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Newest Member: Crushedafter46years

Reconciliation :
When "It Was All a Fantasy" Doesn't Help

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ChewedMeUp ( member #8008) posted at 5:05 PM on Monday, October 10th, 2022

Slightly different perspective since I never reconciled, we divorced. But when I was trying to force R at one point early on, I’d seen who his AP was and I was genuinely perplexed as to why this person. And thinking about it in context of “affair fog/fantasy” and all that stuff, I had a bit of an epiphany.

Have you ever seen any of those “before and after” photos of actresses/models? Where they show exactly how much makeup and photoshop goes into making those perfect pictures, and you realize that in the “before” picture, the person looks so normal, average, that you might not even recognize them on the street compared to their “filtered and fixed” self? I realized that while in affair-mode, my ex literally couldn’t see anything besides that perfectly edited version of his AP. His brain was doing all the photoshopping for him to take care of the dissonance, so when he compared her body to mine, of course he found hers to be more perfect, because his brain was feeding him the photoshopped version of hers, and the non-shopped version of mine. Eventually, of course, the bubble burst and the fantasy evaporated, and that’s when he’d move on to a new AP, which is why we eventually divorced. But that realization really helped me see that it truly wasn’t about me, it was his brain constructing the narrative and image out of self-preservation - it was about him and his broken brain and broken self, and I was able to move on.

I wish you the best in your quest to restore your health.

BS - 40
DivorcED, finally.
2 Kids

posts: 634   ·   registered: Aug. 26th, 2005   ·   location: Baltimore, MD
id 8758930
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 Wounded Healer (original poster new member #34829) posted at 5:23 PM on Tuesday, October 11th, 2022

Hi again everyone,

Had a crazy weekend and Monday and have not been able to get to this thread and the deeply thoughtful responses that have been added to it. Thank you all again. Always humbled by the investment made in these responses.

So many things....

Breaking Bad...thanks so much first for the simple acknowledgment for me that I am not totally crazy feeling the intense dissonance being caught in the middle of the fantasy/reality warps. That I've "got it right" in your words. I wanted to ask you, when you ask yourself "Can I be okay with the fact that..." your husband compared your breasts and thought the AP's were "better" and then used that preference to betray you...when you ask if you can be okay with that...how does that go? If you can be okay with it...what makes that possible for you?

1st WIfe - Thanks so much for your time in your replies. Thank you for letting me know that that one low blow took a really long time to get past. It actually helps me. I think I put pressure on myseldf to get this stuff "behind" me as quickly as possible because of the protracted timeline involved. But I forget how convoluted the timeline really is. I "feel" like I've been aware of these things for a decade and I think that subconscously makes me feel "pressure" to be past it. But the relaity is that I've had "full" disclosure for only a little over a year. Also...I'm thinking deeply about why spouses (for me at least) take up such a significant spot in the "voices" that speak into our lives...and maybe even beyond...into our core. My thoughts are not quite clear yet in an articulatable way...but I know there's something huge to this for me. What my wife thinks of me matters supremely. This much I know. Part of me thinks that's exactly the way it should be. Part of me sees the dark side to that. I know this question is frought with error and misguidedness...but I'll ask anyway...do you think if your husband had "hit below the belt" several times rather than just once, your outcome might have been different? Or does the inner "I'm awesome" reality have the ability to cover a multitude of things for you?

Grieving...thank you so much for your investment in this thread. So much appreciated. Your compassion/emapthy comes through the bandwidth. Thank you for stating: "understanding the fantasy component doesn't absolve anything." I just see the fantasy element used so often (and EFFECTIVELY) that I am trying (and my fWW is saying the same..that it was fantasy she felt she was sorta 'trapped' in...she uses that term loosely and doesn't absolve herself with it) to do the same. And I see that you have used this effectively as well. And yet I also hear when you say "something within me remains broken." And this one statement pretty much defines me at the moment. I AM able to frame some of this in the fanstasy framework and that seems to take some of the edge off...but...I am finding it doesn't really absolve anything...and...something in me remains (very) broken. Also...I acknowledge I am prorbaly avoiding the "divorce" component that you (and several others) mentioned. I am just not quite ready to articulate my heart on that. My thoughts are far from formed on it. However, without question, as (many of) you have accurately guessed...I don't wish to divorce. For a grocery list of reasons. And I think I might be discovering that my dignity is crashing violently up against that it knows my heart does not really see divorce as an option. Also (wildly?) guessing that this may be at the root of the PTSD. One chamber of my heart is screaming/breaking/tortured at the insult/injury/indignity of it all...while the other chamber is saying "yeah that sucks...but we love this woman (and a whole host of other reasons) and we are not leaving." I feel it really has me struggling "on a cellular level".

