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BS Questions for WS's - Part 13

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BraveSirRobin posted 5/9/2020 11:03 AM

I find it interesting that anywhere you look or read or on most forums it talks about cheaters having low self esteem or something weak inside but i wouldve thought that its more people with high self esteems and egos that would cheat.
It does seem counterintuitive, doesn't it? Nothing is universal, but my experience was that I felt like I needed someone outside of myself to validate that I was lovable, attractive, worthy. People with solid self-esteem don't fixate on these things. They know they're already whole on their own, and so what they get from a normal, healthy relationship is enough for them. It's the folks with a self-image like swiss cheese who have to keep pouring in the "proof" that they're wanted and admired.

HardKnocks posted 5/9/2020 14:40 PM

Wondering if any recovered FWS with severe compartmentalization issues would like to share any wisdom, insight or intervention techniques for a cake-eating WS who is working on this in IC?

What helped you the most to understand this?

What helped you to recognize/reduce the reoccurence of this defense mechanism?

Thanks in advance!

Lucky77 posted 5/10/2020 08:30 AM

Hi HardKnocks,

I would argue that everyone compartmentalizes. BS, WS, everyone. It's how we can talk to our kids, talk to work colleagues, talk to friends and neighbors, talk to siblings, talk to parents, etc all in a way where we are focused on them at that moment in time. While we don't block out the rest of our total being, say, when we are talking to a young son, we are focused and I would argue, compartmentalized, at that moment. I would argue compartmentalizing is a symptom not the disease.

ISurvivedSoFar posted 5/10/2020 09:42 AM

My two cents is that compartmentalization happens on a spectrum. My WS could literally become separated from himself and could present as a part of himself exclusively. I cannot do that. While I can turn on the work persona versus the mom persona for example, I still bring all personas with me in those instances. In my WS's case, he could not bring the others along and that was scary for many reasons.

HardKnocks I can only tell you what I observed as I am the BS. His IC journey (and it still continues) was intense. And his needs were only discovered when we finally found an astute MC who saw him slip into those personas during our session. She had him get an IC who specializes in severe trauma and disassociation. During this time, he could not in any way be a partner to me. He had to go back and essentially heal the chasm in his psyche which started by helping him feel safe by creating safety for himself. This allowed him to understand that he can stand on his own and not be dependent on others for his value, his worth. In other words he could stop looking for external affirmations to survive.

Once he healed this part of himself his empathy returned. The journey now is to understand how to relate as a partner as the new him (and frankly there is a new me as well). Like everything tied to emotions, this isn't a linear trajectory. We slip back and forth until the new behaviors are fully imprinted.

Hope this helps.

Zugzwang posted 5/10/2020 11:44 AM

I find it interesting that anywhere you look or read or on most forums it talks about cheaters having low self esteem or something weak inside but i wouldve thought that its more people with high self esteems and egos that would cheat.

having an ego isn't the same as self love. People who love themselves and respect themselves don't have to act. They are humble. Ego comes with narcissist or people inflating and throwing it around for attention because they are acting to seem more than they really are. At least for me.

Zugzwang posted 5/10/2020 11:48 AM

Wondering if any recovered FWS with severe compartmentalization issues would like to share any wisdom, insight or intervention techniques for a cake-eating WS who is working on this in IC?

What helped you the most to understand this?

What helped you to recognize/reduce the reoccurence of this defense mechanism?

To admit that it was just a road or avenue. To be mindful and focus on the fact that I chose to compartmentalize. Not to let it go that it is some sub conscience thing. It was deliberate to avoid. Associate uncomfortable with doing that. For some it is just a way to multitask. For healthy people. For waywards it is a way to avoid pain or feeling uncomfortable. Focus more on the feeling and less on the how you deal with it and he/she can begin to catch it before that step. Then, you also have to have new coping skills other than compartmentalizing.

Zugzwang posted 5/10/2020 11:52 AM

Brokendad19

I do struggle with the idea that she loved and still loves me.
Stop struggling. What you feel is your reality. If you feel her actions and behavior were not loving then it isn't. Period. She has to accept that is your reality. I would say, she object loved you if she claims to love you. You both need to discuss what love is with each other. I claimed the same and it became an eye opener with the concept of object love. I also put my wife in a parent role. So, I basically loved her like a child loves their caregiver. Making it much more easier for me to take her for granted and then to take advantage of what I thought was unconditional love.

BraveSirRobin posted 5/10/2020 12:14 PM

HardKnocks, I apologize that this is so long, but it's not a question I ever tried to answer with more than a few summary lines, and I had to think a lot about how to explain it.

