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Hate the bloody triggers - when do they stop?

Outoflove2020 posted 8/11/2020 10:00 AM

I've been taking a more focused approach to try and remove myself from the mindset of sadness, heartbreak and despair. I've been doing some meditation and have been actively trying to monitor my thoughts. When I notice myself thinking thoughts that don't help me (e.g. I wish I could remove the memories then it wouldn't hurt any more, I bet he's just as happy as a clam and not thinking of me at all, how on earth can this be my life now?), I have been actively throwing a stop sign up in front of my thoughts and then either re-framing or trying to focus on a positive.

It's exhausting. I'm exhausted. But I'm trying to do the work and I can see some improvement, some positives.

Listening to music has been a HUGE trigger to me as it was so much a part of of lives, how we connected, so I've barely listened to any in the last 6 months. However, I don't want it to always be that way, so I've been dipping my toe into some harmless playlists. I am listening to one right now, which I thought would be ok....until a song came on from an artist whose concert we went to a couple of years ago. A very, very well known artist, more my liking than his, but he came to the concert with me and we both had an amazing time. Listening to that song brought it all back - how we grabbed a bite beforehand, got chatting to a couple sitting next to us in the restaurant who were also going to the concert, getting in there, dancing our socks off. Him enjoying himself more than he thought he would, thanking me for getting the tickets, telling me how much he enjoyed seeing me enjoy myself so thoroughly. It's like a movie in my head, I can replay it so perfectly.

So of course, I'm now crying. I want to curl up into a ball and just ignore the world for the day. If it weren't for work, I'd be tempted to take a sleeping pill and just go to bed.

And then I start down that cycle...why did he do this to me, what did I do wrong, how can he not want those fun wonderful times with me, how can he want pathetic texts and sexts with a married woman when he had the real deal in person. how is it that he's not even reached out to me, he clearly doesn't care any more, how on earth am I going to move on from this, how can I now be in this position when I thought I was going to be spending the rest of my life with him?

I'm trying to allow myself to feel the feelings, acknowledge them, but not to sit in them indefinitely. I'm trying to employ the practices noted above, but it's really effin' hard.

Please tell me this gets easier? Any tips for how to handle this? Does anyone else wonder if they unconsciously choose to remain in the misery, and to not do the work to try and move past it, because it's just.....easier? Even though it's harder in the moment. I'm also scared to move on because that means, well, I've moved on. I've loved him so hard and so deeply that there is a part of me that really doesn't want to let go of that, which is ridiculous as it's making me feel like shit. Anyone else feel like that?

I have been thinking that a lot recently as 7 months out, I'm still having so many 'bad' days / times / thoughts. I know healing is not linear. I know that everyone moves on at a different pace. But sometimes I feel as though I've not made any progress at all.

ETA: I HATE that I'm still giving him space in my head. I HATE IT. He clearly doesn't give a shit about me. If he did, he'd be trying to repair this. But he doesn't. He does not deserve my thoughts, my misery, my longing. Why can't I get that into my stupid head? I'm the only one that still cares. HE DOESN'T CARE ANYMORE.

[This message edited by Outoflove2020 at 10:27 AM, August 11th, 2020 (Tuesday)]

BentandBroken posted 8/11/2020 11:22 AM

OOL, I swear we might be the same person. I could have written your post word for word.

So of course I don't have any great advice but will anxiously follow your thread as others weigh in.

Okokok posted 8/11/2020 11:53 AM

Please tell me this gets easier? Any tips for how to handle this?

Well, you can rest assured that it definitely does.

From what I've seen on here over the years, it seems like there's a wide spectrum of how long and to what degree. There are certainly people here who are years out from the relationship ending and still triggered.

I can tell you that today I am 100% free and clear of any triggers related to my exWW or her infidelity (though I'm sure I have some internal damage that I'm not really conscious of).

My experience with triggers related to my exWW and/or the infidelity experience were maybe 25% subsided by the time I started dating.

