As a Wayward, acknowledging that I was the perpetrator of infidelity along with the whole package of bad behaviors that go with it is essential in the process of atonement.
Maintaining the identity of perpetrator will be hurtful to my long-term healing as it will get in the way of becoming a healthy person.
The same concept is true of the Betrayed side as well. They need to acknowledge that they were victimized and take practical steps in dealing with that, including assigning blame where it belongs, but maintaining an identity of victimhood is an unhelpful burden in healing.
Hosea, I was particularly moved by your post -- I may have to refine how I look at this based on what you said and a couple others echoed. . . one may start from the vantage point of feeling like a victim, but to heal some movement away is necessary.
Kyrie - I have that book, and will spend some time with it soon.
And peoplepleaser, this resonanted with me:
it's our greatest strengths that are also our biggest weaknesses. If I can't find compassion for how she felt in the relationship at the time of the EAs and for how she feels now with them exposed to the last person she wanted to see her at her worst, then I am abandoning my own integrity as a loving partner.
And so many others that I haven't singled out.
I edit, therefore I am.
I agree that when you first find out, when one is raped, beaten or emotionally abused they are victims. In every case the victim is collateral damage of another person acting out their aggression without thought of the person they perpetrate against. It is helpful in the beginning stages if healing to embrace being the custom because it's part of realizing that you did nothing to deserve that treatment by another person, especially when it's from someone who professed to love, care and emotionally protect you. There is no justification good enough to excuse violating another, physically or emotionally.
I also agree that a therapist suggesting early on in the process of addressing trauma that the be violated remove their identity as a victim can be damaging. In the early work toward addressing trauma it can disrupt the realization that the victim is not to blame and has no culpability in the choice another person made to violate them. Problems in a marriage don't warrant abuse in any way, including an A.
As progress is made to move forward from the trauma, however, continuing to embrace victimhood impedes the progress of the survivor by creating barriers to understanding that they possess the power to respond to the trauma in ways that take back the power stolen from them by the abuse. By shifting one's identity from victim to survivor one can then move toward healing whether it's in the relationship or out if it. There are many ways to take that back.
I choose to not sacrifice my integrity as a way to take that back. For me that means that I made a choice to R when my WS met my requirements for R. It means that through R I choose to be compassionate for her process of self discovery as she moves toward meeting mine to heal in the relationship. It's not easy and I never thought I would choose to R. Every person and every situation will have different ways of surviving, though.
One of his major points was that as long as the BS chose to see herself as 100% the victim, and her husband as 100% the perpetrator, that true understanding and reconciliation was not possible. He indicated that while her husband was 100% responsible for his actions, that getting stuck in this idea of blame indefinitely was going to keep her from meeting him in the space between them where they could learn to communicate better. The therapist did have some strong opinions about communication issues being the root of adultery,
I have been saying similar things on SI for years. Our suffering, infidelity or otherwise, is caused by our own thoughts and attitudes. Once you start to blame others or your circumstances for your own suffering, you give away your ability to heal. Conversely, once you realize you are 100% in control of your own happiness, through your thoughts and attitude, you become the master of your emotions and feelings.
Loving-kindness and compassion can overcome anger and anguish, if you give them a chance. If you have a truly remorseful WS, the best thing you can do for R is to show your WS even more love and understanding. These are the tools that are needed to start building true emotional intimacy (communication) in the relationship.
Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.
And while the waywards actions cause extreme pain to a BS, they are actually not directed at the BS, and the damage is really only theoretical when they are doing it. To me, it is more akin to being married to an alcoholic. They are abusing themselves, and the resulting behavior may be intolerable to a spouse, or painful to the spouse, but it is not necessarily abusive to the spouse.
Don't get me wrong - this is the most painful thing that has ever happened to me, but I struggle with the abuse analogy because I fundamentally don't see it as being done to me. Certainly individual cases vary, as lying and gaslighting and emotional abuse can go on with affairs. My H was distant and cold and easily angered during the affair -- he was neglectful. But was he abusive? I am not sure that I feel that he was. Abuse is a strong word.
