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Newest Member: KstinTX

Just Found Out :
H is a complete stranger with a second life.

Topic is Sleeping.
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ChamomileTea ( Moderator #53574) posted at 5:52 PM on Tuesday, April 11th, 2023

He still refers to my sisters as his sisters, he's never said 'in law' about my parents or my siblings. And I know they mostly felt the same way about him. It's hard for them to let go of that history and I don't want to MAKE them do that, but also except for my one very close sister I've sheltered my family from a lot of the ugly facts. I think it's time to talk to them about some of them.

It's so hard to let go of that impulse to protect our WS. We've been doing it for so long, right?

I do think you can reframe this in your mind a bit so that instead of feeling like a betrayal of your WH, it can be an acknowledgment of your family members' agency regarding who they welcome into their lives. IOW, instead of looking at it from his POV, you look at it from theirs. You're not asking them to stop seeing him or stop caring about him. You're just giving them a fuller picture so they know all the facts.

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)
Married 40 years; in R with fWH for 8

posts: 7049   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
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VezfromTaz ( member #80815) posted at 7:26 PM on Tuesday, April 11th, 2023

I dont think in your case it is strategically unwise to allow your husband to continue a relationship with your family. Based on what you said, the back away slowly approach might be better for his mental state and therefore your safety than exposing him to everyone. This is just for your and your son' sake, not his. Once he runs out of tricks to lure you back, he will (and already is) shift his focus to the legal system, finances (child support), and your child. It is wearing but manageable if you have the right supports in place, and you are resistant to his gaslighting. If he hasnt escalated to overt forms of violence, threats, stalking, etc it might be better for him to think he still has some control over what is going on.

One Mom's Battle has some good resources about going through family court with a narcissist.

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VezfromTaz ( member #80815) posted at 7:26 PM on Tuesday, April 11th, 2023

Duplicate post deleted

[This message edited by VezfromTaz at 7:27 PM, Tuesday, April 11th]

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BoundaryBuilder ( member #78439) posted at 9:20 PM on Tuesday, April 11th, 2023

It's hard for them to let go of that history

It burns me when people minimize the aftermath of infidelity "we don't know what goes on in a marriage, so none of our business" "I didn't cheat on the family, I cheated on YOU" "People just want me to be happy" blah blah blah - portraying intimate betrayal as an oopsie indiscretion that concerns only the primary partners. Infidelity is like detonating a dirty bomb. The fallout impacts everyone! The nuclear family are ground zero, but the toxic cloud of devastation can engulf extended family, friends, school and workplace, and even society at large. And, like lingering radioactivity, infidelity can sicken families for years to come; a poisoned legacy of learned behavior passed from one generation to the next.

How to bring your family into the reality you're experiencing is a tough one. Leaving a narcissist can be a dangerous proposition. Yeah, I'm giving myself permission to call him a narc. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.......

ETA:

(Other personality disorders share negative personality attributes with narcissism - so slapping a label on someone here shouldn't be taken lightly, or taken as truth. Especially because intimate betrayal/infidelity is the common denominator that brings people here. Deceptive sexually is a weapon in the arsenal of all kinds of disordered humans - conversely, not every betrayer is disordered. We all benefit from the shared wisdom of people who survived infidelity, or the shared insights of folks slugging their way out of infidelity. A professional diagnosis is not required for us to connect the dots as we see them, while supporting each other. Okay, got that off my chest :-). Back to supporting Sigyn.)

Chamomile Tea and Vez both make sensible observations. Agree with Vez he's laying the groundwork to set you up as his abuser. He used your family as image management tools (Roses! Chocolate! Songs!) and enlisted them as flying monkeys re: the mystery vacay man. So, he's already pulled them into the fray. He's manipulating and using THEM. But they don't recognize it for what it is.Recruiting flying monkeys from the target's friends and family is standard narc operating procedure, BTW. Over time, he may feed messages to your family and friends that contain lies/exaggerations about you so if you do eventually tell them the truth about the depths of his abuse, they may be primed to doubt the breadth of what you've experienced. I'm not saying they'll side with him if they're shielded from the truth, but keep in mind his goal is to ALWAYS play the victim (or the white knight) and cast you as the villain. And he WILL play to your family and use them anyway he can.

