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Reconciliation :
WH says he still has feelings for AP

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 lostandstuck (original poster new member #80982) posted at 9:12 PM on Monday, September 19th, 2022

Hi, I have been silently reading posts on SI for a while. thank you for making me feel less alone.

I am the BW 35 yrs old. My WH is 39 yrs. Both financially independent. We have been married for 8 years. No kids yet. We had communication issues and fights here and there but overall we made each laugh everyday and life was going along. We made a very good looking couple and enjoyed traveling the world.

In 2020, WH and I started working from home and spent almost everyday together for several months. It was fun initially but our fights started to become more frequent. Both of us were not mature or evolved enough to communicate our unmet needs and it was a toxic cycle. But we won’t somehow make up and life went on. During that time, WH had a 4 month emotional and physical affair with a close friend who also happens to be the wife of his close friend.

D day was in Mar-2021 when the AP’s husband found text messages on her phone and let me know. My life since D day has been…for lack of a perfect word - sad and hopeless.

It has been over 1.5 yrs in D-Day and we are in R. WH is NC since DDay. WH is caring. Shares responsibilities in the house. Has consoled me during my breakdowns which were intense and I used to hit myself out of extreme sadness and desperation. He stayed with me through all of that which I appreciate. He Is sorry, remorseful, ashamed….he says he wants to try R and see if we can save the marriage but….he does not take efforts beyond a certain point - which is to make to feel special, wanted, both through words and actions. I have broken down many times asking him why he won’t take any initiatives to start emotional or physical intimacy. He kept on saying he is trying and will do better. In July 2022, he said he couldn’t do what I need him to do as he is drained seeing me breakdown everytime and is unable to get back any feelings for me. He said he is still in love with AP. He kept saying that he has tried to do everything he can and highlighting the fact many times that he went to IC (1 session with A, 2 sessions with B, 3 sessions with C - A,B,C meaning 3 different counselors) to work on this problem but nothing helped and is convinced that it is true love and not limerance. He wanted to divorce.

After hearing about his confession, I was shocked and destroyed. AP and her husband are in R and I don’t know how that is going. After some thought, I asked him to try MC together till the end of the year to see if anything can be saved. He agreed and we are in MC every week since Aug-2022. I have worked on myself to be stronger. I have better control over my emotions and haven’t had any crazy breakdowns in a long time. WH is able to talk to me more than before but the topics are always seem to be logistical no emotional conversations. I have tried to initiate intimacy a few times (hugs, cuddles, kissing etc) in the last 1.5 years in R, he is ok with hugs but said he is not ready or feels awkward when it progressed to more intimacy - kissing and beyond.

I am yearning to be feel something more than the "care". To feel loved and wanted by my partner. I questioned him yesterday as to why he is not able to make efforts beyond a point. He said he has some sort of mental block. I asked him if he has any feelings for me - he said he deeply cares for me. I asked him if he has feelings for AP, he said he still has.

Has anyone faced this sort of a situation where the WH still has feelings or is in love with AP during R? I have a gut feeling this will end in D because I am starting to feel extremely pathetic about myself.

posts: 3   ·   registered: Sep. 19th, 2022
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HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 9:23 PM on Monday, September 19th, 2022

Gently, he is not remorseful, and you are nowhere near reconciliation. He's not doing the work,and thinks he loves her.

There isn't anything to work with.

I'm sorry.

posts: 4655   ·   registered: Jun. 20th, 2017   ·   location: The Midwest
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HardKnocks ( member #70957) posted at 10:04 PM on Monday, September 19th, 2022

I'm so sorry for your situation.

Do you have an IC for support?

BW x2
Recovering
2020

posts: 419   ·   registered: Jul. 7th, 2019
id 8756090
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 lostandstuck (original poster new member #80982) posted at 10:52 PM on Monday, September 19th, 2022

I am not in IC but I have been talking to my sister since DDay. She is pretty wise and has helped me tremendously to deal with triggers and I have survived so far because of her. And my dog - we both are inseparable.


