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I Can Relate :
Spouses/Partners of Sex Addicts - 21

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DevastatedDee ( Member #59873) posted at 3:27 PM on Monday, December 21st, 2020

I'll wish I knew how some folks seem to just get it and break free so quickly.

I've given that some thought reading threads all over the board. I think for me, I hit clarity relatively hard and fast and it isn't because I'm stronger or smarter. I really do think there's something to this empath thing and I'm not one. I'm more selfish. I'm more prideful. I got hit in my pride and that was the death knell for the marriage. I did not come close to getting past the "made a fool out of me" feeling. I never made a dent in that even while this man was buying me a Corvette. There was no love-bombing that could get me to even dip my toe into getting past the insult to my pride. This doesn't make me a better person, quite the opposite. My own personal flaws made R not even really a possibility. So it was easier for me, in a way? I mean, I reacted to DDay by immediately going out and fucking a stranger. That's pretty defiant and messed up behavior. That says something about me. I was not R material even if he straightened up and flew right forever. You two are better people and your WHs are idiots because they probably could have had some kind of real marriage with you two after this. There could possibly have been some kind of actual R attempt. They had people who would have empathy for trauma they experienced that messed them up. But no, they continued to lie, use, abuse, and manipulate. They continued to create suffering and blow up your lives. That's who they are. You are beautiful. They are shitty.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 4435   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8618447
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crazyblindsided ( Member #35215) posted at 4:31 PM on Monday, December 21st, 2020

(((Somber))) It is easy to fall back into it. Look at my join date. It took me YEARS to do this. I just finally physically separated 4 months ago but it took that many times for me to do something.

Also not sure if you have looked into trauma bonding, but it is a real thing and so hard to break. Some say it is the strongest bond there is.

Just keep detaching and keep going to therapy. You will know when it is time because it will feel like you cannot stand a second more in your M.

[This message edited by crazyblindsided at 10:32 AM, December 21st (Monday)]

fBS/fWS (me):48 Mad-hattered after DD1
XWS:50 Serial Cheater, NPD tendencies
Together 24 years, Married 19
DD(18) DS(15)
DD1 (2008) COW, DD2 (2012) MOW, False R (2014) Same MOW. DD3 (2019) Webcam girl

posts: 8031   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2012   ·   location: California
id 8618468
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MyHeart101 ( New Member #75632) posted at 4:39 PM on Monday, December 21st, 2020

Are you speaking of during separation or into divorce prep/proceedings?

MyHeart101

Me, BS 51yrs
SAWH, 55yrs
Married 4 1/2 yrs, together 6
Dday 1 Winter/Spring 2014/2015-Porn/PMing women
Dday 2 Winter 2017 -never stopped porn/masturbating
Dday 3 Summer 2019 -never stopped porn/masturbation
Dday 4 8-26-2020 -neve

posts: 44   ·   registered: Oct. 9th, 2020   ·   location: East TN
id 8618473
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crazyblindsided ( Member #35215) posted at 5:27 PM on Monday, December 21st, 2020

Are you speaking of during separation or into divorce prep/proceedings?

Not sure if this question was for me... I kept staying in my M even though I should have left and this was all before I made my final decision to leave. Then we did IHS and I just physically separated 4 months ago and am getting a legal separation for financial reasons.

fBS/fWS (me):48 Mad-hattered after DD1
XWS:50 Serial Cheater, NPD tendencies
Together 24 years, Married 19
DD(18) DS(15)
DD1 (2008) COW, DD2 (2012) MOW, False R (2014) Same MOW. DD3 (2019) Webcam girl

posts: 8031   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2012   ·   location: California
id 8618496
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skeetermooch ( Member #72169) posted at 8:12 PM on Monday, December 21st, 2020

They had people who would have empathy for trauma they experienced that messed them up. But no, they continued to lie, use, abuse, and manipulate. They continued to create suffering and blow up your lives. That's who they are. You are beautiful. They are shitty.

Thanks, Dee.

You know, I don't agree that the mad hatter thing was evidence of fucked up behavior. You'd been blindsided and you acted on your anger. They say folks who react to trauma from anger fair better than us freeze-folks. We stay stuck much longer. I suppose it is empathy. But I feel like I have it to a fault, to my own detriment and for people who don't deserve it at all. I mean this man abused me. Of all the humans in the world he ain't one I should be throwing empathy at. And even at that what is being an empath - is it actually more to do with being conditioned to rationalize abuse or see the good in bad people than actually being a kind, compassionate person? I grew up in a pretty inattentive, sometimes abusive home and I had to develop a world view that included forgiveness and understanding where my abusers were coming from because I was stuck there for 18 years. To have felt anger and injustice nonstop would've made me crazy. It was how I coped with a shitty situation in which the people meant to love and protect me, were inconsistent at best and outright abusers at worst.

I guess empath is not as pathologizing as say, codependent - my least favorite word in the English language - so, I'll take it

I wish I had as much indignation as you did. If we can't stand up for ourselves no one will. I guess I feel I let myself down a bit by not kicking him out for his first indiscretion.

