I also could tell that I was answering questions differently than I would have pre-A that would have tilted me more into the anxious bucket, but you know, can you blame me?
No! I had done these tests a long way before the A because I knew WS had avoidant attachment and it was already causing us issues. I was a secure as it gets, and now my attachment system is definitely haywire!
I understand our attachment system is cleared from birth (ever watch the still face experiment on YouTube? Fascinating), but we can "earn" our attachment style from relationships. So it's also fluid.
Yeah, it’s awful. We came damn close to ending it months ago when she succumbed to a shame cycle during a round of questions. I had done everything right, been calm and collected, and she did not tolerate it and started acting like the victim.
I had this by the bucket load. Result: I stopped being calm. I started raging. Ultimately I left, because I simply couldn't deal with anymore of him playing the victim.
For what it's worth, I know my WS inside out as I'm sure you know yours. He doesn't really think he's the victim. He thinks he's the irredeemable villain, and that's where this behaviour comes from. It's the deep shame of being unable to withstand criticism.
He said to me last week: "the worst trauma I feel is knowing I hurt the person I love like this and have to see their pain. I hurt too, I am sad, but I have the added bonus of knowing it's all my fault". I think that is the shame thing tied up in a knot.
She is getting better, but this is the worst part of being in a relationship with her, even pre D-Day. She just can’t accept responsibility for things she’s done, even trivial things, it gets deflected back to me.
For whatever reason, she's developed this as a defence mechanism because she can't withstand criticism. Even justified criticism over a small thing.
I remember the week my WSs A started and I'm going to share it with you as with three years of hindsight it is now an open book into Wayward thinking and how the reaction to criticism can play out internally.
We were long distance at the time of the A. He was dismissive avoidant. I was secure. So long distance was tough, because his love language was often about being there / physical affection and quality time. He wasn't big on introspection and I was definitely finding it hard being separated.
I remember before he went away feeling like his attachment issues were holding us back from 100% connection. Because I was secure, I could see this incredibly clearly and felt no anxiety around it. I just wanted him to resolve it, so I recall when he left, giving him a book to take with him on attachment and asking him to read it.
He didn't read it :(
He'd only ever been with anxious people before me, so despite being your average "good guy", pretty much every relationship had been toxic and miserable because he was very avoidant and he'd pair up with very anxious people who were almost desperate for him. They would tighten the leash, he would back away, and the toxic push / pull dance would continue.
The relationship with me was completely different. If he pulled away, honestly I was fine. Just waited for him to return. I let him. I didn't play the pursuit dance with him, and so this really beautiful relationship grew where we just respected each other as we were.
So anyway, I recall pretty well the minute we were discussing the long distance thing, and it didn't appeal to me in any way but I felt like the situation was either asking him to sacrifice important things or us working out a way to be apart for a short period until work /family situation allowed that to change. So I agreed to it, and I remember so clearly him being incredibly happy. He'd never been with a woman who allowed him freedom before.
And he used it to cheat :(
I have the messages still from the days when it first happened and we were talking about it, and it was a combination of things going on for him. We had had a fight around 4 weeks earlier because there was a family Zoom call and he "forgot" about it. I was really hurt, embarrassed, as all my siblings were there with their spouses and mine "forgot". So I didn't talk to him for a couple of weeks aside from - well - anger and criticism.
At around the same time, he was being criticised at work. Some guy in the office had really slammed him publicly. Humiliated him even and he was absolutely swimming in shame. He couldn't get admiration from me because I was mad at him, and lo and behold there is this coworker with a crush on him who's doing anything but criticising him.
So his messages to me around that time read "I was alone and lonely and feeling bad and criticised. You were angry at me and she was kind and nice to me and didn't ask anything of me. I figured you weren't a safe bet because you were rejecting me, and I didn't want her but she was comforting"
And that's basically it. No wild lust. No infatuation. No great thrills. Just really someone almost pathologically allergic to being criticised and looking for the antidote. Which of course backfired.
So I get it is hard for your WW to change this - it's an ingrained problem that like you said was probably there long before the A ever happened, and removing self defence mechanisms is hard.
She is who she is, no point in raging against that. She is seeing it and acknowledging it for the first time now. If the A and the work of R is what it takes for her to pursue healing, then so be it.
I think this is a really wonderful way to look at it.
I think she could be an absolutely spectacular partner without all that baggage. And I love her, warts and all
Yep, I feel this way too and completely get it.
It sounds to me like it's generally moving forward. Not everyone gets the perfect wayward who somehow changes overnight into that spectacular partner with all the empathy and strength they lacked during the A.
It's always useful to remember that people who find things hard are still making an effort because they love you. Even if the effort isn't textbook perfect, I am guessing she probably finds some of this really tough.