This was going to be a quick reply to someone saying they were having trouble dealing with the feelings of panic and anxiety when they happen, in the midst of enjoying something together with the betrayed spouse and having feelings of joy. Rather than hijack their thread I'll just post my reply as a new topic, since this got longer than I thought it would. :)
I took my wife to a concert of her favorite band 2 hours away last night. Something we've never done. It was way too loud and I felt like someone was stabbing me in the ear towards the end. Anyway, one minute she's beaming from ear to ear at me, which I ate up with a spoon. The next she says "You know, if it wasn't for what you did, we wouldn't be here right now." Then, back to smiling and patting my leg. Going to this concert was a new experience and I know she appreciated it, but I didn't have to book the tickets or take her. I did it because I wanted to. I wanted to show her I'm capable of change and I'm not being selfish and doing things just for myself. But I digress.
When we got back today, I told her my STD test results were ready online and were all negative and she told me she'd like to see on my computer for herself. It's a new kind of reality. Yes, we did awful things and there are consequences and reminders and your kid wants to know why mommy and daddy are crying again. But we're also making changes for the better. Smiling. Learning love languages. Talking. Being intimate, or attempts thereof. Notes and cards. Hallmark is making a lot off me these days. But yeah, so, time away was good, but now we're back at home and back to all the reminders of my infidelity. So yeah, it sucks, but you know what? It's getting better, one day at a time. She did smile from ear to ear. She did pat my leg. She did let me sleep in the bed at the hotel instead of on the couch/floor/doghouse/grass/road. (It would've been too late to drive back after). I take comfort in the small things. I've been staying away from the booze, porn, facebook etc. I thought it would be harder to do but when you want something (i.e. things to work out) badly enough, it's really not that difficult. I just say No. Where was this ability to just say No before, you ask? To the other also-married woman? Indeed. Living wasn't a conscious effort. I just stumbled around mindlessly doing whatever I wanted. The world revolved around me. So anyway, we were in a concert venue with plenty of booze, plenty of questionably dressed girls, and a lot of people facebooking in between sets, my wife included. I bought her several beers throughout the course of the evening, at her request, but I sat there sober, enjoying my wife's smile, trying to enjoy the music and wondering how many people there were hurting themselves or others through their careless actions. I'm trying not to stereotype the alternative-rock-concert-going folk, but there were definitely a few people there drunk after the first hour, and one guy in the bathroom even commented to me about the bad trip he was having from whatever he just snorted. That's not me anymore (The beer part, not the snorting!).
I've been proud of myself a lot lately, and I admit, I did groove on the props I got on all my changes lately, both from the counselors and my BW. But she said: "That's great, but don't pat yourself on the back too hard."
And I admit, it's difficult not to. I do feel much better about myself and my new way(s) of existing.
So, anyway, when she talks about leaving and the panic starts rising, I tell her that I wish she wouldn't, that I'm committed to her and us. I tell myself that I'm working on myself regardless. Because, as the books say, it's not about the outcome of this journey. It's about you becoming the sort of person you want to be, regardless of what happens next. I've been trying some new things as well for the anxiety. My IC gave me a printout of pleasurable activities and told me to take time for myself as well and learn to relax. One item on the list was to give your dogs a bath. So OK, I gave my dogs a bath. They love it. I wrap them in a towel and they're content to sit there in my lap for a bit before they go shake off. The look at you with puppy dog eyes because they love you and you're taking care of them and they know it and you know it and it doesn't matter what you did, because your dog still loves you. That's my happy place. Last night, when I was certain I would be deaf for the rest of my life, I thought of my puppies wrapped in a towel. Find your happy place and go there as needed. I'm also finding meditation music helps. My wife came up with an inspirational quote that really resonated with me: "Your past is not who you are."
My IC also told me this: When you first get a dog, you don't love it. It's going to make a mess, and poop everywhere and be a pain in the ass. But, as you take care of this creature for a while, you learn to love it and eventually you can't imagine your life without the dog. Healing our broken relationships is the same thing. It's tough at first, in the midst of all the triggers and setbacks, but eventually it gets better. Living authentically, as they say, eventually makes you authentic. Anyway, just thought I'd share that.
We waywards have done terrible, horrible things of Mount Everest high proportions. But, that's all changing now. Now we climb Everest. It's difficult. It's dangerous. But many others have made this climb before, so it's possible. We could get killed on the way, or she could still leave us. But the view from the top is amazing I hear. And as you stop at each base camp along the way, it's important to realize that, hey, look how far I climbed just to get here. It's still pretty
high up! OK, so maybe this analogy isn't as good as the life boat story... But, I like it. I hope my words today have been helpful to someone.
Strength and Peace to all.