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I Can Relate :
BS Questions for WS - Part 15

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wjbrennan78 ( member #84763) posted at 2:16 PM on Friday, June 7th, 2024

Hikingout -

How long did your withdrawal period for the A/AP last? Did you have or go into depression? What bits of evidence can I look for that my WW is finally starting to "get it," and be a candidate for R? I finally showed my WW the divorce petition and expressed that contact with the OM is still cheating, an EA. That healing for her and I - not just our marriage cannot begin until contact is severed. We have established some boundaries going forward to give each other "space." I have to stop worrying about how "I" am going to save the marriage/relationship and concentrate on myself. My WW has a load of crap she needs to deal with right now and I don't want to be a suffocating presence at the moment. Any insight you can give for this "period" of recovery would be greatly appreciated. You post are very valuable to me, so thank you!

posts: 51   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2024   ·   location: Illinois
id 8838810
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 4:56 PM on Friday, June 7th, 2024

Hi Brennan,

I will try and address your questions here. I was not a model ws in the early days, I did some things right and a whole lot wrong. I am going to give you the raw unvarnished view of this.

I need to put some framing here that may help you understand this better. I was already depressed before the affair. A lot of my affair was caused by wanting to leave my husband and family because I was exhausted.

I was exhausted because I put expectations on myself to be this perfect wife and mother, at great expense to my well being. I had lost track of who I was, what I wanted, and I largely blamed this on my husband. The reason is from the time I was a girl I equated receiving love with hustling to earn it.

When you are doing a lot of shit to get love and not feeling appreciated for it, it’s lonely. But my husband didn’t have these expectations, not really. I mean he had some expectations just like anyone would with their spouse.

All this to say, I had an exit affair in I felt through with the marriage. I didn’t want the ap either, it wasn’t I want to leave my husband for someone else, it was this entitlement I felt to escape and have some happiness. I went from feeling raggedy to feeling younger and attractive again.

I obviously could have done that on my own without an affair, and I could have done a lot of things differently. But I am saying all this because my only happiness got wrapped up into this affair quickly. It lasted two months, was mostly conducted on the phone apps, so it was easy to let my mind really make up a lot of bullshit.

So, ap gets caught, cuts off to save his marriage. And I felt like I was gonna die. Because he was great? Hell no. Because I was used to these surges of adrenaline, dopamine, and it’s a true addiction. I was barely functioning. I read here and I put myself in therapy immediately. Over the period of two months I saw I had an addiction, I saw I had projected a lot on the ap to fuel my escapism, and I knew I had really fucked up badly.

NC was never broken technically but during that time I still looked at his social media here and there. It was sick, I think I felt worse for his marriage than my own at this point. But my husband hadn’t learned of the affair so I wasn’t seeing the damage yet. I still felt he didn’t really love me, that he wanted someone to do all the things I did for him.

I didn’t know if I wanted the marriage, I will be straight with you. I had really exaggerated the problems in my justifications for what I had been doing. But it was at that two month mark that I came to decide, I need to tell him what is going on and we need to move through whatever is going to happen together. So I confessed. And I told him everything. That is the thing I did right. I didn’t get angry or defensive, I didn’t try and lie. There was some minimizing I seem to remember that was ridiculous but I needed to work through the justification by taking accountability for all of the parts. That took more time.

So, this point here is my rock bottom. I was definitely depressed and now I am watching my husbands pain. I missed the affair feelings too, but recognized that’s what it was and that it had nothing to do with AP. So this was probably through month 3 and 4. I stayed in therapy and I started posting here in earnest. Someone once told me that I was one of the foggiest ws they ever saw come though here. I don’t know if that’s true, I have seen some big denial but I am just saying this was many months of a process.

