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Inner Critic

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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 4:29 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

My fWW has been diving pretty deep as of late into her own psyche. I find it to be a very encouraging sign, it’s the kind of work that I would expect her to do but have been concerned she would avoid, as she’s been a very non-introspective in her life. Lots of skeletons are being found in multiple closets. One really jumped out at me, she mentioned her "inner critic". She spoke of having voices that send negative messages, telling her she isn’t good enough, doesn’t have anything to add, isn’t pretty enough. Basically she’s been getting bombarded with negative feedback her entire adult life from a mysterious interior source. I asked her if she sometimes hears that inner critic as my voice, and she said yes.

I’m floored by this. I personally have no comparable experience. I am mostly self-confident, with some minor little brother complex stuff. My inner experience is quiet. She can’t believe that is true, she keeps testing it and asking me if my inner critic is really there or not. Again, it blows my mind, it’s not something I even knew was possible, and she probably didn’t know having inner quiet is possible.
I’m tempted to make all kinds of connections with this. Connections to her resentments and defensiveness and how tempting cotton candy admiration would look when she is constantly getting berated in herself.

I’m not trying in this to take away her responsibility for what she did. I’m posting this wanting to get feedback on other’s inner experience: is this a common thing that WS’s tend to share? Is this exactly the kind of thing that I would hope would come out of "the work" or am I getting my hopes up too much with this?

As always, much appreciated.

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

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Oldwounds ( member #54486) posted at 5:21 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

Is this exactly the kind of thing that I would hope would come out of "the work" or am I getting my hopes up too much with this?

I think it is still too early to tell, but a start of introspection is a start. As long as she continues that work and understand what makes her safer or whether that validation outside the M truly made her feel better or worse is also a part of the work.

After my wife’s A, that she kept secret a long time before her confession, she drew a line in the sand and suddenly considered all men were her enemy, including me for a while (speaking to those resentments). It was a start. She no longer wanted that kind of validation.

As to the inner critic, my wife described that her and all of her female friends have harsh inner critics on body image and self value. I don’t know if that applies to more common in one gender or the other, but I can say our MC seemed to understand it as well.

I also thought my wife was as confident with herself as I was with myself. The only thing that has ever crushed my ego, was her infidelity!

I agree, it’s not an excuse, but it was a part of the mindset. It adds a rationalization to their own mitigating factors in making a choice they know is wrong.

My wife’s FOO was as brutal or worse than her inner critic. Still, not an excuse, but it added to her mindset.

So, the counter is, what is to prevent that inner critic from making her vulnerable to similar choices in the future?

[This message edited by Oldwounds at 5:21 PM, Tuesday, March 7th]

Married 36+ years, together 41+ years
Two awesome adult sons.
Dday 6/16 4-year LTA Survived.
M Restored
"It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it." — Seneca

posts: 4721   ·   registered: Aug. 4th, 2016   ·   location: Home.
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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 6:03 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

As my brain ruminates on this, I want to make two clarifications

1) I don’t think we are talking about voices in her head that imply schizophrenia or something else like that. She is currently exploring material on complex PTSD and this is one element of that. And there is a lot of content easily found about "inner critic" that doesn’t extend to that level of mental health severity.

2) I conflated me being self confident with having a quiet inner experience. I kind of suspect those two things are related, but I’m actually not sure because I really didn’t know there was another option before the last few days. Either way, I’m not trying to make any personal judgments about it.

[This message edited by InkHulk at 6:04 PM, Tuesday, March 7th]

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

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NotBrokenJustBent ( new member #82733) posted at 6:27 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

Just chiming in that my WH also has an inner critic and I (BW) do not. It's been a common theme throughout our relationship since we were 18 that he doesn't feel good enough.

