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I too loved Alison's post on anger. That anger bear is a visceral image. Utilizing the power of anger to fuel YOU and your best self. I am hanging on every word of advice given on your thread.

I am going to update on my own not-so-great-outcome situation in a bit, but I am sitting with some thoughts, advice and truths right now that might also be helpful to you in your situation (some of this is redundant, you already know it all, but sometimes it's helpful for reminders):

1. At this point, all the energy you spend thinking about H, his motives, his thoughts, his perceptions, his decision-making, his wants/needs/desires and his future are all a waste of your precious mental energy. The only person you can understand and deeply dig into is yourself. Save that energy for yourself, and if that feels too indulgent right now, save it for the girls.

2. Having said that, if it is cathartic to write/journal all the things you want to say to H, to get it all out, then do so and move on until the next bout of spinning. Repeat, rinse.

3. Hindsight is 20/20, but I know I am not alone in wishing I had listened to my H when he first started saying his truths to me. That I would have taken him at his word and moved one much faster than I did. I spent so much time trying to fix the situation, give him time to change his mind or find a different alternative. I feel like I wasted a part of my life that I cannot get back. I will use those lessons to pave my path to my best-self, so it is not all for nought, but I am dedicated to not wasting my time any longer. I want to find joy and laughter and the amazing moments with my children again. He is not worth my time. DETACH.

4. Stay above the trees. This is an extension of everything above, but being in the forest was so confusing for me ('he's back!' and then 'he's gone' and 'he doesn't know what he wants so there is still hope!' were all exercises in futility. I wish I stayed at least at the 30,000' view and was able to see the matrix of the forest as a whole and not focus on the individual trees. There are too many d**m trees.

5. Self care won't fix things in this moment. But it will strengthen you for the long haul. I have always struggled with prioritizing self-care, so there are moments when it feels forced, or I don't find enough joy or catharsis in it. But I know it will help pull me out of this in the future.

6. Have compassion for yourself. Deep compassion. Love that little hopeful girl inside of you that has fought so hard for the outcome she wanted. Treat her disappointment in the same way you would your daughter's disappointment.

7. Your feelings WILL change. What you feel now will not last forever. Every single one of us has had a huge shift in our feelings, including you, from the beginning of your story to now. Trust that, even though it is hard.

8. Recognize that you are in a state of trauma and pull out all the stops to acknowledge and heal that trauma, whether psycho-pharmacologically, therapeutically, nutritionally and physically. A IC friend of mine recommended EMDR. I am giving myself the grace I would a person with PTSD.

You are adored and worthy of great things. And you will get them in your life, whether your H is by your side or not.

XX

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I feel so much gratitude to all of you right now, Alison, Scout, Cardinal, Sage, LH.

I need to sit with some of this advice and really embrace it so don't want to fire off too quickly, but want to say that Alison, this post on anger is really powerful for me. I'm really uncomfortable sitting in this anger but I think I need to feel it and understand it and let it flow through me, and get to a place where I can really ask these questions of myself. I have an IC appointment this afternoon and maybe we can spend some time here. She wanted to last week anyway. I couldn't really sleep last night and have a low burn in my chest. I feel it physically, the anger. I think I'm a little afraid of it. I think if I unleash that bear there is no getting her back. And at this point what she wants to do is tear him limb from limb and once she's finished there she'll turn her great angry eyes on what is next to feed her insatiable hunger. Like taking the lid off of Pandora's box.

Now I know this is still me spending time on him and not on me. But when I got angry last week, he said he was going to have to choose to stay in the M because if I was going to be this angry there was no way he could S from me and do this to the kids. I see what you're saying, Alison, about that then being him staying out of fear of my anger and not because he wants to be here. But an ugly part of me wants that, wants him to suffer, wants him to lose the "love of his life" and suffer the endless consequences of his terrible carelessness and selfishness. I can't stand the idea of him riding off into the sunset with this person. I feel like a bad person even typing that out here. But I worry that a part of me is sticking around out of pure petty spite and suppressed anger. Maybe it is about freeing that anger to transform into something else-- which is what I think you're saying in your post-- harnessing the energy into something positive and using it to fill yourself rather than hammering on the barbed wire fence of trying to change someone else and that great beautiful bear getting bloodied and exhausted and emaciated in the process. I clearly have so much more work to do here.

