Tim Minchin and "future regrets"
I've been putting some thought into what kind of topics we can introduce here that create a safe space for WS to talk about coping with dangerous impulses. I'm leaving the stop sign on because I imagine that it will cause some triggery feelings in betrayed spouses, but I think it's important to crack open the door in case any lurking WS is looking for that opportunity.
I recently made a reference in another thread to Tim Minchin, a singer/composer/comedian who wrote a tongue-in-cheek song about soulmates. It's a fun tune, but Minchin has also written some more serious songs about struggling with infidelity. As he alludes in "If I Didn't Have You," he met his wife as a teenager and lost his virginity to her. They were together for ten years before getting married. At the time, he never imagined the kind of success he would have on the world stage or the sexual/romantic opportunities that life on the road would throw his way. He wrestles with the forbidden experiences he would now be free to engage in if they hadn't met so young.
And yet, he loves his wife, and they've built a history and a family together that he wants to protect. I surmise they must have a pretty strong relationship, because she consented to him publishing songs that lay those details bare to the scrutiny of the world. In "The Absence of You," which is largely a love song about how much he misses her when they're apart, he confesses to getting as far as kissing another woman in a hotel room before coming to his senses. And in "I'll Take Lonely Tonight," he explains to a very tempting girl who is hitting on him that he does worry about letting opportunity pass him by and regretting it someday when it's too late to be wild. But as he tells her, "there's a girl has my heart in a house half a planet away, and I'd rather murder than hurt her," and so he turns her down. The end of that song depicts the strange combination of triumph and dejection he feels after making the right choice.
I'll take lonely tonight
In my three-point-five star
Where I will spend 25 bucks
On minibar snacks
And pass out on my phone
And wake in four hours or so
Soaked in relief to find
I am alone
With only the wrappers
Of Pringles and Snickers
For which to atone
Minchin said in an interview that "the release you are driven towards when you are wanting to fuck someone is fucking. But the song, slightly ironically, drives towards a release of relief, the bliss, the almost-ecstatic orgasmic bliss of having not fucked up."
I'm curious if anyone here has experienced that and needs a place to share it.
3 comments posted: Monday, December 20th, 2021
As a former WW, I feel like I have a deep responsibility to new WS here. I know what it's like to be an entitled, foggy, selfish compartmentalizer. I know that my saving grace was other WS who fought through that and taught me compassionately how to pull my head out of my ass. I want to help rebuild community. I want to foster a space where waywards can admit their worst impulses and ask sincerely for help. Part of that is making room for failure, because not everyone is going to overcome toxic thought patterns and behaviors on their first go.
But there's a catch. Now that I've gotten down on the floor with my BH, and faced and absorbed the destruction that I wreaked on him, I am protective of betrayed spouses, and especially of BS members on SI. When one appears in JFO shocked and devastated by false R, it is a gut punch. I mean, I seriously and physically have to catch my breath, because it calls up memories of the work my BH did to allow himself to be vulnerable again. I feel this surge of disbelief and rage that anyone can betray such trust and grace. And as much as I have argued for sending WS here to learn from us, I think it would be very hard for me to treat that WS kindly if they showed up here. Honestly, it would be hard to be civil.
Now, if I were a triggered BS, the answer would be fairly straightforward: stay the hell away from the Wayward Forum. There's no point in putting yourself in a situation that's likely to get you banned. But remorseful WS are thin on the ground here, and as I said above, a big part of why I've stuck around is that I want to pay it forward. I know we need greeters at these particular gates of hell.
I'm curious to hear from other WS: do you struggle with an identity crisis when you read posts about recidivist waywards? Does it trigger you? It occurs to me that I might be reacting this way because I'm a madhatter, but I honestly don't think so. I'm not having visions of my BH's infidelity. I'm seeing him in my head, shaking from the pain of what I did, and feeling this compulsion to throttle anyone who could see the same thing and then have another affair. I'm practically in "burn the witch" mode, where mild hints about offering a third chance feel like a travesty.
Have you been in this boat? Any tips for how to keep paddling?
(Edited to add: this is me grappling with a reaction that I've experienced several times during my years here. It's not an invitation to discuss anyone's specific thread, which would be a guideline violation.)
32 comments posted: Friday, December 3rd, 2021
It's coming up on Thanksgiving for those of us in the US, and the annual negotiation of Thanksgiving menus is upon us. What are you all looking forward to having, and what has been dropped from the list that would still be on there if you were solely in charge? What travesties will appear on the table that your misinformed host thinks are a good idea?
