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Beginning steps

JBWD posted 6/1/2020 22:59 PM

So I continue to spiral here as I think time alone is truly cracking me up...

Good things to come out of this though- Beginning the 12 Steps.

Thoughts as it begins and I reflect on what was, numerically, my "adult life."

-Looking back and trying to decipher what my childhood looked like, I see large, empty expanses. I just don't know what that means, and it terrifies me. The exploration of what was modeled for me- Which if you held criteria of "abuse" wouldn't meet any of them- Is just so baffling. The distance throughout my childhood has become this strange object I'm looking at now and I don't know what to make of it. I always attributed it to parents being older than Boomers and so it was just "their way," but there's so many other levels. I have really tapped into anger at the relationship that persists between my mother and now bed-ridden father: His suicide attempt two years ago (during my A) was when I realized how selfishly he floated through life, and brought a lot of anger and shame to the surface. As his health continues to deteriorate he refuses to do anything for himself but demands of his wife, and it pisses me off. In no small part because it's exactly the kind of taking I was doing for years, and now tend to believe I learned from him.

-I continue to cue off of BW, and I know I need to stop. Her hurt is now hers to process, and I can't seem to muster up the courage to tell her I want to be there to work through it with her. It has previously met with silence or the statement that it's unwelcome. Additionally DD has articulated that it makes her sad to see Mom sad and has asked her to stop crying around her. I don't know (and don't have the standing) how DD's therapist can encourage this but it seems to have been accepted as a valid ask for a 9 y/o- From my perspective I believe it far better to explain to DD that Mom is EXTREMELY hurt and that her sadness isn't DD"s fault. The last part has been at least stated, and I emphasize it when DD sees me sad.

-The concept of "emotional anorexia" is a frustrating specter. As I imagine a future where I'm self-same and living with integrity but divorced, I can't imagine any desire to nurture a new relationship. I'm fairly content with the thought of being out in the wild a bit, and I honestly believe that's OK for me. Just don't know if that's being stubborn- I don't think so, and I guess like all of this, I'll know if I arrive elsewhere.

hikingout posted 6/2/2020 08:29 AM

I am at a loss for what to tell you about this, other than I hear your pain and I can understand spiraling.

I remember in my early twenties being recently divorced. I lived alone for that first year. I was depressed. I went to work, came home and watched TV. Slept through entire weekends. And the need for touch, affection, connection almost drove me mad.

I think I have different coping skills today. I would personally start with the basics - self care. Sleeping on a good schedule, eating right, no alcohol, taking your vitamins, exercise is a huge one because endorphins are really greatly needed. We can't take care of others without taking care of our basic needs ourselves. Force that into your routine.

Second, get the perspective that you can be the strong one for these ladies in your life. You can be courageous. Your wife is still crying because you have not decided this to be true. She needs a rock, and you have it in you to be that rock, but you need to not live inside your emotions. Emotions and feelings are really just results of our thoughts. Read "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. He will teach you to be an objective observer of your thoughts, how to acknowledge feelings without being consumed by them. How the present moment can anchor us if we live in it.

You can do this. I have seen you grow, and I would agree this time of quarantine I have seen you kind of back track a bit. Start with the self care and see if you can't get back on the train going in the right direction.

Thissucks5678 posted 6/2/2020 08:42 AM

Hey, I’m sorry to be really brief here, just on a short break from work. Do me a favor, google attachment theory and see if you are avoidant. A lot of avoidants (my WH is one) experience complete memory gaps in their childhood. I’m not sure if you can regain them or not, but you can go to therapy I believe to help. I am not avoidant myself, but just read a book on it. I’ll try to find it if you are interested.

I’ve been thinking about making a post in general on attachment theory and cheating but honestly have been too lazy. The topic is fascinating to me.

Notmine posted 6/2/2020 09:26 AM

BW here - No stop sign so I will chime in:

-I continue to cue off of BW, and I know I need to stop. Her hurt is now hers to process, and I can't seem to muster up the courage to tell her I want to be there to work through it with her. It has previously met with silence or the statement that it's unwelcome

Nothing you SAY will mean much as you have lied repeatedly to her. Your ACTIONS will tell her whether you are worthy of R.

