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Self-Forgiveness/Acceptance - ideas?

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RockyMtn posted 5/29/2013 15:36 PM

My therapist and I believe my biggest obstacle to R and moving on is that I have a lot of self-hate (or at least lack of self-acceptance) around the decision to stay in my M. I feel negatively about people (especially women) who choose to stay with unfaithful partners, so I feel negatively about myself <I know I just insulted like 50% of the people in this forum, but it is how I feel and I totally admit its a character defect to judge others or myself in this way - hence why I'm trying to work through it>

So - she thinks I should go on a year-long journey of some sort (my birthday is coming up, so that's why she thinks a year). She thinks I need to find a way to express myself, not via writing or talking necessarily (those are easy for me and we're looking for something to push me). Artistic expression, ritual, something like that. She and I agree that I am very logical, very analytical. But my emotions are keeping me in R, wanting to save my M. My emotions are also what makes me want to leave my M and start over at times. As such, focusing on my thoughts is not really helping me come to terms with my decision to stay because, really, I don't totally understand my feelings. I have to get to those feelings, own them, release them, whatever.

I know others have to go through a big journey of self-acceptance in this - either because their self-esteem got shot (mine didn't, thankfully) or because they feel like a doormat (that's me). What have others done to pull yourself out of the abyss of non-acceptance?

I am really into yoga - that started after d-day. So I'm wondering if there is something I can do with that. Picking an asana (pose) each day, learning about it, tying a feeling to it (i.e. warrior II makes me feel like a badass!), relating it to self-acceptance? Another idea I had was to take a rock each day, write a feeling on it and saving it. Maybe just identifying the feelings will help (so that I'm not so bogged down by just thoughts and judgment). And then on my birthday in 2014, throwing all of those rocks into the river/lake - accepting those feelings, letting them go and moving on?

Other ideas? I know this is kind of a strange post, but I think my therapist is onto something and I want to go to my next session with lots of ideas.

tired girl posted 5/29/2013 15:54 PM

I sat back with one foot out the door and watched his actions and had no problem with the fact that I was doing that.

Do you feel a need to be
"all in" with R right now? If you are not ready to accept being in R right now, then do you have to be?

thisissogross posted 5/29/2013 22:42 PM

I struggled with this as well. Spent lots of therapy hours on the topic. I don't have specific ideas for rituals or anything, but your post reminded me of a book I read.

It's 'inner work' by Johnson and it was valuable to me in many ways. It isn't focused on forgiveness of any type, more on balance. Anyway, it's definately woo-woo (my term for 'hippy-dippy' or 'ethereal' I guess) but the exercises led me to some really great tools and explorations and I certainly experienced that book as a journey. It led me to consider things I never would have otherwise and get in touch with aspects of myself I never could have fathomed.

Maybe a goal oriented journey with books? Like one a month for 12 months-writing down a realization each led to about yourself or situation, and release those in a ritual on your next birthday? Idk, I told you I suck with those ideas

At any rate I wish you lots of luck RockyMtn, this was quite the war in my head. It required a lot of exploration on my part to determine why I felt as I did and a little more to sort my contrary urges. Was difficult and weird and worth it. Godspeed.

still-living posted 5/30/2013 03:08 AM

Your D-Day is fairly recent so I agree with tired girl. You can picture yourself with having one foot out the door because this is more the reality.

Also what helped me. I wanted my kids to know that I gave it my best attempt to save the marriage. My wife stepped up to the plate as well. What I learned during our recovery is that you can walk with pride and not care about what other people think.

What your therapist suggests also sounds good. You still must be yourself and compensate with positive action. I turned to exercise and some auto building and it helped me. Interestingly, auto building was my passion, so I thought. I've changed and I'm very less interested in it now.

GraceisGood posted 5/30/2013 08:42 AM

You are not even six months out. You have sooo much to process still. As you process many things will fall into place and many more questions will be raised to work on.

