Monthly Archives: September 2015

MC: Why did I cheat?

I just read a post called “Adultery – Do not seek rationalisation” by MarriageRecoveryBlog. It’s well worth reading.

There can be a rational answer to the question.  But, it will be a heartbreaking, disappointing answer that says the cheater is psychologically unfit and needs to grow up.  The answer, in my case, is I cheated because I was selfish, self-centered, never satisfied, lacking compassion, lacking empathy, entitled, and nursing self-pity.  I suspect most cheaters will have similar reasons for cheating.

If they suggest, in any way, that they cheated because of something the victim did or did not do, that’s unacceptable.  Love is not transactional, love does not demand perfection from the object of desire, and above all love cares deeply about the spouse’s well-being.  If such love exists, there can be no way to respond to perceived needs by cheating, by hurting their spouse.

“Why” is a big question.  Just be prepared for a big answer:  your cheating spouse valued himself more than he valued you.  Any other answer from the cheating spouse would be a lie, victim-blaming, or manipulation.

Can that change, for the better?  Yes, it can, but only with long-term re-prioritization and practicing empathy, compassion, selflessness, and real love.

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Two thoughts

Just want to put this out there. Two thoughts that again and again seem to appear in our work on ourselves and our marriage. Perhaps, these really should’ve been obvious all along. 

First, comparing yourself to others is a gateway to self-pity.

Second, no matter where you go or what you do, you cannot run away from yourself.

What do you think, do you share similar thoughts or have other thoughts that have become apparent to you as you do the work to move forward?

Waiting to live

This week I’ve been feeling like I am living in limbo, specifically I feel like I am waiting to live. I think there are a variety of reasons, some related to all that has happened, and some related to just our lifestyle due to MC’s job.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, HURRY. Wait, wait, wait, wait, HURRY. This is truly what our lifestyle entails.

We will move overseas again next summer, but we do not yet know to where. So, we wait.

I finish my Masters this spring, and then will job hunt, but I don’t yet know where we will be living to even explore what might be possible for my job hunt. So, I wait.

These are normal things I know many other expats deal with too. But, then I am adding in a sense of “watching and waiting” when it comes to MC and my relationship too. Three years now and there most certainly has been progress in a positive direction. But, I cannot quite get over this feeling of watching and waiting. Waiting for what? I don’t know. For him to mess it up, maybe? I cannot quite put my finger on it fully, but I just feel like I am waiting to live. I feel like I am getting by (surviving), not so much living. I actually don’t really know how to define the difference between “surviving” and “living.” I do feel like there is one though. Really, I just know that I don’t want to wait anymore, but I don’t really know how to start either.

Perhaps getting my butt out of the house and off the damn computer, starting an exercise program and spending less time hiding out in my cave (house) would help. I’m just struggling to find the motivation to do it.

MC: Learning to hide sexuality 

I’ve written about how my mother really made sex into a demon, to be hated, feared, and hidden — to exterminate.  I was reading Peggy Vaughan the other day, and the following passage struck me.

“We’re all well-trained (conditioned) in deception and dishonesty about sex, starting when we’re born and continuing throughout our childhood and teenage years. Our parents are seldom honest with us about sex when we’re growing up. Very few children get good, clear facts about sex. And almost none of us gets sound information about sexuality and sexual love.I encourage you to consider the impact of the lack of solid parent-child communication about sex, leading teenagers to believe that “sex and secrecy” go hand-in hand. This situation contributes to the pattern of secrecy and deception so common among teens—and then later among married adults who have affairs.

As teenagers we’re unable to talk honesty with our parents about sex, so we present a false image to our parents when we become sexually active. By the time we get married we’ve had plenty of practice at being deceptive and dishonest about sex. When a married man or woman has an extramarital affair, they’re continuing this pattern of dishonesty about sex that began long before the extramarital affair, long before they ever married.

When I found out about the numerous affairs James had over a seven-year period, I kept thinking, “How could he have done such a thing?” I was overwhelmed by the contrast with his image of being a “faithful husband” during that time. He seemed almost like a stranger as I became aware of this new information. It seemed impossible that he could have been so deceptive. After realizing this was the kind of pretense he’d learned when we were teenagers hiding our sex lives from our parents, I could better understand how he did it.”

