Regarding personal accountability...
Every person in this world has a personal responsibility to themselves, to live a life a life that they can respect, to have dignity and integrity, to be proud of the person that they are and what they put out into the world, and take responsibility for things in life that we regret. This personal accountability has nothing to do with anyone else, and exists regardless of conditions in life. That is the reason that we tell every WS (and most BS's as well) that the affair is not, was not, and will never be, about the marriage or about the betrayed spouse. We've seen people stuck in horrible marriages who never cheat, and we've also seen people in what seemed like the perfect marriage, cheat over and over again. The only constant in all of this is ourselves. We are responsible for what we do. Full stop. Others are responsible for themselves.
There is no justification for treating YOURSELF like shit, and there is no excuse for hurting another intentionally. Some people suggest that a revenge affair is somehow justified or absolved because one spouse already cheated, are in my opinion, making the exact same excuses and justifications that the cheating spouse already made. For some, they see this as "fair" somehow, almost in the same sense as "self-defense" or "fair play" or even "You started this" type of tit-for-tat revenge. Whatever. It is exactly what it sounds like and feels like... an excuse to debase themselves and then try and justify it by blaming another. There is nothing about that train of thought that leads to self-respect and personal accountability in any way.
Suppose you saw another person walk up to an elderly woman, push her down, and steal her purse. They take off running and get away with it. Since someone else did it, got away with it, and benefitted from it, does that mean that you too should feel free, proud even, to go do the same thing? Or are you not the kind of person who could live with themselves for attacking and robbing another person? What if you were the person that got robbed? Is it okay now? Can you respect yourself and go brag about your great muggings to your friends with pride?
I have nothing but remorse for what I did to my wife, and nothing but sympathy for other BS's who were cheated on. I completely understand that urge to get revenge, to even the score, to hurt them just as much if not much, much more than they hurt you. It's not something that is difficult to understand. However, the reason most people don't do so, is because they respect themselves too damn much to disrespect themselves that way. They also respect themselves too much to hurt others, regardless of how they may have been hurt themselves. Two wrongs never make a right, ever, ever ever. It just makes us lower and debases ourselves, as if us behaving in disgusting and horrible ways somehow punishes someone else. It doesn't. We punish only ourselves.
Yes, it is true, that once the affair takes place, it is reasonable, and helpful even, to see the marriage as over. And that's fine. But how does that in any way, shape or form give us the reason and purpose of behaving in ways that are disgusting to us? Was it disgusting when the WS did it to the BS? Was it wrong on every level? Then it's still wrong when we do it as well.
Regarding the shitty things we said about our spouses...
I regret the things I said about my spouse to the AP. Although to be real, the dishonesty was mostly with myself, and to myself. I told myself she didn't love me anymore. I told myself she wanted to purposefully be distant from me. I convinced myself that she was probably already done and moving on from me. I made her the enemy in my life story. I hurt and dishonered her, our marriage, our family, and myself, in so very many ways that I could never count them all. We all do, in our own way, it is simply one of the factors that an affair is made up of. That doesn't excuse anything, my only point is to let you know that we've all been there and done that and we will all go to our graves hating that part of ourselves and what we did, and who we allowed ourselves to be.
I will share with you, however, that shame, remorse, and regret, while good things to feel so that you learn from them, and motivating things to feel, are ultimately self-focused and unhelpful to the marriage. Your spouse doesn't need you to feel shame. Your shame is about you, about your feelings, and let's face it, all WS's have one thing in common, we all acted selfishly and with complete disregard for our spouses. When we got lost in shame and regret, we do the same thing to our spouses. We make it about US again. We make it about OUR needs, OUR hurt... which is to say, it is once again, not about them. They aren't in the equation, only you and your shame are. That's why so many WS's come back here saying, "I tell my spouse how much I love them and miss them and want them and how sorry I am and...", but read that back. That's all about the WS, and what THEY want. It's not about our BS or their needs and desires.
When we can turn off the shame and instead see our spouses, empathize with them and take ownership of what we did and why... that's when change can occur. Yes, our spouses need to hear our regret and remorse and pain, BUT, they also need to hear it in a way that means something to them. In other words, "So what are you going to do about it?"
Instead of, "I'm sorry for cheating", they need to hear, "I fucked you over, on purpose, and I hurt you. That was inexcusable of me, and it was so very unfair to you."
Instead of, "I love you so much and I just want us to get back together again", they need to hear, "You did nothing wrong. And there is no reason for you to stay with me one more moment because I broke our vows and betrayed your trust. But I'm willing to go to the ends of the earth to make things as right as I can, and to become someone who will never, ever, hurt you or anyone else in such a way again".
They need to hear that something is going to change. They need to hear that we actually understand and CARE about what we did to them, and that we care so much that we're willing to do whatever it takes to change, EVEN IF THEY LEAVE.
I'm so sorry that you are struggling right now. It hurts, I know, and it probably seems like this pain will never end, and that your life is for shit. I hear ya. And it's okay to feel that way, honestly. Take the time to hurt, to feel it, so that you understand why it is you cannot continue to live this way. But when you are done crying it out, dust yourself off, get out your shit-kickers and get to work .