Midlife Crisis: Support for Left Behind Spouses

Midlife Crisis => Our Community => Topic started by: barbiedoll on October 05, 2020, 10:44:54 AM

Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on October 05, 2020, 10:44:54 AM

I am anxious to respond and hoping I am ready to go on my new thread and that it is properly linked.

https://mlcforum.theherosspouse.com/index.php?topic=11381.0
Title: Re: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Thunder on October 05, 2020, 11:25:51 AM
You're good to go Barbie.   :)
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: in it on October 05, 2020, 02:54:42 PM
I sort of agree with Nas about this. If someone doesn't have a sense self of or self confidence you can not give to to them. Encouragement, a sincere compliment yes. (Sometimes you even have to be careful with that.) But a constant flow from one to another is draining.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on October 08, 2020, 10:52:52 PM
StandingStrong
 :o
Thanks for responding, it just means alot to me .

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I have a lot of wonders and thoughts along the same line........ these FOO MLC'ers, do they actually heal? I know we're told they sort it all out, but I'm starting to wonder if there's a different class of MLC'er...... those with totally screwed and destroyed pasts (FOO) and those with only moderately destroyed pasts (the ones that become something better). OR if it's a "failed" MLC where they never get to the end goal, but raced to where they were and are stunted.
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So interesting..oh my! I wonder constantly about this exact thing. I would imagine I could be described as having a "moderately " screwed up childhood , and am capable of learning, changing , understanding etc. I CAN make changes ...but I will admit, some have been damned hard and painful. Some I have failed as ...so far . But I am "teachable". And I am enthisiastic and eager because I see that the answers I seek will eventually bring me healing and peace.

My H , on the otherhand has suffered severe abuse in everyway ...everyway . The more I research, the more I learn about what exactly I am dealing with. My own therapist has  helped me in a million ways try to understand my H or how severe abuse affects a child. I am just so sad about what I have come to understand and really have not processed what it will mean to me and the true relationship I will be able to form with my H. What I have found and been taught ( repeatedly) is that trauma and abuse "changes the brain structure". Physically changes the brain.  So lets be real. How can that be reversed ?  My H has suffered "developmental trauma" and has missed some of the developmental stages as a result of the envinroment he was born into.  I do not currently have an understanding of how "healing" can change physical changes in the developing brain of a child. There are countless articles about the permanent changes abuse creates in an adult.

https://www.verywellmind.com/childhood-abuse-changes-the-brain-2330401

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actually it's much easier not to deal with it, all they know is to avoid it..... they've been practicing that their whole life.
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This is the saddest of truths isn't it?  So many lives destroyed as a result of deeply ingrained avoidance used as a defense mechanism. My H is the captain of the avoidance ship, it my opinion. It is how he navigated his childhood so not to feel the profound pain emotionally. He is still able to do that ... and he does. Its what he knows.

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As for your H..... he's a man, and men (well, us "old school" men) are taught not to be weak (to one extent or another). This is a good thing and a bad thing. I can say that I was very open with W and with it brought criticism. I know for me, it was like "what the heck? You say you want openness and then beat me up with it". I hear that from a lot of other men too. We learn not to be open from our experiences, and if someone was already beat over the head while growing up...... yeah, he could have a serious complex. How do you deal with that? Hmmmmmm, I'm not sure. I know for me, before W went all MLC, she would want certain details and talks and I would just stare, because I knew if I was totally open I'd just get slammed. Men want a helper, not a critic.
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My H was 100% punished for crying or being "weak". He was expected to be tough, " get er'done", walk it off, I will give you something to cry about" kind of mentality . You can imagine an alcoholic trucker raising 5 boys?? . He tolerated ZERO emotion or "sissy-sh&t" from any of them. Period. My husband has talked about this many many times in therapy. He was the oldest and he was expected to "man-up" by the time he was 5. I was fortunate to have daughters because my father-in-law never treated them any particular way ( he never really bothered) but he absolutely started to "toughen up" his 2 grandsons.  My sister-in-laws put a stop to that and it was a horrible situation ... he lost his mind when he was told not to talk to his grandsons that way ...he said "you wh*res that rock the cradles will never raise a man ... maybe a bunch of ****". He went into a rage about having very limited access to his grandsons.  Society has also contributed to what it means to be a "man" and it has caused much damage.
Ugh.. My husband has said these exact precise words "  You want me to talk and then you sh$t all over me ?".   Yes. Many times.  What I see as "criticism" and what he does ..are 2 very different things . He has EXTREME sensitivity to criticism and everything you say to him is perceived through that filter . He also has extreme reactivity to feeling "attacked"  and that is just a pile of bull in my opinion. It is shocking to me , absolutely shocking what he perceives as an " attack".  One of the articles I posted talks about the brain of abused adults hears / feels/ perceivers "attack" in many circumstances . It makes it extremely difficult to talk to him as he is almost hypervigilant watching for criticism and attacks.  And his response to me is a silent stare over 80 % of the times.  He apparrently "freezes or is flooded " or he is utterly scared to death. Because this silent stare triggers and firetrucking enrages me....I now avoid many interactions with him. For now... that has been my decision. Until I do more of my own healing around "rejection", I just cannot risk situations where I feel rejected. Refusing to answer or interact ( or so it appears ) is a rejection button for me . ... and round and round this hell goes .  I have withdrawn from the dance .

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I don't know the dynamic of your relationship before MLC but it sounds like he is deathly afraid of being wrong, making a mistake, or being criticized. I gotta say, men HATE that. That's why men like to talk to other men....... that's where they can openly talk about their mistakes and get ribbed about it, but not beaten with it. Make sense?
It also is difficult for men to be open with their W's because more than anyone else in the world..... an H wants the admiration of his W. He wants and needs to be her Super-Hero. When he loses that, he doesn't believe he can ever be that again.
Sometimes we try, but if it's met with resistance, it reinforces that belief and then men stop trying. A reinforcing loop.
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He is indeed afraid of being wrong , criticized or making a mistake.  You must be a fly on the wall in my house ...because this is 100% accurate. It is incredibly hard for me to understand as I care ZERO about any of that. None of that has any affect on me ...I just don't react to those things and its tough to understand how paralyzed he is by those things. But he is . He does not present like that whatsoever...but underneath his mask , he is full of fear . It is truly beyond my comprehension. I have been told by therapist he has been raised in ridicule, abuse and is indeed a very wounded individual. I appreciate your input...I understand exactly what you are saying.  It seems hopeless to me .

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Here is what I would suggest: Build him up.
Look at the good, and compliment him on it. Do not point out the bad. Point out the good, all of it. This will make him want to try...... and then try harder.
Once he's on a roll trying, THEN tell him something YOU really want. Start small.
One thing that needs to happen, is your compassion and admiration has to be build too........ he wants it, desperately..... actually he needs it and will feel like a complete failure without it. He has to be the Super-Hero.... let him. You are Lois Lane, and what won't SuperMan do for her?
Focus on the good, focus on the good, focus on the good.
Point it out or he will think you take it for granted.
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It has been a very long time since I have felt like I am " ready to play nice". I have been so angry, so hurt and shocked ...it just destroyed any compassion or faith in him . I have not felt "safe" either, to say the least, although that has changed as I feel very safe inside of me. No matter what he ever does in the future, NEVER will I suffer the same way. I will be fine and of that I am so gratefully positive of.  I know that everything you say is true and I wish I was "that person" ..I just have a very hardened heart . I still have much to work on inside of myself. I hope I grow into a softer version of who I might truly be.  His top love language is "words of affirmation " and yes... he wants compassion and is starving for admiration . It is evident to me but I am still stuck in shock and the deepest loss I have ever experienced. I have very little to give ...so it seems. I am not happy about that but it is the truth. His loss of being respected as the keeper of our family gate, to keep us all safe , to put us 1st and to protect a family of 6 women from harm...is his greatest loss.  I know he has deep shame about this .  I understand what you are saying . Thank you . 

Song ...greetings! I am happy to see you here and I do appreciate your post .

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It is clear that he had serious gambling issues which have still yet to be resolved as he has caused her endless moments of grief on this. There are many underlying issues that are not just FOO related and that would have probably broken a marriage regardless of MLC.  So the fact that they are both working on their marriage albeit very very cautiously is to be applauded.
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It is very true that I discovered a gambling issue just shortly after BD. Again...the shock was profound.  And , I will also agree that is still has not been resolved to my satisfaction. He has never ( in my opinion) taken full responsibility for the money spent, and it was significant amount of money.  All the bank printouts of withdrawals has been on his desk for years...and although he has promised to explain , he never has fully.  What is confusing to me is the fact he simply quit " gambling" or going to the casino.  He handed all access to bank accounts to me , bank cards etc when he returned home. If he uses our visa , an alert comes up on my phone. His pay goes directly into my account  . It is still this way and he has never asked to change it back. I have caught him 1 time in a casino. I am told by therapists that he never could have quit on his own if it was a true "addiction" . Not without treatment etc etc. I have no idea if that is true or not. Regardless, I see no indication whatsoever that he is gambling...it would be hard to get it past me , trust me.  But what I will clarify is that addictions ARE absolutely tied to FOO issues . 100%.

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Oh if only it were that simple SS.  I have compassion abundant for my H (too much possibly) and have never negated what a clever man he is, irrespective ofhis MLC but I am most certainly not Lois Lane to his Superman because time and again she needed rescuing.  I had to rescue myself from myself; I don't need my H to rescue me.  That concept keeps you constantly in the victim drama triangle.
The MLCer doesn't need "rescuing"; this is their journey and they have to rescue themselves too.
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I understood what he was saying. I truly did. I also understand there is much truth in " they have to rescue themselves".  We cannot do that for them . But what SS was referring to ( in my understanding) is the "nature " of men . I have read a million times exactly what he has said ...and I agree with it.  I am not sure why there cannot be an understanding of both ...one does not need to negate the other.  To be positive, show compassion and admiration ( See the Love Languages ) could not possibly be a negative while he is "rescuing himself".  Not sure if that makes sense .

Treasur

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Barbie's challenge it seems to me is working out how to rescue herself....and she has walked a very hard path in dealing with a h who perhaps she used to see as Superman, but who is so very far from that. Perhaps 'focus on the good' is more useful for Barbie looking at Barbie and Barbie's life in her circumstances?
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Yes indeed ..I am working hard on ME. My internal wounds , my FOO hurts and my understanding of who I am now . Separate from him. I can only rescue or "fix" myself. That was the single hardest thing to learn and accept. I wanted HIM to fix what he broke. He can't.  BUT he can provide certain things that support that .  Providing an environment that is safe and secure , being honest , being accountable for his time and whereabouts ( initially), participating in counselling, showing remorse etc etc.  Only I can do the internal work on myself but he can create an external environment free from threat or repeat behaviour.

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At the same time, I do recognise something in what you said about some men wanting/needing to be that Hero. Perhaps that is why some run and never look back....bc they know that their wives and children will never be able to see them that way again....but other people might.

Perhaps this is true Treasur. I believe with all my heart that for my H to return was by far the hardest single thing he has ever done. I never thought he would or could face what he had done or the people he hurt. It would have been far easier to keep running ...and I thought thats what he would do .

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I have no idea if he feels like a Hero now in his own rewritten story, or if ow makes him feel that way,
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I believe the OW in my H's case DID make him feel like a hero riding in on a stallion saving the damn dumsel in distress . He has admitted that.  She made him feel many "new " things about himself and it seemingly had very little do do with what he actually felt about her.  He felt hero-ish, admired, "looked up to", desired  and appreciated . Only " positives"  came out her mouth. Hmmmm, I guess like SS says. (?) . It was temporary , it was a fantasy not based in real adult life. 

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.Barbie's is perhaps currently more about deciding what she wants to do with the kind of Non-Hero she has right now in front of her nose. Jmo.
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Yes. This is absolutely true.  He was the keeper of our family gate. He left his post for his own selfish arrogant pursuits . The most horrendous pain came from inside our family ...places I was not looking.

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Some men do need a little bit of building up from their woman, but not in a fake, manipulating way.  Not feeding their ego, but maybe helping a little with their self-confidence.  They may never have gotten that growing up.
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I absolutely agree Thunder.

I absolutely agree that you cannot do the healing  work for another person. It is their responsibility.  However, being able to add some positives ( acknowledgment of change, praise , admiration, Love Language style) can never be a bad thing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   











Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Treasur on October 09, 2020, 12:10:34 AM
Are there things about your h as he is now, Barbie, that you can honestly and comfortably affirm him for?
Have you ever said, for instance, that his choice to return rather than keep running seems like a brave one to you?
I'm not suggesting any kind of false 'puffing him up' but is it possible that your rage about what he did has got in the way of small bits of 'focusing on the good' that is also part of the reality of who he is now?

It's so messy isn't it?
I see here that your feelings of betrayal and rejection sit awkwardly in a way with your head telling you, as you have learned more about childhood trauma, that your h did not do this TO you or BECAUSE of you or as some kind of fun escape full of high selfish jinks as it perhaps seemed at the time. So your head knows it isn't personal but yet it feels so personal at the same time....which is messy. Plus, if you can bring yourself to accept that he is who he is, what do you want to do with that?

I am not an expert in C-PTSD but I do believe, based on what I have learned, that people can rewire traumatised brains significantly with the right kind of professional support. But that it is a long road and a confusing, tough one. Brain was a poster who shared a lot of his own experience of doing just that; he was brave enough to share some of that journey here, even though sometimes he took some flak about how strange a journey it seemed to those of us who hadn't walked it. I don't know how Brain is doing now but I think he felt he had made tremendous progress. But it took years and some heavyweight expertise iirc. Can that kind of recovery completely undo the damage? Idk....maybe not....but can it rewire some bits of it? Maybe.
Does your h want to heal that damage in himself, Barbie? Does he think it is possible? Does he think he has made any progress with his current IC support? (I think he sees an IC, right?)

It seems to me fwiw that there is a place of grace and a kind of peace in that space between accepting the worst reality of who someone is and also accepting that there is still good to be found in them. Maybe not enough or solid enough to bet One's own farm on it lol...but something in that space in the middle. That accepting the reality that severe childhood damage simply limits the tools in their toolbox so their choice was never an entirely 'free will' one.....they needed a screwdriver but only had a set of hammers  ::)....and having used the hammer on their own life, they now are trying to find some glue which seems to be missing too. Can one feel compassion for that while at the same time feeling angry and distrustful about the kind of person they seem to be? Maybe...but it is hard isn't it? And it must be harder if they are right in front of your nose as opposed to no longer being around much.

Last night my neighbour chum with the terminally ill h (and a teenage daughter and nine year old son) came over to tell me that his oncologist had told them both that, instead of the 6-12 months she/he thought, he will almost certainly die within two months. Maybe less. She has been so angry and frustrated with him....for good reason...his long-Standing alcoholism, his denial, his avoidance, his unreciprocal neediness, his stonewalling and lack of regard towards her, his consistent failure to do what she feels he should be doing as a father....long and entirely reasonable list. And then angry with herself for feeling so angry with a dying husband that her kindness bucket was just empty....so tbh most of the time she feels silent resentment or numb to the point of feeling nothing at all. And now? Now they have to tell the kids....now, for both of them, reality can't be avoided quite so easily. But listening to her, I could also sense that there is a space in between them - maybe bc her h's physical reality has forced him out of some of his denial, maybe bc there is some common ground they have as parents which is more similar than they could see before - where compassion and grace might bring them back to being some kind of shared team that I think my chum at least felt no longer existed. Does it change anything at all about what has happened or what is actually happening now? No, probably not. But I can smell the possibility of a kind of grace that might make a huge difference to HOW they handle what is happening......I wish with all my heart that they can find that place together, even if it feels like a small square foot of ground in a hurricane. It would probably make a real difference to my chum, and her kids, and maybe her h if they can find it. And I am praying for them that they do. It certainly sent me to bed with some rather sobering reflections on some of my own experiences and hopes and beliefs about just how messy life and love and damaged humans can be. And what my focus might be if I were measuring my life left to live in weeks.....

What does Grace mean to you, Barbie, in your situation? If, without changing the reality of who your h is or who you are or any of what has happened, you could find it, would you want to? Or does it cost something you are not prepared to pay? And does what you have come to learn about trauma (for both of you) help or hinder that?

I don't want to come across as a Pollyanna here.....even with a long-gone xh, I seem to drift in and out of that Grace place....the personal and not is messy...l.and that it seems to be something that comes if I allow it in as opposed to chasing it down lol.....but I do think I have felt patches of that kind of 'peace which passes all understanding' and seen it in others enough to think that it is worthwhile. But fwiw ....which may be not much at all lol....I am quite convinced that Grace is more than a little noisy grey cat  :)

Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on October 12, 2020, 12:26:02 PM
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Are there things about your h as he is now, Barbie, that you can honestly and comfortably affirm him for?
Have you ever said, for instance, that his choice to return rather than keep running seems like a brave one to you?
I'm not suggesting any kind of false 'puffing him up' but is it possible that your rage about what he did has got in the way of small bits of 'focusing on the good' that is also part of the reality of who he is now?
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To truly be honest , painfully honest ..there are things that I see as "good".  I do see attempts to fix the mess that must be excruciatingly hard to do ...over and over and over . I do believe that to come back and face the mess would likely be the hardest thing he has ever done...I likely would have never turned around to face that devastation, but rather continued to "pretend" I was happy with my choices whether I was or not.  Imagine facing that kind of failure as a man and a father ? For a man like my husband who was so proud of who he was as head of a family ...it had to be life or death .  Yes, I do see good. But I have not said anything out loud. And it is true as well, that my anger, my hurt and my never ending shock has blocked my ability to say anything positive. How sad is that truth. I see that . Sadly I just have a deep inability to address the positives . And to further look at the truth...he has told me this . He has said there is "never any positives ..ever". I am never given credit for trying my best to make it right, do the counselling, face what firetrucking mess I have made.   I have had some nasty retorts to those remarks . Sometimes it seems like he wants credit for doing what he "should " have been doing all along ...being a good man, husband and father .  I need to really look at this and figure out what has me so blocked and my heart has become so hardened to him.

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It's so messy isn't it?
I see here that your feelings of betrayal and rejection sit awkwardly in a way with your head telling you, as you have learned more about childhood trauma, that your h did not do this TO you or BECAUSE of you or as some kind of fun escape full of high selfish jinks as it perhaps seemed at the time. So your head knows it isn't personal but yet it feels so personal at the same time....which is messy. Plus, if you can bring yourself to accept that he is who he is, what do you want to do with that?
.

It is excruciatingly messy , endlessly painful.  And Treasur...it is that I have taken it so personally ...so much so that it just tore everything I am as a women apart. I swear ...every part of who I am , who I thought I was and what I thought I was to him...gone. It was deadly personal . Is there really LBS or women who have been cheated on, that do not feel a personal attack? . It is so intimate a betrayal, so private , so deeply personal , I knew no other way to respond. I do believe that is the case for many LBS. Initially atleast. Overtime and with counselling, education and reading etc , you come to realize , it just was not personal at all. It just takes a very long time and then more time to accept and live your life fully knowing it WAS NOT personal. Ugh. I still swing between the two beliefs . I know it was a bound to happen ( maybe not an affair) ..but to "fall apart" was indeed incubating inside of him.  I wish I had known . I NEVER could have known...but imagine if we had been able to see this coming.  Still, it would be very unlikely we could have prevented it.   Accepting "he is who he is " means it is very unlikely I will have the close intimate connection I so desperately want to have. Rather a lonely prospect.

