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The hardest fantasy to let go of

forgettableDad posted 3/2/2020 16:24 PM

I logged into SI on December 2019 but I lurked without an account for a lot longer than that. I came to this site like many cheaters do I suspect, with this idea that somehow I was unique in my affair. That I had found another true love. And that all those other cheaters are different.

The biggest mallet to the head was realizing that that's mostly rubbish - sure, there are people who are so broken and insane I can't relate to their affair reasons - but they don't come here to post very often.

Yes situations can be different and reasons can vary somewhat but the reality is; I cheated. I lied to myself and my wife like so many of us did. And the stories we tell ourselves are usually eerily similar:
I've found my soulmate.
It's only been a few months but it feels like a lifetime.
They understand me like no one else does.
I'm a better person when I'm with them.
We have a perfect connection and complete each other sentences.
I love my partner but not in love with them anymore.
I can see a future with my affair partner.

And finally when the curtain falls and the ugliness of what we've done set in daylight;
Woe is me I must grieve for my lost love.

It took me a long time in therapy to understand where I'm broken and how to change myself. But I still held on to the fantasy of being unique. Being here snapped me out of that. And for that I'm very very thankful that SI exists. And the sooner any cheater realizes this reality, the sooner they'll be on their way to actual healing.

DaddyDom posted 3/2/2020 17:23 PM

A good post, thank you for sharing! Agreed, it felt the same for me, as if I had some unique story that made sense of everything... it was all still just part of the excuses and justifications I told myself so that'd I'd still feel like a decent and reasonable person. Holding on to that fantasy made things a lot worse for a long time.

How do you feel that you've changed now?

AintGonnaLose posted 3/2/2020 18:22 PM

Since thereís no stop sign I can posts, right? This is the kind of thing I read on the wayward side that has me conflicted. One one hand, it gives me hope to see so many people who have seen the fantasy for what it was. It makes me hope my WS can too at some point. But on the other itís discouraging that heís still there and itís been 3 years. As far as I know, his didnít have any romantic attachments to anyone, but he still created a fantasy that heís stuck in. And this too, I see all over the internet. The long-suffering, under-appreciated spouse. Heís been a model husband, benevolent, tolerant, and forgiving of the trials heaped upon him by his ungrateful wife. He made that one mistake, even if it was 5-6 years of disloyalty and 4 of SA type online and seeking behavior with ďmore women than he can count.Ē He doesnít blame me for this behavior, (just for every negative feeling heís ever had) and he takes responsibility for it, so I shouldnít be punishing him with my pain. He also takes responsibility for the lying and TT, he said he was sorry, so my inability to take him at his word and my hypervigilance are other unnecessary ways Iím causing him grief.

Iím not saying heís not sorry, but heís sorry for himself more than he is me. Heís sorry that the ďoneĒ thing that he did that ruined his track record as a perfect husband is going to follow him around for the rest of his life because I choose to feel this way. I think he has a lot of shame and self condemnation instead he doesnít want to deal with so he sticks to the narrative he used to entitle himself and silence guilt when he was cheating. He denies that (of course.) The toughest thing in life for me so far has been to accept that I canít change a person who doesnít want to change. That there are no right words or loving examples that will suddenly open the eyes of someone who is willfully blind. A person who is self-deceptive is that way because they want to be, and until they want to be otherwise thereís nothing anyone else can do. Itís wonderful seeing that there are people out there who have wanted it. Maybe one day my WS will be among you.

[This message edited by AintGonnaLose at 8:29 PM, March 2nd (Monday)]

forgettableDad posted 3/3/2020 01:38 AM

How do you feel that you've changed now?
That's a hard question to quantify to be honest. Honest.. I guess we could start from there. I'm honest. In a different thread I spoke about telling the truth being like crossing a race line with a giant boulder attached to me. I cross that line more and more these days.

I've stopped shutting down when I conflict with my wife. And I've stopped trying to control her. In fact on a general level I'm much more tolerant in stressful situations because I've learnt to take a breath and create a space around me when I need to.

