A big issue that comes up with us is how i could choose to hurt her so badly. How i knowingly did this to her. The reality is that i had no clue the damage would be like this. I did not enter into an A in order to hurt my W.
Some of that is just disbelief. It's so hard to think that our WS can look us in the face every day and not SEE us as real people. Think about it, you lied right to her face for nearly two years while you engaged in the worst kind of intimate betrayal, but now she's supposed to believe that she's a priority to you when you have demonstrated without the possibility of doubt that you are capable of looking at her but not SEEING her.
For what it's worth, I believe you. That's why I'm in R and have been for the last seven years. But this kind of disbelief is not suspended overnight. We have to come to the point where we really do allow the cheating to be 100% about the WS and NOT about us, and as you can see, there's good and bad in that necessary truth. On the one hand, nothing we ever said or did can cause another human being to throw away their core values and choose perfidy and lies. On the other, nothing that we ever say or do can stop them from doing it again.
We aren't enough, being with us is not important enough to keep our partner from betrayal. That's one helluva blow to the ego and it sends the self-esteem reeling. Some can't come back from that because it requires us to disconnect our self-worth from our WS's appraisal and then still want to be with them. This can be an acceptable state of being for those of us who can get comfortable with a person whose opinion we an no longer rely upon for emotional validation, but not everyone is wired to accommodate that. Some things never come back after betrayal. That's just the bottom line.
I do think you're on the right track when you keep reminding her that it's not about her. It's about you. It's so important though that you find out WHAT went wrong inside you which allowed you to throw away your integrity the way you did. The flaw in character is typically somewhere in the gap between stated values (vows to be faithful) and actual deeds (breaks that vow). Somewhere inside, you had a "but..." in your values system. ie. "He believes in Fidelity, but... not if his wife will never find out." The "but..." is like some kind of out clause, an excuse, a disclaimer whereby you allow yourself to rationalize an action you've previously claimed was intolerable. It's not at all unusual that we don't really THINK about whether or not we mean the promises we make to people. We certainly mean them AT THE TIME, but it's not until those values are tested that we find out what we actually do believe, and we can tell what we truly do believe because we organically protect what we value by building boundaries around it. For some reason, you had a "but..." in your core value of Fidelity, and when it came time for that core value to be tested, you had no firm boundary encircling it.
It's so important that you identify WHY that happened. Your BW is searching for that answer, hence her occasional declarations that it must be oppositional defiance disorder, or that you're bipolar or autistic. To her mind, there's a reason why you were capable of saying an enthusiastic "yes!" to perfidy, and she's right, there is. Somewhere inside, there's a reason why you had that "but..." in your values system. How can you assure her that you have changed if you can't explain WHAT you have changed?
One great piece of advice you'll see from WS's is to keep going deeper in questioning "why". It's not enough to say, "I was selfish". That much is obvious. WHY were you selfish? Maybe you felt entitled. Maybe you felt like you needed the outside validation. Whatever the reason, there's another "why" to be asked and answered, and then another. You can't fix what's broken without digging that deep, and you're NOT guaranteed to like what you find. It's painfully humbling introspection, but without it, how can you make any REAL or lasting change?
My fear is that if i never pause to correct the record or at least discuss things further to talk it through from both perspectives, then a new narrative is written and that becomes the new reality.
I think it's actually a bit worse that that. A WS who is 'going along to get along' is still essentially dishonest. Yeah, it's bound to be scary to speak your truth when you're already teetering on the brink of marital disaster, but if you're not authentic, you're putting off a detectable whiff. The deer-in-the-headlights thing gets old really fast, and speaking as a BS, we might not like being confronted with argument from the person who stabbed us in the back and now claims they want more than anything to be with us, but even worse is the nothingburger of a person who will look us in the eye and then choose to withhold their truth. Authenticity is a bigger priority than comfort. HONESTY is the biggest priority of all.
Conflict avoiders end up harboring resentments and, as we've seen all too often, giving themselves permission to do horrible things. Conflict, however, is a relational imperative when it comes to resolving problems and it doesn't have to be a bad thing. When you reframe it, it's an opportunity to fix what's been broken.
There's a saying around here.. "you've got to be willing to lose the marriage in order to have a chance at saving it". It's important for you to BOTH be happy with the end result. You can't do that when you're not being 100% authentic. This is how emotional intimacy is built.
[This message edited by ChamomileTea at 4:56 PM, Sunday, July 31st]