For me, all remorse is deeply entwined with learning how to let go of control. I had to figure out why I was so deeply freaked out by situations of uncertainty where I didn't have power over the outcome. By separating my life into isolated chunks, I didn't expose myself completely in any direction. No one had "all of me," so no one could destroy all of me. In healthy people, that core protected area is occupied by genuine self esteem. They have faith that if other people fail them, they'll be ok with themselves. I didn't have that, so I set up a cheap substitute, a false version of myself that I imagined was stronger and more desirable than the real me.

The irony is that my method of protecting myself was what put me at genuine, rather than imagined, risk. My BH would have worked hard to keep our relationship together if I had been honest and straightforward about what scared me. Instead, I put a pin in us and started an A where I felt powerful and secure, believing I had the upper hand. In doing so, of course, I deliberately set in motion the potential loss of the person I was most afraid to lose.

A wayward's fears may not be obvious, and they don't have to be rational. The problem isn't the insecurities themselves, it's our unwillingness to admit them. WS are, in general, terrified of vulnerability. We can't bear to ask for things we might not get. We'd rather try to steal them from somewhere else to avoid risking rejection. I guess some WS might gloat over having the risk of exposure compartmentalized, like a pirate with treasure buried at every port. In my case, compartmentalizing helped with denial. By separating the A from my "real" life in my head, I protected my image of who I believed I was. I avoided admitting that I was a betrayer, a liar, and a cheat.

When I think about how I made that choice, thereby barreling towards my own destruction, I find myself empathizing with those unfortunate idiots who drank aquarium cleaner to protect themselves from the coronavirus. They were scared, they were arrogant, they acted impulsively, and one of them ended up dead. All they really had to do to be safe was stay home and wash their hands. But drinking that chemical made them feel powerful -- "I can prevent this, I'm smart, I'm doing something" -- and in their fear, that false sense of control was too enticing to pass up.

What helped me break that cycle? SI. Not any magic formula -- I wish I had one to give you, believe me -- but just writing here and exposing my ugly and shameful thought processes. I learned that the world didn't collapse because I exposed my darker side. People saw that I was weak and selfish and dishonest and all kinds of things I never wanted to face or admit about myself, and the world kept on turning. Some of the BS here will never feel anything but contempt for any WS, including me; I accepted their antipathy, and the world kept on turning. Best of all, some WS were people with good qualities, capable of being smart and kind, who admitted to those same idiotic, destructive fears, and were clearly better for it. They all said the only way through is to face yourself with brutal honesty. When I took that advice, it was agonizing, but I did not die of exposure.

Over time, I found members on both sides of the BS/WS divide who appreciated seeing a WW admitting to her faults and trying to grapple with them. That in itself was a dangerous moment in the process, TBH. Waywards sometimes try to substitute one form of self-gratification for another, and I had to be vigilant about not expecting ego kibbles for doing the work. And it's still rough to get busted down to size by 2x4s. I'm less wayward than I was, but 18 months is not long enough to rewire a 51 year old brain. That self-protective, even self-aggrandizing instinct is powerful. It will still allow me to lie to myself if I'm not careful, and that would be a big step towards allowing myself to lie to others again. I have to keep deliberately cracking my own shell.

As I did that, my self-perception gradually reunified with the reality of how I had chosen to live my life. I accepted that there were never multiple BraveSirRobins, cleverly managing an emotional empire, but one scared BSR manipulating levers behind a curtain, yelling that the Great and Powerful Oz Had Spoken. I was exceptionally lucky that my BH reacted to this with compassion. There are many BS who, understandably, walk away physically/emotionally when they discover they married a cheap fraud. It would be disingenuous to pretend that all stories like mine can have a happy ending.

Waywards know this, and there will always be some of us who value control more than the possibility of R. They'd rather go out in a blazing fight on their own terms than expose their underbelly and die with their guts spilling out. If you have someone who is hell bent on protecting their false self-image at all costs, I don't know how you ever get the growth from them that would allow you to build trust again. They aren't going to be safe until they learn to live with their own vulnerability.

My advice to your WS would be to accept that he's already fully exposed. He's not fooling you anymore. He's not fooling his IC. The time has come for him to face that the only person he has a shot at deceiving is himself. And in the long run, really, he's not even succeeding at that.

HardKnocks posted 5/10/2020 14:49 PM

I would argue that everyone compartmentalizes. BS, WS, everyone.

My two cents is that compartmentalization happens on a spectrum.

