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The process of discovering our true "Why's"

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FearfulAvoidance posted 1/21/2018 01:00 AM

This post (and ensuing thread) should be readily available for all new Waywards for the rest of time. Reading this I kept thinking, "if only I had read this 9 months ago, I'd be much further along by now". Not to say there has not been plenty of other helpful posts that knocked some sense into me, but reading this felt like getting punched in the face with reality.

Even if my wife really had been a horrible spouse, even if I had been unloved, does it in any way justify me lying and betraying? No. That's a personal choice, a character flaw, a broken coping skill... and all of that is on me. The truth is, I was a coward. I didn't have the internal fortitude to confront my wife. I didn't have the dignity to own my behavior. I didn't have the decency to just be honest. I didn't have the compassion to care about anyone but myself. I can't look back at my feelings and actions and be proud of who I was and what I did. Maybe I was doing my best with what I had, but what I had was shit. So now, I can choose to continue to live that way, or I can choose to change, and to become someone that I can be proud of.

^^^This especially. Getting to THIS point as a WS feels like falling over the edge, because once you get HERE, you can't go back, and you have to start digging as soon as you hit the ground. Getting to this point can be hard, if not next to impossible for some people. But R is not possible if the WS can't take responsibility for their actions. No excuses, no justifications. It was you (the general you). You DID do this no matter how much it feels otherwise now that you've 'woken up'. And no matter the work you do to become someone you can be proud of, it will have always been you, and you will never be able to undo it.
I think that is the part I struggle with the most. I can never undo it. No matter what I do or who I grow into moving forward, this will always be something I did. My hope is that with enough digging, and finding my true "why's", I can one day get to the point of forgiving myself. But first steps first.

OnlyGodcanhealIT posted 1/21/2018 06:31 AM

This is an amazing post and should be somewhere in the healing library!!!

Having said that, I’d love for these things to be considered:
1... my WH has adhd and mild bipolar [cyclothymia] and wasn’t properly medicated at the time of the A, plus lost his job.

2. He has always been a simple man. Never digs deep and almost cannot do it. When he does it, it’s like he gets so confused with all the info, feelings, etc.
some people just do not function like that.

3. Counselors tell him he was selfish and needs to stop being that way...rarely do they give him concrete tools, and he has given up being that it also costs too much money. No kidding bipolar and adhd is selfish...now what?!

These aren’t excuses, but what do you do with a person like that.... someone with whom you have had a decent marriage up until the A...but have mental issues that are manageable, but only to an extent and now only seems like he can focus on being accountable but not truly loving. They might only be able to focus on one aspect of healing at a time, and it depresses them to do it because of the huge job ahead.
Just thoughts really from a possible other perspective.

I read your post and it thrills me that a WS is doing this self introspection. It’s so necessary!!

Unhinged posted 1/21/2018 10:05 AM

DaddyDom, this is one of the most amazing posts I've read in my time here.

You are correct that above all else, I had to understand my FWW's whys, as well as humanly possible, before I ever climbed down from that fence. It was truly paramount to reconciliation.

FakeHusband posted 1/21/2018 22:25 PM

Thank you so much for this post. It has opened my eyes like no other. I have still made and still make so many stupid choices. I still foolishly put myself first in so many ways. I don't want to hurt my wife but I still do. I am going to dig into the why's like I should have before. I was comfortable taking the blame and not digging beyond that. I'm not happy with my progress and I know my bw isn't either.

Thank you again for such a powerful and inspiring post. I hope it opens others eyes like it has mine.

NoLongerAlive posted 1/22/2018 12:40 PM

DaddyDom, I am the BS and agree with the others, this is one of the most insightful posts I have read! This is where my WH seems to be stuck at the moment, accepting the possibility there are real "why's" that made it acceptable (to him) to have an A, not stopping at the external factors. I don't expect him to figure out the why's quickly, it will take time with his IC, a lot of soul searching and being honest with himself.

Was there anything that helped you get to this point of the process, to recognize you had to dig deeper within yourself to understand your why's? You have done a lot of hard work, I am sure it wasn't easy.

