I kept holding on to the pain, I kept and read a thousand times the words they exchanged, trying to seek the answers to my questions... I documented everything, spied on her every move, every bank account, every phone calls, every social media, even on the notes in her phone... To no avail.
This is so familiar. I was still struggling with rumination three years out as well. After dday, I thought I didn't need therapy. I mean, what was some therapist going to tell me that I couldn't read in a book or figure out for myself, right? But somewhere after the two year mark, I realized that I was hopelessly muddled. I kept treading over the same ground, day after day, every detail seemed to repeat in my mind like it was on a loop. And this is the weird part, even after a year of therapy with my therapist doing all in her power to get me to stop, I still wouldn't believe that I couldn't somehow THINK my way out of the problem. I was so sure that there must be purpose to it. Everywhere I looked, other BS's were stuck in this same cycle. There just had to be a reason for it, right?
At this point, I think it's a little bit of both. Yes, there's purpose to rumination, but yes.. we do have to make it stop. I've become convinced that it's all about trauma and how the brain processes traumatic injury. As victims, we need to recreate "the story" of what happened to us, and because trauma kind of short-circuits our storage function and makes the new information feel unreliable, we have to verify it over and over and over again. I think that's the reason why we see rumination is the vast majority of BS's recovering from betrayal. Here's the thing though, past the point where that story is complete and we believe with every particle of our being that we have the right information, we have to stop stewing on it. Think of it as wearing a groove into your brain like an old vinyl record. We're literally creating a neural pathway that is making us crazy by continuing a rumination habit.
What finally helped me was the parable of the two wolves...
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
When I started thinking about the neural pathways in my brain as being under my control, I could see which to starve and which to feed. I eventually got to the point where I looked at it like watching TV with a remote control in my hand. When my brain got on the rumination path, I changed the channel. I am satisfied that I have recreated "the story". There comes a point at which we have to trust our own judgment as to whether we've got it right or not, and that sounds so scary, but there IS a safety net, and that safety net is YOU.
When we first embark on our R journey, we're so terrified that we're going to get destroyed again. We don't have any guarantees, do we? We thought we were safe in our relationship before and look how that turned out, right? There came a point though where I realized that I was going to be okay if I was wrong. Say, it turned out that I had misread the entire situation and my WH rolled on out of here again. I would be sad, sure... but I would NOT be destroyed. Somehow, I had gained strength through all this turmoil, strength I didn't know I had. It turns out that I don't need to trust him completely. I need to trust ME. I need to trust that if I stick my neck out and take emotional risks, that I'll be okay if it all goes to pot, and I will.
There's a sort of severing that happens when we're intimately betrayed. We go from being enmeshed with this other person to suddenly, terrifyingly, being on our own again. It's brutal. But... it also MAKES us rely on ourselves, and once we've recognized our own self-reliance, we can then begin to build on it, appreciate it, grow it. That doesn't mean we can't enjoy an emotionally intimate relationship. It just means we're no longer dependent on it for emotional fulfillment. We are enough all on our own if it comes down to it.
It sounds to me like a bunch of this other stuff is basic marital negotiations. If your WW can't sleep because you're snoring, get on a CPAP. You wouldn't believe how much it will improve your sleep. If you're wanting more physical touch, talk about it, ask for it, make time for it. If your WW is having trouble with menopause, believe me... it sucks and doctors basically want to pat us on our noses and tell us it's all very normal , but talk to some specialists about bioidentical hormone replacement. Take it seriously. Be proactive. Get onboard for whatever treatment she's interested in.
All in all, I think at three years out, you're doing pretty well. Healing is hard. We don't get instructions. We just have to muddle our way through. You're making lemonade out of lemons though. Progress.
ETA: I just also wanted to add that I did benefit from getting EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy. It really helped me with the triggers. It doesn't make you forget or anything like that. It just makes the trigger less visceral. Scientists aren't really sure why it works, but it's though that it helps to shift the storage on certain memories. Give it some consideration if you're still stuck.
ETA 2: You don't need to to a bunch of chest-thumping in order to get R on your terms, Jack. Playing games is not an attractive look on anyone. We take such a hard, bruising hit to our self-esteem when a spouse strays... but it's not about us. It's about them. Nothing you did, nothing you failed to do, MADE your WW cheat. She did that because of her, not because of you. If this could all be fixed with some comical display of great ape chest-thumping, we'd all just do that. It's not that easy though.
You're doing fine. Really. When a WS is truly remorseful and when they really want R, they want the person they fell in love with, same as we do.
[This message edited by SI Staff at 11:31 PM, Wednesday, May 3rd]