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Upside down

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Iamtrash posted 3/7/2020 23:32 PM

I will start by saying this is my own fault. 100% I made this bed, now I must lie in it. My frustration is with myself. Not him. Not anyone else.

The hardest part of this journey is feeling like Iím getting conflicting and mixed messages. I have hurt him so much, his mind doesnít always know what it wants or it changes from minute to minute. I want to do whatís right and helpful. I want to read his cues and follow his lead. Itís just near impossible, sometimes. And I truly donít think itís intentionally done. All he can do is cope the best way he can in any given moment. There is no consistency because his pain and struggles are, understandably, all over the place. Heís trying to deal with this too and has to lean into the person that caused it all. That has to be a complete nightmare for him.

I struggle and fail. Not intentionally. I feel like I could be given a detailed list of how to help him today. Tomorrow, hours later, minutes later, that list is void. What is the best way to deal with this? I feel like if I ask in the moment, I am told that I was already given the answer yesterday. Being proactive fails me. Following direct feedback fails me. Honoring the request for space is deemed wrong. Honoring the request to push through when he feels low/triggered is wrong. I donít know how to help him and I know I need to.

Itís not his fault he feels this way. Itís not his fault his mind is giving him conflicting and mixed feelings. I just donít know how to help him. I donít know that he believes or trusts that Iím trying to listen and follow his cues and directives. Why should he? Iíve proven to him that Iím not safe and heíd be stupid to trust me.

All I want to do is help him anyway that I can. I feel like itís hopeless. I have no desire to quit, even if Iím fighting a losing battle.

wifehad5 posted 3/8/2020 06:43 AM

I think this is a case where you have to let go of the outcome. Keep working on yourself, and let him do his work. As you both get stronger, the answer will get more clear.

RedeemedSinner posted 3/8/2020 08:06 AM

I can relate to this and from what Iíve read and heard this is part of the process through this devastation. One day you think there is a sign of hope, and the next it is like youíre back to dday. Even though it is our faults completely, itís excruciating when all we want is to make things right. Iím only 2 months in and am walking it literally one day at a time. I rely on IC on those days when I feel I am losing hope and just reach out for advice on how do I deal with the way I feel, cause what Iím seeing is I canít do anything about how BS feels at this time. Even though Iíve said over and over how can I help you. This is what people say about the waiting part and it is proving harder than I expected because I want to DO something or SAY something to fix it NOW. Unfortunately I think they have to go through this part within themselves and IC if they are doing so. I could be wrong, but that what my situation looks like. Hope you can find the strength and patience to keep walking through it and doing what you can when the opportunities present themselves.

Change4thebetter posted 3/8/2020 10:09 AM

I struggle and fail. Not intentionally. I feel like I could be given a detailed list of how to help him today. Tomorrow, hours later, minutes later, that list is void.

Since dday I've felt like a constant failure. Even when I get it right, the flip switches so fast and I feel like I can't keep my head above water with him. As time has gone on there are many more good days, but the bad days don't get any easier. I can't even imagine what this rollercoaster is like for him.

My BH has said many times that until he goes very dark and scares me only then does it light a fire under my ass and I scramble to do everything and anything. Every day, every moment is a test and he's always watching.

maise posted 3/8/2020 10:50 AM

I get it. Thereís literally nothing I could have told my WS to do that would actually work. What I wanted was empathy, I wanted her to be in the moments with my pain, not run off a list of suggestions - that would feel extremely inauthentic and piss me off. It would always leave me feeling alone. What I wanted was a real moment of care, or a mature reaction. I wanted her to know what to do. To know that when I was hurting and lashing out as a result, that I didnít mean it, instead it was always met with her not knowing what to say/do and abandoning me in those moments.

The thing is, the only thing you can do is focus on building yourself. Focus on healing yourself. He (unfortunately and unfairly) has to do the same. This is the only way youíll learn how to be truly there for him, and this is the only way heíll learn how to be truly there for himself too. We heal ourselves. As shitty as that felt as the BS, it was the only thing that helped me. Now? Iíve healed a lot. Iím a lot better. When I find myself getting hurt again and wanting and wishing my WS would help me? I realize that Iím expecting something from her again, and really that expectation can only be met by me. So I turn back toward the only person I can truly trust (myself) and get to work. Iíll meditate, journal, write, cry, analyze, read, and if Iím finding myself stuck still Iíll share with my therapist. I had to learn to be there for me like never before. Itís been excruciatingly hard work. Work that I've done alone.

