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Can we discuss FOO trauma and the WS?

Pages: 1 · 2 · 3

EllieKMAS posted 4/19/2021 16:07 PM

Really interesting topic DD, and so well written. Aside - I appreciate your posts so much.

I really think everyone has FOO stuff to a certain extent. No one escapes childhood unscathed.

My dad was a classic narcissist. I cut ties with him a lot of years ago because I got to a point where the cost of maintaining that relationship was just not one I was willing to pay anymore. My mom was an alcholic (now thankfully sober). If you read about the 'savior' characteristics of adult children of alcoholics, that was me to a T.

It wasn't until after dday that soooo many of my own reactions and feelings really showed just how much my FOO-related stuff had travelled forward with me.

My xwh was a lot like my dad. Like... how the FUCK did that happen?? I don't like my dad! I don't want to be around people like him. And I married one. But now with the benefit of hindsight and the work I have done, I can see how my unresolved dad-trauma was at play in the entirety of my relationship with xwh. And I remember clearly about 6 months after dday1, the dots connected on how my reactions after dday all tied right back into dealing with an active addict and all the tap-dancing I did in my relationship with my mom for so many years. I am a pretty self-aware person (I thought) and was astonished at just how much I had been hiding from myself about my marriage.

Interestingly, my xwh really didn't blame his FOO. He blamed me, and his health issues, and me, and the moon being in the twelfth house, and me, and the army, and me and a lot of other stuff, but not his FOO. I know enough about his contentious relationship with his dad to recognize that his childhood trauma and unresolved shit definitely played a role. I have wondered if he really just can't psychologically deal with that and that's why everything else got the blame. I currently still want to kick him in the plums, but am finally starting to move into a quieter space that allows more room for compassion towards him. Working on forgiving him too, but that will take as long as it takes.

After I cut ties with my dad I struggled with forgiveness for years. It took a long time, but I have forgiven him. I don't want a relationship with him and I haven't forgotten, but I do forgive him and recognize that his own unresolved FOO stuff dictated a lot of his behavior - ya know that whole 'cycle of abuse' concept. I finally moved past my anger toward him (tho not gonna lie, dday definitely stirred up more shit that needed resolution in that for me as well). I look forward to the day I 'get there' with xwh too.

I have seen WS's blame FOO, but I have seen equally as many BS's cling to it as well. I know I did. In trying to deal with why xwh chose to do such a devastating thing, there was almost a... comfort? in telling myself "Oh, he's just got foo shit and that's why." In fact now that I am noodling on that, I think I've seen more BS's do that than WS's in my time on SI. I think you put it well here DD

It can be a cause while not being an excuse.
It can be a reason while not being a justification.
It can be a factor without being redeeming.
It can be a catalyst without exonerating.
It can be a basis without being an acquittal.
It is just as important for a BS to know that they can have compassion for the WS FOO-crap and still NOT excuse the infidelity in any way. Took me time to get there in my own head, I think just because I was so desperate to find a 'cause' that could be fixed so everything would just be okay again.

gmc94 posted 4/19/2021 18:38 PM

I think the "cause" vs "excuse" is a difficult concept to wrap one's head around - WS and BS alike.

Do I think my WH's FOO is a factor in his choices to cheat? absolutely.
Do I think it must be addressed for him to be a safe partner - to anyone? You betcha.

Do I think it's the sole factor? Nope, nada, no bueno. I think it's both what DD speaks to AND what Buck speaks to.

It is just as important for a BS to know that they can have compassion for the WS FOO-crap and still NOT excuse the infidelity in any way.
Amen, sister. AND I would not "limit" that to the BS. IOW, it is also critical that the WS understand they can have self-compassion for their "littles" that were hurt and need to be healed and NOT excuse their own choices to cheat.

I was often a really shitty parent - I was overly critical and didn't give my kids space to have their own feelings. I "modeled" anger in a really unhealthy way (the old "if mamma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy - which may look cute on a wall hanging, but is really crummy IRL). I could go on about my failings here. And I've learned a lot about the genesis of those feelings through my post-dday IC. I have to learn self compassion for the little girl that was hurt and abandoned and all the other crap my FOO dished out in my youth. AND I also have to own that my crummy FOO is not an "excuse" for the ways in which I was a crappy parent to my kids.

The thing my kids need is EMPATHY, not "I'm sorry I sucked as a parent to you bc my own parents were so shitty". Is my FOO the "cause" of my shitty parenting? In many ways, yes. But I can't say in "all" ways. The thing is, that it was always still MY responsibility to fix that shit and not pass my trauma along to my kids as their abuser (which, considering how much IC I've done - some more solid than others- is kind of scary in that it's hard to imagine how much worse I could have been w/o those years of IC at various points in my kids' lives).

My kids don't want to hear my FOO trauma (unless they specifically ask), any more than I ever wanted to hear it from my own parents. And absolutely NOT in the language of "excuse", which is all too often the language used in this arena of "abuse". And I've found that even if the words coming out of my mouth are not the language of "excuse", if my self talk is one of "excuse", they instinctively KNOW it (just like a BS). They want to be seen. To be heard. To be validated. To be supported. To be loved for who they are. They want space to air their grievances, and still be loved. They want clearly communicated boundaries and consequences. They want respect.

I don't see that list as being different when I see it from the BS' side (or the victim) side of the street.

BraveSirRobin posted 4/19/2021 18:54 PM

And why don't these FOO issues ever manifest themselves in a positive way? Why not learn from your experiences and live differently? Why don't these issues cause you to volunteer at a children's hospital or cause you to pull weeds in a community garden versus fucking someone other than your spouse?
Well, who says they don't? The two kinds of reactions aren't mutually exclusive.

My mother had severe hangups about her sexuality. They came from her own FOO, a grandmother who had an illegitimate spouse and illegitimate child. Said grandmother was hell bent on her granddaughter not making the same mistakes and drilled her incessantly on the evils and dangers of premarital sex. Mom tried to pass this down to me, and I felt very alone without a trusted adult that I could talk to about sexual decisions, birth control, etc. It was made very clear to me that if I got pregnant out of wedlock, it would be an unparalleled disaster, and the implication was that if I couldn't prevent it, I was at least responsible for hiding it from everyone and dealing with it on my own. Her response to public evidence that I was sexually active (moving in with my fiance) was volcanic.