We're not broken, just bent
And we can learn to love again

posts: 29   ·   registered: Jan. 17th, 2023
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Oldwounds ( member #54486) posted at 7:18 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

1) I don’t think we are talking about voices in her head that imply schizophrenia or something else like that. She is currently exploring material on complex PTSD and this is one element of that. And there is a lot of content easily found about "inner critic" that doesn’t extend to that level of mental health severity.

2) I conflated me being self confident with having a quiet inner experience. I kind of suspect those two things are related, but I’m actually not sure because I really didn’t know there was another option before the last few days. Either way, I’m not trying to make any personal judgments about it.

Right, I didn’t read any mental disorder in that first post, or any judgement. It’s possible my answer sounded wacky instead, when I was trying to relate similar issues my wife had with how she saw herself in a negative light most of her life.

And again, I think this kind of introspection is a good start.

Married 36+ years, together 41+ years
Two awesome adult sons.
Dday 6/16 4-year LTA Survived.
M Restored
"It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it." — Seneca

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BearlyBreathing ( member #55075) posted at 7:25 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

I (BS) have always had that as well. My WS even said, in a moment of regret, that I was the worst person to betray since he knew I felt that way.
It’s something I’ve worked on since then with my IC and come a long way.

My WS was very confident..

So it’s a thing, but not something that causes one to cheat, IMHO.

Me: BS 57 (49 on d-day)Him: *who cares ;-) *. D-Day 8/15/2016 LTA. Kinda liking my new life :-)

**horrible typist, lots of edits to correct. :-/ **

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BluerThanBlue ( member #74855) posted at 7:48 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

I've had an inner critic most of my life, but it was on steroids when I was going through postpartum depression. I felt like I had the meanest girl I knew in high school giving me a scathing running commentary on everything I was doing throughout my day. Going to therapy, finding a support group, and going on medication for a few years really helped. Now I'm able to manage it very well on my own.

I’m not trying in this to take away her responsibility for what she did. I’m posting this wanting to get feedback on other’s inner experience: is this a common thing that WS’s tend to share? Is this exactly the kind of thing that I would hope would come out of "the work" or am I getting my hopes up too much with this?

As for whether most WSs experience this... I obviously don't know. If anything, my ex had an inner PR agent who told him that everything he did was flawless.

I also can't say whether your wife's "inner critic" contributed to her affair, but I can reasonably infer that it has enabled her defensiveness and stonewalling. Hopefully, your wife will start down the path of greater self-awareness, which will help her take accountability for her own actions and recognize how they've impacted you.

BW, 40s

Divorced WH in 2015; now happily remarried

I edit my comments a lot for spelling, grammar, typos, etc.

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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 7:58 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

I'm a WS and I want to chime in here just a bit. My childhood was spent in an abusive (physically, mentally, sexually, bullied, demeaned, raised by a narcissistic Mother and a sadistic brother ), neglectful (I was never protected from my abusers, in fact, it was made clear that I deserved it. I was made to apologize to my childhood rapist for "lying" about him raping me) and loss-filled (At 16, I lost my father, my uncle, my dog and my girlfriend within 3 months, failed school, and was told that my father dying wasn't a reason to not get my homework in on time) childhood. There wasn't anyone in my life that told me that I was a good person, that I deserved joy and success and happiness in my life. My life was meaningless, and so my only value and source of happiness was to do my job, which was to make others happy and make them feel worthy and whole. It ultimately was a large factor in the how/why of my affair.

I had no self-love, in fact, I really had no "self". Shortly (6 months?) before my affair began, I had a mental breakdown from having compartmentalized all that abuse for all those (49) years. I was later diagnosed with Complex PTSD, depression, anxiety, a condition similar to DID (multiple personalities, resulting from the abuse) and showed signs of borderline disorder (and while undiagnosed, I'm convinced I have ADD). At the end of the day, whereas most emotionally healthy people have a sense of self, of purpose, of worth, of integrity... I had a complete lack of all of those things.

