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Old 01-15-2019, 02:58 PM
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Default Re: In Session Today: Part VI

Note: The topic of my T session yesterday involves my being unfaithful to my H 3 years ago. I told H shortly after it happened, and we decided to work on things (and continued marriage counseling for a while after that). I'm completely fine with people commenting on my T session itself, but please don't share judgments on the mistake I made, as I cannot go back in time and am still struggling with what I did.

T yesterday. Went back and sat down. Started discussing snowstorm. I said how on the news, they kept saying this was our first big January snow since January 2016. Me: "And it's like I keep flashing back to what happened around that time, the being unfaithful to my H. Snow is all tied up in my memories of that time. Like I took D out to play in the snow so that I could talk to ex-T on the phone. I called ex-MC at 2 a.m. while sitting out back in the snow. Seeing the snow on our back deck kind of is triggering me. And I started getting emotional last night about it, but just played it off as being tired/stressed from snow."

I'd started crying when I shared that with T. T: "You seem to get really emotional whenever that topic comes up. It makes me wonder if you've really forgiven yourself." Me: "I don't think I have... I guess maybe we need to discuss it more."

T asked about whether I felt I'd learned something from it. Saying that one way to forgive oneself is to realize you've learned from something and have changed as a result. I said I guess I had in the sense that I don't intend to repeat it. Me: "Like, if I'm talking to someone in a bar now, I'm mentioning my H and flashing my wedding ring...though I guess the other guy knew I was married...but it's more that I might be talking to someone but don't have the thought of 'oh maybe we could hook up.' I mean, not like in the bar or something, but like, 'let's go to a hotel.' But I don't have that thought."

T said that sounded like I'd learned and changed from it. Me: "Yeah. Like I was looking for something from that experience. I'm not entirely sure what. Like I almost had this feeling that I had to get something out of my system, then I could move forward with my relationship with H. Like, ex-T said afterward that she thought it was inevitable that I'd eventually cheat. T: "That seems very astute of her. Did she explain why?" Me: "I think because of things I kept doing, like I was heading in that direction. Like, having feelings for that guy in grad school. Then around that time I was at a concert, and I took off my wedding ring. Like thinking maybe something could happen. I've met guys at concerts before, like...this is probably TMI, but I lost my virginity to someone I met at a concert." T: "Did it happen *at* the concert?" Me (laughing): "No, we went on a couple dates first. I'm classier than that!" (I did not mention that I did make out with the guy at the concert...)

Talked about what I'd wanted from the guy I did cheat with. T said how a long-term relationship has certain benefits, but you can't get certain feelings you could get with someone different. Me: "Like...novelty or excitement?" T agreed, saying how if you're with a new person, you don't know what they'll say or do. Me: "Yeah, or what they will look like naked." T said that one generally knows what to expect in longer-term marriage. Me: "Yeah, like if H and I are intimate, it will probably be a particular one or two positions." (I was able to say that without any embarrassment or looking at the floor--I think I've hit some new level in discussing sex with T.) T: "Yes. though there are some benefits with a long-term relationship, too." Me: "Yeah." T: "And people may decide, OK, those benefits are worth the loss of something else." Me: "Yeah."

I said how part of what has made it difficult for me to forgive myself is the lack of repercussions. Me: "Like, H stayed with me. I know I told you this before, but I was worried for a while that, because the protection failed, I'd get pregnant or end up with HIV." T: "Yes I recall you saying that. It felt like you were expecting too much punishment." Me: "But it just seemed like there should have been something lasting, like I deserved that...." T: "I think people often forget how strong psychological repercussions can be for something like this, how much they can affect you." Me: "yeah..." T: "In terms of you punishing yourself." Me: "Yes. How do I stop doing that?"

T said that learning from it is a way to self-forgiveness. That if I've learned and changed my behavior as a result, which it seems I have, then I should be able to forgive myself. Me: "Yeah...I mean, I've learned that hooking up with someone just for sex isn't the answer. But then...with ex-MC, where you'd said my email had suggested 'let's run away together,' if he'd said, 'yes let's do that...' I might have considered it. I mean, I'm sure it wouldn't have lasted, and it would have likely destroyed me, but...Like I realize a purely sexual connection isn't going to solve anything. But at times I wonder if there's a better emotional match for me than H." T: "It could be that's a way you keep yourself distanced in a relationship."

Me: "Yeah, that could be. I mean, I don't believe in the soulmate thing really...like there's someone perfect out there for me." T: "Because that means people would have to be perfect. My sister-in-law would say, 'there are no perfect people, just perfect pets.'" Me: "OK, yeah, that makes sense. Hm...have I had a perfect pet?"

Somewhere in there, T talked about how learning from experience is the most intense form of learning, which is what I had. T: "Like pretty much everyone knows that they should exercise and eat well. Yet only maybe 25% of people exercise regularly. But if someone has a heart attack, it can be a big wakeup call for them. Some will say it's the best thing that every happened to them." Me: "Yeah." T: "Next level is social learning." Me: "Like if a friend had an affair and her husband left her?" T: "Yes, or if someone you know has a heart attack. The most common form of learning is from reading about it." Me: "Like reading the rate of heart attacks for someone who doesn't exercise?" T: "Yes. And it's the least effective. Most people just do levels 1 and 2 of learning, not experiencing it themselves." He said people learn the most from experience though.

This was earlier, but: Throughout session, T kept referring to it as an affair. Me: "I tend to think of an affair as more of an ongoing thing. While this was a one-night stand." T: "You can call it a one-night stand if you want." Me: "That makes me think of a line from Duran Duran's 'Save a Prayer,' 'Some people call it a one-night stand, but we can call it paradise.'" T: "That might not be the best way to frame it!" Me: "Yeah, well, I was just trying to keep my song-quoting streak going." T: "Is that a challenge on the forum? Like, how many songs can you quote in session." Me: "No, but I have mentioned it on there. And I'd think it would be especially impressive if I quoted songs without you realizing it. But not challenge." T: "I don't know, I could see you being like, 'I hit 23 in a row today!'"

T did ask if anything positive came out of what happened with the cheating. I said I guess I realized how much ex-T and ex-MC cared, from how much they supported me. T said that was positive. I said I guessed so, thinking (but not saying) that neither of them are in my life anymore, so...I also said how some friends I'd told about it had been accepting (though not all), and T said that was good, suggested they were really good friends. I agreed.

He was saying again that if I learned from it, it's a way to forgive myself. I said I wasn't sure that was enough for me and asked what other ways are to forgive myself. T said how there are many books out there on self-forgiveness. I wanted to be like, "But I don't want books, I want you to help me."

We were out of time (I pointed it out). Confirmed Thursday, scheduled for Monday and Thursday. Went over to pay. Shook hands as he said, "Have a good few days." Me: "Thanks, you too."

Ended up sending him an email that evening, because I was feeling really bad about myself. He responded in a caring way this morning and included a modified version of the COPE inventory to fill out and bring to next session (it's about ways that I, well, cope). He offered earlier session or "if there is something else you need to help you through this tough time." Which meant a lot to me. I'm going to try to stay with scheduled Thursday session (partly because I'm having lunch with a friend I met in autism parenting group tomorrow--second time I'm seeing her).
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