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Wayward Side :
How do I get over the fear of losing him?

Topic is Sleeping.
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 redwoodforest (original poster new member #83671) posted at 8:35 AM on Saturday, August 5th, 2023

I posted nude pictures of myself (never any face) and would sometimes respond to men's messages encouraging them to be sexual with me online without telling my partner. I did this...well, god, if only it were easy to explain why. I was used to being hurt during sex and my partner didn't hurt me. So I went online to find men who would talk about hurting me. I don't want to go too into detail, but what some of them said to me was genuinely horrific. The sexting was not enjoyable and was honestly traumatic considering the nature of it.

He found out 6/26. So, yeah, still very fresh and raw. He found a paper I had forgotten about with my verification information for a nsfw forum. So he saw the account I used. He saw everything except the private messages, and I've honestly explained what they're about. I don't think he needs to read the actual sexting I think that would probably just be upsetting. There wasn't really anything else there. There was no "other man". There were men for maybe an hour at most before I blocked them. Again I cannot stress enough how much even though I did this I didn't enjoy it. Not that that lessens the hurt I caused or anything, I just think it's important to know I am going to have a healing process from this too in some ways. It was me trying to recreate my trauma.

I understand what I did is extremely upsetting to think about in more ways than one, how he found out is extremely upsetting, the fact that I did it for so long (on and off two years) is extremely upsetting.

We're both in individual therapy discussing couples counseling once we're more ready. He says he wants to try to make it work, that he still loves me and enjoys spending time with me. He's also so, so hurt.

I know I very well might lose him over this. Hell, I probably will. I've been obsessively googling infidelity statistics and reading stories. I know there's only a slim chance of this working out. I really fear the pain I caused is going to be too deep to ever have a meaningful relationship again.

I want to try with him though. We both say we want to try because our relationship is important to us. How do I get over the intense fear of losing him? Every day I look at him I wonder how much time I have left. Every day I wonder if I am being selfish by trying and letting him try. Wouldn't he ultimately be happier with someone other than me now?

I believe people can change and I have promised him and myself I will never do it again. I am working with therapists to make sure it doesn't. I am being honest. I also can't stop myself from reading comments and articles of people saying things like "once a cheater always a cheater" and saying any relationship is doomed forever after cheating.

Its been hard. I can only imagine the hell he is going through.

Please no private messages.

posts: 25   ·   registered: Jul. 31st, 2023
id 8803370
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suddenlyisee ( member #32689) posted at 6:25 PM on Saturday, August 5th, 2023

Redwood -
No stop sign, BS here.
Getting over the fear of losing him shouldn’t be a goal.. It should be a motivator.
As you’re newly working through this, you have to work with what you have.
You have to face your past trauma in a healthy way, in counseling. You’ll need to understand how you brought your past trauma into this relationship - likely in a level of secrecy, like most of us do. That eats at you and reinforce the trauma and the feeling of shame or isolation associated with it.
You need to understand how that isolation sent you down the road to developing the terrible mechanism you used to cope with that previous trauma. Because you repeatedly used that mechanism in secret, you probably also need to be honest with yourself about how that coping mechanism played out in real life, too.. If you were acting out in the virtual world, it’s more than likely that there were situations IRL where you searched this behavior out. If there are and you’re minimizing those because that didn’t get quite as explicit, you should unpack that.
You need to find the courage to bring all of that into the open, and finally share it with someone, so that you’re both deciding the future in a basis of fact. Don’t take shortcuts. You’d both be far better off being healthy and alone than taking shortcuts just to feel better now.
That’s going to take time and it’s all going to feel counterintuitive, when all you want is for it to be ‘better’, or ‘over’ or ‘in the past’
There’s still a good deal of information that is invisible to him in private messages, feelings you have that you might not yet have the skill to share and there’s obviously uncertainty for both of you. You might think that keeping it to yourself is better, to protect him, but if you really assess that, it’s probably more self-protective. He needs to process the whole truth as much as you do.
You’ve said in other threads that you’re confident that you won’t do it again because it’s out there and you’ve promised everyone you won’t. But, ‘want’ doesn’t change behavior - work does. You need to rebuild your relationship to your trauma before you’ll be healthy enough to rebuild your relationship with him.
I know this will sound crazy to you right now, but therapy and honesty - no matter how awkward, brutal or heart wrenching - can’t make your situation worse. If you’re transparent and truthful and authentic, your BS will know it. That’s the first step to becoming a safe partner.
You’re worth the work.

