This is a very real and painful stage that we betrayers go through…it left me depressed, confused and in serious physical pain. For me, it was a combination of anxiety, restlessness and major guilt that made it almost impossible to function. I felt a sense of loss, not necessarily over the OM, but over the relationship and how it filled certain needs of mine. It was a very confusing time and my head was swirling in many different directions.
I know it is hard to be patient and sympathetic to a WS. But withdrawal is hard. In a remorseful person with a conscience, withdrawal creates a terrible conflict. Some of the unbidden, residual feelings about the OP and the A just persist for a while. When the WS is truly committed to recovery, this makes him/her feel internally inconsistent, terribly guilty and hopeless.
It is extremely common for the unfaithful partner to create a second d-day by attempting to make contact with the OP during the withdrawal phase. After 9 months of starting to reconcile, I attempted to contact the OM. I never spoke to him and I immediately told Mangled Heart what I had done…that night, he asked me for a divorce. I begged him, again, to not give up and that I knew we could make it through this. What I had done wiped out 9 months of recovery and what little trust Mangled Heart had started to rebuild. We were back at day 1 and I felt completely alone, empty and utterly useless. Even though I was honest, it still threw us back 9 months. Mangled Heart was close to suicide and I was completely responsible for the mess I had created. I have never in my life felt so embarrassed and lost, I didn't know what was going to happen from one day to the next.
While I was going through the worst part of withdrawal, Mangled was hitting his anger stage. This was the part that I honestly didn't think I was going to be able to make it through…I almost gave up. I felt I couldn't do anything right, that everything I touched failed or broke. Mangled was very angry with me and rightfully so, I tried so hard to help him, but I also was trying to help myself…and I ended up failing us both miserably. I finally had to stop and learn to focus on one thing at a time…once I did that, things started to fall into place a little easier and we were both able to take a step forward together. When you're so guilty of something as severe as infidelity…you are carrying the load of two. You have the load of helping your partner get back to a safe place again and then you have the extra load of guilt from having the ability to hurt someone so deeply that they want to die. Both sides of that knife tortured me for many months.
Withdrawal is a very natural stage that most unfaithful partners will experience, and while it's almost impossible to try and give sympathy to someone that had the power to violate and hurt you in such an intimate way, just try to remember that the unfaithful partner is suffering severe pain as well. I'm sure that's maddening to read, considering you didn't cause this turmoil…but we are all human and we all hurt.