I guess I am still trying to take the blame for some of it and wonder what I could have done differently.
Oh man Somber, ditto. My therapist calls this "magical thinking." We go over and over the scenarios in our mind trying to "fix" them, thinking "if only I had been nicer, or sexier, or hadn't yelled at him when he was acting like a child, then he wouldn't have done those things."
The problem with magical thinking is it doesn't work. We can't go back in time and change our behavior, and even if we could, there is no amount of tip toeing or walking on eggshells that can magically make a dysfunctional person functional. They won't change if they don't want to.
I tried to always be up front with him about how his behaviors made me feel. I really did my best to avoid the typical passive aggressive/codependent pit falls of just letting him continue to do whatever he wanted without having to hear my opinion on it, or discuss why I was upset. But guess what, that didn't work either!
He wasn't truly in recovery, because you know what he did when he found me voicing my opinion to be "controlling" and "not listening to him?" Instead of having the difficult discussions of "When you do ____, I feel _____. What can we do to change this dynamic?" he went out and found a girlfriend!
Don't get me wrong, I'm still the queen of magical thinking... it comes up constantly. But I've gotten better at recognizing it when I'm doing it and then talking myself down. I used to remind myself of his dysfunction by replaying a few of the greatest hits of his addictive dysfunction - all of those perverted things that none of us like to think about. But now I've realized that I can use other, less jarring reminders to get me through the day.
We've all talked about how our spouses are just giant children. One such way that this manifested itself with my XH is that he was constantly spilling things, and somehow never seemed to notice. He would be drinking a glass of wine, and while gesticulating during a conversation it would slosh over the side of the glass and start running down his hand, dripping onto his clothes and the carpet.
He would be painting and he would get it on his face and hands, and then somehow have no concept of how that paint would then transfer to other things as he touched them, so seemingly every surface in our house had paint stains on it.
Or my personal favorite. My brother was visiting us at our apartment, and my XH decided to make salmon teriyaki for dinner. He had put it on tin foil to grill it, and in walking from the kitchen to the grill he left a trail of salmon teriyaki juice on the kitchen floor and carpet. Just kept continuing his conversation with my brother as if he had not just dripped stinky fish juice all over our apartment. I had kind of come to accept this as an endearing quirk of his that wasn't going to change, so I went to grab a towel to clean it up. He got embarrassed that I didn't just leave it, and yelled at me that he would handle it. I said no, you won't, it's fine, I've got it. And it turned into this whole thing where now I'm feeling bad for cleaning something up, but if I didn't clean it up then our carpet would be stained and our whole house would smell like fish.
There have been a few times where I've called my brother to get a reality check. I'll get into that shame spiral of blaming myself for everything - most recently when I was away for work and ruminating alone in my hotel room, I called and said "I just can't get it out of my head. He left me because I am too controlling and stubborn!" My brother said "Look, there's no denying that you're stubborn. You're stubborn as f$ck. But he didn't leave you because of that. He left you because he is an addict who didn't want to be called an addict and who wanted to keep acting like an addict." Then he said "Remember, whenever you're feeling like you're the crazy one who screwed everything up, just remind yourself - salmon teriyaki juice!"
It's become my mantra of sorts. Find something about your SA spouse that you know is just absolutely ridiculous, even a small thing. And when you're feeling down, like it's all your fault, just remind yourself of that. It really helps to be able to laugh at the situation. As devastating as this all may be, I find if I laugh at it, I'm not letting it have as much control over me. I'm kind of laughing in the face of it, I guess, letting it know I won't be controlled by it any longer.
I think my husband loved all the work and focus I did to try to prevent him from melting down. He loves to be the victim. He loves to be seen, but not known. I just wanted to get through the day without another scene.
I spoke with my IC about this a couple of weeks ago. I believe that my XH knew that he needed me to play that role, but he also didn't want it and hated me for it. He needed a mother to mother him, but then also expected that mother to turn around and want to fuck him after a whole day of having to mother him. All of the work we had to put in to attempt to prevent their ridiculous behavior and childish disregard for consequences makes them the center of attention. They claim to hate it, all of the "controlling," and yet they are bringing it on themselves. It is such a vicious cycle.
Giving up on my weird servitude to working so hard on having a marriage. That makes me sad. But, gosh, aren't we trained to do that and isn't that what the culture tells us to do?
^^^ This!! Ashes, I couldn't have said it better. Yes, relationships are work, but they shouldn't have to be THIS much work. I am angry with myself that I did not cut my losses years ago. Instead, I refused to admit that I had made a mistake in choosing this person, and decided to play the martyr to all of his sexual perversions and childlike lack of coping mechanisms. As if somehow putting up with all of his shit made me a better person. Not anymore, not ever.
trying to seek safety, seek a reduction in drama and pain, and trying to ensure things go as well as possible.
I know a huge part of the reason I stayed was my step daughters. I felt a responsibility to make it work for them, as they had already been abandoned by their own mother, they didn't need another maternal figure to leave them behind, especially when it has absolutely nothing to do with them. I also felt responsible for modeling boundary setting for them, and would often get into the middle of his arguments with them to point out to him that they had every right to not want to do things just because he wanted to, or to expect that they be given a time to leave the house rather than be expected to be ready at the drop of a hat when he just decides "Ok, let's go!" I watched them grow into young women, and it made me so proud to see them stand up for themselves, even in the face of his anger. I really wish they didn't have to do that though, life would be much easier if they had a father who would step up and act like one.
Now I know that if your spouse isn't doing the work, the only real way to ensure our safety and avoidance of pain is to get out. The pain is still there, sure, but it's all old residual pain. It's like a bruise that is healing - it's yellowing, and it still hurts when it gets bumped, but it's getting less and less sensitive to the touch, and it's starting to disappear. Though I imagine this bruise will never fully go away. My entire attitude towards relationship is forever altered. Maybe that's for the best, but I do resent him for making me rethink my idea of love.