Semi-pro BS in R

posts: 493   ·   registered: Jul. 6th, 2011   ·   location: Michigan
id 8803426
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 redwoodforest (original poster new member #83671) posted at 7:06 PM on Saturday, August 5th, 2023

Thank you for the response. I agree therapy has been very helpful. Yesterday my therapist and I decided if I am having emotions about this that I will remove myself to my car so I can feel them without it being put on him, because that's not fair to either of us now.

Thanks for the reminder that this will take hard work and my actions will have to speak for themselves. Your response did make me feel better. I have a lot of anxiety, and I think this is triggering it in a way I haven't experienced in a long time. I can only hope it'll be a good time to learn a lot of valuable coping skills.

Keeping busy has helped. I was thinking of trying not to let myself think about it outside of set times so maybe it won't affect me so constantly.

Please no private messages.

posts: 25   ·   registered: Jul. 31st, 2023
id 8803430
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 7:20 PM on Sunday, August 6th, 2023

No matter what one's feelings may be, the best a person can do is 'the next right thing'. You can't retract your actions. The best you can do is to think, talk, and act honestly now and in the future. There isn't much more, if anything, that one can ask of oneself.

Sure, it may be easier to act honestly while feeling good, but it's eminently possible to act honestly when feeling awful about oneself, too.

Human beings can think while they're scared. You're a human being.

I urge you to give up trying to control the outcome. Be honest. Hope your BS is honest. Remember that you can thrive after infidelity, even if you split; that's true even for a WS, if you get authentic.

If there are things you are afraid of sharing, my reco is to consider setting up a joint IC session with you, your partner, and your IC, and perhaps his IC, too.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 7:21 PM, Sunday, August 6th]

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 29994   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8803489
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waitedwaytoolong ( member #51519) posted at 12:57 AM on Monday, August 7th, 2023

I believe people can change and I have promised him and myself I will never do it again.

The fact you recognize what you did was wrong, and are working to change through therapy is great, but when you are in a committed relationship you basically promised him that you wouldn’t have done what you did. Yet you did it anyway. So promises don’t hold much weight with most betrayed spouses. You do seem sincere, and sound like you want to change.

The pull of these kind of postings are very powerful. It’s not that easy to just stop. One lonely night alone and you could be right back at it. Much easier than an actual physical affair that requires more work.

I suggest that you not only share your social media with him, or cut it out entirely. So if you are on Reddit or any other social sites, cancel your account and if you must create one in both your names.

I am the cliched husband whose wife had an affair with the electrician

Divorced

posts: 2170   ·   registered: Jan. 26th, 2016
id 8803518
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lrpprl ( member #80538) posted at 9:29 AM on Monday, August 7th, 2023

There is no stop sign so I will throw my two cents into the conversation. What I am about to tell you is something I wish I had learned many decades ago. It probably would have saved me many headaches.

It is this. You cannot control another person’s actions except maybe by force or threats. I know all people know this, either consciously or subconsciously. But most of the time we never think about it. I have been reading and studying Stoicism philosophy for the past couple of years. That is the very first thing I learned in my studies.

In recovery programs for addicts or alcoholics I understand that the "Serenity Prayer" is used. The prayer states that one should try change the things one can change for the better; let go of trying to change things one cannot change; and develop the wisdom to know the difference between the two. That prayer is so powerful in its message.

In your opening post you state that he saw everything except the private messages. You are trying to control his state of mind and emotions when you say, "I don’t think he needs to read the actual sexting. I think that would probably just be upsetting". However, in a situation where infidelity has occurred, or is now occurring, it is my opinion that a betrayed spouse has a right to know every detail he wants to know or believes he needs to know in order to make the decision he believes is the right one for him… either to divorce or to reconcile.

You state that reconciliation is his goal. You need to think what may happen if you two are a couple of years down the road in reconciliation and he finds out about it at that time. There is a concept in affair recovery called "Trickle Truth" where upon learning new information about the affair tends to set the betrayed spouse’s healing back to day one.

In the Healing Library on this site in the Discovery/Confrontation section there is an article that explains why the betrayed spouse needs this information. It is called "Joseph’s Letter". Here is the link:

https://survivinginfidelity.com/documents/library/articles/discovery/joseph-letter/

When we consciously begin to think that the only person we can control is ourselves is when we begin to start letting go of the outcome. That brings more peace of mind than when we try to control the actions of other people. We gain some control over ourselves, which is what we should always strive to be doing.

