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Two steps back

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BraveSirRobin posted 4/21/2020 11:02 AM

Ugh, I fucked up this morning.

In the era of coronavirus, I'm fortunate to have been reconnecting with a bunch of old friends from various times in my life. I've had Zooms with people from college and grad school that I haven't spoken with in years. I've had folks turning up on social media to say hey, how have you been, and it's been awesome.

You probably can guess where this is headed.

This morning, I opened Facebook and saw I had a friend request. I clicked it, and it was someone I haven't spoken to in 20 years, but we used to be good friends. I thought "Oh, so-and-so, that's great!" and clicked Accept. And then my brain caught up with me.

This is a friend who knew OM quite well. The requester never contributed to or enabled the A in any way, so he's not someone I needed to cut out of my life for any offense of his own. However, there was a definite risk of OM being on this person's friend list, and of overlapping circles if I started reading and commenting on his posts. I simply could not believe I had even a few seconds of lag time in which this didn't occur to me.

So now I was going to have to unfriend this person and tell BH about the interaction. Of course, this had to happen on a day when I know that BH has a very busy and stressful workload that requires him to be completely focused. He was up late working last night and taking a brief recharging nap before his next meeting. I wondered if I should wake him up to disclose immediately. Then I thought, no, I should let him sleep, and maybe wait until after the meeting so he wouldn't get thrown off. Just that idea, the concept of hiding anything to "protect" BH even for a few hours, brought on a powerful, physical wave of nausea.

My old friend Denial came back to help me out. Maybe this friend was as out of touch with OM as he had been with me. It would calm me down considerably if OM wasn't on his friend list. Scroll through a thousand names, wincing every time I see someone we knew in common. Of course, there he is.

I click "Unfriend" and nope the hell out of there. I make a silent mental apology to the requester that it's not personal. I wonder if I should send an actual message to that effect, then tell myself to get over myself. He's gotten along fine for decades without talking to me; he's not going to sweat the snub, if he even notices it at all. This is just a distraction to avoid thinking about having to bring up the topic of OM with BH.

So now I'm feeling even sicker. I'm wondering if I compounded my error just by looking for OM's name. After all, I was going to have to unfriend this person on general principle whether OM was on the list or not. The requester is clearly out there reviving old connections, so even if OM wasn't on his list today, he could be there tomorrow. Searching for OM's name suddenly feels like I was caught stalking him. I'm not just nauseous at this point, I'm practically doubled over.

So I go upstairs and lie in bed next to BH and wait for him to wake up. As soon as he does, I unload the whole story in a single breath. BH is obviously not thrilled that the topic of OM is invading an already stressful day, but he is absolutely amazing in his response to me. He doesn't get angry that I clicked accept without thinking, he's glad I unfriended my way back out of the situation, he's really glad that the idea of hiding anything from him was unendurable. My blood pressure and heart rate start to normalize.

So now I'm relieved but also really surprised and angry at myself. I would have said that if anyone from that era of my life turned up, my first thought would be caution, to protect BH. I failed. If I hadn't accepted the friend request, I could have left it ignored until talking with BH about it tonight. Instead, I created a situation that had to be dealt with immediately and threw a real wrench in his day.

Ironically, the only thing I'm actually pleased about is my bout with nausea. It's good to know that my internal compass reacted violently to anything that felt like deception. If only my brain was as quick to react as my stomach.

thatbpguy posted 4/21/2020 11:18 AM

I think you handled it fine. You made a small error, corrected it and so informed your husband. All is good.

gmc94 posted 4/21/2020 11:23 AM

Just that idea, the concept of hiding anything to "protect" BH even for a few hours, brought on a powerful, physical wave of nausea
I copied this line before I read the whole post, so you coming back to it at the end was such a nice full circle. This struck me because I think it shows your body has assimilated to a life of honesty.