That passage really speaks for itself.  I’ll just add that the extreme nature of my hidden adultery strikes me as proportional to the extreme manner in which my mother demonized everything related to sexuality.  She dresses and behaves androgynously, and she basically expected me to do the same.  She shamed me if I did not.  She was afraid to be a woman and she wanted me to fear being a man. I learned that being sexual; wanting sex, even from my wife; and talking honestly about sex were all shameful.  I learned that if I did want sex, it was part of a shameful, covert aspect of my personality.

I think the answer to all of this is to work on not being afraid to share my thoughts and feelings about sex with TL.

TL: Thinking it through

As we sat in B’s office yesterday, we talked a lot about our birth families. I feel such anger, and yet sadness, about MC’s mom. I know she is lonely, but I also know she is just not a healthy person to be around. She doesn’t get it, see it, understand it and she likely never will. I am sad for MC. I am sad for our children who do not have a close grandparent relationship in their lives. I am sad for MC’s mom who we, including B, truly believe is mentally ill and imprisoned in the loneliness of that mental illness.

My family was screwed up too, my mom was also mentally ill (actually diagnosed as such, unlike MC’s mom who would never see such a doctor). But, I had love and compassion at least from my father. I know what it is like to be loved and to be able to show love, I have a sense and inkling of what that feels like and looks like.

Still, there were many in my life whose love and approval I tried so hard to win. And, this was another point we talked about yesterday. I spent so many years trying to get MC’s mom to love me, approve of me, accept me. When the fight happened about our child, I threw that all out the window realizing she never would. Just for the sake of being MC’s wife, there is no way she will ever love, approve of, or accept me. I think I was also trying to win MC’s love, approval and acceptance. Upon d-day, I realized I must stop trying to win love and approval. People in this world, including MC, can choose to love me or not.

Yesterday as we talked about all of this, we talked about how MC and I are each broken in our own ways, but how we are each healing. B sees in me the person that I used to be, including the spontaneous free-spirit part of me that had been hidden for so many years. And, I saw MC talking about, accepting and loving that part of me yesterday, a part I felt I needed to hide for so many years. And, here he was talking about how that is one of things he found attractive about me when we met. He said it with love, not anger, not resentment, but with love. I felt ok to be me. I felt safe to be me. I felt that MC can actually love me for me.

I don’t feel the walls between us like I did before. Somehow the walls of resentment and anger between us were not at all there yesterday, not from him and not from me. I feel like MC is now showing all of himself to me, being vulnerable and exposing the parts of his pain that he hid from for so many years. He is allowing me in, not some fantasy version of me, but just the real me. And, I am starting to feel like I can let him in again too.

I don’t know if any of that makes any sense to anyone out there. I am struggling to explain what brought those feelings to the forefront yesterday. I think this is at least a big part of it. Perhaps as time moves forward those moments will grow in duration and frequency. Perhaps one day those moments will be our life together. I think that is what brought the thought “we just might make it.”

Today, I feel “ok.”

We had a session with B together this morning. As I was driving home, I felt like “me” for the first time in a long time. I also, for the first time I can remember since d-day, felt like, “you know what, we just might make it.”

I cannot even exactly explain why these thoughts and feelings flooded me today. I will think on it and try to write more later. In the meantime, I wanted to put them down in writing.

TL xx

Over-parenting begets childish men

I hesitate to write this because I don’t want it to sound like I’m saying all my selfishness and self-pity came from my mother.  Several points along the way, I could have chosen to take responsibility for my actions and for the way I viewed the world.  I’ve written about the cultural roots of my problems and the inconsistency my mother taught.  I have a few more thoughts on this, as I try to find root causes of my sick thinking.

First, my parents spent most of my early life shielding me from the consequences of my own decisions and actions.  They blamed others for any problems I faced.  They did not trust me to solve my own problems.  If I got a bad grade, they would insist on intervening with the teacher. If I had a conflict with other kids, my parents blamed the other kids or blamed fate, tried to micromanage the way I handled it, and generally treated me as though I was a toddler, incapable of handling social interactions without my parents interfering.

If I did something wrong — a prank, for example — my parents never exactly punished me.  They yelled, sighed, shook their heads, and talked about shame and disappointment.  They never grounded me; in general, I wasn’t really allowed to leave the house except with specific permission, on a case-by-case basis.  They did not spank me.  They talked about spanking often, but never did it.  In short, there were no tangible, measurable, specific consequences for my misbehavior.