Maybe there's some middle ground between outing him completely and giving your family a heads up on what's really going on? To protect them as well as yourself? What that looks like I dunno. Mandatory attendance at a PowerPoint presentation about narcissism delivered by you and your sister? Seriously, brainstorm with your therapist how to navigate this dimension of the divorce. Reading up on how to divorce a narcissist is more great advice from Vez.

[This message edited by BoundaryBuilder at 11:14 PM, Wednesday, April 12th]

Married 34 years w/one adult daughter
ME:BW
HIM: 13 month texting EA with high school X who fished him on Facebook 43 years later
PA=15 days spread over final 3 months
D-Day=April 21, 2018
Reconciled

posts: 212   ·   registered: Mar. 4th, 2021
id 8786549
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realitybites ( member #6908) posted at 3:21 PM on Wednesday, April 12th, 2023

they say things back to you that you said earlier to them - as in, they use the exact words. It is a total mindf#ck. I dont know whether it is some kind of gaslighting, mirroring or echolalia. My ex will message me with content that sounds familiar, and lo and behold if I look back a few messages (from 2 years ago even), he has used my language and phrasing. I never noticed it when we were together because he never replied to my messages, but in hindsight he was copying me from the day we met. Now that he has lost control, he tries to find a hook to get back in to my head, and what better way than to repeat my own thoughts back to me- it is so obvious now, but I never saw it.

Just wanna raise my *hand* to the above ^^^^ and say "ME TOO". I so many times would notice how he would take stories of things I had said and then made them his thoughts.

There are so many things here that others have just said I could highlight a few of them. Just want to say that you are not alone.

I think the hard part for us who are typically all successful in our own ways, and just something I cannot seem to get over, its been one of my bigger hurdles, is how the heck did I not see this sooner????? Meaning I can now look back and see the times he did this stuff, but why did I accept it? Why did I stay with him for so long? I would say things like "marriages have their ups and downs, or one needs to forgive to stay in a marriage" kind of stuff, but at what point do you not notice how far it has crossed over? Until it literally implodes with something really horribly bad?

**Editing to add that there are a bunch of very wise people on this website and all their collective wisdom or their own experiences and stories are truly valuable. Nothing will make this journey you are on any easier, they are your own personal steps to take, but it just helps to hear that others have experienced similar things and it just makes you not feel so crazy, there are days where you will feel OK but something will trigger it all again and it just helps to know there are others out there who have gone thru this madness as well. You are not alone.

[This message edited by realitybites at 12:33 PM, Thursday, April 13th]

Stop expecting loyalty from people who cannot even give you honesty.

He stopped being my husband the first time he cheated. It took me awhile to understand that I was no longer his wife.

posts: 6939   ·   registered: Apr. 16th, 2005   ·   location: florida
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Cooley2here ( member #62939) posted at 4:41 PM on Wednesday, April 12th, 2023

I see the overall problem with calling someone a narcissist or a sociopath is that they act like that while they are cheating. BSs all feel the same pain whether they are S/N or not because we hurt. It is gut wrenching, but the WSs might be anything from a ONS to what you are dealing with. In between are the office romances, hs old bf/gf reconnections etc.
We want to call them every name in the book to try to relieve some of the agony but pain is pain.

It is getting out of infidelity that matters and in my case my husband stopped traveling and grew up. (Nevertheless he still cheated). That allowed me to relax and enjoy my life but I have never not known he had given himself the chance to cheat. He is not a narc or sociopath. He is a garden variety cheater.

Your husband is so sick in his soul that you need to protect yourself by being truthful with family and friends. They don’t need the gory details but enough to know what he is capable of.

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. Elvis

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TheEnd ( member #72213) posted at 7:41 PM on Wednesday, April 12th, 2023

I agree you should work with your therapist on disclosing to your family. That's smart.

