· Frequently Asked Questions
Also please see the FAQ, BS FAQ and the FAQ: From the Betrayed Spouse for the Former Wayward Spouse.
Why Should I Confess? Submitted by JefsGal
My affair with x-OM was discovered by his wife. She chose to not tell my H because she was afraid that my H would leave me and then I would be a free woman and that threatened her. So, I had the choice to just move forward in my marriage and not tell my H or I could tell my H. In a way it was tempting to not tell and just go on with my life hoping he would never find out, but I knew I couldn't do that. For one reason, I knew there was always the chance that down the road he could find out from someone else and I thought the consequences would be worse if he found out a long time after the A was discovered by the OM's wife. I think he would have felt even more betrayed.
The most important reason that I chose to confess is that I knew we couldn't have an honest an open relationship if I did not confess. I also knew that we could not fix whatever was wrong in our marriage if my H didn't know about the A because he obviously didn't know that I was as unhappy as I was. It took two weeks for me to gather the courage, but I did confess to my H. We have successfully reconciled our marriage and I do not regret confessing.
Why Cause More Pain By Answering Questions? Submitted by EffedUpBigTime
Oftentimes the first instinct of a WS is to withhold the information a BS is seeking about the affair. we operated in this mindset so long during the affair that it makes sense to want to continue. During the affair, we believed that we were protecting our spouse by hiding painful truths from them. It takes some time to realize that the lies were as much or more about protecting ourselves, not our spouse. We exhibited some pretty shameful behavior during the affair and didn't want that ugly behavior to be exposed.
We may also be fearful that hearing the truth may push our betrayed spouse over the edge and they will want to leave. Again, this fear stems from selfishly wanting to protect ourselves. If true reconciliation is to occur, the betrayed spouse must be given complete knowledge of the betrayal that has happened. Then they can make an informed decision about whether they choose to stay and work things out. We've taken so much from them - it is important to avoid taking that choice from them as well. Oftentimes, we waywards take a significant amount of time to summon the courage to be entirely truthful with our spouse.
The problem with this approach is that guilt tends to eat away at us, and our spouse knows that things still don't quite jive. We may fess up after weeks, months, or even years. When we do this, it feels to our spouse as if they are back at square one, learning that we betrayed them yet again by withholding information from them for so long. The sooner you can find the courage to tell the entire truth, the better. Sometimes writing out a timeline of events to the best that you can recall and to the level of details that your spouse requests is helpful. For more information on why your betrayed spouse needs the truth, please read Joseph's Letter*.
*Originally shared with the BAN Group on DearPeggy.com - People can currently find information about Local BAN Support Groups at BeyondAffairs.com.
How Could I Have Done This? Submitted by Deeply Scared
Cheating was completely out of my character, I never would have thought that I would compromise my morals. But I did. After the initial shock wore off, I spent the better portion of two years working on myself and understanding how I got to the point of being deceitful. It wasn't easy for me to learn to embrace my weaknesses, but once I did, just about everything fell into place for me
I learned many things about myself, most importantly, I learned to love myself again. I learned being humble is not about being walked over or humiliation. It's about having an honest perspective of yourself and using the gifts that you've learned and passing that on to others
You are not more worthy, you are not more valuable and you are not more important than anyone else. If you think you're “better” than someone, you will be less likely to use your knowledge and lessons learned for good.
Who Was I During The A? Submitted by JefsGal
When I look back at the person I was during the A, I do not recognize myself. I became someone with totally different values than I normally have. I am a person that does not believe in infidelity and get very angry when I hear about someone having an affair. I expect someone to be totally truthful to me, so I cannot believe that I had an affair. I became a very selfish, self-centered person. I only cared about myself and my needs. I put my husband, my kids and my job on the back burner. I totally focused on the OM and everything that had to do with him. I lived for getting his e-mails or phone calls or seeing him in person.
I rationalized everything I was doing. I put my best friend in a very uncomfortable position. She knew about the A and was also very good friends with my H. Out of loyalty to me, she didn't say anything, but she felt awful for my H. I didn't even think about how hard it was on her. I only made excuses about why what I was doing was ok. When I was in the A, I kept thinking that the x-OM and I were soulmates, etc. and couldn't see that there is no way that the relationship would work out if we really did end up together.
One of the hardest things for me to accept is that I feel that I am a fairly intelligent, strong woman with good values and a good head on my shoulders. Yet, when I was in the A, I was weak, I didn't think straight and all my values changed. At times, I let the x-OM walk all over me and I didn't realize it at the time. It wasn't until I was out of the A that I saw things for what they really were and got my strength and self confidence back.
Many times in the A, I would have high self-esteem because the x-OM would say so many complimentary things to me that I felt so good about myself, yet at the same time, my self esteem was very low because I knew what I was doing was wrong and totally against what I believed in. I will never put my H or myself through something so awful again.
Will My BS Ever Get Over This? Submitted by ManyRegrets
I think the first thing we need to understand is, what is exactly do you expect when you ask, "Will my BS "get over" my affair?" What do you expect from a reconciled marriage? Do you expect your M or BS to be the same prior to your A? Do you expect forgiveness? Do you expect your BS to forget? What are your expectations?