Yep. We all do it to some degree. It's the degree I'm targeting. The degree to which there is serious effort that blocks a severe risk of great damage to self, and others.

Thanks for the input!

[This message edited by HardKnocks at 2:56 PM, May 10th (Sunday)]

HardKnocks posted 5/10/2020 14:50 PM

To admit that it was just a road or avenue. To be mindful and focus on the fact that I chose to compartmentalize. Not to let it go that it is some sub conscience thing. It was deliberate to avoid. Associate uncomfortable with doing that. For some it is just a way to multitask. For healthy people. For waywards it is a way to avoid pain or feeling uncomfortable. Focus more on the feeling and less on the how you deal with it and he/she can begin to catch it before that step. Then, you also have to have new coping skills other than compartmentalizing.

Very helpful. Thank you!

HardKnocks posted 5/10/2020 14:55 PM

What helped me break that cycle? SI. Not any magic formula -- I wish I had one to give you, believe me -- but just writing here and exposing my ugly and shameful thought processes. I learned that the world didn't collapse because I exposed my darker side. People saw that I was weak and selfish and dishonest and all kinds of things I never wanted to face or admit about myself, and the world kept on turning. Some of the BS here will never feel anything but contempt for any WS, including me; I accepted their antipathy, and the world kept on turning. Best of all, some WS were people with good qualities, capable of being smart and kind, who admitted to those same idiotic, destructive fears, and were clearly better for it. They all said the only way through is to face yourself with brutal honesty. When I took that advice, it was agonizing, but I did not die of exposure.

This resonates! Although this is not *my* journey per se, after knowing WS for 30 years I am imagine how this might fit into his persona. He mentioned something along these lines when discussing external validation with his IC.

Thanks so much for taking the time to write!

[This message edited by HardKnocks at 2:58 PM, May 10th (Sunday)]

JBWD posted 5/10/2020 19:20 PM

I believe that when you understand the reason for the compartmentalization, you can then look to reverse it. So the basic answer (as has been spelled out above) is for the WS to face the music- It’s an act of convenience to continue to block out the horrible truth that we’re not perfect. It might take time for a cheater to come to that, because if the cracks aren’t significant enough, it’s still easy to deceive oneself. The market of “I feel like it” makes it especially hard for selfish assholes to get to the point where they’re willing to concede that feeling it doesn’t actually make it true.

The bad news is I believe the only way to arrive at the appropriate point to break down these walls is by spending the time trying to understand- I really believe that the light of empathy is what busts through this, and I tend to be stuck at the fact that empathy takes time.

If I had to propose a way to help foster this empathy I’d pitch building opportunities for the WS to find times to learn about BP’s pain in a “receive only” setting. Where the proof of the pain they’ve caused is incontrovertible and there is no means to refute. I don’t know if that’s possible but it’s all I could imagine would potentially “jumpstart” the process.

I personally believe that this timeline to empathy is as individual and unpredictable as a BP’s road to individual healing. If those don’t happen to line up well it seems to me the couple is headed for limbo at best.

HardKnocks posted 5/10/2020 20:17 PM

I believe that when you understand the reason for the compartmentalization, you can then look to reverse it.

Or at least reduce the prevalence.

Thanks so much for the input!

[This message edited by HardKnocks at 10:12 PM, May 10th (Sunday)]

Underserving posted 5/11/2020 11:27 AM

I have a simple question. Have any of you actually forgiven yourselves?

NorthernMSB posted 5/11/2020 11:31 AM

Hello. I hope everyone is staying safe in this new reality. I am not sure if this can be answered.

Why would a WS stay in a marriage if they are not happy?

Quick background for those unfamiliar...caught husband of 23 years in 2009 sexting his ex girlfriend. Rugswept due to my mom just dying etc. Caught him Christmas Eve 2018 sexting with Another ex. It turned out to be 5-6 week online sexting relationship with plans To meet Boxing Day when he was going down to see his parents. In detective mode I discovered he never stopped the affair with the first ex. Apparently mostly online but he did stop to see her a bunch of times over the years including sleeping at her house one night that I know of. Apparently made out but no sex. Sure.

Anyway since getting caught no real remorse, sorry it hurt me, that wasn’t his intention. No counselling or therapy. He will not do it. No talking about it. Lots of threats to leave. Does not love me then of course loves me. After period of hysterical bonding mostly on my end. No sex. I still try to initiate but he is plainly not interested. Generally hostile or just plain silent. I am utterly alone. When we do argue he will occasionally throw in my face he isn’t sorry he did it and he enjoyed them more than me and no one would blame him. His new litany is that I am abusive. Our whole marriage. So...I work. Constantly. Am not suicidal, was a few times in the last 15 months, but most days just feel done with my life. I stay because of finances and because I still unbelievably have feelings for him. But why on earth would he stay? For real? What would a WS get in this situation? If he left he could do what he wanted and who he wanted and not deal with me. Why cheat for 20 years and then stay if you will do nothing to make amends or heal the breach?