Just my opinion but I'd disclose. The level of detail is up to you but if it were me, there would be enough detail to expose him for the toxic stew that he is. Not to disparage him but to protect your family from him. He may never cause them physical harm but he's willing to lie and manipulate them. Just like he lied and manipulated you. You know how terribly that hurts and now he's going to do it to your family? Nope.

Along those same lines, this topic made me think about myself as a mother. If I found out that my daughter had gone through half the horror you have been through but I (because I didn't really know anything) stood by her abuser in any way ... all I can describe here is a feeling of nauseous heartbreak and anger. I would hate that so very, very much.

Give them agency. Protect them from his manipulations. Let them love and nurture you.

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ThisIsSoLonely ( Guide #64418) posted at 10:35 PM on Wednesday, April 12th, 2023

I have not read everyone's replies to your last post, so to the extent this has already been said, please feel free to skim.

The issue of things being "tainted" by an A, or by a WS in general is a theme that comes of frequently in that first year post-d-day 1. Usually it is regarding "things" relating to the where when or how the A took place. For example, if the WS brought the AP to a favorite restaurant oftentimes the BS cannot stand to think about that restaurant anymore, nevertheless eat there - the restaurant is ruined. Same goes for the AP being brought to the marital home - sheets, furniture, even the whole house is ruined for the BS. There have been BSes on this site who have demanded the couple move to a new home if they are to consider R even. In my own world the A took place mostly at my WH's workplace, but I was out of town for the first 4 months of the A, and they had sex likely anywhere and everywhere in our house, and in his (and my) car. He spent hours and hours talking to her while sitting in our house, in clothes I had bought for him, eating food I had prepared.

And for awhile I wanted to rid myself of all A-related "things" but if I did I would have had to literally throw away/sell/burn everything in my home, and both our cars. This financially was not an option, yet everything made me upset and sickened in our house and I did not want to drive anywhere. I would be having an okay day (to the extent okay in the first 6 months was basically getting what I needed to do done and not sobbing uncontrollably or being filled with anger) and then I would look at the couch and the wave of emotions would flood me - sometimes for hours and occasionally for days. I had bought a small fold out mattress when I was out of state and I took to sleeping on that, although it was not the most comfortable, simply because I KNEW nothing had happened on that bed, but the rest of it I could not avoid and it would snowball occasionally and render me a sobbing angry mess. So what to do with all these emotions relating to my WH and his A - how could I stop at least some of the pain??

When discussing this with my therapist she said something that I really took to heart: that I had the ability to take control of the emotions relating to things and to his behavior. I had the option - the choice - to not let these things, or things he said or did, affect me in such a negative way. That in a landscape where I felt like I had so little control - where I had to accept that I could not control who my WH was, how he behaved, how he reacted to me, or what he had done and where, I could control my own reactions to those things. I could give myself relief from some of it, and all I had to do was give myself permission. I had that ability. That was in my sole power.

So I started small. I made the decision to NOT allow his past behaviors to destroy my car, my home, my things. I owned them and actively forced myself to just work through it. It wasn't the sexual acts that got me if I was really honest (I mean be real - if all of us were creeped out about sleeping in a bed where someone else had sex we would never stay in a hotel) - it was that it was my WH that had done it. So the reality was that I needed to DECIDE to not let my WH and his A take my car from me - take my furniture from me - take my home from me. I needed to take it all back.

So, in your case re your vacation, there is a part of you who allowed him to taint your vacation. You let him take that from you. And I am NOT blaming you - it's hard not to let him taint that - it seems impossible at times, but it isn't. You have the choice to allow him to take something like that from you, or not. It's totally 100% within your power. Isn't that great!!! So next time, if there is a next time that he pulls something like this, try to remind yourself that this aspect of dealing with things is within your control and take that control. Easier said than done? Sure. But it gets easier every time you do it.

And the thing is, is does not have to mean you are leaving your WH behind (whether you are or aren't doesn't matter). This also doesn't mean you are or have to be an emotionless robot to move forward. It means focusing on a thing, in this case the vacation, and telling yourself that you are not going to let your WH take that from you. One thing at a time...

Maybe this is what your therapist is getting at - the "whole" you, or maybe it's not that big of a jump. Instead its simply a matter of accessing a tool the you right now has at her disposal.

