Author Topic: My Story The hardest challenge I've ever faced  (Read 389 times)

Online exhaustedTopic starter

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My Story The hardest challenge I've ever faced
« on: June 13, 2018, 02:38:24 PM »
Thanks to Seahorse, I finally sat down to tell my story. I was a little hesitant at first because I tried sharing my story on a different forum and kind of got shot down – basically told me I was wrong about what was happening in my journey with a MLCer. So, I will try again. I can share where I have been and where I am now in this journey knowing what all the possibilities are ahead of me. I have done way too much research and reading and have tried to take a break from information overload and analyzing everything. As you read this, understand that my biggest struggle is in trying to heal from the pain of the BD and overcome the insecurities and loss I feel as a result.

The BD was toward the end of June 2017 – just before our 27th wedding anniversary. Needless to say that came and went without much notice. I had actually noticed changes in him in the 6 months prior to BD. He had pulled back and was withdrawn. If I tried to get close and be affectionate, he pulled back and sometimes pushed me away. We were in the final months of our youngest’s senior year and it had been stressful so I figured it would pass and, after BD and discussion, he shared that he felt it too and thought it would pass as well. Raising two teenagers through an intense magnet school program was the biggest stressor our marriage ever faced. I wasn’t worried…empty nest was coming there we would have plenty of time to reconnect…and we always came through tough stuff together.

I had asked several times through those winter months if everything was ok and he always said it was. On that June day I pushed hard because I just felt things weren’t ok. In my mind it felt like he loved me but wasn’t in love with me and that was the exact BD I got. The hurt was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Sometimes I couldn’t breathe. I was sick to my stomach and couldn’t eat AND I cried a lot – I hate crying!!

We spent a day talking through it. He was the rock in our family (through my medical issues and surgeries especially) and he was tired of being the rock. He didn’t want to be it anymore. He felt unappreciated and undervalued. Mostly this was at home, but work was also making him feel this way with a leadership change that had occurred in his company. I spent the summer (I was off because I teach) focused on trying to relieve some of his stress and supporting him. I did research and we read articles and a book together. I needed us to reconnect and he needed space. His biggest need was trying to figure out and understand how he got to the place of unhappiness he was in AND he needed to figure it out for himself. This was challenging because I am a problem solver and I was shouldering the blame for his unhappiness so I wanted to help fix it. We fought a lot and because we both had needs that the other couldn’t meet we never got anywhere except emotionally exhausted.

By November we agreed to try counseling. Very quickly our therapist identified that he had lost his voice and was not an advocate for himself. He always put the needs of others before his and now it had taken its toll. He struggled to share feelings in therapy and was carrying guilt over the pain I was in. He was hesitant to speak openly for fear of hurting me or being shut down. After Christmas, he started with individual therapy with someone who is skilled at digging and helping someone in his state figure things out. He was and is lost. I have continued individual therapy with the counselor we were seeing as a couple.

While there have been many MLC behaviors that apply to my H (and the unproductive responses I’ve had), there are also some things that are different. There has not been and is not currently an OW. Infidelity is not our issue. He knows I worry about his desire/interest in someone/something else because he has no desire for that kind of relationship with me right now. He is struggling to interact with anyone on an emotional level right now (to the point he went for a hormone test). He is fully committed to working through this season/transition to get back to being a couple. He is having trouble finding the emotional space he needs and I have suggested he move out to get a break from me and he doesn’t want to (he travels for work and I know that it is easier on me emotionally when I don’t see him day after day).

Our biggest struggle right now is weekends when we are home the most together and discussions about our relationship and feelings go very wrong. He is happiest when we do business as usual and don’t talk on that subject and it makes me miserable because I feel like we are just roommates and we will never get back to us.

Recently (in the last week) we have done better at working through a difficult discussion so that it doesn’t spiral out of control and stays focused on the topic (less defensiveness and reactiveness). I have felt a little more hopeful that progress is possible. However, I’ve left my last two therapy sessions feeling quite the opposite. I feel like she is preparing me for my marriage to end in divorce. She has pointed out several times that I have lived in this place of uncertainty for a long time…anything past 6 months is not shameful to walk away she says – it’s completely unfair to me she says. She questions how much more I can handle. She paints H’s struggle in a way that makes me feel like he is the enemy. I’ve tried the focus on me, grieve the loss of the man I married, withdraw, no contact strategies I’ve read about and the therapist suggested. These are not me. Instead of helping, I found feelings of anger, bitterness, resentment and vindictiveness increased – the very things I was trying to overcome.