As a BW, I say find your self compassion here. You made a mistake (and yes, I'd call this a mistake vs a bad choice). You quickly recognized the whoops that it really was. You corrected it. You came clean. You are not perfect and you never will be. You are doing the best you can, and from my view, it's pretty darned good.

As a BS, I can imagine how a WS wants simple things to be "safe". So, I think it's awesome to see how how bodies can keep the score in a good way - by letting us know that doing something that works against our own authenticity or self interests (even if we "want" it to be OK) will prompt a physical reaction.

JBWD posted 4/21/2020 11:35 AM

Weíre our own worst critics, BSR. I think your BHís response should help you recognize that you recovered from a potential misstep quickly.

Yes there are moments in our day where a second of introspection could prevent some recovery time. But your recovery time was minimal.

Clicking is hazardous- I removed social media as it does not serve me. But it is good for a lot of people, especially now. Sorry that it happened, but Iím proud of your response.

gmc94 posted 4/21/2020 11:54 AM

sorry for the t/j BSR:

I removed social media as it does not serve me.
I think all WS should do this, at least for the first year or so. Ideally, the WS would see that most SM does not help rebuild trust. I still have a FB presence for my job, but I'm rarely on (like maybe 2-3x/month). I do use twitter - but strictly job related. I don't like that my WH is still on FB, with his plethora of women "friends" (and he used FB messenger as his "safe" way to communicate with his girlfriend). Back in year 1 when I'd periodically check, he was on FB daily, and always to women's posts. If I asked, I suspect he'd (begrudgingly) remove it, but to me the point is a WS's recognition that it may be triggery for a BS and they should, at a minimum, ask the BS if s/he has a problem with it.
end t/j - thanks BSR.

Okokok posted 4/21/2020 11:55 AM

He doesn't get angry that I clicked accept without thinking, he's glad I unfriended my way back out of the situation, he's really glad that the idea of hiding anything from him was unendurable.

I think this is because you did all the right things after a very small, endurable mistake. FYI, waiting until after the meeting would have been a bigger, less-endurable mistake. You exhibited great thinking skills, and you did the hard thing when it was "easier" to "protect" BH from it.

I like to think I would have responded the same way had my exWW done something similar and acted as you did. I know for sure I would have appreciated it immensely, no matter how difficult or frustrating.

ThisIsSoLonely posted 4/21/2020 12:00 PM

BS here - and sorry, I don't understand this at all:

So now I was going to have to unfriend this person and tell BH about the interaction.

Tell. Sure. Unfriend? Why? This just seems really really really overboard to me.

BraveSirRobin posted 4/21/2020 13:47 PM

Tell. Sure. Unfriend? Why? This just seems really really really overboard to me.
Ah. It's because staying friends with this person on FB has strong potential to bring me back up on OM's radar. I'm likely to pop up on his "Friends You Have In Common With X" suggested list. OM already followed BH on Twitter five years ago (which was a big trigger), so he may think enough water has gone under the bridge to make reaching out to me ok. That's entirely avoidable by sacrificing a reconnection with someone who has been out of my life for a long time anyway. Plus I REALLY don't want to be sharing comment conversations with OM on this person's page.

It does suck, because there are several people in that category that I'd love to be back in touch with. They might have continuously been part of my life if I hadn't distanced myself, but that's just the price I pay for cheating. Most of them were closer to OM than me, so he "won" them in NC. This person, and arguably one other, are the ones I was just as close to.

[This message edited by BraveSirRobin at 1:50 PM, April 21st (Tuesday)]

HellFire posted 4/21/2020 14:05 PM

One very small half step back, 10 giant leaps forward.

Waywards are human. Betrayed spouses don't expect perfection on most things,and situations. You are going to make mistakes. It's how you handle those mistakes that helps a BS feel safe. How you handle these missteps is how we gauge progress.

And you knocked it out of the park.

You were impulsive. But it wasn't malicious. You immediately recognized how this might affect your husband. You took ALL the right steps to rectify the mistake.

