CREATING EMOTIONAL INDIFFERENCE TO THE AP.
For some of the WS community, one of the biggest issues to deal with is creating emotional indifference to our APís. Whether it was a LTA or an ONS, some of us latched onto our APís on an emotional basis and subsequently, we have faced the struggle of letting go. If we ever want to heal ourselves and fix the brokenness that allowed us to have an affair in the first place, achieving indifference is of prime importance and a bottom line requirement.
Creating indifference is not a simple 10 step action plan with a set timeline. For each WS, it may be a different process depending on the emotional investment that was put into the affair. The more you thought that you loved the AP, the harder the process will be. Some WSís can throw their AP under the bus without nary a glance while others struggle to get the AP out of their hearts and minds for months or years.
While the process is individual to each WS, there is a process of detachment called creating indifference. Mind you, we are not talking about hating the AP, we are merely taking about an emotional void for the AP. Hating the AP for the affair is the same as self-hatred to ourselves because we were also in the affair. No, what you want to achieve is neutral. Prior to the affair, the AP was a non-entity in our lives and thatís where we want to leave them at the end of this process. Who cares? Joe who? You are the one that is in control of this process. You have to be accountable. You do get to control your mind, your thoughts and your actions.
Dr. Seuss - You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go.
So, what is the process that you need to follow? At the most basic level, you need to separate your emotional needs from the AP and that process can be kicked started by following some simple rules.
Step One - Stop romanticizing the affair - No matter what your story is, the simple truth is that using flowery language to describe it doesnít change the smell of the rotten affair. Be honest with yourself and use plain words to describe your time and your relationship. It was not rekindling the flames; it was a cheap and tawdry affair. It was not a reconnection of two lost souls, it was sweaty sex. It was not destiny or romantic, it was cheating on your spouse. You simply can't continue doing the old ďwhat if my AP & IĒ in your head and move on. This holding on to the "if only" is bad because in our subconscious, our dreams usually turn out great because there are no such things as husbands, jobs, careers interfering with our fantasies. Stop living in fantasies and start living in the real world. It was not two hearts beating as one; it was guilty sneaking around in the dark.
Fallen - There's nothing romantic or special about cheating. The more you can do to de-romanticize it, the more quickly you'll reach indifference. Until then, you're still in the A in your head, and you will not be able to fully recover.
Step two Ė De-personalize the AP - If you call your AP by their nickname then you are holding onto them too tight. Call them what they were. The Affair Partner. The two timing cheater. The person who had sex with you. They were the OM or OW, not your lover. Remember, your AP allowed you to become a cheater. Real love doesnít have to lie or deceive. Stop saying and using the phrase ďmy APĒ when you talk of the affair. Be honest. You should just use the word cheater and drop the ďmyĒ crap. You should stop putting your ownership onto the affair.
Demonize the affair partner if need be. While you should be aiming at indifference, demonizing your AP is better than putting them up on a pedestal. As the WS, we were guilty of seeing the AP with rose coloured glasses and one of the first things we need to do is to take them off. See your AP for what they truly were. If they were so grand and so great, then why were they having an affair with a dumpy, lumpy middle aged middle class working stiff? Didnít they have cellulite on their thighs too? Didnít they burb? If you have to think of them as ugly and sweaty, then do it. A mental image of that will go a long way in demolishing the picture perfect image of them in our heads.
Unknown Poster - call a spade a spade. You donít call her by her name anymore; you call her by her new title. Call her the OW, the AP, the person that had a sordid affair with you. Donít romanticize her or the affair. It was not true love; it was nothing but sweaty bodies having bad sex.
STEP 3 Ė Focus on your BS - Make a purposeful shift of your mental focus to your SO and your marriage. Most people only have room for one thing at a time and if your SO is taking up the space, then the AP canít come and take up space. Remind yourself daily of your commitment to your BS. Put up sayings, pictures, poems ... anything to focus your mind on them. If theyíre staring down at you from the office wall, itís hard to picture the AP instead.
Wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it- hard when your thoughts wander to the A or the OP. Be prepared for the pain! Visualize a stop sign when you got into one of those pining times. Learn how to shift your focus from OP and the A to your spouse when you notice your thoughts wandering. The purposeful shifting of your mental focus to your spouse should help you break the bad habit of thinking of the OP.
Step 4 - Reach out to your support group - When your mind wanders, then change the tempo of your thoughts. Call your spouse and talk to them. Talk to your kids or your therapist. Post on SI or read some more books from the WS reading list. Focusing on the affair and wishing for closure or one last kiss or anything like that is only taking you back into foggy land and you have to stay out of there. Get physically active and change your mental thought process too! Itís hard to think of the AP when your mind is focused on sorting out the sock drawer or if you are planning quality time with your children and spouse.
Yogini - For me, taking action was the biggest contributor to breaking the cycle of obsession. Whether that was calling my spouse, posting on SI, being present with my kids or even doing something uncomfortable as being honest with ourselves and the reality of the situation. Choosing to do the next right thing as small as that was.
