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Do New Life Challenges Dredge Up the Past?

question

 Freedomfighter (original poster new member #79609) posted at 4:27 AM on Friday, June 17th, 2022

I joined SI last year, but I originally found out I was a BH "way back" in 2008, and D in 2009. I since remarried and we had twins last year. One of the twins was diagnosed with congenital heart disease in utero. Born under 3 lbs, she was in NICU for over 100 days, 1 hr away. My wonderful wife and I drove there 7 days per week with the other newborn twin who was home, and sent our 2YO to preschool or grandma's house. COVID made it all the more stressful with the hospital rules and rejections of us all being together at times.

My wife and I have flexible FT jobs which was a huge blessing, but mine is relentless. No paternity leave, so I drained all "vacation time" and had a laptop some days at the hospital bedside unfortunately, and worked nights (including up to a full 3 sleepless nights per week). We alternated driving and caring at night for the twin newborn at home so that the one of us who slept could drive. On my nights I'd work between diaper changes / feeding baby, and tried to make it all night if possible working. It was hell and I could only complete essential tasks which is way out of character for me. Thankfully it was enough to keep my job. I can't imagine what a financial hardship would have felt like during this time. The baby formula situation is the newest stressor now, our heart baby of course only tolerates one brand due to stomach emptying infant reflux.

All this to say, in the midst of it all, I've started thinking about my past and still do to this day, moreso than prior to the twins arrival by far. I started to read stories to relate to on SI. Why? I am not entirely sure. I never did that in the past (read online stories to relate) although I do wish I had known about SI on DD. I will say, there is a lack of forums for my twin situation.

Is this normal and likely a phase, or something I should be concerned about? Can anybody relate to this at all?

Happily remarried with 3 awesome kids

posts: 17   ·   registered: Nov. 19th, 2021   ·   location: USA
id 8740552
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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 7:06 AM on Friday, June 17th, 2022

I'm not a psychologist, but yeah.. I'd say so. I did notice after my fWH's betrayal that I felt increasingly impatient with my mother. I mean, REALLY impatient, angry even. We had a pretty complicated relationship when I was growing up and by the time I was in my teens, we were at each other's throats most days. She was a bit of a histrionic personality and a product of some pretty severe child abuse, so she was a troubled person back then. There's a lot to the story, but suffice to say that those were weird times and I really felt like I'd put all that behind us decades before my WH's infidelity. But trauma does tend to reopen our old wounds and I just couldn't bring myself to trust her with the pain I was in. I didn't want any comforting, not from her anyway. And I damned sure didn't want her opinion on what I should do or to hear what an asshole my WH was. Somehow, my brain had connected my FOO injuries and my mother with this gaping, big, adultery wound. shocked

There's a cool book called The Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Susan Anderson. One of our members, OwningItNow, had recommended it on a thread to someone and I downloaded it to my device that day, and I'm glad I did because it helped me so much to sort some of these issues out. This is a book about couples splitting up really, but even though I was in R, it helped me more than just about any other thing I read. The author does a great job of explaining how the brain and body react to stress, and she also points out that our Fear of Abandonment is a reflex from birth. We're born helpless and our attachment to our mother/father/caregiver is necessary to our very survival. We're desperately fearful when that person isn't present when we need them. We cry as infants to attract their attention and care. But somehow, we end up carrying this fear of abandonment into adulthood and transferring it to our special relationship. We feel bereft without that person, the threat of losing that relationship creates tremendous anxiety. But here's the deal, we don't really need that reflex anymore. It's like an invisible vestigial tail. Unnecessary. We're not helpless anymore. We CAN survive without the object of our attachment and we can thrive in our own care.

I think it's possible that the threat to your child's survival, the responsibility of protecting and providing for your new family, and the utter exhaustion of all the activity involved in all that might have your brain connecting things that don't need to be connected. Brains are funny that way. My advice would be to spend some time investing in YOU. It's so important to have a good relationship with YOURSELF, one where you know that no matter what happens next, you're going to have the tools you need to make it through. Both you and your wife will need to engage in self-care and exercise in order to promote good, positive attitudes, so try and make time for that. Enlist family, friends, and baby-sitters as necessary. If your anxiety is getting ahead of you, talk to your doctor about stress management. If things don't get better, you can always see a trauma therapist and try some EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). That could help you shift the old infidelity trauma into better memory storage and maybe break the connection to your current stress.

