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the wake-up call

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20WrongsVs1 posted 7/22/2014 10:46 AM

No stop sign, in part so MH can participate. This might be a little triggery for some BS, and if it stirs up negative feelings for BS, I'm sorry for that, and I respectfully request you refrain from participating.

My As were a wake-up call. Around age 3-7 I had the bad fortune to be accessible to a pedophile. Not sure exactly when it started, but it was the classic grooming scenario, a game, our little secret, all that sick bullshit. It ended when I said no. Pretty sure I was 7 years old, and I stood up to this grown-up and said, "We're done." Damn proud of Little 20 for that, but it's how she learned that being strong and bold is the solution to problems. For the rest of my life, pretty much all I carried in my toolbox was a hammer. Empathy was a completely foreign concept to me.

So last week I'm listening to a Ted talk by Paul Zak, a neuroeconomist who hypothesizes that oxytocin is "the moral molecule." Here's a quote from an article written about Zak's theories.

Oxytocin is released as part of what Zak calls the "human oxytocin mediated empathy" circuit. Research on women who endured repeated sexual abuse as children indicates this circuit does not function properly for them, said Zak. The abuse they experienced seems to prevent this circuit from developing properly, he said.

Well, knock me over with a fucking feather.

Zak has said some pretty asinine things WRT infidelity, such as, don't demonize wayward men, because their extra-high testosterone made them cheat. Whatever dude.

So my whole life I've been walking around wondering if I'm a sociopath or solipsist, because I've never felt guilty about one bad thing I've ever done. And I generally viewed other people as meat puppets, and treated them with disdain. Since I had no feelings, I had no regard for the feelings of others.

And now you're telling me it's because I have a busted neurotransmitter? Well F.M.L.

I'll go ahead and make the standard disclaimer, especially for those who don't know me and haven't heard me say this 500 times. Yes, ITA, my "damage" doesn't excuse or justify my choice to cheat. Not. Even. A little.

My A's were a wake-up call because it was finally clear that I needed therapy to deal with my damage. Even though I remembered the CSA around age 18 (I'd suppressed the memory) and always figured it had deeply affected me, I never considered the possibility that I'd darken the doorstep of a shrink's office, because "that's just the way I am." I am strong, bold, and if you can't handle me, fuck off! Shrink #1 happily reassured me that I'm not a sociopath, that I was experiencing PTSD which may have in part been triggered by DD being the age I was when I was abused.

What's my point? I am so fucking glad I started therapy, started reading books such as Nonviolent Communication by Rosenberg which taught me that I am solely responsible for my reactions to external stimuli. Grateful that my children get to grow up, the rest of the way, with a vastly improved mother. That BH and I are communicating more genuinely, IMO, than ever. Elated that I no longer wonder why I don't cry in situations where most people do. Because I can now! *Feeling* is awesome!

Could I have done all that without cheating? Well, of course. Am I sorry that my selfish escapism deeply hurt BH, and it was mostly the realization that I wanted to stay with him, that kicked my ass into therapy? Yes, OMG, every day.

I'm "awake" now, but I hate how I got here. While I'm healing, BH gets to deal with the fallout, and is living with a woman vastly different (in some ways) from the one he married, and that is so monumentally unfair.

WS, do you regard your A as a wake-up call? BS, if your WS changed for the better after DDay, if your WS "woke up," how do you feel about it?

rachelc posted 7/22/2014 10:50 AM

My A was a wake up call for me to grow up and get some values. To define the person I wanted to be. To stop blaming other people for my own unhappiness. Why I had to break someone's heart and bring myself down to ground zero to figure that out I don't know...,

Yes big wake up call. It should be for any wayward,

Wayflost posted 7/22/2014 11:30 AM

WS, do you regard your A as a wake-up call?

Yes. A thousand times yes. I was not willing to face the truly dysfunctional and harmful relationship I had with my HPD/NPD mother. By acting out in my marriage I was finally reaching my bottom. BH had always pointed out to me the problems in my relationship with my mother. I was angry with him every time he tried to help me grow away from it.

I had to destroy myself in order to get free. I could no longer be someone other people like. The girl who was sweet and kind and unobtrusive had to disappear. So I became this crazed animal. Took unacceptable risks, and exposed my BH to too many of them as well.

So now, post discovery, I am finally present in my primary relationship. I am participating in making choices and plans for the marriage. My BH is the only person outside myself who is considered when I am trying to make choices about what to do.

I have to be healthy because I deserve it. I have to do this work because BH deserves it. I want to be safe. And I want to be a whole person standing on my own two feet.

NewWorldMan posted 7/22/2014 11:36 AM

I wish my first affair(s) were a wakeup call. It would have potentially helped me avoid the mother of all my affairs, an LTA that just totally f%&$-ed with my head.

OK now posted 7/22/2014 12:10 PM

Not triggery in the least. Refreshingly honest and rather uplifting to read.

tangledknot posted 7/22/2014 12:23 PM

My D-day was less than a month ago, but this has been a huge wake-up call for me. I found your post very inspiring. Thank you.

familyfirst posted 7/22/2014 12:34 PM

Yes, sort of depending on how you define when you had the wake up call. The A itself did not wake me up, for a long time. I know the moment I had my actual wake up call. I was sitting on the toilet in a Target bathroom during my lunch hour taking a pregnancy test (my H is sterile, AP is not). Longest 3 minutes of my life. Fortuantely I had one last piece of luck and the test came up negative.

