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letting go of past hurts

MIgander posted 10/9/2020 09:54 AM

How many of you are having trouble as you're dealing with your own affair and actions letting go of past hurts from the marriage before the affair?

I have trouble at times with the words that stick in my head (negative) from both my family and my husband. We had an argument the other day and he called me a terrible parent. His anxiety has always been for the best interests/outcomes of our family. My daughter was upset coming home from cross country practice learning she was expected to shower for the 3rd time this week . She's 8 and more interested in horses and dragons than making herself "pretty" although she is- very beautiful. My sunshine and daisies girl. Anyhow, she was in a right fit because I didn't back down from the requirement of a shower. My husband was upset about her being upset, and also stressed out about the grades situation with our kids. They have ADD and getting higher in grades gets more HW responsibility. The in-class work is increasing. Overall they're having trouble tracking and keeping up with it. We are cracking down and working directly with the teachers on this. Kids aren't happy with the new lack of screen time during the week...

Anyhow, we had an argument about my daughter being unhappy and the grades. I said he was controlling and too anxious about these things- there's no shame in getting the extra help from the support teacher and counselor for our kids. It's what we pay the school for and they obviously love and care for our kids. He was upset about being called controlling, and said while looking in my eyes that I am a terrible parent with a great deal of anger in his voice. I know this to be objectively untrue as I have been sacrificing much of my time for their homework, getting ready in the morning, putting them to bed, insuring they're provided with all the food, hygiene and attention that I can provide them with. I've actually been able to become a better parent this past year to them than I have been in prior times.

Anyhow, argument aside, the "terrible mother" is stuck in my head. Along with all the times he's said he doesn't care about all the cleaning, cooking and care-taking of the house that I do (he didn't want to see me get stressed about it on his account, just had a terrible way of going about it ). He would also get frustrated with my own ADD and inconsistency with it and the clutter... His recent comments sharing what his friend said about his wife being so hot (training for a marathon, not eating carbs or sugar) and the past negative comparisons he's had of me physically to my friend brought up all my physical insecurity and emotional insecurity with him. Now when I shower, all I see are my flat boobs, the small amount of spare tire I've gained this year, the fact that I had to dye my hair and damage it (as I'm using my hair mask to keep it from breaking off) to please him because he didn't like it brown, going from deep wavy brown to blonde to show him I care and am trying to please him. I see when I shave all the hideous hair he is disgusted with and wants me to laser off. Just hearing that I had horrible hair (on my head) that had to be "fixed" in the first place, not hearing how beautiful he thinks I look with blonde hair. I know objectively that I am an attractive woman. Size 4-6, athletic and objectively in good shape (plastic surgeon was very positive- said women approaching 40 like I am are typically in MUCH worse shape when they come to her). I can only hear the negative, the critical and rejecting comments he has made to me over the years.

I tend to cling to criticism and negative statements. Even when they're said in the spirit of honesty or correction or are in his mind just to make me feel better (the saying that he doesn't care about my house work so I don't stress about it). He says he isn't interested in my gardening and is often critical of how I put the gardens together. His interests are objectively not in gardening. My gardens in the past have been untidy and poorly weeded. Even with all the positive things he's said about me physically now (nice hair, like the clothes, proud of how good a hostess I am) and all the non-sexual physical affection he's given me and the apologies for his past criticism, it's so hard to trust the positive that he does send my way. The negative- past and present- just overwhelm the positive that does come my way.

I just keep hearing as I go about my day all the negative things that he's told me over the years. All the pain just keeps coming back, even on good days. I live inside my head with all the negativity, criticism, abuse and downright meanness I've lived with over the years both with my family and with my BH.

Anyone had to deal with this? It's interfering with my efforts to reconcile and he is hurt sometimes because it seems like the positive efforts he's making are not enough either.

I forgive him for the past hurts and understand where they come from on his side. I just want them to stop hurting me. I'm trying to use the cognitive techniques my therapist is working on with me (countering the negative voice in my head with the truth and daily prayer, self care, self acceptance, etc).

When does this stuff stop hurting? This is what drove me to seek the outer validation and positivity from my affair. Praise and validation given externally will never be enough- that is a well that will run dry and make me eternally thirst again and again. How do I internalize it so I don't require it from others? How do I love myself enough to not need it from others, especially my BH?

MIgander posted 10/9/2020 10:41 AM

oh, and reading from another poster in the general forum about her wh withholding sex, i'm struggling being intimate too physically with my bh. not from not caring or not wanting to or not enjoying sex, but from deeper issues stemming from past rejections, hurts and other abuse i received as a young girl. mainly because the first time i really surrendered in orgasm to my husband was years after the vasectomy after feeling like i was only good as a source of sex and money for him and a babysitter/housecleaner for him. i gave it to him in a way that he said worked on another girlfriend (one before me, had blonde hair, bigger boobs and became a lawyer) and he was saying how sexy it was for him when she did it and how i should do it too because it was so sexy. well, i had to be sexier for him than his ex or else he would just find a better provider for sex and attention (as my dad did to my mom). so i gave it to him and felt ashamed of myself and dirty and used. that's not the context he wanted it to be in or meant it to be in, but the whole time and for many times after when we would do that again, all i could think about was how his exgf gave it to him and must have done it better than i did for him to still have thought about her and how he must be thinking about her when we're doing it and how all i was good to him for was the sex and how that's the only thing men really care about anyway and i might as well enjoy it.

so, right now sex is just too painful to me to be able to enjoy it with him as all i see is how disgusted he is with my body, how my hair (body and head) are wrong to him and gross and my boobs flat and how much prettier my friend was and how much sexier his friend's wife must be now that she's so skinny and in shape and how much he must need a perfect woman after i had sex during my affair and am now such a disgusting whore.

flooding today and sucks.