At the same time, my mother did create severe and unreasonable consequences for my failures to meet her hopes or expectations.  On one hand, she did not do what we try to do for our children:  warn them that there will be a consequence if they misbehave, and follow through with the reasonable punishment, as well as let them suffer — within reason — the natural consequences of their choices.

On the other hand, my mother imposed consequences that were not tied to my choices.  Rather, they were tied to her evaluation of me.  It wasn’t, for example, something like, “If you fail to do your homework I will ground you.”  Instead, it was more like my mother having an emotional breakdown if I lost the district spelling bee.  Her consequences were not related to my choices, but to my performance.  And, I feared her emotional outbursts, so much so that I began lying and hiding many aspects on my life in order to avoid my mother’s reactions.

I think this upbringing might be part of how I came to do such risky, heartless, illogical things during my years of adultery and lies.  I was used to having no consequences for my actions.  So, I gave no thought to potential consequences of cheating, consequences such as diseases, death, arrest, public humiliation for myself and my family, and more.  God — actually my parents — had always ultimately shielded me from consequences, so I subconsciously assumed God would continue to be my safety net.  Do you think that is a sick, twisted misuse of theology?  It is.  That’s my point.

Second, my parents also did not teach me accountability.  They didn’t tell me I needed to try harder or practice more to improve.  For example, instead of  saying that I might want to practice baseball, they just talked about how some people are supposedly naturally good at it and some people are not.  They made a big show of telling me I was smart, for example, but they never really provided consequences for bad grades, forgotten homework, or general laziness and evasiveness.  Similarly, I never bothered to hold myself accountable for my actions.  Mother had always been in control of my accountability.  So, why should I bother weighing my choices against their potential effects on me or on others?

Third, my parents actively discouraged me from growing up, and I failed to resist it courageously.  My life is a story of me allowing my mother to control me.  I didn’t fully escape it until D-day.  For example, to this day, my mother goes on and on about how she thinks I handled certain friendships wrong in seventh grade.  To this day, I disagree.  She viewed me as a toddler and treated me as such.  That continues to this day.

She discouraged me from playing team sports, from leaving the house, and from dating.  She made it clear she disapproved of every girlfriend I ever had.  She didn’t even try to be subtle, saying awful things about each girl.  I finally got away, by going to college out of state and never again living in my parents’ home.  Even then, I didn’t get away completely.  By the time I married TL, just two years after college graduation, I still had one credit card my parents had given me.  TL helped me see that my parents were using that leverage to control my choices, and I was letting them do it.  TL and I cut up that credit card.

My mother continued her habit of saying awful things about my girlfriends, or wife in this case.  She spent 18 years making little mumbled remarks, inappropriate comments, and flat out rude critiques of TL, me, and our children, as though it was perfectly normal to behave that way.  As I had been all my life, I was afraid of my mother.

I cut off contact with my mother for several months once when she harassed me non-stop for several days, at home and at work, to insist on inserting herself into the move TL and I were making.

A few years later, my mother made a big scene of reportedly purchasing funeral plots for her immediate family, including me but not including TL, “because a son should be buried next to his parents.” She told me it would be inappropriate for me to tell TL, my wife, of this plan and that I should not do so.  I did tell TL, but never informed my mother that I told TL, nor did I confront my mom about her inappropriate behavior and expectations.

Years later, after our first child was born, my mother began criticizing our child. TL, who had patiently held her tongue for years, would not allow our child to be dragged into my mother’s psychological warfare. TL told my mother her house was not an appropriate place for our family and we would be moving to a hotel. My mother went ballistic. I told TL to pack-up, so we could just leave town altogether. But, I said nothing to my mother.

I sent TL into the house to pack us up, while I loaded our child and the car. My mother approached TL, blaming her for everything under the sun. TL let my mother know she knew everything my mother had tried to do to undermine our marriage, including expressing joy over a miscarriage and about the funeral plot secret. We again cut off contact with her for several months.

