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Help with interpretation - Am I overreacting?

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ILINIA posted 1/16/2014 08:01 AM

So 7 months out from dday. The past month I have been stable I have only had one big trigger that took me to the bottom of the roller coaster, but I was feeling really good about my progress. Since I have been stable, WH has had the space to start processing the A. It is hard that he is just having realizations now that I had months ago, but at least he is processing it.

I finished reading the Brene Brown book and we were talking about shame before we went to bed. I told him that I still struggle sometimes on a daily basis about the shame/embarrassment that I married someone that would do this to me and that I would continue to allow this person to share our home and our bed. I feel like I was treated disrespectfully and taken advantage of like a doormat. Well, we ended up falling asleep and the next he asked more about how I was feeling and what was in my head, so out came this:

My email:

If I had time, I was going to look up the definition of shame, embarrassment, and the opposite of pride. I am trying to understand how I feel. In short, I do feel like a fool. I think about how much energy I put into our marriage, into you, and into making everything work. I think about the sacrifices I have made with my job, my interests, and my time to support you and our family. I had been doing this for years and even asking you for help and for solutions. You brushed me aside along with any of my wants and needs. It is a slap in the face to have you make jokes and laugh about me, tell stories about my physical deformities, explain about how horrible your marriage was and how boring your life and sex life with me was, lie to me about fighting for our marriage, sit in our home and chat with a girl while we slept, and letting me sacrifice my income and job. You sold me out without hesitation or guilt. All the years invested, gone in a whim so you could get laid. It is more than a slap, it makes me question why I choose you to protect me and why would I have ever have trusted you? I married the guy who couldn't keep it in his pants. I married the guy that had a mid-life crisis with a 23 year old. I married the guy that tossed our marriage aside without any reservation. That is how weak our marriage and relationship was to you and yet I kept sacrificing and trying. I am embarrassed, disgraced, or ashamed that I was sitting in the backseat, why the hell was I there? Why the hell am I still there?

His response:

Obviously what you wrote is hard to read, but that's largely because it's true. The last sentence in particular scares me, but it's all real. It's what you're feeling, and neither of us should hide from it.

The way you invested in our marriage is not something to be ashamed of. Only I should be ashamed. It's embarrassing after the fact to feel used, I understand that, but you did the right thing. You understood marriage, and what it meant. I was the rat bastard who took all your efforts and shit on them.

Maybe there is a kernel in there of something for you to work on, though (I don't claim to know exactly what it is). I'm saying this in large part because one of the things that has helped me to cope throughout this process is the realization that I've got to make changes in myself. It helps to give me a focus and something to channel my emotions into. It's hard for you because this is all just a shit storm I brought down on you, but if you can identify something out of it that you can work on for yourself, it might help. Please take that in the spirit in which it's offered; I'm not suggesting that "you are the problem" or anything remotely like that, just that if you can find some personal growth aspect to work on it might help you feel more in control. You could work on something for you, presumably impacting me but not dependent on me.

I don't know if those thoughts are welcome or not; I'm sorry if I'm offering "solutions" when you are just venting.

1st Paragraph: okay
2nd Paragraph: okay
3rd Paragraph: Say what?
4th Paragraph: Not welcome.

Needless to say, I am not taking well to response for me to “find some personal growth”.
Let’s see what I have been doing the past seven months:

- Read over a dozen books on infidelity, happiness, fear, vulnerability, and wholeness (I should have married the Dalai Lama, now he has it together )
- Joined a support forum
- I journal
- Go to IC and MC
- Did an online meditation class
- Researching missionary trips for the summer

And even though he is my biggest trigger, I let him walk through the door everyday into our home with our children, I let him share a bed with me, and I met with his COW for an hour and had a “pleasant” conversation with her. I’m sorry, you want to give me advice? I think I am doing just fine without your arrogant and pompous attitude.

I think because this really gets on my nerves is that he has always carried a confidence/arrogant/cockiness attitude and when I read the email, I felt like he returned to THAT guy. Maybe he is just that clueless.

