Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wednesday Word Hug: Adjust Your Sails


  1. Part 1 I was humiliated when I found my husband cheated. What did I do to cause him to stray into another’s bed? It was because I was inadequate so I felt inadequate. While he was smiling at his achievements, our culture says he deserved it or it is understandable. Me I had the character flaw. I had a lack of a certain behavior, like the ability to meet his needs. It was easier to blame myself even though I had no control over what was happening. After all I did nothing to prevent this. I’m not important and certainly not valuable as I thought I was. Being valued by my H was a part of me. Then the majority of my life was a lie. I lied to myself. I was alarmed, confused, humiliated, disposable and replaced. How was I to evaluate myself when what I thought no longer existed. Well I’m gullible that’s for sure. I was made to feel less. Feeling less is degrading. How could I allow myself to be deceived? Now I try to defend myself which is exhausting. I’m being assaulted by my H and myself. Why did I think this way? Why did I stay stuck so long? Nice guys gaslight. My guy still gaslights me. I’m so fucking used to it I thought it was normal. I thought only bullies gaslighted. You know the really big assholes. Little assholes do it too. I knew he tried to manipulate me in certain ways but after I did a little research on the subject he does it all the time. No wonder my self-esteem was circling the toilet just waiting for someone to pull the handle. The affair was the toilet and he pulled the handle then he used the toilet brush to make sure I was goner. My guy gaslights all the time. I’m writing this because I wish I knew then what know now.

  2. Part 2 I’m still confused because not all the information is known to me. The bits and pieces of information makes me feel like he is still intentionally lying. I understand his disgust for me. My loyalty just irritating and burdensome. I expected this from an enemy but not from my H. It is the ultimate rejection from the person who knows me the most. If I can save a woman one tear,day of pain,day of anger then it is worth trying to explain it as best I can. It makes sense to me but it may not to you and that’s ok. It feels like something doesn’t add up sometimes. Elle says at some point you have to let it go. If I really understood gaslighting then there would nothing left to let go. His lying by omission makes me feel like I need to ask just the exact right question so I’m responsible for getting the truth. Lies by omission for him is a long-time pattern which I have been conditioned to accept. He determines I can’t handle the truth, it would hurt me more which leaves me with more self doubt about myself. I look at myself like something is wrong with me if he cannot be honest. At first I didn’t see he is unable to tell the truth. He says I knew it would upset you, so I lied to spare your feelings. I’m protecting you so I’m lying out of love. Lying out of love. He wants me to have HIS truths. How can I ever disagree with that? My gut tells me one thing how can I prove it? He shifts attention away from the my assumptions by I’m over reacting. I try to apply logic, “Well I did ask if he bought her jewelry, a watch really isn’t jewelry. I can’t call it lying, guess it was a misunderstanding.” Then I look irrational.I need to get more specific then when I’m asking. I get more specific then I’m jealous, insecure and not reasonable. I don’t know if this is intentional or not. He is trying to control how I feel. I can’t make him tell the truth and this is what drives me nuts. There are ways I could have said something differently but the same is true for him. Omissions are partial information to hide the entire truth by giving the impression of honesty. This doesn’t give me the whole picture. He knowingly gives me false information to rely on. Feeling stuck? Not telling the all the truth places the responsibility on me to find out the truth. I have no way to prove or disprove what he is telling me. He likes this. Feeling stuck? He suggests my feelings aren’t valid or I’m are overreacting. Now my opinion is flawed. He says it not my behavior I’m are just thinking about in the wrong way, I have a perspective based on my past so it is not normal. He is pinning the blame on me. Feeling stuck?To me feeling stuck is also manipulation on his part so I’m constantly going through my own mind if I’m right, reasonable or selfish. I have to keep remembering I’m not the problem. My investment in my marriage was not the problem, it was his lack of investment on his part. My H discovered he wanted to save our marriage the minute he was caught. Total transparency is proof. Employees get put on probation, don’t they? No contact is proof. Bad drivers lose their license, don’t they? Get a STD test is proof. A bank charges you for a bad check, don’t they? Respect m boundaries is proof. A shoplifter gets arrested, don’t they? I can’t prove or disprove what he says about the affairs and it is not my responsibility to get the truth out of him. Just because this involves love doesn’t mean that I don’t need proof to believe who he says he is. I’m not responsible for giving anymore at this point, accepting his gaslight or blaming myself. Here is an example. My H and I played Bridge last night. Bridge has rules just like any other game. He did not follow the rules. Our score could have been higher. I said I would have answered.. Then he says to me, why didn’t you..I thought you would..Then I said no, you didn’t follow the rules. He just smiled at me. After a hand of bridge, you usually discuss how you could have played it differently because it is a strategy game. So, it just was a normal conversation in a Bridge game. HE KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING.

