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Resetting the clocks

FearfulAvoidance posted 1/27/2020 22:55 PM

I did not disclose everything upon Dday. There have been 3 Ddays because of this that have spread out over almost 3 years.

I have understood from the beginning of this process that new information which alters the BS’s perception of reality causes the healing clock to reset. I am having trouble reckoning with the fact that it resets for me too. And that I consciously chose to do something that I absolutely knew would make everything worse.

So, I would like to pose a question for anyone who has been in this position of extreme TT either as the WS or BS.

Question: How did you come to terms with the fact that any work/digging/recovery that occurred before the final disclosure wasn’t real? That everything you (or your WS) did actually meant nothing, despite (what felt like) a very real attempt at recovery and healing? And what did you do post final disclosure to reconcile that perceived reality to what your actual reality is and was?


I typed up my entire story for context, and realized this would be long enough as is. But now I have it written in its entirety for the first time. So here is some life context between Dday 2 and 3 to now...

Dday 3: After an increase of conversations about abuse and pornography in a tense moment during a heated fight I blurted out, “You don’t know everything”.

These are the things that have reset a clock that had been ticking for 2 and half years...
Lie: That I had been sucked back into my A at Dday1 after trying to stay away. Truth: I had no intention of stopping my A after Dday1.
Lie: I never had phone sex or talked to AP in our bed. It all happened on the couch. Truth: Every phone sex happened in our bed, and I talked to her everywhere.
Lie: I deleted the secret email I created during my A. Truth: I didn’t. I just stopped logging in after I ended the A. I gave BW username and password immediately.
Lie: I wasn’t lovey-dovey, there were no real feelings. Truth (which I truly had blocked out): The email account was full of romantic love letters written by me.

In the 2 and a half years between Dday 2 (March 2017) and 3 (Sept 2019) I thought I was doing a lot of work on my self to be a better person and partner. I stumbled A LOT and fell on my face more than I ever thought possible. I struggled with consistency and getting lost with my head up my own ass. I saw 4 ICs and yet managed to focus on myself instead of the heavy digging into my A that would facilitate empathy for my BW. I went down a SLAA rabbit hole of avoidance and enabling thought patterns. I started a new job during Year 2 and immediately became preoccupied with a coworker who I was less than upfront about with BW. Had she not left the office in the first few months of me working there, it could have easily become an EA, and probably a PA.

I felt like I was “doing the work” and got increasingly defensive when BW said I wasn’t. I was falling into old patterns and self serving behaviors and prone to checking out and shutting down both emotionally and physically. I was adjusting to new medications and making everything about me and my journey.

In the inbetween I was a kind and loving partner most days. I was grateful to have the opportunity to be next to my wife and be loved and give love. We talked about the A several times a week, often for hours. However my initiation was rare and that hurt BW, and still does. Talking about the A and having A conversations are different things.

I was reading and posting here and trying to be better. I truly had myself convinced that I could do all of this without ever needing to tell BW the things I did on Dday 3. I dissociated myself from the lies to the point that I believed them, and surgically talked about my A so as to never get too close to what I kept hidden.

But by September a great deal had changed for me in my head and I saw the lies for what they were - continued abuse and control. I had at the very least grown enough to not be willing to live an inauthentic life any longer. I finally understood that we could never grow a new marriage if I held onto any lies whatsoever. And just like that, everything clicked and I knew what I had to do.

Blurting it out wasn’t how I intended it to happen… but at least it happened. And now we have been trepidatiously attempting to begin again for the past 5 months. By the grace of I don’t know what I am being given the opportunity to do it right this time, and I am hell bent on making sure I do everything I can to build a new marriage we can both be safe and secure in, and be proud of.

During my A I was all over the place in my head and feeling extreme emotions on both ends of the spectrum about my marriage. But my wife's experience was static; mostly unchanging ambivalence, gaslighting, stonewalling, manipulation, and unapologetic cruelty. Still, she tried to love the me she knew was underneath the monster I had become. Now it is BW who is in a state of flux about staying and I am the static one who knows deep in my soul that I do not want to go anywhere else.

