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Newest Member: Stark

Just Found Out :
H is a complete stranger with a second life.

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swmnbc ( member #49344) posted at 12:08 AM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

You don't have to apologize for having big feelings while processing this shit pile. We understand.


Sometimes I'm listening to him and actually saving up moments like that to share with my sister later, like in my mind I'm picturing her reaction to it and I know how outraged she will be. It makes me feel like I'm not crazy. I think to myself "people who love me would be shocked at the way he's behaving" and I don't even mean the affairs, but the lies, deflection, blame shifting and excuses.

I used that line with my husband when he was indignant or defensive . . . how do you think all of our friends would feel about you if I told them what YOU did compared to what I did (his complaints were that I didn't ask about his day enough and didn't walk around town with him anymore, which was because I developed a chronic illness) and how you are acting now? Believe me, you would look SO BAD.


the way that I insist on diving too deeply into his psyche, which wounds him. I'm actually embarrassed for him as I'm typing this out as a list, but that's the gist.

I mean, yes, that is EMBARRASSING. "Here babe, my 'why' is that I'm a serial liar and cheater because you try to delve too deep into my psyche." rolleyes

I wasn't a fly on the wall when that couple you know broke up over the husband's coming out, but I bet you a million bucks that he was concerned for his soon-to-be-ex wife and really remorseful for not being able to be the husband that she needed. I'm sure he wasn't just maniacally focused on himself with no empathy for his wife. It's really disgusting that your husband would pull this card NOW when he was found out rather than doing what this other man must have done, which is speak his truth out of respect for his wife.

I would have the same list of questions. Do you think he'll answer honestly-ish? I would bet he would only answer honestly if it benefited him or he thought there was a good chance of you finding evidence to contradict him. Otherwise I'm guessing he would lie, lie, lie. But at this point I don't think you lose much by asking as long as you know you can't control whether he tells the truth. Eventually you may tire of his deflections and not even want to ask him anymore.

posts: 1789   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2015
id 8756268
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VezfromTaz ( new member #80815) posted at 12:12 AM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Sigyn
"Coming out" ?!
What a puerile attempt to evoke sympathy from you to make out he is part of a marginalised group. He knows what pushes your buttons. I reckon you thinking about what your sister might make of his comments whilst he is speaking is part of the unbrainwashing/exiting the fantasy process, because at the moment you trust her voice more than his, or your own. And you are allowed to be angry! You should be.

posts: 40   ·   registered: Sep. 1st, 2022
id 8756269
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redrock ( member #21538) posted at 12:53 AM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Of course, he has extenuating circumstances for his behavior…..

He didn’t hold you hostage for almost 20 years to eat cake and get his jollies whilst also enjoying your authentic partnership, love and social status.

He just didn’t fully understand his sexual identity. Is it sexual appropriation to align planned long term infidelity of the most callous, bragadocious sort as sexual identity issues? Guess in his world, think it ……and make it so….

I’m exhausted reading about it. I can only imagine what you are going through daily.

I do not have the amazing insight some on this thread have.

While you are sussing out his latest selfish victimology, I’m rooting for you to take some time for a good long look at yourself and see the strength, self awareness, kindness, perception and so on and so on….

You are quite the prize. He seems incapable of seeing past his ego, I sure hope you can start see it. Hugs.

I don't respect anyone that can't spell a word more than one way:)

posts: 3500   ·   registered: Nov. 6th, 2008   ·   location: Michigan
id 8756277
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 Sigyn (original poster member #80576) posted at 1:55 AM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

My WH is ALL about hiding and keeping personal secrets. He is ALL about covert activity as a rebellious and self-affirming practice. Getting away with it gives him power. Guarding and hiding information gives him power. It seems to all be part of some big: you’re-not-the-boss-of-me middle finger to anyone who he resents.

He felt like he should have time to himself to pursue his own activities more, but was FINE with me taking care of the kids, carrying all the workload, being responsible for remembering and taking care of all of the WE responsibilities while he focused on his responsibilities to himself.

This withholding allowed him to keep his power. It allowed him to use what he learns from my reactions and my sleuthing tactics to manipulate me and try to control what happened next. It allowed him to blameshift and deflect and a thousand other dysfunctional things.

If I would just handle it correctly, not use that particular tone, not get angry, not act like he had done something wrong, or any fucking thing that might distract onto my behavior and away from his, he would respond better. Guess what? He never responded better, no matter what I did short of ignoring any issue completely and never bringing it up again.

This is my husband to a T. To the point where I was nervous while reading that we were married to the same man. This is him so exactly that I could have written this, if I were more articulate and had a better long view of my marriage.

When I read the words my WH wrote "I get away with it because I only lie by omission" he was bragging about getting away with it, but he was moreso bragging that he withheld information as a source of power and control.

He called it 'a secret door' and 'a secret room' in his chat posts. He feels empowered by withholding information and having a secret, covert second life.

[This message edited by Sigyn at 1:59 AM, Wednesday, September 21st]

posts: 55   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2022
id 8756281
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NowWhat106 ( member #35497) posted at 2:47 AM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Hugs to my sister in the sad sisterhood of being married to similarly broken and dysfunctional people. However, we are also strong, smart, brave sisters who are not going to continue accepting this level of disregard and disrespect now that our eyes are open, so there’s that too. This is trial by fire, and we are walking on through the fire.

Just a quick reply here to say that if he is a secret keeper because it gives him power, if he is so arrogant (as mine was) to be proud of his ability to deceive and brag about it, I’m sorry to say that he will not EVER voluntarily reveal a secret. It represents disempowerment to him. It represents being found out and humiliated. It represents whatever bad thing that made him start to hide and keep secrets in the first place. He is not ever going to want to give those secrets up.

My WH was willing to lose me to keep his secrets. He was not able to stop keeping secrets even when it was clear that I was going to keep finding him out and keep confronting him. They were too fundamental to his identity and his view of himself.

