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Wayward Side :
Staying in the "now"

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 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 10:45 PM on Monday, July 11th, 2022

I am still working on myself and my whys. Also working with BS to help understand who we are and what changes need to be made while in the early stages of "true" R. One major stumbling block we both have, but BS especially, is spiralling backwards into the past. I know we have to go there, but every counsellor we have has promoted living in the "now". "What's done is done" is often said, in a "you can't not do what you have done" kind of way. This is true, understanding why I was/am that self absorbed ass hole is important, to protect us from me.

What we both want, is help is staying in the now when were there. We're doing better at dealing with triggers and have plans for if a BIG one happens when we're on date night. However, when things are "normal" and we're having an evening in front of Netflix, BS often spirals backwards. She wants help with this and we're trying to discuss ways to keep us in the now. What have you guys done to help with this process?

WH (40's) Me. Emotional affair (2017), Physical affair (2003) and online affairs, Two physical affairs (2000). D-Day's 2003, August '17, multiple discoveries through 2018,19 and 20, Jan 21 and 2022

posts: 209   ·   registered: Mar. 12th, 2020   ·   location: UK
id 8744271
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Want2BHappyAgain ( member #45088) posted at 2:24 PM on Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

What's done is done" is often said, in a "you can't not do what you have done" kind of way. This is true, understanding why I was/am that self absorbed ass hole is important, to protect us from me.

You are correct...you can't undo what you have done. But understanding WHY things happened the way they did IS important. What helped ME to understand this was that we have a "narrative" of what our life is like. When something disrupts that...such as finding out our spouse wasn't faithful like our "narrative" showed...we need to get our "narrative" correct. Betrayeds will OFTEN ask the same questions over and over again...rehashing what was done in the past. I have forgotten the name of WHY we do that...but it is a very NORMAL reaction to our world not being as we THOUGHT it was.

For ME...it was like a puzzle that got all jumbled up. I HAD to get that puzzle back together...but not all of the pieces to this puzzle FIT. Once I could get them to fit...I could move on to the next part of the puzzle. One example...I couldn't understand what made the adultery co-conspirator meet up with a stranger...my H...for NSA sex. According to what she told my H...she was obsessed with anything American...divorced...and had not been with a man physically for about 1 1/2 years. But none of that helped to make that puzzle piece FIT. One day my H mentioned how HE was the THIRD person she had been in an A with look . This was actually why she was divorced...her H found out she cheated on him with her boss!! My H didn't think anything of this before because it didn't concern US or why HE had the A...but it was HUGE for me! FINALLY I understood!! After that puzzle piece FIT...I was able to move on smile .

Once the PAST is understood...then y'all can move to the NOW much more easily smile .

However, when things are "normal" and we're having an evening in front of Netflix, BS often spirals backwards. She wants help with this and we're trying to discuss ways to keep us in the now. What have you guys done to help with this process?

THIS part seems to stem from your BS's limbic system...or lizard brain. Y'all both may want to research this...I found it VERY helpful in understanding this exact scenario you are describing smile .

Our limbic system keeps track of every EXPERIENCE we have. It doesn't matter if it happened 10 minutes ago or 10 years ago. This is the part of our brain that reacts instinctively...our fight...flight...or freeze response. THIS was why...when my H confessed to his A...I immediately told him the M was over in a very matter-of-fact way...and got up to leave the room with NO emotion whatsoever. It was like I was watching a movie...the logic part of my brain wasn't functioning...but my lizard brain instinctively KNEW how to respond to this earth shattering trauma. The reason was...almost 30 years earlier...to the day...I caught my 1st H cheating on me. My lizard brain kept that experience...and instinctively pulled it up when I experienced the SAME trauma again. I honestly couldn't understand WHAT was happening at the time...because my response was so UNLIKE me.

The GOOD news is that we can retrain that part of our limbic system grin . LOGIC won't do it though...only EXPERIENCE. When your BS starts to feel "normal"...her lizard brain is telling her to stay on guard. It is a truly "normal" response smile . The more she can have GOOD "normal" experiences...the more her lizard brain will be able to calm down smile .

Our brains are really FASCINATING...but sometimes they don't help us when they are trying to help us!!

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: 6170   ·   registered: Oct. 2nd, 2014   ·   location: Southeastern United States
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Notaboringwife ( member #74302) posted at 9:33 PM on Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

It’s heartening to read how some waywards, who no longer cheat, want to help their spouses.

From my experience as a former betrayed, staying in the "now" is another coping technique to distract one’s mind from wandering away. It’s a way to tell the mind "hey, I don’t want to go into the past right now, I don't want to go into the future right now, so I’ll just stay "present and in the now".