I'll post more later. Just trying to figure out how to appropriately harness my angry bear.


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Alison gave you great psychological advice. From a practical standpoint, the anger must be vented somehow or youíll start noticing worse physical effects than not sleeping or eating.

1. Talk to take the emotional edge off your anger. A parent or sister or friend can be a wonderful source of validation and reassurance. Do you think that youíre ready to start letting people in? Whether D or S is a foregone conclusion or not (and I think it is at their point) you need to start leaning on your trusted circle for support. Donít worry about fear of judgment or what your H will say. This is for you.

2. Write down everything you are holding in. I know you already journal, but directing your thoughts with purpose could help with the anger. The notes app on your phone is handy. I drafted scathing letters to X that I never sent, Facebook posts exposing him and OW, a letter to his mother that I did eventually send, a list of boundaries I was struggling with at the time, canned responses to potential conversations... direct your anger somewhere rather than internalising it.

3. Lean into it by visualising everything that is causing you pain. This is really hard but the idea is to desensitise yourself. Imagine them having s-x. Imagine him kissing her and whispering that he loves her. Imagine them announcing their engagement or worse (I know he said he doesnít want more kids but) a pregnancy. Imagine their wedding with your kids as flower girls. Imagine her as your kids step-mother. If you work through those feelings now, they wonít hurt as much later.

4. Act upon your anger. Generally Iíd say heís not worth the energy BUT you have to be authentic, so give yourself permission to throw some truth bombs if itís what YOU need - not to try and change his behaviour. Just remember you have to be able to live with yourself and you donít want any regrets when it comes to your kids. So be true to yourself. You donít have to stuff your feelings down and you should never feel guilty for your anger when you have been victimised.

5. Buy a punching bag and boxing gloves. Put your Hís face on it if you want. Go to town. You might want to hide this from your kids if you put his face on it smile


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Originally Posted by LH19
That's why it's now important to separate the desire for the person, from the desire for resumption of control, stability, and positive validation. Your brain is telling you that getting H back will restore these things, but it won't.

This resonates. A lot.

Originally Posted by LH19
So ask yourself, what do you want and why do you want it?

For me-- I want a committed, loving partner and friend. H is not that today and may never be that again. For my Ds, I want them to have the best of everything, and to me, that is still a 2-parent household. if that isn't possible, I want to give them what I can control-- a loving, happy mom and home.

I *wanted* so so much to embark on this new consulting career for so many reasons, which I don't think I can do with the uncertainties of D. So that is hard for me to give up, but I know giving it up now doesn't mean forever. I also very very much want to look back at this time and feel no regrets in/re my children, that I did everything I could to work on the M for them. I think that is why I simply am not ready to be the one to make the call to end it, as tempting as it is.

I had a really, really good conversation with my IC this afternoon. We talked about all kinds of things that many of you have brought up here-- what am I getting out of these conversations with H, where my boundaries are, why I can't hold them up. The anger. She brought up emotional labor and said it very much feels like I'm doing this for him and I need to stop. That I'm taking in all his distress and my compassion is letting him off the hook for taking ownership of his own actions. That the anger is a good thing in that it may help stop me from doing his work for him. And she says OK to let it out to him in small doses to push back on him trying to lay all the responsibilities for where we are at my feet.

Scout, all your suggestions around healthy release of the anger are gold. She said if I'm feeling the anger as a physical sensation, that isn't healthy for me to internalize it and I need to let it out.

Sage, I'm copying your suggestions onto my phone to look at them all day long. I think taking my focus off of him and back onto me and the girls is the most important thing I can do. After the session with the IC, the anger has abated somewhat and I feel more centered.

Here are some positive things about today:

-- I was able to get some work done that I've been putting off for awhile.
-- I spent some time in self-care mode
-- IC conversation was terrific
-- no R talks for the past 48 hours (one mini exception which I'll mention in a moment)
-- H being respectful and kind, letting me do my thing
-- girls being fun and funny and cuddly and I love them more than anything
-- MIL bought me a kindle novel that I think will be totally escapist and am totally looking forward to reading
-- made plans with friends for the weekend, H welcome to come but I left him off the planning text thread
-- I know H is looking at apartments on craigslist.

