Return to Forum List

Return to I Can Relate

SurvivingInfidelity.com® > I Can Relate

You are not logged in. Login here or register.

Sexual Abuse Survivors/Spouses - Part 3

Pages: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10 · 11 · 12 · 13 · 14 · 15 · 16 · 17 · 18 · 19 · 20 · 21 · 22 · 23 · 24 · 25 · 26 · 27 · 28 · 29 · 30 · 31 · 32 · 33 · 34

eileenem317 posted 10/1/2016 17:58 PM

Kate and DM-thanks for the welcome, itís a bit of a relief to know I might have found someplace where someone gets it, instead of just towing this strange line between the spouse of a survivor and a betrayed spouse, and being a survivor of trauma myself.

7 months out and while itís a bit quieter, the rollercoaster is still going on. For the first 2 months I only got out of bed some days for work-and only working 3 nights a week, that really said something. I am super shocked to this day that I only missed work one day, which was D-Day (that was a fun, hysterical call to my boss). I dropped about 15 lbs. in three weeks, spent the nights I was home laying awake and staring at the ceiling and the days I slept after work spending the entire day in bed. I pulled away from friends and didnít talk to my mom for nearly a month-I felt like this was all bursting at the seams and there was no way I could be authentic without it all spilling out all over the place. I still have only told 2 people-my best friend, who, while she means well, has a difficult life to manage (I donít want to weigh her down), and some very vague facts about it to my direct supervisor, such that she could be aware of any potential triggers and help keep me responsible and accountable for my own self without putting clients at risk. There are still days Iím super irritable with no real outward cause, and everything H does, if he breathes wrong, bothers me. Other days all I want is to curl up in bed and cry and have him hold me. Some days Iím fine not seeing him most of the day, other nights he comes home a half hour late and Iím an anxious mess. Iím mostly just exhausted. I know I have to, at least, kind of socially, ďfake it til you make it,Ē but itís draining.

I find the ďmaskĒ of being happy and OK really difficult to manage. While I know that trying for 6 months for a baby isnít long at all, and it takes time, a child is something Iíve wanted for 4 years and which has been delayed due to Hís medical issues (and, Iím sure, underlying issues which will only come out in time). Iíve recently switched career paths for a hot second in order to work daytime hours and be closer to him (we now work at the same place, though we donít see each other at all during the workday) to get my clinical career going in a different direction, so the problem now lies with everyone looking at us and holding their breath for that baby. All the while every last friend I have is getting pregnant (some even accidentally), and I struggle with those feelings of being robbed of this for the moment. And the paralyzing fear that in the process of his recovery and our putting the pieces back together, that Iíll miss it. That biological clock, however silly I sometimes tell myself it is, is nevertheless ticking away.

Itís also hard socially to have just started this new job in a place that is, in some ways ďour turfĒ socially but his professionally. People there believe him to be this wonderful, ďtogetherĒ man, and weíre this wonderful couple theyíve known for years, and it gets exhausting playing the adoring wife whoís so glad for the opportunity to be closer. Itís confusing for me because as someone who has her own issues with confidence and self-worth (but a stellar outward appearance of such), H has been for almost half of my life now been my one safe person; the one person I felt most secure standing next to in a new situation (like a new job) and around new people, but now it just makes me feel more unsteady. Sometimes I feel like when I walk into a room like everyone can see this big thing about me-not even as much about him-that somehow they can tell Iím walking around with this humiliation, this rejection-because itís that profound some days that I feel itís probably visible from space.

We have HBíd (I presume you mean sexually) I think 3-4 times in these last seven months-most of them were in the 2-3 months after D-Day. Itís usually him who initiates and me who allows it, but we havenít in over 2 months because each time it leaves me feeling confusing and angry as soon as itís over. As much as I get that his acting out was about his trauma and not about me per se, that whole notion-that thing he said when I asked him that inevitable ďWhy?Ē when it all came out- that, ďYou had nothing to do with this,Ē makes me feel so small and insignificant still. So immediately after, Iíd have these resentful, intrusive thoughts-ďWhy are you initiating when you spent the last 6 years either outright rejecting me or communicating it to me that you seem totally uninterested in touching me?Ē ďWhy do you all of a sudden care about bonding with me like this after Iíve been left feeling abandoned like this?Ē And Iíve decided for the time being that itís not emotionally safe for me to engage that way with him, and not the safest thing for him to face the me that emerges afterward. It brings out old wounds in our marriage about being rejected sexually, and feeling like I was being placated, and trying to reconcile it with this abuse and re-creation he was struggling with, his guilt about it, and how now itís come out that itís all knotted up quite messily. It raises more questions of, ďWhat of it was me? What of it was him and his history?Ē And it just hurts too much.

He does sometimes get upset because despite all the cuddles and physical comfort, and the general comfort with nudity (showering, changing, etc) that comes with 13 years and marriage, Iím still not comfortable with kissing on the mouth (except in those rare instances of HB)-because I know that he primarily engaged in oral sex, and because itís such an intimate thing at all to kiss each other-it somehow feels violating to me sometimes. Like it means Iím condoning it, accepting it as OK, when there are still so many days for me when itís not OK.

We had to get rid of our couches and I still sometimes, if Iím there for long enough, have a hard time being in my family room (where I now know the acting out occurred). This unsafe thing has entered the one safe space we designated as ours, and there are days I just want to burn the whole thing down. Iíve been assured over and over again that the OM was only in this one room, but there are nights H sleeps soundly and I lay awake, wondering if he was ever in my bed, if my H did those things and (pardon the graphic language) made this other person come when he didnít seem interested in our bedroom activities or my needs in that arena for yearsÖand it makes me angry, confused, hurt and resentful. He tells me the OM was never there, but it still sits back in a corner of my mind like an unwanted pest.

Itís overall just really lonely. Itís a lot of trying to keep my head above water emotionally (and more recently professionally), all the while keeping on a happy face for everyone around us. Itís absolutely exhausting.

