It’s always so eerie reading your posts, Sigyn. It’s haunting and uncanny, as many of us have pointed out so many times. It feels like someone watched my inner life and the horrible path of discovery and realization that I’ve been on since discovery. Our WH’s are different in their actions and their modus, but when you describe your WH, his patterns, your own reactions over the years and how you handled life with him. . .it’s just plain . . .eerie. You just describe all of this and what you’re going through so well, and your powers of understanding and getting to these conclusions is exceptional. It took me a lot longer, but so many of your realizations and descriptions of your WH and his behavior are just EXACTLY similar to my WH. And so are your descriptions of how you adapted and appeased and made yourself smaller within your marriage.
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[. . .]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. [. . .]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.
So much this. He was so competitive and needy of being the most important, the focus. His job was ALWAYS bigger, more important, more difficult. Mine too was insecure about his educational level—in comparison to mine and just in general terms. And I downplayed the importance of education too because he made it clear that his fragile ego needed that. Even my hobbies were threatening. It’s a toss up who was more responsible for this since I was an active participant in propping his neediness. The price of not doing so was very high, for sure, but why I would tolerate making myself smaller for him when I don’t do that in other spaces and with other people is just beyond me.
It was probably because of 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.
This is just such a perfect articulation of how I felt in my marriage. This part, at least, I did articulate pretty well for myself: He was weaker. He needed things that I didn’t to feel secure. I too treated him like he was disabled or a child. Like the person who was needier. But I also knew that it meant my needs could never be prioritized, and I did resent that at times, more and more over time.
He also was prone to blaming everything and everyone in the world for whatever went in a way that didn’t suit him. So if he did listen to some frustration that I had at work, his response was immediately to make it an adversarial thing rather than a problem-solving thing. The world is full of the injustice of not revolving around him and his wants entirely, so the only way that he could respond to my frustrations was to include me briefly in his bright center and rail at whoever he perceived to be the cause of me taking my eyes off of him.
Since our marriage was deteriorating over the long-years of his lying and cheating, I even told him once before discovery, that I wasn’t interested in living in an adversarial stance with the whole world the way he was and didn’t want our kids to feel that way either.
And yet, I still didn’t quite understand how completely I was his adversary too or how much he resented me. Somehow, that still floored me as I began to figure it out. Wayward behavior doesn’t allow them to really care about us or really act as our friends anymore. We truly are the adversary to beat when the game is keeping the truth of our own lives from us in order to indulge in whatever it is that they want to get away with. I’ve also felt that it must have made him feel very smug and superior that he could lie to me so easily—although I’m certain that what he really told himself was that he was just AMAZING at convincing (meaning lying) to me.
My WH worked off of a variation of your WH’s lying method: he told me once that the key to being a convincing liar and not getting busted was that your lie always had to contain a nugget of truth. What I understand now was that he could take the smallest nugget of truth and weave a convincing justification, rationale, and story almost instantly. What I also understand now is that he FIRST told that story to himself and bought his own bullshit more and more easily as he spiraled down the whirlpool.
When I finally realized that the reason I couldn’t get the truth out of him was that he had added so many layers of justification and bullshit that he literally no longer had a clue what the real truth was, I knew that we were lost. Because every fucking thing that he said was a mess of tiny bits of technically true info along with all of the layers of shit he had added. It became so effortless and automatic that he no longer had to consciously do it, his mind just took what he wanted the thing to be and spun it. He occasionally would look almost dazed when I pointed out how clear and ridiculous something he said was. I began to think of it as that weird moment when someone in a movie "snaps out of it" for a second and doesn’t recognize where they are. That’s what it was like when he had a brief moment of being confronted with reality. . .but he never stayed there. Give him 10 minutes alone and he was right back in his own woven world where I was the bad guy and he was the victim.
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.
Again, THIS. SO much this. Someone weaponizing their emotional needs. That just his me so hard, Sigyn. I think about my WH’s need for control. His jealousy. His competitiveness. His diminishing of my interests and abilities. All of the prices WE pay for their insecurity and need. And the real killer is that IT DIDN’T WORK. None of what we did fixed it for them. None of what we did made them love us and protect us. None of making ourselves smaller made them appreciative and grateful. IT MADE THEM MORE RESENTFUL. I think that’s the part that is most crushing. Because I sacrificed so much of myself to try to make things good for him, and in the end, it just gave him permission to have no respect or regard for me at all.
It is most definitely abuse in so many different forms.
I spent 5 years post discovery having those horrible encounters with my WH that were just him still trying to WIN and come out on top. He actually thought he could bully me out of my own feelings about what he’d done. And I just couldn’t fathom that was what was happening because how could he possibly think that he should still come out on top with the magnitude of what we BOTH knew he had done to me and our kids and our family? How could he even think there was a win to be had? I didn’t yet understand so much of this, so again, you are at the head of this sad class, Sigyn. You are YEARS ahead of some of us.
As usual, I’ve gone on too long, so I won’t go into detail about the counseling of others except to say that my WH felt that he naturally drew people who wanted to seek his advice. Oddly, most of them were really messed up women who talked to him about their horrible relationships and disastrous lives. HE. ATE. THIS. UP. It made him feel superior on every front. I shudder to think about what "advice" he gave them because I’m sure most of it was him being smug and superior and giving them condescending pearls of wisdom. It fed his ego and also made him feel resentful that these women all looked up to him so much, while I obviously felt better than him (which was a complete transference of his own insecurities onto me since I didn’t feel that way at all—but you can BET that I sure do now).
And yes, you and HurtHalo and many, many others have had the opportunity to see behind the veil of the lies they tell themselves about their own victimhood and the inevitable rightness of their choices. You have nailed the problem so succinctly: being "naturally" polyamorous or non-monogamous or anything else does not require lying, deception and controlling of others lives. It’s why most of us say that, in the end, it wasn’t the details of the cheating as much as it was the endless lying that doomed any possibility of R.
I don’t know what to tell you about how long you’ll continue to analyze and come to new realizations about your M and your WH,Sigyn. Sometimes I think it will never stop for me, and I’m waaaaay out. I think we’re all different to some degree. I’m jealous of those who have been able to put it aside. I’m an analyst and researcher by nature. I tend to think, re-think, and over-think most things. So it’s not surprising to me that the biggest, most traumatic event in my emotional life would be difficult to process. I do think that our WHs being so unwilling to participate in helping us process what they’ve done plays into that as well.
I can say that you are doing amazing and very helpful work, not only for yourself, but for all of us, your reluctant sisters and brothers in all of this. This club sucks, but I have to say that the company is really excellent. We are among truly wise and amazing and resilient travelers.
I’m grateful for everyone on this thread, as always. Hugs of understanding, appreciation, and support, Sigyn.
[This message edited by NowWhat106 at 9:00 AM, Monday, April 24th]