Shame Spiraling

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Alexandria

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Shame Spiraling
« on: September 19, 2019, 04:12:34 PM »
I have avoided doing this and attending suggested meetings for a long time. I thought would be consumed by over-whelming anger and now have come to realize it is really incredible shame.

I ran as fast and as far as I could from the truth and refused to look at it, would only allow myself "work" on it-- more therapy, more books, more self-criticism, more and more and more work. His therapist pointed out that I was the hardest working partner she had ever seen, and mine said that of course my efforts to save the relationship were "par excellence." It didn't matter though. He was not trying, or even if he was, he was not improving. Then he just left. And once he got his stuff, he blocked me.  He is still on the lease-- that he signed three weeks before he left. I can't believe I let myself be treated the way he treated me. I can't believe I worked so hard for... what? I look at myself and see someone who is smart and successful and surrounded by love-- how did this happen? I should have known better-- I did know better but I ignored it. All I am left with now is the truth, and it hurts. I let myself be abused.

I would appreciate any advice on this part of the process, the one no one else understands. That this is not a break-up but an annihilation of spirit. I am glad he is gone, but I am not glad that I am left here alone with this pain that no one wants to look at. I have the photos of the bruises. I have the stories of the cheating, lies, gas lighting, stonewalling, abandonment and his self-harm (for my eyes only) that landed us in the emergency room 3 times in 5 months. All I get is "you deserved better" and "forget about him." Anyone got anything better because that advice isn't helping and I don't want to spiral any further.

Thanks.


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notrightinthehead

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Re: Shame Spiraling
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2019, 04:30:34 PM »
Hello and welcome! Sounds like you have been discarded by your SO and are in shock right now. The shock must be especially devastating as you have worked so hard at keeping this relationship.

Have you read through the TOOLBOX and found some strategies that might be helpful for you at this time? Read up on the stages of grieving - this might give you an idea what to expect.
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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Alexandria

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Re: Shame Spiraling
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2019, 05:16:48 PM »
Thanks, I have been reviewing all the materials available - they are great. I guess I am struggling with the whole "let it go" attitude and the fact that the stages of grief feel like they are inverted and strange here. I also struggle with the fact that all the advice seems to collapse in on itself, if that makes sense. Like "fear, obligation, and guilt" -- I felt it but he would say that he did too. He cheated, I self-destructed, but he's a sex addict and I'm the betrayed and we both stayed out of fear, obligation, and guilt... I still feel so set up and constantly stuck in a double bind. I don't what is my fault that I should be taking responsibility for and what is his? And I don't want to feel like that anymore. Will it become more clear? Or will I always beat myself up that I didn't get it then and I still don't get it?

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SerenityCat

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Re: Shame Spiraling
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2019, 07:21:24 PM »
Welcome!

In my own experience, recovery isn't in a upward line. There are peaks and valleys along with a general trend towards things getting easier (or at least a little more comfortably different).

Along with therapy, do you have access to a domestic violence support group?

Exercise helps me when I'm dealing with painful shame and rumination.  I make myself take a walk. I get some fresh air, look at the sky and my surroundings, this helps me relax and eventually focus on something else.

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treesgrowslowly

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Re: Shame Spiraling
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2019, 11:10:05 PM »
Hi and welcome,

Ouch you've been through the ringer. Everything you are saying makes sense. There is no "letting it go" in some quick fashion iI think you are feeling aware of that. Sure if we could all 'let it go" we would. No one wants to hold onto it.

So yeah if people have told you to let it go, the thing to let go is their advice, if you feel like taking in the advice someone gives, great.

But I think what is helpful is people who listen to you if you want to share what it feels like to be where you are right now.

Have you heard of trauma bonding? When we attach to someone it takes time to sort out our feelings when they discard us. It takes time to truly feel our stuff and separate ours from theirs.

Does your counselor talk about shame?

There is nothing shameful about greiving. Some times we grieve a part of our self that went away and we need it to come back now. You sound really insightful and reflective. In time you will come to see what we can see more easily right now.

You didn't know then what you know now. When I learned that Abusers target people with generous spirits and empathy, it rocked my world to realize that I was carrying shame for being able to nurture a relationship that couldn't be saved. I carried less shame after I learned more about how narcissistic people target people who have empathy. It restored a bit of my sense of self so I share that with you hoping you see yourself in a bit of a  new way perhaps.

For a while your body may need some time to process something it hasn't felt in a while. You are safe. I believe that our bodies are wise. It takes time to feel safe.

Serenitycats advice is right on. Find that thing that is restorative, a walk or something else that reminds you, hey, I'm here now, safe and walking in the park. Or something like that.

You did things that didn't work out, because of who he is and what he chose. Many loving smart strong people become victims of abuse. I have seen this in my life so much so I believe it.

And survivors fight against the shame that they feel and we get through it. We do. Please try to believe this: we see your strength when we read what you've shared.

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Cantreach

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Re: Shame Spiraling
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2019, 11:13:55 AM »
So glad you are here. After my last relationship it took me a long time to find out who I was. I had invested all of me in the relationship, especially emotionally. I describe it like stirring up a fish tank of emotions and waiting till everything settles so that you can see again. I am married to a totally uncomplicated wonderful woman now. Its hard for me to imagine how bad things were now. With the right support and some self nurture you can be looking back on this one day.