In the mean time, my WS is still scrambling. All this time sheís been so focused on ďwhat the right thing to doĒ is that sheís abandoned her true work (work that would have helped her help me better by being in this with me). So sheís behind, sheís honestly still very much the same in her dysfunctional patterns. The deep rooted ones that led her here to begin with. Itís unfortunate. Iím getting to a place where Iím beginning to feel stronger with myself, better, a point where I can take on life differently - and if she doesnít start doing her work before I get to a certain point with myself, sheís going to have to leave. I wonít be able to keep her around much longer. Iím healing, I canít keep the toxicity and dysfunction she hasnít healed within herself so close.

Something I often mention to her is that when I finally ask her to please move out, that part of herself sheís still avoiding? Itís going to slam her. When sheís finally alone and by herself? That pain is going to magnify, and sheís going to have one of two choices: finally face it (alone and with no ability to return to do this with me), or stay the same and find another person like her AP, or another poor soul that was just like me in giving/enabling. Either way, she wonít be happy, sheíll find herself in the same place she was before, and sheíll cheat again. There is no easy way out if change is truly wanted. The only way is through it.

Iím not sure where you may be with your own personal work, I can only speak from my experience of course. I see where my WS is stuck. She hasnít been able to truly hone in on her behaviors and assess how she feels about them, what thoughts and opinions she has, what sheíd like to do about them with herself. Sheís too scared to do that. Sheís too scared to see her behaviors bc that would mean looking at the awful poor choices sheís made too. But thatís the only way to build with ourselves...to look at all of it. To set standards for ourselves in those moments. To make a decision on who we want to be because it means something to ourself. Thatís how we build esteem, and build self respect, morals, etc. This is where she is stuck. Afraid to face herself completely. Still afraid to see herself as "bad" so she holds on to the "good" and avoids the rest.

Iím not sure if this was helpful to share. I donít know where you specifically are in your process. As much as it sucks to hear, the only way to help your BS is to work on yourself.

**Edited for typos & some clarity**

[This message edited by maise at 2:47 PM, March 8th (Sunday)]

HoldingTogether posted 3/8/2020 13:12 PM

One of the best things I ever read from a WS on this site was this one from BraveSirRobin:

What everyone here is trying to explain is that this doesn't get solved by you figuring out how to get him up off the floor. You need to get down on the floor with him

I liked that so much I added it to the SI quote thread.

About a year or so into R, one of the things that I started to tell (or probably more accurately yell at) my wife was:

ďStop fucking trying to manage me!Ē

See, WOES is kind of a task oriented sort of person. She likes a project, and she likes to tick off the boxes and finish the project so she can give herself the old ďJob well done WOES!Ē pat on the back. So, when we went into R, she was pretty determined that she was gonna get an A+ in R. Thatís her style, itís how she self validates. And at first that was good, I wanted her to fucking fix me. Hell, she was the one that fucking broke me in the first place. Seems only right that she should be the one to fix me. So that seemed all good great and fine... at first.

But at some point. Canít tell you for sure when it was exactly. That whole dynamic stopped working for me. And I had a hard time articulating exactly why or what it was at the time. But now, in retrospect, I think that the problem with the whole ďshe broke me now she needs to fix meĒ dynamic is that it made me feel like I was somehow in an inferior position to her in the relationship: I was broken, she was not. I was to take a passive role in R, she was to take an active role. I was beginning to feel permanently a victim of her actions, which left her constantly the victimizer in that equation.

But the reality is that we were both of us broken by her actions. And if we were going to fix this damage it was going to require both of us taking an active role in the work. And even though she was still the victimizer in this whole fucking thing she was also herself a victim at the same time.

Please donít misunderstand me, I am not attempting to take one fucking ounce of blame off of her shoulders for what she did, for how she hurt me. but at the end of the day she hurt herself in the process as well.

And knowing that? Seeing that she was broken too? That helped me. It helped to lift me out of this feeling of being all fucking alone in suffering through this thing It helped me to stop feeling like somehow less than in our relationship going forward.

It changed it from something that I was going through into something that we were going through, together.

And, since we were going through this fucking hell together, it started to change from some thing that was pushing us apart into something that started to pull us together.

Iím sorry if Iím not expressing this as well as I would like. Itís a difficult concept to explain. I still wanted my wife to try and help me, to comfort me, to reassure me, to apologize to me. But I didnít want her to be doing that from outside of my suffering looking in. I wanted her to be doing all of those thing from the inside, right along side of me.

And it wasnít something that she could fake, and it wasnít something that she could make a list out of, or get instructions on. She was either in there with me or she wasnít. And once she was? I could fucking feel it. It really made all the difference.

It sounds like what you are describing is watching your husband on the rollercoaster. A humble suggestion, when you see your husband riding that rollercoaster? Donít just stand back and watch, but donít try to take over the ride controls either....