I derived my value, as a human, as a father/husband/friend/family/co-worker/neighbor, by the praise and approval that others gave me. As long as I was being praised and liked and loved, I was okay. Knowing I was valuable to others made me feel special, and whole, and worth something. So I spent every second of every day being as wonderful as I could. I was the smart one, the funny one, the talented one, and everyone loved me because I worked hard to "hustle for my worth" (to quote Brene Brown).

But you know what happens when you derive your entire self-worth from others, and then, one day, that "stream of love" stops coming in? You fall apart. It feels as if someone cut off your oxygen and you can't breathe. Worse than that, lacking any praise or love from others, you are left with nothing but "voices/messages" that your wife mentioned. As you said, not actual voices as in "call the guys with the straight-jacket" sort of way, but constant thoughts of how horrible, useless, stupid, and unloved you are. It's a pain that reaches deep into your soul, and it is ugly, and evil, and full of lies and stories that you end up telling yourself, lies and stories that say that you are worthless, and using up food and oxygen that someone better than you could be using. I assume that in many ways, it is similar to how a BS feels comes D-day. It's that feeling of non-stop pain, loss, self-doubt. It's almost impossible to quiet that noise in your head that makes you suffer. A healthy person will dig deep inside themselves and remind themselves that they are worthy of better, of more. They will love themselves, and don't require anyone else to do so in order to know their value in the world. For a WS however, especially someone with a background similar to mine, we lack the skills to soothe and support ourselves. We don't know even know it exists as a possibility. The tools we have are based on survival, not thriving, not living.

At some point, the WS figures out that if they aren't getting the external praise and support they need, then they have to go get it. Maybe they go looking for it on their own, maybe it finds them. Either way, the minute someone else starts to feed them praise and appreciation, well, it's like giving a man that is lost in the desert a glass of water. It becomes all he think of, all he needs, and what would be a simple glass of water to anyone else becomes his entire reason, and ability, to survive. The fact that he has barrels of water at home doesn't mean anything because, either for real or in his mind, those barrels aren't available to him. This glass of water is however. We can argue all day long about whether that is "true" or even "rational" and it is probably neither, but what IS true is that the WS's mind sees it that way because it needs to see it that way. Otherwise, we're horrible people, not just for cheating, but just for existing.

To take things one step further, imagine taking that glass of water away from the thirsty man, and then driving him far out into the desert and leaving him there, with the clear message that drinking someone else's water was wrong. What now? He gets desperate. He gets angry. He gets defensive. He makes up stories about how it is others people's fault that he ended up like this so that he doesn't have to blame himself. And one of two things happens. Either he gets locked in the self-story that says he's the victim here, and goes off to find anyone that will share their water with them, or they dig deep, find some kernel of a reason to keep on existing and growing, and learn to find enough water for themselves to get out of the desert alive.

I am in year 7 of recovery. After many, many years of therapy, while I cannot say I have the love for myself that people such as yourself and my wife do, I do now have the ability to see my own value, to survive without relying on others for worth, and have a deep understanding of why I act and feel like I do, so that I can make choices and decisions that allow me to live a better life, and to love myself a little more each day. But I realize I'm "lucky". For every person like me, there are a hundred, maybe a thousand, that can't reprogram that brainwashing that trauma did to them. It's hard, it's painful, and it takes more effort and courage and a willingness to fail than I can even put into words.

One last thing. I think it is wonderful that you are exploring this aspect of your wife, just be careful. I can tell you that, from my own experience, it's very easy for someone like that to try and excuse it away. It turns the camera back on her and her pain, which can be a catalyst for you to show her love and remind her of her worth... things she desperately needs. But as you know, WS's are selfish and "all about themselves", so being supportive to her, comes with a high risk. The idea is to give her support, but not get lost in it, not get sucked into it, and to allow her to use your support as a complete replacement for her own. She needs to feel the hurt, and work through the pain. She needs to dig deep with a professional if possible, because if she doesn't understand herself, then she can't do/be better in the future. It's a tightrope to be sure. I know my wife's support and love helped me immeasurably. But it also hurt her just as much, as it delayed my ability to show empathy and compassion for her.

