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Reconciliation :
Unintentional triggers

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 OneInTheSame (original poster member #49854) posted at 9:35 AM on Tuesday, June 7th, 2022

I do tend to overthink things. My mind has always dragged me through endless comparisons, contexts, critiques, analysis, and ruminations trying to find meanings of things. I’ve been okay with that, even finding it served to richen my appreciation and understanding of the world.

But now I need to learn how to disassociate things that trigger me — things that have nothing to do with the affair my wife had that disrupted my life. I’m specifically referring to things I encounter while enjoying film or literature.

For example, this week my wife and I finally watched "Hamilton." Amazingly wonderful production, which we enjoyed thoroughly. But there it was — the affair that pulled back the hammer — and the terrible loss to the Hamiltons that came from it as collateral damage. And I lost it. Not while watching, but afterward I mentioned to my wife that it would have been nice to have had a trigger warning …

I shared this in another group, and a good 1/4 to 1/3 of those responding said that it ruined the musical for them, they now despised A. Hamilton, and a couple even said it made them fans of A. Burr. The trigger hurt me, personally, because it reminded me of how my wife betrayed me. And although I had been unaware Hamilton was the first of our founding fathers to suffer a public sex scandal, I didn’t find myself hating the man. I did find myself wanting to know how his widow went on to spend the rest of her life protecting her wayward husband’s legacy. And I know I will watch it again. It is genius theater!

But I have encountered plot arcs in other works that have carried triggers. Anything from the use of the word "awkward" to describe reunion sex after two people have been apart for a length of time (my wife repeatedly described the sex as "awkward" with her ex-girlfriend after over 16 years apart) — to "why HER?" when a betrayed discovers the affair partner is the ONE PERSON above all others that you are most hurt by when you learn your spouse turned to them for their affair.

Early in this difficult process of recovering from infidelity my wife would imply we should just AVOID triggers, often promising "I’ll never say that again" or something similar. But you can’t avoid some triggers. Trigger words. Situations that your brain pieces together into triggers. Scenarios in books and movies that feel almost like plagarization of your spouses affair, or their excuse making for the affair, or their trickle truthing …

The clever author or playwright wishes to make his creation relevant and personal to the audience via story elements that echo real life challenges. I doubt that they are intent on causing an emotional trigger or PTSD reaction by one of their more sensitive readers or viewers, for that could prove detrimental to the enjoyment of their art. So it appears that I alone am ultimately responsible for how I respond to an unintentional trigger of that sort.

So, how do I get to the point where I can see the humor in an awkward sex scene (that obviously does not involve my WS and her OW)? Or enjoy the storyline with a "why did it have to be her?" in it, without turning it into feeling like my own biography?

Can we ever again see the affairs, the secrecy and lies, the betrayal of vows, the gifts, the hurt and pain and loss of others, real or fictional, and NOT attach it to the story of our own betrayal and infidelity story?

Just a simple question —
that blew up in my ridiculously over-active brain, interrupting my planned evening of reading a few more chapters of a piece of fiction I’m rather enjoying before going to bed.

(I edit to correct typos)
I am the BS in a lesbian marriage. My WW's ex-girlfriend was the AP.
D-day of the 6 mo A was 10/04/15
We are doing okay, but by now I wanted it to be better

posts: 2511   ·   registered: Oct. 6th, 2015   ·   location: Pacific Northwest
id 8738990
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Sunny69 ( member #65876) posted at 9:50 AM on Tuesday, June 7th, 2022

If you don't mind me asking,I'm curious to know how your wife felt watching the show?

posts: 123   ·   registered: Aug. 18th, 2018   ·   location: Uk
id 8738991
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 OneInTheSame (original poster member #49854) posted at 8:25 PM on Tuesday, June 7th, 2022

Sunny69, that’s a good question. She didn’t respond. The next day she asked what was bothering me, and I kinda lost it. I wondered why she didn’t at least respond when I mentioned triggering, let alone when she saw that I had been moved to tears. She said when the subject is part of a movie we are watching it’s like holding a mirror up to her face: "see what a bad person you are!" By now I had hoped that would turn into concern for me. It’s not that she doesn’t know I struggle when triggered, it’s just not automatic that she thinks a little comfort — a touch or a word or anything to acknowledge it at the time — might help me diffuse it.

(I edit to correct typos)
I am the BS in a lesbian marriage. My WW's ex-girlfriend was the AP.
D-day of the 6 mo A was 10/04/15
We are doing okay, but by now I wanted it to be better

posts: 2511   ·   registered: Oct. 6th, 2015   ·   location: Pacific Northwest
id 8739073
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