What does true R look like for you
I was T/Jing like crazy on another thread further down so I thought I’d open a new one. What does true R look like for you? I’m rambling a bit further down with my view of it.
I hope you don’t mind me quoting you here Thumos.
If we are empathetic, I think we should avoid the usual "well maybe it's just a dealbreaker for YOU" or "maybe you just haven't worked hard enough" and try to delve a little deeper. Especially given the recent spate of research suggesting talk therapy has limited efficacy and a limited shelf life or sell-by date.
I find this conversation constructive so I hope you don’t take it as a total disagreement. 🙂
I don’t view the "BS work" as only a series of various therapy sessions to teach them to suck it up or swallow the shit sandwich.
IC for me is a form of self discovery to ensure that the right coping mechanisms are activated and used as a reaction to trauma and to replace my previous shitty coping mechanisms which included suicide ideation post dday (and more).
But beyond that, beyond IC, I had to define what I REALLY wanted from life. Marriages are sometimes miserable without any infidelity attached to them. In fact I can think of two marriages now, at this moment in time, that in comparison with mine, infidelity and all, I’d rather have mine. And theirs has not experienced betrayal (of that I’m sure).
I understood fairly quickly that I will not be able to settle for less or the same as before dday when it comes to our relationship because in the initial stages my WH kept offering the same like all WSes. Naturally for their universal reaction, he wanted things to go back to normal (with a few crumbs on top). But the same marriage, in the context of infidelity, meant less. So for me it had to be better or not at all. That enabled me to define what "healing the marriage" looked like and state my new found boundaries (beyond the "no more cheating" ones).
And then me… healing myself… I can totally own up with spending the first 6 months revenge plotting. How I’d cheat on him too. How I’d lead him to believe that I’m over it and then bam! he’d find proof of my affair. In fact a certain user here to whom I communicated by PMs can testify to all this and my erratic thinking.
But once the mentioned above coping mechanisms did get activated (yes, in talking therapy) I understood what the real work meant. I won’t get into all of it but I’ll repeat this: today I’m with WH not because of the kids, not because I’m financially tied up to him, not because I’m scared to be alone (the moment I remembered that I don’t need a man to be happy for the rest of my life was revolutionary indeed), not because I’m scared to divide our assets, but because I like who he is today due to his own work and I WANT him in my life. And should he turn up to be a disappointment again I have worked bloody hard to be in a better position to cut the cord.
I was listening to a podcast recently on brain patterns and how the human brain actively chooses to return to what is familiar. If self sacrifice, abuse, pain, suffering is a pattern formed as a comfort zone for us, as a familiar environment, we will keep returning there again and again without a chance of really healing our wounds. I’m sure you’ve come across all this information too. Growth shows up only when we deny our brain the desire to return to the same negative familiar place. Therefore, for me at least, there comes a point where I actively had to draw a line and ask myself if I’m willing to accept the A happened and if I’m satisfied with still being married to my WH or, if not, what is my next step in order to be happy.
That’s what the BS work looks like for me.
To mix in some more metaphors, they are like Winston in "1984" - they know exactly how shitty things are and refuse to assent to the propaganda. They've seen the emperor has no clothes. They've seen this fact in all its ugly nakedness. And they will not accept the lie, even if positioned as a "noble lie."
They cannot sustain the cognitive dissonance that is required -- with all of the requisite emojis and exclamation points and happy clappy talk -- and so they "freak out" 10, 20, 40 years later because they are having a moment of true, awful clarity.
I’m gonna say it again, not sure if you omitted it on purpose in my previous post or not: I’m yet to find a thread where the WS did the REAL work, the BS did the REAL work, they rebuilt the marriage they desired to have and the BS returned years later to still state they are in the same place as years before and cannot live a happy life.
The fact that you use present tense in the passage quoted above in fact proves to me that not much work has been done on one side or both sides of the relationship.
34 comments posted: Friday, November 5th, 2021
4 years ramblings
4 years ago today I had the biggest shock of my life. I now know that I was completely unprepared for anything like it due to wrongly linking my entire human being, my physical and emotional health, my inner peace to another person, losing myself and becoming an extension of my WH. That was a huge risk and one that nobody should ever take. I know why it happened (past trauma), I still crave for that level of self abandonment, but I now know it isn’t real and it isn’t safe.
The trauma of my husband’s adultery also brought to the surface additional past trauma which I wasn’t able to push down anymore, suddenly I felt all the bad and the ugly, I ended up diagnosed with severe ptsd by my IC and spent years being pretty much a wreck.
Some of the events in those years post dday were traumatising themselves, I have flashbacks of laying on the kitchen tiles sobbing and just wanting to die. I have flashbacks of wanting to run, of getting in my car, driving aimlessly. I have flashbacks of hiding in my work toilet cubicles for minutes on end silent crying. Sometimes I’m quite embarrassed how low this took me down, how badly it impacted me, I was quite a badass before I married WH and somehow he chipped at my weariness, he chipped at my lack of trust, he chipped at my lack of full vulnerability, he chipped at my independence, he chipped at my healthy selfishness levels and got something that I never thought I’d offer anyone: 100% blind trust. Stupid really, nobody should have 100% blind trust.
This post will not be about how amazingly reconciled we are now although we’re doing quite a good job of it I’d say. Somehow during this journey reconciling successfully or not became a secondary goal.
What became a primary priority for me, once I was able to pick myself up, was my own recovery and reminding myself who I am and what I’m capable of.
