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What does Rock Bottom look like?

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Need2Do posted 1/30/2020 11:18 AM

I have started a new post on the advise of Hikingout.

What does 'hitting rock bottom' look like for a cheater/wayward?
Does this manifest itself as something physical? When does it happen?
The reason I ask...I experienced what I thought could have been 'rock bottom' during the 6 months after my BH confronted me, and I had quit my job.
This is what I experienced:
- I couldn't remember anything (this includes how to cook dinners right up to details of the affair and everything in between) - I literally went stupid
- full body aches, coupled with intense anxiety attacks
- crying all day/night
- repetitive thoughts of 'how could I do this to him (BH) again', 'why did I do this?'
- body shakes (started with hands shaking - would have made great martinis) I still experience these shakes now, just not as often
- massive weight loss/loss of appitite
- always feeling cold (had heater going all the time with extra blankets)
I thought it was a nervous breakdown, then as I read posts here, I thought maybe it was withdrawl from the chemicals produced when we have an affair...as it an addiction...I wasn't sure...I thought too that it was partially to do with hitting rock bottom...because it was not a pleasant experience, and knowing that I could have prevented it from ever happening if I had just grown some 'lady balls' and not had another affair...I am angry, I am sorry if I am projecting...Either way, I believe this is my 'rock bottom', however my BH disagrees, he feels that a D is what would be considered as low as you can get, because you loose everything of value.
If anyone has experienced this or knows more than I do, I would certainly appreciate your input.

My next question...what does true remorse look like?
One website would suggest a 'big fat divorce settlement' in the BS' favour would be true remorse, but the mantra there is 'dump a cheater, gain a life', and I guess I can see the logic there...unfortunately I am unable to 'dump' myself (flat attempt at humour).
The reason I ask, my BH does not see remorse from me, he sees regret (regret that I got caught, the truth is I regret the affair, I am grateful that he caught me, and that I was 'outed', it was a relief to end the double life), he does see that I am working on myself, but not remorse, and we are 3-1/2 years out.

I will be straight, I haven't met my husband's requests to talk openly about the affairs in a reasonable amount of time, I am just starting to be able to do this, maybe that is what he means by not showing remorse? I honestly don't know what that looks like, I thought I did...I thought I was being contrite...

I really need help, please? If you need more information about me or the situation, please ask, and I will be happy to post it.

kairos posted 1/30/2020 11:52 AM

This probably depends on the person and situation. For me, there were three major rock bottoms.

1) Total physical response: anxiety attacks, self-infliction thoughts, total loss of physical sensation, loss of appetite, numbness, a sense of spiraling/vertigo, yes weight loss, and frankly a focus on me and not her (selfishness, and sadly). This was the super selfish phase. My mistake, my pain, total bullshit but it's a phase.

[fog fog fog fog fog]

2) When I realized I could not control the outcome, that I had no right to control the outcome, and that the outcome was not the problem. That the problem was me. There is a really deep sense of sadness at this point. Still a lot of selfishness as I let go of control.

[less fog less fog less fog less fog]

3) When I finally saw myself for who I was/am: full clarity of the ugliness of what I had done, my actions (before, during, and after Dday), the impact to others. But really seeing the truth of who I am, and a sense of self-disgust (complemented with a small vision of potential change). This last 'rock bottom' is the one that counts because it allows me to see myself as I am: the bad and the good. This is the 'rock bottom' where you realize you have to take full responsibility over every action you make, regardless of childhood trauma, marital issues, etc.

And after rock bottom #3, let's talk about remorse. Knowing that I can't change the outcome, knowing that it was all 'me' and never had anything to do with her, that my cheating was a choice I made, an outcome of my life decision, and a clear indication of my own selfishness, I now truly start to see the pain I caused, the utter destruction I wreaked upon her and my kids. And then there is a new pain, a new reflection... remorse. The real problem that I see with remorse is that it's not something you can choose to have or convey to your BS. It just is. It's a non-performance. It's a sense of the world you shattered and the sadness that comes from it. Only now that it's not about me anymore (rock bottom 1 and 2) can I truly see and appreciate the utter pain/destruction I caused to her, and this impact to everyone around me, including my children.