Before I go any farther, I want to reassure you that your M & BS can survive your A. First comes a lot of really hard work and communication. Only through your hard work can your M or BS be saved. In the beginning, probably the majority of the first year, you will be doing most of the work. You'll feel like you aren't gaining any ground, and it's no use. Honestly, it just takes time and commitment to fixing this. Hang in there, because it really is the stepping stone to rebuild your relationship after the destruction of an affair.
Please realize that only a third of all marriages survive an A. Also, experts say that it takes 2-5 years for most people to completely recover from an affair. The biggest factors that it takes are: number one?TIME. The second is just being as consistent, loving, and open as possible. Expect that your BS isn't going to automatically trust you again. It's difficult to swallow your pride, but it's best to be an open book? Give them all passwords to computer, cell phones, pda's, etc., let them read everything, be available to them at all times, make sure they know your schedule - where you will be and when you will be back home. Be as consistent as possible and chances are at some point you will earn some of the trust back. The longer you hang in there, the easier this is.
It is also recommended that you figure out how you allowed this to happen. Individual counseling is a great way to work through all of the how's and why's of an A. There is a deeper reason for having an A? Something isn't right. It's very important to figure out why it happened so that you never do it again? Whether it be the traditional route of IC or inner reflection or self help books. Many questions can be discussed right here on SI and members can help you to do the hard work that is necessary. I have found that the BS's at SI are a great source of help in this. They are in the same boat as your BS and they can help to guide you to find out what your BS needs to heal. Either way, it is typically a great relief to the BS to see you struggling to correct the flaw within.
There are also some great marriage seminars such as IMAGO or Retrouvaille that couples find to be very healing to the relationship and can help with communication issues that you may have. It should be a priority to find a marriage counselor that can help to deal with the fallout from an A. The bad news is that there are some people that just can't forgive or "get over" an affair. Sometimes even with the best efforts, there may be a need for your BS to start over. It's sad when it comes to that, but that is an unfortunate result from affairs. Your M & BS will never be the same, nor will you ever be quite the same. You are now into next relationship. You can't have your old BS or old M back. Your BS may forgive you but it will never be completely forgotten.
The most important thing to remember is that with time (years!) , love and consistency than there is a chance that your marriage can not only recover but thrive and be the best it has ever been.
Why Shouldn't I Just Leave? Submitted by EffedUpBigTime
It may seem as if the damage you've caused is irreparable. This is a possibility - but you will not know that for sure if you don't give reconciliation a chance. Reconciliation is extremely difficult at times, but it is also possible to build up your marriage to be much stronger and more fulfilling than it was before the affair. Read in the Reconciliation forum for some examples of such success stories. And if your BS is willing to try to forgive you, one of the best ways to right the way you wronged them is to enter the reconciliation process with them.
It may also be tempting to run into the arms of your affair partner. Know that the illusion you shared during the affair will not last. Affair partners don't have to deal with the day to day frustrations such as finances, laundry, cleaning, children, etc. Once real life kicks in the relationship will likely lose the luster it had during the affair. There are also some obvious trust issues that arise out of a relationship started in deceit. Statistics show that the success of such a union is unlikely.
What Is Compartmentalization? Submitted by Fallen
We often use the word compartmentalization to describe how WSes are able to keep their married and secret lives separated. For many WSes, compartmentalization was a coping mechanism developed during childhood to get through difficult times, whether those difficulties were physical, mental or emotional.
A person who compartmentalizes has the ability to completely shut off one part of themselves into a "compartment." Many people describe this as putting difficult emotions or memories into "boxes" in their minds. Once the thought or feeling is boxed up, there is no need to revisit it. *Poof* and it's gone. Of course, this is not what happens, but compartmentalization also allows one to live in denial. If it's locked away in your mental closet, it doesn't exist. From the time I was a child, I compartmentalized any emotion that I could not deal with. I was not permitted to express anger or disappointment, so without a place to vent those feelings, I boxed them up in a virtual closet in my mind. Years of anger and resentment were 'stored' that way.
My BH and rarely had arguments because I didn't feel entitled to my anger or disappointment. I'd just shut it out. This was so normal for me that I wasn't even aware that I was doing it and when I started to feel things deteriorating between my H and myself, I couldn't deal with that. I didn't know how. I had no coping mechanisms at all. This compartmentalization keeps us in an emotionally immature place, because we're basically behaving like spoiled brats. Picture a 6 year old covering their ears and saying "La la la la la! I'm not listening!" If you do this long enough, it becomes an automatic reaction and you probably aren't even aware that you're doing it, or worse, you think it's a good thing that you CAN do it.
It's actually kind of scary that WSes can so effectively lock away those feelings. The ability to do this leads to some really hurtful behaviors- lying being the most hurtful, and cheating because it's linked to lying. This ability allows us to lie to everyone- ourselves, the OP, our BS, our families, coworkers and friends- all because we can lock away those critical or negative voices in the mental closet. Feeling a little bit guilty that you called the OP? Well? just lock it away in the closet. Lied about where you were? Well lock it up in a box in the closet and throw away that key!
