Playing The Victim Cards A winning hand of victim cards would include a royal flush of blame, powerlessness, self-deception, self-pity, and fear. Hanging onto these victim cards has been a key reason that my husband and I have struggled during recovery. In fact, an Affair Recovery video I listened to recently said that the unfaithful playing the victim is the single most intolerable thing we can do in the healing process. But being a victim is an easy way for me to avoid responsibility for my actions. Being accountable is hard, uncomfortable and requires courage and vulnerability. Since I have shame and a false image to uphold, the choice is clear. When I am faced with the backlash of my actions, my go-to moves are to deny, blame, justify, minimize, and protect, protect, protect my fragile sense of self. To take accountability is terrifying, and I would rather not go there. While this way of thinking may seem like a safe win for me, it is actually a destructive, losing hand for my marriage. I played my hand one evening about 15 months into recovery. My husband and I were having a fun conversation, laughing and reminiscing, when my husband asked a seemingly innocuous question regarding what sex is like for a woman versus a man. Thinking nothing of it, I answered candidly. My answer, however, filled in a missing piece of information my husband had been seeking regarding my affair and triggered him. One moment we were happy, and then suddenly, his emotions were spiraling down. I felt instantly exposed and guilty from my accidental slip of the truth and our loss of connection. I panicked. I backpedaled (you misunderstood), I apologized for saying it wrong (so it wasn't my fault), I managed his emotions (so now you can't be upset). . . I fought the reality of the situation and ended up making it so much worse. I could have accepted that something I said hurt him, that it was no one's fault, and then tended to him in an understanding and caring way. Instead, I felt victimized by his flood of emotions and the fact that my truthful statement could have such dire and unexpected consequences. I railed at the unfairness of it all. I became indignant that he would treat me this way, that he didn't care how I felt. He was victimizing me and he ruined our good evening. What was really happening though, was that he was reliving how I had victimized him with my infidelity, and I missed this opportunity to show him empathy and help him feel safe when he was at the mercy of this unwanted pain. Later, while still feeling sorry for myself, I posted on my Hope for Healing class wall. I retold the story with an added flourish of how wronged I was for speaking the truth - how being honest did not pay off like everyone says. I wanted sympathy. To cement my role as a victim even further, I continued with the "poor me" act during our next couples' counseling session. It was an award-winning victim portrayal, and our counselor suggested that my husband soften his response and change how he was expressing his pain to make it easier for ME. I really didn't do anything that bad to warrant the emotional distress that I was clearly in. Great advice I thought, but my husband didn't take it, and was even indignant and angry. "What about my feelings?" he said, "I am the wronged party here." He started to pull away in self-protection, and the new safety he had felt up to that point was severely damaged. Afterwards, because I did not take responsibility for how I acted, I was not able to reconcile with him on this topic. I did not realize that the horrible consequences from that conversation were not because I was at the mercy of honesty, but because I did not accept the reality of what was going on, leading me to fail at making it right. It was a selfish attempt to lessen my pain at his expense - a hard lesson in self deception versus the truth. As an unfaithful spouse, I am no victim. And I am never a victim of the truth. My journey through recovery has opened my eyes to how holding onto the victim cards has made my marriage go bust. I have started to realize how my victim thinking infiltrates many areas of my marriage and how it holds me back as an effective person. I now know that I have to first accept who I am to be able to take full responsibility for my actions. There can be no disconnect between me and my actions. My intentions are not actions. My accumulated actions are my being. I have also learned that for my husband to feel safe and even consider getting and staying close to me, I have to let him see me for who I am - the good and the bad - and then I have to let it go. Let go of my fear that the truth will send him running away. Let go of my perceived right to have my feelings dictate how he should feel and behave. Let go that no matter the intentions, the truth is in the actions. Maybe I couldn't have learned this any earlier in my journey, but I sure wish that I had. I have caused my husband more undue pain and have damaged the progress we have made in recovery by holding onto my victim cards. A victim can't be a healer, and I want to be a healer for my husband and be accountable for myself. I owe him that. For the first time in my life, I, as a victim, will fold. EMS Online Registration Opens Soon! Our Emergency Marital Seminar Online, better known as EMSO, isn’t a one-size-fits-all program for couples. Over decades of experience exclusively in the field of infidelity, our methodology has been honed to better serve couples as they address the betrayal, reconnect as partners and restore their lives. "Affair Recovery's EMS Online course literally saved our marriage from divorce. We had tried other professionals, which only led us to more pain in our marriage. It was a relief to find someone who understood our pain. It was comforting to know that others were feeling and thinking the same thoughts as us. We were not alone on this journey. Our marriage has been enriched by the valuable lessons we have learned through EMS Online." — K., Alabama. Click the button below and be reminded before registration opens. Subscribe to Registration Notifications!