The question then becomes how we can do this if everything around us is in chaos, and we can’t think straight. I can only tell you how I try to do it. When my emotions are controlling my present actions I try to remember to ask myself this question… "at this very moment in time what can I do and what can’t I do?".

For instance, this past week my wife and I both had some expensive car problems. For different reasons neither car would run.

So, the questions I asked myself several times last week was, "what is the best thing I can do right now at this point in time?". "What are the things I have control over at this time?". "What are the things I have absolutely no control over?". Asking those questions forced me to begin listing different options I needed to address in order to take care of the situation. I won’t go into the specific questions I asked or the actions I took because that would get me off topic.

So, in letting go of the fear you now have that you will lose him there are some actions you need to take right now. There are a couple of books everyone should read because they have some great wisdom that you now need.

"Not Just Friends", by Dr. Shirley Glass.

"How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair", by Linda MacDonald.

Both books have been around for some time, but both are available from the internet in different forms.

It is good that both of you are in individual counseling. You both should do as much individual healing as possible before even thinking about marriage counseling. You especially need to do a lot of introspection and healing because of the nature of the sexting in which you engaged. Your past trauma really needs to be addressed with a counselor who is very well versed in healing trauma.

One question I am curious about is did your husband have any idea of your proclivity for being hurt during sex? Was this subject ever discussed at any time before your cheating began?

If this sexual proclivity, or quirk, or need is all new to him, learning about it now is really going to rip his insides out. He is probably wondering who this person is that he married. Not just a cheater, but also a cheater with an unusual sexual need or desire. It is going to make this much harder for him to get past and accept you for who you are. However, it is my opinion he should know this now instead of some distant time in the future. I am sorry if this comes across as harsh, as I meant it in the best way possible.

A statement by waitedwaytoolong said it very well when he said

"The pull of these kind of postings are very powerful. It’s not that easy to just stop. One lonely night alone and you could be right back at it. Much easier to do than an actual physical affair that requires more work."

You are going to need individual counseling for a very long time, in my opinion.

A statement by suddenlyisee is very wise…

"You need to find the courage to bring all of that into the open, and finally share it with someone, so that you’re both deciding the future in a basis of fact. Don’t take shortcuts. You’d both be far better off being healthy and alone than taking shortcuts just to feel better now".


My advice is to work on being the best you can each and every moment of every day. The outcome will be what it will be. You did the best you could and that is all that anyone can ask.

Also, try to accept that the outcome may not be what you want it to be. However, if you do the very best you can to help heal yourself, and he does the very best he can to heal himself, I believe that healthy reconciliation can occur, but it is going to take the best effort and motivation for both of you.

Good luck to you.

posts: 284   ·   registered: Aug. 12th, 2022   ·   location: USA
id 8803547
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lrpprl ( member #80538) posted at 1:15 PM on Monday, August 7th, 2023

I need to apologize for something I kept saying in the previous post to you. I went back and re-read your original post. I see where you refer to your SO as your partner... not your husband. I mistakenly assumed that you two were married.

Everything I wrote applies whether or not you are married or just significant others. Just live your best life moment by moment and have faith that all will work out in the end the way it was supposed to work out.

Please keep posting. Good luck.

posts: 284   ·   registered: Aug. 12th, 2022   ·   location: USA
id 8803557
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 redwoodforest (original poster new member #83671) posted at 1:53 PM on Monday, August 7th, 2023

Thanks again for all the responses. These past couple days I've managed to let go a lot of the gutteral overwhelming anxiety. Still thinking and feeling a lot but it's more manageable for sure.

We had a really good long talk last night. It made me feel a lot better about a lot of things. I think we have a long road ahead of us but this is bringing to light a lot of things we were too scared to communicate about and we are now.

If there's anything we know right now it's that we love each other and neither of us are going anywhere. There's a lot of therapy and hard conversations in my future but I still have my best friend, despite everything. I cannot underestimate how lucky I am.

Please no private messages.

posts: 25   ·   registered: Jul. 31st, 2023
id 8803564
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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 5:08 PM on Tuesday, August 8th, 2023

You've received a lot of great responses here. I'd like to add a little perspective that may help you along your way.

One of the most difficult things for most WS's is to get themselves out of the self-focused frame of mind that got them into trouble in the first place. After Dday, I wrote my wife letter after letter, pouring my heart out to her, apologizing, telling her how much I loved her and how I wanted the best for her and how I knew we could make it work together, so on and so on. And every time, she basically threw the letter(s) back at me and told me it's still "all about me" and had nothing to do with her. This confused the living shit out of me for the longest time, because I felt that my letters could not have been more caring or compassionate than they already were. I simply didn't understand how "I love you and I will never stop trying to save our marriage" was a bad thing to say. But it was. And it did SO MUCH damage to our relationship that it is hard to even put into words.