There is a price to be paid, though, for doing this. Most times, D-day blows the door off that mental "closet". All the ugly things that have been locked away through the years must be dealt with. Now, not only does the WS have to deal with all the crap in those boxes, the crap is overflowing like a clogged sewer and it has polluted the BS too. We have to face the truth about ourselves and our fears. It makes recovery a bit more difficult too, because not only do we have to deal with the aftermath of the affair, we must also sort through the stuff in those boxes and love ourselves through that process.
The more you practice talking out your feelings when you feel them, or at least talking about them at an appropriate time soon after you feel them, the easier it will become to face painful emotions. One day, after some effort, you may realize that you don't really need to compartmentalize anymore, and that you enjoy being honest and transparent.
Is What I'm Feeling Normal? Submitted by totaldisaster
Once you've had a d-day you will be going through a huge range of emotions. These emotions will change sometimes from one minute to the next. These feelings are all normal to have but not necessarily healthy. With time, help from our SI friends, counseling, and reading some good books, these feelings will change. With the help of my wayward friends here on SI, I have compiled a list of feelings that you are likely to feel at some point or another during your journey for healing.
Suicidal? This one gets its own paragraph because it's a very scary feeling. If you start to feel like this PLEASE get some help from a professional, trusted family member, or come here to SI. I know you may feel like you deserve to die after all you've put your family and spouse through but this will NOT help your family or spouse heal. It WILL however, compound the problem for them. PLEASE get help.
As you can see there are many, many emotions and feelings being a WS entails. There are probably more that I haven't listed on here. Working through all of these emotions and feelings is a long, hard journey but so worth it in the end.
What Is A No Contact Letter? Submitted by Deeply Scared
How ever the affair has been exposed, whether by discovery by the BS or confession from the WS, there must be proper closure to the affair. An agreement must be set up between the BS and WS that all contact with the OP must end and it must be permanent. The WS is in no position to bargain or make deals with their partner and try to keep the OP somehow active in their life. The WS must commit to the No Contact agreement and confide in their partner if the agreement is broken or if the OP has contacted them.
Writing a No Contact letter to the OP is the best way to end the affair. The WS is the one that writes it to the OP. There really is no format to it, except that it should be written by free will by the unfaithful partner. This isn't a "goodbye lover" letter...but rather should consist of stating that you are committed back to your relationship, that the A is over for good and there will never be contact again between them. It should be short and to the point, and the WS should state how selfish the affair was and how it caused tremendous pain to the BS.
Now, of course this won't be taken seriously by the OP if the unfaithful partner has had continued contact...this is a serious step towards reconciliation and it should be treated as such.
I would also let the WS know that you'll be reading the letter prior to him/her mailing it...there should be no hidden messages or hints that the WS will miss the OP. A letter is probably the best way to get closure for everyone involved...if you have your WS email or phone the OP...it opens it back up for the OP to respond...and that's what you are clearly trying to avoid.
In my case, I did not write a No Contact letter to the OM…we ended it on the phone. I did however write an apology letter to his wife, I never mailed it, instead she called me and I apologized profusely to her over the phone. I did however; write a No Contact letter to my best friend of 22 years. She was involved in several affairs and refused to end them and confess to her husband. Mangled and I both felt that if we were going to truly start over and have all deceit out of our lives, than she could not be involved in our relationship nor could our friendship continue. It pained me deeply to write her that letter…2 years later I'm still hurt by that. But I also know that it had to be dealt with in such a stern way, because she would have ended up hurting my marriage and possibly me again. And that was something I just wasn't willing to risk again.
What Is The Difference Between Remorse And Regret? Submitted by Fallen
When confronted by my BS on dday, I immediately felt regret. Regret for having been careless enough to get caught. Regret for the pain my BS was in, regret for the shame I felt. It was as if I was disconnected from my real feelings and was only able to feel things only in relation to how it affected me. Regret is being sorry for something you've done, but not necessarily taking action to make amends. One can feel sorry that their BS is hurting without doing a single thing to comfort them or help them recover. Regret is a feeling that is momentary and can be easily suppressed, especially if you are someone who compartmentalizes. Regret is passive.
Remorse, on the other hand, is active. Remorse comes when you, as the betrayer, feel compassion for your BS. It is when you are willing to do whatever it takes to help your partner heal. Remorse is selfless. Remorse asks, 'what more can I do to help you?' Your BS needs to see that you understand their pain. When you feel remorse, you realize that you'd do anything- literally anything- to take away your loved one's pain. In other words- you "get it." Remorse allows you to take responsibility for your bad choices and is necessary for recovery and reconciliation. Don't be passive in your healing. Regret is not enough. Take ACTION!
What Should I Do When The OP Contacts Me? Submitted by redE4Healing
First, if a NC (no contact) letter has not been written and sent then you are leaving an open door for the A to begin again, as well as the pain for everyone involved. An open door will allow OP to contact you and "fish" to see if you have any weakness. A NC letter should be short and to the point.(See example below.)