After 2 years of saying "you know everything" to find out she didn't has been a whole new kind of mindfuck. Her patience with me is shot, yet she still fights for us daily. She talks about the future and I have to remind myself that she is planning for multiple trajectories given that it could go so many ways. At least I can be grateful a life with me is still included.

But it shouldn't be this way. She had one trajectory before Dday 1. Even after, she had only one. Infidelity feels like dying. But trickle truth is the poison that will actually kill you.

IHatePickingName posted 1/28/2020 08:39 AM

Dday1 was spring 2017
Dday 2 was march 22, 2019
Full disclosure day was August 3, 2019

Husband lied and tt'd dday 1 until full disclosure day, and what i found on my own was way less than all he confessed. A tip of the iceberg.

How did you come to terms with the fact that any work/digging/recovery that occurred before the final disclosure wasn’t real?

The work i did after dday1 was on myself, and it wasnt wasted and helped me later. I addressed my own mental health issues, got on antidepressants (lifetime need, off while pregnant and breastfeeding), saw a counselor who helped me deal with crippling anxiety that kept me from returning to work after we had kids, and made a longterm plan to return to school as a path back into the workforce. I also began to dig into a dew other issues.

I accept that i didnt have the facts from it because i now know how far gone he was by then mentally. Yes it means those years were a lie, but they were anyway since he didnt stop cheating either.

From dday2 to full disclosure day, i knew he was lying. It was hell on earth. I imagined every possibility for what the lies could be. He stonewalled and repeated lies but he has a bad memory so he kept screwing up details. I did no recovery during this time.

That everything you (or your WS) did actually meant nothing, despite (what felt like) a very real attempt at recovery and healing?

He appeared to get it in the beginning of June, when i outed him to his mom and he started therapy. We started Hbing and he comforted me as a melted down (i finished school May 31, and couldnt begin processing until then). He seemed to be doing everything he could and i started doubting i was right about the lies.

He didnt stop visiting massage parlors until July. I never knew a thing about these visits until disclosure day.

I reconcile this because i know he was trying to do work then, and it took him months to get to the place inside himself where he could do better. The improvements he made here were real, and it will lead (hopefully) to him being safe in the future, but he wasnt there yet.

Disclosure happened when i called him on the lies and kicked him out, but he still chose to disclose then. He could have continued to tt, told me a few things and kept others secret. He didnt. He confessed everything. As i said, it was way more than i ever suspected or ever could have found on my own. It happened because of the work, so the work was not in vain.

It reset my recovery in almost the most extre.e way. I was actively suicidal within 48 hours, and heavily medicated to get through alive. I cant overstate how devastating tt was for me.

However, the full confession and my suicidal days snapped my husband solidly into remorse. He saw the damage he caused in a way he could not unsee it. He has been fully committed to fixing himself and helping me heal ever since.

And having a remorseful spouse who gets it helps me. So after the acute trauma period, my recovery has accelerated by being able to get any info i want, and to be able to process with him.

I dont reconcile it. TT almost killed me. There is no way to justify it. But i accept that it happened because i cant change it, and i focus on moving forward.

And what did you do post final disclosure to reconcile that perceived reality to what your actual reality is and was?

I have always valued truth over happiness. I was so relieved to have truth, however awful over questions, suspicions, and lies. I swear i felt soothing relief listening to him telle the most horrific things he did.

I accepted it as reality because it was. I was glad to be done living in lies, even though the truth sucked.

There is truth in the statement that infidelity doesnt end until the last lie stops. I dont consider him to have stopped cheating until he told me. So what i have to reconcile is it went on further than i originally knew for 4.5 extra months. In the long run, it doesnt really matter if he "only" cheated for 2 years or if it was 2.5. both are horrible and shouldnt have happened. If i can accept one, i can accept the other. If i cant accept one, i cant accept the other.

I also learned new methods he cheated at full disclosure day, so those could have been dealbreakers in themselves. As it turned out, it was way more than i knew, but it was in a different way than i had suspected. It helped with some mind movies, gave me others.

I guess i dont reconcile it. I just deal with what i have to deal with. I move forward, healing from the reality, and i dont think a lot about realities i wished or thought existed but didnt.

MrCleanSlate posted 1/28/2020 10:20 AM

Fearful,

That is a lot of trickle truth and really only your BW knows if she sees R is possible.

