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Emotional Risk Taking..

ChanceAtLife35 posted 12/12/2019 19:35 PM

It's a year and a half out already and things are a little better for us. I am still staying on course for individual healing and more aware of what's in front of me. I used to feel hopeless and filled with unbearable emotions, but now i find myself processing them right away and questioning why they were even there. There are a couple things i discovered that almost blew my mind away when i found out what they meant. I will focus on the first one and save the second one for a later day.

Let me discuss Emotional Risk Taking: This clearly was not one of my strengths ever and i mean ever. I only told people what they wanted to hear or said whatever to avoid being hurt or rejected. Anything to make Mommy and Daddy love me and see mee.
Anything for my BW to see that i am the best loving partner ever. Emotional risk taking is an experience of taking an emotional risk willingly putting our true feelings out there for everyone to see, even though we know we have no control over what will happen or how other people will respond. I failed at this because i had internalized so much pain from you name it that i was afraid to open up even in my current relationship. I saw it as if you see the real me, you will reject me or hurt me. I recall my BW asking me when we first started dating why was she the only one asking all the questions. I don't remember exactly what i said, but i am sure it wasn't an honest answer. Not opening up this way eventually led to my self sabotage and contributed to my affairs. I was not happy within myself and i thought going elsewhere to find something else or someone else was the answer to my lack of emotional risk taking. Even in my A's i was closed off only saying whatever to get what i wanted. It all comes with lying too. I feel by not being an emotional risk taker, you lie to yourself just about everything to avoid any negative feelings or pain.

Emotional risk taking can be highly beneficial in ways i can't even count. Not just in relationships, but all aspects of life. Taking emotional risks in your relationships is the foundation for experiencing greater levels of love, intimacy, empathy and connection. It can help you overcome communication barriers and heal the past. It gives you a greater emotional connection, trust and sense of feeling valued in relationships it leads to greater degrees of love, joy and authenticity.

I am taking steps to open up more freely, but i still struggle with A conversations and opening up with initiation. I realize clearly who i am in this situation and no longer feel the need to seek any AP for any reason. I still have to mend this part of me, and i know when i overcome this fear, it will be healed and gone for good. I have discovered what are all the ways i didn't want to take the risk emotionally with others and come up with ways to resolve it. Lately, i have really been opening up to people such as my sponsor, and members of SLAA. This morning i opened up to the head of the department i work for that i was still grieving over the loss of my boss. He embraced what i said right away and even mentioned he thought about her too over the weekend while out of town because his wife was doing some preparations for her elderly mother. It felt good to take that risk to open up to someone and we connected on another level based on how we felt. I still have a long way to go, but taking the effort to do it is slowly peeling the layers of my real self. I also allow my emotions and feeling to go freely with members of SLAA. We relate in so many ways so the things we discuss help us get down to the root of the why's of our addictions and compulsive behaviors. They know about my A's so this allows me to dig deep into why i ended up here. Of course here is always helpful so the more resources the better.

I see how much hurt and pain i caused my BW by not telling her all the times i didn't feel happy with her or the relationship. Or the times i felt she didn't love or care about me anymore. If i would have took this emotional risk of letting her know all these things years ago, we most likely would not be here. Everything i felt towards her had nothing to do with her, but how i felt about myself. I was more critical of myself of anyone else and this is a huge part of me that i need to dig deep in and find out why i was so hard on myself. Why i didn't see enough of myself to think i was worth taking all these emotional risks in my life. Every lie i told, every A i had only made it harder for me to open up emotionally to her or anyone else. I want her to know how horrible, selfish, and disgusting i was and what i said and did in those sickening moments. But i also want her to know everything i think and feel now.

How did not being emotionally risk taking affect your marriages, friendships, and relationships and do you feel it contributed to leading to your A's?

[This message edited by ChanceAtLife35 at 7:40 PM, December 12th (Thursday)]

DoingThingsWrong posted 12/12/2019 20:48 PM

Emotional risk taking would have been a beneficial skill for me 15 years ago. I've always struggled to create meaningful friendships or maintain the few ones that did happen despite my desire to never, truly, put myself out there.

Having seen it explained this way helps me connect the dots in my own marriage that led me to a path of cheating that I chose to walk along. Many of the things that my BW and I have been able to discuss now, after the ordeal I've put her through, are things that, if discussed years ago, would have prevented being here now. I was always more afraid of bringing up how things made me feel because of the reaction I might have received. I am an anxious person and tend to castatophize situations in my own head. If i had made the effort to put things on the table, i am sure the worst case scenario in my head would have never happened. Instead i chose not to risk myself and walked down a path of destruction as a result.

Thank you for putting this in writing. Its really helpful for me.

[This message edited by DoingThingsWrong at 8:51 PM, December 12th (Thursday)]

ChanceAtLife35 posted 12/13/2019 19:37 PM

You’re welcome, glad I could help.

