By understanding that events and situations don't automatically cause certain feelings, even though we frequently believe that they do. We learn that we actually can control the messages that we give ourselves about what happens in our lives, and we are responsible for adjusting those messages and properly reframing the things that happen if we want to enjoy our lives.
This was true for the WS when they decided they "needed" to cheat, and it's true for the BS as they heal. Feelings are not facts. The facts don't need to change for your feelings about them to change.
When I decided to become a WS, I hated my H. He was an irresponsible drinker who was pursuing sex outside the M as an entitled escape. My horrible situation was his fault, and he deserved whatever I wanted to dish out. My old friend/flame was "awesome, way better than him, more mature, had his life together."
But to be honest, none of that was fact. That was the way I felt because I was broken and looking to see those qualities in someone else. My H was indeed a lot of those awful things I accused him of, but I wasn't leaving him. So he wasn't really facing the truth of his flaws yet, wasn't suffering any consequences. He did not realize I was as unhappy as I was (thought I was accepting his apologies). I was exaggerating his deficits to justify my codependent position (can't leave) and fears (afraid to leave), and I was building up the AP to help me on my desired path of feeling better while confronting nothing. The AP was and is inferior to my H in many ways and had his own plethora of dysfunction, but I could not see it back then because the lie I was telling myself was necessary. It was giving me an escape, giving me power over my perceived powerlessness, and it was all "meant to be," so not my fault then! How freaking convenient! The whole story I told myself was just so damn convenient.
But I did not replace my H unless you believe a story, a mirage, a dream replaces real life. It is not possible for a healthy partner to replace another partner because a real bond with someone cannot be split in two. But an unhealthy partner can have a fake bond along with a real bond. A fake bond takes nothing from the real bond because it's fake, like living a real life but spending an hour a day writing a story you are making up as you go along.
It's your WW that should be telling you this. As awful as my H's behaviors were back then, none of it "made me" behave like an immoral, weak opportunist who took advantage and used people during a mental health crisis. He did not "turn me" immoral; I chose that shameful path for myself. My H was not competing with the AP. I projected awesome qualities onto my AP that weren't even true--that he was smart, handsome, strong. All of that is beyond false. But my H, in all his dysfunction, was existing with me in our very flawed world. We were real. The AP was a creation that helped my deeply depressed, suicidal self survive something. During my cheating crisis I actually reached for the help I should have gotten myself during my H's cheating crisis. And as soon as I started to get help, I had to grieve the fact that I didn't do it sooner.
When I look back now, I always, always, always say in my head, "Thank you, god, for letting me snap out of my insanity before I was in any way tied to AP. Thank you so much for bringing me back to reality." It was never a replacement. Ever. It was pure projection and invention. Your WW should be telling you all this as I assume she feels the same. All remorseful waywards feel this way. Whatever the crisis or critical need inside of a wayward, we are projecting our needs onto the low hanging fruit that is available, and that is why the AP can be anyone. Because they are no one. They never even existed.
Eta: But let me not minimize your pain. That is not what I mean to do. I know that the AP certainly appears to be a real someone, so this bullcrap that waywards sling must feel offensive. I understand. You are right. That is the reality in the physical world, in the painful world the BS lives in. But in the wayward's emotional and intellectual world, we know that this real person was nothing to us. And now that we are more mentally ourselves, we do not understand how we were so able to trick ourselves with stories and lies. To us, you were not replaced because we knew we were messed up. But to you, it certainly appears that way. I wish there was any way to undo it. Feelings are not facts. Just because you feel replaced today does not mean you cannot feel differently about it over time. I hope that you will try to reframe this for your own well being. And that your WW helps you.
[This message edited by OwningItNow at 11:09 PM, September 12th (Sunday)]