Thank you PJ and Rob for your insight, and for the links to other forums. I really appreciate it.
It was good to read some success stories, thank you PJ. It helps to know that if you put your mind to it, you can change these behaviours and make your life better. I'm sorry I waited so long to reply - I did not mean to be rude - I think I still feel very ashamed of everything, and hid.
I'm finding it hard because I do understand on a theoretical level the detachment and illogical behaviour patterns. I see the train of thought - or feeling - that led to everything. I'm a pretty empathic person, so I do understand that it comes from a place of pain, and technically it has nothing really to do with me. But I struggle to detach myself from it, because it is MY being which has taken the hit. For me it has been a different journey. He has always known about his behaviour, but I was completely blindsided. The numerous affairs, deceit, and deep manipulation which went along with covering up his hideous behaviour, has just left me feeling very empty, ashamed and abused. Some things he did to juggle me and the other women are so cruel I can't even write them down. I always knew he had a bit of a problem with porn, and was constantly looking up ex gfs on the internet, but the rest was a complete shock. It has shaken my inner confidence down to the core. Therapists have said I am suffering PTSD, which makes sense, but it's getting better. One day at a time and all that..
I'm trying hard to get to grips with letting the past go, and rebuilding our relationship, but I feel stuck in a bad cycle just now. Because my fiancee feels so bad about himself all the time, nothing I say or do is good enough. I have been (I think) really supportive and encouraging, trying to use confidence building language, telling him that he is a wonderful person, gently complimenting him, being direct and calm when there is a problem, reassuring him that we will get through this.. but no matter what I say he takes it as a criticism - even really nice things like casually saying 'I love the way you kiss me'. Then he gets really stressed and is rude to me, I get upset because he is rude, and he tells me that I make him feel awful every day.
When we finally get to the core of it, he admits he feels so crushingly guilty for what he has done to me, and that he genuinely does feel bad all the time. But then he turns around and blames me for this stressful behaviour - He is rude to me and I get upset, and it's my fault for being upset.. and so on.. then he starts being secretive again, and deleting the internet history, or making up stories, I ask him directly why he is doing this again, and explain that this makes me feel scared. But then it is my fault - he says I make him feel so guilty every day that even when he isn't doing anything 'bad' he feels the need to hide it from me, he feels like he is being watched 24/7. This upsets me, which gives him more fuel to tell me I am the problematic one. It really worries me. It doesn't help with the trust, and it doesn't help with either of us in building confidence.
I really feel like I'm losing my mind. I don't WANT him to feel bad every day - that doesn't bring me any joy. Plus it is tiring for both of us. I also have no interest in policing him, or watching him - he is a grown man and in charge of himself. I just don't know how to talk to him. I don't know what to say, or how to say even the simplest of things any more without it spiraling out of control. I also don't like him turning it around and trying to make me feel guilty. Naturally I am upset if he is secretive, because that's what it felt like for years while he was cheating on me. But he really doesn't see it from my perspective. He is the cause of my pain, and now I am the cause of his! I feel bad for what he did to me, and I feel awful that I continue to make him feel bad.. it's too much feeling bad for one girl to handle!
Is this hypersensitivity towards me normal? Is he just being defensive/attacking because he is ashamed?
When people have deep routed fear and shame cycles, is there really ANYTHING I can say or do to make it better? I am so very very tired of 'doing it wrong'.
I know is all comes down to inner happiness and confidence, which he is lacking, but is there any way I SHOULD be talking to him? What I am doing now clearly is not working and I don't want to live like this. I want to help him feel better about himself, and I want to come to him from a place of kindness and understanding. I can't continue on a cycle of being the 'source of all pain'.
Unfortunately there is another thing blocking me at the moment - and is something I would be very interested in hearing opinions on from other men with SA problems - the general attitude towards women in 'acting out' behaviour.
My fiancee is a staunch feminist in his outer life. He loves women, most of his friends are women, he is very vocal about women's rights and equality - it is something I really love about him. He outwardly demonstrates 'respect' and honour, and a celebration of women. He hates men mistreating women, he has even spoken to me numerous times about an ex of mine who cheated on me and makes a point of saying 'how dare they treat you this way, that's awful - what an idiot! You are the best thing in the world'.
However, in his 'private life' behaviour for at least the last ten years, he has been absolutely awful to women in just the same way. Not only has he never been respectful, or faithful, but he has actively manipulated and deceived women over and over again. I mean, he has really been - what I consider - not in the slightest bit feminist, in fact he appears to really hate women, and uses them terribly. His treatment of women has been really truly appalling, especially while in 'relationships'- multiple affairs, compulsive lies, huge levels of deceipt and living multiple realities online and offline, plus making the women feel bad about themselves when they ask if he is cheating... Some people act like this outwardly and we just call them assh*les or misogynists. But when it is secret and covert like this, it is very confusing. Without going too deeply in to examples, it is like split personality disorder. I cannot in any way reconcile the two sides in to the same person. I don't understand it AT ALL. That is not the man I know.
Is this something that happens with SA? Is it part of a fantasy, where you can be king of your castle, and women are awful and need to be punished? Does he actually hate women, or does he just hate himself? I know it is not directly answerable, but I am very interested in the psychology or rationale behind it, if anyone has experienced this, because it really scares me. I am also scared of fooling myself any further. Any insights would be greatly, and humbly appreciated.
Our day to day life has been almost the opposite of his 'private life', so I don't know which part of it is real.
The strangest thing for me is that I am a 'hot'/beautiful person, smart, with a high sex drive and am tactile and affectionate. I also enjoy porn (not any more haha) and engaging sexuality. Without blowing my own trumpet, I'm quite a catch all things considered. I have always been very confident about my sexuality but the reality is sinking in that I am with someone who may NEVER consider me to be enough for him... and I don't want to experience that rejection over and over again. The feeling that my fiancee would rather hide in the bathroom and video chat masturbate with some 'super hot model' he was secretly dating, rather than make love to me - his real life hot girlfriend waiting naked in our bed- is such a uniquely terrible feeling! I would not wish it upon anyone! I was deprived of intimacy for so long I felt incredibly bad, but couldn't put my finger on what it was, only in hindsight did I realise it was intimacy problems. I felt so rejected, and as I don't cheat, there isn't really a replacement for that kind of attention. The thought that I make my partner feel bad, instead of feeling loved and sexy, is a total nightmare! Loving yourself is the most important thing, but some external TLC is what makes us alive!
Sorry for rambling.. a lot... I am really interested in perspective from people who have been through something similar. Does any of this behaviour, or split personality make sense?
No one I have spoken to has any experience in this at all, including therapists, so it has been really eye opening looking through forums, and through Paula's books. I didn't realise sex addiction was real until my world collapsed. It is so different from 'being cheated on', so complex, so deep.. we are all fragile little creatures haha.
I am trying exceptionally hard to be a loving and compassionate partner, but I'm a bit scared to be honest, and I feel like I'm doing a very lousy job.
Thanks for listening. XXX