I mention this to you because I see in your words many of the same mistakes that I (and frankly, most every WS here) made early on. If you can begin to get a grasp on what it is your BS needs from you in this time, it could save you both a lot of pain and help your reconciliation efforts immeasurably.

Let's take your title as a simple example.

How do I get over the fear of losing him?

This is fair question, and a reasonable fear, to some degree. But it's not a clear point of view. There is no ownership in this statement. There is very little reality in fact. And it lacks compassion for him and his experience. In order to help explain what I mean, consider this sentence:

I drove my car into a wall last night. This morning, I'm worried I may have damaged the car.

Someone else reading that might suggest that you "already did" damage the car. It's not something you need to worry about doing, as you've already done it. The question now is "what are you going to do about it"?

When you say you are worried about losing your husband, it doesn't really reflect the reality that you've already thrown your marriage, your husband included, out the door. In other words, through your own actions, you've already lost him, because you disposed of him. You can't lose what you've already thrown away.

Stop and think of what/how your husband felt when he learned what you did, when he saw those nude photos of you being sent to strange men, when he read you asking about BDSM, when he learned that you were living a double life, one built entirely around the practice of betraying him, lying to him, hiding things from him, and at the same time, giving to other men the very things you were keeping from him. Do you think he thought to himself, "Gosh, I might be losing my wife?". Or did he think, "Holy shit. My wife has left me. She doesn't love me, doesn't even want me, kicked me to the curb like a chump and started offering up her goodies to complete strangers because she can't even conceive of wanting those things with me?"

Marriage is a contract. And marriage is work. And when you break that contract, when you work against it, it means the marriage is OVER. It's like dropping a raw egg on the floor, you can't put it back together again. It makes no sense for you to fear losing your husband when you threw him away in the first place. Understand? Worse yet, from his point of view, your emotions and actions are still very selfish. You didn't say, "I'm worried I did so much damage to my husband that he may never be happy again. I worry that I may be more of a danger to him than a help. I worry that I broke his ability to ever trust anyone ever again. I'm worried that I've hurt him so deeply that he may never fully recover." Now THAT's about HIM, not YOU. It's not about making you feel better about what you did and undo what you broke. It's about caring for someone else's pain unselfishly, with empathy and compassion. He doesn't need your apologies, they don't help. He needs to know you understand what you did and how it affected him, and he needs to know that you understand why you did those things to him. If you don't, then all of his suffering is not only painful, but also meaningless, which is a hundred times worse.

Now, to be clear, it not my intention to make you feel badly about yourself or what you did. I'm a WS too, we all are here, and we all did the same things as you did, and face the same outcomes. My intention is to help you understand what actually happened, because until that happens, you can't really progress.

The things you've written so far (very much like the "all about me" letters I wrote my wife) are still very much all about you. Staying together is an outcome that YOU want. It is what YOU feel would be BEST for HIM. But let's be honest, it's what is best for YOU. If your best friend came to you and told you that her husband was sending dick pics to strange women and asking them to spank him, would you respond to her, "Hey, he sounds like a peach and is probably the best thing for you ever, you'd better stay with that prince." No, of course not. You tell her that he's trouble. That he clearly does not love or respect her. That she should consider dumping his ass and finding someone else truly worthy of her. So what if he's really sorry? It didn't bother him enough to not do it this time, so why suddenly believe it will be enough next time?

So I ask the same of you. What about staying with his cheating wife is what you think is best for him? Why should have to do the work of R with you when he did nothing wrong in the first place, how is that a bonus for him? What about you has changed so very much that you could not possibly ever cheat again? If you truly love him and want what is best for him, then how can you possibly suggest that staying in a broken marriage is the best path forward?

These are the things you need to get through your head now. This isn't a loving marriage that is facing a new challenge. This is a destroyed marriage, and the person who destroyed it isn't even fully aware yet of why/how she's so broken and how to go about being a safer partner. Your husband cannot trust you yet because he has no reason to do so. He did so before and look where it got him.