[This message edited by ThisIsSoLonely at 7:42 PM, Wednesday, April 19th]

You are the only person you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with. Act accordingly.

Constantly editing posts: usually due to sticky keys on my laptop or additional thoughts

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ThisIsSoLonely ( Guide #64418) posted at 10:41 PM on Wednesday, April 12th, 2023

Also re the accusing you of cheating on him (laughable) he could secretly be hoping that you were - my WH pulled this stunt and later (years later) admitted that he was hoping I was as then he could have a better case for rugsweeping or at least could throw it in my face.

You are the only person you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with. Act accordingly.

Constantly editing posts: usually due to sticky keys on my laptop or additional thoughts

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 Sigyn (original poster member #80576) posted at 8:10 PM on Thursday, April 13th, 2023

I think I'm going to make my next therapy appointment about the subject of family so I can unwind some of my thoughts about WH and his role in my extended family... I think right now the best course of action is to tell my family a bit more than the general amount they know, which is pretty much that WH has been unfaithful our entire marriage. I think I also want to share with them how I see our marriage now that I have that lens, and what I envision for the future. And then whatever reactions they have to WH, at least they will have the context of how I see this moving forward. I will have to coparent with him and I want him to find whatever healing he can for himself. I don't know if he even wants to heal from his behavior or if he'll want to revel in it even more, I don't know if he even sees his behavior as toxic. If his justifications to his online cheater friends were real, then maybe he'll want to move forward into some kind of openly nonmonogamous life? And I don't know how that will look to our son, so keeping WH in the loop of our son's therapy might end up to be really important. Since WH is in some ways a stranger, that's all a black box for me.

In some other world I would be able to ask WH plainly what his plans are for himself but he's incapable of communicating honestly with me. It's like every word is meant to manipulate, or to get some specific result. I can only guess that if I asked him how he saw his post-marriage life, he'd tell me what he thought I wanted to hear, or he'd paint a pathetic and lonely picture so I'd feel sorry for him, or he'd paint a heroic picture to make himself look better. Pretty much the last thing I think he'd say is how he actually envisioned himself in the future.

About narcissism - it's helpful for me to read about it because I can see so much of my marriage in descriptions of it. Whether WH would be diagnosed by a professional I don't know, but since I'm not treating him medically and only trying to understand how to interact with him and how to keep myself safe, I feel like having the label 'narcissist' to look up articles and books and youtube videos is really useful. And the readings are all really validating if a bit scary.

So next time, if there is a next time that he pulls something like this, try to remind yourself that this aspect of things is within your control and take that control.

It's really good advice! I wish I had a do-over with that trip, I'd do a lot differently! I did have one peaceful night in which I kind of did something like taking control - I told myself for this one night I'd put the outrage away and let myself feel grief without fighting against it. And it led to the one peaceful night I had there. I felt grief and cried, but also sketched and wrote and listened to music and generally just let the grief come and go without wallowing or trying to fight it off.

It's the outrage and replaying conversations in my mind and having arguments "with him" out loud (he's not there, just me arguing into an empty room) - that's what exhausts me the most and I just have to put a limit on it. It doesn't seem to heal anything.

posts: 124   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2022
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Cooley2here ( member #62939) posted at 8:33 PM on Thursday, April 13th, 2023

It seems you are looping in the stages of grief. You keep circling back to shock and not being able to believe what you hear and see. The reason is because it is so outrageous. At some point anger is going to take over and you’re gonna blast through life like a rocket. Then, at some point, you will get to acceptance and you’ll realize that his sickness has nothing to do with you. It’s all about him. The day you get to meh is the day your life really begins again.

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. Elvis

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VezfromTaz ( member #80815) posted at 11:06 PM on Thursday, April 13th, 2023

Sigyn I dont know what line of work you are in but I recall you and your husband mentored young couples through your church? You have so much more to offer to those young people now than you did before. I was naive to covert abuse (or understood it intellectually but not enough to see what was going on in my own relationship) despite working with DV victims for 15 years. Gaslighting is very effective like that ~ how can you leave if you dont even know you are being abused (check out Ross Rosenbergs stuff on gaslighting and conditioning).

