Question From a (Evidently) Very Slow Learner: What Really is "Acceptance"?
Hello and New Year's Greetings,
My postings are somewhat rare, but when I do post, they are usually book length for whatever reason(s). Not so today. Y'all will be the beneficiaries of my shortest post ever today because it's apparent that I lack whatever internal mechanism, psychological tools, or perhaps just plain emotional intelligence to indentify one common, central component to any successful reconciliation.
I have read on this forum (most recently the thread on trying to figure out infidelity related forgiveness) and in several other places/books etc. and still can't quite grasp the concept in the context of infidelity. I mean, I see and hear the words/explanations...but they do not settle for me...at all.
I have lots of questions...but promised a nice concise post for once. So I will just ask.
What is your working identification of/definition of "acceptance" in the context of your infidelity experience?
Feel free to use small words to increase my chances at comprehending and making progress with this
As always, thanks so much in advance for your time and investment in your repsonses.
59 comments posted: Thursday, January 5th, 2023
When "It Was All a Fantasy" Doesn't Help
I continue to process all sorts of stuff from my current location in trying to survive infidelity. In the interest of fuller disclosure, part of the increased urgency to recover is due to what my Dr. is now becoming increasingly convinced is affair related complex PTSD. Last November (about 6 months post DDay 2) despite a remorseful fWW who is pretty much willing to do anything to help me, I started having a plethora of very acute and slowly worsening physical symptoms (DEEP fatigue, intense brain fog, memory issues, momentary forgetting where I am, dizziness, and just an overall Twilight Zone like "out of it" feeling all the time...SCARY stuff) I thought for sure it would be cardiac related. Tests say no. Then I thought neurological...EXTENSIVE tests say...no. Everything from vitamin defenciencies and Lyme disease to sleep apnea has been tested...and...no. So, just about all (to my deep disappointment) physical causes have been/are being ruled out. Since it's getting REALLY hard to function at any level, let alone a high one...I am more urgently seeking to look as deep as I can within the affair truama stuff to seek alleviation from this. (P.S....I find it ridiculously hard to believe that someone *i.e. my therapist* is going to be able to "talk" me out of these very PHYSICAL realities I am experiencing...but I digress). So...
One of the things I am trying to be brutally honest about is the fact that I'm pretty sure that the whole "It was all a fantasy" notion does not really help me...and I'm trying to figure out why. I COMPLETELY GET the reasoning/logic that says pretty much everything done and said in an affair is not ultimately valid in a true/truth sense because of the fact it was all conducted in an unreal, artificial fantasy bubble that pretty much illegitimizes the things done and said within.
I know many here (and I am in awe of you) are able to leverage that concept to effectiviely mitigate and reframe the otherwise visceral long term impact of terrible things done and said to and about the BS during the affair(s). I can't seem to get there. And I guess I will try in my very broken way to expain why.
I think my struggle lies in that I think there is at the very least a small core of truth in the words and events of affairs. I.E....one member posted recently how one of his wife's texts mentioned her AP's "perfect smile" vs. his and something else about her appreciation of her lover's build. He's haunted by this...10 years later even (I totally relate) and is pretty much triggered even now when he smiles because of this comparative statement from his most trusted and intimate person. AND I TOTALLY GET THAT. And, the conventional "it was all fantasy" so that statement really doesn't MEAN anything SUBSTANTIVE as it pertains to him is supposed to paint that comparison as ultimately meaningless. Untrue. A lie even. But I'm not sure it (and all the many other statements our all of WS's make in their affairs) is.
I think it's a particular master's level of suck for many of us who have (in addition to all the physical things done..and what those things can mean) our WS's correspondence with their AP's IN PRINT (texts - emails) or (God help us) VIDEO/AUDIO. We have no choice to fully confront what we are reading/seeing/hearing...unfiltered. And, getting to the point I guess, at least MY heart and wiring looks at the "fantasy" defense and says...okay...I get there is dopamine fuel, NRE, illicit adrenaline, and the removal of all REAL pressures of life at least PLAYING INTO what I am reading and hearing/seeing my beloved say and do here...BUT...(and here it comes)...