WH is remorseful and I can see that he is also in a lot of pain. He has said sorry many times for ruining what we had. He was someone who I blindly trusted and he is ashamed to have betrayed that trust. He says he wants to do MC and see if we can work things and says he wants to be with me.


He says he wants to get over AP but he hasn’t been able to. He says he has caring feelings for me but he is unable to get back intimate feelings. Seems like whatever he had with AP trumped everything we ever had.


Both of us are exhausted.


How long does it usually take for WS to get over their AP? I have scoured the internet but there is not a lot literature out there on this.


Maybe in cases like this - after all the cheating and the discovery and the breakdowns - it seems like there is no hope for any of the love, adoration, laughs and all that to come back.

posts: 3   ·   registered: Sep. 19th, 2022
id 8756102
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HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 11:14 PM on Monday, September 19th, 2022

A remorseful WS realizes how horrible their actions have been,and they hold no feelings of affection for the AP. A remorseful WS also does the work,in order to become a safe partner.

He sounds regretful.

MC will not help at this point. He needs IC. The marriage didn't cheat. He did. He needs to work on himself.

posts: 4655   ·   registered: Jun. 20th, 2017   ·   location: The Midwest
id 8756106
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 lostandstuck (original poster new member #80982) posted at 11:47 PM on Monday, September 19th, 2022

If AP was a random person, maybe this wouldn’t be as complicated. AP was a really good friend for many years and he feels regret also for ruining the friendship they had. She made the first move in the affair and he wasn’t even thinking about doing anything like that but gave in. Anyway that doesn’t matter anymore.

How long do WS typically go for IC? WH has been to 6 IC sessions in total since the last 1.5 years (all 6 were not with the same counselor).

[This message edited by lostandstuck at 11:48 PM, Monday, September 19th]

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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 12:33 AM on Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

He says he wants to get over AP but he hasn’t been able to. He says he has caring feelings for me but he is unable to get back intimate feelings. Seems like whatever he had with AP trumped everything we ever had.

It sounds like he's romanticized the affair and still sees it through rose-colored glasses, as if they're simply two splendid people who just met at the wrong time or whatever. That's not the case though, what they did was ugly. They betrayed their spouses and in your WH's case, his best friend. They broke their vows and threw any modicum of integrity they had out the window.

The OW is nothing special and she's certainly NOT better than you. She's a woman without scruples, a woman who could lie and betray her own mate, and no one to admire or emulate. IME, it's this aversion to seeing the truth about the AP's character that keeps some WS's from becoming truly remorseful. She's a look in the mirror for your cheating WS. If he actually LOOKS at just how morally defunct her behavior has been, he has to SEE it in himself. Sometimes, they don't want to do that, so they end up holding on to the fantasy and limerence. The alternative isn't necessarily about his lack of attraction or whatever. It's very often a means of avoiding the truth about himself, that yes.. he IS that guy, a guy who's capable of betraying his wife and his best friend, a guy who lies, and who deprives others of their agency.

Here's the thing though, he can't fix what he won't acknowledge, and he can't call it "remorse" while he's still clinging to his fantasies. His mouth is moving and words are coming out, but his actions are telling on him. He's distancing you and blaming you, and yeah.. he puts a nice spin on it claiming that he's just so sad that his attraction to you hasn't come back, but isn't that just an underhanded way of inviting you to increase the efficacy of your "pick me" dance?

Nothing that you did (or didn't do) caused your WS to cheat. Cheating is about the cheater. You don't have that kind of power over other people. You can't MAKE them throw away their values and integrity. You mentioned "unmet needs" earlier and it kind of sounds like you've fallen victim to some bad pop-psy just like I did many years ago. I'm going to save myself some typing and re-post something I wrote for someone in a similar position, but the takeaway here is that NONE of this is your fault. You didn't cause it and you can't fix it. Only he can do that, and he's got to wake the hell up in order to do it. What he did was NOT nice and it's NOT something that might happen to anyone. It happens to people who don't value the things they claimed to, things like Fidelity and Honesty.

