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Is "Acceptance" a Mistake?

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PhantomLimb posted 7/19/2013 22:40 PM

Background (sorry to those who have heard this already): my WS and I were apart for several months this year due to work. We did the long distance thing (visiting when we could) and I was about to "come home" to begin a job in his office. A week before he was supposed to fly out and drive me across country, DDay happened (long story-- he wasn't going to tell me, but got cornered). OW was a coworker. I immediately 180-ed and we went back and forth with how to R (we both went into IC, looked around for a MC, he was preparing to take a leave from work).

Three weeks later I found out he had broken NC and taken the A underground. I had made it clear that that was a deal breaker for me. We had one last confrontation in which he told me everything that had been wrong with me for the last 10 years, I got the ILYB comment and he told me he felt "free and liberated" without me. I calmly told him that he was going to feel "really free and liberated" and I quit the job, demanded he ship my things out to me back on the other coast and I initiated NC.

Save forwarded and/or impersonal emails re: cancelled accounts, division of assets and whatnot, we haven't spoken since. Anything of mine that he kept is replaceable and I'm not sweating it (fine, keep the bike I rode once). I certainly have plenty of his stuff as well (I'll keep the flat screen, thanks). I got a new job, new place, new car, have stuck with IC for myself. I've been spending time with friends and family. Yesterday I unceremoniously "unfriended" him on FB (our last direct connection) because I was sick of seeing his little green light on "chat" and thought having that continued tie to him was making me a little neurotic.

This may all sound "right" or like I've been strong or something-- but, believe me, I've been a wreck. This has been the worst experience of my life. Tears everyday. Chest pains. I'm now a size 0/2 (I *was* a size 6/8). Until recently, I've rarely slept more than 2 hours in a row. From the start I've had terrible nightmares. I was diagnosed with PTSD and, for the first few weeks, even had amnesia! (Most of my memories are back now, thank god).

The first month after DDay#2: if he had called me crying, apologizing and wanting to R, I totally would have taken him back. I was praying for it. He's the love of my life. I never saw this coming (I'm in the category of BS convinced we were going to find out he's bipolar or had a brain injury). I wanted my life back!

Month Two: as my memory started to return, I was able to reflect back on the period of the A (which he claims started in February) and began to put together the depth of his betrayal and lies. I began to accept that the things he said to me in the course of our breakup and his lack of remorse were, in fact, forms of emotional, mental and verbal abuse. The last time I saw him (about two weeks before DDay #1) we were "together" and it had been an awful almost aggressive experience that I stupidly attributed to him being "out of practice" (ha!). Sparing you details, now that I know what was really going on, sadly, I think that I would have grounds for considering what he did to me a form of assault.

With the help of IC, I am also now starting to put together that there were points in the last 10 years that he demonstrated some of the lack of character it takes to have an A. Trouble at work. Rarely completing important or difficult tasks. Perhaps having some co-dependency issues. I'm by no means trying to say that the last 10 years sucked-- before DDay I loved him with my whole heart and was as happy as could be-- but, I have to admit that I often rationalized some of immature or bad behavior.

And I also underestimated the power of his FOO. Dad abandoned the family when he was a kid. Mom and brother diagnosed with serious mental illness. Sister put into foster care. A few inappropriate sexual relationships in the past (when he was in positions of power). A fiancé that he left shortly before the wedding and never spoke to again. For some reason, I didn't take any of these "red flags" seriously as evidence that he is more at home with drama than stability.

Deep down, I still love him. If I let myself go there, I'll cry like a baby. I HATE that this has happened. I HATE that he did this. It feels like such a waste. I HATE what it has done to my life and my finances and my family and friends. If I had a time machine, I would love to go back to any one point in time in the last 10 years before this happened and relive just sitting on the couch, cuddling with our puppy, telling him how much I love him. I doubt I'll ever be that innocently happy with someone again.