It gets really difficult for me to balance my intellectual and theoretical understanding on the situation given by background and training, and my emotional responses because suddenly this is MY situation. I am 1000% on board being his cheerleader in this process; explaining to him that I now understand how dissociation has played a role in our relationship since I can clearly see it now and explaining to him that heís not crazy or spoiled goods, and that with time, with patience and with hard work, he can reintegrate those parts of his personality that he broke as a child in order to survive his abuse. That part, rationally, comes naturally to me. I get it.

This has honestly just been a huge blow to an already fragile self-esteem. Most of my life, from parents who adored the older child and saw me as less than (and engaged in lots of comparison) to friends who walked away with not a lot of notice, to a boyfriend who literally tore every strength of mine through the mud and was a textbook abuser in more ways than one-despite knowing objectively what my strengths and weaknesses are, I donít have the healthiest view of my relative importance. Iíve always received that message from others around me that Iím not good enough. Certainly a good daughter, friend and girlfriend, and a good enough wife. But not good enough to value for who I am instead of painfully comparing me and finding me less. Not good enough to not talk about behind her back, or exclude, or walk away from when I struggled no matter how loyal I had been over the years. Not important enough to treat kindly and to love fairly, to not rape me.

And apparently not important enough to not betray like this.

And I know why H did so. I know he was scared and ashamed and because of his ability to compartmentalize it, when I came home after a night shift, when we were together, this re-creation didnít exist. Those texts and images and videos didnít exist. That man didnít exist. Someone else did those things. I get it.

But it doesnít stop that niggling voice in the back of my head that tells me that if I had been better, or been enough, that H would have trusted me enough with his hurt self. That he would have known Iíd never scream at him, hurt him, or abandon him because I never have. That the only thing I ever want is to protect him, because for all these years weíve been the team, weíve been each otherís safe person.

And how, at the end of the day, when faced with that choice to act out or not act out, that I wasnít, according to him, ďanywhere near [his] mindĒ when he decided to go ahead and do this. That the thought of hurting me wasnít enough to make him pause and not go forward. It makes me angry at him, since heís not safe anymore. That now I have to work so hard to reconcile the man I thought I knew, who I thought (despite his distraction in our relationship and our issues) was a good man and was able to be trusted, to this man who had been betraying me and our relationship for over half of it. Who knew this betrayal was there and still asked me to take vows, not knowing this was here between us (that anger of feeling like he tricked me? Thatís an ugly, totally unpleasant thought when it intrudes). Who wanted to have a baby with me while he was going behind my back and doing this. And not knowing if I was ever truly safe to begin with.

All of that anger in stark contrast to this intense protectiveness and desire to support and cradle the hurt little guy whoís there inside.

Thereís this consistent battle between wanting to be the angry wife and wanting to just help him heal. Sometimes I get angry with myself for resenting him when heís thoughtful and caring (ďWhy now, when things are so broken? When you wouldnít seem to care before?Ē), and sometimes Iím scared to share any of this pain and suffering with him, no matter how supportive he tries to be, because I donít want to hurt him more.

We hemmed and hawed about the idea, once Hís disclosure became more complete, about finding a separate therapist each. We are continuing to work with our MC/IC psychologist, as he is trauma certified, and meeting with him individually and together (each of us once/week and MC once every other week) in order to process his trauma with him, process this whole dual issue with me and flesh out the anger and the helplessness and the boundaries, and then together for us to figure out together how to navigate this revelation of trauma together, especially now that some of Hís dissociations have become more pronounced.

H is super remorseful and responsible and has been great with taking measures to try to earn my trust back, and letting me into this process heís in now. Weíre still working on his trying to tamp down the voice that tells him Iím angry with him when Iím simply upset, and being able to tolerate my questions about whether heís still with me or has dissociated with some degree of openness. Typically when he dissociates, he will go quiet and then say something verbally that is blunt, hurtful, and pushes me away pretty forcefully. He still feels threatened by most negative feelings I have, but heís getting better with hearing me when I say Iím upset at how I feel and about the situation, Iím not angry with him in that particular moment because of something he just did/said. And that even when I am angry, I always want more contact, more connection, more comfort. Never distance, and never silence between us.

He gets the loneliness of not being really able to reach out for support from family or friends and comforts me, but he sometimes seems to espouse the idea that this is just something he kept from me that is just going to take time to get over, and canít handle the fact at times that Iím not just upset about the situation weíre in that has us so isolated, but really hurt and broken and humiliated and rejected over the betrayal aspect of this. He doesnít always get that as much as heís trying to be safe for me, heís just not right now.

I know this has been long and rambling and I apologize-I try to come onto SI when Hís not home because although he knows Iím here and is totally supportive of it, he gets a bit distressed when I have these raw, exposed feelings. So it all tends to come tumbling out. Hopefully with more regular visits and interactions these posts will become a little more concise and coherent. But all the advice and the empathy you both have shown so far means so, so much for me, and Iím glad I took the deep breath and posted. Thank you <3

eileenem317 posted 10/1/2016 18:05 PM

nekorb: I feel this is very appropriate. If you feel it is bordering on TMI, maybe the description of the abuse itself could be taken out. But I like how you discuss the fact that you have been in treatment, it's mostly resolved, but that triggers still exist and that PTSD symptoms may make an appearance now and again, and that you aren't telling CK this to make him feel pressured to somehow manage it, as you still participate in treatment when necessary . I like how you give CK the agency of basically saying, "This is a thing, it's here, and I'm giving you the head's up. Some people don't want to engage further with individuals with this history, so I thought you should know." I think that if you're concerned the discussion is going to take too much of a turn towards the details, then the simple, "head's up" approach is super appropriate. It keeps things from getting too intense too fast, gives both people the ability to manage how deep the conversation goes (because leading with details might be triggering and upsetting for you), and handles it directly at the same time.

nekorb posted 10/1/2016 18:46 PM

Thanks eileen - I appreciate the feedback.

Now onto your post - I see a lot of codependency there. One thing I learned through this journey with my ex, is that my anger and hurt over what he did takes priority over any feelings I might have about him as a victim of abuse. I can't/couldn't live in both of those places at the same time and heal myself.

Yes, there is a little boy inside there hurting. But guess what? He's now attached to a full grown adult man that is responsible for him, not you. This is your WH's deal to fix, not yours. Being supportive of his healing cannot be at the expense of your own.

