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Making amends

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wantstorepair posted 8/20/2020 19:40 PM

How do you make amends to the one you hurt for your awful transgressions and horrible, selfish choices? What is meaningful to them and helpful when what has been done canít be undone and still lingers as painful triggers everywhere? Here are a few examples:

When BW has our first son by cesarean birth, she was going through a very emotionally hard time not believing he was actually hers and felt very disassociated from him. One day in conversation as she was expressing her trauma I callously said, ďitís not like you gave birth to himĒ. (Yes I am an asshole). How do I make amends for that? I have failed to acknowledge the pain and triggers for 19 years now and it is still there for her, and always will be. How do I make amends to her for hurting her so badly?

And there are so many triggers I have created for her. How do I make amends for all the things i have done, and start to bring her closure on any of them?

And what about the triggers that I donít know are there because I havenít made that connection to know how something might impact her?

I have failed to make amends and address her pain before it impacts her, and want to get out in front of the triggers with empathy and support, to try and make amends.

How have all of you done this? How do you make amends to someone who is permanently scared after my abuse?

Thank you

Timeforhelp posted 8/21/2020 01:37 AM

Iím a BS (no stop sign, so) who has countless memories of all the hideous things my WH said to me during our entire relationship spanning multiple affairs. So can empathise with your BS.

The most important thing you can do for your BS is communicate, ask what it is they need from you when they are triggered. Ask what triggers them, and how you can help when this occurs.

Yes there are awful things that you may never be able to make amends for, but if you can fill your BS with better memories this will help replace those that arenít quite as damaging.

Additionally, a lot of the things my WH said to me during his affairs were as he now says Ďbullshití. He would say things about me that he used to justify his affairs but that he now sees were completely false. If you can look back at the things you have said and see which are crap, you can apologise and explain you now see them for what they were, you being an ass to justify selfish behaviour.

Those that canít be Ďreplacedí or Ďhealedí are something your BS will need to consider when deciding if reconciliation is occurring and unfortunately might be a deal breaker.

So talk to your BS and ask what they need.

MrCleanSlate posted 8/21/2020 06:56 AM

wantstorepair,

I made a decision to become a better person. No more lying, being honest about my feelings, becoming more empathetic to others. IT took me a few years to really make these things second nature. My BW saw my transformation and she saw that I started to take ownership for past deeds.

That is where it all begins.

From there you and your BS can work on effective communication together so she can feel safe in telling you about a trigger and you can reciprocate and be present and supportive.

You can throw out the shirt you wore to see AP to eliminate that trigger, but all lot of others will come out of nowhere. You can't always anticipate, but you can react in a considerate manner.

It may take years to make the changes and to have your BS to truly accept that by your actions you are trying to make amends.

wantstorepair posted 8/21/2020 13:46 PM

Thank you both. I will take your advice and keep working at it. I certainly do want to become a better person and have a long way to go. And I realize there are no guarantees on the back end of that, but hopefully I can help her find some measure of peace.

DaddyDom posted 8/21/2020 15:26 PM

I think this is probably the hardest part, for both BS and WS, to deal with. That is, the simple fact that some things just cannot be undone. I called (screamed) my wife a "terrible mother" not too long after D-day. I think that simple phrase caused as much damage as the infidelity itself, maybe more. Neither you nor I can unsay those things we said. ALl the flowers and candy in the world can't make it better.

I think the only way to "recover" from such a thing is to simply become someone better. Find remorse for the things you've done to hurt your wife, and then find empathy for her. Just in case, I'll ask the question... have you addressed this with your wife? Have you told her how shitty you feel for saying that? Have you asked her how it makes her feel when she thinks about it? Have you not only promised her that it will never happen again, but also taken steps (e.g. IC, books, groups, growth) to show her that you are someone who she could even possibly think about trusting (to some degree) again?

It takes time. This stuff is hard. And painful. The best you can do is to love her, be there for her, be open, honest and vulnerable with her, and let her know that you honestly see her and hear her and feel her pain, and can admit that to her with no sense of self pity.

I wish you well.