After I'd started dating and really having fun with other people, I'd say another 70% of those triggers subsided after another small period of time; maybe 4-5 months.

The other 5% took a little longer, but by about a year out from separation, I was basically good to go. But I was very rarely triggered after that first few months of dating.

I'm NOT saying it's the healthiest thing, for me or anyone, but getting out there and meeting new people and having fun dinners and making out and allllll the rest of that was *really* therapeutic for me, I think. I got so much out of that experience. It really felt like a self-actualizing and freeing experience.

Today, I'm broken up from my next relationship and have been completely NC with my exWGF for about five months. Global pandemic. Can't really date much. I'd say I'm maybe 50% down on my triggers related to her. Ugh, sucks.

So I guess that's the unfortunate big answer from me. Triggers subsided for the most part after a few months of dating, which isn't really possible these days in a traditional sense.

Not saying you're ready for that anytime soon, but it's really unfortunate that even when you ARE ready, it's not going to be super easy.

In absence of that, I run a million miles and lift a million pounds a week. That's helpful, but not a cure-all.

EllieKMAS posted 8/11/2020 11:56 AM

Please tell me this gets easier? Any tips for how to handle this?
It does get easier. And it's a shite answer that I hated when I got it, but it just takes TIME. And there's no way around it, you just gotta slog through the suck.
Does anyone else wonder if they unconsciously choose to remain in the misery, and to not do the work to try and move past it, because it's just.....easier? Even though it's harder in the moment. I'm also scared to move on because that means, well, I've moved on. I've loved him so hard and so deeply that there is a part of me that really doesn't want to let go of that, which is ridiculous as it's making me feel like shit. Anyone else feel like that?
I think this is pretty normal. Kind of 'the devil you know' thinking. Again, it will get better. With time and distance, things will start to take on the proper proportions. I am currently in the 'I fucking hate his dumbass' phase of grieving, but have had plenty of moments of WTF and sad and all too. It's just part of the process, but no phase of it has lasted forever.

I have been thinking that a lot recently as 7 months out, I'm still having so many 'bad' days / times / thoughts. I know healing is not linear. I know that everyone moves on at a different pace. But sometimes I feel as though I've not made any progress at all.
Even tiny steps forward are still forward motion OOL. And let's be honest, but I would say you're only about 2 months out from when you were still talking to him/attempting to 'win him back' etc. So be kind to yourself. 8 weeks out I was an unmitigated disaster. Celebrate each 'small' win - every time you don't contact him. Every time you go 10 minutes without thinking about him. Every time you feel okay. All of those little steps add up to you getting yourself out of infidelity and they are all brilliant.

ETA: I HATE that I'm still giving him space in my head. I HATE IT. He clearly doesn't give a shit about me. If he did, he'd be trying to repair this. But he doesn't. He does not deserve my thoughts, my misery, my longing. Why can't I get that into my stupid head? I'm the only one that still cares. HE DOESN'T CARE ANYMORE.
Yep, this is such a painful horrible thought, but he doesn't care. Or maybe just try telling yourself that he doesn't care ENOUGH.

Give yourself proper credit OOL and show yourself compassion. Healing from this shit is so hard and you are 1000% allowed to have bad days in there too. It doesn't make you weak, it makes you human.

NeverTwice posted 8/11/2020 12:00 PM

OutOfLove,

I am so sorry you are being put through hell like this. And, not to be a Debby Downer, but I still get triggered over 36 years later by a couple of things. And, like you, I hate giving her space in my head.

But, just like you again, I can hear a certain song (that shall remain unnamed) and instantly feel the stab in my gut. There are a couple of old movies that I once loved that are forever tainted for me now.

The biggest difference, for me, is the toolbox I have - filled with hard won coping skills and techniques to ground myself and stay mindful. The only true healer is time. And it will get better - I promise.

