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BS Questions for WS - Part 14

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Mickie500 posted 9/2/2020 15:25 PM

Hiking out can you answer my question. Your responses always help me.🙂

Okokok posted 9/3/2020 08:43 AM

Hi all of you helpful people!

My question is in bold, but with a nice wordy explanation as is my wont.

I don't think I've ever posted on this thread before. If I could start a big discussion somewhere on this, I really would because I think it's so worth having for all of us, but it truly is a question specifically for the WS, so here we are. Couldn't find this in my search attempts, though I'm sure it's been asked in many different ways over the years.

My question: how do you understand the psychological/trauma experience of the BS in the midst/aftermath of infidelity?

And, an important follow up: how did you come to best understand these things, if you ever did? How was it communicated to you in a way that helped you "get it"? Did you read about it? Or did you experience it yourself? Etc.

I found myself spurred to ask this as I'm learning about my own ptsd symptoms/experience (I had my own diagnosis in the fall, but it's something I've been dealing with since I was a kid; infidelity in my later years absolutely plays into the whole experience, however) and sometimes trying to communicate about it to others.

A really good example of what I'm talking about is the term "mind movies." It's one of those things that I think anyone who experiences firsthand just naturally "gets." They get how it feels, how it takes over, how it can be really, really damaging and difficult to cope with. Can talk about it with others who experience it with a sort of intuitive approach.

But "mind movies" as a term sounds almost too cute and quaint for what's really going on inside, and (on my end) it feels difficult to converse about in a way that does justice to its magnitude. Does that make any sense? Can't easily talk to a friend or family member (let alone spouse) and feel *understood*.

"Pain shopping" is another one. Sounds cute, quaint, avoidable, easy to fix, but of course the act, the reasons for it, and the aftermath of it are all so much more complex and destructive.

In the clinical ptsd world, we might do better to use the terms "intrusion symptoms" and "hypervigilance" for these two things. But even then, they're just words, you know?

I dunno. I'm really trying to understand, especially from those of you who don't have firsthand experience with ptsd or trauma symptoms/responses, how you've learned to comprehend it all and communicate about it with your partners and/or others.

Part of my journey lately is about understanding all that's going on inside me and trying to overcome shame associated with it. Having a handle on how to communicate about it is a part of that for me, but it's been pretty tricky (and I'm generally a pretty communicative dude).

If you've read this far, thanks. I'm so interested to read any perspective you might have.

And, I hope it goes without saying, but I'm also so very thankful for all of you who work so hard to learn, grow, and help others here.

Edit: a little clarity in wording.

[This message edited by Okokok at 10:34 AM, September 3rd (Thursday)]

hikingout posted 9/3/2020 08:59 AM

When did you realize that When you were rewriting history you were forever altering who you were as a person to your spouse?
I mentioned this reality in another post- while I’m moving away from calling him a piece of shit in my mind I do realize that he will never be the untarnished love of my life again and I’m just not sure I want to be with someone who isn’t the love of my life.

I’m 8 months out ..... is this a normal stage?

Hi Mickie,

I am sorry I didn't respond earlier to this, I read it and didn't really know how to answer it.

I will give it my best shot:

I didn't realize how much I had rewritten history until probably the second half of the year after dday. I am giving it the 6-12 month range because this sort of thing wasn't the lightening strike you would naturally think it would be.

I say that because we as WS slowly have to let go of our narrative. Why? Because we hold onto it like a life raft because noone wants to be the villian in their own story. People have a tendency towards wanting to vindicate their actions. It takes a while to walk into the kind of humility it takes and I think the more you realize the deeper you go. I hope that makes sense.

At the time of the affair, you justify and you avoid. You push away the fact there will be consequences. You become self-absorbed and it's all about you. For some WS's this is a natural state and for others it can be a huge shift at least outwardly because the WS pretty much presented themselves before that as kind of a doormat, yes person. But, both states of that are unhealthy. Being too selfish or being too selfless are just indicators of a lack of balance within ourselves.

As for not feeling like the special will ever return. Completely normal. It doesn't overnight. I think for some it never does, and for others their perception of what makes their marriage great ends up being there despite the affair. Way too early to see, and I think you can't view it that way until you are down the road a bit of building the new marriage. This takes a lot of healing on both sides. Completely normal. But, also not indicative of whether you will have a successful R or not.

hikingout posted 9/3/2020 09:15 AM

Hi OKOKOK,

Interesting you ask this, it's been something I have been thinking about quite a lot lately.