DaddyDom posted 1/22/2018 13:35 PM

@NoLongerAlive,

I owe so much of my progress and understanding to my wife. Right around D-day, one of the first things she said to me was that I needed to learn to love myself. I don't know how she managed to have so much insight in such a devastating time, but she was right. That simple statement really was, and still is, the key to "fixing myself" and opening the door for R to at least have a chance.

This has not been an easy journey for us. I certainly did not start out with clarity, and was in every sense of the word the quintessential wayward spouse for many months after D-day. There were times she hated my guts and times that she told me to just get out, that she was done. At all times however, she was honest and open and vulnerable with me. Not mean, just honest. Despite the fact that I had hurt her so much, she managed to stay supportive and empathetic, and didn't put up with my bullshit. When I went into "wayward thinking mode" she called me out on it, over and over again.

It took a long time, a lot of pain and frustration for both of us, and a willingness to not give up, to fight for each other. From my end, I tried my best to understand what was being said to me, and while I didn't always "get it", I kept trying and trying. I fought for her, for me, for us, for our family.

Aside from my wife, I kept going to IC (and still do), kept posting on SI (my wife encouraged that) and took a LOT of 2x4's straight to my ego. The people on SI are amazing and opened my eyes to who I really am, and what I had really done, and what the consequences of those choices and actions really meant. Both my wife and I read "Rising Strong" by Brene Brown as well as other videos and books by her, and attribute a lot of this "Self digging" effort to her teachings.

At the end of the day, in my opinion, the thing every WS needs to do before anything else is to drop the defensiveness and the walls, and open themselves up to seeing themselves as they really are. This is so much easier said than done. No one wants to see themselves as "the bad guy". We readily admit our flaws (e.g. I could stand to lose a few pounds, maybe I'm a little selfish) but getting down to brass tacks (e.g. I don't love myself and get my value from others. When the going got tough, I crumbled and thought only of myself) is another story. It takes courage and vulnerability. Shame and guilt are part of the process, and they too are a challenge. It is easy to get lost in shame. Shame is necessary to enact change in the WS, but it also important to not get caught in a shame spiral, otherwise it simply enforces the feeling of unworthiness and reinforces the self-loathing that contributed to the A in the first place.

For me, I'm doing a lot of self introspection, and doing inner-child work. Somewhere along the way, about 6-8 months after D-day (I think), my wife asked me if I love myself, if I could embrace that abused and neglected little boy and tell him that it's okay, that it wasn't his fault that he was raped and abused, that he is worthy of love and that he is beautiful. I could not. I crumbled at the mere thought of the words, wept openly and uncontrollably, couldn't even speak or look at her. There was simply too much pain there, and years upon years of abuse that left me feeling empty inside. I had never realized that about myself. I covered up my insecurities with humor, with my intelligence or talents, feeding my ego by being that guy that everyone loves. I was a KISA, everyone's hero and best friend. But all of that hid the fact that I did not love myself, that I had no value outside of what was given to me by others. When things started to fall apart for me, not only did I lack the self love to fall back on, but lacked the coping skills to fill those needs on my own. Unable to love myself, I found myself unable to love anyone else either. We cannot give what we do not have. Left to fend for myself and with no way to fill the emptiness inside of me, I fell back on the coping skills that I learned as an abused child... I worried about me and only me. I took on the role of abuser because that is what I was taught. In my family, vulnerability was weakness, it got me hurt. Being selfish and self-serving was rewarded and even admired. I didn't go looking for an affair, but when it presented to me as an opportunity, I jumped on it, basking in the pool of ego that the AP offered, blind to the fact that I had put myself back into my "normal" of being in relationship where I was being used to make someone else feel special, at the expense of my own needs and happiness. Blind to the fact that the "real" love of my family was something that I could not accept, because I did not feel worthy of it.

The "Why's" are so important. If I had simply said, "I'm not going to cheat again", it would be meaningless, because that deep sense of brokenness and lack of self-worth would have always plagued me. Even if I never cheat again, that inner pain would still bleed into my life, a constant barrier and a constant pain that cannot help but interfere in my life, my relationships, my work... everything. Finding and fixing the core issue creates a butterfly effect whereby everything else starts to fall into place.