I'm actively pursuing internal validation by expressing myself rather than external validation by trying to "impress" people. Which, to be honest again, seems to make genuine converstaions with people easier.

My relationship with my children has improved. I'm less volatile and a far more connected father.

And strangely; for the first time in my life I feel connected to something bigger than myself. In fact, I don't really know how else to describe it, but I can feel a divine kinda spark in my marriage (I'm not really religious so this is really weird for me).

I still troll people on twitter too much; but gotta have a hobby..

All of this (except the twitter-trolling obviously ) has taken me nearly two years of constant IC once a week and actively working on it every day by myself to achieve - and I'm still a work in progress.

forgettableDad posted 3/3/2020 01:51 AM

I've lied to my wife for the better part of 6 years concerning our finances; when I finally broke down and confessed we separated. During that time I managed to convince myself that I fell in love with someone else and started an affair. It took me months to realize I'm trying to destroy my family and myself because I'm afraid of owning up to my actions. It took me months more to fix myself.

I took the price I paid for my actions and the price I nearly paid and I made sure to make the best goddamn use of it to better myself.

One of the things that pushed me to realize what I wanted was actually a real story written by Tim Tedder regarding his experience with his affair.

Is your husband seeing a therapist? I also had a lot of issues finding compassion for myself because of my father and stuff. Helps having a professional sort things out with you sometimes..

I really hope he comes around. There's nothing more sacred than a marriage vow. I wish I understood that - not when I was having an affair but long before that so I wouldn't event get to the point of the affair at all.

bluephoenix posted 3/3/2020 12:56 PM

Have you read "Not Just Friends" by Dr. Shirley Glass? I advise you to read it and listen to the scenario of the married couple and the AP she is writing about and how it started and how it ends. It might give you some deeper insight as to how to avoid it again.

I am a BW and I question all WH into what led them down that road so that I have an understanding of the mechanics of adultery to find reason in my husband's actions and rebuild my relationship. I know everyone's story is different but it leads us all down the same ugly path. Some Waywards see their actions differently but I can tell you that all BS feel the same trauma as if we were following the handbook on post infidelity stress disorder.

You may have felt remorse for giving up your AP thinking she was the one. Reflect back though. Why would you see the love in a woman that steals another woman's husband? Is that a woman that has as much integrity as your loyal wife? You feel this relationship is special? That she understands you? Have you communicated on all levels the things that were missing in your marriage with your wife so that she could fix them? Did you consider it was you and not her? How do you know she didn't have the same negative feelings about your marriage?

You failed to protect this wall of trust around your marriage and opened it up to this AP and rebuilt that wall between you and your wife. She doesn't understand you more than your wife. Now that is rubbish if you think she does! She understands she is selfish and will think of her own needs instead of realizing the damage she is causing. She sees that there is a rift between you and your wife and feeds on it trying to make herself more addictive to you. In the long run, the grass is never greener on the other side. There should be "no woe is you". You are not a victim in your affair but a contributor.

I do hope you find some resolution inside yourself and I hope your poor wife heals from all of this trauma you caused her. You may have felt love for this woman and fallen out of love with your wife but that is part of the trickery. It's fantasy and it does change to a bitter reality.

forgettableDad posted 3/3/2020 13:09 PM

I'll repost what I wrote on another thread:

I grieved to begin with. I was actually completely convinced that I had found my soulmate. A love that transcended time and space (I shit you not). But it wasn't grieving any more than a junkie grieves the loss of his heroin. I was immature and did not know how to differentiate between the lies I told myself and the reality of my actual emotions (fear, shame selfishness).

This process was detrimental to my progress. Like anything with an affair. It's toxic.

nightmare01 posted 3/3/2020 13:33 PM

Why would you see the love in a woman that steals another woman's husband?

Sorry to latch on to the minutia - but no one steals anything in an affair. I'm reminded of the comedian Flip Wilson, that when dressed as his female persona Geraldine, would claim that 'the devil made her buy this dress'. IMO no one falls inadvertently into an affair. It's a multiple step process that both WS take, knowing that it's wrong but willingly choosing it anyway. Affairs are, again IMO, deliberate. No one steals anything, one willingly offers and the other willingly accepts - both knowing full well the consequences.

