I have been spending my time in IC the last few weeks working on FOO issues, and empathy. Two weeks ago i was really freaked out about how little empathy I have shown or felt over the years.
The question always comes back to how did I give myself permission to cheat on my wife. What set of fucked up choices did I make, and why? How was I able to lead 2 separate lives filled with lies? How did I hurt my BW to the point where we can barely speak?
I am I finally starting to see is the root causes of a lot of my behaviors. My coping skills aside(I get those), they make sense now, but empathy and boundaries (lack of) really are the cause of much concern for me.
So I have been digging, and trying to figure it out. I have been reading on SI a lot, not posting too much, but reading. In all forums. Soaking it all in. Working on FOO issues in IC, writing about FOO, thinking about it, really trying to remember my childhood, and how I FELT. It's been interesting, it's been sad.
This is what I have found.
I grew up in a very crowded house. Too many people, too much stuff, not hoarder level, but getting close to it. There was no personal space in that house. I couldn't have boundaries, personal or otherwise, because there was no room. There was also no room for emotions, other than 'happy and guilt'. I have tried to remember any outburst of anger, any displayed sadness. nothing other than my sister who was the angry one. I was the good one.
What I did to create space for myself was to create a fantasy world that I lived in. As a young child I would play for hours by myself, and even though I as physically in the house, I was miles away. I slowly built up the walls around myself to create the space I wanted so badly. As I grew older, I found that I needed to create more 'realities' in order to get by. I had my home self, the good boy, my home fantasy life that gave me the space to survive there, and then my outside persona that I showed to my friends, and as I grew co-workers, etc. I just never grew out of it. I never learned to consolidate myself into one whole person. I was just a broken collection of personalities, trying to win favor, or get attention and validation.
So now what do I do? This is where I struggle. I am logical to a fault sometimes, but I am very happy that I have made sense of my distant past. I am now seeing how I took these behaviors into my other relationships and my M and how poorly I treated my BW. Even though we are mostly NC, we do chat sometimes, and she has given me the space to acknowledge and apologize for things as they come up. I know I will never make it up to her.
But how do you make yourself whole again? I am doing it for my 2 sons, because I don't want them to repeat the same mistakes, or have the same FOO issues that I have.
How do you make yourself whole, when you have so much guilt about destroying someone else? I know this question comes up a lot, but how do you forgive yourself, how long does it take before you can look at yourself?
I would love to hear what has worked for others when dealing with FOO issues. This site is such a great sounding board, with so many people willing to help and support.
Thanks for reading. this wound up being longer than I planned.