That's pretty much it. Ran into some girlfriends from college who are the types that are friends of friends that you see at weddings, baby showers, funerals, etc.
One has a new baby. The other just went through a breakup. I managed to get through small talk with "oh, [WS] and I broke up, sadly, so I'm back home now" and then pivot to talking about my new job or whatnot.
Finally, there was a lull in the party and I ended up on the couch with them and they fished for a little more detail ("gosh, you guys were going on 11 years or something, weren't you?")... I don't have a canned answer for what happened and didn't have any energy to come up with anymore evasive truths... so I just told them the deal. He cheated. He tried to hide it. I found out. That's pretty much it.
They were so sweet and concerned and supportive. I held it together until one of them asked me how my family is taking it. That's when I started to cry (my mother hasn't taken the news that her SIL was capable of this well at all-- she is still crying quite often-- he never reached out to them after DDay and they are crushed/angry).
Ugh. I guess I just have to expect that this will happen to me. At least I livened up the shower!!!
So no take away here. Just venting. Although if anyone has a now-funny-and-more-embarassing post-DDay public crying incident, I'm happy to commiserate.
I had a bad couple of days at work a few weeks ago and it was obvious that something was wrong with me. I had a hard time holding it together that day, but I went for a walk around the office building with an older coworker. She is remarried now, but her first husband left her right before she delivered her second child, so she's been through it.
I thought I would just tell her we were having problems, but I couldn't hold it in and the whole thing came out. As we were talking the fire alarm came on and the whole office came outside to meet at our meetup point.
It was embarrassing because my face was all puffy and red and it was clear that I had been crying. 2 hours of on and off waterworks are hard to hide!
I felt guilty for opening up to her and another one of my coworkers. But when your husband doesn't want to come back home 4 months after DDay when he should be home with you and your newborn it gets increasingly harder to hide the truth.
Anyway....sometimes I feel like things happen for a reason. Maybe this isn't how my life is supposed to be going right now but I think it's forcing me to look at the truth and live authentically. I still don't want everyone to know, but my circle has expanded a little as more time has gone by. Sometimes it's a release to get it out but at the same time it makes it more real. Like hearing yourself tell the story reminds you that it's real, it happened, and WS is a real douche for putting me through this.
People I've told tend to portray me as stronger than I feel...like, wow, how did you survive this. You seem so strong, so together, younare doing such a good job with the baby while handling all of this.....but even if I don't feel like this all the time their words have made me feel strong and proud during times I've felt worthless and discarded.
[This message edited by NewMom0220 at 9:16 PM, July 28th (Sunday)]
My WS tossed me aside, too, and has now fallen off the map.
I remember telling one of my friends that if one more thing happens to me I'm going to become Ophelia from Hamlet (who goes crazy). He told me that I couldn't possibly become her because "her whole problem was that she didn't have any true friends... and you have so many that you don't even realize and we're not going to let something like that happen to you."
That almost killed me-- but it's true! One strange pay off in all of this is that it opens you up to new people and experiences and shows you a whole different side of life! It takes awhile to appreciate, but I'm discovering that allowing yourself to be vulnerable with people can be powerful.
A couple of hours after I got home from the shower, I got an email from one of the women there just telling me that she has admired me from afar for years and that she'd love to get together any time if I need it. How sweet is that?
So maybe one lesson is keep opening yourself up and taking risks and it will pay off. And it will show you that *most* people are good and kind and the ones who aren't (like your WS) don't deserve you!
[This message edited by PhantomLimb at 10:19 PM, July 28th (Sunday)]
That almost killed me-- but it's true! One strange pay off in all of this is that it opens you up to new people and experiences and shows you a whole different side of life!
I'm not fully there yet, but I a on the path to meeting new people, taking on new situations, and seeking new opportunities and activities.
It was a little over a year after STBXH had left, and I was on my first job interview after being a stay at home mom for 6 years. When the interviewer asked me why I was interested in the position, I said "to be honest with you, my husband left me and I now need to go back to work so I can take care of my kids". As I squeaked out the last word, I started crying. The interviewer started fumbling around looking for box of kleenexes while I tried to get myself together, which didn't work so well.