[This message edited by skeetermooch at 2:16 PM, December 21st (Monday)]

Me: BS 50sDDay 1 - 7/2019Separated - 11/2019False Reconciliation - Spring 2020DDay 2 - 8/23/2020DIVORCED - January 2021

posts: 1165   ·   registered: Nov. 28th, 2019
id 8618561
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DevastatedDee ( Member #59873) posted at 8:42 PM on Monday, December 21st, 2020

I don't know, Skeeter. It's certainly possible that because I didn't have to cope with abuse from my family growing up I never developed a coping mechanism for it. That may be where I could be enraged and indignant instead of looking for what good I could find in him. People just shouldn't be so awful to each other for such coping mechanisms to even be needed. And yeah, empath sounds a lot more like someone who cares about others' feelings than codependent does. That drove me nuts in Nar-Anon and Al-Anon meetings. I walked in already knowing that I didn't cause it, couldn't control it, etc. I walked in with "this asshole is fucking up my life". "It's not his fault, it's a disease", "I don't care, he needs to handle his 'disease'".

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 2:43 PM, December 21st (Monday)]

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 4435   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8618571
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HeHadADoubleLife ( Member #68944) posted at 9:00 PM on Monday, December 21st, 2020

Skeeter, I agree with you, I do think that empaths sometimes develop these skills out of necessity, or as a "coping mechanism" like you said. But I also think that some of it is just inherent personality traits.

And yes, I like empath better.

I knew about empathy, but hadn't heard the term empath before my IC brought it up to me. One day I was describing my personality by giving examples of how I had reacted in various situations, and basically how I could truly feel how other people were feeling. And I was describing it to her because I felt like it made me a weirdo, an outsider. Like I was just absorbing all of this energy from other people, and what the fuck was wrong with me, this isn't normal, everybody else seems to be able to go about their life without these excessive feelings.

And she just looked at me with that sympathetic head tilt that made me feel like she was about to say "Oh sweetie." And instead she said, very matter-of-factly, "Well yes, you're an empath." Like, duh.

I was trying to find fault in myself. How I had been wrong. How I had screwed things up. I was "too nice," etc.

What she said next really blew my mind wide open:

"Let's not pathologize your kindness."

This, coming from someone who has completely shattered my world view into bits by pointing out all of the ways in which I was just acting out patterns from my FOO. Like, of course she wants to point out unhealthy behaviors and trace them back to their origins. But she also doesn't want me to deny who I am. Because while the patterns of deferring to others and extending too much forgiveness CAN be learned behaviors, kindness and consideration can also just be part of who you are. I naturally, always, think about how any given action will affect other people. I don't know how not to do that. And I would much rather be that kind of person, at risk of giving too much of myself, than to be the opposite.

Somber, I have another post I'm typing out for you, but I figured this should have its own separate response because I'm already writing a novel

BW
DDay Nov 2018
Many previous DDays due to his sex addiction

Hurt me with the truth, but don't comfort me with a lie.

Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity.

posts: 830   ·   registered: Nov. 26th, 2018   ·   location: CA
id 8618580
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DevastatedDee ( Member #59873) posted at 9:56 PM on Monday, December 21st, 2020

What she said next really blew my mind wide open:

"Let's not pathologize your kindness."

Preach!! Never be ashamed of such a beautiful trait! The shame is on those who abuse it.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 3:56 PM, December 21st (Monday)]

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 4435   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8618601
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skeetermooch ( Member #72169) posted at 11:21 PM on Monday, December 21st, 2020

HHADL,

Oh, I love this explanation. Yes, I do feel everyone's feelings. I identify and worry for their pain and discomfort and it's distracting and heavy. I can see how a lot of this is my nature while there's some learned behavior in terms of experiencing abuse and neglect. I think the learned part is accepting that abuse and love can go together and accepting abuse to experience the love.

I don't know if I tried R after dday because of empathy or learned behavior - maybe some of both. I do feel sorry for him at times but I also just plain didn't want to give up being married, having a partner, etc and tried to talk myself into it not being so bad or I don't know what. Clearly, he wasn't changing.

And, btw - I filed the final paperwork that gets my divorce petition in front of a judge to sign off on it without a hearing. In 3-4 months the D will be final.

Me: BS 50sDDay 1 - 7/2019Separated - 11/2019False Reconciliation - Spring 2020DDay 2 - 8/23/2020DIVORCED - January 2021

posts: 1165   ·   registered: Nov. 28th, 2019
id 8618638
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Hurtmyheart ( Member #63008) posted at 2:52 AM on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

I like DevastatedDee's attitude. Lol She's got it right on. She didn't grow up with it and she ain't putting up with it. I say right on. You are right on in your thinking, DevastatedDee.

posts: 715   ·   registered: Mar. 12th, 2018
id 8618701
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Superesse ( Member #60731) posted at 3:45 AM on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

Skeeter! Haven't been here much at all, but just saw this and wanted to cheer for you! Just reading back a few pages to catch up on all, I have to agree with the poster who thought you are sounding so much stronger!

Meantime here we are, the winter soltice & Great Conjunction ...and of course, being 2020, it had to be impossible to see any of the stars for the dark and heavy cloud cover we've had for days here. Maybe tomorrow will be clear as they forecast. (I invited some older friends and somebody is bringing a telescope - it doesn't snow! My little star watch party was supposed to be tonight, but I understand tomorrow will be almost as good to see it...and everybody agreed to that switch!)