Each time, I eventually, gradually let my mother slip back into our lives, returning to her way of questioning with implied criticism, questioning with intent to control, and outright criticism.  More importantly, I had a decades-long habit of not confronting my mother, not calling her out on her inappropriate behavior.  She said something, and I would ignore it or try to change the subject.  What I should have done instead is to calmly but bravely tell my mother she was behaving inappropriately and that I would not accept it.

Shortly after D-day, we visited my parents, and I began practicing relating to them as an adult, as well as not being afraid to show my love, pride and affection for TL in front of my mother.

After D-day, I tried very hard to get my mother to apologize for undermining our marriage.  She never really did. She supposedly had my father apologize on her behalf to me, but never directly to me and absolutely never to TL.

After D-day, I considered a couple of things about my relationship with my mother.  First, I had signed up to protect TL, and I had been failing in that responsibility, for years.  I failed to protect TL from myself, from my psychological problems, from the world, and from my mother.  If I was going to become a better husband, it had to include protecting TL from my mother.  Second, my lies and adultery came, essentially, from my failure to grow up, failure to take responsibility, failure to see the world through the eyes of an adult man.  This, in turn, was related to my failure to grow up with regard to my mother, to stop being cowed by her, and to have the compassionate courage to set limitations for her.

For three years now, I’ve been putting a stop to my mother when she tries to say or do something hurtful to TL, me, or our children.  It has helped.  It’s not easy.  About a half a year ago, my mother tried to criticize TL in my mother’s own uniquely manipulative way, this time bringing our children into it. The children did not understand, and I put a stop to my mother.  At this point, I no longer have any real relationship with my mother.  It’s now crystal clear, even to my mother I think, that she has nothing to say to me aside from her attempts to control me.

In sum, I can’t stress enough the importance of learning responsibility, accountability, and self-control early.  Let kids make mistakes.  Let them receive punishment, from parents and teachers, when they do wrong or neglect responsibilities.  Let them make choices.  Within reason, let them control their own lives.

September 13th

Sunday, September 13, marks the 3rd year since I found out everything. It has been a hard week for me, maybe that is why. I don’t know? Really, that day marks the beginning of MC really getting his head out of his ass. But, it also marks the day that I found out that my blind faith trust in him was completely misplaced for many years. He has done a shit ton of work. I do see it and feel it.

Rosh Hashanah will begin on the evening of Sept. 13 this year. How appropriate, as it is a time of reflection. Reflecting on it all, it is clear that MC had an addiction to anger, resentment and self-pity stemming from his misogynistic view of gender roles and experiences that life just did not match. Before d-day, he spent his life on a “quest” to “right those wrongs,” while at the same time protecting his fragile ego from rejection and conflict at any costs.

Prior to d-day, he had absolutely no desire to change his ways. He didn’t regret his behavior, he didn’t think consequences would apply to him, and he thought he deserved experiences that he had been “denied” by the world around him. Unfortunately, it took d-day for MC to want to change, to want to become a man instead of a little boy who thought the world owed him something. And, I think it took the complete devastation of Sept. 13th, 2012 (ultimate d-day), to really start digging deep and rooting out the weeds, one-by-one, with professional help.

I do believe that whether we are discussing sex addiction, self-pity addiction, compulsive behaviors, OCD, ADD, SOB syndrome and/or something else, serial cheaters need serious outside professional help. I am a researcher by nature. I like numbers, facts, and results backed by peer-reviewed studies. Ultimately, as I reflect, I want reassurance, you know? And, yet there are no guarantees; that is the one fact I know in all of this and it drives me nuts. So, I look, I research, I look and research some more.

I found an interesting NIH study. Project Match studied 806 clients in five outpatient treatment centers, who were randomly assigned to three treatments: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), and 12-step Facilitation (TSF). Researchers also interviewed and assessed clients to rate them on relevant attributes. The most interesting point of the study to me, is that it found that of the 21 client attributes, two were the most powerful predictors of long-term success: readiness-to-change and self-efficacy. And, these by far, were more predictive of long-term success than the actual treatment model used. Overall, TSF, MET and CBT have had similar success and failure rates.

I do see his readiness-to-change and self-efficacy in his belief in making those changes to his thoughts and behaviors. I also see those weeds being pulled-out by the roots one-by-one over the last three years. I can see his dedication and work to develop and practice empathy and do feel the difference in his relationship with our children and with me. I want to recognize how far we’ve come, how far he has come. I don’t want Sept. 13 to represent horror, I want it to represent reflection and rebirth. Still, the horror of that day is a part of my psyche and no amount of research takes that away. Sigh. . .

