Im A BH and this story is so similar to my own that when I first started reading it I thought you may have been my wife that had came here to post w/o my knowledge. Im glad you posted this because I feel less alone now. The parallels are almost uncanny:
- D-Day for me was also 16 years ago on 9/29/2005 when she confessed out of guilt
- Happened at work (w/ a coworker) full blown 9 month EA leading to 6 month PA
- We've since "reconciled"
- Trauma was re-triggered a few weeks ago and I feel like Im at the same place as I was in the days and weeks after d-day
- My wife also says things to me like "we only had sex maybe 8 times" but "I cant remember exactly"
- Trickle truth over the years still to this day.
My trauma was re-triggered when I was going through some of our old photo albums as part of a shadow box project I had wanted to do. I saw photos from around that time and it triggered memories. Theres one photo of my wife holding a vase of roses that I had gifted to her when we went to a 5-star spa resort the week after I had found out, during my "win her back at all costs" crusade of humiliation that was reqiured in order to lift her out of the affair fog. Basically months of me playing the pick-me dance while she was still very emotionally attached to the AP. Months of me ignoring my emotional trauma and stuffing the intense feelings down so as not to scare her off.
To hammer it home, I watched a miniseries on HBO called "Scenes From A Marriage" that is about a WW that leaves her husband and all the fallout that causes. That miniseries REALLY put me back in that head space and I cant seem to shake it. Feelings of insecurity rushed in and the thought of "what if this happened again" came in. I told my wife that I felt we had lost our intimacy over the years (one reason she blames me for her A was a lack of intimacy) and that I wanted to regain it, but that also, I was having a hard time again with thoughts surrounding her affair. Im guessing that some similar trigger event also happened with your H.
It's been a surprise to experience the trauma all over again given that I have gone years w/o ruminating much about it. And now in recent days Ive asked my WW about 10x the amount of questions I asked her after it had happened. Wanting to know extreme levels of details and thoughts of her affair have consumed my days. Im back on this forum, and doing research on the AP, where he lives now, what he's doing now, is he more successful, did he turn out better, would they have gotten married, etc etc. I actually came to this same forum for support after my d-day in 2005 but lost access to my original account and the data seems to have been archived.
I think my desire to know every little detail may be the same as your H. It's rooted in a desire to truly know my spouse, and to know exactly what she was feeling and thinking during the time that it was all hidden from my awareness. I thought I knew my WW but obviously was wrong. I want to know exactly what she experienced and felt in order to expose any last vestiges of the hidden lies and that person that I didn't know. All of the stuff that went on behind my back, I want to know every. last. minute. detail. And yes, Ive discovered a lot of things I didn't know so far as a result of this latest round of questioning, so I want to keep pressing on because who knows when it's all going to stop? I know she wont voluntarily disclose more information unless I ask. So I'll ask and ask and ask until it feels like I was in the same room as they were and in her head for every second of that affair.
Now, since 16 years have gone by, I feel like we are in a different space and can have a new perspective on it, so I think it's useful to bring it back up periodically for this reason. There is no longer a big concern about "will we get a divorce if I tell him this or that". Well, not as much of a concern anyway unless there was a major new revelation. But the details I do know of are really horrible, and I cant imagine much worse to be honest, so anything else would probably be just icing on the shit cake.
We can talk about some of the details now w/o me breaking down crying or flying into a rage, as was more common in the weeks and months after initial discovery. And she is also less defensive about it.
As far as what Id need for closure, not only do I feel like I need to know all of the details (much of which are probably now forever lost to time and fading memory), but I think that Id like to hear my wife apologize for each and every way she hurt me. And it's not just enough to apologize. It would have to be done in a way that sounds truly sincere. Because Ive heard her apologies time and time again, and unfortunately, they don't feel heartfelt. It's always said in a reciting way, and done at my request instead of from a place of true repentance. Ive thought a lot about what this might look like, and it would go something like this:
- For her destructive and unloving behavior which brought complete and utter devastation and chaos to our life.
- For her blaming and gaslighting by saying it was my fault for not showing her enough attention or affection.
- For giving me a crippling anxiety disorder
- For the casual way in which she tossed away my love and devotion.
- For how easily and quickly she fell for someone else's empty words of affirmation and validation
- For trading sex for emotional kibble instead of treating it as the scared act that was supposed to be reserved just for us.
- For exchanging the ultimate carnal pleasure with another man of the type that our mature relationship will never, ever be able to compete with.
- For years of intrusive and unwanted sexual thoughts and images in my head
- For the insecurity caused to me by comparing myself to her AP in countless ways
- For her deceitfulness and the lies she told me to protect her shameful secrets
- For her refusal to accept full responsibly for her actions and for the blame she tried to put on me for what she did.
- For the defensiveness shown when I just needed answers.
- For how she's been more sorrowful for the consequences of her own actions than for the pain inflicted upon me.
- For the lack of empathy towards me.
- For putting me in a position of vulnerability, insecurity and brokenness
- For drip feeding me details
- For the way I have felt totally isolated, for the traumatic nightmares and thoughts that intrude peaceful moments and constantly reopen the wound, and for the PTSD that I cant break free from.
- For the impatience she's sometimes shown in telling me to get over it and stop dwelling on the past
- For the pressure I feel to forgive and forget
- For the shame I felt for staying
- For damaging my confidence, peace of mind, future dreams, health, self esteem, and faith in her as a spouse.
- That she is horrified at what that did to me.
I feel that the proper apology does exist that has the power to banish my trauma, if delivered in a most true way and not faked. I really hope and long for such a cathartic moment but it probably will never come.
Oh, and don't make this mistake if you can help it. I asked my WW if she would take it back, and her answer was that she wouldn't because it "made our relationship stronger". Wrong answer.