Looking to see how you would have reacted. Am I overreacting? Do I need to take a step back?

lordhasaplan? posted 1/16/2014 08:13 AM

Yeah, I think I get what he is saying but he fails to truly feel empathy that the personal growth is born from his actions. He rationally understands it but has yet o allow himself to feel it. If he did he would have omitted paragraph's 3&4. A woman mounting his penis doesn't equal personal growth for you.

[This message edited by lordhasaplan? at 8:13 AM, January 16th (Thursday)]

sisoon posted 1/16/2014 08:59 AM

I'm not suggesting that "you are the problem" or anything remotely like that, just that if you can find some personal growth aspect to work on it might help you feel more in control.

If it weren't from him, how would you react?

I'm awfully dense on some things, so I could be way off, but if my W said that, I'd think I'd be mad, but I also think I'd see a kernel of truth in there - if I want more control over my life, the answer lies within me, all other things being equal.

The feelings of shame and of being a fool are problems that have to be solved if you're going to recover fully from being betrayed - and only you can do that. That sucks, but I don't see any way around it.

eachdayisvictory posted 1/16/2014 09:30 AM

Hmmm, fascinating. Thanks for sharing your letters, it's interesting for me to be able to see the communication between two other people addressing similar problems.

My first thought, honestly, was that I wish my H could communicate as clearly and in detail as yours has. My H struggles so greatly with making his words represent his thoughts, that I often miss out on the process, which is what I read in your H's letter back to you.

I will give you my honest thoughts here, but I don't know if you will want to hear any of them - so dismiss if it's off base.

I think that if that letter makes you extremely angry and irritated, that's what it does. For me, I would have that reaction, notice it by myself, and then write about it for a few days to see what happens. For me, the problems I contributed to our M pre-A were, in my opinion, selfishness and self-centeredness. I don't think that ANYTHING I did had ANYTHING to do with the A, and the betrayal of that is something I am still not certain that I can live with.

BUT, what I have taken from this is an immense amount of self-growth. For me, the biggest change I have made is to drop my defensiveness. I might feel like you describe, but then I look at it from a distance, or as I would a friend telling me the story. I actually SEEK out something I'm willing to change about my thought process here, and have been shocked to discover the rewards of such actions. I also tell my H about that process, I let him know that I want to talk about the issue, that I have found some things I can change about my initial reaction, but there are still some concerns for me about his thoughts/words/actions.

For my H, he has never heard me admit wrong like I have been, and it has filtered into every part of my life. Admitting wrong, letting go of a search for feeling vindicated or satisfied with others acknowledging how 'right' I am, has been life changing. I don't want to go back to how I felt after our arguments in the past, it was horrible and I never felt 'finished' with any issue. They always ended with both of us 'needing' to have the other see that we were right, never achieving that, we swallowed our feelings and acted passive aggressively toward each other. It was horrible, and I have no desire to live that way again.

So, when I read your letters, I can see (without knowing him or you, so of course I could be completely wrong) that he is trying to be gentle with his words. He admits in the last sentence that this may be unwanted advice. It appears, to me, like he is trying to communicate and understand. I don't think he quite got it right, but who does always get it right the first time?

I see an opportunity for you to calmly and kindly express your concerns. If I were to discuss this letter with my H, I would begin by thanking him for the parts I appreciate, and let him know about any good feelings they gave me. Then I would let him know that I had some immediate reactions, sat with and (maybe) changed my thoughts on some of them, but that these particular points are still sitting poorly with me,and could he talk more about what he meant.

Hope that something may help in this. I don't know if it's right, but I like who I am right now. A lot. And that is a pretty nice thing to be able to say.

DixieD posted 1/16/2014 09:53 AM

Gently, and I don't want this to come out wrong, I agree with what he says from a grand scheme of things standpoint. It would be good for you to try to understand, why the hell were you there taking a backseat. I think a lot of BS (at least I know I did) had to look into that. It's tough and it hurts. It's an important stage to get to in the process when you look at what you tolerated and why. And I'm all for personal growth, look at my tagline.

That said, coming from a WH who caused this immense amount of pain and self-examination to have to take place to begin with.....I would have probably responded in a way that showed I'd not grown that much. Especially if your dday is close to the time you joined SI. Not even a year out? He could stuff his suggestions in a sock. ....but that's just me....

