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VD2012 posted 9/23/2013 22:28 PM

Fair warning, there be spoilers for a mythological entity in this post. :)

A couple weeks ago while trying to use one of my more esoteric analogies to try and explain how I've been feeling lately to my wife I mentioned to her that I liken her to Santa Claus.

Good old jolly fat Saint Nick. What a guy. Cherished and revered by millions (perhaps billions) of children and others. Some hate him because of mass marketed consumerism, others love him for the ideal of generosity, but all the same most have some thoughts and feelings about Santa.

Almost all children grow up believing in the idea that he is very much real. It is a wonderful time for children. Christmas is an amazing event as they anticipate their favourite mythical being's arrival to bestow upon them all sorts of crap they honestly don't even need and more than likely will be bored of in a few days. Or at least I'm pretty sure that's not just our daughter.

I believed in Santa despite hearing rumblings on the school yard he wasn't real. When Ernest saved Christmas, I believed. Santa Claus had to be real. But the doubts crept in early. Even as a kid I was too logical and rational for my own good. I figured Santa wasn't real on my own mostly, but it was confirmed the Christmas Eve I saw my father setting out gifts from "Santa" that I had already found in my mother's armoire. I felt destroyed, betrayed and was so disillusioned I didn't see the point of going on. I was six.

After that my father quickly realized I knew. And thus then the rest of my family. Yet still we carried on with the idea of Christmas and Santa. My 50 something grandmother talked about Santa as if he was real to her and I just couldn't understand why. The why hit me nearly a decade later into my late teens and solidified a few years ago when our daughter was born.

I very much believe in Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas was a real person. The idea of Santa personifies generosity, good will to our fellow persons and loving those around, which has has stuck with me. All with the tidy neat lesson of "be good and be rewarded in kind, be bad and suck on some coal" which is a valuable lesson every one of any age can take to heart.

But I don't believe in Santa like I used to. That magical innocent belief in this jolly fairy man who could spirit himself around the world all in one night to bring boys and girls joy... Well I can never get that back. I can appreciate it for what it is and I genuinely love to see that untainted enthusiasm in children. I don't look forward to that inevitable day when a school yard bully shatters my daughter's world and she learns the 'truth'.

I have a more realistic and honest appreciation for what Santa is, was and should be. I don't have the childhood glee at the concept but on a level this approach seems more fitting and it's tangible. I could have easily become a curmudgeon and be resentful of that bubble bursting. I see many like that today who think the idea of Santa is childish, think it's deceitful to children and they generally can't even enjoy any facet of him.

My wife had an affair that killed me inside and destroyed the world I believed I had. She not only told me Santa isn't real - she bludgeoned, stabbed, incinerated and then blew up the corpse of a man dressed up as him to hammer home the point. What I believed about her became as unreal as what I believed of Santa as a child. And there's no going back to that.

I now find myself struggling to reach that same level of acceptance and understanding that I hold Santa in regard to today. I want to believe in this change in her. I see it, I know it, I feel it. I can appreciate who she is now in a grander and more meaningful way than I ever did before. I have watched her change and I know it is true. Yet, I miss knowing Santa is really real all the same. I feel much the same about her.

We can never go back. I can never look at or remember her the way I once did. I don't like that, it hurts me and bothers me so much. I see her for what she really truly is. Good and bad. I have a better love and appreciation for Santa Claus now, especially being able to share it with my daughter (and eventually my son). The realness and understanding I have for his myth are honestly better this way. But... yet... however... I still can't help to sometimes wish I could truly experience what it was like before. Even if it wasn't real, it was to me at least. I'm no longer hurt or bothered at the revelation of Santa Claus being bogus in the way I used to think. I actually quite like how things are now in that regard.

I hope I can fully come around to believing in and accepting my wife's affair as a part of my life. I want to totally commit to the idea that she has changed and this will never happen again. But I'm scared. I admit that to myself now. I'm absolutely terrified. I've nearly died multiple times, almost been paralyzed, been literally abandoned by everyone I know... but this is the first time I've ever been afraid in my life. I don't know how to handle it. I feel it is crippling me and lately my relationship with my wife has suffered.

Today she went back to work and I've not handled it well. She's listened to more than enough rambling from me and also had to deal with me being unintentionally distant toward her. I thought I could handle today well but I'm not. That is until I thought of Santa Claus. The only reason I started believing in Santa the way I do now is because I chose to. I had to look at him in a different light and accept that. Now admittedly comparing Santa with infidelity may not seem sensible to some of you but I hope I've gotten my point across.