Buck posted 10/9/2020 10:55 AM

MI, do you even like your BH?

Every time I read one of your threads I wonder how you feel about him. You seem to focus on ways he makes you feel like shit. You also never seem to paint him in a positive light and you seem to interpret everything he says negatively.

Are you really attempting to authentically R or are you staying in the M for convenience? And, hey, I could be projecting. I'm sort of in that same situation. I'm not judging you at all, you just seem conflicted to me.

MIgander posted 10/9/2020 12:49 PM

Hi Buck,

First to frame my post from today (and other posts from other days): I'm having a flooding kind of day today. I'm in one of my black holes and I'm struggling to get out of it. My husband has cited that when I'm in these places, in the past he has pulled me out and it's exhausting to him emotionally. He has been saying this to me for years, before the affair and certainly after the affair. I post the negative black hole stuff here because I don't want to burden him with it as he's got enough on his plate emotionally dealing with my affair.

Another thing to frame this: like and love are 2 different things. Like happens because, well emotionally we like certain things. What is pleasurable to one is not necessarily pleasurable to another. Love is a matter of the will. It springs from liking, but is driven by deeper motivations.

That said, I love my husband, but don't much like him right now. Just like with my kids- I love them always, but when they're sassing back or fighting with me over basic hygiene (daughter and the shower...), well, I just don't like that. I still love them, hence pushing through the unpleasantness of my daughter's resistance to the shower, and still reading to her, listening to her after story time and talking to her and sharing how much I love her before she goes to bed. I didn't much like how she was defiant towards me, but I love her and want her to understand that on a gut level.

I love my husband- I see his strength and determination not to break up our family in staying in this so long after the affair and my divorce paperwork. I see his selflessness and desire to work on the marriage in going to individual counseling (it's like my daughter with the shower- he needed the help but was resistant to it). I see how dedicated he is to our children' well being in his determination to get them the help they need to succeed and his distress over their own distress. I see (now) his great desire to have a companion and a grateful appreciative wife. I see his great vulnerability and deep hurt for the way that I used him during the affair and the way I would complain about him to all my friends over the years. I see his desire to always be rooted in the truth and not to have his emotions run his life, how he has built his life on that bedrock. I admire his organization at work and his ability to befriend anyone and find a way to relate to everyone in his life whether he likes them or not. He's also attractive, funny with the kids, interested in growing in his faith life and always looking to improve himself. He's very skilled in learning new things, always interested in improving his skills (hunting, building the basement, doing the landscaping w/ trees, bobcats, dirt and rock walls). He's intelligent, well versed in a variety of subjects, good conversationalist and frankly, sexy to be around when my baggage isn't in the way.

That all said, I don't like the emotional abandonment, the pain from all the criticism, the judgement, physical abandonment, financial abuse and belittlement I've received from him over the years. He's shown tremendous progress on the financial abuse end, has come leaps and bounds in his work on empathy and dropping defensiveness (I have worked very hard on that too) and has made efforts to make sure I don't feel physically abandoned. He still has problems being sexually attracted to me after the affair (who wouldn't be disgusted by what I did?), has difficulty accepting and validating my pain (his is so great now, how can I expect to share mine and be comforted by him after what I did? How can I logically even ask him to work on any of his stuff when what I did was so devastating to him?) and still has trouble understanding the negative way I take his comments, sharing of his pain/ disappointments and his positive praise for other women (even second hand from his friend. I mean really, if you have a wife who is insecure about her body and you haven't said/done anything validating for her in the last 2 weeks, why would she want to hear about how hot his friends wife is now she's doing a drastic diet and exercise program ).

There are aspects of his behavior I certainly don't like. But I do love him very much.

This has been a hard week. He's been sleeping on the couch for various reasons (not from me yelling at him or rejecting him, he's having a tough time with even hoping for us to make it through this). He's also not returned several tennis serves I've put in his direction for time together/ intimacy/ sex, which heightened my insecurity. My mental health problems, abuse as a child and now compounded with the affair make it difficult for him to see any positive reasons for staying in the long term and difficult for him to accept any overtures made by me. I'm working very hard to improve my mental health, my means of communication with him and increasing my gratitude toward him. He's having a tough time trusting it, the progress I have made, and holding on to hope as I do keep having these "black hole days" where my own patterns of negative thinking well up in me from past hurts and abuse I've received.