Otherwise, my life has entered the winter doldrums....sunporch deck covered in ice snd snow melt, causing some plywood floor joints to swell and bubble...RV I bought a year ago this week is still just being used as "The Doghouse" for our IHS. My older dog, my furbaby, is lately starting to show his age, at 13, and seems to be slowing way down. Many folks in the community are sick with Covid, so every day I go out it's like "what's next?"

Then yesterday, my STBXWH's 91 year old father was buried overseas; I had to watch his funeral on livestream, seeing all these in-laws that never accepted their Golden Boy marrying me. It really put the last 23 years of my life in some weird focus, especially when the speakers carefully avoided any mention of my existence while telling how his family came to America "to visit him" (for our wedding!). No big deal, I wasn't shocked, I sucked it up, trying to be "supportive" of his feelings.

But my BFF watched it with us and today she said "Last night, I finally got what you've been trying to tell me for years and years, about how it is with you and his family!" She thinks he ran away from home many years ago, before I met him....and strangely, she isn't the first person to tell me that. He can't admit that to himself so he resolves his conflicting "loyalties" by getting "depressed" they don't like his choices and he can't bring himself to tell the women in his family to F off, so instead, he pouts and refuses to be happy about anything we try to do - pretty much since Day 1.) Fun stuff, huh?

Anyway...here's hoping each of you can pull together a good holiday - despite it all!

posts: 1380   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8618713
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Somber ( Member #66544) posted at 12:10 PM on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

My suggestion is to lean into that pain and get yourself off this roller coaster.

. I’m gonna try but this denial vortex is strong. I feel sucked into the ‘pretend,’ especially at Xmas when we are totally all isolated to ourselves.

The familiar is a magnet. Breaking out of its force field feels unnatural and requires so much sustained effort. Hard to muster when you're dealing with the day struggles of life, a pandemic, children, work, etc. The dreams are so deeply rooted in us; it's hard to rip them out and plant new ones.

.

Exactly!!! Yes Skeeter, this is how it feels. It feels like a magnet and for some crazy reason I’m not repelling yet?! Wtf is wrong with me... I’ve also been at war in my head for a very very long time. I can date back 10 years ago to red flags. He went to a sex club when I was 9 months pregnant with our first born. I don’t know how I managed to trick myself into minimizing it, denying it and rugsweeping over and over again. I think that illustrates more the skills he has on gaslighting and manipulation. It also illustrates my empathetic side, abandonment issues and childhood with a neglectful father who always chose his girlfriend of the month over spending time with me.

Me: BS, 41 / Him: SAWH, 43
2 children ages 7 and 9
“The truth is still blurry but the lies are getting clearer”

posts: 617   ·   registered: Oct. 17th, 2018   ·   location: Canada
id 8618763
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Somber ( Member #66544) posted at 12:25 PM on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

You two are better people and your WHs are idiots because they probably could have had some kind of real marriage with you two after this. There could possibly have been some kind of actual R attempt.

I agree that we have the empathy and personalities to forgive easily and really put effort into R. That’s very true, so that is a huge loss on these WH part because they had a real chance if they made the effort to recover. I don’t agree that we are better people, I think we are flawed from childhood experiences and are used to trying to love emotionally unavailable men (like my father). I think you are an amazing person, stronger for sure, acted out of pain/anger and I wish I went out an F’d a stranger when I found out! That’s okay. I would have preferred that route if I had it in me. You are also beautiful and yes they are shitty!!!

They say folks who react to trauma from anger fair better than us freeze-folks. We stay stuck much longer. I suppose it is empathy. But I feel like I have it to a fault, to my own detriment and for people who don't deserve it at all.

. I completely agree!! I freeze and it has kept me stuck for many years.

CBS,

Also not sure if you have looked into trauma bonding, but it is a real thing and so hard to break

I have in the past but not for a long time. I certainly relate to trauma bonding. It kinda is partly what happens here. I just can’t get to that first step of committing to live in reality...

Because while the patterns of deferring to others and extending too much forgiveness CAN be learned behaviors, kindness and consideration can also just be part of who you are...I would much rather be that kind of person, at risk of giving too much of myself, than to be the opposite.

Yes I would rather always choose kindness; however, these character traits play a role in keeping me stuck. That is where they fault.

Me: BS, 41 / Him: SAWH, 43
2 children ages 7 and 9
“The truth is still blurry but the lies are getting clearer”

posts: 617   ·   registered: Oct. 17th, 2018   ·   location: Canada
id 8618764
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DevastatedDee ( Member #59873) posted at 2:24 PM on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

I like DevastatedDee's attitude. Lol She's got it right on. She didn't grow up with it and she ain't putting up with it. I say right on. You are right on in your thinking, DevastatedDee.

I appreciate that. I didn't handle it all as maturely as I could have at times, but I am very glad to be out of that marriage.

I agree that we have the empathy and personalities to forgive easily and really put effort into R. That’s very true, so that is a huge loss on these WH part because they had a real chance if they made the effort to recover. I don’t agree that we are better people, I think we are flawed from childhood experiences and are used to trying to love emotionally unavailable men (like my father). I think you are an amazing person, stronger for sure, acted out of pain/anger and I wish I went out an F’d a stranger when I found out! That’s okay. I would have preferred that route if I had it in me. You are also beautiful and yes they are shitty!!!

