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Mentally Stuck in DDay & in the Hurt

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LightningCrashes posted 3/18/2021 17:53 PM

Not to thread jack, but I would pay money to see ChamomileTea as a therapist, count myself lucky to have her as a trusted friend, and would definitely buy any books she ever decides to write. Golden words of well-written wisdom in most if not all of her posts. Thank you for your timely contributions and much-needed help. You may not even actually realize the extent to which your words help some of us.

ChamomileTea posted 3/18/2021 18:06 PM

Very kind, LC. If I ever do write that book it's going to be titled.. Meeting Your Needs Like an Adult Without Fucking Up Your Marriage and Traumatizing Your Spouse. Although, that might need some trimming.

rambler posted 3/18/2021 22:39 PM

If it was truly a need she would leave. It is a want. You provide the needs. When the need is going away, the want becomes less important.


Bigger posted 3/19/2021 09:34 AM

I just feel like there’s a giant voice in my head saying not to let anyone treat you this way.

Listen to that voice. None of us should ever accept being treated with the disrespect infidelity is. However, this is not the real issue. It’s if we want to divorce or if we want to attempt reconciliation. Yes – you do (and can) reconcile with the person that treated you that way. But by its very definition “reconciling” is reaching an agreement with whomever you are reconciling with. You don’t have to reconcile with those that haven’t done you any harm. IF you and your WW reconcile then it’s not an acceptance of that she did this to you, nor is it in any way or form telling her that it’s OK to have an affair.

I have told you this is a war. During wars individual skirmishes and even individual battles aren’t necessarily important. General Washington took part in more battles where he was on the losing side than where he won. Yet he won the war… He did so because he won the battles and skirmishes that mattered. This is a key issue IMHO – if you set off getting out of infidelity with the intention of winning every confrontation every day… you are doomed to fail. The goal should rather be that tomorrow you feel slightly better than today, and that within a reasonable time (but still talking long-term!) you will realize you have survived infidelity.

Is the affair over? Do you feel assured or do you have assurance that your WW is not in contact with OM? How safe are you on that issue? The below advice is based on this being something you are feeling pretty safe about.

One idea is to create a cease-fire. Maybe agree on a 30-day period where the only requirement you make to her is that there is total and absolute NC with OM. That NC needs to be defined, like she can’t talk to him, be around him, have him on social media, google him, drive past his house… Whatever YOU need to feel safe.
That time needs to serve a purpose. Like you are following our advice on exercising, eating, resting… Like you are gathering your wits and learning about infidelity, it’s consequences, what tools and methods are available to get out…
You can talk about relationship issues, but it’s not the focus. You can live together, eat, spend time together, sleep in the same bed… Only you two are not focusing on the relationship but on personal healing.

The KEY to this is her assurance that the affair is over.

I mentioned earlier that you have options. Well… make it clear to her that you do have these options. Your choice right now is to see if you two can eventually work this out, but you also realize that the minute you don’t think that’s attainable you have the option of filing for divorce. It’s not something you ask her for, but something YOU do.

But… ALSO make it totally clear to HER that she too has the very same option. If she can’t respect NC for 30 days… she ALWAYS has the ability to tell you she’s divorcing. There is NOTHING forcing her to be married to you. If OM is the dogs-balls, then she can go to him RIGHT NOW because you neither want to nor are capable of forcing her to remain married.

The realization of this “freedom” for both of you can be a major turning point.

One thing you should do during the 30-day cease fire is to read up and understand divorce in your area, just as you research reconciliation. Knowledge is power – uncertainty is fear. Knowing what you are facing – be it along the path of D or R – is what will help you most in dealing with the issues. This is not saying you will or need to divorce. Look at it like learning first-aid – something you do just in case you need it.

Venus1 posted 3/19/2021 15:37 PM

"Meeting Your Needs Like an Adult Without Fucking Up Your Marriage and Traumatizing Your Spouse" -- my WH needs to read this pronto ChamomileTea!!!!! Although, it's too late now! :(

MaintainThePain posted 3/21/2021 10:22 AM

So, what is it that you feel like is keeping you stuck in the pain? Bear in mind that it's NORMAL at this point. Healing is a two to five year process, but what's bugging you the most at this juncture?

