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Madhatters Only Thread

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crazyblindsided posted 5/21/2019 11:41 AM

My own MH response was a trauma response on DDay.

This is how mine went as well. It was definitely a calculated A on my part. I wanted to make my WS feel the same pain.

Undefinabl3 posted 5/23/2019 13:09 PM

I don't consider myself a MH either, but based on the SI definition, I am.

My current DH was one of the EA affairs I was having when I left my ex husband. I didn't even know there was such thing as an EA at the time. Also, when DH and I agreed to exclusivity, I stopped all communication with the other man. DH found our emails though and blew up saying that he couldn't trust me because I had been talking to another man at the same time.

It's been a huge struggle throughout our marriage of over 10 years now.

Years later, DH has had 3 confirmed EAs and so....well, here I am. Some things I have done for myself:

1. I realized that he will treat me the way I allow him to treat me. I used to allow him to use the excuse of "well you did it first". I finally told him that if he can't work with me and on himself then he needs to leave. It seems to me that it's more important to him to be able to hold this over my head, then to actually do the work to get through it.

Admittedly, we are stagnate right now. I will never 100% trust him ever again, but I also don't hate him or not love him. I realize this is not a very healthy situation, but for the moment, it's where we are. He has done nothing to make me believe that he will never have an EA on me again. He expects me to get over it, when he can't get over his own issues from 11 years ago.

2. I treat MYSELF better. After my original ONS against ex husband and learning what EA's were, I threw myself into therapy, self help books, online videos, ect. I refused to be ignorant of all of this stuff again. I didn't need him to heal myself, I did that all on my own. I have 100% better boundaries, 100% better understanding on acting in a manor respectable to my relationship, and 100% never going to ever cheat again.

3. I cleaned up my friends/social media. Seems like a minor step, but honestly - who needs 500 friends? One, this allowed me to remove anyone that DH could go "See, who's that" it also removed anyone that may not have my best interests in mind.

SI Staff posted 12/15/2019 16:21 PM


IHatePickingName posted 12/15/2019 16:54 PM

Thank you for reopening this.

I am struggling a lot with dealing with my trauma as a BS in light of my MH status. I feel like i identify far more as a BS because it has been all consuming for so many months and almost killed me, while my EA's were something he knew about and agreed to at the time (although i have realized in recent work that i crossed some lines), and not something that almost destroyed us, then or now.

But i feel like i dont deserve to feel that way, that i somehow cant allow myself to feel that pain now that i am defining myself as a MH. Its like me feeling worse is somehow minimizing what i did.

leavingorbit posted 12/15/2019 18:57 PM

Thank you, staff!

I’m glad this thread has been reopened. When I first joined here, I lurked and read whatever I could find involving the MH label. It seems to be a polarizing topic, for sure. I hope to hear from more MHs here!

Hi, IHPN. How are you feeling today? I definitely identify a lot with your statement of feeling more in tune a role or identity in the equation. The pendulum of that swung quite a bit for me and I still wrestle with it during triggers at times. I struggled a lot with shame. I’m wondering if you feel the same? If you feel pain, you feel pain. Do you feel your feelings are invalid? Shame is powerful. Your feelings are valid. I think it’s what we do with those feelings that matters, however. They don’t rule, IOW and IMO.

I’m wondering if other MHs have insight into what helped them identify and manage triggers? My biggest thing has been developing an emotional vocabulary, I guess. Identifying how I feel and then owning that feeling instead of making it my husband’s fault. Making a safe space for him, I guess. A soft place to land. Anyone else working on this?

BraveSirRobin posted 12/15/2019 22:15 PM

I definitely think that there is a difference in our MH balance. My H is 90/10 BS/WS, while I'm the opposite ratio. His As were far less extensive than mine in both their PA and EA aspects. As a result, I was hurt, but he was completely traumatized.

That being said, his MH status has nonetheless been significant in our relationship, because I resented his resistance to acknowledging and processing that 10%. Resentment breeds entitlement, and in my case, I used that entitlement as part of my secret justification for TT. As small as his actions were compared to mine, any infidelity and deception can have a powerful snowball effect in a marriage.

BraveSirRobin posted 12/15/2019 22:40 PM

IHPN, I think it's good that you recognize you have bad decisions to unpack and own eventually, but the key word here is eventually. I did not expect my H to address the consequences of his As right away. I would have been ok waiting until he was stable, even if that took a substantial portion of the 2-5 year timeline.