Thissucks5678 posted 8/21/2020 20:47 PM

Honestly, there is a reason we call it a shit sandwich. There really is no way to make true amends. I am a little over 4 years from dday and I am in a good place. I still come to an infidelity website on a regular basis. Mostly because I want to return the favor because this website helped me - but also I guess because this is where I feel I am most understood. I will never not be a BS. I will never not have those scars. No amount of amends can take that away.

In my opinion, the best thing you can do is heal yourself so that you never do this to your BS again. Become the trustworthy, faithful spouse you shouldíve been from the start. Donít lie - about anything. Be transparent about everything. Have boundaries with your relationships. Be a good spouse, one that your BS can be proud of again someday. So often, we feel like fools, especially when told how lucky we are to have our wayward spouses by people who donít know. Make your BS not feel like a fool for giving you a chance.

These are just my thoughts. Iím pretty far along in the healing process and in a really good place in my life, but I still wish I didnít know this site existed. I still feel a twinge just knowing that it does and why Iím here. That doesnít go away, no matter how great my WH is now. Donít forget that.

For your exact situation, maybe do some research on empathy exercises. Is your BS in therapy? Therapy and reading have been so helpful to me on my healing journey. Have you ever tried MC? Iím positive I would have been divorced years ago without it. It was so helpful with our communication.

HFSSC posted 8/22/2020 13:29 PM

Iíve been sober since 9/3/2008. One of the things we talk about in AA is living amends. Thatís for things you just canít make right. For example, when I was drinking and using, I was an abysmal mother to my children. I canít go back and redo those years. What I can do is to live my life one day at a time, being the very best person I can be. The best wife, best mother, best daughter/sister/aunt, the best nurse I can be. I ask God (as I understand Him) every day to show me how to be useful to Him and the people around me and then I try my best to follow.

GTeamReboot posted 8/22/2020 14:58 PM

Regarding the ďunknownĒ triggers.... you might sometimes simply ask ďhow have you been doing? Has anything tripped you up that you didnít expect? If so tell me about it, if you want. If you donít want to talk about it just know that every time that happens, I am so deeply sorry.Ē Sometimes itís really just simple PROACTIVE reassurance that means the most.

Chaos posted 8/24/2020 11:49 AM

You don't "make amends". There is nothing that make amends for infidelity.

Please - examine within yourself. What made you choose that phraseology? Try to put yourself in her place - yeah it hurts but do it anyway - what would you want to see from you? There's insight there.

What you DO is become a better person which starts with being honest with yourself.

As for triggers - You need to be patient with her. Because some days - sheer existence is a trigger. The fact that you now need to know you will live every moment as the victim of infidelity is overwhelming. Some days you learn to squelch a few. Some days they all come flooding and it is overwhelming.

You need to learn to be intuitive. You need to learn what her triggers are, anticipate them and help her through them. You may think she won't - she will. You may think it won't matter - it does.

You need to learn to anticipate them. If you can avoid one for her - do it. If you know one will be unavoidable - do whatever you can to mitigate it. Acknowledge it. Tell her you know it going to be hard and what can you do to help her through it. IF you get a snarky retort [that will probably happen a lot in the beginning] STFU and take it. Yet still offer to help her through. While you may think it doesn't matter (especially after a snarky retort) it does.

This is a slow process. You need to take it one day at a time. And don't give up. Because she will notice.

wantstorepair posted 8/29/2020 10:07 AM

Chaos,

Thank you. I am absolutely not patient, and combined with a very low emotional threshold before I get overwhelmed and frustrated I keep getting angry and frustrated at her hypersensitive emotional reactions to things that seem like they are logical problems to solve or decisions to make. I am consistently minimizing the terrible depth of the pain she feels, and selfishly forgetting the fact that I am the cause of all of it and have no right or grounds to get frustrated or angry.

I am failing her and my kids because I keep doing this.

Trying to make amends; yes I cannot ever undo what i did or unsay the things I have said in my selfish frustrated rages and tantrums over the consequences of my actions. I guess by amends I mean change, change and try and be a better man and more caring and supportive and emotionally intelligent so at the very least I stop adding to her pain with every interaction we have and every trigger I minimize or ignore.