@ChamomileTea I think what is bugging me the most is just how everything happened. It's difficult to put into words but Ill try. My brain is scrambled eggs at this point.

I came home after losing my grandmother and found my WW had an entirely new life going on, one that started a few months before I left.

Her new life was at the level that she was even talking to AP's mom about our issues and the AP's mom was supporting my WW. Just trying to take this all in at the same time as meeting a monster who used to be my wife. I felt like I was falling down a hole and the person who always helped me through my toughest situations was now the enemy and couldn't pull me up.

I am stuck feeling like I can't forgive and can't forget this. I know this event did a number on my brain because I am having war dreams again that I used to have after I got home from Iraq in 2005. These dreams only occur in times of immense stress and its always the same dream with slight changes.

I feel paranoid and unsafe and on guard all time because I can't handle getting hurt like this ever again and Im afraid of it happening again, despite the continued reassurance from my WW.

I am continuing EMDR with my individual therapist and she has me focusing on only myself and healing the affair in myself and on my time line.

Perhaps when I remove more pressure and urgency and stop shouldering responsibilities that aren't mine, things will start to move.

Im going to look at the author you suggested, I do appreciate science backed advice.

I guess I still can't believe this happened and Im worried about R because I just feel completely and utterly abandoned. This is the worst experience In my life.

My WW knows I have one foot out the door at this point but with 12 years behind us, Im trying to stick it out to see if R is possible.

Cooley2here posted 3/21/2021 12:18 PM

There is another article that is spot on about lying. And that is the name of the article. Lying by Jonathan Wallace in the Ethical Spectacle.

Please find a group of vets in your community. If you can find one that has betrayed spouses do so. Group therapy is formidable, especially run by the members. Keep up IC, and especially EMDR but you need real time with real people. You have us, always, but you need a hug and a pat on the back.

ChamomileTea posted 3/21/2021 15:57 PM

I felt like I was falling down a hole and the person who always helped me through my toughest situations was now the enemy and couldn't pull me up.

I am stuck feeling like I can't forgive and can't forget this. I know this event did a number on my brain because I am having war dreams again that I used to have after I got home from Iraq in 2005. These dreams only occur in times of immense stress and its always the same dream with slight changes.

I feel paranoid and unsafe and on guard all time because I can't handle getting hurt like this ever again and Im afraid of it happening again

I think part of this is the trauma problem. That, of course, means your amygdala are running at high alert and keeping you on edge all the time. You'll notice in van der Kolk's work that the amygdala don't have a really close connection with the prefrontal cortex (the judgment center) of the brain. You can't TALK yourself out of trauma. That's why your therapist employs EMDR. Scientists don't truly understand why it works, maybe it's the way it mimics the processing we do in REM sleep. But it does tend to cool those heightened responses. I clearly remembered all the traumatic events that I processed through EMDR, but afterward, I was no longer getting the visceral response to those triggers I had been suffering with. I do think working through it all with EMDR will eventually help you.

That said, it's possible that this is just a deal-breaker for you. For some people, adultery is simply unforgivable. And you know what?... there's NOTHING wrong with those people. These are people who generally take full responsibility for their own actions and they expect that level of reciprocity from their mates. Some of them know right away, but most don't. Most have to figure it out over a period of time. So, that's something to think about.

I can tell you what worked for me, but even so... it's all over the place and certain aspects of my healing were in a different time frame from where you are now. I had always thought I was in the deal-breaker camp. You sometimes find out new information about yourself after DDay, right? Seventeen years ago when the cheating was still just online, my first stop was an attorney's office. I'd already met with one before I even called my WH home to confront him. And years later, the first words out of my mouth were "we're done". So, it's weird how your mind can change. No one was more surprised than me to discover I was even open to R. Over the course of the next few weeks, I developed some empathy for my WH. He was messed up, right? And I was angry about it, no doubt about that, but after more than 30 years of taking care of him and being there for him, it felt unnatural to just cast him off. I KNEW that the latest of the OW had her hooks in him and I KNEW that he'd be ruined. I couldn't NOT care about that, no matter how much I wanted to.