I love you back! No, I still argue that if your flaw is to be more loving and forgiving, you're a better person. It does make you more vulnerable to assholes, sure, but it's still nothing to be ashamed of. It makes it harder for you to leave, and that's where it can be a hindrance. That doesn't lessen your beauty one bit.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 4435   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8618791
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skeetermooch ( Member #72169) posted at 3:45 PM on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

Superesse,

Stargazing sounds magical and I'm so happy you have a friend there who can validate your experience with your in-laws. May the doghouse be cold and lonely!! And thanks for the congrats - I did it at last.

Somber,

Nothing wrong with you. At 9 months pregnant of course you rug sweep - you're too vulnerable and too invested at that point to pull of stakes. It's like when I caught my idiot STBX five months into our marriage sexting - there was no way at the beginning of this soul-mate partnership I could do anything but rug sweep - it would've been emotional whiplash. And yes, their gaslighting and manipulation game is strong af.

And as to now, it's Christmas so the pull to play happy family is strong and there are other people involved. We've all stuck our heads in the sand for a holiday or some other life event - enjoy the hallmark facade and get back to dealing with the ugly underbelly when you're under less pressure to make everyone merry.

[This message edited by skeetermooch at 9:46 AM, December 22nd (Tuesday)]

Me: BS 50sDDay 1 - 7/2019Separated - 11/2019False Reconciliation - Spring 2020DDay 2 - 8/23/2020DIVORCED - January 2021

posts: 1165   ·   registered: Nov. 28th, 2019
id 8618823
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HeHadADoubleLife ( Member #68944) posted at 5:14 PM on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

(((Somber)))

I know I apologize for this constantly, but here comes another long one. My brain just doesn't do short/concise well.

I look at his phone and see nothing, then I wonder if I saw anything at all. Did I? Was what I saw correct or is it in my head? Am I crazy or going crazy? I mean, how could someone who is actively cheating on me be kind to me, do nice things, etc.? It can’t be true.

I think you already know the answer here. We have all been there. This is why gaslighting is such an effective tool. And yes, all of the acts of “kindness” throw us off as well.

And this is why we are smart, and we keep the screenshots (as you did). It is painful to relive it, but it helps us get unstuck. It reminds us that yes, this really happened. Yes, this person who is acting kind and doing nice things for me is leading a double life.

FWIW I think skeeter hit the nail on the head with this:

Your WH can be nice because he's getting what he wants - the best of both worlds. He's a happy camper. He's only not nice when something gets in the way of his gravy train.

Then there's this:

I like the thought of avoiding the deep pain of separation. I start to convince myself it’s not that bad, maybe it didn’t happen. I have the details wrong, I’m overreacting. Pair this self doubt with fear of divorce and I convince myself to stay in this abusive marriage. I allow myself to be lost in old habits for a while. Things seem great at the moment as we return to a routine.

This is one of the ways they train us to rugsweep… because they are so much nicer when we act like everything is fine while they are fucking around behind our backs. Routines feel comfortable. They take us back out of that crazy cortisol rush of being in fight or flight mode, and it feels nice to not be that amped up. But it’s good to be aware that while this might feel calm by comparison, we’re still operating at a constant, low-level cortisol buzz that most normal people don’t have to put up with. Look up adrenal fatigue. It explains a lot about why we feel so incredibly tired all the time.

Yes I would rather always choose kindness; however, these character traits play a role in keeping me stuck. That is where they fault.

I don’t mean to conflate kindness with putting up with bullshit. You can be a kind, loving, dedicated person, and also take no shit. It’s the walking away that is difficult

I can date back 10 years ago to red flags. He went to a sex club when I was 9 months pregnant with our first born. I don’t know how I managed to trick myself into minimizing it, denying it and rugsweeping over and over again.

Girl, my XH was basically wearing a sign that said “Get your red flags right here! Priced to sell!” and I wayyyyy overpaid. The problem is that when you wear rose colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags. I mean I married the guy AFTER I caught him over, and over, and over again stealing/mutilating my underwear, texts from escorts on his phone that he played off as wrong numbers. I pitied him, saw this as a cry for help. He was a good person battling some demons, he just had self esteem issues from a terrible childhood WTF was wrong with me?

Things seem great at the moment as we return to a routine. I feel guilty for discussing it with anyone. I avoid those that I have shared with because they know a truth now that I no longer want to accept.

I know you feel all out of sorts right now, but you are remarkably self aware. This feeling you're describing - of wanting to avoid people because they now know a truth that you would rather un-know - you need to lean into that. It's guiding you somewhere.

I'm going to relay a story that I don't think I've gone into depth about here. But it's about trusting your gut. And the levels of denial we can bring ourselves to in order to avoid cognitive dissonance. Including things like you mentioned above, avoiding people who know too much.

About a year and a half before we split, we were fighting a lot. The topics themselves don't really matter, they were kind of all over the place. But the gist was that I was asking him to a) be a responsible adult and not just go with every impulse and b) be more empathetic in his dealings with our daughters.