Sorry if this is too long. I just do not understand.

MrCleanSlate posted 5/11/2020 11:59 AM

I have a simple question. Have any of you actually forgiven yourselves?

That's the sort of thing you say at Church for others to hear. Sounds good but not worth a damn.

I've spent years working on fixing my M and reconciling with not only my BW but with myself.

I've grown, learned a lot about myself, accepted a lot of faults and worked on many others. And I continue to work on myself.

Forgive oneself? No. That to me does not go with improving and fixing who we were/are.

BraveSirRobin posted 5/11/2020 12:21 PM

I have a simple question. Have any of you actually forgiven yourselves?
That's a hard one to answer, because there are so many ways to look at forgiveness. I think I have a much clearer view of myself at the time of the A. Most of my feelings are negative and incredulous, but I feel a little compassion, too. I can hold myself accountable for my choices and still see the unacknowledged pain I was in when I made them.

Honestly, I find it even harder to forgive myself for how I treated my BH after the A than for the A itself. The lack of empathy I showed towards him when the A was over, when he was in so much obvious pain, is something I'm still trying to understand, let alone forgive. I don't know that I'll ever find grace for that.

SlapJacks posted 5/11/2020 12:25 PM

First, I have read every word on this thread...sometimes several times. I commend the WS's, especially the WW's, on here who are really laying it out there. Just reading your stories have given me a glimpse of what was possibly going through my WW's mind.

I find myself coming out of the shock and awe stage, and moving to a sad acceptance that yes this really happened. It is difficult, but necessary to hear these stories by the WW's. Maybe because y'all have the perspective of time, but my WW hasn't really given me the pathway that led to her decisions. I've gotten snippets. Maybe it will improve with time as my anger subsides and I am capable of being a better listener.

While I am sure I will have plenty of questions, but this one, which has probably been asked a 1000 times, is really more foundational than anything.

How did you re-establish physical intimacy after DDay? I have always been the primary "initiator" prior to DDay, and I was OK with that then. However, my mind can help but look back and think was she just allowing me? Was sex a chore? Was she satisfied? She has told me numerous times that our sex life was very satisfying, but it is difficult for me to initiate sex in this new normal. It's not that I don't it just that I am nervous as hell. I have never lacked sexual confidence until now. She tries to tell me this is not the case, but everything is so damn fresh in my mind. Prior to DDay, we were 3-4 times a week. Now not so much.

Did your BH's experience a push/pull attraction to you after DDay? Or did they just roll into hysterical bonding without reservation? Is there anything you or your BH's did that helped? Or is this something that I just have to be OK that things are going to be awkward for a time.
I am still have a deep level of attraction to my WW, and strangely, she looks more beautiful than ever. It all just so f'd up...

BraveSirRobin posted 5/11/2020 12:38 PM

Why would a WS stay in a marriage if they are not happy?
I'm sorry if this is too blunt, but you're a trophy for him. Waywards crave validation. What could be more validating than someone who worships him so completely that she'll stick around no matter what abuse he heaps on her? If it looks like you've had enough and are really going to leave, he love bombs you just enough to get you to stay. He can't have his self-image dulled by being dumped. Once he's feeling secure, though, it's back to torturing you for the pleasure of proving just how powerful and desirable he is.

You have a particularly toxic, narcissistic WS there, Northern. I'm really sorry. It's nothing to do with you as a person. You're thinking he could be with anyone he wanted if he left, but he doesn't want anyone. He wants proof of his supposed greatness, and that's the role you play.

NorthernMSB posted 5/11/2020 12:52 PM

Thanks BraveSirRobin.

Blunt is good. I certainly don't feel like anyone's trophy right now except maybe financially. Due to everything I have completely immersed myself in work and doing quite well knock-on-wood.

You have certainly nailed his personality, golden boy of his social group all the way back to high school.

I guess you are right. I guess I believe if I was such an incredible horror for decades, he hated his life so much, cheated for over 20 years with the same woman (and at least one other), and is not interested in me either physically, emotionally, or mentally then why not just leave? I don't have a gun to his head. Mostly I just stay the hell out of his way.

Thank you.

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