Truth Love Courage
You know… I could go on about my story… and I bet in part that may be what you were looking for in this post. But I won’t. There’s no sense in that right now… after all, my story has just begun.
It suffices to say though… a few years ago I was unexpectedly and unceremoniously thrown under the bus…
Maybe my xww was out to destroy me, maybe she wasn’t…
But that’s not the point…
The point was to not let me do that to myself.
You see… there are only three things that we really need of ourselves to live a rich and fulfilling life.
Truth. Love. Courage.
And from that we can forge the pillars of our character.
Truth is to face reality and to see things clearly… to look deep within ourselves and to act with honesty.
Love is what we find… to see the beauty and the joy… and to act with empathy and compassion to others.
Courage is our strength of spirit and determination… to stand by our convictions and to act in defense of them.
And from tempering those with each other we will find generosity of spirit, honor, and sense of right.
And that will fill us with faith in ourselves… and allow us the vulnerability to face ourselves and our fears… and grant us the ability to be at peace with ourselves.
But most important is what we lack within them... for that awareness will expose the root from which truth, love, and courage will grow.
And by carefully nurturing these virtues we give ourselves and the world the most precious gift we can.
You see... what matters isn’t what’s been taken away… but what we have yet to give. What matters is every act of honesty, compassion, and valor that has enriched, empowered, or encouraged not only others but ourselves as well.
Character isn’t just a measure of who we are…
It’s a guiding light to where we’re going.
Character is the future you build for yourself.
Only you can choose who you are.
Only you can choose the actions you take.
Hold onto you… embrace yourself.
Don’t lose faith in yourself… in who you are… and in what you have to offer this world.
Life isn’t a reminder of what we’ve lost… it’s a celebration of what we have to give.
So yeah… maybe a few years ago I was unexpectedly and unceremoniously thrown under the bus…
But the poor bus didn’t see it coming.
The Fog and Defense Mechanisms
I really believe that the term "the fog" can be misleading at times... it makes it sound like some sort of virus that prescribes to set conditions and will follow a certain path. I've compiled some more information on the infamous "fog" to try and explain a bit more about what it is that we're really dealing with.
A wayward spouse’s actions and behaviors conflict with a fundamental element of self perception, such as “I am a good person” or “I made the right decision”. This occurs when they perceive a logical inconsistency among their beliefs – they are holding two opposing ideas. Cognitive dissonance is most painful to people when some significant part of their beliefs about themselves is threatened. This usually occurs when they have done something that is inconsistent with their image of themselves. If a person has a fairly positive self-concept, believing herself reasonably smart, competent, and moral, she will use self-justification as a way to preserve her positive self-image. But self-justification also operates for people with low self-esteem, except that it moves in the direction of preserving their image of not being very smart, not being competent and/or suffering from some kind of moral failing. This dissonance could be experienced as anxiety, guilt, shame, embarrassment, stress, and other negative emotional states. When their ideas are consistent with each other, they are in a state of harmony and balance. Since their desires create a dissonance with their value system, they have a motivational drive to reduce the feelings of discomfort by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying and rationalizing them through the use of psychological self defense mechanisms. It is also a major threat to relationships in recovery because both partners tend to justify their behavior in a way that allows them to be right while either explicitly or implicitly making their partner wrong.
In the case of romantic infidelity, this dissonance begins right from the initial stages of attraction to the other person and grows in proportion to the sliding past the healthy boundaries of a marriage. As they begin sharing common interests, it slides into mental comparisons between the betrayed spouse and the affair partner. The affair partner begins to meet the emotional needs of the wayward spouse as walls are put up to prevent the betrayed spouse from connecting. As the attraction builds, so does the deceit in the form of secrets from the betrayed spouse, and minimization of their behavior (e.g. ‘harmless flirting’). Excuses are found to continue the behavior and eventually as a romantic relationship evolves their perception of reality suffers from self-delusion. Romantic infidelity involves the temporary insanity/irrationality associated with "falling in love". This does not typically happen when you meet an incredible person, but more as a response to a crisis or stressful period (such as a death, job loss, birth of a child, or even the unexpected mundane ness of life). They are in a situation in which they must face a lot of harsh reality and grow up. To temporarily relieve their feelings of depression they will be attracted to people with more problems so that they can feel better in relation and as being needed. The more stable and supportive the betrayed spouse is of the marriage and wayward spouse, the more the wayward spouse will feel alienated towards them. An escape from everyday life is sought and manifests itself in uncharacteristic acts of carelessness that allows a platonic relationship to cross the boundary into an affair. They will attach too much significance to the affair and rationalize that the emotions are so powerful they must be real enough to risk their stability for and have already devalued the betrayed spouse in anticipation.