I vowed that when I had kids, I would handle things very differently, and I did. My daughter came to me about birth control with no fear of judgment or recrimination. My kids have a healthy attitude about sex, safety, and self-respect. I didn't pass that fear and shame down. But that doesn't mean that other FOO didn't get through my defenses unnoticed and fuck me up in the head. It doesn't mean that all my attitudes towards sex were healthy (far from it). It certainly doesn't mean that I had sex to get back at my mother; I had sex because it made me feel good. It's just one aspect of how negative FOO affected my life choices.

gmc94 posted 4/19/2021 19:07 PM

And why don't these FOO issues ever manifest themselves in a positive way? Why not learn from your experiences and live differently? Why don't these issues cause you to volunteer at a children's hospital or cause you to pull weeds in a community garden versus fucking someone other than your spouse?
for both my WH and I, the FOO issues for both of us did EXACTLY what you talk of - we volunteered, and pulled weeds, and all that kind of work. My WH still chose to fuck someone other than his spouse. There are WS here on SI who have talked at length about all the "good deeds" they did - while fucking someone other than their spouse. Were the good deeds a manifestation of their FOO -or not?

Now, I think there were parts of my FOO that manifested in a positive manner, starting with the fact that I am an AWFUL (and I really mean AWFUL) liar. I can keep a secret and plan a surprise party, but if I fuck up, I won't rest until I get it out. Several years ago I broke the roof carrier on my WH's car (forgot it was on there when I drove into the garage of my work city apt). I could have replaced it immediately and he'd have NEVER been the wiser. I even decided that's what I would do. Within hours, he made his nightly check in call - and me breaking that carrier was the first thing out of my mouth.

[This message edited by gmc94 at 7:10 PM, April 19th, 2021 (Monday)]

ISurvivedSoFar posted 4/19/2021 19:34 PM

To accept this from my WS

Why can't it be as simple as it was fun and exciting but it turned out to not be worth it, and I also didn't quite gauge the consequences correctly?
is to completely devalue myself as a person deserving of something better. As a BS my partner's willingness to do the work and alter his core tells me he is serious about never doing it again. Anything less is another swipe at dismissing a BS and a testament to a WS not willing to work hard to redeem their past actions. It means the WS is steeped in fear and unable to face his/her own truth.

I think compassion for both a BS and WS can be achieved while at the same time having strong boundaries that keep one's self-respect. Dismissing the need to dig deep and enact real change is to not value oneself, their partner, and their partnership.

marriageredux959 posted 4/19/2021 19:45 PM

My FOO was a hot mess, made for afternoon t.v. fodder, only it was IRL. I am *still* dealing with the sequelae from physical abuse and trauma, and likely will for the rest of this mortal life.

The emotional abuse was nearly as bad, sometimes worse. The attempt at sexual abuse/grooming seemed mild in comparison, NOT TO TRIGGER ANYONE, but it seemed less emergent because I was not raped, nor forced, nor actually physically touched or handled in any way. The grooming was intense, however, and extremely graphic, and very, very covert.

In that I was successful in avoiding a physical component, both adult women in whom I confided dismissed it at that time. One actually mocked and ridiculed me when I told her. The other was overwhelmed by the depth and magnitude of the entire situation. Neither woman was equipped to handle what I'd already told them about the degree of abuse, much less this new revelation. Ergo they were looking for any excuse to make it go away.

They dismissed it, I dismissed it, and (even though I felt super guilty about it years later when I realized that quite likely, I wasn't 'special' and this might not have been a one off for this guy) at the time my plate was overfull with transitioning out of an abuse situation. I was happy to rug sweep, not to push this information and myself back through the legal system again.

It wasn't until years later that I realized how fucked up that particular aspect was, whether I was actually physically touched or not (I realize that escaping physical sexual abuse is HUGE) and I started to deal with that aspect.

My situation was so blatantly fucked up that it empowered me to reject *all of it.*

It was so fucked up, that I got out.

By contrast:

Husband was raised by two opposite type, complimentary narcissists. His father is the quintessential overt, grandiose, loud and proud narcissist. His mother is an insidious, passive aggressive covert narcissist.

Appearances were and are *everything.*

Both of his parents will lie right to your face and simultaneously proclaim themselves to be The Most Righteous of The Righteous.

You just would not believe the cognitive dissonance that was part and parcel and woven throughout their daily lives. I mean, there was some serious stuff, with serious implications. Not necessarily overt criminal behavior but behavior so lacking in empathy, compassion and integrity that I consider it to be sociopathic.

They dressed it up in moral righteousness: God, Country, Family, and Don't You Dare Question It.

Of their three children:

Two have had many multiple engagements (so many diamonds flying around that I have literally lost count) multiple marriages and an equal number of divorces.

One has overtly cheated in at least one marriage. Based on the ongoing 'relationship profile' I'd say it's likely that cheating occurred/occurs in other marriage/engagement/relationship situations as well. This sibling has apparently, at a rather mature age, decided against long term relationships. There's a revolving door involved here.

I feel bad for people who've gotten caught in it. I am still acquainted with a handful of them, and they seem like decent people with decent lives. We do not discuss the previous relationship nor the FOO, by mutual unspoken agreement.

I will admit, there are times when I am mightily tempted to have a face to face with each of them and say, "NO REGRETS. YOU DODGED A BULLET. OR SEVERAL. GO FORTH AND LIVE A HAPPY, ENRICHING, VALIDATING, JOYFUL LIFE, FREE OF THESE EMOTIONAL VAMPIRES!" But, I do not. Probably not necessary, really. To quote a recent t.v. commercial, "We all see it... WE ALL SEE IT..." LOL.

This sibling is FIL's Larger Than Life, Mythic Mini Me through which Grandiose Narcissist FIL lives his alter ego. The revolving bedroom door, I'm sure, figures large in that narrative. There is also a sizeable and palpable measure of old school misogyny in play.