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I am not an expert in C-PTSD but I do believe, based on what I have learned, that people can rewire traumatised brains significantly with the right kind of professional support. But that it is a long road and a confusing, tough one
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I recently spoke to my own therapist about this and she pretty much said the exact same thing...it would take years of intensive deep therapy and is indeed painful and deep. She believes it can be done but the long term commitment is staggering and the results are never guaranteed. My husband was working for years with a therapist until Covid stopped his sessions in March . He has not returned as of yet and I am not sure if he will. As I have said ...he never talked to me about his therapy and I stopped pursuing this .  He is now seeing a different counsellor and rarely says anything about it to me. Always feels like "secrets" to me.  It is his decision tp pursue long term counselling ...or not.

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Does your h want to heal that damage in himself, Barbie? Does he think it is possible? Does he think he has made any progress with his current IC support? (I think he sees an IC, right?)
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Yes. He came back highly motivated to find out "what the firetruck happened to me ".  I have never been that kind of "man". I truly believe he was in some kind of emotional shock.  He believes he has made progress . He has learned alot about his childhood, trauma , ACE scores and the situations that may have contributed to his behavior.  I have NOT seen a huge , earth shattering change ...but then again , I am not "safe". I try not to take that personally either as I believe he does not believe anyone is "safe".  You cannot have an close intimate connection if you view your partner as "unsafe".  There is no getting around that .

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That accepting the reality that severe childhood damage simply limits the tools in their toolbox so their choice was never an entirely 'free will' one.....they needed a screwdriver but only had a set of hammers  ::)....and having used the hammer on their own life, they now are trying to find some glue which seems to be missing too. Can one feel compassion for that while at the same time feeling angry and distrustful about the kind of person they seem to be? Maybe...but it is hard isn't it? And it must be harder if they are right in front of your nose as opposed to no longer being around much.
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It is very very difficult. Can anyone hear me ? This is excruciatingly painful , frustrating and sad all at the same time. This is wanting what you cannot have...ever. This is the result of extreme child abuse in adult men and the "tools" that they never had , never learned and never even had a chance to grow into an emotionally healthy adult.  This is wanting a partner that has so desperately screwed up to suddenly become emotionally mature, connect in deep meaningful ways and trust you. The reality is ..it will not happen. I firmly believe with all my heart that the only way to save many of these shattered marriages is compassion. If compassion is felt as the strongest emotion ..I believe the magic is inside of acceptance and compassion. It is the only way ...in my humble findings. 

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And then angry with herself for feeling so angry with a dying husband that her kindness bucket was just empty....so tbh most of the time she feels silent resentment or numb to the point of feeling nothing at all.
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Yes.  I have looked in the mirror and asked myself this . Truly , I have . Why am I void of compassion and kindness?  Empty.

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What does Grace mean to you, Barbie, in your situation? If, without changing the reality of who your h is or who you are or any of what has happened, you could find it, would you want to? Or does it cost something you are not prepared to pay? And does what you have come to learn about trauma (for both of you) help or hinder that?
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This will require some thought.  And I appreciate the question very much. Who knows what doors it may open or thoughts it may change. I will examine what "grace" means to me ...I just do not know at this moment. 

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peace which passes all understanding'
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I love these words and how they sound when they are all put together. Makes me want to cry... I want that kind of peace in my life.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Father5 on October 12, 2020, 01:31:33 PM
HI Barbie,

      I love reading your story because you are raw and real. I too am angry to the point I don't know if I will ever be the same again. As hard as I try I don't see me being compassionate or forgiving at the moment. I would have hoped this would have changed by now but it hasn't. Thank you for being so open and honest.

  n.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Seahorse on October 16, 2020, 08:18:10 AM
Barbie -
Attaching and following along.

I just want to re-emphasize that the traumatized brain has neuroplasticity that they, in the past, thought didn't exist.
So yes, he can become rewired, despite all the pain and trauma that he's been through.

Sending you hugs and peace...
Sea
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on October 21, 2020, 05:31:51 PM
Thinking alot lately about how long this journey to " feeling better"  takes.  Maybe it could be called acceptance or forgiveness or some other fitting word , but I am just calling it "feeling better ".  It is staggering when I face that nearly 7 years of my life has been altered and irreversibly changed due to the actions of someone else.  When you really think about that , it just is beyond understanding.  There has not been one SINGLE DAY in nearly 7 years that I have not thought of what he did, his affair, his monster words, his lies etc etc . Not one day have I ever felt recovered and happy and fully able to put it in the past and move forward in a positive and happy way.  Lately , this has truly been a very shocking reality and a more urgent need to not allow 1 more year to be sucked away on something I had no say in, no way of controlling and have no responsibility for.  Not one more year without finding the magic of making this end and gluing the final piece of who I am now back in place.  Many of us have been at this for YEARS on end, some have been sidelined for close to a decade. To have your thoughts and emotions held hostage by the actions of another ...it just cannot be right. But it seems that it is what happens. I want to be free of that . But I am not .

Can you even imagine ( and this continues to shock me ) that in a split second decision to unbuckle his pants and without one single thought ... pursues a temporary "happy " and that 7 years later it still hurts.  I cannot find impactful enough words. That one act , that one selfish choice , that one decision changed the course of my life for all these years. Why?. I mean I know why in many ways ...but really ??  Why??.  Could he have ever imagined the pain and devastation to his life that one action would inflict?.  Could he ever forecast that years and years would go by and still it hurts . Still that decisions carries such deep heartache .  Had he ever understood what it would take to repair this damage , if he ever knew it would be years to overcome and I sure he would never turned around and came back. It is so close to impossible  to "fix".  He was very very naive  about the depth of his "mistake".  So was I.   NEVER did I imagine it would hurt for so long or that it would be so difficult to overcome . I would not have reconciled had I had a glimpse into how difficult it is.

And the women in this world that sleep with a married man? Can there be a more foolish or cruel groups of humans?  Are they really without emotion or care for other humans, children, families etc. Are they so desperate to believe whatever these married men tell them that it overrides any sense of human decency. Are they truly void of any feelings of the children that are so desperately harmed ? Do they even know the depth of pain their actions will inflict on another women?  It is as if women that cheat with married men have never read a book . Have never heard about the facts that married men lie , that they rarely stay with affair partners, that they are often used and deposited into recycle bins, that they will have very low probability of a successful long term marriage?. The OW my husband got involved with cared nothing for all the people she would hurt . He was the 3rd time she had an affair with a married man and even told him this . Almost bragging that somehow these men saw them as "better" than their wives. Look what these men are risking to be with them ...they MUST be better . I was told she cried for months after my H dumped her. Nothing compared to the damage she participated in.  I just cannot imagine what these women say if they are ever confronted with a sister or a friends anguish if they have been cheated on.  How do they feel about themselves to know what they have done?  I just cannot begin to understand women who sleep with married men.  I hope it happens to them someday ... but I doubt they have the character or emotional maturity to truly feel that depth of pain.

I guess I am just tired of all of it. That my brain is always "on" and chances are high it will be ruminating about the events of the past 7 years.  No matter what I do ... garden, bake, go for a walk, shop, sleep ...it will "think" about all of it. I resent the time it has stolen from me, I resent intrusive thoughts that never leave me alone . I resent that it takes sooooo long to feel "normal" again.  If there had have been a camera crew from some reality show following me around for the past 7 years ...no one would ever cheat again. People have no real and true idea of the life altering changes affairs and cheaters create. 

I have had moments in the past that I thought of walking into my church and weeping at the alter and beg god to take the unrelenting sorrow away. To give me some space for happiness or joy again because the anger takes up all the space. I have thought of my pastor and how he may be able to give me something better than what life has handed me the last several years.  I just have no idea why it is taking sooo long to overcome?  What am I doing or failing to do that will help me break free from the hurt .  Desperation.

I have experienced every single thing in this article... and still do from time to time. 

https://drkarenfinn.com/divorce-blog/surviving-infidelity/461-why-infidelity-is-so-painful-to-the-betrayed-spouse




Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Watcher on October 21, 2020, 07:34:06 PM
Hi Barbiedoll.

I don't think your supposed to forget about it and coining it "feeling better" is perfectly fine. As a fellow LBS, I'm all about justice, fairness and accountability. Unfortunately I don't think it works out that way. So we carry it as our burden. Yeah I know how you feel.

Obviously your in a different place as your in reconnection and I'm getting divorced. Sometimes men like adversity. They like when they are the underdog and their backs are too the wall. Sometimes they need to figure out how to fight for something.

Reconnection seems like another phase of limbo as I follow you. I wonder if Barbie the individual can find happiness and joy for herself first. I know you are living with him and its not easy. I don't know if I have a reconnection in me.

I remember the day I received a court summons for child support. She forced me to get an attorney and I knew the outcome. She forced me to sink or swim. So I chose to swim and filed. Now I have adopted that sink or swim analogy on her.

Again I'm not in reconnection but if I was, she would have to sink or swim and find a way to reconnect with me. I would focus on making myself my number one priority. Happiness and Joy can be found within yourself.

Wishing the best for you  :)
Title: Re: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: terra on October 21, 2020, 08:53:01 PM
barbiedoll, (((HUGS)))

What that article does not say is that infidelity literally hurts us in our physiological brains. There is a trauma component that is often overlooked and definitely never served by all of the psychological or emotional talk; this kind of betrayal hits at our native physical system’s need and primal urge for safety and trust. No amount of talking it out is going to treat that or make it better — it’s a felt sense, a body energy understanding. And I’m not sure what makes it better — for me as a traumatized person, I’ve seen a lot of benefit and progress in EMDR, sort of almost therapist-free. But really, the restorative actions and reliability and even-tempered-ness or solidity and tender/patient/caring behaviors of the betraying partner can really help a lot, if it is consistent *over time*.

The main thing is that this kind of trauma or violation hits so hard and elicits a dissociation; it means two separate brain systems are fighting to work together, but they literally biologically can’t. It’s not possible to bond/attach if also in defense/fight/flight activation. And that is absolutely not your fault, and it also in no way means you are broken. It means what your husband did was THAT DESTRUCTIVE to you. Not emotionally or psychologically, either, although both of those too. His destructive actions caused your physical brain to be in pain and physical conflict with two separate and distinct parts/functions/systems in itself.

For my own case I’d say it’s like my h’s careless thoughtless or deliberate harms to me poured a Coke on my brain and fried the motherboard. That implies something needs to be replaced, and it can’t really be (any part of it). So what’s left is the very slow and meticulous process of drying it out and removing the damaging input, and rehabilitating the damaged systems.

This is brain biology and physiology, neuroscience, the organ of the brain itself. It’s not just emotional or psychological or mental; it’s our wiring as human beings and it’s a high loud signal that especially your h now has to be very gentle and careful with every part of you. And I’m no expert, just a student, so you will want to seek more info or clarification on your own — but what I know is that your traumatized brain does not mean you are weak or fragile. On the contrary, you are blessedly strong, barbiedoll, and as a person traumatized in childhood, I am certain your husband is too. You just both need the right care and support and psychoeducation from your therapy providers. Your h is not getting a big pass just because his childhood really super sucked. He caused damage to the literal brain systems of his beautiful loving wife, and it’s on him to overcome his own stuff enough to be cognizant if your pain and to be a rock for you.

Your disconnect isn’t your fault and isn’t even necessarily an indicator of whether or how much you love or “should” trust him. The brain is finally sort of just its own self and a very neutral thing, not emotional. It’s job is literally to make sure you are safe. Take any emotionality or thought process out of it and the brain just knows that this person in your life has cost you so much hurt and ability to feel safe/vulnerable with him.

Good on you for all the help you have sought, and all the actions you have taken on your own behalf for your own healing, self knowing, and pleasure.

About ow or any mate poachers, I think some of them are snowed by our betraying partner, but I know others are not only complicit but also the active agents and pursuers of other people spouses. The really weird thing I understood tonight while reading your most recent update is that for as much as I’ve read/seen/heard about/witnessed in real life, books, movies, music, clinical cases, or even just dreamt or had thrust at me in nightmares in my sleep?

Literally NOTHING in over four decades of taking in all the stories of all the years and all walks of life and even counseling others EVER prepared me for what deep and harrowing pain a marital infidelity would cause.

NOTHING, and NOBODY’S stories, real or well-written or acted out fiction, EVER gave me even close to a CLUE what this would feel like, if it ever happened to me. And I never expected it to.

And then it did.

And now I am a completely changed person, because of it.

And I couldn’t stop or avoid or avert it, and no matter how deeply I look back and think on it, I still don’t see where I could even have seen it coming.

You are rightfully in a lot of pain. And it’s not your fault. And your physical brain IS resilient enough to recover from it — and so is your h’s. But both of you, like all the rest of us, need to have good support and care from each other, yourselves, and the people around you. And time.

It’s easy to bolt and do something else instead and that might even be the best or most practical solution in some cases. But any healing you do in therapy or self-care or in relating to Self or to each other, is going to be good effort, no matter what.

Finally, I just want to notice to you — you are actually a person of deep grace and compassion. We see that all the time from you here, not just in the way you speak to other board members but in the way you speak about your life. I’m sorry your therapists are having trouble identifying or fully addressing your pain, and I know the trauma arena is difficult for even really great therapists to address or understand. So the more you know about your own physical brain and how it works will be helpful both in structured treatment and in your self care and self nourishing choices.

Your h can heal, and if he’s the one who is “most” broken or unsafe, it’s to his benefit to get really busy with that. Because his errors cost you in ways that require him to now be your rock and patient with your healing. It may take a while and maybe you decide to chuck him, and whatever the case, just know that you can always unchoose that, too.

I feel like I’ve watched you really grow as a soul and womanly spirit in the past year or so, leaps and bounds sometimes. And I know you are fierce and soft and generous in your compassion and willingness to understand others and their themes. So just know that in some way, here you are known. And here you are Beloved, and it doesn’t even matter that we have never met or spoken in person. Your Spirit and heart and wisdom all shine through. Sending loves.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: xyzcf on October 21, 2020, 09:09:32 PM
Absolutely incredible terra. Thank you. What you wrote to Barbie also applies to many others here.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on November 27, 2020, 04:25:13 PM
Been awhile my friends since I updated my story ..so here goes. It will be choppy as I will come and go thru out the day as I just have too much on my plate today to just sit.  We had a huge wind store last week ...and I mean HUGE , and we had a tree come down smash out the entire backyard fence, the gazebo and the tips of the branches just brushed down the sides of our brand new truck.  So today I have tree cleanup crew carting this mess away and the city is saying there is a tree that they will completely remove.  My H has already chainsawed up the tree and temporarily put the fence back together until spring . Just an awful mess.   Christmas is coming of course and I just love the entire thing ...I decorate this old Victorian house to the 9's and people just love to look at it , take pictures and feel like we time warped back to old fashioned christmas . It takes a huge amount of time and effort ..but ever so beautiful. Last year I sat 33 people for dinner and we were still missing 4. And then there is this year. Our area has been moved to RED catagory ( 1 step from complete lockdown) and indoors only allows for 5 people total. Well, there is 3 of us , so I guess I can invite 2. None of my girls coming home for christmas ...what could be the point of hauling all those totes out of the basement?  No one will see it.  So I have decided to only decorate the mantles and have a tree. Thats it for this year. I am now told that Christmas is only to be celebrated within your household and the people you live with. Just hard to even comprehend what has happened with COVID and it continues to get worse everyday. I think christmas will be about jammies and old movies this year. All somewhat depressing.

I have been feeling unwell. Really unwell . And to see a doctor at the moment is damn near impossible , especially with no specific complaint. I am continually exhausted, no motivation ( even to talk) , just flat out ....flat. I am not sure if it is physical or just emotionally done-in. I got a bad case of the BLAHS I guess. But I have chronic insomnia ...no matter what , I cannot sleep and it is just the worst thing. ...ever. I roam around half the night and average 4 hours of sleep a night. It is getting me down for sure and I have found no solution.  H tests his blood pressure daily ( 1 kidney needs close watch on rather high blood pressure) ...and he has it under control. By fluke , he said " come, lets check your blood pressure". Well , ladies and gentlemen , my H had himself a fit when he saw the result. I was not really paying attention. Turns out he insisted on hospital trip...it was that high . He did it 5 times and it came down a bit but by then I am full of anxiety.  He called the nurse , she called the doctor and wallah...now on blood pressure medication that I need to report daily. Imagine? . Doctor also ordered blood work etc etc , that I did yesterday.  H says he has never seen such high blood pressure ... maybe that is part of feeling yukky. I dunno. I have been far FAR more stressed in the past than I feel right now ...but , none  the less , I have very very high blood pressure and I am dealing with it .
Things have been very quiet and peaceful here . Not "happy " kinda peaceful, more I surrender , gave up the fight and find myself very quiet.  I just truly have nothing left that needs saying (its all been said ..more than once) and I am done with regurgitation.  And it is not an angry silence as it has been for a very long time...it is just acceptance for what is. If you have tried a million times in a million ways to solve a problem and you just cannot....it is likely a time for acceptance. And for a person like me ...that is profound. I have just found myself in a place of acceptance , that no matter what I do..I cannot change it.  It feels like relief...that I can drop the sword , that I am done with the struggle and I do not have to engage in unresolvable circumstances. A good part of me really likes this place ...I am OK here.  I have accepted the avoidant child that is alive and well in this grown man and that it will always be there . I have accepted that he does not feel "safe" and done alot of reading and researching about that . What a sad sad thing...but it is my reality. He has been hurt and betrayed in EVERY SINGLE relationship he has ever had ...so relationships are all about fear and protection, hardwired from childhood. Even I have no power to change that and it has been there for all of our marriage.   I remember he said to me one day ..." I realize its not MY job to make you happy ".  And I reminded him " neither is it my job to make you feel safe".  He just stares at me ..as always .  And of course I have raged and screamed and raged over this affair , missing money, the liar that lives in him and all my losses and that I am sure damaged his "safety" further . So be it ...every tear, every firetrucking cuss word, every threat, confrontation etc was well justified and he earned it. Just sayin.  I could never have stopped my anger .

I have told him " you got a free -one".  What do I mean by that ?.  Many times I have read from other women who have navigated affair recovery that they have a "far better marriage, an intimate connection they never knew existed ...some even say his affair was worth it to have this fantastic marriage. I rarely believe such statements . But it has not been the case for me. Nothing fabulous and new has grown making his affair in some twisted way..worth it.  It is the same as it was before in many many ways ...the avoidant and the anxious pre-occuppied ( me).  And for what its worth..you can not solve anything with avoidant partners. They shut down, resist connection, stay silent ( even if they are utterly miserable) , fail to connect, have deep fears of vulnerability and will NEVER bring up an issue to be resolved . EVER.  His silence and withdrawal is rejection , it feels like a "punishment"  ( for bringing up an issue) and it is abandoning the relationship. Over and over a million times ...for decades . I never understood it before like I do now, but it has always been there . These are the guys that will have affairs , abandon their families etc  BEFORE they will talk to you about anything that might be wrong.  They rob you the opportunity to be a wife, to be a help-mate or to "fix" anything.  They are self reliant , they solve their own issues ....sometimes in ways that brings devastation on anyone that ever tried to love them.  It will never be possible to have any emotional connection, any emotional faith or trust in them or to love them as you could have.  I have told him all of this many times.  And so has the therapists in their own words . He cannot be other than who he is .....acceptance is the only way to live in some sort of peace. And it has worked for me . There have been no issues for months and months.  Of course there have been no conversations other than superficial and meaningless babble. To do otherwise is not in my best interest or in the interest of good selfcare. 