Those are some brief thoughts....

[This message edited by kairos at 12:04 PM, January 30th (Thursday)]

kairos posted 1/30/2020 12:18 PM

Just adding to this. When I think more deeply about it, rock bottom is when you lose everything. In my previous response, for me personally, this was when I knew my wife would not take me back. I still think of this day as the worst day of my life. For me this was rock bottom. My illusions were shattered. The consequences were cold and hard and immutable. And the worst part is that I caused this. My actions only.

I still have a hard time reliving this memory. I feel so bad that I brought her to that point, that she could no longer live with me.

Random, quick thoughts.... hope the perspective helps.

Need2Do posted 1/30/2020 12:35 PM

kairos:
Thank you so much for your reply, I didn't realize that there were more 'rock bottoms' to get to the finale...or that I have come to that last one myself, until you described your experience.
I am experiencing something a little different now: I have accepted what ever the outcome will be. Whether my BH will want to reconcile or divorce, either way, cheating going forward will not be on the table, because I am learning to grow up and 'adult'.
I do see the emotional and psychological damage my affairs have caused to my BH and my boys...it doesn't stop there, the damage extends to our extended family too, there are far more victims of my affairs, when I think about how much hurt I have inflicted on the people I care so much about (I am hesitant to say love, because how can you love when you have had affairs?) I feel an ache so deep, I have to ask if it is a 'self pity' moment or is it genuine?
How are you able to convey to her that you 'get' what she is feeling, because I am guessing that she may be resistant to accepting kindness and love from you with out pushing back?

kairos posted 1/30/2020 12:59 PM

You asked, "How are you able to convey to her that you 'get' what she is feeling, because I am guessing that she may be resistant to accepting kindness and love from you with out pushing back?"

I can only do this through my actions. Words are pretty meaningless, especially since we are liars. Accepting the consequences and changing my actions (inwardly and outwardly) is how I do it. Since I have let go of the outcome, and since I will never, ever get the outcome that I wanted, the ONLY thing I can do is demonstrate change through action. But my story is different from yours. As of a few days ago, I am now divorced.

That said, I suspect it applies to your situation because saying sorry and demonstrating through actions are two different things.

I also struggled with feeling like I could justify that I ever loved her. In the end, I believe it was an imperfect love.

hikingout posted 1/30/2020 13:07 PM

Rock bottom is a hard thing to define.

For me, it was so much pain that I had no choice but to figure out what I could do to fix it. I could no longer go on in the status quo.

The reason I think that's often the precipitous is because people generally do not change for other people. We change for our own selfish reasons. Just like you can't lose weight because someone else wants you to. You can't stop smoking because someone else wants you to.

People who are successful at change at some point decide the pain of where they are is greater than the pain to do something drastic about it. WE have to not want to be this person anymore. WE have to want to be curious about ourselves and be willing to challenge our perceptions and our beliefs. We have to want it so much that we will do whatever it takes to do it

Rock bottom is wherever you are that the only place to go is up.

I am sorry you are having so many of these symptoms. Are you in IC? In all reality the hardest and most ironic thing is we as WS do not have coping skills to begin with so when all this shit finally hits the fan, we are frozen in our own inability to even fathom beginning to cope with this too. But, we can and we must. IC can help you start sorting through some of these things. Put one foot in front of the other for now - meaning start trying to take care of your own basic needs the best you can. By doing that it will start to create some energy to start conquering the next thing and the next thing.

Remorse:

When we are wallowing in our own shame but still putting our own feelings ahead of theirs, you might be feeling guilty or regretful of your actions.

Remorse is when you see what they are going through is much harder than what you are going through. It's when you start to recognize all the destruction you caused in the other person.

The problem is being contrite, swimming in shame and self loathing, that's still making it about you and your experience. We have to get to a place where we are stable for the other person. Meaning we are willing to totally be their rock and we are willing to manage and put our feelings aside to a certain degree. We are going to take accountability because we have so much empathy for what our spouse is feeling. When we concentrate only on how we feel we take up a space that we have to be holding for them.