Below is a list that has been around the site for a while. These are the actions that a truly remorseful spouse should be taking:

Remorseful partners -
• are non defensive
• examine their motives for their affairs, without blaming their spouses
• accept their roles as healers to their wounded partners
• do not resist breaking off all contact with the affair partner
• show genuine contrition and remorse for what they have done
• make amends and apologize to loved ones
• apologize often, especially the first two years
• listen with patience and validate their spouses’ pain
• allow their spouses a lot of room to express their feelings
• respect the betrayed spouse’s timetable for recovering
• seek to assure spouses of their love and commitment to fidelity
• keep no secrets
• do not maintain close ties with those who condoned the affair
• are willing to be extremely accountable for their time and activities
• frequently check in with spouses as to how they are doing
• are aware of and anticipate triggers of the affair
• are willing to get rid of hurtful reminders of the affair
• don’t minimize the damage the affair had on the children
commit themselves to a long-term plan for recovery, honesty, and Internal (Spiritual) growth

Good things to come out of this though- Beginning the 12 Steps.

Congratulations on beginning the journey of recovery. You will need to engage in this process consistently and for life in order to be safe for any partner that you are in a relationship with. You need a sponsor. You need to do what your sponsor tells you. You need to do step work. You need to attend meetings weekly. You need to begin counseling with a CSAT until they believe that you have become safe for your partner. You will need to question your motives and agenda every time you interact with a woman. You will need to learn your triggers, respect them and learn tools to manage them. Your BS may or may not want to sign up for this. A relationship with an addict is truly risky as the chance of relapse is high at the beginning and will continue to be high if the addict does not continuously work on him or herself through 12 step recovery. There are no vacations. if you are a true addict, it is a lifelong process.

kairos posted 6/2/2020 13:52 PM

Read this book: “It Didn’t Start With You”, and then tell me if you grasp the full effect your childhood had on you. Much like you, I had few memories before the age of 10 or 11. I cheated. When I confessed, the pressure became so intense I began having anxiety attacks, and then…. Flashbacks. A blonde hair boy being thrown across the room, welts on arms, bruises, flashes and rushes of air, and fear. I still didn’t understand it or believe it. Then my brother, the consummate data back-up, detailed what happened. For years I fantasized that none of it happened. Top that off with a shit load of shame related to my father’s actions – and my parent’s own issues – and it became clear. Unaddressed issues from childhood had not only crept into my marriage, they had tainted everything. With the usual caveat that we are our own decision makers, we make the decision to cheat, that impact could be felt in every aspect of my life. And by the way, it’s ok to explore the pain and still love your parents. The duality is necessary. In the aforementioned book, the author explores the impact our ancestors’ decision and epigenetics have on generations to come. And the worst part, you’ll hardly ever know that your father and his father had similar experiences.
All of this to say, those gaps in your childhood – abuse or whatever – mean something. You’ve repressed them. Leave no stone unturned, friend. Your father’s selfishness has become your selfishness. Your parents dysfunction, also yours. The real question is why? The answer is usually simple. But simple can be veiled in shame. Don’t let it be. Go deep. Explore. Ask yourself hard questions. Challenge everything you know about your past.
As for your relationship with your BW, I have nothing to add. Get yourself right first. And the rest will work out as it should.
I would also say that so-called ‘avoidant’ attachment styles can be the result of certain environmental factors. Not wanting to be emotional with other people post-separation is not necessarily avoidant. It’s healing. Just don’t let it turn into self-flagellation. Now, when your partner expression emotion to establish intimacy, and then you head off into the hills, that’s class avoidant behavior.
As for “emotional anorexia”, imagine your emotions as colors. Just think about that for a week as you walk to the store, get haggled by a homeless guy, think about your infidelity, maybe ponder your own insecurities. How many colors do you see? Just black and white? Next time you get angry or frustrated or happy or sad or just have a weird sinking feeling, explore that. Sit on it for a while. Write about it. Allow it to happen. Those emotional disconnects, I guarantee, are associated with the gaps in your childhood.

Pippin posted 6/2/2020 21:21 PM

JBWD, do you know what you want? If you are not able to reconcile. Can you picture the life you want? It took me a long time to sort through all my mess to know what I really, truly, deep down burning-with-desire want from life. Not specifics, like be with this person or be with that person. But general. Do you know?

JBWD posted 6/2/2020 21:45 PM

She needs a rock, and you have it in you to be that rock...

I suppose I do, HikingOut. I have grown a lot but have a "luxury" of not being challenged as to what it means in terms of a safe partner. I have always aspired to be something steadfast, and that rock falls in line with that- BUT that is stoic and reserved, and that is about all I can muster right now- BW hasn't asked me to stop discussing but her responses articulate her continued pain. I have asked to know more about it- But it's not up for discussion.

commit themselves to a long-term plan for recovery, honesty, and Internal (Spiritual) growth

I am working that, NotMine. My BW's IC actually suggested 12 Step programs after DDay 20 months ago, and I discounted it with the help of our (short-lived) MC. The commitment's there, but it's a constant struggle not attaching that to outcomes since we're co-parenting and (I guess) still assessing. BW has constantly flooded, reached out, and then thought better of it. I remind her I'm here to discuss and support as best I can.

