I swear my husband should have been a counsellor, but then he'd be the poorest one in the profession because he would actually be able to *tell* people what's wrong with them and set them on the path to healing. Anyway...
My husband and I were having a conversation the other day, and he was asking me about my relationship previous to him. He's done this a lot, and until this conversation, I could never understand why that relationship mattered. It was a long-distance teenage thing that I used to fill the lonliness in my life. I never took it seriously and never really thought he (then-boyfriend) did either. A little back story...
I know it (the relationship) only happened because I met him when I was 15, all my other friends were getting boyfriends, and I thought it was just time for that to happen with me. I had only become interested in guys in the previous year or so and had, until then, been largely asexual. I liked being able to say I had a boyfriend without having to do any of the work. We talked once a week on the phone for a little over a year (he could tell you exactly how long). Then I broke up with him because I was about to leave for college, three hours further from him than I already was, and I just didn't really see a future with this person.
We briefly got back together before I met my husband, but that's veering into a totally different direction. This is all to say that when my husband and I were talking the other day, he asked me how I really felt about my ex, and I finally realized, and said, that I saw him more as an accessory.
That realization created a domino effect in my mind that led me to realize I've treated people this way my entire life. While I've always understood that other people had thoughts and feelings just like I do, it never seemed "real" to me; I guess that's what you call a lack of empathy. This has started explaining so much about my entire life that it's incredibly overwhelming. Why I was always so lonely. Why I had so much trouble making friends. Why people seemed to avoid me.
I know what I'm describing sounds narcisistic, and to a degree it is, but I've done a lot of reading on narcs and really don't think I am one. I have (and have always had, and never hid) a massive inferiority complex. I've never told the world how amazing I am or thought I was a gift to the world. In my mind, everyone is better than me, and everything bad that happens is my fault. I was terrified of confrontation and was a huge people-pleaser (both faults that contributed to my cheating).
However, I never really considered the feelings of others. I wanted people to like me, desperately, and never understood why they didn't. It never dawned on me that, in my quest to be well-liked, I shoved everyone around me away because I was so over-bearing.
When I cheated, I honestly didn't think my husband would care. I know that sounds callous, but that was where my mind was at the time. As long as I stayed out of his way, he wouldn't give two shits what I did, I thought. What I was really doing was projecting my lack of regard onto him. I did the same when I lied, thinking I was somehow being more helpful by lying than by telling the truth, in spite of the fact that my husband kept saying, "Just tell me the truth, and everything will be okay." I didn't believe that. He couldn't be telling the truth. Again, total lack of respect for his needs or feelings.
I was a shitty person. I can still be a shitty person. When I'm overly tired, cranky, frustrated, upset, those old coping mechanisms come screaming back and cause more damage.
God this post is all over the place, but I really needed to start the process of writing this all down. I'm extremely overwhelmed, and I'm terrified that I can't "fix myself," for lack of a better phrase. I don't want to be a shitty person. I don't want to be unable to empathize with my husband. I want and need to be a better person than I am right now, than I have been in the past.