This lead to a huge sense of duality. When I was working the problem from his POV, I felt calm, almost detached and clinical. When I worked it from mine, I was a mess, shattered and inconsolable. And like I told you earlier, that sense of ambivalence is NORMAL. I had one foot out the door even though I wasn't admitting to it. And that went on for a long time. There HAS to be a period of time in R for the BS to observe whether or not the WS is serious about making real changes. Are they really willing to remediate their broken character? And this time of observation is just hellish, because you're dealing with all that pain and all those triggers and all the insecurity of not knowing if you're going to get hurt again. Meanwhile, the process of R requires that we allow vulnerability. This feels like emotionally reinvesting in a dangerous option. And the more you reinvest, the more you worry that you're going to get crushed again.

Here's the thing though... I didn't realize it at the time, but I was NOT reinvesting blindly like I had before. I already had an exit plan in hand and I knew there was a possibility of failure on his part. And the more I sat with that, the more I realized that I wasn't really afraid of getting hurt. I just thought I was because I was so scared of the reaction I'd had before. I was afraid of the pain. What I've discovered is that yeah, I love him. But I don't need him. He's no longer in a position to cause me that kind of pain again. I've reinvested in the relationship, but not blindly and not to the degree where it defines me. He hurt me worse than I thought I could be hurt, and I made it through. If push came to shove, I'd make it through again, and I KNOW that it wouldn't take a quarter of the time. My fear wasn't really about what my WH might do. It was about my suffering and not wanting to suffer like that again... but he doesn't have that kind of power over me anymore because when it comes to MY emotions, they're under MY control.

I've learned to connect suffering with ego, much like Buddhists do. So much of my suffering was caught up in "How could he do this to ME?!". It's almost a primal cry of outrage, right? But what I noticed is that my "ME" was in gigantic letters and a fancy font. It's a weird sort of outlook and it's so hard to explain. Our self-esteem takes such a crushing blow when we're betrayed this way. And it's a GOOD thing to focus our healing energy on ourselves, to rebuild the sense of "self" in a healthy way. If we're smart, we're engaging in good self-care and giving ourselves lots of compassion and TLC. But, there's also an unhealthy bit of our "self" which is inconsolable about how our "ME" got violated by this betrayal. And I say "unhealthy" because this part keeps us from allowing the bad behavior and bad choices of our WS's to be singularly about THEM. It leaves us in that primal scream of "How could you do this to ME?!".

If I reel this back in though and take a closer look at it, my ego, me capital-lettered "ME" believes that I deserved better than that. And you know what?... I did. That's true. But in the context of the real world, where cheating occurs in about 50% of marriages, the idea that this could happen shouldn't have been such a shock. And it really WAS a shock. I've never been quite so shocked in my life. It really did happen to me, and it happened to you, and it happened to every BS on this board, and it's happened to about half the married people on this planet. How am I so special that it couldn't happen to me? that this kind of injury would be impossible? that God or the Universe should have protected me? And the answer, of course, is that I'm not. I'm not above the poor judgment and poor choice of my cheater any more than you are insulated from yours. So, who am I to think I should have been, or should be, impervious to this kind of injury? I don't control other people. I don't control my spouse. I can't see into his head or make his choices for him, and that makes ME... just like everyone else this has ever happened to. Nobody gets any special protections from infidelity. My egotistical "ME" is shrunk back down to size, and my suffering along with it.

This isn't something which gets rid of the suffering. It just cuts it down to size. I'm NOT a Buddhist, and I do think that a certain amount of acknowledging and building of the "self" is a good thing. It's when our sense of "self" keeps us stuck or when it doesn't allow us to let other people carry their own baggage that it becomes outsized. My WH's cheating was about HIM. It was never about me, but there was a part of my ego which just couldn't accept that. And now it does.

The dirty little secret of R is that we're working toward forgiveness. Hell, it wasn't until this year that I could even use the word "forgiveness" in reference to my WH's betrayal. I'm more than six years out too. So, you see that you're NOT abnormal to be struggling with it.

Another problem I had was justice and that had to be solved first. What my WH did to me was not fair. Of course it wasn't. Nothing to do with infidelity and betrayal is fair. But how do you deal with that? On the one hand, I wanted R, on the other was this sense of allowing myself to be treated like a doormat without any repercussion. It was intolerable... and not at all possible to sustain. In true R, there's a period of time where the WS is naturally in the one-down position beneath us. They're remediating their issues and they haven't yet built back trust. But eventually, the goal is true equality within the relationship again. But how do you allow that amount of injustice to go, right? My WH crushed me, like bug on windshield crushed. It was the worst thing I'd ever experienced and it cut to the core of me, made me question everything I thought I knew and brought me to existential crisis. I can't just say, "that's okay" because it's NOT.