To modify an old one-liner joke: "It's mind over matter. They didn't mind, and we didn't matter."

ChamomileTea posted 3/3/2020 17:07 PM

I came to this site like many cheaters do I suspect, with this idea that somehow I was unique in my affair. That I had found another true love. And that all those other cheaters are different.

I've read posts by several WS just today reflecting that sentiment. My fWH experienced the same sort of thing with the last of his three OW. It wasn't until after the shock of DDay and after stepping back from the affair that he was able to see that they were using each other. He liked the way she made him feel; youthful, sexy, adored. She liked the lovebombing (and the potential improvement of her lifestyle as he future-faked her). My fWH is an EXCELLENT "lovebomber". I should know. So, if he puts the elbow grease into it, he's likely to get what he wants, at least from people who are taken by surprise.

But that's the thing really... both the WS and the AP are bringing this unsustainable effort into the affair. Both are reaping the benefits as they mirror what they most want to see from the other... and ignore what they don't. And even after the affair is done, they still don't want to look at the unpalatable qualities of their AP because if they do, they will then see it in themselves.

The AP is a person with no appreciable boundaries who doesn't mind fucking someone else's spouse. And the reason for that is because whatever it is they want, whatever they believe they need, is the MOST paramount thing in their world. The AP isn't serving the WS or the notion of love. They're serving themselves. They're taking what feels good, that is, when they're not actually taking cash/perks. When the WS sees that clearly, they recognize that they are the SAME. No boundaries, not serving the ones they claim to love, not serving even their belief in love.

When you think about it, love is a verb. If we love our spouse, we do it actively. And it stands to reason that if a WS "loves" his AP, s/he would do it actively. IOW, the one you "love" isn't a sidepiece. I don't think a WS really starts to recover until s/he realizes that they're not loving anyone actively, not even themselves. They feel "unhappy", they feel "trapped", so they just start spackling in the voids in their lives. But they're "spackling" with PEOPLE. That's not love. You don't USE the people you love. You want what's best for them. Which brings us back to "love is a verb".

Once a WS really looks in the mirror, they typically see a guy/gal who is NOT doing their best, someone without boundaries, without coping skills, someone who hasn't engaged in emotional problem-solving, and who, more often than not... is conflict avoidant.

My fWH had three APs, all of whom he insisted were "nice people". He persisted with that until it became clear that they weren't. The first AP claimed she was pregnant in an effort to soak him for another $2500. She wasn't. Turned out this wasn't her first rodeo. She and her husband had victimized a few others before him, pilfering amounts of cash and not enough to go to jail on. She quit pretty quickly when she realized she'd gone too far and could be charged with extortion. The second OW was simply paying back her cheating husband in kind. Imagine the disconnect though of telling the wife of 30 years you've been cheating on, that she should feel sorry for this person because... wait for it... her husband was cheating.
You just can't make this shit up.

But it was the third one who opened his eyes, the one he'd featured himself to be "in love" with. They'd met while she was advertising for "older", which just struck me wrong. So, what's the difference between a man in his thirties and a man in his fifties? When I asked my fWH that question, it turned out that he'd never given it much thought. But you could SEE the penny drop when he realized it was earnings potential. Older guys have worked longer and have typically achieved more. Everything started clicking in his head. Things she'd said in passing about places they'd go, where they'd live, how great a "step-dad" he was going to be... all started making sense. These were the long-ignored parts of the mirror. His AP wasn't "in love". She was looking for a better provider. She was the kind of person who not only cheated on her own spouse, but treated him with contempt, bringing her lover into the modest home her BH paid for and fucking him, all with the endless, disdainful shit-talk.

Once my fWH could SEE his APs, he could see himself. That whole story about how his wife and kids only cared about his paycheck, suddenly paled in the near miss of almost becoming just exactly that. He hadn't loved them, not any of them. And he hadn't love me, his wife of more than thirty years. The stories he'd been telling himself didn't allow him to see ANYONE for who they actually were. His feelings were about the stories, not the actual people. Once his eyes were opened, he was free to see the truth.

