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.