But honestly, I suppose if it were to (god forbid) happen again, with my H knowing what he knows now about the damage it caused, and understanding more how he got in the mess, then perhaps yes -- I could see that being more like abuse because he has full knowledge of the extremity of the pain.
[This message edited by bionicgal at 10:17 PM, February 24th (Monday)]
If you have a truly remorseful WS, the best thing you can do for R is to show your WS even more love and understanding. These are the tools that are needed to start building true emotional intimacy (communication) in the relationship.
I have found this to be 100% true in my case, and it has made be feel like less of a victim. I decided to act in accordance with my values, and if we didn't end up in R, well then at least I gave it my most authentic shot.
I also feel that my H and I are closer than we have ever been.
May it be sustainable and true. . .
[This message edited by bionicgal at 10:23 PM, February 24th (Monday)]
IMO this is completely false. He was thinking about me enough to come up with the lies to cover himself. Every single time he lied to me he KNEW he was lying and if he didn't think that his A would hurt me...why lie?
I feel like 4 years of my life was stolen. I was pregnant with two of his babies during the A. I was miserably tired and wished so many times that he were there with me..helping me be a parent and taking care of me in general as his pregnant wife. But his story was he had to work as much overtime as possible so he could support us. Mind you, I was working full time as well. Turns out a lot of his OT turned out to be OW time which still really stings.
Sister Milkshake- I 100% agree with your definition of victim. And I do feel like a victim. I think when the WS starts to show remorse that it is possible to break out of the victim mindset. I don't think it makes you a victim forever you can over come it with or without your WS. I also think that your WS admitting that they victimized you and really understanding that they did is the first step to breaking out of the victim bs perpetrator mode and very important for R. And in my case, unfortunately, the WS is not ready to admit that.
So yeah. Maybe he didn't have an affair because of me...but he knew exactly how much it would hurt me or he wouldn't have continuously lied to me for 4 years and treated me like his babysitter and housekeeper. I get that he was too selfish to care if it hurt me at the time, but so what? Does it hurt me any less... Nope.
OW=UW or Ugly Whore- cow of WH
UW claims to be pregnant w/ WH baby and I HATE her for it.
Together: 14 years
Married: 10 years
Kids: 3 beautiful boys. Ages: 8, 4, & 19 months
Trying to R-Some days are
me (WW/BS): 48
4 kiddos in mid 20's
Me: I didn't sign up for this.
Him: you're already in this. All you can do is resign...
It may bring you some peace to realize that your H may be telling the truth about how little he considered you, as crazy, hurtful and unfair as it is. It doesn't mean it was ok, and it doesn't mean he doesn't have to be remorseful and do all the right stuff now, but it does mean that he may have been trapped in a fantasy and had issues seeing reality for a while. It is hard to swallow, but I have found it to be accurate in my case.
Steven Karpman many years ago observed that alcoholic families often saw people switch between roles of Victim, Rescuer, and Persecutor. This fit in well with Transactional Analysis' concept of games and scripts, which were often modeled on fairy tales, and fairy tales have Victims, Rescuers, and Persecutors. Later, in AA, 'Persecutor' often became 'Perpetrator'.
Karpman created the Drama Triangle, and it's won him at least one well-deserved award and a lot of fame.
Some of us take on the role of Victim and see life as if the world has ganged up on us.
Many of us have KISA WSes - people who take on the Rescuer role to be liked, perhaps, and to like themselves.
Still others are angry much of the time because dinner isn't on the table in the right way, or because the BS keeps ruining their lives by not moving on - Persecutors.
A BS who takes on the Victim role will probably spend her life in self-pity (or switch between Victim & Persecutor) - and will never heal. The MC was accusing the poster of doing that.
But BSes have actually been victimized, and it's important for us to realize that. In fact, a BS probably can't heal unless he realizes he's been victimized.
What are the differences between being a victim and being a Victim? I can't put it into words very well, but as a Victim - and I certainly spent a lot of time in DTs when I was younger and some time now - 1) I switch between the V, R, & P roles, and 2) I hold onto and feed my self-pity and righteous anger.
Right now, a woman in my building is violating unwritten rules - unwritten, so I can't force her to change (I'm condo pres). This is not the first problem she's caused. I obsess about getting back at her. WRT her, I'm definitely in Victim, and I'm looking for an opportunity to switch too persecutor. That's a very big difference from how I've handled recovery from the A.
