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Certainty and Guarantees

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ISurvivedSoFar posted 2/6/2018 07:54 AM

So I've been sorting through life after d-day and am thinking about the new norm for me and for us. The new norm is this - still processing the trauma and getting to a new level of acceptance, one that makes me okay living without guarantees because the only guarantee I have is me.

Before d-day, we live in innocence with rose colored glasses. One of the places we get stuck is in trying hard to get a guarantee and/or somehow get the innocence back. It just doesn't happen. Just like we cannot be un-betrayed from infidelity. But we can learn from it and refuse to allow it to define us. Rather we define it. Our power was taken when we were betrayed and we want to gain our power back. Now we need to get power through authenticity, transparency, and creating boundaries that are acceptable to us. I'm going to say no when it is not okay with me and I'm going to say yes when it is worth my while and/or beneficial to me. When we can get to the point where we do that with ease, we can live with uncertainty because we are making our life certain, if that makes sense.

This is something new with which I'm not only coming to terms, but, I'm liking. For the longest time I felt burdened by the idea that I was stuck and plan B. That I was being used all this time. That I was convenient for him. But I don't see that now. I see that we were both broken, that we broke each other more, and that we need to come back from it together. Who better to drive that healing than the two people that broke independently and together? (Note: I am not taking blame for the A, nor am I accepting anything less than a remorseful spouse.)If it doesn't work, hey that's okay. I enjoyed the ride and I'll decide how to move forward. But today, we are working on us, individually and together and it feels good so I'll keep doing it. When it doesn't feel good I'll have a discussion about it and then decide how to move forward but I cannot worry about it more than I want to live today and enjoy what I have.

So this new paradigm is more real, more present, more honest. It is one that I can handle without worrying greatly about what he is going to do. My trust is back but it is not the same and his shouldn't be the same for me either. I'm just sick of worrying too much about what could happen because it keeps me from enjoying the moment which is just so precious. And I'm not wrapping my worth or my life around him, nor is he for me. Rather we are complimenting each other, but we are whole independently.

Honestly I never thought I'd get here. I always wondered after d-day how people stay together and get over the betrayal. I couldn't understand how love could thrive after this but I'm getting it now. We can thrive and create something great but it isn't the same and that's what we need to accept or else we stay in pain and in the past.

Does this sound crazy or make sense?

Notthevictem posted 2/6/2018 08:02 AM

Makes sense to me. Sounds like you're having a good day.

ISurvivedSoFar posted 2/6/2018 08:07 AM

Yes because I'm saying f'k it to the trauma. It is still there, I'm still processing, but it is so much better than it was a year ago. I'm tired of the trauma...it takes one down but on the other hand, it woke me up in a huge way.

I want my family to be okay and I don't want it (the trauma) to win damn it.

Iwantmyglasses posted 2/6/2018 08:10 AM

Makes sense.

I spent so many months wondering when I would be me again and normal....when will I get my life back.

It doesnít work this way with infidelity.

As in any traumatic situation we must ask ourselves what will define me? Who am I going forward?

Holdfastdad posted 2/6/2018 08:21 AM

I attended my first session with IC and in this session I told him all the details of the A and how bad the trauma and damage is from it. His advice to me was this...to truly R you both must realize and bury your marriage, realize that it is gone, dead, and not salvageable. When you can do that, release it, then it paves the way to start a new marriage, one with changes, new contracts, new boundaries, and new values. He went in to tell me that in the 37 years that he and his wife and been together, they have been married 11 times. When you get to a point where it is not working, you end that marriage and start a new one, with new agreements. Iíve never heard it explained that way but it makes sense.
What I took from that was to let go of the pain and damage of the first marriage, if you both believe you can start a new one with mutual values in it then do so, if you cannot then itís time to stop.
Next week we are going to work in controlling the obsessive thoughts and mind movies.

ISurvivedSoFar posted 2/6/2018 08:21 AM

Yes exactly IWMG. We don't get our lives back and frankly I would submit we probably don't want that life back. It is what we think we want but in retrospect, I don't.

I had my life wrapped around WS and a completely false sense that we had a good M. It isn't that we had a horrible M, we just had an inauthentic one. We lived in our own heads keeping our feelings to ourselves. I had such a false sense of security. Now I don't and I actually feel more certain and secure than ever before because I'm relying on me and allowing the relationship to flourish.