Re the label. I embrace labels for the same reasons you described. Maybe it is just good old confirmation bias/golden hammer explaining something that is illogical to us. Severely disordered people do not go to psychiatrists and ask what's wrong with them, unless there is some strategic benefit or they become so unwell intervention becomes necessary. Their behaviour is egosyntonic ~ they feel comfortable with what they are doing, albeit they may adjust presentation to get their needs met (example ~ doing the crazy nervous breakdown act but having enough control to recall and use your exact words to mess with your head ~ it is like DV perps who go crazy, lose control but only break the victims property, never their own ~they had control ~ that one is from DV author Lundy Bancroft).

I'm at the stage now where all I need to know about ex is how he thinks so I can try to predict his future behaviour to protect my child. They are very invested in their fake and phoney selves, it is really all they have, so backing away slowly whilst understanding exactly what is going on, is probably the most protective thing you can do for yourself and your son.

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Hurthalo ( member #41782) posted at 3:22 AM on Friday, April 14th, 2023

Sigyn, can I first just say what an amazing job you are doing dealing with this. We share similar D-Days (mine was July last year) so in a lot of ways what I have been reading about your updates has largely emotionally rivalled my own. If you have spare time, my story is the 'After 9 years of R, I think I'm polyamorous afterall' thread in this forum. Even re-reading it makes me wonder if its real. And thats 9 months out.

For the one sentence version, my ex-WW, of whom we share 3 daughters under 10, is a serial cheater (like your WH) who I caught having an affair in 2013 after just 1.5 years of marriage. She was in a relationship with a married workmate from Nov 2020 to Mar 2022 and has now ended up having ANOTHER affair with another married workmate (which resulted in his 20 year marriage imploding) from Mar 2022 onwards. I kicked her out in July 2022 after finding out about the former, I only found out about the latter affair a few weeks ago.

Needless to say, the sense of entitlement and obvious narcissism from my ex-WW is mind-blowing. While she wasn't as 'prolific' as your WH, she's certainly given it her best at cracking the infidelity high score!

It's the outrage and replaying conversations in my mind and having arguments "with him" out loud (he's not there, just me arguing into an empty room) - that's what exhausts me the most and I just have to put a limit on it. It doesn't seem to heal anything.

If I may, let me offer some context from my own experiences to date which may help?

All of your reactions so far are completely normal. I can only imagine your outrage: the outrage of the lies, the betrayal, the casual demeaning of you to his 'friends' and the list goes on and on. You know what, I said nearly the exact same thing to my therapist yesterday about the imaginary arguments from that same sense of outrage. I often engage in imaginary arguments with her - and you're right, it achieves nothing. He suggested that these feelings are natural, and that such powerful grief and betrayal means that people often revert to their 'inner child' to make sense of it. He offered a good example: You might see a picture of your ex with a new coat. Someone might mention that picture to you. Someone in our shoes might say something like, 'well of course he bought a new coat. Probably to hide all the lies they tell and the affair partners they have been sleeping with!' Does that sort of reasoning make sense? Of course it doesn't, but our brains drift to that kind of reasoning because we have been deeply hurt, and it is something a child would say to hurt someone else that has wronged them.

Does that mean we're acting immaturely in our grief? No, it means we've been wounded terribly, and we're trying to protect ourselves. I told my ex-WW, 'I could tell you how deeply this has hurt me mentally, but telling you this would be akin to screaming into the winds of an uncaring hurricane. It serves no purpose. You ultimately don't care, or else none of this would have happened.' She broke into tears.

I think I'm going to make my next therapy appointment about the subject of family so I can unwind some of my thoughts about WH and his role in my extended family... I think right now the best course of action is to tell my family a bit more than the general amount they know, which is pretty much that WH has been unfaithful our entire marriage.