As 'victimized' BS, 1) I feel my feelings when I have them, 2) I choose how to express them, and 3) after I express them, they're gone.
For example, for months after D-Day I felt anger, which I often expressed by saying, with a lot of emotion, 'I'm furious that you did ...!' Sometimes I wrote a list of things I was angry about. Often I'd tell my W or post here how sad I felt. Once expressed, my feelings were gone for good. I remember being angry and sad, but those are memories, not feelings in the here and now.
Early in recovery, I think it's impossible to distinguish between a victim and a Victim. Maybe the BS who posted is holding on to her pain, but it's more likely that she's overwhelmed with pain.
I'll say this, though. It's unethical for the therapist to hold on the way this guy is doing. He's offering help even though he's been told the poster doesn't want it.
In pushing his comments onto her, he may be Persecuting her. OTOH, he may be trying to assuage his own bad feelings, which is the hallmark of a Rescuer.
In other words, it looks like the MC is deep in the Drama Triangle with this couple - and that bodes ill for the results of therapy with him.
[This message edited by sisoon at 7:55 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)]
I do struggle with this though still. I *AM* a victim. It's like telling a 15 YO girl who's Dad sexually abused her since she was two it's not about her. It's really not, but it happened TO her. So it's
And while the waywards actions cause extreme pain to a BS, they are actually not directed at the BS
I believe the lies were absolutely directed at the BS. While the interactions with the AP may not be technically abusive, the interactions with the BS absolutely are.
I am at the point where I understand my wife's struggle, yet we were in the same relationship. When I bring up the subject and try to get her to recognize my pain, she gets angry. Not as angry as she used to, but defensive none the less. She states, "You have already made up your mind, so why are we repeating the same things?"
I pulled up dearpeggy, complete with all the reasons for affairs and she immediately pointed to "Desire to escape or find relief from a painful relationship." That was it. It made me feel as though SHE decided it was my fault, and nothing is going to change that. She has said, "In my mind we were over." Then she claims she never wanted to leave me for him. Isn't this the description of an exit affair?
We struggle. I struggle. She says that she wants to be with me, and I ask what need he filled in her. Her response? "He was kind to me."
In my opinion we need marital counseling badly. I still feel like my internal self is in little pieces. She says she doesn't know who her "self" is. How can she commit to R without knowing who she is?
Maybe I'm just having a bad day, but I still feel victimized.
When I stand back I recognize that all of these things make up the composite of what happened. For instance the OW pretended to be my friend, got information about my M from me, pursued coming to my house to have intimate dinner parties with me and my H, and my H allowed that to happen--that was all calculated power play directed at me (victim). H claims he didn't see it that way at the time (he now does) and he was just thinking of himself and getting his needs met (I was just collateral damage).
Like other people have said, early in the process it's important to understand what really happened TO YOU and it's almost impossible (at least for me) to not feel like a victim because I truly believe that's what I am. For me the hardest part of the A is dealing with the fact that my WS gave the OW permission to violate me--to use me as a tool for her desire to "conquer" my H and have him throw away his M for her--bc that's what they did. However I recognize that a BS needs to work out how to accept that yes, you are a victim but that is not all that you are. You are also someone who has a choice about how things are going to move forward. Staying the victim will ultimately leave me bitter and paralyzed. Accepting that I play other roles too is empowering. Accepting that my H is not just the asshole/perp he was being during the A is hard for me to do right now, but I'm going to have to get to that place eventually if we have any chance of making it. I guess this is where the credit/deficit idea comes in: he has to credit my account, which he's overdrawn and show me the other roles he wants to play in my life besides perpetrator--roles like friend, healer, lover, partner, my equal. The anger, outrage, pain, and grief I'm feeling make it really hard to accept those things at times tho...