You may be thinking, like I did, that the NC will not be necessary. You might assume that the OP understands that the A is over and the both of you assume that no contact has already happened just because you haven't exchanged words/e-mail/phone call. You might think that you're just ready to forget all about the past and move on without writing the letter or that you'll "hurt" the OP with such a stern statement. But the truth is, the only way to begin true recovery and healing is to write the NC letter and follow through and under no circumstances have any contact with OP - ever.
With that being said, there is however a strong possibility that the OP will try break NC.
Contact by Phone: If OP contacts you by phone and you are not aware the caller is the OP, immediately end the conversation using any method you can think of quickly--hanging up works great! If they continue to call, DO NOT ANSWER. If the calls persist, it might be most helpful to change your phone number. Contact by E-mail: If OP contacts you via e-mail, do not respond. Even more helpful would be to not even read the e-mail and immediately delete it once you realize it has made it to your In Box.
Working with OP: f you happen to work with OP, the best thing is to keep as much distance as possible between you and OP. Keep any contact only work-related. If OP is persistent, contact your HR department and follow their procedure for this situation. If the OP continues to contact you and disregard your request for NC making you feel it has gotten to the point of harassment, a soft threat can be made, i.e. harassment complaint with the appropriate authorities. Bottom Line: If you are committed to healing and recovering from the A, you can not exchange any contact with the OP at anytime. No response!
Example NC: It might have been assumed that we could keep in contact. However, it is no longer ok for you and I to have any contact at any time. Most likely your call was just that--a simple call, however, for everyone's benefit, I cannot write/speak/see you at anytime - ever."
How Do I Handle Working With The OP? Submitted by lori2tigers
So, you're like many of us and had an affair with a co-worker. Congratulations - according to Shirley Glass (and lots of SI), you are in good company, and have fallen down an increasingly common slippery slope. Now that you're here, you've got some thinking to do and some decisions to make. Do you stay with your job or find another one? If you stay, how do you handle working with your Affair Partner? First, you must make the decision to stay with your place of employment or to find a new job. There's plenty of compelling reasons to go either way? but realize that it is a choice. Nobody is holding a gun to your head in any way to stay or go. Money problems can be solved - it's time to put your relationship first.
Some factors in deciding to stay or go:
First and foremost, make this choice with your Betrayed Spouse Communicate. Be transparent. If they express any hesitation to you staying at your job, then the remorseful thing to do is to find a new one. Pronto. Anything you can do to make your Betrayed Spouse feel as safe as possible is the name of the game after d-day - please put your Betrayed Spouse first. Please keep in mind that post d-day, many betrayed spouses go through an "accommodation" phase, and try not to make waves due to the fear that wayward spouses might not stick it out if they get tough. Though betrayed spouses may initially agree that keeping your job is the best option because of considerations such as money and insurance, it is quite possible that their decision may one day soon shift suddenly and without warning. Be prepared for it and sensitive to it, and do your best not to react with a defensive "YOU agreed to this and now suddenly it's not okay with you..." It could come in the middle of a busy work day, or on the weekend, but how you handle will make all the difference. They didn't plan an ambush - they discovered that they can't be as comfortable with the situation as they first thought.
This is a biggie, second only to your Betrayed Spouse's feelings. If you are undecided at *all* regarding your Affair Partner or the affair, working with them makes you extremely vulnerable to repeating the same pattern. The back-and-forth, addictive nature of an affair makes it very difficult to go No Contact with your Affair Partner in the first place. Communicating about work matters could make you available to travel down the slippery slope again unless you are absolutely firm and committed to "business only" talk with no innuendo. In short... you really need to be firm in your commitment to no longer be in the affair. If you're on the fence, you might want to tip yourself over to the "getting a new job" side to spare you some grief...
If you work in the next cube on a joint project, it's going to be more difficult to work with your Affair Partner than if you're only marginally in contact. Each time you're exposed to your Affair Partner the scab you've created will get scraped off the wound and you will emotionally bleed all over again. If you work closely, that wound may never have a chance to even scab over. If you only come in contact once in a while, the scab will get scraped off the same, but it won't be as often. There is an emotional price to pay... how high the price is probably depends a great deal on how closely you work.
For some this could be a large factor in deciding to stay or go. Even though keeping your current lifestyle feels like a "need", if you're main goal is to keep and improve your marriage, you have to consider carefully what exactly is a need and what is a want. If money is the sole thing keeping you at your job, I would definitely start looking very hard for a new one? even if it meant a pay cut. You can always get a less expensive car, a less expensive house - these are very big things, but weigh them against losing your spouse, and suddenly they don't seem so important. Sacrifices may have to be made, they may be painful to even consider and it may require a shift in attitude about what is actually needed and what is just strongly desired.
Some workplaces are hugely supportive. Frankly, I needed my work family and the regular routine to help get me through my infidelity journey. If you're very close to your work mates, you might have a different perspective than someone who wasn't very happy at their job. Would your co-workers help you through this or actually be counterproductive during this vulnerable time? If your co-workers know of your affair, are they being supportive and helpful to your recovery, or did they actually support the affair itself? If you had an affair with someone you supervise (or the other way around), are you continuing to make yourself vulnerable to a sexual harassment claim?
So if you've made the decision to stay, or are still working at the same company while you look for a new employer, what to do? How can you handle that?
