What I don’t understand is how you never thought what you did was that bad - that you couldn’t comprehend the damage.
You cheat on your husband with your closest friends husband snd you can’t understand the big deal?
Sounds pretty nuts in black and white, but yeah.
This is an issue that was absolutely baffling to BH. Unbelievable for a long time, actually. He just couldn't comprehend that I didn't think he would react so badly when the final D-Day rolled around and the worst of my affairs were revealed, or that it would take him sooooo loooooooong to get over it. (yes, i absolutely said it -- within a year after dday)
Anyways two main reasons. I think...
I was lacking in true empathy, and I didn't suffer consequences for my behavior.
I wasn't taught right and wrong. I was taught to avoid making people angry and get approval. In my family, lying was perfectly acceptable to avoid anger as well as to get approval. I lied, I stole, I didn't do any schoolwork... There were no consequences so it was acceptable, even if I got caught. Lie, deny, cry. Sometimes I'd even receive a punishment, but more crying would always get me out of it. I was a ridiculously smart little girl (who should have failed every grade but never got held back) and very pretty. I also had parents who were either outright abusing me, or allowing others to use me. Guilt is a powerful motivation to let shit slide.
I also saw affairs as normal. My dad had a bunch, my mom had at least one weird 'friendship' that I was aware of. In my family cheating didn't mean ending a relationship, it meant a few tears and a lot of 'pick me' and no real consequences. (also, my dad was handsome and charming and a pastor and had lots of opportunities for cheating and ZERO consequences) My dad eventually left my mom for one of his AP's and wouldn't you know it, because we are such an amazing family, within a few years dad & OW were having christmas with mom and new H! Rug sweeping was protocol.
I also started creating a fantasy self really young. I lied so much about everything that I had no real sense of self. I created barrier after barrier to being vulnerable to anyone, while also voraciously seeking attention and approval of my fake self.
BH and I were talking recently about a scenario of someone taking credit for another's work. This person accepted accolades and applause for something that had nothing to do with them. This doesn't compute with a person like BH. To have people showering love or admiration when he didn't earn it would feel fake and uncomfortable for him. I would have eaten it up. I would have taken bow after bow and glowed with the adoration.
I think I didn't feel real, and I didn't treat others as though they were. I did make connections with people, but I wasn't a safe person. Most people who've known me would argue about that because and I was really good at making people feel wonderful. I made them feel seen and adored by me. I couldn't ever consistently show up for them, but I could love bomb the shit out of them to keep 'em hooked. (I only see that from this perspective, I didn't think so before. I thought I loved easily and deeply. I thought I connected with people in a meaningful way. But I didn't know what love was, nor that I was glowing from false connection with my pretend self.)
If you had asked me, will this lie hurt OBS? Would this action you're about to take absolutely devastate your friend? Do you think this is 'that bad'? I would have answered with a dramatic yes, but still not had any depth of connection to what that would actually mean to her, what it would feel like in her body, how it would be so perfectly compounded by her past trauma and abandonment. If I had ever had an authentic empathetic connection to the true pain or suffering I caused, I would have made it go away -real quick. And then eventually have done the thing anyway. I may have worried about getting caught and how horrible that would be, or that whatever lie might be revealed and the embarrassment that would cause me, I may have even wrung my hands about how terrible and awful this 'sick and compulsive behavior' was, but I would still have only been thinking of myself, my poor sick and compulsive self, so tortured by my demons that all I've ever done is cause pain to everyone around me! Woa-is-meism PhD level.
With BH it was a little different in that the suffering I caused him was evident in our relationship, but really that was just him being mad and mean at me and he was mad at me a lot anyways, so... Shrug.
We started rug sweeping starting when we were teenagers. This wasn't even my first instance of best friend betrayal. As I've posted about before, I got pregnant with 'our' oldest child by our best friend in high school. I got away with everything I ever did. Yeah it was hurtful and upsetting to BH, but I picked him, lucky guy, and he stayed with me and took care of me and our little babe. So everything worked out! It was a very dramatic and satisfying story. (an actually real and satisfying aspect was that not only did he take care of us, he fell so hard in love with that babe and has been a remarkably good dad to her)
Back to OBS, I had a lot of excuses. Justifications. She knew about it, she forgave me and loved me anyways, it was approved of at one point, AP bullied me and I couldn't say no, I asked BH for help to end things, but it was too uncomfortable for him, I tried to stop. At least a couple of times I ended things to then have AP ban me from their house for some reason or another. We never had sex, blah blah blah.
None of those things have the least bit of validity. We had an affair. I made choices, I kept going back for my drug. I lied, we snuck. I justified and minimized and when she started pulling away from the rest of the family I thought it was more about AP's spiraling mental illness and control of her than because of my betrayal. We didn't stop spending time together because of what I had done, it was because AP wouldn't allow anyone to come over.
I don't know if that makes sense. It helps to write it all out, but even as I am, I see so many contradictions and ... just... ugh... so much more to poke at, unravel and examine. I still feel like I'm full of shit half the time. I'm tired.