That's the "who am I" you are speaking of - the reinvention of ourselves. It is like a rebirth I think.

ISurvivedSoFar posted 2/6/2018 08:24 AM

Yes Holdfastdad. It's tough to do when in the shock of the trauma but hold onto that thought because you will come back to it when enough healing has commenced.

What I took from that was to let go of the pain and damage of the first marriage, if you both believe you can start a new one with mutual values in it then do so, if you cannot then itís time to stop.
I couldn't see my way clear to do this at first but now I can. The only caveat I believe is that we need to work on ourselves first, define who we are and who we want to be before we can rebuild our M. It sounds crazy but it is actually quite a relief. I don't have to go back to the way it was. I don't have to secretly be resentful, I can speak my truth, my pain, let it go and move onto joy. It makes me think what in the world was I doing all those years?

hopefulkate posted 2/6/2018 08:36 AM

Love this!!

I will add that I realized I have never truly been M, and that what this is, isnít quite yet a real M. And boy is that a relief!

Which goes along with, aside from those first few months, we have not done any MC. We are both working on our stuff. The M part can wait until we are ready. And we are 3 years in!

But thatís just us. You seem to get to some of these aha moments quicker in your timeline! :)

ISurvivedSoFar posted 2/6/2018 08:43 AM

Hopeful - so insightful, yes!

I will add that I realized I have never truly been M, and that what this is, isnít quite yet a real M. And boy is that a relief!
We need to rid ourselves of the idealized version of our M pre A. It wasn't ideal - the A upon d-day falsely makes us thing what we had was great and it is all gone. Only part of that is true. What we had is gone. But it is on us to figure out if it was ideal and I highly doubt it was - at least I can say it definitively was not for me, for us.

But if we hold onto the fact that it was ideal, then anything we have after is not and seems insufficient. I find it is actually the opposite. What we had was not ideal and in fact, for me, lead me down a bad road into that awake coma. I'm out of the coma now and looking back I don't want that anymore. So therefore, I'm okay with new. I'm also okay with the idea that the future may have more bumps in it because I cannot control it. The control I have is for today, and, it is in my ability to manage my life, my M, in the way that has me living the life I want rather than the one I think I should have. That is where the certainty comes in and it has little to do with anything external.

DevastatedDee posted 2/6/2018 08:50 AM

So much wisdom, ISurvived. I'm soaking this in still. Thought about it a lot last night. It takes a while to grieve that illusion that I had a partner in life that I could depend on. The realization that I am the only partner I can depend on flies in the face of my previous concept of what my marriage would be, but it's real. There is power in it. I don't think what we are taught about marriage is real. When you have a really bad one, you know it's not what it's supposed to be and you don't have faith in that partnership. When you have one you thought was good, you relax into it and start to believe in the mythology of marriage and forget that it really is just you whom you can depend on in any life situation. It's so painful when those illusions are snatched away from you. But they are illusions. Those illusions make things easier in a lot of ways, but they leave you open to a lot of disappointment and pain.

No matter how much comfort illusions give us, you're right that we aren't able to go back to those after betrayal. The only person we can truly know is ourselves, and the way out of this is really getting in touch with who we are and getting ourselves to where we want to be as people. And we do this for our own sakes, not for anyone else's.

ISurvivedSoFar posted 2/6/2018 09:04 AM

Dee - yes.

When you have one you thought was good, you relax into it and start to believe in the mythology of marriage and forget that it really is just you whom you can depend on in any life situation. It's so painful when those illusions are snatched away from you. But they are illusions. Those illusions make things easier in a lot of ways, but they leave you open to a lot of disappointment and pain.
But here's the thing. When we get rid of the illusions and we are truly steeped in reality, we actually feel more, feel deeper and gain more from the new partnership than the one we had under the illusion.

