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Avoiding the pain

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PrideFallen posted 1/11/2014 13:56 PM

Hello everyone. My BW has felt like SI has been a great support for her, and encouraged me to explore the site myself. I was hesitant at first; the threads that she sometimes sent for me to read seemed full of pain and I was at a point where I was trying to ďlook forwardĒ. Not that I was ignoring the past and my A but I was avoiding what I saw as wallowing in the pain.

Iíve done a lot of reading the past week, particularly on the wayward forum Ė I feel like I know some of you already, which hopefully isnít too creepy Ė and what Iíve seen are people who are honestly facing down the consequences of their actions, accepting all of the feelings that come as a result.

Back to the wallowing, though. One of the issues Iím having with BW as we try to reconnect is helping her see that I do understand and feel her pain. I honestly donít think that I have an issue with empathy, per se. Rather itís that if I immerse myself in feeling her pain I will, by definition, feel pain. (A lot of pain; I know because I was there, I was the one who inflicted it.)

This will sound initially like a non-sequitur but bear with me; I used to LOATHE the Wonder Years. Fred Savage would always do something brain-dead that would lead to his embarrassment and of course what was supposed to be a heart-warming life lesson. I could never enjoy the life lesson bit because I always identified too much with his awkward junior high embarrassment, so I just avoided watching the show in the first place. Why watch something thatís going to make you feel like crap?

Itís obviously not exactly the same with BW but there are parallels. Why would I plunge into her feelings when I know how much it will hurt? Intellectually I know she needs me to get there, but itís like asking me to stick my hand into a fire. Some sort of self-defense mechanism pulls me back.

Wondering if others have experienced this and if anyone further along has any advice. Anticipating a question, we are in MC and IC.

lostmymind13 posted 1/11/2014 15:52 PM


If I understand correctly, you are wanting to show her that you care for her pain that you have put her through. However, you don't want to feel the pain, because you were there. You were not there feeling pain, were you there having good or maybe enjoyable feelings? You may feel bad, horrible or even shame for the pain you have caused your spouse, and that is to be expected. I would just suggest that you continue to take full responsibility for your actions and for the destruction to your marriage that you have caused. Your spouse may just want you to take responsibility for what you have done and not try to explain that you are feeling the same kind of pain that you are making her go through..

SlowUptake posted 1/11/2014 16:26 PM

Hi PrideFallen, welcome to SI.

Intellectually I know she needs me to get there, but itís like asking me to stick my hand into a fire.

In the beginning it is hard to face the consequences of what,we as waywards have done, the lying, the cheating, the total disregard of our BS's safety.

If we don't face the consequences, where is the catalyst for change?

We don't want to admit to ourselves that we are low down cheating scumbags. Who would?
We want to hang on to the fallacy that we really are a good person who just got caught up in the circumstances.

Some sort of self-defense mechanism pulls me back

It's called pride and covering your own ass. You need to let go of the pride and own your actions.

Our BS's need to see us trying to understand and empathise with their pain.
In reality we & they know we can't fully understand it, but they need to see us try.

It took me a very long time to let go of my pride and become humble, my BS has the patience of a saint, yours may not.

So, should you stick your hand in the fire? That depends on whether you want to help your BS heal & build a new marriage or not.

Being a cheater, you have a track record of taking the easy option. Change that.

There is no magic pill or easy path to this.

I'm afraid it's one of those 'be a man, suck it up & just do it' things.

It's part of 'doing the work' that we talk about so much on SI.

I wish you luck on your journey.

[This message edited by SlowUptake at 4:28 PM, January 11th (Saturday)]

PrideFallen posted 1/11/2014 17:25 PM

Thanks for the replies. I have faced consequences and my BW would confirm that I've owned my actions and the pain they have caused. I won't claim by any stretch that I'm "healed" but I've started down the path of change. I'm sure there are many hard lessons still to come.

Maybe instead of avoiding the pain - it's kind of unavoidable - perhaps the title should have been avoiding the sorrow? Even that isn't quite right. I can't just break down and let the pain wash over me and overwhelm me. I do feel the pain, but I also ward it off and don't let it dominate my soul. Sounds dramatic but I'm not sure how to express it properly.

I want to just break down and have some cathartic moments with the grief of it all. I don't know if it's pride necessarily that gets in the way, although I'm open to the possibility. Covering my own ass? Maybe in a way, but emotionally rather than trying to avoid consequences or change.

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