I didn't do TT, but for years I wasn't truthful with my BW about my feelings, work stresses, home issues, you name. I bottled everything up. Then the A and well we lie and cover up and it becomes a pattern of behaviour.

After D-Day I made a choice to just vomit out all the facts of the A. It took me the next 12-18 months to really face the truth and admit it to myself and my BW in the form of my 'Whys', and also learning how to actually share my feelings and desires, etc.

What mattered more to my BW wasn't all the details of the A or the lies during, it was seeing me open up and be honest in all aspects of my life - that is why she offered me the gift of R.

I can tell you, it feels so much better being honest and open.

So if you want a chance, you really need to dig deep inside yourself and lay it all out there.

[This message edited by MrCleanSlate at 10:20 AM, January 28th (Tuesday)]

FearfulAvoidance posted 2/11/2020 00:05 AM

IHatePickingName, thank you for your response. I am sorry you were put through the devestation of TT; thank you for sharing your story and the grave reminder of the damage TT does to a BS. From what you say it seems like the work you were doing on yourself, and the work your WS was doing on himself before the final disclosure was not in vain. That the work you were doing as individuals was genuine and withstood the reset of the last lie.

What about the work you were doing together between Dday2 and 3? Were you trying to recover or reconcile during this time? As in, were you actively trying to build something new at this point? If so, did any of the strides in healing that may have occurred between you stick? Or was it the devestation of seeing your healing be completely undone that woke your WS up?

It is the marriage healing aspect that I am having trouble coming to terms with. I can see now that the work I was doing internally was and is real, otherwise I wouldn't have gotten to the point of needing to have Dday3. And I can see that the work BS did internally was real, and has withstood this reset. But the work we were doing to try and build a new marriage from the ashes, all of that work feels like it WAS in vain, because it was based on a shaky foundation with some very big cracks that BS didn't know were there.

Somewhere in me I thought we could still build a house on that foundation, we just had to fill in the cracks, and final disclosure meant we could do that. That because we as individuals had come so far that this 3rd entity of our marriage that we created would be ok too. But that isn't the case is it? I don't know anything about building houses, but I am guessing you can't fix a foundation by simply filling in the cracks and expect the structure to be sound.

[This message edited by FearfulAvoidance at 12:06 AM, February 11th (Tuesday)]

FearfulAvoidance posted 2/11/2020 00:29 AM

MrCleanSlate, can you elaborate on the 12-18 months it took you to admit the truth to yourself and your BS in the form of your 'whys'? Do you mean that after you fact vomited your A upon Dday it took 12-18 months to get to the root of why you did all of the facts you shared? And that is what was hard to face the truth about? Not facing the truth about what you had done, but why you did it?

I guess I am a little backwards in that way. I knew my 'whys', at least the skeleton of them, almost immediately. I faced that truth hard in the mirror and to BS from the start: I had an extreme grief response and felt the need to escape my life/grief in order to survive. That has grown and expanded the more self work I have done, but that is and always has been the base of my 'why'.

Maybe that was a way for me to avoid facing what I actually did? By focusing so much on digging further into WHY I cheated, I allowed myself to not look at the worst parts of WHAT I did while I was cheating. To the point that I deceived myself into thinking some of those worst parts weren't relevant enough to share, that they didn't matter and wouldn't have an impact on the healing we were trying to do. Instead those were the things that have had the greatest impact on the healing journey. If I had just disclosed everything at the start the impact would have been bigger, but it would have been singular.

TellTailHeart posted 2/11/2020 01:27 AM

[This message edited by TellTailHeart at 1:40 AM, February 11th (Tuesday)]

TellTailHeart posted 2/11/2020 01:27 AM

[This message edited by TellTailHeart at 1:43 AM, February 11th (Tuesday)]

TellTailHeart posted 2/11/2020 01:27 AM

I am the WW and TT for years so I know the withholding - your's appears to be self denial of the deep problems so difficult to overcome and the pain it causes the BS is so hard to see. I could actually see the pain I was causing during my reveals which of course made it all the harder to cause more pain coming clean. We are so lucky to be given a chance at R. I am still learning to listen - really listen. When the last D-day occurred it had to be everything, nothing left, even the stuff I thought I would take to my grave. The backslide is terrible but I am responsible for everything that happened. I caused the reset of the clock is my responsibility to do the work. You need to be committed with no self lies - no little bargains with yourself - tell it all as calmly as you can. Be selfless, caring, in the present and listen to the pain, answer the questions because we have no rights to be offended - we are living a mess we created and we must clean up because it will always be there on some level but can be better and make a better R.