I am glad you IC wants you to take a year, you need that much if not more IMO.

You can pick on thing to work on all year, such as your stone idea, or you can pick many smaller projects to do all year long, or you can do both.

I did a "journey from abandonment to Healing" retreat with the author. No great revelations or anything, but to just go somewhere in nature by myself for a few days did me a world of good and helped my mind to shift a bit more. Perhaps look into retreats with yoga to just get away and focus on you for a few days to a week during this time.

focusing on my thoughts is not really helping me come to terms with my decision to stay because, really, I don't totally understand my feelings.

I have not done this myself but do know several people who have and they claim it really helped them sort through their feelings etc, so perhaps you might want to check it out, Byron Katie , i have to get ready for work so I dont have time to look it up to post link, but she has her worksheet online you can print out and go through, you can of course read the book, but I know people who just printed the sheets and followed them and said they really helped.

Best of luck on this journey, it is hard to take the first steps but I bet a year or two from now looking back all these new experiences will help tie things together.


DixieD posted 5/30/2013 09:23 AM

I'm very analytical too.

I went right back to the beginning and examined a lot of things about this relationship and what it said about myself. Why did I CHOOSE an unfaithful partner? I put as much emphasis on that as I did on staying with him. Of course I didn't 'knowingly' chose him as an unfaithful partner, but I chose him none the less. I looked for patterns and reoccurring themes between all of it and my distant past. I started to focus more on myself all the way back to childhood and not just focus on what he did or his affair. If I decided to leave the marriage and find someone else, I'd still be me and history proved I didn't have great skills at choosing a partner. I suspected until I figured this out, history would repeat itself.

As far as thinking I was weak for staying, I realized for me, leaving would have been easier. Living alone would have been the easier path. I like living alone.....yet I have codependent patterns too (it's complicated). But, I thought I could still grow, perhaps even moreso, if I stayed and worked on myself while trying to maneuver it all with another person who equally wants to grow.

I had a lot of anger. A lot of self-hate too and I needed EMDR to help me get unstuck, I don't think I could have gotten out of that without it. Although I still have a hard time identifying feelings.

Your therapists idea is very interesting. Google 365 and creative and you will find lots of ideas. There are blogs on the subject. I like your rock idea....I may steal that. I've done a few things from a creative standpoint such as photography or painting but really I've wanted to go out and explore. It wasn't so much going back to find me but to discover a new me.

I've done a lot of things and gone to a lot of places I've never done/gone before. I had to face a fear to achieve some of them, such as ziplining. Some I will not want to do again and others I've loved and can't wait to do it again. I've surprised myself a few times. By doing these things, I got out of the abyss of negative feelings and uncovered a lot of emotions I didn't know were there, like joy.

I feel badass during Warrior II as well. Good luck Rocky.

Althea posted 5/30/2013 12:49 PM

After I got burned by TT, I made a very firm decision to neither leave nor stay. The only thing I committed to was not making an immediate decision. I also dealt with a lot of feelings regarding behavior I put up with, not just after the A, but prior as well. Why did I feel like I had so little worth? It was a long process. The conclusion I came to was that for me, leaving was the much easier option. I know I have the strength to be a single mom. I have a supportive family, and I am a professional with high earning potential even though I am currently a SAHM. Leaving made sense. Staying was and is SO hard. There are many days where I cannot believe this is my life, and I am tired of it. That being said, over the last 5-6 months, I have watched my WH become a new person, and we have both worked incredibly hard on healing ourselves. Part of that process was starting MC again and healing our marriage, and

Anyway, during this time I went through a shift where I went from judging myself for staying, to feeling proud of the compassion and eventual forgiveness I was able to show another person. I took the more difficult road, but both WH and I are much healthier people and just as importantly better parents because of the work we have done. I agree with others, as you get further out, as long as your WS continues to work the way he should, these feelings will likely start to subside.