I did recognize very early on thought that punishment is not compatible with R. We can't rejoin the team and then punish our partner without punishing the marriage as a whole and hence, ourselves. And by this time, I'm thinking no way I'm going to tolerate any more punishment. I've had plenty, thank you. But there was this outstanding debt my WH owed me too, sticking in my craw and making me feel like if I didn't do something, I was allowing it. In the end, I basically made an accountant's trick of it. I sort of mentally totted up what I felt like he owed me, subtracted his hard work toward character remediation and relationship recovery. Then, I "wrote off" the balance as uncollectable. I can't stand around forever waiting for payment which can never come. There's no coin which can compensate for the kind of pain he'd caused me. And yes, there were lots of things he could do to help, but it was never going to be enough to cover the entire balance. There's just no way for a WS to pay us back for our anguish, no matter how badly they might want to. But we really do have more control over that sense of debt than we think. I didn't want a lopsided marriage where I win every fight because he cheated. If we were going to do this, it was important to me that we find a way to be equal partners again.

So, there are a few ideas about how to overcome that feeling of being stuck. I hope I explained them in a way that made sense. These ideas tend to make more sense in my head than they do on the page. And if you're thinking that I've had to change the way I think to some degree in order to accommodate my WS's betrayal, you'd be right. No one was more shocked than me to find that I was open to R at all. But as far as I know, you really can't do R unless you're willing to reexamine some of your preconceptions. I didn't believe I could forgive, but I found ways which made it possible. And I do NOT feel like a doormat because of it or feel in any way inferior. In fact, I feel stronger, like I can handle whatever my WH dishes out. If he reverted back to what he was when he was cheating, I still have that back-up plan in place, and I guarantee you that emotionally, I would be fine. I'm uncrushable by him at this point. I can't really explain why that is, but I can tell you that after you've worked through all the pain and grief, you get to the other side and you're no longer afraid they might hurt you again.

Remember too that there really does come a point where you have to take ownership of your choice to be where you are. You ARE free to leave. It might be difficult and you might wish it were different. But KNOWING that you can leave whenever you want makes it easier to own your choice to stay. With all the information in hand, you're making a CHOICE as to where you'll plant your feet. This choice has NOT been foisted off on you at this point. You have all the facts and your agency has been returned. So, you own that choice. When you do, you can stop feeling so victimized by your WS and by circumstances. Anyone can be made into a victim, right? But we don't have to stay in there, living inside that victimization. Instead, we can feel our POWER. We can even use it if needs be. We have the power to make choices and to change our mind if those choices make us unhappy. Embrace that power. It's yours, and no one can take it away from you at this point. Even six years in, I stand here because I CHOOSE to, not because I have to. And if my WH makes me unhappy, I will exercise my power, my agency, to make a different choice. Life is fluid, not static. You aren't bound forever by your choice to try R. The key word here is "try", meaning you might put your best effort in, and still feel the need to make a different choice down the road. YOU are in charge, right?

Bear in mind that a year and a half seems like a long time. But healing is 2-5 years for most of us. Year Two is particularly difficult because the shock has worn off and you're still trying to figure out how you feel, decide what you want, and grieve for what's been lost. Your case might be complicated by a history of PTSD and re-traumatization, but where you are in the process is really quite NORMAL. Try to be patient with it. Remember that you are NOT locked into your R decision. All any BS can do at this point is to try it on and see how it feels. There's nothing wrong with deciding that it's not for you if it comes to that. Feel your agency and allow it to make you comfortable in your choice to R, or to choose D if that's what's right for you.

Dignitas posted 3/21/2021 16:28 PM

What is with all the current/former military guys here lately who are allowing their wives to walk all over them, continuously, for years. This is, and has been, completely FUBAR for a long time. It was 99% over by the time you started begging, and now it is 100% done. Time to eject before you complete debase yourself. Build yourself back up without her deadweight.

At this point, you’re suffering the indignity and pain by choice. Stop the masochism.