Of course, as I wrote above, I did not admit to myself that I weaponized my patience by using it to secretly blameshift ("he won't admit the seriousness of what he did, so I won't disclose the seriousness of what I did"). It wasn't consciously that bald faced, but I definitely see the process in retrospect. That would be my only concern about your H brushing your As aside as insignificant.

Otherwise, I think it's entirely reasonable to focus on the partner who is bleeding out from the gut and triage the one whose shoulder got grazed. You had serious suicidal ideation. Don't feel guilty about focusing on your own healing, and his safety as a partner, as your primary goals in the present.

leavingorbit posted 12/16/2019 08:23 AM

I’m curious as to what purpose comparing pain in MH situations serves? I’m wondering because both our individual ICs and MCs have stressed the importance of keeping away from “worse” or “smaller.” Finding common ground and empathy is what’s been emphasized to us. Would anyone care to elaborate on their viewpoint of this?

IHatePickingName posted 12/16/2019 08:37 AM

Thank you very much BSR. You have no idea how much that framing helped me. I like the ratio analogy. Ours is probably similar. I am much more a BS while he is the opposite. When i asked today for him to clarify, from his perspective, hoe far past our lines i went, the only thing he came up with was my intentions. My *actions* were basically within the limits and were done openly. The line crossing was me wanting more and not disclosing that. Whereas his crossed tons of lines and involved deception.

I like thinking of it as triage. He knows i have done work in the past and will do more later. *I* am the one who insisted they were EAs at all and that they were wrong because i feel i crossed boundaries that should have existed. I want to do that work. But you are right that now may not he the time. I really do need both of us in a safer place from his A's first.

LO, thank you. I am better today. Yes i felt shame and that my feelings were invalid because i was "just as bad". Specifically my feelings of trauma and pain. But i feel reassured today. We have talked a bunch and i have had him read along with my thread in WS and discuss it.

And we went over our timelines together and figured stuff out. Basically it looked like this:

Sept-dec 2016 - my EA1. no sexting but some innuendo. He knew and we laughed about it.
Spring 2017 (i think April) - i catch him in an EA. He claims was with a coworker, i dont get the truth until august 2019. He really met her on a dating app, and did meet her in person at least once.
March-july 2017 - my EA2. Not sexual until one weekend in may where he sexted me and i refused to sext back. Husband knew most but not all details that weekend.
Summer 2017: i seek help for depression, anxiety. I had just weaned my son so got on antidepressants and did therapy. Came up with a plan to address my issues, and carried it out. Got my mental health under control enough to apply to school to reenter the workforce, etc. He rugsweeps.
July or august 2017, he goes to a prostitute.
Summer 2017- march 2019, he intermittently tried dating apps, with a poor success rate.
June 2018, he is approved for a transfer to a bigger city
August 2018 we move
Sept 2018, i start an intensive program, 8 classes first semester.
Fall 2018, he tries dating apps in a bigger city
Winter 2019, i am struggling from the i tensity of the program, two bouts of the flu, and two young kids struggling at a new school. He starts going to massage parlors
March 2019, i find him on dating apps. He is unremorseful. I tell him we are done but he cant leave until i am done school because i have no means of support
March 2019-june 2019, i struggle to stay alive and to keep doing my intensive program. Classmates call me at home to make me do assignments because i cant make myself. Two online friends help me. I end up sexting with both. Husband knows about it at the time.
June 2019, i tell him he did nothing to convince me to change my mind, so plan to leave. I tell his mom and mine. He starts therapy. We HB a lot and he starts getting it, i think. But he is still lying.
July 2019 he goes to the massage parlor while i am out of town. I still dont know he has ever done this.
Aug 2019 i catch him in lies and kick him out. Expose him on FB. Give him one chance to telle everything. He does. I learn about the lies of the first ea, and the years of dating apps, and the prostitute, and the massage parlors, which he initially says ended in march, corrected to april.
Aug 2019, i am actively suicidal, under medical watch and drugged so i dont feel.
Mid aug 2019, i check his phone and find the july visit to the massage parlor, after i thought ye was getting it. Tell him to leave and 180 hard. See a lawyer. Find apartments. Treat him like a coparent, and nothing else.
After a few days, he is a different person. the time away from my suicidal crisis gave everything a chance to fall into place. He got it and was remorseful and has worked his ass off ever since.