[This message edited by ChamomileTea at 5:09 PM, March 3rd (Tuesday)]

sorryforeverythi posted 3/3/2020 18:28 PM

Thank you for posting. It's nice to read about the Wayward side sometimes. I

lurk here from time to time, I usually don't reply but it is nice to see the honesty come through.

I doubt my WS will ever see what you did and the special thing she has, might be just what she always needed.

I have read too much on cheating and all the statistics behind the failure rate, the toll it takes and the ruins it leaves behind.

I don't know you but I would say I am proud of you.

It's not easy to stare into the abyss of all the trauma you might have been a party to and take the step back to truly change yourself.

AintGonnaLose posted 3/4/2020 12:23 PM

That whole story about how his wife and kids only cared about his paycheck

Oh, this is another one Iíve heard verbatim. I think (unless thereís something I donít know) what my WS had was the entitlement aspect of the ďfogĒ without the object of limerence. His OAís were the result of a mix of resentment, validation seeking, and entitlement. The EA with the ex girlfriend was a source of validation and multiplication in his negative feelings towards me, which made it easier to justify what he was doing. He has admitted to this to a certain degree, but doesnít realize just how much itís altered his perception of everything related to me and the marriage and even himself, or that it continues. I hate is that as long as heís trapped in this mind frame, heíll never find healing or peace. Some days I believe he regrets everything heís done and heís stuck due to shame and fear. I k know how painful and tragic it is to face and accept what kind of long term damage you have inflicted on your life and others, who were completely undeserving, as a result of choices you made in complete ignorance. I know itís possible to get so wrapped up in yourself that you thought what you were doing was just a ďyouĒ problem and completely failed to consider what it might be doing to those you love. Iíve come to that realization myself and itís painful. Hard to admit that youíve permanently changed things, that thereís no going back. I think thatís why my WS stays stuck. He says he doesnít blame me, but if Iím actually all the terrible things that heíd convinced himself that I am, if we had such a crappy marriage and I was miserable for itís entirety, then if mitigates the damage in his mind. He didnít cause this much damage, it was already there. So heís clinging to this story that Iím some sort of adversary (his word, not mine. That was news to me). Because at this point, he wouldnít only have to face the damage from the Aís, heíd also be culpable for the truly emotionally traumatizing shit heís put me through since d-day. I can honestly with a clear conscience say that since d-day, love, forgiveness, and reconciliation have been my ultimate goals. Iíve worked on myself, Iíve made my own amends, Iíve faced my past and Iím constantly trying to see things from his point of view. My intentions have been 100% pure since d-day, whether I handled things the right way or not. But he refuses to believe me on that. Instead heís quick to tell me what he does and doesnít deserve, while not taking the time to see that I didnít deserve a whole lot of this, and that Iím more than willing to own my share of the relationship damage going way back. But any time I try to get him to see that he accuses me of ďwhite washing the pastĒ and ďwanting him to take all the blame.Ē He doesnít see that heís the reason heís unhappy, and any attempts I make to try to get him to see that is more evidence of me persecuting him.

Iíve tried to get him to go to IC. He did Affair Recovery EMSO with me, but didnít fully commit to working on himself because of his fear. The same time about how AR just wanted him to feel like shit about himself for the rest of his life, etc. Heís even lurked here and said the same. Today I asked him to post here. Iím not holding my breath, but that little bit of hope is sad stubborn as he is.

[This message edited by AintGonnaLose at 12:24 PM, March 4th (Wednesday)]

MrCleanSlate posted 3/4/2020 13:24 PM


(Apologies to OP, a bit of a t/j here)

You can only work on fixing yourself. Your spouse needs to want to change and be willing to do the work himself.

You can set ground rules, do the 180, or even separation. He can choose to go along or not.

Here's the thing. I get that you are committed to trying to make it work. Your WS also gets that, so he is doing the bare minimum to keep you on side and not actually taking that mirror and turning it on himself to try to fix who he is.

