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The "F" Word

Defectum posted 4/13/2020 17:42 PM

Hello All.

Its been about a month since my wife used the "F" word. We were away on vacation and standing on the beach one evening. I was staring at the ocean when she said it. She said "I forgive you." I just looked at her and said for what? And that's when she said she forgave me for the affair. I could tell the look on her face was the reaction to the look on my face. I was in shock. I was speechless. I didn't know what to say. I was overcome.

The reason for this post is that I need some help/guidance. The reason I had the reaction I did was because I could not fathom how my wife could forgive me for what I had done. I can't forgive myself. I destroyed her and everything she thought was real. I destroyed our family. How on earth can she forgive me?

I know that her forgiveness doesn't make what I did ok or that the work I am doing can now just stop and everything is fine and we can go on like it never happened. The work will never stop. I just can't wrap my head around her forgiveness when I can't imagine forgiving myself for the pain and hurt I have caused her.

The thought of what I have done to her haunts me every single time I look at myself in the mirror. Every single time. And there isn't a day that goes by that I don't play the "What if?" game. What if I had said something years ago? What if I had got help for my issues? What if I had done that or hadn't done this? What if? What if? What if? What if I had done anything to change the path of destruction I was on that ultimately destroyed her and everything she believed in.

Forgive myself? Never crossed my mind.

So, that brings me here today and to this post. I have read all kinds of stuff on the ol' internet about forgiving yourself. Not a lot of it resonates with me. I am wondering if anybody has any advice for where to begin at forgiving yourself after having an affair?

As always, I appreciate everyones posts and thank-you all for sharing your personal stories. I have learned a lot from this site, even though I don't post a lot or respond to other posts, and continue to learn from each and every one of you. Take-care.

MrCleanSlate posted 4/14/2020 07:09 AM


I'm nearly 5 years post D-Day and my BW and I are succeeding with R - heck our M is better now than it was for years before the A. It took a lot of work and growth to get here though.

The fact of it is - today I feel worse about having had an A than I did last year, or the years prior. The realization of what a really terrible thing I did grows in me as time passes. That is not some kind of spiral and wallowing feeling, just a statement.

I think that growing guilt or awareness of the magnitude of our transgressions is the true sign of growth through R for us WS.

Having worked on our whys and faced who we were /are and worked on fixing ourselves and our M - how can we forgive ourselves? We don't. At least not in the feel good internet instagram world of thinking.

I work on being a better person, husband, father everyday. I'm not perfect, but I am a shit ton better at it than I was 6 years ago. That means a lot more than forgiving myself.

Zugzwang posted 4/14/2020 08:59 AM

Forgiveness for myself, meant deciding to move forward and not focusing on the shame. I decided to own it. I am guilty of everything I did. I should feel shame. I sat in it and owned. I didn't run. I didn't choose to wallow too long. I didn't decide that I shouldn't be ashamed because I was only human. I decided it was who I had become. I wear like a bumper sticker on my ass like some race car. I am choosing to focus on my future. Focusing on who I have become. Who I can still become. Not the what ifs. Not the could haves. Not the I can't believe. What are your views on shame? Many here have found help with Brene Brown? She doesn't work for me. Some have found help and do better with my approach. I think forgiveness has to start with "getting it" and "owning it". Dealing with the shame and staying focused on the future while accepting the past and being mindful of the present.

foreverlabeled posted 4/14/2020 09:03 AM

I've not reached self forgiveness either. But what I have reached is acceptance and while different I do think they foster many of the same emotions and awareness. I'm okay with that.

I still cycle through the grief stages for my cheating actions but it always leads me back to acceptance in the end. I know when I get there because I regain compassion for myself and clarity of the reality of it all. Though ever painful, it has become easier to go through the motions. I don't always hit every stage and sometimes I can go straight to acceptance.

I think it's just as ok to not forgive as it is to forgive, I don't think it's a requirement, at least for now, for me anyway. Good and healthy things can still happen. Forgiveness is the capacity to let go, and I guess I just haven't figured out yet how to let go of the tragic suffering I've caused another human being.

I think what they often forget to mention in articles is that this is a process, layer by layer, actually doing the work, it could take years. I've tried to call on self forgiveness, and immediately think, nope never going to happen. Well, never takes a long time.

Defectum posted 4/15/2020 15:41 PM

MrCleanSlate, Zugzwang, and foreverlabeled, thank-you all for taking the time to reply to my post and provide me with your personal experiences. I truly appreciate it. I have read and re-read your replies many times now. I can relate to all three of them and have taken pieces of each post to form a rough idea of how to move towards forgiving myself.

Forgiveness for me, I believe, is tied to so many things from my past and involves so much shame, repulsiveness and disgust in myself and what I have done. I will forever be grateful that my wife stayed with me after all the pain I have caused her and that she has now chosen to forgive me. I am still in shock and disbelief.

Once again, thank-you for taking the time to respond to my post. I truly appreciate it.

Greygoat posted 4/15/2020 22:16 PM

I am the WS and D day was 4 months ago. The BS and I are working on the R, and things at times are amazing and what we wanted in our M.
She has said she forgives me, but I am having a hard time forgiving myself. I deal with the guilt all of the time, and it is causing problems on our M.

There are times where she brings up the A, and the OW. So it is hard to believe that she has forgiven me.

The other thing I am struggling with is during one of our talks, she admitted that she had been a WS early in our marriage. She had it with a mutual friend of ours, in our house.

I am struggling with forging her, and I can't help thinking about it.

How do you move forward?

Zugzwang posted 4/16/2020 08:20 AM

D- maybe you are doing too much at one time. Unpack it one at a time. Choose to face each one at a time. Get perspective to look at things differently. Talk them through with someone. I found that so much of my resentment from my FOO could be looked at differently so I could let go. The funny thing is cheaters are wildly immature. You look at FOO issues still from a child's perspective sometimes. It helps to look at it with someone you can be vulnerable with. It also helps to finally stick up for yourself when it comes to FOO. Maybe even putting up walls there too. Establishing healthy boundaries. Showing and feeling self respect. I had to do that with my mother.

hikingout posted 4/16/2020 08:39 AM

It canít be forced. But I experienced similar- my husband got there faster in many ways. I am not sure I would use the word forgiveness in either of our cases, I try and think of it in terms of personal peace.

For me some of that lingering was knowing instinctively that I still had work to do. If you work on yourself - truly get to a place that you understand who you were, why, who you want to be, striving for that (because we never will be perfect and we always will fall short in some things) you will begin to adopt what I think of as self compassion. The more you act with integrity and deep respect of yourself and others the more you will feel that sense of peace. Healing is not linear, and it takes a lot of processing. We can not force ourselves on these things. I tried and it had actually an opposite effect. I was staying in shame and guilt and it was really flying in the face of the man who was so full of grace that he could move forward.

My advice is concentrate on living well and working on yourself and being the best partner you can. The longer you live in that the more you will change and so will your perspective. I finally just decided that heíll no I didnít deserve it, but I would instead focus on spending my time earning it. The equilibrium point eventually came.

MrCleanSlate posted 4/16/2020 14:06 PM

Hikingout really nailed it.

It is a process, a long one.

I'm going down that path too, and it does feel good.

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