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AllYouWishUs

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Re: Shame Spiraling
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2019, 03:11:03 AM »
I don't know if this will help in any way but I truly hope it does.  It sounds like you have quite an "emotional load" to process and that it's hard to stop thinking about it and that part of you is in that place where the last thing you are inclined to do is set aside the thinking, and problem-solving, and efforts to untie so many knots.  But I just want to share that in times like that, I have experienced great benefit by doing something in high contrast to all this thinking and problem-solving...sometimes it's incredibly healing to do something very different from that, like go for a walk for an hour.  I am in Sacramento, CA, and the weather has been really special lately--between seasons and just perfect for walking.  It also helps me so much to help others and pull that attention away from my self...as I am prone to so much rumination.  Best of luck to you!

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Lizard Huntress

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Re: Shame Spiraling
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2019, 11:36:40 AM »
Welcome!

I relate to your feeling of annihilation rather than breakup.  I had a similar experience with narcissistic ex.  But now my focus is on my mother as I have chosen to steer clear of romance for a good long while. 

I don't have easy answers for you or me, but wanted to send a hug and say I'm glad you're here.

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Alexandria

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Re: Shame Spiraling
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2019, 01:20:34 PM »
Thank you all for responding and your kind words. It means so much, you have no idea - or maybe you do this seems like such a lovely community. I am lucky to have family and friends who believe me, but they have no reference to what is happening. I am the strong, self-sufficient one - I am not the one who they thought would ever be abused and take it - there is so much cognitive dissonance for them, too.

SerenityCat - You are so right about walks and exercise, especially in nature.  I try to do something once a day of I can, and this time of year is so splendid. I have been vacillating between going to the SAA Partner's Support Group for 6 months now.  I didn't go while we were together because he told me that it tends to be an angrier group and I was already so angry, which is what got him out of so much accountability...  I am going to try and go this week. I have also worried that hearing other people's experiences would make me so sad, I hate that people behave this way towards the people who love them most - it breaks my already broken heart. I worry about emotionally overloading.

TreesGrowSlowly - You are right, they target good people who want to give and give.  I have re-started EMDR for the trauma and think I have found a new counselor. The counselors I had throughout the relationship were terrible.  His told me that if I left him I would just end up with another sex addict who wasn't treating - she said that to me and I lost it, and then he stonewalled me for 3 days as punishment for losing it. Our couples counselor told me that it was "just one lie" when I caught him that week (with evidence) not attending treatment, he said I had "assumed" he had attended but then I remember asking how it was he said "stressful" and when I told him that he lost his mind - "just one lie, he's trying." I could go on and on, I read that this can happen - that therapy can make it worse, but I have never had bad experiences in therapy before - I am so worried about treatment. 

CantReach - The fish tank analogy is dead-on - it's pure muck and completely opaque. I keep waiting for it to settle but due to some remaining entanglement it still swirls, and brings me down. I don't know how people co-parent with these people.  I am so glad we didn't have a child. One thing that get me through the good memories and my desire to fix it is the fact that he cut me off like I was nothing and is hiding with sick, enabling parents, and he could be doing that with our kid and I would completely lose my mind.

AllYouWishUs - I feel you with the pointlessness of problem solving - my EMDR therapist was like stop, you will NEVER understand him you do not think the same way at all. It was comforting-ish, but it is the hardest thing not to understand what happened, especially when you are blamed and want to take responsibility because you don't want to be like them.

LizardHuntress - Yeah, the concept of another relationship is sickening right now and everyone around me is like date! It will help your self-esteem. Also, I wanted a family which is one of the reasons I stayed with him, I am touching forty and wanted to have kids and he promised me all of it - of course. Now I am stranded in this place where I want to be alone, but feel I don't have any time which adds to my anxiety. Long story short, you are right to focus on those who actually love you - new people want (and deserve) too much of what I don't have right now. Still, it hurts to have lost (a very dysfunctional) potential family along with everything else. Totally dodged a bullet, but still don't have the family I so desperately wanted (and stayed too long in that nightmare for).

Thank you all again for your support and wisdom.

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treesgrowslowly

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Re: Shame Spiraling
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2019, 11:10:49 AM »
Hi Alexandria,

I am so sorry to hear about your experiences with the couples counseling. I'll share what I have learned about counseling. Your counselor needs to advocate for you. They need to side with you. Always. I learned this through trying to make it work, with a counselor I liked, but who started to side with the other person, not me.

It is subtle, but I do believe you can see when a counselor is staying on your side. When you present them with a problem, their focus needs to stay on, how this is affecting you, what your options are, and how you feel and what you are asking about. Say you are walking outside in a city and you see a fender bender, no one is hurt, they just bumped cars and you happened to see it. Say you go to the counselor that day, and you mention it, and that it shook you up, because you worried that there would be an altercation. Or something. Your counselor better not start talking about what those people need, and worry about the damage to their car. Who cares about that. You are there for a session focused on you, how this accident affected you. That is what counseling is for. It is for you. You are the client.

That seems obvious, in the above example. But lets' say you talk to a counselor about a friend. I have learned the hard way, the same rules must apply. My last counselor sided with the friend. It was subtle, but their responses were a concern with the other person, not me. I was having trouble with the friend, and the counselor's solutions were about how to make the friendship work or how to save  the friendship. Which was not my focus or my concern, or what I was asking for help with.

If you find a counselor that stays focused on you, they will stay focused on exploring how you want to be supported as you work on your goals with them. There are good counselors out there. There are good threads in this forum about this topic if you want to read more and discuss with others.

Trees