neslon
https://www.affairrecovery.com/survivors/samuel/help-betrayed-comparison-affair-partner

Watched the video and yes I have comparison issues.  Not every day and not as bad as it was 2-3 months ago.  Most days the Ant is out of my head but other times when I'm struggling on too many fronts I have the comparison issue.  

I know my self-esteem took a huge hit the year of his affair and post dday.  I KNOW it is up to me to fix this.  I am coming out of the depression.  I am taking steps forward.  I can see improvement but is this my self-esteem or is this self-worth that I can finally see.  

I've done a lot of research and know that from my Christian faith and background that my self-worth is fairly good.  God made me and doesn't screw up.  I have value today even if I accomplish nothing. I deserve love and am lovable because of who I am without any accolades.  I can get that.  

Self-esteem for me has been driven off the roles in my life and I think I put on the cape of perfection too much.  I was super-mom, super-volunteer at school, super-yoga instructor, super-working wife, super-hostess, blah blah blah.  I've stepped back from a lot of these roles...some during the affair...some during the start of the depression...some lately with life changes.  I'm not sure where the healthy self-esteem enters and where to derive it from.  

I need to define myself but does that mean my role of motherhood or wife does NOT define me? or it just can't be the only definition?

I would also think this is a topic for both WS and BS as it seems the WS was looking for value from another person before/during the affair.  Does the WS struggle with where to fill the void after the affair?  
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Dirazz
It does hit ones self esteem very hard! Especially when the AP is so much younger which was in my case. Because I can't change my age. My husband told me many times that she has absolutely nothing better than me. And after seeing her I know it's the truth.
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Keepabuzz
My self esteem took an enormous hit after my wife came clean about her affair. I'm 14 months out from d-day, and just within the past month have started to get it back. I made a conscious decision in my mind that I was done. Done with anti-depressants, done with therapy, but more than anything else, I decided I was DONE letting anyone in this world have any impact on what I thought of myself. What she did had NOTHING to do with anything I was lacking. I am a great father, son, friend, and very successful in my work life. I provide very well for my family. For many years, I was a great husband, until her treatment of me an issues wore me down to a nub, i allowed the resentment to harden me. It's sounds easy to just make the decision, I know. I think I just surrendered to it. I was ready.
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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neslon
I'll be talking about this with my IC this next week as I can see my self-esteem has taken a huge hit and I think my fear is driven off this.  I can't seem to trust that he really wants me.  I know he is with me and in marriage counseling and we are working on it.  His path is different from mine and he is not likely to read a book or look at a forum and it would be unusual for him to do either of these things on any topic.  I need to relax and let time work it's magic also but I seem to be up one day and full of hope and then my anxiety is peeked for some reason like right now and I can barely function.  I'm not sure how to battle this at times.  I'm a task oriented person and just want the steps clearly defined and that isn't going to happen.  The fact he has been travelling more obviously isn't helping but we really don't have another option on that at this time.  I'm not sure what I need from him to even ask for it at this point.
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Dirazz
neslon unfortunately what your feeling is normal. Even though my husband dumped the OW and quit his job ASAP I still had days where I didn't believe he wanted me. Even with him telling me how stupid he was for risking his beautiful wife for someone like her. And was and still is extremely loving I still had days I doubted him. These are stages you have to go through to get to the other side. The key is don't get stuck there to long.
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Keepabuzz
I agree with Dirazz, it sucks, but it is part of the path. I'm wired very similarly to you neslon. I searched and searched for a step by step process, what to do, what to expect. I was not successful, I had to roll with the punches.
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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stormyshay
neslon wrote:

I would also think this is a topic for both WS and BS as it seems the WS was looking for value from another person before/during the affair.  Does the WS struggle with where to fill the void after the affair?  


I apologize but I can get very wordy.  As a WS I can tell you my self esteem has taken an enormous hit following the ending of the affair.  Which is interesting considering one of the reasons I got involved in the affair in the first place was the ego boost I got from this other person. 

