What does remorse fell like ? Is it painful?
Hmmm. That's a good question. Yes and no.
Yes, it's painful to know all the ways that my husband was damaged by my actions.
In another way, when I finally started to understand and take accountability, it was a relief.
During my affair, I very much detached from my husband and other close people in my life. I spent two months in a complete bubble. I could not have an affair without detaching.
When the affair was over, it was difficult to reattach. I believed my own bullshit at this point. For a long time I could only really feel guilt, regret, and shame. These were very big emotions and it crowded everything else out. It kept my focus on myself instead of my husband. It was hard to look at him and sometimes hard to sit through the conversations we were having. I was really at rock bottom.
Remorse happens when you can really sit down and forget about yourself and feel empathy for what you put someone else through. Having that empathy took away my defensiveness and motivated me to work harder on myself. The more I worked on myself the more accountability I had, the more I was willing to look at the truth of my weaknesses and shortcomings.
It was a relief because I was actually concerned I was devoid of emotion. I had numbed myself so deeply in the affair that I knew I wasn't feeling the ways I should towards all the people I loved, including my husband.
Remorse is transformative because it means that you are no longer trying to place the blame on the other person. You are no longer trying to deny how hellishly terrible you were. You are going to work your ass off to never go back to that place again.
Does remorse make you want to stay in the marriage or make the marriage better ?
It does not make me want to stay in the marriage. My motivations for staying in the marriage did evolve. In the beginning, I felt like I owed it to him and myself to see if we could repair it. Then it evolved into realizing that I was the one who was making myself unhappy, that I was the one who made terrible decisions, and the more I worked to connect with my husband the more I could see what it had done to him. It's difficult not to retreat in those moments at first. Then eventually we had rebuilt our connection and I remembered all the wonderful reasons I fell in love with him. I also found a lot of new ones. I stay in my marriage not from remorse but because I love him.
His affair of course has shaken the marriage again. I have worked very hard to get to the point we were at. So, I would say I am back to thinking we owe it to ourselves to see where we go from here. But I wouldn't say remorse is a reason for staying in a marriage. That's kind of like saying you stayed because you felt too guilty to leave and I definitely do not think that was really ever the case.
Is it good for a marriage? I don't know, it's just something that is there. I think you get to a point where most things dissolve or get resolved. Remorse isn't like that. I will always be very remorseful towards all the things I did to him. All the terrible decisions I made. But, it gets to the point where you aren't feeling the weight of that every day because you do get to a point where you have days that you don't think about the affair much at all. Sometimes I was even having good weeks before I discovered his affair.
Does remorse make the wayward feel terrible and disgusted with the affair even if a few weeks or months earlier the affair was exhilarating?
I think it plays a part. I feel terrible and disgusted with the affair for many, many reasons. The word "remorse" to me means that I feel terrible for what I did to my husband. Relaying all the details of my affair, I feel like now when I think about the affair my husband knowing is like he watched it kind of. Hard to describe. But, a lot of other things play a part in those feelings of disgust:
- I was used by another person, and I used them as well.
-I could have chosen differently.
-It's taken years from my life.
-I can see what happened between us was both of us seeking validation rather than each other.
-It's against my morals and integrity.
But, yes, in part some of my disgust is geared towards destroying my husband and marriage. It was cheap and artificial and so not worth it. I don't know what ever would be worth that to be honest.