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reposting from Wayward Side

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aboutdamntime posted 2/9/2014 11:46 AM

It has been really helpful for me to tell people about my choices and disordered thinking, so here goes again. My first post on SI:
Last April my wife learned about the most recent of multiple affairs I have had over our 24+ year marriage, and then I told her about the rest. To say she was devastated doesn't nearly capture it. Shattered, destroyed, destabilized, humiliated, attacked, bewildered.
Let me put it more accurately: I devastated her, shattered her, destroyed and destabilized what she knew of our marriage, humiliated her, attacked and bewildered her.
My AP and I maintained a fiction of a "couple's friendship" with my wife while we had an on-again/off-again 4-year affair. I betrayed my wife more profoundly, but the AP also did.
And my wife responded with courage, anger, hurt, forgiveness, and love. This astounds me still --- if someone told me this story and asked my advice, I'd tell them to leave the guy. She didn't, an amazing and undeserved gift that I can't rationally grasp, but for which I am unbelievably grateful.
At the time this all came out, I was blessed with one small understanding: the path I was on was leading to a lifetime of duplicity, inauthenticity and dissatisfaction. I needed to get off that path, take a hard look at myself, and get to a place where, even if I lost everyone I currently loved through my actions (including our 3 children who could also have turned away,) I could still start to build some ability to know myself, love and connect with people from the truest, honest part of myself.
Like many on SI, I struggled with self-realization. I missed the AP and the social circle she represented, despite its malignant, false implications. I sought at times to blame my wife, and to understand the family issues that brought me to one place, and the choices I made after that brought me to this place.
The brief version: a philandering, abusive, alcoholic and powerful father, professionally and socially admired and the absolute authority within the home. A meek, loving and anxious mother, whose love was unconditional but intimidated by my father's rage and threats of making her an "abandoned woman." Four siblings, all close in age, all struggling and all of us acting out the chaos and enormous hurt in our lives, sometimes at each other's expense.
I grew up not just doubting my self-worth, but fairly convinced that anything I wanted or needed could easily be taken away if I didn't behave "just so." I had lots of old hurts, lots of new and ongoing distress that I didn't even recognize, or if I did, felt it was my wife's job to take away. Just in the way I believed it had been my parents' job, but of course they can't erase all our hurts; life just hurts. I sought out vulnerable women, wounded creatures who needed emotional protection, and felt powerful when I could use my sensitivity and pseudo-vulnerability to seduce them.
I still am trying to figure some of this out. Just recently I came to realize how terrified I am of abandonment, and that perhaps I was always trying to keep another relationship available in case my wife grew fed up, learned the truth, or simply stopped loving me.
My wife and I have been blessed, in an odd way, by the catastrophe of my choices. We chose to open up to one another, to speak about ourselves more honestly and to not suppress the hurts that in past turned into resentments. We found each other stronger than we believed. And we found our marriage stronger than ever.
For me the greatest blessing of all has been this: to let go (mostly -- I'm working on this) of resentment and the dissatisfaction that plagued me and kept me from the joy of loving my wife for who she is. To see her again, to see her anew and so powerful and brave, has allowed me to love her in a way I never came to before.
A few other things we both found helpful: books on affairs, and books on being wounded and open. I particularly recommend "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts" by Gabor Mate', along with Brene Brown's work. We both found art -- she poured her pain into sculpture and I wrote poetry, read poetry, took a class. When I write like that, I not only feel like I HAVE to be honest with myself, but also that the intense focus on capturing the image helps me awaken what has lain unexamined in my heart and soul.
We have a great marriage counselor and my individual counselor has held me to a higher standard, bringing me along to better self-understanding.
This post feels long and self-indulgent, but I guess no one has to read it. I send it to wayward spouses like me with a message of love and compassion for your betrayed spouses and for YOU, struggling to find your confused way. The work can seem daunting, impossible and with it you may find new despair (as I have --thankfully I didn't run in front of that bus a couple of weeks ago). But as my daughter says, the world is "FUCKING AMAZING" and this is our only chance to embrace it with our whole hearts.
Let's do that.

eachdayisvictory posted 2/9/2014 11:57 AM

Amen. I am in the most amazing place with my H, and as much as it hurts, I truly don't believe there was any other path to this kind of openness and connection (for us) but his A. I wish it was different. I wish something else had awoken us, but it didn't. And it's over. All we have is what's in front of us, and no one can know what that is. But I can make it work for me. I can appreciate this FUCKING AMAZING world ('cause I agree with your daughter) every single day. I can choose joy, and find joy in giving of myself.

I feel like my husband is just meeting me after 15 years together. I feel like a highschool girl in love, and I have never, NEVER, felt loved the way I do by my H right now.

Thanks for sharing, it is profoundly affecting to hear from WSs brave enough to post outside of the 'wayward side'. Your words have lifted and encouraged me, and I am grateful for that today in this amazing world, with my amazing family and amazing me.

Morhurt posted 2/9/2014 12:06 PM

Thank you for sharing that, it felt good to read it. For some reason it always seems easier to accept these concepts that my H offers, when I also hear others express them.

karmahappens posted 2/9/2014 14:19 PM

My AP and I maintained a fiction of a "couple's friendship" with my wife while we had an on-again/off-again 4-year affair. I betrayed my wife more profoundly, but the AP also did.

The pain, abuse and betrayal that come from an affair when the AP pretends to also be a friend of the BS is horrific.

I hope your wife finds her way through this. Your dday was less than a year ago and although you make your post sound as though you are well on your way into R I am sure your wife is still hurting beyond belief. I wish her strength and healing.

I hope you are able to continue with your healing as well. It is a long road, but so worth the journey.

[This message edited by karmahappens at 4:07 PM, February 9th (Sunday)]

authenticnow posted 2/9/2014 15:30 PM


You have a PM.

aboutdamntime posted 2/9/2014 16:06 PM

Thank you for the comments, all. I hope it supports others' healing. Karmahappens, it is not my intent at all to downplay the profound, long-lasting and searing hurt my wife is feeling or has felt --the hurt I did to her. I am trying to listen, to apologize again and again with all my heart, to do my best to address my issues, and see if we can make a lasting marriage from the shambles of my dysfunction. What else is there to do?

karmahappens posted 2/9/2014 16:16 PM

What else is there to do?

Really, just give it time.

I was just editing my post when you posted, I removed a line I thought sounded snarky but it was not my intent.

I give any person credit when they are able to look inside fix their broken.

One thing that stands out to me, and I see it a lot with WS's, is the WS feels better about their healing, their marriage and their new path while the BS is still stuck in a world of hurt.The WS that gets it finds a lot of good in their new journey and aha moments. It isn't simultaneous, IMO. I don't know if that makes sense.

All you can do it continue, and try to make it

[This message edited by karmahappens at 4:16 PM, February 9th (Sunday)]

marionwendy posted 2/9/2014 16:49 PM

Thank you for posting your story. I hope you help your wife through everything. I hope you see her for the amazing woman she is. My husband says this roller coaster ride is the worst ride of his life. I cannot imagine how she feels but the steps you are taking sound like you are willing to help her heal. Your words to describe how you betrayed her made me cry. I hope the two of you make it. I hope you find your way and can fix what is now broken. Sending you strength.

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