Outoflove2020 posted 8/11/2020 18:13 PM

@Ok - I am nowhere need being ready to date, even if we weren't in the middle of a pandemic. The thought makes me want to throw up. I'm starting to wonder if I ever will date again. I'm not sure the risk of this kind of pain is worth it to be honest. (Out of interest, how long after you separated / divorced did you start dating again?) I can have a very fulfilling life without a partner. I had that before I met xWBF. But I hear what you are saying. And I guess it's similar with friends and family, can't really see too much of them

I also was a runner - marathons - but I've fallen out of love with it, too triggering (he wasn't a runner but was my biggest supporter), so now I'm biking. Not as much as I should, and I don't feel comfortable going to the gyms that are open (too risky IMHO), but I am trying to incorporate more activity, even if it's just walking.

@Ellie - Yeah, I guess it's only really been 6 weeks since complete NC began (it was June 30 when I had to contact him about getting my phone off his cellphone plan and during that discussion I told him I was doing poorly, and he indicated he was pissed that I had told the OBS). I do think of that as the beginning of the 'real' breakup as all the way up to that, I still had hope of reconciliation. Since then, I don't. So I guess I do need to be more compassionate with myself.

I am currently in the 'I fucking hate his dumbass' phase of grieving
I can't wait to get to this phase!!!!

@NeverTwice - I am working on building my toolbox and it makes me hopeful to hear that even though you still trigger, that toolbox serves you well.

Better afternoon. Got my hair done for the first time since January. Feels great. Also found out that I will not actually have to contact him about an outstanding health care claim, so I'm super happy about that. Actually, that tells me a lot. 8 weeks ago, I would have used it as an excuse to reach out to him. Now, I was willing to pay off the outstanding debt (turns out I don't have to) in order to avoid reaching out to him. I guess that's progress?

[This message edited by Outoflove2020 at 6:14 PM, August 11th, 2020 (Tuesday)]

Okokok posted 8/11/2020 20:15 PM

Out of interest, how long after you separated / divorced did you start dating again?

I had been in-house separated for about 5 months I think(?), and by the time she left the house I was *really* ready for her to be gone. I think my first date was about a month after she left.

And I guess it's similar with friends and family, can't really see too much of them

Yes, I agree. Maybe it was literally the connecting with other people that was the most therapeutic. The lack of being able to do that these days is a major hindrance to healing, I think.

The1stWife posted 8/12/2020 06:09 AM

My experience is you deal with the triggers as they happen. Whether 6 minutes out or 6 months or 6 years, they happen.

The good news is that some triggers die. I am 7 years out. I recognize some triggers now but move on after a few seconds. Literally a few seconds.

Phrases or songs or TV shows no longer send esteem spiraling downward.

Except jazz music. That was their shared ďthingĒ. Iím not a jazz fan. Never was. It irritates me except for a few songs. OW and my H loved Jazz. It is banned from my house.

My H knows not to play it. Period. It makes me angry if he plays it. I can be anywhere and hear it and Iím usually ok after a minute. But if he plays it for some odd reason I just get angry.

Please give it time. Things that bother you now wonít bother you a year from now.

Outoflove2020 posted 8/14/2020 17:08 PM

Having had a really really good couple of days, my Stepson just called me. When I was on my recent trip home, I bought him and his sister some gifts and posted them to their mum's house. He just got there for the weekend so FaceTimed me to say thank you. I knew the gifts had arrived - his mum told me - but I wasn't expecting him to call.

I haven't seem him since February but we've texted quite frequently. It was so lovely to see his face, and we chatted for about 25 mins. It seemed as though he was interested in talking to me, and not just a duty call. I was very proud of myself for keeping the focus on him, I didn't bring up his dad once. I managed to hold it together for the duration of the call, to be happy and encouraging and all the things you are supposed to be.

As soon as we hung up, I cried and I haven't stopped. He's doing so much and I'm missing it all. He's doing college applications, he's got a job, he and his girlfriend are still going strong. I was supposed to be there for all of that. I love him and miss his so effin' much. He's such a confident and intelligent young man, I really wish I could be there to seem him grow even more.