Best of luck to you.

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

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BallofAnxiety ( member #82853) posted at 8:21 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

I (BS) also have an inner critic I struggle to silence, especially about my physical appearance. I think it's pretty common, especially in women.

Like Blue, I suspect WH does not. He is the least self-aware person I have ever met.

With all that said, I, the spouse with the terrible inner critic remained faithful while WH, the spouse with the inner PR team cheated.

Me: BW. XCH: ONS 2006; DDay 12/2022 "it was only online," trickle truth until 1/2023 - "it was 1 year+ affair with MCOW." Divorced 4/2024.

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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 9:57 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

So, the counter is, what is to prevent that inner critic from making her vulnerable to similar choices in the future?

Assuming this is a contributor to her vulnerability to the A, which I think it is, this seems like exactly the kind of thing that one could identify and address with therapy, medication, and/or mindfulness. Some members are saying they have had success with that, which is hope giving to me.

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 10:03 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

It's been a common theme throughout our relationship since we were 18 that he doesn't feel good enough.

NOT ENOUGH

That phrase is what my wife has gone to so many times and seemingly over such minor stuff. Things that to me would have been minor aggravations sent her into a self pitying spiral, that I was an unreasonable jerk for having an opinion or asking something from her because CLEARLY what I really meant is she is not enough for me. That phrase is quite possibly a trigger now for me, it’s been weaponized against me. I can have pity for a person who feels that way inside, but damn is it destructive to those around them too.

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 10:09 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

I felt like I had the meanest girl I knew in high school giving me a scathing running commentary on everything I was doing throughout my day.

Wow, that sounds brutal. I can only imagine how psychologically draining that must be. BTB, I’m sorry you had to endure that. Thank you for helping me to understand this inner critic experience better.

Going to therapy, finding a support group, and going on medication for a few years really helped. Now I'm able to manage it very well on my own.

This is very hope giving. Are there any elements that you give particular credit to in your ability to manage? Is there medication targeted for this? Any books?

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

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Grieving ( member #79540) posted at 10:22 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

I have a pretty loud inner critic that I’ve worked hard over the years to retrain. My husband’s affair brought it back with a vengeance, and it’s just now starting to settle down some.

I don’t think my husband has as much of an inner critic, though he’s a reasonably introspective person. I think he’s struggled with a lot of shame and self-loathing post affair though.

Husband had six month affair with co-worker. Found out 7/2020. Married 20 years at that point; two teenaged kids. Reconciling.

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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 10:33 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

DaddyDom: wanted to start this off saying I’m so sorry that people abused and tortured you like that, you are a valuable human being and you deserved none of that, in fact you deserved the opposite. Thank you for being willing to share all that horror for the potential benefit of strangers. That is a truly virtuous thing to do.

I worked hard to "hustle for my worth" (to quote Brene Brown).

My wife has also strongly identified with this Brené Brown-ism. I’ve struggled to fully grasp it’s meaning, and you’ve helped me in that.

My wife has had this insatiable desire to be needed and praised. I’ve never understood it, I like being praised but not THAT much. I see it now as a major part of her poor boundaries, flattery could overwhelm her values. I hear that in OldWound’s story too, I think. So that needs to be fixed.

But you know what happens when you derive your entire self-worth from others, and then, one day, that "stream of love" stops coming in? You fall apart.

I’ve had to think about this part, because the love from me didn’t stop. I’ve always loved her, and always told her so. So why wasn’t it enough? I think it’s because it became mixed with life’s responsibilities, kids, bills, and because any conflict resulted in NOT ENOUGH, my love wasn’t a positive association anymore.

Either way, the minute someone else starts to feed them praise and appreciation, well, it's like giving a man that is lost in the desert a glass of water.

This word picture is very helpful. I can absolutely see my wife in that frame.