    1. LLP - And we wonder why we feel like we're going crazy - it's because we are!

      I have finally come to the conclusion that my expectation that someone would handle things the way I would handle them if the roles were reversed is WAY is setting the bar way to high.

      They always know what they are doing. Everything thing they do is a conscience effort. Manipulation becomes a game ... can they stay 1 step ahead of us? Can they push the thread as far as they can without breaking it?

    2. Someone needs to create a step-by-step course in how to spot gaslighting. It's sooo insidious.

      LLP, thank you for putting your experience up here. Brave explorations.

    3. I feel it becomes part of who they are. Or at least for my husband. He just did it without realizing. I think at first it was a self preservation tactic. He said he could not look at me in an honest way since that would have made him the asshole. Or ever a bigger one than he knew he already was. So I became the enemy. Anything he had to tell himself to not feel like a dirt bag. Beyond the affair issues I saw how this mentality affected all aspects of his life. It was always pushing the boundaries on anything to his benefit. Little white lies here and there. Also surrounding himself with people that push the limits and lie. And these people brush it off as the are having fun, not hurting anyone. Anything from buying friends a meal with their work expense account, lying to their spouse about golfing, lying to their spouse about getting "one more" drink while watching the game, etc... I could go on and on. My husband was always one to follow the saying it is better to ask for forgiveness than beg for permission. Well that has been a big aspect of rebuilding our lives. Working through this aspect of his personality that became a habit. Initially every minute of his day was accounted for. Any deviation he called or texted. This did become a habit and now when he is out and not at work basically or something pre planned he is in constant contact. He never did that before. He did what he wanted. I am very independent and thought nothing of it. Well now he admits the second he pulled out of the driveway he forgot about us and acted as if he was not married. It was his escape.

      All of this is mind boggling to me and I will never really comprehend any of this behavior. I could not even imagine or pretend to do what he did. It makes me sick to think about in an abstract way.

    4. Selkie, I think a step by step guide is a great idea. Some sort of program. I should suggest that to my husband... I think it is hard because when I look at our marriage much of the gaslighting became a habit. So over time like 20+ years I think he honestly wore me down. In some ways I wonder why I did not challenge him. But I am so independent and always have been. I crave my alone time.

    5. Still Standing 1May 24, 2018 at 4:20 AM

      LLP this is incredible. I feel like you could teach a course on helping women determine if their partner is gaslighting them. Lesson 1: no, you are not crazy. Lesson 2: No, you are not making a big deal out of nothing. Lesson 3: If it doesn't feel right, its probably not.
      Lesson 4: Ask for the proof You need.
      Thanks so much for sharing your incredible insights.
      And I'm sorry his behavior in the bridge game was triggering. I would have been so furious in your shoes. Sending you a huge hug. xoxox0

    6. hopeful 30 thanks for sharing your experience. Means alot to me.

    7. Kimberly you are so right in what you said, thank you

    8. Selkie, Good idea, I wonder if someone has written a good book on gas lighting? I have stop reading about self help books for awhile. I will look for a GL book. I'm reading how to tell if someone is lying.

  3. LLP it seems like the gaslighting is a major barrier to your marriage right now. Have you had a frank discussion about what gaslighting is and why it is further damaging your relationship and you, personally? My husband was continuing to lie to me for the same reason; he said he wanted to protect me from more pain. He wanted to protect what was left of our relationship. He knew the whole truth would further damage me. But I had an unrelenting need to keep asking about certain details because they weren’t adding up. I finally yelled at him “I need you to tell me the truth because all of these lies have made it so I question my own intuition about everything now. This feels like a lie! You either need to tell me the truth, or if it is true you need to treat me compassionately for not being able to let it go. If you’re lying you are gaslighting me and that is damaging! I need to have all the information I’m asking for so I can decide what to do. If you lie, I’m staying here under false pretenses and that is unfair to me.” And he finally told me what I knew all along anyways. That the affair didn’t end in October but continued until DDay. And I told him that his minimizing was to protect him, not me, but I’m not sure if it’s that black and white.

    The lying and gaslighting can not continue it is unhealthy and unsafe.

    After that conversation everything changed. We focus on bigger issues than the specific details. He is an open book now, and he sometimes helps me by asking if I really want to know the answer, how will the answer change anything or help me? And that gives me time to think if proving to myself that I’m right is more important than knowing if he was fucking her xyz day. He said, wasn’t I disrespectful enough? Do you need more proof of that?