One night we got into a pretty heated argument over oldest DD and her latest acting out (grades, lying etc.). I was trying to convey to him that he needed to think before he spoke, and how the way he talked to her was counter-productive, because it made her feel ashamed and shut down. He called my parenting into question, threw around the "whatever, you don't know what you're talking about, you're not even their mom" crap, and a bunch of language about "we think ___" and "you treat us like ___" basically pitting the three of them against me. This was a typical argumentative tactic from him, to other me as an outsider. And I’ll give it to him, it was effective. I didn’t want to lose him, or the girls, and constantly reframing my asking for common decency as a me vs. them argument got me to “fall in line” to an extent.

I see your husband doing similar things - “Fine! Just take the house, you can have the kids!” and other nonsense like that to make you feel bad for him. To spin the situation as if you are the bad guy, he’s just the poor innocent victim of your desire to be treated like a human being, not a sex/love object or a mommy/authority figure. Deflection and projection are the name of the game with them. Remember that.

Now this is where my story gets icky. It’s not something I like to talk about, because it reveals some things about myself that I really don’t like. But I find that when I feel uncomfortable with something, that’s where the really good truth nuggets are buried. So here it goes.

The next morning I woke up to an anonymous note on my car. It was clearly written to my husband, but the author thought my car was his. The universe must have been looking out for me, because I can guarantee that if it had actually been left on my XH’s car instead of mine, he would have crumpled it up and thrown it away, never to be seen or discussed again.

Anyway, it was about a page long diatribe about what a piece of shit my XH was, that he was angry and mentally disturbed, and how his wife and children deserved better. It mentioned specific things about that argument that let me know that this was definitely someone who had overheard us, probably lived in the building.

When I found it, that feeling that something was very, very wrong hit my gut. And I couldn’t handle it. I knew this was the kind of thing that only happened to abused women. And I felt a little twinge of recognition in every word he wrote. But I couldn't handle that, the idea that I would fit into that "abused" category. I was not a battered wife! I was strong, and independent, and I always stood up for myself! I was embarrassed that this person viewed me as someone who needed defending. I could not reconcile who I thought myself to be - strong-willed, takes no shit, does not suffer fools - with who this letter “made me out to be” (It literally never mentioned me other than to say that I deserved better, it was all about my XH but in my head I turned it around to be about me). So instead of seeing the letter for the reality check that it was, I rebelled against it.

I set about rewriting the narrative. To be fair, it said absolutely nothing about me, it was all directed at my XH, but I inferred a lot because even though it hadn’t come to the surface yet, I knew deep down that I was living in an abusive, one-sided marriage, and this letter brought all of those deep feelings of shame bubbling to the surface. Even though the letter was clearly meant to disparage my XH, I took it as an attack on me - I was smart, too smart, to get into a relationship with an abuser, ergo this person is wrong, I’m not being abused. So the best way to twist it was to rewrite this whole interaction as if my XH wasn't abusive, this neighbor of ours was just crazy.

I went to bat for my XH. I immediately went to our landlord to have him go through camera footage so we could determine who left the note. The landlord then mediated a discussion between us where I basically told the guy that all couples fight, that I didn't need him to step in and try to be a knight in shining armor because I am strong and can stand up for myself. That my husband and I were just fine, and we didn’t need him to butt in. In so many words I told him to stay out of it and to leave us alone.

Then, I needed to justify it. Again, to avoid all of those feelings of shame. I told friends about the letter and the exchange. I worded it in such a way as to vilify the person leaving the note, and shine a light on myself as the tolerant, even-keeled, level-headed wife. The guy who left the note was just unstable and reactionary, we were actually quite evolved and could argue and come out the other side with a better understanding of the situation. [To be fair, the guy was super irrational and angry, and had been lashing out in other ways previously, so it wasn’t like he was just some good samaritan with no ulterior motives, but I can still recognize that I definitely did some mental gymnastics of my own.]

When I told my parents, I focused on how I had handled getting the landlord involved to review the camera footage, how I had given this neighbor a talking to. How I had been such a responsible adult in my response to this busy-body. I deflected whenever the content of the note itself was brought up. This person just needed to mind their own business.

I was pulling one over on myself. That feeling of recognition I got when reading the note? It was ugly. It made me feel so incredibly vulnerable, seen in all of the ways I didn’t want to be seen. I felt like I had been hiding it well enough. I had been managing his moods well enough. And yes, in a sick, twisted way I was proud of myself for figuring out the best way to manage his moods. Like I was playing a video game and had found the cheat codes.

Every time I stood my ground when he was irrationally angry it made me feel... I don't know... accomplished? Like I had found the combination of buttons and switches that made him act like a nice, normal person most of the time. It’s sick to say this, but I was addicted to the feel-goods I got from knowing him so well, from being able to predict how he would react in different situations. I imagine it’s similar to the adrenaline rush firefighters must get when they rush to put out a fire. They know all of the different ways to contain it, then they put that knowledge into action, and even with unpredictable, changing conditions and having to adjust their tactics, they are able to put the fire out successfully.

Now I know that this was me grasping at the illusion of control. Our H’s are the definition of a fire hazard, but we keep them around and wonder why everything keeps catching on fire. Sure most of the time you can put out small fires pretty quickly if you’re on top of it. We learn how to use all of the tools at our disposal to prevent the fires, and to put them out once they’ve been started.

The problem is, it really doesn't work that way. Even if I had discovered the magic fire extinguisher that could put out all of his bullshit, I couldn't possibly be with him all the time. These aren’t accidental fires, our H’s are the kind of people who go around flicking cigarettes onto dry brush without giving it a second thought. And it only takes one little spark to start a raging wildfire.