OIN...I so appreciate your time and thoughts shared in this post. Truly. A couple of things in your response stood out to me and I have questions wink

You need to decide: do you care about this and want to let it impact your life forever?

Is the only way to not let it impact my life to not care? I cannot imagine ever not caring. It's what makes some of this so ridiculously hard right now. I mean, in 20 years if a thought comes up about these things I have mentioned, this chat, her A choices and words...I can't even conceive of a neutral response. I do hold out hope though...because I've heard others say that same exact thing...yet they are able to get to that place. I still just cannot imagine not caring.

Or do want to not care and learn to ignore?

Similar question...Is learning to ignore or ignoring the only path to not caring? I think this is what I have been trying (obviously very unsuccessfully) to do. I am trying fairly desperately to frame all of this in a way that helps me "ignore" it. I know it's still early, but I am questioning if I am able to do this. I mean, literally may not have the equipment/wiring etc. to do it.

Do you want to let it ruin things, or do you want to let it go?

I have asked at least a form of this question several times on other threads, because this thought always intrigues me. Is the only way all of this $hit can ruin things is if I "let" it? I mean, is it possible (genuinely asking) that these things are just ruinous apart from anything I do? That maybe I can and AM letting go of the things...but that they are not letting go of me? I know others have reacted to this possibility pretty passionately saying it seems pretty fatalistic...the notion that we might not just be able to power/choose/therapy/frame some things out of us. That we might not actually have as much total agency as we think we do. That some injuries (akin to some physical injuries) are just going to have deep and lasting pain associated witht them that there's not much we can do about. We can certainly exercise our agency in how we LIVE WITH and THROUGH that pain...but to mitigate it? I'm not sure that is ALWAYS an option?

Thank you so much again for your thoughts!

I want to get to the other very thoughtful responses that have been graciously shared with me here as well, but this post is already a War and Peace...and my mind is tired wink

I hope to share more soon.

Thank you so much again as always,

WH

BS - 39 years on DDay

DDay #1: 10/13/2010 - 4 month EA/PA with Divorced OM from 10/2009 to 2/2010

DDay #2: 4/14/2021 - 8 month EA with married OM/family friend 2/2010 to 10/2010

Crazy about each other. Reconciling.

posts: 45   ·   registered: Feb. 15th, 2012   ·   location: Northern Indiana
id 8759089
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CuriousObserver ( member #78743) posted at 1:06 AM on Wednesday, October 12th, 2022

Because a man can never really know that his offspring are really his, he needs to trust in a very different way than a woman. I’ve never heard of a woman raising children that she did not know were not her biological offspring. She always knows if she has been monogamous; he can only take her at her word. So this deeply primitive need to fully trust your mate is a driving force in male psychology. You need to know that your partner totally has your back and you can trust her in all areas. For that, you will sacrifice your very life to protect her. Prior to Dday, I would have willingly taken bullet for my W. After Dday, I realized that I had been totally committed to a woman who was completely unworthy of that level of commitment. I had been conned in this agreement.

This was well said.

So is this:

"Do you know the difference between your Mother and your Wife? Your Mother is committed to your survival. Your Wife is committed to her survival." ---- Mike Tyson

Before others here take offense over that comment, let me just add that as men, we KNOW this at a very basic level. And it is not a derogatory comment. It’s why she will choose a safer man for a husband over the one she finds more attractive. As an aside, my wife told me just this morning regarding a major reason she chose me some 40+ years ago over the guy before me, (who could have been a model, he was that good looking) was that she didn’t want to be his ex-wife, laugh . It’s why your wife lied to you for 10 more years after Dday 1, until she thought it was safe enough to let the other shoe drop, hoping that those 10 years of being supportive and trying to be a good wife will figure into the balance scale, somehow, and prevent you from dumping her on the curb like she guessed you would, had she admitted back then that she went from one four-month long affair immediately to another eight-month long affair without your knowledge of either. She is committed. To her. Survival. She can't help but be. Her life will be very difficult without you and she knows it.