Patience I struggle with – this is not moving on the timeline I am. I get what’s happening and what can be done to move forward, but I have to wait for him to see it. Paranoia I also struggle with. We have had a close, open, honest and transparent relationship for 30 years. His individual therapy makes me nuts sometimes because I am in the dark…paranoia. I know I have to stop pushing because in the end that slows his progress. Limbo is just not a comfortable place for me and when I try to give him space I end up suppressing my feelings. Eventually the dam breaks and we end up in one of those emotional and unproductive fights (this is where we are beginning to make a little bit of progress).

I know there is no crystal ball to see how this goes. What I do know is that, if I continue to try those strategies that increase all my negative feelings, I will no longer be available for a relationship with him on the other side. I refuse to quit and give up right now. I will be working part-time this summer so I won’t have so much time on my hands to perseverate on this like I did last summer.

Sorry this is so long and thank you for reading!! Just writing it all out has been kind of therapeutic 

Offline 20thcenturygirl

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Re: The hardest challenge I've ever faced
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2018, 05:14:01 PM »
Dear Exhausted,

I am so glad that Seahorse persuaded you to write your story and share it here.  Seahorse is wonderful and has been very supportive to me too.
The run up to your BD and your H feeling burdened by the responsibilities of life and feeling unappreciated sounds very similar to my H.
I know you will receive much support and advice here .

I found feelings of anger, bitterness, resentment and vindictiveness increased – the very things I was trying to overcome.
Do you have any idea why this might be?  I am interested because I never had the chance to attend MC with my H as he skipped off into the sunset with his OW so I often wonder if things might have been different if we had attended any form of counselling. 

H 62
Me 51
BD October 31st 2017
Three months of confusion & coming & going
Left Home December 28th 2017
OW living the life with him January 31st 2018 - met her whilst walking dogs, and it is really, really an affair down!
He denies she exists

Online OldPilot

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Re: The hardest challenge I've ever faced
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2018, 06:24:22 PM »
Welcome to the Board

You are in a good place.
Your H/W  is on his/her own journey.
You can not do anything to control this trip.
Come here and read or vent, we will listen.
Give your H/W space  he/she needs to heal himself/herself.

I would not ask him/her anything unless you can have no expectations.
Sometimes asking them questions will be thought of as pressure.
You do not want to do anything that can be thought of by your H/W as controlling or pressure.

Your need to start working on you.
There is nothing that you can do to help your H/W.

He/She has given you a gift.
It is time!!

Use the time wisely to make yourself a better person.
Look in the mirror to see what it is that you can improve.
Take care of yourself, breathe, eat, sleep, exercise.

Read some books on depression. Both for yourself! And for H/W.
Believe none of what he/she says and 50% of what he/she does.

Read the resources from this site.
The links that are in my signature.

Detach. - The single most important thing you can do

The detach link and HB's 6 stages of MLC(rewritten from Jim Conway) located in the resources above.

Developing Detachment

Keep posting and asking questions and we will try to answer them.
Please stay on one thread until that thread reaches 150 posts as it is easier to keep track of that way.

Knowledge is Power - Sir Francis Bacon

Offline Mae

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Re: The hardest challenge I've ever faced
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2018, 09:21:17 PM »
Hi Exhausted.

Welcome to the are 'home' here among us. Thank you for sharing your story.

We all relate to your shock and despair after BD, the remembrance of BD is brutal even years later when we have healed.

It is very difficult to negotiate the shape and form of your relationship with your H in the days/weeks prior to BD.......if I can give you just one piece of advice here it is this........your H is incapable of giving you the connection and intimacy that you crave, the best thing you can do is to give him space and no relationship talks, no pressure. I know the last thing you want to be told is that you need to focus on yourself now.....but it's true and much of the struggle we as LBS's face is the struggle to let our spouses go whilst trying to find meaning and direction in our own lives without them being by our side.