My question: how do you understand the psychological/trauma experience of the BS in the midst/aftermath of infidelity?

I read about trauma. I read experiences here. I listened to H, and asked questions. I don't think I will ever understand the interior experience he has, but I do understand enough to know what bothers him and what doesn't. What hurts him a lot. Why he might react to certain things the way he does. Why he may not always know what he wants or needs.

A really good example of what I'm talking about is the term "mind movies." It's one of those things that I think anyone who experiences firsthand just naturally "gets." They get how it feels, how it takes over, how it can be really, really damaging and difficult to cope with. Can talk about it with others who experience it with a sort of intuitive approach.

I fully have understanding about having intrusive, involuntary thoughts because I have experienced this myself over different traumas in my life. I have not been cheated on, but I have experienced other trauma. We could quibble about equivalency, we never really could compare one experience with another. But, we can compare symptoms. This obsessive thinking is like a train you can't get off. It takes a lot of work to change the channel or to not have those reactions at all. I get it when people say mind movies. The overwhelming flooding? Not as much.


"Pain shopping" is another one. Sounds cute, quaint, avoidable, easy to fix, but of course the act, the reasons for it, and the aftermath of it are all so much more complex and destructive.

Pain shopping is something a lot of people can relate to. I know I have been an extreme pain shopper at different periods of my life. It's rarely healthy, but at the same time the process of grief can be hard to understand. We have a wound we tend to want to touch it. Touch it too much and you find yourself in obsessive states. I understand obsessive states.

I dunno. I'm really trying to understand, especially from those of you who don't have firsthand experience with ptsd, how you've learned to comprehend it all and communicate about it with your partners and/or others
.

I have experienced trauma, not PTSD. I do not think my husband has had PTSD, so I do not feel I understand that as much. I know some people get PTSD by being cheated on, this just wasn't our experience. I will say I have someone close to me who has severe panic attacks, anxiety, and agoraphobia. I can't relate to those things, but I can listen and empathize. I can understand they are very real, and that it causes struggles on the most basic life functions. Certain things I don't know if another person will ever understand.

Part of my journey lately is about understanding all that's going on inside me and trying to overcome shame associated with it. Having a handle on how to communicate about it is a part of that for me, but it's been pretty tricky (and I'm generally a pretty communicative dude).

Shame, I relate to. Overcoming it is a long process, and a worthwhile one. Filling that space with love and self compassion is almost like trying to snow plow while we are still having a blizzard. But, slowly progress is made. I still struggle with shame but recognizing it now where I didn't before is still a big help.

I think at the end of the day, noone else can really understand someone elses full interior world. It's too complex, and sometimes there are not shared experiences. Sharing and communicating and listening and trying to empathize is the best we can do. I learned through our experience that I am a fixer. And, sometimes if we are trying to fix something it circumvents the empathy. We want them to feel better rather than just sit with them in where they are. This has been maybe the biggest shift for me in terms of being helpful to some things that I might not ever fully understand.

Okokok posted 9/3/2020 09:25 AM

We could quibble about equivalency, we never really could compare one experience with another. But, we can compare symptoms.

Agreed. You certainly won't see any quibbling about this from me, as I can hardly see how it has anything to do with validity of experience.

And, sometimes if we are trying to fix something it circumvents the empathy.

Thanks for this perfect little language nugget. Well put.

cheatstroke posted 9/3/2020 15:19 PM

I don't know why I have thought about these questions, but thank you in advance to anyone who might reply:

While the A was going on, did you ever think to yourself, "Wow, every few days/weeks/months, I'm making my BS' absolute worst nightmare come true." ?

If so, did it affect the times where your BS would annoy you about something, and you would wryly think to yourself, "wow/wtf/jfc, if you only knew, this sh*t wouldn't even be on your radar!" ?

If so, after the A was over, because no BS can know everything about the A, do thoughts of "if you only knew" still occur?

If so, do you let your BS "know" when those thoughts occur, or are "if you only knew" thoughts best just left unsaid?

JBWD posted 9/3/2020 19:03 PM

"wow/wtf/jfc, if you only knew, this sh*t wouldn't even be on your radar!" ?

