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Mentally Stuck in DDay & in the Hurt

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sisoon posted 3/23/2021 12:09 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.
My W became honest on d-day, went NC, etc. IOW, my path was a lot easier than many people's.

I dealt with issues as they arose. I think my W did, too, pretty much. Perhaps more important, I let my feelings flow. When I was sad, I either dealt with it myself or told my W I was sad. When I was angry, I either dealt with it myself or told my W I was angry, in no uncertain terms. I dealt with my fear and shame by myself or in IC. That made life get better, though slowly, starting about 6 months out.

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.
You both need to let go of the outcome.

Surviving isn't about D or R. For the BS, it's about processing the anger, grief, fear, and shame out of the BS's body. For the WS, it's about changing from cheater to good partner.

Maybe you'll R; maybe you'll D. If you both want to R and both do your work, you'll R, especially if you get good help. Shirley Glass wrote that only 20% of her clients who said they want to R did not R. That means 80% did. The odds are in your favor - if you both want R and if you both do your work.

But that's neither here nor there. Human beings can't predict the future. If your WW won't accept the uncertainty, there's a really good case for D now.

More important, if your W wants only to keep the M going, she's too likely to blame you or your M when things get tough. The best bet for your future together is for her to want to change from betrayer to good partner for herself.

So much cheating comes down to the WS's desire for external validation. They feel a hole in themself, and they expect/hope/think someone else can fill it for them. A WS who wants a guarantee of R is very likely looking for external validation.

But any hole one feels can't be filled by anyone else. The missing love can only be provided by the one who misses the love. One has to learn to love oneself to stop seeking external validation ... which means that if R is a possibility, the WS needs to take actions to R even though there's no guarantee that R will succeed.

[This message edited by sisoon at 12:11 PM, March 23rd (Tuesday)]

This0is0Fine posted 3/23/2021 12:23 PM

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?

First, love isn't particularly special. Love is in every long term relationship. Love is almost never used as a rationale for a good relationship decision. Read my signature.

OK, secondly, you wouldn't be throwing your relationship away. She broke it then threw it away. You walked in and found she had put your relationship in the garbage can. You walking it to the curb and having it hauled away isn't throwing it away.

She has to retrieve the relationship. She has to lead the rebuilding efforts. The question is not whether you should throw anything away, it's whether you can find the grace, forgiveness/acceptance, and understanding to allow her to retrieve a relationship she singlehandedly destroyed.

You say you have very hard boundaries, and that cheating is a dealbreaker to you. Let me tell you that it's possible you have more forgiveness than you thought you were capable of. That's OK. Just know that turning around on this isn't going to be easy. You are going to struggle with your self identity and the larger meanings of finding flexibility on issues where you previously had none. I'm not saying that this makes you lose your integrity and self-worth, but I am saying that it might *feel* that way for a while until you find a new system that you like, protects you, and allows you to continue in a relationship with someone that has previously cheated on you.

MaintainThePain posted 3/24/2021 09:09 AM

@sisoon Thank you for your reply

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.

At this point, there's a part of me that wants R and part of me that wants D. My head is so messed up right now. I told my WW that I am focusing on healing the trauma for now and don't want to make a decision without a clear head. Meanwhile, while working on myself, we are doing little things together such as trying to rebuild communication.

I appreciate your advice about fear. There is a lot of fear around me right now: fear of failure, fear of losing the marriage, fear of being alone, fear of making the wrong decision, etc. I'm going to have to keep sitting with myself and really deep dive. I wish the fog of confusion would go away though.

Those 3 requirements are spot on. The NC has been in place since the end of December and I have been vigilant about checking. Also, my WW has been extremely honest sense then. We both decided since there is nothing left anyway, we have to be completely honest about everything if this is going to work, even honest about hurtful things. She has been explicit with affair details and in answering my questions, so I believe she is at least being honest.

Like I mentioned before, she is scared of the time to recover. Life has been turned upside down in our home and she doesn't think we can make it if I have ups and downs and am on the fence for 2 - 5 years. I told her I just don't know where I'll be because right now I'm still extremely hurt.

Intimacy will be a lot of work. It's hard to just hug and hold hands without feelings coming up for me. I have read this is normal though as well. For now, we have been taking walks and I hold her hand occasionally trying to see how it feels and if I can be ok with it.