In my mind, an No Contact letter is probably even more necessary between coworkers than "regular" Affair Partners. Your line needs to be drawn very clearly and unambiguously with this person. You really need to have made the decision and know with no doubts that the affair is over, and communicate it with no reservations to your Affair Partner. Lack of an No Contact letter can leave your Affair Partner confused whether to approach you or not. It could leave you open to fishing attempts because, after all, you've never actually told this person to leave you alone... you work together and that leaves the opening for further contact under the guise of work.
Let them know non work-related contact is absolutely unacceptable. That will save [italic]you[/italic] heartache. And *you* must be as committed to No Contact as you've insisted on for them. No friendly banter. No casual "hi's" with a smile. No extra "thank you so much for your help" emails or pleasantries. You are No Contact with your affair partner unless there's a business need. Period. Anything beyondthat is fishing.
If you suspect your Affair Partner will not be receptive to your No Contact letter, or if they do not honor the No Contact letter, you have the advantage of being able to remind them that further unwanted contact will result in filing a sexual harassment claim. But do not bluff - if you say contact will result in a claim, then you must back it up.
Example of my No Contact letter:
Cc: Mr. 2Tigers
I have told Mr. 2T everything - every single detail.
Do not email me here again. Do not contact me except for work-related
reasons. All contact must be professional with no innuendo.
My next reply (if necessary) will include a cc to your wife and Labor
Relations in HR.
As an aside: Writing the No Contact letter together with your Betrayed Spouse is a very good thing. It keeps you transparent and on the same page, which is a good transition into the next item...
If you work with your Affair Partner, your Betrayed Spouse is going to constantly have movies running through their head about where you are, what you're doing, are you really at lunch where you say you are, what's your affair partner doing, etc.. It's completely up to you to do everything within your power to ease their fears as much as possible. And to do that, you need to be transparent. Be completely forthcoming with any and all encounters with your Affair Partner. Keep the contact brief and businesslike, and inform your spouse as soon as possible (or as frequent as you've decided between the two of you)about what was said, how long it lasted, etc.. Be honest. Bcc your Betrayed Spouse on emails which include the Affair Partner. Let telephone calls go to voice mail, and give your Betrayed Spouse access to the voice mail box. Reply via email, if possible, to remove yourself even further.
Maintain contact with your Betrayed Spouse throughout the day. Be empathetic. And tell them *each and every time* an exchange is made with the Affair Partner. Eventually, they might not need to know *every* time, but work that out when you get to that point. Start out with complete transparency. And don't forget to *show* your Betrayed Spouse they are the most important person in the world to you. You can do that by telephone calls, emails, voice mails, IM's, lunches, send flowers... whatever it takes to show them they are your world, and that you'll move heaven and earth for them.
If you find yourself weakening while you're working with your Affair Partner - Get Pissed. Get Pissed that they disrespected you enough to have an affair with a married person. That's not love - that's the ultimate in not caring enough about you to consider the damage they're participating in. Get Pissed that they participated in making not one, but TWO important aspects of your life a nightmare - your relationship and your work. Get Pissed that YOU allowed yourself to go somewhere you shouldn't have, and make yourself a vow to fix whatever that is so you can be proud of yourself again. And then go for it - voraciously. Get Pissed and post a vent here. Make it a strong one with lots of bad words.
AKA: What's acceptable and what's unacceptable? And remember, these are all my own guidelines - feel free to alter as you see fit. Walking around the office: Acceptable. But use the "Shields Up" technique when you leave your personal work area. Imagine you're encased in a shield - nothing gets through the shield. Affair Partner attempts at contact can't get through, and your thoughts and expressions can't get out - everything bounces off. Total non-contact. You can put up a virtual shield by using your iPod or just a pair of headphones... you don't even have to have music playing. The headphones work as a barrier all by themselves. Affair Partner on the elevator: Unacceptable. Don't get on the elevator.
Start taking the stairs, or, if they're a stair taker, start taking the elevator. Affair Partner in a group setting (like a meeting or class): Acceptable, but sit as far away as possible. No eye contact, no pleasantries. If in a classroom setting, sit either up front so you can only see what's in front of you, or, sit in the back if the sense of them being behind you is even worse. Affair Partner in a social group (lunch, after work): Unacceptable. You don't need to socialize with a group that includes Affair Partner. Fake a headache, work through lunch, start exercising (my preference), go home to your family instead of going to happy hour. No socialization... it could be misconstrued as fishing.
Affair Partner at a work event, such as a bbq, celebration, etc.: Coordinate this as a team with your Betrayed Spouse, but I vote for "Acceptable." Bring your Betrayed Spouse, or if you're single, a good friend, and show the world (and yourself) that they aren't taking up room in your head (you'll get there, I promise). Opposite sex coworker at lunch: Unacceptable. Again, work this through with your BS, but don't give your Betrayed Spouse any cause for concern. You probably don't need to be having solo lunches with the opposite sex. Invite others - show your Betrayed Spouse you recognize the slippery slope and won't ever "go there" again.