You tell that to yourself and focus hard on the present moments. Do not let your mind wander away..Focus on sights, odors, noises, voices, music, indoors, outdoors, a talk with your spouse about something in the movie that you are both watching together. Anything to distract your wandering mind from dragging you backwards into a hurtful past.

It takes grit and determination to practice "staying in the now".

What worked for me and my husband in a restaurant eating supper when I triggered badly:

Say the trigger happens, your mind races into the past hurt, immediately you focus on your spouse and initiate a conversation about the people sitting next to you…what are they like? what are they eating? are they right handed or left handed? what are they drinking? speculate together why they chose those drinks..speculate based on first impressions you’d like them to be friends with you. etc.
I did that with my husband and it worked for both of us. It distracted me from falling back into the past hurts in that restaurant and my husband was able to gently and with some humourous answers steer me back into the "now".

Of course, I remembered the trigger after supper ended, but I was able to enjoy the meal because we teamed up together to stay in the "now". And in IMHO, nothing beats a team determined to make it work.

I hope this helps a little.

Me: fBS late 60’s
Him: fWH late 60’s
DDay : March 2019
Separation: March 2019
R: June 2019

Shift your internal stance from "I’m right and you’re wrong" to "help me understand." Everything else follows from it...

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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 11:01 PM on Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

Funny you mentioned this today DD. This exact thing came up in MC today in combination from my avoidance of watching TV w BH in the evening. The stuff he likes to too violent, gory or gross sexually for me, to the point where I wont be able to sleep for a night or two. My stuff usually bores him. My sticking point from the past was how afraid I am of not pleasing him by watching what he likes, and being pretty much traumatized afterward. MC called us both out on this behavior- letting past results dictate future actions.

It was interesting too NABW, about you guys teaming up during a trigger to help pull you out of it. You used a lot of "we" in there talking about it. MC called us on our use of I and YOU and lack of speaking as a WE.

Maybe being in the present moment with our spouses is focusing more on the we thsn the I. Something thats probably obvious to a lot of others, but new to me! duh

WW/BW Dday July 2019. BH/WH- multiple EA's. Back at it again- bantering w the younger woman. Lied about blocking phone calls and deleted texts. Carried on with her.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 1:11 AM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

Infidelity, for the BS especially, is a trauma. Several of the books and articles I've read have stated that the trauma of infidelity is right up there with war and death in terms of how much of a "job" it does on our psyches. In fact, some state that it is actually worse than either of these things, because war and death are inevitable, however, infidelity is a choice, and a betrayal. In that regard, infidelity might actually be one of the worst traumas a human can experience, because it is so very purposeful and personal. I think that's really important to understand. Our BS's aren't "hurt". They are devastated. Decimated.

But it gets worse. Do you know the difference between PTSD and Complex PTSD? In a nutshell, most people, even though they have trauma in their life, have some sort of support system to fall back on. A spouse, a loved one, family, a good friend, maybe a preacher or teacher. So they have trauma, but they also have non-trauma in their lives. But what happens if you don't have a support system, or any sense of safety whatsoever. What if your life is non-stop trauma with no break in between? THAT's complex trauma. It's the difference between sticking your hand in a blender, and sticking your hand in a blender and leaving it there permanently.

So think about this for a moment. If your spouse has the acute trauma of infidelity foisted upon her, and at the same time, has her biggest support system (you) ripped away from her, and actually becoming the source of her pain instead... then she's left with no support system, no break, no way to get out from under that trauma in the ways that she always been able to up until now. Nothing really makes sense to her. She has to rebuild everything, from scratch, with no handbook, and no support. That sounds like complex PTSD to me.

We've all seen the made-for-TV versions of PTSD, usually it is portrayed as a soldier who freaks out at every loud noise and who turns to alcohol and drugs just to try and deal with it all, or who has these "flashbacks" and thinks that things are going on now, even though they aren't. Is any of this starting to sound familiar with what's going on now in your relationship?

Trauma gets "Stuck" in our brains until it has a chance to process. If it doesn't process, it stays stuck and causing problems. Removing the PTSD is work for a therapist, however I can tell you this much. Part of the work means acknowledging and processing the trauma. But how can you process the trauma, when it is still occurring? You can't. Which is why things such as TT do SO MUCH DAMAGE to our BS's. They not only reinforce the old trauma, but they add new trauma on top of it. And what's worse, it is lie after lie after lie, and after a while, the BS can't trust anymore. And if you can't trust, you can't process, because you need some sort of baseline of safety and sanity to hold onto.

In my opinion, the reason she can't be here in the now is because she hasn't adequately processed the past, so when a trigger comes up, the flashbacks are for real. She doesn't trust you yet. She might want to, but she can't. I know there are some things that you have "agreed to disagree" about sort-of, and that's fine, but that might leave some issues stuck.