And I think at least part of why is that it thinks there has to be at VERY LEAST an ELEMENT of truth in what it is seeing. I had my penis compared to AP2 in a chat. I had my fatherhood brutally criticized, she expressed dissatifaction in our sex life, and endless variations of how much better life, sex, love, family...is going to be with AP. And, damn it, even though I even know OBJECTIVELY these things are "off" I cannot get past that my wife BELIEVED them enough EVEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF FANTASY to go there. To SAY them. And it just leads me to believe that, at least for HER, there was truth in those statements. And, becuase hers is the most trusted voice in my entire life, likely ACTUAL truth there. And I also have suspicions that love blinds us at times. In the case of our fellow traveler who's wife compared his smile to the AP...likely when love was real and working in her she thought his smile was just fine. More than fine even. Beautiful. But there's this sense that, if you strip away the love filter and get the "raw" unfiltered truth...well she prefers AP's smile. And my wife prefers her AP's d*ck, and his dad game, and life with him. And it just seems damn near impossible for me to chalk it up to fantasy. My heart and mind SCREAM THERE'S SOMETHING TO WHAT YOU ARE SEEING AND HEARING/READING YOUR WIFE SAY/DO THAT ABSOLUTELY TRUTHFULLY MATTERS HERE EVEN THOUGH SHE IS DOPED UP ON THE FANTASY. Those sentiments didn't just spontaneoulsy materialize out of vapor...they came from something real inside her...directed at me.
And I also know we are not supposed to lean on outside sources for supporting our self worth/image etc...but by DEFAULT....isn't a spouse purposefully and maybe even NECESSARILY given access to the deepest places that exist in us?!? So when they speak. They speak in that INNERMOST CHAMBER of us and because of that, those words are supercharged with 1000% more power/weight/potency...and being spoken in that chamber...those nuclear infused words go literally straight to our cores. So...yeah...ultimately we aren't supposed to rely on ANY outside sources for all that esteem/validation/image stuff. But the very system of marriage/monogomy is kinda set up to give at very least *A* voice like that to our spouses it seems?
So. I struggle (insane understatement) to find comfort in the fantasy. Maybe because I am not certain ALL of it was. And those words I have on record of my one true love speaking in my innermost chambers of being, with all the potency that a spouses words are infused with. Yeah.
Man. All this turned out way more ranty and incoherent (did I mention brain fog?) than I hoped. But I think I mostly accurately described waht's going on in my heart here.
Thanks as always for taking time to read.
30 comments posted: Saturday, October 8th, 2022
Why is the Sex so Eviscerating?
My story (convoluted as it is) is in my profile for those wishing greater context for my search today.
The 10 cent version of what pertains to what I am seeking today is that I am a little over a year out from full detailed disclosure from two affairs my wife had about 10 years ago. Although she/we have made some well intentioned and pretty critical mistakes in our recovery, she is and has been the model of remorse throughout the entire process and has not (purposefully anyway) trickle truthed me, or blame shifted, or any other standard WW procedural awfulness we often see. I realize how immenesly fortunate I am in that regard and am TRULY TRULY grateful for that. That being said...
