Before addressing anything else, I just wanted to extend a thanks to Deeply Scared & MangledHeart, the moderating staff, as well as all of the wonderful members here, be they betrayed or wayward. Surviving Infidelity is such a great place and has helped me as well as my wife immensely. The outpouring of support and help this place offers those suffering through all this stuff is so invaluable. So thank you to each and every one of you.
That said, I've needed to be away. Needed to be away from infidelity, adultery, cheating, whatever you want to call it. Despite my best efforts it was consuming everything about me and slowly but surely driving me insane. I felt like I was becoming obsessed with everything about my wife's affair. Not in an unhealthy way mind you, just... it being there constantly. Thinking about it, being reminded of it, triggering from it, being fearful of it. It was my life, as I'm sure and know many here can relate.
In October I was consumed with two opposing thoughts. One was I love my wife and want to work toward our future together, that I forgive her and see just how much she is changing and working on herself and us. The other thought, which was slowly growing without me addressing it, was a developing resentment and bitterness that was eating away at everything else. My internal self talk was taking a turn for the jaded and I wasn't paying attention. Everything she did or did not do was colored by the affair even if it had no relevance. Why? Because it's the only thing that was in my head. And I wasn't doing anything about that.
I couldn't enjoy our son like I wanted to. I couldn't enjoy our daughter like I wanted to. I couldn't enjoy our family as a whole. Couldn't enjoy anything really. I wasn't happy. I was utterly and absolutely miserable. Music, television, exercise, food, writing, reading, games, anything. Nothing I did was fulfilling. I found too much of my time was thinking about the affair. In the shower, in bed at night, eating lunch, changing a diaper, walking down the street, during sex, it didn't matter, the affair was there every second. Be it an in-my-face trigger or just that subtle notion that my world is forever changed and nagging feeling that my life isn't "right".
I was becoming combative with my wife and quite frankly feel like I was turning into an asshole. Every second, there it was. And it didn't help that I came here every day. Opening up every new thread multple times a day. Checking back on topics I'd read previously. Scouring through post after post seeing if there was something that could help me, something I feel I could reply to or worst of all... just because it became my thing to do, my "hobby". My wife's affair had become my life and everything else was just me going through the motions.
So what's happened in the past 4 months? A lot of introspective thinking, lots of talking, acceptance and realizations. I'm in a much much better place mentally. I've also come to realize, and begrudgingly accept, I'm not on the 2 year or 5 or anything plan. This is just my life as it is now. My wife had a brief affair following a mental breakdown precipitated by a lifetime of crap. Nothing can change, alter or otherwise do anything about it. Despite feeling like I'd accepted it before, I hadn't. I had that nagging feeling, that desire to somehow alter the past. I wanted that time machine so bad. I don't anymore.
I look at my wife and see such a beautiful person. She has changed and grown beyond any measure I thought she could. We've had some problems in the past few months but almost entirely caused by me letting my negative feelings affect me and not dealing with them like I should. I also stopped communicating those feelings to her. I didn't want to push her guilt or make her feel shame, so I swallowed up the feelings. I didn't want to negatively affect her positive changes. I saw how much she was improving, and just as she was doing so I was becoming consumed by that bitterness. "Why should I have to heal? Why do I have to be accepting? Why did this happen to me? I miss feeling happy. I miss enjoying life. I hate being sad all the time. I hate that things bother me now when they never did before." Yet there she was demonstrating her new coping mechanisms, handling stressful things and making decisions properly. I'd be in a terrible mood and overreact to something (which was sadly becoming the norm) and she dealt with it properly... she did what I used to do. She was calm, rational, understanding, willing and wanting to talk. I've been humbled more than once by her newfound grace and positivity.
Why though? Why was I getting like that? Quite frankly I've been terrified of being happy. Scared to enjoy my life. The more she changed, the better our life became, the more I grew fearful. What if this doesn't last? What if this is all some long form sham and she's secretly going to really screw me over in the future? I started getting paranoid. I didn't want to start feeling happy in case it was going to get yanked away from me. I can't go through this sort of thing again. That combined with my seeming obsession with her affair was just getting too me too much. I freaked myself out when I started thinking how easier and "safer" it would be just to stay miserable and bitter. That's when I decided I needed to do something or else I was bound to get worse, and only I could change myself.