In the case of philandering infidelity, it is typically taken up as a hobby outside of the marital relationship. Philandering is fueled by feelings of anger and inadequacy and all about gaining a sense of control over their affair partners, whom are merely seen as conquests, and to compensate for their feelings of gender inadequacy. They can be cruel, self centered, charming, and competitive and enjoy being the centre of attention. They wrap an enormous amount of their identity around their sexuality and express that sexuality extensively and may often see other people as merely there to entertain them. Philanderers tend to compartmentalize and attach little significance to affairs, ignoring the disruption created. They may understand that a rule has been broken, but the expected consequences are minimal and the extent and range of the damage due to the betrayal are underestimated.
The defense mechanisms are strategies that are brought in to cope with reality and to maintain that self image. In fact, some are healthy coping mechanisms used by emotionally balanced people through life. But, they are self destructive when the persistent use leads to maladaptive behavior wherein the mental, emotional, or physical health of the individual may be adversely affected. Sometimes, these mechanisms are used far into adulthood if they’ve been found to be effective in the past and become a part of that individual’s makeup. It allows them to continue the behavior, choices, and actions that are hurtful, but still maintain their (warped) sense of self image.
Categorization of Defense Mechanisms
Level 1 Defense Mechanisms
The mechanisms on this level, when predominating, almost always are severely pathological. These three defenses, in conjunction, permit one to effectively rearrange external reality and eliminate the need to cope with reality. The pathological users of these mechanisms frequently appear crazy or insane to others. However, they are found in dreams and throughout childhood as healthy mechanisms.
* Denial: Refusal to accept external reality because it is too threatening; arguing against an anxiety-provoking stimulus by stating it doesn't exist; resolution of emotional conflict and reduction of anxiety by refusing to perceive or consciously acknowledge the more unpleasant aspects of external reality. Denial takes a few different forms:
-Denial of fact: This form of denial is where someone avoids a fact by lying. This lying can take the form of an outright falsehood, leaving out certain details in order to tailor a story, or by falsely agreeing to something. Someone who is in denial of fact is typically using lies in order to avoid facts that they think may be potentially painful to themselves or other’s image of them.
-Denial of responsibility: This form of denial involves avoiding personal responsibility by blaming, minimizing or justifying. Blaming is a direct statement shifting culpability and may overlap with denial of fact. Minimizing is attempts to make the effects or results of an action appear to be less harmful than they may actually be. Justifying is when someone takes a choice and attempts to make that choice look okay due to their perception of what is "right" in a situation. Someone using denial of responsibility is usually attempting to avoid potential harm or pain by shifting attention away from them.
-Denial of impact: Denial of impact involves a person avoiding thinking about or understanding the harms their behavior have caused to themselves or others. By doing this, that person is able to avoid feeling a sense of guilt and it can prevent that person from developing remorse or empathy for others. Denial of impact reduces or eliminates a sense of pain or harm from poor decisions.
-Denial of awareness: People using this type of denial will avoid pain and harm by stating they were in a different state of awareness (such as alcohol, drug intoxication, or mental health related state such as depression or a sex addiction). This type of denial often overlaps with denial of responsibility.
-Denial of cycle: Many who use this type of denial will say things such as, "it just happened." Denial of cycle is where a person avoids looking at their decisions leading up to an event or does not consider their pattern of decision making and how harmful behavior is repeated. The pain and harm being avoided by this type of denial is more of the effort needed to change the focus from a singular event to looking at preceding events. It can also serve as a way to blame or justify behavior.
-Denial of denial: This can be a difficult concept for many people to identify in them, but is a major barrier to changing hurtful behaviors. Denial of denial involves thoughts, actions and behaviors which bolster confidence that nothing needs to be changed in one's personal behavior. This form of denial typically overlaps with all of the other forms of denial, but involves more self-delusion.
* Distortion: A gross reshaping of external reality to meet internal needs.
* Delusional Projection: Grossly frank delusions about external reality, usually of a persecutory nature.
Level 2 Defense Mechanisms
These mechanisms are often present in adults and more commonly present in adolescence. These mechanisms lessen distress and anxiety provoked by threatening people or by uncomfortable reality. People who excessively use such defenses are seen as socially undesirable in that they are immature, difficult to deal with and seriously out of touch with reality. These are the so-called "immature" defenses and overuse almost always lead to serious problems in a person's ability to cope effectively. These defenses are often seen in severe depression and personality disorders. In adolescence, the occurrence of all of these defenses is normal.