I've talked about not having much hate or rage but right now I really effin' hate my ex. HATE HIM. His stupid, selfish, cruel, lying, douchebag behavior means I don't get too see these wonderful children grow into strong, kind, caring adults. I gave my heart to them and he just ripped that away without caring two shits what it did to us.

Eventually this will pass, I know, and I'll be so grateful that he called me and that we got time to connect. But right now, I really hate my ex. I really fucking hate him. I want to yell at him and scream at him and make him hurt as much as he has hurt me. I want him to feel miserable and lonely and I really fucking hope his stupid married AP has thrown him under the bus and broken his fucking heart. I hope he's gone back to his old ways and he's not managing his life any more. I do not wish him happiness. Right now I only wish him misery. Deep, heartfelt, lifelong misery.

I was really, really having such a good day. I really was. Fuck him for ruining that again. Fuck. Him.

[This message edited by Outoflove2020 at 5:11 PM, August 14th, 2020 (Friday)]

OwningItNow posted 8/14/2020 18:54 PM

(((((OOL2020)))))

I am so, so sorry. There is so much loss, and of course you are fucking angry! You absolutely should be. High road? Uh, yeah. Someday. But that day is not today because it hurts and you are grieving!

Everyone is losing so many important, meaningful things, and he doesn't see it or doesn't care. Does it matter which type of dumbshit he is? No, honestly. Stupidly hurtful or selfishly hurtful is still hurtful, and they steamroll everyone. I hate people who hurt people. They should care more and fix themselves.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 6:55 PM, August 14th (Friday)]

Chaos posted 8/15/2020 07:53 AM

Fu*king triggers. They just plain suck. Over the years I've learned a few tips/tricks. I'll throw them out there to see if they may help you. In time you will find your own.

In no particular order [because I haven't finished my first cup of coffee yet]

* recognize them for what they are. Sometimes this simple identification and acknowledgement can quell the panic.

* Breathe. That's right. The simple act of focusing on your breathing can be grounding.

* Feel the feels. Cry if you have to, scream if you have to. The car is an excellent place for this. If they happen at work I tell myself I have a car ride home in which to let it all out. This tamps it down. If you are in need of physical release - go for a walk or run. Do push ups. Jumping Jacks. Anything. Purge your system.

* Have a plan. Anytime I attend a gathering of event I have a plan. I mentally rehearse it. That way I am at least prepared. It can be as simple as "if I feel a trigger happening I will go to the bathroom and run cold water over my wrists while doing breathing exercises" It can be complex with many variables. Sometimes I clue WH in to my plans (if they involve a code word and exit strategy) and sometimes not. I have very seldom had to use them but I feel kick ass confident knowing I have a plan. I'll never forget the first time I totally squashed one in public. I am still smiling a bit at the memory.

* Take time for yourself. Recharging your batteries is paramount here. Find a harmless guilty pleasure and indulge in it. Mine is coffee. Stopping at a cafe [I know - hard in lockdowns but you can sit in your car and do this] and getting a cup of coffee, sitting for 20 minutes slowly sipping, letting my mind go blank, people watching. Cheap, easy, only 20 min and it is sanity in a cup.

* Have a favorite distraction with you at all times for when your mind starts to race. This can be a gossip rag to read, knitting/crochet project to carry with you, favorite mindless game on your phone [Candy Crush to the rescue]. Seriously - have something with you at all times. Sometimes just knowing you have that mental escape is a comfort.

* Sexy undies. That's right. I don't wear ugly ones and when I'm feeling low I put on my sexiest ones. Yup - pink sparkly thong under sweats in the Land of Chaos. Now, I know these aren't everyone's cup of tea. But find what your version of sexy undies is and rock it!

It is important to note that these are only what helps me deal with them. I can't control the triggers. I can control how I respond to them.

LadyG posted 8/16/2020 01:37 AM

Triggers from the other A in 2003 stopped within a year or 2. But I had small children then so I had my children to focus on.

I get triggered in July, August and September every year.

After reading your post, it dawned on me that my birthday is a massive trigger and I donít even want to think about the non existent wedding anniversary.

