I have been in IC right from the beginning. I have read a bunch of books. I've lurked on the boards quite a bit trying to gain some insight into my own broken self. At first I toyed with the idea that maybe I'm a sexual addict. It was proposed that maybe I was bi-polar. I even went to a psychiatrist and his official diagnosis was Anxiety and Impulse Control issues, for which I am on medication. After much pondering, I have concluded that, although lots of the symptoms of sex addiction and impulse control disorder definitely fit my patterns, I'm not entirely sure that's what drove me to do what I did.
I was a deeply unhappy person. Not because of anything BS did. Just because of me. And even as a young girl, I basked in male attention. So, if I ever needed a pick-me-up for my ego, I'd find someone to compliment me and make me feel pretty, interesting, special, etc.
So, years later, after I've evolved into this horribly unhappy person, rather than have to too closely examine the root of my discontent, I sought ways to distract myself from experiencing that pain.
And that was to revert to the patterns of my youth and look for validation from inappropriate sources. In the beginning, it seemed harmless enough. But it soon progressed to such a degree that I could no longer keep track of all the lies I was telling. And truth be told, I was more deeply miserable than ever.
The strange part is, it was never really about the sex for me. It was more that the sex was an eventuality of the flirting and the attention I was seeking.
Through this contemplation, it has caused me to wonder what other insights Waywards have had about themselves and to give them an opportunity to share. I started this thread because there really is no support group for people with the type of addiction I believe I have. And it occurred to me that there may be more of us out there (ie. on this website) than is commonly known.
So, please, Waywards, speak up. Post here. And tell the rest of us your story. Thanks in advance to all who participate. I think this will be a very beneficial and eye-opening thread.
[This message edited by ScarletA at 11:03 AM, April 6th (Sunday)]
"The grass is greener where you water it."
I think a lot of us were looking for that internal happiness that we felt we were lacking. We felt for various reasons that we needed something more for us to feel "special". I would have to wager that many of us WS's were unhappy with ourselves, and that deeply felt anguish and guilt lead us down the slope that we all traveled...If you can't find your own happiness, you seek it out, and that is the problem with all of us. Maybe the problem is always an internal one that leads us to our actions. Great post, and thanks...Keep viewing yourself and learn to be happy just the way you are...I am trying to learn that too...
PERSISTANCE IS THE ABILITY TO MAINTAIN ACTION REGARDLESS OF YOUR FEELINGS. YOU PRESS ON EVEN WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE QUITTING
In many ways, what you describe is very similar to how I felt. Although, I wouldn't describe myself as unhappy before the affair began. I would just say I was bored. But, worse than being bored, I was immature and ignorant. I had the notion that "in love" was a real feeling that we should all have all the time -- that the excitement of romance should always be there. I didn't understand that it takes work to make marriage work, and it takes a lot of work to stay "in love" with someone rather than merely staying infatuated with them.
I've explored many of the things you've explored and several others. The IC seems to throw out a new one every time I go in there -- sexual addiction, SLA, ADD, OCD, etc.
At the end of the day, it was just me being immature. All of a sudden, I had a younger, very attractive female telling me that I was hot, brilliant, and funny. My wife, if she said anything, would say that I "looked nice" or that I was successful. It was almost like the difference between admiration (from the other woman) and respect (from my wife). But, the admiration just made me feel a heck of a lot better. During the affair, I honestly thought I could get any woman in the world, because she had built me up so much in her own eyes, which caused me to be built up in my own.
Its like the author said in NOT "Just Friends", "the lure of an affair is how the unfaithful partner is mirrored back through the adoring eyes of the new love." That was so true for me.
The irony is that I didn't have low self-esteem before the affair. I didn't have high self-esteem either, but probably pretty normal. But, after getting close to the other woman, I craved her acceptance, approval, and validation for everything. So, I relied on her for my self-esteem. Now, trying to break the addiction from her, I definitely feel like I have very low self-esteem, and its not because of the shame or guilt that I feel from the affair. Its simply because I no longer have the admiration that I got from the other woman in the affair.
That's the best I can come up with as to why I did it and why I stayed in it.
