Healing myself as WS - 6 month progress report
In addition to the thread where I posting my bi-weekly questions, wanted to fix the state of play of 6 months being committed to healing myself. This forum has been very helpful, especially in the darker days.
What I did: I cheated, gaslight and was emotionally unavailable for last 3-4 years of my marriage.
What happened: Moving-out, separation, divorce.
1) daily 20-30 minute reading. books on gaslighting, impact of affair, self care. Thank you all for recommendations! :)
2) weekly/bi-weekly IC;
3) notes on self observation;
4) short daily journal.
At times it seems as a mountain impossible to climb, but then i remember 'one day at the time', log on here and feel much calmer.
Achievements (all interrelated):
1) acknowledging the damage the cheating did (personally myself it happened with an experience similar to catarhsis of extreme emotional outpour after which i was fully committed to the self-work);
2) better aware of kindness towards me (much better in picking up clues from conversation where previously i would be come very defensive);
3) in turn i can finally have better capacity for kindness towards my parents, relatives;
4) radar for bullshit is way improved;
5) getting rid of the defensiveness (a huge one; mostly related to the fact that I acknowledged to myself that I was not a good person so I did not had to lie to myself anymore. Not sure how it happened, i think it was done over time, I had multiple aha moments during these months and then roughly 1,5 month ago it clicked).
1) minimising the emotional damage and putting too much focus on cheating. To be worked on with the IC;
2) loss of sense / future (I recognise that is due to the recalibration of life after divorce, but still it makes some days very heavy);
3) slight nervousness about my own identity (liar and cheater is not what defines me, but I have to work on my values further);
4) in some cases, i still notice defensiveness and small white lies to myself. I have to be constantly aware on my communication patterns. This probably is the next biggest thing to rewire in my brain.
5) to be ok with the fact that I was only able to understand what I did only after moving-out. That I was not able to identify my shortcomings and work on them earlier and save the family. Guilt. A big struggle, but it gets easier once you have goal;
6) road that led to cheating - do not understand yet. It did not happen out of the blue - so I have to pick up the signs and the actions to avoid that in future. I have kind of idea, but to be also explored further.
As a last note, a week ago I went through all my notes since October 2021. And this month has been first period of more than 30 days when I feel good about myself and who I want to be. Still, the hole in the stomach is huge, but I am way less anxious and way less wanting to demonstrate to my ex how much better man I am now. I try to keep long, passionate speeches to myself (even if sometimes it is pretty hard) and let the actions do the talking (we are co-parenting and have day-to-day contact). And I acknowledge that all this work is for myself. Also a big one, was hard to get there.
I have put needs of others in front of mine, I have not been triggered or instigated me-me-me drama with my ex, I have observed the emotions come and go and have not reacted on them in a destructive way, I have been respectful in the communication and kind towards ex and for most of the time I have not spotted a situation where i lied to myself.
I am proud of this and even a two three months ago this seemed to be impossible. There is a lot of work in front of me, but it is doable!
Onwards and upwards!
5 comments posted: Wednesday, May 4th, 2022
Fears of managing new version of yourself
Long story short - due to my infidelity, as well as my emotional unavailability, my wife decided to leave me. In all this chaos, I decided to clean-up my mess.
Never had any affairs or even entertained an affair, but I visited prostitutes 4 times in the last 3 years of our relationship.
Nothing related with looks or shyness - both with my ex were lucky by genetics in that sense. I was respectful, kind and caring to almost everyone else in my life, apart of my ex for a long time. Petty need for 'revenge', lack of self respect, needed for external validation, huge resentment - all my problems in a nutshell.
But my question is following. What if all this work - becoming more emotionally aware, learning to self-care, understanding the why's and the boundaries, working on improving relationships with important people in my life - touches only the surface?
What if my personality is like that once I enter the relationship?
Before: emotionally unavailable = cheating with prostitutes
Now, with new version of me i am afraid that i will be more emotionally aware = will end up with some stupid affair at some point.
I do not believe that I would cheat ever again after seeing the damage caused, but it is quite big fear that i am having lately.
That all the work might not reach the depth that is needed to become an integral person. How you are dealing with this?
6 comments posted: Tuesday, April 26th, 2022
Q to fellow WSs - accepting the ex moving forward. How?