I need to start truly believing in my wife. I need to let go of the fear. She literally has given me no reason to doubt her and she is very much a different person. In fact, that's kind of what is also scaring me. I'm used to my old wife, the one who betrayed me. This person walks around in her body and acts incredibly differently, yet is still the same person. I don't really feel like I know this person but I like what I see. I want to believe it's true but... what if I'm wrong? She's been trying to do everything she can to help me and show me she's different and I keep pointing out to her that I see everything very clearly, but I'm just simply afraid. I'm not used to fear and I don't know how to handle it. Yet it will kill our relationship if I don't find a way to deal with it. This is my issue to deal with, not her's.

I want to believe, maybe not in the childlike innocent way as before but in the real and honest way I know I can. I feel like I'm at some sort of tipping point. Is this how it happens? Taking that leap? Just accepting and moving forward?

Anyways, just wanted to share my thoughts. Thanks for reading.

hardlessons posted 9/23/2013 23:30 PM

Your doing great VD, just wanted to say I think a lot of you two and wish you the best.

AFrayedKnot posted 9/24/2013 05:24 AM

I'm used to my old wife, the one who betrayed me. This person walks around in her body and acts incredibly differently, yet is still the same person. I don't really feel like I know this person but I like what I see.

Another bullseye!!!
Thank you again!!!

cantaccept posted 9/24/2013 06:10 AM

Your story was amazing. I can so relate to what you say.

You have expressed so many of the feelings that I also have. Loss of an illusion and the grief for it. It is confusing because how can you grieve for something that wasn't real?

Choosing to love this "new" version of your spouse. Recognizing what a "real" marriage should be as opposed to the fantasy version.

I am going to print this out for h. It expresses so beautifully the loss but also the hope. The hope in the future of authenticity.

The loss of that blind trust and the desire to build a life based on truth.

Choosing to love the person, the real person in front of you and not the fantasy version.

So much more, I am going to read it again, probably several times.

rachelc posted 9/24/2013 06:30 AM

thanks for sharing VD...great analogy..

Other ppl's spouses must change more than mine... I mean, what differences do you notice? Or, they must have been real pieces of work before their A. But, a lot of people say this - like, "I love the man he is now."

could you talk about some of the changes she's made, VD?

brokensmile322 posted 9/24/2013 06:56 AM

Wonderful post, VD!

Sorry you are struggling. Yes, it is fear that controls us. You are one step ahead, though, as you have realized that it is the fear that is driving your thoughts about her returning to work.

I, too, struggle with this. And, yes, it is ours to deal with...


wert posted 9/24/2013 08:12 AM

I want to believe, maybe not in the childlike innocent way as before but in the real and honest way I know I can. I feel like I'm at some sort of tipping point. Is this how it happens? Taking that leap? Just accepting and moving forward?

Yes I think it is. I would add that it is not a solitary event. It ebbs and flows, that fear, those feelings, return even after we have made a choice to fight them and believe again.

This was an excellent and timely post for me personally. My W called me after work last night and said she almost had to call OM for work purposes. They work together distantly and indirectly but there is always a small chance she will need to contact him. My fear, that I have not felt in a while, crept up immediately. I wanted to run, divorce, separate our money and take my kids out of the state. Gut level I was scared because I don't want those feelings. I am still processing this. I didn't sleep well last night. I have been distant. I don't want to kiss or for her to touch me.

Fear ebbs and flows with this stuff. Context and situations stir up feelings and we need to process...We are never as healthy as we think we are because life keeps happening...

The key for me this morning is here and now. My W, changed, she told me, she continues to grow. I can live in the past or I can live in the now.

You know VD2012, I think it critical to live in the present, but also to live in the world, our bodies and not our heads. Our body does not live in the past only the present. Our brains go where ever the hell they want to...we have control of them not the other way around. Perhaps that is why physical exhaustion and exercise is such and effective tool in helping to calm the mind. It brings you to now.

Thanks for the timely post and I hope you get beyond your fear for now. It's a process, it comes and goes, just like thoughts....

This all brings me back to ACT with Love...I may go back and read that book again now that I have a different perspective on my M and my W's A.

