As I continue to dig into this, I keep finding insightful posts from others on this subject and just ran across this one that tackles the subject from the viewpoint of compartmentalization. They posted the following in order to assist a WW:
"I'd like to offer you some things I learned the hard way that may be of help to you.
The first is the idea of compartmentalization.
When we give ourselves permission to do that which is deeply wrong and harmful to ourselves and those around us, we do so by putting it into a compartment. We wall off that self and what it is doing off from the rest of us. We put all the bad, secret stuff in the bad self compartment, and we pretend that compartment doesn't exist when we are in our normal life. We pretend there is no connection between the two. And we focus on all the good things we do in our normal good life to reassure ourselves that we are a good person.
Part of the work in front of you is tearing down your compartments. This is hard work. You built them lovingly, brick by brick, and put a lot of energy into maintaining them. Even now, when you are under such terrible stress, you are going to turn to them for comfort. The line of thought is, "but I was a good mother, a good friend, a good business partner. All the good stuff has to outweigh the bad."
And you will also think to yourself, now I will just throw out the person in the bad compartment. She will go away, I will be again and only the person in the good compartment, and that is how I will change and be safe.
It is important that you start to work against this line of thinking.
The hard truth is there never were two compartments, two yous, a bad secret you and a healthy real you. There was only ever you. The hard work now is accepting that all of it, the bad as well as the good, was you. Your choices, your needs put first.
One of the biggest reasons that you have to fight with yourself to tear down this wall between the compartments is becuause that wall does not exist for your husband and your kids. They are going to be struggling to understand how you could "pretend," as they see it, when you were with them, to be someone you weren't really. They will not accept any answer that starts with "that was not the real me." They will want to understand how you could live with them while hiding so much, that would affect them so much when the truth came out.
The only way to answer them is after the compartment comes down. It won't come overnight. Your consellor will help you.
For the short run, I just want you to recognize that all those "but I did this, that, the third thing in my good self compartment" are ultimately not going to help. They will offer you a hit of short-term comfort, but they are not going to help you understand who you really are, or understand what you need to change about yourself.
The other point I want to raise for you to think about is empathy. I sometimes think all affairs are, at bottom, a catapstrophic failure of empathy.
When we are functioning as well-integrated people with a well-functioning emotional range, our sense of empathy is sharpest for those closest to us. A very clear statement of this is the old cliche, "cut him or her, I bleed." When you first bonded with your husband and I imagine for many years thereafter, this would have been and I am sure was true for you too. The thought of an affair would have been repulsive, because the very thought of it would have caused you to feel, like an advance echo, his pain, if you were to betray him. Imagining his pain would have caused you pain. Cut him, you bleed.
In an affair the first thing that happens, long before other boundaries are crossed, is that natural flux of empathy for your life partner gets attenuated. ... You still think of him being cut--that after all is why affairs are kept hidden--but you don't FEEL it. You think of him being cut (if he finds out that is, which you put a lot of effort into ensuring won't happen) but you don't bleed at the very thought. This is the first and greatest betrayal, of your true best self and of your partner. Its the self-betrayal from which the others flow.
In many cases that sense of empathy gets transferred to the affair partner. In some cases, and yours may be one, I think it gets transferred to yourself. You got to a place where she felt only your own pain over something your thought others had and you didn't and no longer had any empathy for anyone who would be hurt by acts you took to address that.
Rebuilding empathy, like tearing down compartments, doesn't happen overnight. It is hard to stay engaged with someone in terrible pain, when you caused it. You will want to retreat, either to close yourself off or to push your shame to the foreground to put the focus back on you and your feelings and needs. There is no quick road. But awareness can help. Be aware that, in a thousand subtle ways, you have been blunting your sense of empathy for your husband. Having it come back is like having pain when a dead or numb nerve comes to life."