He is still hiding and keeping secrets even though nobody cares.

I do tend to wonder if he was/is doing the same at work or in other areas of his life that could have affected us or might affect us down the road. I hear that fear in your questions too. I hope that you find a way to get some of those answers, but I doubt it will be from him. ..at least not voluntarily.

Edited to add:

Please know that if he is like this, you are now his adversary—an adversary that he firmly believes he is superior to and can outmaneuver, manipulate and ultimately beat at this game. It will help you to understand the abysmal way he’s treating you, his lack of empathy and concern for your pain, and the horrific cruelty that he may display when trying to make a point. You are his opponent in the battle to defend his secrets and keep his way of life.

ALSO:

He can fuck right off with that bullshit about being a marginalized non-monogamous person. That is what he considers to be a brilliant point sure to win him sympathy. It is also an example of how outright stupid and ridiculous they become in their victim thinking—all while thinking that they have hit upon the perfect rationalization and defense of their position.

The problem isn’t that he discovered that he’s non-monogamous, per se. The problem is that he discovered it a LONG FUCKING TIME AGO, and he didn’t bother to clue you in so that you could decide if you were non-monogamous and if you wanted to be married to a non-monogamous person or preferred to honor his identity by setting him free. You had the right to know who you were married to and what he was up to sexually, financially, and emotionally with other people.

The discovery that he was non-monogamous in no way gave him the freedom to decide to unilaterally make decisions for you about your life, your health, your safety, the kind of family you would be allowed to have, etc. My guess is that, while it was fine for him to be non-monogamous, he wasn’t interested in you having the same freedom.

[This message edited by NowWhat106 at 3:19 AM, Wednesday, September 21st]

Me BS
Him WS
LTEA with old HS GF from 25+ years ago
DD #1: 10/6/2011
DD #2: 10/21/2011
2DS under18
My marriage didn’t survive but I did

posts: 496   ·   registered: May. 2nd, 2012
id 8756289
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fareast ( Guide #61555) posted at 3:48 AM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Signy:

I did mention DARVO to you in an early post. I am sorry you are now experiencing it in mega doses. But DARVO goes hand in hand with your WH’s behavior. At his core he is not only dishonest and selfish, but immensely arrogant. DARVO is a technique of manipulation to shift the focus away from himself and conceal his behavior. For him, he has been fooling and manipulating everyone, including not only you and your children, but also his OW, while living a double life for years. You are all just pawns in his life. How dare you call him to account and ask him why? I just don’t want you to get your hopes up that you will ever get a genuine response from him on any of your questions. He has been lying so long he would not know how to be honest.

Never bother with things in your rearview mirror. Your best days are on the road in front of you.

posts: 3273   ·   registered: Nov. 24th, 2017
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 Sigyn (original poster member #80576) posted at 3:00 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

I do tend to wonder if he was/is doing the same at work or in other areas of his life that could have affected us or might affect us down the road.

My mind has been all over this lately, it's a genuine fear of mine. I have this sense that there's something else, not just another woman but some other thing, activity, facet that I don't know about. It's been keeping me up the last few nights.

When WH said that I probe too deeply into his psyche it's an issue we've come up against before. When he has my attention he has my full attention. I focus on him, I listen, I remember small things he says and bring them up later 'hey how did those new tires work out on your bike?' and things like that. I also notice changes in his energy and can tell when he's about 20 minutes from being hungry because his body language slows down and I can just feel in the air between us that his energy has flagged and I'll hand him something to eat or drink or suggest getting food if we're out. WH loves all of this. He says it's like I can read his mind, but really it's just that I pay attention to him.

The dark side of this from WH perspective is that I also have a really good memory and I pick up on patterns in his behavior and sometimes mention them. Like early in our marriage I noticed he always withdrew when I had a hard day and wanted to talk about it. He would totally withdraw into himself while leaving his face looking at me as if he was listening but I could tell he really wasn't present. Later I also noticed that when our son would be upset WH would also withdraw into himself, too. He would still be holding him and comforting, but he wasn't really present behind his face. I mentioned that to WH at some point "You withdraw into yourself when other people are expressing negative emotions around you" and WH lost his shit over this. He was really upset with me for saying that, was so incredibly defensive and just angry at me. He said it felt like I'd cut him and poured salt on the cut. I have never been able to understand his strong reaction to things like that, it just seemed like such an obvious observation and something he surely already knows about himself, but over time I understood that he just hates when I notice certain patterns, psychological ones or maybe things he was ashamed of.

And now I guess I'm starting to know why. I did notice that he came back from his "solo" trips energized and almost hyper, but that's the entire point of taking a vacation so it was never a red flag to me. I have mentioned to him before that he's got a really different vibe when he's been traveling, only I always thought it was a positive thing, like he'd been refreshed. He never returned from our family vacations energized and hyper, and that I put down to the fact that family vacations with a young child are less relaxing and freeing. I did notice, I just didn't attribute it to the right things. But I wonder if he always felt one step away from discovery when I would notice some of his worse patterns, like withdrawing when negative emotions were expressed. If he felt that was secret and I was reading his secrets out of his mind, then what if I found out about the bigger things he was hiding. The jokes on me, I never did sense the reality of what he was doing.

posts: 55   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2022
id 8756346
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swmnbc ( member #49344) posted at 3:30 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

That's very interesting about him withdrawing into himself. From your husband's ability to so callously deceive you and then his blase attitude about how you must feel about it, I suspect he doesn't feel normal human empathy. Do you think those moments when he was withdrawing into himself, he was play-acting a person showing normal concern?

posts: 1789   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2015
id 8756352
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 Sigyn (original poster member #80576) posted at 3:36 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

I don't know, maybe, I always assumed it was a defensive reaction like he felt threatened by other people's negative emotions. I never before thought it was lack of empathy but used to see it as more like a fight or flight reaction. Now that I know how much I don't know about him, lack of empathy is completely on the table. I have no confidence in my ability to read him anymore.

posts: 55   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2022
id 8756355
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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 4:19 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

I mentioned that to WH at some point "You withdraw into yourself when other people are expressing negative emotions around you" and WH lost his shit over this. He was really upset with me for saying that, was so incredibly defensive and just angry at me. He said it felt like I'd cut him and poured salt on the cut. I have never been able to understand his strong reaction to things like that, it just seemed like such an obvious observation and something he surely already knows about himself, but over time I understood that he just hates when I notice certain patterns, psychological ones or maybe things he was ashamed of.