If your goal is to try and save the marriage, then your first step is to figure out your "Why's". Why did you have an affair? And I don't mean, "Because you wanted to". I mean, what in your life allowed you to lower your standards so very much that tossing your own dignity and self-respect out the window (as well as your loving husband and the marriage) right out the window for a cheap thrill? What drove you to become a liar, a betrayer, and to live a double life? Those are not small things! Those are BIG problems! Until you fix yourself, until you understand yourself, then nothing changes. You remain a danger to him and yourself.

Please keep coming back. Infidelity is a shit-show all around, and both the WS and the BS have trauma to get over, work to do, and new paradigms to accept. I am in year 7+ of R with my wife. For the first few years, I did everything wrong, and it caused so much damage. Once I pulled my head out of my ass, got my perspective and my empathy back, it opened up huge doors towards successful R, and you can too. But it starts with the self. Get a good IC, and work with them to determine how and why you are where you are now. It may not save your marriage. But it will save your life.

[This message edited by DaddyDom at 12:33 PM, Wednesday, August 9th]

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."

posts: 1436   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8803686
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SkipThumelue ( member #82934) posted at 12:19 PM on Wednesday, August 9th, 2023

redwoodforest,

Lots of sage advice here, and once again DaddyDom hits it out of the park. I just wanted to emphasize on how important, and how incredibly scary, it is to let go of the outcome.

The one thing that I managed to do right on DDay was to tell my BW everything. Not just concerning the EAP whose "anonymous" letter she was holding in her hand while confronting me, but about the PAs, other EAs, OLD profiles, chatting, secret apps and emails, etc. The whole hellish 9 yards. I gave her an initial timeline to her specifications and when she wanted to know more later (which she did), I told her as much detail as she wanted.

The one thing among many that I absolutely regret is not self-confessing. She has told me how much that would have meant to her if I did.

Please, let him see those PMs if he needs to. And keep working hard on yourself, which in turn will make you safer for him or perhaps another partner down the road.

Keep posting and I truly wish both of you the best.

WH

DD: 5/2019

Reconciling and extremely grateful.

I do not accept PMs.

"The truth is like a lion. You don't have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself." - St. Augustine

posts: 129   ·   registered: Feb. 24th, 2023
id 8803763
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 redwoodforest (original poster new member #83671) posted at 5:27 PM on Wednesday, August 9th, 2023

Thanks again for the replies. We had a long talk and he says he does not want to see the messages. He said he feels he knows what he needs to know for now and I will keep it open if that changes.

Things have been better. Not great, but better. I've been going to therapy and journaling a lot, but I've been trying to get myself back into hobbies as well. He's going to switch therapists as he doesn't love the one he started seeing. He's okay, says he doesn't have a lot of thoughts just feelings. I'm trying to encourage him to share them with someone else, doesn't have to be me, but I don't know if he's ready. We've been able to have some good nights where we cuddle and laugh and enjoy each other's company too.

I have let go of a lot of the overwhelming anxiety I initially felt. I don't know how often I'm going to be posting on here, but I will keep you all updated. Hopefully things continue to improve as the months pass.

Please no private messages.

posts: 25   ·   registered: Jul. 31st, 2023
id 8803806
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SkipThumelue ( member #82934) posted at 2:15 PM on Wednesday, August 16th, 2023

redwoodforest, how are things going?

WH

DD: 5/2019

Reconciling and extremely grateful.

I do not accept PMs.

"The truth is like a lion. You don't have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself." - St. Augustine

posts: 129   ·   registered: Feb. 24th, 2023
id 8804569
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 redwoodforest (original poster new member #83671) posted at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, August 16th, 2023

Things are going okay. Hard days and good days. We've gone on a couple of really fun dates. We're usually able to talk about it without it ruining the whole day. Some days we don't talk about it at all, some days it's really a focus, other days one of us mentions one thing and the other shuts down. But more normal days than not I'd say.

Things definitely feel a little different, but intimacy is slowly returning. I still worry he's not getting enough support but there's not much I can do besides continue to help him find a good therapist and encourage him to talk to people other than me.

I've started to focus less on resources for people who are unfaithful and more on resources for those with sexual trauma and I think both have been very helpful. I'm learning a lot about the way I think and behave.

I have had the urge to message men, of course. It was so habitual. I haven't though. I haven't and it feels good to have control over it for once.

So, yeah. Things aren't ideal. There's days he's incredibly irritable and days he's sad and there's days I'm feeling bad too. I feel hopeful overall though. More days than not we laugh and cuddle and enjoy each other's company. I think as we work in IC things will continue to improve as well.

Please no private messages.

posts: 25   ·   registered: Jul. 31st, 2023
id 8804588
Topic is Sleeping.
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