I/we refer to the other sibling as The Swamp. I have known this person for decades. At times I have attempted friendship. It was always, weird. Like, this person was not quite accessible and my overtures were not quite hitting the mark. Like being friends with me would have been cheating on The FOO.

On the rare occasion that this sibling reached out to me, and I responded with interest, compassion, empathy, or with my own experience of the situation that prompted the bid, I invariably and inevitably regretted it sooner rather than later.

No matter how I responded, what I did or didn't do, the narrative quickly and without fail evolved into this sibling as The Victim, and me as The Perpetrator- even if I wasn't the one making a bid, or asking for *anything.* And invariably, I wouldn't even realize or understand what was happening, until it was happening.

Suddenly, this sibling was 'acting out,' and it was MY FAULT. The Family Wagons circled around this sibling AND NOW EVERYBODY IS SHOOTING AT ME. AND HUSBAND AND I CANNOT EVEN FATHOM THE NARRATIVE THROUGH WHICH WE GOT HERE. It's, a swamp. A swamp full of quicksand and alligators and huge spiders and venomous snakes and all kinds of traps and oh shit, I walked into The Swamp again.

And it wasn't just me. This person has a dirty wake composed of damaged and discarded spouses, love interests, friends, roommates, neighbors and coworkers (including people who have literally lost their jobs.) (I'm not even kidding.) This sibling is MIL's Mini Me, and is Sacred Territory in a number of ways, including IMHO some really squicky nuances in the relationship with FIL.

What validation Grandiose Narcissist FIL does not get from Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist MIL, he extracts from MIL's Mini Me, The Swamp.

And, of course, Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist MIL is jealous and envious of her very own Mini Me...

...and her Mini Me damned well knows it. And, I believe, at times, this sibling plays on it, and of course, at other times resents it. And, of course, this sibling exploits it to create MOAR VICTIM STATUS. FOR, THIS SIBLING IS, THE SWAMP.
LOL, Swamp Ass. *sorry i could not resist. swamp ass.*

Snark abounds.

I believe that Overt Grandiose Narcissistic FIL actually resents his Mini Me Golden Child as well. FIL's method of coping is to appropriate as much of his Mini Me's life and success as possible. The Golden Child is actually quite skillful in delivering cleverly and impressively packaged ego kibbles to FIL in such a manner and at such a feed rate that renders FIL manageable. Nevertheless, that's a full time job in and of itself. If The Golden Child had a steady, stable, consistent spouse or partner, there would have, no doubt, been a bit of friction over who was the actual spouse here? In that there was no consistent spouse/partner, direct conflict was avoided.

And so they go 'round and 'round. =/

And then there's Hubs, and me.
As literally The Last In Law Standing, they hate me. I bolloxed up *everything* by my very existence and persistence.

It's actually kind of amusing: a long time, dear, faithful, professionally trained and coincidentally equally professionally removed from me friend (we have a professional relationship that by design and by our mutual integrity and respect overrides any 'personal' involvement) heard the high points of this entire saga, looked at me when I said, "...and I'm the last in law standing" and replied, "...and they hate you for it, don't they?"

Damn, Dude, nailed it.

But yanno, it's not just me.
Both of those narcissists have equally fucked up relationships with Husband's siblings.
They only 'love' the siblings because they are extracting an ego feed of sorts from them.
And the siblings stay enmeshed, and cannot quite ever develop or have any other relationship.


From my Husband's perspective, it's really quite simple and direct:

His dad is a bully.
His mom is an aloof enigma.

He was left on his own to sort out what marriage means, what being a man means, what it means to have a wife and a family.

There were aspects of this FOO structure apparent in his infidelity.

Yes, it played into his infidelity.
But it also played a part in a myriad of difficulties we've experienced in married life.
The infidelity isn't 'nothing.' It's a big damned something.

But for my/our particular situation, the actual infidelity isn't as big of a deal as the dysfunction behind it, and how it's influenced the rest of our marriage.

Meh. I *finally* flushed *everybody.*

Hubs apparently has as well. He's walking the talk. But FOO runs deep...

... so absolutely nothing will surprise me. =/


[This message edited by marriageredux959 at 7:55 PM, April 19th (Monday)]

marriageredux959 posted 4/19/2021 20:10 PM

Also this:

I was not raped, nor forced, nor actually physically touched or handled in any way. The grooming was intense, however, and extremely graphic, and very, very covert.

If one is in this situation,
those boundaries are never, ever, 'clean.'

DaddyDom posted 4/20/2021 08:02 AM

@All,
Thank you for you responses so far, this has been a great conversation, and it good to see so many examples here of how "doing the work" has made huge differences for so many people, not just in their marriages, but in their lives. It is the one message that I wish I could stamp on every WS's forehead - GO FIX YOURSELF. Because you can't build something solid from something broken.

@Buck, I think you are perhaps taking the correlation between childhood trauma and adult cheating too literally. Of course there is no 1-to-1 correlation between one event as a child and another as an adult. In other words, it makes no sense to say, "My mom spanked me when I was a kid, and that caused me to cheat as an adult. Gosh, if only mom hadn't spanked me, I never would have strayed!". That is NOT what is being said. THAT is a meaningless excuse, and I am 100% with you that it is simply a dodge of accountability. I am also with you that your common WS is more than likely to go down that road of thinking at some point, if not at many points during R. And I cannot blame you at all for being mad as hell about it. "The dog ate my homework" isn't a comforting stance from an abuser.

What is being said here is, "My mom spanked me often as a kid, and from that I learned over time that adults are okay with purposely hurting the people they love, when it suits them to do so. So when I grew up, it really didn't seem like such a big deal to me that my spouse might get hurt, that's just how life works. At least, that's how it has always worked in my life."