This could be another indicator that there's active narcissism. Narcissists can't tolerate any perceived criticism, like AT ALL. When you think about it, it's the polar opposite of the validation/adoration that they are forever seeking. You might not mean anything by it. You might just be "noticing" a behavior and even feeling very sympathetic,s seeking to assuage his insecurities, but what the narc hears is criticism.

Narcissism isn't always what we expect it to be. It's very typical for the narc to hide his inner self and to be uncomfortable with being known. He's got a big bag of masks to keep that from happening. No one is supposed to see behind it.

No one here can say for sure that what you're looking at is narcissism, but it might be worth looking into it. There's quite a bit of information to be found online.

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.

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swmnbc ( member #49344) posted at 4:20 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

I think you clearly have been able to read him well in many ways, and it's why you have recognized his stonewalling, deflections, etc. so quickly. It's just that it couldn't occur to an empathetic person like you that he was doing monstrous things with nary a care for anyone else. He certainly knows how to act like a person who isn't doing those things.

Now that you know what's behind the mask, you will be even better at matching up the patterns you've observed in him all along with their meaning.

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annanew ( member #43693) posted at 5:07 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

This is where the trauma came in, for me.

Realizing you don't and can't really know people. Identity is very slippery. There are rare creatures out there with a lifelong consistent, strong identity... but they really are rare. (And by the way, I don't think I am one of them.)

After my experience with my ex... I became paranoid and slept with a knife near me and started locking my bedroom door. Because who WAS this person. If I had mistaken him so fundamentally, he could be a killer and I would be equally clueless.

Then, after we separated, I had lots and lots of dissociation. Just periods of everything seeming very unreal, and being disconnected from it. Floating above it (not morally above, just a sensation of physically floating)

This is trauma. You may think you already experienced it, and you did in a way, but for me the realization that I simply can not know people, and that there may be nothing there to know in the first place, was the real trauma.

Your ex can not supply the answers you seek.

Single mom to a sweet girl.

posts: 2477   ·   registered: Jun. 11th, 2014   ·   location: California
id 8756380
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Crazytrain101 ( member #48200) posted at 5:19 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

If I could give you anything right now it would be me giving you a crystal ball. We are very much alike I feel, my WH had many AP's he was the MASTER of deception and a narsassist.

I came here years ago just like you, shocked, blown away--no real signs, WH acted a "normal husband" as I said in another post I chose to R--only for my young kids sake with some shred of hope it actaully might work. I spent countless hours going down rabbit holes, grilling his therapist, searching to the point of no return WHY...WHY...WHY!?!? What is wrong with my WH, what is wrong in ME, am I not enough, were our kids and family not enough! Why is he this monster in plain sight that I (an educated and perceptive woman couldn't see).

The days, weeks, the questions he answered that never gave closure...a series of bad choices?? Maybe a one time PA but not many--that is a choice, a rational choice that their desires are more important than ANY thing in the world. There is no one in their world that matters if your WH is a narsassist--none--zero. They may care for their kids and love them in "their way" but it's not the love you and I have inside of us.

They are play actors in a world of normal people, they watch other people and gauge appropriate emotional responses like they are practicing for a role.

The facts are he's not "non-monagamous" in his heart. He wants what he wants at all costs and risks, he enjoys the thrill, the rush the conquest and variety he has no empathy for using people and hurting you. He will never be a safe partner for you, you'll never have a life of joy patrolling him and worrying.Its debilitating and endless.

Your WH will hang his head in shame, mope, give what you already have been given, blanket excuses. Will you EVER hear, "hey there Sigyn---I cheated on you in horrifc ways, unprotected because I thought I was smarter then you and I really want to do it, it energizes me, it makes me happy like a drug"---that my dear friend is the truth. Addicts of your WH's sort and mine do NOT change.

I now can firmly tell you that, because as I sit here, my WH that I gave another gift of 6 years with his kids and family has cheated again (multiple AP's) I personally think he probably made it a whole year after he was discovered in 2015 before he right back at it again.

I did everything right as far as SI suggested, counseling, working on what his problems were that caused him to cheat, accoutability, tracking, a 200% open door policy on all and every bit of communication, initial polygraph, a yearly polygraph, a post-nuptial agreeement basically giving me the bulk of assets if WH cheated!

My reasoning for telling you this is BECAUSE I did not want to see my WH for what he was, I thought he "deserved" a chance! You know rotten childhood..excuses that tugged at my heart strings.

No matter if you try R or leave he will continue--it's just up to whose expense now. I gave another 6 years to someone that was broken as your WH is and lost out, please don't let that be you.