Step 5 Ė Become Healthy - If youíre feeling depressed or fall into a shame spiral, its normal and easy to fall into the practice of fantasy thinking of the affair and the AP. If thatís the case, then see your doctor and get on some anti-depressants. Depression is a medical condition and it can be treated. Being physically and mentally fit is important in your life. You're likely going to go through stages of grief, no matter how much you just want it all to be fixed overnight. Find the post on S.W.I.R.L and see if it can help. http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=519464
Step 6 - Stop the memory game - See reality for what it is. They cheated with you and the chances are they dumped you like a rock when the going got tough. So instead of pining and wishing and hoping and dreaming of another turn at the affair game, simply face reality and give it up. You will never get them and they only wanted you for sex or money or ego stroking. Remind yourself that your OP was no great friend- they helped you cheat on your spouse. Delete each and every mementoís that hold memories. That means emails and letters. That means CDís or USB sticks of music. That means the sweater that she bought you or the coffee mug with his name on it. Everything, big or small has to go. It might be easier if you make a symbolic ceremony in the backyard fire pit with your spouse helping you burn this all. Learn to recognize the words, thoughts, and actions etc. that trigger a longing for the AP and figure out how to eliminate them from your life. Country songs make you weep? Then change to classic music. Find yourself going by the APís house? Then carpool with someone who wonít swing by that neighbour.
Fallen Ė you cannot afford to be constantly pining and moaning over a lost love. Unhealthy! Remind yourself that emotionally and mentally healthy people do not get romantically involved with people who are married. Remind yourself that love doesn't lie or deceive. Write this stuff down and read it a hundred times a day if you have to.
I know that some readers might question the importance of creating indifference. Why canít I moon over the AP? Whatís wrong with thinking of them again and again?
The danger exists that you never let go. The danger is that you sublimate the feelings, you compartmentalize them. You hide them into your subconscious. You take those feelings into your dreams and you create your fantasy relationship there. You get good at creating surface indifference. Hell, you can get so good at hiding the magnitude of your feelings that you can deny them to yourself. But you know what? Buried and unresolved feelings have a tendency to pop up to the surface sooner than later and create even bigger problems. Hell, itís why Iím here.
If youíre having problems wrapping your head around the issue of indifference, then perhaps itís time to get to basics and recall what it is that you really want out of life. Do you want your wife or do you want your AP? Make a decision and live it. We understand that it can takes time to get over the A and the AP but we have faith that you will be able to get over the AP. People do this every day and every month and so can you. Yes there are temptations but I know that you can accomplish this. When in doubt, turn to SI and ask for help and support. Continue with baby steps each and every day and pretty soon the ďfeelingsĒ will dissipate and you will reach emotional indifference to your AP.
Wisdom from Gamine - Make a decision and discipline yourself not to waver. Don't be someone who stands for nothing. Stand for what you decide and back it with the full force of your character and conviction. DECIDE. CHOOSE. COMMIT. PERIOD.
[This message edited by HUFI-PUFI at 8:13 AM, January 15th (Wednesday)]
Thanks for posting this. I really needed it today (and everyday). Step 2 was something I hadn't thought about and it actually helps some to see the AP as just another slob who picked his teeth, nose and/or ear.
Thanks for this.
Can I share something that helped me? If a memory of the cheating came up, I pictured what it would have been like if my BS had been standing there, having to witness it, and his reaction, his pain. It was a very fast way to feel absolutely sickened over what I did and to never want to do it again. It also made it much harder to compartmentalize any memories of the cheating.
Thank you again for this.
Infidelities are like icebergs - they may take many different shapes and sizes, but they all damage your ship.
Some WSís ... struggle to get the AP out of their hearts and minds for months or years.
The term is new to me before I got to SI: "create indifference". It is useful, and I see the wisdom of it.
Thanks for posting this.
I think that we need to be reminded that creating indifference to our AP does not necessarily occur in days, weeks or even months. A lot of it depends on how deep the emotional connection was. And I'm not talking of how much you think you loved the AP but rather, I am talking of how much time, energy and emotional intimacy you gave to the unhealthy behaviors that lead to the affair.
In a lot of cases, the memory of the AP as a person is directly tied by our brains (hard coded in our brains in fact)and woven into the memory of our affair behaviors. Thinking of one will trigger the other. Therefore, each time we relive our guilt and shame, images of the AP may be brought forward into our heads. This is normal and you can't wave a magic wand to stop it from happening.
Creating emotional indifference is a process that takes time. I know newbies tend to want to get this shit done and over and have some immediate solutions but in truth, its time in conjunction with consistent actions of healing. Don't despair if you don't wake up in the 3rd or 8th month of this process and have thoughts of the AP in your head.
Worry if you indulge in those thoughts and let yourself be swept away in some fantasy about the affair and the AP.
But having intermittent and infrequent thoughts is not uncommon.
Just remember to focus of your goal. Remind yourself of the reality of the affair and not the fantasy.
You can do it.
[This message edited by HUFI-PUFI at 2:09 PM, February 3rd (Monday)]
Married 8 years.
DDay: March 2012
My best thinking brought me to SI.
So, instead, I frame it differently. I say to myself he was someone that came into my life at a time where I was low and totally broken and someone who helped me continue with life (I have realised I was probably quite depressed during my A). In terms of indifference, I have no fond memories or anything like that, I don't pine or have any desire to ever see/talk to hime ever again, I'm making real strides in my M and am committed to moving forward. I feel, for me, the best way to forge forward is to recognise I had this long term relationship at a time where my M was non-existent and that it was a bad coping mechanism, however, I have learnt from that and want to be a better person and fully acknowledge the grass is never really ever greener like I had thought.
My story is complicated in that my H has forgiven me and has asked us to move on and never speaks of the A. There have been no real ramifications due to my A in my M, if anything, post A my H has been making more of an effort and has actually agreed to work on pre A issues. Perhaps this is why I think the way I do, I don't know really?
What comes to mind when you read my post? Is it denial? Romanticising? Lack of accountability? Or can anyone relate to the notion of well it happened and I learnt from it and it will never happen again?