But like you having the A also led me to IC, which is where a lot more of my wake ups, or a-ha!s have been happening. Am I better for it? Not sure. I'm more authentic, more moral, but somehow better to me means happier, or my H is happier, or our M is better. None of these things have occured yet. Hopefully someday.

BH gets to deal with the fallout, and is living with a woman vastly different (in some ways) from the one he married

I struggle with not wanting to be a different person, but to fix all my *wrongs* (weak boundaries, thrill seeker, etc) I almost have to become one. How have you changed? Do you think your BS likes the old 20 better?

[This message edited by familyfirst at 12:39 PM, July 22nd (Tuesday)]

TheWorstCase posted 7/22/2014 12:55 PM

My husband's reaction to the affair, and how I responded, was a real wake-up call for me. I realized all the ways I handle stress and other people's feelings. How I minimize everything bad that I do and magnify other people's flaws. How I was always known as the "fun, hyper, inappropriate joke" friend, but as my husband astutely pointed out, nobody referred to me as a "caring, committed, loyal, or loving wife". Just him pointing that out really encouraged me to go back through my memories and see myself in a whole new light. It lit a fire in me to change for the better. He said many other things that were also a wake-up call, but hearing him talk about how other people saw me as a person for whatever reason was really important. Who am I? What are my goals? What do I do daily to incrementally reach those goals?

Merida posted 7/22/2014 12:57 PM

beautifully written post

so glad your lightening strike left you awakened rather than dead

sure hope my WS and I can achieve that kind of understanding of REALITY that my past does not scar me - I am in the present so I may define my future.

thanks for sharing

DrJekyll posted 7/22/2014 13:21 PM

I totally get this. I had spent my life since I was 17 thinking. WOW I made it out of that mess of a childhood untarnished. Look at what a great person I am.

Then I got that huge wake up of "dude I am seriously F'd up. how have I even made it this far in life." Now I have gotten that springboard into therapy. I had always been afraid of therapy since psychology was my NPD moms major in college.

Working on fixing all of those childhood misconceptions, poor training, and survival mechanisms. Its a battle, but one hell of a "wake up"

Imabrokenman posted 7/22/2014 13:30 PM

Seeing my BS face when she found out all the gory details I had neglected to tell her on DDay1 was the wake up call for me. I saw the hurt, pain and devastation in her face. I still see it to this day. Right then and there I finally realized that

1. Yes, the affair DID affect other people other than me
2. During our relationship, my wife loved me and only me with all her heart; my interpretations of her daily actions did not mean that her love for me was any less
3. I was a severely broken person who needed to re-evaluate his life and lifestyle

At that moment, and since then, I have experienced clarity. During the A itself, I was living in a world where news of an affair didn't mean anything, that my BS would not be too upset or hurt. Now I realize how stupid I was. I now know that she was and is devastated by my actions.

cdnmommy posted 7/22/2014 13:45 PM

(((20wrongs)))

Your insight and growing self awareness never ceases to amaze me.

I'm "awake" now, but I hate how I got here. While I'm healing, BH gets to deal with the fallout, and is living with a woman vastly different (in some ways) from the one he married, and that is so monumentally unfair.

As much as I would have preferred my H deal with his issues, including CSA, in a healthy manner before all of this, I am very glad he has done so now, even if he had to get here in such a self destructive way. Moreover, I am happy I stuck around to share in it. I hope that provides some encouragement to you.

Unagie posted 7/22/2014 14:33 PM

Absolutely it was my wake up call. I thought I was a darn good person but ya know what I was a broken child. It made me really take a good close look in the mirror and I hated who I saw. Now not so much but like Rachelc said why I had to break his heart and tear myself down to the foundations to see it I may never understand.

ThatGuyNoMore posted 7/22/2014 14:47 PM

Yes it certainly was a wake up call.

I had put my finger on FOO issues years ago but did nothing about it. I thought that simply identifying those issues was enough. I didn't develop any healthy strategies for dealing with them. Five or six years ago, I went to IC and lied and submerged the real issues there. Why the hell was I even there if I wasn't seriously trying to fix myself! That was a real indication of how screwed up I was. I needed a crisis to get off that crazy train. DDay and the TT that followed finally forced me to confront all my secrets and lies, and to honestly deal with my issues.

I wish I had done this decades ago before I hurt my BW and so many other people.

20WrongsVs1 posted 7/22/2014 23:30 PM

Thanks, I'm not sure I've ever started a thread and completely agreed with every reply, so hugs to all the ladies and fist-bumps to all the dudes, you are awesome.

familyfirst: How have you changed? Do you think your BS likes the old 20 better?

This is a great question, but I'm gonna refrain from answering it because I won't speak for BH. As for how I've changed, a big one is that I feel so much more connected to people. Like, silly and semi-irrelevant example, but I'm much nicer to waitresses.

((cdnmommy)) ILY, I am humbled and honored by your comments, thank you.

Unagie: like Rachelc said why I had to break his heart and tear myself down to the foundations to see it I may never understand.

It's incomprehensible. We did it, we have to live with it, it sucks. For everyone.

familyfirst posted 7/23/2014 09:25 AM

Like, silly and semi-irrelevant example, but I'm much nicer to waitresses

This doesn't sound so awful! Isn't there a wivestale that you should evaluate how your future husband treats a waitress because that's how he'll treat you someday? I thought maybe you lost your edge and your BS found you less...interesting? Like theworstcase wrote

How I was always known as the "fun, hyper, inappropriate joke" friend, but as my husband astutely pointed out, nobody referred to me as a "caring, committed, loyal, or loving wife".

My IC thinks there's middle ground between church marm and shtuping someone in your car over lunch. But on SI it seems pretty black and white.

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