I know this might not be the answer you want, but in my mind, the best way to move past this is to just keep on doing what you are doing. Work on being honest. Work on being present. Work on being authentic and not buried in shame. It's less about what you specifically do and more about consistency and accountability. Your wife will process the trauma when she feels safe enough to do so, and the more often you DON'T get defensive, the more often you do what you said you would do, the more often she feels empathy from you, or sees progress in you, the closer she might be able to getting to the point where she can trust you and talk to you about that stuck trauma. And when she processes it, she'll lose the need to keep going back.

I can tell you from my own experience that once that switch flipped and my head popped out of my ass, our relationship changed almost overnight. You could almost watch her walls (and mine) come down. The moment we could discuss things like two rational and present adults, the moment she could tell me how she felt and I could hear her without making it all about me instead, it all just changed. And if I'm to be honest, the moment my walls dropped, I felt like such an idiot, because it was just so damn simple, and yet it was something I had not been able to do until that moment. I started to talk and walk and act like the man she married, and she responded in kind.

If you haven't, I'd suggest getting a copy of "The body keeps the score" and perhaps read it to each other, daily. Just a few pages a day, and discuss what you read. That's all. It's a simple exercise, but in doing so, you'll not only learn more about PTSD and its affects, but you open up opportunities to discuss things, thoughts and feelings and ideas, in a non-confrontational setting. Once you can talk to each other about anything, you can accomplish anything.

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: 1300   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8744459
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sundance ( member #72129) posted at 7:11 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

She wants help with this and we're trying to discuss ways to keep us in the now. What have you guys done to help with this process?

Hi Bulcy! I'm attaching some quotes I especially like from books I have read regarding staying in the present moment. More info/description of each book can also be found on the goodreads website:

"there is no reason to constantly attempt to figure everything out" ― Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

"Once you have identified with some form of negativity, you do not want to let it go, and on a deeply unconscious level, you do not want positive change. It would threaten your identity as a depressed, angry or hard-done by person. You will then ignore, deny or sabotage the positive in your life. This is a common phenomenon. It is also insane." ― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

"What you are now is the result of what you were. What you will be tomorrow will be the result of what you are now. The consequences of an evil mind will follow you like the cart follows the ox that pulls it. The consequences of a purified mind will follow you like your own shadow. No one can do more for you than your own purified mind—no parent, no relative, no friend, no one. A well-disciplined mind brings happiness." ― Henepola Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English

"If you live in a past dream, you don't enjoy what is happening right now because you will always wish it to be different than it is. There is no time to miss anyone or anything because you are alive. Not enjoying what is happening right now is living in the past and being only half alive. This leads to self pity, suffering and tears." ― Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

"Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today." ― Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

"Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied? And what is the use of being unhappy about something if it cannot be remedied?" ― Joseph Goldstein, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening

"Anxiety is the subtle and pervasive destroyer of our happiness. It depends on thoughts of past and future. It cannot exist in the present." ― Jan Chozen Bays, How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness

Hoping MrsBulcy is able to connect with a book that helps bring her peace! sunny

[This message edited by sundance at 7:13 PM, Wednesday, July 13th]

Rusty: You scared?Linus: You suicidal?Rusty: Only in the morning.

posts: 142   ·   registered: Nov. 21st, 2019
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doninvaun ( member #75329) posted at 8:17 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

What can you do if your BS refuses IC, doesn't want to stay in the "now" because "I want to stay in this dark past to keep my anger staying strong"?

posts: 64   ·   registered: Sep. 3rd, 2020
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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 8:20 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

Thanks sunny for the quotes- I really needed them today. SOOOOO true about the ox and the cart and the evil mind. Thanks for the reminder. I need to get out of my head and out of my way. Especially when I'm heavily triggered. I'm still living in the past and afraid of more of the same hurt in the future.

WW/BW Dday July 2019. BH/WH- multiple EA's. Back at it again- bantering w the younger woman. Lied about blocking phone calls and deleted texts. Carried on with her.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

posts: 773   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
id 8744557
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 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 9:54 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

Thanks Sundance, really interesting quotes and something else to add to the reading list.

DD - "The body keeps the score" I now have a copy and started reading it this evening. I'll let you know my thoughts.

There are some really interesting view points here, thanks

WH (40's) Me. Emotional affair (2017), Physical affair (2003) and online affairs, Two physical affairs (2000). D-Day's 2003, August '17, multiple discoveries through 2018,19 and 20, Jan 21 and 2022

posts: 209   ·   registered: Mar. 12th, 2020   ·   location: UK
id 8744570
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