Then the part of the illusion we thought was so important to us, the partnership we thought we had, is so much more insignificant than it was while under a false sense of security. The new partnership is more valuable because we are more self reliant. It's crazy making stuff I tell ya!

demolishedinside posted 2/6/2018 09:57 AM

I definitely believe this, yet I know it has taken me almost three years to start to see it. What I am wondering, ISurvived, is how you got to acceptance. Every time I think I am accepting that it wasn't good and it wasn't what I wanted anyways, something happens that makes me think, "nope. I'm not accepting it yet." I don't know. I feel like maybe I AM still holding on to the resentment. Maybe it is that I (I'd underline I there) WAS authentic and true, so the fact that he was not is more difficult to wrap my head around. I do not get why people want to live that way perhaps.

Anyways, I think I'm rambling. I definitely believe we need to accept and lean in to the potential chances of being hurt again. I do not know that I know exactly how to do that.

Oldwounds posted 2/6/2018 10:26 AM

Does this sound crazy or make sense?

Makes sense to me.

For me it meant the era of our relationship where our communication sucked, we were filled with resentment but figured we must be doing okay if we were still together, despite all that. We played roles to get by and told each other what the other wanted to hear instead of the issues that really needed to be worked on.

Infidelity doesn't make any of that better either.

I'll never, ever understand that choice that people make to escape their imperfect world and lower their standards for temporary, cheap thrills.

But damage is done. Trauma has been suffered.

What remains after we pick ourselves up, rub some dirt on it and clear our eyes is a new choice.

We can play our get out of jail free card or we can look around and see if there is anything worth saving from the wreckage of the marriage.

In my case, I finally had a willing audience for the first time since we originally teamed up. I had someone who knew she couldn't ever make up for her choices, but was certainly wanting to try and make up for it anyway.

So, yeah, I still hate what happened. And yeah, totally kicking trauma's ass at this point too.

However, this world where there are no games, and zero tolerance for bullshit and being honest and authentic with each other is euphoric. I didn't think we could feel this way after what happened. I like what we're building, I like it a lot.

I don't play the what if game -- what if happens again?

That's not me anyway. Who could get on a plane, or climb mountains or hunt or play football, etc? If we play the what if game, we'll be frozen like a deer in the headlights, afraid to move in any direction.

Everyone has plans until they get punched in the mouth (one of my favorite Mike Tyson quotes).

It is what we do in life after we get hit that matters.

But we can learn from it and refuse to allow it to define us. Rather we define it.

Boom.

Good stuff ISSF.

[This message edited by Oldwounds at 10:27 AM, February 6th (Tuesday)]

onlytime posted 2/6/2018 10:33 AM

Your post reminded me of what I learned in Chapter 3 of Pema Chodron's book "The Places That Scare You", entitled 'The Facts of Life':

That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything -- every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate -- is always changing, moment to moment. We don't have to be mystics or physicists to know this. Yet at the level of personal experience, we resist this basic fact. It means that life isn't always going to go our way. It means there's loss as well as gain. And we don't like that.†

...we know that all is impermanent; we know that everything wears out. Although we can buy this truth intellectually, emotionally we have a deep-rooted aversion to it. We want permanence; we expect permanence. Our natural tendency is to seek security; we believe we can find it. We experience impermanence at the everyday level as frustration. We use our daily activity as a shield against the fundamental ambiguity of our situation, expending tremendous energy trying to ward off impermanence and death. We don't like it that our bodies change shape. We don't like it that we age. We are afraid of wrinkles and sagging skin. We use health products as if we actually believe that our skin, our hair, our eyes and teeth, might somehow miraculously escape the truth of impermanence.†

The Buddhist teachings aspire to set us free from this limited way of relating. They encourage us to relax gradually and wholeheartedly into the ordinary and obvious truth of change. Acknowledging this truth doesn't mean that we're looking on the dark side. What it means is that we begin to understand that we're not the only one who can't keep it all together. We no longer believe that there are people who have managed to avoid uncertainty.†

The second mark of existence is egolessness. As human beings we are as impermanent as everything else is.†

Every cell in the body is continuously changing. Thoughts and emotions rise and fall away unceasingly. When we're thinking that we're competent or that we're hopeless -- what are we basing it on? On this fleeting moment? On yesterday's success or failure? We cling to a fixed idea of who we are and it cripples us. Nothing and no one is fixed. Whether the reality of change is a source of freedom for us or a source of horrific anxiety makes a significant difference. Do the days of our lives add up to further suffering or to increased capacity for joy? That's an important question.†