Excellent post...keep working...your level of processing is great and will serve you in everything you do. Thank you.

take care...

StillStanding1 posted 9/24/2013 09:01 AM

Thanks for a wonderful post, VD. I do love analagous stories -- for some reason they help me to process and get me to view my situation outside of myself, if that makes any sense.

You've given me some great food for thought. Disenchantment. Disappointment. Fear. Change. Hope. Acceptance.

Hoping to move through the process and find some peace. I wish you all the best as you find yours.

hopefullromantic posted 9/24/2013 10:23 AM

I remember explaining to my H that the discovery of his A was very much like learning the truth about Santa. But what I did not realize at the time was that, like you, VD, I eventually came to appreciate and believe in Santa in a whole new, but realistic way. It took me a while, but I eventually came to a similar appreciation with my H. Great analogy.

Rachelc, I believe the point VD was making is that change has to happen within the BS, as well as the WS, in our perceptions and conscious choices. There is no doubt our wayward spouses need to change in order to prevent more infidelity, but a lot of that change is understanding and acknowledging themselves for what they are or are not. They lose Santa too! However accepting that loss and becoming more real with themselves is a necessary change that you may not consciously see, at least for a while, partly because it takes a while. Time will tell. Meanwhile, another change is in us, the BS, to be able to see our partners for what they really are and to love them anyway. Or to see them as they really are and know that we can not continue a life with them.

Going another step with the Santa analogy...the mature us knows the real Santa is not just someone who gives us stuff we want. Instead, as VD said, real Santa still personifies the act of giving (and there's a bit of Santa in all of us).

LA44 posted 9/24/2013 10:42 AM

Now admittedly comparing Santa with infidelity may not seem sensible to some of you but I hope I've gotten my point across.

You did... and I thank you VD (insert Santa's twinkling eye wink here)

StillGoing posted 9/24/2013 13:06 PM

Very cool post. Should have the creepy woodchuck on it.

VD2012 posted 9/24/2013 21:50 PM

Thank you all for the replies.


I totally get where you're coming from and can really relate. I see the future I want, I see the present I live in and I see the past I come from. It's hard to not get sucked into the past by my fear in the present which hinders what I want from the future. I'm still processing it and at times I just don't want to anymore. My wife's actually the one I feel is holding things together and helping me through this otherwise I honestly think I'd just quit. I hate the sensation of fear. I don't know how to deal with it. I'm not even actually afraid of her. It's a "what if" fear that holds no weight in the present, only the past. Working through it is proving to be very difficult for me.


hopefullromantic nailed it very well with what she said. I quite like how she put it. Great post.

To be more practical though... My wife wasn't a "real piece of work" before her affair (though during is another story). That said in retrospect she wasn't my ideal mate. She had the potential to be and I held out hope from the moment I met her that my hope would come to fruition. Her moments of brilliance were absolutely wonderful. And I explained away all of her bad traits she had as resulting from her upbringing and those around her. Which is very much true, but she never did any of the work to fix herself, and in being honest I was okay with it. Probably me settling and taking what I could get due to my abusive upbringing. I only see this now looking back. Before her affair I was happy with her. With who I've changed to be now I wouldn't be happy with her.

Some important examples for me... My wife is no longer passive aggressive. At all. I'm actually not used to it and it's taking longer to adjust to than I expected. It was beyond frustrating to deal with her like that before. Her conflict avoidant behaviour is what caused a great deal of our interpersonal problems (exacerbated by me escalating those problems after the fact out of resentment). She talks to me, expresses her feelings and I don't have to dig around inside her head. I don't have to wonder what she's thinking or how she'll react, instead she tells me. She is actually the one now who more often than not comes to me to talk or work on things. And when she does she's incredibly levelheaded and reasonable.

Her anger, though still there at times, has diminished drastically and otherwise she has learned to handle it. She employs new coping techniques (mostly stuff she learned from her IC) and handles her feelings in a more mature manner. I'm no longer afraid of her taking things wrong or reacting harshly to my feelings. It can still happen, but she is immediately accountable and continues to improve. She's happier, more laughing, less dour, a joy to honestly just share the same room with. We don't fight anymore, mainly because she won't allow it and doesn't go there even though there's been some days where I'm borderline being a prick. Her calmness eases most situations.