    If your H can’t give you truth how can you ever trust him? Doesn’t he want your trust back? It’s the single biggest issue that needs to be overcome in reconciliation in my opinion. Maybe if he can understand that he can begin to earn it back. That is what happened for me.

    Thinking of you and wishing you the best.

    1. Thanks Nor Cal, you are right. No I have not talked about it. I just can't. He has tried so hard at a second chance in other areas that I just can't. I wish I had but I feel like I can't now. I don't know why either. I'll just chip away for now. He admitted he has a hard time telling me the truth because he is scared of me. Maybe that is gaslighting too. Anyway, my H is an old guy, good companion, fun so I will take that alone. As I have been reflecting on my healing road, what made it harder than it needed to be because I wasn't bold enough, I just want to share it with the brave women I love. For our marriage it is too late for him to fix himself completely. Now if he had 20 years ahead of him then yes, I would challenge him. He has major health issues so I'll go for fun as long as it lasts. I'm not looking for the major love of my life. I already found it and I know I will NEVER get married again. NEVER. On the trust issue, I don't think he cares if I trust him or not. It is just not a big deal to him. But he knows it is for me. He hasn't done one thing in the last 5 years to make me doubt him. I'm just relenting that I let him gaslight me for all those years. It make sense why I turned into a critical mean bitch. But at least I see it when it comes now and make him stop it. I'm glad some of you are young enough to keep fighting. I'm buying a hot tub this weekend with my money for myself. I have wanted one for 20 plus years. Life isn't all bad.

  4. Today is a big day of adjusting sails for me. The OW is home from college for a month and a half. I have remained in contact with her since DDay and now I’m going to see her regularly for a bit. I’m also going to participate in a conversation between all three of us so she can get all of her questions answered by my H and he can apologize to her. We are trying to move forward in a healthy way and I am not sure what that looks like. I get full veto power on any arrangement and my comfort is the priority. I’m trying to do right by two people who have betrayed me but still both love me. This is the hardest thing ever. Wish me luck.

    1. NorCal - you truly are my hero. Your grace and compassion throughout all of this is amazing.

    2. Grace and compassion interspersed with rage and self pity to be clear!

      I’m really trying hard to help this girl. It would be way easier to just say fuck you, get out of my life but I know that is the wrong move for her.

    3. NorCal, Wow, Amazing!!! I am sure it is hard but you are moving forward in such a graceful way. You are inspiring.

    4. Gosh NorCal, this sounds really heavy.
      What do you think of only meeting in the presence of a counselor that you trust?

    5. Still Standing 1May 24, 2018 at 4:21 AM

      NorCal, you are an incredible human. Grace and compassion with rage and self pity sounds like all of us at some point. We are all made of all of those things. You have so much to be proud of, I hope you recognize that and extend some of that grace and compassion to yourself.

  5. I feel like I’ve been adjusting my sails for the last 4 years! I can’t fathom how on earth I am still able to do the daily things I have to do and not be broken again! My h finally understands the damage he caused and he is quick to sense a trigger and he has learned how to help me through them. That said he hasn’t got the memory of that first year post dday and he hasn’t a clue about the dates of any of them. He barely remembers the months that he was into the affair and can only remember how desperate he was to get rid of her before I moved to our house in 2013. He was so lonely is what he was telling himself to justify his choice. I wouldn’t ever know so it would not hurt me except...she decided I needed to hurt just as bad as she was hurting because of his rejection of her for our relationship. I had a hard time understanding how he could allow this person that he had ‘feelings’ for almost destroy both of our sanity and relationship. I have learned a lot these last years and I’m so much stronger than I was and yet, I can still crumble into a sobbing mess if I think about that time to long. Five months into the full time care of my mother doesn’t leave me much time to drift into the past so I just keep pushing forward one day at a time. I’m glad I don’t have the need for any more detail of that time because I’m pretty sure that my h now wishes that he never met this woman and that he hadn’t been the weakest asshole of the year!

  6. I know I'm wallowing in a pool of self pity at the moment but damn if my sail doesn't seem shredded right now.

    Next week marks our 15th wedding anniversary. I just do NOT want to acknowledge it. I haven't felt married for the past 11 months ... why celebrate it? I broached the topic with him yesterday because he commented that he'd been laying awake at night thinking about what to do for it (this, of course, was only brought up when I grilled him on why he was once again not sleeping ... since the sleeplessness always seemed to happen when he was back in communication with her).

    My 40th birthday is next month. Gah. 40. It's the age my mom was when all of her health issues started. She was gone by time she was 44.

    And of course ... 3 days AFTER my 40th birthday is DDay Anniversary #1.

    I'd give anything to simply disappear for the week BUT ... the day after DDay Anniversary is my daughter's birthday.