I'm proud of you.

RosesandThorns posted 4/21/2020 14:56 PM

The "this is how I messed up and this is what I'm doing/have done to untangle it" approach can actually put money in your BS's "trust jar," for lack of a better term. Especially coupled with immediate communication and transparency. Though you wish you could undo it, you demonstrated that if you make an error in judgement you won't hide it, minimize it, or try to justify it. That's a big deal.

WalkinOnEggshelz posted 4/21/2020 15:30 PM

2 steps back? Nah. A half step, Iíll go with. Partly for clicking without thinking but mostly for this:

My old friend Denial came back to help me out. Maybe this friend was as out of touch with OM as he had been with me. It would calm me down considerably if OM wasn't on his friend list. Scroll through a thousand names, wincing every time I see someone we knew in common. Of course, there he is.

The best way to have handled it would have been to just unfriend immediately. The searching for his name makes want to stop you just to look that over a minute. Ask yourself why you felt that step was necessary. You knew you needed to unfriend him anyway so why even search?

I think you handled the rest of it fine. Iím glad you didnít wait to tell TS. Mistakes get made. Like many have said we are human, but I think itís important to try to learn from the mistakes we made so we donít fall into old patterns or habits. I think going forward you will take pause before accepting again.

I am not a fan of social media. My kids are always trying to get me on but it is a hard no for me. Iím fond of the idea that people have to jump through multiple hoops to find me. I get that many people use it for family and their careers making it a necessary tool. So basically what Iím saying is take what I say on this matter with a grain of salt.

Honestly what matters in the end is that the two of you came to understanding that worked for the both of you.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 3:32 PM, April 21st (Tuesday)]

BraveSirRobin posted 4/21/2020 16:53 PM

The best way to have handled it would have been to just unfriend immediately. The searching for his name makes want to stop you just to look that over a minute. Ask yourself why you felt that step was necessary. You knew you needed to unfriend him anyway so why even search?
I agree with you 100%. It was a fruitless attempt to find a real life "undo" button, to make the mistake less relevant. I would have felt better knowing there was no potential exposure to OM's news feed. They work in the same specialized industry and would be likely to network even if they aren't still close. But the second I saw his name and thumbnail picture, I thought, well, bonus points, BSR. You just panicked and made matters unnecessarily worse.

Thanks for all the supportive feedback, everyone. I know this wasn't a huge deal, but if you've ever been wayward, you'll understand that sense of terror at knowing you've done anything that requires a confession. That panic triggered a waterfall of memories of when the subject matter was not minor at all. I think that's what really got the adrenaline pumping earlier today -- that, and the fear that OM would somehow have noticed me before I made myself disappear.

Westway posted 4/21/2020 17:00 PM

BH here.

You did good.

foreverlabeled posted 4/21/2020 18:31 PM

Forgive my ignorance, but in what fucking world is actively typing out your APs name, and searching for it, NOT breaking NC?

ETA, sorry I realize you were only searching for him in the friends list, not typing his name...

[This message edited by foreverlabeled at 6:41 PM, April 21st (Tuesday)]

foreverlabeled posted 4/21/2020 18:51 PM

Sorry, I was really rash at fist. I just, I saw what WOES saw, in that the searching of his name is huge here. Bigger than I'm surprised is not being pointed out... its NOT some mistake or "half step back"


It was a fruitless attempt to find a real life "undo" button
Because your affair wasn't real life enough? The moment you realized these two could have been connected is the moment real life would have smacked me in the face. Enough that there would be no need to make the "mistake" of searching for him on the friends list. I mean, I feel crazy pointing this out, when people are praising you for your efforts.

Yeah, you did a lot of things right, but it feels like breaking NC to me.