[This message edited by TellTailHeart at 1:28 AM, February 11th (Tuesday)]

ThisIsSoLonely posted 2/11/2020 11:35 AM

After 2 years of saying "you know everything" to find out she didn't has been a whole new kind of mindfuck. Her patience with me is shot, yet she still fights for us daily. She talks about the future and I have to remind myself that she is planning for multiple trajectories given that it could go so many ways. At least I can be grateful a life with me is still included.

But it shouldn't be this way. She had one trajectory before Dday 1. Even after, she had only one. Infidelity feels like dying. But trickle truth is the poison that will actually kill you.

I would agree - but only add that false R will also kill you. Lying about continued contact has some how (for me) but WAY worse that even the TT about the A I had discovered was. I'm glad it's possible for people to come around and see it for what it is...amazed really as my WH seems so far from that most of the time.

JBWD posted 2/11/2020 11:52 AM

I don’t know that the why is as fleshed out as you say it is- I think the critical piece of “why” is what in it were you able to use to validate your decision?

Regardless, your question implies that you felt that holding details back wouldn’t impact R. And that simply wasn’t the case- I deal with the fact by acknowledging that TT is a misnomer, it’s actually trickle lies. You were motivated by fear, and ultimately knew you were deceiving. Proof lies in under duress not being able to hold it in anymore- That’s called a confession.

A successful rebuilder doesn’t lie. Some claim to be motivated by altruism, a desire to spare details and “extra pain,” but it’s actually the fear of what that pain will lead to- Well deserved rejection. So coming to terms lies in knowing that I continued to lie.

FearfulAvoidance posted 2/15/2020 15:45 PM

False R. That is what I have been having such a hard time accepting. False R to me meant taking the A underground AND creating the appearence of remorse and wanting to reconcile. False R is something that I never applied to myself. Yes, I went underground, but during the course of being underground I did not in any way communicte to my BS that I was interested in participating in recovery and was entirely ambivilant to keeping my marriage. In that way False R was not mine to carry. I thought well, at least I had that going for me.

And I did. Until after my A was over. The second I started the recovery path to R with lies and minimizations I lost that. Once I was granted the gift of R and decided there were things I would just keep to myself because they a) "didn't matter" or b) would be too painful for BS I was breeding False R. After I did a bunch of work on myself and still decided to push it down when I thought of the few things left I hadn't told BS, I was participating in False R.

I kept us both in False R for 2 and a half years, because I refused to look at the fact that that is what I was doing. The clock only started 5 months ago of any type of real R or recovery happening. 5 months. That's it.

BS said to me the other night something that really made this fact sink in: "When you enter into a contract with somebody, they sign it because the terms of the contract are clearly laid out. If they find out that the terms of the contract aren't being followed, the contract is void."

I built something new on lies. I truly didn't see myself as being a liar that entire time. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing to get to a better place. But in reality I was lying every time I thought of something and didn't speak. And in doing so I manipulated my wife into a life that she never would have chosen had she known the extent of my betrayal. Now I have to figure out how to look at not only myself in that, but at her devestation as well.

Zugzwang posted 2/16/2020 08:32 AM

I finally "owned it and got it" shortly after my TT. I only had one. It was major. I can't say we really ever moved forward in R with it. My wife always seemed to know there was more and we were R like there was despite the fact that I was still making it out like it was no big deal and we were just friends and I wanted to be more.

So, how did I reconcile myself? I admitted it to myself just how fucked up and cruel I was. Though I am of the camp where are actions are who we are and we are the sum of our lowest action without focusing at all on any of the slight good I did or was doing. As far as I was concerned. I was evil and I was so disgusted with myself I couldn't stand being in my own skin let alone expecting anyone to stand by me. I just had my breaking moment of wanting to have more and be more. To do that, I had to face myself and admit to those around me who I was. After that, everything else was easy. I outed myself on FB. I apologized and thanked all our friends and family. I purposely destroyed all the bullshit I built up about myself that could have been perceived as good so that everyone knew that person was false. I started anew. I didn't wallow once I decided to become someone new. I kept my eyes on the future because I knew I could be more and I was determined to earn my wife back once I chose to change. I just wasn't afraid of who I had become. There wasn't anything left to save or hide. You will understand when you get there.