BW: 2004(online EAs),
2014 (multiple PAs)
Married 38 years;
in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

posts: 5637   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8740561
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Seeking2Forgive ( member #78819) posted at 7:07 AM on Friday, June 17th, 2022

Memories of my FWW's A from 2003 were triggered by some old notes I came across but I think I was already starting to be more prone to think of those days by the fact that I was approaching 60 and entering a new phase of my life. I think I was feeling a sense of loss that I'm in this place and I've achieved many of my goals but what I really wanted was to be here in a marriage that wasn't destroyed by an A and then patched back together. I think major milestones in your life tend to make you nostalgic and reflective like that.

Like you, I didn't have SI back then and so I really didn't have the tools or support to properly process what I was going through - even with IC.

Did you hope to have children with your X before she betrayed you? Perhaps you are mourning those long lost dreams of parenthood with her - feeling the real impact of the damage that was done.

Or maybe you're feeling the love, hard work, and dedication that is going into getting through a difficult time right now, and just feeling sad that you did not get that kind of commitment from your X.

Wishing you the best for getting through this rough time.

Me: 60, BS -- Her: 59, FWS -- Dday: 11/15/03 -- Married 37 yrs -- Reconciled

posts: 393   ·   registered: May. 18th, 2021
id 8740562
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Want2BHappyAgain ( member #45088) posted at 2:06 PM on Friday, June 17th, 2022

First let me say that y'all are wonderful parents sacrificing and doing for y'alls children in this very tough situation smile .

Is this normal and likely a phase, or something I should be concerned about? Can anybody relate to this at all?

I can kind of relate to this. My 1st H cheated on me 3 months into our M. We got back together...but then he left me for the 2nd adultery co-conspirator I caught him with about 2 years later. Their lurve affair only lasted about 2 weeks though rolleyes . Although we never lived together again...he would make it seem like we would be getting back together...until he would meet a new "shiny" duh . After I seriously started dating the man who became my 2nd H...my 1st H finally decided that I was THE ONE for him rolleyes . Too little too late. I went for D with him after just 4 years of M...and was in a very happy M for 28 years...until my 2nd H cheated on me and put me back in infidelity hell crying .

I THOUGHT I had healed from the trauma of my 1st H's adulteries. I had moved on...and didn't have to see him again. He was just someone I used to know as the song says...and very rarely did he ever enter my head after a while.

Ironically...my 2nd H started his A the same month that my 1st H started his last A...30 years apart look . Some of the A events with my 1st H were on THE SAME DAY as my 2nd H! As I was pushing my way OUT of infidelity hell...again...the stuff from 30 years ago just came front and center...full force crying .

I learned about the limbic lag from a post that a WH wrote about. When I started researching it...I read how our limbic system keeps a record of EVERY experience we have...and instinctively acts when we encounter a similar experience. It also is responsible for our instinctive flight...fight...or freeze response. I attribute a lot of my responses to my 2nd H's A with the limbic system...or my "lizard brain" smile .

As we were going for R...my lizard brain had me in fits! It was trying to protect me from what it saw was DANGER. I learned though that I could retrain my brain...by having GOOD experiences in the similar situations smile . Our limbic system can't be trained by logic...only by experience. Thankfully...as I was healing from this last A...I was able to heal properly from the A's that happened so long ago smile .

This trauma you experienced with your newborn in the hospital...did you have similar feelings as to when you "lost" your 1st M? Could this maybe explain what you were experiencing?

Our brains really are amazing!!! But sometimes we are our own worst enemies when it comes to understanding this complex organ. Whatever is happening...I pray that y'all will come out with the happiness and PEACE that you and your family deserve Dear Sir smile .

A "perfect marriage" is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.

With God ALL things are possible (Matthew 19:26)

I AM happy again...It CAN happen!!!