[This message edited by Dignitas at 4:29 PM, March 21st (Sunday)]

Buffer posted 3/21/2021 19:15 PM

Brother MTP,
Thank you for your service, fellow military man here just differing service.
50% responsibilities for the marriage communication issues 0% responsibilities for her affair actions. Now look in the mirror and repeat!!
Ok, many a good folk here have provided great information to you. Only you know your full circumstances, WW and her POS AP. Take it slowly and one day at a time. It will be trial by mental combat. Your mind will throw you back into the desert as well as back when at a most vulnerable time in your life (the passing of a family member). She, who is most selfish dumps the shit sandwich Those who cheat are very selfish. It is all about them, their wants and needs, it is never about the family or the spouse; just them. They lie, manipulate, gaslight to control the fallout so they don’t have to face the full bum fight they creat.
Please seek a MC and IC who specialised is infidelity. Not one of those hairy arm pit, kum bar yah singing, rug sweeping types that want you to ween her off the AP unicorn fart land lovers.
Can I ask why after you decided that you respect yourself more she then becomes willing to give your marriage another try?
Did his mummy think a cheating spouse isn’t good enough for her son?
Brother communicate, journal, exercise, eat well, walk, talk to the family pet (never get bad advice from a gold fish Haha).
Walk more, seek legal advice, use all VA entitlements they are there to support you! In with anger and exercise it out.
One day at a time.

[This message edited by Buffer at 7:30 PM, March 21st (Sunday)]

MaintainThePain posted 3/22/2021 08:40 AM

@Bigger I appreciate your input and you are correct. I do feel like I am in war in a lot of ways, not that I want to be with my wife, but some days feel like that.

I know the affair is completely over. We are both fulltime work from home right now and I have kept tabs on her phone. She has been very willing to show me every time she gets a call or text and we check in quite often.

I do feel a sting when I hear her phone go off or even if she gets up in the night to use the bathroom but from what I read, those feelings are normal for now.

I mentioned earlier that you have options. Well… make it clear to her that you do have these options. Your choice right now is to see if you two can eventually work this out, but you also realize that the minute you don’t think that’s attainable you have the option of filing for divorce. It’s not something you ask her for, but something YOU do.

But… ALSO make it totally clear to HER that she too has the very same option. If she can’t respect NC for 30 days… she ALWAYS has the ability to tell you she’s divorcing. There is NOTHING forcing her to be married to you. If OM is the dogs-balls, then she can go to him RIGHT NOW because you neither want to nor are capable of forcing her to remain married.

Are options have been made clear. I told her I am working on healing and working on myself and I may or may not be able to get over this. She knows that. I have told her if she needs to go, I would respect that too. For now, it seems we both want to try to see if anything is salvageable.

I'm focusing on learning to care for myself right now. This event has consumed my life and its affecting everything including my job. I'm slowly easing back into doing pullups and pushups and taking walks. A big victory is drinking water each day. These little things are adding up and helping me stay focused. It's just so damn hard.

I appreciate you and everyone else replying and being so supportive.

MaintainThePain posted 3/22/2021 08:55 AM

@ChamomileTea I don't even know what to say. That a complete stranger would take the time to give so much insight, guidance and advice is incredible. For some reason your words really resonate with me (had to read it a couple times to grasp everything). I just want you to know how appreciative I am that you'd share your experience and provide advice to a complete stranger.

That said, it's possible that this is just a deal-breaker for you. For some people, adultery is simply unforgivable. And you know what?... there's NOTHING wrong with those people. These are people who generally take full responsibility for their own actions and they expect that level of reciprocity from their mates. Some of them know right away, but most don't. Most have to figure it out over a period of time. So, that's something to think about.

Honestly for me, I had a 100% zero tolerance adultery perspective. I saw so many soldiers get screwed over when I was serving and also some really close friends. I always told them "you need to leave that cheater, look what they did to you!"

Values and virtues mean everything to me. I am by no means perfect, but my virtues are a cast iron wall with no secret ways in or out. For me, there is black and white.

But then it happened to me. This is why I appreciate your writing about the ego and ME, really good advice by the way. But this happened to me and now my 100% zero tolerance policy is waivered. I still love my WW. Do I want to throw away the last 12 years or try out R and see if this is doable?

I am trying, but the first hurdle is me getting over it. For me, it just happened still. I suppose I still feel the shock. I am deeply wounded and thoughts are constantly seeping in and it's a fulltime job just trying to let those thoughts run their course.