I know for a fact that he blew up at coworkers, cashiers, store employees etc. I stopped wanting to go with him out in public, because of the potential for him to start acting like an entitled jackass. When he spoke out of turn, or made an off color remark. Every time we did go somewhere together, I was on high alert to try to keep him in line. Not even really to spare myself the embarrassment, as I had pretty much gotten used to that, but to spare other people from his rage/unpredictability.

But even with all of his volatility I had a hard time seeing our relationship for what it was because of what I perceived that to say about who I am. I wasn’t acting like all of those other women who fawn all over their SOs, or do whatever their H wants to keep the peace. I told him off when he was being an asshole. I didn’t allow him to walk all over me. I wasn’t codependent, I was independent! Sure, he was shitting all over me, but I wasn’t taking it! I was steadfast, I didn’t take anybody’s shit. He was the storm, whirling around unpredictably and crashing into things. But I was the calm in the storm. Actually, I was the storm chaser who had figured out how to predict what was coming next, and how best to deal with it.

I know it’s hard to relay tone over the internet, but that is all in sarcastic air quotes. It’s true, I got really good at predicting it. At pointing out the flaws in his logic before the blow up even happened, which then helped mitigate the damage and blow back. Then when the blow ups did happen, I was a hard ass. I outlined exactly how he needed to speak to me, then walked away. If he blew up over the phone, I hung up. If he blew up over text, I would respond that I would only speak to him when he had calmed down, then stopped responding.

And it worked, in the moment. He would calm down and apologize profusely. I would calmly and rationally point out the ways in which his actions were hurtful, unhealthy etc. and then give suggestions for how to handle it better in the future. He would promise it wouldn’t happen again. And it wouldn’t, for a while. Until it did again. Lather, rinse, repeat. The increased length of time in between each blow up allowed me to feel like we were getting somewhere, when really he had just found other outlets for the bad attitude/behavior (meth is a helluva drug).

Turns out, just because you can predict the weather doesn’t mean you can control it. It just means that you’re better prepared for when it happens. You’re living in Tornado Alley. Even if it’s calm 75% of the time, you know firsthand the devastation that the other 25% can bring to your life, and the stress of waiting for that other shoe to drop can eat you alive. Sure I can install storm windows. I can buy an expensive shelter. I can invest in all the latest, greatest storm-tracking equipment. Be on constant alert for the slightest hint at a possible storm, ready to jump into action to mitigate the damage. But what kind of a life is that, constantly preparing for the next storm? Wouldn’t it be better to just move somewhere that doesn’t have tornadoes? How can we help you move somewhere that you get to live a tornado free existence?

Edited to add:

I want to clarify that this is not in any way meant to shame you or make you feel bad for not having left yet. We've all been in your shoes in some way or another, and it is unbelievable hard. It is not your fault that you live in Tornado Alley. And you should only leave when you feel safe to do so. We all just want to help you get to that safe place

Love to all! More responses to other parts of the thread later

[This message edited by HeHadADoubleLife at 11:39 AM, December 22nd (Tuesday)]

BW
DDay Nov 2018
Many previous DDays due to his sex addiction

Hurt me with the truth, but don't comfort me with a lie.

Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity.

posts: 830   ·   registered: Nov. 26th, 2018   ·   location: CA
id 8618850
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DevastatedDee ( Member #59873) posted at 8:23 PM on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

HHADL, that resonated with me about my first marriage. My first husband and I are actually friends now. Like I'll give him dating advice and hang out with him kind of friends. But married? No. I used to think that we just argued all the time. I had no idea what emotional abuse even was, so I didn't recognize it. I just thought he would be an asshole every so often and then I'd blow up right back because I didn't take that bullshit and after a good raging screamfest, all would be well again for a week, two weeks, maybe even a month. Not just well, but great. We had an absolute blast together. Then something would piss him off (I bought the wrong toilet paper) and there we go again. He'd bitch about how I was cooking something, and I'd take the entire pot and drop it into the trash and wish him luck on eating that evening. He'd give me the silent treatment for days, and I'd be a real asshole about it and do things like pick up the remote and change the channel when he was watching TV and he couldn't acknowledge me to do anything about it because...silent treatment. He called me a bitch when I was pregnant and I threw a drink at his head (fair, lol). I mean that marriage was a hot fucking mess. It took me years to figure out what was happening. He didn't really give a shit about the toilet paper or how I was stirring something on the oven or how I said something. He just wanted to punish me. He wanted to control me and tear me down. He wanted to fight. He enjoyed it. Not giving into it didn't make me not abused. I experienced the shame you're talking about when my aunt, who had divorced someone similar years before, called me and talked to me about it. Oh man, was I ever humiliated. I was not the kind of person who would be abused. I didn't take that shit. But you know what? I hadn't left yet either, which means I was being abused and taking that shit. That I could throw anger right back didn't negate the reality of the situation. I never started one argument that entire marriage. I was miserable and didn't even realize how miserable I was for years. When I realized what was happenening (and I owe my aunt for some of that), I stopped trying to reason with him about how so much fighting was unhealthy and left.