She is a good woman and and good person who has been through hell and I keep making it worse. Things are absolutely awful right now and her pain is the worst I have ever seen it, and my decisions and actions keep making it worse. I desperately want to help her, to do something to ease her pain and try and make things better, but I take 10 steps back for every half step i try and take, and she pays the price every time.

I am going to STFU- I have not done this and need to immediately for her healing.


wantstorepair posted 8/29/2020 10:10 AM

Chaos,

Thank you. I am absolutely not patient, and combined with a very low emotional threshold before I get overwhelmed and frustrated I keep getting angry and frustrated at her hypersensitive emotional reactions to things that seem like they are logical problems to solve or decisions to make. I am consistently minimizing the terrible depth of the pain she feels, and selfishly forgetting the fact that I am the cause of all of it and have no right or grounds to get frustrated or angry.

I am failing her and my kids because I keep doing this.

Trying to make amends; yes I cannot ever undo what i did or unsay the things I have said in my selfish frustrated rages and tantrums over the consequences of my actions. I guess by amends I mean change, change and try and be a better man and more caring and supportive and emotionally intelligent so at the very least I stop adding to her pain with every interaction we have and every trigger I minimize or ignore.

She is a good woman and and good person who has been through hell and I keep making it worse. Things are absolutely awful right now and her pain is the worst I have ever seen it, and my decisions and actions keep making it worse. I desperately want to help her, to do something to ease her pain and try and make things better, but I take 10 steps back for every half step i try and take, and she pays the price every time.

I am going to STFU- I have not done this and need to immediately for her healing.


gmc94 posted 8/29/2020 12:16 PM

hypersensitive emotional reactions
IMO this is an example of not really grasping things.

"trauma reaction" is what's going on. Have you read anything about relational betrayal trauma? Do you believe your BS has PTSD?

If you were to describe a combat vet's flashbacks as a "hypersensitive emotional reaction" do you think that vet would feel seen or heard?

Can you see the difference?

nekonamida posted 8/29/2020 17:35 PM

I get overwhelmed and frustrated I keep getting angry and frustrated at her hypersensitive emotional reactions to things that seem like they are logical problems to solve or decisions to make. I am consistently minimizing the terrible depth of the pain she feels, and selfishly forgetting the fact that I am the cause of all of it and have no right or grounds to get frustrated or angry.

By calling it hypersensitive and putting her emotional response at odds with what you describe as logical problems and decision making, you're doing exactly that - minimizing. You're implying that her reaction is not proportionate to the situation and that she doesn't need to have an emotional response in order to accomplish her goals i.e. logical solutions and decision making. And the worst part about it is that it is massively hypocritical of you to say that and act like you are not guilty of the exact same thing.

Your anger and defensiveness is due to hypersensitivity at any perceived criticism whether real or imagined. Your anger that spirals into abuse is an overreaction to her pain. Your emotional outbursts are at odds with logical solutions and decision making that would better serve you in the outcome you are looking for i.e. R and to stop hurting your BW. It is bold of you to talk about her hypersensitivity and emotional responses when the whole reason you are not in R right now is due to your hypersensitivity and emotional outbursts.

When an emotionally healthy and regulated person encounters a situation in which their partner may be overreacting or sensitive to an issue, they don't handle it by getting angry and making the situation worse for them. They handle it by being calm and trying to understand what their partner may need in order to calm down. They work with their partner to come to a logical conclusion and make a good decision. If you are unable to respond to your BW in this way, you are a bigger problem than whatever may have caused her emotional response and you are preventing her from healing from those triggers by creating a new trauma associated with that experience from your negative reaction. Yes, the best thing for you would be to say nothing if everything you say causes her more pain and suffering.

WTR, how honest are you in IC? Have you really explored in IC why it is that you have been trying to do this VERY basic task for X number of months and yet you are not showing any progress? What does your IC think about the fact that you KNOW what needs to be done but can't seem to do it? What is their solution to your problem?

wantstorepair posted 8/31/2020 17:36 PM

gmc94,

No but I am now researching relationship betrayal trauma to try and better understand. Here is the hypocrisy: I am a combat vet with PTSD and TBI and brain damage and complete emotional dysfunction - so to your point I should get it and understand with deep empathy. When it comes right down to the emotional vice logical response I freak out and lose my cool, despite my understanding of PTSB from my work and personal experience. Sho while I get it, when on the receiving end of her trauma and emotional response I fail to react with any human decency and become overwhelmed. It is a serious problem and one that is hurting her more and more every day.