I am and have been and cannot see me ever being any thing other than completely undone by the sexual aspects of her affair(s). I cannot explain it, figure it out, get to the why, or otherwise disarm this. I am in IC, am undergoing EMDR, have availed myself to every resource I could find to address this...and it changes nothing. I love my wife. Adore her actually, Want to be with her, continue building and enjoying life with her and all we have worked for together. Still. Totally undone. Part of the problem (and the inspiration for the question today) is that I cannot even put it into words. I have been some version of a professional communicator/teacher all of my adult life. I can honestly say it's a gift. I "see" complex and abstract truths and am able, usually with ease, to extrapolate things and arrange them in simple, articulate, teachable ways. It's what I do. And...this is the one area in my entire experience of life that I haven't been able to do that with. I honestly cannot explain (TO/FOR MYSELF) why the mere nanosecond of a thought, memory, or a molecule of a trigger connected to her sexual betrayal...brings me to my inner knees. The only term that even gets close to describing it is VISCERAL. And maybe PRIMAL. Some hellish cocktail of rage, perfect disgust, jealousy, heartbreaking sadness, loss, confusion, and horror. Just the AWARENESS that she was this way with another man evokes this visceral repsonse. Of course I deal. I've had tons of practice pushing through, keeping forward motion and such. But, damn, for lack of a more nuanced word...the FEELING is always there. Visceral. Primal. And with counseling, EMDR, endless discussions with my wife. retraining my brain, I am honestly not sure how to do life with this anymore.
(NUCLEAR TIGGERS AND TMI AHEAD..and also, I am speaking from a male betrayed perspective and ask for grace if any of what follows is offensive to any of our amazing female members here)
I cannot ever imagine any scenario in which any even micro awareness of the fact that another mans semen was shot all around and into the place where my children drew their first breaths not doing anything but being devastating. There's something sacred there. And I carry a fairly constant at very least BACKGROUND awareness of that reality...all...the...time. It's evisceral. Some primal thing that is beyond me to name just churns over this reality. Even when I'm not focused on it.
My wife is a survivor of an abusive alcoholic childhood. She carried the associated issues from that into our marriage (as a beautiful 19 year old young woman). Summary: Sexual trust was hard fought for (by both of us) for YEARS in our marriage. 15 years of gentle patience and loving work...before she could freely release...became multi orgasmic with umm...some amazing side effects requiring the use of lots of waterproof bedding materials. And man, we CELEBRATED the shit out that! And ALL it meant to her, for us, and our love and patient work there. We came to call it our "gift". And we INDULGED big time from that point on. Because we really felt it WAS. A GIFT. So. She came, screaming and moaning, and squirted multiple times with AP. He noticed. Commented. Made him feel like the man. OUR GIFT. Visceral. Primal. Cannot do even a mild general awareness of this.
The first time he entered her...the first and only time any man other than me had been invited in that innermost intimate place with her...was the first time she dropped the ILY on him. She intiated first contact. Climbed on him. Straddled him. As she lowered herself onto him. "I love you". Primal. Beyond words. Visceral.
He was uncircumcised (I am not) My shy, fairly sheltered pastor's wife was clueless about that in an adult male. Was intrigued by it. Out of sheer novelty (for her anyway). My wife intrigued..about another man's penis. Visceral. Primal. Eviscerating.
I'll stop...but I could go on...and on and on really. But I've said more than enough to make the point/frame the question.
Why on earth are these things so completely and totally wrenching? So nuclear level leveling? I KNOW it was fantasy. Wasn't real. Could not be sustained. Totally lost and fogged. And my heart doesn't give a single ****. It still elicits this primal, emotional response. I have tried to frame the stuff countelss ways. I love my wife. I actually have fully FORGIVEN my wife. I understand her whys (she does too). I want her. She loves me..maybe even shows it more than I do her if I am brutally honest. She did/has done and is doing the work. Therapy (and SI) tells me it was not about me. It's in the past. I have tried to retrain my brain. "Rewire the pathways" as they say. Nothing helps. Just brutal honesty. These things just haunt. Deeply. Beyond words. I don't dwell. Ruminate. Obsess. But it remains...any single thought, small thought, memory, micro-remembrance, even a faint general awareness of my wife being purely sexual with another man...brings these beyond words feelings. And I DON'T KNOW WHY.
I hope for all of your sakes that I am the only one that lives like this. I hope (selfishly) for my sake...that I'm not.