From respect comes great love...sassylee

posts: 6083   ·   registered: Oct. 2nd, 2014   ·   location: Southeastern United States
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whatisloveanyway ( member #66450) posted at 2:59 PM on Friday, June 17th, 2022

First, I'm so sorry for all the stressors with your baby and hope all is going well. I can barely imagine the stress and worry for you and your wife, and hope you are leaning on and sustaining each other as best you can, and taking time to just breathe. You must both be exhausted.

Yes, it seems normal to me to have current trauma open the vaults to old trauma. I think it would be a great idea to talk to someone about it, if you are able to find someone that works for you. I wonder if there is hope for a specific support group for your current situation out there somewhere. It is so helpful to talk to others who understand the struggle. Maybe the lack of support in your current situation has you returning here to revisit the old trauma and maybe to find some caring support.

I've experienced the past jumping up out of nowhere twice now. The first time, it was a long buried childhood trauma that I never thought about until I was a parent and my child reached the age of my trauma. I was completely unprepared for the vivid upload of the memory and it shook me good, and triggered a lot of overly cautious parenting on my part to keep the past from repeating.

The second time was the shattering of my reality with infidelity, and I was again transported to the memory and pain of rejection and betrayal from a relationship that had ended four decades prior. I heaped all those feelings from the past onto my present and it made me feel worse for a while. I had to do a lot of thinking and reading to find my way to separate the past and present, and to convince myself that the lessons learned through that old pain were still with me and helping me be the person I want to be in my future, not part of my problem now. I was confused though, both times how things I thought I had processed long ago came back so strongly and so unwelcome. It took me a while to shake them both off, but I guess for me that means it passed in time. I hope it does for you too. Take care and hoping for the best for your family.

BW: 62 WH: 62 Both 57 on Dday, M 35 years, 2 grown kids. WH had 9 year A with MOW, 7 month false R, multiple DDays, years of trickle truth.
I got rid of her with one email. Reconciling, but the lies have piled up. Trying one more time, again.

posts: 382   ·   registered: Oct. 9th, 2018   ·   location: Southeastern USA
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HouseOfPlane ( member #45739) posted at 9:12 PM on Friday, June 17th, 2022

It’s normal

When it first happened, you looked at it through lenses that were created by your life experiences at that time.

Well, it’s been 13 years of additional life experiences, and so you have new lenses with which to see. You see new things.

Kids in the hospital are hard. Bravo to you and your wife for fighting for your child!

DDay 1986: R'd, it was hard, hard work.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

posts: 2840   ·   registered: Nov. 25th, 2014
id 8740766
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secondtime ( member #58162) posted at 3:58 AM on Saturday, June 18th, 2022

I'm so sorry for everything you have gone through.

I notice that unrelated stressors do trigger me to think about my past.

I think about it more as waiting for the other shoe to drop. When stuff gets bad, my experiences have proved that's it's never a question of "if" but when that other shoe drops.

When I get that feeling, I'm here too. I find it oddly soothing.

posts: 1065   ·   registered: Apr. 5th, 2017
id 8740790
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 Freedomfighter (original poster new member #79609) posted at 2:36 AM on Sunday, June 19th, 2022

Thank you ChamomileTea, Seeking2Forgive Want2BHappyAgain, whatisloveanyway, HouseOfPlane, and secondtime for your responses,

I really am so grateful for this community! General consensus appears to be: it's likely a phase and not likely to be lasting.

I understand your questions, Seeking2Forgive's, about my past marriage and my desire for kids. From the day we split I was very grateful to not have kids with her. No doubt I am so glad for that today. On wishing she had been able to be committed, yes, at the time I would have wanted that. From where I sit now, no way, I was saved from a life of misery. I have a true partner now, demonstrated by the stress we endured together at this point, so I know better and consider myself very fortunate.

Want2BHappyAgain:

This trauma you experienced with your newborn in the hospital...did you have similar feelings as to when you "lost" your 1st M? Could this maybe explain what you were experiencing?