Things in our daily life (like the not sleeping with me and rejection and out right meanness he displayed) triggered me very hard today and that is where I currently am at.

Pippin posted 10/11/2020 10:54 AM

MIGander, I think where you are right now is a good illustration of the difference between reasons and excuses.

Here is the excuse interpretation (I'm using ADD but you can substitute anything you think is your particular challenge/cross/bad inheritance, etc). It's a little exaggerated so you may not read it as sympathetic, but I am trying to understand and help you.

I have ADD so I get impulses and overwhelmed by erratic thoughts. Therefore I do these things that seem to hurt people close to me and they do these things that hurt me, forgetting or not understanding that it's my ADD. What is wrong with them!?

Here is what it would look like as a reason:

I have ADD. This diagnosis helps me know and understand myself better. I know that sometimes I get impulses and erratic behavior. In those moments, I know to separate myself from my family for a bit and use the techniques, medicine, etc that help me. It won't always be perfect but I have the power to get ahold of it. Then I can offer them my best self which will get better and better over time and with practice. Other people are imperfect and will continue to be imperfect, sometimes in ways that are hard for me, but that won't keep me from doing what I want to do or acting how I want to act.

I think that you are mostly in the first which is a victim mentality. And it make you angry! I can relate to that, I HATE the feeling of being a victim and can be upset and angry at the people who I think are causing it. But instead of being caught up in the lashing out after feeling like a victim, you can get ahead of all of that, reframe it all and get out from the victim mentality. I don't know how to help you out of that mentality but I can tell you that when you find a path out everything is MUCH MUCH better.

MIGander, EVERYONE has the potential to be a victim of something. We all have our crosses to bear, addictions, burdens, bad inheritance from our family, our challenges. Every single person. Sitting for a bit and thinking about the challenges and burdens other people have might be a good practice for you. People you know and people you don't. Ask people about what they have overcome. People's stories can be incredibly inspiring. I have a friend who was a victim of the Rwaandan genocide. Her husband and three nieces were murdered in front of her. She fled through her neighborhood, every house full of murdered people, with her 2 year old on her back. She thought her child had been shot but the bullet missed the child. She spent five months in the bush fearing for her and her child's lives. Her child nearly starved to death twice. She was frequently raped and contracted STDs. Her story goes on through other chapters but it ends with her spending her life ministering to other refugees. She suffers every single day and decides not to let her experiences control her life. You can find her if you want, Marie-Christine Nibagwire. Meditate on people who have overcome their problems, how they have done it, and that it can be overcome.

I don't find it helpful to do pain comparison. Everyone has their pain and everyone's pain is painful and diminishing it doesn't help anyone. But one of your husband's burdens is sexual betrayal by his wife. There are many reasons to believe that it is one of the worst burdens that there is. Keep that in mind when you are trying to understand his behavior.

There is an incredible sense of freedom when you get out from under the victim mentality. But it takes work and there is no end to the work. You have to make that choice every day. It does get easier with practice and it's worth it.

[This message edited by Pippin at 2:26 PM, October 11th (Sunday)]

Pippin posted 10/11/2020 14:05 PM

I'm posting this separately because I think it's a separate issue.

Have you watched the old TV show Supernanny? I found it interesting that there were a variety of ways the families were doing a not-great job with their kids. Some were neglectful and would only interact with their kids when the kids demanded negative attention through misbehavior or conflict. Some indulged their children too much. Some overscheduled their children and the kids never had downtime. Some pushed their children to focus on activities (sports, music etc) that the kids weren't very interested in. And so on. But at the end of the show, when they started to get ahold of their problems, the families looked happy in very much the same way. Spending relaxed time together outside, playing board games, following the children's interests. Setting reasonable routines for chores or self-care and being present to help the children complete them.

It sounds to me like your husband is giving you feedback on your parenting that you should listen to instead of being defensive or feeling attacked. You may have shifted from one not-great parenting approach to another not-great one, thinking that you have improved because you're not doing that other thing any more. Maybe he didn't fix it up into a compliment sandwich but he cares about the kids and it's distressing to him to see them poorly mothered. Rather than defending yourself, listen to what he is saying. You "didn't back down" from the "demand" that she shower? That sounds very harsh from the outside. I think you should calm your emotions and defensive reaction and find a way to ask him what he sees, take it in, and use it to become a better mother. Unless you think he is trying to deliberately, abusively, perniciously find exactly the thing that will hurt you most, because he cares more about causing you more pain than about healing himself or protecting his family. If that's the case, you must immediately leave with the kids. But you and I both know it isn't. He is hurt, he is suffering, he doesn't see a way out, he doesn't know how to make you get better, and he sees his children suffering as well. Listen to him!

[This message edited by Pippin at 2:24 PM, October 11th (Sunday)]

thatwilldo posted 10/12/2020 11:28 AM

Two great posts by Pippen, MIgander. I hope youll pay close attention. You sound very defensive.
I wish you strength in this difficult time.

[This message edited by thatwilldo at 11:29 AM, October 12th (Monday)]

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