Q&A Could You Please Explain Dissociation and How It Can Cause and Affect People in Affairs?

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Question: 

The descriptions I’ve read have really resonated for both me and my husband – the memory loss both about his affair and other things, the difficulty functioning, iron compartmentalization, snapping out of it immediately on D-Day, the fact that when I ask him questions he says it is like a different person did those things... What are the reasons that someone would dissociate to the extent of having an affair? Is it always trauma related? I am concerned that there’s some trauma in my husband's past that he hasn't told me about - perhaps that he doesn't even remember. He has said repeatedly that he realizes now he has been an island his whole life and never really let anyone in. He is opening up now but when I ask about his childhood it’s the only time he still gets very guarded and defensive – as if I am trying to blame his parents when I’m really just looking for info on childhood wounds we all have even in the best circumstances. If anything he was coddled too much as an only child and the reality check of real life has hit him and his self-esteem hard. Can being a "golden child" cause trauma in some way that would result in this kind of behavior? As a way of coping with disappointments about life and himself? Are there any resources you recommend for looking into this more?

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This could have been submitted by me

I've been struggling with recovery as 6 months from D-Day I still have very little concrete information - and its not because my partner is deliberately withholding anything - your descriptions – the memory loss both about his affair, the difficulty functioning, iron compartmentalization, snapping out of it immediately on D-Day, is pretty much our situation including the amnesia. To clarify its not a case of reflecting back and thinking its like someone else - it's pretty much no recall. He feels like he was abducted / someone else was living his life and we are now dealing with a number of therapists and psychologists - he has a full cognitive, psychological and neurological assessments starting next week. When asked to give a figure of of recall - he feels that he has maybe between 5 - 10% recall and not just about the affair but about 18 months of his whole life including major life milestones. Due to work I was in Ireland a lot of the time the affair was happening - its like a split life.

Trauma both developmental and more recent may have a part to play in this as (he did experience about 12 major grief loss events in the year leading up to the start of the affair & the AP was a grief and loss counsellor). He can't remember exactly when the affair started, he has a few fragments of events and no recollection of what he thought or felt or any conversations between them. He also had a fairly substantial concussion about 5 years ago and gets headaches, a mild drool and some facial numbness so we are also waiting on getting an MRI for a traumatic brain injury which it seems can affect behaviour and personality as well as looking at dissociative PTSD, non-specific dissociative disorder and borderline personality disorder and maybe even dementia. Sometimes I just don't believe it but then there are consistent issues with memory and information processing.

Of course I have all the issues of betrayal and anger and feel its hard to move on as 'full disclosure' has been pieced together from phone bills and credit cards and he looks at the calendar in disbelief, with no memory of the events - like looking at a blank screen. It's pretty unbelievable esp. from a rational standpoint.

I think there's a difference between reflecting on behaviour and asking what was being thought at the time and looking at evidence of behaviour that can't even be remembered. He submitted a question recently which Wayne answered but all that could be said is he's doing the right things - the assessments, therapy, harbouring hope etc. He feels like he's losing his mind - as do I.

In your recovery process have you found anything that has been helpful in you moving forward in terms of your recovery because we feel quite stuck as we haven't been able to answer the basic questions that affair recovery specialists say seemingly need to be answered - how long, when it started was it emotional as well as physical or whatever the basic information is.