My own WH went on a Craigslist binge six years ago, multiple partners, various degrees of emotional attachment. He even thought he was in love at one point. But ten years before that, I'd caught him out in some online shenanigans, porn, cybersexing, emotional affair, etc. In fact, I caught him out only two weeks before a planned meet-up. I'd already seen an attorney before I confronted him and I was bent on divorce, but he pretty much cried his way out of it and I settled on MC. As you might have guessed already, we too were bamboozled with the "unmet needs" model of therapy, which sounds so reasonable. I upped my wife game, and did my best pick-me polka, but within a couple of years, he was right back at it behind my back. By the time we reached the ten year mark, he had screwed up his nerve to go live and in person on Craigslist.

Of course, I was pretty shocked as you might imagine. I thought we were good. I thought his "needs" were met. Damned if I hadn't been turning myself inside out for a decade to make sure, right? The more I thought about it, the more I revisited what I knew about the "unmet needs model", the less it made sense. I was doing everything right and he still CHOSE to cheat.

Here's the fly in the "unmet needs" ointment...

Healthy ADULTS don't need to be validated. They validate internally. Healthy adults are self-fruitful in the matter of contentment and life satisfaction, and when things come up which make them unhappy, they address the cause and solve the problem. OTOH, the vast majority of cheaters cheat because they're seeking external validation. They are NOT emotionally healthy. They can't do it on their own. They've got a hole inside them and no amount of external validation will fill it. Certainly, the old and familiar validation of a spouse doesn't get the job done. Our "kibbles" are stale and boring. They don't create enough adrenaline anymore to make the cheater feel special. It's like getting an "atta boy" from your mom, right?

This is old pop-psy which is still being taught in schools and still selling books. But it's bullshit. NOTHING you can do (or fail to do) can MAKE another person throw away their core values and do something that's in this kind of opposition to good character. If you're a person who BELIEVES in fidelity, who VALUES fidelity, you don't cheat. End of story. Because when we truly value something we protect it. The cheater has a "but..." in his values system. ie. "I believe in fidelity, but... not if my needs aren't being met." For people like you and me, we have a "so..." in our values system. ie. "I believe in fidelity, so... I don't put myself in risky situations with the opposite sex." This is the BOUNDARY we create organically. We don't sit around planning it out. It just happens, because it's innate to our character to protect what we value. The cheater doesn't have those boundaries because he doesn't really honor his values. He only claims to.

I'm not saying that your marriage is over or that your WH can't change. What I am saying though is that this "unmet needs" model is NOT going to challenge him to clean up his flawed character. In fact, it allows him to offload responsibility onto the marriage and onto YOU. It's not your job to MAKE him feel (fill-in-the-blank-here). It never was. It's his job to manage his feelings. You could have been doing everything exactly perfect for the entire length of your marriage, and he would still have cheated... because there's NOTHING in his character stopping him and he has no coping mechanism to fall back on when he feels unvalidated, inadequate, unappreciated, etc.

It's HIS job to see that his "needs" get met. Sometimes that might mean negotiating with you, say if it's about sex or about the division of labor in your home, etc. But sometimes, it might mean that what he sees as a "need" is unhealthy in an adult, like external validation through attention and flattery.

MC's are there to treat the marriage. The marriage is the client. So, of course they're going to talk about communications, resentments and expectations. The MC doesn't want to alienate anyone, so s/he's looking to find balance on both sides. But marriages don't cheat. People do. The only way your WH is going to make a change that safeguards against further perfidy is by correcting his need for external validation and becoming an emotionally healthy adult whose deeds are as good as his word. No excuses, just honoring the things he claims to value. For that, I would recommend IC (individual counseling) with a therapist who is well-versed in adultery.