I ended up getting the job though - maybe it was out of pity, but I don't care!
It's kind of funny thinking about it now, in a sad, pathetic kind of way.
Yet - I had my very first panic attack of my life after DD when I was trying to tell a dear friend and mentor what had happened.
I find I seemed to get really emotional the first time I told someone from my past life about what happened. Its so weird - I started warning people that this happens before I start telling them.
I was OK the next time I saw them even if we discussed it. I think it was grief and shame all rolled up into a shitty ball.
It gets easier. I haven't felt like that in a long time now.
((PL)) You're going to be OK.
I am a church musician and I cried on the alter several times, right in front of all the people.
Sometimes I think the emotion is just going to come and I didn't want the pills because the affects were ...adverse...so the process has been very raw and "natural". And I'm getting long, but think we can never know when a trigger will pop out.
I give you kudos for going to the occasion, PhantomLimb, and taking that chance instead of sitting home.
You got through it and are on the other side!
A person is a person, no matter how small. -Dr. Suess
They were so sweet and concerned and supportive.
This clarifies why I don't have many female friends. In your shoes, I would have felt put on the spot and uncomfortable as they tried to wheedle more information out of me. But that's just me, and the times I have opened up did not turn out well. So now I keep people more at arm's length. Possible over-reaction on my part.
I hope their intentions were good and that they were truly empathetic and a comfort to you. Crying can be cathartic.
[This message edited by Heavy Sigh at 12:12 AM, July 30th (Tuesday)]
Also, one of my big problems with WS was that he didn't like emotion very much, so I always had to suppress my feelings and act "tough" and rational.
I'm over it. That evidently did NOT work for us. I'm willing to take the risk of exposing my feelings in order to learn more about what *i* need and want. If the person on the receiving end responds, great. If not, no big deal.
And I think, my friend, that you would benefit from it as well.
The woman that reached out? She felt brave enough to because you let yourself be vulnerable. It's a powerful thing. Coming from the relationship you were in, vulnerability wasn't encouraged, was it? You and your X were always in control and prided yourselves on that? You were tough individually, tough as a team?
I lived that life.
Open up. There's more to life than strength.
Coming from the relationship you were in, vulnerability wasn't encouraged, was it? You and your X were always in control and prided yourselves on that? You were tough individually, tough as a team?
You nailed it. NAILED it. If I got emotional about something, he would laugh, get uncomfortable and tell me I was illogical or that I misunderstood him and, therefore, my feelings were mistaken. (For example, his tone of voice was always just fine.)
We met in school and are academics, so I always just told people we tended to "fight" like it was a seminar. I justified our interactions and his attitude as simply being rational. The person with the best thesis and evidence to support it won the argument.
Actually, I think you just helped me come to a mini breakthrough.
I've expressed amazement over the past few weeks that he and I have managed to fully maintain NC. I've found it incredibly painful that he hasn't reached out to at least see if I'm okay given that his A forced me to quit my job, etc.
But, that would be making himself vulnerable, right? He just doesn't do that.
Maybe I'm in a staring contest and I don't even know it.
I think we've suggested before that he shows strong narcissistic traits. I don't want to be the woman with the hammer who thinks every STBX is a nail, but I think you need to read up on NPD, especially about covert narcissism and/or cerebral narcissists. That was my what my pet N was. It's very weird stuff. The I Can Relate thread for NPD is a good place, too. Go back and read through some of the older threads there to look at links, etc.
And read up on codependence. You stuffed emotions, forwent vulnerability, and made tremendous life changes in order to keep things even with him, in order to not rock the boat. Breaking codependency is necessary or you're going to find yourself doing it again in future relationships.
You know what's really stupid about this whole thing? We *are* tough. We *can* handle anything. But those strengths were used as weapons to control us. It is psychological assault with a weapon, just as if my favorite go-to kitchen knife was suddenly held to my throat. My NPD learned how to use my strengths as a way to make me fearful.