Nanatwo posted 12/15/2019 14:14 PM

BW here - no stop sign - so I hope you don't mind if I put my two cents in.

Your post describes my H to a T. Fear of rejection (his dad walked out on the family when he was three) - he never learned healthy ways to deal with conflict so would just shut down when I would try to discuss issues in our marriage - never feeling truly loved and accepted by those in his life - huge need for validation.

The irony of the whole situation is if he had only been able to tell me what he was truly feeling I believe the A never would have happened. He thought the A was an easy way out - but the aftermath has been the hardest thing he has ever had to deal with.

Thank you for your post - as a BS it helps to read post by other W's that match so closely what my H was going thru - it gives me an insight in to what he was feeling and has helped us a lot on our road to R.

JBWD posted 12/15/2019 15:00 PM

I built a TON of unreasonable expectations because of what you described.

My childhood was not one of overt trauma or discomfort, but older, pre-Boomer parents combined with a BIT of geographical isolation meant that I felt exceedingly isolated once approaching adolescence. An older sibling who exceedingly valued acceptance led me to believe that my desire to be liked and open turned into the assumption that those who were “popular” were automatically going to shun me. So much evidence to the contrary by the time I reached college but I completely negated it because of confirmation bias.

Carried into adulthood and a military career, meaningful friendships were further hampered by the constant moving.

What this lead to was what we see SO OFTEN here- An unhealthy burden placed on my wife, who had A LOT to manage. She also built a similar degree of stock in only me, and so we continually “overdrew” this account by limiting the connections we made. As she internalized feelings of inadequacy that I tacitly encouraged, I fostered resentments about her growing despair and depression that was fed by my need for validation from her, at times when her life simply needed some support from me.

So how emotional risk-taking could have kept this at bay- First and foremost taking the risk of maintaining normal healthy friendships that I assumed couldn’t exist because people weren’t interested in sustaining them with me. I assumed that the normal natural order of things was that once married we would be an unstoppable dream team, back to back against the world. I never recognized that that perceived conflict wasn’t there, and that the resulting isolation created so much pressure.

More importantly I carried a fairly normal adolescent fear of rejection well into adulthood when those who I thought I’d intellectually “outpaced” as a young adult had subsequently “lapped” me emotionally.

This adolescent fear coupled with a perceived lack of control led to an increasingly wild, flailing sense of rejection and isolation that had I recognized could have been addressed in the dueling assumptions my BW and I had about our relationship. And I could’ve recognized that her needs for reassurance and safety were equally neglected as I gave myself license to lie and cheat.

ChanceAtLife35 posted 12/16/2019 20:19 PM

@nanatwo and jbwd thank you for your shares. Crazy how much not taking this risk impacted us for so many years until it blows up in our faces.

kairos posted 12/18/2019 12:26 PM

I don't even know how to respond to this because it hits me squarely on the head. Looking back at my relationship with my wife (soon to be ex), I never really was honest about things with her. I was too afraid to hurt her, maybe too afraid to admit to myself my own flaws, and really just found it impossible to express real raw emotions and internal insights. And as you mention, when you do this, you tend to lie to yourself about everything to compensate for the false reality that is created by not facing emotional truth/vulnerability. I only ever told my wife the easy things: you're beautiful, you're strong, you're an amazing mother, etc. But I never as honest about the critical stuff. At a certain point, I think I held these things against her instead of discussing them. And, then....I became resentful. And once I was resentful.... then came the justification for the affairs. And the worst thing about the affairs is that they were so shallow and ineffective. After all, the only real way to be loved is to love oneself, and then you can accept love in all that it is: good, bad, beautiful, ugly, all in, everything. Part of the reason I was unable to be an emotional risk taker comes from childhood trauma and emotionally disconnected parents. To this day, I still struggle to understand that part of it, although it unravels daily. I am taking up your suggestion to be take risks emotionally one day at a time. Thanks for you thoughts on this, and the courage to admit it. I want to be vulnerable too. :)

ChanceAtLife35 posted 12/18/2019 19:01 PM

Pdxguy. I can relate to literally every word you said. I am glad you are taking this step.

JBWD posted 12/19/2019 12:19 PM

Nanatwo- Interesting that your husband’s father left early in his life. As my post mentioned, I don’t have strong traumas in my childhood, but...

I have been thinking a lot about the fact that my mother didn’t LEAVE per se... But she is a doctor and after seeing older sister and me through infancy and into school age, wanted to go back to work. Which required a condensed “re-residency” of a year (My 1st grade year) It was never explained and while it’s fuzzy, I can remember feeling a lot of angst about where exactly she was and what was happening... I only pieced together on my own where she was later in life.

Unsure how many other WSs have similar experiences and how common a contributor that might have been...

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