I am also the eldest child (two younger brothers). I can completely identify with the need to take charge and fix things. This whole situation is the first in my life where I've felt at a real loss and had to accept that things are in fact out of my control. (Though I still struggle with this. It isn't like a one and done for me.)
It makes sense to me that your ex is a youngest child, too. Fits with his slick shedding of responsibility. But my H is also the eldest of three. Our middle siblings are both the responsible peacemakers and the youngest the spoiled babies. We have both always been the responsible, take charge ones. In fact, we've talked about it (prior to all this) being a source of strife in our M, both used to being in charge. Both of us have always been in charge outside of the sibling relationships too-- at work, on sports teams, etc. I think part of our competitive struggle dynamic in the M was due to this. H was the first BF I had who really challenged me.
Now... in our dynamic, it is less that he refuses to accept responsibility. He understands he made the choices he did and owns them. He just thinks he had really good reasons to do so and is not really willing to accept the fact that maybe those reasons weren't good enough to wreak the damage that he did. That maybe nothing could excuse his behavior-- not the SSM, not twu wuv. Nothing.
God, I have the hardest time seeing myself as a victim. Though yes, I am the victim of abuse. I'm especially angry about the times I didn't even realize what was happening. The times we were in MC and read the 5LL and me telling H, I get it now! I'm so sorry! And him saying... you don't get it, too little too late... and me not realizing that he was in a full-fledged A with another woman. There are thousands of those episodes and each time I revisit one, it stings. More than stings. F-ing hurts.
I have said to him his behavior was abusive, emotional abuse. He was VERY uncomfortable with this-- very quickly went to me being the emotionally abusive one by withdrawing my affection for seven years during the SSM. But I've said it enough that it is there. That an affair is by definition abusive. That the betrayer is by definition indulging in narcissistic behaviors. That the lying and breaking of the marital contract are wrong, wrong, wrong. He likes to dart into this "well, you're judging by your own moral standards.." and I won't have any of that. I don't give a F what anyone else thinks about M. We made an agreement, together. His moral code and mine were the same, when we married. He broke it. No one else's opinion matters.
(As an aside, I think part of his struggle is that he's thinking maybe to justify his behavior he needs to throw that whole moral code away and find a new one that fits with his behavior and no longer makes it wrong. That people weren't meant to be married for life. That he isn't the person he was when we met and neither am I. That marriage is a 20th century construction. It is actually kind of sad to watch him go through these mental gyrations.)
I'm having a hard time letting go, inhabiting the victim role, understanding that this was not under my control and neither is what happens next, on his side.
How can I be the person that cares the least? I can be the person who doesn't give a $hit about him. But I can't not care about my kids. But I so so so am not okay with waking up in the morning with my children spending the night elsewhere. God. You wrote how you dropped to your knees and begged your H not to take your son away. I did the same thing. The thought of losing them, once I finally understood (even before I knew about the A, just knew he was thinking about D) nearly broke me. I thought I would die.
What you say has a lot of power and truth to me. The other side of stopping caring about where H's head is-- detachment-- is pouring that energy into myself. I'm so not used to that. I've been getting there, little by little, I think. But still a ways to go.
Thanks, Scout. xx M
Me (45) H (41) M:13 T:17, D8 & D11 4/19 BD #1 ILYB 8/19 BD #2 Long-distance EA 12/19 BD #3 Actually 2 year PA 2-5/20 R attempt #1 6/20 limbo again, back in contact with AP 9/20-present R attempt #2