Those who have followed my adventure to the land of lies and affairs may recall our Gottman Marriage counsellor refusing to work with us as a couple .  What she really meant was ME.  He is a silent passenger and I am the noise, the snot, the screamer and the "difficult" one . She said she wanted to only work with him for awhile . WOW!.  I was darn happy about that request as his original therapist has been COVID unavailable.   So he alone has been seeing the "marriage " counsellor for months and ( of course) says ZERO about it. Top notch secret ..whatever goes on there . She told me that she would see us again as a couple when he was "ready". Ha! . She tells me I am wrong to accept his avoidance , that he can do better just needs to feel "safe" because she believes he has never ever felt safe in the world. Apparrently, she believes that he must come clean about the unexplained money or it will sit like poison between us and he needs to be accountable for that. I have not spoke to him directly about that for years as the rage I feel ...is astronomical.  I know in my heart of hearts what he did with it ...I know . She understands " where his closed doors are".  Hmmmm? . Suffice to say I have not received an invite to return to "marriage counselling".

I am working on ME.  And for the 1st time , he is far from my focus.  I am taking an online course to use my covid quarantine time to good use .  He knows I am taking this course and he has looked at the webpage...he has not said a word. Exactly as expected and I am happy working away on me .  He does not like my silence . He does not like that perhaps this anxious - pre-occupied women is moving closer and closer to a strong , independent , proud secure attachment style . He can feel the shift and is suspicious of change. He asks why I am so quiet , he touches me every single time he goes by, he hugs me everytime he is able and he wants to know what I am reading. I no longer answer him . If I did talk to  him about this course , he would shut down ( possible unsafe topic) and that would trigger me and a round and around we go. I have withdrawn from that circle  and he tries to pull me back . But I am not going back. That part of my interaction with him is done.  This is a very interesting website on attachment trauma and I have been actively working on some online learning. I can feel myself growing ....

https://www.heirloomcounseling.com/







Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Nas on November 27, 2020, 04:32:41 PM
You know what Barbie, I love the fire and passion that I hear directed towards yourself.
You know I think you’re a bad ass. It’s Barbie’s time to do what Barbie wants.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Curiosity on November 27, 2020, 04:56:52 PM
Yes, feeling passionate about doing the work on yourself... that is so often exactly what we need, whatever we decide about the relationship in the end. I think we try so hard to make it work for our spouses and the relationship, but we too often put ourselves last. And it’s so important to get to the place where you are.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Seahorse on November 27, 2020, 07:14:00 PM
Barbie - I have been thinking about you lately - wondering how you've been doing...

First - your Victorian house sounds amazing and beautiful.
I think that the mantle and tree will be just perfect for your intimate gathering, AND will be a break for you.  You deserve it... 

I am sorry about the wind storms.  I am  happy that the city is willing to help to a degree.  Glad that the house itself was preserved and not damaged.

Physically - I hope that you get your BP under control.  Stress can wreak havoc on the body - and you've been under quite some stress for quite awhile.
I was initially happy to hear about how you've surrendered, but the more I read the more unsure I was about whether it was a healthy, happy place.  I feel like you've surrendered out of exhaustion and defeat, although mixed messages if you truly do feel relieved about it. 
You deserve to be happy and stress-free, and I wonder if continuing in this relationship is healthy for you right now?
How would you feel if you were to live apart for a year, for instance?  Can you visualize that for yourself?  Would it be peaceful for you or would it be added stress?
I just want to be sure that you're not settling "for the devil you know".

I apologize if I am speaking out of turn, but it just doesn't sound like your acceptance is a happy acceptance, however I could be completely wrong - in which case, please forgive me.

I'm so happy that you're doing this online work.  It could be a great pivotal point for you.  I hope so, at least. 

I hope that you're feeling better; I think once your BP becomes normalized it will help.

Sending hugs,
Sea
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: 9393roo on November 28, 2020, 08:02:20 AM
Barbie,

Thank you for continuing to share your journey of reconnection and the difficulties that it can bring.  I find myself nodding along with you often.

This morning I am surrounded by boxes of Christmas decorations I pulled out yesterday.  I am sitting here with my cup of coffee wondering if I don’t decorate will anyone really care?   I’m trying to convince myself they would and trying to remember that I do it for myself as well. 

Your journey shows us all that MLC is not just about the journey of our spouses but one that we must go on as well.  I believe if both people in a relationship that has been in MLC don’t complete their own journey there can be no completeness to being together again.  (If that makes any sense).   I know my H and I are struggling to put something of our marriage back together . Calm Communication has been key for us.  I could not have attempted this a year ago because I was still figuring myself out and my H was still deep in the tunnel. 

My H too is coming out of his tunnel to a completely different wife.  He is confused by my strength and wisdom.  Our MC called it the “thawing of our relationship”.  We both put up walls of ice to protect ourselves and now that they are beginning to thaw we have to figure out where they will flow.  Not an easy process. 

I commend you for taking the steps YOU need to become full again. Taking a break from putting your marriage back is probably a good thing right now while you explore who you are at this point. 

Again, thank you for your honesty and openness. 




Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Curiosity on November 28, 2020, 09:02:35 AM
Seconding what Roo said so eloquently. Thank you for sharing your story so openly. As much as the LBS can bend over backward to promise changes at BD, some of us also get to a stage of “what do I need to change? I’m fine; I’m not the one who blew up my life.” But however it came about, the crisis happened, and both people involved have to learn the lessons and do our own work. Your reminders of the importance of the LBS healing process are essential, so thank you.
Title: Re: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: terra on November 28, 2020, 02:35:18 PM
barbiedoll, I think of you a lot and I’m so glad to see your update. I cried; I feel a new acceptance also, and it feels strange.

I love Victorians and so does D; we have a local artist friend who decorates her art studio and home to the nines every time there is a holiday to do that with. It’s lovely to see and to treasure the visual delight and all the work that someone like you will put into it; that’s such a gift. So I’m sorry C19 puts a crimp in it this year, and at the same time, gosh, you deserve a good rest.

The bit about your MC p!sses me off. I’ve been the “difficult” one also and, just saying, it sounds like the MC has a bias. Not your fault, and nothing personal, just that the therapist doesn’t sound experienced enough.

I’m fond of the Gottmans and for what it’s worth, the Gottman MC from my first marriage sided with xh too. I held my ground until it was finally bad enough that I started walking out of sessions halfway through them. When D’s dad had me served with divorce papers, I called her and said so: “I told you this was on the way. You said no. I just wanted to call and let you know I was right.”

She had moved out of state and become a golf coach. So.

I am still fond of the Gottmans.

What I want you to know is that although one of their credentialed therapists did not work well for me, or for you, as it stands, I continued with their work in my own manner. I have attended all of their clinical trainings for licensed therapists, to get at the info straight from both Drs.

Look up “blood pressure oximeter Gottman”, just for kicks. That health symptom in you is ostensibly a direct result of your h’s relational and financial infidelities, dishonesty, stonewalling.

The Gottman therapist ought to know that, I think it’s covered in the very first level and in every subsequent one. I want to say too, it sounds like she hasn’t done the training on treating affairs and trauma. Your husband can take that training himself; it’s online for about the price of a 1-hour therapy session. At any rate, I’m glad that he saw directly and got you to hospital — now if he and the Gottman therapist can sort out how even the Gottmans themselves would counsel or signal to him that your BP has plenty to do with the stress levels his own actions caused.

I am hoping for all kinds of good peace in your direction, and good on you for self care and your own self interests. (((HUGS)))

Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on December 01, 2020, 09:30:07 AM
Quote
Yes, feeling passionate about doing the work on yourself... that is so often exactly what we need, whatever we decide about the relationship in the end. I think we try so hard to make it work for our spouses and the relationship, but we too often put ourselves last. And it’s so important to get to the place where you are.
.

It took me a very long time ( years) to get to this place . I mistakenly believed for years that my happiness or recovery depended on him.  If he said  "this", I would feel better. If he said "that" or did "this" , I would feel better .  Now there is a tiny bit of truth in that I must say, but if you depend solely on that to put your broken self back together ..it will not happen.  It certainly has helped that he took full accountability for what he had done, it helped that he apologized a hundred times, it "helped" that he willingly went to counselling and it helped that he apologized to his daughters . All those things matter ...but will not replace the "work" I need to do to heal myself.  He cannot fix me anymore than I can "fix him".   The greater part of this journey to heal "self" must be done by yourself ..and that is scary .  I know that in my case , his choices and actions exploded all my FOO issues that were buried inside ...he is not responsible for that pain or hurt . That is mine to deal with , just as his FOO issues have nothing to do with me.

Quote
I was initially happy to hear about how you've surrendered, but the more I read the more unsure I was about whether it was a healthy, happy place.  I feel like you've surrendered out of exhaustion and defeat, although mixed messages if you truly do feel relieved about it.

I am exhausted by years of stress , PTSD reactions and times of deep confusion. It has been the most excruciatingly painful experience , but everyone here knows that pain.  It does sound like a mixed message , I understand what a reader might interpret . I don't do "defeat" ..trust me.  It truly feels "right" to me, where I am now. I feel a contentment and internal peace about myself ...not always about my marriage, if that makes sense.   I think it has something to do with changing the " anxious pre-occupied " attachment style to a far more secure one.  I no longer feel compelled or absolutely driven to pursue , question, demand , chase or "need" him to do anything for me. I am OK inside of me, I can deal with myself with no expectation that he needs to be doing anything .It is very difficult to explain. Some of the changes I feel just happened on their own ( it seems) . There was a time , that if my H took his laptop to his shop in the garage or if he stayed at his desk with it ...I had the most insane all consuming panic attack ever. Then I would attack and demand ( ANYTHING ...to make the panic stop) . EXTREME panic , pacing, sweating fight or flight , needing to FLEE NOW . Why??  . Because he was ignoring me , he put something ahead of me , he was likely chatting to OW, he was gambling, he was "hiding" stuff, I am going to "miss" something bad happening again.  I wanted to die and better dead than living like that.  I am no longer triggered by that ..not even a tiny bit. Its gone completely and utterly ...and you have to believe , it was killing me. Now what happened internally to make that trigger utterly dissappear?  As my therapist would say " Barbiedoll, you have done SOOO much work, you have processed and integrated so many wounds , so much hurt ...now you reap some of the rewards ".  And I have many examples of  this new internal peace inside of me. It is not so much about my marriage.  I fully understand  and believe that no matter what he may ever do in the future ( I cannot control him) , I will infact be totally 100% fine in finding my own way. This has to be a happier healthier place!!

Quote
You deserve to be happy and stress-free, and I wonder if continuing in this relationship is healthy for you right now?
How would you feel if you were to live apart for a year, for instance?  Can you visualize that for yourself?  Would it be peaceful for you or would it be added stress?
.

Stress free ?  I honestly and truly believe that this is a total illusion.  Stress-free ? I do not know 1 single human ( adult or child) that is stress free.  It perhaps is a dangerous thing to strive for..as it does not exist . I only have to see my middle daughters phone number on my phone and I feel stress . That girl can send me to stress-ville in a flash ...and she is pretty permanent in my life. My 21 year old grandson just moved to Los Angeles for an "adventure". WUT? . In a pandemic?. My 86 year old parents create enough stress to make me want to rip my own headoff.  There is no stress free "island" . You ( of course) need to find ways to manage your stress depending on your personality ( I am a very intense passionate person) thru selfcare, awareness , calming strategies or improved coping skills. Running away will never be the answer. 

Now , I must say , that the biggest , most regretted decision I ever made was to allow my husband to return home so quickly . NEVER should I have done that . I should have used a "year or 2" apart from him at that time.  I will not do that now.  I have been asked by various therapists if I think "healing" would be different if he was gone..or if he was home.  i was very very quick to answer .." it would be far easier if he was gone . All the triggers would be gone". I would not have to deal with these tortuous unrelenting triggers ...if I just got away from HIM. I fully believed that . Sort of like a MLC'er who believes they have to "run" to be happy and get away from their spouse.  A geographical change ...will change nothing at this point.  What I do believe is there would be an entirely new list of stressors on top of the ones I carry inside of me . No matter what ...I will NEVER leave this house until my youngest daughter flies away on her own.  Imagine me leaving and leaving her with him .  He would cause her ZERO harm ( I am not saying that ) but she certainly would be trying to fill that space with groceries , laundry, cleaning blah blah and having to deal with him alone. She would also be questioned to death by her siblings . This girl is working online teaching at 2 Universities and 2nd year PHD student . The universities have very high hopes for this protege . She is extremely attached to me ...to family, to God and she has been hurt enough .  NOTHING will make me disrupt that path...and me leaving would absolutely derail her . Not happening...ever.  My family has been deeply hurt by what he has done ...not unlike many of yours . I still have a 12 year old grandson that I facetime and he asks " Is poppa in your house? Can I see him?". I have daughters that if I say " I need to talk to you?" ...they cry. Imagine ? Adult girls.  If I seem "off" they all have a little pow-wow and try to figure out what is wrong with me .  So...NO. The relationships that would shatter mean far too much to me ...not to mention my 86 year old dad.  It would hurt him . I am just not of the belief I can " do what ever I want as long as I am happy " and to hell with anyone that may not like it . I am NOT that person.  And would I be happy???  .  Big risk . I have "forethought "...maybe far too much. He on the other hand has very little.   There is absolutely no guarantee that I would be "happier" living somewhere else. As far as I am concerned "happy" is over rated and can be a very selfish thing. Its internal after all ... and I can feel that changing inside of me irregardless of him.  Just to add a thought and an observation. It is not an easy thing to leave someone that you have spent your entire adult life with ... it just is not. I see friends truly suffer with being the deepest lonely, feel regret in painful waves, wish they had done this or that , wish they had tried harder , wish they had forgiven and suffer with a deep loss inside of a shattered family . Where they hear thru the grapevine what thier ex is doing, or they cannot attend a birthday party because HE will be there , or the loss of ALL of their extended family memebers etc etc .  So ..no thanks.  The point is , there is NO easy way. Once this happenes inside of a marriage , nothing ever again will be easy . Easy is gone. Its hard to stay ( truly, I have packed , I have had this house up for sale, I have a file with a lawyer) and it is equally hard to leave.... just "different .  EASY is gone. Much is gone.

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I apologize if I am speaking out of turn, but it just doesn't sound like your acceptance is a happy acceptance, however I could be completely wrong - in which case, please forgive me.
.

No need to ever apologize to me ! I think you are the bravest little Seahorse and I love that you will ask the risky questions. How honest is that ??  I do appreciate you.  Last year I would have floundered with this question...but I am "new" again this year and I do believe you are wrong. I have to be damn sure to say that because I examine myself without a spec of mercy.  I have found a new place inside of me and I am still exploring what it all means ...but I feel deeply comfortable , I like the possibilities in this space , I like the calm and in control of myself  ME.  Yikes... that made me cry.  Some shift is moving inside of the new me .. I think I like it .  I am going to stay in this place of exploring acceptance until I have learned what it has to teach me .

Burning my extra-soft Molasses cookies now . My dad loves them. To be continued later ..... I thank you all. I truly do .
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: 9393roo on December 01, 2020, 09:45:45 AM
Nodding right along Barbie to almost everything you are saying.  Truly remarkable. 

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I fully understand  and believe that no matter what he may ever do in the future ( I cannot control him) , I will infact be totally 100% fine in finding my own way. This has to be a happier healthier place!!

This right here is what I believe we all need to get to as an LBS in order to continue into reconnection.  I talked about this in MC last week.  I told him I was staying by choice to have a new relationship  not because of desperation to save my marriage.  I would be fine either way, and for the first time in 4.5 years I believed it. 

You have done the work and are continuing to do the work on yourself.  A new self awareness is difficult to achieve but oh so necessary to move forward. 

Thank you for continuing to share. 
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Seahorse on December 01, 2020, 05:06:21 PM
Barbie -
As always, you post with such honesty and deep introspection.
I can see that there is a change in you from what -- maybe a year ago -- when you were distraught with questions to your husband...
You do seem more at peace and settled, but alas, PTSD is a never-ending gift - like MLC.
You, and only you, know within your heart where your true happiness lies, and I'm glad that you were able to articulate that. 
I agree that it's impossible to have a completely stress-free life, but I strive to decrease my stress by trying to accept what I have been given and to realize that I can't control everything.  AND -- to give it all to God which has been a major stress-reliever to me...

Let us know how your on-line course is going.
Proud of you for pursuing it...

Sending you many hugs,
Sea
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Treasur on December 01, 2020, 11:35:50 PM
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I no longer feel compelled or absolutely driven to pursue , question, demand , chase or "need" him to do anything for me. I am OK inside of me, I can deal with myself with no expectation that he needs to be doing anything .It is very difficult to explain. Some of the changes I feel just happened on their own ( it seems) .

This is a big deal, Barbie, a big shift. I completely get that it is hard to explain but that you know it when you feel it.
And I am so so glad that you feel it.

Imho, as a fellow PTSD sufferer, that shift - ephemeral as it might seem - is real and more vital than what you do or choose from here. And yes, strange how we chase and chase it out of desperation and then it seems to come without us chasing, isn't it?  It is a state of mind, of being, that gives you a completely different foundation to work from. Will it ebb and flow a bit? Maybe. But imho and experience you never drop back to the old foundation entirely even if you dip a bit. And you may find that all kinds of new positive feelings that have nothing to do with MLC/PTSD et al pop up....moments of joy....bc you are standing on different ground. (I remember being a bit surprised by these; it was rather like really enjoying a glass of water after being thirsty for a long time or learning to walk again after being on crutches and feeling delighted by it.)

Of course normal life is not stress-free. But as you know stress and PTSD are completely different things, chalk and cheese. Like you, I find it hard to explain but I knew deep down when I started to live without a PTSD brain. I could feel it. Didn't mean I didn't/don't have triggers or PTSD moments....but they were different with a non PTSD brain, a brain that wasn't mechanically stuck somehow. I guess it felt like I had a PTSD experience sometimes without having PTSD or more accurately it having me. That's about the only way I can describe it.... ::)

Keep going, my friend. It gets better and easier from here, and there is good stuff on the other side of it.  :)
Title: Re: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Songanddance on December 02, 2020, 12:54:01 AM
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It truly feels "right" to me, where I am now. I feel a contentment and internal peace about myself ...not always about my marriage, if that makes sense. 

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It is not so much about my marriage.  I fully understand  and believe that no matter what he may ever do in the future ( I cannot control him) , I will infact be totally 100% fine in finding my own way.

Yep and on reaching this point you are able to deal with so much more. You are able to decide what your responses are; you are able to decide what to walk away from and you are able to say "Meh - whatever"  and get on with what matters to you.

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As far as I am concerned "happy" is over rated and can be a very selfish thing.