I have been posting here for a while my story of wayward ways, attempts to rebuild myself and then divorce somewhere in the middle of all this.
Question my fellow WS - especially those who are on a good path, have have kids and +/- daily contact with their ex-es. How you processed the fact that ex started to date, especially if early after divorce? How it affected you, how you acted/reacted? Any ways in dealing with the triggers? Just trying to understand the range of emotions involved
5 comments posted: Sunday, April 24th, 2022
Old tale of infidelity and breach of trust... Looking for hope!
I have been living separately from my wife (8 years) for 4,5 months now and she has clearly communicated that she is not coming back. We have two small kids (2,5 and 5,5) and just built an amazing family house together.
Last years have been extremely tough for her (and for me as well). In her own words, long process of almost 2 years, but now she’s is sure that staying / reconciling was making her utterly unhappy. She got into depression staying in a relationship that was damaging to her.
I am her second husband. She is great partner to be together with. Smart, good looking, ambitious, great conversationalist, devoted to family – and most importantly, she loved me like crazy. We both told to each other that we also are best sex partners (true). We have very similar life goals and set of values, as well as common social background. She has some problems with anger control and fear of abandonment, but nothing that would undermine the core of relationship (in my resentment I thought that it is big deal, but now I see that it was my inability to deal with it/help her).
So what went wrong – or rather what I did?
I always considered myself one of the good guys – smart, educated, rather charming towards her and respectful to others. But boy, oh boy, I was so oblivious to my shortcomings and emotional unavailability that held back my love towards her.
Well, the honest version is that in many aspects I was crappy partner for definitely last 3-4 years and abused her trust. We also were not the best in addressing the conflicts between us (either ignoring or escalating to unnecessary level; I played big part in ignoring calls for help). To come to this conclusion was an extremely hard and painful for me. I never even considered that there is something actually wrong in how I communicate (with contempt and resentment).
Even if my wife multiple times signalled that things are not ok –I ignored that completely. And I took it as an insult to myself (‘an objective person’) and in turn emotionally hurt her through resentment to the impossible extent. On the other hand, over the years I also voiced my concerns about all the emotional outbursts, as well as the lack of warmth towards me sometimes and felt that it was not being addressed. We never addressed this properly. That also built the resentment in me.
Core our relationship become very dysfunctional. Now I realise that my response to her worries was to bury and never talk about them and make a breakfasts on weekdays or try to be positive and nice so she forgets about her worries. That was my way of solving problems – the positivity and moving things aside (it kind of works for me). At that point in time I truly thought that I was helping her and had a hard time understanding why you would not like it (as this was the only way I knew).
I see how much resentment and contempt it has created in me and her. I got meaner and meaner overtime (no violence, no screaming, but small remarks, manipulations of truth and signs of contempt on quite a regular basis). It poisoned all the other aspects of our relationships. I tried to compensate for it by building a house for family and taking her and the family to our small trips or making breakfasts, working in the garden, etc. "If I put all this time into making a nice garden, then for sure my wife will see that I really care for her and love her". I dedicated crazy amount of time for all of this.
Sounds stupid, but that was my thinking about many things in our relationships. As somehow this compensates.... Instead of 'house and garden' I could have invested hours in sitting down and really listening to what she wanted to say – that would have been a much better choice. Unfortunately, at that time it was my only way that I knew to show that I care. All of these actions did not address the main worry that she was trying to communicate me – to be heard and acknowledged as own person in our relationship. Not an extension of me or not someone who is just a living co-buddy.
I thought that by putting an environment around her, somehow she would see that I love and I care for her. Which again – it did not address the main worry that she was trying to communicate. And it created in me some terrible response ('she does not understand me and rejects my help'. It is terrible how the brain finds a way to excuse oneself...).
I took it as some kind of insult to all of the things that I thought I tried with all my heart. I just felt it was a rejection of my ways and rejection of my love (which it obviously was not). It sound so stupid when I speak it out/write out loud. In the end, I did not recognise myself – how I could become this person, full with resent and contempt. My wife also felt that towards me in return.
