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Day 6 I was cheated on: Blame vs. Responsibility

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by 331, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. 331

    331 New Member

    One of the difficult life events that I'm journaling about is that I was cheated on in a previous relationship. While I don't believe I made my then girlfriend cheat (I realize she had alternatives), I do see how my actions were damaging the relationship (fyi - none of the problems I caused in the relationship were with the opposite sex).

    I recall discovering she was cheating on me. I knew she had been deceiving me and I held her responsible. Even though I was indignant, I was always very careful to be evenhanded and acknowledged being in a relationship with me was challenging/difficult. Looking back, all the problems in the relationship were mine - at least the ones that were discussed between us. She loved me and wanted to get married. Her feelings made her blameless as I struggled with measuring up to her readiness for the ultimate commitment. My lack of readiness may have even served as justification for any reaction she had, including infidelity. Not living up to her expectation...not being ready for her was the same as me deserving anything she decided to do to me.

    Although I couldn't believe she cheated and lied to me, I understood why. I always told myself and others that I understood why. I somehow blame and excuse her at the same time.

    I still don't know what a healthy reaction to this event would have been. Rage? Revenge? Crying? I remember blowing up on the phone and cursing at her some months later (that's right, I stayed with her). The second I used foul language she hung up on me and used that single bad word to retake the moral high ground in the relationship. One outburst with a curse word and I found myself having to be repentant toward her. Lots of apologies followed from me to her. One fucking curse word. Jesus.

    What would have been an emotionally mature reaction then? And now...how should I feel about it? How much should I blame myself vs. how much do I hold her responsible for her actions?
  2. nowtimecoach

    nowtimecoach Well known member

    Hi 331,
    Boy that is tough journey -trying to reconcile the feeling of betrayal. I know for myself when my feelings are hurt, emotional maturity is not the first thing I pull out of my toolbox of solutions!! <g> But I think its good that you are journalling about it. I have had a lot of things get resolved by just doing the free writes. Not thinking about what is coming out but letting my thoughts be free to come out in whatever fashion they do. It gives me a chance to give the 'rageful child' her time, the 'critical parent' their time and on and on. Its amazing how many thoughts and feelings I can have about one situation. For me it was empowering to just get them all expressed and out of me.
    331 likes this.
  3. swandive

    swandive New Member

    Hi 331,
    I had a wise therapist once tell me that the only thing we can be accountable for is our contract with ourselves. In this situation, you contracted yourself to loving a person the best way you could and loving them monogamously. Your partner likewise entered that contract and broke it. Unfortunately that happens all the time, right? People let us down. However, don't let the counterfactuals haunt you because you kept your end of the deal and can be proud of yourself for that and aspire to continue to be that person in the future. With respect to blaming yourself for her infidelity, and for your reaction to her betrayal (profanity and anger), I think likewise it will take you a long while, but you will come to peace with both. We all create imperfect intimacies with others, filled with micro-betrayals and micro-dishonesties, but when we feel our needs are not being met, we can choose to talk about those and risk rejection and pain, or we can choose to trigger change through passive aggressive and more cowardly routes, such as cheating in a monogamous relationship. I'm sure there were elements of your relationship she felt hurt by and unhappy with, but she didn't have the wherewithal or the courage to confront them head on, so she chose a passive aggressive backhanded strategy. It's totally natural to understand a person's motivations for doing something shitty, and simultaneously condemn the shitty thing they did . Just as your motivations for cursing her out are completely understandable, from your perspective, your behavior was not acceptable, so you were accountable for it. She may have exploited your guilt to avoid accountability for her own shitty behavior, but fuck it. Like my wise therapist said, you created a contract with yourself to communicate with loved ones people respectfully and when you felt you failed, you were accountable, apologized, and tried to right the wrong. And that's all you can do. Good luck, and may the counterfactuals fade as quickly as possible.
  4. 331

    331 New Member

    Thanks, nowtimecoach. I'm starting to feel some of the positive effects of just letting my feelings out without judgement. As you know, it takes practice. But, I just don't care what anyone thinks anymore. I'm realizing that the rewards of keeping my feelings bottled up seem to belong to the people who would hurt me. Letting my feelings out benefits me. Although, I sometimes wonder if I'm becoming a bit hard since my feelings are quite intense and, from time to time, I let people know what I really think. I find myself not giving a shit about them now as I unleash. I would have tried to protect everyone in the past and now sometimes I feel like I'm out for revenge when I open up.
    nowtimecoach likes this.
  5. 331

    331 New Member

    "Counterfactuals" is a great word. I'm going to have to start using that.

    Much of what I'm concentrating on now is to not accept responsibility for anyone else's thoughts, emotions or behaviors. As I refuse to do it, I'm realizing how common it is for others to seek people to carry their emotional load. So far, people seem to be put off. Perhaps I'm not setting boundaries in the right way. I still attract a lot of people that want to feed off of me emotionally, and when I don't allow them, they get hurt. I don't feel guilty about that, necessarily. But, there's got to be a way to avoid these people in the first place.
    Ellen likes this.
  6. swandive

    swandive New Member

    I think it would make sense if those people are attracted to you, especially if the sensitivities that make you vulnerable to TMS may be attractive to people battling similar demons who sense a kindred spirit who may understand them. It sounds like you are already making progress in setting some boundaries and as you learn from that experience you will probably also pick up some insights on avoiding those needing to externalize their pain.
    331 likes this.
  7. Maribel

    Maribel New Member

    " Not accept responsibility for anyone else's thoughts, emotions or behaviors. As I refuse to do it, I'm realizing how common it is for others to seek people to carry their emotional load."

    This is the weak spot of TMS - we didn't receive the example and thus didn't learn to honor ourselves!

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