This is what MLC teaches us as LBSers.  Happy is a place to aspire to but it is very hard to maintain if the reason for being happy is not solid, shifts and becomes unreliable.   Content or at peace with oneself is a much better place to be. 

Happy is ephemeral  Happy is the little child who opens the longed for Christmas present and then notice how quickly that happiness changes  if the gift breaks or if a better gift is given a few minutes later.
Contentment and joy are found when the child cherishes that small unexpected gift more than the expensive big toy, which might have given them happiness on opening, but actually they'd rather cuddle the little teddy.......

Perhaps that analogy applies to the MLCer and LBS......


Great progress Barbie.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Anon on December 02, 2020, 09:31:38 AM
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  I have found a new place inside of me and I am still exploring what it all means ...but I feel deeply comfortable , I like the possibilities in this space , I like the calm and in control of myself  ME.  Yikes... that made me cry.  Some shift is moving inside of the new me .. I think I like it .  I am going to stay in this place of exploring acceptance until I have learned what it has to teach me .
Wow, Barbie - what an incredible leap forward for you.  Your post almost made ME cry too, lol.  I read your posts frequently and this post is the best I think I’ve ever read  from you.   :)
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: FaithWalker on December 02, 2020, 07:10:55 PM
Celebrating with you on such a positive shift!
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on December 03, 2020, 02:50:30 PM
Is it not true that the very second you believe you are finally on solid ground , you will be tested ?  Is it not true that  even though you "thought" you were over it , you can still have times of circling the top of the big black hole? .  Is it not also true that healing is somewhat "teeter-tawtterish"...sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down ?  Healing is messy.  And today was messy ... just as I wrote about calm, content, shift etc.  I am just going to laugh at this point.

Messy only lasted 2 minutes for me but with incredibly high anxiety and likely blood pressure to match. This is actually a repeat performance of the same issue 2 weeks ago. Maybe its me ...maybe its him. I am not sure. Here is the scene.  He ( as I have said before) is seeing the marriage counsellor by himself and I was to continue to work with my therapist . This is at the request of the marriage counsellor . ( he has not seen his own therapist since march due to covid ) .  The idea was he was to go on his own every 2nd friday and I would be invited back when she felt he was ready or we were on the same page . I was perfectly satisfied with that arrangement . He on the other hand did not say yay or nay ( very typical) but he did go and has been attending.   Two weeks ago , I asked him what time is your appointment on Friday ? . He said he never made one, never thought about it , does not have to be fridays etc etc . That did not go well.  I told him that there was a plan that he attend every 2 weeks as I understood it and I was not sure why he had not followed the plan ? He just had a total fit...honestly it was shocking . I went outside, he followed me and it was more than obvious that he was triggered by something . He said " there was never a plan ".   I replied "yes, there was a plan ". Boom...he was gone. Twenty minutes later , he comes back out with an appointments time for the next day .  I never said a word.

Ok...here we are today . Same thing . His appointment is supposed to be tomorrow . He has not said 1 single word about he is going or he is not going . Period.  I will admit...I need a "plan" . I want to know what, where , why and how. I am the anxious -pre-occupied one in this relationship and I want the plan. It honestly fills me with anxiety until I can barely breathe ..no matter what I do . So in my brain I am arguing with myself.  "do not bother to ask, not my appointment, his responsibility, let it go, look after yourself etc etc.   And then the other side  " he should have stepped up and said " I have an appointment tomorrow at 4 OR, I did not make an appointment , I will go next week instead etc . Either would have been fine. But he says absolutely nothing and I am in full anxiety over it.  This has been a re-occurring problem. 

He comes into the kitchen and says ..." do you want to go get some shopping done ?".   I agree ...but I feel shakey and sick and now this blood pressure thing is scaring me . And I do not want to go feeling like I do.  So, I decide ( or my anxiety decides) that I have every right to ask, to know the plan and to be respected by being in the "know". It will ease my anxiety...maybe. The truth is more that I could not stop myself and feel physically well.   So I asked him if he had an appointment tomorrow and that not knowing gave me anxiety and stress . He is immediately defensive ...wow. He has no appointment ..period.  So, I ask  " what is the plan then?  I just need the plan .  Holy... he is having none of that . "there is no plan, if its not this week it will be sometime before christmas , not a big deal , talked to _______- ( the therapist ) and it does not need to be every second friday! .  oh... " so what you are saying is you will go whenever you want, whenever it crosses your mind, whenever you have time or feel like it ...and you will not tell me anything about it.  I guess I missed the part where _____ ( the therapist) said " you can do whatever you want".    And I finished with " so the plan is ...YOU will do whatever you want. And you have no plan to tell me ".   I was calm, never raised my voice, never went on and on and left it at that .  Told him we will do shopping another day .  And he went back to his office.  I had to go thru a list of self-soothing sh$t .    So, now we have a little tension. He has not come out of his office.  And yet again...there is no way to solve even the tiniest problem with an avoidant person. OR  the anxious pre-occupied should never ask questions or need a "plan".   So ..forward, backward, forward ....and a little backward.   HE will not EVER bring this up again. He cannot solve or discuss or resolve . So I expect this issues to re-visit in the future .  What should have been done differently ?   No clue.

Now I shall take a bath and watch a christmas movie in my bed on my IPAD. I simply cannot be around him when I feel like this . To me , it is so simple . Talk , agree, comprimise , figure it out , swish hands together ...there all done! . Ridiculously simple mature and done. He cannot do that and he will ignore until he dies. There ya go.  The typical way he responds to this kind of minor dispute ? He will sleep for hours. Another way to avoid. It is the anxious attachment style that suffers far more in relationships. Far more .
Title: Re: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: terra on December 03, 2020, 05:51:16 PM
:/

(((HUGS)))

I get it, about being “tested”, and I value your honesty about that because I go up and down a lot too, just when I think I’ve got a clean grasp on equilibrium again. Maybe part of it is the little challenge of can we recalibrate or pivot when the blood pressure and anxiety start to rise.

But more, barbiedoll, it sounds like what you need from both h and this MC is transparency. It also — I don’t know whether to say this or how, exactly, but — if it were me, I think I would be feeling like the MC is triangulating, and I also would not respond very well to “her” deciding the terms of “our” marital counseling. You know? Because isn’t that part of the problem you and h are trying to heal from? Together?

I don’t think many of us want the full inside scoop on what our spouses talk to therapists about. But knowing at least the appointment schedule does not seem like too big an ask. I’m sorry you are getting grief from your h and remotely from this MC. I don’t remember if that was the one who was preparing you both for a Gottman weekend, but if it were me struggling with this, I might contact the institute and ask them what usually happens when an MC carves off time for only one part of the couple.

You both need support and it sounds like this MC is lax in helping you, the partner that needs more significant care in all this.

I’d be mad too, is what I’m saying, for whatever that’s worth.

Your peace will come back, I know it. (((HUGS)))
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Treasur on December 03, 2020, 10:54:20 PM
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Is it not true that the very second you believe you are finally on solid ground , you will be tested ?

Oh yes  :) ::)
But I'm going to offer a different angle on it, and call it 'refined'.....

Another way one could look at it (from the cheap seats far away lol) in case it is helpful.
With lots of oversimplifying bc you can't see the detail from up here in the theatre 'gods'  ::)

You realise that you have been caught in a loop trying to find your healing in the head/hands of your h and that this hasn't worked as well as you hoped. And you feel you have invested a lot of effort in trying to heal a joint endeavour that you didn't break and with a less than equally energetic spouse. Which you sometimes feel resentful about bc that hasn't produced what you hoped for either. You decide to step back and focus on just you....your IC, your healing, your self care and your life.....and feel a sense of peace with that choice.

And then you feel a burst of anxiety bc you feel your h is not sticking to a previously agreed plan about his IC. And his reaction feels like more of the same avoidant gaslighting BS so now you feel even more anxious. And that anxiety monster wants to be soothed and it wants to be soothed now, damn it.

But what if, Barbie, just a 'what if' you DID see it as your PTSD testing you? And a chance to refine your approach?
You could say to yourself something like this....
Well, it is HIS IC.....and it arguably wasn't entirely MY plan but his/the MCs.....so maybe it just isn't my monkey.....whether he goes or doesn't, has a plan or doesn't, sticks to the plan or doesn't......why does that change anything really about my focus on me, for me? Surely that would only logically matter to me if I was still thinking that MY progress is contingent on HIS in some way? Or if I was making his actions part of MY plan? Or if I was still looking for evidence that he had changed so I felt safer in some way....which might keep me on that old loop that I have already decided doesn't work for me?

What if I just shrugged my shoulders, said 'whatever, nothing new to see there, keep walking' and let it go as not my business and not my plan? Just an old PTSD trick in my brain trying to keep me hooked to my old loop....and I'm not doing that anymore....ha ha caught you, silly PTSD brain (I called mine Lucy the Lizard when she was getting creative but irritating  :) ).....eyes away and back to me  :)

What if it looked like that, Barbie? Is there peace and relief there?
Just a thought fwiw....which may be nothing at all, of course  :)
Title: Re: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Songanddance on December 04, 2020, 01:44:13 AM
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Is it not true that the very second you believe you are finally on solid ground , you will be tested ?  Is it not true that  even though you "thought" you were over it , you can still have times of circling the top of the big black hole? .  Is it not also true that healing is somewhat "teeter-tawtterish"...sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down ?

Yes. And what can you decide to do about it that looks after you - not the situation, not H and not your marriage?

Somewhere in your "plan" I infer that there is a whole bundle of expectations.  I like to plan too -I have even done a spreadsheet of costs in selling the house, % commissions, tax etc to see what I may have should we actually sell the house.  It's called "safety planning". It keeps you focused when you wobble and trust me there will be a whole lot of wobbling.  However I have reduced the expectations to achieve a certain level of income and now just expect to sell the house at some point.

With your H - you expect him to attend counselling so that he can move forward which helps your plan in moving forward too. 

Detach Barbie - detach.   The more you push the more he will resist.   The more you seek a plan even something as simple as whether he is going to counselling or not - the more he will disappoint. 

Do some safety planning instead - what if he doesn't go to counselling, what if he resists - how does that affect you and your plan? Can you rethink your plan.........
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Marchingforward on December 04, 2020, 05:28:30 AM
And yet again...there is no way to solve even the tiniest problem with an avoidant person. OR  the anxious pre-occupied should never ask questions or need a "plan".   So ..forward, backward, forward ....and a little backward.   HE will not EVER bring this up again. He cannot solve or discuss or resolve . So I expect this issues to re-visit in the future .  What should have been done differently ?   No clue.


Oh my Barbie. I feel this so much! This is where I am with my H.  He's so conflict avoidant that the minute I push anything, away he runs. I'm working hard on not being the anxious type person but it is hard. It feels like things will never get better. Like how can you have a relationship with someone who can't even have a conversation even when it's about tough stuff. I'm sure your H is feeling a bunch of uncomfortable feelings about having to go to therapy. And that's his issue, but being able to talk about it without defensiveness would be helpful.

In my situation, my adult step-children don't like me. I don't know why. My H tells me he can't be in a relationship with me because he's afraid of losing his kids. So I ask (what I believe is a very rational question): why not sit down and talk to the kids?  They are adults after all and they have such a good relationship with their dad there is NO way that they are going to withdraw from him. I do know the oldest made that threat, but she won't actually follow through with it. Anyway,...I ask the question why not sit down and talk to them about it. I point out that I'm reconnecting well with the step-daughter that lives about an hour from here. It all seems reasonable to me. But, first, my H isn't super reasonable about this, and second, he is a massive conflict avoider. So my calmness was met with massive defensiveness and deflection. With the final being "we are going to be done because I can't risk losing my kids."  It's sooooo difficult. Like you, I just want a plan. It sure feels difficult.  Back into the oven he goes while I try to walk away from the kitchen and just focus on me. Not an easy task either after some solid months of reconnecting. You are right...reconciliation is not for the faint of heart. *Hugs to you.*
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: OffRoad on December 04, 2020, 08:49:15 AM
The first thing I saw was that you have zero idea if the therapist actually said what your H said was said. Maybe the therapists suggested plan was to come whenevet and maybe it is not and he is *gasp* lying because he's avoiding something at the therapists. So anyone theorizing the MC might be triangulating would be based on conjecture, not facts.

The second thing I noticed was you handled the situation very well, considering. If progressing in your marriage is contingent on both of you keeping your obligations to each other (and how can you trust someone who won't own their obligations), and an obligation was to attend counseling on the schedule decided upon by both of you, then he has not met his obligation, you had every right to call him on it, but you also do not control what he does. You know this and self soothed (which is an additional chore you would not have to do if he'd met his obligation).

We all have a right to have expectations. We also need a plan for when our expectations are not met, and to know if we are getting what we need from another individual. If that which they do give is enough for us, or if we want to give up any expectation of someone saying what they mean, meaning what they say, keeping their word, telling the truth, honoring their obligations, etc. 

It IS disrespectful to agree to something, then try to twist it into something different. It is also a gaslighting behavior ("I never agreed to that").  Not to mention that you might be planning to do something while he was gone that if he weren't gone would matter (mopping floors, painting furniture, playing music and taking a bath and not being interrupted).

A plan between people is based on courtesy, caring that what you do might affect someone else. One person changing it without informing the other is self centered and rude.

That you were triggered is expected. That you handled it well is laudable. That you were able to self soothe is incredibly wonderful. That you have a man who is incapable of basic courtesy in this situation is sad. For him and you. You are worth courtesy. And that is what this is really about.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on December 04, 2020, 10:13:13 AM
I continued on with my day yesterday, although anxiety was hard to manage , but it eventually subsided. I made supper, we ate in silence and he most certainly is very unhappy that I continue to "create problems where none exist".  Not attending your counselling plane IS a problem. During the initial conversation , I asked him WHY he has not booked an appointment. He is working from home, he had no where else he had to be and he apparrently had time for christmas shopping.  So WHY?   His response is always like a trip thru communication torture ..."what do you mean WHY? ".   It very simple , WHY did you not book your appointment . He will tell me there is no reason... he does not need to follow a strict schedule of every second friday  blah blah.  But that was the agreement I reminded him. He tells me that was not the agreement , that the therapist said he could book whenever.  So, I simply said it was very very hard to believe that she said " H You can do whatever you want ".  And secondly, you then needed to TELL me the "new plan". Which you did not do.  He is so frustrated now ..he is red faced , on his feet ...highly triggered and in attack mode. This is not typical. This may be one of a handful of things that trigger him...so I am still rather shocked.   Later in the evening , he came into the den ( where I was painting rocks watching Christmas movie) and spit out ..." I have an appointment tomorrow at 1 ".  I said nothing . ZERO.   Then he says " did you hear me ?" .   Yes..I heard you . 

What I need to say , is about ME.  Despite huge anxiety, hands just shaking and reluctance to even bring it up....I did. I was not angry . I was not ANGRY ...wow. Just huge and I was very surprised that it did not turn to anger.  I was physically struggling , I can tell you that . Adrenaline , dread , hot flashes , fear , all present. BUT I need to ask and get this issue solved ...with a person that does not do " solve" very well.   I am going to take it one step further . There is a boundary in the making here in this situation that may help ME in the future.  What my H will do now is this ..... He will come home form counselling ( tight lipped ...no conversation about any secrets that happen there) and he will say " lets go grab a bite and get the tree tonight . Do you want Fish and Chips? . Where is your list ..maybe we can get some of that done . etc etc ".  He will be "fine".  He will mention nothing about anything that matters. And I will typically go with him and get stuff done etc. This is how it goes.  BUT , I am putting an end to that starting today.  Many many times I go but still anxiety filled , resentful, faking "nice" ..when really I have just allowed life to go on without solving the issue at all.  This will be an issue again in 2 weeks because he will not "clarify the plan".  I am not doing that anymore as it really just plays a part in allowing his avoidance. If it directly affects MY life and well being...I need a boundary .  SOOOO, I will be telling him that before we eat out, shop etc , I want to have a discussion about this " plan " problem.  I want to actually address a problem ( its only a problem for me apparrently) all the way to an actual solution or understanding on how its going to go.  Problem = SOLUTION. 
No more "acting " as if it is all fine ...when it is just not. This can be calm , easy agreed plan ..or not. If it cannot be understood by both of us ...I really prefer not to go for dinner or shop ...when inside of me I am unhappy and anxious. He can either participate in this conversation. Or not. Either way ...I am done with  carrying problems and "playing nice".   He has gone to his appointment now ... and worth noting , he was carrying a bunch of papers. She likes to give "homework" or things to read to discuss or ask his thoughts about. I would bet that is what he was doing in his office...damn, he just could not "avoid" that .

The therapist is lovely and very intelligent . I am not going to spend time imagining "she" is the problem...she is not.  And he very much likes her.  COVID has screwed up his regular counsellor as he does counselling out of his home and has not continued on since COVID started .  The marriage counsellor ( who also does a list of other things..not just marriage counselling) agreed to work with him ( because he could not see his regular counsellor) and I was to continue on with my own.  It was my idea. I asked her about this arrangement.  She is working specifically on his avoidant attachment style , how it effects marriage, how he can work towards a secure attachment etc etc .  I was very very happy when she agreed to this request.  The plan is to come together as a couple when she believes he has done some work in understanding that part of himself.  I am VERY happy she is working with him as covid has changed our original plan and she stepped up to help as I asked her to.

I will comment on some things said by you lovelies .  I am very aware that this could be a "ME" problem. A problem of a anxious-pre-occupied attachment style. Maybe its me that needs to let things like this go ...maybe not.  I have done extreme amount of work and have detached in ways I never ever imagined possible . BUT ... I am borderline avoidant now , if that makes sense to anyone.  What is the differance between avoidant and fully detached??    I often wonder this very thing. I feel like I am becoming him. An avoidant person. Something to ponder.

I hear you Surviving ...I do. I will comment . Thank you .
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Nas on December 04, 2020, 10:24:15 AM
My two cents, fwiw.
I really do not think it is a very big ask at all. Your husband has been home for several years. He has come back to the marriage and said he wants to do the work. Committing to and following through on setting a standing every other week appointment with a therapist is literally so simple, such a small thing he could do to make you feel heard and safe. I completely understand why you are upset about it. It must be extremely frustrating to try to understand why he cannot do this one simple thing. Or why, after several years, he is still not at a point where he can see that something as simple as setting a standing appointment would show you he is making the effort you need.
I am sure for him there is a reason, but I completely feel your frustration.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Treasur on December 04, 2020, 11:02:48 AM
I DON'T read this as a YOU problem (and I hope my words didn't suggest that)....but it sounds as if it may be a YOU solution  :)

Golly, you did well, Barbie. So well.
And I am sending calm power to your elbow as you begin to show your h that, regardless of what he does, you are changing your approach to one that works better for you  :)
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on December 05, 2020, 04:45:56 AM
As totally expected, he arrived home , said he had an email to answer and then we would go for diner , grab the christmas tree and " get you out of here for a bit". Good?  Hmmmm"..No, actually. It will depend on the outcome of a conversation we need to have . So I am not agreeing until we talk and actually arrive at a solution. "  He went to his office.