Sometimes egolessness is called no-self. These words can be misleading. The Buddha was not implying that we disappear--or that we could erase our personality. As a student once asked, "Doesn't experiencing egolessness make life kind of beige?"†

It's not like that. Buddha was pointing out that the fixed idea that we have about ourselves as solid and separate from each other is painfully limiting. It is possible to move through the drama of our lives without believing so earnestly in the character that we play. That we take ourselves so seriously, that we are so absurdly important in our own minds, is a problem for us. We feel justified in being annoyed with everything. We feel justified in denigrating ourselves or in feeling that we are more clever than other people. Self-importance hurts us, limiting us to the narrow world of our likes and dislikes. We end up bored to death with ourselves and our world. We end up never satisfied.†

We have two alternatives: either we question our beliefs -- or we don't. Either we accept our fixed versions of reality -- or we begin to challenge them. In Buddha's opinion, to train in staying open and curious -- to train in dissolving our assumptions and beliefs -- is the best use of our human lives.†

...in the most ordinary terms, egolessness is a flexible identity. It manifests as inquisitiveness, as adaptability, as humor, as playfulness. It is our capacity to relax with not knowing, not figuring everything out, with not being at all sure about who we are - or who anyone else is either.†

A man's only son was reported dead in battle. Inconsolable, the father locked himself in his house for three weeks, refusing all support and kindness. In the fourth week the son returned home. Seeing that he was not dead, the people of the village were moved to tears. Overjoyed, they accompanied the young man to his father's house and knocked on the door. "Father," called the son, "I have returned." But the old man refused to answer. "Your son is here, he was not killed," called the people. But the old man would not come to the door. "Go away and leave me to grieve!" he screamed. "I know my son is gone forever and you cannot deceive me with your lies."†

So it is with all of us. We are certain about who we are and who others are and it blinds us. If another version of reality comes knocking on our door, our fixed ideas keep us from accepting it.†

How are we going to spend this brief lifetime? Are we going to strengthen our well-perfected ability to struggle against uncertainty, or are we going to train in letting go? Are we going to hold on stubbornly to "I'm like this and you're like that"? Or are we going to move beyond that narrow mind?

The teaching on egolessness points to our dynamic, changing nature. This body has never felt exactly the way it's feeling now. This mind is thinking a thought that, repetitious as it may seem, will never be thought again. I may say, "Isn't that wonderful?" But we don't usually experience it as wonderful; we experience it as unnerving, and we scramble for ground. The Buddha was generous enough to show us an alternative. We are not trapped in the identity of success or failure, or in any identity at all, neither in terms of how others see us nor in how we see ourselves. Every moment is unique, unknown, completely fresh...egolessness is a cause of joy rather than a cause of fear.†

The third mark of existence is suffering, dissatisfaction. As Suzuki Roshi put it, it is only by practicing through a continual succession of agreeable and disagreeable situations that we acquire true strength. To accept that pain is inherent and to live our lives from this understanding is to create the causes and conditions for happiness.†

To put it concisely, we suffer when we resist the noble and irrefutable truth of impermanence and death. We suffer not because we are basically bad or deserve to be punished, but because of three tragic misunderstandings.†

First, we expect that what is always changing should be graspable and predictable. We are born with a craving for resolution and security that governs our thoughts, words, and actions. We are like people in a boat that is falling apart, trying to hold on to the water. The dynamic, energetic, and natural flow of the universe is not acceptable to the conventional mind. Our prejudices and addictions are patterns that arise from the fear of a fluid world. Because we mistakenly take what is always changing to be permanent, we suffer.†

Second, we proceed as if we were separate from everything else, as if we were a fixed identity, when our true situation is egoless. We insist on being Someone, with a capital S. We get security from defining ourselves as worthless or worthy, superior or inferior. We waste precious time exaggerating or romanticizing or belittling ourselves with a complacent surety that yes, that's who we are. We mistake the openness of our being--the inherent wonder and surprise of each moment--for a solid, irrefutable self. Because of this misunderstanding, we suffer.†