To add to the hit of dday, a year later I lost my job as well, being made redundant from a company that later collapsed. Imagine having no confidence, because no matter how many times SI veterans tell you an affair isn’t about you, you won’t really believe it until you torture yourself for a while, and having to find another job because you feel even more unsafe being unemployed and relying on the man who was so readily willing to discard you a few months back.
It didn’t take me long to realise that my safety and confidence will not come from WH. Of course, to ease off ptsd reactions I needed him to take all the actions you see listed here as a R requirement, but what I needed long term was a plan B for myself and my kids only, was loving myself, was reminding myself I can make it on my own, not only make it, I can be successful at it.
I’m quite proud of what I’ve achieved since then on a personal level. I’ve done IC and whilst being a wreck I also assessed the level of earning I need in order to feel safe on my own if needed. I achieved that last autumn taking a role after I lost a second job due to the pandemic.
Last week I was offered another role, this time a step up and earning considerably more than my minimum threshold of making it on my own. All of these jobs, several interviews and assessments, all happened whilst also having a foggy brain.
IC, reading, introspection got me to the point where I don’t put up with shit anymore, compromise is limited to small areas of my life. I’m not rude. I’m still struggling with being a people pleaser at times. I’m working on it. I am though able to tell people around me: I will not allow you to treat me this way. I will not allow you to turn me into a victim. This isn’t just my WH, this is my wider family too.
I also started exercising, I jog, spend a lot of time in nature, I walk. It helps so much with mental health. Anxiety still exists and I believe it will stay with me forever, I just know how to control it better.
When it comes to R: once my WH got his head out of his ass (and traumatised me some more with a second dday) I think we both understood that there is no compromise to be made. The only reason I had to remain in the same house with him was my daughter for a short period of time.
It’s weird what a wake up call is for the WH the moment they realise the game is over and they have potentially lost the only person who loved them not for who they pretended to be, but despite of who they really are.
From that point WH has done all those R requirements and more. He set on a path of showing me he’s worth it and up to date he’s done pretty much that: IC, transparency, accountability, MC later, discussing the A from all perspectives at any time, empathy. That’s not to say everything was great from then on. For example he did continue to work with the AP (same company, different departments) until she lost her job at the beginning of the pandemic, I agreed to it as my job situation was so volatile, all in all it was probably the right decision although we both took the cost of it. I don’t know how we lived that way. His manager knew about it and supported our measures otherwise I don’t think it would have been possible. It involved informing me each time he sees her, FaceTiming me, not ever missing a call from me no matter what he was doing, his manager vouching for him if he had to work overtime, all measures put in place by him, nothing imposed by me. It’s doable but it’s also traumatising.
Now: we are in a good place. Great place. We talk a lot. Not so much about the affair anymore but about everything affecting our marriage and if it requires mentioning the A we (both) do. He still apologises often. Mostly whilst expressing gratitude. I don’t think any WH will fully understand what they did to the BS but I do believe some can gain a huge amount of understanding through IC and a desire to participate in the healing and growth of both spouses and the marriage. We don’t allow resentment to build. We talk about it as it happens.
Trust… do I trust him? I recently noticed the sarcastic voices in my head have become quiet. They don’t rush to finish his sentences anymore ("I love you!" My brain: "for now at least"). I do believe him when he says he loves me. I do believe him when he acts lovingly although for around 3 years I suspected him of putting on a show. 100% trust? That will never return and that’s how it should be. In fact the idea of trusting someone blindly again gives me anxiety now.
Love? I love him, that’s why I’m still married. But no, he won’t be on the pedestal again. He knows this. I don’t think I’d put anyone on the pedestal again ever. In fact I’m on my own pedestal.
We have a lot of fun, we have designed a life that we truly wanted. We are each other’s cheerleader and a few days ago I thought about what a great team we make, how we were able to achieve everything we wanted since dday by knowing each other’s strengths, by supporting each other.
The sadness still comes here and there. Dates come and go these days and I only remembered today due to a friend asking me on Saturday how I was as she knows September is a tough month for me. In actual fact I woke up today struggling to remember what was it that gave it away 4 years ago, what made me start digging. There were a couple of weeks before dday when I was aware something was wrong before actually catching him, when I begged him to tell me if he was cheating, when I "danced" quite a bit . So what was it? I actually don’t know, I can’t remember. That’s a good sign, I don’t dwell on that anymore.
It is possible to heal. The signs of my brokenness will always be with me no doubt, but these signs and scars won’t prevent me from becoming a stronger woman.
It is possible to R. No, not to reason with an WH to get them to want to R and do what is required of them. I’ve been there. There is no reasoning in an affair and in a WS’ mind during an affair and on dday. The only thing you can do is to state your boundaries and sit and watch. That includes transparency, IC, talking about the affair whenever needed, getting the details and learning empathy. They need to take the lead in atoning the damage they have inflicted on you, the marriage and themselves. Only then you can truly R.
Again, that’s not to say that my control freak character didn’t try to take over. I’ve spent many nights researching R reading material. However at one point my focus shifted on myself. WH was doing pretty much everything right however I was still emotionally bleeding as my focus was on him not cheating again. That’s never going to make a BS feel safe whilst they’re still married to the WS, safety comes from knowing you’ll be ok either way.
I don’t consider myself successfully R. I consider that reconciliation is a long process, lasting for the entire remainder of our marriage, as long as we keep that in mind we should be ok.
Thank you to all of you who supported me through what I remember as the most unstable period of my life. You have been amazing! You know who you are.
11 comments posted: Monday, September 27th, 2021