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Processing Doubt of Self-Love and Self-Compassion

kairos posted 4/11/2020 12:08 PM

The realization of how important self-love is happens in iterations for me. In therapy, I went through several months of processing old traumas, processing my infidelity, processing my shame, and as a result there was a cognitive sense of self-love. But I donít think I really got it, internally, if that makes sense. For as long as I was a small child, I did not love myself. I believed that I had done something wrong (which is perhaps my repressed trauma), and therefore was not lovable. And therefore I could not fathom appreciating myself. My ex loved me. My ex showed appreciation, although there were some patterns that distanced us and made it hard, I think, for both of us to accept that love. How do I accept that love now? This connects directly to cheating because if I canít love myself, I will never be able to receive love from someone else. If I am in a committed relationship, there will always be a limitation to how far that love can be received. So I must practice this self-love, self-compassion daily.

Iím dating someone now. Someone important. She has mentioned several times that she appreciates me for who I am. She has looked me in the eyes and said, ďI think you are an amazing, handsome, talented man. Do you know that?Ē And I sit there and think, DO I know that? Do I really know that? I think I have invested a lot into healing and recovery, so I see my inherent value. As it is said, ďI do the hard work,Ē and havenít let up on this, not one bit. When I look beyond my poor choices, I see a good, healthy man. But Iíll be honest. When I think about what I did, and when I think about what this woman feels about me, I feel terrible. (As a side note: I believe I have the knowledge, experience, and tools to never repeat what I did before. And, I told her about my infidelity and the destruction I caused on our second date. It's part of my story. And I have to practice radical truth as much as possible in my life.) When she says those sweet things, which I do believe she means, making this a very real situation, I hesitate for a moment to accept/receive them. And, thus, the notion of self-love comes up. I must accept this love/appreciation being given to me. I didnít do so with my ex. I didnít actually appreciate myself nor receive her love. If anything, I was on a precipitous slope toward self-destruction. I WANTED to blow everything up. And part of that relates to dysfunction that I enabled in that past relationship. And all of this relates to childhood trauma.

I guess Iím writing this because Iím struggling to love myself at times. Maybe some of this is a lack of forgiveness and guilt for what I did to my ex. But when I really think about it, as I write this, I start to process it. If I take a step back and perceive from the outside whatís happening here, I know there is every reason to choose self-acceptance, self-love, self-compassion.

So this morning I wrote this small piece in my journal to remind myself: ďYou can love yourself. Itís ok. You are allowed that now. You are forgiven. Itís time to move on. Love yourself, so that you can be loved. Love yourself, so that you can love someone else. Love yourself, so that you can love [her/someone else]. Love yourself, the way youíve chosen to love your inner child.Ē

Itís Saturday morning, a little over a year and a half since dday, and I still struggle with this at times. I have to focus for a little bit, let that regret/guilt wash away, and then acknowledge the truth. I think I'm worthy, and maybe that's ok. Maybe I'm just struggling with guilt that I am moving on and I am finding comfort in relationship with someone else, but most importantly, with myself.

sisoon posted 4/13/2020 13:36 PM

JMO

The ways you'll know you love yourself - some ways, at least - include:

You'll 'hear' your internal attack-self messages and stop them mid-stream.

You'll send yourself nurturing internal messages, especially in response to attack-self messages.

You'll ask yourself, 'What am I feeling?' a lot, and you'll be able to answer that question. If you feel sad, mad, scared, or ashamed, you'll be able to nurture yourself.

You'll go to honesty automatically, and you'll figure out how to be honest without being hurtful.

You'll take in love.

The 'nurturing' that counts most is about you as a human being, not about your capabilities. It's something to which all human beings are entitled, although not all human beings receive it. It's not about your being better or worse than anyone else.

A 2nd type of nurturing is about your capabilities, about doing a good job. Feelings about your accomplishments have some relation to objective reality - I can keep my bike on the road, operating smoothly, but I can't do maintenance as fast or as well as a good bike mechanic. We can celebrate strengths. We can celebrate an accomplishment that jut met minimal standards.

But the nurturing that has the greatest effect in validating oneself is that which celebrates one's being, not doing.

If you grow up with self-hate, I think it will take more than a year and a half to get to self-love.

I think the key is how easy it is for you to send yourself nurturing messages. If it's easy, you're there. If you stop sending the nurturing messages after a few seconds, you're not.

JMO.

[This message edited by sisoon at 1:37 PM, April 13th (Monday)]

hikingout posted 4/14/2020 15:21 PM

Kairos,

Sometimes when you look at something so strongly it can be elusive. The same is often said for happiness, that sometimes when we seek it so strongly it's elusive but when we least expect it we can see it softly land on our shoulder.

I feel self-love, self compassion - it's an ebb and flow like any other love we experience. Sometimes it's stronger and other times it's less.

I have come to believe a lot of self- love is practicing your own integrity, deeply respecting yourself and others, taking care of yourself, protecting your boundaries, being able to be vulnerable but in the right scenarios being able to be protective.

Monitoring self talk is important. If you find yourself saying things to yourself you wouldn't say to a friend, then it's time to be more mindful of that.

