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I've forgiven myself, but the grief is unbearable

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bluephoenix posted 6/30/2020 00:25 AM

As a BS myself it sounds more like you were seeking solid ground and you thought your affairs would fill that void. What if the AP decided to seal the deal instead of bail? Would you still be wallowing in your self pity. Would your XBW be the runner up after you chose the AP instead of her? Have you ever considered the pain you put you XBS through instead of your own? I truly don't think what your feeling right now is remorse but regret. You came out of this game with an empty hand and you need to move on. Perhaps find a second chance with another woman and actually find peace in yourself through her instead of infidelity. Most people deserve a second chance. You just wont necessarily receive it the way you expect it.

cc24ru posted 6/30/2020 00:26 AM

Not a psyche doctor, but from everything I've read...run, not walk to this. It's been 4 years of stuff not working. Time to try Plan B. Again, heard great things about it.

Thanks. I have an appointment on Thursday where I'll be having an initial discussion about it. Will be reporting back as I go along.

cc24ru posted 6/30/2020 01:03 AM

bluephoenix thank you for the response and perspective. You make some good points/raise good questions and I'd like to address them; I hope it doesn't come off as being defensive in any way.

As a BS myself it sounds more like you were seeking solid ground and you thought your affairs would fill that void.

Definitely. There's been a void within me for a long time that I've tried to fill in a variety of ways -- some constructive (bodybuilding), many destructive (affairs, addiction).

What if the AP decided to seal the deal instead of bail? Would you still be wallowing in your self pity. Would your XBW be the runner up after you chose the AP instead of her?

I truly don't believe so. Even as I was in the thick of it, I knew that what I was engaging in was only a temporary and fleeting fix, and that these people were not viable long-term partners. I knew that the APs weren't really that attractive to me -- I was attracted to the attention, excitement, and escapism.

Have you ever considered the pain you put you XBS through instead of your own? I truly don't think what your feeling right now is remorse but regret.

I believe so and I'm sorry if my posts here gloss over that. I obsessed over her pain on a daily basis for a long time. I would often put myself in her shoes and imagine how horrible it must feel to be abandoned and betrayed in such a manner. I pictured her doing it to me and how devastating it would have been. It's honestly one of my worst fears. I will never forget when she looked me in the eyes and told me "what you did will change me forever, and I hope it never happens to you."

The remorse is still there, I assure you...but I have made a shift to regret. There is now a deep sadness over the self-induced loss of my best friend. Maybe that shift is just an act of self-preservation; beating myself up and replaying the affairs through her lens drove me to the brink of suicide in 2018.

You came out of this game with an empty hand and you need to move on. Perhaps find a second chance with another woman and actually find peace in yourself through her instead of infidelity. Most people deserve a second chance. You just wont necessarily receive it the way you expect it.

Indeed I did, and it sucks. I hate being alone. It's tough seeing my friends progress in their marriages (though I am happy for them).

If I'm being real, I know that I have to get right with myself before taking another person along for a ride. I actually did date a kind and gentle soul for a while, but pushed her away. She is still a little hung up on me it seems. I have been honest with her about everything except how my marriage ended -- this is because her marriage ended the same exact way. I never had the courage to tell her that I'm the same monster her ex is. I will actually be writing her a letter to come clean this week...I think it's best for her to know the real me.

DevastatedDee posted 6/30/2020 08:42 AM

cc24ru, speaking as someone who has an XWH who has tried unsuccessfully to engage her in contact, I suggest you stop trying to get a response from your BS. You have no right to expect her to fix anything for you, even if it's just that you want to hear that she has forgiven you. Wanting so much as a single syllable from her is selfish and I promise you, she sees what you're doing as selfishness.

She has had her world collapse in on her and dealt with a pain that I personally found to be worse than the aftermath of being raped. She has a right to rebuild her life without ever seeing or hearing from you again. It is almost certainly the healthiest thing for her if she never does see or hear from you again. I don't think that my XWH is 100% an awful person and I do hope that he finds happiness and peace one day, but I don't ever want to see or hear from him again for the sake of my own peace and happiness. What he did to me is not something I can forgive, even if I wanted to. I don't have any interest in forgiveness. My XWH had a good life and he chose to reject it and take a shit on it. I was handed a wrecked marriage and chose to reject that. There's really nothing left for us to talk about.

If you truly do care about her, leave her alone and let her pursue a better future. You are no longer a part of that. You have your own life and future to worry about.

DevastatedDee posted 6/30/2020 08:46 AM

If I'm being real, I know that I have to get right with myself before taking another person along for a ride. I actually did date a kind and gentle soul for a while, but pushed her away. She is still a little hung up on me it seems. I have been honest with her about everything except how my marriage ended -- this is because her marriage ended the same exact way. I never had the courage to tell her that I'm the same monster her ex is. I will actually be writing her a letter to come clean this week...I think it's best for her to know the real me.