We've done a lot of talking in the years since and he has matured and grown a lot and taken responsibility for his behavior ending the marriage. I won't say he completely changed and I wouldn't be in a romantic relationship with him ever again, but I appreciate him being sane enough to utilize some self-reflection. It has made coparenting a lot easier than I expected it to be for the past 16 years and he was very helpful to us when I left my XWH. Not everyone is capable of that and that's part of why it's hard to leave when you have children. He wasn't half so fucked up as the gentle sweetheart XWH, which I now find to be kind of hilarious. I remember thinking how nice it was to be married to someone who never wanted to fight, lol. And this is why I have six dogs and no interest in dating, ha ha ha.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 4435   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8618890
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Somber ( Member #66544) posted at 10:42 PM on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

here's hoping each of you can pull together a good holiday - despite it all!

. I hope that too. I also hope you see that star Superesse.

Thanks Dee, no matter our individual responses, the pain was unbearable for us all.

their gaslighting and manipulation game is strong af.

. Yes it sure is! I look back and see things clearer now and it saddens me that I allowed myself to be tricked out of my reality. That I could never make a fully informed decision as I was denied the truth. There was one point, after an affair that he denied wholeheartedly, that he convinced my friend that I was depressed. She came to me because my spouse was concerned about me and my depression. I was sad at the time so bought into it. Now I look back and wtf, I was just responding to his affair, how the F did that turn into me being depressed and poor him having to be concerned about my depression. Of course he knew I wouldn’t share his affair so I looked the part. All evidence erased and me left to doubt my own reality and sanity. How unfair!!

HHADL, I enjoy your long posts. It’s a lot of great stuff and analogies in there!

You’re right, their kindness does throw us off. I have become smarter and keep screenshots of such evidence as proof. I need this proof to witness it all again to avoid being gaslighted into doubting it happened. The thing is, how much proof do I need? It’s like if I don’t see something, I think it has finally ended. In the past, I have even convinced myself of this and stopped looking. Then at some point things wouldn’t feel right, I would seek again and always found tidbits of something. I met an affair partner once, with my phone in my bra on voice record. I cold heartedly asked her facts like I was a reporter. I look back and don’t even know who I was, perhaps in shock. I wanted to finally have evidence to throw at him. But all he did was continue to deny, make her sound crazy, then eventually admit to just one sexual encounter and no more. This was 4 years ago. And here I am again and again. He had an affair with my cousin, they both still deny but their texts were all sexual. This has ruined family gatherings (aside from covid), my mom and her sister no longer talk. When is it going to be enough?? I think I get wrapped up in the sanon thoughts of it’s a disease. I then see a glimpse of change and hang onto it for dear life hoping he will follow a path to sobriety and get better. I also listen to his promises like a fool thinking maybe this time he really will get help if I stay. I have become comfortable living in denial myself which makes it all even easier for him. He is being nice because he is getting the best of both worlds right now, true! As soon as I make a fuss then he will turn back into an entitled unremorseful spouse trying all the same tactics as before.

Routines feel comfortable. They take us back out of that crazy cortisol rush of being in fight or flight mode, and it feels nice to not be that amped up. But it’s good to be aware that while this might feel calm by comparison, we’re still operating at a constant, low-level cortisol buzz that most normal people don’t have to put up with. Look up adrenal fatigue. It explains a lot about why we feel so incredibly tired all the time.

Interesting, I need to look that up. I feel like I’ve been exhausted for many many years. I have had medical work ups to investigate this exhaustion and nothing shows up. It does feel good to take breaks from the ‘amped up’ feelings. I tend to avoid conflict at the beat of times so it is very uncomfortable when I’m in a situation of conflict...which with my spouse has been too often for sure.

Get your red flags right here! Priced to sell!” and I wayyyyy overpaid. The problem is that when you wear rose colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.

I way overpaid too. There was many questionable things before we got married too. There was nothing wrong with you, we just wanted to believe the other side of them, the side they presented to us over and over again.

I had friends with concerns and ignored them. I saw his flirting, messages to other women while we were dating, etc. I didn’t ignore it all, I addressed it head on at some point, the problem is that I believed him, believed his stories, believed he loved me too. As I believed him, I lost belief in myself without even knowing it was happening. He would plan a trip somewhere tropical and off we would go in love...well so I thought. There is no way any of my doubts are true because he is taking me to Jamaica and we are having the time of our lives. Clearly he loves me and I’m overreacting. Repeat this for many vacations...it was like a tactic perhaps. I don’t know what to make of the past and when this happened. I don’t get it, I don’t understand. Then we had children and the trips included them. It was fun happy family time, of course he is sorry and wants this marriage and family to work. He is proving it to me now with this gift of precious family time and memories. Screw anyone who thinks different, I will have to change those friends minds that I confided in. He isn’t that bad. It was a mistake, it won’t happen again. It certainly wasn’t as bad as I was making it out to be. Their marriages aren’t perfect either, no ones is. Marriage is a lot of work and there will be bad times. I’m too jealous. I feel this way because my dad cheated on my mom...omg he actually used this line a million times over: “you just think that because your dad had an affair. You just want a divorce because you come from divorced parents.” Wow...sorry, I went on a rant.