Let me ask you a question from a slightly different point of view... is it your opinion that infidelity is a part of human nature? Do you feel that everyone, even a perfectly happy, healthy, married person, with good boundaries, self-respect, morals and empathy intact, could very easily choose to one day just jump into bed with someone else because that seemed like it might be fun? That intregirity and morals go out the window the moment frivolity and flirting enter the room? And am I also hearing you say that you believe that our life experiences, the people we learned from, the places we grew up, the values that were instilled within us since birth, have no affect on who we are and how we view the world? Because if our life experiences matter nothing regarding who we are and what we stand for, then we really have no more self-control or integrity than the common dog. We are all just one step away from becoming liars and betrayers based on our mood? I know you didn't say those words exactly, however if our past doesn't help form our future, then I'm not sure how else to interpret the outcomes and causality? If negative influence does not influence us negativly, then positives influences should also have zero impact on us.

The real difficulty that I have with your approach however, is that it also leaves nothing to grow or redeem from. If the things we have faced thus far have failed to influence us as people, then how could taking any steps to be a better person now do any good either?

I guess what I'm saying is, if I follow your logic to its end, then we will all most certainly have an affair, or at the very least abuse others selfishly, because "it sounded like fun" and we lacked the ability to control ourselves.

If a married person was approached and offered extramatiral sex, and they turned it down, what basis would you attribute to that?

hikingout posted 4/20/2021 09:07 AM

I think this is one of those topics where I'm actually grateful I'm a MH. I don't have to bullshit myself about "whys", it's pretty simple in my case.

I think on the surface that looks true to you. It's because you still justify your affair with your wifes.

Your affairs were your decisions and were every bit as wrong as your wife's decisions. Your inability to be self reflective is keeping you stuck


So FOO issues don't cause you to confuse right from wrong, you don't lose your moral compass or forget vows but they do cause you (indirectly) to fuck someone else.

Nope, I knew it was wrong. My foo isn't the REASON, it's PART of the HOW. HOW I was comfortable doing it. We are so formed in our foo years there is a lot to explore and fix. Our attitudes, the foundation of our self worth, what we witnessed in our parents roles, all of this forms who we are. NOT WHAT WE CHOOSE. To become a safe partner, we have to figure out HOW we were comfortable with our behaviours and work on those character flaws. Just happens some of those character flaws occurred in our FOO.

Is that what you're saying? The sheer mental effort some of you expend to avoid personal accountability is insane and it's odd that these FOO issues that are so profound, yet they only cause you to do things that have dire consequences - like cheating, gambling, or substance abuse.

I have full accountability over my cheating. I did it because I wanted to. Why I wanted to was more complex and takes a lot of self reflection. You seem to hide from doing this by saying what you did was justified. Divorce is justified. Cheating is something altogether different. You are the one who normally shows lack of accountability by blaming your wifes affair. Then you come here and act like we are blaming foo. Not true.

ANYONE who has ever been in therapy for anything explores FOO. Our thinking patterns have to be changed and sometimes to change them you have to disprove them. To disprove them, you look at the point of origin.

I mean come the fuck on, you aren't stupid, cheating is fun. We all know it. We've seen the movies too. The whole new relationship energy thing, validation and ego boost from someone new finding you worthy of pursuit, it's taboo, discovering a new sex partner, and the excitement of the experience. It's not an unpleasant thing while it's going on.

Noone said that it wasn't. But, the reasons it's fun is because we are fucked up people. Do you get that? Figuring out why we are fucked up and would want to have that fun on the backs of our families is crucial.

Plus, you'll never get caught. Then the shit hits the fan for whatever reason and you're dumbfounded at the damage. I would wager no single WS ever thought the fallout from cheating would be so extreme. It's hard to think that you rationalized this behavior in the first place while you're dealing with your entire life in tatters.

You are giving a lecture about something you have done yourself. That's the thing, every time you comment on any thread, you want to separate what you did from what we did. There is no separation, dude.

I guess why does it need all of this complication? Why can't it be as simple as it was fun and exciting but it turned out to not be worth it, and I also didn't quite gauge the consequences correctly?

It's not about that. It's about what do you do at the other end of it? How are you going to be less comfortable making this choice in the future.

FOO is not about the affair. Looking at FOO and a lot of other things BTW, is about trying to make an effort to understand and improve yourself so you don't want to choose that behavior in the first place.

Yes, at the time I was high as fuck on the affair. I have never said I wasn't. But, why did I need that? Why did I enjoy that when it was so bad for me, those I loved? Motivations and all that are simple to understand. Change is hard and complicated. You have seemingly not changed at all since you got here, and maybe what you should think about is there any credence to this to heal yourself. You are still in a lot of pain, Buck. And, the keys to that pain have a lot to do with figuring this all out. You instead seem to sit on the sidelines and bash those who are brave enough to battle themselves on this.

Not cheating isn't hard to me. Nope, not at all. But, understanding the constructs of myself that made me so miserable that I would act out in this way and in other ways, I tend to think that is worthwhile.

Yep, it was fun but also every shade of fucked up. Those two things should not coexist. Can you see that?

And why don't these FOO issues ever manifest themselves in a positive way? Why not learn from your experiences and live differently? Why don't these issues cause you to volunteer at a children's hospital or cause you to pull weeds in a community garden versus fucking someone other than your spouse?

Of course they manifest in good ways too. But, we aren't here in this forum for that. I was a way better parent than mine were, for example. I was the first person in my family to graduate from highschool or go to college. We never yell at my house, we talk through things. During FOO everything was communicated by yelling and sometimes violence, sometimes just insults or name calling. I have evolved past my foo very well actually. But, there was that need for chaos too in order to feel normal. That's what I had to unwind.

I just think you're doing yourselves a disservice focusing on this.

I think you are doing yourself a huge disservice by not.

Whys aren't why did you do it. Every single person did it because of what you said - they wanted to and it was fun. I certainly did. Whys are why would you choose that behavior? FOO is not the answer to that either.

FOO is related because it formed a lot of our rudimentary thoughts, behaviors, how we cope, whether we took up lying because of it or why. A lot of the WS behaviors beyond just cheating were formed in our childhoods and carried forward into adulthood.

Your resistance to this would mean you would have to understand your wife in order to understand yourself. You do not want that so you avoid it by staying in your anger. I think you are doing yourself way more disservices to your life than I am by healing past trauma and trying to work on my own internal processing.