Thinkin of you..CT101

6 years ago-found out he was a serial cheaterReconciled-2015 Back again September 2022 as WH is a cheater again Heading to Divorce

posts: 1749   ·   registered: Jun. 10th, 2015   ·   location: Ohio
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Cooley2here ( member #62939) posted at 5:41 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

I have read and reread every single thing on here and I thought of 1000 different reasons why your husband acted the way he did but I kept coming back to a simple answer. He’s an adrenaline junkie. It’s the highs that he gets. That’s why all the secrecy because every time he’s lied to you and pulled something over on you he gets high as a kite. It’s the phone calls, and the texts and the prostitutes and whoever else he’s had sex with all these years is just adrenaline flooding his system. I’m being sarcastic here but he might do just as well going on roller coasters every weekend. I don’t think you need to go deep you just need to understand that he has controlled you completely the entire time you’ve been with him. You have never known it because he has the adrenaline flowing all the while he’s got you fooled. You are not going to fix him because he’s not going to fix himself and he’s in control. The only thing you’re in charge of is you. That’s why you need to focus and let him do whatever the crazy shit he’s gonna do every day for the rest of his life. You’ve got way too much time ahead of you to enjoy without having him as an albatross around your neck.

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. Elvis

posts: 3500   ·   registered: Mar. 5th, 2018   ·   location: US
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VezfromTaz ( new member #80815) posted at 6:51 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Sigyn

I totally understand the well placed paranoia something else is going on - I think that’s what had me soaked in sweat the first few weeks. I could access my husband’s google maps history and I could see for months he had been driving to all various places other than work. Like what the actual hell? My no 1 concern was is this person safe for my child. I have always taught my kids to be body safe, but I’ll never trust their dad ever again. Financial cheating is also on the cards. You said you were safe in that respect but might need to get a forensic accountant. And check your devices.

The withdrawing into himself - well there’s a few reasons he might be doing that 1/he’s thinking why is this person irritating me with her human issues and feelings I wish she’d shut up 2/she can’t tell me what to do 3/working out what you know and planning his next move 4/ silent rage from pathological envy (cos you’re reminding him he is not a superior model) 5/ withholding info so you feel anxious and uncertain (more control). Who knows? HG Tudor has some good yt clips about narcs and the silent treatment. They are a different species and you could go mad trying to work it out. I nearly have.

[This message edited by VezfromTaz at 7:18 PM, Wednesday, September 21st]

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ThisIsSoLonely ( member #64418) posted at 9:04 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

I still want to know who I'm married to. His answer to "why" might not be accurate, might not be a clinical answer to the questions I have, and definitely won't change the outcome of our marriage. But it's necessary for me to move forward in my life. It's necessary FOR ME, and I need to be important in some part of this equation.

You WILL find that you don’t NEED this eventually (but that you do indeed really WANT it) – I think what people are telling you is that this is another disappointment you will likely have to swallow – that you may never get any clarity on this issue. Like zero.

Respectfully, why are you telling me that what I need isn't important that I should judge my needs based on whether my cheating husband "deserves it"? Where am I in this equation? Why is it all about him?

This is the part of the controlling the outcome paradigm that was soooooo hard for me to come to terms with. Again, I don’t think anyone is telling you what you need isn’t important.

The problem is that you can't rely on him to give it to you.

I think the general consensus is trying to gently tell you that you likely aren’t going to get this – in any way that is even remotely acceptable to you – so unless you adjust your reality from need to want, waiting for this to happen is likely going to dampen and slow down YOUR recovery. This is WAY easier said than done. But this really is all about you now – the comments are about you accepting (again that whole acceptance thing) that your WS, if he is like most of them that perpetrate these long term betrayals (as opposed to the got drunk one night stand guy), is NOT going to give you anything but tiny scraps of information about the real him and the real "you" as a couple.

Someone said to me years ago on this site that I was waiting for my WH to open the door into his soul to let me walk inside so I can understand what the hell happened to my life - but that is never going to happen – at best the window will open for a second and he may say something that reveals the true him for a moment, but you likely won’t be sure and you sure as hell won’t be satisfied. You cannot ever understand the level of dysfunction that allows a human being to do this to another because it is not you.

It took awhile, but I had to get to the place where I could accept that I will never know so much about a person that I spent 34 years with.

I think this is why I can never find the love again with my WH – because even though he has made huge strides (for him) and really has tried to figure out his shit, there are oodles of issues he just hasn’t addressed and he cannot answer to my liking, likely ever, and at this point I don’t care to wait and see. His upbringing was abusive and uncaring IMO and sold to him like it was normal (he and his brother were treated like employees from the day they were in school, beaten when they disobeyed, and paid a "salary" for working on the family farm to which they paid back to their parents for "room and board" and I didn’t know this until recently - love wasn't really happening that house - they were employees) – and he believes some of it was actually normal and will even defend it to this day because he is protecting his f-ed up parents. He still gets defensive about things and admits that he still doesn’t understand why he did what he did to me, to us, on a certain level. His answers are pathetic to me in some ways and very saddening to me in others as I think for all his trying he just doesn’t get it – doesn’t get himself – and doesn’t get what real empathy feels like, and he knows it – he knows he’s broken in some way – that he’s not "normal" and it’s difficult for him to grasp.

But what all that means for me, and what I think others are trying to tell you, is that you do not NEED this information from him – you may want it, but you are strong enough that you will find you don’t need it in order to move on.

As to this:

This is where things stand right now. I dug myself into a hole by telling WH that I only wanted to know 'why' on the first day I confronted him. He's latched onto that and throws it in my face every single time we talk.

My response would be: I’m sorry that you don’t grasp how much emotional turmoil I am experiencing, and if you want to hold me to something I said on DAY 1 then go ahead. I have decided I need more/different/____ from you. That is just how it is. If you can’t understand that I have now decided in the face of 20+ years of lies that I need more from you then it is clear you don’t understand how what you have done would affect me and have no interest in helping me or us. I have changed my mind, and I likely will again. If you are interested in trying to salvage anything here then I suggest you get used to that fact and act accordingly instead of trying to continually control the narrative.

As to this:

But in the process of making this confession he said he felt like he was born non monogamous and even used the phrase "coming out" as if being non monogamous were a sexuality or identity.