I feel like your desire to love him and never abandon him, so as not to hurt the child is clouding your ability to enforce your own safe and healthy boundaries that you need to heal, because you're worried about hurting him.

Honestly? Fuck him. Seriously. He knew about this shit, didn't tell you, and has now drug you into his shitstorm.

You know that saying - you have to be willing to lose the marriage to save it? I don't think you willing to lose the marriage. It feels to me like you are hanging on at all costs (to YOU) so as not to further injure your WH.

Please take what I'm saying in the spirit that it is intended. I'm just giving my perception from having dealt with a victimized WH and being a victim myself as well.

I can't tell you how much more peaceful my life is without my WH's brokenness. It was so much easier for me to do my own work and healing without him in my space. I know your WH is trying to do the work (mine never did), but perhaps it needs to be done in the context of a long separation, where you no longer have to pretend everything is ok, and his brokenness and betrayal isn't in your world on a daily basis.

I think sometimes, too, we try to find ways to make the dysfunction palatable, and it's a continual loop of "settling".

I know you are trying to approach this situation with an "all in" attitude - I did too...but it was killing me slowly. Don't be afraid to walk away. Please put the baby plans on hold indefinitely. Don't let your desire for a baby keep you in this situation.

eileenem317 posted 10/1/2016 20:42 PM

nekorb: I can assure you that any plans about a baby are on hold indefinitely-this is one of the contributing factors to my anger in general.

As far as separation, that for me personally isn't on the table at the moment. How my counselor put it to me and from all the reading I've done throughout this process is that I'm not saying I will commit to the marriage blindly, but that I will commit to the process-and at this point, the process is a little rocky.

But now that the depression and anxiety have become more manageable, boundaries are coming up-I'm less anxious about being separated because while I do have daily assurance that this acting out is over, I also know that I need to engage of self-care of my own-in the form of spending more time with friends, spending time on my own, and doing things I enjoy without his company. Right now my goal is to seek support where I can to have a save place to do that venting such that I can have some of those needs met while H and I also navigate this process together. Codependency issues can absolutely be addressed in my own IC while he works on his brokenness in his, and the twice/month we are in MC together, we are working to make sure that we are acting in each other's best interests.

H has been incredibly supportive of all efforts I've made to connect and meet my needs in the areas he can't always be present-whether it's spending time with friends, thinking about telling another close friend, pursuing more time in IC (which is obviously costly), or just generally treating myself a little better in general (taking time to get massages, buy myself a treat once in a while, take time to do things I enjoy).

The one thing I have to commend him for is that while he dragged me into the middle of this, I also thrust open this door in his mind he was comfortable keeping shut all this time by discovering the acting out. He has been accountable for his actions and his work, supportive of mine, and is as present as he can be as often as he can. Despite the occasional dissociation and the shame that comes from knowing he's done this to me and to us, he's working harder than he ever has (or anyone has ever asked him to) because he values me and this marriage enough to do so.

While I've not threatened divorce at this time, and he is the person who took initiative about getting into counseling and has been committed to this process, he knows that sexual intimacy, life decisions, and even our social decision-making is on my terms. He also knows that I am committed to this process and trying to save this relationship we've put so much work into for half our lives, but that if I need to, I'm out.

And I'm not out. I'm in. I know it sounds like I'm saying this blindly, but I thought long and hard about marrying him, and I promised him for better or for worse, and right now it's the worst. Deep in my heart I know that we can get through this and be the stronger for it, because he's learning that he can not just be vulnerable to certain things, but in ALL things with me. At this time I don't have the intention of walking away, I have the intention of us both doing the grueling, painstaking work to get through this together.

But it doesn't mean I'm not going to struggle with it sometimes. I'm still trying to find that balance between being there for him and being there for myself, while he does the work he needs to in order to be safe for me, and to be able to work WITH me at some point once we're more settled.

Or I could be in denial entirely.

hopefulkate posted 10/3/2016 03:47 AM

Nekorb - I love how you summed up your disclosure. I'm sure it will flow right when you feel the time is right. My guess is that you are right in that you hate that it is your story. I don't like mine either, but it's there. In the past. Done. Nothing to do but get up soon and move on with awareness and self compassion. (Easier said than done of course!)

Eileen - so much of your story of your feelings resonate with me. All of this is normal. Your feelings of being not enough, of playing the ok card each day...all of it. I will say that this gets better in time. And as the healing continues and you learn acceptance of what happened for what it was (yes the right and left brain do start to merge if you do the work!), your brain and heart do start to heal, and peace returns. I think at 7 months out, given your knowledge of abuse and trauma, and clearly a good head on your shoulders, you are doing really, really well!! I know, I know - how is this well?! It is. That 2-5 year time frame of healing is real, longer for others, but my guess is your path is shorter given your knowledge base. And 7 months out is just so, so early still.

That, "you weren't even on my mind" thing? Good!! What we have is the best worst case scenario. While others may not understand, we know that in no way was our spouse debating on whether or not to cheat. And after the first time, choosing that again. It's not a choice. It's not a debate. And we are not there. So why is his good? Because reenactment is painful. It's done with those who remind them of abusers. And we are good and safe and don't belong in that place in their mind. We don't even exist in that place in their mind. My husband's child knows me, but as a friend and nothing more. He doesn't share our marital history, gets confused when I say things like "remember when we...", he just knows me because I have been around a long time and I like to play. So he comes to play some times. Reread your texts on disassociation. It could help when you are triggering. I made myself a reference folder to go to when I triggered. I would read about reenactment and DID, until i calmed a bit and then sat with it. I have trained my brain with positive self talk to counter all of those thoughts - he doesn't love me, he doesn't value me...-no, he didn't value himself. And, as you know, some people can't get to a place of reenactment without having a safe relationship in between abuse and the time they are ready to face it or break down from it. He is doing the work. He is supportive of you as you heal = love and respect and value.

Does it still suck? F yeah. Does it still hurt? There are no words... Does it get easier? ABSOLUTLEY.