My MIL is an amazing cook, and I'm looking forward to her puddings (corn at Thanksgiving, Yorkshire at Christmas). However, she's a cornbread-and-cranberry stuffing fan, so I'm dreaming of white bread stuffing with turkey sausage that will not be on my plate. (Yes, I can make it myself, but it tastes better if it was cooked in the bird!)
Feel free to venture dishes from other cultural holidays and opinions on specific recipes. A few years ago, there was a sweet potato debate here that almost came to blows.
13 comments posted: Sunday, November 7th, 2021
Question alert for WHs
If any WHs have the time, there's a post in BS Questions for WS that is specifically hoping for male input.
0 comment posted: Friday, October 29th, 2021
Plug for BS Questions
If any WS have availability, there are a few recent posts languishing unanswered on the BS Questions for WS thread. I've done what I can, but some are outside my wheelhouse.
2 comments posted: Thursday, April 22nd, 2021
Irritable about haircut
I know it's a first world problem, but I'm irritated by the haircut I got today. My salon closed permanently in the pandemic, so when my vaccination kicked in fully, I found a new one that was very highly reviewed online. It had been over a year since my hair was even trimmed, so it was very long. "Too long," sniffed the stylist, who is also the salon owner. I said that it definitely needed some layers put into it, and to have the ends cleaned up, but that I didn't want to lose a lot of length. A few times, while he was cutting, he said,"And you don't want the layers shorter than this, right?" No. Long layers, said I. "I don't want short hair," said I.
I think you can see where this is going.
It's not necessarily a bad haircut, but it is NOT what I asked for. It's a good 3" shorter than the pictures I showed him, which were of me just after my last haircut. My hair was halfway down my back this morning, and now the very bottom layer just barely touches my shoulders. It's not like I gave him unrealistic inspiration photos of something my hair won't do. He just thought it should be short, so he cut it short. In the words of Shelby in "Steel Magnolias," it looks like a brown football helmet.
It'll grow back, though it will probably be the end of the summer before it's the length I wanted it to be today. I'm just really annoyed by stylists who think their vision is more important than mine. And it's stupid of him, too, because I need a new salon, and I stuck with the last one for over a decade. My mom needs one, too. Two regular customers out the window to suit his personal tastes.
13 comments posted: Wednesday, April 7th, 2021
1 comment posted: Friday, March 19th, 2021
The tipping point
We often advise new arrivals that in the aftermath of the affair, marital problems are secondary. A WS who had issues within their marriage had many alternatives to cheating, including a demand for marital counseling, an ultimatum, or a divorce. By choosing to go outside the marriage, the WS loses any high ground they may have held, and the focus shifts to repairing wayward brokenness and rebuilding trust. Pre-A marital issues are tabled until after the BS and WS have time to heal.
This is solid advice, and it carries the caveat that either party may opt for divorce if they don't want to work to reconcile. But how does a wayward identify "after?" At what point is it once again reasonable for a WS to express unhappiness with the marital dynamic and/or the actions of the BS?
As I said on another thread, waywards are great at rewriting narratives to shift blame away from ourselves. We arrive here full of grievances, some of which may be greatly exaggerated or even products of our own imagination. If our judgment could be trusted, we wouldn't have cheated. The work illuminates the flaws in our thinking, and done properly, it kicks our feet out from under us. But how do we know when we've hauled ourselves upright, possibly for the first time in our lives? How do we trust ourselves when we definitively proved we're untrustworthy?
I'm not suggesting that there's a universal answer. No checklist or time frame can apply to everyone, and I imagine that in many cases, there's a gradual overlap where issues are negotiated while trust is still being rebuilt. But it's a question I once struggled to answer for myself as a WS, because the destination of healthy self-advocacy is not marked with a signpost.
Have you worked your way back to where you feel you have a right to advocate for yourself in your marriage? If so, how did you know you'd gotten there? Did you and your BS agree that the time had come? If you aren't there yet, what do you imagine that moment will look like?
69 comments posted: Tuesday, March 16th, 2021
It's just occurred to me to wonder if the projected postal service chaos will have an impact on the SI Christmas Card Exchange. Not to mention the potential coronavirus implications for elves gathering at the North Pole. 😳
Are we doing it this year? If so, will the deadlines be earlier?
