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Taking Steps in the Wrong Direction

DoingThingsWrong posted 7/26/2020 21:46 PM

I hope everyone is surviving this pandemic as well as can be expected. Its been very stressful in my house and on my family. Its doesn't help that its been more than 7 months since my last therapy session and I've not been doing well.

Back in December I was doing well, listening and understanding what my BS was saying. We were having great conversations and I was feeling alive. I had decided I needed a new therapist as my original one was not pushing me hard enough and I needed more from them. At the time, it had been 4 months of therapy and I was doing well, as mentioned. I decided, with my BS being a part of the decision making, that I was going to take a break and work on finding a new at a later time. My BS was working full time and I was busy moving shifts around at work to make sure she could work and we had appropriate care for out children. Then COVID hit and we were both suddenly at home with no where to go.

I was able to transition to working from home and my BS was able to, though her work was not the same as mine. I had to be dedicated to a computer for 9 hours in a day and she needed to be available for meetings and put in the work when needed. It worked, at first.

We live in Canada but my entire family is located in the USA so the news coming from south of the border was especially stressful. On top of this, both my wife and I had to cut ties with several members of our family (both of mothers) due to differences that we could not ignore. This left both of with less support. At one point it was too much for me and I started to shut down like back when I was cheating and the lead up to it. Its what I know how to do given the issues I had growing up.

This, however, was very bad as 1) I did not recognize what I was doing and 2) shutting down lead to me not confiding in my wife with how I was doing/feeling. The result is basically me withdrawing from the relationship. Not hearing and understanding what my wife was saying. Finding more ways to hide, as it were.

My wife approached me about this and asked if I was able to step back into the relationship. I thought I could but was still not feeling at the time. Eventually this led to another conversation where she told me I was scarring her all over again with doing the same type of things from when I was cheating on her. I am no longer safe. And the house we are both stuck in while dealing with this pandemic has made it so she doesn't have a safe space to be. Given we have cut ties with several family members, it also means she has no one to go to except me. The person who betrayed her and hurt her deeply.

We are not in a good place right now with everything coming into play right now. I need to do better. As it stands, I have less time doing the work on myself and the relationship than I do with being unsafe, a cheat, a liar.

We are at a cross roads right now where I need to do more NOW while stuck at home. I have made efforts to find a new therapist but I know this site is a great resource of help and experience that I can draw on. If anyone has any advice for right now, with everything going on, I am open. I really feel if the pandemic didn't hit, we would not be here. But we are. And I need help.

MrCleanSlate posted 7/27/2020 11:12 AM

DTW,

As you know it takes a lot of continual effort to not slip into old patterns or behaviours.

Your BW has pointed out that she is worried and has pointed out that you are slipping into old behaviours. That is a good thing at least that she is pointing this out and you are present enough to see that you are going down your old rabbit hole again.

With Covid-19 and all it is hard to get services such as IC, MC, etc. but they can be found.

Why not use your BW as your sounding board. Engage in conversations. Sometimes just starting to talk will help you. It will also help her to know what is happening in your head. I know my BW gets worried when I start to shut down.

gmc94 posted 7/27/2020 16:12 PM

I'm a BS, so take with grain of salt.
But why do you need to see an IC to open up to your BW. To share your thoughts?

I started to shut down like back when I was cheating....Its what I know how to do given the issues I had growing up.
And it's up to you to stop that. Peeing in the swimming pool is what I know due to the issues I had growing up - but I don't do that anymore.

You say you switched IC's bc the last one wasn't pushing enough.... but now that you don't have that external push you just sit down & shut up? To a BS's ears, this can sound like: "I was doing what the IC told me to do, but none of it "stuck" and I'm still the same old person unless I have someone telling me what to do, and any new stress puts me back to square one - or even further back"

All I can say from a BW's perspective is that your post has a "poor pitiful me" vibe to it. I'm an unsafe jerk, but I'm just doing what I learned in my FOO and I can't change it w/o an IC (which my BW agreed to put on hold - SEVEN+ months ago) and I can't IC now bc of Covid, so poor me being a jerk to my poor BW.

No mention of ACTION you can take - of what you CAN be proactive about. What books have you read? What podcasts have you listened to? How much are you meditating? Exercising? What are YOU doing to get yourself back to last Dec when you "were having great conversations" and "feeling alive" ? Why is it your BW's (or your IC's) responsibility to get you to open up? Why haven't you pursued a new IC online/telemedicine (I thought that was being done in Canada) ? Do you suffer from depression and if so, have you explored medication for that? IOW - what are YOU doing, PROACTIVELY, to become someone with the screen name "doing things RIGHT" ?