It's baffling to me how you can look at the work we struggle so hard to perform as useless but you do not see how your cheating, anger, and continued lack of investment in your relationship is every bit as damaging to you as if you were still cheating.

You don't get to lecture the people in here getting our butt kicked.

But here you go:

I cheated, I knew it was wrong, and at the time it was fun and I enjoyed it.

Does that help?

Or is it better that I say "I cheated, I knew it was wrong, it was fun and I enjoyed it. But, it was fucked up and I am fucked up for enjoying it. I want to figure out a better way to be so I can show up for my life and those in it in a new way." Seems to me it's laughable to get a lecture from someone who is unwilling to do it.

It may not sound like it, Buck but I am rooting for you. I am telling you this and taking my time and effort in order to perhaps get through to you. You deserve to be happy. Your wife deserves to be happy. Figure out how that happens, even if the answer is parting ways. You could try our way first if you want, what you are doing is not working.

MrsWalloped posted 4/20/2021 09:21 AM

Why don't these issues cause you to volunteer at a children's hospital


Laughing because that's exactly what I did and how I met the AP. Volunteered at 3 different charities not including all of the community and social work I did. And it was exactly because of my FOO issues that I volunteered as much as I did. So, did my FOO issues manifest itself in a positive way or not?

LifeDestroyer posted 4/20/2021 09:24 AM

Well said Hiking 👏👏👏👏

marriageredux959 posted 4/20/2021 18:49 PM

Why don't these issues cause you to volunteer at a children's hospital


Laughing because that's exactly what I did and how I met the AP. Volunteered at 3 different charities not including all of the community and social work I did. And it was exactly because of my FOO issues that I volunteered as much as I did. So, did my FOO issues manifest itself in a positive way or not?

I have seen this phenomenon SO. MANY. TIMES. in the 'helping professions.'

SO. MANY. TIMES.

It's so ubiquitous as to be cliche.

I apologize, Mrs. Wallop, I am not trying to paint you as a caricature.

I am saying that people who are trying to resolve certain damages, and people who are trying to meet certain needs, end up sharing space (sometimes tight space) and interacting with people who are working out hero and savior complexes, people with HUGE egos and God complexes, people who are working out past damage, trauma and abuse, trying to change the narrative/change the outcome, etc.

Throw in some sociopaths and predators into that mix, sociopaths and predators are drawn to this type of watering hole, and it is a *very high octane* environment.

I spent decades watching this shit go down, in the most banal to the most of bizarre ways.

Some of the hook ups were totally predictable.
Some were notably random, like, any warm willing body would do.
Some looked absolutely ridiculous from outside of that personal dynamic. Who knows what need/issue/glitch/itch *that shit* was scratching.
Some were literally, bizarre. LOL. I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT'S ABOUT BUT Y'ALL DO Y'ALL.
And then there was the shit that I just didn't have the life experience, the maturity, the worldliness, the other worldliness, or the personal trauma to understand.

But yeah...
This is a target rich environment.
From any direction.

Honestly, I believe that in some ways, 'the helping professions' are the absolute worst in terms of 'accidents of opportunity' ("I wasn't out looking, no honest I wasn't, but this happened and that happened and I also happened to meet this person who also happened to be there and also happened to dovetail so very neatly with my needs and issues...")

marriageredux959 posted 4/20/2021 20:13 PM

Edited:
Thread jack, off topic, wrong forum category.
Apologies.

[This message edited by marriageredux959 at 7:09 AM, April 21st (Wednesday)]

Buck posted 4/21/2021 20:26 PM

First, let me say I'm not bashing anyone. The topic says "can we discuss..." and that's really all I'm doing. I am not throwing rocks here because I sure as hell am not without sin. Also, Mrs Walloped I had no idea about the volunteer thing and your situation, I truly meant no harm here either.

Second, I cheated. Twice. I had an RA that I threw in my wife's face. I announced I was going to do it and I did it for a year and a half. Why did I do it? I was fucking fed up with her bullshit. She was rewriting and reframing shit that happened in her A based on half assed MC. She was blaming me for her choices. So 3-4 nights a week, after supper\playtime\baths and bedtime for the kids, I would leave and come home at 2-3am after spending the evening with an ex-FWB I was seeing before I met my wife. I would flop into bed reeking of sex and perfume and say the exact same bullshit she said to me word for word. Yes, it felt great to give her a taste of her own medicine. This shitshow is really what opened her eyes to what she had done. She did start down a different path afterwards. I should have stopped here and figured my shit out but I didn't.

Instead I cheated with a woman I met in grad school a few years later. I noticed there was a mutual attraction and I pursued her. I lied to her from the start. She was recently divorced, her H and best friend cheated while she was going through chemo for breast cancer. Her exH said he wanted children and the chemo made that impossible for her. She had been divorced for several years. I was her first relationship after her divorce. I told her of my wife's A and left out my RA. I let a relationship develop between us for several months and then spilled the beans that I wasn't divorced. I spent an insane amount of time with her. This went on for roughly 5 years, the last 6 months were long distance. She finally issued an ultimatum that I leave my wife and I balked and she ended things. Why did I do this? I never really allowed myself to be vulnerable or close to my wife after she cheated. At that time I still intended to leave her after the kids had left home. Truthfully, I didn't really care if she found out. I went through the motions of being married, but I wasn't really married. We basically rugswept the whole ordeal and now we're dealing with it years later. I told my wife about this a few years ago thinking it would make the divorce easier. Her reaction surprised me and that's the reason I'm here. I really don't know what to do to make things better.

So I am far from a fucking saint and I damn sure don't judge anyone here for anything they have done. I do have a problem with the FOO thing. If I take Dom's example of a mom spanking her child I don't see it as intentionally inflicting pain, I see it as teaching actions\consequences. I see it as a net positive thing. I'm grateful for those lessons, they kept me from getting into some serious shit later in life. My parents divorced when I was 10. My father cheated and left for AP. We did the shared custody thing for a about a year and then he moved a few states away. The phone calls and child support stopped a few months later. I didn't see or hear a word from my father until I was a freshman in college. I learned from this. I didn't want any of this shit in my life. I explained this several times to my wife while we were dating an especially after we discussed marriage. I hated cheating and never would have entertained it before her A. I had several opportunities and didn't stray, so no I don't think everybody cheats.

