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Wayward Side :
Healing myself as WS - 6 month progress report

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 Spaceman (original poster new member #80138) posted at 10:33 AM on Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

In addition to the thread where I posting my bi-weekly questions, wanted to fix the state of play of 6 months being committed to healing myself. This forum has been very helpful, especially in the darker days.

What I did: I cheated, gaslight and was emotionally unavailable for last 3-4 years of my marriage.

What happened: Moving-out, separation, divorce.

The work:

1) daily 20-30 minute reading. books on gaslighting, impact of affair, self care. Thank you all for recommendations! :)

2) weekly/bi-weekly IC;

3) notes on self observation;

4) short daily journal.

At times it seems as a mountain impossible to climb, but then i remember 'one day at the time', log on here and feel much calmer.

Achievements (all interrelated):

1) acknowledging the damage the cheating did (personally myself it happened with an experience similar to catarhsis of extreme emotional outpour after which i was fully committed to the self-work);

2) better aware of kindness towards me (much better in picking up clues from conversation where previously i would be come very defensive);

3) in turn i can finally have better capacity for kindness towards my parents, relatives;

4) radar for bullshit is way improved;

5) getting rid of the defensiveness (a huge one; mostly related to the fact that I acknowledged to myself that I was not a good person so I did not had to lie to myself anymore. Not sure how it happened, i think it was done over time, I had multiple aha moments during these months and then roughly 1,5 month ago it clicked).


Struggles:

1) minimising the emotional damage and putting too much focus on cheating. To be worked on with the IC;

2) loss of sense / future (I recognise that is due to the recalibration of life after divorce, but still it makes some days very heavy);

3) slight nervousness about my own identity (liar and cheater is not what defines me, but I have to work on my values further);

4) in some cases, i still notice defensiveness and small white lies to myself. I have to be constantly aware on my communication patterns. This probably is the next biggest thing to rewire in my brain.

5) to be ok with the fact that I was only able to understand what I did only after moving-out. That I was not able to identify my shortcomings and work on them earlier and save the family. Guilt. A big struggle, but it gets easier once you have goal;

6) road that led to cheating - do not understand yet. It did not happen out of the blue - so I have to pick up the signs and the actions to avoid that in future. I have kind of idea, but to be also explored further.


As a last note, a week ago I went through all my notes since October 2021. And this month has been first period of more than 30 days when I feel good about myself and who I want to be. Still, the hole in the stomach is huge, but I am way less anxious and way less wanting to demonstrate to my ex how much better man I am now. I try to keep long, passionate speeches to myself (even if sometimes it is pretty hard) and let the actions do the talking (we are co-parenting and have day-to-day contact). And I acknowledge that all this work is for myself. Also a big one, was hard to get there.

I have put needs of others in front of mine, I have not been triggered or instigated me-me-me drama with my ex, I have observed the emotions come and go and have not reacted on them in a destructive way, I have been respectful in the communication and kind towards ex and for most of the time I have not spotted a situation where i lied to myself.

I am proud of this and even a two three months ago this seemed to be impossible. There is a lot of work in front of me, but it is doable!

Onwards and upwards!

[This message edited by Spaceman at 10:38 AM, Wednesday, May 4th]

posts: 22   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022   ·   location: Poland
id 8733501
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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 2:03 PM on Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

Hi Spaceman,

This is really good work you've done. Fixing ourselves can become all consuming. It's so hard knowing what our choices led to and how much damage we've done. I struggle like you do with a sense of future and self-identity. I still find myself backsliding into my old ways on occasion and have to pull my head out again before I allow myself to backslide further.

I get the impression this is going to be a life long struggle. It's like, we've honed our emotional and mental reflexes for so long, it's nearly impossible to see them for what they are in the moment. Like, say you learned backstroke all wrong as a kid. You're swimming what you think is the backstroke, but it's really not. You might be on your back and paddling, but not using your arms or kicking properly. I've been floundering my whole life up to my reckoning and thinking it was the way people swam through their life. Now I'm having to retrain myself out of all my bad habits and poor swimming. I'm feeling less at home with myself and less at home with how I've conducted my life. Almost afraid to start swimming again in case I fall back into my old ways.

On those days, I have to work hard to remind myself of what I've learned, use the skills and slow down.

You're aware of yourself, you're aware of your struggles and you're aware of what needs to be done. Awareness is the first step. It sounds like you're starting to learn the right way to swim.

Keep it up!

WW Dday July 2019

posts: 656   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
id 8733530
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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 7:15 PM on Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

Hey Spaceman,

I want to take a moment to acknowledge your hard work and success so far. You've done a lot of work in 6 months, and the observations that you are making about yourself seem, to me at least, to be healthy and realistic ones. In other words, more reality, less fog. And that's good.

It is also good to see you give yourself some credit for the hard work done. Part of that is the whole "loving yourself" thing. It is amazing too to see you doing the work even though the relationship is over. It really is important, and I think the more you discover about yourself, the more you will be glad that you are making this effort.

I agree, getting past the shame and remorse is hard, really hard, and there are still days where I get a little overwhelmed with grief and shame and self-hatred. On those days, I try to remind myself that it's okay to hurt when I remember what I've done, and that the pain of remembering helps to keep my future decisions clearer for me.

Do you feel that the work you've done so far has had any kind of impact on how you relate to others now, especially your ex and your kids?

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1269   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8733577
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 Spaceman (original poster new member #80138) posted at 8:28 AM on Thursday, May 5th, 2022

Thank you, MIgander and Dom! Very much appreciate the kind words, means a lot!