So there is the timeline. I am glad BSR said it is ok to identify as more one than the other, because i do. But i felt like it wasnt owning my part to admit that.

LosferWords posted 12/16/2019 12:40 PM

I don't post in here much anymore, as I feel like this thread is predominantly for people in madhatter situations attempting to reconcile.

I thought leavingorbit brought up a very good point, though:

I’m curious as to what purpose comparing pain in MH situations serves? I’m wondering because both our individual ICs and MCs have stressed the importance of keeping away from “worse” or “smaller.” Finding common ground and empathy is what’s been emphasized to us. Would anyone care to elaborate on their viewpoint of this?

Comparing pain does nobody any good at all.

In my situation, I had an affair about 4-5 months into our relationship. The emotional part lasted a couple of months, the physical part was two times, within one week. She started her affair a few months before we met, and it lasted the first 15 years of our relationship, through our dating, engagement, and marriage. I found out that our son was not biologically mine, but his. He was someone who I thought was a friend. We played music together, shared gigs with our bands, he wanted me to join his band.

Even though our reconciliation didn't work out, and she knew the extent of her affair was a bit greater than mine, every now and again she had to feel her pain about my affair. It hurts when someone betrays you. Regardless of what that person has done to you, you betrayed them as well, and that's what sucks about being a madhatter. Best thing to do is accept what they are feeling, and let them process their thoughts and feelings about everything without bringing their actions into it. It's almost like compartmentalizing... hell, it is compartmentalizing. If you betrayed a partner, own it, and let them process, even though you've been betrayed as well.

Not an easy thing, but but healing isn't an easy process. Glad to see this thread bumped.

leavingorbit posted 12/16/2019 16:54 PM

Losfer, thank you! We struggled quite a bit with comparisons. Ultimately, we’ve come to the conclusion that pain is pain. It’s difficult. It takes work. Accepting that we truly only control ourselves and our own actions was/is an uphill climb for each of us. Scary, exhilarating, painful, joyous. Our choices and minds are our own.

Just to add a weird SI anecdote, we both lurked this thread at the start of our journey. It gave us a lot of hope to see others muddling through the same things. Your story was one of those we read, so thank you for sharing. I hope you and your son are having a peaceful holiday season.

Neanderthal posted 12/16/2019 17:56 PM

Hi, I'm Neanderthal and I'm a POS.

It taken over 6 years to admit that. Now to figure out how to not be a POS.

PS. I never liked Alice in Wonderland.

crazyblindsided posted 12/16/2019 18:04 PM

I’m curious as to what purpose comparing pain in MH situations serves? I’m wondering because both our individual ICs and MCs have stressed the importance of keeping away from “worse” or “smaller.” Finding common ground and empathy is what’s been emphasized to us. Would anyone care to elaborate on their viewpoint of this?

I do feel like I am always comparing the pain as I feel my STBX's actions during and post-A were worse and more traumatizing than my 1- 6 week RA.

I also feel the actions and owning the A were different on D-Day. Whereas I disclosed my full A details and the A ending, my WS continued to have more A's, more lying to me, and more wayward mindset. I have not had an A since even though he has had more A's since. He still lies and still has no empathy for me.

My STBX would love to say I am just like him. I am nothing like him.

leavingorbit posted 12/16/2019 19:12 PM

Hey, Neanderthal, welcome! How are you doing today? I called myself lots of names, too. I called my husband lots of names. It took me 15 years to start looking at myself. The shame I felt after I stopped numbing with any available person or substance was massive. Also, I figure madhatter is because this shit is crazy.

Hi, CBS. You’ve been through so much. I believe finding forgiveness and compassion for other people’s choices is so damn hard, especially when they’re close to us. Especially when they don’t want to be healthy. I hope you know that your STBXH makes his own choices, just as you do. His have nothing to do with you, only his own pain or escapism. Have you sought IC or support?

IHatePickingName posted 12/16/2019 20:30 PM

Hi Neanderthal!

I am actually sadly glad you stepped up to join the MH club about the same day i did. It helped my shame spiral a lot when i read your thread after it was moved (because i have JFO blocked). Like you, i crossed boundaries during consentual extra marital relationships (of a different nature), and then later was cheated on and lied to and traumatized. I am struggling to sort out my trauma in this context. I could see it messing you up too. Its a lot to process. But this thread is helping me.