What's been done to me, to my H, to our M has altered me. I will never look at M, my H, myself or people in general the same as I did prior to his A. As time has moved on from DD, "Look what's been done to me!" is now followed by "What do I do with what's been done to me?" I found myself trying desperately to find meaning not so much in the devastation, but in the ways I had been changed. And let me tell you, searching for those answers is painful and difficult and unbelievably challenging. The answers do not come all at once and when they do come, they come on their own time and own ways. But the key here is that something in me refused to stay devastated. I refuse to stay in victim mode. Yes, I was victimized and that fact will never change. My H was the perpetrator and that fact will never change. Those details are forever a part of our life stories. To say otherwise disparages the magnitude of the suffering.
But my choice and my H's choice to do something in response to those awful details is what determines whether or not either one of us remains captive to those sad affair identities. I don't know what our new identities will be named or labeled, but I do know that "victim" will not be the last or the only or the most prominent one. And because I love my H, I do not want perpetrator to be his identity. If we allow that, then the A will always have the final word in our lives. And I will not allow that.
What's done is done. We cannot change the past and we cannot change each other. All we can do is make choices about how we respond. For me, I refuse to respond in a way that allows the identity of victim to be my primary identity. I'm still searching for what this new identity will be called - healed, transformed, awakened, I don't know. But I do know that what's happened to me will not get the final say about who I am.
I also agree it is progression for the BS to move from how you could do this TO ME, to how could you do this to yourself. And to realize, even though it hurts greatly, that the BS was not a consideration, except possibly in a passive aggressive way.
As far as abuse goes, I had an XBF who used me as a punching bag and told me in detail how he would kill me and get away with it. My husband's affair and behavior that surrounded it affected me far more deeply than the physical and emotional abuse of living with someone who told me (and gave me no reason not to believe them) how they would end my life.
XBF's abuse was overt and I saw it coming (after it happened the first time) I left that relationship without feeling like a victim.
I trusted my husband, partly because he knew what I'd been through previously and I foolishly thought that would count for something. While my husband's affair was about him and I was collateral damage he still lied TO ME on a daily basis. That was crushing and yes, I felt like a victim. From my own experience, covert abuse can be far more damaging and leave more scars then physical hits.
IMO, my husband's behavior was abusive. And thankfully, it was him realizing that for himself that had the greatest affect on his motivation to change.
It helped me one day to realize that really, my H had perhaps even more directly hurt the AP than me. My hurts are lies and betrayal, all awful but kind of indirect. However he allowed her to do things that directly affected her security, and let her take actions that hurt her husband and her two kids. He put her in a position where she could have faced public disapproval, and even gotten pregnant while married to another man.
I don't see it like that. She did that to herself. He didn't force her to do anything. She was fully aware of the situation going in. Her hurts are directly linked to her own choices. That was the risk she took.
Living and Loving After Betrayal was extremely helpful to me in making this transition from victim to healing. The book provides a lot of exercises to help you through the process.
I like the exercise where the betrayer signs a paper that says they'll cut off their arm if they betray their spouse again.
Bionicgal - One of his major points was that as long as the BS chose to see herself as 100% the victim and her husband as 100% the perpetrator, that true understanding and reconciliation was not possible.
I think that seeing yourself as having been victimized is not, IMHO, the same as feeling as a victim. Being victimized means that some unwanted event happened to you. I.e., my car was keyed today in the parking lot, therefore, I was a victim of a crime and I was victimized. It refers to an event and the trauma of that event. Being a victim means clinging onto an image of powerlessness, of discounting your ability to effect change. Every BS who grasped onto and used the 180 to its fullest, knows full well how this empowered them and took them from helpless victim to master of their own destiny. Being victimized is what your spouse did; being a victim is what you allowed to happen.
True understanding comes from knowing yourself and your strengths and abilities. A victim does not come from a position of strength. True reconciliation comes when both partners are on a journey of healing, one from pain, the other from self-healing. Again, if either partner is stuck on the path, R will not be successful.
From a WS perspective, I feel we need to get beyond my identity of being the person who perpetrated the crime of adultery and my identity as a perpetrator. One is the action that I committed and the other is a label.
Hosea - What I will concede is that there cannot be real reconciliation if the two parties remain (stuck) in their respective positions as Victim and Perpetrator.
One of the problems in these discussions is that we do not have a lexicon of agreed definitions to attach to our respective actions and feelings but rather, we simply have labels and often, we fling them around like confetti or glitter at a new yearís celebration. Cheater. Victim. We use them to label and categorize people.