So there are some guidelines about making your decision to stay with your current employer, and some ideas on how to get through it. In my experience, if there aren't overwhelming reasons for staying, I would recommend changing jobs. The result of even business-related contact sets you back in your healing, no matter how far along you are. It can be done - I've worked at the same company as my Affair Partner for over a year - but it is emotionally costly, despite the significant, compelling reasons for me to remain at the same company.
Have you been a BS and WS? If so, what lead to those circumstances? Submitted by Chiky
I was a WS in a previous relationship. It was a toxic relationship that I should have got out of long before I cheated. He was an emotionally and physically abusive alcoholic. I came from an abusive childhood so it was a pretty natural thing for me to end up in an abusive relationship, it felt normal and comfortable although it wasn't a comfort I necessarily liked. I stayed because I was afraid to leave. I stayed because I was used to being treated badly from a very young age and I didn't believe I deserved better, I didn't believe I was a lovable person, not even my own Mother loved me how could anyone else possibly love me? I stayed because we had 2 young children and I was afraid of what might happen when he got visitation with them.
Would he drink and drive with them in the car? Would he physically and emotionally abuse them more to punish me for leaving? I felt I could protect my children from him more by staying. I know that seems insane, but I wasn't thinking very logically then. I was miserable because of the abuse that I endured for 9 long years. I was even more miserable because I accepted and put up with that abuse for so long. I was finally fed up but afraid of what he would do to me and the kids if I tried to break up with him. Just days before I cheated he had threatened to kill me and himself, he even told me he had a gun in the garage. Cheating obviously wasn't the smartest route to staying safe but I wasn't thinking rationally at all by this point. I felt trapped in an awful situation and I made some horrible decisions that went against everything I believed in. I was pursued by a MM and I did the unthinkable, I became someone I hated.
Despite my situation, cheating was wrong; I own 100% of the responsibility for my horrible choices. I ended both the abusive relationship and the A. We were both 50% responsible for the condition of our relationship. He is 100% responsible for the abuse; I am 100% responsible for the A. 4 months after finally leaving the toxic abusive relationship I met Mr. Hotnspicy Rooster and we formed a friendship. He made me smile and laugh, something I hadn't done in a very long time. I could talk to him about anything, we connected immediately. 3 months after we became friends we decided that we both liked each other as more then friends and started a relationship.
I was so happy with him but I was not happy within myself and not ready for a relationship so soon after ending the last one. I had never really dealt with all of my own issues. I struggled with my past on a daily basis. I had many conflicting feelings and I was confused. I didn't feel I deserved to be so happy, I felt Mr Hotnspicy deserved someone better then me so sometimes I'd just push him away. Since I had had an A in my previous relationship I had even more of a reason to hate myself. The minute something came up that made me feel insecure or unloved I would often react to Mr Hotnspicy Rooster as if he were my X. I was still pretty messed up. Mr Hotnspicy Rooster tried to just blow it off when I treated him badly because he knew the abuse played a big part in my problems.
So instead of talking to me about how I hurt him he often just stuffed his feelings, thinking they would just go away. He did this so long that he ended up resenting me a lot. We had severe communication problems. One night when he was working out of town and I was feeling insecure I blew up at him as if he was my X and I said some very hurtful things to him. Instead of calming down and then trying to talk it over with me he went out alone and got drunk. He met a girl and began talking to her, one thing led to another and he took her back to his hotel. We were both 50% responsible for the breakdown of the relationship; he is 100% responsible for the A.
How To Get Over The Anger Towards Yourself? Submitted by NoClue
Anger towards yourself usually comes after the fog goes down and you realize what a mess you did. Usually when this type of feeling happens I will post here to get as much input as I can and see from others who went through the same steps as me. I will also take time for me that night and just relax and listen to my best concert on DVD. For me it's the Eagles Hell freezes over concert.
This DVD has a way to calm me. I also do meditation to help me cope with all the questions I may have towards myself. Basically having time to relax, and enjoys time with myself helps alot. Once this is all done I usually have received many messages from members her and I am able to go through them with a calm head since I just relaxed listening to my DVD.
You basically need to step back and relax. You cannot fix everything right away but if you do feel like doing so, it's always better to do it with a relaxed head than and anxious head.
Is being a sex addict a cop out? Submitted by Maia
Confessions of a Sex Addict: SA. It stands for Sexual Addiction or Sexual Abuse, depending on who you are talking to. Many times, an addict was an abuse victim. I remember telling my A partner that I'd looked at an SA site and it made me want to masturbate. Sick. But true. It made me want to howl, it hurt so much. I remember sitting in a diner at 4 am and ending up with the man in the booth next to me...in his car and then later at a hotel. And wanting to vomit afterward. Or going in to a boys dorm in college, performing the sex act and leaving. No one even knew I knew the guy. A few episodes out of HUNDREDS like them.
I remember looking at cat in heat and thinking.. that's me. I'm a beast. I'm out of control. No boundaries. I could not say no. If a man propositioned me, I went there. And when I was afraid or needed to feel better, I went and prowled. Unless I was married. I didn't do this when married. No, instead I wrapped myself in 100 pounds of fat so I'd be unattractive and found a stack of seedy novels to masturbate to in my first marriage, before finally leaving my husband. And in my second marriage I hung onto an old flame, an emotional affair that finally became physical and blew up in my face, made me see what I was.
