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I have been pretty fucking awful for the better part of a decade

learningtodance posted 2/10/2021 13:30 PM

Hi all, my BP has recommended I cross post here from my posts over on Reddit in r/SurvivingMyInfidelity and r/AsOneAfterInfidelity. I look forward to any advice folks here can offer. We’re just over a month after d-day now -- 32 days as of today, made the original post 29 days in. Major update since posting here is that BS is now, understandably, saying they're done and ready to split because I feel strongly that I will never be able to remember the last time I fantasized about someone specific within a more narrow time window. I would like to remember this information so I can help them understand but I do not know how. They think I'm bullshitting and that I bullshitted my therapist into validating this notion to manipulate them. I don't think that's true, but based on my past behaviors I'm not above it. Not sure what to do at this stage :(

Here’s the original post: ———

Hi all, this will be my first attempt to share the basic components of my story. It's a long and complicated one, so I'll try to keep it to a brief overview.

TLDR; serial infidelity over most of a decade, never fully committed until recent change of heart and disclosure followed by trickle truth and discovery. Reading evidence based approaches but not changing my behavior. Processing and looking for support.

———

Honestly, the story of my infidelity spans the better part of a decade. My (currently separated) partner and I met and became sweethearts 8.5 years ago, and we entered a monogamous relationship 6.5 years ago.

Everyone's relationship has different boundaries to some extent. Ours include fantasizing about other people as cheating, and we define hugging people that aren't pre-approved as cheating as well. This is important to understanding the nature of my infidelity, because I have violated both of these fundamental relationship covenants.

I cheated the first year we became exclusive and we processed it back then, but I didn't take the process very seriously and did just enough to get a relationship on track, but in a state of managed disconnection rather than actual relationship renewal. I pretended, however, to be taking the process and the relationship very seriously. This was upon gradual exit from a party lifestyle where I was extremely promiscuous and used other people to hurt my partner with devious intent (edit: I was the promiscuous one with the party lifestyle. I expected my partner to be functionally monogamous with me though — I didn’t want them messing around with other people, but I wanted them to deal with me having sex with lots of people, sometimes in front of them at parties. I was really, really terrible about this.)

By this point, their family loves me, my family loves them, and we are intertwined in every way. We have the married life that some others envy, or at least it seems like we do. Because I led my partner to believe that, and they build us up to seem like what it seemed like we were.

One of the biggest reveals from our first D-Day since my previously discovered infidelity, now just 29 days ago, was that I was never fully committed to our relationship in the first place. I entered into a monogamous relationship more out of fear of losing them than out of wanting the same things. And prior to our exclusive relationship, I would "recycle lines" I used with them onto other people, as well as use our relationship as a way to flirt with, fuck, or attract the attention of other people.

This called everything into question, and my partner has realized that everything they thought to be true over the span of the better part of a decade is tainted and just riddled with lies. The relationship has essentially been a lie in its entirety.

I had a (likely one-sided) affair that was largely emotional but had a physical component and would have escalated further had I sought out more opportunity -- and if Gottman's Cheater's Cascade tells us anything, I would have eventually (edit: I was also open to escalation and would have been receptive to further advances). This is toward the later days of a period where I didn't have sex with my partner for over 5 years because I didn't want to be a fair and equitable sexual partner in terms of seeking both of our pleasure rather than selfishly pursuing my own exclusively.

During this ~9-month affair I aired out my relationship problems to a room full of people in my addiction recovery support group. I learned recently that I was signaling "here's a vulnerability in my relationship -- I need comfort!" rather than innocently trying to work through those issues with other people who could relate.

I should have been there to learn skills and offer/receive support. But instead I turned to someone I was attracted to there for comfort instead.

We hugged. I felt tingly. She offered me a ride home. I didn't take it, but I wanted to. She told me the group would do x, y, or z events or outings sometimes. She said I should come sometime. I said she should totally invite me to the next one, I'd love to go. I fantasized about her. I daydreamed about her. There were periods where I thought about her more than I thought about my partner, and during this period I had grown less attracted to my partner (edit: my BS pointed out to me that it was really that whole year that I fantasized about this other woman more, and that not only was I less attracted to my betrayed partner, I found them unattractive.). And wound up feeling less attracted to my partner than to this fantasy affair partner. I had more romantic sexual fantasies about this person than I did about my partner. I had more fucked up sexual fantasies about my partner than I did about this person. My partner had me estimate the math and is now feeling like all they are is a very low percentage point.

Again, we weren't having sex, for years, because I didn't want to be a decent lover. I held onto feelings for this person from my meetings for roughly 3 months after she stopped going though -- and "coincidentally", I stopped going two weeks after her. After I knew she wasn't coming back. 3 months... that feels about right, but I have no way of knowing. I got off thinking about her within the last year (edit: my BS wants to know when the last time was, but I’m not sure how to narrow down the window of time further. Any advice?)