On top of that – I cheated her with prostitutes (4 times over 3 years – 2018, 2019 and early 2020 on business trips. It happened literally during the best years of my life (having kids and building a house). I could not held the guilt and spilled the beans to her in summer of 2020. That kind of was start of downfall and ended in me moving out October 2021 (I apologised in 2020, but if I am honest to myself – at that time I did not feel a real remorse for what I did. I did apology just because. We also did not process my cheating at all and somehow treated like it was nothing). It was terrible and I cannot believe that I was so shallow to pursue this as some kind of ego solution to my own problems. It was a conscious decision that I blamed on her (in simple terms, I created an image in my head that she is some kind of villain towards me, we are not having much sex, life is terrible at home, she would not care anyways). The reality is much worse – I was absolutely ignorant about anyone else besides me, weak to admit to myself my own problems, and simply not-man enough to give her respect that she deserve. I acted with a mind of an insulted teenager, not a fully rounded person ('it is me that feels crappy, I am entitled to have some fun in my life'). There is 0% of BLAME ON HER. I can only partially imagine what kind of trust-breaking and heart-breaking experience it was for her and after understanding that - it hurts me terribly every day to think of the suffering it brought.
Around 4 months ago I had complete emotional breakdown / kind of catharsis. I was showering and it hit me - how much pain I have put on her and kids shoulders. I felt this pain so vividly that I just sat under the shower and let the pain take over. It was so terrible that I ended up crying and weeping for more than 2 hours. It felt it like I broke into million pieces. It was a moment when I decided that I have to mold this new person that will come out of this pain and guilt. I do not want to be my previous self and no matter how hard it will be, I will work to not be that person ever again.
What I did:
- 3,5 months ago started therapy, that helped a lot to acknowledge my responsibility and not subconsciously blame my wife for my own actions;
-Observed my actions and emotions around my wife to change communication patterns. Both in terms of respect and acknowledging my role and my actions;
-For 3 months made an inventory of my feelings/communication with her every day. There still was contempt and some blaming, but now it is almost gone;
-Really paid attention to listening to her (when possible). Still struggling not to enforce my views, but much, much less than before.
- have read 10+ books on the psychology to understand my own issues;
-changed diet habits and am in the best shape of last 10 years;
-restored relationship with my and my wife’s family.
We tried to reconcile around New Year, but we took it too fast and the nasty things came out (in a small amount, but enough to hurt to come out). After that the door was closed. Now she is clear that there is no way forward.
I still follow all this process of recognition with the doing right actions, day by day, by day, by day (being present with kids, helping her with taking our dog, household chores, communicating with respect etc. there are harder moments of battling with my old self, but new one is winning most of the time). But I think she was already partially disconnecting by that time and became more distant and resented me for doing all this demonstration to her in last two months (she was looking for conflicts without a reason; I felt that she still is angry with me).
I do see myself as a different person in the future. Rebuilding is an extremely nasty process, as I had to come to terms to damage that was done, what pain caused to my family and what were real reasons behind. It still will take a lot of time.
Two days ago she told me: "I understand you think you can be different and better - but I do not want to check it by trying anymore. I did that for many years and I am not interested anymore."
Now we are kind of done. As for the kids, we have zero conflict – they stay two days / week at my new place and I am taking them 3 out of 5 days to kindergarten in the mornings. We exchange/talk about them almost on daily basis. I do not intend to pursue my legal interests for the common house and I clearly communicated that to her. She was very cordial and was even open to discuss the sale and reasonable split of profits (towards end of the year; that gives me some time window). We both still have our pictures on social networks. I see that she is recovering from being unhappy – and I told her that I am happy for her to see that she is having yourself back - smiling, happy with herself and being in a good place. That is worth a lot.
I said that I plan to work hard on earning back the respect, even if for co-parenting, to which she is ok with.
Is there any positive experience of coming back from situations like mine?
There is too much bad things to restore them right away. What we had in last years, has to be destroyed and rebuilt into something totally new and totally different. So it does not poison anything that might come in future. But she is very clear where she stands. So I do not have any other choice to respect that.
I suppose the first step is to accept her choice of not wanting to try and not having respect for me, focus on parenting and be supportive in the communication occasions with her? And then what?
What could be my plans for say, next 3 months?
I know it is an extremely long shot, but I would like to take my chances and draw some positive experience, if there is any.
60 comments posted: Thursday, March 24th, 2022
Old tale of infidelity and breach of trust... Looking for hope! (moved to Wayward Side)
This Topic has been moved to Wayward Side
0 comment posted: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022