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.

This is great advice. I know at some point I will have to write the behavior off if I want to pursue R and give it any chance of ever working. Navigating that path seems so difficult right now.

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.

The more I read from suggestions here on SI, the more I am not a fan of Weiner-Davis. I agree with your statement on her writing.

At first my WW was blaming unmet needs for the affair and using that as validation. Once I gained some confidence back, I started challenging that. She is now openly admitting she made selfish choices. It has been nice for me to unload the burden of the affair because during the time it was happening, I was carrying that weight and responsibility unfairly. Knowing more about the how and why, I see how completely selfish she was during this time. I was in the same marriage and in the same situation not getting my needs met and I never once considered or put myself in a situation to have an affair.

There are still pieces that do not make sense to me over the how and why, despite how much I put myself in her shoes. My moral compass just reads different so it's hard for me to understand a choice like that.

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.

Thank you again. This is my focus. My WW actually ordered that book but we haven't read it yet, it's in the pile of books we purchased since the affair ended.

MaintainThePain posted 3/24/2021 09:24 AM

@ChamomileTea as always, your replies are sound and intelligent and I look forward to reading them. Your advice always seems to fit.

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.

This is a current work in progress for me. Viewing the affair as her selfish choice versus my failure at being a husband has started to boost my confidence and my view on the entire situation. Right now I am still having some bad days where I doubt myself and the depression sinks in. Learning to talk down the inner critic is such a chore.

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.

This EXACTLY. I am almost afraid to let go of the pain and trauma. I am hoping the EMDR will really help with this. My mind is so messed up these days I feel like if I let this go, then it's saying it was ok or saying that I can be treated like this or that I will be blindsided again by this. I hope I can reverse the script like you did and eventually feel strong enough to start letting much of this pain go.

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.

I have recently set aside certain times and spots for rumination. Occasionally this gets interrupted when my WW feels the need to talk about it at bedtime. This is kind of working unless I have a trigger come up, and there's a lot of triggers right now so it's a difficult path.

I have been writing a lot recently and that seems to tame the rumination by a fair amount. I do know it is unhealthy to ruminate, but emotions rule over reason at this point and it's hard to be logical about anything.

I have appreciated hearing from everyone on SI though and it makes me feel normal, which is really big right now. Prior to SI, everything felt so surreal, I started to question my own reality. Thanks again.

MaintainThePain posted 3/24/2021 09:32 AM

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 doesnít like whatís needed, what you are offering or what it takes then she can file. Just like you can if you donít think she doesnít offer what you need or donít think this is possible.

@Bigger Yes I remember. I challenged her just the other day about this. I let her know she could go if any of this way too much and I would respect her decision. She replied that she is choosing to be here and wants to hang on as long as she can.

Life just sucks right now. I know it hurts her to hear that I'm on the fence and need time and space to figure things out and it could take a long time. But like I told her, I didn't put myself here, her choices did.

She is concerned with continuing everyday life or making choices since she doesn't know if she will still be here. This is why she hates the limbo. I keep reminding her I am doing my best and working through things at my pace but there are no guarantees. I'm just trying to find some stability in myself and keep my job level at a reasonable performance.

I am going to use the donor-heart example, that actually made me chuckle in a weird messed up way. If you think about how crazy all of this is, picturing a couple doctors walking a donor heart slowly and steadily down a hall to save a relationship fits right in.

I appreciate your quote from Epictetus, I grabbed a book on stoicism a few months back to try to figure out how to find happiness in life, this was before I knew about the affair. I never finished the book but was enjoying it.

MaintainThePain posted 3/24/2021 09:40 AM

You both need to let go of the outcome.
Surviving isn't about D or R. For the BS, it's about processing the anger, grief, fear, and shame out of the BS's body. For the WS, it's about changing from cheater to good partner.

@sisoon I believe you are right, although not focusing on the outcome is hard. That's been our conversation loop lately "If we D then..." "This won't matter if we D..."

I try to catch myself and stop the negative chats. We both seem to alternate having bad days and good days. If I'm having a good day, my WW will be having a bad day. By bad day I mean a day where depression and hopelessness is in the drivers seat.