I was thoroughly mired in a negative perspective toward my relationship and toward my partner. For a long time by that point. I primed myself for an affair and planted seeds all over fertile ground. I walked a very slippery slope, and I made some terrible choices that killed our old relationship. I took everything we had for granted, and I took advantage of my partner's kindness and generosity while take, take, taking everything I could. I gave everything I had to myself and projected the rest to this fantasy partner, and then came home to complain that I had no emotional energy to give to my actual partner. And then I resented my partner for wanting more from me. I resented them for wanting me to do more around the house, and I blamed it on my mental illness. I resented them and scapegoated them for my personal problems. I resented them for trying to help me manage my personal problems, for doing loving things for me. I resented them for loving me. I gave them no authentic love in return. I loved them as a feeling, but not as a verb. And my love as a feeling was tainted profoundly.

I wore down their self-esteem and self-image. I was abusive. I stole thousands of dollars from our family to feed my disorders and addictions. I hid and I lied and I led a double, triple, quadruple life.

In addition to all of this, I got off thinking about characters from many of our absolute favorite TV shows and have ruined almost all television for us at this point, which was one of our main bonding activities. I got off thinking about YouTube personalities from their only fun hobby, that they have spent thousands of dollars on over the years -- so they now have no fun hobby, and are planning to throw away all of these wonderful little things that provide them joy, that they could desperately use right now as they're processing the hell I put them through.

We were watching a ton of cartoons recently, because that's one area I seemingly hadn't touched... until we got into my old facebook, and it turns out that before we became exclusive, I sent images from two of the cartoons we'd been watching (some being childhood favorites) to people I was sexting. People I didn't know. Who I couldn't even remember at first, that I don't even remember how I met. I thought nothing of it when I did it. I couldn't even remember it to disclose now. So now our cartoons are tainted as well. I've entrenched us pretty deep into a pit of misery.

To top all of that off, I admitted today and yesterday that I had been getting off to scenes from movies/shows we'd watched that were graphically/brutally violent in ways that are pretty unspeakably horrific, and that mirrored their actual lived trauma, which I knew. I held them while we watched those scenes. Comforted and reassured them as I felt them tremble in my arms. But I was heartless and thoughtless enough to indulge those scenes as fantasies in the bathroom without care for the profound significance to my partner. At first I blamed it all on intrusive thoughts. Which at least in some instances is real, to some extent. But didn't admit to myself or them, until called on it, that once you choose to indulge an intrusive thought by getting off to it, you've made it voluntary recall and a chosen fantasy.

For the past 29 days my partner has been doing everything possible to be the best kind of BS one can be while we try to get through disclosure. But I have lied every step of the way. Even when I'm telling the truth, I undermine everything honest I've said with a lie towards the end. I've done a lot of trickle truthing. And I haven't answered plenty of their questions. Some because I am/was just afraid of their judgment -- though by this point, I've confessed to the worst shit I've ever done in my life. And my partner has accepted me for it. There's really nothing left that could be any worse. They have shown me there is nothing so bad that could make them hate me, or probably even make them want to leave. Except for dishonesty.

Other questions I don't know how to answer. They're about things like, when did you start getting off and thinking about __? When was the last time? How many times? I know they don't expect exact numbers or like the exact date or anything, but I don't have those kinds of thoughts organized like that, and I don't know how to figure it out. I can say this year or within the first x months of meeting that person or in 20##, but with things from this year I don't know how to narrow down further than let's say anything was on the table through to November 2020. And they need these answers. Without those answers, that's a dealbreaker.

Folks, if anyone has figured something like that out before, please help me. At first I was avoiding these questions because I didn't want to know the answer. But at this point, I do want to know the answer. I would like to be a truth seeker and a detective with my partner, to help them heal and to lay the foundation for a new relationship if they're open to it. But I really don't know how.

So with everything else, I'm not even sure why I'm lying anymore. I know the only way to stop is to stop, but I feel like I'm not in control over it. Even though I know I am. I'm reading the Gottman books, the Shirley Glass book, the compact manual for the unfaithful, I'm taking the Affair Recovery bootcamp, but I'm still fucking it up. I feel regret and remorse for what I've done. I'm trying to see things through their eyes, but I struggle with empathy. We're fucking again, but I'm still being a selfish lover, even though (and I earnestly believe this) I don't mean to be. I'm so confused. Poor me, I know. The real burden is on them. This is my fault. They need the support and I need to transition from a destroyer to a healer. I need to process this shit though. And I would really like some support.