Self-compassion versus self-pity

Mindless suffered from a severe dependency on, in fact an enslavement to self-pity. He describes a feeling of inadequacy. He describes being angry at G-d, the world, me, and even himself for falling short, refusing to accept reality for what it was, instead of what he imagined it should be. He often told himself things like “my life is worse than anyone else’s,” “nobody else has to deal with such things,” “nobody is suffering like I am suffering.” He became so encumbered by these thoughts that he would get caught up in a cycle of negativity. When he would try to ignore his thoughts and feelings of inadequacy they expressed themselves in very destructive ways. What Mindless needed to learn was to practice self-compassion. But, how is this different from self-pity?

Dr. Kristen Neff explained that self-compassion includes three components.

Below are the three elements of self-compassion:

I don’t want to be Atlas

You can probably tell I am not an overly religious person. For me, my faith is largely about tradition, family connectedness, guiding principles of mitzvahs that encourage us to leave the world just a bit better than we found it, and preserving a culture that too much of the world would like to see destroyed. G-d is there, a part of it, but I’m not certain exactly in what form G-d exists. I struggle with this question.

I say this because even with this struggle, there is one thing that stuck with me from our counseling time with Phil. He once told me that I was carrying such huge burdens on my shoulders, burdens that I cannot carry any more. He asked me to envision taking those burdens off of my shoulders, laying them at me feet and saying to G-d, “I cannot carry these burdens any longer, I lay them here at my feet releasing them from my shoulders and giving them over to you.” Somehow the imagery of doing this has been helpful, certainly not always successful, but one of many mental strategies to help.

With Counselor Troi it was sitting my pain down, imagining my pain embodied in cartoon character form sitting across from me and asking it “what do you want from me?” “What is your purpose here?” And, one day, telling it, “I don’t need you any more, you can go away now.”

With B, she helped me create an image of a beautiful, safe, warm place that I can go to in my mind. When I start going down the rabbit hole, when “stinking thinking” (as she likes to call it) starts getting in the way of me living life, she wants me to imagine this place and use it to help find some peace.

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that reads “let go or be dragged” to remind me that I do not have to let the pain control me. And, in fact, allowing the pain to drag me through the mud is only hurting me.

I think all of these words, thoughts, beliefs get at the same fundamental issue. When we hold onto great pain, it drags us down. Yet, I think we do it as a form of protection.

I am not exactly sure where to go with all of this, but just that I think we must find ways to release the pain, even if it is only for short moments at first, with those moments growing in length and in frequency over the years to come.

Is he cheating? Warning signs of infidelity

How will TL know if I start heading in the wrong direction, away from her, love, and us, and toward selfishness, self-pity, and lies?  How can any spouse know?  

There are clues.  This list is not exhaustive, and some items may be more likely for certain personalities than for others.

If I actively beg you to rewrite parts of your past in a way that is less threatening to me, I may be saying I will only really love or respect you if you could be perfect.  No one is perfect, and love should not be conditioned on perfection.  If I want so badly to change you, I may be tempted to search for someone else — someone who is more perfect.  Of course, no such person exists.  But, the mere process of obsessively wanting your mate to be better is a selfish process, destined to prevent real love.

If I pout, throw any sort of tantrum, or otherwise behave childishly when you don’t give me the sex, time, or attention I want or I otherwise don’t get my way, I’m saying I’ll only love, honor, respect, tolerate, or like you if you give me things and do things for me.  This demanding personality can never be satisfied.  Enough is never enough.  Each gift or favor leads to more desires and demands.  Since I can’t be satisfied, I may start looking outside the marriage to get even more of my desires and demands met.

If I use porn or masturbate, without your participation or without your full, immediate knowledge, understanding, and support, I may be starting to take my sex life underground.  I should feel comfortable and compelled to tell you everything I think and do, particularly with regard to sex.  If not, I should stop doing it.  If I am so obsessed with porn or masturbation that sex with you is not enough, or if I insist on much more sex than you want, we should discuss it.  If we can’t develop solutions together, we should work together with a counselor, class, or course of study.