Please stop thinking I'm bashing people in this forum. Hell, from what I've read I'm one of the worst offenders and I'm certainly in no position to pass judgement on anyone else. I do appreciate you calling me on any bullshit hiking, seriously. I think if someone questions your position on any topic and it strikes a nerve, that's probably something you should explore further.

BraveSirRobin posted 4/21/2021 22:04 PM

Buck, why didn't you leave your wife? You believed you were justified in cheating. You flaunted your first A and didn't care if she found out about the second. You were planning to end the marriage. It doesn't sound like you think you'll ever be able to be vulnerable with your wife again, and IIRC, you felt guilty about jilting AP. So why didn't you just go?

forgettableDad posted 4/22/2021 02:42 AM

I mean come the fuck on, you aren't stupid, cheating is fun. We all know it. We've seen the movies too. The whole new relationship energy thing, validation and ego boost from someone new finding you worthy of pursuit, it's taboo, discovering a new sex partner, and the excitement of the experience. It's not an unpleasant thing while it's going on.
Fuck me, I wish I had known that.. I was consistently drunk for the 4-6 months of my affair (with one night of alcohol poisoning for the mix). Had nearly daily panic attacks and was on the verge of committing actual suicide twice (the first time, my AP - before she was my AP, she was a coworker - stopped me). So yes, I'd say my affair was many things but fun? Not so much to be honest.

I think hikingout said it best on this thread. FOO isn't why but it's definitely a major part of how.

ff4152 posted 4/22/2021 04:52 AM

Iíve always had a bit of an issue with the whole FOO topic. Sure the sum of your experiences makes you who you are but it really doesnít explain why some cheat while others donít.

My childhood sucked. Father disappeared. Step dad was an abusive scumbag. The day I turned 18, he kicked me out of the house and my mom did nothing to stop him. Homeless, strings of bad decisions etc could certainly have contributed to my eventual A. Upon reflection, I was always a pretty selfish person with shitty boundaries. Again my upbringing probably had a contributing factor in all of that.

But it really doesnít explain the WHY. I absolutely 100 percent knew what I was doing was wrong. Despite the lies I fed myself, I was consciously stepping over the line you are to never cross.

So that goes back to the whole WHY thing. There are folks who had a much worse childhood than mine but didnít cheat. Thatís the sticking point with me. What was so different between myself and a counterpart who didnít cheat? You would think that folks who had shitty childhoods would all become cheaters but of course thatís not true. You also have people who had the best upbringing become cheaters. Thatís why I think the whole FOO discussion feels like a bit of a cop out. I suppose an argument could be made in favor of FOO if you cheated and felt zero remorse and thought there was nothing wrong in doing so.

My IC felt the same way. Itís not as important to find out what in my childhood caused my behavior. Rather I need to change the way I think about situations and how better to deal with them.

LifeDestroyer posted 4/22/2021 06:25 AM

Itís not as important to find out what in my childhood caused my behavior. Rather I need to change the way I think about situations and how better to deal with them.

But again, isn't that where one's FOO trauma can come into play? Don't we need to figure that out in order to change the way we think about situations and how we deal with them? Most of us do not use our FOO as an excuse, which is what has been stated. We do use it as an explanation as to how and why we dealt/reacted or didn't react to things. We do use it as our "Aha MoMoment". When you discuss how you have dealt with things, your IC has never said "and why do think you did that? Let's go back further to when you first acted like that..." It usually always goes back to your childhood or young adulthood at some point.

Excuses deny responsibility. Explanations allow for responsibility to be acknowledged, and the situation to be explored and understood.(Thanks to psychcentral)

I think if we were to NOT dig into our FOO then we would be excusing our behavior. We would certainly be denying our past.

[This message edited by LifeDestroyer at 6:26 AM, April 22nd (Thursday)]

hikingout posted 4/22/2021 08:40 AM

I really don't know what to do to make things better.

I think the reason I called you out is because you are right - you don't. You are stuck. Most of us are stuck or we wouldn't be here. I am going to guess you haven't had therapy. The reason I am saying that is because FOO is the first thing they will want to explore. They will want to understand how you are formed.

What if I told you that a lot of your reactions to your wife's affair is a direct result of who you are inherently are? We are shaped in our childhood. Our values, how we learn to cope with stress, what our gender roles are, what marriage looks like is modeled. If we had strict parents we probably were better at lying. If we had permissive parents we probably have boundary issues. Maybe you were taught men don't cry or go to therapy. Many of our attitudes and beliefs are not just formed in our childhood, some are actually cemented.

So, by understanding some of our patterns it often allows us to reconsider them. To name the source and understand why we don't need that any more, that it is a faulty construct.

Again, foo is not about having the affair. Foo is about learning to think differently and manage your life differently so you lead a life you are happy with. If you are happy you are not going to go as much for the destructive patterns - you are going to gravitate towards healthy, sane. Happy people do not cheat.

So, in other words, I think the thing you were criticizing is likely the key to beginning to let go of some of the things you don't know what to do with.

Getting past your infidelity, your wife's infidelity, etc is going to require different wiring and thinking or you are going to need a divorce. That's just how I see it.

So I am far from a fucking saint and I damn sure don't judge anyone here for anything they have done. I do have a problem with the FOO thing. If I take Dom's example of a mom spanking her child I don't see it as intentionally inflicting pain, I see it as teaching actions\consequences. I see it as a net positive thing. I'm grateful for those lessons, they kept me from getting into some serious shit later in life. My parents divorced when I was 10. My father cheated and left for AP. We did the shared custody thing for a about a year and then he moved a few states away. The phone calls and child support stopped a few months later. I didn't see or hear a word from my father until I was a freshman in college. I learned from this. I didn't want any of this shit in my life. I explained this several times to my wife while we were dating an especially after we discussed marriage.