I don't think remorse is about punishments, consequences. Remorse is a feeling that will drive behavior.

I didn't get remorseful all at once or even right in the beginning. It takes a lot of personal work to move away from the selfish energy that we have been in wanting to protect ourselves and our interests above the other persons. IC helped me tremendously.

Talking about the affair is as important to your growth as it is to your husband's healing. By talking about it outloud and sitting with what you did, you can take fuller accountability for your actions. The more accountability you take the more aware you are of patterns in which you can change.

It's not an overnight process. Self love and self compassion needs to be a goal in all this so that you can move yourself out of the selfish stages and into the being his rock stages.

[This message edited by hikingout at 1:11 PM, January 30th (Thursday)]

Pippin posted 1/30/2020 14:45 PM

Need2Do, I think that underneath your question is an assumption that when you get to "rock bottom" there is an inevitable "bounce." Because you hear about that all the time in stories of people recovering from a variety of rock bottoms. BUT. It's not inevitable. Even if what you are experiencing is more miserable than you could ever have imagined, even if you can't imagine living like that for the rest of your life, even if anything. Rock bottom for some people is suicide. For others it is depression that doesn't lift. For some it is careening from self-soothing to self-soothing. You may never have an affair again as a form of self-soothing, but the list of ways that you can waste your life away, one foot in front of the other, is very long.

This is what worries me when I tell you to begin with self-care and you resist or feel like you don't deserve it or stay mired in your own self-loathing. You have to choose to pick yourself up from rock bottom. You have to fight for a good life. It doesn't just happen. It is entirely possible to exist and not live.

I'll bump the shame/justice thread which has a bit on remorse. To me, remorse means that your heart lifts a little in thankfulness when he brings up the affair because you are being given a chance to listen to him and help him feel heard (while at the same time feeling pain for his pain and sadness for yourself and what brought you to that place in your life). Remorse means seeing him break down and being thankful that he is able to feel his emotions and ask you for help with them instead of hiding them, denying them, burying them or suffering alone. Remorse is wanting more than anything to be given the chance for reparation and restoration and seizing those chances when they are offered. At least that's what it looks like to me. But you can only do that from a place of strength, not from a place of shame and self loathing. I don't see how shame and remorse could possibly work together.

kairos posted 1/30/2020 14:54 PM

yea, this:

"Remorse is wanting more than anything to be given the chance for reparation and restoration and seizing those chances when they are offered. But you can only do that from a place of strength, not from a place of shame and self loathing. I don't see how shame and remorse could possibly work together."

MrCleanSlate posted 1/30/2020 15:08 PM

I will be straight, I haven't met my husband's requests to talk openly about the affairs in a reasonable amount of time, I am just starting to be able to do this, maybe that is what he means by not showing remorse? I honestly don't know what that looks like, I thought I did...I thought I was being contrite...

I'm 4 years post D-Day and R'd successfully (I think..) and I don't know how to SHOW remorse. I can't even really describe to you what my remorse looks like. My BW however has stated she can see the remorse in me.

I came clean with the facts of the A right from the start after D-Day. The next stage was actually taking the time to understand what I did and why, and later to really accept what I did and how it hurt the ones I loved the most.

It was a long growth process for me. It still is.

It wasn't just about fixing my M, I needed to fix myself.

hikingout posted 1/30/2020 15:18 PM

This is what worries me when I tell you to begin with self-care and you resist or feel like you don't deserve it or stay mired in your own self-loathing. You have to choose to pick yourself up from rock bottom. You have to fight for a good life. It doesn't just happen. It is entirely possible to exist and not live.

I'll bump the shame/justice thread which has a bit on remorse. To me, remorse means that your heart lifts a little in thankfulness when he brings up the affair because you are being given a chance to listen to him and help him feel heard (while at the same time feeling pain for his pain and sadness for yourself and what brought you to that place in your life). Remorse means seeing him break down and being thankful that he is able to feel his emotions and ask you for help with them instead of hiding them, denying them, burying them or suffering alone. Remorse is wanting more than anything to be given the chance for reparation and restoration and seizing those chances when they are offered. At least that's what it looks like to me. But you can only do that from a place of strength, not from a place of shame and self loathing. I don't see how shame and remorse could possibly work together.