Reading your entire message, first of all, I am so sorry for your experience with betrayals in more than one marriage...I am so sad for you! Nobody should have to deal with betrayal like that, much less MORE THAN ONCE? I told my exww nobody should have to be in this kind of pain, and that I didn't wish it on her or her AP. To answer your questions, no, my feelings in the first "loss" in M was different. She had been so cruel, I didn't have a cliff hanger feeling at all. I had a feeling of loss, but no desire or ongoing suspense and concern for the future like with my premature infant baby.

CamomileTea, per your recommendation, I will read The Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Susan Anderson. I for sure was abandoned by my exww, but as I said, she was so cruel for the last half of those short 11 months we were "married" (3 years dating prior) that my biggest hesitation to D at the end was the humiliation I inflated in my head. Of course, it was humiliating being such a short "marriage" but it wasn't as bad as I imagined. Well worth it, a few quotes from her in no specific order:

1) "I married you for financial reasons"
2) "I never actually loved you"
3) "I never actually wanted to be married to you, I wanted to marry my high school boyfriend"
4) "I never wanted to be married to an introvert"
5) "I asked (OM) how he felt being with someone with a (since DD "discovered") mental disorder, he was so kind, you'd really like him, he's a good guy"
6) "Your brother and father are worthless"
7) "Why do you care if we carry CC debt, most people carry $10k"
8) "(OM) has friends who will (physically) hurt you"
9) "I could cheat on you and you'd never know. (me): yeah, you could, but if it continued I am sure I would eventually find out by you telling me (cognitive dissonance or you want to leave me for him), or I'd find out on my own. (her): (silence)"

I could continue with this list, but why bother. That is a decent sampling.

In one conversation she actually told me she that was a "bitch." Not an I'm sorry, but it was her saying sorry for being nasty. I was being kind and trying to help figure out a resolution. I guess she summoned the inability to lie to herself about it for a brief minute. More likely she wanted something from me. I said almost nothing disparaging to her the entire time we were together. I see myself as a builder, not a destroyer.

Anyway, I am sorry for the fractured thoughts above. I am happy to have challenging comments back at me, this community is good at that and it is valuable to me.

Happily remarried with 3 awesome kids

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id 8740876
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 5:23 PM on Sunday, June 19th, 2022

Excellent topic.

I have very little patience when people lie to me.

I also am very suspicious when women are overly friendly with my H.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12110   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8740937
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TheEnd ( member #72213) posted at 5:55 PM on Sunday, June 19th, 2022

I think it's very normal.

Seems to me, the traumatic event from your 1st marriage resulted in a complete 180 in your life. Here you are with another traumatic event and your mind remembers that sometimes things don't work out, sometimes things are as bad as they seem and sometimes things end in a result you never wanted.

That's the connection I see anyway.

I may be projecting because since DDay I find myself struggling to deal with other stressful situations. I do deal with them and to the outside world I look fine. But inside, I have an anxiety and churn I never had before. I've had to learn to calm myself before I can even face whatever it is I need to face. I have to make lists and plans where before I could handle all sorts of issues, decisions, chores, tasks in my head, at the same time. I think it's because I've experienced a trauma that changed my entire world. It's just not something we think can or will happen. Then it did. And now my brain panics too often.

Maybe that's what's happening to you. Read the book Chamo suggested. It's dead on about this stuff.

posts: 184   ·   registered: Dec. 3rd, 2019
id 8740946
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sickoftears ( member #59287) posted at 12:03 PM on Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

I find it’s not just challenges that dredge up the past for me but the good stuff too. It’s been over 6 years since D-day for us. Our youngest graduated high school a couple weeks ago. It was a very bittersweet time. Our youngest, our baby. I was sitting there bursting with pride and at the same time wanted to punch him in the face. I was just so angry with him because I felt like in some way he ruined the feelings of solidarity or something between us. I just knew that if his affair had never happened I would feel different about him and us in that moment. I didn’t tell him though. I sat there and held his hand and shed some tears for different reasons than what he thought I was shedding them for. No use ruining his day 🙄. When in reality I didn’t even want to sit with him much less hold his hand.

[This message edited by sickoftears at 12:12 PM, Thursday, June 23rd]

posts: 53   ·   registered: Jun. 20th, 2017
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