We have breached the external validation topic recently. For me it fits with her behavior and choices and upbringing. She has been coming around to recognizing her choice was made for this validation. I am hoping she can find a new therapist who will help her with the need for validation because I am constantly in fear now that if I do not validate her enough, this is going to happen again and I can't seem to let that fear go.

MaintainThePain posted 3/24/2021 09:48 AM

First, love isn't particularly special. Love is in every long term relationship. Love is almost never used as a rationale for a good relationship decision. Read my signature.

OK, secondly, you wouldn't be throwing your relationship away. She broke it then threw it away. You walked in and found she had put your relationship in the garbage can. You walking it to the curb and having it hauled away isn't throwing it away.

She has to retrieve the relationship. She has to lead the rebuilding efforts. The question is not whether you should throw anything away, it's whether you can find the grace, forgiveness/acceptance, and understanding to allow her to retrieve a relationship she singlehandedly destroyed.

@This0is0Fine I actually appreciate this viewpoint. Right now, I like to challenge the way I am viewing everything in order to try to get myself unstuck. I am hoping the more time passes and the more effort I see from her, the more open and safe I will start to feel towards R.

You say you have very hard boundaries, and that cheating is a dealbreaker to you. Let me tell you that it's possible you have more forgiveness than you thought you were capable of. That's OK. Just know that turning around on this isn't going to be easy. You are going to struggle with your self identity and the larger meanings of finding flexibility on issues where you previously had none. I'm not saying that this makes you lose your integrity and self-worth, but I am saying that it might *feel* that way for a while until you find a new system that you like, protects you, and allows you to continue in a relationship with someone that has previously cheated on you.

This is extremely difficult. I do feel like since I am so vulnerable at this point and have been completely crushed, that I need to stick to my principles now more so than ever. I feel like I need to not budge at all in order to protect myself. I know the road ahead will not be easy. I am hoping with the healing will come more clarity, and if I need to rewire my brain to make life more suitable and acceptable for myself, I can do that.

Bigger posted 3/24/2021 10:07 AM

The 2-5 years is a guideline for how long the infidelity will be a dominant factor in your life.
Itís not 2-5 years of how you feel now, nor 2-5 years where you cant commit to reconciliation or divorce.
It DEFINITELY isnít 2-5 years of stagnation!

Fresh from D-day I believe our task as contributors here on SI is to get the BS back on his feet, and preferably headed in a definite direction. Right now you are stumbling and concussed and maybe havenít realized what direction to head and how to take steps in that direction. Hopefully we can help support you and point you on your path.
If you are still stumbling around 2-3 months from nowÖ Either we arenít getting through to you or you refuse to listenÖ

The 2 year mark is often used to define the point where you might sip at your coffee over breakfast, look at your wife and think ďgeeÖ Iím glad I put in the effortĒ rather than the point where you finally tell her that you are reconciling or divorcing. That could be 12 months or it could be 36 monthsÖ But itís most likely to be around the 24 month mark based on a lot of experience AND other trauma recovery.

Widowers and widows are warned that it takes about 2 years to recover from the death of a spouse. When those that divorce are queried a majority express regret after 12 months but if asked at the 2 year mark nearly ALL are happy with their decision. I think the mind and body simply needs about 2 years to recover from trauma. Infidelity definitely is trauma.

ChamomileTea posted 3/24/2021 16:38 PM

Life just sucks right now. I know it hurts her to hear that I'm on the fence and need time and space to figure things out and it could take a long time. But like I told her, I didn't put myself here, her choices did.

She is concerned with continuing everyday life or making choices since she doesn't know if she will still be here. This is why she hates the limbo. I keep reminding her I am doing my best and working through things at my pace but there are no guarantees. I'm just trying to find some stability in myself and keep my job level at a reasonable performance.

I think maybe your WW is being a teensy bit melodramatic here. Clearly, you're both committed to at least "trying for R". It's been something like 18 months, right? and she's not out on her ass, living somewhere else while she waits for your decision. "Trying" might put some plans on hold, like buying a new house or investing in a new business. But it's not going to affect the day to day running of the household or the planning of vacations, etc. Next time this subject comes up, you might consider reminding her that a commitment to "try" is still a state of being in terms of recovery. If this was really the limbo she imagines it to be, you'd be in a limited contact, therapeutic separation meeting once a week or so, not living together and still talking things through every day.