My response would be "Thank you for telling me that. I am monogamous and you know that. That means we have no where to go from here but on different paths. The fact that you withheld this from me will be something I have process. The fact that you withheld this from me is something you should address with yourself. We have nothing else to discuss but separation now."

Truer words have never been spoken:

Please know that if he is like this, you are now his adversary—an adversary that he firmly believes he is superior to and can outmaneuver, manipulate and ultimately beat at this game.

I have no doubt your WS sees you this way - and his posts on those message boards solidifies it - but it too is a common theme. My WH fully admitted this sometime last year – that during the A, and even after I caught him and d-day 1 he thought he was smarter than me and that I got lucky in catching him the first time – and that he saw me as a problem/an annoyance/and that I was so easy to fool that there was no point in hurting my feelings as he would never be caught. I was, in his words, "a relationship cop" that he had to avoid dealing with. Wonderful to know someone you have been in an intimate relationship with for close to 20 years sees you as akin to the police, but there you have it. My WH doesn’t see it this way anymore – but I think that is because his whole world crashed with the disclosure of this A (to everyone aside from his parents – as they are so dysfunctional I don’t think them knowing would make a lick of difference) and he was forced to deal with his issues or be a pariah. There was not a single person in his life aside from the AP and his unwitting parents who were willing to deal with him after the reveal - no one. He had to change for him - he certainly was not going to do it for me. IDK what, if anything, will click in your WH's brain to want to address his issues - maybe nothing.

Interesting you say this:

When WH said that I probe too deeply into his psyche it's an issue we've come up against before. When he has my attention he has my full attention. I focus on him, I listen, I remember small things he says and bring them up later 'hey how did those new tires work out on your bike?' and things like that. I also notice changes in his energy and can tell when he's about 20 minutes from being hungry because his body language slows down and I can just feel in the air between us that his energy has flagged and I'll hand him something to eat or drink or suggest getting food if we're out. WH loves all of this. He says it's like I can read his mind, but really it's just that I pay attention to him.

My WH HATED that – but I know why – because it’s harder to lie to someone who is paying attention to everything. Your WH now knows it would be 1000 times harder to lie to you going forward if you remained married (but trust me, he’s thinking about how to manipulate that already as he I’m sure truly believes you will stay).

That's very interesting about him withdrawing into himself. From your husband's ability to so callously deceive you and then his blase attitude about how you must feel about it, I suspect he doesn't feel normal human empathy. Do you think those moments when he was withdrawing into himself, he was play-acting a person showing normal concern?

I agree re the lack of empathy - that seems to also be part and parcel of the long term cheaters handbook. My WH has admitted he has difficult with empathy and if I were to ask him the questions above today I think he would agree. The withdrawal is also something my WH did. He would also add that the withdrawing into himself was also his way of ignoring things and protecting himself - dissociating is something he has been doing since he was a kid apparently – sometimes he would withdraw and then would not even remember what was said. At one point about 2 weeks after d-day1 I was screaming and yelling and freaking out and he FELL ASLEEP. Not kidding – the ultimate "I don’t give a shit about you" slap in the face if there ever was one. He now admits that when things were bad at home as a kid he would retreat in his own head, and tune out what was being said, and the beatings, and he would just "drift off" – as a defense mechanism - falling asleep was his version of "flight." All of these behaviors are combinations of things - strategies of defense and offense... with the desired outcome of manipulation and control - withdraw and stonewall is defense and control - hyper-focusing on one thing and ignoring everything else is offense and manipulation. None of it is real.

I can tell you this - when real happens, if it ever does - you will know it just like you know everything you are getting now is not real - it's just strategy for controlling the outcome. Strategy for controlling you. As little focus on him as possible - just enough crumbs (e.g. I'm not really monogamous...like really? Do you think that is not obvious at this point?!?!) to keep you hooked - to keep you thinking you will get more. And then one day (and if he follows the "handbook" it won't be long) you will get nothing, and be told you need to "get over it" or you are the problem because you can't "let it go" and want to keep "punishing him" instead of "getting on with your lives" or you seem to want to be "stuck in misery" and "never want to be happy again because you can't stop focusing on the past." Again, I would point to my response re monogamy above - you aren't into sharing so this isn't going to work. Period.

He’s an adrenaline junkie. It’s the highs that he gets. That’s why all the secrecy because every time he’s lied to you and pulled something over on you he gets high as a kite. It’s the phone calls, and the texts and the prostitutes and whoever else he’s had sex with all these years is just adrenaline flooding his system. I’m being sarcastic here but he might do just as well going on roller coasters every weekend. I don’t think you need to go deep you just need to understand that he has controlled you completely the entire time you’ve been with him.

I would bet this is also part of it for your WH - I mean he's basically bragging about it to his online cheating buddies. ***(As an aside, I wonder if he has admitted he was caught to any of them? It would ruin his uncatchable persona***) My WH also said the adrenaline was a huge part of the A for him – his A was with a co-worker and her husband (who was one of my WH’s best friends) also worked with them and the A went on largely in the workplace often right under the nose of her husband/the OBS and that it was such a huge game – the mouthing "I love you" as they passed each other in a hallway, to the quick make out in some unused room, to the sexting each other while sitting in a break room with other co-workers and sometimes the OBS – all of it was for the high.

I could go on and on - you are on the right track but to me/for me the "getting to why" was the biggest stumbling block, in a veritable minefield of stumbling blocks, for me. Accepting that I would never know - and that my WH likely didn't even really KNOW himself to be able to even answer my questions in a way that was acceptable to me took awhile. The reality was when at some point in response to my asking how he could do this to me, my WH blurted out "because I'm a numb, fucked up asshole" he was probably being honest. He didn't know why aside from that is just how he is, and until that point it had pretty much worked out for him.

You will get there - it won't always be pretty or graceful - you will make decisions you later regret and you will do and say things you which you hadn't, and you will likely not take the perfect course of action - but you will get beyond this. I can tell.