In the IC talk, she said it felt like H filled up the space and even when I was talking about the possible future and what my boundaries were there, that it was still about him. What did I want for ME? (You guys should all be therapists, BTW.) I think I've mentioned before that H had this multi-state month-long trip planned for the summer that we had to cancel and he is really, really bummed about it. Before this last BD we talked about alternatives, staying closer to home, all the great things we could experience without all the tourists and that this is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here. A week or so ago he told me he had booked a campervan to do four weeks locally, which I thought was a good idea (will get him out if nothing else!!). Of course he wants to take the girls. Of course I won't be OK with that if we are S. He continually interprets that as a threat to the extent I simply don't even mention it anymore.

Today, I was thinking about it and thought... there's a boundary that I truly feel and can enforce. I'm not OK going on a trip and playing happy family with H if he hasn't definitively ended things with AP. I don't want to worry that he's off texting her when we are on a trip together. So that can be a good deadline for me and something I'm willing to enforce. And then he's gone for four weeks and that gives me space and he can MO when he gets back. But I wasn't sure when he'd booked the campervan so I asked him when the dates were, he told me, asked me why, I said no reason. he pushed a little and I said I really don't want to talk about it but I do want to say that I don't want to play happy family on this trip if you're still in contact with her. He said, I know that would be weird. And she would feel weird about it too. I said, I don't want to talk about it. he said, aren't you worried I'll decide to stay for the wrong reasons? I said yes. He said I think the moral decision is to stay. But I'm worried it isn't the best long-term choice for either of us. I said nothing. He said what if I'm still ambivalent? What then? I said, you make your decisions and I'll make mine. I don't want to talk about it. And walked away.

I still was a little worried about why I didn't want H to take the kids on this trip, really at all. Was I being petty and mean? Was I just trying to threaten him into staying? But after the IC talk, she really made me feel confident that this is simply a boundary of mine. That it isn't good for the kids if we are Sing to not have a regular routine and being just with dad for a long period of time. Also, selfishly, for me I have never really wanted to spend serious time away from them. I've only done it as a compromise because I gave a $hit what he thinks and I won't anymore. They're only little once and only will want to hang out with me for a few more years, so I want to savor every moment of this that I can. the IC totally supported this and made me feel so much better about it. It isn't a threat, it is a boundary. And there are consequences to having an affair. This is one. Not having both your wife and your lover in your life equally is another. Not living in the basement while carrying on an R with another person. He has to start facing these and he won't as long as I'm enabling him to avoid it. (YOU GUYS! As I typed this I'm realizing you have said this to me over and over. It is finally sinking in.)

So I feel so much more confident and strong about my boundaries than I have to date.

Also, BluWave posted some fabulous stuff on BlueWave's thread that I'm taking to heart too... I'm pushing H to the back of the fridge like an old jar of pickles. This week it will be about me.


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But when I got angry last week, he said he was going to have to choose to stay in the M because if I was going to be this angry there was no way he could S from me and do this to the kids.


That is sheer manipulation and head games. He knows he cant offer you what you want, but he doesn't want to leave either, so he's going to claim he's staying because you're not fit to navigate a divorce in a way he feels is appropriate. Can you see that's some version, more or less precisely, of my H saying to me he isn't leaving because I'm too incompetent to manage on my own? It's another way of failing to take responsibility and putting the blame for that on to your emotional state - which you are controlling and which is highly justified. Even reading this makes me FURIOUS for you. Does it make you angry?

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I see what you're saying, Alison, about that then being him staying out of fear of my anger and not because he wants to be here. But an ugly part of me wants that, wants him to suffer, wants him to lose the "love of his life" and suffer the endless consequences of his terrible carelessness and selfishness. I can't stand the idea of him riding off into the sunset with this person. I feel like a bad person even typing that out here. But I worry that a part of me is sticking around out of pure petty spite and suppressed anger.