[This message edited by foreverlabeled at 6:53 PM, April 21st (Tuesday)]

leavingorbit posted 4/21/2020 19:03 PM

I think social media is an external validation highway. For me, any ďreasonsĒ I ever had about keeping it were justifications, and it wasnít ever a ďneed.Ē

I agree about it breaking NC. Have you asked yourself why youíve felt such a pull to reconnect with all these people?

oldtruck posted 4/21/2020 20:03 PM

i think you did handled it well. it was a momentary lapse.
you caught yourself before damage was done.

i am the firm believer that married people do not need and
should need opposite sex friends. many OM and WW were
friends first before they were AP.

live by that code then you would not have made the mistake to
accept that friends request.

maybe due to my age, i grew up before, AIM, facebook,
twitter, whats app, etc.

everyone i know has a smart phone. i can speak and send a text
message, photo, video, face time, email, send links. ALL
without using social media.

why?

to bore people with my vacation photos/videos, announce
births, deaths, birthdays, anniversaries?

hey you did not get invited then you did not need to know
what is happening in my life.

BSR, people are not perfect, recovery is not going to be
perfect. you are not all talk, you are doing the walk.

last thing, affairs leave me suspicious. it is a known fact that
some OM like to brag about their victories. the OM could
of bragged to this mutual friend on how he "scored" with
you. this "friend", at home, stay in home boredom used the
friend request as a fishing expedition to see if he also could
eventually get lucky.

[This message edited by oldtruck at 8:11 PM, April 21st (Tuesday)]

Darkness Falls posted 4/21/2020 21:25 PM

I have so much respect for yíall who can do this R thing. Covid-19 social distance air fist bump to you all.

BraveSirRobin posted 4/21/2020 22:21 PM

Because your affair wasn't real life enough? The moment you realized these two could have been connected is the moment real life would have smacked me in the face. Enough that there would be no need to make the "mistake" of searching for him on the friends list.
Yeah, that was how it felt to me, too. Like it wasn't bad enough that I had just opened the door to trouble, I poured an entire box of salt in the wound by trying to find OM specifically. Truly, I was looking to make sure he wasn't there, I was practically praying that he wasn't, but the need to know is in itself disturbing to me. It gave him an extra level of attention and relevance when I should have just turned and fled.

I also felt exactly like you do, that there was a hierarchy of infraction here in which typing his name was worse than scrolling through the list. A thousand names isn't a hyperbolic exaggeration; I literally scanned down that far because putting his name in a search bar felt like a definitive break of NC. So was scrolling more respectful of a boundary, or was it just wayward rationalization, allowing me to escalate the original fuckup to a new level?

It's significant to me that it's the two WS staff members who are throwing up the red flag. I'm torn between shame that my gut is right about there being some "there" here, and gratitude that you guys get why this freaked me out, and I'm not just a drama queen making a mountain out of a molehill.

i am the firm believer that married people do not need and should need opposite sex friends. many OM and WW were friends first before they were AP.
That's a solid position, though BH and I have talked that one through and don't feel it's a limit that we personally need. We do keep an eye on it, and I have specifically checked in with BH about his comfort level when I worked with male friends/colleagues on small independent projects. BH knows he has absolute transparency and veto power over my interactions if they ever trigger his gut. The act of friending a man on social media was not in itself breaking our boundaries.

BraveSirRobin posted 4/21/2020 23:28 PM

I agree about it breaking NC. Have you asked yourself why youíve felt such a pull to reconnect with all these people?
I think it has a lot to do with the coronavirus and social isolation. There are many groups where I've felt the same pull, and followed it, that had nothing to do with infidelity on any level. No matter where we've traveled in life, we're now sharing a common experience, and most of us have an unprecedented amount of free time and simultaneous availability to virtually congregate.

If this friend request had popped up in January, I think I would have handled it entirely differently. The reappearance of this person would have been a surprising event, and I think I'd have had that few extra seconds to say, "Wait, this is a friend of OM, he should be in the no fly zone." But it's become so routine in the last month to check in and catch up with friends and family that my guard was down.

Believe me, I'm now assessing how I developed that unsuspected complacency.

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