I am going to try and share this to be helpful to other waywards. It is not my intention to excuse anything, nor is this anywhere near the whole of the problems. More, I am trying to illuminate one single aspect of what I think is a driving force common in affairs. And I realize, this is not true in all affairs.
Self- adulation. The Ap is your audience. Most of the time that is their value. They are there to validate this experience that you are really just having with yourself.
I will share how this was relevant in my situation because it’s the only experience that I have and I think it’s the only way I can illuminate the thought further.
When I started my affair, I could not have told you why. If you asked me I would tell you I had a good husband, a good marriage. Affairs are not often about that, it’s about the relationship you have with yourself. I never thought about that to even understand mine was lousy. I mean externally, I presented as a woman with everything. Surely if I was doing something wrong it would show up in my ability to be what people thought of as a successful person with a successful marriage and great kids.
The problem is to get those things I basically self abandoned. People pleasing. Playing a role. Hiding behind perfectionism. These are false ways we prop ourselves up and they are so flimsy. We never feel worthy of our blessings this way.
The appeal of the affair is almost never the actual appeal of the AP. The appeal the AP has is they don’t know you (at least not as well as your spouse). So you can present yourself in a new way.
But there is no foundation for that "new way", what we often do is fall back to who we were at a younger age. Suddenly we can go back to that time and pretend we are a cooler, hotter, more interesting version of ourselves. But it’s just another role, another round of pretending because we really do not know at all what we want or who we want to be.
The appeal is in that AP doesn’t question it. They are often in that same space. And it’s a cop out. Hiding in this pretend version of yourself so you can prop yourself up to be what you "once were".
Often I think this is why it’s easy to rewrite the marriage. You are so busy pretending to be this new awesome person that the marriage doesn’t fit your narrative. Who you are with your spouse is really the true you. But you don’t like that life you are living. It’s easy to pin the blame of that on your spouse - covenient. It allows you to maintain your narrative about this new person you are pretending to be.
This takes numbing, and that removes empathy. For some of us we never had it, for others like myself we busted it by self abandoning for so long. How can we care about the feelings of others when we don’t even know how to do that for ourselves any more?
Look at your affair. What did you care about most, talk about most? Often it’s ourselves. The value of the affair partner is that all the sudden you are shucking all you responsibilities, and hiding from who you are and the affair partner is validating that. Mostly because they are doing the same thing and not paying all that much attention to you either. Both of you are just scrambling to get good feelings.
And honestly they become the person most central to you because without them you cannot hide. You need their validation taht you are all these things you think you should be in order to be happy.
I think as ws, the biggest part of our work is to realize that we were in control the whole time. This person we don’t like and this life we are leading is not satisfying because we haven’t made it that way. It is our core belief that isn’t something we do. We find someone who does this for us.
Until you take the time to see this self adulation is false, that really all you did was create another addiction to hide in, you can’t begin seeing that your life always was what you made it to be.
It was not your wife or husband that made you lose your sparkle. It wasn’t the Ap giving you a new sparkle. It was you and only you the whole time that was in control of that. And all this play acting is because you haven’t sat with yourself and decided you are worthy of your own pursuits that light up your life in a healthy way.
Chances are you don’t even have the first clue of what would light you up because you have looked for your light in others for so long.
I think this is the core of our work- getting honest with ourselves on what it is we want out of life and finding healthy ways to make that happen. But to do that you have to let go of the idea that something or someone else is going to do that for you.
Looking back, I can finally have compassion for myself. It’s no wonder I wanted to blow up a life that was no longer tenable to me. Realizing it wasn’t tenable to me because of my internal world and not my external world was years of slowly growing accountability. Years of showing up for the hard stuff so that I could finally learn to be confident in myself - to fully know I got myself in any situation.
There is no knight in shingling armor, only you can save you.
And years later I can tell you though at the time it seemed to be miserable, hard work. Years of self loathing, shame, and then turning to very intentional experiments that often failed. Understanding myself was the keys to unlocking where I really wanted to go, who I wanted to be, and building a life that I love.
We learn to love and respect others by doing that for ourselves. What we have we give easily, willingly, and with joy. If we have compassion for ourselves, we have it for others. If we take care of ourselves we don’t feel lack when we take care of others. We easily give it because we have it in spades and a never ending fountain of it that comes from the way we conduct our lives.
The affair isn’t that. The affair is self adulation of this idealism we have of who we can be and it’s about as shallow as a mud puddle. It mostly takes us back to our teen years again, and that’s how we act. We don’t have a true sense of self, we only know we were having more fun at that time. In our life so it’s our default.
Who we grow to be can be so much richer, more peaceful, more abundant. Why would anyone want to go back to the way they were as a teenager? No rational person would choose that.
To pretend means to turn off the parts of ourselves that doesn’t fit whatever narrative we are trying to achieve. So pretending to be a dutiful wife with no important needs of her own was the first act of driving myself into the ground. The second act was burying myself to do things I knew was wrong but felt temporarily much, much better. I simply ignored ll bad feelings and chased good. The Ap was my enabler, my audience, the one who wanted me to stay in that state so they could as well. But it brought me even further from myself, deepened my pain and my shame, the climb was astronomically harder if I would have done it without having had the affair.
Lies. All of it is lies. The only way to find the truth is to create a momentum of truth. Moment by moment, day by day, your task is to find your truth until that is the fountain that flows naturally and abundantly. We can’t get real with anyone until we get real with ourselves. Most of us are terrified of what that looks like so we continue down the path of hiding and staying in the lies.
The AP is not the love of your life. They are your dopamine hits and if you are honest they are interchangeable.
Your spouse doesn’t exist to make you happy to to make you the highest version of yourself. That is your job.
If you are not granted the miracle of reconciliation it is not a statement of your worth, it’s a statement of your past/current actions. If you are granted that chance or find yourself in a subsequent relationship you would like to not mess up, then take the time to really get to know yourself. Take stock. Then decide where you want to be and act accordingly. Self adulation is not self worth.
Playing a role to find self acceptance can feel neat and tidy but the beauty of being messy and allowing yourself to explore your truth will bring you to a place of solidness, rather than lack and always reaching.
The key to all of it is inside of you. Be brave enough to fail 1000 times, because each time you will get closer to what you are trying to achieve. But you have to do it for yourself and not to get someone else to do something.
When we live authentically it’s much easier to correlate our external world with something we deserve. It’s our own accomplishment and that feels far less empty than the void we were trying to get others to fill in those blanks for us.
[This message edited by hikingout at 2:29 AM, Friday, June 10th]