Cheatstroke, that implies a level of perspective that I think most cheaters lack. Simply put, every minor “hiccup” that you describe was, in my case, another arrow in the quiver of “reasons the M was doomed to fail.” Consequently, there was nothing minor, they were all drastic and they were all affronts to me. Because I was firmly entrenched in the selfish.

It’s an interesting question that I assume comes from your experience, and I don’t know what the impact would be one way or the other. For me it doesn’t have “right now” implications as we’re D and not R, and don’t have conversations about such things.

BraveSirRobin posted 9/4/2020 06:06 AM

While the A was going on, did you ever think to yourself, "Wow, every few days/weeks/months, I'm making my BS' absolute worst nightmare come true." ?
Never. I was in total denial about what I was doing. I acted like I was in some parallel world that was all about me and wouldn't hurt him.

I know there are heinous stories here of WS who got off on the secrecy of the A. Mine was not one of them. I don't think that makes me holy; I was still lying and cheating and making excuses for inexcusable choices. But the idea of secretly sneering at my BH, or humiliating him for the sake of hurting him, is incomprehensible to me.

Lucky77 posted 9/4/2020 06:12 AM

Hi Breakingapart.

How does one come out of limerence? Was there something that triggered it? [/quote

Limerance is not a binary thing. There's no on/off switch. I'm three years out and still think of the AP on a daily basis as I process how profound my betrayal was. After 32 years of M I'm still in a relative state of shock at how far off the rails I went. The affair felt like quicksand. I got in way over my head and getting out was a bitch.

Mickie500 posted 9/5/2020 18:22 PM

So DDay was December and We immediate went into marriage counseling but by January 20th he reached out because he said it was the only place he could go where he didn’t feel like shit. He wanted to talk about his pain but my pain trumped his and he felt all the ugly reality of what he had done and the only person who he could talk to about it was the AP who he thought was safe but soon it was clear that it was headed down to a bad place.

This is what I’m told about why he went back.

If you broke NC what was your reason? Does what I wrote above make any sense at all to you? To me it doesn’t.

Mickie500 posted 9/5/2020 18:45 PM

I wish I could edit it but he says this about going back:

I wasn’t go back to her I was escaping pain. WTF DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!?! It sounds worse.

Lucky77 posted 9/5/2020 19:04 PM

Mickey

I’m about ready to kick your WH’s ass. WTF is his problem. Here’s how cheating on your W goes. You face your demons and you get your shit back in line. You get your ass back home and stop chasing some sex fantasy. I wish I could give him a good whack upside the head. NC with the AP is rule number 1.

Mickie500 posted 9/6/2020 09:25 AM

Oh No not recently Lucky77! Lol this is as we are discussing what happened to cause DD2. Trying to uncover the “whys”

Sunny69 posted 9/6/2020 11:47 AM

Can I just say a very big thank you to all the waywards who are taking time to answer the questions. It is greatly appreciated by many more than those who are posting the questions. Your feedback and interpretation from your own personal stand point, is so helpful to those trying to make some sort of sense of their new reality and of a spouse they feel is a stranger to them. I used to read the wayward forum a lot, looking for answers but I think Hiking out suggested more waywards cross the bridge to this forum and there has been a significant increase in activity. Thank you so much guys, the usual suspects I recognise are HO, ff4152, JWBD, Mr Cleanslate. Lucky77, to name but a few. Thank you, and god bless, on your own personal journeys.

Breakingapart posted 9/8/2020 09:16 AM

How do you get past the on going betrayal of someone re writing history? Years of apparent unhappiness!?!
Do you truly believe that or is it just a wayward’s way of justifying their actions....

MrCleanSlate posted 9/9/2020 08:39 AM

Breakingapart,

Reflecting back, almost 5 years removed from D-Day, and I can truly appreciate the amount of lies I told myself prior to, and during, my A.

I needed to create a narrative, or re-write history, how else could I look myself in the mirror?

Of course i needed to make my BW out to be uncaring and cold and evil. It was a build up of a few years though. Add to that the feeling of not being needed as a father, husband, etc that I conjured up. Oh so many reasons I made up to justify my depression and then stepping outside my M.