Twenty minutes later ,he came and sat and stared at me. I have no idea why there is soo much adrenaline and anxiety involved in trying to talk to someone you have been with for 40 years.  Just awful.  I told him that I am very unhappy with having "no plan" in terms of his counselling and it was an issue 2 weeks ago, an issue now and using forethought, it will again be an issue 2 weeks from now. It is not acceptable to me that you will go " whenever you feel like it etc" and on top of that , tell me nothing.  I need a solution or an agreement that suits us both before I do anything .

Silence . That evil rejecting triggering message that says " I am not going to engage, connect , talk or look for solutions because it will end up in conflict . It is not safe to talk to you ".  This behaviour of an adult man CAUSES 100 % of the conflict.  Silence . He has utterly and completely shut down . I am told this is NOT on purpose but an involuntary defense mechanism that was formed in childhood and happens if there is a perceived threat.  And ANY communication that is not about the weather is a threat.  And this is the most triggering thing to me. It is rejection and abandoning behaviour that pushes my reactivity .  BUT , I am very aware of this now....so, I take deep breathes , I went and got an ice pack to play with...and I will be damned if I am going to succumb to rage and attack.  I think they call that "protest behaviour".... I think I have finally got this.  But physically , it just kills me.

So I wait .  And in a completely monotone quiet voice I say " if you are not able to have this conversation, just say so.  Even that would be better than me sitting here waiting for you to respond".  He finally tells me that he never agreed in the 1st place to seeing _______ ( the therapist) , so that is why there is no real plan etc etc.  And he is nasty defensive ..wow!  He is just mean and aggressive and is rubbing the skin off his forehead ( another indicator of extreme stress) .  "I am not sure what you mean.  I did not hear you say I DO NOT WANT TO see __________.  I told you what she suggested and you went. No where did you say I DO NOT AGREE. "
He insists that he said " maybe he might try to see his old counsellor, covid was a problem, he needed to contact him at some point etc etc... but then I changed the process "
I tell him " YOU did not say NO. YOU did not say I do not want to see the marriage counsellor . YOU did not clearly express what you did or did not want to do because would have been in the kitchen baking a firetrucking cake...if you stood up for yourself and said what you wanted or needed. I have been waiting for that ... and YOU did not say NO.  YOU are just as responsible for what YOU do not say , as well as what YOU do. 
He says " You do not listen"
Me:  I am a fantastic listener . I worked for 30 years as highly paid listener . That remark has no impact on me.  If you did not agree with the plan it is your responsibility to make sure you are heard . If you say nothing, it is assumed you agree.
Him:. Why would you assume its OK just because I say nothing ?
Me:  ( in my brain..WTF?) . Because thats how it works, that how the human brain works....I have no other answer. If YOU say nothing..its assumed you are fine.
But , what I am hearing is you saying , you do not want to see ________. So we need a different plan . I am having a "plan".
 Him.  For now , I will continue to see ________ until I can see my own therapist . I can do that . No problem. If you need me to pre-book every second friday as a standing appointment, I can do that . No problem.
ME:  I want you to know that never ever did I realize my blood pressure could be so high that it is a "medical emergency". It is from living in a very stressful marriage and not getting what I need . I have no intention of dying over this marriage and neither should you. I need to take selfcare far more seriously and one of the issues is lack of ability to agree on solutions..that has to change asap as it causes huge resentment and stress for me.  Otherwise, we will need to look at an entirely different way to live after covid is over.  The stress is killing both of us , its no way to live.  "
Him:  Silence .
ME: OK, lets get something to eat , I have what I need from you, thank you. Lets get on with our evening , I feel better now and can enjoy a trip out.

Boom... he is out of that room like a shot of lightening. It is the FIRST TIME  i was not sucked away in extreme reactivity . Absolutely the 1st time that the extreme physical discomfort did not spiral me into rage/attack. It was the 1st time in months I have had to have a serious conversation... and I controlled myself . If I stay with a low monotone voice ,  breathe , be aware of the trigger and why its there ... i had control of it.  Wow!

To add to that , he was opening car doors, he took my hand in the truck and kissed it...long time since that happened . WTF?

Somewhere in the conversation he said "when do you ever reach out to me ?"   My answer has always been the same ... "I have tried to talk to you a million times ".   He has said this ( or asked this ) many times... and again last night.   " how is trying to talk to me , reaching out?"  he says .  HUH?  What other way is there to try to connect and understand a person?. Silence.   So I have asked him..."what is reaching out mean to you?" . Silence . I have never got an answer that made sense ..but he frequently says this.  No clue what he means .  Exhausting... suck the life out of you , it is all so hard.





Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Treasur on December 05, 2020, 05:10:38 AM
That's a big deal, Barbie, wow, well done  ;D
Occurs to me too that it's about how one measures success. In the past, perhaps it would have been about 'getting' him to see the IC regularly. Now I suspect you measure your success entirely differently.......and that might come as a bit of a surprise to your h who is accustomed to the old you perhaps.
Really well done. I hope you feel proud of yourself and encouraged by seeing how you did it....
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Tyks on December 06, 2020, 06:09:56 AM
Good for you for telling your husband what you need and making the conversation happen.  That is a big step, my friend. I hope you did indeed have an enjoyable evening.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Seahorse on December 06, 2020, 06:51:07 AM
Barbie -
I agree with the others - great work!
Your honesty and openness about your needs and your understanding seemed to be what your H needed to hear.
I am happy that he was treating you as you deserve to be treated after that conversation, and I hope that his actions are sincere and continue.

I will try to remember how you reacted and conversed in the event that I am ever in a similar situation.  All of your hard work seems to be paying off.  Two steps forward, one step back...

Hugs,
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: readytofixmyselffirst on December 06, 2020, 06:59:14 AM
Hello,

Communication is so hard even when all systems are good. I have a bad habit of letting my paperwork and stuff overwhelm me at home and work. So when it comes time to clean up, I get to the point of just putting everything in a box and putting it in a closet or out in the garage. When I left my first school as a principal, they would go into a closet and find one of my boxes and they would laugh, "One of Mr. Ready's buried treasures!"

 In your case, you have someone who is trying to avoid his life's pain and disappointments by just putting it in a box and hiding them. He doesn't want to go to therapy or discuss his therapy with you because that means unpacking the boxes and going through them in detail. That takes time and lots of reflection when his own core essence is saying to him, "Just put it back in the box and I don't have to feel this way."

I am glad that you did make your stand with him and it didn't send your body into overdrive. It has taken years, but I find myself getting much better at moving ahead and confronting the issue. Now, I still take my time to mentally prepare myself and get my talking points in order so that I don't let my emotional side get the best of me. It seems that you did do that as well and the outcome was a major step forward. That is amazing and clears an obstacle for you. (((((Hugs))))

Quote
What is the differance between avoidant and fully detached??

I think the main difference between the two is that when the avoidant doesn't lead to resolution. Avoidant is like carrying a 50 lb sack of rice on your shoulders and to try and avoid the fatigue, you pretend it is not there. But in reality, it still is and the fatigue is real. Detachment is when you put the sack down and go and get a wheelbarrow to carry it.

((((Ready))))

Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: 9393roo on December 06, 2020, 07:12:05 AM
Barbie, I have been reading along carefully as I find myself and my situation almost mirroring yours right now.  My H and I are working in MC about avoidance from both of us.   Great insight here.

Quote
I think the main difference between the two is that when the avoidant doesn't lead to resolution. Avoidant is like carrying a 50 lb sack of rice on your shoulders and to try and avoid the fatigue, you pretend it is not there. But in reality, it still is and the fatigue is real. Detachment is when you put the sack down and go and get a wheelbarrow to carry it.

This is one of the most profound things I've read on here in a long time.  Thanks Ready. 
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on December 06, 2020, 07:26:40 AM
Quote
I think the main difference between the two is that when the avoidant doesn't lead to resolution. Avoidant is like carrying a 50 lb sack of rice on your shoulders and to try and avoid the fatigue, you pretend it is not there. But in reality, it still is and the fatigue is real. Detachment is when you put the sack down and go and get a wheelbarrow to carry it.
.

WOW!  I will remember this as a major clarifying statement . This is very powerful and I thank you . Printed and  on my desk for future use!.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on December 09, 2020, 04:08:51 AM
Quote
In your case, you have someone who is trying to avoid his life's pain and disappointments by just putting it in a box and hiding them. He doesn't want to go to therapy or discuss his therapy with you because that means unpacking the boxes and going through them in detail. That takes time and lots of reflection when his own core essence is saying to him, "Just put it back in the box and I don't have to feel this way."
.

I believe this to be the bottom line. Its the 1st time I have seen it in print and so black and white , but it is how I have felt all along .  He can avoid "things" that is almost super-human" in my opinion. Of course it would seem that way to me who choses to avoid very very little as I see no point to that . Period. I detest avoid problems and to continue to sit in " problem-sh$t" endlessly.  Detest it ..and it has been the core issue and source of deep frustration.  And what could be the point or value in that choice?? . I have raised 5 girls and I can tell you , we as "females" avoid very little , atleast my girls.  If something " is bugging them ", it is addressed. They have been taught that there are solutions to everything..you might not like the solution but its better than ignoring and sitting in sh%t.   Maybe its a gender thing ( more men compartmentalize than women) but maybe its just his thing. I hate it because it forces me to live "his way". If a partner refuses to enter in to uncomfortable converstaions to address issues, YOU are living their way. The problem cannot be solved. Its like attempting to play tennis with someone who refuses to pick up the racket.  Game over. It ( in my opinion) is some sort of mental illness ...atleast that is how I see it here . And yes, I would bet a million bucks he is trying to avoid this therapist . She is holding him accountable , she is pushing him, taking down his walls etc. Suddenly he may want to go back to his own therapist ( after covid) and I saw no progress with that counsellor.  He wants to avoid this counsellor.

I remember atleast 25 years ago, the car was re-pocessed right out of the driveway. To say it was shocking, embarrassing and inconvenient is an understatement.  He had not made a car payment in 3 months and NEVER SAID A WORD about it. Who does that ?  When I asked him...not much came out of his mouth as an explanation. He was behind in contracts that were owed to him and not paid, so he did not pay car payment. As if it would go away? As if that is the solution...just put it in a box in your brain and float it away. As if consequences will never come.  These are men that can ignore and avoid problems or issues , become desperately unhappy ( and never say a word, never look for solutions , deny anything is wrong) and have affairs as some insane attempt to feel "better".  He would rather have an affair that traumatizes his entire family....rather than TALK? .  I will NEVER understand that thinking as I can sniff out a "maybe" problem 10 years from now and get busy finding a way for that not to happen.  My girls just hated that ..I could read their intention almost. It was common to hear me say  " do not come back here with any kind of tattoo on your body  or there will be consequences that will be unpleasant"  ( I just "knew") . Or " If you had to look ahead and forecast the outcome of that choices...what do you see ?".   Forward thinking..problems can be created by YOU and will need solutions ..by YOU.  He was never ever taught that ...or anything for that matter . Adult Children Of Alcoholics ( ACOA trauma syndrome) are taught from birth...do not think, do not feel and do not talk.  And that is a pretty good description of what I have. 

If you are so damaged in your FOO issues , that you have learned to rely ONLY on yourself ( no one is ever to be trusted and no one is safe) , if you learned thru extreme ridicule and shame , that you are always "wrong"  ( you cannot face being or doing wrong as an adult) . If you learned you are NEVER heard or seen ..you stop talking . Silence is safe.  I could go on and on as he has ALL of the scars of ACOA trauma syndrome ( and has been diagnosed with this ) ....then this is likely not going to change. As bad as he says he wants this marriage , wants to "fix" what he broke desperately ...he has not been able to change many  ( all) of these behaviours. He lives in internal fear, constant hypervigilant fear inside of relationships.    So do all his brothers . The difference is that all his brothers have extreme addiction issues  ( drugs and alcohol, porn , etc)  My H does not so he appeared to be the only Hero, the only unscarred high functioning one, the "best" man . He was the "catch".  Hmmmm? Not so much.  At 55 he utterly fell apart and he still struggles to put himself back together from a huge fall off his pedestal.   I do not imagine I will ever be the "safe" one.  And it is fair to assume his OW was not "safe" either or he would have stayed . This will be my life if I stay in this marriage. I could also write a lengthy description of some very kind, gentle and admirable qualities. Regardless... these are hard men to love.   At this point , he has been unable to find a way to "avoid" this therapist . That sucks .
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on December 09, 2020, 05:38:13 AM
https://insightwemapsych.com/2020/12/02/avoidant-attachment/

Says so much to me ...
Title: Re: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: forthetrees on December 09, 2020, 05:47:13 AM
Wondering if his comment about reaching out refers to gestures and touch vs. a conversation. Maybe he has to feel physically safe before opening up the conversation. A hand on the shoulder, lower back, knee, holding hands, caressing his face, neck massage, hand massage?
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on December 09, 2020, 06:32:18 AM
Quote
Wondering if his comment about reaching out refers to gestures and touch vs. a conversation. Maybe he has to feel physically safe before opening up the conversation. A hand on the shoulder, lower back, knee, holding hands, caressing his face, neck massage, hand massage?
.

UGH!!  I have to think on this ...was hoping this was not what he means by " when do you ever reach out to me ".   I "think" you are right . My therapist has also said similar.  And its a problem for me .  I have been far too angry , too disgusted by scenes of him and OW  , too feeling "compared " and just plain paralyzed by so many things that I have NOT done any of those things . Not once, not even close. I was going to start some EMDR on this apparent block ..and then COVID.  I need to think more about this as the therapist has challenged me to do. I just cannot ...
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on December 19, 2020, 04:14:53 AM
 Hello my friends ..just some thoughts and ponderings this morning as I sit here in the dark. Sleeping past 4 or 5 am has not happened in years , so I have cranberry muffins in the oven , laundry going and ready to bake some shortbread and just decided to sit for a minute .  We are on the cusp of a total lockdown that is likely to happen on monday , so I have filled the cupboards and freezer , shopping all done and ready for whatever kind of christmas I can have.  None of my daughters are coming home due to covid restrictions and that is very difficult to manage emotionally. I miss my middle daughter terribly and it will be the 1st time in their lives that my 14 years grandson and 11 year old grandaughter have not been here for christmas.  My typical christmas dinner is just over 30 people ... I am now allowed 5 inside.  Monday may change that to zero. 

It has been rather peaceful here for the past 6 months with the odd ripple ...but all in all quiet and thoughtful.  My H would likely say it was "wonderful" to finally have some peace , I on the otherhand have just found ways to look after myself, practise detachment and focus only on what I am trying to achieve for myself. A quiet wife does not automatically mean a "happy" wife but it is how he would interpret that . Sometimes you should be a little concerned about silence.  I have ( finally) become far FAR less reactive , focused only on my side of the street and  leave him to whatever goes on inside of him.  Its hard to not see "avoidant " men as just people that have many many secrets.  They do not want to be "known" ..its just too risky and unsafe.  He represents a 1000 conversations that just cannot happen... he will shut down completely and utterly if there is a hint of an issue.  And to me ...intolerable, immature , lonely and futile and will trigger such insane feelings of rejection, loss , abandonment etc. I understand the dynamics, I understand the dance ....I am just NOT participating in that in any way shape or form. Not ever.  And to him ...that is "peace".  I am working hard online to change my attachment style and educate myself etc etc

When you live with an avoidant person who sees the world and relationships as "unsafe" you live a very shallow superficial life.  The conversations are brief and revolve around the weather, COVID, household tasks  etc, ..nothing of substance or significance.  I call it "fluff".  He is a "fluff" talker and appears to be happy with that level of interaction only.  The chances of a deep emotional intimate attachment ?.   It will not happen when all that is "safe" is fluff.  I understand that I will not have that type of connection with him. I have accepted that 100 %. If I do feel prompted to bring up a subject that his radar will trigger as potentially unsafe .... I simply do not do it.  Sad in ways ( it really is) , but to do otherwise will end in extreme frustration , "attack" and resentment.  I read this quote on facebook yesterday ....

Quote
Emotional pain is at the root of our tendency to withold and this causes pain to the people subjected to it.
.

It is the truest thing I have read in a long time. It is indeed painful to feel " pushed away" and isolated from the person you are married to. But my reaction to that is now 90%  under control and I am able to accept that he is not capable of letting me in. I see that there has not been I stable relationship in his history that was "safe" or did not cause him extreme pain and distrust. His mother and father ...both , caused injury that has not been healed.  Even his 1st wife cheated and presented herself as "pregnant by another man " while they were married.  I know that years ago he hired a young guy as an apprentice and spent years training him, teaching him and befriending him. At the end , this young man betrayed him and bid on jobs behind my H's back... and won the contracts. He was desperately betrayed by this relationship. Seems to happen to him time and time again.  But it is the FOO scars that have locked him away from relationships . That is how it is .  Nothing to do with me ... I am just another "unsafe" person that  he tries to love. It is no longer all that personal to me. I understand.  Now the counsellor totally disagrees.  Says he is capable of a deep intimate connection and to "show up" emotionally and feel safe. I utterly and totally disagree. And have found some peace in not striving for more.  Right or wrong..I have given up the chase.  The counsellor is working with him separate from me and says she will invite me back to "marriage " counselling when she believes he is "ready" .  It has been 6 months and I have not been asked to return.  Interesting .  I am grateful for her...I truly am , but I still believe she is wrong.

Now this is the question .. the "pondering".  What does it mean to stay in this marriage. I will have to accept that I will never experience the emotional bond or  deep connection that I so desperately have wanted .  Its a result of my own FOO ...pursuing an emotionally unavailable mother has left many scars . I feel as though I have healed significantly from that pain.  Regardless...I will never have what I want in this marriage .  I just will not..plain and simple. It is not to say that it is an unpleasant  marriage , it is far from that .  There is no abuse , no drinking , no dugs, no "affairs "  ( hopefully) and my H is very kind, hard working etc etc.  He is a "good family man" .   BUT he will never be emotionally connected or available to me.  I will need to find ways to live happily in "fluff". I will need to find ways to have my emotional needs met in other ways...thru other relationships , friendships, etc.   Am I prepared to live like this ? Can I accept what he simply is incapable of ...without hurt, anger and lonliness. Is it worth taking a chance shutting down my marriage, my family and pursuing this emotional connection and bond in a new " relationship? . Or is my silliness and Hallmark Movies overated and  elusive. Maybe I am just a romantic dreamer and there is nothing better for me. Can I blow up the world and destroy so many people on a whimsical whim that I will find MR Emotionally Available and deeply connect with him?   Are the losses worth the "possible " gains? . I wonder why we are "shamed" for seemingly settling for this kind of marriage. If I tell anyone this story, I immediately will get challenged as to why I would "settle" and not want more for myself. Like there is something wrong with me .  I feel very judged ....