[This message edited by ThisIsSoLonely at 9:35 PM, Wednesday, September 21st]

"Sometimes you're going to have to let one person go a thousand different times, a thousand different ways, and there’s nothing pathetic or abnormal about that. You are human." - Heidi Priebe

posts: 1888   ·   registered: Jul. 11th, 2018
id 8756424
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NowWhat106 ( member #35497) posted at 9:12 AM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

When WH said that I probe too deeply into his psyche it's an issue we've come up against before. When he has my attention he has my full attention. I focus on him, I listen, I remember small things he says and bring them up later 'hey how did those new tires work out on your bike?' and things like that. I also notice changes in his energy and can tell when he's about 20 minutes from being hungry because his body language slows down and I can just feel in the air between us that his energy has flagged and I'll hand him something to eat or drink or suggest getting food if we're out. WH loves all of this. He says it's like I can read his mind, but really it's just that I pay attention to him.

Being present in your relationship, being attuned to your spouse, really listening to what they say and remembering it because what’s important to him (and even not so very important) was important to you are just indications that you were completely committed and loving in your marriage. You wanted to really know him. You tried to understand him through small and large behavioral patterns. You learned to read and anticipate what he needed. And his response was to become uneasy with being known. He loved that you understood his material and physical needs, but understanding his mind on a deep level, he wasn’t so okay with. He wasn’t okay with actual intimacy. He probably was never comfortable with the idea of real vulnerability. So you’ve only seen the mask that he was comfortable with. And he was probably calculating what mask would be most appealing to you or keep you lulled into a false sense of security.

Have you considered that you watched every tiny detail trying to know and understand someone who withheld so much of himself? You probably have the key to much more insight and information than you realize.

I ask because your great memory is going to be a great blessing and also may be a painful curse at times if you’re like me and many others on this site. You are likely already reexamining a thousand memories and reviewing them in light of what you know now. It’s like I was given a decoding overlay that, when placed over my memories of the past, illuminated and highlighted a million things that were right there under my nose that I somehow overlooked. Well, okay, no, I didn’t overlook them. Many of them were patterns and incidents that had been friction points for a long time or in the moment when they occurred. I just now started to understand my own unease and why some things bothered me so much even though when I tried to explain it, he made me feel petty or trivial. All of the recurring conflicts and issues came a lot clearer as did the behaviors that I ignored or excused that were really such red flags.

For example, I caught him in small lies a lot, as I mentioned before. Things that we discussed/argued about and came to, I thought, agreement to do a particular way, I would later find out that he had then done exactly what he wanted to do originally instead. This happened a million times. When I confronted him, he would act surprised and profess to have understood differently and then would turn it on me. I had "interpreted" our decision incorrectly. Was it really such a big deal? Wasn’t I just upset that he didn’t do it my way? I always had to be right. Why couldn’t HE be right? And this one: Well, he HAD to do it secretly because he knew that I would give him hell if he told me he was doing it. He was the master of the it’s-easier-to-apologize-after-the-fact-than-to-get-consensus-before-the-fact methodology. . . Except without the apology. Instead he would become wildly defensive, deflecting and blameshifting. It was really all my fault for not "letting" him do whatever he wanted in the first place instead of having my own thoughts and feelings about the best course. And why couldn’t I just let things go?

He often started with the phrase; I just figured that. . . After I discovered the affair and confronted, I was FLOORED at how much I heard that phrase to describe his thinking that led to him starting and perpetuating the affair. I came to understand that this phrase was his lead in to creating a rationalization or justification for lies and deception. The deception started with convincing himself of something that would allow or facilitate him to move forward. It removed any internal roadblocks. And his explanations to himself became less and less rational as his character degraded more and more over time. He became so easy for himself to convince. I feel like by the time I discovered the affair, his explanations and self-justifications were so nonsensical and illogical (I’m "coming out" as non-monogamous strikes me that way.) that they were almost laughable when he verbalized some of them. Almost. When I pointed out this “I figure” tell, he was furious and rejected any introspection or self-examination.

He was/is completely transactional in everything. Something that I also excused or explained away. His family was a perpetually discontent group that awarded themselves little rewards constantly. They were addicted to what I would come to call "cookies." Any time they were frustrated, disappointed, felt disrespected or insecure or just bored, they would buy some meaningless crap and haul it out to show every person that set foot in their house. They guarded injuries and grudges. Acknowledgement and recognition were hugely important to them. It took me a long time to actually admit that any time I bought something, my WH believed that he was entitled to something too. He would sometimes push me to get something that I didn’t even want only to suddenly think of something he wanted right after. If I had worked all day and was taking a break, he felt entitled to do nothing too. Early in our marriage, I stopped getting even things that I needed because he would then need his thing—often when we didn’t have the money for both. It wasn’t reciprocal. And of course, I was supportive when he needed/wanted things.

So how is it relevant. Well, a few weeks after confrontation of the affair, I was pressing him on something that I knew that he wasn’t admitting. Finally, cornered and with proof in front of his face, he admitted it. I blew up. His response? You see? Telling the truth never gets me anything. He saw the truth as a resource to be guarded. He saw the truth of what he was doing and who he was as his business, his property, and his secret not to be revealed without a MAJOR payoff. Yeah, asshole, you’ve admitted the truth about something I already knew that you LIED to me about, and you’re expecting a payoff from ME? Nah, I don’t think so.

I say this to point out that his two realities and how he operates in them are likely not all that different. If you were to be able to watch him interact with one of his girlfriends, you’d likely recognize his “moves” completely in the most sickening way. I read all of the email communication between him and his ex HS girlfriend barf He told her the EXACT same lies that he told me when we were dating. He used exactly the same juvenile lines and played exactly the same character. The way that he operates is all lies and masks and arrogance and selfish disregard for EVERYTHING except what he wants. This means that you will likely be able to ultimately understand at least the WAY that he convinces himself that his shit is all okay and the WAY that he has allowed himself to disregard the consequences of his actions on anyone else.He has revealed to you, in your careful observations, a great deal that you don’t realize yet.