I'm a firm believer in IC. AND I recognize that IC has its own limitations. Why not go back to whatever tools or strategies you learned from the last IC?

forgettableDad posted 7/27/2020 18:58 PM

my original one was not pushing me hard enough and I needed more from them.
In martial arts there's an old adage that you need to steal from your Sensei. Same thing here. You push yourself.

if the pandemic didn't hit, we would not be here.
It's not the pandemic. Change is hard. And requires constant work. It's easy to make a quick fix (I used to be the best at that). You've let that work slide and your old coping systems reared up. Take a few minutes every day to just listen and think, to be grateful for what you have and what you can achieve.

I can relate to issues of family. I've cut connection with my family for various reasons and my wife's family is on a different continent so we don't have much support with the kids and whatnot. Communication is key here. We've defined "office hours" at home for each of us and so the kids know our timing and we know that we're working/parenting.

gmc is right; you need to go to IC. And you need to throw yourself into therapy like your ass is on fire.

As far as home situation. One of the things my wife explained to me was about needing her own space. So we've taken the bedroom and made it her own for when she needs to retreat, recharge and feel her way through. Yeah, it's a bit harder on me but you know what, me and you, we fucked up royally - so it's time to listen to our partners and their needs.

In the end; and I say it a lot. Reconciliation is the time we take to prepare ourselves to be able to start fixing the relationship. It's the first step in a long and challenging journey. You're going to misstep; you'll drift into old patterns - be thankful that your wife is open to tell you that she's not feeling safe. Take that opportunity to adjust and develop better coping mechanisms - but do not make your wife into your IC, go find one asap.

And finally, it's ok for your wife to request space. It's ok for you to ask for space. Together you need to define your boundaries and the distances that feel right. Good luck!

DoingThingsWrong posted 7/28/2020 18:58 PM

Just wanted to express my thanks for your replies. I am going over things and will have a response soon.

DoingThingsWrong posted 7/28/2020 19:46 PM

Just to add a little background. I come from a home where my step father verbally abused my sister and I as well as my mother. By the time I met and, eventually, married my wife I was in a very bad mental state and was locked up in my room when I wasn’t at work. I had no support from family as they didn’t believe my step father was doing what my mother and I both claimed. I was a very timid kid that didn’t talk much and didn’t seek help from others (that stems from my family not believing either my mother or I about what my step father was doing. They chose to support him over us). When I left that environment I was broken down and, instead of doing any work to get over it, I chose to avoid and ignore. The choices I made did not improve and were very selfish. This included not sharing my emotions or, really, even acknowledging I had any. I held everything inside of me.

From my original therapy sessions, I got many tools to help myself feel, process, and deal with my emotions. My learned strategy from my youth was to ignore, withdraw, and hide. I have grown in that aspect because of my therapist but his method of help was only to listen and barely, if ever, offer any feedback on what I was talking about. It helped me work through some things in my youth. What I wasn’t getting, after 4 months, was the next step. In regards to working towards reconciliation, I have gotten a lot of help from here and is one of the reason's I am back.

I was not saying I couldn’t make any changes now due to Covid; I wasn’t trying to use it as an excuse. My wife and I both struggle with anxiety and depression to varying degrees and are both on medications for it. I struggle with my medication… It wasn’t enough to deal with the pandemic on top of the normal day stresses. The side effects have been more pronounced, and I tried having the medication changed but the doctor I saw only considered reducing the dose. This has my mental health in a bad place and, after talking to my wife just tonight, is a large part as to why I am no longer safe. Making the effort to help my mental health will go a long way to getting back on track.

I have already set up an appointment with another therapist through my wife’s work’s EAP. I have access to e-counselling and can use my own work’s EAP (though they are not as good as my wife’s since they still cost money). I am posting here again. We have discussed a few other things about how to add in structure to my daily and weekly routines to help stabilize my mental health. I will be exploring ways to increase my accountability.

I appreciate the fact my wife has taken the time to tell me I am messing up when she could have taken it as a sign to leave and not look back. I failed to hold myself accountable when the world changed, and I know she will not be this gracious again.

DoingThingsWrong posted 7/28/2020 20:19 PM

Why not use your BW as your sounding board. Engage in conversations. Sometimes just starting to talk will help you

This is what I was doing back in December. We talked a lot back then and I was making an effort to bring things to her instead of waiting on her. Starting conversations is something I struggle with both in our relationship and with other ppl in general. It has gotten easier with the work I have been doing with my wife but I have a long way to go to be "good" at it. I feel like I have made the effort already to correct this behavior.

Do you suffer from depression and if so, have you explored medication for that? IOW - what are YOU doing, PROACTIVELY, to become someone with the screen name "doing things RIGHT" ?

I do have anxiety but have not been diagnosed with depression though I have many of the signs of it. I really like the change of perspective you bring here. Focusing on what I can do right will help me go the distance. I am very hard on myself and knock myself down and focus on the negative (my wife and have discussed how this sets me up for failure). Thank you for being as straight forward here as possible. Its exactly what I need and will work on being more proactive going forward.

In martial arts there's an old adage that you need to steal from your Sensei. Same thing here. You push yourself.

