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The psychology of this shit

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sartre posted 9/6/2013 22:55 PM

First real post in a while .... brace yourself, it'll probably be long.
I'm a bit of a mess at the moment. Separated three months now, and it was getting a bit easier. As much easier as it can get in just 3 months anyways. I've been doing well being single dad to 3 kids 11 and under. Just got back from taking them to see their grandparents in Europe. 23 hour trip door to door, multiple flights. 6 years ago I was a childless bachelor and spent my time playing computer games and drinking beer. Half a year after that I thought it was exhausting to have 2 kids interupt my morning routine for 30 min. I think that felt more exhausting than dragging 3 kids on a 5 hour drive then 2 intercontinental flights alone does now. Things change.
I've taken reasonably good care of myself, I work out 6 times a week (dumbells in the kitchen after kids bedtime, how any single parent find time to go to the gym mystifies me) and I was going out with friends about once a week.

Couple of weeks age STBXWW started her crap again though. I really shouldn't care and I should be somewhat immune by now, but the thing is she keeps upping the ante. Upping it enough so that it's a bit of a shock to the system each time, yet the raise is small enough that she could keep me squirming for quite a while without hitting the ceiling (I'm assuming there's a ceiling, a person can only be that far removed from reality, there must be a limit).

This time it started with a weird duo of emails, one really long one pointing out my every flaw in her eyes and how I should fix them, "not for me but for our children". Then 12 hours later an email about how she misses me terribly and wants me back. The first of these emails is nothing new, I have a fucking library of texts about how bad I am and in all the ways she's retroactively fabricated how bad our marriage was. The first thing I ponder is quite simple, how can she think it's in any way constructive to spend a few hours writing up an email explaining how bad I am when she wants to get back together? It's like opening with "Your teeth are very yellow" to the pretty girl at the bar. This is a pattern, some prolonged attack on me followed by expressions of affection, how sorry she is etc.

I said the first of these emails isn't anything new, but the second is, at least since we separated. She's expressed how she wants to remain close friends and her bewilderment at how I could possibly not want this several times, but not that she wants me back.
In my post about a month back I detailed how she'd had dinner with one of her AP's outside of my work about 5 weeks into the separation, so my first thought was that she'd either got dumped or had discovered herself that the grass isn't always greener. I should have not responded at all (I've been generally very good about not responding to her almost daily emails containing anything not related to the children) but I was shaken and weak. What I wanted to say was "No, you do not get to see how things work out with the fucking AP that lead to this separation in the first place, then come running back when it doesn't" but I wanted her to admit she'd been seeing him herself. So we shot a few emails back and forth on this. Just like with the A's getting her to admit the truth took a lot of pulling (even after telling her I knew it, I just wanted her to say it). At the end of this email exchange I ended up not with the quarter inch splinter I was trying to remove but with a damn 2 inch sliver of wood to heavy to be held by the tweezers. I got the confession I wanted, in the roundabout way of knowing that he was one of the 10 people she slept with in the past 13 months. 7 of them in the last 3. Ta-da! Not what I was expecting. Maybe 2 was the max. I'd be willing to wager.
I mean, 7 in three months is A LOT even for well hung 20 year old frat boy. 7 in three months for a 36 year old with a full time job, three children to care about 50% of the week and while in the middle of moving (she has moved 3 times in the 3 months since the separation started) just strikes me as a logistical feat. If you strike the time she had the kids, that leaves 6 weeks of separation. If you strike the days where I know for a fact she was just moving furniture or otherwise engaged, that shaves off another week and we're down to 5. So 7 guys in 5 weeks. God damn.
Why does this matter ... I don't know. I can say almost for certain that I wouldn't want her back even if it had just been the one guy I knew about. Maybe it matters because it's just another facet of my former wife I could not phantom. I didn't have much respect left for her, but it's fast approaching 0. Maybe because she's now slept with 3 times more people in the past 3 months than I have in my entire life (male thing this one I guess). Maybe because during the re-bonding phase after her initial A we spent a lot of time talking about my lack of self esteem and sexual issues rising from these and this crap doesn't exactly help. Mostly though (I think), it matters because I hadn't quite given up. I was hoping that somewhere down the road, I would get the email I got (just with more sincere appologies, and without the email preceeding it). That maybe a year would pass and she'd better herself and me myself and we could start again. Don't get me wrong, I had prepared for and expected this separation to be long term and that a divorce would follow. But after this continous downhill of a year I think maybe I thought this was the bottom for us and that there was at least the possibility that given enough time and reflection, there might be some way up from there.
Someone here told me way back when (meaning 5-6 months ago, when I had a different account that I had to disable), "Give it up man, she's gone". I had given it up, 98% or so. I guess the last 2% remained because I didn't believe that she was gone. Not all gone.