Other than that, it was great sex, great fun, and great excitement that I no longer had within my marriage. But, I think those are the "typical" reasons that people seem to have affairs. They were all in play in my head as well, but the lengthy description I gave above is the best that I can come up with as to why I chose an affair rather than choosing to work on my marriage.
And even as a young girl, I basked in male attention.
I think that statement you made, Scarlet, reflects the core reason for why I chose to have an affair. I can even remember being 8 or 9 and going camping with my father and brothers and a few of my father's co-workers (and their children) and wanting very badly for the other daddies to like me. I find that memory pretty disturbing, to be honest.
Someone here at SI wondered if maybe I had some unresolved issues regarding sex due to molestation that occurred when I was younger...it really made me wonder. xOM and I had a very serious conversation about that and about my high school experiences as well. I remember thinking at the time that he was so amazing because he understood, and was so sad for me, and didn't want me to be that person blah blah blah. Looking back, I see that he didn't want me to be that person for other people, but certainly for him.
Thank you for your post, ScarletA. I haven't really allowed myself to explore why, I've been so very busy trying to block any thoughts about it at all.
"And I won't cry
If you can't love me
Like the way it used to feel.
We had our summer on Long Island
Now there's wounds that never heal."
(This is NOT an excuse...) I had a very difficult childhood. Because of the circumstances of my childhood, I grew up believing I am a bad person. Nobody could love me. I'm stupid and ugly. I CRAVED attention.
As long as other people were telling me I'm smart, pretty or funny, I was OK. So, I sought it out. It was like a drug.
You know? It's like if other people think I'm pretty and smart and funny, it must be true. Right?
I completely relied on other people's opinions of me to determine how I felt about myself. I always have.
Sadly, it took this for me to realize I have to learn how to accept myself.
Looking back, I realize that I was so terribly selfish and immoral. Because even with serious, even marriage ending problems, a decent, moral person would never had gone down the road of adultery. There was an honorable way to handle the problems, and I didn't do it. Oddly enough, at the time, I couldn't seem to see clearly, and didn't see my options, for honesty, divorce, for counseling, etc.
Someone else said that they had always needed attention and basked in attention from men. I was the same way, looking back, and wonder why. I didn't want their direct attention, but I wanted to look 'hot' all the time. I'm not sure why I was that way, but realize that I was that way for as long as I can remember until the A was over.
I spend waaaaaaaaaay too much money on clothes, and I spend a lot of time primping myself before I go out. When I leave home, I always know that I look nice, but I crave the compliments that I get from others. The "you look very nice today" or something like that is still a bump I crave from day to day.
To this day I can't understand why I need this validation. Even when I'm primping, I'm telling myself, "You're just doing this so someone will compliment you" and yet I can't stop myself. I've identified the problem, but I'm still working on fixing it.
My husband and I have been together for 14 years (married for 11). We've had our share of fights. I've made a lot of mistakes during the past 14 years. My husband has seen me at my absolute worst.
With the OM, I had a "clean slate". They didn't know anything about my past mistakes. Plus the fact that it was on the internet and we never actually met in person, I was able to portray what I wanted. I only showed the good side of me. They saw me as this perfect person. And that's how I wanted to see myself.
Does that make any sense?
[This message edited by LoveProfusion at 6:26 PM, April 6th (Sunday)]
Thanks again, Scarlet and thanks to all the WSs for your great replies!
Seeking for external validation - low-self esteem/abandonment issue/co-dependency.
Having a safty net (FOPs) is like I feel safe and not get abandoned.
Oh yes. SELFISH. Started off as a part of H's fantasy and became a part of our M life. I then took pre-approved EMR for granted and then I became very selfish person on the planet!!
[This message edited by beach at 7:49 PM, April 6th (Sunday)]
I flat out had no "excuse" whatsoever:
1. never been abused...idyllic childhood...wonderful family
2. no "sex addiction history" never been with anyone other than my loving, faithful Husband.
3. never in my life done without one thing - no financial difficulties
4. NEVER touched drugs, abused alcohol, smoked or been depressed....
5. great self image...
SO...WHY did I have a 2-year A?
First time working full-time in many years....got a lot of attention..started flirting...
I was having a whopping good time....midlife issues....and as much as I hate to say it, I LOVE being the center of attention. I was always the popular, beauty queen prima donna in high school and college and I just hadn't gotten over it....heck I love a mirror...(I'm being shamefully transparent to you guys) and OM played me like a fiddle.