Third, we look for happiness in all the wrong places. The Buddha called this habit "mistaking suffering for happiness," like a moth flying into the flame. As we know, moths are not the only ones who will destroy themselves in order to find temporary relief. In terms of how we seek happiness, we are all like the alcoholic who drinks to stop the depression that escalates with every drink, or the junkie who shoots up in order to get relief from the suffering that increases with every fix.†

A friend who is always on a diet pointed out that this teaching would be easier to follow if our addictions didn't offer temporary relief. Because we experience short-lived satisfaction from them, we keep getting hooked. In repeating our quest for instant gratification, pursuing addictions of all kinds--some seemingly benign, some obviously lethal--we continue to reinforce old patterns of suffering. We strengthen dysfunctional patterns.†

Thus we become less and less able to reside with even the most fleeting uneasiness or discomfort. We become habituated to reaching for something to ease the edginess of the moment. What begins as a slight shift of energy--a minor tightening of our stomach, a vague, indefinable feeling that something bad is about to happen escalates into addiction. This is our way of trying to make life predictable. Because we mistake what always results in suffering for what will bring us happiness, we remain stuck in the repetitious habit of escalating our dissatisfaction. In Buddhist terminology this vicious cycle is called samsara.†

When I begin to doubt that I have what it takes to stay present with impermanence, egolessness, and suffering, it uplifts me to remember...that there is no cure for hot and cold. There is no cure for the facts of life.†

This teaching on the three marks of existence can motivate us to stop struggling against the nature of reality. We can stop harming others and ourselves in our efforts to escape the alternation of pleasure and pain. We can relax and be fully present for our lives.

sisoon posted 2/6/2018 10:33 AM

My trust is back but it is not the same and his shouldn't be the same for me either. I'm just sick of worrying too much about what could happen because it keeps me from enjoying the moment which is just so precious. And I'm not wrapping my worth or my life around him, nor is he for me. Rather we are complimenting each other, but we are whole independently.

Brilliant.

ISurvivedSoFar posted 2/6/2018 10:48 AM

demolishedinside - getting to acceptance is tough and I'd been told that it comes in layers and now that time has gone by I have to say it does come in layers. And may I say thank goodness for the good folks on SI that came before me and provided that sage advice.

First level of acceptance for me was to stop wishing the A didn't happen. It took me the better part of a year to get to that point. Up until then, I was trying to get back to what was, resisting the changes that came with d-day and the realization that my husband betrayed me and our family so completely. I no longer wish it didn't happen because I've accepted that it did and that it changed my life.

So that's the second level of acceptance for me. This has changed my life. Irrespective of the introspection and personal growth that I'm working on now, nothing can be the same after the A so accepting it and moving forward with it has helped me to rebuild in a positive direction. To me it is like a death. When a loved one passes, we miss them so and we want them back but at some point we know we cannot have them back. And if that loved one was in our lives daily, then every relationship changes moving forward because that person is no longer a part of the dynamics. But we move on after death because we are here to make the most of our time. So in a way, the M I had before d-day was just that, it was the M I had before I knew my husband in the way I know him now.

So now that I know Mr. ISurvived as I do, what now? What do we do? We can once again resist or we can move forward positively. If Mr. ISurvived was not working on himself in a way that I needed, I told him and then I watched and waited. I contributed where needed and I got lost in the muck when I still had processing to do (and still do). What makes compassion and forgiveness and therefore acceptance easier for me now is looking back at me and realizing my own shortcomings not as much related to our M but more so related to my struggles to be authentic and happy which I realize have been in vain until now. I have to credit reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown for helping me understand this and understand that we all do the best we can but when we know better, we do better.

I'm not sure this all makes sense at this point but it is really about looking ahead more than looking back and only looking back to learn. This is a work in progress so I falter quite a bit but reach new revelations incrementally and I assume it is all a part of the healing.

destroyed1 posted 2/6/2018 11:15 AM


ISurvivedSoFar

We need to rid ourselves of the idealized version of our M pre A. It wasn't ideal -


My M of 30 years was filled with happiness and love. Looking back on family pictures it's easy to see everyone in my family was very happy. My WW was offered an opportunity to cheat and took it. I can't re-write my marital history because she decided to be an idiot. What we had was great until she threw it away.