I took a long walk one day and sat nearly freezing on a park bench and just started talking out loud to myself. I said all the things my rational self would say and I listened. My emotional self then expressed all the horrible shit I was thinking and feeling. I conversed with myself for nearly an hour, out loud, in a park with people roaming about. I didn't care, and I needed it. Journalling, talking to my wife, posting on here, going to counselling, none of it helped me as much as just spilling out every diametrically opposed and conflicting thought or feeling I had out loud to myself. I decided I made a choice to stay with my wife, to let her grow and change. I made a choice to carry forth as a family and part of that choice is learning how AND actually coping with what's happened to me. Not just pragmatically, not just logically, not just rationally, but with my feelings. One of the things I came to the conclusion of is that I thought about and dealt with her affair way too much. I needed to stop.
So I've spent the past few months learning how to ignore the affair. I try not to talk about it, when I trigger I do my best to brush it off and when it could be of relevance I choose to make it irrelevant. I was concerned this could be a form of rug sweeping, or perhaps even compartmentalization. It's not. I've more than scrutinized every fiber of the damn rug let alone anything that could be put under it. You don't heal a wound by constantly picking at it, reopening it and perpetually staring at it as if it's the only thing in existence. My problem was I didn't know how to let it go. For me, I just had to. Just had to stop. Stop making it part of my life. Force myself to focus and do other things, to try and re-embrace what I used to love, and somewhat more importantly find new things to love. I had to just live my life without the affair.
My wife still comes here almost daily. Her browser is filled with SI tabs, and she's every so often telling me about something she's read. And we've had a few talks about how she feels regarding the affair and other stuff related to it. I'll still address it and talk to her about it if it's important to her. Yet for me, I can't let it take hold of my mind anymore. I choose to sit on the floor building a block castle for our son, or watch him try and start walking, or help our daughter learn to read, or something that's become really important embrace my life with my best friend. Our relationship has livened up in wonderful ways all just by simple gestures like laying in bed together on Sundays, cuddling without distractions to watch movies, sitting with each other actively, and something I missed so much: flirting. . I've gone out of my way to do everything I can that isn't affair related. I've gone out of my way to live my life without the affair. I dumped it's sorry good for nothing ass.
But also, despite learning to ignore the affair (in what I feel is a healthy way), because honestly at nearly 2 years out it as a thing isn't really important to our lives anymore, I think I've finally embraced my emotions. I do not ignore them. I talk about them constantly with my wife, I share what I feel and how I feel about things. We both know it's often a result of the affair, but in the moment the affair has nothing to do with my feelings. The feelings matter, the affair doesn't. It's hard for me to articulate this, but I hope you understand. It's a distinction I had to make for myself to be able to move on.
Which I think I really finally am. For a couple months I combated myself daily in an effort not to come here. Or look up something else about infidelity. But after a couple more months... I actually am glad I'm not here daily I appreciate and admire those with the strength and desire to extend themselves to those newly suffering years out from their own devastation, but it's not in me. I get dragged down too easily in my head which isn't mentally or emotionally healthy for me.. Even now my wife thinks I'm depressed, which I believe she's right. I still don't enjoy life like I used to, but I actually feel for once (not just think) that my future will be happy. To combat that depression and general malaise of life I need to stay away from the affair. It has no place in my life anymore. I've had more moments and actual days of happiness since making my choice than I thought I would. We have sex now and I don't think about it. That is so beyond awesome. I can look at her and feel love, wholeness and happiness like I once did without the pain getting in the way. Not always sadly, but the fact I have moments or days like that makes me very hopeful.
I'll always carry the pain of my wife's choices in some way probably for the rest of my life. When I look at her though she's not the same wife. I feel safe with this person, she respects me, cares for me, I'm learning to trust her and I know that she finally loves me in a healthy way. Also, much to my joy, I see the beginning of her own self love. Our daughter is wonderful and watching my little clone grow is an amazing thing to behold, my wife has gone back to school and is excelling in her program. She started looking for a new job without me knowing, but the irony of all ironies is I've told her to hold off until she's finished with school (despite the fact I'd love her to leave her work). She can't take being there personally anymore, so even in that regard it will soon be a distant memory. And we've even taken up new hobbies together. We recently got into playing board games together. Life's, really, just moving forward. Something I was afraid of but am now looking forward to.
I'm not happy like I want, but learning to live a life not consumed by "the affair" has renewed me in many ways. One day I'll be where I want to be and I know my wife will be by my side. And now, I actually think I can enjoy that and not be scared. I'm actually very much looking forward to our 10 year anniversary next month. Something I'll be very happy to celebrate.
Again, I want to thank all of you here at SI who have helped me, have helped my family. You are people are amazing. I also would like to say sorry to those who have followed me and taken a personal interest in my story. My last post was conflicting and quite negative, and my sudden disappearance wasn't appropriate. I'm sure it left more than a few at ill ease, so I'm sorry for that. My wife has been talking about this place a lot recently and I felt I should update on myself for those of you who care.
Anyways, thanks for reading.