All I needed to do was talk to my BW, but no, I was too chickenshit to do that, I was afraid of the answer. I was afraid to be open. I was just too bunged up to think right.

My BW helped me open my eyes by showing me more love and compassion after D-Day than I thought she had for me. Man did I feel like an asshole.


Breakingapart posted 9/9/2020 09:48 AM

I can’t show love and compassion when I’m advised to be NC and go 180’....
I have love for the past. I was willing to show compassion when he first told me. Now I feel disgust. He has hurt the kids and I so deeply. He has no remorse, no empathy and is living his “happy” life. Meanwhile...he was apparently unhappy for years and hadn’t loved me for years.....it makes me sick.

Are there any WH’s out there that left for the affair partner and later regretted their decisions.
Should family and friends try to “wake him up”...I feel like very one is tiptoeing around his actions.

EvolvingSoul posted 9/9/2020 12:27 PM

Hi there Okokok,

You asked

how do you understand the psychological/trauma experience of the BS in the midst/aftermath of infidelity?

And, an important follow up: how did you come to best understand these things, if you ever did? How was it communicated to you in a way that helped you "get it"? Did you read about it? Or did you experience it yourself? Etc.

For the first few years I don't think I really did deeply understand the psychological/trauma experience my BS was having in the midst/aftermath of my infidelity. I definitely saw the symptoms, but I saw them through a lens of defensiveness and self-centeredness. Witnessing his pain and suffering caused me pain and suffering which I very much did not want to feel. During that time I thought that he was intentionally holding onto his feelings as a way to stay mad at me. In short, during that time it was still mostly about me.

So it is really two issues twisted together. First, the trauma symptoms are painful for WS to witness. Second, there is guilt for our being the person that caused them. I was eventually able to see that the second one was impacting my ability to tolerate the first one.

Something that helped was asking myself in the moment when I felt upset or impatient with his trauma symptoms, "If the symptoms had resulted from someone else traumatizing him or a stroke or car accident, would I be able to be more compassionate and understanding and patient than I am right now?" Thinking about it that way helped me to put aside my defensiveness. I eventually realized that he did not want to feel this way, that he would have done anything to stop feeling this way, he just did not know how. In some cases it was because I had not yet given him what he needed to begin healing specific wounds. As my defensiveness became less, my ability to give him those thing he needed became more.

The second thing that helped was my building up a tolerance for dealing with difficult feelings in ways that were wholesome rather than destructive. I learned about shame resilience and vulnerability. I really dove into Brene Browns work. Her books "I Thought It Was Just Me" and "The Gifts of Imperfection" were game changers. They not only described my experience but offered a blue print to start rewiring my brain. A meditation and mindfulness practice have been a key part of that process. Learning to sit with difficult feelings without trying to shut them down translates to being able to sit with a person in pain without trying to make it their fault or talk them out of their feelings.

I hope this helps. I'm so sorry for what you're going through.

Best to you from this EvolvingSoul.

JBWD posted 9/10/2020 21:06 PM

Breakingapart

Are there any WH’s out there that left for the affair partner and later regretted their decisions.

I left for less than 24 hours. My BW let me come home and we had a lopsided attempt at R that I failed to live up to. The reality of what the A was- because it wasn’t love- settled in as soon as I was through AP’s door. Because I couldn’t see what it was I failed to understand how it was wrong. Took me a lot longer to understand that not only was I using AP, but I had used my BW for long before the A.

Should family and friends try to “wake him up”...I feel like very one is tiptoeing around his actions.

Sadly, if they try they’re likely not to succeed. There’s only one person who can motivate him to fix his life, it’s him. I know it’s hard to see people accept this, I’m guessing this degree of passivity is part of a long pattern of little consequence for him(?)

I can’t show love and compassion when I’m advised to be NC and go 180

Nor should you feel compelled to. Remember that in your question above you ask about regret- I’m willing to bet from what you describe that if he DOES come to regret, it’ll be for something HE has lost- All while never seeing that he has put himself in that position.

I don’t know how to articulate what changed to allow me to see the truths of my A and more entrenched character defects other than time and being in a position of no alternative. It’s as intangible as the difference between BSs who immediately filed and those who waited.

[This message edited by JBWD at 9:06 PM, September 10th (Thursday)]

Breakingapart posted 9/10/2020 23:09 PM

Thanks for your response JBWD.

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