Climb into the fucking car with him instead.

Itís a scary ride but it helps to know that you are in it together. In the end itís all about solidarity.

HT

RedeemedSinner posted 3/8/2020 13:35 PM

Good example of the journey today. Yesterday we had one of the best talks about random life stuff even laughed a bit and I thought this is great. Then today BS said itís hard to be around me and cried extensively. So I wept with her. For us WS who are truly repentant and wanting to make things right itís a roller coaster that we ride with them. Thatís what Iím seeing anyways. Iím still learning and facing the pains along the way working to be a better man for her.

AintGonnaLose posted 3/8/2020 20:16 PM

Iím three years out, and what Iíve needed most and been lacking is consistency. Iím sure Iíve been all over the place too, and I know it has to be incredibly frustrating. One second I will tell him I meed _______ from him, then the next I would be suspicious because he was doing it for me wondering if heís trying to appease me to lull me into a false sense of security so he can get away with something. This goes on to this day. And though it started early on, I firmly believe that we would have made much more progress if he had remained steady, patient, and empathetic DESPITE what I did.

There were times when I pushed him away when I really wanted him to not let go. Actually, most times. There may have been times I actually wanted space, but seeing him try again to reach out and connect would have meant everything, even if I didnít respond. A simple ďok, well, you know Iím here if you need meĒ at that point, (and then actually follow through on it) would have made a huge difference. Itís the effort that would prove to me that I have worth to him.

He let my inconsistency make him inconsistent, then the ďitís never enoughĒ would start. or the anger and defensiveness would rear itís ugly head. And this usually would happen about the time I tried to reach out again, which made me feel even more unsafe. The thing is, i want to be chosen, i want to know Iím important and worth the discomfort of dealing with my trauma. And more than anything, I want to know that he understands that i didnít choose any of this. Even if I have no idea what I want or what will help, I donít want to be that way and Iím just as frustrated and helpless as he is. Probably even more so.

And the number one most important thing you can do is keep your word. If you say youíre going to do something you must do it. Or if something comes up and you canít, make sure you make it obvious that you know itís a big deal and ask what you should do to make up for it. My WS doesnít understand that every broken promise, no matter how small, just proves to me that he doesnít understand the gravity of what he did, or anything about what trust means.

[This message edited by AintGonnaLose at 9:18 PM, March 8th (Sunday)]

RedeemedSinner posted 3/8/2020 21:41 PM

Ainítgonnalose, your post was very helpful to me to see things from the other point of view. I myself am so desperate to follow my BSís lead, and some moments it feels like we are making a great step forward and other times she says she canít stand being around me. Iím never defensive in any way, how can I be after what Iíve done. I just give her space and say Iím sorry for making her feel that way. I am hoping like you said that those things she feels is not her true heart and itís not how she truly feels.

Iamtrash posted 3/9/2020 05:33 AM

All of these answers are extremely insightful and I truly appreciate the feedback. We were able to talk more and I feel like I hear a lot of what he said in these answers.

Sitting back and riding the roller coaster has definitely been a challenge for me. In my mind, I see this mess I created and my mind is screaming at me to do something, anything. You dropped this bomb, the least you can do is grab a broom and start sweeping up. But itís not helpful to him. At least not now. Plus, Iíve severely damaged myself in the process, so itís more like trying to clean up an explosion with a hand broom. Itís super ineffective and not prioritizing what needs to be worked on first.

Chaos posted 3/13/2020 13:57 PM

BS here - and weighing in with my 2 cents.

Reading through this - it is very interesting to see what things look like from the WS perspective in this time of recovery. And it makes me think.

I'm going to offer you a few perspectives. Now - before you read further - remember the SI adage of take the best and leave the rest. OK - hopefully you are still reading.

I get your feeling of conflicting and mixed messages. Because it is impossible to read his cues and follow his lead. Because what we ultimately want and can't have is for this not to have happened. And after a while us BS realize that screaming that back at you WS isn't helpful. That's actually a plus if he's no longer screaming that at you. Trust me.

However, it leaves us BS in an even more awkward place - we know this is real and did happen to us - we know screaming that at you isn't helpful - we know we are sending mixed signals but we can't help it (remember - we've just realized it is real, it did happen and screaming at you isn't helping) so we're at an impasse in our own head space. There is a meme that went around shortly after DDay3 - I sent it to my WH - it summed it all up. He knew something was wrong. He tried to talk to me. I shut him down. Why - you think? Why did I shut him down with communication when he's finally getting a clue? Because screaming at him won't help, and it won't make things not have happened but [here's where the meme comes in ] "I CAN'T DECIDE IF I NEED A HUG, CHOCOLATE, XL COFFEE, XANAX, FULL BODY MASSAGE, A WEEKS VACATION, VODKA OR 2 WEEKS OF SLEEP" The same holds true in many of these circumstances. What we need we can't have and now don't know what to try next to help us. We can't effectively communicate to you when we can't figure it out ourselves. We want you to intrinsically know what we need in that moment don't even know ourselves.