EvolvingSoul posted 1/22/2018 18:42 PM

Your post has kicked off a Whyvalanche. Well done!

DaddyDom posted 1/22/2018 19:22 PM

Whyvalanche

When I write my book, I will credit you with the title. :) LOL, you crack me up!

Itsmylife posted 1/24/2018 19:28 PM

My wife found your post and gave it to me to read. She may have actually thought I was “DaddyDom”. I started with your reply to “Jackass”. I have read several of your posts and I have to say I was starting to wonder the same thing. It is very soothing to know I am not alone. You have touched me so deeply that I joined this site just to respond to you. My D Day was six years ago, and we have been seeing counselors ever sense. I would like to say that without her I would not be alive today. The whole six years her only request has been that I be open, honest and transparent. Easy enough, right? Wrong! Every month or couple of weeks I would find myself in counseling listening to “Do you understand? Do you want out? Why are you doing this? Are you afraid to leave? You need to figure out what you want.” Not to lessen what my wife has gone through, but the whole thing was very frustrating and confusing for me. I know what I want, and seemed to understand, but I kept saying “I am so very close, but it’s like there is a piece of the puzzle missing.” Then one night after a very rough session at counseling, I started to think of the pain I have caused my wife and family. ( not for the first time mind you), but I actually started to feel it. Then a few days latter my wife brought up the subject of the inner child, a term I had heard before but never really dug into. Within no time at all I was bawling my eyes out, saying “I want to kill the little bastard, for ruining my life.” My wife very calmly said “no you have to learn to love and cherish the little boy, and give him what he never had”. Instant flood of tears, and again now while
writing this. Since then I have finally started to see myself as more than a POS. Self forgiveness may not be the cure, but it is definitely a requirement to move past everything else. You cannot truly love anyone until you can love and forgive yourself. For me? I still have a way to go, but for the first time in my life it’s like the instructions are in English. Things are no longer thing I have to do, but rather things that just happen. Thank you very much for your posts.

Sheleigh posted 1/25/2018 23:19 PM

I am a BS. Thank you for posting this. My WS why's in order of telling me was:
- I was bored (used this for a long time).
- It was a mistake.
- I didn't think you loved me anymore.
- Something was missing in our marriage.

And after three months of having a relationship with AP (after we separated) it is:

- the truth is I was ready for something different.

I don't think I will ever know why he did it. It is similar to his cheating, his excuses started off with:

- A one night stand where he only kissed her.
- Then the affair was two weeks but they didn't have sex until after we separated.
- Then a week ago he said the affair was three months and they had sex all the way through.
- Then two days ago he said the affair was for 6 months and they didn't have sex until the night before he confessed because he couldn't get hard.

He has also told me that he has zero remorse for cheating because now he can find what makes him happy. He said he isn't sorry that it happened.

He has also been living with AP for two months. we have only been separated for 4 months. He told me a few days ago when he showed up to my house (to pick up his mail) wearing a ring on his wedding finger that wasn't mine (we are not divorced yet) that she is his future and he can see nothing else but her. However, a week before picking up his mail he was at my house dropping off my son he told me he loved and missed me and I will always hold a special place in his heart for me. But then he said he also loves AP, but the love he has for her is different than what he feels for me.

I hope someone can give me some guidance on this because the back and forth, saying one thing then changing it a few days later is driving me nuts. The constant lies and stories are making me regress and I just want to get past all this pain so I can heal.

I actually posted a larger thread of this on general to give some clarity as I feel I hijacked this to a degree.

[This message edited by Sheleigh at 11:42 PM, January 25th (Thursday)]

EvolvingSoul posted 1/26/2018 11:52 AM

Bumped for changeneeded.

Ideservethis posted 1/26/2018 15:19 PM

This is very helpful and insightful. Thank you.
I tried to 'work' on myself and convinced her I did so she took me back to try R but after only a few weeks I went back to my old ways of being dishonest and telling lies. A few months after that I was out of the house and papers have been filed.

