Newest Member: Unsureofhope


Me: WS, Mid 50s, 25yrs M, 21 month PA, D-day 4/21, Working hard to earn R

So when you look at me
You better look hard and look twice
Is that me, baby
Or just a brilliant disguise?

Empathy and connection in the face of anger and blame - help

This is my first post. I've sat in front of the computer so many times and started at this blank box not knowing how or where to begin. But I do know that I need some help and support and I see how helpful and honest people are on this site, so here goes...

Background (short version)...I am the WS. Married 25 years to a wonderful woman who did not deserve any of the hurt and pain i've caused her. Had an A three years ago that lasted 21 months. It ended 16 months ago. I confessed to the A but she would have found out from the H of the AP anyway, so I was effectively caught. Immediately after discovery, I went full NC with the AP. Have and will remain that way. Over the first few days/weeks, I gave all details. No trickle truth. Where we met, when, how often. How we communicated, the frequency of communication. I owned up to living a life of lies and deceit. It's hard to even type these words because it fills me with such shame and guilt. But I did those things. I caused this hurt. I ruined our marriage. I openly, willingly and authentically take responsibility for that. I feel tremendous remorse and making a real and sincere apology is a daily activity.

W and I are still together. She is trying. I am trying. But it's the hardest thing imaginable. Her hurt is so deep. The pain is ever-present. She has been here and been doing her part to try to heal and she has had the grace to give me an opportunity to heal myself and become a better person, someone that shows up for her and can actually be a good spouse again.

After d-day I began with a therapist right away. Inside of 2 months we did marriage counseling (big mistake, waste of time and money...was way to soon for that). I switched therapists after a few months (both were psychologists). This next person helped me with some breakthroughs on being able to open up to myself and to my family about my flaws and failures. How I played a lead role in our family dysfunction. My communication style was harmful. I didn't know it or see it at the time. But I look back and see it clear as day now. I would pivot and deflect from issues or problems. I wasn't truly listening and I definitely was not identifying with my W's emotional needs. I was massively deficient when it came to empathy. I still struggle in this area (more on that later). She did not feel heard. I put my own needs first, that being my selfish desire to avoid conflict. I'd avoid it by trying to make it go away. By doing so I minimized the issue or her feelings. That led to her feeling devalued and disrespected in the marriage. Again, back in those moments, I didn't see or understand that. Maybe it was a subconscious choice on my part. Too many things went unsaid and unaddressed. Resentment built up on both our parts, also unsaid and unaddressed. Instead of actually dealing with marital issues, I went out and had an A. Running away from dealing with reality. I was so shallow and i was so scared to deal with the real problems in me and in the marriage.

At about the 8 month mark after d-day, she want to IC for betrayal trauma. That got me connected to a different IC for me in the same practice. We did full therapeutic discovery, including polygraph. It's been 7 months since we did that. We are both still currently seeing these ICs.

I would like to say that after 16 months, we were moving in a positive direction. But things are as difficult as ever. The future of the M is very much in doubt. There our tears and crying daily (i wish i cried, i don't. another example of my lack of emotional depth/maturity). We talk about the A or other marital/relationship issues daily. Often they are conversations that last anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. On days with a big trigger or a day filled with anger, it can be much longer than that. I try very hard to not get defensive (i still do sometimes). I try very hard to respond with empathy. I own my terrible choices and the horrible impact this has had on my W and our M. I take the hits even when she says things that I don't agree with.

So, getting to the topic I put in the subject line...I am having trouble with being truly empathic and finding connection between us in the face of her anger and resentment toward me over what I've done. She labels me with every mental health disorder in the book - i'm a narcissist, i have oppositional defiance disorder, maybe i'm bipolar, i'm on the spectrum. This frustrates me b/c i've seen a few shrinks, even did a PAI test and they don't see these things in their clinical view. In addition to the labeling, she tells me routinely she will never get over this and she will never forgive me. In some of the angrier moments, she says she regrets the day she met me and regrets that i came into her life. Constant disparaging remarks about me, about the type of person i am, how selfish and disrespectful i am, etc. Hearing these types of things over and over does wear me down. I know it comes from a place of pain in her, a pain that i caused. That is not lost on me. But it is still hard for me to hear these awful things about me all the time. Many things she has a valid point on. There are also many things that are not accurate. I can't say anything about that bc if i do i would be seen as being defensive or minimizing.

All this causes me to feel hopeless about R and our potential to find our way through to a revived marriage. I feel like she will never be open to seeing me or experiencing me in a different way. It is only the lense of the past. It makes it hard to try to live in the now. I still love my W. Very very much. I want to be with her and her only. I want her to want to want the same. I know i need to show up in the right ways. All the time and with consistency.

Any advice from your experiences on how you have worked on your connection and empathy with your BS in the face of on-going anger and resentment?

I don't want to feel hopeless and I don't want to give up. But I am struggling.

18 comments posted: Monday, August 1st, 2022

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