I will say when I was 18 months out from dday mine was definitely weak and waivered. It takes a long time to develop enough compassion to sit with ourselves and be able to recognize that you did destroy yourself, your spouse and your family, but be able to see how that happened, how you became who you were to how you became who you are now. I am about 3 years out from my affair and I would say that it is more recent (maybe last 6 months or a little more) that I have been able to be gentler with myself, that I have been able to move on from some of that shame and self disgust.

Keep doing the next right thing, it will land one day on your shoulder when you are least expecting it to.

kairos posted 4/14/2020 18:25 PM

Sisoon,

ďThe 'nurturing' that counts most is about you as a human being, not about your capabilities.Ē

Yea, this is a hard one to reconcile. Accepting what I know versus accepting what I feel are two different things too. When I put aside all of the negative unfounded thoughts, and when I recognize incremental growth, I see a way to make that happen. The scales are tipping in the right direction, but sometimes it just feels like I have to make a decision that, yes, I am going to see the better side of things and not doubt.

Hikingout,

ďÖself- love is practicing your own integrity, deeply respecting yourself and others, taking care of yourself, protecting your boundaries.Ē

I see all of these things too. And as you mentioned, ďKeep doing the next right thing, it will land one day on your shoulder when you are least expecting it to.Ē

I think some of it is landing on my shoulders. And it was unexpected. For a second, I stepped back into that old habit. Questioned it. Iím not talking about someone else recognizing it. Iím suggesting that I saw self-love in the mirrored reflection, I saw more of it than expected. And then someone else saw it, despite my past actions. Perhaps some validation. I just need a little nudge to get there, you know. As you both suggest, it takes time.

I appreciate hearing your thoughts. Youíre speaking from experience. Itís comforting to know others have gotten there, over time.

One other thought. It seems to me you canít truly love someone if you donít love yourself. There will be no end to the searching for empty things. This axiom is not enough to make me find that true sense of self-love. Itís just a reminder of what happens if I donít. I truly donít think Iíll ever cheat someone else again. My therapist has always reminded me that I betrayed myself first. That, to me, is the betrayal I donít want to commit again. Hikingout, hence the integrity part. Practice integrity because I respect myself and others.

Thanks guys. A lot of bitter-sweet growth here.

Brokenlifer posted 4/14/2020 21:38 PM

Itís time to move on. Love yourself, so that you can be loved. Love yourself, so that you can love someone else. Love yourself, so that you can love [her/someone else].

Maybe I'm just struggling with guilt that I am moving on and I am finding comfort in relationship with someone else

Sounds like you are moving on, as you've acknowledged.

How's your BW doing, has she found someone else or is she able to love herself?

kairos posted 4/15/2020 12:16 PM

Brokenlifer,

Moving on more as a choice, but not as a feeling, if that makes sense. Still so much regret/remorse. I try to pace how often I revisit my personal pain on that topic. At the same time, I think about her experience daily. While I try to move, I can't stop the need to want to make sure she is ok. But my ex-BW and I don't have these conversations. Yet, there's so much I want to say, so much I want to continue to beg apology for. That said, I have noticed she seems happier lately. And she has referred to a 'friend' that she is ambiguous about. So I suspect she is dating. I hope she is well. I betrayed in the worse possible ways, but I still hope she finds happiness despite what I did to her. As a betrayer, saying that I do care for her seems completely incongruous with my actions, but it's true. I want that for her.

But to answer your question: does she love herself? I think she struggled less with this than I did during our marriage. I've been reading the 'Attachment Styles' book. Turns out I'm in the 'Anxious' category, and I suspect she's in the 'Secure' category. A lot of dynamics of that relationship structure became quite apparent to me. And I had no idea I was 'anxious'. First and foremost, it was my problems/baggage/choices that destroyed the marriage. But despite her relative stability, after what I did, I'm sure she struggles with self-love issues. We have been working pretty well as co-parents, so a lot of positive there. But talking about our past issues at this point has been almost impossible. Perhaps because I haven't been open/vulnerable with her. I need to work on that. Is there a way to open that conversation?

kairos posted 4/22/2020 17:25 PM

So....I did speak with my exBW recently.

We spoke on the phone. For me, it was very emotional. I tried to hide my tears but I just kept crying so hard. I apologized again and explained how sorry I am, how painfully sorry, for destroying our marriage and for hurting her, for destroying her. It was a good cry for me. I broke down, really. So much pain to release at various unexpected times. But it also felt like a catharsis.

The discussion continued. She is finding ways to move on, and she is seeing someone of interest. She has been super focused on health and fitness lately. I know that she still carries the pain, but I'd like to believe it lightens daily, I hope.

We had a very good conversation. Going forward, I want to be more open with her. I don't want to break boundaries but I do want to slowly create a 'friendship' in addition to the co-parenting aspect. I think through openness we can somehow continue to heal, separately, but connected as coparents/friends. I still struggle with the type of feelings I feel for her. It can be confusing. No way to justify what I did. At the same time, she was basically my best friend since age 16, and we even held hands at summer camp at age 13. haha. Some good memories. Anyway, just trying to heal but also be responsible with the healing process.

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