Nothing is lost in feeling this pain, and I move forward today and tomorrow and on and on. When I imagine myself as this fly on the wall, I see many positive things going forward. And I donít want to be a better man in order to perform differently or to gain approval. I want to do it to be a better person.

LLXC, youíre so right. And I do see that this terrible thing I did can be converted into a lifetime of being a better man. Thank you for your words regarding whether I loved her or not. And I know I my ex wouldnít want me hating myself like this, because she is a good and genuine and authentic person, and I honestly believe she wants the best for me, despite her pain. She really is that good. I squandered that, but no more.

DevastatedDee, Iím hopeful that getting ahold of my issues will help her feel less pain. I truly want this, and I aim to be that guy.

Hikingout, my sense is that itís hard either way (the gift of reconciliation, or the hell of losing what I deserved to lose). Neither path gives any guarantees; both present challenges. I think the only guarantee is how we choose to face each day. On the topic of abstaining, I did not. But after experiencing this, I quickly realized how futile any relationship would be without fully recovering. I am not recovered. I am hurt. Yea, I injured myself, but itís still a wound. And now Iím realizing it will take some time for this wound to heal. I cannot give that part of myself to anyone until I am better. I know Iím on the path, but Iím weak right now. There are so many triggers too. Every single moment with another woman, and I could only think of her. I could not embrace a relationship, casual or otherwise. It was completely futile, although I learned what I needed to learn. Now Iím flying solo and itís allowing me to just heal. This aspect of my experience deserves a separate post.

JBWD, I read your other post. And I appreciate your analogy as well. In fact, I teared up when I read it. There are days you just feel alone or not validated. I try so hard (not white knuckle, but actual work) and then I realize the full depth of what Iíve done. I destroyed such an amazing gift. I wanted everything for her. I wanted her to be the happiest woman ever. But I was not happy with myself. I was self-destructive. I think there are a few reasons I posted this. Iím about to sign my divorce papers. And I feel like I still love my wife. I still want to take care of her. But there is a fallacy in that. That marriage is dead. I killed it. I was a bad husband then. But I believe Iím a good man now. Signing those divorce papers is an artifact of that experience, but it has reminded me of what I did. Never in a million years did I imagine being separated from her. Cheating is a good reminder of how one small chink in the armor can and probably will result in catastrophe.

Thatbpguy, Yes, DaddyDomís reply was good. An apology is a funny thing. It has to mean something. I feel like my apology now would be different than before: more powerful, more significant, deeper in a way than I ever thought I would need to comprehend.

Mortified, itís the lie we tell ourselves. In becoming a better person, I have to face the fact that I was good at lying to others and myself, that I used my lies to get what I wanted, and that I exhibited selfishness that is just unthinkable.

Zugswang, Yea, we have talked about this before. The only way I can describe what I experienced the other day, as Hikingout calls a ďton of bricksĒ, is through the comparison of the man I am now compared to the man I was then. I would like to believe that I would choose a different path now, knowing what I know. When I imagined what I would do differently, it brought the pain back to me. I was so angry with myself. It almost seems impossible that I did what I did. Looking back, itís easy to hate that guy, to punish him. Call it a moment of weakness. It helped to put on paper the feelings I had last week. I needed to remind myself, momentarily, of the ugliness. Because the guy I see in the mirror would never hurt his loved ones, and I want to keep it that way for the rest of my life.

By far the most important thing Iíve done is write personal vows to myself. These rules/vows have become a guide to my existence. And because I wrote them, and no one else, I feel compelled to live by them. I practice them daily. From self-compassion to facing the hard truths, I keep these vows in my back pocket. In a way, thatís what this post was, a reiteration of the truth, but also a turning point to keep moving forward. Youíre right, I canít change the past. I also canít continue to punish myself anymore. I can change the now.

To summarize, this experience of sudden onset of pain and regret has reminded me of the ugly truth and the fact that I donít want to go back to being that guy, ever. I must never forget. But, I have to stop torturing myself. I have to love myself. And, maybe, just maybe, positive change in my life will somehow bring more healing to her.


Zugzwang posted 1/13/2020 20:38 PM

Don't give into that self hate. It is that lack of self love that brought you here.

I would like to believe that I would choose a different path now, knowing what I know. When I imagined what I would do differently, it brought the pain back to me.
Many, IMO focus on the actions that got you here. The actions didn't just get you here. The man you were did. The things you needed and wanted to fill got you here. The things you lacked in your character got you here. If those things are gone and filled the way they should be...the actions and path aren't as important because the reason is gone. That is why working on whys is soooo important. The reason has to no longer exist. Self love. Self respect. Self confidence. Self esteem. Focus on those.

kairos posted 1/14/2020 10:20 AM

I see what you're saying Zugzwang, and I need to view it this way. The past is done. It's remembered for what it is/was, but it's gone and no longer should have any determination now and going forward in how I choose to be the man I want to be.