But, here's the reality: dude cheated on me. I know his "we were mutually using each other, it's only been going on for a couple of months" story has to be bullsh*t. I can't even imagine how horrible the truth must be and speculating just makes me insane, so I don't do it. He claims he isn't "replacing" me with her-- but, come on. Maybe he isn't planning on marrying her, but he was bringing her back to our place and to our bed after work when I wasn't there, having dinner together, running errands on the weekend, listening to her advice about our relationship, playing daddy to her toddler. I gave him a chance at R and, ultimately, he showed no real remorse and chose his job and his new life out there with her to coming back home to work on R with me. I may have been the first one to initiate 180, use the word "breakup" and insist on NC... but when your partner of 10 years suggests that you get a sublet and you can see each other "twice a week at meetings" at work... you just got dumped.

Add onto it what I’ve outlined in terms of truly and really being a victim of all kinds of abuse as a result of this and, I can love him all I want, but how much does he have to do to me before I accept that he is toxic for my physical, mental and emotional health? This may have been the first time he did anything like this-- but it's like he saved up a decade of evil for a spectacular fireworks display of maladjusted and abusive crap for the very end.

Sometime last week I took another major dip and spent two days in my room just sobbing, completely crushed by this. My interior monologue was "I can't do this" over and over and over. But, slowly, I told myself "well, you're going to have to." I didn't ask for this. This isn't what I want. But this is what I'm faced with. A man I loved who abused me. An act of betrayal so heinous I suspect it will remain the central tragedy/trauma of my life (hopefully there won’t be any more!). An emotional wounding so traumatic that, at times, I could understand why people just end it all to escape the pain.

Could I ever take him back? Some part of me may want to... but it's a part of me that is in denial. First of all, denial that he will, at any point, feel remorse. Denial that this experience hasn't substantially changed both of us to the degree that we are probably wouldn’t even recognize each other. Denial that I could ever explain to him the pain this has caused me and our family/friends. Denial that I could live a life that involved becoming the A police. Denial that I could ever look at him/trust him the same way again. Denial that I could ever start a family with him and feel safe. I could go on...

I went to IC today and went over all of this, more or less. I told my IC that I'm starting, even after only a little more than 2 mos, to feel somewhat "normal" again. That I want to keep looking at the signs I missed, how to get in touch with my feelings more, how to navigate a world without a partner... but that I'm beginning to think that permanent NC is okay. That it's okay to move on without all of the "answers" about what happened here. That I can feel my sadness, but I don't have to keep swimming in it to the point that I'm not getting my work done and not moving on. If I walk away now, I have 10 years of mostly fantastic memories of a great guy I loved to death and can remember fondly... and only three weeks of absolute hell that, in time, perhaps I can simply accept as sad reality of life.

And I told IC that I refuse to confuse my love for WS as a justification for accepting his abuse or entertaining a notion of taking him back. And if he doesn't want to be with me and work it out-- for whatever reason-- fine. What other choice has he given me but to accept that?

I told IC that beginning to come into this stage of "acceptance" of saying goodbye to my WS and realizing that life is going to go on whether I like it or not has left me feeling a little "flat". Letting go of the drama and pain is like letting go of a connection to WS in some sense, and it leaves me all alone for the first time in a long time. It feels a sad and empty, although, in a strange way, it is still a warmer and safer place to be than attached to my WS and all of the pain that brings.

My IC says that he's glad I'm feeling better, but that I'm rationalizing again. I'm still letting WS dictate the terms of my emotional life. That I'm denying my feelings and "accommodating" WS as I’ve done in the past.

I'm still so confused by this. What other choice do I have but acceptance? I have to let acceptance win or I'm fighting a losing battle. What’s the alternative? What exactly am I missing here?

Housefulloflove posted 7/19/2013 23:11 PM

I'm not sure what your IC means by his statements. But I 100% get what you are saying.

I feel like I could have written everything you said about the abuse. My Ex also put on an epic firework display of emotional abuse the final weeks of our 10 years together without an ounce of remorse. It sounds like you are dealing with a tremendous amount of pain. I'm so sorry he put you on this painful path and I hope that with acceptance will come peace.