Great post, and then you still have room for…

To take things one step further, imagine taking that glass of water away from the thirsty man, and then driving him far out into the desert and leaving him there, with the clear message that drinking someone else's water was wrong. What now? He gets desperate. He gets angry. He gets defensive.

This is why I worry about being too harsh on my wife. I love the story of Les Miserables. At its core is a story of grace vs the law. A man punished for his crimes but then facing a lifetime of judgment he has no hope of escaping. Indeed, men and women become desperate in such situations, we all only have one life to live after all. So I choose to give my wife the grace that I would desire if our roles were reversed, while continuing to monitor for signs of further deception.

Thanks again for the post, it meant a lot to me.

[This message edited by InkHulk at 10:33 PM, Tuesday, March 7th]

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 11:13 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

I’ve had to think about this part, because the love from me didn’t stop. I’ve always loved her, and always told her so. So why wasn’t it enough? I think it’s because it became mixed with life’s responsibilities, kids, bills, and because any conflict resulted in NOT ENOUGH, my love wasn’t a positive association anymore.

Remember what we always say on SI, the affair wasn't about the BS (You are an innocent bystander), it is about the WS, start to end. In fact, and this may sound ass-backward at first, but your non-lack-of-love can be really, really hard for someone who hates themselves to accept. It breaks the paradigm of their life. You are supposed to "see who they really are" and leave. That didn't happen.

Each of us grows up with our own version of "normal", and that normal, no matter how awful, is comforting, because it's what we know best, what we expect, what we understand. For some, those who grow up in strife and trauma, that lifestyle IS "normal". It's what we know. When we reach for comfort, we reach for what we know. When what we know isn't available, we create it. Even when it's awful.

I can't speak for your wife, but for myself, I felt unworthy of love, and receiving love (real love, not just praise) always felt "wrong" to me somehow. Everyone I've ever loved has been lost to me, and yet, here was my wife, loving me. Which isn't right. "She shouldn't love me because I'm not loveable. So I need to do something about that. I need to PROVE to her that I'm unlovable, then she'll understand, then she'll believe, and then we can get back to business as usual. She'll treat me like shit, I'll be back to my normal, and everything will then make sense to my broken mind."

Just as an aside, it was my wife's love that helped me more than anything at the end of the day. The people I loved and lost (my Dad, my uncle, etc.) I never hurt, but they "left" me anyway. At the same time, here was someone I had decimated, and yet, she saw enough in me to stay, to still care, to still fight for a relationship for... and with counseling, I was able to see it, feel it, and embrace it. That's one of the things I keep going back to when I feel that doubt creep in. I worked hard to get where I am now, there's that too. It gives me something to be proud of, a feeling of accomplishment, and all those things together give me a reason to love myself at least a little bit.

I hope your wife finds the same. Giving up your normal is scary as hell. Even when your normal sucks. Never underestimate how hard that is. But if you can do it, the rewards are many. That trauma that I carried around for most of my life was like carrying an anchor around. Letting it go feels freeing, like I can breathe, like I can live, and like every day isn't a race to feed my ego. I can think of others instead, and that's a much nicer life to live.

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

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FinallyHappy ( member #308) posted at 11:53 PM on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

I don't know if there's a link to the inner critic concerning the whole BS vs WS angle, but I've had that inner critic for the majority of my life, and many (if not most) of my girlfriends do/did, too.

I can't help but wonder if it's more of a 'woman' thing than a 'WS' thing.

I'm very glad your wife is trying to explain it to you, because that is *very* hard to do. Especially if it's coming from someone who seems very competent and accomplished outwardly. I've talked to my husband about it, and he looks at me like I just grew another leg. laugh

"Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none." ~Ben~

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emergent8 ( Guide #58189) posted at 12:33 AM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

I agree with whoever said this is a good start to your wife digging in and figuring out her "whys".