The second thing I ponder is that given what I've just relayed, how can she and why does she say she wants me back? It's not as if she gave up once she told me about the 7, that email ended with something like "If you're willing to give us another chance, I promise this won't happen again". It cannot possibly be me that's just a prude and that most/some/a minority would consider this? Am I wrong? Are there more than a fraction of a percent of people who would consider taking her back after this behavior? I mean, just the escalation: She had her affair, then 7 months later when we do a trial separation for a few weeks she sleeps with two more guys, and then two months after that and three months into our proper separation she sleeps with 7 more. Even if somehow you'd be ok with those 10 partners, what does this pattern predict for the future?
This is a legitimate question, I'm not looking for confirmation that her behavior is abnormal but I'm trying to understand what kind of illogical thinking produces this behavior. It's not that she thinks sex is truly nothing, like a handshake or a hug. Sex is her one and maybe only mean of feeling a sense of self worth, so I understand why the extreme promiscuity. But she also has always held that if I ever cheated (for her meaning slept with anyone else) she'd be out the door in a heartbeat, and she knows how badly her first A which was just one sexual encounter with one man affected me. The ONLY pattern of thought I can see that would lead her to believe that she can do what she did and still have a chance to get back together with me is that what she does will not affect others.

I'm asking these questions because I want to understand what is going on. It feels so much like just a kick in the face, like a "Look! Look at the shit I did this time!! Do you still love me?" spoken with a sadistic smirk but I know that's not it. She actually wanted to get back together, and she thought there was enough of a chance of this happening to ask.

[This message edited by sartre at 11:02 PM, September 6th (Friday)]

jjct posted 9/7/2013 07:07 AM

She's "ping-ponging" you - going back and forth. It is one of the accomplished manipulator's go-to ploys to keep the target unsettled.

An unsettled target is easier to manipulate.

Except for kids and finances, you need to go *crickets*.
NC = No New Hurts

When you really turn yourself around, away from her - and devote your energies to:
- your own self-esteem building
- the 3 littles

You will find that there's no room or energy left for her, and her toxic promiscuity, and her further attempts to reel you in.

Detach from such toxicity.
Get healthy and strong for you and the kids.
You deserve the best, and
You. Can. Do. It!

Ashland13 posted 9/7/2013 15:41 PM

Hi Sarte,

I'm sorry for your difficult time and wanted to send kudos or pats on the back for the parenting you are doing. I, too, was thrust into single parenting and the visitation time is cut back seriously, so that in a month, he visits with her for about 24 hours.

Anyway...I was mentioning this very thing the other day to someone, where the longer I am able to go on NC, the more I hear from Nearly Exh. It's never that he wants me back, it's always "business" or the visiting stuff or the house, but I notice spurts of writing sometimes when I do not.

What I think is that it's partly a game, but also is a little bit of reality check when we BS get some independence from them ...I think it's kind of "uh oh" in some ways, or wonder at where we went.

I'm sorry, but it sounds to me like you may be WW's emotional punching bag and that's not fair to you. It also sounds like you may be her boomerang relationship, her safety net when the going gets rough, as you were questioning already. I'm glad that you knew to question that and not just fall for it or accept it. It shows strength on your part, in my opinion. Good for you.

Nearly Exh claims only one OW but on his SN's (social networks) a friend of mine recently counted over 30 different women that no one from his past life has ever met and he was first caught on the dating sites in the first place...I mention this because for the last part of the year, I find myself feeling disgust at him and also sadness, for to me it shows a real lack of respect for women and for people. I sense this about your WW too and am sorry for it and hope it's not going to upset you to have me say it.

She sounds a little bit like she needs a man for a conquest and an ego feed, which is what Nearly Exh is about. It helped me feel slightly better about myself...where my ego boost comes from within, his comes from without and often involves a sexual conquest...OW will find this out if she hasn't already.

Sorry for my lengthy post and I hope you can continue to do your exercise routine and keep going. If I were in your shoes, WW would not be someone I could take back...I would be too worried about reliving the hurt.

Nature_Girl posted 9/7/2013 16:09 PM

Another aspect of this mind trip could be that you're in the bargaining stage of grief. We all have to mourn the end/death of our marriages, the end/death of the person we thought we knew, the end/death of the person we thought we were. As your mind turns over the behavior of your WW it would be quite normal for you to see if you could make sense of it and even come to terms with it so it wouldn't be "that bad" and you wouldn't have to truly go through a horrible divorce & be alone again.

Our minds are so powerful. Our minds want to protect our hearts. Our minds will do all kinds of gymnastics & bend overs just to not have to feel the pain of the heart. And so we do the bargaining. Well, maybe we could accept all those lovers if our spouse is now truly sorry. Maybe the betrayal wasn't so bad if it looks like they're really repentant. Maybe I could swallow this enormous shit sandwich and carry on with life.