In a similar vein, her conservative parents know nothing of the second-affair she had with a married man that I found out about weeks ago. They would be devastated (and extremely angry) to find out that she had done this on top of the latest affair I knew about. The fact she's still with him and will evidently try to pass him off as a potential family member just makes me steam. I have zero doubt that she's already told them that 'she met him after we separated and that it's all above board.' Does it change anything with me? No - it's like firing an employee for stealing from me three times, only to find out they actually stole from me four times. BUT, every fibre of my being wants to blow up her world accordingly. After I have been forced to become a part-time Dad to my three kids, as well as hand her a third of a million dollars as reward for her being a wanton trollop, there has to be some form of consequence.

I am planning on doing this after our legal separation is signed and approved, for obvious reasons - you might want to consider the same to protect yourself? Once the judge has approved the split, I plan on outing her to all and sundry in totality, I don't see why I should have to worry about protecting her character accordingly. That's not as revenge, or to hurt her parents; it's to give context to why I'm moving forward, and why I'm justified doing so. You sound like you have a similar rationale?

I hope you're doing well Sigyn, and that some of this makes sense. I'm also glad you are still seeing a therapist, a good one is a godsend during all of this.

[This message edited by Hurthalo at 3:35 AM, Friday, April 14th]

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swmnbc ( member #49344) posted at 6:25 PM on Sunday, April 16th, 2023

In some other world I would be able to ask WH plainly what his plans are for himself but he's incapable of communicating honestly with me. It's like every word is meant to manipulate, or to get some specific result. I can only guess that if I asked him how he saw his post-marriage life, he'd tell me what he thought I wanted to hear, or he'd paint a pathetic and lonely picture so I'd feel sorry for him, or he'd paint a heroic picture to make himself look better. Pretty much the last thing I think he'd say is how he actually envisioned himself in the future.

I don't think there's any "there" there. In other words, I don't think he's capable of envisioning his future realistically because that would require viewing himself realistically. If he had to imagine a future, it would be one where he gets to do whatever he wants and everyone esteems him. Of course, that only works if he lies and disrespects others, and a rational human would understand that this leads to losing esteem. But the rules don't apply to him. So I would stick to tangible, need to be decided now situations when discussing anything with him.

I'm glad you're going to loop your family in a bit more. It's important that you are all working with the same set of facts. You deserve this, but frankly, so do they. They should have the ability to choose what kind of people they let into their lives.

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Hurthalo ( member #41782) posted at 6:00 AM on Monday, April 17th, 2023

Pretty much the last thing I think he'd say is how he actually envisioned himself in the future.

Because for a grandiose narcissist, they are only ever the hero/heroine in their own grand story. I doubt he ever thought he'd be held accountable, or in contempt, by anyone around him.

Personally, my ex-WW seems genuinely surprised that I want nothing further to do with her following her two most recent affairs whereby she broke up three families and is still with the latest AP. Your ex-WH seems exactly the same. It doesn't even enter their head that they have done anything wrong, because it was oh-so-right for them. That lack of empathy and inability to self-reflect is exactly why they are serial cheaters.

[This message edited by Hurthalo at 6:01 AM, Monday, April 17th]

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ThisIsSoLonely ( Guide #64418) posted at 7:59 PM on Wednesday, April 19th, 2023

Controlling your emotions - or redirecting them - takes time and practice. I can't tell you how satisfied I was with myself when I finally realized that not only did I like my car and did not want to sell it, but that I would have been so angry with myself if I had sold it because of the A.

It's the outrage and replaying conversations in my mind and having arguments "with him" out loud (he's not there, just me arguing into an empty room) - that's what exhausts me the most and I just have to put a limit on it. It doesn't seem to heal anything.

I used to do this ALL THE TIME and I think for me it was because my WH did not listen, understand, or care to do either so I had no choice to vent. It seemed like for awhile I would do it when I was driving alone, out loud, and in hindsight I probably looked like a crazy person.

You are the only person you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with. Act accordingly.

Constantly editing posts: usually due to sticky keys on my laptop or additional thoughts

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realitybites ( member #6908) posted at 1:05 AM on Thursday, April 20th, 2023

Because for a grandiose narcissist, they are only ever the hero/heroine in their own grand story. I doubt he ever thought he'd be held accountable, or in contempt, by anyone around him.