    I think it's time to take out the old sewing needle and start mending the shreds in my sail ... because I can't change course until it's fixed.

    1. I struggle with many of these days. I honestly feel best about dday. I feel like maybe it was rebirth if we continue to make it through this. I guess even though I did not get full disclosure it was the start of transparency and authenticity. More than I can say for our wedding day...

      Granted this is driven by my husband he has been big on trying to celebrate but find a new way to celebrate. If we always went to a certain restaurant or on a trip to a certain city we changed it up. He has told me this is called a "corrective emotional experience". It takes time but basically by creating new memories it can help ease the pain. I am not saying it isn't there for us even at 3+ years past dday. I hate wearing my rings still, I hate all of our wedding gifts especially the personalized ones, I hate thinking about where we took all of our anniversary trips....It is as if I am transported back to those exact places and I start to second guess myself and wonder why I did not see what he was doing.

      In the end there are so many layers to this process. For me it was getting some level of honesty, setting boundaries, working through the pain, and now it is working on our marriage. I think we are both in the mode where we want to be vigilant. Kids, work, life make it a challenge. We have scaled back everything we do not have to do. But we are both tired and worn down. The other thing I would say is at about 1 year past dday and since then I have been very direct with him. I tell him what I want him to do exactly. If I want him to surprise me for our anniversary I tell him that or if I do not want to go to "x" restaurant I tell him. I feel like the only way to make this work is if we are both totally upfront and honest all the time. I tended to go with the flow but no more.

      Hang in there. These milestones are hard but assess how far you have come. Take inventory. Think about if you are getting what you need and if not talk about what else you need.

    2. That sounds next to impossible, Kimberly. As it's your 40th, I think you totally could escape for a week if that what seems best for you.

      I'm not sure how old your daughter is (whether she would be with you for that week or not).
      Or arrange to leave a bit earlier so you can return on her birthday and focus on her special day.

      Do not stay waiting for those milestones in a place you don't feel good in.

      Your sail has every right to a holiday season before it billows forth again.

    3. Kimberly,
      I understand much of what you've expressed on BWC, and what you've posted here about your shredded sail resonates with me. I wish I could hug you! I wish I could tell your H what an idiot he is -- and make him BELIEVE IT and WANT TO CHANGE!

      I turned 45 this past January. I understand the milestone bday, like you turning 40. I have never worried about growing older... the physical changes, the mortality questions, the other negative labels some apply to women aging... but, damn if my thoughts haven't wandered there recently. How do I want to spend the rest of my life? My daughter just graduated high school and will go away to college in Aug. She has her whole life in front of her, and I am so excited for her! My son will turn 16 in a few weeks...another blessing and something to look forward to! He's discovering who he is and is starting to think more about life after high school.

      Then... I think about next month in general...lots of difficult dates ahead, like you mention in your post. Next month, my H turns 43. Next month, my son turns 16. Next month, I should be celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary. Next month, my H's family gathers to celebrate summer bdays and wedding anniversaries.

      My H and I have been separated since late January. I have given him a late July deadline; he must decide by then if he wants to come home and focus and WORK 100% on our marriage or not. Dday 2 yr mark is early Sept.

      I have been honest, open, vulnerable. I have been strong; I have been weak. I have been understanding; I have raged. I have asked for what I want/need; I have listened to what my H wants/needs. I have changed FOR ME. I have tried so damn hard to understand my H and recognize how he's changed. I have been wise; I have been gaslighted.
      I have tried to live post Dday with grace and strength. I have tried not to complain about taking on the responsibilities of running a household, living as a single parent, taking care of three dogs... because I can't imagine scheduling time to simply BE with my children or their furry siblings.

      ...and I wonder how many times I can continue to repair and adjust my sails.

    4. Jo as many times as necessary I’m sure.

      I hope you are taking time to enjoy these last few months with your daughter! My oldest left for college last August. I was angry for a long time because I missed so much of last summer fighting for my marriage when I should have been spending it with him. Time truly doesn’t slow down when we need it to.

      I think the great thing about being a middle aged woman (gulp) is that we can do whatever the fuck we want! LOL ... go be a cougar ... go find a sugar daddy ... go back to school ... whatever we’ve ever wanted to do but didn’t because family responsibilities got in the way.

    5. Thank you, Kimberly. ��

      I have been enjoying this time with my daughter... we actually had lunch and then shopped today. She and I are close, and I'm thankful to especially have this summer with her. I'm a teacher, so that really helps this year. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about spending time with your son. No, time sure doesn't slow down when we most wish it would!

      "...we can do whatever the fuck we want!" I agree, sista! I want to put your words on a t-shirt!



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