The last thing any newly-minted BS needs is to walk into an MC's office, believing that they've come to safe harbor, and being handed a copy of The Five Love Languages or some other "unmet needs" gobbledygook. It would be really nice if we actually did have the power to control our mate by giving them "acts of service" or "words of affirmation", but sadly, we aren't gods who can stop a cheater from seeking out his/her choice of adrenaline rush and new kibbles. Although, this kind of pop-psy suggests that their behavior is somehow our responsibility. The more you dig into this ridiculous line of thought, the more absurd it becomes.

Anyway... sorry for the lengthy post. Nothing fries my ass more than seeing new BS's being sold this bill of goods.

Anyway, I'm sorry you had cause to find us, but glad you're here. It's awful and it sucks, but you're going to be okay. Believe it.

((hugs))

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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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 12:43 AM on Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

How long do WS typically go for IC? WH has been to 6 IC sessions in total since the last 1.5 years (all 6 were not with the same counselor).

It doesn't sound like he's taking this at all seriously. I'm the BS, but I had IC once a week until my therapist was satisfied I was on the right track, then twice a month for a year or so until we didn't have anything to talk about anymore, about two and a half years altogether. I toughed it out on my own for way longer than I should have though and didn't get into therapy until after the first two years, so by the time I finished, I was about four and a half years from dday.

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.

posts: 5927   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8756119
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Tanner ( member #72235) posted at 1:22 AM on Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

I’m sorry you are here, your H is not ready for R he is still in a wayward mindset, missing the AP isn’t doing anything to help you or the M.

MC right now is like remodeling the kitchen while the back of the house is on fire, you can’t fix a M with an active cheater.

We were 2 months in false R when I found my WW confiding in her BFF that the missed AP, they stayed NC, but that was a major violation and not remorse. She didn’t miss the man she missed the high she was on. I was ready to D, we had nothing to work on at that point.

She did the work in IC and now looks back with disgust, the thought of her AP makes her sick, because it wasn’t real it was a fantasy and the AP played a role.

I’m sorry you did nothing to cause this.

Dday Sept 7 2019 doing well in R
BH M 31 years

posts: 1795   ·   registered: Dec. 5th, 2019   ·   location: Texas DFW
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OwningItNow ( member #52288) posted at 2:05 AM on Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

He said he is still in love with AP. He kept saying that he has tried to do everything he can and highlighting the fact many times that he went to IC (1 session with A, 2 sessions with B, 3 sessions with C - A,B,C meaning 3 different counselors) to work on this problem but nothing helped and is convinced that it is true love and not limerance. He wanted to divorce.

Very gently, this is not R. This is you doing the Pick Me dance and him feeling too guilty to pull the plug.

Don't ask yourself why he wants a divorce. Ask yourself why you don't love yourself enough to walk away from this insult and neglect. Begging someone to love you does not work and only reduces the respect he has for you--and the respect you have for yourself.


I am yearning to be feel something more than the "care". To feel loved and wanted by my partner.

Of course you are. So love yourself by standing on your own two feet. Hold out for the genuine love and affection that you deserve. Ask for a D to go find it.

You can't fix it. You can't fix him. I don't know what his deal is, but it's not your problem to worry about. But YOUR deal is your problem to fix, so do it.

Respect yourself. Agree to D. Find someone who loves you as you deserve. Please do that for yourself.

And find a good IC. Sisters are good for listening, but ICs are good for helping us to get strong and change.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 2:09 AM, Tuesday, September 20th]

me: BS/WSh: WS/BS

Reject the rejector. Do not reject yourself.

posts: 5630   ·   registered: Mar. 16th, 2016   ·   location: Midwest
id 8756131
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 5:51 AM on Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

I’m sorry for you because I was in your shoes. I got the ILYBNILWY(I love you but not in love with you) speech too.