As to this:

Do you feel that the work you've done so far has had any kind of impact on how you relate to others now, especially your ex and your kids?

Hmm, i would say "strongly yes". And not only with ex/kids!


Little back story - things started to click starting from mid march (5 months from fully engaging in self-work). Obviously, I had good intentions to improve myself for a very long time, but it never lasted for more few days to get back to old patters. Then I commited to trying to fix the patterns, but because our relationship/communication was in such a bad place, there was a lot of anxiety from my side. But at some point it clicked in rather wholesome way.

I mean in my skewed opinion i always was the communicative and rather easy-to-be around person, but probably had hard time recognising an asshole (especially to the persons close to me) part in me. Loving myself/not lying to myself slowly cures the asshole part.

As for kids - i was engaged dad prior to divorce, but with fog cleared, fatherhood is my first priority by far. It is a matter of my core value/honour. I have extremely good arrangement with my ex (I pick them up every morning to kindergarden, they stay with me 3 days per week, including one weekend day and no problem with taking kids for any weekend getaway or a holidays) - so I promised myself to never sabotage this with some me-me-me bullshit. It is a lot of contact, but I am ok with that. My focus is the kids and that helps a lot.

As for ex. Now we have period of little bit more than a month without any drama (previously it was never longer than 2-2,5 weeks; I plan to keep my ego in check for foreseeable future). I do not feel anxious around her anymore (maybe a bit; even though she has started a new relationships right after we split; which was a tough pill to swallow in terms of wish to control, but apart of literally 3 sleazy remarks I have kept myself in check; no sabotaging the kids and their mum!). We keep the communication only about the kids, but respectfully and in both ways. Lately she asked me some polite questions about my short holidays or so. So, even I see that she still has anger/disdain towards me, she does not unleash it in a revenge or any meant act. Again, focus on my core value (fatherhood).

Grew up in a good caring family, but I noticed that my relationships with parents and sister vastly improved. I summoned courage to talk with my mum/dad about some childhood experiences - and as much as I was afraid, that I am insulting them - it was great convo. We talk way more than year ago, especially with my mum.

With my ex in-laws. When we separated, made a commitment to improve that part as well. We live close, exchange kids everyday and it would be shame to ruin that. So, even if all ended up in divorce, with my mother and father ex-in-law - we have good relationships, focused around our the kids/grandkids. My ex is fine with that, as long as we do not plot behind her back (her fear, and I understand that; but obviously we are not plotting anyting, it is rather to have safe haven for the kids, especially if they are small).

So overall, definetly my relationships with most important people in my life have improved in the last year.

Now, it is not roses all the time - mostly have to keep myself in-check and be very aware of my patterns, so it is a real work. And can be very tiring, especially mixed with guilt/shame.

And thank you for this, will keep this in mind:


On those days, I try to remind myself that it's okay to hurt when I remember what I've done, and that the pain of remembering helps to keep my future decisions clearer for me.

posts: 22   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022   ·   location: Poland
id 8733648
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 Spaceman (original poster new member #80138) posted at 9:59 AM on Thursday, May 5th, 2022

Question to Dom and MIgander:

How did you draw the line between self analysing your self/your actions and the faults of the past/current relationships? What do I mean by that - i have a feeling that relationship with ex really suffered from terrible communication patterns both ways (not that was the reason for cheating and gaslighting). But whenever I start to self-analyse things from the point of view of relationships, I am afraid to venture in the area of 'blaming my ex'. I feel that there is some common themes (not in a blaming way), but how to explore this part? What are the questions to ask myself?

It is important for me for any future relationships, because my weaknesses really exacerbated the whole issue, but on the other hand, a responsibility of a person has limits (i.e. about what is being said to me in a form of, for example, extreme insults in the course of the arguments? Or I just write it off on the fact that it was unacceptable, but excusable because of the emotions)? Bit lost on this thing of self-exploration from the point of relationships (do not want to enter blame area).

[This message edited by Spaceman at 10:01 AM, Thursday, May 5th]

posts: 22   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022   ·   location: Poland
id 8733653
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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 4:21 PM on Friday, May 6th, 2022

Hi Spaceman,

Thought a bit about your question. I definitely struggle with separating out the "me" problem from the "he" problem and the "we" problem.

Example of a "me" problem: BH says something insensitive or ambiguous. My mental hamster jumps on the wheel and interprets it in the most negative manner possible. Instead of asking BH for clarification, I decide to be all hurt and offended. I decide to sulk and play victim. THAT'S the "me" problem- my own interpretations.

The "he" problem: insensitive comments. He needs to learn to communicate in a sensitive and caring manner. (So do I by the way- we're both working on it.)

The "we" problem: poor communication. His insensitivity, my assumptions and both of our lack of clear and considerate communication.

Your stuff is your internal story you tell. Her stuff are her perceptions of you and her manner of expressing herself. The couple stuff is the way you both react to each other.

It's like making a mental Venn diagram. I do that in my head sometimes to analyze a conversation gone wrong.

Some good resources are Brene Brown's book Rising Strong. Her discussion of the "shitty first draft" being my "hamster on the wheel" analogy. It's the reactive brain and the stories imprinted on us from our FOO. The mental and emotional reflexes we need to set aside before RESPONDING to each other.

It's good you're considering what happened and what you can do going forward. You'll only make your life more rich and those around you more safe doing so.

Keep it up.

WW Dday July 2019

posts: 656   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
id 8733954
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