Lastly, my ponderings include the utter shocking ability these men who have lied, had affairs, cheated , abandoned and abused there wives ...dare to say they feel "unsafe".  Initially there was many "firetruck you and this marriage"  as a response to him saying he did not feel "safe".  Its just bizarre in so many ways ... I am the "unsafe " one?   After all YOU have done...I am unsafe".   Are YOU for real ? The biggest risk I will ever take is trying to love an adult man that  lives his life thru the lense of a battered and abused little boy.   I am "unsafe" has been the most hurtful and shocking information to process.  It feels like some attempt once again at "blame".  These types of men will always be risky because you NEVER know who they are, how they feel, what they want or need, if they are happy or internally brewing .  They will never say. And is that not risky?  Lets face it..90% of us are faced with men ( or women) that suddenly want out, are having affairs , wanted to "leave for years" etc etc... and they NEVER SAID A WORD.  My H never ever said 1 single word about being unhappy . He just left, had an affair and the entire MLC thing. How would I know that the same thing is not brewing inside of him now ?   He "could be" profoundly unhappy, looking for an out, making a plan etc etc... and I would not know because he " will never say a word".   Now that my friends is an "unsafe "  secretaive  and risky person to love.    I seem to always be "thinking and pondering" what is best for me   VS  what i
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: readytofixmyselffirst on December 19, 2020, 09:31:52 AM
Hello,

Quote
What does it mean to stay in this marriage. I will have to accept that I will never experience the emotional bond or  deep connection that I so desperately have wanted .

Now, I can be completely off base so if I am, please feel free to shut me down.  From what I am reading, you accepted this from the start of your marriage. You sacrificed this need for him. In fact, had it not been for the affair, you would have "settled" peacefully with him.

Let's drop MLC for just a second. Let's just focus on one thing? The affair. He may have had his fair share of betrayals, but something in my heart feels you've had your fair share as well. The affair left a huge wound. For all that you gave up for him, all the emotional needs you left on the table so that he could feel secure, and now he leaves you emotionally wounded and won't even offer you a band-aid.

Once again,  I may be completely off, but of all the things he could have done to you, the affair was the biggest hurt, and he knew it. 

Neither of you are at peace, you are at detente at best.

Just keep journaling and continue to post. This is part of your journey, processing your pain and grasping that even though he is in the house, he is not in your home.

((((Ready))))
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Curiosity on December 19, 2020, 09:51:26 AM
Barbie, I always appreciate the insight in your thread. It speaks to me about trying to heal in the face of ongoing trauma, and about how trauma can have many different faces. My perspective is from a very different place but I still feel like many of your truths resonate with me, which I think is a big part of the value of this community. Leading up to BD, I felt like my W had become noticeably avoidant. In response, I (who had probably tended toward some avoidance in most prior relationships myself) became anxious and clingy, which made her even more avoidant. In our marriage counseling sessions, what the MC noticed was that my W wasn't detached and cold - she was dissociating when talking about relationships and the future and what she wanted out of life. She wasn't non responsive out of a lack of caring; it was excessive anxiety that I didn't see because of my own anxiety about the detachment I was perceiving from her. Obviously, this knowledge and understanding didn't stop the crisis or even minimize it; we have all learned that it doesn't work that way. But for me it was a bit of insight into just how not-normal this process is; just how broken their coping mechanisms are. Which is not to say that your H is the same as my W, and which is not to suggest that you don't already know this. I guess I'm just thinking through it again based on your description of your H, and sometimes a little more distance gives us different perspective so I appreciate that you're discussing this. I feel like the very idea that you could be seen as "unsafe" to him, when exactly the opposite is true, is the biggest example of the "not-normal" in your post.

The idea of what the marriage should be is further food for thought. Even for those who get to reconnection, a variety of outcomes seems to exist - from MLCers who come through the crisis wiser and more loving than they had been before, to those who come through it still broken but committed to the relationship. And for the LBS, who has done so much work to heal his or her own fractures - fractures inflicted by the MLCer - sometimes even the thought of being there to support the MLCer's healing when they were the ones who inflicted the damage on both themselves and their families is just too much.

I'm glad that you're stocked up for the lockdown; sorry it's restricting your holiday gathering and particularly your time with your daughters and grandchildren. But I am glad you have found peace and time to think further about your life and needs and goals. Whichever direction is right for you, you can only know through this type of introspection. Sometimes I wish there were ways to be sure of the right decision; the idea of taking a leap (either to commit to reconnecting or to decide to move on) is terrifying. I suspect you have more insight than I do on this, as do many of the veterans on this board. I suspect that at some point, the idea of taking the leap becomes less terrifying and maybe even becomes a necessary next step? Anyway... I just wanted to thank you for your thoughts which are always so insightful.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Treasur on December 19, 2020, 11:54:54 AM
I have no thoughts at all about what you will or should choose to do with this new vista, but I do have a deep trust that you are probably finally able to make real choices in a good way. This last post, Barbie? I don't know if you feel it, but it is so different; you sound like a different kind of Barbie altogether. And as a fellow PTSD survivor, I have nothing but admiration for every sinew you have strained to get to here. If it is not too presumptuous, I am tremendously proud of you and inspired by you xxx
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Father5 on December 19, 2020, 01:36:52 PM
Hi Barbie,

      I don’t post much in your thread but I do read it. I too was married the Catch the sane one. The one that had it together.  You know the story ! I don’t have much advice to offer but I wanted to say thank you for your honesty in all of this. You have helped so many wether you realize it or not.

 God Bless you in all you do !
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: 9393roo on December 19, 2020, 01:42:26 PM
Barbie, I read your post this morning at 5am with my quiet cup of coffee and had to reread it later to digest it all.  So close to home once again.  After 35 years of being with my H and raising 4 children I am now just coming to realize how much of myself I gave up for my marriage, my family and for our business.  Before BD I willingly did so because I based much of my self worth on what I could do to make things better for everyone else.  There were many things I let go because of this, things now that I realize that I shouldn't have.  When BD hit, my world as I knew it ended.  I was stunned that after I gave and gave I got an affair and 5 years worth of pain to muddle through. 

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Let's drop MLC for just a second. Let's just focus on one thing? The affair. He may have had his fair share of betrayals, but something in my heart feels you've had your fair share as well. The affair left a huge wound. For all that you gave up for him, all the emotional needs you left on the table so that he could feel secure, and now he leaves you emotionally wounded and won't even offer you a band-aid.

This right here I relate to completely.  I know my H feels bad about his behavior, I know that he regrets ruining the trust we have.  His solution is to try and put it back where it was.  For me where it was, was me giving more of myself to him then him giving himself to me.  This is something we are starting to address in MC.  Our old relationship cannot work anymore, it was broken before BD and we have to figure something new out.   Sometimes new scares me.  Sometimes my growth scares me.  I want things back where they were when it was safe.  I could hide behind other people and not focus on myself. 

I think often that this is my Midlife transition.  Where do I fit, where do we fit.  It's a new path.  The old path was bulldozed by my H, maybe it needed to be to get me started to something else.  I love my H and I know he loves me.  Our MC said he sees this but we BOTH need to start figuring out how we BOTH get what we want out of our marriage.  I don't know if my H will be able to do this because he was so used to me being the one to sacrifice to make us work. 

I just wanted you to know I understand where you are.  It's scary in some ways, yet very freeing in other ways. A focus on ourselves is so necessary in order to be part of a partnership.  Finding a sense of being a complete person.  My H is not done cooking, I am not done cooking.  I know change and growth are coming our way.  Reconnection is not what Hallmark movies are made of for sure. 

Wishing you new and continued growth for 2021. 

Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: OffRoad on December 19, 2020, 02:30:07 PM
  I wonder why we are "shamed" for seemingly settling for this kind of marriage. If I tell anyone this story, I immediately will get challenged as to why I would "settle" and not want more for myself. Like there is something wrong with me .  I feel very judged ....
This popped out at me, because I'm not sure I understand.  The person I see judging you is....you. if you tell anyone this story, it includes how you feel and how you feel is emotionally disconnected. Anyone who cares about you wants you to have a good, quality, contented life, but if you tell your story, it is anything but.

Is it judgement to ask why you would settle for this kind of life, one of emotional detachment and anger, or is it concern as to why you think you are only worth having this kind of life? A person on the outside cannot know if there is something FOR YOU that makes all the pain and rage and disconnect you have been through worth it (is the juice worth the squeeze, as the saying goes). As an example might be If a person believes in one marriage for all time no matter the cost to themself,  then saving their marriage at any cost to them would be worth it. It would not be worth it to others, so they cannot understand. If a person is proud and content with where they stand in life, it doesn't matter who thinks what about us.

IMO, when we feel judged, it's because we place some kind of importance on someone else's opinion. If we are good with our choices, someone else's opinion doesn't really matter. It's when we are unsure of our choices that someone elses opposing opinion makes us uncomfortable. An opposing position makes us wonder if we made the right choice or if there is anything we haven't thought of yet that can be done. I don't think that is always a bad thing. That is part of what makes us take a hard look at ourselves and helps us to grow. Again, JMO.
Title: Re: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Songanddance on December 20, 2020, 01:16:07 AM
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When you live with an avoidant person who sees the world and relationships as "unsafe" you live a very shallow superficial life.  The conversations are brief and revolve around the weather, COVID, household tasks  etc, ..nothing of substance or significance.  I call it "fluff".  He is a "fluff" talker and appears to be happy with that level of interaction only.  The chances of a deep emotional intimate attachment ?.   It will not happen when all that is "safe" is fluff.  I understand that I will not have that type of connection with him. I have accepted that 100 %. ....................
I am able to accept that he is not capable of letting me in. I see that there has not been I stable relationship in his history that was "safe" or did not cause him extreme pain and distrust............
 Seems to happen to him time and time again.  But it is the FOO scars that have locked him away from relationships . That is how it is .  Nothing to do with me ... I am just another "unsafe" person that  he tries to love. It is no longer all that personal to me. I understand.  Now the counsellor totally disagrees.  Says he is capable of a deep intimate connection and to "show up" emotionally and feel safe. I utterly and totally disagree. And have found some peace in not striving for more............

Interesting points Barbie and good that you have reached this level of acceptance. It's been a very tough journey for you so far.

Now this is the question .. the "pondering".  What does it mean to stay in this marriage. I will have to accept that I will never experience the emotional bond or  deep connection that I so desperately have wanted .  Its a result of my own FOO ...pursuing an emotionally unavailable mother has left many scars . I feel as though I have healed significantly from that pain.  Regardless...I will never have what I want in this marriage .  I just will not..plain and simple.
This is so sad. if That is what it means to stay in the marriage is it worth it?  What do you want from the marriage though?  What do you want from any relationship?

 BUT he will never be emotionally connected or available to me.  I will need to find ways to live happily in "fluff". I will need to find ways to have my emotional needs met in other ways...thru other relationships , friendships, etc.   Am I prepared to live like this ?
I so get this.  My H will never apolgise for the hurt he caused me. But then he is still talking about being on his own so he is still in a form of denial, guilt and shame.

Can I accept what he simply is incapable of ...without hurt, anger and lonliness. Is it worth taking a chance shutting down my marriage, my family and pursuing this emotional connection and bond in a new " relationship? .
Would a new relationship make you whole?   Looking at a lot of my divorced friends who have found a new love it has become clear to me that all of them found their new love when they were completely healed and whole themselves. Their new love appeared out of nowhere - they didn't go looking for it; it came when they were ready.  Perhaps you need to be ready first Barbie before you make that decision but then again it's a chicken and egg situation - do you leave first to become whole and healthy or do you stay until that someone appears and there is no other option? 


Can I blow up the world and destroy so many people on a whimsical whim that I will find MR Emotionally Available and deeply connect with him?   Are the losses worth the "possible " gains? .
Your world has already been blown up - what more damage can be done?


I wonder why we are "shamed" for seemingly settling for this kind of marriage. If I tell anyone this story, I immediately will get challenged as to why I would "settle" and not want more for myself. Like there is something wrong with me .  I feel very judged ....
I'm with OR on this one- The judgement comes from a need to "be approved". You have to do what is right for you and not right for the outside world.

Lastly, my ponderings include the utter shocking ability these men who have lied, had affairs, cheated , abandoned and abused there wives ...dare to say they feel "unsafe"............... It feels like some attempt once again at "blame".  These types of men will always be risky because you NEVER know who they are, how they feel, what they want or need, if they are happy or internally brewing .  They will never say. And is that not risky?  Lets face it..90% of us are faced with men ( or women) that suddenly want out, are having affairs , wanted to "leave for years" etc etc... and they NEVER SAID A WORD.  My H never ever said 1 single word about being unhappy . He just left, had an affair and the entire MLC thing. How would I know that the same thing is not brewing inside of him now ?   He "could be" profoundly unhappy, looking for an out, making a plan etc etc... and I would not know because he " will never say a word".   Now that my friends is an "unsafe "  secretaive  and risky person to love. 

So with you on this at this moment in time.  My H has never said he feels unsafe but his actions show that he is feeling that way.  He still asks permission to have some food from the refrigerator, he still asks if it's ok to use the washing machine......   And all the time I am beginning to believe more and more and accept more and more that if he isn't prepared to face up to what he's done - we have no marriage.

  I seem to always be "thinking and pondering" what is best for me

And that is the healthy response.  What is best for you Barbie?  Thanks for giving me further food for thought.

Let's drop MLC for just a second. Let's just focus on one thing? The affair. He may have had his fair share of betrayals, but something in my heart feels you've had your fair share as well. The affair left a huge wound. For all that you gave up for him, all the emotional needs you left on the table so that he could feel secure, and now he leaves you emotionally wounded and won't even offer you a band-aid.

Once again,  I may be completely off, but of all the things he could have done to you, the affair was the biggest hurt, and he knew it. 

Neither of you are at peace, you are at detente at best.

[/b][/color]

Ready - thanks I needed that too.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on December 26, 2020, 05:34:49 PM
Even though Christmas was very different for me ..it was nice, stress free , calm and very very quiet. Where I usually feed over 30 members of my family, there was 6 people this year. That has never ever happened. I used one 8 ft table instead of  4, plus a 6 foot table.  The clean up was like any normal meal.   We are now in full and total lock-down as of midnight and about to venture into the longest January in history.  It snowed for the past 3 days and it is really lovely to see it instead of dirty dead grass.   All in all...I had a nice christmas other than missing my daughtesr being together and the silly entertainment they provide.  I talked on skype to all of them and it is the best we could do under the new restrictions.

Ready:

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Now, I can be completely off base so if I am, please feel free to shut me down.  From what I am reading, you accepted this from the start of your marriage. You sacrificed this need for him. In fact, had it not been for the affair, you would have "settled" peacefully with him.
Yes. It is true that he was emotionally “avoidant”  or closed or unavailable from the start. Of course he did not develop a fearful avoidant attachment style in his 50’s . It has always been there . I met him in my teens initially and started a relationship with him over 40 years ago. As a teen or even in your 20’s or 30’s ( maybe more) what could/did w ever know about “attachment styles” or being “avoidant” or being the anxious pursuer ?  We knew nothing…less than nothing. I loved him with such fierceness and intensity , I never would have seen those wounds and how they would manifest in my marriage. Neither did he I am sure . No one in their youth and inexperience sees those things. I guess its hard to agree that I “accepted” this , as I was unaware of what any of it really meant. But at some point along the way I became more and more aware that he was emotionally limited or “hidden” from me. I absolutely heard this from most of my friends….” My H will not talk to me” , he is not emotionally connected to me , he says “nothing”.  There are thousand of books written about “ getting your man to talk to you or open up” and I do mean thousands . By the time I understood it was a huge issue for me , I also heard the same issue my girlfriends had with their husbands . Seemed a rather universal problem in marriage with closed off, unemotional, with-holding men. Men that did not talk, share or allow themselves to be vulnerable seemed to be the “norm”.  I did accept it I guess, not quietly at times .

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Let's drop MLC for just a second. Let's just focus on one thing? The affair. He may have had his fair share of betrayals, but something in my heart feels you've had your fair share as well. The affair left a huge wound. For all that you gave up for him, all the emotional needs you left on the table so that he could feel secure, and now he leaves you emotionally wounded and won't even offer you a band-aid.

Yes. By far , his affair was likely the biggest wounding I will ever experience in my life.  Everyday it is with me …I think of it everyday.  I do not believe anything will hurt me more. I have had significant betrayals in my life…huge and painful. I can see , looking back, that I had PTSD from a work incident 10 years ago. It was a huge betrayal . I also had a bratty 18 year old girl give me a run for my money …I did not support her getting married at 18 to a boy that she knew for 6 months.  Utter and complete insanity and told her NO.  She hopped on the bus with her boyfriend and walked into city hall and got married by the justice of the peace….behind my back. To say that hurt beyond measure is an understatement. It hurt..lots of hurt, more than 1 betrayal.  I often think of a saying that I have heard many times. ..” the universe will not leave you alone until you learn what it is trying to teach you “.  I have had repeated betrayals in my life… what is it I am not learning??

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you would have "settled" peacefully with him.

Its funny you used the word “settled”.  At BD and for weeks , he told me that I had “settled” for him.  He just went on and on that I had “settled”.  I never really understood why he kept saying that … he felt “not worthy “ I suspect.  Would I have settled with him had there been no affair….I am not sure , but likely yes, I would have.  I have a very hard time imaging destroying a family , decades of history and hurting so many people because my husband “ won’t talk “.  Life is really not a Hallmark Movie afterall. In ALL other ways he was a great husband, worker, father etc…  But emotionally, I was unhappy. That is the truth.  I remember a therapist talking to us about “affairs”…she talked ( or asked him) about “exit affairs” ..that maybe this affair was his way of getting out since he could not “talk” about anything. He said “No, absolutely not, I lost my mind, my purpose etc”. I on the other hand said “ perhaps his affair is my opportunity to exit”.  Because it is isn’t it ?   We get to decide to reconcile or ..not.  She had never heard that before .   In many many ways , I am back to “settling”. I have told him that .

 Curiosity :

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Leading up to BD, I felt like my W had become noticeably avoidant. In response, I (who had probably tended toward some avoidance in most prior relationships myself) became anxious and clingy, which made her even more avoidant.

Yes. The more we “pursue”..the more they avoid and so goes the insanity dance.
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n our marriage counseling sessions, what the MC noticed was that my W wasn't detached and cold - she was dissociating when talking about relationships and the future and what she wanted out of life. She wasn't non responsive out of a lack of caring; it was excessive anxiety that I didn't see because of my own anxiety about the detachment I was perceiving from her. Obviously, this knowledge and understanding didn't stop the crisis or even minimize it; we have all learned that it doesn't work that way. But for me it was a bit of insight into just how not-normal this process is; just how broken their coping mechanisms are. Which is not to say that your H is the same as my W, and which is not to suggest that you don't already know this. I guess I'm just thinking through it again based on your description of your H, and sometimes a little more distance gives us different perspective so I appreciate that you're discussing this. I feel like the very idea that you could be seen as "unsafe" to him, when exactly the opposite is true, is the biggest example of the "not-normal" in your post.

I appreciate this comment very much.  I think it was very interesting when our therapist told my husband that he “triggered” more than I did. Shutting down is a response to a trigger . And yes, ( I have been told ) that this shut down is the result of extreme anxiety, “emotional flooding”, fear, “freezing”  , dissociating. It does not “look “ like that at all…but I am repeatedly told that this is the reason he shuts-down.  Apparrently it is extremely painful broken defense mechanism to protect himself…all FOO wounds I am sure . My reaction to that softens when I remember these things …otherwise, it feels “on-purpose, punishment and how to get “control”.  I have greatly improved my reaction to this “shut down” …but we still cannot solve, move ahead, talk, become close or fix.  It is “not normal” and not “intimacy friendly”. Its apparently the most  common push pull within relationships. Awful. To add further injustice , the person who has to change ?  If the “dance” or dynamic is to change , the “pursuer”  ( me) has to change .  I have read this many times….it reeks of injustice in everyway. 