I know this doesn't give you the answer you seek. And may be a bit rambling. But while I appreciate your perspective [and truly appreciate it] I hope I've explained what he may not be able to put into words. But he's still there and he's still trying to figure it all out. And that hopefully speaks louder than words [if he could find them at this point] will.

hikingout posted 3/13/2020 14:32 PM

I always struggle to answer this question for other WS because I always want to point at not letting the creating a healing environment/trying to heal the relationship eclipse focusing on your work. But, that always seems to me to not be descriptive of the process, and it falls short.

I feel like what HoldingTogether just wrote was maybe the most articulate and descriptive post of what our journey was like. In fact, it illuminated aspects of it to me that were new reading it. Even though we are now past some of it, I can look back and say EXACTLY. I was going to do anything and everything, and I was going to get that A+, because if I got the A+ it means I could deserve my husband.

Along the way, I learned that one of the things I had done the whole time was hustle for love, to do things to be loved, to be people pleasing, etc. And I lost myself in the process. In the DDAY post fallout, reading everything trying everything, exhausting everything...it was exhausting for both of us. It was also inauthentic, but I had no idea what to do and I *WAS* trying my best.

The thing is after DDAY we are relying on the same skills we had before DDAY. In order to move forward we have to learn new skills, and that takes time and patience. It's hard to have patience when your house is on fire and you want to put it out as quickly as you can. When we really nail down our whys, practicing new thought patterns, behaviors, skills that would lead us away from our whys and more towards a balanced person...it's almost a full time endeavor. You guys have little kids, your husband needs a lot from you, it's hard. So, I think part of the frustration comes from not having some self compassion and patience. To not be afraid to fail. And that's a tall order when you feel like all you do is fail.

When I worked on myself, I gave my husband something different to respond to. As I did, the authenticity of that would shine through to him.

But, I do think for a long time we were in a position that Holding together so eloquently illustrated - I, the broken one, was trying to be his healer...and it was coming across condescending. When I was trying to do my work, and be there for him then we were forming a new partnership/bond.

Thank you HoldingTogether, I feel like you snapped a new piece of the puzzle together for me today. your whole post should be put somewhere to be referenced. I think what you are describing is a common dynamic and there is a lot to be learned in what you just said.

[This message edited by hikingout at 2:33 PM, March 13th (Friday)]

emergent8 posted 3/13/2020 15:03 PM

Really, REALLY great post HoldTogether

Iamtrash posted 3/14/2020 08:09 AM

Again, these are ALL amazing responses. I feel like after continuing to talk with him, I can see exactly what he is saying in these responses.

I feel like I am always afraid to make the wrong choice and hurt him more. Sometimes the best choice is to just feel with him. I canít fix this, not now. I can at least focus on making him feel less alone with what he is dealing with.

Thank you all again. These are the answers I needed to read.

Zugzwang posted 3/14/2020 08:48 AM

HoldingTogether is right. You must be willing to get down there with them. To feel the pain too. Not make it just go away. Because it isn't and when you do you probably just look like you are trying to avoid feeling pain for yourself. They have a right to feel pain and it isn't just a mind thing. It is their heart and soul. let them process it instead of solving it. Which was my biggest issue in the beginning. Become a listener and stop being afraid. Choose to put your own fear, pain, and discomfort to the side to be there with them. Afterall we had no issues being with an AP in our shit. Now, be with your BS in the shit you caused. Just sit and wait. If you are going crazy, too bad. Suck it up for the moment. Feel it and process it. When you get the time...fill your pitcher in a healthy way. Take a run. Be willing to risk it all for them. This is not about getting your BS out of it! It is about you learning new coping skills to deal with it!


They are struggling with us.

They are struggling with their own moral values and self worth too. One of the biggest issues for my wife is that by staying she had to find a new way of of living with not leaving and still having self worth. Lets face it, our BS choose to stay with people that treated them like shit. Their self worth is telling them to put their foot down and kick us to the curb because they are worth more than what we are giving them. It isn't just about us. It is about them making a new reality for themselves and reconciling themselves too. This isn't just a head thing. My wife said this is what was happening when she 180 me and then what was going on during that Lethal Plain of Flatness.