Your H is almost certainly depressed and from your description is suffering from anhedonia which is the inability to find pleasure in those activities which they used to.....and especially in relationships, I've had four BDs over 20 years and in each one I got the ILYBNILWY speech. When my H wasn't depressed and suffering from anhedonia he was a very loving and affectionate spouse. Your H is feeling 'flat and lifeless' as if all pleasure has gone from their world and everything is dull and gray. Even though there may not be an OW now, they are very vulnerable because activities such as drinking, partying and the thrill of a new relationship gives them their 'high'....a temporary ability to feel emotion again. My H had two Fantasy Affairs at different times, two women he felt 'attracted' to........fortunately he had enough 'nouse' not to get involved in either an EA or PA.

Ok so you are here now.....that's good. We are here to support you. I'm sorry for your pain and suffering......we have all been there or are right there with you. Your story is not so different. I don't think Thunder's (long time poster) MLCer  had an OW either and mine didn't  (except as a fantasy in his head). The OP (OW/OM) is often described as a 'symptom' of MLC, that is not the reason for MLC but rather a characteristic of it like the cliché of driving around in a new sports car. Most MLCers will turn to drinking, drugs, partying, going to the gym, gambling, in order to escape or 'dull' the pain they are feeling......OP falls into the same category, a means of 'escape', a way to smother or distract from the pain.

You are doing well.
Me: 50
H: 40
S19, D15
Together for 19 years
BDay in 2004, 2011 and now March 5 2017
Ran away on 5 March BD
Returned home 'underdone' 1 July 2017.
Left again 22 October 2017.
H - Silent and non-communicative
Me - Letting go and moving forward

Offline strawberry

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Re: The hardest challenge I've ever faced
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2018, 09:57:06 PM »
I’ve been reading a very good book lately about mid-life transition Called The Happiness Curve.  It’s very normal for most all human beings to go through a low point in happiness/optimism about the future.  For most people, it’s just a period of our lives we get through.  For some it goes into full blown self destructive crisis.  The book notes how there is massive data to support this but the therapy professionals still by and large deny it exists.  For that reason, I think it’s hard to find a therapist that can truly get person in crisis/transition or the spouse through it.  I had to quit my IC for the same reasons you described.  She and I parted ways when she basically said she couldn’t help me till I decided to go for a divorce.  She felt her job was to get me through a divorce.  It never occurred to her to just help me get through his MLC.

Offline Anjae

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Re: The hardest challenge I've ever faced
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2018, 10:19:54 PM »
Hello and welcome, Exhausted.

From what you wrote, for now, it seems your husband is having more of a bumpy midlife transition than a full blown MLC.

OW/OM aren't always part of MLC. Usually, with High Energy MLCers there is one, with wallowers doesn't tend to, but one type cannot have OW/OM and the other can.

The therapist is not being good for you, your husband or your marriage. I think you should find a new one.

6 months? She cleary does not know what a real MLC is like.

If he is home, it may not be a good idea to suggest that he goes live somewhere else. Especially because he does not want to.

I found feelings of anger, bitterness, resentment and vindictiveness increased – the very things I was trying to overcome.
Do you have any idea why this might be?  I am interested because I never had the chance to attend MC with my H as he skipped off into the sunset with his OW so I often wonder if things might have been different if we had attended any form of counselling.

I have all those feelings as Mr. J's crisis become deeper and keep lasting, I didn't went to IC or MC . But if I had, and had a therapist like Exhausted's one, I am fairly certain I would have had those feelings pretty quickly. And rising to a very high level. You do need to find a therapist that understands bumpy midlife transition and MLC and the needs of a the spouse (in this case, for now, you are not a LBS).

Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. (Marilyn Monroe)

Online Treasur

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Re: The hardest challenge I've ever faced
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2018, 10:33:04 PM »
I’m so sorry that you’re here, but glad you posted. My xh sounded just like yours and was diagnosed and in treatment for severe depression. At first, for several months, that was ‘all’ I thought it was and he was begging me not to give up on him. And then he ran further, ow came into play and he announced he wanted a divorce...and then life got really insane.

None of us know what path your h will follow or how things will unfold. But we do know how you feel and how hard this is. And we do know that detaching emotionally from what your h says and does will allow you to survive it and protect yourself. That means being as tough as you can that the chances are high that he will damage your life and finances with no regard for you or anyone else. And that he will lie and blame you. And that he will do things you never imagined he could. And that the chances of your marriage surviving in a shape you can live with are low so you need to put yourself and your children first and plan accordingly as best you can.