This is good May. Your honesty is very good. Anger is not ugly. There are ways to act it out that are not okay - but whatever your anger is saying, no matter how unreasonable, needs your attention. It will not go away and you will not be able to choose your best course of action until you hear this out. Don't be ashamed of being a normal human being. Last weekend I felt like chucking all my H's clothes onto the street. It was petty and unreasonable and vindictive but I had every right to be angry and I needed to hear it out before I could get underneath it.

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Maybe it is about freeing that anger to transform into something else-- which is what I think you're saying in your post-- harnessing the energy into something positive and using it to fill yourself rather than hammering on the barbed wire fence of trying to change someone else and that great beautiful bear getting bloodied and exhausted and emaciated in the process. I clearly have so much more work to do here.


YES. You said to me - on my thread 'you came by those feelings honestly' and you were right and it really helped me. So I am saying it to you. Whatever vindictive and crazy fantasies your anger leads you to, listen to them. I AM NOT SAYING ACT ON THEM. But if your anger is making you want to punish your husband, or humiliate him, or make him suffer, sit with that without shame or guilt and dig underneath and see why. Your anger wants to look after you, but it's like a crazy toddler with badly thought out plans. You can ignore the plan (obviously I wasn't ever really going to chuck my husband's clothes into the street) and try to get at what the protective spirit is. You can do this.

And May - you have every single right to be as angry as you feel like for as long as you feel like. Your husband has acted absolutely terribly and to my mind, the continuing manipulation of you is 100% worse than the affair. I really really really want you to see this, because you can't do anything about his affair or feelings for his mistress, but you can get yourself out of the dynamic where you allow him to manipulate you. You could stop that dead today if you wanted to. I KNOW when you are good and ready, you will do that, and I wish with all my heart I could be in the room to see his face when he realises - really really realises down to his bones - that he doesn't have you as his puppet any more, you are seeing clearly, and you have his number. I would pay good money for that. And I KNOW it will happen when you are ready.

Do you think one of the reasons you might not be ready yet is because there's a part of you that knows if you saw it really clearly and listened to what your anger was telling you, your marriage as it stands would be over? Is that a part of it?

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Originally Posted by AlisonUK
That is sheer manipulation and head games. He knows he cant offer you what you want, but he doesn't want to leave either, so he's going to claim he's staying because you're not fit to navigate a divorce in a way he feels is appropriate. Can you see that's some version, more or less precisely, of my H saying to me he isn't leaving because I'm too incompetent to manage on my own? It's another way of failing to take responsibility and putting the blame for that on to your emotional state - which you are controlling and which is highly justified. Even reading this makes me FURIOUS for you. Does it make you angry?

Yes. I can see exactly how it aligns with you H saying he can't leave because you can't manage on your own. And I agree that it is failing to take responsibility and just shoving the decision back at my feet... well, I guess I can't do what I want to do because May is so unreasonable.

But... I don't feel angry about it. More exasperated. Annoyed. I want to roll my eyes at him and say WAKE THE F UP. Here I am telling you to GO and now you've made up yet another reason why it isn't your fault that you can't walk and are feeling sorry for yourself again. Tbh, it feels less manipulative of me and more pathetic of him. That is actually how I felt about your H too-- not angry, just pathetically funny.

Originally Posted by AlisonUK
Do you think one of the reasons you might not be ready yet is because there's a part of you that knows if you saw it really clearly and listened to what your anger was telling you, your marriage as it stands would be over? Is that a part of it?

Yes, I think so. Although I feel like I already know my marriage is over. It takes two people to be married and he certainly hasn't acted like a married person the last couple of years. It is the shape of the marriage, the house, the children, the comfortable dance in the kitchen in the mornings and the bathroom at night. The person who you can still vent to and who listens and validates and tells you you were right and so-and-so is such a jerk to have said that to you. Who picks up your D when she comes out of her room for the fourth time and can't sleep and goes and lays down with her until she finally passes out. Who makes you a drink after work and says no, sit, I'll take care of the dishes or dinner or whatever. Pays the bills and congratulates you for doing something great and texts silly jokes to your mom.

I know these are just the shell, the shadow of what a real H is supposed to be. But it still does have meaning and I will miss it when he's gone.