Great description, and I concur.

Zugzwang posted 1/30/2020 15:55 PM

Crying. Couldn't stand myself. Wanted to crawl out of my skin. Vomiting. Wished I was dead. Saw myself as empty and alone. No pride. No integrity. Nothing. An empty shell. Just disgust. Couldn't stand to be in the same room with myself, let alone look in a mirror. That was my rock bottom. Cheating and not having remorse- only regret was my rock bottom. Without remorse...we are nothing.

Need2Do posted 1/30/2020 17:14 PM

My therapist advised me to become present with myself and with others, but for the longest time (pre-A's - well into my teenage years, maybe before that even, and during the A's) I dismissed and minimized my own self that it became second nature to also minimize and dismiss others too.
Part of my 'foo' issues (and the list is getting longer as I dig).

I thought I had hit rock bottom, but because I didn't trust myself, my thoughts, I had to ask the questions.

I honestly didn't know what remorse looked like or rather felt like, but from the descriptions, I have made it there - it has been painful, but no where near as painful as what my husband has experienced, and continues to experience.

The best way to show him my remorse, is to hear him when he talks - I will have to find my 'lady balls' and bring up the affairs more often. For now, we will continue talking about my journal - the one I wrote during affair #2.

The amount of self-lies, the dissonance, the cold-hearted, unempathetic, POS that I was during that time, is unbelievable. I really didn't care who I walked over...I had a hard time accepting this person as me, for the longest time...

Thank you...

Need2Do posted 1/30/2020 22:46 PM

I honestly didn't know what remorse looked like or rather felt like, but from the descriptions, I have made it there

I was wrong, I'm not there yet...I am still in 'all about me'.

I am really sick of this!!

hikingout posted 1/31/2020 08:09 AM

Yep, it's hard.

I had just commented yesterday on another thread that there are really two steps - deciding that you are committed to the process, but then having the ability to execute and at what rate can vary. There is certainly a lot of pressure added because we know our chances with our BS are dwindling by the day. Unfortunately that causes us to panic sometimes and that's not the best reaction. You are shooting for calm.

Sometimes we know things logically, but internalizing them, implementing them is a process of a lot of failures. The important thing here is not to let each failure hold you down. That song "I get knocked down but I get up again"...you have to think that way. Keep trying, keep correcting, keep digging. I know sometimes it seems like it should be easy and straightforward, but if we were already great at coping we probably wouldn't have cheated to begin with.

I can't tell you how many times I thought I was "there" and then I had a big mountain to climb after that. We want to be "there" so desperately, but there are a lot of steps and it does take some time to make them.

What do you think is in your way the most right now?

Need2Do posted 1/31/2020 17:09 PM

Sorry, I will post back in a little while, I am making one more attempt at my journal. To explain what I wrote, expand where I can, because that is the first thing my husband read upon the discovery of my affair 3-1/2 years ago. That is one of the things holding me down right now...facing the depth of the betrayal to him. I understand the betrayal, I see the pain I caused him, I see the anger and rage in his eyes when he looks at me now, I hear him when he says he doesn't love me anymore, and I feel him slipping away every moment of every day.

This is something I should have done in the beginning, but I was 'too busy' having a break down, and in that time since, I have been doing what?? not helping him heal.

I have 2 months left to give him something to work with, something worth working with.

Pippin posted 2/1/2020 10:07 AM

What was the flip flop in your responses - oh I am doing OK with remorse to it's all about me?

There are layers with shame and remorse, I think, like everything. I worked hard on layers with honesty. I could say 9 honest things but that 10th thing, the one that was hardest, was the one that mattered. And the other 9 served as a bit of a diversion.

So for you, you may well be remorseful about many things. You have faced some of the shame, somehow overcome it, and are eager to help your husband. The places where you still have shame are where your remorse is blocked. You are ashamed of who you were when you wrote that journal, so you hide it, and you are unable to help your husband when your primarily goal is hiding your shame, not helping him (which btw is helping yourself first - you help him more from a place of steadiness and self-worth).