I’m sorry that others have not validated your experience. One of the best things about this virtual family is that it will keep you grounded, that this is really happening, that there are limits to what can can do because you didn’t cause it and that you are not alone or insane.
T: 18  M: 12 (at BD)
No kids.
BD Oct 15. OW since Apr 16?
H filed Jan 17. Divorced April 18. XH married ow 6 weeks later.

Grateful for any appearance of the tiny karma bus  
"Option A is not available so I need to kick the s**t out of Option B" Sheryl Sandberg

Offline Savoir Faire

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Re: The hardest challenge I've ever faced
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2018, 10:59:16 PM »
Welcome to the club exhausted, you will get some good advice here and no judgement.

Your H sounds a bit of a mess.  I sometimes think it's easier if they just get an OW and leave, at least you know where you stand.  Mine was a bit like yours at the beginning, we both went to IC although it turned out to be the catalyst for him having an affair, as the therapists tend to tell people they deserve to be happy and the MLCer takes this very literally ::)

My H was mopy an d teary at the beginning and not happy about being intimate with me but I found out months later, this was because he was feeling guilty about his affair partner.  His lies were very believable and he conducted the affair during work hours so I had no ides.  It hurts more when you do find out, so please be ready for anything.

Detachment is the only thing that works, but when your H is at home, it's almost impossible.  Mine stayed home fir the first 18 months and thankfully he finally left.  I walked on eggshells for the entire time he was home.

I can only advise to make a life separate from him and have friends you go to coffee with, book clubs, whatever works.  It will be time that tells if this turns into a full blown crisis or he transitions to the next stage of his life and does some work on himself.  My children were at the same stage as yours and I think it makes the MLCer feel old to be thinking about becoming an empty nester.

You've obviously read a lot so give yourself a break.  Take up walking with music in your ears to drown out the monkey braining we all do.

Keep posting, we are all here...

"And when they ask you about me and you find yourself thinking back on all of our memories,
I hope you ache in regret as the truth hits you like a bullet and you find yourself replying: ""She loved me more than anyone else in the entire world and I tried to destroy her."  He failed by the way.'s thread)

Offline seahorse

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Re: The hardest challenge I've ever faced
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2018, 07:36:38 AM »
Welcome, and attaching to your thread...

I am sorry you are going through what you are feeling. 
Be sure to read on this site the chapters and to post whenever you have questions or feel down.
Don't go on the site when around your H.  They get curious and will snoop.

Just give him the space he needs.  At least he is aware he needs space instead of running. 

I'll post more when home.
Seahorses have one mate for life...

Online exhaustedTopic starter

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Re: The hardest challenge I've ever faced
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2018, 08:49:08 AM »
Thank you all for your support and encouragement.

I know my road is not nearly as tough as what some of you and others have experienced (or are experiencing) and I know my journey could change. My eyes are wide open to the possibilities.

One reason I don't feel like I need to work so intentionally on myself is that i already no I will be ok if I find myself on my own. My H moved into a line of work that involved a lot of travel when our kids were very young (about 15 years ago) so I have spent time on my own. When he started traveling cell phones weren't big so he would leave the addresses for the hotel and office along with phone numbers for contacting. When his flight wold be delayed and he was hours later getting home, I would be frantic with worry that something awful had happened. During that time I went through a process of grieving and how I would go on without him. So, I have no doubts in my ability to do that. However, if I find myself on my own because he chooses to leave, the loss won't be my will be the rejection. I would almost be in a better place right now if he had died (not that I ever wish that to happen). I just know I have already prepared for that in my life. I already have friends that I do things with outside of us.

I have not pushed for him to leave. I offered it has a way to get space. He turned it down and I haven't brought it back up. I did set the boundary that I am not moving out...he would have to.

As I said before detach and no contact haven't worked as we live in the same house. Our college age son is home for the summer and we do things together as a family. When I try to take that stance, it changes who I am and how I behave. I don't want to lose myself in this process. The way my IC has talked about his struggle and the unfairness to me and the burden I have carried, she paints him as controlling, wanting his cake and eating it he is the enemy. While he may be lost and confused, he is not those things for now.

It's taken me two days since the last appointment to find my way back to me and lose some of that negativity...before dropping her completely, I will first try to address this in my next session...


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