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The idea of what the marriage should be is further food for thought. Even for those who get to reconnection, a variety of outcomes seems to exist - from MLCers who come through the crisis wiser and more loving than they had been before, to those who come through it still broken but committed to the relationship. And for the LBS, who has done so much work to heal his or her own fractures - fractures inflicted by the MLCer - sometimes even the thought of being there to support the MLCer's healing when they were the ones who inflicted the damage on both themselves and their families is just too much.

My H did not return heaped with wisdom and change. He came back extremely committed ( almost terrified to not be able to fix what he broke) and still broken . He is still in some stage of MLC without question. How that changes?  I do not have the answer.  My H does not talk about his healing, growth, understanding things etc etc…. not much to support.  He has talked about those things initially and will answer the therapist ..but it is not things he randomly shares with me . He would likely choke to death than to “ask for support or help and finds it hard to accept if its offered. He is a self-reliant island. He requires very little from me and I have often felt cheated out of what wives in a truly intimate connection can give to a husband.  He looks after himself as that is what he learned as a child…no one else was reliable or “safe”.

Treasur

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ave no thoughts at all about what you will or should choose to do with this new vista, but I do have a deep trust that you are probably finally able to make real choices in a good way. This last post, Barbie? I don't know if you feel it, but it is so different; you sound like a different kind of Barbie altogether. And as a fellow PTSD survivor, I have nothing but admiration for every sinew you have strained to get to here. If it is not too presumptuous, I am tremendously proud of you and inspired by you xxx

Ohhh indeed I feel it. I do feel “changed” and still rather cautious and curious. I feel far more stable, far more in charge of my responses, recognize the signs of the “big black hole looming” , have stronger self-talk, more selfcare and ability to accept that he does “not feel safe”.  And many other things that are rather awesome.  I “work” on courses online and just never stop trying to learn about myself, my attachment style and how to change it as I rather dislike it.  Thank you for always validating , sharing kind words and making me feel like I just might be on the right road ..finally.  ( I say with caution)



Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Treasur on December 26, 2020, 06:59:08 PM
Fwiw, my friend, that sense of caution is normal imho for PTSD recovery too.
I remember it but rarely feel it now. I think we have to learn to trust ourselves again, don't we? And PTSD is so hellish that a bit of us is perhaps frightened that we are not out o the woods yet.....normal....you will notice it changing though.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Treasur on December 27, 2020, 02:04:37 AM
Belated PS.....I think the issue of working out, as honestly as we can, the kind of person we married, why and what we found acceptable before in our marriages is part of the healing process too. Both to work out what we feel was/is real and to hold ourselves accountable - albeit with a kind eye - for our own life choices bc that imho is part of reclaiming our own sense of control and agency in our lives.

And that unpicking and reviewing process is a very personal one. Perhaps even a unique one bc no one LBS or MLCer are identical, despite some of the 'textbook' bits we all recognise, are they? But it is part of making some kind of peace in ourselves with things we cannot change isn't it?

It was/is a strange thing for me that the very relationship that I had seen as a source of love and joy before BD now became probably the worst mistake of my life if I looked at it rationally post BD. Even with a very tough eye, I had no way to predict in the twenty years before BD that my h was even capable of doing much of what he did, let alone that he would want to. I didn't see it coming, no one who knew us saw it coming, not a single person since has said 'well, it makes sense now bc'....or...'well, tbh, I always wondered if....'.....so any red flags were obviously tucked well out of sight lol. I am also pretty comfortable that what happened in my h was quite extreme and that nothing I did or didn't do created it.....whatever it was, it had nothing to do with my habits or failings or assumptions as a normal human being.

And yet....
From what I can see, my then h became someone who saw no value in me or his previous life and felt no obligation to it all. Tbh he behaved like a sociopath pretty much, although I have no idea what he actually felt or thought at the time. He acted like someone who was content to cause any kind of damage to others if he got what he wanted, whatever that was.
This is not normal for normal humans imo; it just isn't. For all our manifold weaknesses.
So how did I live with someone who had that in them and not see it? Not know?
The best I can come up with is that I chose to share my life with a young man who I knew had FOO baggage and earlier trauma bc I really enjoyed the person I saw in front of me then. And I was rather naive about the long term effect of this kind of baggage bc it was so far from my own life experience. It was so much more than the odd bit of conflict avoidance or a bit of low self-esteem occasionally. I simply did not comprehend the potential darkness of it....or the risk I was taking or exposing my other loved ones to....until the lid was off and it was off to the races  :)

And then having seen it in all its glory, I couldn't unsee it.
Which is why, for me, Standing was not an option eventually bc I believed that I would never feel safe with my then h again. Or more accurately perhaps, safe to be myself without looking over my shoulder which is not how I would want to live. Bc I had seen the darkness and seen that he was some kind of level of ok with it. That it was to some degree acceptable to him, or acceptable enough as a way to live. And it never could be for me bc I am a person from a different kind of world with different values entirely. Again, very personal decision, a sample of one.....but I think for many LBS, much as we chew it over and over, perhaps the real question is not why we couldn't see the darkness in them before, but what we do once we really see it as part of the wider whole of who they are....?
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on December 31, 2020, 08:14:26 PM
Thank you Treasur.. invaluable words as always . I appreciate you over and over...

I have been thinking about an odd moment on christmas morning .  It was a christmas unlike any we have ever had when we have raised a large family. It was only my H , my youngest daughter and myself.  He unwrapped a gift from my 2nd oldest daughter who lives in another province and it startled me into a memory that was long forgotten or buried.

It was June , it was Fathers Day. All my daughters were home to celebrate Father Day.  It does not happen very often , that all 5 are home at the same time, so it was rather special and rare.  It was the worst time of my life and I did not want them there. It was 7 weeks after BD and I thought I was dying of anxiety and shock. None of them knew that this father they were honoring was in fact looking to leave our home and our family was never going to be the same .  Someone brought out a camera and wanted a "family " picture and started to tell everyone where to stand etc etc .   My H did not want me in the picture. He saw no reason for a "family" picture when he was "done".  He was angry and irritated wanted nothing to do with family pictures however grudgingly agreed to a picture with his daughters . I managed to stay out of the picture as I had no idea what he might have said otherwise.  On christmas morning , he opened this picture from our daughter. It was blown up and framed and there he was under a huge tree with all of his daughters around him ...not knowing what he was really doing behind all our backs.  I felt the entire memory zap back into my mind...I have not thought of it since the day it happened.  He knew. He stared at me .... locked eyes.  I said " that is very nice, you and your girls!".   The picture has since gone missing .. likely in his desk drawer. It hurts to remember that day , but that is all. A sadness of a memory , a time of deep confusion and a hurt that has re-visited time and time again.. a deep and lasting loss that for all time will be in the background of my life with him.  But it was not tears, harsh words or a PTSD spiral . It floated bye with momentary flash of hurts of the past and residue of the damage a man in MLC can do .
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Dragonfly33 on January 01, 2021, 03:01:53 AM
I‘m amazed and somehow inspired to hear this story Barbie. It gives me hope that one day I can truly heal like you. I hope that day will come when I can say bye to those hurtful memories. I‘m happy that you keep on posting here as it helps me on my road to healing as well and somehow keeps me grounded.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on January 01, 2021, 03:47:01 AM
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Barbie, I read your post this morning at 5am with my quiet cup of coffee and had to reread it later to digest it all.  So close to home once again.  After 35 years of being with my H and raising 4 children I am now just coming to realize how much of myself I gave up for my marriage, my family and for our business.  Before BD I willingly did so because I based much of my self worth on what I could do to make things better for everyone else.  There were many things I let go because of this, things now that I realize that I shouldn't have.  When BD hit, my world as I knew it ended.  I was stunned that after I gave and gave I got an affair and 5 years worth of pain to muddle through.
.

oh yes. I too felt like I was the glue that kept everything and everyone together ( and I was ) and the reward for that was an affair? Said this out loud many times. After everything I gave up , after everything I put aside that I wanted  and all the sacrifices ....an affair is what you dared to do ? . Of course those were all my decisions in some ways but in many ways I was on my own as a parent , houseworker , maid , cook etc etc , because he travelled most of our marriage. Sometimes 2 and 3 weeks at a time.  To raise 4 or 5 kids , run a home, a fulltime job and all that goes with that is just huge. I never had time to indulge in myself . While he travelled for work , I kept the home fires burning ( which allowed him to travel) and for all that ...I get an affair in return?   I feel like I wasted my life in some ways ... if not for my kids.  When we 1st started MC, he told the therapist that we were in a "child-focused " marriage .  At the time ( and still at times ) I hear "blame " in extreme ways.  It felt like he was blaming his affair on the fact that this was a child-focused marriage and somehow he was so pitifully neglected.  So when I look on my living room wall and see 5 University graduation pictures , girls that are successful, no drugs, no drinkers and no one waddled in her pregnant...I say firetruck that and YOU.  There was 5 of them and 1 of me . And I sacrificed everything being a mom starting in my teens. Infuriated by any percieved blame ....all the way to extremes of being irrational. How about a "thank you?". Rant over. Injustice creeps in whenever there is the slightest opportunity.

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Sometimes my growth scares me.  I want things back where they were when it was safe.
.

I can truly relate to this in an odd way. I feel like I will ( or on my way  ) "out grown him".  And that will lead me to divorce after all this time of trying to fix this mess.  I know I read, take courses, come to HS and endlessly "working on myself".  As far as I can tell, he does none of that. How can you change or heal without those things? How is he "working on himself".  The therapist says we all do that in different ways and he is growing and changing....hmmm?   I have my doubts about that .  He can avoid being avoidant and I do not see that changing ...at all. But I am changing and it is rather scary.  To feel safe ( like in my old marriage) means never having intrusive thoughts . I would give anything to return to a time where I never saw my husband with another women ...where I never wondered where he was and believed in him and everything he said. Where he was my protector and would have set himself on fire to protect us. I had that trust and faith and safety once apon a time...

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I think often that this is my Midlife transition.  Where do I fit, where do we fit.  It's a new path.  The old path was bulldozed by my H, maybe it needed to be to get me started to something else.  I love my H and I know he loves me.  Our MC said he sees this but we BOTH need to start figuring out how we BOTH get what we want out of our marriage.  I don't know if my H will be able to do this because he was so used to me being the one to sacrifice to make us work.
.

I "know" that his crisis absolutely created an extreme crisis in me . So I believe you are also in some kind of crisis or transition inside of yourself.  I am not sure about my "love" for my husband...that is hard to type. I just do not know if I truly love him or if this "crisis " is hiding what I feel. That makes little sense. I know that I once loved him with such passion , deep respect , such intensity and pride ..he was everything for a long long time. I am not sure anymore what this is or what it might grow in to.  But this "love" word ..does not feel the same at all.  For now I believe love is a decision and I have decided to keep my family together while I figure out what the future might become. That is the best I can do and as honest as I can be. The "love" I once had for him is gone.

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I just wanted you to know I understand where you are.  It's scary in some ways, yet very freeing in other ways. A focus on ourselves is so necessary in order to be part of a partnership.  Finding a sense of being a complete person.  My H is not done cooking, I am not done cooking.  I know change and growth are coming our way.  Reconnection is not what Hallmark movies are made of for sure.
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I thank you Roo...I appreciate your words so much . So much wisdom developing inside of you and I thank you for sharing with me .  Yes... no one here is done "cooking" either ...who knows who we will become?






Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: 9393roo on January 03, 2021, 07:40:05 AM
Thanks for the feedback Barbie, and Happy New Year!

I don't mean to highjack your thread, but I find it interesting our similar situations.  I too pretty much raised our 4 children on my own.  I look back now and realize these 4 humans are amazing, well adjusted, educated, empathetic people and I had a big part in that.  My H also tells me that every time I say "We have great kids" he says "That's because of you"   My H also traveled a lot and also built what has become a rather large company.  I thought we were a team.  I was doing my part, he was doing his.  We were a well oiled machine with lots of respect for each other and what we contributed.  This was all working fine until he decided to quit the team and go out on his own and find another team member with the OW who was an employee.  He was working with her to build up another part of his company.  They were using each other. She is still an employee, still in the background.  My H can't fire her because there could be a lawsuit.  He tells me now she doesn't even take up any part of his brain space.  To me she is still a reminder of the pain I went through.  I want no part of anything she is a part of. 

We are dealing with this in MC now.  I have decided to quit the company team completely.  I gave a lot to help build what we now have, but I don't feel like I want any part of it anymore.   I want to be on my own team.  I am learning after giving myself to so many people I stopped taking care of me.  I am learning to love myself and give myself credit for what I have accomplished and what I have to offer the world on my own, not part of a team. 

I wonder sometimes if our marriage will make it though this new self awareness of mine.  I wonder if I too will "outgrow" my H.  He has so much work to do on his own to become a complete person, I don't know if he is capable of doing this.  I too have been reading, working, writing and thinking so much on this subject.  I feel like he is trailing along behind me expecting me to "fix" him like I have always done in the past.  I'm done fixing, he is on his own. 

So, I'm holding onto our marriage in hopes of creating something new.  We have an outstanding MC who is really focused on the need to be two individuals in a partnership.  He is big on individual responsibility and breaking co dependent habits.  I like him, my H likes him and we are inching forward. 

I hope this New Year gives us all a fresh perspective of ourselves, our abilities, our strengths and our weaknesses.  I believe this is so necessary in order for us to move forward as an LBS and as a MLCer.  Hoping this new perspective brings peace, weather we remain in a marriage or not. 

From what I have seen on here Barbie, you have gained so much wisdom and strength in your journey, I hope you can give yourself credit for how far you have come.  For those of us reading along you have dug deep and are completely honest on what you find.  I for one appreciate your honesty. 

Hugs to you for the New Year.  Onward we go.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on January 05, 2021, 04:43:37 AM
Roo, seems we do have much in common as we try to get thru this MLC rubble. Some thoughts come to mind as I read your response.  I see your H says he had EA only  and you are doubting that is the truth. So how do you deal with that ?  Do you just roll your eyes and mutter under your breathe and walk away or has it been a huge issue. I know that after an affair, there needs to be total truth and transparancy ...but what if there is not?   I know I have never gotten the full truth about many things and to this day there are still lies floating around and things that are impossible to believe.  I find that very difficult to accept. It is a difficult battle when your intuition or "knowings"  are denied . I have found it difficult to respect someone that is still to unwilling to be 100% transparent.

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He tells me now she doesn't even take up any part of his brain space.
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.

My H tells me the exact same thing and has since the begining. The OW never enters his thoughts , he never thinks about her and has no need or intention of ever seeing her again.  Period.  The only time my H thinks about OW is when I bring it up. Imagine?   Maybe she is in some compartment in his brain that he rarely visits ..if there is any truth in that at all.  My H has admitted never thinking about me when he was involved with OW. Compartmentalization or lies? Rebuilding trust is tested over and over because its hard to believe much of what they say.

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He has so much work to do on his own to become a complete person, I don't know if he is capable of doing this.  I too have been reading, working, writing and thinking so much on this subject.  I feel like he is trailing along behind me expecting me to "fix" him like I have always done in the past.  I'm done fixing, he is on his own.
.

I wonder about this as well...these men have "work to do on themselves" . I wonder how they do that ?  In my case my H went to a therapist asap...his idea. He needed to know what happened to him. He needed to find the reasons that he "dropped every ball"  that made up who he was.  I know he felt bottomless shame and his loss of integrity and respect by so many people hurt him deeply. I know that much without question. He spent alot of time internally beating himself up. However, he did not and would not share what went on in therapy.  It was a bad move on is part as it felt like more secrets, more "hidden" relationships . I never saw any huge dramatic changes as a result of therapy and since he would not talk about it..I resented this more than I can say.  He attended therapy until COVID shut it all down and his therapist has not opened for business since. We listened to books , read stuff , went to marriage counselling ...you name it , we did it. But he never said anything. No personal input, no comments , no revelations.....all "top notch secrets" ( that how it felt) . Withholding is a great word. It frustrated me beyond words.  So , in the best interest of ME , I have stopped all of it.  I now wonder how he "works on himself"  and really, I just believe he doesn't at all.  He is not a reader, he is not learning anything as far as I can tell . Where would he learn anything from if there is no input?  No books, groups, videos , conversations, articles etc...so how does a person gain new skills, perspectives, understandings etc. How can change happen?.   How would you "know" someone is working on themselves short of being struck by a lightening bolt?   It confuses me .

We have a great Gottman trained marriage counsellor and I like her very much. She has been working only with him and will invite me back once she feels he is ready . Interesting. He has been seeing her by himself for several months and now we are under complete lockdown ..so that has stopped again.  I am not sure when he will return.

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From what I have seen on here Barbie, you have gained so much wisdom and strength in your journey, I hope you can give yourself credit for how far you have come.  For those of us reading along you have dug deep and are completely honest on what you find.  I for one appreciate your honesty.
.

I thank you for saying this . I am able to congratulate myself from time to time especially in terms of my extreme reactivity. It is rare now that I respond in extreme fight or flight mode and to me that is proof of huge change. I am grateful I am no longer in that prison.   It has been peaceful and calm here for the majority of 2020 and that is just short of a miracle , trust me. I never thought I would ever stop reacting in extremes to the pain and anguish that I felt..but I have.  He sees that as "peace" finally and never ever brings up anything that might change the "peace".  That is just sad to me . We have a very superficial relationship as a result. It is not so much about peace ..it is about me understanding that he does not feel "safe" and likely never has in any relationship, its about changing from a " anxious pursuing" attachment style to more secure and utter acceptance that he is not capable of more . Sadly. He is able to avoid being avoidant...if that makes sense. I have no power or control over that . But he does mistake this "peace"  as a good thing . It is not. 

Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Treasur on January 05, 2021, 05:15:16 AM
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It is rare now that I respond in extreme fight or flight mode and to me that is proof of huge change. I am grateful I am no longer in that prison.   It has been peaceful and calm here for the majority of 2020 and that is just short of a miracle , trust me. I

It is a big deal, Barbie, and you are right to acknowledge where you have got to now. Fear was my thing, rather than anger, but I honestly never imagined I would be able to live again without it running through my bones and in every breath. It is a huge miraculous thing that I too am no longer there, and yes, it did feel like a prison with no doors to me too  ::)

I guess from what you say the peace may be jolly good for you and mean nothing at all about your marriage. Apples and pears in a way which your h does not see....but I am very glad that you have found some peace apples anyway  :)
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: 9393roo on January 05, 2021, 06:21:48 AM
Barbie I agree with Treasur, you are finding peace again and that is huge.  I'm working my way towards that as well.  Some days are more difficult than others.  I have been dealing with my own reactivty as well.  Owning it and recognizing it is part of healing in my opinion.

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I see your H says he had EA only  and you are doubting that is the truth. So how do you deal with that ?  Do you just roll your eyes and mutter under your breathe and walk away or has it been a huge issue. I know that after an affair, there needs to be total truth and transparancy ...but what if there is not?   