In the meantime, try looking into an Ashram. There are often yoga and meditation retreats. You might find that the yoga/meditation combo offers you the opportunity to gain some clarity. I trained for and raced a half marathon after Dday and those long runs were so cathartic and allowed me to work through so much all while making me feel great physically. I worked out a lot of anger that way!

cds22 posted 5/30/2013 13:22 PM

I think I understand -- I think of myself as a strong and successful woman. In fact, IRL people gravitate to me very frequently for my opinion and judgment. These are my various thoughts, still early in.

1. I might try kickboxing, boxing, or something that strikes you as deeply empowering and anger-releasing. If yoga does that for you fine but I am all about kicking @ss these days. :)

2. I have a computerized document of my "boundaries" all written out. Not everything is straight to D but it is very specific about what I will and won't stand for and the consequences of violation (temporary separation, more intensive treatment for the H, etc).

3. Back to the judgment thing. In my case and I imagine yours, there was really no way to know of the infidelity and I am confident that I did not in any way seek out an abusive mate. I still believe my judgment is very sound and I *know* there are good reasons why I am giving my H a chance to redeem himself and to commit to our marriage. Despite his recent fall from grace he is an exceptional man in many ways and I believe there is great potential for us to have an exceptional love still. In my own judgment I need to wait for some time and a lot of therapy to make clear whether that is going to come to fruition or not before I leave. Doesn't mean I am a doormat, it means I am giving it time to see if I can have the marriage I want.

4. In addition to boundaries I mapped out goals. I am not willing to go back to the marriage we had. It is an improved version with true intimacy or we are not going to last. We are starting MC to work through that.

5. I have a fairly detailed plan for living on my own with the kids. I have consulted with my accountant, figured out some legal options, and even sort of scouted a few n'hoods I could afford on my own. I want the R and the M to be a choice.

6. I agree with PP, leaving would personally be much easier than the hell I have been through and what lies ahead. Forgiveness has long been a personal challenge for me and I have a lot of pride that I am even trying to forgive him!

7. I take great pride in my integrity, my reputation, and the friends and colleagues who care for me. As much as this sucks, I would rather be me than the H who has to live with having lost his honor like this. If we split up I will leave the class act that I came into the marriage as (and I will leave with almost all of our friends who are really my friends, my H has been a workaholic).

8. I love my H. Still. I can swallow some pride to give things a chance (not a get out of jail free card, but a chance for the H and our relationship to change and blossom).

HTH. We have been dealt a sh*t card, no doubt.

2married2quit posted 5/30/2013 15:45 PM

I understand exactly what you mean. I feel as though others wouldn't have respect for me cause I stuck around. In the end, love is a choice. It's your choice. You can decide to love your spouse or you can decide to move on. It's up to you. Yoga, spirituality, journeys, they all sound great, but you have to make that choice and be fully IN as well as your spouse. It's about YOU and your M. It's about the Family.

I struggle with this myself, but I decided to be fully in. I decided to love her despite my heart telling me sometimes that it is out of love for her.

Daisy312 posted 5/30/2013 17:49 PM

Your post really got me thinking, and I think that this is a huge problem for me as well. I feel as though I am betraying myself, I use doormat as well. I also feel as though H will have this same disrespect for me for staying. I keep telling myself that to be doing what I'm doing takes a lot more strength than just walking away without trying. I am looking for a weekend getaway by myself. My problem is we have a 4year old and a breastfeeding 1 year old. So, it's hard for me to get away, or to have time alone.

lostandconfused4 posted 5/30/2013 18:31 PM

I don't have any ideas for you but thank you for posting this. I have felt for days that something was just eating away at me and I just immediately connected with this. I know my reasons for wanting to R and I feel they are valid but at the same time I have always said I have ZERO tolerance for cheating. My advice would have always been to find someone to respect you. I have never condoned staying with someone that betrays you and it is making it difficult to come to terms with myself. I think I will look into something like this too.