"The sex is shameful. The addict feels shame about what he or she is doing, or more accurately, about what he or she has done, usually immediately after engaging in sex acts that violate some of the person's standards. Or the shame may be denied by calling it normal for "a real man," or by focusing on others: "She wanted it," or by engaging in it again right away so the shame is exchanged for pleasure. Thus a married man may feel remorse after having sex with his best friend's wife, rationalize that his friend wasn't sexually satisfying her, and avoid going to bed with his own wife afterward by staying up and masturbating while watching a movie on the sex channel.
The sex is secret. The sex addict more and more comes to live a double life--perhaps well-known, respected and admired in his visible life but secretly engaging regularly in sexual acts that would be shocking to those who know and love him. So a sexually addicted minister could be revered on Sunday morning for preaching on the sinfulness of adultery and fornication and then engage in those behaviors himself at a modeling studio or adult bookstore on Monday afternoon, having told the church staff or his family a lie about his whereabouts. Or a gay man might tell his relationship partner that he is going to visit a friend but goes to a park to cruise for anonymous sex instead.
The sexual behavior is abusive. It violates someone else's choice or exceeds their understanding. There is the man who manipulates or coerces his date into being sexual with him; the woman in a partially unbuttoned blouse who bends down toward an unsuspecting male coworker and "accidentally" exposes her whole breast; or the man who seeks out crowded shopping malls so he can meander among the throng to "cop a feel." Or adult men and women who manipulate the trust of children and abuse their power over them by tricking them into performing sexual acts with them. This is exemplified by the teacher who becomes sexual with a student, a scandal we've seen recently in the news, or the neighbor who hires a boy to mow the lawn and then invites the child inside and lures him into sex. The sex may also be abusive to the sex addict him or herself, such as masturbating to the point of physical injury or cutting or pinching oneself for sexual arousal."
"A distinction has been made between sex addiction and what is referred to as sex and love addiction. The latter has to do with an addictive pattern of establishing love relationships with specific people, where the person and the relationship, as well as sex with the person, are all part of the appeal to the addict. While these same elements are normal in a healthy love relationship, sex and love addicts can never find fulfillment and permanence in any of the love relationships they begin. They keep seeking satisfaction in another relationship but find it empty, demanding or anxiety-provoking instead.
Sex and love addicts may have several love relationships with different people going on at the same time or they may pass serially from one to the next, leaving each when the initial "love high" wears off. Or they may have a major love relationship, such as a marriage, complete with home, children and other signs of permanence, but keep returning periodically to one or more former relationships or create secret relationships with new people. Sex addiction, by contrast, usually is a preoccupation with sexual arousal and sexual release which often has little to do with who the person is and requires no relationship. On the contrary, to the sex addict, what counts is the charge he or she gets from the image, whether it's a stranger spotted in a car or on a street corner, or stimulating body parts, an erotic picture, or the addict's own fantasy."
That is what psychology says about it. I personally think men lean more toward sex addiction, women toward love addiction or a mix. I was a mix. But then I don't much like psychology. I don't like calling something an illness, it seems that the person who causes devastation is then somehow absolved of responsibility. They were just sick. They couldn't help it. No. Gacy and Bundy were probably insane. They were still responsible for their actions. Taking responsibility is important. Anyone who doesn't take responsibility isn't serious about changing.I'm not going to debate here whether or not this is a valid disease. I am just going to note what an old book says about it. The Bible. It's in there.
Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Rom 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
Rom 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Rom 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Rom 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Rom 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
Rom 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Rom 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Rom 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Rom 1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Rom 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Do you see it? This passage says that people get totally out of control. Unable to do what is right. I personally do not believe that without the power of Jesus Christ anyone can overcome this state of being. In Judges, Israel becomes enslaved. Then they are sold. Then they cry out for help. Then God raises up a Judge to rescue them. Then they find an idol. Then they fall into immorality. Then they are enslaved. Then they are sold, then they cry out... it's a cycle. Idolatry leads to immorality.
Shrinks call things that we use for support "sources of validation." They say that this behavior is a source of validation. God calls it an idol. Whatever you call it, it is what you turn to most for help, solace, release, de-stressing, a pick me up, a shot in the arm, a shelter. Most people do this in healthy ways with healthy boundaries. Those who are, lets call it Warped, morally challenged, whatever, do not have normal cues of remorse, guilt, or any sense of boundaries. People who are sexually abused, especially, learn very early to associate love, protective, paternal, trusting love, with sex. And at the same time, they also associate sex with fear and shame. They want to overcome the fear and shame.
Some do it by totally shutting down sexually. Some do it by taking control. Making the act inconsequential, unimportant, with many partners, casual. But with each act they relive the original shame. They're really seeking the safe and pure love they never felt. Also, compartmentalization is like breathing. Because one life happened to you ...say at night, while everyone else was asleep. And when you woke up, the abuser acted like it didn't happen. So you learned to have two lives. One no one knew about it. From an early age. When you get older, you learn to do it for safety reasons, to protect yourself. When a relationship gets too close or you get scared, you check into your other life. To not have that is scary.