And I look at my Ds and my heart breaks afresh in two every. single. time. I think about him leaving. They love him so, so much. D8 was looking at a photo on H's nightstand of the two of us when we were first dating and said she loved that picture. H asked why? She said because you love each other. (This one is a total empath. She takes things so to heart. She has been all over me ever since this all started happening again, wants to sit on me, be my baby, cuddle me in the mornings and at night. I'm so frightened what this is going to do to her. I keep taking my rings off and putting them in a box on my dresser and she keeps checking there and bringing them back to me and putting them back on my finger. I'm not taking them off out of any real reason-- kneading dough or something is the primary reason-- but I also am not putting them back on right away either.)

I know that is a part of it. The IC wanted to know why I was holding more anger for AP than for H. I said, I know i should be angrier with H than with AP. And maybe I just can't quite yet embrace the enormity of his betrayal so it gets placed on her. And somehow she is the personification of all that he did, embodied in this perky marathon-running younger-but-better version of me and I simply can't stand the idea of her being a real human being in my life. So I think partially I'm still deflecting some of the anger that he so deeply deserves around him and to her. Again, yes, maybe to deflect the knowledge that once I fully accept everything that is going on, we are done. We have to be. And I'm not quite ready for that, I guess. Getting closer and closer. But not quite there yet-- at least, not to the extent that I could pull the trigger myself. But I am thinking of setting the July 25 deadline of the scheduled trip-- isn't happening for anyone but H on his own, unless things change mightily, which they won't, so there's a good end date for me.I can handle another three weeks of this, especially knowing that it can't go on forever.

Tonight was a good night. Read my novel, had a couple amazing Belgian beers a friend brought home from Europe, we all watched a fun show, no R talks.


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Wow, just wow. I read here from time to time.

No advice here. I just want to say from my perspective as one who did reconcile that I would not tolerate going to back to that Crazytown you were living in.

This b*tch, the AP, is a real piece of work. And so is he. They deserve each other. It seems as if he needs the crutch of putting you in place as an obstacle to his "true happiness" . I'd call him on that. I still think he would ultimately not go but do you want this anymore?

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I want to roll my eyes at him and say WAKE THE F UP. Here I am telling you to GO and now you've made up yet another reason why it isn't your fault that you can't walk and are feeling sorry for yourself again.


I hesitate to recommend this, as I think we're in different places and I know right now I am more concerned with my own wellbeing than the wellbeing of my marriage, and I don't know if that is a place you want to be in.

But as a thought experiment, what comes up for you when you imagine saying this to him - just putting your own truth right there on the table - and then leaving the room and not listening to any response he has to it?

What does that feel like?

For me, it got to the point where my sanity and wellbeing relied on calling out the truth as I saw it. It does not rely on my H changing his course, agreeing with me, or feeling good about me calling it out. It solely relies on something I can control - getting those truths out on the table as when I see fit to do so.

I suspect your husband really really really needs you to believe the trash he is spinning for himself. And without getting into an R talk where you try to convince him that your way of seeing things is actually the right way, how about you just lay it out on the table that you think this is all self serving nonsense and you see it, and you're not playing anymore?

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Originally Posted by AlisonUK
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I want to roll my eyes at him and say WAKE THE F UP. Here I am telling you to GO and now you've made up yet another reason why it isn't your fault that you can't walk and are feeling sorry for yourself again.

I suspect your husband really really really needs you to believe the trash he is spinning for himself. And without getting into an R talk where you try to convince him that your way of seeing things is actually the right way, how about you just lay it out on the table that you think this is all self serving nonsense and you see it, and you're not playing anymore?


Hi May,

Iíve been following along closely. Iíve had so many things Iíve wanted to respond to on this thread, but I really wanted to chime in here and just say that, for whatever itís worth, I think Alisonís idea is a really good one. I second her recommendation. I think for you personally, as well as for your situation, putting an end to the game heís playing and calling his BS/bluff/whatever it is, will serve and empower you.

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Originally Posted by Newbie20
Wow, just wow. I read here from time to time.

No advice here. I just want to say from my perspective as one who did reconcile that I would not tolerate going to back to that Crazytown you were living in.

This b*tch, the AP, is a real piece of work. And so is he. They deserve each other. It seems as if he needs the crutch of putting you in place as an obstacle to his "true happiness" . I'd call him on that. I still think he would ultimately not go but do you want this anymore?