PhantomLimb posted 7/19/2013 23:43 PM

Housefulloflove: My IC does think that WS has a PD of some kind-- likely NPD. It makes a lot of sense because the abuse and rage (coupled with occasional streaks of hysterical crying) he displayed were so out of character that I honestly thought I would get a call from his family telling me he had a nervous breakdown.

His behavior after DDay was so much more destructive than the actual A...

Housefulloflove posted 7/20/2013 00:22 AM

"His behavior after DDay was so much more destructive than the actual A..."

I absolutely know the feeling! My Ex's behavior AFTER the affair has given me the strength to keep going and detach. I know I can not go back to a man who is capable of the horrible things he has said and done after seeing me lying face down on the floor crying out to God in the worst emotional pain of my life because of his actions. He was like a shark who smelled blood after that.

I can never look at that "man" the same way again knowing who he is on the inside.

tesla posted 7/20/2013 06:56 AM

Have you come across the book "the journey from abandonment to healing"?
It is very good at explaining why we go through the physical symptoms we go through post D-day. It helped me understand what was happening and give me hope and strength that I would get through it.

Do not try to rush yourself to acceptance. Big mistake. You have to let all the hurt, pain, rage, grief work themselves out. The progression is different for everyone and that is ok.

SBB posted 7/20/2013 07:03 AM

I don't think your IC was saying Acceptance was a mistake.

When you say:

realizing that life is going to go on whether I like it or not has left me feeling a little "flat".

... it is as if you are focussing on what life will be like without him rather than WITH you IYKWIM?

At one of my first IC sessions which was during False R she told me that I was basing my emotions around him.

In my mind *I* had to let him go because he was a sack of shit. She asked me directly "Is it not because YOU deserve more?". It is a different question, looking inward. Maybe this was his best - the best he had to offer. Why was it OK pre-DD but not OK post DD?

I hadn't been satisfied in that relationship for a very long time. I looked at everything he did/didn't do rather (or rather what I wanted him to do/not do or pretended he was doing/not doing) rather than looking at WTF I was doing sticking around.

I don't understand the POV that you are accommodating him by moving towards acceptance. You will feel things and want to say things for some time - a part of detaching is not sharing those feelings or words with him, total NC.

But you shouldn't deny your feelings/thoughts. These are not things you can merely push aside, not long term anyway. You do have to do a bit of that sometimes when it all gets to much. I don't stuff them down, I box them up and tell myself I'll look at them again later when I'm feeling stronger.

When I come back to them I'm ready to feel them.

I'm highly annoyed that I have to grieve this. Its really weird to mourn someone when I loathe the guy walking around in his skin. But I do need to mourn him, that M and I need to mourn for myself.

Acceptance and surrender go against my natural grain. It has been a revelation to discover strength in my vulnerabilities. Not brute strength but gentle strength. It has carried me a long way into my healing.

You are very early into this. There are no shortcuts here. The only way through it is through it.

inconnu posted 7/20/2013 07:58 AM

Long story short, yes you can accept and move on without all the answers.

fwiw, ex left almost 4 years ago, after I caught him again after he took the affair underground. In the beginning, during the divorce, I had some contact with him. Mostly him showing up at the house to see the kids, then being an ass to me.

Since the divorce was final over 3 years ago, I've only seen ex a handful of times. In fact, I haven't seen or spoken to him in over a year.

Finding out he cheated on me, then divorcing the man I thought I'd spend the rest of my life with - hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Just because it hurt so much doesn't mean it wasn't the right thing to do, though.

In September, it'll be 5 years since my 1st d-day. I still don't have all the answers. It no longer matters. I got the answers that I needed, and that was that my ex is a liar and a cheater.

And now he's not a part of my life, and he's not my problem.