I'm here to tell you, though, that if you live your life with your heart & mind unaligned, you'll eventually pay the price physically. Even as your mind protects you from the pain, your body knows what's happening and will break down.

It's best to live authentically and honestly. Feel the pain, learn the lessons each time it cycles back around, and move forward a changed person.

SBB posted 9/7/2013 21:06 PM

^^What NG said.

You may need to consider having a trusted person vet her emails to you. Have them auto-forward to the third party and delete it from your inbox, sent items and trash. I did this for 3m and only responded about essentials.

It helped me detach.

The dreaded 'what ifs' are hideous. That last little bit of hope took a while to die and it was painful when it did. I stopped loving him some time after that hope died so that part was painful too.

I went on a rampage immediately after DD. The numbers are similar.

I was self-soothing with sex - if I focussed on this circus then I wouldn't need to feel the pain. It worked right up until it didn't.

It was a very fucked up coping mechanism. Also a way of ensuring R was impossible - I knew I was not yet strong enough to walk away so I did the cowardly thing instead.

I remember feeling in control at the time and was comforted by that control. Truth is I wasn't in control - nothing like it.

I doubt she did it to hurt you but I am certain she told you to hurt you.

As our give-a-fuck breaks their fuckery seems to ramp up. As NIK once said: "they know which buttons to press because they installed the fuckers".

kernel posted 9/7/2013 22:41 PM

I doubt she did it to hurt you but I am certain she told you to hurt you.

This ^^^^. It sounds like your STBXWW is spiraling out of control and she's looking for a safety net - you. NC, NC, NC. Stay as far away from that mess as you can. NC = no new hurts.

Stop driving yourself crazy trying to make sense of what she says and does. It will NEVER make sense because she is an irrational, toxic mess. She is treating you and your kids so horribly - does it really matter at this point what she says/does and why? What matters is protecting yourself and your kids from her poison. NC, NC, detach.

It took me a long time to stop having the faint hope that somehow this whole infidelity and divorce mess could be fixed - that X would say and do all the right things and it would all be okay. It finally occurred to me to question those hopes - why on earth would I want to start over with someone that had done so much damage to me? Someone that was too much of a coward to even try facing what he had done and work for reconciliation? If he wouldn't do it immediately after D-day, why would I even consider it 6 months later, or a year later or 2 years later? I was so stuck on wanting my old life back that I couldn't see how much that faint hope was compromising my own beliefs and values. It took more than 2 years past divorce to finally know that I would not ever consider reconciliation with X. So, my point, I guess, is that those feelings of hope are normal but don't let them stop you on your path to healing.

stillstrong posted 9/8/2013 12:45 PM

You've gotten a lot of good advice so I only want to address the thing that jumped out at me. It's not a man thing. When I did give a thought to taking X back if he fixed himself, I realized I didn't want to be constantly tripping over the many women he slept with while we were separated. It was just too much more shit on top of the AP's I already knew about. And even though these women were not homewrecking AP's, they were still women my X had intimate relationships with and stuff that was private and excluded from me. No thank you.

gonnabe2016 posted 9/8/2013 15:24 PM

Your story sounds like the gender flip-flop of me and my stbx. Almost exactly.....even down to having this SAME EXACT thought that you did: ****"'Look! Look at the shit I did this time!! Do you still love me?'"****

It is atrociously abusive behavior.

I, too, have received many emails/texts of a similar fashion. Mine were typically reversed, though. I would get the "we love each other. Let's give it another chance. I can DO IT *this* time." And I, too, would parse around to see what he had been up to as a means of determining whether he was *real* this time or not.....because I've been doing this dance with him for long enough that I *know* from the tone of his emails/texts WHEN he is involved with someone else and when he isn't. And I haven't been wrong yet.

The problem is that it's a huge mind-fuck for you....and it is incredibly cruel. She hasn't even begun to make a dent in the pile of shit that's already on the table, and then she just keeps piling more and more on top of it.

The fact that she is *bewildered* that you don't have a desire to remain close friends with her is all the proof that you need to show that she is totally clueless about the effects of her behavior on you and your *family* and that you really do need to let go of the rope (*hope*) for good. She remains emotional poison.

I was finally able to do this. Finally. And it just occurred very recently (due to another round of the "give me another chance" even though I've continued to run back to OW) that I told him that I was done dealing with his fucked up bullshit. I didn't want to be his wife. I didn't want him to be my husband. I didn't want to be married. Enough. I'm done. And I MEANT it. I really and truly meant it. And I cannot tell you how I finally *got* there....I don't know the *secret formula*, I just know that I *felt* it.

The *give a fuck* meter is real. And the day will come when there will be no *give* left in yours.....

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