I don’t think having an inner critic is an all/nothing thing (though it sounds like perhaps you and your wife are at different ends of the spectrum on this). I also don’t think it is something that is solely in the domain of a WS. Struggling with self-criticism is something that I’ve had issues with from time-to-time throughout my life. Not so much about what I look like (although sure, that too), but more with achievement. In some ways, the trait has been adaptive, and it led to be growing up to be a bit of an over-achiever. The flip is that it is virtually impossible to be good at everything all the time, and I struggle sometimes being kind to myself when I fail.

I definitely think my husband’s tendency towards being overly self-critical, and inability to give himself grace, was a significant contributor to his affair. I wont get into his entire FOO story but the short story is that he grew up in a rigid household that was very critical of mistakes or basically anything less than perfection, and when as a teenager he naturally started to rebel a bit (nothing crazy), his parents (who were very young and thought they were doing the right thing) literally kicked him out of the house for being a ‘bad influence’ on his much younger siblings. After a rough year which included some poor choices, my husband "hit rock bottom", begged his parents to let him come back home and was able to get his life back on track. He went back to school, upgraded a few of his high school grades, got into University and professional school and then got a great job and was crushing things. He was able to feel good about himself as long as things went well – and that worked for him (and again, was even adaptive) as long as things were going well. He derived his self-worth from his accomplishments and his productivity however, and only felt like he was worthy of love when he was "perfect" or achieving. When he screwed up however, it was like the sky was falling. He seemed to take it so personally, even little things could totally ruin his day.

So when he had a set-back at work which resulted in him being passed over for a promotion, he didn’t react like you or I or any normal healthy person would have, he totally catastrophized (recall, in his mind, "screwing up" resulted in his family literally abandoning him previously). Worst of all, for a number of reasons (shame/embarrassment, concern that I would also think less of him, me being wrapped up in my own family/work stressors around that time period), he didn’t tell me. The amount of self-shame he was experiencing at the time coupled with the fact that he derived his entire self-worth from external sources that seemed (to him) to have turned off, left him super vulnerable to the advances of a co-worker. Avoidance/compartmentalization was basically his only coping skill and since he was already compartmentalizing the shame of his professional setback, it was easy for him to keep the A in it’s own neat and tidy box too.

Obviously this wasn’t all of it – there is so much more to the story than this, but understanding all of it, helped the story of the A make sense to me. It really showed both of us how little the A had to do with me or with the AP, and how it had everything to do with him. Being able to see his pattern of maladaptive thinking and watching him work on and overcome this habit of being overly critical and catastrophizing whenever things weren’t going well (which, lets face it – was evident in all sorts of other places in our relationship), helped me to feel safe in our relationship. The more self-compassion he developed, the more honest and healthy we were.

My wife has had this insatiable desire to be needed and praised. I’ve never understood it, I like being praised but not THAT much.

This - the "need" for external validation - tends to be a really common trait in Waywards however the root of it is a little different in everyone.

I’ve had to think about this part, because the love from me didn’t stop. I’ve always loved her, and always told her so. So why wasn’t it enough? I think it’s because it became mixed with life’s responsibilities, kids, bills, and because any conflict resulted in NOT ENOUGH, my love wasn’t a positive association anymore.

Nope. You're making it about you. It's not about anything you did or didn’t do. It’s because no amount of external validation is ever enough unless you are able to love yourself first. Think of your wife as a soccer ball with a hole in it. It looks fine as long as air is constantly being pumped in it, right? But pumping air constantly isn’t realistic or sustainable or HEALTHY is it? The ball isn’t functional - especially if the hole expands and the ball starts to deflate even WITH a constant stream of air. She doesn’t become a whole person or a safe partner until she figures out how to patch the hole and self-inflate. Why? Because when you don't truly value yourself, it is impossible to understand how and why others love you. Their words/actions are meaningless. Self-compassion is vital to a healthy loving relationship. Like RuPaul says, "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love someone else?"