Personally, my ex-WW seems genuinely surprised that I want nothing further to do with her following her two most recent affairs whereby she broke up three families and is still with the latest AP. Your ex-WH seems exactly the same. It doesn't even enter their head that they have done anything wrong, because it was oh-so-right for them. That lack of empathy and inability to self-reflect is exactly why they are serial cheaters

So true^^^^.

Stop expecting loyalty from people who cannot even give you honesty.

He stopped being my husband the first time he cheated. It took me awhile to understand that I was no longer his wife.

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 Sigyn (original poster member #80576) posted at 9:07 PM on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023

Sigyn I dont know what line of work you are in but I recall you and your husband mentored young couples through your church? You have so much more to offer to those young people now than you did before. I was naive to covert abuse (or understood it intellectually but not enough to see what was going on in my own relationship) despite working with DV victims for 15 years. Gaslighting is very effective like that ~ how can you leave if you dont even know you are being abused.

I've been thinking about this so much. I keep reading my old journals, the written texts and emails WH and I have exchanged since this all started and it's all so clear to me now. I never thought of him as being controlling, because the way he did it was (in hindsight) so manipulative and passive-aggressive. He tends to see every conversation, interaction and experience as a competition he feels the need to 'win'. His day had to be harder, his job more important, his joke funnier, his opinion more weighty, his order at dinner had to taste better than mine - I mean there was no interaction too inconsequential for him not to care about. If there was anything I had, did or achieved that was (to him) objectively better, he would passively punish me for it. Cut it down, degrade it "jokingly", make fun of it, try to attach it to something bad or negative, ignore it and never speak of it, give me the silent treatment, withdraw affection but with a smile on his face as if everything was fine ... in other words I was made to pay for anything he perceived as outdoing him. Never yelling, he never once over the years raised his voice or was even slightly aggressive. But it was like whack-a-mole - any time I mentioned my work, my education, any achievement, my close relationship with my family - he would make it so uncomfortable for me that the next time I found myself almost mentioning something on the red list, I'd suck it back in. No more moles to whack.

I would never, ever have thought of that as abusive before this. I thought WH had a lot of deep insecurity and I didn't, so I made myself live in a world comfortable for his insecurity. I rationalized it at the time as being similar to if WH had a physical disability and our house accommodated that - our house, our marriage would accommodate the person with the greater needs. But there were so many times it was so dehumanizing to me. I never once had the 'greater needs' and he always did. So not to be able to talk about my thoughts, my career, many of my problems - yeah it was literally dehumanizing. I played the role of the lesser human in what should have been a marriage of equals.

It's only since his secrets came out that I see how incredibly pervasive this was and how it WAS a sign of abuse. I was less than human to him. This whole time I saw myself as the stronger one in our marriage, at least in terms of WH's insecurities, and he was indeed even more insecure than I could ever have imagined and was staging his own secret war against me. How many times did I not mention my work so he wouldn't get defensive, and 30 minutes before that he was paying for sex or f***ing an OW and chuckling to himself at how I didn't know, how he only ever lied by omission? I was focused on him, he was focused on him, his scores of sex partners were focused on him, yet he would still throw a 5-day passive aggressive fit if I referred to something that happened 'in grad school' because it was a reminder that I have more degrees than he does (something I don't care at all about but he obsessed over). There was no amount of attention, approval, accommodation, sex, focus, energy or love that was enough to fill the gaping hole inside him.

It is abuse. It is someone weaponizing their emotional needs. And I can see it ALL OVER now, looking back! I rationalized it for so long. I'm at this stage now where I'm so angry at him, not even just about the affairs but about his selfish stealing of all of the emotional energy in our marriage, his dehumanization of me, the way he arranged our entire marriage to meet his needs. I didn't consent to the marriage I was in. Literally everything that I did agree to was under false pretenses. Why does he not have to pay for that??? And looking back OF COURSE he has barely admitted to anything about his affairs, even though he knows I know so much about it! I can't believe I actually ever thought he would tell me! I can't believe I ever expected him to admit to something terrible. That entire encounter when I confronted him was still just another encounter that he had to 'win' and to him, winning means being the person with the most information. If he couldn't come out on top, his only other move has always been to make the other person come out even farther down than he is. Dig a hole under them so by contrast he appears higher. And that's exactly what he did.