TheAgonyOfIt posted 5/30/2013 19:09 PM

Hi Rocky,

I too want to thank you for posting this because i was helped by many of the responses to your post! I have to cut and paste, and put in a healing file!

When you say your emotions are keeping you in R, but also making you want to leave, i say "join the club."! I think, no, actually i am absolutely positive, that every single one of us has had the (almost) exact kind of ambivalence that you describe. So the feelings inside of us are conflicting, causing (almost unbelievable) anguish, and then on top of that are our thoughts, the logical, supposedly rational parts of us that is just so sure that we can "think" ourselves out of this mess.

Instead, we have a jumble and it's just a big mess that we just can't unravel fast enough. and so we stay in some sort of agony because we can't yet understand either emotionally or intellectually where in the world we are at. Dammit, if only we could speed up the process!!!

I obviously don't know you well enough or at all to say but maybe it's not that you don't understand your feelings, but sounds like you have so many and so many are opposite to one another that it's just plain overwhelming? That's how I experience it anyway; i don't know if you can relate.

I feel like a doormat too and i cannot believe i am willing to even TRY to work on R. And then i too realize so so much of what others have said; that it's easier to leave, that i want to grow, that i need to somehow work through this to get to "someplace" of healing because if I run, I will never actually deal with what is. It feels right to stay in R, for now, for as long as it takes. And it's agonizing. It does not feel right to leave, and then it feels so right and feels freeing, and fresh, and hopeful, and agonizing. How does one hold all that in one heart, one mind.

Yoga sounds wonderful, healing, self-nurturing and it sounds great for you!! I should do it too. I like the rock thing too; i don't know if you can just let feelings "go" like that but maybe, it's like a meditation (watch your feelings and your thoughts without reacting type of thing) and maybe it will also help you identify them like you said.

One thing that was a BIG BIG help for me is my therapist saying to me that i don't have to decide now. So yes, I'm in R, but i don't know where it will lead. There are still many unknowns about if it will work. Maybe you are Too Much in R already, and are burdened by the conflict in your mind. Maybe maybe if you give yourself permission to try R and commit yourself to R while just leaving your options open (like another poster said, gather info) you will feel a sense of empowerment as well, and maybe just enough freedom to breathe. Your Dday is recent.

I loved your post and I hope to see your posts again.

I'm so with you in this journey.

Sorry Rocky for your pain. Sounds like your moving toward good things for you.

RockyMtn posted 5/31/2013 06:32 AM

Wow, so many great ideas here. I've googled all of them! And, yes 365 + creative returns a bunch of stuff! I'll look at the other stuff closely over the weekend before my appt on Monday.

You are not even six months out.

From D-Day 2. I've been in this mess for 2.5 years total. I'm no rookie Unlike others, D-Day 2 was far, far easier for me than D-Day 1. It was all TT that I knew would be coming. So I tend not to think of myself as 6 months out - because, in reality, my life as I knew it was forever changed in September 2011 and I've been on a healing journey since then, not since January 2013. I don't believe at all (for me) that I started over with D-day 2. What is probably helping matters is that WH is an R superstar after D-Day 2. Was only "meh" after D-Day 1.

Maybe I didn't explain myself really well. I have decided to R. My gut tells me to. My mind says, "maybe, maybe not" but the emotions keep winning out and the mind is just trying to fight like crazy. I'm comfortable that I've taken the time I need to decide, going with my gut to R. Could I change my mind? Sure. My ducks are in a row.

Its kind of like, "stop fighting it Rocky, it's happening, you're staying with a cheater." Am I making sense? Accepting MYSELF amidst this decision is what I'm struggling with, not deciding whether to R or not. So, this is as much about me and accepting my own decisions as it is about R. I'm pretty sure that if I decided to D, I'd be going through a similar process. Now that I think of this, I should have probably said that my therapist thinks my biggest obstacle to moving on is lack of self-acceptance. Not just an obstacle to R, but an obstacle to myself!