Thank you for explaining this more clearly and calmly. THIS is a discussion. Go back and read what you wrote - it did come off as chastising us for not taking accountability. You specifically said that. Sometimes I have to match your tone for you to begin taking me in. I know you have made it sound like your wife just takes it - I am thinking that's probably part of the problem. I think part of why you can't get back your respect for her is she still doesn't respect herself enough to institute her own boundaries.

I hated cheating and never would have entertained it before her A. I had several opportunities and didn't stray, so no I don't think everybody cheats.

I think this is the crux of where you are missing a lot.

First, FOO for the last time doesn't make anyone cheat. Its who we are (and a lot of that is formed in foo) that makes us comfortable with our decision to cheat. This "I had bad foo and I would never cheat" or "My WS had great foo and still cheated". That's not what this is.

Instead, I would tell you I chose to cheat. For years prior to the affair the way I was mismanaging my life, my faulty thinking, etc led me to a construct in which I was holding a shit ton of resentment towards my husband. And, I was surpressing that too. Meaning, I wasn't truly aware of it, I just kept pushing it all down. By the time I cheated, I was able to justify it in the same way you are - that we were going through the motions of being married and I told myself I didn't give a shit if he found out or not. Yet I hid it. Right? I wanted to leave the marriage, yet I didn't do that. And when push comes to shove that isn't what I wanted at all. I wanted to be happier but wasn't taking responsibility for getting myself there. I blamed him for me not being happy. I was so wrong in doing that. I was also wrong about wanting out of the marriage. In fact, despite the pain of him cheating I am so glad we are still hanging in there.

It's the way you do not identify that your cheating is truly the same as mine or anyone elses that cause me to throw things back to you.

And who knows? Maybe that's a good thing to push you out of what you are thinking. What you are currently doing is pretty circular. To get out of a circular pattern you have to do something differently.

I think also, there is always going to be the ying/yang thing as far as you and I go. My husband probably would not have cheated if I had not. But, it wasn't my affair that caused his cheating - it was his inability to cope with what was happening in his own life. He had other choices - divorce, therapy, actually communicating with me, etc - but that's not what he chose. Therefore, and here is where you are not going to agree, but put away your pride and take this in. He may have cheated at some other juncture that he built resentment up towards me, or had a different crisis he couldn't deal with.

Why do I say that? Because either you think cheating is wrong or you don't. If it's alright under certain circumstances, like being cheated on first - then you do not think it's wrong in a black and white way.

I truly think that you can't confront that because it would mean starting to accept some of what your wife tries to tell you. You are resisting this so hard that it keeps you from confronting yourself in a way that would produce change.

My advice? Therapy. But, buckle up, buttercup because you will spend the early sessions on FOO so that when you talk about some of your present your therapist can trace where that thought, attitude, value, pain, trauma, etc came from.

What I learned from it wasn't that it made me cheat. I learned why I don't have good boundaries, why my self worth was always low, what trauma I have never dealt with. What that did was allowed me to release the need to do these things anymore. I can see they are a false construct and I can put a new one in their place.

Please stop thinking I'm bashing people in this forum. Hell, from what I've read I'm one of the worst offenders and I'm certainly in no position to pass judgement on anyone else. I do appreciate you calling me on any bullshit hiking, seriously. I think if someone questions your position on any topic and it strikes a nerve, that's probably something you should explore further.

I did come off a little snippy with you. But, honestly I do not think you know how you sound sometimes. You are claiming noone is taking accountability who is talking about foo. You are cussing, I cuss back. And, you talk mostly from your BS side at all times. It's dismissive of understanding you are every bit the WS as any body else. That's not saying you are coming here acting like you are a saint. I am calling you out because you are talking to us about accountability and you haven't taken enough of that yet for yourself. It comes across as providing a lecture to those of us who have gone to therapy to learn how to be different.

It would be like if you were a smoker and I was (and actually am) a reformed smoker. I am telling you how I kicked the habit and you are coming across telling me my methods are too complicated while you are having a smoke. I am saying to stop smoking I had to change x, y, z and you are telling me that's the wrong answer. Do you see that?

I challenge you because I feel like that's what is going to help you the most. I acknowledge that you trigger me often, but this was not about that at all. You were giving us a finger wagging, I gave you one back. You interpreted that as I need to evaluate my defensiveness when I think you need to evaluate yours.

[This message edited by hikingout at 8:47 AM, April 22nd (Thursday)]

DaddyDom posted 4/22/2021 10:04 AM

Thank you to Buck and FF4152 for joining in with different viewpoints. I know it can be scary to do so when most people tend to share one point of view, but if we don't consider (and work through our points to defend them) all points then it limits our options and tools used to heal and to better understand ourselves. So thank you, and same to anyone else with alternative points of view.

@Buck,

Second, I cheated. Twice. I had an RA that I threw in my wife's face. I announced I was going to do it and I did it for a year and a half. Why did I do it? I was fucking fed up with her bullshit.

Here is where I need your help to understand. To me, this sentence alone seems to highlight the disparity that I don't understand. You don't say here, "My wife had an affair, and honestly that sounded like a bit of fun, and so I thought, 'I gotta try that myself!'". What you describe here (to my eyes) is this:

1) I was traumatized by my wife's infidelity and lies, not once but twice, so... double trauma
2) I was not planning on having an affair, but once she betrayed and traumatized me, I was met with an overwhelming desire to repeat the trauma she inflicted on me back on to her, in order to hurt her back. Whereas I did not feel that cheating on her was "okay for me to do" before she cheated on me, afterward, my opinion changed.
3) "Okay to do" doesn't mean I didn't think what I was doing was wrong. I knew it was wrong, I was counting on it being wrong. It was "okay to do" because it was what (I thought) made me feel better at the time. It was okay because it was revenge for my own pain.

To me, this is the opposite of what you have been saying. It is a clear and defined path of trauma affecting how you defined your boundaries, morals and even self-respect. I can see how one might say, "Yes, but the infidelity trauma didn't happen in my childhood", but I will also point out that in my original post, I also included all trauma, FOO or not. However, while are on that subject...


I should have stopped here and figured my shit out but I didn't.