It’s heartbreaking. I understand your pain.

Like you I did everything I could for 6 months. The entire time I heard "I want a D" from my H.

Dday2 I finally wised up. I understood I couldn’t make him love me so I stopped trying. Finding out that I thought we were reconciling but he was still cheating was the last straw.

In a calm rational manner I told my H I was D him b/c I had no other choice.

I instituted the hard 180.

I only spoke to him if the kids were around.

And I told him to get out!!

All of a sudden he’s begging me to R. I’m the love of his life. Blah blah blah.

Somehow we did manage to R. And we are happy.

But he knows he has no other chances with me.

He knows I now wear the pants and call the shots. He realizes all the mistakes he made and how he disrespected me. And he is completely remorseful.

My advice (sadly) is to accept what your H is saying. Plan to D and move on. He is telling you he no longer wants to be married to you. His actions show he’s not interested in doing anything to help you heal beyond a certain point.

You need your own counselor. Heal yourself. Get strong. Move forward. Start to build a better life for yourself.

You certainly deserve better than this.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12497   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8756158
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Fof9303 ( member #70433) posted at 2:24 AM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

I am so sorry that you are here and have to endure this pain. Let me say that you should be so proud of yourself.. upholding your vowels...working on your marriage.. trying your best to forge through the pain.., but then he tells you he is still hung up on the AP.. and does not show you intimacy. It's been quite some time and for him to not be interested in intimacy is a red flag.
Usually the betrayed spouse is the one who has a hard time with intimacy at first. These are all red flags. Only you know what you should do and what is right for you... No one else is going to live your life. With that being said, you deserve to feel loved by your husband.. even more now. I will keep you in my prayers that your husband makes a complete turn around with his detached feelings and his eyes are opened to see that you are worthy of so much. God Bless.

posts: 147   ·   registered: Apr. 27th, 2019
id 8756475
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ThisIsSoLonely ( member #64418) posted at 4:27 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

I am going to buck the traditional trend here and disagree with a few things that have been said. I am also going to be harsh because, well, I wish I had listened to harsh more often.

A remorseful WS realizes how horrible their actions have been,and they hold no feelings of affection for the AP. A remorseful WS also does the work,in order to become a safe partner.

Claiming that someone cannot be remorseful unless they hold "no" feelings for their AP IMO isn't realistic. It has been one of my issues with this site for a long time - this black and white narrative. The fact that you are not in R because your WH still has feelings for the AP IS true however - you are stuck in some elongated version of the pick me dance where you are hoping your WH picks you, and on some level he is hoping (or at least claiming he is hoping) he picks you too?!?!?! That is not R - that is LIMBO. LIMBO sucks and you need to get out of it ASAP. I lived LIMBO for way too long, partially unwittingly, and it chips away at your whole person a little every day.

First, IMO you should be happy your WS is telling you the truth - that they still have feelings for their AP, no matter how much it hurts. I can't tell you how I wish my WH had been honest about that - as you know where you stand - and that place is on the outside. As far as you know, in your WS's mind you are standing outside the glass looking in.

Second, the pick me dance never works. You are playing the pick me dance - the only difference between what you are doing and what most people do is that your pick me dance is out in the open. You are saying "I hope you pick me - how long will it be before you pick me" and the answer is most likely: never. You are trying to control the outcome by sticking around. The news here is you don't need to stick around for the outcome to change - he isn't going to forget you exist just because you aren't physically there.

My WH said at some point years later after what you are mired in now had passed for us, the time when he wasn't telling me he thought the AP was the love of his life and he wanted me gone, that he was not telling me these things because of cowardice, guilt, and shame. My WH also had an A with the wives of one of his best friends - so the situation is similar to yours (in my case all three of them - my WH, the AP and the OBS) also all worked together, and the A went on for 2 years - but the underlying feelings and types of relationships were the same.