I think questions like this make us all see how there is NO excuse for having an A...ever AND regardless of how wonderful our lives can be, we are all susceptible...
I can never innocently flirt again...I know I can fall. I will forever be on guard...I just wish i had been before the A
You can blame it on my immature parents, I had them. You can blame it on predatory OM, I had them. You can blame it on lack of communication skills coupled with weak will. I had them too. You could even say that there is evil in this world that whispers that "you deserve this" and I would say yes, there is that too.
But when it comes down to it, I made the bad choices. I did it. Me. Imperfect me. Hurting me. Angry passive agressive me. Immature me.
I hate it. I will always look back and be happy that I have grown so much from this mess, but what a terrible thing to put my H through. I hate that I didn't work on me. I hate that I didn't learn what I know now. I hate it that I didn't suggest C right when I started to feel like we were getting distant.
My perspectives were so skewed that I am amazed sometimes that I was able to function. Even today I have to try very hard to see and or find out what's really going on instead of what horrible things I make up.
Anyway, I would say in a nutshell, it was just me, taking the wrong path. I own it.
I completely relied on other people's opinions of me to determine how I felt about myself. I always have.
It's a life with no real foundation on which to base decisions of what's right or wrong, what's good or bad, what has consequence. A life of complete selfishness with no ability to really care about the consequences your actions have on others because you don't want to think about how they might feel. A life dedicated to hedonism sprinkled with sycophantic behaviours to curry favor and get more in return. A life of sucking life-force from others because that is what is believed to be needed to stay alive (which is ironic because it is exactly the opposite of what really gives life). A life of taking rather than giving. A life focused on ME rather than on YOU. The unwillingness to expose your inner self, your tender soul to another because the fear of having it hurt is too great so instead you try to take it from someone else. A life lived in immaturity where it seems easier to hide from your decisions and choices rather than stand up and proclaim who you are, what you want and what you stand for then exert the honest effort to strive to achieve those things, even at the risk of failure (rather than skulk around and make excuses for not trying).
There's lots more.
The keys to sorting out this mess are 1) admit to it; 2) be honest with yourself and others; 3) decide what you want and declare it publicly (don't live a life of secrecy); 4) work honestly towards that proclamation.
So, if I ever needed a pick-me-up for my ego, I'd find someone to compliment me and make me feel pretty, interesting, special, etc.
You described my H ..... his A was one giant ego stroke. Why he felt this way I don't know .....he got plenty of attention at home , praise ,etc- ....
my H has always enjoyed "female attention" .....I KNEW that when I married him .....I thought that part of him would change with marriage ....boy was I wrong !
A lot of his behaviour can be traced back to his upbringing ....his constant belittling (sp) from his parents and his strong need for thier approval....
In my H's case , it is very deep rooted. we talk about it and he "see's" *why* he looks for this external validation.
Robert Louis Stevenson
And so the A, for me, was like - as it is often compared here - a drug. After all, in my twisted way of thinking at the time, my BW had to tell me she thought I was handsome or smart or anything like that... because she was married to me, and that's what you say, right? (It didn't matter that I told her she was beautiful and sexy and intelligent because she really was... those kind of things weren't true about me, right?) But the OW... she had no reason to think those things. So maybe... if she thought them... they were true?
Not really... once the A started, it was like a steep downhill slope, and I had a choice. I could run downhill at breakneck speed, abasing myself more and more, acting more and more reprehensibly... or I could start the long, hard climb back up to my M and my BW. Needless to say, I chose the latter. Almost for too long. Now I'm on the long, hard climb back up. It's worth it - I don't think it's not even for a second. And in the process, I'm taking a much healthier view of myself, my M, my life, all of it. A much more balanced view. One in which the negatives no longer outweigh the positives.
But it's still hard sometimes. Because as much as I look back and see and know that I am not the same person I was during my A... it's still me, you know? A better me, a healthier me, a more positive and honest and open me... but I am still Jekyll, still the man who became a WS, who had an A. I know I will never do it again. But I still haven't forgiven myself for doing it at all.
"Every hill that's worth the climb will always be too steep."
- Wild Colonials