Bear in mind that a year and a half seems like a long time. But healing is 2-5 years for most of us. Year Two is particularly difficult because the shock has worn off and you're still trying to figure out how you feel, decide what you want, and grieve for what's been lost. Your case might be complicated by a history of PTSD and re-traumatization, but where you are in the process is really quite NORMAL. Try to be patient with it. Remember that you are NOT locked into your R decision. All any BS can do at this point is to try it on and see how it feels. There's nothing wrong with deciding that it's not for you if it comes to that. Feel your agency and allow it to make you comfortable in your choice to R, or to choose D if that's what's right for you.

Again sage advice. Some of my conversations with my WW right now are about this timeline of 2-5 years. She is worried that 2-5 years seems too long for me to be on the fence and her to not know if this will work out. I agreed that I don't want to liver miserably for 2-5 years. I am doing the best I can right now. I am committed to trying to heal and committed to trying R, but like I said, I just don't know if I can mentally get over this. I guess at some point I'll wake up and just know whether I can or can't. I have only had 2 EMDR sessions at this point and I know the process will be long. I have just asked her to hang in there with me while we try.

Does anytime during the 2-5 years become easier at all, or is it always a living hell? I know everyone is different, I guess it's just nice to hear that other people feel just as crazy and confused as I do.

Thanks again for all the input and all the help.

MaintainThePain posted 3/22/2021 09:04 AM

@Buffer Hey brother, thanks for your reply.

Can I ask why after you decided that you respect yourself more she then becomes willing to give your marriage another try?
Did his mummy think a cheating spouse isn’t good enough for her son?
Brother communicate, journal, exercise, eat well, walk, talk to the family pet (never get bad advice from a gold fish Haha).
Walk more, seek legal advice, use all VA entitlements they are there to support you! In with anger and exercise it out.
One day at a time.

I have asked her many times about this sudden change. Here I was already with my mind made up to file in December and she just approached me before I had told her. I had 2 plans in place for D and was getting ready to let know. My WW told me she finally just decided our marriage was worth trying to fight for.

It's a mental mind job on yourself too. It took me three days to finally gather myself and mentally say I was ready for a divorce and then her change of heart happened. I had already mentally prepped for moving forward alone, so it's just more craziness going on for me.

I am using the VA brother and have had several appointments, even a sleep study because the stress from all this has caused my sleep to become labored. I am slowly prioritizing myself more and exercising and pushing fluids. It's the little things I can do to keep myself going. Life just sucks in this moment, hopefully there are better days ahead.

Thanks again. Oh, and I do talk to my cat very often. He has been very comforting lately actually for both of is like he understands what's going on.

[This message edited by MaintainThePain at 9:16 AM, March 22nd (Monday)]

sisoon posted 3/22/2021 11:39 AM

A couple of thoughts ...

First - what do you want? Do you want R? If not, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy.

I urge you not to be driven by fear. You can rebuild your M if you both do the work. You can't do the work if you don't want R, though. So look inside and figure out what you want - even if it's not attainable.

If you want R, you need to determine how good a candidate for R your W is. One way to do that is to decide what your R requirements are. From what you've written, I can see 3 big ones: NC, time to recover, and intimacy.

I suggest adding honesty - no more lies - and therapy with a goal of changing from cheater to good partner.

You may want to set MC as a requirement, but make sure you know what you want from MC. Your W failed; your M didn't. MC to deal with her M issues won't help. MC that keeps your W attuned to what she did and that helps you build the new M you both want may be worthwhile.

Once you have your requirements, lay them out to your W. If she signs on, R has a chance. If she won't, if the 2 of you can't agree on what R will look like, you can't R. If you do agree, start R - but monitor your W (and yourself) to make sure you're both meeting requirements. If one of you is missing the mark, that partner needs to step up; if that partner doesn't, stop R.

*****

I view people in As as sort of crazy. They do awful thing that they wouldn't ordinarily do.

If you can't write off your W's awful behavior, there's nothing wrong with you, but R requires writing off the bad behavior. You have to deal with the thoughts and feelings evoked by the bad behavior, but in the end, you have to write it off.

That doesn't mean forgive, necessarily, and it definitely doesn't mean forget. It just means that the past can't be changed.