He now tells me that he "kept me around" because did not want to hurt me anymore, he did not want to deal with the fallout, he was afraid I would tell everyone we knew ruining his reputation, and that he wasn't 100% sure he wanted me to leave BECAUSE HE WAS NOT 100% SURE EVEN IF I LEFT HE COULD BE WITH THE AP. In other words, he didn't want to hurt my feelings more, and he wanted me as a back up plan even though he was pretty sure he disliked me and had no attraction to me (interestingly we had way more sex than we ever had during his A but I guess that was all part of the cover up?!?!)

My advice (sadly) is to accept what your H is saying. Plan to D and move on. He is telling you he no longer wants to be married to you. His actions show he’s not interested in doing anything to help you heal beyond a certain point.

I agree with the1stWife. So - IMO you need to stop playing the pick me dance and get out of it. He may want to come back to you (mine did after I packed up and left and was done with him) or he may not - but you will be out of limbo. You are scared to leave because you are afraid you will "lose him" if you do - but you have already lost him and you've lost you too. Right now you need to find yourself - and start looking out for yourself too. The rest is largely outside of your control.

I'm sorry you are here - I know I sound like a jerk but really I just read things like your post and wish I could impart my experience onto you as I'm sure it would save you at least a little of this ongoing misery.

[This message edited by ThisIsSoLonely at 4:43 PM, Thursday, September 22nd]

"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

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BellaLee ( member #58324) posted at 4:59 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Hi @lostandstuck I'm so sorry you've had to go through the pain of betrayal and my heart really goes out to you.

In answer to your question, from my own experience, your H having 6 IC in 1.5 year period is certainly not enough for him to address why he made the choice to break his marriage vows and probably destroy the friendship he had with his close friend. When I look back now, my H and I had to go through a year and more of IC and MC before we even began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If your H says he wants to be with you but then says his heart and love is for the AP is unfair to you and is not the basis for true R.

Despite what has happened, I want to encourage you to remember that YOU are worthy of love that can be trusted, and you are not pathetic. Infact you are a wonderful and faithful spouse who has stayed true to her vows, willing to forgive and fight for her marriage.
Please do consider IC for yourself, I found it quite beneficial in my own journey of healing.

I pray the near future being healing for your emotions, strength and wisdom for the days ahead. Much hugs )))

posts: 219   ·   registered: Apr. 18th, 2017
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LearningToJoy ( new member #80732) posted at 5:53 PM on Saturday, September 24th, 2022

He may want to come back to you (mine did after I packed up and left and was done with him) or he may not - but you will be out of limbo. You are scared to leave because you are afraid you will "lose him" if you do - but you have already lost him and you've lost you too. Right now you need to find yourself - and start looking out for yourself too. The rest is largely outside of your control.

I cannot agree with this enough. Looking out for yourself first feels so unnatural for those of us who have been so tightly knit with loving and supporting our spouse and kids.

I lost myself long before his affair, but didn't realize it until knowing just how much of him had left our relationship although he was physically present and compartmentalizing on an Olympic gold medal level.

Please don't do what I did for 3 years - hope in the face of all contrary evidence, give him 9 million chances, be loving, compassionate, and caring about his pain too, and continue to put myself last, accepting crumbs while he got cake.

I don't entirely regret being kind, because I did stay true to my values, but I did not understand how to take care of myself or how to set boundaries AT ALL. I wish I had known about this site and the 180. I could have been supporting, loving, and trusting myself sooner.

My IC has been the transformative spark in this journey from lost and disconnected to finding some voice and inner strength. The journey is still in progress, but I don't feel so lost.

Find yourself, read The Journey from Abandonment to Healing, find a trauma counselor that does EMDR, and know that I am hugging you from afar like the sister I never knew I had until now.
This is a group no one ever wanted to find, but it's helped me feel less alone during the worst time of my life.
You are not alone.

posts: 1   ·   registered: Aug. 26th, 2022   ·   location: WA
id 8756901
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