It was, if you can believe this, WH's religious organization that had us peer-counseling young married couples. Neither of us are anything like counselors, therapists or anything even close, this was really just peer type mentorship. And I don't belong to a religious community at all, so WH was really the lead in that, as he enjoys being in all things. I shudder to think any of the couples we've spoken to over the years noticed what I now see as the grossly imbalanced dynamic between us! I may have done far more harm than good by being part of that farce. I can't tell you how much that kills me inside.

If you have spare time, my story is the 'After 9 years of R, I think I'm polyamorous afterall' thread in this forum. Even re-reading it makes me wonder if its real. And thats 9 months out.

You know I avoided reading your thread because of the word 'polyamorous' since it was SO much like what my WH was declaring to his online cheater friends, that he was 'non-monogamous at heart' - and so the title of your thread was so triggering to me. And now I'm reading it fascinated because it seems like this poly crowd has absolutely no remorse for hurting other people, when I'm fairly certain poly/non-monogamy is NOT about lying, sneaking and exposing everyone involved to STIs and emotional inequality! Your exWW tried to cage her cheating as taking a feminist stand, my WH tried to frame his cheating as "coming out as non-monogamous" as if it were a sexuality that he was born with. And even if it was either of those things (feminist stand or sexuality one is born with) in neither of those two cases does lying to loved ones play ANY sort of role. Sure, take a feminist stand against monogamy - but feminism does not include lying! That's not feminism, it's just cheating and then lying about it. Likewise sure, non-monogamy can be your born-this-way sexuality, but nothing about that makes you lie and sneak around. If your ex and mine were so justified, why wasn't this discussed openly? "Honey, I'm cutting the shackles of bullshit monogamy/coming out as having some other sexuality" and boom, that's it. They could live their lives with their heads held high, just with other likeminded people. The real issue is that no one's sexuality and CERTAINLY not feminism ever advocates depriving someone of consent. And we were deprived of the ability to consent to the marriage we were in.

They're both full of shit.

Once the judge has approved the split, I plan on outing her to all and sundry in totality, I don't see why I should have to worry about protecting her character accordingly. That's not as revenge, or to hurt her parents; it's to give context to why I'm moving forward, and why I'm justified doing so. You sound like you have a similar rationale?

I'm coming around to this way of thinking, you're farther ahead in the process than I am - but mainly for me it's that I fear retaliation. So it's less about protecting his character and more about protecting myself and our son from any retribution when his ego gets stung. And also, until recently, because I felt sorry for him. I know that's weird after all he's done, but I'm not the one who lost my humanity. I still don't want to see the father of my child deprived of the only good people he seems to have access to (my family). I (or my family) might change on that. I'm becoming less sympathetic towards him by the day.

[This message edited by Sigyn at 9:08 PM, Saturday, April 22nd]

posts: 124   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2022
id 8788117
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ChamomileTea ( Moderator #53574) posted at 3:28 AM on Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

People always say that "hindsight is 20/20". I can't imagine a scenario where it's more true than this. This kind of intimate betrayal seems to upend our whole world and suddenly things we never thought twice about jump up and bite us on the nose, like we can't UN-see them. shocked

I'm sorry you're going through all that just now. It's necessary, but in the same way having an infected appendix out is necessary. Painful. It's going to pass though, and honestly, I'm not just saying this to be nice Sigyn.. you have an amazing intellect. It's going to get you through. Count on it.

((hugs))

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)
Married 40 years; in R with fWH for 8

posts: 7049   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
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swmnbc ( member #49344) posted at 7:00 PM on Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

I don't have a lot to add, but wanted you to know that you are heard, Sigyn.

You brought your best self to the relationship and assumed (as we all do) that your partner was operating in good faith. It's horrific how much WS was NOT operating in good faith. He's the reason we have fairy tales about the wolf in sheep's clothing and such.

posts: 1843   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2015
id 8788206
Topic is Sleeping.
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