Be kind to yourself as you go. And that whole jealousy thing when others get pregnant? God I remember that. It's salt on the wound. Just breath. This too shall pass and your little one will be in your arms one day when it's time. Pregnancy and lost partem hormones are intense (to say the least!), so giving yourself this year or two to heal and both of you reconnect to build a stronger foundation will be worth it for that little one. In the grand scheme of things, this time lost on not having a little one will be well spent in healing old wounds and getting ready to raise a kid not likely to repeat any cycles. As long as I would still get my firstborn, it would have been a good trade to wait a few years for him and not let him go through these past few years with us.

As for kissing and intimacy- just baby steps. Maybe he could start kissing you on the cheek during cuddle session to make him clean again. Start with "wholesome" cuddling and kisses. Maybe this could help??

You're doing great. Breathe. You're doing great.

eileenem317 posted 10/11/2016 17:53 PM

hopelesskate-thanks, as usual, for your words of comfort and insight. I had a pretty productive session last week in IC where we revisited the timeline of when things began to change in our relationship, especially sexually- and Iíve accepted that all of the things that seemed to be occurring in isolation (to an extent)-his workaholism, his rapid weight gain, his pulling away emotionally and the drying up of sex in the relationship-all converged within the same few months, which I now know is when the person he acted out with came back into his life. That with the secrecy, with the shame, all of these other things began happening as well.

The hard part for me (and I know this is where the IC is really going to come into play here) is figuring out how to get that message that my rational mind understands: ďOf course all of those things began happening, it was the first time secrets were kept between you and he was being re-traumatized! Duh!Ē into that hurt part of me. It drags up old wounds from childhood revolving around self-worth and validation from loved ones, which Iíll have to rip off the band-aid and really dig into.

Because while my rational mind 1000% agrees with you that itís a good thing I didnít factor into his decision to re-enact, thereís still that part of me that says, ďWasnít I even enough to make you stop and think for a second? Wasnít the idea of hurting me enough to make you at least tap the brakes for a moment?Ē

Iíve had to do a lot of work in counseling over the years to realize that while yes, I canít control the actions of others, I do have a right to feel upset and angry, and to communicate that anger when decisions are made about me or things said to me that make me feel small and feel like shit. In an assertive, healthy way, mind, but that the script I always had followed-that I tolerate it until it becomes too painful, eventually say something, and then have it dumped back on me-wasnít necessarily my fault. That I had the ability to see that while I couldnít stop someone from having these perceptions of my worth or their actions from being shitty, I didnít have to internalize it as somehow a reflection of my worth as opposed to their thoughtlessness in the situation.

But with this level of betrayal, this sort of decision on his part- however painful my brain gets it was for him- hurts for me in the sense that for nearly half of my life, whether as a friend, boyfriend, or husband, I could count on H to factor me into his decision making, as I have always done for him, which was such a rare thing for me otherwise. So the fact that he could have so thoughtlessly done this, as if I didnít exist-it very much wakes up that little girl who is wondering, ďWhat about me? What did I do to mean so little that you would hurt me like this?Ē

The convergence of all of those aforementioned factors in our relationship had begun in this last year or so to really chip away at my self-worth in a way I hadnít felt in some time. That sneaking feeling that while my H loves me very much, that maybe he just wasnít in love with me. That maybe he married me because we were together for so long and it was what you were supposed to do when you grew up and began adulting. And that maybe that was about the best I could do-what could I expect otherwise from my life, right?

If it had been another woman or an affair, Iím fairly sure that while I the idealized version of myself I strive to be would want to pursue all roads before calling off 13 years together and 4 years of marriage, Iím pretty sure I would have been out the door. And while I questioned in those first days whether my H was gay and if I could have ever been enough for him in the first place, I hurt more than anything else. It wasnít until he talked about ďServicingĒ the other party involved that my radar went, ďding.Ē And while thatís in some ways cognitively a relief, it doesnít speak much to that hurt part inside me yet. Iím working on it, but that progress is slow.

Iíve said it in IC a few times so far that what was so disheartening about D-Day for me is yes, all of the betrayal and the sudden lack of safety and the fact that my world and the most important relationship in my life are now so fundamentally different.

But what was really heartbreaking about it was that in the days before that word he used tipped me off to what was really going on here, my first reaction was a sort of resigned, ďHere it is-confirmation that youíre not all that important to him at all. What else could you have expected?Ē There was obviously a lot of shock about the actual what of what I discovered that day (and in the days following), but the why so easily fell to my shoulders in my head that itís sort of depressing, really. Iím working super hard at trying not to internalize that-despite how much it hurts-to quiet that nagging voice in the back of my head that whispers to me that Iím a failure of a wife-but thatís probably going to be a longer road than I would prefer.

Regarding dissociation-H has obviously been exploring that more in-depth in his IC and while I have demonstrated my interest and support, Iíve been giving him space to know his work in IC is his own and not necessarily shared with me. I know the image often is of a child, of this hurt child, that he needs to reintegrate with his adult self. In your Hís case, does the child always present as traditionally child-like? When my H dissociates, A) he hasnít really labeled it as his childhood self, to me or in his IC, and B) his dissociation is at times quite cruel, and a little unsettling.

H describes it as occurring on two levels: the first, he just gets quiet during situations/conflicts where he feels threatened and mentally checks out and leaves altogether-which I now understand has happened throughout the relationship in the few substantive arguments weíve had (despite the fact that weíve never been big on raising voices, and weíve both always agreed that name-calling and put downs are uncalled for and that even if the discussion has to be revisited, that we donít go to bed angry with each other).

The second level, which Iíve seen a handful of times and which has become more prominent during these last months, is when this other part of him, the part that bolsters him against whatever is threatening him (and has a bit of a ďfuck youĒ attitude), emerges and verbally pushes me away very hard by saying hurtful, distancing things, such as: ďSince nothing can make you happy you might as well file for divorce,Ē or, ďIf thatís how you feel why donít you sleep in the guest room from now on,Ē or, ďI really canít stand looking at your fucking face right now.Ē

I have never been a particularly angry person, and that especially applies to my relationship with my H. I get upset, I get sad, I get confused, but the general thing I want is MORE connection, MORE closeness, MORE comfort, never the opposite. So these are the kinds of things that he knows really wound me. And I get that I canít take it too personally because often, when I leave the room or the house at his request with tail between my legs, itís a matter of about a half hour before heís seeking me out, upset, or calling me in tears and asking me to come back (after he's pulled back together and reintegrated in the moment). I get that despite the blustery adult language and exterior, that itís a part of himself that wants to push me away because he feels threatened and scared before I have the opportunity to do so to him, which heís afraid of deep down.