What you know for sure is that she is capable and willing to lie to your face for a long time if it is to her advantage. That is really the only thing that you know for sure about her. This is what is screaming at you at a very primal level. I’m not saying you can’t overcome that, just don’t hide from it. Or let her hide from it, either. You both know better. I wish you the best.

[This message edited by CuriousObserver at 1:07 AM, Wednesday, October 12th]

Listen to their words but believe their actions.
The power of a lie is that it is believed to be truth.

posts: 180   ·   registered: May. 3rd, 2021   ·   location: USA
id 8759148
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GraceLoves ( member #78769) posted at 1:34 AM on Wednesday, October 12th, 2022

Wounded, I have a big list of thoughts and hope one of them helps:

1. I definitely have PTSD from this, so I get it. My circumstances were particularly traumatic with a psycho AP almost pushing me to end my life, but I won't go into detail. Just to say genuinely, my physical snd mental state were massively impacted and I recognise everything you describe.

2. I think part of staying trapped in the trauma is related to mental looping of not understanding how your spouse was responsible for harming you. Your post screams out that you are understandably stuck in this loop.

3. Cheaters, in cheating mode, lie a lot. They're after a feeling and I think they lie to get it. So I disagree with the premise she must have felt this.

4. Women lie to men about their dick. Maybe not all the time but they do. My husband, who I love, isn't as good in bed as my ex but I love him and desire him more. Nope, I'd never tell him.

5. A lot of people have commented that your wife's words were particularly harsh, which they were. But if we're all honest with ourselves, at some point probably all our waywards thought the AP had something worth ruining their life for.

6. I definitely agree with others that you can feel something at one time and then feel grossed out that you ever felt that years ago. I have exes I can't believe I ever looked at.

7. I can't speak for all Women but my husband is funny looking and I've dated much more handsome or successful men. But it's my husband I fell in love with. So even if it's all true, it's still you she loves.

8. I don't think affairs are a fantasy, so much as that they aren't based on anything valuable. It's usually two shitty people trying to get flattered. I am sure this is why the sparkle generally fades pretty quickly.

9. I haven't experienced what you did as my WH never insulted me to the AP, but he did allow her to terrorise me to a point of honestly being severely ill and all the while he thought she was a good person who was just upset. He sees now that good people don't f**k other people's husbands and then terrorise them for months. I know how much it hurts.

10. Although my WHs affair wasn't really romantic, he had deep fried bonds with this woman and I was shown messages which haunt me. I understand how you feel. It's utterly terrible

I'm so sorry for your trauma.

The book another poster recommended is awesome.

Relaxing things help (spas , aromas, mindfulness)

What's going to really heal you though is to make peace with this

Can you?

BW - DDay Nov 20, LTA during LDR.

In limbo with R. WS very resistant to doing the work, so we're stuck

posts: 194   ·   registered: May. 9th, 2021   ·   location: London
id 8759150
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OwningItNow ( member #52288) posted at 11:43 AM on Wednesday, October 12th, 2022

I am so very sorry for messing this thread up and dropping this random post in here. My mistake. Posting in a huge hurry. It was from a different poster's thread, so I've removed it.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 12:53 AM, Thursday, October 13th]

me: BS/WSh: WS/BS

Reject the rejector. Do not reject yourself.

posts: 5682   ·   registered: Mar. 16th, 2016   ·   location: Midwest
id 8759186
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Sadwife53 ( member #61415) posted at 6:24 PM on Wednesday, October 12th, 2022

I chose to reframe the situation as Daddydom suggested in a post in the wayward section awhile ago. It helped me to see my fWH affair in a way I could accept- as a temporary insanity that had absolutely nothing to do with me or our marriage.

Say the spouse that you’ve loved for decades one day painted themselves purple, stuck a stick up their butt as a tail and danced around the neighborhood following kids and singing songs.
What would you do?
See that there was something seriously wrong with them and try to get them some help?
It would be silly to see their insane behavior as a reflection of us or our worth.
Would you ask yourself if they secretly believed themselves to be a purple dinosaur for all the years of your marriage before the affair?