You really are sounding a whole lot better already, so kudos on all the work you're doing. :)

MaintainThePain posted 3/25/2021 07:39 AM

I think maybe your WW is being a teensy bit melodramatic here. Clearly, you're both committed to at least "trying for R". It's been something like 18 months, right?

We are approaching the 3 month point since the affair ended, end of this month will be 3 months.

I have been reminding her daily that we are "trying for R" and seeing if it fits. I'm at least committing to healing myself at this point which can only be good for the marriage.

I am working hard on maintaining good days versus being depressed everyday. I made a list of things that keep me at a healthy tolerance level, like talking to my cat as someone suggested.

Venus1 posted 3/25/2021 12:44 PM

Learning to talk down the inner critic is such a chore.

I am almost afraid to let go of the pain and trauma. I am hoping the EMDR will really help with this. My mind is so messed up these days I feel like if I let this go, then it's saying it was ok or saying that I can be treated like this or that I will be blindsided again by this.

Thank you @MaintainThePain for being so honest in your posts.

Everyday I find myself doing some self-blame and rumination, which I know if completely unproductive for my healing. Shutting down that rumination and inner critic, especially when you are trying to get the 'why' answered is so difficult. My mind / heart are still on different playing fields. I find myself so incredibly exhausted from the mental / emotional back and forth. While important to do the IC and work through the pain and work on ourselves, it is SO MUCH to do.

My WH had an exit-affair and asked me for a divorce, so I've been forced into a situation and a life that I never wanted or expected to be in. I too feel that letting go means that I have given up on my marriage. But, I'm trying to remind myself that my WH is the one who 'checked out', he is the one who asked for a D after 17 years together, he is the one who is exhibiting Narc behaviors and intentionally being cruel. I have to let go to protect my health and my heart.

Whether you D or R, keep taking care of yourself. Ask yourself the hard questions: what are your values and are they the same as your WS, is this relationship safe for you moving forward, what do you want in your life independent of your WS, what do you want in your life with WS, what are your dreams for the future, etc.?

ChamomileTea posted 3/25/2021 16:18 PM

I don't know how I confused your timeline, but three months is nothing. Your WW has no business AT ALL pressing you for a commitment so soon. Your response to her has been perfectly on point.

I also like that you're making lists and shooting for daily goals. Well done. Really well done.

tbkjcn posted 3/25/2021 18:09 PM

I am hoping she can find a new therapist who will help her with the need for validation because I am constantly in fear now that if I do not validate her enough

If your WW believes that external validation is the key to her happiness, she needs a new IC yesterday. External validation is cheap and temporary. After the initial sugar rush, you need more, and more often. A marriage is not primarily about "making another person happy," it's two people who choose to share their happiness with each other. No one can "make you happy" but yourself, and you share that happiness with another.

So much cheating comes down to the WS's desire for external validation. They feel a hole in themself, and they expect/hope/think someone else can fill it for them.

My WW was seeking to fill a hole in herself (good God, talk about your double entendre). It turns out that the hole of external validation is bottomless and no matter how much you dump in it, it's still empty.

My head is so messed up right now.

It took me a good six months before I could even start to think that my head might be on straight. You say you're three months in, I disagree. You (she) got a lot of bad advice from bad therapists that did more harm than good in your healing.

I wish the fog of confusion would go away though.

It will. Not today, or tomorrow, but day by day it'll get better. You may not notice the little steps, but they add up. In my first months, I managed to make it an hour without thinking about what she did. Then it was a whole morning, then a whole day. Eventually I could go a week without thinking about it.

she doesn't think we can make it if I have ups and downs and am on the fence for 2 - 5 years

Well, I have news for her. You will. And she needs to accept that, and realize that she doesn't control the timeline. It will take however long it takes. At first some of the downs are going to be pretty far down, and the ups might not be terribly up. Eventually, the downs will not be as deep and the ups will be higher.

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.

There were many many days that I am pretty sure the only thing that got me to the next day was talking to my dogs. They were excellent listeners and never argued or told me I was wrong.