DaddyDom posted 3/1/2018 11:53 AM

*bump*

ConstantLearner posted 3/1/2018 12:04 PM

This is an amazingly serendipitous post. I just posted this morning about FINALLY figuring out my why. It has been almost a year (March) since I, albeit naively,started down the path toward an EA and eventual PA. And i could see bits of it but never the full thing. And suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. Thanks for writing this. I wish I had read it a lot sooner, though I’m not sure I wouldn’t have brushed it off. I felt very defensive for a very long time.

DaddyDom posted 3/6/2018 18:01 PM

Bumping for toasted22

dogma posted 3/7/2018 14:13 PM

As a BS I found some insight in this post on the "Why's". Very interesting insight from the other side.

My follow-up question is about my WS who is still discerning the why's. This has become a bit of a jam in her ability to get moving into the direction of R. I had asked her to leave as her efforts appeared lackluster (but sometimes I feel I may not give enough credit based on her mental state). She recognizes she loves me, wants our marriage to make it (we have a few kids) and feels in an ideal world this is the best pursuit. In many ways she feels she doesn't deserve the 2nd chance.

What if the "Why's" are not known for many months? What is the best process of at least moving forward toward R while the "Why's" are still discerned? I understand that may take a long time with IC to fully understand. Can a BS hang around for months waiting for this to happen - especially if they do not feel some level of R is occurring?

DaddyDom posted 3/7/2018 15:04 PM

@Dogma,

Thank you for your reply. I'm not sure that anyone can tell a BS how long to hang around waiting. That really depends on you and your needs. If it took several months, but then she was truly remorseful and working hard on R, would it be worth it to you to wait?

Here is a link to a post I wrote the other day about R and what you can do in the meantime. It may help:
http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=619054&HL=56960 (Things you can do to help in reconciliation, right now, today - In reconciliation forum)

I find it interesting that she feels she doesn't deserve a second chance. I think that's good. That means she is realizing at least some of the gravity of what she has done and is internalizing that as regret, shame or remorse. While painful, those emotions are the ones that may ultimately lead to her making positive changes in her life. She just needs to be careful to not get stuck in a "shame spiral", which basically means she would end up identifying herself as a "bad person" and thus irredeemable, rather than as "a good person who did a bad thing" and can therefore make better choices moving forward.

Where do you feel she is "getting stuck" right now? What do you feel she is not quite understanding, or perhaps not doing that you expect from her? Do you feel her IC is helping her? Are they just talking about the affair, or are they digging into her poor coping skills and what's at the core of her personal weaknesses?

For what it is worth, I see you are new member. Was your D-day fairly recent? (A few months, less than a year?) It took me a good 6-8 months before I was able to even begin to pull my head out of my own ass and start to really accept what I had done, how much damage it caused to my family, and the horrible consequences of it all. I was defensive, and so buried in my own selfishness and pain that I made everything about me. Even when I tried not to, it was still all about me. This caused continual pain to my wife and almost ended our marriage. Who knows, it still might one day? I consider myself very lucky in that my wife is a strong woman who loves me very much. Enough to not take any of my bullshit and not let me get away with my delusional excuses and justifications. She was honest and open with me from day one, shared all of her pain with me, and insisted that I either keep doing the work, or get out. She told me the other day that part of the reason she waited it out was because she saw me at least trying, and never giving up. Eventually the lights went on, and when they did, my healing and hers both took a much more positive and accelerated pace.

The best advice I can give you for now is to take care of yourself first and foremost. Regardless of what trauma your wife may have experienced in her life that brought her to this point, she has now dumped that pain onto you as well. I'm not saying to "not" help or wait for your wife in whatever way you can, I'm just saying to make sure that you are protected. You are the victim here, she is the abuser, so you need to protect yourself from more damage. If she's not doing the work, then insist that she does. If it is not enough, then either she needs to step up to the challenge, or perhaps you need to do a 180 and step away from her until she's stable enough to have her back in your life. Or, perhaps, maybe R just isn't in the cards. R or D, both are always a choice that you can make at any time, there is no time limit on either.

Is your wife on SI?