HoweverÖ

About 2 weeks ago during a difficult discussion, I could see the dissociation happen as it swept across his face and his entire expression and body language changed, which I had now seen a few times. But the affect was entirely mismatched-an eerie sort of nonchalance, inappropriate laughing and smiling, which actually made me scared enough to leave the room because I had no idea what to expect from him. Heís never been physically abusive or assaultive, and has never been verbally threatening, but while I could somehow always trace back his reactions in the past to anger and hurt and helplessness, this seemed entirely different. After that 20 minutes or so when he was able to reassert himself back into the situation, he needed more comfort than I did because he scared himself. In counseling, we determined that while I need to always be conscious of my feelings of safety, that chances are he wonít ever be violent, but heís been looking into that change of affect a little more deeply. Those moments of eerie change have been sitting funny with me since then, have made me feel nervous when I linger on them for too long.

I guess the whole point those last few meandering paragraphs was to generally ask, to you and to whomever else may have experience with either dissociating or being witness to it, does it most often take that childlike form? Any tips for how to sit with that mismatched affect and body language so I donít end up abandoning him when he probably most needs some grounding, since heís revealed how distressing and scary it is for him?

devotedman posted 10/11/2016 19:13 PM

Aw, hopefulkate, that was _brilliant_! I've been around here a good bit and I'd gladly hand over to you. _That_ _was_ _incredible_!

eileenem317, I've been there many years ago. Wasn't married at the time, no SO, too young for that.

What _I_ felt, which is in no wise what _he_ feels, was a great, burning, confidence sweeping through at that moment, during that time, that told the cold, cruel world Fuck You!, writ in letters Ten Feet Tall.

The anger, the fire, that was a defensive thing. It was Every Man For Himself And Devil Take The Hindmost. With a bit of I'm standing still, being The Hindmost.

When I was younger still and fought my bigger peers a lot I never lost, the scrawny kid who did not give one fuck was wading in and, by God, he'd only go down unconscious. Clubby rules in fighting, Oh Hell No!

Part of that is realizing that when you're the little one, well, take on the biggest of the pack. If you win, the pack leaves. If you lose, well, you'd have lost taking on more than one, anyway. Throw in the self-loathing, the hurt, the anger, and you've got a kid who just does not fucking care. Looked at another way, you've got somebody who is in pure survival mode. Adrenaline courses, heart quickens, breathing rate goes up, body language and facial expression goes into intimidation mode, all for self-preservation. And confidence to make even the bigger kids quail. With a swagger and a balled fist you've got the world by the balls and you're pulling hard.

That was what happened to me when I was younger, smaller, quieter, and picked on. Bullied. Hit. At some point the anger that I couldn't direct against my real abuser overflowed.

And I _hated_ bullies...

Any of those reactions strike a chord in what you're observing? Does he seem to be childishly mis-identifying the enemy, making it you?

Here's what I'd suggest. When he loses it, during the lost it time, you're not going to gentle him out of his adrenals pumping him full of speed, fear, anger, blood, oxygen, and bravado. This reaction is something that he has to overcome in time.

I have actually seen the world with a blood-red veil drawn over my vision. I was _so_ _angry_. I could feel every throb of my heart. My ears were filled with a crashing roar, on and on. Speech was gone, clenched teeth, writing was not. The last time that that happened I was, oh, sixteen, seventeen?

So, remove yourself far enough away that you don't trigger his radar. Tell him, "I'm going end of the block," or "I'll do a few turns around the block." Then disappear for a bit. Not too far away, not too long, because when he comes down it is an adrenaline crash. He'll be scared, horrified, tearful, remorseful (or, almost, very close), shaky, queasy, and he'll want to try to comfort you. Hell, he might even vomit.

That's what I'd have done, anyway.

hopefulkate posted 10/13/2016 15:19 PM

DM - the highest of compliments! Thank you!!! What a smile you brought. :)

But please don't leave. Your first person experience and wise is far too great! Please and thank you.

Eileen- as for your question regarding disassociation, the short answer is no, it is not always the child. In fact, often the child is the last to come out as he/she may not be allowed to talk by the other(s).

Typically there is a child, a protector (typically angry teenager), and the adult core self. Depending on the depth of the abuse, parental attachment, personal resilience and a whole host of other factors will determine how many divisions of thought are needed, the degree of separation, and the depth of personality. A person ritualistically abused with murder and just...unimaginable things...typically has full blown personalities "inside". My husband has four still, but his mother and father were voices until the explosion. He has the child, his protector - the incredible angry teenager who is defiant and protective at all costs regardless of rational thought (DM's description was powerful), and he has two adult selves. One pre-crack, who just exists in time, and his adult self post crack. The post crack self is his core and who he identifies as. He just recognizes that the others are still there and is working on accepting them and blending them into his now. The child wants to. Sometimes his current self and child coexist (a step towards integration) but sometimes when therapy gets too intense the teenager shuts that kid up. Even physically throwing that kid down the stairs. (All in his mind.). Then the physical pain as if something like that happened can surface. Stuff like that isn't happening much anymore.

That person who is yelling at you is the protector. Your best bet is to somehow befriend that one and gain his trust. Your husband and child likely trust you...but t means little if you can't get that last guy on board.

How to do it? Have him talk to his therapist about strategies you can use when that happens. Identifying the age of the protector and speaking to them on that developmental level - not rationally, just emotionally - I know you're upset. So I hope you don't mean those things. I'm upset so I need to go cool down for a few minutes. I hope we can talk calmer later. Let me know what you need. ....his needs will be specific to him and his therapist should be able to help you both manage this really, really weird place we are both in at the moment. Again- it does get vastly better with integration.

Now, as for, "Because while my rational mind 1000% agrees with you that itís a good thing I didnít factor into his decision to re-enact, thereís still that part of me that says, ďWasnít I even enough to make you stop and think for a second? Wasnít the idea of hurting me enough to make you at least tap the brakes for a moment?Ē

Ugh.....this f'n beast. This is the thing that takes time. Am I over it? Uh...no. But in today's counseling session my counselor challenged that at this point, perhaps I am upset about other things too, but that is the easiest thing to get to. Prior to this far out I would have said where she could go.
But I will sit with this and come back here with it. I think she could have a point.

