The Shame of it All

If there was one issue that was probably one of most difficult issues for me to overcome personally, it was shame. I was truly ashamed of what I had done and how I had hurt both Samantha and so many other lives. There was, however, a bit of a time release to my shame though and you'll probably only understand this if you are an unfaithful spouse. What I mean is it didn't hit me all at once. If it did I think I would have ended it all. Were it not for my kids I think one night I would have committed suicide with all the sobriety that began to come crashing down around me. Don't worry, that's not a cry for you to feel sorry for me, it's just a bit of a window into the mind of the unfaithful.

As the days and weeks would go by, and as we began to get the right kind of help, the lights eventually came on. It was at a slow and steady speed yet I began to really “get it” to how I had hurt my wife so deeply and how I had hurt so many others who looked up to me with such love and admiration. Once it did become clear though, as to how selfish I had been and how dysfunctional my actions had been, it almost incapacitated me. Having to get up every day and go to work and be a husband and a father about saved my life. If it wasn't for the fact that Samantha needed me to help take care of her and the kids I'm not sure how I would have made it.

You see shame says I AM something bad. Conviction or grief over what I've done says I'VE DONE something bad. There is a canyon of difference between the two mindsets there.

Shame also is so selfish and self-absorbing. It takes our eyes off of the ones we hurt and love and need to be restored to, and keeps our focus on what I feel, and what I want, and what I did, and what I shouldn't have done, and should have done, and on and on and on. It's focused on ME again. It also creates such a sense of defensiveness on our part. Instead of admitting to our pain and hurt and even self-hatred, we don't know how to process our pain correctly and we get defensive and justify our actions, and belittle others, and say well if you wouldn't have X then I wouldn’t have Y.

We're not healthy enough to admit we committed a great tragedy. So we blame this person and blame that person, but only after getting healthy do we eventually come to the point where we realize we are defensive due to the conviction we feel inside and the guilt we feel for doing what we did.

One of the best things we can do is admit we blew it. To go even further, we can admit we hurt our spouse (and maybe many others) and realize we will never be able to repay anyone, or offer enough restitution to alleviate the guilt and shame we feel. What we must do is admit we are incapable of ever repaying the hurt and destruction. We need to get help to understand how to ask our spouse to forgive us and then do all we can to help them see that we are committed to their recovery and our own recovery and get our eyes off ourselves. As we display we are safe and doing all we can to get healthy, we make it easier and easier for our spouse to forgive us, commit to restoration, and move forward, slowly but surely.

Without this commitment to getting healthy, and without our commitment to let go of shame and forgive ourselves, we give our spouse little hope we will ever be able to take our eyes off ourselves. Yes I had to work on my own recovery. Yes I had to realize I was in charge of my own recovery. Yes I even had to take action to remain accountable and transparent. But, more than any of those, I had to commit to do whatever it took to make Samantha eventually feel safe again, over time, one day at a time, one decision at a time.

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Thank you

As a betrayed wife I appreciate your post today. My husband and I are going through EMSO and it has been THE best help for me...I can't speak for him but I do see how it has positively affected him and me. I struggle with seeing him stuck in shame and mostly because it looks and feels like he is still thinking about how it is affecting him, not me. Reading your post gives me objectivity and helps me to see that this is not uncommon. I want my husband to find freedom in the truth, in the forgiveness extended by Christ and me. I love him and want beauty from ashes ...not shame and secrets from the enemy, but I can't make him realize that. :(.

The light

Thank you for sharing.  I find it very helpful to hear the thoughts of the unfaithful.  It was difficult for me to understand that the guilt and shame doesn't come all at once.  I watched this very strange and confusing phenomenon happen as the light slowly but surely turned on for my husband.  I also found it so hard to comprehend that the people who chose to commit such atrocities could be capable of feeling such pain, guilt and remorse for their actions.  It is not easy at all to find your footing in the new world in which you live after infidelity has occured.  The pain, remorse and guilt compounded with the caring, compassionate, I will do anything to save my marriage attitude from my husband is what gets me through the darkest days of my life.  May God bless all of those who are struggling to see the light after an affair.   

Signs of Guilt Feelings

Thank you Samual for sharing your story. It helps to see your side of the story. When I tell my husband how I feel, he shuts down. He acts like he hasn't done anything wrong. Is this a side of feeling guilty? I cannot move forward in this relationship without help. I have suggested EMSO and have asked him to look at the website. I don't think he has yet. I think it will help him to hear/read testimonies from other betrayed spouses, as well as those who were unfaithful.

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