OneInTheSame posted 3/8/2018 01:03 AM

DaddyDom ... Thank you. This is a most wonderful thread, and I hope it gets tagged for the healing library.

It breaks my heart that my wife does not feel she has the intellect or emotional capacity to do this kind of "work" at figuring out where "it" all came from. As I read your OP I kept thinking "If only she could read this and feel it was for her." But from our latest confrontation (are they still fights? there are tears and frustration . . . so what do we call them?) I feel cheated that she truly feels she can only see in black and white. She can't seem to get the big picture. It is breaking my heart, because the thing I need most from her, she seems unable to muster. For example, your "breakfast example" she would surely say she can't relate to because she simply does not eat breakfast. She is unable to transfer the insights to another scenario. I have nearly exampled myself to death with her, but they are either never "on point" or they are too theoretical. Arg-g-g-gh! I have set examples of what I need (more hugs throughout the day, but especially when I am hurting) by giving random hugs. I have tried to be vulnerable to encourage her to be vulnerable too. This past 2 1/2 years feel like a million false starts . . . I am always hearing "I can do that" or "I will try harder."

Last week I used Yoda's famous line: "Do, or do not, -- there is no try." It's not that she continues with affair behavior . . . she just can't seem to get in gear on changing how she responds to the damage she has done to me and our marriage.

I am tired. I was TT'd to death. She thinks it is unfair that this is why I still don't believe many things she swears are the truth. My head still swims in the multiple stories she told to back up each lie. I just wish she could read a thread like this and have a light-bulb moment. That would be a godsend.

dogma posted 3/8/2018 07:05 AM

@daddydom

Where do you feel she is "getting stuck" right now?

Feelings of shame and that she is a bad person. Feels she is a horrible person undeserved of a 2nd chance. She also is conflicted about “us” being fixable ( I thought we had a good overall marriage). One of her “Why” questions is a an endless circle in her mind - did I have an A due to not valuing my marriage? She also frets about all the “what-ifs”. What if we try and fail? What if Incannot stop being deceitful? What if I do this again and continue to cause hurt? In general, she is afraid to put one foot out to begin R based on her own fears. She does still maintain she loves me and wants our marriage to succeed.

I think her IC is helping her. That said she has a long way to go in being fully open and dealing with her FOO issues. It’s hard to tell how open she is being in IC. Her being transparent and dealing with issues will be a massive challenge- as she has stated it’s easier “not to deal “. She recognizes the weakeness in that statement- but still struggles.

DaddyDom posted 3/8/2018 15:31 PM

Feelings of shame and that she is a bad person. Feels she is a horrible person undeserved of a 2nd chance. She also is conflicted about “us” being fixable ( I thought we had a good overall marriage). One of her “Why” questions is a an endless circle in her mind - did I have an A due to not valuing my marriage? She also frets about all the “what-ifs”. What if we try and fail? What if I cannot stop being deceitful? What if I do this again and continue to cause hurt? In general, she is afraid to put one foot out to begin R based on her own fears. She does still maintain she loves me and wants our marriage to succeed.

Yeah, I know those feelings well, and I feel for her (and you!). When you allow yourself to get to a point where you actually end up lying and betraying the people you love most in your world, how do you even go about learning to trust yourself again? You start to wonder if there is any hope for yourself at all, and if the people you love aren't better off without you. She's still living in fear however. She's the only one who can answer those questions, and what she needs to realize is that they are not "what if's", because they are completely within her control. She cannot control what you do, or what anyone else does, or even what's done to her, but she CAN control herself and make her own choices. Which, for a WS, can be terrifying, because it requires things we either lack or suck at, such as boundaries, self-esteem, confidence, conflict, and the requirement of truly understanding who we are, what we are capable of, what we did, the consequences of our actions, and the near-complete lack of control over the outcomes.

This all comes down to motivation (in my opinion). What does she really want (or not want) and what is she willing to do in order to get it?