During that in between time my wife was naturally 180 me. She was healing and moving on with her life while still being faithful. If that makes any sense. I saw her moving away from me. That lethal plain of flatness. I saw her in a different light. I told my TT because she deserved to know because at that point I was less selfish. I knew what I owed her as a common human decency. Even if I lost her. She deserved that right to make an informed decision about her life. I didn't want to have a caged bird. I wanted her to know who she was still married to. I also wanted what she had. To be who she was.

[This message edited by Zugzwang at 8:37 AM, February 16th (Sunday)]

Zugzwang posted 2/16/2020 08:34 AM

Just to add. I wanted to change for me. I think that is very very important. Not to change to keep someone or something. You just have to be at that point where you really truly are disgusted with yourself and you are done with hiding from whatever it is that you fear or causes pain. It had to be for me. For myself.

Zugzwang posted 2/16/2020 08:45 AM

You were motivated by fear, and ultimately knew you were deceiving. Proof lies in under duress not being able to hold it in anymore- That’s called a confession.

It also might help to understand the fear. Why didn't you? Be brutally honest. I could lie till the cows came home. Sure some of it might have to spare your BS more pain. But why? Because for them to be in pain means you feel more ashamed? Because you might lose that so so precious false self? Because you might lose control? I have seen it all here. Why people choose to TT. So figure out the truth and own it. Admit it to her. Mine was more that I didn't want to be seen as such a bad guy. My reputation was the most important thing to me. I was that selfish. Sure I didn't want to hurt my wife anymore. Then I also realized as I watched her heal that she was already a confident strong woman and could handle it and would be just fine. I really did it for myself. We all do, despite those that claim they are sparing their BS. I was fearful of the judgement of the TT. That while she was working hard to be a mother and wife, I was choosing to be an irresponsible ass. I think many WS are afraid of that truth. That they were doing x while their BS was doing the complete opposite.

secondtime posted 2/16/2020 09:45 AM

You went to SLAA. Do you consider yourself an addict?


I built something new on lies. I truly didn't see myself as being a liar that entire time.

My husband is a recoverying SA. He had a three year stint of sobriety, relapsed for 7 and then has now been sober for almost 3 years again.

After his diagnosis, it took him 10 years to accept he was an addict. I mean, really, really accept it.

Meaning..for 10 years, he lied to himself. I don't think thought about it as lying to himself, though.

I'm still very hurt over the relapse, because he DID lie to me about that...multiple times. But, even now that I'm typing it out, I seem to be not as upset about it as I used to be.

I'm actually not as upset about the lying to himself about being an addict. It's part of his sobriety process. That just is.

If you are an addict, what has your spouse done to understand that?

BTW, I don't consider the first 10 years to built on lies. I don't get to judge DH's recovery process. It just is.

gmc94 posted 2/16/2020 11:28 AM

I'm a BW and as I begin year 3, still do not believe I have the full story(ies). However, I really appreciate this thread and OP's willingness to come clean here.

But the work we were doing to try and build a new marriage from the ashes, all of that work feels like it WAS in vain, because it was based on a shaky foundation with some very big cracks that BS didn't know were there.
And I'd say the sense that I do not have the full truth is why I'm not "in R" and do not see any of the work either of us have done is trying to build a new M. I guess it's simply self preservation on that front. However, I do not believe that any of the work either of us are doing is in vain. IOW, just bc it's not about "R' or a "new M" does not mean it's not worthwhile.

in reality I was lying every time I thought of something and didn't speak. And in doing so I manipulated my wife
I agree and really wish my WH could frame his being closed off in these terms. Lies - by comission or omission - are manipulative, period.

I also completely agree that "infidelity doesn't end until the last lie stops". To me, it doesn't matter if it's TT about affair(s) or something else. Yes, people all lie to varying degrees. But once a person has become a WS, honesty in all things must become paramount to the WS.