Tell her the truth and walk away from her too even if she says that she can help you heal. She might be damaged enough from having gone through infidelity to feel that way. You're right, you need to work on you before you get involved with anyone else.

gmc94 posted 6/30/2020 09:47 AM

I never had the courage to tell her that I'm the same monster her ex is.
This is also worth exploring. None of that strikes me as “acceptance” or self “forgiveness”. It’s basically playing out the exact same patterns (eg lies/deceit and hiding uncomfortable truths) with a new partner. Why was this ok for you? How did you make those lies of omission comfortable to live with? What was your self talk when her being a BS (or the fallout therefrom) came up, and you knew you were hiding your history from her? How did you push any guilt/shame away? How did you rationalize that selfishness? How can you work to stop that choice to hide in the future?

Have you looked into attachment theory? Both the pushing away and the ‘honest about everything BUT the one thing that could be a dealbreaker for her’ may have roots there.

cc24ru posted 6/30/2020 10:09 AM

She has had her world collapse in on her and dealt with a pain that I personally found to be worse than the aftermath of being raped. She has a right to rebuild her life without ever seeing or hearing from you again. It is almost certainly the healthiest thing for her if she never does see or hear from you again.

Dee, that really puts it in perspective. Shit. I'm sorry you had to endure that.

And deep down I know you're right. It's been selfish of me to reach out.

cc24ru posted 6/30/2020 10:14 AM

This is also worth exploring. None of that strikes me as “acceptance” or self “forgiveness”. It’s basically playing out the exact same patterns (eg lies/deceit and hiding uncomfortable truths) with a new partner. Why was this ok for you? How did you make those lies of omission comfortable to live with? What was your self talk when her being a BS (or the fallout therefrom) came up, and you knew you were hiding your history from her? How did you push any guilt/shame away? How did you rationalize that selfishness? How can you work to stop that choice to hide in the future?

Yeah I know I screwed up, again, albeit on a lesser scale. It was on the tip of my tongue many times and I never had the guts to come out with it. The longer we were together, the harder it became for me. If I ever get involved with someone else I'm going to have to come clean up front. Ultimately not being able to tell my truths is what prevented the relationship from going further.

Have you looked into attachment theory? Both the pushing away and the ‘honest about everything BUT the one thing that could be a dealbreaker for her’ may have roots there.

My therapist says I'm anxious/ambivalent. Sounds about right when I look at the first couple of Google results.

Pippin posted 6/30/2020 10:24 AM

cc24ru, pining after your ex-wife reminds me of your involvement with your APs. It's a form of avoidance (and this particular form is damaging to her because the white-knuckling will wear out eventually and she will have to deal with the burden of your once-a-year giving in to temptation to try to contact her. Don't do that anymore!).

Your pining is the Land of the Lotus Eaters in the Odyssey, Hamlet's endless indecision, your particular form of running away from living life and numbing yourself. You were forced to face the feelings of worthlessness and shame from infidelity when it came to light, but that helps you avoid the deeper and more poignant feelings of worthlessness and shame that came earlier in your development. So you're hanging out in the known shame instead of venturing into the unknown.

The big problem is that in shutting down whatever deeper feelings you want to avoid you are shutting down the fullness of life, and life is WONDERFUL! It makes me so sad to imagine you wandering through the woods, crying in despair. Nature is usually healing, because it is so full of life and wonder and amazement. But your despair is so profound you are not available to a huge dose of healing life.

The suicides you have been close to . . . that is probably the tip of the iceberg. You must have experienced profound trauma, or at least been close to it. I can't imagine what kind of sense a 14 year old makes of that kind of proximity to suicide. And I'd wonder if you are chemically susceptible to despair.

The good news is that you are not worthless, not shameful, not insignificant. You are a worthwhile, important, valuable human, made just a little less than God (!). Or if you don't believe that way, you are the tippity top of the pinnacle of survival of the fittest, the very best that nature can come up with. I think your work is definitely with an IC, someone you can trust with your deepest fears, to identify where those feelings are coming from and start to learn to fight against them. Or, if you are open to it, a really good pastor. Those feelings may never go away but you can identify them, name them, understand where they come from, argue and fight against them, and your recovery time can be faster. And then you'll be open to the wonder and beauty of life.

For a start - the podcast The Happiness Lab with Dr Laurie Santos. It's research-based practices to change your mindset and habits. A little something to get you started while you find a trusted person and develop a relationship with them to help you.

Life is both wonderful and awful, friend. In all its fullness. The awful can make the wonderful more wonderful, if you let it. I hope you don't sleepwalk through life any longer.

cc24ru posted 6/30/2020 11:55 AM

Pippin thank you for the uplifting words, it means a lot. I do indeed feel like I'm sleepwalking. I'm stuck in 2016. I'm stuck in 1990 in many ways, too. There's got to be more to life than letting it pass me by with each day filled with pain.

This really got me:

You were forced to face the feelings of worthlessness and shame from infidelity when it came to light, but that helps you avoid the deeper and more poignant feelings of worthlessness and shame that came earlier in your development. So you're hanging out in the known shame instead of venturing into the unknown.

I've got a deep dive to embark on and I know it. I was broken before I even met ex-wife in 2002. It's a miracle we lasted 14 years and a testament to her patience, kindness, and emotional maturity.

And yeah...time to let that ship sail and leave her be. I thought I was being respectful reaching out only once a year. Turns out once a year is too much, and I understand that.

hikingout posted 6/30/2020 13:08 PM

Well said, Pippin.

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