Newbie!! I have been thinking of you recently and wondering if you ever come back.... wondering what you would think *now*. Thanks for popping back in smile

Alison and Hope-- I've been trying to remember what my response exactly was when he said this to me. I was really, really angry but calm. I may have rolled my eyes slightly. I would say that to be completely honest with myself, in my immediate reaction 75% of me was shaking my head and could have spoken that truth. 25% of me had a little hope bubble pop up (think Joy popping up in the movie Inside Out) thinking oh! Maybe this is how I get my way after all! I shoved her down.

I think I shook my head and said, the kids will be fine. Then I went into a split proposal of when he could spend time with them every day after school and then take half the weekend. That I'd looked at rentals and finances and we could afford for him to have a separate place, that it was stupid for him to want to live in the basement to save money. That wouldn't be good for any of us. These were my truths in the moment, about how I saw the future. In that moment, the 75% part of me didn't really care what my telling him would make him think or do. The 25% hopeful part of me was thinking OK, I am showing him what S/D will really look like and maybe popping his fantasy bubble and confronting the reality of the situation will help him choose to stay. Does he need to live it to understand it? Or could it be like Scrooge's dreams in A Christmas Carol, enough to make him change?

I know I came off as cold and angry to him. I can't really recall him arguing with much of this. I think he went into his sad self-pity mode and went and laid down on the bed (and read the Shirley Glass book). I got an angry "I can't believe you did this on Father's Day" later on but mostly he moped around and felt sorry for himself. I didn't engage.

A few days later, once he had had time to think about all of this and position his arguments, the child care proposal turned into me controlling how we D, it wouldn't be good for the kids, they would need us to be friends, so don't I see how controlling the scenario of splitting up is just him again submitting to me blah blah blah? Why does everything have to be so black and white with me? I said, I wasn't trying to say this is how it would be. I simply made a proposal. I'm assuming we would discuss it. And we fell back into the same dynamic as before.

All that to say... maybe I could do that if it comes up again. I have used the "if that is what you need to tell yourself, OK. That's fine. Go. But I'm not going to make this decision for you" response to him a bunch of times when he's saying he can't choose to stay because (dumb reason A B or C). So far, I can't remember saying anything along those lines in terms of his choice to stay, except for asking me to agree that a particular reason (the house, the life, the children, the trip) aren't good enough reasons to stay, right? To which when I'm weak I've said I don't think those are bad reasons to start out with but you can't end there, and when I'm stronger have said I don't know. This is for you to figure out. Not me.

Part of me feels like telling him that truth in the moment is still doing some of the emotional labor for him and I just don't want to say anything to him at this point that could be twisted into telling him what he should think or do, or what I think is going on in his head. Maybe I can get to that place and see how it goes... but for now I think trying to stay consistent for a bit on simply not engaging in these discussions and holding my boundaries might be the best I can do.

That being said-- thank you for suggesting it, Alison. I will keep it in mind for sure and work towards being there.

I'll share another thing-- for a long time, we've had a difference of opinion on what the next major house expense should be. He has wanted to fix the leaky basement (which makes most practical sense) but I've wanted a privacy fence along one side of the house. This is also somewhat of a prerequisite to getting a dog, which H really doesn't want (but knows I'll get when he goes, and may get regardless). Back in February when he decided to stay, we decided together that fixing the basement was the next most important thing and have been talking about it loosely, but not made any moves. I had some lingering sadness about my fence and my dog. Last weekend I said I really want to do this fence (I was looking at puppies online). And H said... we should do it. This is something you want. I said OK and called a couple of companies and one of them came out to do an estimate today. Usually, he would be the one doing these things but I handled it myself. Anyway. It feels good to be doing something big that I want for myself. I don't know what H's motivation is in this--manipulation, guilt, whatever-- but I don't really care. I am just happy to be moving forward with this thing I've wanted to do for a couple of years.

Last edited by job; 07/04/20 11:40 AM. Reason: edited language

Me (46) H (42)
M:14 T:18, D9 & D11
4/19 - 12/19: series of escalating BDs
9/20 - present: R and piecing
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