IF (and I see it as a big IF) WH were to ever come completely clean about his shenanigans, I think I'd view it as IHatePicking - Like her, I have always valued truth over happiness. I'd rather be crushed by the truth than loved with a lie.

Anyhow, my sitch doesn't fall w/in your questions, but I am grateful for the thread.

FearfulAvoidance posted 2/25/2020 23:31 PM

I think that is very very important. Not to change to keep someone or something. You just have to be at that point where you really truly are disgusted with yourself and you are done with hiding from whatever it is that you fear or causes pain

It took me a long time to really really get to this point. I thought I was doing all the work for me, but deep down it was to avoid losing my marriage and my best friend. I can see that now. I operated on a "checklist" for a very long time that wasn't for me, it was for BS. I wouldn't let myself sit in any pain without drowning in it. I couldn't because I held so much shame not only for what I had done, but for what I was doing in keeping back those final details. How the hell could I process anything I did when I wouldn't look at what I was doing.

The disgust was real and evident in how it came out. Not my finest moment and not at all how I wanted to tell her. I got to the point as Zugzwang said, that I didn't want to have a caged bird. And the self disgust and awareness was overwhelming that I could not stand myself anymore, and I couldn't live with the idea of her not knowing exactly who and what she was choosing in deciding to stay with me.

Blurting it out the way I did when I did was not acceptable. I felt the blissful release of a burden I'd carried over 2 years and watched as that burden immediately took up residence on my wife's shoulders. New trauma on top of what I had already put there. I can look at myself in the mirror now. I can know within my own self that I am being honest. I am finally able to get tangible results from all the IC I've been doing. Great, good for me. Once again BS is left to figure out what the hell her life has been the past 13 years with a whole new lens of understanding of who she chose, and chooses to love. An understanding she has had to adjust in a major way 3 times now. At the very least I can now sleep at night knowing that she will never have to adjust like this ever again. I don't think she believes it yet, but I know she wants to. All I can do at this point is keep showing her that it is only up from here if she chooses to stay.

ETA:

It also might help to understand the fear. Why didn't you? Be brutally honest. I could lie till the cows came home. Sure some of it might have to spare your BS more pain. But why? Because for them to be in pain means you feel more ashamed? Because you might lose that so so precious false self? Because you might lose control?

The answer to all of those questions is YES, Zugz. Yes, more BS pain meant more shame spirals for me. Yes, the truth meant I had to look at myself and see a liar, a liar who had been lying for a majority of our relationship about porn use and obsessions with other women that never left my head. And yes, the biggest yes, because I KNEW I would lose control over everything. A control of my wife that I had subconsciously built up to protect myself. A survival instinct kind on control to make sure that I didn't get hurt, everybody else be damned. Everything about my A had to do with control. I had no control in the year of traumas leading up to my A. My actual A focused on the literal dynamics of control in which I had all of it. Post Dday1 and 2 I kept control of how much damage was done; sometimes I decided to make it worse and sometimes I thought I was saving her the trouble. But above all I was protecting myself (and in a fucked up way protecting my wife, but that is for another post).

So yes. The answer to all of that is yes. I was afraid of all of it.

[This message edited by FearfulAvoidance at 12:10 AM, February 26th (Wednesday)]

FearfulAvoidance posted 2/25/2020 23:51 PM

You went to SLAA. Do you consider yourself an addict?

secondtime, that has been a question I struggled with for a long while. At the point I decided to attend SLAA I did consider myself an addict, to a certain extent. I checked off many boxes for sex and love addiction, and I was desperate to find a "reason" for why/how my head and life had become so unmanageable. But the checked boxes were not a consistent part of my life, they came in waves and disappeared. I threw myself into SLAA because I didn't know where else to turn and I decided to "take what fit and leave the rest" as they say.

I don't consider myself an addict now. When I was diagnosed with Bipolar2 last year a LOT of things started to make sense. Including the waves of those checked boxes most very likely being attributed to hypersexuality mixed with my shitty coping skills and codependent tendancies.

Disclaimer: no amount of BP2 hypersexuality or hypomania made my A happen. My mental health does not at all constitute one of my "whys". Those things very much fueled my A, but they didn't cause it.

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