That is a sneak peak into what I faced when I wanted to leave, pushed for separation or really pursued my suspicions of an affair. Not just what I faced but how I was convinced or allowed myself to believe he was being loving and honest. I have lived this for 10 years. After these trips, if I brought it up again, I was met with “I just took you an this trip.” “Why would you let me take you on this trip if you didn’t want to be with me or didn’t trust me.” Kinda like, is anything good enough for me attitude. This shut me up. I don’t know why it did but it did. I felt like, okay he did; that was a lot of money, maybe he is right. This is when I rugswept.

I was never going to get any honest truths ever anyhow. I realize that now. No matter what I did different he wasn’t going to let me in to his SA world. It’s only a few years ago, after joining here, that I truly started to see it for what it is. Even then, I have difficulty accepting it. I have more difficulty making healthy change. I certainly have learned his con artist ability to manipulate me so I started to just avoid talking about it all together now. Now I’m just trying to focus on me, therapy, trying my best to stay on reality, etc. I owe a lot of that progress to all of you!!

HHADL, Thank you for recognizing that I am self aware. I’m trying to be. It’s taken a long time to get here. I’m self aware and then I run back into my denial hole where it feels safe for a while. Thank you for sharing your story! Wow have you ever grown and become wise to it all since starting on here. I hope to get to that place one day as well. I don’t think your story shows you in a bad light. It shows that you were in a protective mode, living in denial, protecting yourself from the truth and defending your husband, the side of him you loved. It’s very classic of abusive cycles what you were doing. I’m glad you found the strength to get out of that.

To spin the situation as if you are the bad guy, he’s just the poor innocent victim of your desire to be treated like a human being, not a sex/love object or a mommy/authority figure. Deflection and projection are the name of the game with them. Remember that.

.

I know, I’ve experienced similar situations as many of you in regards to this, how they become the victim and we become the abuser. My therapist told me it’s classic DARVO (deny, attack, reverse, victim, offender). That is what I deal with when I confront him ever. I’ve grasped at the illusion of control too and relate to the story you shared. I relate to the comparison to a fire hazard and the risk of harm he presents. I get it, I understand what you are describing. I hate it, I don’t like that this is where I am. I don’t want to face the reality of it all but I know for my own sanity it is the best thing I can do. I realize how much time, energy and mind space that he occupies. Whether he is acting out or not, I’m consumed by him. It leaves no room for me, much less room for my kids and becoming the mother I want to be.

No matter how many tools I implement to prevent the fires, the risk is still great because of this...

our H’s are the kind of people who go around flicking cigarettes onto dry brush without giving it a second thought. And it only takes one little spark to start a raging wildfire.

to spare myself the embarrassment, as I had pretty much gotten used to that, but to spare other people from his rage/unpredictability

Yes I relate to this as well. The volatile overreactions to other people to make a point or get his own way. It is embarrassing but I more feel bad for the person on the receiving end.

But what kind of a life is that, constantly preparing for the next storm? Wouldn’t it be better to just move somewhere that doesn’t have tornadoes? How can we help you move somewhere that you get to live a tornado free existence?

Tornado alley for sure. It’s just the calm before the next storm. It isn’t much of a life. It’s a lonely stressful unfulfilled life. It would be better to move where there are no tornadoes but is that really possible? He will always bring tornadoes my way whether we are together or not! It won’t be tornado free and for a while it may be more tornadoes than I can handle...

I don’t feel shamed, no worries there! I feel supported by others who have lived similar stories.

Dee, thanks for sharing your story too. Having 2 toxic marriages really isn’t fair!! I know all about that immature silent treatment too. I’m glad you have been able to co parent with more ease. I hope you keep a fair distance to not be taken advantage of by him.

❤️ To you all

[This message edited by Somber at 6:23 PM, December 22nd (Tuesday)]

Me: BS, 41 / Him: SAWH, 43
2 children ages 7 and 9
“The truth is still blurry but the lies are getting clearer”

posts: 617   ·   registered: Oct. 17th, 2018   ·   location: Canada
id 8618924
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Somber ( Member #66544) posted at 2:03 AM on Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

Tonight’s episode...

“What are those pants?” As he touches my leg briefly. “Oh you’re still wearing the earrings I bought you. Wait you’re not wearing your wedding ring?”

My reply “I haven’t been wearing it for months, not sure why you are only noticing it now.”

Him “oh that’s nice!”

Me “maybe not judge me since you have barely worn your wedding ring our whole marriage.”

Him, ignoring my accusation on him “it’s nice to know that all that matters to you right now is showing the doctors and security guards that your not wearing your ring.”

Me “your crazy you know. Your projecting onto me and I don’t deserve it.”

End of discussion for now...stay tuned for more episodes of WTF has my life become.

Me: BS, 41 / Him: SAWH, 43
2 children ages 7 and 9
“The truth is still blurry but the lies are getting clearer”

posts: 617   ·   registered: Oct. 17th, 2018   ·   location: Canada
id 8618961
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Somber ( Member #66544) posted at 2:38 PM on Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

This mornings episode...

Silent treatment. Completely ignoring me, short snappy answers to any questions regarding the kids. I guess this is my punishment for not wearing a wedding ring.

Me: BS, 41 / Him: SAWH, 43
2 children ages 7 and 9
“The truth is still blurry but the lies are getting clearer”

posts: 617   ·   registered: Oct. 17th, 2018   ·   location: Canada
id 8619040
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