I've caused so much trauma and wrecked so much havoc that it's like they're walking through a mine field every day. And it's all my fault. And I'm following all the expert guidance. But whenever I do something right, I cancel it all out with my lies, fundamental self-deception, manipulation, defensiveness, deflection, gaslighting, etc.

I want this relationship, desperately. In earnest, for the first time. I revealed all of this (when prompted with questions) because I felt a massive change of heart from starting Gottman's 30 day challenge in December (which I finally finished today, after a few bumps in the road where I gave up for a few days). I've developed a profound positive perspective for my relationship, and a deep fondness and admiration for my partner. I want to build a sound relationship house. I would be doing great if all we had to work on was our pre-existing marital problems otherwise, but without successfully starting Step 1.1 of the Atone, Attune, Attach process, or even Step 0 of a relationship -- honesty and only honesty -- I will get us nowhere.

I'm writing here because I want to change. I want to get my shit together. I know that I am in full control of my behavior, so this is bullshit, but I feel like I can't catch myself before I start lying and fucking things up. It feels like a behavioral problem to me, but I want to undergo a more serious transformation of character and rooting out the behavior is fundamental there. I feel like I'm in that process, and I know it's not going to happen overnight, but I've already taken so much for granted and wasted so much time that we just might not make it.

I'm gonna keep trying and keep holding out for us. I accept that they have at least one foot out the door already, and they might bounce at any time now. I would like to start a new relationship, but I don't want to be the kind of partner that lies all the time. They just might not have any time and effort left to give to us. I can't blame them. But I'm not giving up. Even if they leave, I won't give up. I'm trying to write the story of who I want to become, whether we make it or not. But if we don't make it, I want to get myself together, and maybe they'll want to come back in the future. Maybe not. But I'll keep holding out hope. I'll keep trying.

Anyone who has advice or can offer some support, please help me. I'm desperate.

foreverlabeled posted 2/10/2021 14:33 PM

Hi and welcome.

Thats a lot to unpack but collectively we can help you.

Let's start with the continued lying. When you've made a life out of lying it becomes your knee jerk reaction. Its not that you cannot control it, its that you've made it a habit. Those are hard to break without being mindful and even when you are it takes time to create new habits. I had this issue too, the way I began to correct this was when I would state a lie I immediately back pedaled.

I would stop the dialogue and say, you know what? that was actually a lie, I'm sorry, this is what the truth is.

Well, that was the gist of it anyway. But, from the very start I told my BH that I would truly appreciate that he extended his grace as I go along trying to change because I needed to form better habits and rewire. I think our BSs understand this when they see that we are trying.

But, you have to do that every time and you already know when a lie comes out of your mouth and it requires immediate attention and corrections. I see you've admitted to some of your worst parts already and you should not fear that the next truth is going to be any worse than what is out in the open at this juncture. When the cheating doesn't kill the marriage or relationship, I promise the lies will. You can use that for motivation but you'll need your own desire to back it up.

The answers your partner seeks, I understand that specific dates and amounts will be hard to recall. Write out a timeline. For each specific question in this case. Start from the end or beginning and fill it in as much as you can from memory. Then use other means to help, your FB timeline, what you post may reflect where your head space was at the time, use your emails, your phones location tracker even. I mean make this your life's work to deliver these answers. Leave no stone unturned, you have everything to lose at this point if you cannot deliver. I would make good use of that thread you're hanging on by.

You're gonna have to roll up your sleeves and work hard.

MrCleanSlate posted 2/10/2021 15:39 PM

LTD,

As cheaters we have all lied. Some of us got really good at it too.

Hardest thing I ever did was try to actually be honest after D-Day. It is real hard when I would lie about there being no mail when I forgot to check the mailbox. Small shit that don't matter.

That is all about conflict avoidance for me. What is the reason for you?

I read your post top to bottom. It reads like so many others I've seen. You are doing a good job of smearing the shame over yourself. But I don't see that you're doing much else yet.

What will help you is to start writing out a timeline. Then re-read it and add to it or edit it, then read it again and again and keep editing. You may surprise yourself.

[This message edited by MrCleanSlate at 3:40 PM, February 10th (Wednesday)]

LongSigh posted 2/13/2021 16:57 PM

Oh man. The thing that stands out to me is you’ve basically inundated your partners life with triggers. Their reality is shredded and no thoughts or things are safe. Therapy. Preferably with a psychologist at this point. You partner is going to need intense desensitization and help processing.

Hippo16 posted 2/13/2021 21:30 PM

10 years ? just WOW!

OOOOOOOOOk

first first - be advised you may have burned all the bridges to a future togetherness - so?

You have a whale of a lot of work do to - for yourself

first is fix your morals/integrity

2nd first - timeline of all the crap you have done

for any possible help - check yourself in with a counselor to get a sanity check on your view of what a decent person is who is in a relationship with another person - opposite or same sex!

then be prepared to see your life change -

just wow - 10 years?