The only thing I committed to was not making an immediate decision.

Ditto that, after both D-Days. D-Day 1, it took me 6-8 months to get there. D-Day 2, it was a bit shorter - maybe 2-3 months. I guess it just came to a point where I could remain committed to NOT deciding...or realize that I had decided and stop trying to hold out. Does this make sense? Seriously, I held out and kept telling him and my therapist that I wasn't sure if I was going to R (I even tried to convince myself) - simply because I couldn't face that I had made that decision in my heart. I'm getting better with this - but this year-long challenge is supposed to help deepen my progress on it.

I would rather be me than the H who has to live with having lost his honor like this.

True dat, cds22.

but sounds like you have so many and so many are opposite to one another that it's just plain overwhelming?

Yes, ma'am! That's the thing - no matter what you decide in life-altering situations like this, I think you need to process and release the decision because either road isn't going to feel 100% comfortable at least not for a few years (IMHO). That's kind of what I'm trying to get to, processing and releasing.

[This message edited by RockyMtn at 6:35 AM, May 31st (Friday)]

cds22 posted 5/31/2013 07:23 AM

Well, I still distinguish between trying to R and absolute, unalterable determination to R. Trying to R has boundaries, limits, and goals for the marriage. A desperate "I will R no matter what" including if the H continues infidelity, the marriage is unsatisfying, it is harmful to the family unit, etc. seems to me like "doormat" territory.

In fact, people talk about being "all in" with the R and I am quite new here, but I don't get it. I am not all in with anyone who has harmed me until they show me for a good, long time that that isn't going to happen again.

Trying to R with limits and standards is the act of an adult - - one who has shed more simplistic and in some instances childish notions of absolutes and romantic fantasies and is willing to bend for good reasons (and I see that in some cases those good reasons are missing or the bad is too bad and then D is the right path). I think distinguishing between trying to R (which you should be proud of IMO) and the must-R-no-matter-what which is far more problematic may help you on the path toward self-acceptance.

[This message edited by cds22 at 7:25 AM, May 31st (Friday)]

reallysad2012 posted 5/31/2013 21:47 PM

no matter what you decide in life-altering situations like this, I think you need to process and release the decision because either road isn't going to feel 100% comfortable at least not for a few years

This idea is very helpful for me. I have been struggling with something similar to what you are describing.

I am certain, in my gut, that I want R, but my brain is having trouble with it. My brain sometimes interrupts my heart/my gut and reminds me I shouldn't be telling fWH that I love him. How could I after what he did? Yet, I do love him.

Anyway, your comment about neither road being comfortable just takes the pressure off. I don't have to completely like my decision right now. I just have to keep going with it.

RockyMtn posted 6/1/2013 07:43 AM

I think distinguishing between trying to R (which you should be proud of IMO) and the must-R-no-matter-what which is far more problematic may help you on the path toward self-acceptance

This is great insight. I think you're very right on. I consider myself trying to R. But I don't think I've said that out loud so to speak. Its a good reminder to myself that I'm choosing to try, not choosing to R. That does, indeed, help.

I am definitely not in 'R at all costs.' Heck, I'm not 'M at all costs' even before this. M is always a choice and I can always exit, for any reason, at any time. I have boundaries as well.

Choosing to stay just goes against everything I thought I was - and there is absolutely 100% going to be a fall-out (on an individual level) from that, no matter how many boundaries or exit plans you have. I'd also argue there is going to be fallout even if you wait years to make the final decision and have reestablished immense trust. It goes back to what I said - no choice is going to feel great here. At least not for me.

The 365 Creative blogs/resources are awesome by the way!

Maybe a goal oriented journey with books? Like one a month for 12 months-writing down a realization each led to about yourself or situation, and release those in a ritual on your next birthday? Idk, I told you I suck with those ideas

It doesn't suck! I added this to my idea list to bring to therapy next week!

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