At this point I felt I did want the marriage and I started working very hard to get my shit together. I started OCD treatment to help with all the intrusive thoughts. We were both living in fresh hell during this time. I was struggling with my shame and he was struggling with what the hell to do. We spent a good deal of time in our own corners trying to recover. We talked, we had sex, but I spent a lot of time reading, journaling, going to therapy, doing my assignments, and trying to get to know myself again. I had to find healthier ways to cope, I started running which to me was a pivotal thing because I was producing good brain chemicals again and that helped a lot with withdrawal. I also ate food that assisted with it, and tried to get back into balance.

It was rough, and from and about 6 months to a year was a series of epiphanies. I realized I had blamed my husband for my own bad behaviors. I wasn’t feeling seen, heard or appreciated because I wasn’t living authentically. If you are just lost in the roles you play, it’s almost like "you" is gone. So I practiced saying no to things, and slowed way down to try and understand what I wanted again.

And I will say once I wanted the marriage again a few months in, I was consistent in my actions in aligning myself with that goal while still juggling the other stuff. It’s exhausting for the bs to be in the middle of that, and for the most part my husband did detach and do a lot of his own thing. He was prepared to divorce if needed, and I think that part was helpful. He didn’t do pick me, he told me how he felt, we had a lot of soul baring conversations, some that went late into the night.

I would say the withdrawal was managed, and I got my head out of fanstasy lane three or four months in. Which if you take into consideration my D-day didn’t happen until the end of month two of it being over, it wasn’t long at least until I understood it was physical (brain chemical) withdrawal and it was normal and could be managed.

I went all over the place, but I wanted to say it’s a process, the withdrawls is the step you are on but if you choose to try R, just hang tight and recover for a while, don’t do her work, don’t advise her, focus on you. If she has hit her rock bottom, she will want to fix herself. And if she fixes herself you have a good shot at R if you decide that’s what you want by then.

I think too many people try to go straight to fixing the relationship. That’s just an exercise in exhaustion, until you are working with someone who has deep remorse for their actions, understand they did this, it’s not the fault of the relationship or spouse.

[This message edited by hikingout at 5:04 PM, Friday, June 7th]

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 7284   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8838866
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wjbrennan78 ( member #84763) posted at 2:29 PM on Thursday, June 13th, 2024

Hikingout -

Thank you for the insight. A lot of articles or forums really haven't discussed the healing timeline or their own experiences from the betrayer side. Just judging my patience with my WW. She is still stuck in self-protect, shame, and defense mode. Just need insights on how MUCH patience I should have during the process.

Any other waywards out there that would like to share their experience would be welcomed!

Thank you

posts: 51   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2024   ·   location: Illinois
id 8839511
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 4:01 AM on Friday, June 14th, 2024

The answer to your question- how much patience- I think that varies from person to person. So does how long it takes to get a ws to take their head out of their butt.

Is she NC? Do you feel she is pining for him, or you feel more like she is still trickle truthing you?

I didn’t trickle truth but there wasn’t voluminous things to say about what happened. I minimized a lot as I already said.

With my husband, his affair was longer and the ap was readily available to him. So I would t say he trickle truthed me because I didn’t catch him in lies really but the disclosure period was much longer and sometimes little details will be jostled that felt like it.

We both had a hard fast rule: if I catch you in a lie that’s it. That is still the rule.

It’s of course hard to set boundaries that strong because the minute it happens and you don’t enforce, well, they got ya. I wasn’t going to test it out let’s put it that way. I have know that is the one thing my husband has always hated is a liar.

[This message edited by hikingout at 4:02 AM, Friday, June 14th]

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 7284   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8839594
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wjbrennan78 ( member #84763) posted at 4:20 PM on Friday, June 14th, 2024

She is NC with her AP. I do know she is still pining/ruminating for him. Trickle Truth is still there. My therapist told me to give her a month for her head to exit her posterior. During our last MC session I was angry and adamant about my boundaries of NC and honesty being broken - agreed upon for me to come home after DDay. Our MC took no quarter with her and explained that is why I have no trust or benefit of the doubt in regards to her. A little remorse/regret is starting to trickle out - but she is still stuck in the shame cycle.

posts: 51   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2024   ·   location: Illinois
id 8839717
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 4:51 PM on Friday, June 14th, 2024

A month is reasonable to look at progress.