Do I think God understands what happened to me as a kid? Absolutely. Does my past abuse give me the right to do whatever I want? no matter who it hurts? No. I am still responsible for my own purity. I am still responsible to do what is decent and right. And I am ABLE to do so. I always was. I have a lot of lies that I've believed that I have to overcome. I don't like psychology, like I said. So using this passage Romans as my blueprint, this was my plan to overcome my "Warped" state.
Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
What does that have to do with anything?
"To glorify" means to have an accurate estimate or opinion of. Guess what? My opinion of God was not really all that pleasant. Oh, I mouthed the right words but deep down I'm thinking, " You bastard, how could you let me be hurt like that? I'm not going to trust you. I'm going to do things my way." I was pissed. God was sovereign, in control of all things and he let me SUFFER. Dammit I was going to use the 10 commandments like checklist and break every damn one. Break His heart. I had to deal with Him, and how I saw Him. His heart was already broken for me. On a cross. Literally. I had to learn who He was, decide if I liked Him, much less loved Him. And trust Him. And turn to Him for solace and comfort and rescue and cleansing and okay... VALIDATION. Glorify Him as God. Give Him control of me, body and soul. I had to learn what love was. He is love. Real love. Safe love. Good daddy love. An accurate estimate or opinion of. He created me and God doesn't make mistakes. I am loved. He died for me. I am pure. I have HIS purity and righteousness. Believing that has been crucial.
I had to be thankful.
Thankful. It sounds simple, but it isn't. Have you ever just stopped and given thanks for the fact that you can breathe? Walk? See? I had to quit focusing on pain and start focusing on good things. Blessings. Give thanks. Yes, even for the past. Because all of my times were in His hands and He brought me through it. I had to come to a place of acceptance. I had to trust Him with my past and my present and my future.
I had to let go of vain imaginations.
This is where it gets tricky. You have to believe truth and not lies. You cannot give in to bad scenes that pop into your head and let them play, you have to replace them, release them. You cannot react to someone who loves you as if he is one who violated you, think "I can't trust" because of someone who hurt you. You have to react and respond to people as they are, not respond to ghosts of times past. You can't think about and dwell on "what-ifs" You have to identify lies you believe and replace them with truth. And you can't be lured into old habits.
Example: I caught myself looking up my high school sweetheart on Reunion.com well after my D-day of my affair. I had to stop and ask, why? Answer: I was remembering him and looking for a fix. Turning to someone besides my husband. I stopped, confessed it to God and cried. And asked God to help me to lean on Him. Then I poured out my troubles to God in prayer, my loneliness, my fears. My high school sweetheart was a monster but for those few moments I'd made him into a prince. A vain imagination. An idol. An escape. He is easier to turn to than God. He has skin and I could see him. I also don't have to live with him. By escaping into that I can avoid my husband and the real work of loving him. But it is a vain imagination. Question everything.
I try to take these three steps daily now. I've caught myself, in the year that I've been working on it, becoming more and more normal in my reactions to people. To my husband. I hope someday it won't have to be such a conscious thing. But for now it is. Are you married to someone who struggles with fidelity? I don't know if they are Warped, an addict, out of control, or if they are using the idea as a copout, a way to avoid blame. I don't know their heart. All I can tell you is that this struggle can be very, very real. And dealing with it is no picnic. I'm lucky enough to have someone who understands me and loves me as I am. He shows me the love of God every day. This can be overcome. But the person has to admit the depth of the problem, admit the depth of their inner shame and struggle, and be willing to be held accountable and work to overcome it, day in, day out. And no, I do not believe you can overcome it without faith. I think you can bandage it and get better, but not really ever be free.
So do what you must, but face it. Deal with it. Don't believe the lie that you cannot change. You can. You can be free.
What Is Owning Your Shit? Submitted by chiky
Owning your shit means setting your pride aside and being blatantly honest with yourself, being accountable and taking full responsibility not only for the choices that you make but the consequences that come along with those choices without justifying, rationalizing, blame shifting or using self delusion to pacify your own conscious. We are extremely apt at talking about what So and So did to us and how what So and So did to us impacted our lives, hindered us from doing this or that BUT often we neglect to admit what WE contributed to our own situation. Owning our role does not take away from what the other person did but we can only control our actions. Focusing on our part is potent medicine because we are able to concentrate on that which we have the power to change: ourselves and our actions.
Only when we let go of our inner victim can we truly extract the lessons to be learned from our experiences. In being forthright and truthful, then and only then can positive change and personal growth occur. If you can't confront the hard naked truth about yourself, your choices and their consequences, then you're not truly taking ownership of your shit. When we fail to own our shit we don't just fail to be true to others, we fail to be true to ourselves and that is a failure that is certain to lead us down the path of destruction that we have walked at least one too many times already.
For me, the failure to be true to myself was the first betrayal on the destructive path I once walked, from there it was a treacherous downward spiral. Owning my shit allows me to steer clear of the path of self destruction. Owning my shit also helps me learn to love the person I see when I look into the mirror.