Her self sabotaging habits and general sense of self defeat, both of which were fuelled by her self hatred are not gone but generally not much of an issue anymore. She used to never complete anything she set her mind to but in the past year alone has started and finished more projects and personal tasks than she ever did in the entire time I've known her. She even decided to go back to school, something I've encouraged her to do for years, and will be starting in a few months. She has a thirst and energy for things now that is contagious.

She is affectionate and compassionate to me. She was in her own ways before, but this is one area of life that has gotten to the point of "why did I tolerate less than this before?" thinking. I could say she wasn't before which isn't how it was, but compared to now it's almost true. Physically, mentally and emotionally she is attentive, loving and caring. When I talk I feel like she really cares and isn't disinterested. Because she may not be interested in what I'm talking about but she is interested in me. She initiates physical contact a lot now. I also just genuinely feel like she is there for me at all times if I need her and I can rely on her. Something I never felt before.

She doesn't "need" me. I feel like a wanted piece of her life worth having instead of someone to take for granted. She has become far more self reliant and capable. Her codependency is still there to a degree but she is controlling it while working on her issues.

She has finally opened up and shared things with me about her that I always wanted. I always told her for as long as we were together I want all of her, every part. And I never got it until now. She's vulnerable with me now whereas before she always played life safe thinking I'd be the one to hurt her or would leave her. Letting her guard down with me and letting me in has dramatically changed our relationship.

She's honest. Which she simply never was before. Being transparent and doing things right are more important to her now than her fear of rejection and abandonment. There's been plenty of time since D-Day when I'd expect her to lie by omission (which is what she used to do a lot) and simply didn't. With me, with other people, it doesn't matter. She actually got concerned and asked me to read an email she sent to someone she was selling something to and asked if it was dishonest. In the past, she wouldn't have cared what I thought and would have been dishonest to the person without any consideration. Honesty is very important to her now.

There's also little things. She introduces me to people now, and not as "my hubby" or anything but by my name. She'd often run into someone she'd know and I'd stand there looking like a big silent statue waiting for a chance to introduce myself. She's protective of me now which is most often apparent with her family. I catch her staring at me a lot usually with a smile and through little notes, messages, thoughtful deeds done or even a stupid Facebook poke I can tell she thinks of me often.

She's generally a markedly different person now. Her good attributes shine through and she's either working on the negative, or they're non-existent now.

It's really a matter for me to fully believe and accept this is part of my life and she's really changed. I reached acceptance regarding her affair and it happening. But it's hard sometimes to look at her and think "this person seriously cheated on me?" Truth is the answer is no, this person didn't. She she was before changing did. I just need to find a way to fully believe in that, which I'm sure is where time and consistency play a role.

I hope that answers your question. I understand a lot of people talk like that with not much to follow it up by.

Anyways, thanks again for the replies. I appreciate them.

blakesteele posted 9/25/2013 10:02 AM

Choosing to love this "new" version of your spouse. Recognizing what a "real" marriage should be as opposed to the fantasy version.

I am so there.

God be with us all.

tired girl posted 9/25/2013 10:17 AM


You put up a post last night in another forum that just really got to me. Your wife is lucky that you understand so well what was at the root of her A.

You used a phrase that she used him as a tool to do what she needed to accomplish. This , sent chills down my spine, I have used this exact phrase.

I am glad that you see her for who she is now and all the ways she has changed. These changes are usually very hard won.

I wish you both the best.

VD2012 posted 9/25/2013 20:20 PM

Thank you TG.

Seeing who she is now has been rather hard for me but I do think I see the real authentic her. And you're certainly right in the changes being hard earned. This definitely hasn't been easy for her, and it's still a process every single day.

As for the root cause of her affair. Took me awhile but yeah I finally understood. I knew before in an intellectual way, but I could never wrap my head around truly understanding, which I can now. It really boils down to an exit affair by an incredibly troubled person to spare me a life with her because I wasn't leaving any other way and she hated herself so purely for a myriad of reasons. It makes me incredibly sad for her actually when I look beyond my own pain.

I always did see that pain and sadness inside her. Not the full extent of it nor why it was there. But I saw it and did what I thought to help and always thought that should have been enough. But I have realized I could never out love the hate she felt for herself.

It's actually been her own realizations that are more important than my own. Understanding herself is what's allowing her to move forward. It's what is enabling these changes and making me feel safe even when the fear seems overwhelming.

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