Iamtrash I don't know if it is just your way of explaining it or if you are trying to avoid what might be a bigger issue of love and heart...you repeatedly call this a mind thing..why?

Zugzwang posted 3/14/2020 08:51 AM

HikingOut

Along the way, I learned that one of the things I had done the whole time was hustle for love, to do things to be loved, to be people pleasing, etc. And I lost myself in the process. In the DDAY post fallout, reading everything trying everything, exhausting everything...it was exhausting for both of us. It was also inauthentic, but I had no idea what to do and I *WAS* trying my best.

Well said, I would also ask and add that it isn't just about being inauthentic though...maybe for you it was...I really believe you meant it all...just maybe it was more from a selfish motivation? a place of more regret than remorse?

gmc94 posted 3/14/2020 14:32 PM

You must be willing to get down there with them. To feel the pain too. Not make it just go away. Because it isn't and when you do you probably just look like you are trying to avoid feeling pain for yourself. They have a right to feel pain and it isn't just a mind thing. It is their heart and soul. let them process it instead of solving it.... Become a listener and stop being afraid. Choose to put your own fear, pain, and discomfort to the side to be there with them. Afterall we had no issues being with an AP in our shit. Now, be with your BS in the shit you caused. Just sit and wait. If you are going crazy, too bad. Suck it up for the moment. Feel it and process it. When you get the time...fill your pitcher in a healthy way. Take a run. Be willing to risk it all for them. This is not about getting your BS out of it! It is about you learning new coping skills to deal with it!
Sure wish my WH had the ability to understand and actually do this. I think it's super important for a BS to see and feel this from the WS.

Yes, as HoldingTogether says, the WS is broken too. Personally, I have never found much comfort in that knowledge. Sure, I can limit my expectations of my WH. And then struggle with the ways in which those limits may be harmful - ie in what ways does limiting my expectations also limit my own self worth and value? And then I face my own shame with myself for staying, for putting up with it, for not seeing it before, and for limiting the very expectations or hopes or desires that I deserve and that I am worthy of in a life partner. That is a huge problem for me (and I suspect many BSs). We are already devalued to the point of absolute irrelevance with the A.... and then continued to be devalued by all the brokenness that comes to the surface with dday (or in the weeks/months/years thereafter).

Reading Chaos' post reminds me of dealing with a colicky baby. In the early days, we frantically check things off the list: diaper change. Feeding. Body temperature. Clothing. Room temperature. Checking the body for rashes, etc. But eventually, we realize nothing seems to help and all we can do is try our best to be as calm as possible and hold and comfort (and for me, sing) them through it. We don't understand it. We can't fix it. But we can do a lot to support them through it.

Iamtrash posted 3/14/2020 16:52 PM

Zug,

I think I keep referring to it as a mind thing because thatís the best way he describes it to me. Like he has moments where he wants to feel better but his mind wonít let him have a moment of peace.

I do realize itís all encompassing. Way more than just the mind.

AintGonnaLose posted 3/14/2020 19:19 PM

Sometimes the best choice is to just feel with him. I canít fix this, not now. I can at least focus on making him feel less alone with what he is dealing with.

And you absolutely nailed it right here. When you donít know what to do, this is never wrong. And itís probably more often than not the only thing that will help. This is something Iíve learned after being left to heal on my own for the last 3 years. I wouldnít have been able to identify thatís what I needed 18 months ago, and certainly not months after d-day.

I started to go into whatís not helpful, but i could get on a roll here, as Iím a walking encyclopedia of what a WS can do to make things worse. So I think Iím going to head on over to. General and start a new thread for everyone to contribute and not hijack this one.

ď

hikingout posted 3/15/2020 10:39 AM

Zug - thatís probably more accurate. I did mean the things I was doing. I wanted the marriage, I wanted to help him. The inauthenticity was I more in doing what I had always done - just playing a role. Trying to figure out what he wanted so I could be that.
Zug - I think you are right. I did mean it. I wanted him and our marriage.the intentions were authentic.

Full Authenticity would have meant that not only did I mean it and I had good intentions, I was doing it from who I was rather than who I thought he wanted me to be. When I worked in my coping and stopped being so selfish in trying to get my own desired outcome it allowed us to really sit together in what we each wanted. It was the first time I really put us as equals our whole relationship. For most of the marriage, I acted as if he was above me. Then I treated him like shit, and justified my behavior to where we could never be compatible emotionally, and then after dday I was never going to deserve him so I was the wife who went back to overdoing it. In order for us to move forward I had to put the roles away and Become his partner. Partners are equal. Itís a process that can only happen by doing the self work.

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