I also say it to warn you that if/when your WH starts to make minor disclosures, he is likely to expect something of much greater value in return if he has been transactional in other ways during your relationship. He may ask you to promise that you won’t leave him if he tells you the truth. Except it won’t be the whole truth or even likely a meaningful partial truth. It will be something that he has selected as acceptable to give up IF the payoff is adequate to him, and he vastly overestimates his own worth and power.

I also tell you these small stories to give you examples of the minute detail of the things that you have probably already begun to reconsider and understand better now. Given your ability already to piece through so many things with such a clear head, you are likely to ultimately understand a great deal. You will likely never have what you need to know, but you have so much information that you will, sadly and for better or worse, now begin to obsessively re-analyze and see anew in light of the huge influx of new information that you have received.

This will probably go on for years if you are like most of us. You will reconstruct your reality for yourself in light of this new data. You will understand all of your memories, good and bad, differently because of what you now know. It will be agonizing because you will likely not be able to think in the same way about some of your best memories. I liken it to going on a beautiful vacation only to discover on return that a family member has died in a horrible accident while you were enjoying yourself. You just become less likely to think about that time as the time of your great vacation. The tragedy is now indelibly linked and coloring those memories.

He will not have the depth or empathy to understand this. You will probably understand how he operates and the patterns of thinking and behaving that define his dysfunctional approach to life better than he does. Because he has no desire to look at it and certainly not to change it.

Well, I’ve gone on and on again. Your situation definitely brings up so much for me, like so many of us. Your particular WH and probably the way that you have responded and tried to deal with him in your relationship, probably fits a particular category of WHs and the people that end up with them. It’s sad that there are this number of similarly fucked up people. I don’t know about everyone here, but so many of us on this thread, like you, have WHs that have engaged in unrepentant betrayal for many years which is its own brand of hell.

The way your WH has behaved. His coldness. His complete focus on how your complete devastation affects HIM. His sense that he STILL gets to stay in control and tell you how things are going to go. These are all very familiar to me and they are all indicators that you have nothing to work with and that he can and will ultimately damage you SO much more in the aftermath than he did with his secrets. I know this just doesn’t seem possible right now, but please, please, please hear and believe that it will. As horrific as it is to have the one that we loved and trusted deny us the truth of our life and our marriage, the knowledge that he can see your agony, hear you beg for the truth, and continue to carry on stabbing you over and over straight to your face is truly worse. The level of disregard, disrespect and outright contempt in continuing to think his stupid tricks and manipulations will still work because you are just that stupid and now, a bonus, extra vulnerable and in a weakened state, is just a level beyond the already so far beyond.

You are really amazing in your ability to think so clearly where you are. I and many others have commented that you are going to be okay because of your strength and emotional intelligence. But it’s going to take a long time. It will take longer—if it actually happens—if he remains this destructive presence in your life. The potential damage to you and your son is. . .indescribable. And obviously, I’m not someone who finds herself without words often. blush

[This message edited by NowWhat106 at 9:47 AM, Thursday, September 22nd]

Me BS
Him WS
LTEA with old HS GF from 25+ years ago
DD #1: 10/6/2011
DD #2: 10/21/2011
2DS under18
My marriage didn’t survive but I did

posts: 496   ·   registered: May. 2nd, 2012
id 8756493
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 Sigyn (original poster member #80576) posted at 12:40 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Narcissists can't tolerate any perceived criticism, like AT ALL. When you think about it, it's the polar opposite of the validation/adoration that they are forever seeking. You might not mean anything by it. You might just be "noticing" a behavior and even feeling very sympathetic,s seeking to assuage his insecurities, but what the narc hears is criticism.

I've been reading a lot about narcissism and a lot of it fits, but some of it doesn't. I think WH's mother is a manipulative narcissist and WH and I have always talked about her in those terms, sent each other articles about narcissistic mothers and I think if I noticed any similarities, I always put it down to some leftover weirdness from how he was raised. It would absolutely kill him to be like her.


Realizing you don't and can't really know people. Identity is very slippery. There are rare creatures out there with a lifelong consistent, strong identity... but they really are rare.

So my sister and I have talked about this a lot concerning her own husband, who changes identities all the time, constantly reinventing himself, his career, wardrobe, hobbies and it's been hard on their family and their marriage. That kind of changing identity feels so harmless now. He's openly searching for something. It's immature and financially disastrous but at least it's honest. He literally wears his new identities on the outside of his body and shares them with everyone around him. Hidden identities are evil. Just evil. I've been listening to true crime podcasts lately (have never been able to stomach them before) and there seem to be two kinds of perpetrators - the ones who are already wreaking havoc with everyone around them and finally destroy someone's life, and the ones who no one suspected, were a perfect family man or wife or yoga instructor and they destroy someone out of the clear blue sky. Those are the ones who scare me, listening. That person was always inside of them. I don't think WH is evil in that sense but in his own way he hid what will ultimately destroy our family, just in an emotional way rather than physical.

I did everything right as far as SI suggested, counseling, working on what his problems were that caused him to cheat, accoutability, tracking, a 200% open door policy on all and every bit of communication, initial polygraph, a yearly polygraph, a post-nuptial agreeement basically giving me the bulk of assets if WH cheated!

You made saving your marriage your full time job and he made returning to his second life his full time job. That's heartbreaking. I can't imagine living like that. I can't imagine feeling this way all the time, while also discovering new lies. I just can't at this moment imagine that outcome.