Leaving him "alone" for job reasons this year is what finally brought everything to the surface. He couldn't function on his own, needed what IC calls a "prop"... literally someone he could play house with. It seems like he zeroed in on OW because she was going through a divorce and made herself available to someone willing to play husband and daddy to her and her child.
I am trying to figure out if I was codependent. I've ordered "Codependent No More" and will see if it rings any bells. My IC (and my best friend who is a therapist) think not. On one hand, I am a career person, so I'm often busy, not home, on trips, meeting a deadline. Sometimes I "kept the peace" mostly because I was too tired to fight and not around enough to feel true consequences for not working out the little things.
The other thing that taps into my FOO issues is that my mother, much like (x)WS, came from a very messed up family. My grandmother was NPD and bipolar. (x)WS's mother has multiple personalities and paranoia, brother and father have bipolar. I had a very happy childhood, but also grew up knowing that any expressions of anger, frustration or any fighting could trigger my Mom's PTSD. So, I learned early on that if you had an issue, talk to your friends, take a "time out" to deal with it yourself, go for a run... but don't confront unless you want to have to devote an exorbitant amount of time trying to reason with someone whom you can't reason with because their reaction is pathological, not logical. I used to think that (x)WS was a lot like my Mom is that they both seemed really emotionally chaotic to me, but I would just sort of ignore them until they sorted things out for themselves. I used to call (x)WS "Walter Mitty"... if he got upset about something because he let his imagination run wild with these fantastic/unrealistic conclusions, I could usually talk him off a ledge and then give him a couple of days and he would regain his equilibrium. Having grown up in that environment, it didn't seem strange to me or feel like a lot of effort. In fact, it felt "normal."
So IC thinks I'm less codependent in the sense that I wasn't afraid to leave (x)WS or walked on eggshells because I feared him. It was just sort of a perfect storm. People tell me now that from the outside it looked like I was doing 80% of the work in the relationship, but I honestly felt like I was checked out most of the time. And my task in IC now is to try to tap into my feelings, because I think I would have continued to deny them with or without (x)WS, because that's how I grew up.
But I am aware in retrospect that his level of dismissive-ness (e.g., the laughing and not opening up) was a little over the top. And I did view him as the older, more mature, smarter half of the couple-- so my looking up to him probably allowed him to dictate the terms of our interactions more than I realized.
You know what's really stupid about this whole thing? We *are* tough. We *can* handle anything. But those strengths were used as weapons to control us.
I want to reflect on this. On DDay #2 he told me he couldn't R because he couldn't stop himself from engaging in the A, couldn't stop lying to me and didn't want to put me through that anymore. He had gone to a couple IC sessions and told me he wanted to stick with it "because there is just too much there" (he originally went after DDay#1 because he thought he had snapped like his mother). At first he had been telling me that he wanted to R because he needed me to help him pull himself out of whatever hole he was in. On DDay#2 he started to say that he realized he couldn't let me "save him." And I told him that I knew I was strong enough to do it. He would say that sometimes he fantasized about holding me and crying and telling me how sorry he is, but he just can't let himself. He said he knew he would either "over attach" or feel repelled by me if he tried.
I know I could have gone to MC with him, helped him work through his FOO issues. I would have done my best to get past the A so I could be there for him and I would have tried to use the A as an opportunity for us to learn to communicate, open up our feelings to one another and get even closer. He just wasn't capable or willing, I guess.
I wonder if it's codependent of me to have wanted that. To sort of sacrifice myself for him in a sense. I told him at one point that I saw it as my duty in our partnership to help pick him up, like you said, because I know I'm strong enough. Frankly, the harder thing *is* having to work on myself and not work on him... at least if we were in MC, and R was working, I might feel like some kind of "progress" was being made. When you work on yourself, alone, I find it's sometimes tough to figure out how you are progressing, if at all.
In the meantime, I see things like crying at baby showers as almost like an emotional exercise. I'm getting my training in on learning how to be vulnerable and open with my feelings. And opening up on SI is also a part of that for me.
I've looked at the NPD thread. I find some of it relevant. If we ever had a house of our own, I imagine there would have been tons of caulk lying around.