I see where you are coming from. I phrased what I wanted to say poorly. His method of helping me was to only listen and it helped at first but eventually wasn't going anywhere. I know what to ask for from the next therapist I work with. Thank you.

gmc is right; you need to go to IC

forgettableDad, you are both right. I have already taken steps to get back into IC.

I know my BW gets worried when I start to shut down.

Yes, mine was worried to as I was no longer safe. Its scared me that I wasnt able/unwilling to see the signs I was shutting down.


This is all why I am back to posting here. The experiences and perspectives here is hugely beneficial.

Zugzwang posted 7/30/2020 12:31 PM

The person who betrayed her and hurt her deeply.

You are still that person if you aren't choosing to stop. You are giving excuses. You know what you are doing wrong. You aren't choosing the action to fix it. Your wife is telling you what you need to do and you still are using excuses. You don't need to be pushed, but you want to be. So stop and just choose. Your IC gave you the tools to do it. So bite the bullet and choose the change. You don't need someone else to push you to share. You don't need someone else to push you to grow up. You just need to choose to take the harder path. You are being passive aggressive and you will lose your wife if you don't choose to change and be a partner. Reread your post and listen. Truly listen for your excuses. You know what to do.

I have less time doing the work on myself and the relationship than I do with being unsafe, a cheat, a liar.
You have plenty of time to do it. That is a lazy bullshit excuse. It takes several minutes to share at the end of your day with your wife. You aren't choosing to be vulnerable with her.

This left both of with less support. At one point it was too much for me and I started to shut down like back when I was cheating and the lead up to it. Its what I know how to do given the issues I had growing up.
You are using your past as an excuse and you are using what you say is no support as an excuse to shut down. What do you need support for? What is making you shut down? No "me time"? No 'atta boys"? You don't have someone to pick up the workload? What? What aren't you getting? What isn't she getting, that she is sharing with you and you just don't want to do? It is not just what you know. It is absolutely what you choose to do to problem solve because it is what you want to do. Even though you said you know how to solve it better.

At the time, it had been 4 months of therapy and I was doing well,
So, you are capable. You just choose not to do what you learned in that 4 months. Other people should not be in charge of holding you accountable and you know it. Hold yourself accountable and do what you learned in that 4 months.

ThisIsSoLonely posted 7/31/2020 18:06 PM

DoingThingsWrong - I am a BS, and unfortunately as much as people say there is a "cheater's handbook" there really isn't as clear of a BS's handbook. How to Help your Spouse Heal is helpful, but we are all different. For example, my reaction was nowhere near GMC's in this thread.

As such, take my advice or leave it as I am not your BS.

I would start by telling your BS some semblance of exactly what you posted. And tell her some of the responses that you got on here and what you think about them. TALK TO HER - about your frustrations, about your feelings, about whatever. The fact you are posting on here tells me that you do care about the issues you are having, but it's easy to convince me as I'm not your BS.

I am not as on board with the "you are using ___ as an excuse" as other posters - I think you can use these statements as an opportunity for change.

Yes, mine was worried to as I was no longer safe. Its scared me that I wasnt able/unwilling to see the signs I was shutting down.

I do not advocate for your BS becoming the gatekeeper, but, you could turn the above into a positive, but you have to make a deal with yourself. Tell your BS to communicate with you when she feels like you are shutting down (it sounds like she has been willing to do this already so hopefully she would be willing) AND decide that you are going to talk to her in that moment. Do not break this deal with yourself.

Better yet - don't make her be the gatekeeper at all. Set a time - 15 minutes - 30 minutes - whatever - and stick to it (I'm a goal setter so ascertainable rules about time/place/manner work for me - maybe not for you). Don't let yourself back out of it.

I don't care if you have to preface those moments by qualifying them with something some would deem an excuse. Say out loud "I'm really tired right now so this may not be my best discussion ever" but then talk anyway - don't give your self a reason to stop. Being tired isn't an "excuse" per se - it's a fact. But, if you say you are tired BUT you are still going to talk - that SHOWS your BS that they are worth it to you - they are important enough for you to be tired AND keep talking. To me - that is worth it's weight in gold and then some. That makes me feel worthy, important - and ultimately safe.

Maybe that's where you should start from for awhile - use whatever reason you are not connecting as an opportunity to show your BS that they are more important than that reason to not talk - to not connect. Remind yourself if you find yourself not doing something of what IS important to you.

Stick to something when you say it - if you say "I want us to spend at least ____ per week just reconnecting" then don't "get too busy" or blow it off. Stick to it. Set a reminder in your phone if you have to - don't miss those chances your BS is giving you to open up. If you miss enough of them, your BS will be gone.

Connect. Plan. Stick to it. Set ascertainable goals for yourself.

Of course if every time you give some reason why you don't want to talk but are anyway, your BS will get tired of hearing that. But if you really feel that way then you have to ask yourself what you are sticking around for. If this relationship is important enough for you to be doing the work on yourself, don't neglect helping your marriage at the same time too.

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