Put yourself in the position of the other person - would you like such treatment? Be honest with yourself!

Life can be hard and choices have to be made not on the basis of "what feels good for the moment" but - what is for for the long term future.

You need to figure out this point of view.

Others will be posting that will give you more points on which to reflect

jeez:

Topic: I have been pretty fucking awful for the better part of a decade

Well, at least you are starting to realize you are part (all?) of the issue?

just wow - 10 years of infidelity?

did I miss something in your post??


nekonamida posted 2/13/2021 22:19 PM

LTD, foreverlabeled is spot on about the lying. I'd like to expand on that a little - it seems to me that you have not been authentic for a VERY long time. You were not authentic when you expected monogamy from previous partners and then showed them the utmost disrespect and cruelty by cheating in front of them. You weren't authentic when you got into this relationship because you allowed yourself to be pressured into making agreements that you knew you weren't going to keep. You continued being inauthentic since. I'm not convinced that you are being authentic now because I can't possibly see how you would even know what you want at this point and what is best for you personally given how long you have lived dishonestly and have been lying to yourself. That's something you need to figure out in IC before any decisions about R because if what you say about the start of the relationship is true and some of the other pitfalls, it's possible that by getting healthy you will realize that this relationship has never been healthy for you either. Not because of anything your BP did but because you entered it under false pretenses and hand waved compatibility issues to begin with.

If your BP wants to end the relationship, DON'T chase them. State that you are open and hoping for R but accept that they may need to separate for their own healing. And why would you want to trap them in a toxic situation in which they feel pained and anguished due to your inability to get it together and start being honest and authentic? Why would you want to selfishly keep your partner in a situation that's soul crushing to them just to appease your desire to keep the relationship going? Wanting them to stay when it is better for them to leave is a continuation of the behaviors you are trying to change - controlling and selfishness.

On the topic of control - I believe it's one of your core issues. It's controlling to want a partner who follows strict rules that don't apply to you. It's controlling and abusive to rub your cheating in their face as you had with past partners because it was aimed at sending a message that they were less than. They were disposable and had so little worth that you could instantly replace them. That their needs and wants did not matter. That your desires were above them. And some of that has carried over into the relationship especially with how you attempted to control the intimacy in your relationship by withholding instead of finding a mutually satisfying solution to the problem. Were you punishing your BP by refusing them intimacy for 5 years for daring to be upset by your lackluster participation and lack of care shown to their needs? Was the cheating an extension of that punishment much like your past behaviors? Sure sounds like it.

5 years of a 6.5 year relationship. That's nearly 80% of the relationship that was dysfunctional and not serving the needs of either of you. 90-95% perhaps in which you were knowingly and maliciously hurting your partner by betraying them. Does this sound like a relationship that should continue? Does this sound like a relationship that can even be healthy? Having a change of heart is not enough to undo YEARS of abuse.

You need serious psychiatric help for an extended period of time because healthy people don't do this. Healthy people aren't comfortable treating their partners in such a degrading way. Publicly. That's not just being a terrible partner. It's abusive and cruel. Healthy people feel shame and guilt when they see their partner hurting especially if they caused it. Healthy people don't openly and publicly humiliate and abuse the people they claim to love and cherish. Where is your empathy? Did you just not care when your partner suffered watching you with other people or did you enjoy it to some extent? Both speak to serious mental health issues that may take years for you to work through and untangle. You don't need to answer here but you absolutely must examine what went through your mind while you did something so monstrous and what allowed you to believe that it was acceptable on any level and for such a long time.

Healing will likely not come quickly enough for your BP so again, PLEASE, give them space to heal separated from you. Their response to your inability to remember is a direct consequence of your gaslighting. They can't heal if they still feel unsafe and as if your abuse continues regardless of what form it may take or if it is unintentional.

HouseOfPlane posted 2/15/2021 09:13 AM

I want this relationship, desperately. In earnest, for the first time. I revealed all of this (when prompted with questions) because I felt a massive change of heart from starting Gottman's 30 day challenge in December (which I finally finished today, after a few bumps in the road where I gave up for a few days). I've developed a profound positive perspective for my relationship, and a deep fondness and admiration for my partner.
LTD, since you've lied continuously throughout your relationship, it stands to reason that your BP is not actually in love with you, she's in love with the lie that you lived. The façade that you threw up. Your partner likely doesn't know who you are.

There's a good chance that in order to keep this relationship that you want desperately, that you will have to lie. Little white lies that trim the sharp edges off of the truth, or big ones that keep the truth buried, in response to what you think she wants to hear about the truth.

What are you going to do when confronted with this dilemma?

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