[This message edited by emergent8 at 12:48 AM, Wednesday, March 8th]

Me: BS. Him: WS.
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
Happily reconciled.

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emergent8 ( Guide #58189) posted at 1:18 AM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

Excellent posts, by the way, Daddydom.

Me: BS. Him: WS.
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
Happily reconciled.

posts: 2167   ·   registered: Apr. 7th, 2017
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leafields ( Guide #63517) posted at 1:58 AM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

I had a very bad inner critic, too. One of the mindfulness activities that I did for awhile was to do a daily journal of three sections. The first section was for me to write all of the negative self-talk I had during the day, or as much as I could remember. The second section was to read the first section and respond as a friend to the writer. The third section was for me to reflect and find a more balanced inner voice.

The other part that helped with this was meditation. The breathing exercises really helped with thought spirals (among other benefits). When I catch negative self-talk, I stop, take some cleansing breaths, and start over.

Another thing that helped, which also helped my self-esteem was doing some morning I Am Affirmations. There was a YouTube video that really resonated with me. It was about 10 minutes, and I did it every day for a couple of months. I had to teach myself that I am amazing, I am awesome, I am enough.

My XWH said he had a really bad inner critic, but he wasn't interested in changing.

BW M 34years, Dday 1: March 2018, Dday 2: August 2019, D final 2/25/21

posts: 3567   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2018   ·   location: Washington State
id 8781229
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CaptainRogers ( member #57127) posted at 3:15 AM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

As someone whose inner critic (or chatterbox as I eventually came to call it) ALWAYS demanded more & better, I can relate to part of your wife's issues.

I always played for the "roar of the crowd". Make an error...spend hours after the game working on it. Strike out in a pressure situation...take 250 swings in the cage. Miss a ball in the dirt...do an hour of blocking drills.

Mine started as an 8 year old playing with 10/11 year olds. Made an error that cost us a W in the championship game. It took me 35 years to stop trying to not make that error.

And over the years, the sound of the voice changed. It was my coach. It was my dad. It was my college coach. It was my wife.

Most often, it was me.

But what I learned (and what your wife needs to learn as well) is that the voice we hear doesn't matter. The roar of the crowd (external validation) doesn't matter. What matters is how we respond when the criticism comes on us and the crowd isn't cheering. THOSE actions are the ones for which we are accountable.

So whether it was a parent, a teacher, a coach, a spouse, or anyone else who gave voice to the critical words, SHE is responsible for her response to them.

And that means that you...have no responsibility for it whatsoever. None.

If hearing those criticisms were a 100% excuse for an A, I would have had one years ago. I had that chatterbox of "you're not good enough" in my head for DECADES. And the way my wife treated me for most of our first 20 years only exacerbated it. She has recognized her critical spirit and her attempts to manipulate and control, and she has apologized.

But never ONCE did I feel compelled to find solace in the arms of someone else. Because that wasn't in my character.

So, while her introspection and recognition of the inner voice is good, it isn't the "source" of the issues as they pertain to infidelity. She has to ultimately come to the realization that her moral-meter is somehow broken and that she has to be the one to figure out how to fix it.

I've discussed with Mrs. Cap more than once that her A floored me, not just from the betrayal perspective, but also because the person who would do that wasn't the one I thought I knew. But...it obviously was in her character somewhere to allow it to happen. So regardless of how many times I'm told "It won't happen again." what I really need is to know WHY it won't happen again. And whiteknuckled "because it won't" isn't a good enough answer. I need to know (and be reminded) of what has changed. That is the only thing that sets my mind closer to peace.

BS: 42 on D-day
WW: 43 on D-day
Together since '89; still working on what tomorrow will bring.
D-Day v1.0: Jan '17; EA
D-day v2.0: Mar '18; no, it was physical

posts: 3355   ·   registered: Jan. 27th, 2017   ·   location: The Rockies
id 8781234
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