I am not making excuses for my behavior.  But my marriage had not been good for quite some time before my affair.  We got married young and had children early in our marriage.  Both of us came from very dysfunctional homes and had no idea what a healthy marriage even looked like.  I felt like I was responsible for everything in our family from the care of the children, running the household, etc. I sacrificed my career to be a stay at home mom which was never something I wanted to do.  We were terrible at communicating.  Any time I tried to voice my concerns or feelings it would end up in a fight.  Eventually I just quit talking to him at all.  But the feelings remained and the resentment I had grew and grew.  I went back to work when our youngest daughter reached school age.  The distance continued to grow in our marriage.  By the time I met my affair partner at work I was so disconnected from my marriage I really didn't even consider myself married anymore.  It was more like my husband and I were roommates or that is how I justified my actions.

Then came along this man who told me how great I was.  He told me I was beautiful and intelligent, which the latter is probably more of an ego boost to me than someone thinking I am pretty. We got along well, we laughed at the same things, had similar views on the world, etc.  For the first time in my adult life I felt great about myself.  I felt like I was attractive, intelligent, and highly capable.  But after several months the illusion began to fade.  This person I idolized in many ways I began to see was incredibly selfish.  I would catch him in small lies or omissions of truth.  I naively believed he would never lie to me which is amusing now that I see our entire relationship was based on a lie.  But what was worse is that I realized I exhibited the very traits I would loathe in another person.  I was a liar, selfish, and I am sure you can add a great many other characteristics to the list.  I did horrible and hurtful things I would have never thought I was capable of in life.  I finally woke up and saw the light.  I ceased all contact with the AP.  Today it has been exactly 3 months since our last conversation.  I wish more than anything I could go back and never get involved in the situation to start with.

The first month was the most difficult I believe I was going through withdrawal from this person.  There were many times I was tempted to break no contact.  But I did not because I felt like it was finally time I start acting with integrity, something I had been lacking for months.  But when you end your affair it is like a vacuum.  You no longer have this other person to validate you and make you feel good about yourself.  Instead you are left with a spouse that feels broken by your betrayal.  You have to look at your husband and see the physical pain and anguish you have put him through.  And at times it feels nearly unbearable. 

I have accepted full responsibility for everything I have done.  On the day I ceased all contact with the AP I disclosed all details related to the affair many of which I am sure my husband would have preferred I had not.  I have been 100% transparent turning over all passwords, account information, etc.  I turned on location services on my phone so my husband can pull up my location at all times.  I have been going to IC for 8 months even before the affair ended because I knew I had things I needed to work through.  I continue to go to counseling each week.  I have read every message board post and every book on affairs that I can including How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair. I arranged for us to go to a marriage retreat a few weekends ago which has helped our communication tremendously.  We are attending weekly follow up sessions related to the retreat.  I am trying but it is incredibly hard.

I was unprepared for how much I would loathe myself after the affair ended.  No amount of ego boost I gained momentarily from the affair was worth it.  The guilt, I feel, may drown me on some days.  I hate myself.  I don't know how I expect my husband to forgive me because I do not think I will every forgive myself.  There have been times the self hatred is so much I have contemplated suicide but I could not do that to my children or husband.  I have made enough selfish decisions as of late and I will not make any more. In addition to considering my actions and the impact they had only my own family I also consider how my AP's family was affected.  In particular how his wife has suffered.  If she has even gone through a fraction of the pain my husband has then she has been in hell.  I always considered myself somewhat of a feminist in the sense that I have always tried to empower other women, support them, and never tear them down.  So the fact that I could carry on with another woman's husband is absolutely appalling to me.  There is no worse thing a woman could do to another woman.  I wish there was some way I could convey to her just how sorry I am for what I put her through.  But there is nothing I could say that could every express my remorse or make amends for the pain I have caused her.    

While I imagine it is incredibly difficult to be a betrayed spouse and feel like so much has been out of your control.  I think there may be some consolation in knowing you did not cause the situation as a BS, you did not step outside of your marriage. But to be the person that is at fault, the WS.  To be the person that knows the situation is of their own making.  To be the person that knows the hurt on my spouses face is there because I put it there.  To be the person that was so incredibly selfish I almost destroyed the lives of my children as they knew it is crushing.   