Keep up the mindfulness and positive self talk to counter all of that negative. Over time your instinctual talk will be the positive mantras that will battle for you in the background. Anything further in the healing timeline I don't know about yet first hand.

devotedman posted 10/13/2016 16:40 PM

See the similarities between this:

I could see the dissociation happen as it swept across his face and his entire expression and body language changed, which I had now seen a few times. But the affect was entirely mismatched-an eerie sort of nonchalance, inappropriate laughing and smiling, which actually made me scared enough to leave the room because I had no idea what to expect from him.

and this:
What _I_ felt, which is in no wise what _he_ feels, was a great, burning, confidence sweeping through at that moment, during that time, that told the cold, cruel world Fuck You!, writ in letters Ten Feet Tall.

The anger, the fire, that was a defensive thing. It was Every Man For Himself And Devil Take The Hindmost. With a bit of I''m standing still, being The Hindmost.

When I was younger still and fought my bigger peers a lot I never lost, the scrawny kid who did not give one fuck was wading in and, by God, he''d only go down unconscious. Clubby rules in fighting, Oh Hell No!

Part of that is realizing that when you''re the little one, well, take on the biggest of the pack. If you win, the pack leaves. If you lose, well, you''d have lost taking on more than one, anyway. Throw in the self-loathing, the hurt, the anger, and you''ve got a kid who just does not fucking care. Looked at another way, you''ve got somebody who is in pure survival mode. Adrenaline courses, heart quickens, breathing rate goes up, body language and facial expression goes into intimidation mode, all for self-preservation. And confidence to make even the bigger kids quail. With a swagger and a balled fist you''ve got the world by the balls and you''re pulling hard.

You're witnessing what I was describing. The bravado, the devil-may-care, the "do your damnedest and be damned while you do it."

That's the intimidation mode that I was speaking of. And see how well it worked?

which actually made me scared enough to leave the room because I had no idea what to expect

Pretty good survival mechanism, right? See, right then something felt defensive. And the best defense results in not fighting because fighting can result in personal damage. So he's puffing up, swaggering, trying instinctively to cause you to back off because he's unpredictable. Well, he's _appearing_ unpredictable in a predicted-though-somewhat-random fashion.

See, at an instinctive level we back off from things that are unpredictable because unpredictable is dangerous. If you can't predict what will happen next then leave and you'll survive, stay and you don't know. Unpredictable is _scary_ for survival value. He's exploiting that. Confidence is intimidating for survival value as well. So his feathers are spreading to appear bigger, he's blowing up his neck like a bullfrog(?), he's puffing and beating his chest, etc.

He's reacting to being attacked. Now, that "being attacked" is _his_ interpretation of what is going on. Not like you're coming after him with a claw-hammer or anything, but he's feeling pretty defensive for some reason so he's blustering to scare you off.

Only it isn't "him" him, it is "Protector" him.

Does that help?

nowwhat13 posted 10/14/2016 14:03 PM

First post. I haven't written out my story yet but I am happy to have found this thread. My dday was Nov 22/15. My WH had a year long, I love you,and sexual affair with a 24yr old COW (we both work with.) It started when I was 5months pregnant with twins and we also had a 2 yr old. After I discovered naked photos of her and 5 others, he provided a timeline. The 4 others were EA's, sexting and photos, including 2 other COW, and XGF and a random from before we were married. Although he TT'd me about the XGF, most of the details he provided were confirmed with the OW(s). As I was on mat leave at the time, with 3 under 3, he stayed at the house. We both immediately started IC. I have asked him to complete a polygraph, however he has not done that yet. And the reason why I'm here... In July he disclosed that he had been sexually abused by his grandfather (deceased) from 5-15yrs old, and recently remembered a priest of the catholic church (alive) as well. This priest is currently being charged with numbers sexual assaults. In Aug, we found him a new IC which deals with CSA. I went to one appoint with him and the IC said he was doing well trying to work through the abuse, but told me that the affair work would have to wait. Logically I understand this, but It is not fair. He has never disclosed the abuse to anyone until now. He has had terrible coping skills all his life. He says that he is now finally dealing with all his crap and that he will never cheat on me again. He is more involved in our family and kids. He is open, transparent and being vulnerable. We talk about emotions and how we are feeling, and sometimes he talks about the abuse to me. He is not sleeping, having nightmares, OCD and triggers. He also has physical problems because of the abuse. I read a lot, and have read If the Man you Love has been abused. Before the disclosure, we both read how to help your spouse heal (big eye opener for him and made him slowly change his views.) Ive read not just friends and a few others i can't remember right now. I guess I'm just wondering how to deal with both the CSA and the affair. Do I have to wait? I have taken a course on Conscious Living, still going to IC as I know I have to heal myself. He says that he has buried these memories for a long time. Does it make sense that he would begin an affair while I was pregnant with kids that he wanted? It sound like he re created our courtship with her, but it turned into angry demeaning sex very quickly. Is this re creating the abuse? He would tell her he loved her, but they never went out anywhere. Supposedly the naked pic thing has been going on for him since his teenage years. Not sure if it's that he could get women to send them? Have power or something over them? Im just really confused. I love him and want him to heal and be emotionally healthy for our kids. I also want to say that I knew pretty quickly that things weren't right with us. I thought he was having PTSD symptoms from his job. Got us into IC where he was asked if he was having an affair and he said no (angry that I would even think that.) IC said that he needed to have time to workout and sleep, so I bent over backwards to give him these things, which he used to spend with COW. Now the new IC says the same, but I trigger pretty bad about these things. I was just hoping someone could give me some advice, where to go from here, or how to help him without losing myself? How do you balance both recoveries? Thank you for reading, if you are still here...

hopefulkate posted 10/14/2016 18:03 PM

Short on time so forgive the quick response when you deserve more. I'm so sorry you are here, but you will find support here.