Neko, you are completely right; I and my actions/reactions are a bigger problem to her and preventing her from any healing (not even close to the R yet and I likely have ruined that possibility forever" Your words are so true.

"When an emotionally healthy and regulated person encounters a situation in which their partner may be overreacting or sensitive to an issue, they don't handle it by getting angry and making the situation worse for them. They handle it by being calm and trying to understand what their partner may need in order to calm down. They work with their partner to come to a logical conclusion and make a good decision. If you are unable to respond to your BW in this way, you are a bigger problem than whatever may have caused her emotional response and you are preventing her from healing from those triggers by creating a new trauma associated with that experience from your negative reaction. Yes, the best thing for you would be to say nothing if everything you say causes her more pain and suffering."

I struggle to remain calm and your observation of my glaring hypocrisy I hear profoundly - I don't want to be like this as a person, nor to her.

No I have not been honest or thorough in IC. I have struggled with IC and am all over the map, and now have just found out my provider is taking a permanent medical leave of absence and I am being referred to someone else. With this new person I am going open up and be honest because I am failing her and failing at confronting and correcting my deep flaws.

Her reactions are not my to judge, and it is totally unfair of me to call her hypersensitive - of course she is after all I have put her through. for me to deny her the ability to express and feel is further abuse and selfishly controlling; not the way I want to be to her or as a person anymore.

Hurtmyheart posted 9/3/2020 20:34 PM

Two questions; How are you dealing with your PTSD? And are you really ready to be 1000% honest with your therapist and then your wife?

IMO, without truth and working on your PTSD, there is nothing to work with. Leave no stone unturned.

wantstorepair posted 9/5/2020 08:50 AM

Hurt my heart,
I was supposed to be also using the IC to address my PTSD as well as my character and cheating lying abusive actions. I have limitations now because of my service including the PTS and brain injury and try and wrk within those constraints and accept that as my new normal, and I avoid triggers as best i can. I am a hypocrite and of all people should be able to empathize with her and be caring and supportive, but I donít and continue to act selfishly. I want to believe there is something to work with here but i keep proving myself wrong. I did it again yesterday in a text conversation with her and blew up and was anything but kind and caring and supportive and understanding.
I keep doing things not with her best interest in mind; I a few weeks ago gave job recommendations to some former coworkers who are trying to leave the sinking ship that was my old company. That was a huge trigger for my BW because of the inappropriate relationship I had with my old boss there and that a year ago when she told me to leave the company I wouldnít and chose the company, and by proxy my boss, over her. After i left I though i had severed ties. When contacted by some of these people for help in a new job search I thought it kind to try and help them. It wasnít kind, it was a trigger to my BS which i then defended vehemently as it was nothing more than a helpful gesture to them-completely infnoting that it was a trigger to her and very painful for her. And then when she brought it up about how painful it was I minimized and defended.

Yesterday it came up again and I again minimized and defended it, saying that at the time I did not think it was a big deal. I know now that it was and regret my actions, but there I went defending it again. I just donít get it and am becoming more and more certain that tour final statement might be true-there is nothing to work with here. Feeling hopeless in my ability to not keep hurting her.

Pippin posted 9/5/2020 12:45 PM

Are you two reconciling? I thought you were separated. I understand that you want to get ahold of your behavior in order to help her and understand her perspective and that's good for many reasons. From what you write it sounds like she's out to punish you and looking for opportunities to say that you are attacking or insulting her. Which isn't going to help you get better nor will it help her.

Good luck with your PTSD and brain injury, I'm very sorry that service to our country has negatively impacted your life in that way.