This is something we are dealing with in counseling.  The counselor is letting me decide how much I need to know.  The knowldge I do have is bad enough.  I saw texts between them at BD talking about what they were going to do to each other when they saw each other next.  There was also a text that she loved him. (He did tell me that he never told her he loved her,never made any life plans with her and I believe him) There has been a huge breech of our sex life and our personal life.  We both know this.  He is the one that has to deal with what he has done, he has to answer to himself and to God and that must be a very difficult position to be in.  I don't think finding out that they actually had sex is going to help ME at this point, in fact it will cause more damage.  Maybe sometimes ignorance is bliss?  Right now it feels like information will pour salt on an open wound. 

One of my 2021 goals is to find myself again without a focus on my marriage and where I fit there.  Before covid I was doing this actively by traveling on my own and volunteering more.  I've been forced to slow things down and focus more on what I need going forward.  My marriage is not my priority right now.  As long as we can live respectfully together maybe healing will take place on its own?  Maybe I will find that my marriage isn't worth holding onto?  Who knows, anything can happen at this point.  Making sure that no matter what happens I'm going to be ok is what I am working towards. 

Here's to peace for all of us!  Onward. 

Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: readytofixmyselffirst on January 05, 2021, 06:44:24 AM
Hello,

I find myself coming to this thread because of the tremendous work that involves reconciliation. I never came close to reconciliation and during my worst times, I would fantasize about how good it would be when her journey brought us back together. Everything would be perfect. Of course, I now realize I was fantasizing about a fantasy.

In your situation, I have been pondering you h and his background. Yes, you played an instrumental part in raising five wonderful daughters. But if you think about your H's background, how did he ever reach the point of marriage and having a family? Reading your thread, I would expect your h to be a basket case and having severe issues with addiction and coping mechanisms like most children of extreme trauma.  Instead, your h has shown remarkable resilience.  How? I found a research article by Henry from 2008 that studied resilient children and centered their coping skills around five central themes. Attached is the link:  http://ndl.ethernet.edu.et/bitstream/123456789/34717/1/30.pdf.pdf#page=43

The first theme was loyalty: Despite the the abuse, the child/adolescent still maintains a loyalty to the parent and believes that the parent loves them and they love the parent. 

The second theme was normalcy: The child developed a perception that through acceptance of the abusive environment it provided them a feeling of not being trapped. It is a an adaptive use of denial to establish a child's perception of control in a terrible home environment.   

The third theme and the one that got my most attention was invisibility:  This is a skill developed by the child to become "invisible" to avoid the abuser. This was a physical act by going to their room or staying out of the way. It also was a mental move. When confronted, they could be physically present, but mentally check out to a fantasy world. They could effectively shut down a conversation simply by disappearing.

The last two were based upon success of the first three. Self- Value was the perception that they had value and a positive perception of self. Based upon your thread, I think your H avoids discussing the affair because it conflicts with his self-value. He probably never saw himself as having an affair. He was a good man- great father and husband. Having an affair doesn't fit well with this positive perception of self.  The final theme was future visualization. The child's capacity to see potential success and capabilities that developed an optimism that they would be okay in the end. 

The part I found fascinating is the invisibility aspect. You speak of him shutting down and you are absolutely right. He may be standing in front of you, but he has checked out to another world. He doesn't respond because he isn't avoiding. He doesn't respond because he hasn't heard a single word of what you said.

The fact is that many of the skills your H developed and honed to survive an abusive childhood may very well be inhibiting his growth as a man now.

Hope this helps,

(((((Ready)))))



Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: 9393roo on January 05, 2021, 07:17:41 AM
Ready this is all very interesting and fits in with my situation as well.  My H has often expressed that his affair was just a fantasy.   He still has a long way to go to accept all the damage the "fantasy" left behind.  He is the king of compartmentaliztion. 

Barbie.  I read this long ago and just reread it again.  Many of the points made here are what I relate to.  What good is it going to do ME to dig up the dirt? 

https://thestagesandlessonsofmidlife.org/the-midlife-affair-you-do-not-have-to-know-the-details/





Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Standing Strong on January 05, 2021, 07:37:34 AM
Hi Roo and Barbie,

Don't mean to hijack either..... this is a really great subject about what if your spouse doesn't come clean.
I'm going to be in that area soon as well, and it occupies some of my thoughts (and I say some because I don't want to get stuck there, but I can see it could be that way when I totally get there).
I don't know if mine will deny, or avoid, or not come clean.... but I can easily see her trying to go that direction and want to just "start over" or "begin at this point and move forward" or whatever. She's already hinting.

Not sure if this is right (the time isn't right yet anyway, but it is on the way)..... I will NOT go along with this. Everything will be flushed out, and I will be putting my foot down on this. Why? Personally I think that it has to be disclosed or MLC will return again later. How can they totally resolve their problems if it is not completely released? Well, that's what I'm wondering..... if something is kept secret, then it's still in there. Still being held inside. Still festering. I'm NOT going to go thru another of her MLC's..... and when the time comes, I'm going to tell her that. You get one, no more. To do so means you don't give a crap about me. How inconsiderate, how MEAN to even chance it. Yeah there's a lot of shame, guilt, and whatever else (pain)...... well too bad. I'm going to make that very clear. I'm sure if there is resistance, it will come down to her word against my intuition..... and I'm standing on my intuition. If I have to say she's lying, I will. I've never called my W a liar in all our years..... but I will. The oneness isn't on me to prove, it's on HER to prove..... on HER to explain whatever I need..... and she will (when the time is right) OR she will risk everything. I can and will walk, right up to the very end because it's not over until it's over..... and I'm NOT doing this again later. One time only. Once is more than anyone should be asked to do. They don't get to arrive at the end and then quit. Finish the journey.

Well, that's what I think.

(oh I see Roo just posted a link - I don't think you need to know the nasty details...... I think that's harmful. Just the basics: Who, how long, why, what did it mean... the basics for understanding, coming clean and closure. Honesty and hopefully real regret. What else is needed?).

-SS
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: 9393roo on January 05, 2021, 08:26:39 AM
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Not sure if this is right (the time isn't right yet anyway, but it is on the way)..... I will NOT go along with this. Everything will be flushed out, and I will be putting my foot down on this. Why? Personally I think that it has to be disclosed or MLC will return again later. How can they totally resolve their problems if it is not completely released?

Standing, I was right where you are when we started to reconnect.  I wanted answers, I demanded he face up to it all.  I have since learned that my demands and my needing answers pushed him back further, pushed us back further.  I’m coming up on 5 years now and I am learning that I don’t need the answers anymore.  What I do need and what we are working on is a full responsibility for the ripple of damage on our marriage.  Once this responsibility is taken I believe we can start to heal.  For me The Who, , the what, the when the don’t   matter to me anymore.  In my case full responsibility and understanding takes time.  Pushing, pulling and needing answers did not serve me.  If my H does go back into another MLC I am fully prepared to walk out that door. 

To me the affair was the product of a broken person.  His choice if wants to continue to be broken, my choice to leave if he does. 
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on January 05, 2021, 08:30:22 AM
For whatever reason( and I need to figure it out) this makes me very emotional. I have some really profound  thoughts about disclosure , some regrets and some " I should have done this and not so much of that " scenarios .   I do want to share ( there is some truths in "flushing " it all out) but I just need to stabalize, calm , and figure out this reaction. I will be back. And I do appreciate every person that interacts with me . How lucky am I ?
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: 9393roo on January 05, 2021, 08:50:50 AM
 :)  Barbie.  Taking time to step back and flush it out is new for me as well.  Just had to share a story.  Part of flushing things out for me is running.  I used to run with headphones and now I run with my thoughts.  My kids and I are all in a running app so we can all see each other’s runs and progress.  We all make each other accountable 🙂.  At Christmas my D was expressing how she is having trouble with things and I told her how I started to run and work things out instead of listening to music.  I told her I always run faster when I’m thinking hard things through.  This morning I posted my run on the app and my D just texted me because I just PR’d on my run.  She said “You must be thinking something big out out this morning”.  So, thanks for making me think!  I came off looking pretty good to my kids!  Processing in a good and healthy way.  All good.
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Standing Strong on January 05, 2021, 08:54:10 AM
Makes sense Roo...... I think it's normal to want answers, and I think too that over time the answers don't matter as much (especially if there's healing).

I've always found that it's a dance, a two-step.....
They break --> we break
We get stronger --> they get stronger
They heal --> We're suppose to heal, but do we skip this part sometimes?

Just like the LBS will often *POOF* when they get to the "We get stronger" part.... they MLC'er wants to *POOF* when they get to the "they heal" part. It's an incomplete process.

I'm a little curious about the "Sweeping under the rug" concept. I haven't seen it yet, but I think it's on the way in my sitch. That flashes DANGER to me.
What is the best way to deal with that? It's theory to me, not application (yet). I know RCR had to put her foot down, and that has to be a scary place. On one hand, you did it.... they're there, they say they want to work, they want to move forward. Awesome. What is the right way? A restart  from that point and that's that? I think you do have to get there eventually, it is required at some point. Somewhere the past has to be the past and only move forward. What happens if the LBS doesn't get what they need before then? They have to heal too. I wonder if it's easy for the LBS to be afraid of this area because you don't want to risk what good is there, but on the other hand you also need what you need. That would be very tough. Add to that the burning desire for it to be over and concluded.... just make the pain and uncertainty STOP (who knows how many years are burned by this point). It's totally understandable.
I have some thoughts about that, but I'm very curious to see what Barbie says (and sorry to hijack..... just working thru thoughts on this - another very deep topic to explore - and one which is not documented well).

-SS
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: 9393roo on January 05, 2021, 09:20:01 AM
Standing,  In my situation we both did a lot of sweeping it under the rug for quite awhile.  It did neither of us any good.  I think we both thought that if we didn't deal with it then it would magically disappear and things could go back to the way they were.  We have both come to realize that the way they were doesn't work anymore.   It took me ready to walk away to make us both decide we needed help if we were both going to make the decision to make it work.  We have found a very good marriage counselor (One who knows about MLC and midlife couple problems)  and we are in weekly therapy over zoom.  I was skeptical at first but slowly it is showing that it is working.  We now have an understanding that we both have individual work to do as well as trying to rebuild.  I had a lot of pain I had to get through on my own before I could talk about what happened without a full blown breakdown. 

We don't talk about our marriage everyday.  Sometimes it just needs room to progress on its own. (We made a pact at Christmas we don't talk about our R for 2 weeks and it was heavenly) We both seem to be taking bits and pieces of what we learned in MC and applying it throughout the week.  I'm learning to have a voice that isn't hurt and angry and he is learning how to listen.  It isn't always easy.  At the end of each MC session our counselor congratulates us both for coming back and opening up.  We also thank each other for dealing with the hard stuff.   Don't know if this helps or not.  Just what I am experiencing at the moment. 

Roo
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: barbiedoll on January 06, 2021, 03:31:39 AM
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It is a big deal, Barbie, and you are right to acknowledge where you have got to now. Fear was my thing, rather than anger, but I honestly never imagined I would be able to live again without it running through my bones and in every breath. It is a huge miraculous thing that I too am no longer there, and yes, it did feel like a prison with no doors to me too   

Anger is a mixture of fear, frustration and the deepest of human hurts . I would add some ego wounds to the mix and fight or flight does of extreme adrenaline …and with that all mixed together it manifested in bottomless fury and rage. I am far more prone to anger if I have anxiety that I cannot calm. But I did deal with fear . Fear that everything he said during monster was actually true. Fear that I was never going to recover …ever. Fear my family would disintegrate without having any say in the matter. Fear that I was likely the stupidest women on the planet ..blind apparently. Fear that trust on this earth was gone forever. And extreme fear of anymore losses. It was all mixed up with sorrow and grief and shock so deep , I thought I was going to live in some disconnected surreal trance forever. I understand …fear hurts .

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The counselor is letting me decide how much I need to know.

As a wise counsellor should . I was also told the same …however , I was warned that it is best NOT to know some things . I cannot remember the exact wording. I was warned that I can be “re-traumatized” from knowing too much. That the “knowing” will hurt me more, deepen the trauma, give me “pictures” in my head and to use extreme caution with what I need to know. And my response to that wise counsel ?  Firetruck you and him and anybody else that takes any more choices from me . I will know what I need to know and he better firetrucking answer me .  Deadliest of mistakes right there . It was like picking up my own shovel, digging the blackest of holes and throwing myself in.   I infected my life with details …to this day come into my mind. To this day harm me .  However…I did not know how to “not know” . The need to know was so extreme ..I have never experienced anything like it in my life . The only way I would have been able to not have needed to be answered was to stay separated and physically away from him for maybe a year ( or more) to work on myself, my PTSD diagnoses and had a chance to heal to some degree. Time IS a gift…whether people agree or not. I had no time …not once….to get my feet under me and to emotionally crawl back up.

https://www.aftermyaffair.com/do-you-need-to-know-all-the-details-of-her-affair/

Asking questions ( over and over and over ) was a way my heart or wound was attempting to process trauma , to make sense of this, to understand the impossible and I imagined he would say something/anything that would make the pain go away. I felt like I was constantly on fire and he held the pail of water and if he would just “help” me …the horrible anguish , anxiety, ..would go away. I would finally “get it” .  I remember many many times screaming that nothing matches …what he was saying happened did not match what I remember happening.  I could not make anything “line-up”…it was like pushing your hand into the sand and leaving an imprint . And then you go back and you cannot line up your fingers and thumb…it does not match no matter what you do. And it has to match !   I cannot understand it any other way.  My H chose to lie during this “disclosure “ process , twice in fact. Both times , he was told to leave and found himself sleeping on his uncles couch. They lie at both ends of this tragedy.

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I don't think finding out that they actually had sex is going to help ME at this point, in fact it will cause more damage.  Maybe sometimes ignorance is bliss?  Right now it feels like information will pour salt on an open wound.

You are right.  How would it ever help?  I admire that you are able to be so wise, so self-protective and controlled.  I could not do it. Its far more important than you even realize. I applaud. This is hard stuff.

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Making sure that no matter what happens I'm going to be ok is what I am working towards.

Absolutely doing the same . I believe I have achieved this ..trusting myself, relying on myself, finding ways to give myself what I need ( never ever rely on anyone else to throw that pail of water on me again) . I will be brilliantly OK , no matter what happens.  I am walking this path too sista…!

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In your situation, I have been pondering you h and his background. Yes, you played an instrumental part in raising five wonderful daughters. But if you think about your H's background, how did he ever reach the point of marriage and having a family? Reading your thread, I would expect your h to be a basket case and having severe issues with addiction and coping mechanisms like most children of extreme trauma.  Instead, your h has shown remarkable resilience.

I remember a counsellor telling me that she was in absolute awe of my H and how successful he has been in life despite a very very rough childhood. She believed that had he ever decided to be a drinker ( like his father) he would most certainly be in prison . My H does not drink at all. ..because of his father . All four of his brothers are alcoholics, drug addicts and struggle with a variety of addictions. I have more ex-sister in laws than anyone needs as between his 4 brothers there are 9 divorces. My H is VERY different than his siblings …externally at least. He is not a victim ..he is a survivor and he views it exactly like that.  I know that he “copies” people and has copied me for decades . The very 1st therapist we saw told me ( alone) that he was having an identity crisis and I remember saying “ what identity ? He does not have his own identity , he copies me and always has. My opinions, observations, sayings, beliefs …he incorporates them as his own”.   She said “ what better reason for a crisis?”.  Children of trauma will “copy” what they believe is a “good man or person” (even a TV personality)  and take on that identity or traits as their own…because their own has not hit all the developmental stages to form their own. I know my husband watched The Rifleman growing up for years and years….and Mr Rifleman was a “good solid man and father “ and someone to emulate . Mr Cleaver ( Leave It To Beaver) would be an example of what a “good man and father SHOULD be “….. another example to form an identity that is not your own. His football coach took him in at 15 when the school realized he was living in the locker room , another “good” influence in his life.  It all fell apart in his 50’s … and here we are.  I believe compartmentalization saved his life…it is just not healthy or useful as an adult in a marriage. 

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The third theme and the one that got my most attention was invisibility:  This is a skill developed by the child to become "invisible" to avoid the abuser. This was a physical act by going to their room or staying out of the way. It also was a mental move. When confronted, they could be physically present, but mentally check out to a fantasy world. They could effectively shut down a conversation simply by disappearing.
He has always described his childhood as “ laying low, stay under the radar, don’t be the “one” , don’t draw attention to yourself, don’t stir the pot, just say “yes”, always keep the “old man happy”, smile and nod etc etc.   Hypervigilant to drawing attention to yourself . All the boys disappeared on the weekends to friends homes or to a fort they built or an abandoned house they found…because their father was a trucker who was home on the weekends. Anyway to be “gone” ..out of sight. My husband was the oldest and the expectations of him were different than the others …it was harder to hide because he was the “man of the family” thru the week , even at 7 and 8 years old. His brothers say he saved them over and over …”ran interference” and caught the worst of it many times .   Interesting that childhood ways become adult ways… any issue or problems in our marriage….he disappears, shuts down …almost trance like or hypnotized.  I am abandoned everytime something “might” turn into an issue.  Extreme internal fear.  To say it frustrates and angers me ?  I could not explain it if I wrote a book …. But I understand . 
 
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Having an affair doesn't fit well with this positive perception of self.

He hurt himself for this very reason…even more than he hurt me. If that is possible.

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The fact is that many of the skills your H developed and honed to survive an abusive childhood may very well be inhibiting his growth as a man now.
I agree with this 100% .. as fact actually.  These are hard men to love.
Thank you Ready …your input and understanding helps in ways I could not express.  The link is amazing.

I do want to address other statements... and I will . I am just exhausted by it all at times.  So I will leave it for now and back later with some thoughts .
Title: Re: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Songanddance on January 06, 2021, 04:39:32 AM
Just reading through this and the links made me realise I have never wanted to know the details of who, what where and why.

I know enough. Sometimes I am triggered especially when H mentions having been to a place (thinking that we had been there together) and I pointedly say - Nope not with me you didn't.

The details are not important. The bigger picture is.

Perhaps though this is why I am ambivalent about my marriage ever returning to a new place or being worked on.  I thought that all I wanted was a remorseful apology and then let time do its work.  Nearly 8 years on - still no apology but he is doing little things that show he wants to be trusted again.  Things like telling me where he is going and texting me if delayed.  Things like clearing up after meals or working on the house.  And even then I'm cynical - is he cycling towards because he wants to show "good behaviour"  before he cycles away again.

It's so hard to know what is the right thing to do.  All I do know is that I have to look after myself and my needs are few. I would still like a sincere apology even though I doubt our marriage will ever move forward and he would be open to MC.

Look for the bigger picture and let the little things go. What is your bigger picture for you Barbie?
Title: The Heart Behind The Hurt
Post by: Marchingforward on January 06, 2021, 07:02:58 AM
I agree with you Song. I just don't want any more details. When I first discovered OW, I snooped and snooped which was worse for me. At this time, I don't ask questions because I really don't want to know. If at some point he wants to tell me, he can. In the past, he has told me some things. I trust that he will tell me what I need to know.

I do believe that some people do need all the information. For me personally, it was too damaging so I do not need any more then what I already know.

We will see what the future holds as my M is currently on the rocks after an 8 month what I thought was reconnection, but maybe only a long touch and go. :-(