As for putting the affair on hold...ugh that one sucks. The trouble is, if he hasn't dealt with anything yet, the feelings and thoughts and true remorse you need to heal are likely not accessible to him just yet. I was told the same thing. Wait. Be patient. And while it's hard, there is some value in this. However, as you recover he needs to acknowledge the deep wound he has inflicted and hold you when you cry, listen and take your anger....

Yes he was abused, which is likely the cause of all that he has been a part of, and can be forgivable depending on you and how he chooses to change and grow. However it does not excuse the pain he caused you by not getting help sooner. It is a balance, but but it will take a considerable amount of compassion on each side. Some days it's all about you some days it's all about him. Just don't lose yourself on this. His healing is his own. No more bending over backwards for him. Take care of yourself first and foremost.

As for the pregnancy time of life - this is a common theme/timeframe for cheating as males feel neglected and left out. Not, as we might feel, not attractive anymore. So this could play a part in that it may have triggered something deep in his past. But it sounds like he has been coping poorly for a long time. And if he is determined to change, there is hope.

nekorb posted 10/20/2016 20:25 PM

Now what - I'm sorry you're going through this... It does truly suck to have to back burner the affair.

I hope that you're WH is truly doing the work to recover from his abuse. Mine would not, and it is, quite honestly, a relief to be free of him and his brokenness.

That said, you need to remember that you owe him nothing. He chose not to disclose his abuse to you. He chose not to get treatment before now. He chose to cheat.

You really need to focus on your own healing. His shit to fix is his.

One thing that stuck out to me in your post - anytime there was a new discovery or incident, etc, YOU were the one leaping to action to read, learn, educate yourself, etc. This was me to a tee. I was far more engaged in healing his issues than he was. It's not a productive place to be.

I hope things move toward R for you eventually if that's what you are hoping for. But for now, focus on yourself and your kids.

My guess is that you are right in that you hate that it is your story. I don't like mine either, but it's there. In the past. Done. Nothing to do but get up soon and move on with awareness and self compassion. (Easier said than done of course!)

This is really good advice. Get up and move on with self awareness and compassion. That resonates with me. Thank you.

And I have a question (or two) about disclosure. We kind of established on page 4 of this thread that around date 4 is a good time to disclose. Date 3 is happening next week. There is a lot of communication between us and we are really getting to know each other. Date 3 is going to be in my home, so not a public venue. I would much rather have this fucking conversation in my home than a public place. So my questions are:

1. Is date 3 too early
2. What if I cry - I'm really concerned that this is going to happen, and that it will be a major turnoff for G5. I have no logical basis for thinking this about him, it's just a fear that exists in my mind. Plus I'm concerned about crying on date 3 or even date 4.

I HATE THIS SO MUCH.

But...I wonder if disclosing to an emotionally healthy person that I will presumably be intimate with at some point will be helpful in taking some of the story's "power" away. Does that make sense? Kind of like - fuck you, you fucked up story...this man cares for me anyway, doesn't give a shit about your existence and your fucked up tales of woe, and I'm having a healthy relationship. Bite me.

Idk.

[This message edited by nekorb at 8:27 PM, October 20th (Thursday)]

devotedman posted 10/20/2016 21:02 PM

nekorb, you disclose with however you are comfortable with.

If you cry, you cry. Let go of the outcome. If he freaks and runs then he isn't for you. Disappointing, hurtful, but better to know now.

You're imagining horrible outcomes and trying to control them because of the fear, the "less than" feelings, and the not letting go enough thing.

You might do as I have done, disclose a bit and then truthfully tell him that there is more but that you cannot talk about it right now. I've done it like this before:

"I've got something to tell you. I was sexually abused as a child. I don't really want to talk about it more right now and I don't want to get intimate with you until you've had a chance to digest a bit."

That has always gone over well. I have never had a negative response from doing this.

nekorb posted 10/21/2016 08:28 AM

You're imagining horrible outcomes and trying to control them because of the fear, the "less than" feelings, and the not letting go enough thing.

DM for the win. AGAIN.

Alright. I'm kind of revamping my disclosure talk in my mind to be a bit less "heavy" - more focused on the PTSD aspect of it - I figure if he wants to know what the PTSD is from, he will ask. I'm also thinking of going with "long history of abuse" vs detailing out sexual abuse, abuse in the church, etc at this stage.

Because really, the point is that I'm primarily recovered and dealing with it (PTSD/abuse). He still may not want to deal with it.

BUT - I'm coming to you guys for accountability to see if I'm really just rationalizing my way out of disclosing the sexual abuse, or if this seems to be a good way to disclose at this early stage.

What say ye?

devotedman posted 10/21/2016 16:57 PM

Quick reply because work and no time. Sounds good. He might be too respectful to ask so assure him that questions are ok. Also tell him that it questions get to your ptsd trigger threshold that you will tell him so and stop answering.

You be comfortable. He should value your safety.

nowwhat13 posted 10/22/2016 22:39 PM

Thank you kate and nokorb for replying. Ill try to use paragraphs this time

I guess I'm wondering... how do I know that he 'is doing the work?' What should I be looking for and expecting from him? And yes, at the beginning it was ALL me doing the work. That quickly changed. I have really taken a step back. He makes all his appointments with IC and talks to me about them after. He has stepped up with the house and kids. We go out, have fun. We talk about triggers (his and mine.) He will read threads off SI, but only if I send them. He joined but has never posted. "His situation' is different. I think he also reads on a survivor site.

But lately, all I keep thinking about is separating and healing ourselves independently. I want to know if he would do the work without it being about keeping me and our life. I want him to be emotionally healthy for our kids. I am exhausted and drained. Is this a bad idea? I do feel empathy and compassion for what he went through, but as Nokorb said, he knew and chose not to tell me or fix it.

I have asked for a number of things, but he seems to only do them when I blow up. I left for a night after having an argument and only then did he read How to Help Your Spouse Heal. I have asked for a polygraph 7 months ago, and he said he made a phone call and left a message. I made a list of things he could do to help me, and he read it once. I just think that if I were in his situation, I would be doing everything humanly possible. I guess I just wonder if it's enough. Is him dealing with the CSA the main thing I should focus on. I'm worried that he hasn't disclosed everything about his affairs and that this last year will be wasted.