After they sought treatment, did the difficult work and were able to come out of their delusion, would you question whether there was some truth in the insane things they said while in their psychotic episode?
Even if they believed they were a purple dinosaur at the time, it doesn’t make it so.

It can be argued that WH wasn’t insane. He was a perfectly coherent functioning adult who chose to pursue the affair with enthusiasm, and enjoyed it thoroughly. During that time he truly believed our marriage was bad and he was better off leaving me for her. He said/believed the most hurtful things about me which tortured me for years.

I wasn’t able to accept the temporary insanity plea until I was convinced in my heart that he now truly sees himself as crazy/evil during the affair and that the changes he’s made in himself will keep him from ever going crazy like that again.

Me: 58 WH: 60 married 36 years, 4 adult children dday: 10/5/17 EA and PA with a 30yoStruggling at R

posts: 105   ·   registered: Nov. 14th, 2017   ·   location: PA
id 8759229
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 4:14 PM on Thursday, October 13th, 2022

do you think if your husband had "hit below the belt" several times rather than just once, your outcome might have been different? Or does the inner "I'm awesome" reality have the ability to cover a multitude of things for you?

I think over the years I endured a few things from my H. Below the belt more than once? No.

But finding out he held onto a conversation we had and was mad he didn’t get his own way (his choice BTW) showed me a very different side of him.

Petty. Warped thinking IMO.

Here’s an issue we had 30+ years (until the affair). My H was never — and I mean hardly ever — accountable for time. Showed up late (hours late) and didn’t care. He would say I’ll be home 11 pm and show up at 3 am. No call. Nothing. Just waltz in the door.

Nothing I said or did changed it. So I finally stopped asking for him to communicate.

Now I’m prepared to D him on dday2. He pushed me too far and I had enough. He’s begging to R. I looked at him and said why would I want to R with you? You have been disrespectful to me for 30 years by refusing to tell me where you are or what time you will be home. I’m fine with accepting it but I no longer choose to live with it.

That was the first time he actually considered my point of view or perspective. He then realized all the mistakes he made.

I’m sure it was not the only time he expressed his unhappiness and hit below the belt. But it was only one time I found out about it. The good news for him is that I have the guts to say things directly and don’t hide behind an email.

I know he never thought I would see that email.

But I also don’t put as much value on his opinion of me either. My attitude is - there’s the door.

Wished I would have had that much belief in myself 30 years ago.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12794   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8759378
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redbaron007 ( member #50144) posted at 10:05 AM on Monday, October 17th, 2022

I had my penis compared to AP2 in a chat. I had my fatherhood brutally criticized, she expressed dissatifaction in our sex life, and endless variations of how much better life, sex, love, family...is going to be with AP.

This is not part of some twisted fantasy, but the opposite - a wife consciously humiliating her husband. There's got to have been a well of deep anger within her for stooping to this level. It could be explained away had it been a revenge affair by an angry BW, but it's not the case here. There's something sickening about this part where she intentionally humiliated you. Don't be fooled by the talk about "affair fogs" and "fantasy". Humiliating a BH in this manner is not common at all, you can ask the WWs on this site - a tiny minority may have indulged in it. Even if she wanted to keep the AP as an option, she could have pumped his ego without putting you down completely in this way.

...despite a remorseful fWW who is pretty much willing to do anything to help me...


Is her behavior really that altruistic? Isn't there a modicum of self-interest in her part? What are her choices if you leave? Her age and the fact that she has HPV has got to play some part in it, objectively speaking.

Me: BS (44)
She: WS (41)
One son (6)
DDay: May 2015 (OBS told me)
Divorced, Zero regrets, sound sleep, son doing great!
A FOG is just a weather phenomenon. An Affair Fog is a clever excuse invented by WS's to explain their continued bad behavior.

posts: 254   ·   registered: Oct. 30th, 2015   ·   location: West Coast
id 8759910
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Grieving ( member #79540) posted at 12:38 AM on Tuesday, November 15th, 2022

How are you, wounded healer?

Married for 20 years with two kids when my husband had a six month affair with a coworker. DD1: 6/2020. DD2: 7/3/2020. Reconciling

posts: 277   ·   registered: Oct. 30th, 2021
id 8765181
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 Wounded Healer (original poster new member #34829) posted at 5:12 PM on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

Hi again,

My current "condition" has me struggling terribly with memory issues...so I have had to re-read several of my posts and really sit with the responses...so strange that so much of it (most of it?) was actually like reading it for the first time. Just stopping in to say thanks to everyone again for investing in this (and my other...and others' threads). And thank you, Grieving, for asking :-).