He’s an adrenaline junkie. It’s the highs that he gets. That’s why all the secrecy because every time he’s lied to you and pulled something over on you he gets high as a kite. It’s the phone calls, and the texts and the prostitutes and whoever else he’s had sex with all these years is just adrenaline flooding his system.

I think he does get a kind of high from his life. When he came back from his trips that I now know were with other women, he was so 'high'. It was exactly like that. And his constant hair pulling and obsessive self grooming during our talks now could easily be some kind of withdrawal. I don't even want to think about that. Like he needs the secrecy and lies and illicit sex to just make it through the day?

He now admits that when things were bad at home as a kid he would retreat in his own head, and tune out what was being said, and the beatings, and he would just "drift off" – as a defense mechanism - falling asleep was his version of "flight." All of these behaviors are combinations of things - strategies of defense and offense... with the desired outcome of manipulation and control - withdraw and stonewall is defense and control - hyper-focusing on one thing and ignoring everything else is offense and manipulation. None of it is real.

This is my WH as well. Different type of childhood than yours, but emotionally barren and he comes with a similar set of defenses/offenses and need for control.

I'm really in awe reading so many posts that sound like you're describing my exact H, just a few details changed. I don't know if I'm grateful or terrified that so many people have faced this nearly exact thing, same patterns, and apparently the same outcomes.

Now that you know what's behind the mask, you will be even better at matching up the patterns you've observed in him all along with their meaning

.
and

You are likely already reexamining a thousand memories and reviewing them in light of what you know now. It’s like I was given a decoding overlay that, when placed over my memories of the past, illuminated and highlighted a million things that were right there under my nose that I somehow overlooked. Well, okay, no, I didn’t overlook them. Many of them were patterns and incidents that had been friction points for a long time or in the moment when they occurred. I just now started to understand my own unease and why some things bothered me so much even though when I tried to explain it, he made me feel petty or trivial. All of the recurring conflicts and issues came a lot clearer as did the behaviors that I ignored or excused that were really such red flags.

Yes and yes. It's not that I didn't notice these patterns, the control, the way he bends situations to fit his needs while externally appearing to agree with me, the unease with me seeing him clearly, the defensiveness and denial, the way he hides and hoards resentments and lets them leak out in ways that tell me he's feeling them but he will categorically deny and turn my noticing of them back on me like I'm aggressively hurting him for noticing. The small uneasiness when I can 100% feel he's angry with me about something but he puts on this fake cheerful face, so when I ask when we're alone "hey, is something up?" and he stiffens and tells me not only is nothing up but he resents me asking when he's clearly being externally cheerful and saying nice things and there is nothing I can point to except that he has anger and resentment oozing out of his pores and I can feel it permeating our entire house. But as long as he has plausible deniability, he can point to his fake cheerful face and words and say I'm wrong, overreacting, making things up, trying to disrupt an otherwise smooth time.

It's not that I never noticed those things, it's that I told a different story about them that also made sense. His childhood, emotional damage, he has a hard time feeling safe with anger, he just takes a while to express it, it eventually comes out, he needs my understanding, patience and love. I have issues too. Marriages work with these things and are a safe place to feel them and a supportive emotional space to work on them.

Now I see that I saw the surface but not what was happening underground. That story fit every single thing that I knew was happening. There's a more accurate and much uglier story and it kills me that I will never know completely what it is.

posts: 55   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2022
id 8756500
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Trapped74 ( member #49696) posted at 4:46 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

You made saving your marriage your full time job and he made returning to his second life his full time job. That's heartbreaking. I can't imagine living like that. I can't imagine feeling this way all the time, while also discovering new lies. I just can't at this moment imagine that outcome.


Gently - I don't think I'm the only one on this thread who believes this: this is 100% what is in store for you.

Hard 180. No conversation. File.

It would take an act of god (I'm an atheist/agnostic, so you can guess how hopeful I am for that! laugh ) for him to be anything close to the man you hope he is.

You know he is still in contact with all his OWs, right now, as you writhe in agony over the destruction of your marriage and life? Possibly scooping up new ones, because his mean wife just doesn't understand his non-monogamist lifestyle/identity, and he needs someone to fill the god-shaped hole?

I know, I know. I thought the same thing: my WH is different. These people on SI just don't understand him or what we have. Mine will see the light and be better. He's just damaged and my love will save him.

barf

Going on 8 years and I wish I had those years back.

You started out in a position of strength and power and amazing insight, far beyond what I had on DDay, or truthfully, even have now. Please protect yourself and children from any more hurts.

(Out of curiosity sake, IF you're going to engage in any further non-divorce conversation, have you thought about this:

"Hey, asshole WH, you know what? You're right! Non-monogamism IS a thing, and I think I identify as such! I'm so glad we had this conversation! I've got a date tonight with a 22 year old pool boy named Fernando - well, not a date, but I think he's gonna shag me good! You know those young men, can go all night without a break. Don't wait up for me!"

You think he believes in non-monogamy for you?)

Many DDays. Me (BW) 46 Him (WH) 49
Happily detached and compartmentalized.

posts: 233   ·   registered: Sep. 21st, 2015   ·   location: Oregon
id 8756540
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PricklePatch ( member #34041) posted at 6:24 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

He called it 'a secret door' and 'a secret room' in his chat posts. He feels empowered by withholding information and having a secret, covert second life.

My husband didn’t have an addiction to sex. He has an addiction to secrets. He learned in IC that he started the secret addiction with his mother. She was overbearing and narcissistic and allowed him no friends. He started doing things she hated and it was as if keeping his secret was a victory against his mother. He repeated the pattern with his first wife. He then transferred it to me.

He to sees omission as a secret door. This secret addiction came to light through his therapy. He has slipped a few times in the past few years. He struggles with it still.

He determined it was also a way to control his chaotic life when he was young. Not sure if any of this relates to your husband.

BS Fwh

posts: 3156   ·   registered: Nov. 28th, 2011
id 8756555
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