PhantomLimb posted 7/20/2013 10:21 AM

He was like a shark who smelled blood after that.
-- Housefulloflove

Mine, too. I remember at one point he was raging that, because of the time change, I always wanted to Skype before the end of his day at work, which kept him late at work and was annoying, but "at least you freed up my evenings to be with her." I was already crying and destroyed at that point-- but that comment just stabbed me in the heart and I began to sob and, after I could talk, said "PLEASE be careful with what you say to me!"... he just stared at me with these dead eyes. One of the scariest things I've ever experienced, truly.

After that, part of my PTSD was, when I saw a photo of him, I would throw up. I literally saw him as a predator.

tesla: I have the book and actually fell asleep reading it last night. I find it really comforting to read about the physiological changes I'm going through. I'm up to the "withdrawal" chapter right now. I'm hoping it helps.

StrongButBroken: This makes some sense to me. I think you might be right that what my IC is trying to get me to see is that I sacrificed a lot for WS over the years, to the point that I didn't see it. Even WS told me on DDay that one of the reasons he cheated was because he "always knew" I would leave him because he's so difficult. I didn't understand what he meant at all then, but through IC I am starting to see I catered to him a lot. IC keeps reminding me that I was really young when I met WS (21) and so, in some ways, he molded me to tolerate his needs and quirks (he was older). And I was on a career fast track by the age of 23, so I was often really busy and would complain about certain things he did but, if he was difficult, I would just tell him it was his life and let it go because I didn't have time to get into it. A lot of rugsweeping.

This isn't to say that I don't think he made sacrifices for me, too, or that he was all bad. I'm not quite at the point that I think I would have ever contemplated leaving him had this not happened. But the A and aftermath are MORE than enough for me to leave him, even if he had wanted R. Maybe that's why I'm focused on it.

I will admit there is a bit of ego in my saying "if he doesn't want me, then fine!"... but I don't think I'm totally ignoring my own feelings of devastation in accepting this.

I'll have to keep exploring it. I can tell you that I woke up this morning and I miss him a lot. I started gardening as a hobby to distract me and our (now "my", I suppose) dog thinks she owns the plants, so every morning I have to let her out on the back porch so she can check each pot and then she lays down and takes a nap in front of them. It's the cutest thing in the world and I know he would get a real kick out of it. But he's not here. He loved this dog to death and he'll probably never see her again. It makes me cry, but that's okay. I'll cry and feel it and move on. I view that as a form of acceptance... maybe I'm wrong.

Pippy posted 7/20/2013 10:56 AM

I tried to rush "acceptance" but kept having emotional relapses. I haven't seen or had any contact since 2006, but still I was not accepting it was really over until last year.

Acceptance is meant to be that great state where you are "happy" again and "over it". So we all strive for it as soon as we can. But as others have said, it can't be rushed.

For a long time I still hoped he'd come to his senses and come back. We were M 30 years. Then I began thinking about how it would never be the same. I would always be worried he was thinking of leaving again, as he hid it so well. We'd have that honeymoon stage, but then monday morning would come. Could he work on things. No.

We all forget that if he had the strength to throw his whole family life away for OW, then he could have the strength to return if he really wanted to.

In the end, I have reached acceptance and my life is much different from the retirement we planned. It's a better life in some ways but I miss the family together very much.

Shockedman posted 7/20/2013 19:19 PM

Your story really struck a chord with me. My WW and I have been married for 10 years. together for 17. she had a super deep EA and PA with a married man. D-day was about 2 months ago. the aftermath is what killed it for good. She played me for a fool, again. Acting remorseful, doing all the "right" things, meanwhile she took the affair underground and it didnt stop until her AP got caught again by his wife. Apparently they had an exit plan before they got caught and have been trying to execute it for the past 2 months. WW didnt expect her AP to jump ship and decide he wants his wife and kids.

I didnt think i could be more hurt then after d-day, but somehow my POS WW found a way. i am now filing and wont look back. i am not a doormat. the emotional pain i feel is just as bad as d-day. if not worse. what a POS. i cant believe people do this and can actually live with themself. i am pretty sure WW has NPD too. at the moment she is out of her mind.

PhantomLimb posted 7/20/2013 20:07 PM

... it is as if you are focussing on what life will be like without him rather than WITH you IYKWIM?