(Edited several times for typos despite me proofreading 1,249 times)
33 comments posted: Saturday, September 10th, 2022
The Minefield of Details and Dealbreakers
At this stage in my fairly unconventional and twisted road to recovery, I find myself contemplating a fairly intense swirl of stuff surrounding the nature and relationship of details and dealbreakers in the course of determining/attempting reconciliation. As I continue to do my own recovery processing, I thought I'd reach out for SI's collective wisdom while I sit in this swirl. Thanks in advance for your time and participation in this thread.
I have seen two primary schools of thought regarding details in my reading over the years here. One school is...minimal detail. Just the primary framework. Who, how long, protection, maybe where, and maybe a handful of other just foundational facts. Framework. I think the main concept here is that infidelity in and of itself is a full stop dealbreaker no matter what...even in the abscence of fine (and finer) details. The infidelity itself is sort of the umbrella that covers most/every potential detail under it...it's all dealbreaker, so, there's no real need to get the fine (and finer) details. BS's just have to determine if they can/want to reconcile infidelity as a whole...with details being fairly impertinent to that determination.
The other school wants/needs the fine (and finer...some even the finest?) details. The main concept here is often (but not always), "I need to know precisely what I am reconciling and/or forgiving." Other folks have other reasons driving their need to know more/full detail (i.e feeling like secrets remain with AP). To the "detail" folks...the details absolutely matter..maybe even are central to their determination to R or not. While reconciling infidelity as whole (like the "umbrella" folks) might be in view, it is contingent upon what might be found in those details.
I have so many questions...
First...to the "umbrella" crowd:
Can you describe/explain a bit why the details (beyond the basic framework) did not matter/mattered less to you? Do you think there's a possibility that a detail could exist that WOULD be a dealbreaker for you? Also, what DID you need to know (what WAS your minimum "framework" of detail)?
To the "detail" crowd":
What "fuller" detail beyond the basic framework did you need? Was, "I need to know what I am reconciling/forgiving" the main driver for your need to know full/fuller/fullest detail? If not, was it to bust the secrets that would remain with the AP? If not either of those, what do you think was the main drive for you to pursue details?
And finally (and this one's sort of a trip...it's the "minefield" to me that I reference in the title)...
If there wound up being dealbreakers in the details...what were they? What were the bridges too far?
If you got the details and you were able to choose R, what WOULD have been a dealbreaking detail(s) for you?
Again, if you R'd...are there details that STILL after the passage of much time and recovery work flirt with at least FEELING like a dealbreaker for you?
Do you regret getting the details? (why or why not?)
I totally understand everyone is different...different needs...different limitations etc. I get that. And maybe the whole lot of this swirl is just nuts. IDK.
For full disclosure. I needed details. All of them. If it could be remembered at all...I wanted to know. Every. Last. Thing (still not even 100% sure why...the lazy thing to say is that it's my "wiring"...but who knows?). So I got every possible detail. And I chose R. With passion and conviction. But my personal pursuit of this discussion is settling on the possibility that ...there might actually have been dealbreakers there. There are things that, even after so much time, with a deep desire and passion and conviction to reconcile them (AND with a deeply committed and remorseful fWW)...are just not...well...reconciling.
I am starting a round of IC to plumb this...but have always found so much help here...I wanted to reach out here for your potential experience(s) with this "swirl" as well. Maybe these aren't even the right questions. But I appreciate you wrestling with some of them with me.
As always, thanks in advance for what you bring.
30 comments posted: Thursday, July 7th, 2022
The Legitimacy of Deep, Chronic, and Lasting Affair Pain?
In the words of St. Francis of Assisi when he met Brother Dominic on the road to Umbria....
I registered on this site about a decade ago and have been a consistent and fairly avid reader since that time. Poster? Not so much. This is my first thread. There's so many things I have questions about that I could seek the collective wisdom of SI for with this "first"...but there's one concept that, over the years, has just been a recurring "twist" in my "reconcialiation soul" that I truly desire to aim the collective experience and wisdom of SI at today. It has to do with the issue (legitimacy/illegitimacy?) of deep, and chronic lasting affair related pain despite doing all the requisite work. I apologize in advance if this post swells to innapropriate word length. I will try to be as concise as I can. Also, I have chosen Reconciliation as the forum for this post simply because that is my personal context (FWIW with a truly remorseful fWW who also did all the requisite work).