* Fantasy: Tendency to retreat into fantasy in order to resolve inner and outer conflicts.
* Projection: Shifting one's unacceptable thoughts, feelings and impulses within oneself onto someone else, such that those same thoughts, feelings, beliefs and motivations are perceived as being possessed by the other.
* Minimization: unconscious lessening of importance of an experience or affect.
* Hypochondria: The transformation of negative feelings towards others into negative feelings toward self, pain, illness, and anxiety.
* Passive aggression: Aggression towards others expressed indirectly or passively.
* Acting out: Direct expression of an unconscious wish or impulse without conscious awareness of the emotion that drives that expressive behavior.
* Regression: unconscious return to more infantile behaviors or thoughts.
* Idealization: Subconsciously choosing to perceive another individual as having more positive qualities than he or she may actually have or the unconscious overvaluation of a desired attribute of another.
* Rationalization: the unconscious effort to justify or make consciously tolerable behaviors, feelings, thoughts or desires that are unacceptable.
Level 3 Defense Mechanisms
These mechanisms are considered neurotic, but fairly common in adults. Such defenses have short-term advantages in coping, but can often cause long-term problems in relationships, work, and in enjoying life when used as one's primary style of coping with the world.
* Displacement: Defense mechanism that shifts aggressive impulses to a more acceptable or less threatening target; redirecting emotion to a safer outlet; separation of emotion from its real object and redirection of the intense emotion toward someone or something that is less offensive or threatening in order to avoid dealing directly with what is frightening or threatening. For example, a mother may yell at her child because she is angry with her husband.
* Dissociation: Temporary drastic modification of one's personal identity or character to avoid emotional distress; separation or postponement of a feeling that normally would accompany a situation or thought.
* Isolation: Separation of feelings from ideas and events, for example, describing a murder with graphic details with no emotional response.
* Intellectualization: A form of isolation; concentrating on the intellectual components of a situation so as to distance oneself from the associated anxiety-provoking emotions; separation of emotion from ideas; thinking about wishes in formal, affectively bland terms and not acting on them; avoiding unacceptable emotions by focusing on the intellectual aspects (e.g. rationalizations).
* Reaction Formation: Converting unconscious wishes or impulses that are perceived to be dangerous into their opposites; behavior that is completely the opposite of what one really wants or feels; taking the opposite belief because the true belief causes anxiety. This defense can work effectively for coping in the short term, but will eventually break down.
* Repression: Process of pulling thoughts into the unconscious and preventing painful or dangerous thoughts from entering consciousness; seemingly unexplainable naivety, memory lapse or lack of awareness of one's own situation and condition; the emotion is conscious, but the idea behind it is absent.
Level 4 Defense Mechanisms
These are commonly found among emotionally healthy adults and are considered the most mature, even though many have their origins in the immature level. However, these have been adapted through the years so as to optimize success in life and relationships. The use of these defenses enhances user pleasure and feelings of mastery. These defenses help the users to integrate conflicting emotions and thoughts while still remaining effective. Persons who use these mechanisms are viewed as having virtues.
* Altruism: Constructive service to others that brings pleasure and personal satisfaction
* Anticipation: Realistic planning for future discomfort
* Compensation: an unconscious attempt to make up for real or imagined short-comings.
* Humor: Overt expression of ideas and feelings (especially those that are unpleasant to focus on or too terrible to talk about) that gives pleasure to others. Humor, which explores the absurdity inherent in any event, enables someone to call a spade a spade, while "wit" is a form of displacement (see above under Category 3). Wit refers to the serious or distressing in a humorous way, rather than disarming it; the thoughts remain distressing, but they are 'skirted round' by the witticism.
* Identification: The unconscious modeling of one's self upon another person's character and behavior or an event.
* Introjection: Identifying with some idea or object so deeply that it becomes a part of that person. Also redirecting of unacceptable thoughts, feelings or impulses from the external to the self to that the responsibility for an event is internalized.
* Sublimation: Transformation of negative emotions or instincts into positive actions, behavior, or emotion.
* Substitution: unconscious replacement of an unreachable or unacceptable goal by another more acceptable once.
* Suppression: The conscious process of pushing thoughts into the preconscious; the conscious decision to delay paying attention to an emotion or need in order to cope with the present reality; able to later access uncomfortable or distressing emotions and accept them
* Undoing: unconscious attempt to reverse an unacceptable thought, feeling or behavior by reenacting its opposite, usually repetitively.