I've been thinking more about this, StrongButBroken, and I think I'm getting closer to understanding what you mean.

It's hard to put into words, but it's sort of like I'm fixating on how his actions have put me into a particular situation that I now have to live with. And this mirrors a lot of our relationship. He'd do something sort of crazy and I'd just learn to adapt to the crazy.

I hate to go there, but look at the sex thing I talked about in the original post. Dude was totally too rough. What did I do? Watch my wrist watch and the TV and hope it would be over soon. Afterwards, I gossiped with my girlfriends about how awful it was but just concluded sort of casually "oh, well, he must be out of practice."

I should have stopped him and asked him what the hell he thought he was doing.

What I need to do is go over the relationship, realize that there were many red flags and elements that didn't work for me, and come to the realization that I didn't truly want any of that and that, a lot of the time, I was pretty pissed off and annoyed by what he did. That I do deserve more.

Shockedman: there's no other way to say this: that blows. Who are these pod people? I admire your strength in recognizing you don't need this in your life. But it has to be killing you, no doubt. I sympathize.

Stay on SI and find a good IC. Between SI, good friends and family, IC and patience... I think if you already have that foundation of self-respect and strength, you have a good shot of coming out the other side of this better, stronger and happier in the long run!

[This message edited by PhantomLimb at 8:13 PM, July 20th (Saturday)]

SBB posted 7/21/2013 02:44 AM

^^ Ditto with a Capital D.

A few months before DD he told me he and his BFF had gone back to some girls house after meeting her at a party.

I was like WTF? That IS not appropriate. You are a married man and a father FFS. Do you not see how disrespectful that is? Do you not see how that crosses a boundary?


But instead of raising hell I did a fucking survey - asking everyone if they thought it was appropriate. The only one who said they wouldn't have an issue with it was his co-worker affair-enabler.

The sad truth is I wanted everyone to say I was being OTT for hitting the roof about it. I WANTED people to help me gaslight myself.

The last 2 years of that M I went from a very high libido down to basically zero interest. All the while wondering WTF was wrong with me. All of these 'little' things meant I silently hated the man I was married to and the M I was trapped in - that is WTF was wrong with me.

Adapt is a good word. I 'adapted' to my crazy FOO to survive by going numb and becoming invisible. I then did the same to survive in my crazy M.

Yet to the outside world the cracks were only visible in the last 2 years. Truth is it had been going on 3-4 years prior.

So much time and energy wasted. I still don't understand it.

stronger08 posted 7/21/2013 05:18 AM

I personally think you had an epiphany of sorts. There comes a time when the light goes on in your brain and you wake the hell up and see what's really going on. This has happened to me and I'm sure many others as well. Many WS love to play with your emotions. They build you up just to knock you down again. And with each fall you hurt more and more. Its sadistic and a power trip for them. After being beaten down so much you need to use those last couple ounces of reserve strength and dignity to save yourself. Self preservation kicks in and what they have done no longer matters. I got to the point that I accepted the truth was never going to be revealed and had to say OK. That my own sanity and health was more important to me then the details of the A. I was sick and tired of being manipulated and lied to. That's when I knew it was time to throw in the towel and file. My XWW went into a rage like no other. She could no longer control me and it bothered her. She could no longer lie her way through life with me and she went ballistic. What followed was a few years of pure hell. But it was all worth it as I was able to save myself from what was pure misery being with her. I have a theory that my XWW behavior subsequent to my filing for D was nothing short of a huge tantrum. She wanted to do whatever she could to make my life miserable. And she did. And it all came down to the fact that I took the POWER away from her. For when you take away that power they have no other hold on you. I think what you have experienced is a good thing. Your IC does not have to be in agreement because he is not the one living your life. You are, and how you feel and conduct yourself is up to you. An IC is there to assist you, not tell you how to live. If acceptance make your life better so be it. Now is the time to take control over your destiny. While it might get nasty in the upcoming months with your WS. Its a minefield you have to navigate to come out in a better place.

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