So IMO, you are doing well.

I think it's great that you are looking at this stuff Ilinia, and that the two of you are talking about it. And depending on the context of the conversation of how much you talked about what you see you have to work on and grow -- maybe he took his cue from that. I don't see a lot of understanding in that email (and it was email, so not the best way to get emotions across) that you are going to go through this process in a different way than he is.

My husband and I are not growing at the same pace. He's ahead of me. When I get discouraged about that, he points out that it's not a race. He pushed me down in a pit that I had to crawl out of first. That put me further behind. Plus, he's coming from a place of gratitude and remorse. You will both be coming at this from different angles.

I think your husband is seeing things logically and rationally but the depth of emotion and empathy that LHAP mentioned seems to be missing or wasn't coming across in that email.

He could work on that more too.

HormonalWoman posted 1/16/2014 10:03 AM

Perhaps he means growing as in doing something for yourself? Joining a new club, getting a new hobby, doing that course you always fancied sort of thing? Something that puts a focus on you and that you can feel good about.

When partners have A's we can feel really devalued but we can help that by doing something that makes us feel good and makes us put value in ourselves. Iyswim?

sinsof thefather posted 1/16/2014 12:24 PM

I read this a little while ago and something bothered me about it but I couldn't put my finger on what it was exactly. It wasn't what he was suggesting because I can actually see what he's *trying* to say - and I do agree with him about it - although I think it would be a damn sight harder for me to say that if he were my 'wayward' ...but even so there was 'something' I didn't like and I couldn't put my finger on what it was. Now I can see it. It's that the only 'sorry' in the message is at the end and is only in relation to whether he should or shouldn't have offered his suggestions. Where's the 'sorry' for what he did in the first place? It struck me that it seems as though he acknowledges what you say is true, he acknowledges he did do it, how wrong it was, that it is him who should be ashamed, even calls himself a 'rat bastard' for it...but where's the specific apology to you in it? Where's the word 'Sorry' in all that part of the message?

So I agree with a couple of the other posters - there's logic..but I don't really see any empathy or feelings in it - and that is what was bothering me all along.

[This message edited by sinsof thefather at 12:25 PM, January 16th (Thursday)]

ILINIA posted 1/16/2014 12:41 PM

Thank you all for your interpretations! 2x4's are always welcome

I think why I reacted so strongly is that I HAVE been climbing out if this pit. He KNOWS I have been reading these books, he SEES me dealing with my emotions, and we have had discussions about the missionary trip and how I wanted to do it for me. I have also taken more time for myself the past few months. So when I read his response, I was like WTF? He sees me in the trenches, but cannot or doesn't know how to feel or have empathy for me.

I think it is what you all said, logically he gets it and logically I get it, but I don't need him to counsel me. I need him to feel with me, show emotions, and cry with me. Sometimes, I feel he is this robot or the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, his brain works, but he doesn't know how to tap into his heart.

DixieD posted 1/16/2014 13:25 PM

Ilinia, I just wanted to add that I don't know if you've hit the anger stage yet or not.

When I started to see all the ways that I took a backseat (as you wrote) and the treatment that I allowed, that's when my anger and resentment really started to build. It was not pretty. I was angry at my husband and angry at myself too.

If you haven't hit the anger stage yet, your husband may be shocked when it really hits. I would strongly suggest to him IF you do hit anger or rage hard and vent to not use this analytic approach without providing a great deal more support for your FEELINGS.

But again, you may be far more calm and controlled than I was.

I think you know what you are seeing and why you are frustrated. Keep expressing how you feel. Good luck!

ILINIA posted 1/16/2014 17:49 PM

Yes, I have checked off the rage stage at month 5...please tell me there is only one!

Eachday, Sinsof the father, and DixieD - I had more time to read your responses. A couple of words jumped out at me. The first one was growth. I feel like I am in a good place to start focusing on me. I did sit in the backseat for a long time, so I am figuring out how to be a better communicator and express my needs in a productive manner. I like that my personality is returning, I am focusing at work again, and that my compassion for people has tripled. It bothered me that he hasn't seen that growth, instead encourages me to find a "kernel in there of something for you to work on." It rubbed me the wrong way, as what do you think I have been doing?