Similarly, if I own any books, videos, magazines, subscriptions, or anything at all without your full and complete knowledge, I may be harboring some unhealthy interest in porn or in other people that I am using as a substitute for a healthy sexual and romantic relationship with you.  You should be able to look at any part of our home, my workplace, my computer, and my phone, at any time.  I should not be defensive about showing you those places, including websites I visit, numbers I call, and e-mails I exchange.  You should be able to ask me about any unexplained spending.  If I’m not doing or contemplating anything wrong, I should have no stress about showing you everything.

TL, you know me, my friends, and my favorite activities.  I don’t go out without you unless it is for fitness or to participate in a sport.  Every guy is a little different in this regard.  Some guys regularly — not often, but regularly — go spend time with certain friends for poker, golf, watching a ball game, or the like.  That’s OK, if that’s their way.

But, in any case, if I start changing my pattern in this regard, I may be hiding something or contemplating doing something I would want to hide.  I think this applies to other guys too.  A wife should wonder what’s happening if a man suddenly starts spending time away from her for new reasons that don’t fit with his previous patterns.

You should feel free to go out without me for a girls night. If I discourage that, through guilt trips or any other threat or manipulation, that’s a bad sign.  If I am so insecure that I can’t handle you going out without me, I may be tempted to start seeking self-validation outside the marriage.

Sometimes you and I might mutually decide that you’ll have a girls night out while I have a guys night out.  Or, maybe we’ll decide to alternate, taking turns while the other watches the kids.  That’s fine.  But, be careful.  These activities with our individual friends should start to decline, not increase, as our relationship progresses.  More and more, we should have mixed and mutual friends.  And, these individual activities should be minimal compared to dates centered on you and me together.

Given my personality and my personal demons, I do not need to go out drinking with the guys without at least inviting you.  Guys night out should not occur at a club or bar.  If it does not center on a game or sport, it may be a disguise for courting infidelity.  I don’t go to clubs and bars without you unless I am contemplating something I am afraid to share with you.  If I go out, with no relation to sports, why do I need to go without you?  If I am defensive about preserving these individual activities, beware.  I certainly should not need to go to a bar or club without you, without a damned good explanation and your complete understanding and support.

Of course, it’s healthy for me to have male friends.  But, men can do activities together in “safe” places, like golf courses, fishing boats, camping trips, or in front of big screen television with a game on.

If I ever have a meal or any one-on-one activity, sports included, with a woman who is not my blood relative, it means I am starting to drive toward the ditch. Even if unintentional, I must address it immediately and make course corrections immediately. I should be able to give you a non-defensive, consistent, and logical explanation.  We should be able to talk, non-defensively, about why I would even consider doing something like that without you.  At this point, if you have even the slightest hint of doubt about my integrity, we should see a counselor.

If you are willing to go to the gym or do any physical activity with me, I should choose that before I choose working out alone or with someone else.  Doing both is fine, though unlikely.  But, choosing the activity without you before the activity with you is a bad sign.  Are my fitness goals or level too different from yours?  As a smart athlete, I should be able to adjust, adding weights or otherwise increasing the challenge for myself while still being with you.  If I insist I must workout without you, I may be hiding a desire to seek attention from others at the gym. Or, if nothing else, I may be showing you I value me more than I value us.  What if I do my own workout at home, while you do something else?  That’s fine.  It’s insisting upon going somewhere without you that starts to raise a red flag.

If I turn down sex when you offer it, you should be suspicious.  Any physical advance from you will turn me on.  If it doesn’t, I either have a physical problem that I should discuss with you, or I am harboring some sort of anger or trying to manipulate you emotionally.   We should discuss it with our counselor.

If we have a female housekeeper or nanny, she should not be in our home if I am there without you.  It’s just unnecessary. Any woman who is old enough to drive or ride a taxi, should not be driven home by me.  No female employee should ever stay the night at our house.

I should be able to call you from my office phone before I head home.  You know how long it takes me to drive home.

These indicators are not foolproof.  They are a starting place.  I know they will help me gauge my own behavior now and in the future.  I hope they might also be useful ideas for other couples.

Restoring dignity and honor

I just read an article on social shame from Affair Recovery about the betrayed spouse’s shame and their need to restore honor. I am not yet sure what I think about the totality of that article, but something did strike a chord.