I have the strength and courage to believe that now. Thank you Zugzwang.

kairos posted 1/16/2020 22:56 PM

Iíve been sick for the past few days, and this is usually when I have my most lucid moments of self-honesty. I have thought and thought so long, each day, over and over, about the things I have done. Several days ago when I felt the extreme anguish reflected in this post, for the life of me, it seemed unimaginable that I chose to do it. The fog of shame comes and goes, but these days it mostly goes, and I start to see my actions and myself for what they really are. And like a dispassionate surgeon, I can finally see the disease for what it was/is, and continue the treatment.
With a sober mindÖ. I have to tell myself: I cheated because I selfishly chose not to face my biggest fears and communicate to my wife that I was unhappy in my life, unhappy with myself, possibly unhappy with our relationship (still trying to understand this component), although I do believe I loved her (and still do), and I now believe things were not as bad as I thought they were. Because I had a proclivity toward and habit of lying and being selfish and finding ways to manipulate the system (since childhood), I was prone to cheating Ė although it did go against my moral character, which had corroded with my self-betrayal, self-lies, and selfishness. With the false notion that I could not navigate through what I felt was a dissatisfying life, I told myself that cheating was easier than actually sharing my feelings, talking to my wife, and repairing the situation. I told myself that cheating would actually save my marriage. What depravityÖ.more selfish thinking. In doing this, I selfishly broke my vows and destroyed her life and the dream we both had to live and die together, watching our grandchildren in our final sunsets of life. I was a bad man, a bad husband, a lesser father, a disingenuous friend, and an inauthentic human being. My wife deciding that it was over, after I had in fact thrown her away through my cheating, is a consequence I accept more every day. The realization I have at this point is a truer sense (or feeling) of facing it all: the whole truth of my terrible actions, the ugliness of it, the years of marital neglect (from me), and my selfishness.
I am going to use this experience to change my life forever and give more back to those around me, especially my two wonderful boys, and hopefully in some way to my ex-wife. I am grateful for this community, for the woman who loved me, the friends who have come to my aid, and my therapist. There have been many pitfalls and bad advice along the way. I think someone once said on this forum, take the best, leave the rest. Itís so true. Itís just part of the process.
On the flip-side, I am continually working to love and be compassionate toward myself. These experiences have given me a reserve of tools I can use to respect other and myself. I am committed to my personal vows, which I think of and apply daily. I am not perfect. I still make mistakes. But Iíve got my moral compass pointed true north.

gmc94 posted 1/17/2020 12:26 PM

PDXguy, I do not bring this up to shame you, as I - even as a BS - get a lot from your heartfelt posts about your journey.

I was prone to cheating Ė although it did go against my moral character,
doesn't make sense to me. IOW, it seems to me (again, as a BS) that the fact you did it shows that it did NOT go against your moral character.

I absolutely believe you are on a steady and true path to a moral character that points north. And I believe that is a crucial goal for all WS. Yet, there's something about that phrase that made me a bit queasy....

Maybe it's something that WS understand but I as a BS cannot. I believe this is a difficult struggle for many BSs too: that our WS did not have the moral character that we thought they did... and they did not possess the moral character that they told themselves they did.

You own so much and from what you post seem to be processing it all quite well, painful as it is.
I don't need any response, just wanted to say my gut check kind of squirmed with that.

gmc94 posted 1/17/2020 12:26 PM

PDXguy, I do not bring this up to shame you, as I - even as a BS - get a lot from your heartfelt posts about your journey.

I was prone to cheating Ė although it did go against my moral character,
doesn't make sense to me. IOW, it seems to me (again, as a BS) that the fact you did it shows that it did NOT go against your moral character.

I absolutely believe you are on a steady and true path to a moral character that points north. And I believe that is a crucial goal for all WS. Yet, there's something about that phrase that made me a bit queasy....

Maybe it's something that WS understand but I as a BS cannot. I believe this is a difficult struggle for many BSs too: that our WS did not have the moral character that we thought they did... and they did not possess the moral character that they told themselves they did.

You own so much and from what you post seem to be processing it all quite well, painful as it is.
I don't need any response, just wanted to say my gut check kind of squirmed with that.

hikingout posted 1/17/2020 12:45 PM

I was prone to cheating Ė although it did go against my moral character,

I don't want to answer for PDXguy, but I can see why that would be confusing.

I believe most people who cheat know what they are doing is wrong. I think the problem is between saying it's against my morals versus against my moral character.

I have/had a flawed character but cheating did go against my moral beliefs - in that I knew it was wrong. I also knew that it was something I would have been against if someone close to me revealed they were doing it. It's even been something I have been judgmental about in the past.

I think PDXguy has been diagnosed with SA (I am sorry if I have that wrong but I think I have it right because I mentioned the 12 step and abstinence and he answered it). His compulsions towards sex may have superceded what his moral beliefs include.

I don't know if that helps GMC, but I think it might have been the word character that made you queasy?

kairos posted 1/17/2020 12:55 PM

I'm not sure I can do the phrase justice or if it's an accurate expression of my thoughts.

"I was prone to cheating Ė although it did go against my moral character"

Maybe a more accurate expression is that I had/have certain patterns that were a slippery slope in terms of my behavior/choices (i.e., cheating). At the same time, I knew it was absolutely wrong, hence, I am against it from a moral standpoint. The 'character' part is what I should delete from this phrase. I completely lacked character.

For this reason, I feel that I betrayed myself first. I betrayed my own morals. I lied to myself to overcome my own moral boundaries. This is the worst part, knowing that I knew it was wrong but that I had the self-deception to do it.

Hikingout, early on the MC intimated that I might be a sex addict. This was a misdiagnosis. It was not an addiction at all. This also deserves a separate post, because I think some professional or laypeople might be prone to use this designation instead of digging deeper. But that was my experience.

hikingout posted 1/17/2020 13:17 PM

I am sorry PDXguy. I think I remember you believing that for a time or stating it here and I didn't see that it was misdiagnosed. I didn't want to speak for you, but I felt I identified with saying that while I cheated it was against my moral beliefs that I did not enforce.

Some of the journey too is learning to have integrity over those beliefs. Not lifting them for specific circumstances and not twisting to make them fit and I think that's another layer as to why GMC aptly pointed it out.

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