Shame involves an internalized feeling of being exposed and humiliated. Shame is different from guilt. Shame is a feeling of badness about the self. Guilt is about behavior — a feeling of “conscience” from having done something wrong or against one’s values.
This is my 7th attempt to write about the cycle of shame and guilt in two months. I keep trying to write on this topic but it keeps getting stuck behind Anxiety’s firewall.
As such, my list becomes wordy and wandering, philosophical or defensive. However, I want to write about it because what is hidden can be used against me by my own shame and by others as blackmail.
My infidelity had three parts:
- The act
- The secrets I kept
- The lies I told
I’m also going to create two sections entitled “General Shitheadery” and “Miscellaneous Issues.”
To keep it simple I’m going to make a list of the lies I told and the secret I kept. It will not be an exhaustive list. They will be one sentence and with minimal editing. The list will include pre- and post-discovery behaviors. Some of the things I list below are shame, guilt, and general shitheadery.
Some will be in code that only C or K will understand.
- My first act of sleeping with K was opportunistic and not premeditated
- The other five to six times I slept with K over the following two years driven by fatalistic, self-destructive, and shameful belief I was not worthy of C or K’s Partnership and eventually I would be caught
- My sexual acts with K were over for nearly 13 months when K called C the day after Thanksgiving, 2017
- Click here to read a more extensive explanation of Why as I currently understand my actions
The Secrets I Kept
The Secrets I Kept From C
- I was still living with K when we were dating
- Dating C while I was still negotiating the end of my marriage with K
- The details of my divorce settlement
- Buying a New Yorker subscription for K as a Christmas gift
- Breaking my vow of No Secrets and No Lies
- I was back in contact with K after I moved to Wisconsin
- I was still emotionally intimate with K
- I was sexually involved with K for two years and emotionally involved for a year
- Enjoying sex with K
- Hiding my sexual and emotional needs and wants from C
- I met with K in Pittsburgh three times
- How important it was to me to maintain a healthy and appropriate friendship with K
The Secrets I Kept from K
- The fact I was ending the marriage and why
- The full extent of my Partnership with C and when it began
- Where I was traveling and what I was doing
- How much I wanted children
- How much I love C and the future she and I were planning
- Hiding my sexual and emotional needs and wants from K
- How important my Partnership with C is
- That I had been working with the doctor to end the marriage for nearly 8 months before I met C
The Lies I Told
The Lies I Told C
- I was checking on an AirBNB in Pittsburgh for her and I, but it was for K and I
- I left my GPS on and C saw I was in J-Town and when she asked where I was I lied
- I’m going to walk the dog and used the time to call K
- Lies of omission.
- Lots and lots of lies of omission.
The Lies I Told K
- Not simply telling K I was wrong and the marriage was over
- Hiding my sexual and emotional needs and wants from K
- Pretending to be in the hospital twice, being in a car accident and using work instead of simply telling K the truth that I wasn’t going to keep seeing her
- Lying to K to postpone closure and ending the relationship
- Lying to K about my trip with C to the Broad Ripple Art Show
- That I opened a pop-up art gallery with C in Minneapolis at Christmas
- That I was open to restarting a relationship with her
The list below combines elements of shame-driven behaviors, guilt, and roles within the Drama Triangle. It isn’t all of one or the others but it is still shitheadery. Months later I still cannot believe what a fucking, selfish ass I can be.
- Writing 4 (?) emails to K, pretending to be C, in an attempt to keep K from focusing on C
- Finding an outfit I loved on C and encouraging K to buy one too
- Potentially exposing both C and K to STDs by not practicing safe sex
- Staying in Albuquerque at an art show with C when my oldest step-son was hospitalized in a near-fatal car accident in Michigan
- C lovingly painted a portrait of Rex for me but because of my unfinished business with K, I ended up lying to K to keep the painting and giving it to K, only to take it back when I moved to Wisconsin
- Sharing emotionally and sexually intimate details of my relationship with C to K and with K to C
- Sleeping with K
- Sexualizing my friendship with K
- Leaving my marriage with K in a way that was humiliating to K instead of facing her
- Not being able to face my youngest step-son, that I adore after I left K
- Trying to use sex and kindness to manipulate the outcome of the divorce settlement
- Making up excuses to K the last thirteen months so as to avoid seeing her as opposed to just ending it
- Verbally taking out my self-loathing and anger with myself on C’s boys when they lied or disrespected C
- Intentionally hurting K to drive her off instead of simply telling her directly
- Vengefully responding to K’s reveal to C in a cruel and nasty email
- How I manipulated the entire situation with F leaving C confused, alone, jealous, and hurt
- Continuing a relationship with K after the initial sexual act because I was afraid to tell K the truth because I thought she would use it against me with C
- Manipulating situations to try and make K okay with my relationship with C by presenting C as more open and accepting than she actually is
- Allowing my shame and guilt to isolate me from my relationship with C and the boys fearing my vulnerability and trying to protect them from my betrayal
- I lied to myself a lot to justify my behaviors with K and avoid the hard conversations with C
- Hiding behind my writings to reach out to C
- Not confronting C about the guesswork in our Partnership
- Not standing up more forcibly in defense of my Partnership with C to K
- Not trusting C enough to ask for help and thinking it was up to me solve the problems alone
- Allowing email and texting to become the primary communication tool post-discovery
- Not being able to talk openly about what I did wrong for fear of being judged
- Allowing myself to be blackmailed by my shame and guilt
- Fracturing myself again between relationships out of old damage and fears
- Acting as an emotional coward
- Ignoring my values and priorities trying to make everything okay for everyone
- Consistently being made the fall guy when it came disciplining the boys
- Surrendering my power to lies and secrets
- Betraying my boundaries and values
- Believing C is a better person than me
- Believing K is a better person than me
- Hiding my vulnerabilities and heart fearing I would be judged
- I avoided my shame and betrayal as it was happening and instead hid it all
- I have an extremely high tolerance for emotional pain
- I lied to C because I was afraid of being alone
- Letting trolls and interlopers define who I am
- Initially, I reacted defensively instead of listening creating more conflict
- Being afraid of being alone and abandoned by C
It’s A Start
I look at these lists and know they are incomplete. If I were to talk to C or K they could probably add significantly to the lists. There is more and it would be helpful if C would talk with me because there are other things I’ve forgotten.
However, this is a start.
Of course, if C were talking to me not everything would be true but simply her perceptions.
For example, C accused around Day 60 of sending K dick pics. I know as a fact I didn’t do that because that is not something I would generally do. After C accused me, I checked with K. I checked because if I had sent dick pics and didn’t remember that is a whole new set of problems. I cannot prove a negative so that story, like so many other ghost stories, will always be true to C.
My next list will be all the things I did well in the relationship and the important lessons. I need to not only own the ugly but also embrace the good to carry to the next relationship.
After all, it wasn’t all shit.