I won't go long here...just a quick update to say I am pretty much the same. I have a had a clean MRI on my brain since I last posted (which was a relief of course) but, still, no acute physical "cause" can be connected as of yet to the significant combination of physical stuff I continue to deal with. Dr. says it's still another vote in the complex PTSD column. I still have my doubts. I have been referred to a neurologist directly to, if nothing else, completely rule out any physical root of what I am experiencing.

As far as recovery goes, it's all about the same. I feel a little more "chill" at the moment that I am chalking up to knowing that I will have some time off with my amazing family over the holiday season...but the first sign of a truly quiet moment...and the affair stuff just washes in. I still can't really figure it out...why the ongoing torment...with a fWW who has been (with the obvious exception of the fatal mistake of minimizing and compartmentalizing the secondary EA and keeping that from me for a decade) a model of support and remorse. The sex and the limited amount of but cutting belittling continue to be the bear traps for me. Not that the rest of it isn't brutally hard...it's just those things remain my Everests. I am looking for a new IC...partly becuase of $150 an hour...but more for me getting the vibe that I might have overwhelmed him. I chose a Christian counselor becuase that is the framework of my life personally. And I pretty much think my guy (who has been wonderfully empathetic) is not used to a pastor/former pastor coming to him with the unfiltered things I have come to him with. Not sure he was prepared for the rawest of discussions about cowgirl, anal sex, and female ejaculation...and lots of other things. I could be wrong. But it's a perception I have confidence in. So..I will be looking closer to home (he was an hour away), hopefully a little less $$$, and someone who will not blink when I take them to the places that are killing me.

Well...I said this would not be long...and I did it again.

Hoping for a wonder-filled, healing filled, truly joy-filled holiday season for a all of you.

Thanks again for litening,


WH

BS - 39 years on DDay

DDay #1: 10/13/2010 - 4 month EA/PA with Divorced OM from 10/2009 to 2/2010

DDay #2: 4/14/2021 - 8 month EA with married OM/family friend 2/2010 to 10/2010

Crazy about each other. Reconciling.

posts: 45   ·   registered: Feb. 15th, 2012   ·   location: Northern Indiana
id 8766470
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Ladybugmaam ( member #69881) posted at 9:22 PM on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

Wounded healer.....I'm so sorry you're here. The physical symptoms sound familiar to me. I lost 30 lbs in the course of two weeks. I could.not.eat. I had the shakes. I would tremble. Literally vibrate. I would fall asleep and jerk awake all night long. Headaches. Nausea and vomiting. I couldn't eat and when I got something in, I couldn't keep it down. I broke a couple of molars grinding them. It is brutal.

Did you have any real trauma before this? I already had a PTSD diagnosis from childhood issues. This exacerbated everything I thought I had had a handle on. I think that is what caused most of my physical symptoms. I had made my FWH into my safe place.....and no one can ever completely be that except me. I'll never trust in the same way again, but what I thought I had was a fairy tale. Years later, we have a relationship where we both live our vows on a daily basis (imperfectly). I prefer that to what I thought I had. Doesn't mean I'm excusing or diminishing it. It is a lot of hard work and time.

EMDR did some help. Mostly, it has been time and LOTS of self care. Get in touch with what might make you lighter in this little moment and time, and DO.IT for you. Not to save a marriage, but just to help you feel better. You deserve that from yourself.

Humans make comparisons. Humans, particularly in affairs, do absolutely shitty things to the folks they have promised to love. The thing is, it is you absorbing that comparison that causes you harm. If you didn't stay in the marriage and recycle that hurt.....you'd eventually get to a place where you can see that this is all wayward baloney and nothing to do with you, your physicality, or your parenting skills. This is a damaged someone who made all this up about you. IF you FWS is doing the hard work, it is possible to recover. I'm so sorry you're struggling. It is the hardest thing I've ever been through.

EA DD 11/2018
PA DD 2/25/19
One teen son
I am a phoenix.

posts: 300   ·   registered: Feb. 26th, 2019
id 8766502
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