The second word was gratitude. I think this is also why the letter fired-me up. Like empathy, this is where WH lacks. Maybe my love language is words of affirmation. Bear with me, I think I am having an "ah hah" moment! I think I need him to realize, acknowledge, and/or appreciate how hard it is for me to allow him in our home and our bed everyday. He tells me that I am a strong, beautiful, and compassionate but not necessarily in any context. I think I feel that once again I am sacrificing/delaying my needs to keep everyone intact and protected and he does not appreciate it or understand how hard it is. Therefore, his email felt condescending and he was basically saying, "Yep, I screwed someone, but hey, you can take something away from it and use it as a "growth experience". He might as well said "When life gives you lemons..."

Okay, thanks again SI folks for being helpful as I work this out. Now if you have any advice for him to become the world's most grateful and empathetic person let me know!

[This message edited by ILINIA at 5:51 PM, January 16th (Thursday)]

blakesteele posted 1/16/2014 19:04 PM

My H struggles so greatly with making his words represent his thoughts, that I often miss out on the process,

Eachdayvictory.....that whole response and my wife. It's like my wife doesn't share her process until it has arrived at a final product..... Only there is no final product, plus the process to the final product can be a great way to build intimacy. She is working on this but I, like you, welcome responses like this from our fWS's.

BUT. BUT. BUT.....

ILINIA.....I am 17 months out. I can see more of the picture, have processed enough if the A pain to take on some pre-M I can see what your husband attempted to do....and there may be a time for that. But that time is not now for you.

Like eachdayvictory I have recognized some of my own issues and have experienced some good personal growth. But blakesteele at 7 months out was in the midst of RAGE. F personal growth..... I was into personal protection and my wife was the enemy. No way was I willing to listen to anything she had to say to try to "help" me grow!

I think it was a poor choice by your husband, but would be the made it from a genuine good-faith spot. It was not intentionally hurtful.....though that is the result . It would have hurt me too at 7 months out. On fact, our old MC kind of did this similar thing with me ....move me to pre-A issues before I was had the same results on me as this did on you.

I am sorry you are in such pain. Stumbles like this are part if the process. 2-5 years......this is a long journey and stumbles are one of the reasons for this.

God be with us all.

blakesteele posted 1/16/2014 19:17 PM

That whole "I won't address something till I can get it right" attitude eachdayvictory eluded to?

I kinda think that is a trait of many WS's. If they can't get it right they, many times, don't admit it and never speak of it. I realizing this is part of my wife's journey.

I see where some of my pre-A issues caught her attention, annoyed her enough to lightly try to engage, I invalidated her attempts and she reverted back to her "conceal, deny, ignore" mode of operation....a mode her sister supported her in. Same foo.

So NOW I try hard to not get defensive (as eachdayvictory also eluded too), try to keep my pride in check, and know I have succeeded when I DONT feel I "won" the conversation. I stumble too.....I have to work hard to listen to the feeling and NOT try and find reasons behind it or reasons why those feelings shouldn't be there.

The realization that all feelings are real....regardless if the facts that generate them are truths or lies.....feelings are real.

Again, I really think your husband found some courage to try to engage WITHOUT knowing exactly how. Courage to act even with lots of fear present . He also admits to bring scared....I think that is also hard for a fWS to admit to. They spent so much time thinking and telling themselves they were "in control " that they can "handle this". That was a lie, but I think there is a control component to each WS. There has to be.....if they were not feeling in control, the fear of adultery and being found out would keep it from happening.....right!

He should have stopped right after he expressed his feelings to you. He stumbled by going away from himself and getting into you. It offended you....and rightfully so . I just don't think he did it in mean nature.

Can you just engage him with how it made you feel.....and stop short of "teaching him a lesson"?

Therapist worked with me on this.....have not mastered it yet....but stumble far less than I did. It still hurts when I stumble though.

Peace be with you.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 7:24 PM, January 16th (Thursday)]

sisoon posted 1/17/2014 07:20 AM

Uh...I went through a number of rage stages. I think a lot of folks go through one, but some do it multiple times. Just sayin'....

If you're angry, you're angry, after all - it's just feelings....

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