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Recently I’ve been reading a fellow blogger who was on the cheating side of infidelity. His writing is open and honest. I respect his thoughts and many of his points of view. I suspect he’d take exception to parts of this posting where I’m going to talk about becoming what my SO (significant other) has made me. Or rather, fighting against, what he has made me into.
This particular blogger I refer to might take exception to my feelings here based on his very strong belief that people cheat because their deepest needs are not being met and in that regard the betrayed spouse holds some responsibility in the affair. He states that is NO EXCUSE for cheating. I respect that. I agree with him that it takes two and that the betrayed partner is often (usually) part of the equation. I also agree there is no excuse for infidelity. A person has to make a choice to cheat and there are other choices that could be made. Never the less I can relate to and understand the feelings he has and I’ve been near his territory before. Toying with the appeal of an affair as a way to escape the relationship I found myself in. Had circumstances been different, it may have been me who strayed first. However, there’s one difference to note between us. In his situation he met and become attracted to one person and the affair was both physical and emotional. Very much so. In my situation my SO’s affairs were repeated and vast and mostly physical. While cheating on someone you profess to love is never the right answer, it’s at least easier for me to understand the lure of believing life with a particular individual could be so much better than current life. It’s also easier for me to relate to those who have strayed on a momentary lapse of judgment. One where all the surrounding circumstances simply stacked up in a way that led them to a terrible choice that is deeply, severely regretted and won’t be repeated. But in my heart, a person who cheats repeatedly, is a very different animal. It’s not the appeal of a better “love” and commitment with someone else. It’s not a case of a single lapse of reasoning. It’s a pursuit! It’s a chase. It’s a refusal to give yourself fully over to someone. It’s constant activity, the deliberate and conscious seeking out of new experiences. They may do so for very deep reasons that have little or nothing to do with their partner, or they may convince themselves they are justified in doing so because their partner doesn’t fill their needs. Usually it is a combination of those things. Whatever the reasons they do it, loving a serial cheater is a life altering thing.
I’ve talked recently about how everything is changed after affairs are discovered. How all the memories and events of the past take on new light or lose their meaning. I said nothing is safe from that irrational alteration, not even myself. My logical psychology oriented mind understands this. My emotional person does not. I’m a woman who’s identity has been fractured.
Am I having an identity crisis? No! Has my self esteem been bruised? Hell yes! Obviously. How could it not be? Yet I’m battling something different than these two things. What I’m finding is that I’m secure in knowing the value of me. I have a pretty healthy self image. I feel good about myself even though I can identify my flaws or weaknesses. I’m confident in myself as I make my way through life and I feel desirable on many different levels. I know my strengths, enjoy them, cherish them. I know where I lack and strive to improve those areas but I also accept them. Sure, sometimes that inner voice says who’re you kidding, who do you think you’re fooling? You’re nothing special, you’re going to mess this up. They’re going to discover you’re not so smart, not so talented, or so pretty. Everyone has that voice. That occasional self doubt. For me it’s the voice of my inner little child. A carry over from trying to be all things to all people since a very young age. But it’s a voice that is mostly quiet. Overshadowed by my daily confidence and security. Bottom line. I like me. I’m a pretty neat person with a very good heart.
So what’s the problem? The irrational problem I have is that I no longer feel I’m that person in his presence. In his presence I feel like I’m pathetic for accepting such betrayal for so many years. In his presence I feel like I’m all the things he used as an excuse for cheating. Even though he claims that he was intimidated by everything I am and had placed me so highly on a pedestal that he felt he might never be able to reach me, he also constantly tore me down, as different reasons to justify his life style.
The things he was attracted to and intrigued by in the beginning became things he tried to reject as we progressed. He searched for and noted every flaw, every fluctuation in my weight, every blemish that ever showed. He created a very different image of me in his head. One that said HA! She’s not really all that, why should I be so caught up in her! Then he used that image to help fuel his actions. If I tried to encourage him, I was nagging. If I was silent and let him rant about his problems, then I must not care enough to help him. If I helped him too much I was dominate and seeing him as less of a man, if I expressed myself I was too wordy, too deep or too complicated. If I didn’t express myself I was acting cold and distant. If I didn’t answer my phone immediately on every call maybe I was out fooling around or just didn’t consider him important. When I wasn’t ready to live together I was stringing him along and pushing him away. Whatever it took, he found a way to take my actions or words and twist them into things they never were, never started out as.
In his support group they taught them that it is never your spouse that’s the problem that makes you cheat. The problem is inside of you and your spouse becomes the excuse for acting on that problem. There is a lot of truth in that. The relationship may have many problems that need to be addressed and worked on but just as an affair is a symptom of a troubled relationship, a troubled relationship may very well be the symptom of problems within ourselves. We choose how we act out those problems.
I’m not saying I didn’t contribute to our relationship problems because I did. I became angry and withdrawn and resentful over what he was doing. The healthier thing to do would have been to simply walk away from the toxicity of it all. To leave him to his personal and emotional problems and not try to save him or fix him. He wasn’t going to get better through my help, only he could make a decision to evaluate his life and take control of it again. The more he turned me into some very different person than I am, the more I became that person. The more I accepted his accusations and acted according to them. As senseless as that is, it’s a very common part of human nature. It’s like a child who fails because his parents treat him like he will fail. We mirror the beliefs and thoughts of those people closest to us, the people we love the most.
Now we have reached a stage where he’s told me many of the things he thought and that looking back he can’t even understand now where he came up with those thoughts. But for me the problem remains. I should just be able to accept his words right? To accept it happened and it was a mistake and that he once again sees the “me” he fell in love with in the first place. But it’s not that simple. I wish it were. Maybe it should be. But I’m here to tell ya, it’s not! I still feel like two different people. The person I know I am, that person I am in all other areas of my life. And then there is her…… that other me that I only feel in his presence. The person he tried to tear me down to and a little voice that keeps saying…as long as you stay, you will never be anything more than this person. Only a weak person would accept that.
Irrational? Yes, absolutely. Nothing but. Yet it damn well has a persistent relentless grip on me! Has anyone else experienced this? If so, please share with me. How do you kill off that distortion of a person they turned you into and get back to who you really are?