Maybe you need a more concrete idea about what self-compassion is? For me it would look like this - I would pick up the journal and hold it tight, not push it away. I would remind myself that the person who was writing that journal was deeply, deeply troubled. She was trying hard to deal with her pain and she was closing her eyes to the destruction that causes. Where did that come from? How did she get to the place where that seemed like the best thing to do? I have a strong belief that people are good and that the evil comes from hurt or fear. So I would have compassion for that fundamentally good person who was acting evil, because they were acting from hurt and fear, and trying to understand her. To be interested and curious, forgiving and loving. Because you don't have to be that person any more, you are a good person who is worth loving and who has the capacity to live a good life and help other people. Starting with helping that person who you were. Can you look at your journal, your former self, that way?

(sorry if it's incoherent, I am trying to get something up for you to thing about but now I have to run! Take care, be brave, you are cared for and loved)

[This message edited by Pippin at 10:07 AM, February 1st (Saturday)]

cptprkchp posted 2/2/2020 05:59 AM

Not only am I a fWW - I am also an alcoholic who has been in continuous recovery since 6/29/10. My alcoholic behaviors and wayward behaviors fueled one another like gasoline and a match. To me, rock bottom was being so desperate to change that I became willing to do whatever it took. Itís called ďthe gift of desperation.Ē I was willing to make a commitment to change the behaviors that brought to rock bottom.

I was impulsive so I made a commitment to pause before I did or said anything. I acted impulsively and I spoke impulsively - I was a liar and a deceiver so I made the commitment to tell the truth - no matter the outcome. Radical honesty. I learned that I had a huge ego but no self-esteem or self-confidence. I wanted respect but realized I had done nothing to deserve it. Instead of being jealous I became willing to take suggestions. I met people who had things that I wanted so I asked them what they did to get there - and Iím not talking about a Chanel bag - I mean I asked how someone was able to function as a human being with a history of trauma, how they got their college degree later in life, etc.

I tore myself apart and rebuilt from nothing. I was able to find my real self in destroying my former self. I surrounded myself with people who had what I wanted and emulated them. I faced the monster in the mirror and killed that narcissistic bitch. It didnít happen overnight and I will never be done improving but by being humble and grateful I have learned a better way. I learned that the more you say thank you the less you have to say Iím sorry.

There is a thread in my post history called ďadviceĒ by Woodlandlost and it chronicles my recovery if you are interested. I dug deep - I had to. You must be willing to chase your marriage like you chased your affair, chase the truth like you chased the lies, and chase improvement like you chased resentment. Live life on lifeís terms because itís already been proven that your terms donít work. Itís not easy but itís worth it.

LifeDestroyer posted 2/2/2020 15:24 PM

My rock bottom:
-having the thought that my bh and daughter would be better off without me in the picture (this one still comes back every once in awhile unfortunately)
-when I had to move out of our home
-realizing that I took a parent away from our daughter
-walking around my empty apartment like a zombie
-feeling like complete and utter shit all day long
-i went down a huge shame spiral
-when I told our daughter to not talk about living in two homes because I was too ashamed

I'm sure I will hit a new level of rock bottom if we divorce.

wantstorepair posted 2/2/2020 20:48 PM

cptprkchp, I am a raging narcissist like you were and the road you traveled is the one I know I must but keep failing at. I have not hit rock bottom, but I think I have made my BW hit rock bottom with years of trauma and abuse and lies, and for her walking this road is a must. For her and the kids and any chance that they can have a better future. Iím going to go find your post and read and try and learn.

cptprkchp posted 2/3/2020 10:16 AM

Wantstorepair-

Sometimes rock bottom is brought to us! If you know your BS is at rock bottom and she is about to walk then consider that YOUR rock bottom if you want to R with her. Start showing up for her - what has she asked you to do in the past? Recovery is action and changing our own thought & behavior patterns - show her you heard her.

If you do read my journey and have any questions or whatever I am more than happy to answer and/or clarify!

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