I was a pastor for two decades and, among tons of other things, one way I was called to support and encourage people in my care was to assist them in dealing with varying types of physical suffering. Whether from age, illness, or (ding ding ding)...trauma, it was a consistent part of my ministry to people to encourage them in carrying hard, painful, lasting bodily pain. Most commonly, I knew that these situations were not going to change for these people. The realites were what they were, and my job was to simply come alongside and be whatever support and encouragemnt that I could. One case in particular involved a car accident survivor who had gone through all kinds of therapy, regular pain relief meds etc. and still lived with a fair amount of debilitation in spite of fully recovering and doing all the work involved in healing/therapy. You can likely see where I'm heading with this, but before I "officially" do I want to say...
I know there are many here who recoil at the thought of equating physical pain resulting from trauma with the emotional/psychological pain resulting from affair trauma. There are differences. I get it. I also get that there folks who do NOT do the work. But that's not what I am digging at here. What I AM digging at here is this...
I wonder if we do betrayeds a potentially grave harm when we suggest to them that they WILL heal and WILL recover from affair trauma, with the clear implication (if not overt assertion) that, while they may possibly deal with some manageable flare ups from time to time, by and large, they will not have to deal with severe and lasting pain in the long term. And, I even am wondering if there's not an even DARKER impication here...
That we, at very least indirectly (if not DIRECTLY) blame and shame the victim if they DO experience deep and long term affair truama pain (regardless of D or R). We suggest that, if they are "stuck" the only real possible reason for it is that they have failed or are failing to do (insert whatever recovery work/combination of receovery work here). If I may carry this to a likely innapropriate end...If I had taken the approach with my chronically, physically pained parishoners that they, without excpetion or doubt, WILL escape the deep and lasting pain, not have to deal with it long term, and that if they did, it was some type of their OWN FAILURE to recover/do the work...man...I would liken that to abuse. And I don't say that flippantly. As a sort of side note (forgive the momentary religion-y stuff ahead) I HAVE actually seen that approach from others in my position with the added (and IMHO fatal) religious twist that "God wants you better or "free". Talk about a twisted shameful mess. In those situations, now (for the relgiously inclined obviously) not only do they carry their own shame for failing to recover...but now they're failing God too.
So, I guess again, to try to focus this one more time before I submit this, I simply ask...
Why would we NEVER suggest to someone in chronic physical pain that they absolutely WILL heal. WILL recover. WILL overcome and escape that pain. Yet, that is the exact approach we prefer when seeking to help affair-pain-wracked betrayeds?
Again, I get it. Some people do NOT do the work. Pain shopping is a thing. The "familiarity" of the pain being somehow "comfortable" is a thing. In Chamomile Tea's passionate pleas...feeding the wrong wolf is a thing. Self-sabotaging rumination is a thing. I understand.
However...I also think deep, lasting, chronic affair related pain...despite doing "all the work", might also be a thing. That, you can do all the work, and still be wracked with it. And I also believe that the extremely well intentioned approach of suggesting to betrayeds that their "full" recovery (meaning basically free of deep lasting chronic pain) is pretty much a guarantee, and that any "stuckness" they may experience has to be somehow of their own device...may be absolutely catastrophically misguided.
I wonder about this. A lot.
Does the vast collective wisdom of SI wonder about it too?
Thank you for your time with these thoughts,
Footnote: for the sake of clarity, within the context of reconciliation, all of the above assumes a truly remorseful WS who also has done the work and is not the catalyst for the presence of the chronic pain. I'm submitting that the pain may just be the pain, pure and standalone.
*Edited for spelling
75 comments posted: Tuesday, March 1st, 2022