This is because absolute beliefs are simple, easy to comprehend, and false positives that offer us a false sense of security. As Ugo Uche says, the complexities of life are like fractions for the average fourth or fifth grader. The more odd numbers that exist in the equation, the more intimidating the problem becomes. And when life becomes complex, itís easy to turn to black and white thinking. Create a slogan or a phrase and lump everyone into it.
All-or-nothing thinking is a form of cognitive distortion, which often involves using absolute terms, such as never, always, every and nothing. You never do this but you always do that. Every time we argue, Nothing ever helps. And studies have shown that a side effect of psychopathological states, such as depression, stress and anxiety reinforce and support this phenomenon.
Bionicgal - He indicated that while her husband was 100% responsible for his actions, that getting stuck in this idea of blame indefinitely was going to keep her from meeting him in the space between them where they could learn to communicate better.
Iíd like to focus on the words of ďgetting stuck in this idea of blame indefinitelyĒ as I feel this is the crux behind his comment. I feel that slapping simplistic "labels" onto complex life events is a form of this cognitive distortion. Once a cheater, always a cheater. I was always the victim. You never listen to me. You twist everything I say. I know that youíre thinking.
Yup, every time LF and I got caught up in the 3 Demon Dialogues (Dr. Sue Johnson), I could hear those ďcognitive distortion or absolute| words and labels coming out of both of our mouths. And until we stopped doing that, until we starting listening and knowing the difference between a feeling and a thought, we were stuck.
Quite often, we get stuck in our thinking and we get frozen in our feelings. And thatís where the danger lies. Itís not whether you feel like a victim that is harmful; itís when you always feel like the victim. Itís when you still label him as the perpetrator when itís harmful. Getting stuck in a demon dialogue indefinitely is not conducive to healing.
Like Ecclesiastes 3 says, there is a time and a season for everything. And perhaps, that means, that during R, especially R I would feel, there is a time to get beyond the easy pleasy labels and to really dig deeper. There is a need to move beyond the surface labels and to really dig deep.
Bionicgal - The therapist did have some strong opinions about communication issues being the root of adultery, which also goes against this idea here that there is a flawed perpetrator on the loose, and we have to just locate and excise the bad from the WS, and everything should all be a-ok.
I donít see how communication issues being at the root of adultery goes against the idea that a flawed WS is responsible. I think it supports it. Not in the sense that it was just a lack of open and honest exchange between partners over needs, desires and wants within the marriage that lead to the affair but rather, that it was the lack of communication internally within the WS that is the communication failure.
Sisoon - one of the first things I said after my W confessed was, 'I know you wouldn't have betrayed me unless you had betrayed yourself first.'
I think that often, when life unfolds, we have this internal dialogue in our heads where we try to make sense of life. I think that sometimes, either we lacked the skills to have effective talks to our inner child as we grew up. We let our emotions rule or we focused on an unhealthy thought. If we canít make heads or tails of what is happening inside our heads and heart to ourselves, then obviously, we will never be able to fully, openly and honestly communicate our heads and hearts to our spouse. Whether its a character flaw or coping technique gone wrong or unhealthy boundaries, the truth lies within the WS. I believe that the failure to see ourselves for who and what we are and to face that head on is the root cause behind our actions.
Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves - Henry David Thoreau
I think that this lack of clarity within and this lack of understanding and the inability to vocalize and articulate this brokenness is what lies at the root of our affairs. Afraid to see the truth, unable to cope, unwilling to open up to ourselves and to others, we failed to communicate inside us. If we canít face the truth of ourselves, how would we ever be able to fully relate to anyone else? That said, while it may be at one level we're also victims, it will never excuse the fact that we in turn victimized our spouses.
To my regret, I have now learnt that my own heart and mind are not always my best friend either as I try to peel away the onion of intertwined thoughts, actions, emotions, fears, passions and destructive behaviours that brought me to this affair Ė HUFI
Too bad there are no "Like" buttons on SI. Thanks for your insights -- always so helpful to me.
There is nothing wrong with being a victim. By it's very definition, it isn't your fault. Volunteering to stay a victim, maybe that's not so good.