I was thinking more about being able to forgive Mindless. I posted a comment to my Forgiveness post yesterday regarding how I forgave my dad when I was a teenager. And, it occurred to me, perhaps this “restoring honor” is a crucial element, both then and now on my path to forgiveness.

With my dad, I think I felt that he had trampled upon my honor and dignity by thinking I would always be forgiving, quickly and easily. I think part of why I stopped talking to him, stopped interacting with him was because my pride was hurt and it was my attempt to regain honor and dignity. Perhaps him coming to “rescue” me, knowing that it likely wouldn’t change anything between us, was him putting aside his pride to show me that I was more important. Perhaps, somehow, this allowed me to regain my dignity and honor.

Staying with Mindless has been a blow to my dignity and honor. Maybe I need to find a way to regain my dignity and honor in order to feel like I can forgive.

Interestingly, the AR article showed these results:

So what can a husband or wife who has been unfaithful do to restore their mate’s honor? Here are the top 7 of 13 answers betrayed spouses chose on this multi-select question:

  1. 84% Commit to and participate in long term recovery work

  2. 69% Accept responsibility of their infidelity to others

  3. 61% Defend me to anyone who would be critical of me

  4. 58% Speak highly of me to others in public

  5. 56% Openly acknowledge my sacrifices for staying to others

  6. 53% Clearly communicate to their affair partner that I am the chosen one

  7. 41% Make amends to my family

MC has done most of these, but there are a few that could be stronger.

He has accepted responsibility to me, to our children, to our counselors, to the blogosphere. I shared a very tiny portion of our story with a few family members and friends. I guess there is a part of me that would like him to have a conversation with those people, and others who likely knew, doing the same. Then, I question whether it is even wise to do so? I have told those who know something of what happened that MC has taken and passed polygraphs, has given me a post-nuptial agreement, and had a vasectomy. I now see why I felt the need to do this, I was trying to show that I’m not just sitting idly by. It was a matter of pride, dignity and honor.

He went from never speaking about me at all, or making cutting “jokes” pre d-day, to saying nice things so much that I thought it appeared like over-compensation. I just want real recognition, in a moderate, genuine, consistent, and (one day) instinctual way. I don’t want over-the-top, but I don’t want the opposite either. I know he is trying and working on this.

He definitely let the 3rd AP, his last, know that she meant nothing and that I was the only one he ever truly loved. The first AP was 17 years ago and the second AP is dead. So, I just don’t know what could ever be done to restore my pride, dignity and honor where they are concerned.

But, I do think that restoring honor and dignity maybe crucial to being able to reach forgiveness. Until reading the AR article, I had not realized just how important. Otherwise, I am just going to feel like a schmuck. And/or maybe I need to find a way to not be so prideful. Now how to get there?

Forgiveness

“Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself.” How many times have I heard that? “Forgiveness is the Christian thing to do!” Well, then it is a damn good thing I’m not a Christian.

What will it take for me to forgive MC? Now, that is really the question on my mind and I don’t have the answer.

He seems to understand the pain he has caused, the costs of his tomfuckery to me. Still, no forgiveness.

He is with me every step of the way through this pain, even with my repeat of questions nearing the thousands, probably tens of thousands. Still, no forgiveness.

He would love my forgiveness, realizes that he has much for which to be forgiven, and doesn’t expect that it will ever happen, loving me and being there through the shit storm he created regardless. Still, no forgiveness.

I know in my head and in my heart (finally) that the past can never be better, it can never be different. Still no forgiveness.

He is working to fix his fundamental flaws, to become healthy, authentic and safe. Still, no forgiveness.

So, what now? Time? I have no answer to this question. Maybe recognizing all of the above in my head and my heart is the closest I can get. I don’t know?

Maybe it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Maybe, it is a decision, a choice every day to forgive. And, each and every day, I will have to accept for the day only, “today, I choose to forgive you.”

Maybe, I am still working on forgiving myself for allowing myself to live with fear of his ego for so long? And, until I get there, forgiving another for this shit is not realistic?

Maybe, I am just grasping at straws. Maybe forgiveness includes other things I have not yet discovered. Maybe forgiveness is all of these things.  Maybe, forgiveness is none of these things. Maybe, it doesn’t really fucking matter. I don’t know. What do you think?