What I hear you saying here is that you realized internally that what you were doing was wrong and didn't make you feel good about yourself at all, but you continued to do it anyway. This again goes against the arguments of, "But they still knew the difference between right and wrong". Yes, of course people know the difference between right and wrong, and no one here is saying otherwise. The question isn't one of "is it right or wrong?", it is one of "Do I care if it is wrong, and will I take steps to reclaim my own integrity because it is wrong?". And more importantly, WHY do I feel that way about it? Again, trauma doesn't "force" you to cheat, it "allows" you to cheat. It doesn't destroy your ability to define right and wrong, it destroys your ability to care.

My parents divorced when I was 10. My father cheated and left for AP. We did the shared custody thing for about a year and then he moved a few states away. The phone calls and child support stopped a few months later.

Dude. First, sorry this happened to you. (My stepkids father left after the divorce, and it has traumatized them for life). Your Dad left you... twice. First time when he cheated, and again when he moved away. The question I have for you is, do you not see how this might have colored your expectations regarding both marriage and in being a husband? Do you think perhaps this played a part in who you ultimately married? You (subconsciously, not by plan) married someone who treated you just like dear old Dad did. Do you see that? And you responded, not by saying, "You are not worthy of my love" but by instead sinking to her level. How is this not your FOO affecting your choices and decisions today? Again, this isn't a one-to-one thing. I'm sure you didn't think to yourself, "Well, my Dad cheated on my Mom, so I guess it might be fun to cheat on my wife". Rather, when the shit hit the fan, you simply allowed yourself to go down the rabbit hole. You are not a weak person Buck, so it is not that. Rather, your brain followed an established pattern. That's my opinion anyway.

@FF,

Your point of view confuses me a little more. Sort of like Buck, what you describe here:

My childhood sucked. Father disappeared. Stepdad was an abusive scumbag. The day I turned 18, he kicked me out of the house and my mom did nothing to stop him. Homeless, strings of bad decisions etc could certainly have contributed to my eventual A. Upon reflection, I was always a pretty selfish person with shitty boundaries. Again my upbringing probably had a contributing factor in all of that.

... sounds like massive FOO trauma to me. And unlike Buck who had a RA (cause/effect), you had an affair on your own volition. So it sounds more like a case that supports the FOO trauma theory, rather than disputing it?

There are folks who had a much worse childhood than mine but didnít cheat. Thatís the sticking point with me. What was so different between me and a counterpart who didnít cheat? You would think that folks who had shitty childhoods would all become cheaters but of course, thatís not true. You also have people who had the best upbringing become cheaters.

I am one of three siblings. My sister is 6 years older than me, my brother is 9 years older, so we are all born/lived in the same basic ages/era. We all had the same parents. We all were born in the same area. We all lived in the same house together. We went to the same schools, even had many of the same teachers. We grew up in the same neighborhood, went to the same synagogue, joined the same youth groups, watched the same TV shows, experienced the same social history, spoke the same language, heard the same music on the radio. We had the same politics, lived through the same political and religious histories, had the same presidents. Same same same same.

And yet, the three of us could not be more different. As adults we have completely different personalities, different religions, different politics, different viewpoints, and different lives. My sister converted to Catholicism, married her college sweetheart, hangs out with nuns for fun, and has the most solid marriage I've ever seen. My brother is a sadist who raped my sister when we were kids, and whose current wife describes their sex life in painful terms. He's very wealthy, still Jewish and gets along great with my narcissistic mother. Neither of them cheated on their spouses. I did.

My point being, there are so many millions and millions of tiny little events and occurrences in everyone's life, that no two people, regardless of background and experience, can compare their outcomes with any kind of reliability or measure.

I got hungry so I decided to eat something now.
You got hungry but decided to wait until lunch to eat.

Did getting hungry "cause" me to eat, or "cause" you to wait? Which is it? Because whichever you choose, the other person can state the opposite. Both responses to being hungry were valid. It makes sense to eat if you are hungry. It also makes sense to wait if a meal if forthcoming. How you responded to being hungry, doesn't invalidate my response to being hungry, and vice versa. Why is infidelity different?

By the way, I want to also address the "best upbringing" idea, because I hear it all the time, and it's a great question. So.. what if I can't identify a specific trauma? What if my parents loved me and supported me, but I still cheated? Why?"

Everyone who is without sin, raise your hand.
Everyone who has never experienced pain or loss or heartbreak, raise your hand.
Everyone who has never been physically injured, raise your hand.
Everyone who has never been rejected by another person, raise your hand.
Everyone who has never lost something or someone they loved, raise your hand.
Everyone who was never bullied, teased, made fun of, or deamened as a child, raise your hand.
Everyone who has never felt good enough, smart enough or attractive enough, raise your hand.
Everyone who has no regrets, raise your hand.
Everyone who has tried and never failed, raise your hand.
Everyone who has never been sick or injured, raise your hand.
If you have never failed a test, never had your parents refuse to buy that toy you wanted, never was late for class, never got a speeding ticket, never struck out in the baseball game, never competed and lost, never failed on their first try, never missed an opportunity, never hesitated and lost, never risked and lost, never tried and failed, never hoped, never cried, never were scared, never were sad, never were angry...

Is anyone raising their hand? If not, you experienced trauma, even if you had "a wonderful life".

Just because your parents loved you doesn't mean you didn't experience trauma, same as everyone else. And no, not everyone who has experienced trauma cheats. But everyone who cheats, has failed in some way to either create and/or retain their dignity, integrity and decency, and those things are created and built. If you don't have them, it is because you were never taught or allowed to have them. If 2020 taught us anything, it is that a million people can see and hear and experience the same exact things, and have completely different takeaways and reactions.

The fact that your parents loved you does not exclude you from trauma. Nor does it mean that your parents taught you to love and respect yourself. Even the most loving parents can break our hearts. Because they are people, and people are imperfect.

Deciding whether or not to get fries with that burger is a decision that isn't based on trauma. The decision to betray, lie, cheat, gas-light, and destroy lives? Well, I just tend to think a tad more went into that decision, and I find it very hard to believe that it happened simply because there was nothing good to watch on TV that day.

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