Bulcy posted 9/5/2020 14:14 PM

An interesting topic. How do you "make amends"? It is hard, maybe impossible to fully make amends. You need to change you, you need to understand what made you do the things that you did and said. You need to constantly be communicating with BS and letting her know what you're doing and why you're doing it. let her know what conclusions you have come up with. It's easy to say you've changed (I've said it countless times in the last 18 months. I know I'm in a better place, I know what I'm feeling, I know where I am. You need to understand you and what you feel. Hey, it may well be true...BUT unless you are doing things to show this and TALKING to your BS about this, then everything you know about you is worthless. It is a long road to self discovery, I'm not anywhere nearly as far down it as I need to be. However I am learning to communicate where I am down that road. (Unfortunately learning the hard way as I've wasted so much time). Even now I am not doing this well enough.

I was an absolute arsehole both during my affairs and for a substantial period after them. I said things and did things I will regret and be ashamed of for the rest of my life. I screamed at my BS that she was a "psychopath" for having the audacity of not believing me and wanting me to do some work in fixing me (she was right to not believe me and I was not doing the work). I was so full of anger and denial. To this day I still relive that moment. I hate what I became. Since I started reading and thinking about me and my actions things have become more settled. BS and I have spoken about the things I have said before and after D-Day. I am less angry and now can hold an "adult" conversation with her without turning into a petulant dick. I have made efforts to understand what triggers her and what I need to do to help. (For the record, I am still a long way from perfect. I still find myself not doing the work I need to do. I don't communicate as well as I should. For a while I believed as I was better than I was, that was good enough. IT IS NOT).

You need to keep working on you, working on the relationship AND COMMUNICATING. Become that better person, show empathy, show understanding and let her know what you're dong and feeling. Don't make the same mistakes as I have. You are not new to the site, so I wont advise on any threads to read as you have probably read them. Just keep up the work you have been doing and keep talking with BS.

wantstorepair posted 9/6/2020 13:15 PM

Pippin,

No we are not reconciling and yes we are separated, yet have been unable to get anything legal accomplished as we cannot get to any agreements. I do not know her motivations, and my writing probably paints her in a very unfair light-she is the victim, not me. Regardless though my frustration is constantly derailing everything and causes more pain and fighting. We are getting nowhere and I am in desperate search for advice on how to proceed.

She now says she wants a court hearing. I cannot afford the 5 figure costs that will be her and my lawyers and want to pursue the a separation agreement that can then be turned into the divorce decree and have it happen for a fraction of the cost and in less than three monthís probably. I cannot get on her page though about this and do not know how to settle everything down and have real conversations about the way ahead. I very much want to give her what she wants and needs and will give all i can in a divorce settlement, I just donít want to take this to court. I even said Iíd rather pay her the money that we would otherwise spend on lawyers.

How do we get in the same page? How after so many arguments and things taken off the table to I put a separation agreement back on the table and help get us to an agreement? This whole process is continuing to hurt her worse and I donít want that either.

I donít know what to do.

wantstorepair posted 9/6/2020 13:29 PM

Buley,
Thank you. I am that horrible asshole right now that you say you were. I constantly get defensive and say things I deeply regret in the heat of my frustration and anger. While I am trying to work on me I seem to not be making a progress because when it comes right down too it and itís time to act i do the same hurtful shit. My communication is terrible, and I am a coward- every conversation turns terrible and invokes her anger and pain, while i can take it (it is certainly deserved) for varying amounts of time, it always ends the same; me getting frustrated or running away from the conversation because it seems hopeless and pointless.

Your words make sense and And I do want to communicate with her, although I never seem to know what to say. I speak the truth and am not believed (of course because i have lied for so long why would she believe me?) or I speak the truth that is my rage and frustration that our conversations donít go anywhere.

I recently said in a fit of frustration that I didnít want to take any more emotional journeys in every conversation that should be so simple. What a fucking awful thing to say considering I have made everything an emotional event and by saying this i totally minimized and negated her pain and feelings.

I am at a total loss with fixing myself and certainly with fixing even the most basic parts communicating with her. We donít have a relationship, I have seen to that. And now donít know what to do. I cannot even talk to her well enough to get on her page and make progress towards so sensory of end to this. Reconciliation, while I want to, is not something that my actions facilitate and I have pushed her so far away and hurt her so much R seems impossible.

No idea where to go from here.

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