LosferWords posted 12/17/2019 09:51 AM

Thanks, leavingorbit. Kiddo and I are working to reclaim the holidays in our own way. It is a process. I'm glad my story helped in some way!

I also feel the actions and owning the A were different on D-Day. Whereas I disclosed my full A details and the A ending, my WS continued to have more A's, more lying to me, and more wayward mindset. I have not had an A since even though he has had more A's since. He still lies and still has no empathy for me.

My STBX would love to say I am just like him. I am nothing like him.

crazyblindsided - You are nothing like him! That's why comparisons are so unhealthy. You are only responsible for owning your own actions. If he's trying to put his actions on you - eff that! Own your actions, and only your actions, and then move forward. Please try to hold your head high as well. Stay present. Who you are now is what defines you.

Hi, I'm Neanderthal and I'm a POS.

It taken over 6 years to admit that. Now to figure out how to not be a POS.

You can start by not calling yourself a POS. That honestly doesn't help. Shitflakes aren't any better than snowflakes, and you're better than that. Time to rebuild. You've got this.

Neanderthal posted 12/24/2019 21:00 PM

I no longer feel comfortable here on SI. As if I don't deserve any help or empathy from others. I feel awkward posting pretty much anywhere, including my own thread. After all I struck first. So this is what I caused and deserve. I know, I know. I'm not supposed to feel that way. She owns the affair, blah,blah,blah. But I'd bet most first strike madhatters feel as I do. Reap what you sow.

Merry Christmas.

BraveSirRobin posted 12/25/2019 05:05 AM

That's something my H struggles with, too, Neanderthal. As madhatters, we are in conflict with a fundamental principle of SI, that "nothing you did caused the affair." When two partners have wayward thought processes, especially many of the same issues (low self esteem, filling holes with other people, resentment breeding entitlement), I think it's odd to insist that those poor coping mechanisms don't get entangled in each other's whys. The small silver lining is that this can help build understanding and compassion for each other, but it takes a lot of work and stepping outside of your own pain. Mutual betrayal is never going to be much good as a bonding experience.

There's added complexity in both our cases, because the types of infidelity are apples and oranges between us and our partners. Your wife and I have very similar back stories in that we both had a substantial EA component and we both felt entitled to lie to control the outcome. Those are higher order mindfucks. It's incredibly damaging not to acknowledge how different that is from a roll in the hay... but elsewhere on SI, that's another taboo. Treating your A as "better" or "worse" than another member's is rude and unhelpful in most cases, but it's something you have to deconstruct if that member is your own spouse.

Madhatters are always two people with poor coping skills and avoidant tendencies juggling the simultaneous tasks of standing up for ourselves and breaking ourselves down. It's practically impossible to manage that at the same time, which exacerbates triggery feelings of powerlessness. I suspect that all four of us already felt powerless before we even cheated. I loved the powerful feeling that I got when the OM fell hard for me. My H's RA wasn't a "revenge affair" so much as a "reclamation affair," proof that he had the power to replace me if necessary. It's a hall of funhouse mirrors, reflecting over and over.

You do belong here, Neanderthal, as much as anyone, and arguably more than anyone. You and LD have taken a fairly spectacular public beating on several fronts because of how much you both belong here. Don't give up now. You've been through so much that's brutal over the last several months. Don't give up on SI right when you're in need of the most specialized kind of help we can offer.

Hang in there. It will be better next Christmas. Truly, it will.

IHatePickingName posted 12/26/2019 08:57 AM

Neanderthal, i really hope you dont leave because your presence here is proof i belong too. I really struggle with that too, and also how i can get support here now that i dont feel fully entitled to, on either front. I am not innocent enough to be a BS despite being blindsided by years of lies and deliberate attempts to cheat in every possible manner. And yet i am too broken as a BS to post as a wayward either. I outed myself because i felt like a liar by not taking ownership of my own broken boundaries, but now every post has to be carefully curated to fit what i am allowed to say where, so i feel less authentic. And, like we discussed in your other thread, everyone else has moved on past the infidelity. Its just me, sitting here alone now, still broken and needing to figure out how to heal, but not really sure where i can talk about it now or what i can say.

SuddenImpression posted 12/31/2019 11:18 AM

I'm glad I found the Madhatters thread here, since the forum dictates that Madhatters should post as WS. That's pretty B&W way to look at it, but I'll respect the decision as it is easier to classify these things.

I have a timeline to give but honestly I'm not sure if I want to. My situation is a mess.

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