7 comments posted: Tuesday, August 18th, 2020
A plug for I Can Relate
Just wanted to put in a reminder for anyone who is able to participate in the "BS Questions for WS" thread in I Can Relate. This is the only place on the site that betrayed spouses can solicit input from us on what makes the wayward mind tick. Despite the commonalities of the "cheater's handbook," we have really varied experiences here, so the more perspectives we can give them, the better. No pressure if that's not your personal jam, but I wanted to make sure we collectively keep it on our radar.
[This message edited by BraveSirRobin at 5:40 PM, April 30th (Thursday)]
3 comments posted: Thursday, April 30th, 2020
Two steps back
Ugh, I fucked up this morning.
In the era of coronavirus, I'm fortunate to have been reconnecting with a bunch of old friends from various times in my life. I've had Zooms with people from college and grad school that I haven't spoken with in years. I've had folks turning up on social media to say hey, how have you been, and it's been awesome.
You probably can guess where this is headed.
This morning, I opened Facebook and saw I had a friend request. I clicked it, and it was someone I haven't spoken to in 20 years, but we used to be good friends. I thought "Oh, so-and-so, that's great!" and clicked Accept. And then my brain caught up with me.
This is a friend who knew OM quite well. The requester never contributed to or enabled the A in any way, so he's not someone I needed to cut out of my life for any offense of his own. However, there was a definite risk of OM being on this person's friend list, and of overlapping circles if I started reading and commenting on his posts. I simply could not believe I had even a few seconds of lag time in which this didn't occur to me.
So now I was going to have to unfriend this person and tell BH about the interaction. Of course, this had to happen on a day when I know that BH has a very busy and stressful workload that requires him to be completely focused. He was up late working last night and taking a brief recharging nap before his next meeting. I wondered if I should wake him up to disclose immediately. Then I thought, no, I should let him sleep, and maybe wait until after the meeting so he wouldn't get thrown off. Just that idea, the concept of hiding anything to "protect" BH even for a few hours, brought on a powerful, physical wave of nausea.
My old friend Denial came back to help me out. Maybe this friend was as out of touch with OM as he had been with me. It would calm me down considerably if OM wasn't on his friend list. Scroll through a thousand names, wincing every time I see someone we knew in common. Of course, there he is.
I click "Unfriend" and nope the hell out of there. I make a silent mental apology to the requester that it's not personal. I wonder if I should send an actual message to that effect, then tell myself to get over myself. He's gotten along fine for decades without talking to me; he's not going to sweat the snub, if he even notices it at all. This is just a distraction to avoid thinking about having to bring up the topic of OM with BH.
So now I'm feeling even sicker. I'm wondering if I compounded my error just by looking for OM's name. After all, I was going to have to unfriend this person on general principle whether OM was on the list or not. The requester is clearly out there reviving old connections, so even if OM wasn't on his list today, he could be there tomorrow. Searching for OM's name suddenly feels like I was caught stalking him. I'm not just nauseous at this point, I'm practically doubled over.
So I go upstairs and lie in bed next to BH and wait for him to wake up. As soon as he does, I unload the whole story in a single breath. BH is obviously not thrilled that the topic of OM is invading an already stressful day, but he is absolutely amazing in his response to me. He doesn't get angry that I clicked accept without thinking, he's glad I unfriended my way back out of the situation, he's really glad that the idea of hiding anything from him was unendurable. My blood pressure and heart rate start to normalize.
So now I'm relieved but also really surprised and angry at myself. I would have said that if anyone from that era of my life turned up, my first thought would be caution, to protect BH. I failed. If I hadn't accepted the friend request, I could have left it ignored until talking with BH about it tonight. Instead, I created a situation that had to be dealt with immediately and threw a real wrench in his day.
Ironically, the only thing I'm actually pleased about is my bout with nausea. It's good to know that my internal compass reacted violently to anything that felt like deception. If only my brain was as quick to react as my stomach.
33 comments posted: Tuesday, April 21st, 2020
Regional foodies, what do you miss?
I grew up in New England but moved away almost 30 years ago. Recently I went home, and now man oh man, I'm missing the foods that only they know how to cook properly. Your average roadside clam shack in Massachusetts does seafood as well as (often better than) the best seafood restaurants in my current city. Going back was just a reminder of how wide the gap is!
Tonight, I want clam chowder and properly fried scallops. If you're a transplant from your home territory, what foods do you miss?
45 comments posted: Wednesday, September 11th, 2019