Jambomo posted 3/29/2021 03:21 AM

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

Iíve seen one or two mentions of the 12 years together.

Donít reconcile just because of the length of time you were together, itís the sunk cost fallacy, thereís nothing to be gained to holding onto something for the sake of history or sentiment. If you want to reconcile do it because you both really want to go that way.

I was in my relationship 14 years when I found my ex was cheating on me and I was the same, not wanting to give up the shared history. After a second d-day a year later I realised it wasnít worth it, the history didnít stop him from hurting me or protect me from that hurt. I left and it was the best decision I made in a longtime.

MaintainThePain posted 3/29/2021 10:21 AM

@Jambomo Thank you for sharing this. I was definitely stuck in outcomes and saving the history. It's hard to change the mindset to "the old marriage is dead and gone". I'm sorry you had two DDays, that's awful.

The trauma I am experiencing alone from DDay 1 is enough to stress me to death. I truly believe what people said on here about trauma compounding itself.

I am just living day to day and working on myself.

Did you just know 100% you were done after the second DDay?

MaintainThePain posted 3/29/2021 10:31 AM

Just a quick update

I am still working on myself, and slowly prioritizing my health. My brain has eased up a lot more since I have shifted focus from outcomes to just doing the work and going through the process. I am focusing on healing myself and seeing if R is even going to be possible, trying it on for size.

I have a lot of fears. Parts of me are screaming that I'm the kind of person who can't R after something like this. Especially because I know my WW still has feelings for her POS AP. I assume time will let me know for sure if I can start to feel ok with this. I just don't feel safe or comfortable anymore for now.

The road to R seems long, exhausting, and stressful so just living day to day has been working ok for me. My therapist has had me writing and meditating. I am writing down my nightmares and then re-writing them with happy changes. I'm supposed to read this before bed. I will let you know if this works.

I just hope that soon day to day life becomes more manageable. I still have pretty low downs and not as many ups. I feel like I'm in a tolerable place, but it's still not a good place. I am still trying out physical touch with my WW like hand holding and hugs but I'm not very comfortable going past that.

Time will tell. Thanks for listening, I think I was just doing some Monday rambling.

[This message edited by MaintainThePain at 9:49 AM, April 5th (Monday)]

ChamomileTea posted 4/2/2021 18:26 PM

I am still working on myself, and slowly prioritizing my health. My brain has eased up a lot more since I have shifted focus from outcomes to just doing the work and going through the process. I am focusing on healing myself and seeing if R is even going to be possible, trying it on for size.

This is all you can do. The fears you mentioned, the exhaustion, the stress... all normal. But that shift from focusing on the outcome to working on yourself is soooooo important. It will eventually lead you to answers on all the other stuff. Getting mentally and physically healthy puts you into a position where whatever decision you make is okay because you can handle whatever comes down the pike at that point. When you're confident in YOURSELF, you can't help but succeed. Even a failed effort at R can be a success if you're happy with who you ARE, because when you're truly happy within your own skin, there's very little which can impede you.

You're doing VERY well. It's still going to be tough going at times, but you're on the right track.

Mene posted 4/3/2021 18:41 PM

No kids. No brainer. Move on.

MaintainThePain posted 4/5/2021 10:03 AM

Mentally exhausted here, trying very hard to keep with focusing on myself and my health but it is so difficult.

Our couples therapist suggested a mental reset and break in the form of a week separation. Has this ever been effective for any of you? Our therapist thought it would help me gain some clarity on wanting to R or D and this made me start focusing again on outcomes instead of healing..

On another note, I shifted to searching for an Infidelity trained therapist instead of a general therapist. I am hoping this will be better for us to help through this process.

Thanks to everyone here for continued support.

grubs posted 4/5/2021 10:20 AM

Our couples therapist suggested a mental reset and break in the form of a week separation. Has this ever been effective for any of you? Our therapist thought it would help me gain some clarity on wanting to R or D and this made me start focusing again on outcomes instead of healing..

I'm not a big fan of separation to reconcile. To me you are either in or out. I can see it being useful for the BS to separate true desire of reconciling for just being anxious about being alone. I'm not sure that a week is long enough for that.

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