Yeah, I don't think my W loved or respected me much during her A, but if she changed from cheater to good partner, and if she met my requirements for R, I wanted to be with her in the future.

*****

You can R or D primarily from weakness - which probably comes down to fear - and you can R or D primarily from strength - which probably means having enough self-love to go for what you want, irrespective of what others may think.

Whatever you do, I urge you to do it from your strengths.

******

I'm not a Weiner-Davis fan; she seems a little too much on the 'As are symptoms of M problems' side. My experience is that my W cheated because of her own issues, not because of issues with me or our M. I did not cause my W to cheat in any way. She made her decisions on her own.

My bet is that you did nothing to cause your W to cheat.

*****

Have you read NOT "Just Friends" bu Shirley Glass?

*****

Above all, have faith in yourself to heal. Processing the grief, anger, fear, an shame out of your body is something you can do, and it looks like you're on your way.

Start healing first. Focus on taking care of yourself and figuring out what you want.

JMO, of course.

*****

I believe the words of ChamomileTea, Bigger, and tushnurse are worth remembering.

[This message edited by sisoon at 11:41 AM, March 22nd (Monday)]

Shockt posted 3/22/2021 13:19 PM

Just want to chime in here and say how much I appreciate this thread. I'm someone who's nearly a year out with an instantly remorseful spouse who is doing all he can to restore trust. Despite that I find myself wanting to punish him - to somehow make him feel as much pain as I've felt.
Yet, I know this won't be productive for R. I can't keep beating him over the head about his betrayal. I really resonated to everything here and especially Chamomile's accounting trick. However difficult, it does seem that ultimately the debt CANNOT be fully paid - and some must ultimately be written off - no matter how difficult - in order for both to move forward and, as Cam said - restore some kind of equal footing in the marriage. What a thoughtful and wise group of people are here!

ChamomileTea posted 3/22/2021 17:31 PM

Does anytime during the 2-5 years become easier at all, or is it always a living hell? I know everyone is different, I guess it's just nice to hear that other people feel just as crazy and confused as I do.

Year Two was a real struggle for me, in some ways worse than the first year. By then, I was over the shock but still trying to process the damage. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get my rumination habit under control and I really feel like this is what dumped me into a pretty bad depression. I ended up most of Years 3 and 4 digging my way out.

In retrospect, I think there are two things I could have done differently to speed things along. One, is answering back my Inner Critic. I knew that what my husband had done was about HIM, not about me, but I still couldn't seem to stop myself from internalizing it. I got hurt, and my response to that was to tear myself apart. My inner critic was running roughshod over me. (We talked about that in a post on the last page.) So, if I had a do-over, I'd have stopped that behavior cold. Picking myself apart had nothing to do with healing. All it did was tear me down because my WH's choice to commit adultery didn't have ANYTHING to do with me. It was HIS choice. I was punishing myself for something I didn't do and couldn't have stopped.

Of course, we've gone over several different methods of releasing yourself from that bit of mindfuckery, but you've REALLY got to accept that nothing you did can cause someone else to make those kind of choices. It's not about you, and it says NOTHING about your worth or value as a human being.

....thoughts are constantly seeping in and it's a fulltime job just trying to let those thoughts run their course.

And this is the other thing that hurt my progress. Therapists will tell us that rumination is like a scratched vinyl record, stuck in a groove, and burning a pathway into our neural net. Mine worked hard to get me to give it up, but I wouldn't. I was so worried I was going to miss something, like I could THINK my way out of the problem. And in a way, I was afraid that if I stopped I'd forget what happened and get hurt again. Maybe I thought that it would lose its importance if I didn't focus on it, and this was the most painfully important thing going on in my life. Everything else seemed to pale in comparison. Everyday interactions with other people seemed so surreal. I mean, here was this major crisis going on, but they're still talking about the weather, or how they hate their boss, or what traffic was like getting to work. Imagine a tea party with everyone sipping from their cup and talking small talk and not noticing that the drapes are on fire. I couldn't be interested in anything else... just THINKING my way out of the problem. I had shut down with other people, friends, family members. It's almost like I couldn't bear what felt to me like petty distraction.