I’ll try to find it if you are interested.

I'd love to read it, Thissucks.

If you are not able to reconcile. Can you picture the life you want?

Pippn- Meh. There are elements, but they are long term. I have looked at ways to align those long term goals, but they're a long way off. There's a lot of "musts" in between, and they're all about taking care of my family, as such they are joyful responsibilities.

Thissucks5678 posted 6/3/2020 12:02 PM

Hello again. The first book I read was Attached by Amir Levine. The second book I read was Avoidant: How to Love or Leave an Avoidant Partner. It was geared towards someone in a relationship with an avoidant, but had information that to me would be helpful in your situation - if you are in fact avoidant.

I will warn you that the common advice is that if you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment it is best to avoid a relationship with a person with an avoidant attachment for your own well being. Since reading about it, I have spoken to our MC and asked him his thoughts on attachment theory and although he is a firm believer in it, he does not believe that people are inflexible and stuck in their attachments.

I just don’t want you to read this and think you are doomed if you are avoidant. My WH was as avoidant as you can be and also has gaps in his childhood that make no sense. There is no trauma that we know of, just basic emotional neglect. He has come so far in the four years since dday that I do not even recognize him as the same person he was then. I know that even if we were to divorce tomorrow, he would be a better man than he ever was and that’s the most important thing that could come from all of the hurt and pain that he caused me. I am proud of him and if you are still working on you then you should be proud of you too.

MrCleanSlate posted 6/3/2020 12:41 PM


I recall early after D-Day and starting to really open my mind to my own issues during IC, etc. and I was talking to my BW about my being diagnosed with depression.

My BW said that she knew I was depressed for a long time, just that she never said anything as she knew I wouldn't want to hear it.

That was the start of my really becoming open to getting help and listening to others.

I used the same reaching out for help methods to help me quit smoking and drinking later too. I recall that first AA meeting and feeling so embarrassed to be there since i wasn't an alcoholic (LOL). I was suprised at how supportive my BW was. She never pushed me to quit, but when she saw I was all in she was done sitting on the side lines and helped.

Anyway point is you are reaching out for help. People see that and will respond.

[This message edited by MrCleanSlate at 12:50 PM, June 3rd (Wednesday)]

JBWD posted 6/3/2020 20:53 PM

Better perspective today.

Self-care has been consistent for me over the past year, and as I reflect some of this is frustration at not consistently FEELING better. It's not a realistic goal at this point and there's value in examining the sadness and pain.

I am clearly impatient- This has been my life's story. But this is the first time in my personal life I've been able to stick with anything. And I'm grateful for that clarity to understand this about myself.

Catching my breath- Short term goals are harder to nail down but I will be setting time aside to do so.

I appreciate everyone's patience and support- Thank you all!!!!!

DevastatedDee posted 6/4/2020 08:47 AM

The only advice I can give you is as you begin the steps and recovery, don't reduce your BW to "collateral damage" in word or in deed. From the perspective of one that was collateral damage, this is a very self-centered viewpoint that will further make her feel like she's seen as an object that was inadvertently broken as you passed by. Maybe that's even the truth to an extent, but she does not need to be de-personalized like that again. She needs to feel like she is seen as an important human being who was hurt by another human being. When you address her, keep that in mind.

JBWD posted 6/4/2020 14:31 PM

Thanks for the input, DevDee. I’ll tell you that I tend to think that’s what I did wrong when we were trying to R. I think my failure to understand who the real victim was is ultimately where I failed. That to say I don’t see it as a collateral concern by now- My frustration at not having fixed myself when I could have recognized things earlier on is driven by seeing HER pain as something I could have prevented.

JBWD posted 6/7/2020 15:47 PM

Another reflection as I think about why all of a sudden things seem so disordered.

I have reframed how I cope. Even when NC was firmly entrenched (post-separation and FAR too late regardless) I was self-medicating with pleasure. I was asking hard questions, examining a lot and striving for honesty. But the gap that arose was only found when I thought back to Pema Chodron’s thoughts on discomfort- Finding what it is that you do when faced with difficulty and discomfort. I only recently figured out that despite fairly deeply examining how I viewed sex as it relates to intimacy, I was still self-medicating with it. (By myself- Sorry for TMI.)

So I’m now just past 1 month’s sobriety, refraining from turning to release when things get close and scary. So I’m facing a lot of the same issues but with renewed eyes. Interesting and a point of progress coming out of this.

Just a pitch and reminder that moving forward is far from linear and incremental, and “dry spells” can certainly be capped off by potentially scary, but meaningful, insights.

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