I miss the times before the A when my family was happy and we laughed all of the time. Life was fun and filled with smiles and dreams of the future.

Holdfastdad

His advice to me was this...to truly R you both must realize and bury your marriage, realize that it is gone, dead, and not salvageable. When you can do that, release it, then it paves the way to start a new marriage

This is what worked for me. To me, my M was ideal. It was everything I ever wanted and I was happy. Even after 30 years I would still sing love songs to my W.

As my suffering continued I began to realize it was because I was trying to save the old M.

I realized it was dead and there was no way to repair it. So in order to stay together, we had to create a new M. Start all over again. So far, this approach has worked pretty well.

But I can't tell you how many nights I stayed up listening to sad songs and crying about what I lost. heck, I might do it again tonight. 30 years is a lot to lose.

Congrats to anyone who makes it in R. Use whatever approach works for you. As long as you come to an understanding with yourself that helps you move forward and reach your goals, that is all that matters.

destroyed1 posted 2/6/2018 11:21 AM


I miss the times before the A when my family was happy and we laughed all of the time. Life was fun and filled with smiles and dreams of the future.


going to quote myself here to say that with my old M gone and a new M in it's place .... I look forward to the days when my family can be more happy and that we have already begun making plans and dreaming about a new future together.

[This message edited by destroyed1 at 11:21 AM, February 6th (Tuesday)]

ISurvivedSoFar posted 2/6/2018 11:54 AM

destroyed1 - If you say you had an ideal M before infidelity then I totally believe you. But I would caution you not to believe that what comes next is not as good. Rather I would say, how can you make it even better despite what has happened. What have you learned? What has your WS learned? And how can you take that new knowledge and leverage it to create something great?

What I found, at least for me, is something OldWounds notes:

We played roles to get by and told each other what the other wanted to hear instead of the issues that really needed to be worked on.
That's not a bad thing from our past - it just is our past and now that we've been jolted into creating our future differently, we recognize the cracks in our idealized version of our former lives together. I don't look back on my former pre-A M with disdain or with joy. I don't lament the past hoping to recreate it. I recognize it for what it was and I'm content. Moving forward I know that I can do better and the ideal M I thought I had was an illusion. That doesn't mean I wasn't happy. It does mean that I have a different and I would say, more realistic view now. In my mind, how could my M and my thoughts of Mr. ISurvived be ideal when the Mr. ISurvived that could betray me was there all along? And if I'm going to look at him, then I must also look at me - not for blame, but for a new reality.

I could try to go back to what we had but honestly, it makes me miserable because we were playing roles instead of being truthful with ourselves first, and with each other thereafter. I can tell you from my experience that lack of authenticity bled into so many areas of my life and not in a good way. I don't want that any longer and that may be why I can look back on my past M and be okay to let it be and not wish for it again. Yes the innocence is gone but honestly, what I understand now for me is worth losing my innocence.

I would never, ever, ever want to go through this again to get to this new place. But since I was thrown into the arena, face down, without a floor underneath and hanging onto the grate with wide gaping holes that I could fall through at any time, I'd rather not go into that lion's den below and instead, carefully navigate my way back to safety and prevent myself from getting thrown into the arena like that ever again.

shellbean posted 2/6/2018 13:37 PM

I am certain there are no guarantees with regard to the state of our future relationship (M). One of many things I have learned going through this process is that if a person is going to cheat, they will find a way to do it - so can't worry about if WH has another A. I have accepted that this has happened to us and I have accepted that the M we had before was not a M after all - and, knowing what I know now, I'm ok with that. I'm not saying that I'm not sad, angry, or hurt about what WH did - because I am and I'm sure I will hold on to those feelings to a certain extent forever. I'm ok learning how to build something stronger, more authentic, and truly deep -down real. I'm not saying I am happy WH had these A's, but if I can't change that fact, then I better find something that I can change.

I chose to change things about myself. These changes have helped me to understand all of the above and in addition, have taught me that I will be okay on my own should anything ever happen again.

The biggest thing that has affected me over the last year (oddly enough) and has provided me the most valuable lesson is WH heart attack. I choose to "be present" and "live in the moment" because now I know that "this moment" may be the "last moment".

Good post, ISSF!

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