The longer nc is in place the easier clarity will come bacuse she has just spent the entire time of the affair in a deep state of cognitive dissonance and when you hold two opposing beliefs at the same time, one being the fundamental because it’s about fidelity. it becomes an exercise of ongoing justification that creates a brainwashing effect. She has essentially brainwashed herself.

While it’s painful to you, it would be highly unusual for someone who believed they were in love with the AP for that bubble to pop upon discovery.

But with time out of that situation, she can reorient and will begin to reflect on all these nagging feelings she had due to that second set of beliefs )the moral ones) she held the whole time. She just spend a lot of time fighting those beliefs. (This justification and marital rewriting.

You can see it when she begins saying things like "I knew this part bothered me about ____" but I kept pushing it away.

For example, the first time ap tried to kiss me, I instinctually ducked. This was on the trip that I went knowing it was about to become physical. So that was my cognitive dissonance kicking in, that a big part of me reqlly didn’t want to do this, but the driving factors were so compelling that I pushed on. Or I would cry after a boundary push while we were long distance and just texting. The affair feelings were intoxicating but there was this whole other part of me that knew what he was and telling me to stop because it was wrong.

That push pull dynamic is actually part of the basis that creates the addiction. Let me explain:

If it were say cocaine. I might logically know if I tried cocaine it was going to cause me problems. Maybe I don’t really believe it’s addictive, and that I will just dabble. (Like flirting or having secret conversation with someone that isn’t my husband) well, a couple snorts and it feels great, my problems all go away. Next time I am feeling low, probably the next day, I am out seeing if I can find more. Next thing you know, it’s driving me. I go steal from my grandma or do other things I would have found unconscionable. I hate the cocaine and love it too because now my life sucks more and I need it more than ever to escape.

Affairs are more like that than I ever would have guessed. Once you take away the cocaine for some time you miss how it made you feel, you can’t find things in normal daily life that replace the feeling. (In this case it’s not the ap causing the feeling, it’s one’s one body chemicals - adrenaline, dopamine, etc)

So what it takes is both abstinence and finding a way to feel normal amounts of happiness from things you enjoy doing in life. And shame strangles that too for some period. Because now suddenly you are at rock bottom, with nothing to get your fix, and you are having to face the music and find courage and you don’t really understand yet how you came to this place.

So do I expect it to be better in a month? Some. Will the addiction be over, no probably not yet. I have seen it go that fast and faster, but not usually. But you will maybe see enough progress in that time that you may say "okay, I will give it one more month"

Or you may see nothing and be done. It’s really hard to say.

But this pining that she is doing is really withdrawal from her fix, she just would be unlikely to fully believe that at this stage. Part of her though, that opposing side in the cognitive dissonance might see that it’s possible that’s what’s happening.

For me, seeing that early into my recovery, it made some sense to me even if it didn’t seem like what was happening in the surface level. Like I never truly thought the guy was better than my husband, but I thought my husband was better than me and that the ap was more on my level. Not really an incorrect assumption since we were both cheaters.

[This message edited by hikingout at 5:04 PM, Friday, June 14th]

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 7284   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8839736
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wjbrennan78 ( member #84763) posted at 5:06 PM on Friday, June 14th, 2024

She has said that it really wasn't about him - but how he made her feel. So I guess her recognizing that is a step in the right direction. Earlier this week she had her head in my lap while we were calming down for the night and she said "You know I love your right?" A statement I did not solicit - which made me happy and sad all at the same time. We seem to be "stabilized" around each other. I'm giving her space and time throughout the day. I'm not pushing for information anymore because I know at this time it's an exercise in futility. We are sleeping in different rooms as well. So I'm hoping without my prescience being perceived a stifling, maybe she will start to react to me not being around and available all the time. But thank you Hikingout - great insight and information that is not readily available elsewhere. It's much appreciated!

posts: 51   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2024   ·   location: Illinois
id 8839739
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