Just reread DaddyDom's last reply and time helps things sink in. The days vary a lot and I'm not always able to absorb or live what's been written and shared, sometimes reading a post is just scratching the surface until it sits with you a while or one's in a better frame of mind. I had to do some work over Sunday evening because I uncovered errors in a report for work, but it was a detail oriented activity that gave me a sense of satisfaction from uncovering a problem and fixing it. I always got satisfaction fixing things around the house.
On Dom's post - I have to make the effort for HER benefit and when I think about the effort put into the A, I can work harder than that. It's my job to make this better and I owe it to both of us to be the best version of me that I can. I'm sure that I'll get a more profound sense of satisfaction as I progress along that journey than what I felt tonight for work and I know it won't be steady progress either.
Writing these lines as a reminder to myself in the future as I know it won't be easy.
I got some insight from looking over other threads and had a reply ready, but decided not to post. In the end, I took this away from it - it was easy for me to see the early starting steps the original poster hadn't taken and the apathy/excuses, I was also pleased to see that the majority of the posts were genuinely trying to be helpful. I need to be on guard against the same rationalization/justification behavior in my own thoughts/actions. Some of the comments written early on in this thread about feeling worthy of love and forgiveness, the deep shame that can feel so oppressive and needing to move through it are slowly making more sense or perhaps more accurately I've encountered those hurdles more frequently and can recognize/understand what was meant a little better.
I shared my unposted draft with BS and she shared a few comments that I wanted others' perspectives on - she said my reply (the one I drafted and didn't post) lacked the same perspective that I lack. I was basically suggesting to create some roadblocks for questionable apps the WS used, uninstall facebook or whatever, do screentime or internet downtime etc. I also indicated he needed to get a therapist, which would help him unpack the rest, and that he could do this with his BS to find a mutually agreed upon therapist.
She felt that cutting off external temptation and creating punishments is essentially flawed as "temporal bias" as she calls it will kick in and lead to the same behavior. I've read the term white knuckling and I agree with her assessment about control fading in the absence of other change. I think I'm aligned there.
She said to recover one needs to build a new core value and understand why the slip occurred. I can understand this perspective, and have talked to therapist about if we ever make it to MC, what we'd need to change and specifically what I'd need to change. He's like if problem X (communication, intimacy, the whole gamut of potential problems) remains you might be fine for a few years, but it won't fix things or make the relationship resilient long term.
MC aside, I reflected on my core values. The rub is I think I must not have had the core valuesI thought I did (specific qualities aside some listed later), or that I compromised them. If I ever had a core set of values then they ceased to be a core value when I entered in to affair, or I was living in conflict with my values - neither seems right, so how do I make this more permanent.
She used an analogy of drug use. I've never done drugs aside from coffee and alcohol, and said if someone offered you a super exclusive drug you wouldn't do it, which is true and went on to say said that the external temptations don't move you. So ignoring some crazy movie situation (and I'm not an undercover cop who has to prove it by taking drugs) - I get it, it's not something I want to do to myself and furthermore I had an uncle who ruined his life and saw some negative examples growing up.
Back to the affair - I certainly had guilt, but didn't stop which I look back on with disappointment. It makes me think of the flawed statements I read in so many places "I'm not a bad person, I did a bad thing" and how people seek to rationalize or create accommodations for their behavior. There is no excuse for my behavior and I know that. I'm thinking of core values in terms of religion as well: people lose faith or change faiths/religions, does that mean they changed or lost a core value or that they found one that was more encompassing for their spirituality?
I want to live a life that's consistent with the image (ala ShatteredImage) that I have of a moral, dedicated, loving, confident and loyal spouse. The qualities that I so very much wanted to project externally and fooled myself into thinking I was living before the A, but I want to really live that value. I lived portions of it to varying degrees during the marriage, but had lots of failures too and wasn't as affectionate/loving/appreciative/considerate/empathetic as I should have been and can see selfish or apathetic behaviors in the past before this betrayal. I'm trying to think through how I make faithfulness and adherence to these attributes a core value and something substantial - just living it, maybe it's that simple and it becomes evident over time as it becomes more consistent because I know it won't be a flip of a switch. The why is more elusive as we've discussed before, nothing transcendent, but likely a myriad of compromises or character flaws and pushing that voice of guilt and reason out of one's head as much as possible though they (guilt/reason) were never really silenced which manifested in the affair (ED and anxiety).
I also spoke to therapist about my general lack of feelings for AP. As soon as the A was brought to light, all feelings just went away, the desire for praise and attention that seemed to have fueled things so much just gone from the equation. He said that's not common and that I likely felt some withdrawal from communication, but also that it probably shows that the connection was shallower that perhaps I had believed and overshadowed by "real" life instead of an idealized fantasy.
The above is written partially for me as I've mentioned (been coming back to this between meetings and hope it isn't too disjoint), it's therapeutic to write sometimes and occasionally rereading gives insight into where I was on the journey. I'm trying to focus on the way through as opposed to the stumbles along the way and trying to insulate the dynamics of BS and my relationship, thinking that would be MC if we make it there. At the same time, I am hesitant to post because sometimes the complete thought is difficult to get out, but appreciate the feedback and guidance of others who maybe didn't feel this withdrawal that people write so often about from the AP, thoughts on compromising values and how to assess their durability and anything else relevant.
[This message edited by ShatteredImage at 1:34 AM, Wednesday, November 17th]