Here are some givens (or very likely):

What if she tries and fails? - Well, if she doesn't try, then she automatically fails. So trying is a must. But what if she fails? Then she still accomplishes things. For instance, she learns what does NOT work, so she can try something else. She also has the benefit of knowing that she DID try, which is better than not. It also brings her closer to her desired goal, which (I'm guessing) is to stay together. I can't speak for you of course, but I would assume that most betrayed spouses are much more likely to consider staying in R in the presence of a WS who is doing everything they can to change, rather then one who is a "deer in the headlights" and giving up because they are too afraid of failing. If she loves you and the kids, then she needs to buck up and fight for all of you, herself included.

What if she lies again or does this again? - Well then things get exponentially worse, don't they? The odds of of R diminish or dissolve completely, and the odds of rebuilding trust, now or in the future, get harder. The thing is, she's the ONLY person in the world who can control this. I know she knows this. But again, she's terrified. She can't trust herself, and she lacks the self-love and confidence to beleive that she's strong enough and worth enough to stop herself from doing these things. I can tell you that, as a broken person myself, there is a part of us that just wants to somehow "prove" to the world and to ourselves that we're right... that we are NOT worthy of love or happiness or trust or anything good in life, and so we subconsciously set out to sabotage ourselves in order to keep ourselves locked into the one identity that we are comfortable with, the identity of someone worthless and hopeless. This will continue to be a problem until such time as she changes who she is and how she identifies herself at her core. And that will take courage and risk, and of course, effort.

The good news is, although only she can do this for herself, she doesn't have to do it alone. She has SI (if she's here). She has her IC. And more than anything, she has you and the kids. While you seem to be on the fence with her, you also seem to really love her and care. Otherwise you wouldn't be here asking these questions in the first place. That's a gift and she needs to understand that. At the end of the day, whether you R or D, or makes very little difference in what she will need to go through and deal with. If she puts effort into changing herself, it will be scary and hard and occasional failure is pretty much assured. If she doesn't try however, then she will have to deal with the loss of her family and the loneliness of being apart, and the scary prospect of learning to live on her own and probably fucking up again because she never dealt with the broken things inside of her to begin with. For me, it is that last part that terrifies me more than losing my family... if I don't fix this broken shit inside of me, then I will be forever doomed to a life lived feeling "less than" and unloved. Every relationship, even the one with myself, will be affected by my lack of being able to cope with stress and hurt in a healthy way. How can anyone really love or respect me when I can't love and respect myself? Whether we R or D, I still need to fix myself, or this nightmare NEVER ends. I had a lot of bad people do a lot of bad things to me in my life that got me to where I am today, this broken and sad little man. But those people who hurt me, they don't care. They probably don't even remember what they did to me that is still causing me pain and anguish today. So, who owns my abuse now? Them? No. Not them. They don't give a shit. I own it. I'm the only person that is carrying around the pain anymore. Which means I am my own abuser, because no one else is hurting me now, except for me. And I'm done.

Your wife needs to get that. She needs to change, and she needs to do it for herself. Not for you, or the kids, just for her. If she wants the marriage to survive then she needs to stop with the pity party and the fear and the shame, and instead get pissed. Get pissed at herself for letting this happen. Get pissed at what she did and for allowing it to get this far. Get pissed that she's sitting around floundering while her marriage and her life are eroding before her eyes.

I will tell you what my wife did for me (among many things) that helped me to move forward. She offered me an "umbrella of commitment". Basically, that meant that she was going to agree to stay with me for a while and try to R, no matter what. Obviously, if I did something really stupid such as lie or cheat, she was under no obligation to stay. But as long as she saw me trying and doing the work, she agreed to take D off the table "for now". This "made it safe" for me to some degree. I no longer had the fear of making a mistake or not moving fast enough. I made mistakes, We had fights. We had pain. But as long as I kept doing the work and didn't do something really stupid (e.g. lie or cheat) then she was going to stick with me. I know that's an awful lot to ask of you. However maybe it will help her to move forward, because it offers her a safety net, and it removes some of the what-if's for her. It is just a suggestion of course, you need to do what you feel is best, and what is within your boundaries.

I'm just curious - what is your wife's back story? Does she have any sexual or other kinds of abuse or neglect in her life? Does she deal with any kinds of addictions?

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