I think we all, both WS and BS alike, suffer from a severe hit to our self esteem but for different reasons.  I do not know whether I will ever be the same person I was before the affair.  I suspect I will not.  But I am determined to not let it define me and my marriage.  I am determined that I learn and grow from this experience.  I am determined above all to be a better person.  I think all each of us can do is put one foot in front of the other and hope it gets better.     
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neslon
Stormyshay - Wow!  Thank you for sharing!  That was incredibly well put and kindly worded.  I agree with the last comments of if I had to pick a role in this triangle from hell I would pick the BS every time as I wouldn't want to deal with the aftermath of the shame.  I have shame for issues with the marriage so it's not like I'm shamefree.

I don't think any of us can be the same person we were before the affair sadly but do we want to be?  I think everyone that hits a forum like this is here for one reason - to be better than before.  The affair is a chapter in the book not the whole story.  


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Integrity1
Stormshay, thank you so much!  That felt incredibly healing for me.  Speaking about your pain and your remorse for your husband, AP's wife and family.  I'm sorry for how you feel and what you are going through.   What you just said was so authentic and sincere.  Beauty for ashes! You will find healing just like the rest of us. A day at a time. We are all human and we all make mistakes. My WS suffers greatly too, and often says what a terrible person he thinks he is. It's about what you do with this incredible life lesson now, the choices you make now.   Integrity for life. <3
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Keepabuzz
I will also say Wow! Stormshay!

I hope you have said all those things to your BS. I know he would appreciate it. I know it would help him in healing. My wife said things eerily similar to your words, it went a LONG way in helping me heal. More than you can imagine. (if I didn't know your whole story, I would wonder if you were my wife typing on here)
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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neslon
So working through this in my mind - I get that we(BS) feel like we were rejected but in truth what we were giving our spouses they also needed during the affair.  I think I felt used the first month that he used me to keep life going while he was off in fantasy land.  I'm trying to get it through my head that he still needed 80% of what I was giving him in love, family, connection, etc. while the OW was providing 20% of ego worship, no stress and what he thought of as no strings.    

I need to get to a place where I can say this person(OW) has no reflection at all over who I am or how much love I deserve or any other lie my thoughts are telling me.  On Dday the OW and my husband likely had their first viewing of each other without the veil of perfection.  The fantasy cracked and the lies couldn't being ignored anymore so for a WS I imagine the real view of their AP plus the manipulation of the situation and possibly the manipulation by the AP are horrifying and devalue the Ego strokes.

The negative voices are talking too loud today and I need to get out of my own head.  My methods are not working well today something is trying to be worked out in my head likely or its grief due to some date memories.  
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stormyshay
While I can not fully relate to the perspective of a BS there are certainly things about it I believe I understand.  I think it would be impossible to not take it as a personal affront that your spouse stepped outside of your marriage.  I could imagine you question whether or not something is wrong with you. I think comparing yourself to the other person is normal.  Is this AP more attractive, more intelligent, etc.?  But I honestly do not think those things matter.  Your spouse stepped outside of their marriage because of something that was wrong with him/her the WS and not because of something that was the matter with you.  I now when my husband first learned of my affair it made him question a lot of things about himself.  And that was so incredibly painful to witness. 

I read somewhere that healing from an affair was like four steps forward and one step back.  When you take that one step back it is difficult to remember just how far you have come since the beginning.  I know at some point the good days will outnumber the bad.  But I feel like we still have a long way to go.  We are doing so much better than we were in the beginning.  My husband is finally communicating with me.  In the beginning he would completely shut down.  He would be quiet and then would snap at me for the most mundane things like I left a dish in the sink.  I would inquire as to what he was thinking about and he would tell me nothing, which I knew to be absolute nonsense. 

Remember you are strong and capable.  I think reconciliation, at least if done right and in a healthy manner, is not for the weak.  It takes a lot of strength to stay with the person that hurt you so much.  Take care of yourself first and I think the rest will follow. Hugs. [smile]

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Keepabuzz
I was the same way with my wife for a long time. I would be very withdrawn, but when I snapped watch out. I had to figure out how to reconcile that to "work towards healing my marriage" I was supposed to "open up" and be "vulnerable" with the person that has shown me that she is the last person that I should be opening up to and showing vulnerability to. I took a lot of time, and therapy to get to where I could do that. I had to really know that she deserved to hear about my pain and hurt just as much as I deserved to tell her about it. Once I cleared that hurdle, healing progressed much faster, but it was ENORMOUS leap of faith. It scared me to death.
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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