Ddays all seem to be around my birthday and even though I am older and wiser, I feel almost childish for being triggered. Childish is what the exAP called me for being shattered on That Dday last year. Again on my birthday. My WH did this deliberately to hurt me and destroy any good feelings I had on my own birthday.

I let myself go with it now. I was on medication prior to Dday to help me cope, so I felt nothing at all. So this year I need to allow myself to cry it out. It is necessary for me to hit bottom before I get back up.

A year ago I told myself that I was going to be ok. I know that I will be ok.

I distracted myself with work. I am exhausted but Iím going to be ok again 🙏🏼

Outoflove2020 posted 9/30/2020 22:18 PM

Itís been a while since Iíve been here. Life has mostly been moving forward. 3 months NC. Busy with work. I now have a 7 person bubble so I can somewhat socialize again. I have been feeling a little bit of Ďis this all there is to life?í But I recognize that this is likely due more to world circumstances rather than personal circumstances.

But this weekend, boy, the triggers just kept on coming.

My exís daughter has been struggling, having meltdowns, crying about home schooling. They are worried enough about her that they are going to get her into therapy. Part of me wonders if the split between me and her dad is one of the factors in her behaviour, given that as far as I know, the xWBF has never sat her down and talked to her about what happened.

I was supposed to see her on Saturday but she asked if we could do it another time. I was upset that I didnít get to see her. I was really upset to hear what she is going through and that I canít do anything about it. Missing the kids is getting worse, not easier. I thought seeing them via their Mum would help with the pain & triggers. I donít know if itís selfish of me to want to stay in their lives. Their mum told me that they had both spoken to her separately about advice as to how to keep a relationship with me. So Iím taking the approach that I will be there as long as they want me to be. But will it be at the expense of my own mental & emotional health?

Then it was Yom Kippur. xWBF is Jewish and while he wasnít a believer as such, this was always the one Jewish holiday he observed. He once told me that for so long, he would come out of this day and just be glad he was still surviving. But that once I was in his life, he came out of the day with hope and love. It became a special day to me. I half expected him to reach out after it. Of course he didnít.

Then I realised itís been six months since I moved into this place. I took only a six month lease as when I moved out, I was convinced - CONVINCED - that it was temporary, heíd pull his head out of his ass and Iíd be moving back home. But I didnít. He hasnít shown up on my doorstep, begging me to come back. I donít want him back - I really donít - so Iím struggling with the cognitive dissonance in not wanting him back, but wanting him to come back.

Iím also back ruminating about him & the AP. I know nothing about what has happened with them since I told the OBS. I donít want to know. But it doesnít stop me thinking about it over and over again. I think itís because I am in the cusp of affair season.

It felt like sledgehammer blow after sledgehammer blow to my mental health this weekend. So much so I lit a distress flare to my UK girlfriends and within a couple of hours theyíd set up a Zoom call to show their support & love for me.

I also got so frigginí angry on Monday night, that I scared myself. I was screaming and pounding my fists on the sofa for a good 15 mins. Had to take a Xanax to calm down.

The bad times are way fewer than they were. I am having way more ok / good days than bad. But I am sick to death of these feelings, these emotions. Iím doing everything that has been working in the last few months to try and shift my mindset - exercising, meditating, sticking to a healthy eating plan, seeing friends - but for some reason, the last couple of days, it hasnít been working. Iím back on the whys - why did he do this, why has he not begged for me back, why does he not care anymore. I know these are not helpful thoughts and please believe me when I say I am working hard to turn them to positive thoughts. But Iím just so drained and exhausted at the moment, Iím struggling to find the energy.

And Iím just lonely. Really frigginí lonely. With the way the pandemic is going and with winter approaching, it wouldnít surprise me if we went into another lockdown. I honestly donít know if I could cope with that again. I did it 6 months ago, 3 months completely in my own after my world had just been blown apart. I donít know how I will survive that again.

Thank you for listening. I just needed to get it out into the ether.


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