On D-Day my BW made one thing very clear to me - come clean (hence my pen name) and be honest, and we can work on things from there. No promises beyond that. I knew she was deadly serious and she would have my ass on the street if I wasn't all in. I took that and ran with it.

You need to find some 'bitch boots' as many here say and take control of the narrative.

Best of luck.

[This message edited by MrCleanSlate at 1:25 PM, March 4th (Wednesday)]

hikingout posted 3/4/2020 15:33 PM

Great post.

Many of us have been there, but what you described is exactly the narrative I told myself. We can not believe everything we think, and that's a hard thing for a newbie to see at first. Perceptions are hard things to change. I like your list, I think those are really good for some of the WS who are with us right now to see.

Zugzwang posted 3/5/2020 16:49 PM

Good to hear you are finding some joy in your life in a healthy way. Keep moving forward. It is amazing how good it feels to take that burden off. To take the rose-colored glasses off and really see for the first time. To live authentically and with integrity. To be willing to let go of the bullshit and be vulnerable. I am glad you got here man. Welcome to a better life. Your the man on the couch holding his family and saying you wouldn't be anywhere else.

Zugzwang posted 3/5/2020 16:51 PM

Agree Hikingout. forgettableDad...good time to post your update. I guess drinking the "kool-aid" isn't so bad right?

crushed13 posted 3/6/2020 17:37 PM

I recognize that I may be in the minority, but I donít think my WSís affair was a fantasy. Those feelings are real, she didnít steal him, and I think minimizing his feelings about her and their relationship is a lie I could tell myself to make reconciliation easier. They were together for 8 years - it may not have been bills, and kids and the day to day grind, but telling myself their relationship is Ďpure fantasyí or Ďnot realí is just another lie.

forgettableDad posted 3/6/2020 21:42 PM

it may not have been bills, and kids and the day to day grind, but
Bit of threadjacking but that's a really good quote. Thank you.

Gently, this fantasy isn't yours to confirm or deny so I have very little to offer here. May I suggest for you to post your story in reconcilliation or the "just found out" part of the forum to start with?

Zugzwang posted 3/7/2020 10:11 AM

and I think minimizing his feelings about her and their relationship is a lie

It isn't about minimizing feelings or pretending it isn't real. It is about unhealthy people realizing what the feelings really are and where they are coming from.

It is like a drug addict thinking the pain is coming from something in their body is hurting when in reality that part isn't hurting...it is just psychological pain and pain of withdrawal long after the actual part they started taking drugs for has actually healed.

Honestly, not to minimize you...I don't think a person can understand this unless they have been there and done that. For most that is.

Long term affairs...IDK. Affairs with exes. IDK...perhaps there really is...though it doesn't change the root of why they are having an affair to begin with. IMO those that have long term affairs are just cowards in life. It isn't that they want to cake eat. It is that they can't decide on anything concrete or make choices that mean they might lose anything at all. Much to dependent...is that really about who they are with or who they are?

[This message edited by Zugzwang at 10:14 AM, March 7th (Saturday)]

Dragonfly123 posted 3/7/2020 10:38 AM

Iím a BW but all I can say is that as someone who has had a limerant experience (we were both single) and fell Ďin love/soulmatism/kismetí with an absolute narcissist, my feelings werenít based in reality. They were rooted in what I wanted to feel and what I wanted to see in him. I twisted the reality to keep my feelings going, I kind of liked the weird twisted pain I was in, the push/pull, the chase, the highs and lows. It was only with distance and NC that I could see that it was pure fantasy. And yes I did feel it at the time, but it wasnít rooted in truth. Im lucky in that I can look back and laugh, I only hurt myself, I feel foolish about it now, that I thought I loved this guy.

I can easily see how hard it would be, if youíd messed up your whole world, your family and destroyed your spouse for this limerant rubbish. I can see how youíd want to cling on and keep that going rather than face the truth, to face the damage.

I appreciate that there are so many of you trying to get through to these new WS on here, the ones still stuck in their twisted logic. Youíre doing a great job.

[This message edited by Dragonfly123 at 10:39 AM, March 7th (Saturday)]

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