But this is rumination. Therapists are right about it, and I was WRONG. The brain grows its own connections and our thought patterns defer to the most familiar routes. If your most familiar pathway is "OMG! How could she have done this to me? What am I going to do?!!", your brain is going to wear that in just like a record needle cutting through vinyl until it feels like you CAN'T think of anything else. It's NORMAL for the vast majority of us to ruminate on the betrayal, but normal doesn't mean we should tolerate it. We should be compassionate with ourselves as we break the habit, but break the habit we must. If I had a do-over, I wouldn't have thought I was smarter than my therapist about that. I'd have listened, reengaged in my life, and maybe avoided some of that depression. In retrospect, I was never really afraid that my WH might cheat and hurt me again. What I was afraid of... was the pain. But you see the fallacy there, right? If I'm not afraid of what he might do anymore, I'm not going to suffer any pain if he does it. I was over it and couldn't realize it.

I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's a combination of things. I've finally accepted that my WH's betrayal had nothing to do with me. And it's not that I don't love him anymore. I do. But my value and my worth are no longer tied to his opinion of me. He adds to my life experience, but he certainly doesn't cause it. I'm not codependent anymore. If we're together, great. But if not, I've still got a life I want to live. Just thinking out loud here, but maybe in some ways, the adultery just burns out any sense of dependence we might have had. I can enjoy him, but I don't need him in order to be content.

Anyway, it's okay to be ambivalent about what you want for your life. But no amount of rumination on the injuries will bring you that answer. You already know the pertinent facts and when you're ready, you'll know what's right for you. Try to be a little strict about how much rumination you're allowing. Some people carve out a small amount of time, say half-hour or so, and remind themselves throughout the day that they can ruminate during that time frame. Others limit it to journaling or to how long it takes to shower. Some folks put a rubberband on their wrist and snap it when they catch their mind going there, etc. If you start thinking of rumination as wearing an unhealthy hole through your brain though, it will help you break the habit.

Buffer posted 3/22/2021 20:31 PM

Brother each persons journey will differ, times, duration, etc as we all have different emotions to deal with as well as, each WW have differing thought processes and influencing factors.
Hence my mantra of one day at a time.
What works for one may not work for another. Trial by trying. But communication is key regardless which rout you take.
One day at a time.
Buffer

I think journey is the wrong word to use as it denotes ‘a willing to travel’. I should refer this to a side track in life that has to be taken due to infidelity.
So this life’s side track will differ from each person.
One day at a time.

[This message edited by Buffer at 8:49 PM, March 22nd (Monday)]

RocketRaccoon posted 3/23/2021 00:55 AM

She is worried that 2-5 years seems too long for me to be on the fence and her to not know if this will work out.

This is a red flag for me. It indicates that the WS is still thinking about themselves, and not the BS.

A truly remorseful WS would be thankful that their BS is giving them a chance (note, it is not a guarantee) at R every single day that they wake up. She has not reached the stage of remorse.

The very fact that your WS is thinking that 2-5yrs is too long for her, then let her know that she has the option of not trying to keep the chance of R alive. She does not have to 'waste' any more of her precious time.

brinbk posted 3/23/2021 11:46 AM

ChamomileTea, your posts are so so good, thank you.

MTP, as someone who's very recently been in your shoes and eventually decided to D, I think one of the bigger factors for me was hearing several folks on here cite the 2-5 year (or more...) horizon, and being honest with myself and realizing I just couldn't stomach that. That doesn't by any mean that's the path for everyone - sure enough, some might call my choice "brave" and others "cowardly". The truth is it is a bit of both (and that's totally ok!).

Good luck on your path. We're all here for you when you need it.

Bigger posted 3/23/2021 11:52 AM

She is worried that 2-5 years seems too long for me to be on the fence and her to not know if this will work out.

Remember what I shared about free will and options?
If she voices any concerns like that then remind her that the ONLY thing keeping her in the marriage is her own decision. If she doesn’t like what’s needed, what you are offering or what it takes then she can file. Just like you can if you don’t think she doesn’t offer what you need or don’t think this is possible.

It’s precisely that possibility that hammers down the importance of how you act and behave. In some ways its like your marriage is waiting for a donor-heart. The team brining the heart will be taking their time to do things right, safely and securely each and every step of the way because the KNOW that if they stop for a pizza along the way the heart is useless. It’s the SERIOUSNESS of the situation that keeps you on your toes.

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