Can someone further along in their healing please help me make sense of this?

hopefulkate posted 11/4/2016 07:10 AM

Sorry for the long delay. In an angry phase myself so I didn't want to respond emotionally.

Short answer: no, his CSA is not a get out of jail free card. If he is not working towards healing for himself, then all the reading I have done suggests a relapse(s). Watch his feet carefully and listen to your gut. You will know what is real or not now.

Are you in IC? I would talk there about your needs and then talk to your H about what that means to you. You absolutely get and deserve to have your needs met. Here's the kick in the balls part for us betrayed supporters...he may not be able to give that to you yet depending on where he is in therapy. He needs to bring your needs up with his IC so they can help your H understand. Sometimes the ability to access empathy and emotions from within is blocked by the abuse. Dealing with it and examining it will help get him to a place where he can give you what you need.

Does that make sense? It's like MC, but it sounds as if he is not ready yet. Heal the person, then heal the M. It can't work in reverse.

iamanidiot posted 11/7/2016 02:04 AM

Hi Guys. Can you give me some advice please?
My spouse was raped/sexually abused by a 55 year old uncle (friend of the family) when she was 12.
It all got put into a BOX and the lid sealed. Her emotions got boxed as well.
She blames the A's on the rape. 'How could uncle J. do that to me - I hope he rots in hell' and then that reasoning leads to the A's as in 'I was fucked up, I don't know why I did those things'.
She feels that the rape was a big reason for the A's. Maybe a case of 'I was wronged, so it is ok for me to do this'
I don't agree with that. I do feel it is a contributing factor. I wish I could be able to persuade her that there could be other reasons, but she refuses to even consider that.
Am I wrong?

Short history:
She was a 12 year old with parents 40 years older. A distant father that she craved to get attention from. An unemotional mother that could not even help her with "girl's things" when the time came.
She had to get through the trauma all by herself. There was no one to confide in. As the uncle was a friend of the family, there were many more Sunday lunches she dreaded as she grew up. Scared that it could happen again.

From my profile - we met when she was 16. I was the only one she ever confided in and I was there to take her away from those Sunday lunches.
The A's happened at a very important time in our young lives. Call it the 'foundation phase', ie. just before we got married and just after our 1st borne. The time when we laid the groundwork for our future.
She is made of strong stuff. Somehow she got through the rape, the A's, and kept the family together for the last 30 years.
We had a pretty good life together, our children were born and brought up, our grandparents passed on. Then she told me about the A's.
At only 22 months out from DDay, I can get angry, hurt, disgusted etc, if I don't make the positive effort to NOT be upset.
She is supportive of me and listens when I talk. But prefers to answer questions about the A's with I don't remembers and I don't knows.
I get told that SHE made the effort to move on with her life, and that I should too.

devotedman posted 11/7/2016 08:28 AM

iamanidiot, I am going to apologize in advance for the brevity of this post. You deserve more, but my employer deserves my time.

In the second post of this thread I gave a list of books and websites that I had collected from personal experience and from other postings in Part 2 of this thread (that thread might still be in I Can Relate, I don't know right now). You should also find out if either of your employers have an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) that will help with mental health/psychologist/psychiatrist things. If you call them then be open, they're like a Doctor who bills your Health Insurance in that they don't report everything to your company. She needs an IC trained in CSA.

You asked:

My spouse was raped/sexually abused by a 55 year old uncle (friend of the family) when she was 12.
It all got put into a BOX and the lid sealed. Her emotions got boxed as well.
She blames the A's on the rape. 'How could uncle J. do that to me - I hope he rots in hell' and then that reasoning leads to the A's as in 'I was fucked up, I don't know why I did those things'.
She feels that the rape was a big reason for the A's. Maybe a case of 'I was wronged, so it is ok for me to do this'
I don't agree with that. I do feel it is a contributing factor. I wish I could be able to persuade her that there could be other reasons, but she refuses to even consider that.
Am I wrong?

Technically, you are not wrong. However, I do think that the way that you two are both handling this issue is - less than completely effective?

This next thing that you say is also often a thing that leaves a child craving attention from any male or female source, and leaves the child devalued enough that they may feel that the only thing that they have to give in return for the affection/ego kibbles is sexual activity:

A distant father that she craved to get attention from. An unemotional mother that could not even help her with "girl's things" when the time came.

The two together are a bad combination, IMHO. My father was a bit distant, too, and my mother was both my caregiver and my first sexual abuser.

Again, I am sorry for the brevity of this response. If I could make a suggestion, go back to Part II of this thread, start on Page 14 (my personal story starts there) and just start reading. Pay particular attention to the story of hopelesskate (whom you'll see me refer to as hopefulkate because she really is), because she was the spouse betrayed by a CSA-addled husband. Read about Edith, whose posts I personally miss greatly. Then read Part 3 up to now. You might reverse-scan through part 3 for hopelesskate posts because she has some pretty powerful stuff about her experiences in this thread, though her DDay is in Part 2.

Very briefly, CSA victims/survivors react in a variety of ways. Suicide is not uncommon. Low self-esteem is almost universal. Promiscuity, often extreme promiscuity. Extremely limited sexual activity/experiences. Attention seeking behavior. Hiding. Repressed memories that nevertheless drive behaviors and some day come bursting out. Defiance of authority. Extreme risk-taking. Lots more.

When kids are sexually abused there is often a part of them that stops developing emotionally at the age when the abuse started. Hopelesskate talks about her H's "splitting", either on this page or on the previous couple of pages.

Good luck, iamanidiot, hugs aren't too safe-feeling for a lot of us here, so have a safe fist-bump }{ Limited physical contact but still some, you know?

iamanidiot posted 11/8/2016 03:58 AM

Thanks Devotedman.

Always good advice here. Just got to go look for it.

Pages: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10 · 11 · 12 · 13 · 14 · 15 · 16 · 17 · 18 · 19 · 20 · 21 · 22 · 23 · 24 · 25 · 26 · 27 · 28 · 29 · 30 · 31 · 32 · 33 · 34

Return to Forum List

Return to I Can Relate

© 2002-2020 SurvivingInfidelity.com ®. All Rights Reserved.     Privacy Policy