Thank you again to everyone who has replied with such heartfelt and helpful wisdom.
I don’t expect there to be any chance of R after full disclosure. I think he will always love me but he will see our marriage bonds as truly severed.
It may be the honourable and right thing for me to do to choose truth, it may allow me to live an authentic life, but the path leaves *him* broken and traumatised. Hence, my futile wish that i could just proceed on my original plan which was to remove me from his life so I don’t cause him this damage. I hear what you are all saying about how the damage is already done and that the lies are the corrosive thing whatever the outcome. It makes me feel sick to my stomach but I know I need to face it.
I have been referred to SLAA by my therapist but have not yet started or gone to a meeting. I went to a few AA meetings with my dad so know of the 12 steps (much good that did him). I don’t know whether I should wait and cover disclosure as one of the steps, or at least until I feel in a more stable mental place (I sometimes entertain thoughts of self harm and worse). Or perhaps the best thing to do is disclose as soon as possible so that those feelings of R that are emerging on both sides don’t become stronger.
I think that what I'm seeing from your tone and your posts is someone who really doesn't have a lot of self-love. Your internal monologue is seemingly pretty toxic. I mean, it is no wonder that you don't feel like your BH would ever want to reconcile with you after what you've done, because it is clear that you are struggling with the idea of loving yourself for who you are. I mean, you are presupposing that your BH will want nothing to do with you and you are using it to psych yourself out of doing the right thing.
Also, since you talked about your "plan", let's discuss, do you not think that your BH is going to be curious why things are changing in his marriage and why you have walked away? I mean...let me give you a bit of a perspective.
I had an EA from 2017-2019, although it is truthful say that there were stretches there of no contact, so it wasn't a consecutive two years...but also, I readily admit that had there not been an international border separating us...it would've been physical, so that doesn't make it any better...but I digress. I finally began to get my shit together when my wife told me that she had finally had enough and was done with my cheating ways in September 2019 and that we were heading for divorce. I was a pretty slow learner and my head was pretty far up my ass, but I knew that at that point she was dead serious. To be completely clear though, the timing of those things never made any sense. We did a lot of stuff wrong and we went to see a MC and while I found the MC to be really helpful, but my wife did too, but in a way that she was reaffirming her decision to divorce me. The super confusing part of it all was that we would go to MC and she would list her grievances with me like how I didn't help with the dishes or take out the trash, which the therapist and my eyes were completely solvable things.
Looking back on it now, for a couple months there I was trying my damndest to address all the concerns she had and then what shocked me was in December she told me that we were for sure done and that she was moving to the guest bedroom to prepare for divorce. What didn't make sense there was the timing, I had been no contact since the April 2019 timeframe with a broken NC in September, but for most of the year I had been NC and certainly for the four months prior. I mean, sure, recovery and reconciliation looks different to everyone and the timetables aren't always going to make sense, but this request for a divorce and her moving out of our bedroom never fit. As far as I knew, nothing had changed. We had been going to MC, I had been making all sorts of efforts to address her grievances (was doing a hell of a pick me dance I would later find out). By that point I had even begun reading here, been meeting with a therapist regularly to work on myself and address my issues. I wouldn't learn about my wife's concurrent EA/PA that had been going on from 2017 through early 2020 until Feb 2020. But the two interceding months between her moving out of the bedroom and me learning of her A happened to be absolute hell. Nothing in my world or life made any damn sense and my entire life for those months was upside down. My wife too thought that she could exit stage left without ever coughing up the reason for our marriage ending was actually her infidelity, when she was placing the blame on my cheating. I mean, yes, the dueling infidelities in my marriage complicates things at a level that your marriage is not experiencing, but nevertheless, I am hoping to drive home the point that your BH is already being put through the ringer with all your actions, whether you are seeing it from him outwardly or not.
Finally, the idea of killing R feelings by disclosure is a really terrible way to look at it all. It is okay to want to be with your husband and to have the desire to want to R with him. You shouldn't beat yourself up over that, because it is natural and normal. You are also working off the flawed premise that disclosure is going to be the end of your marriage. No one, I mean no one, not you, not any of us here, not even your BH knows that your disclosure will be the end of your marriage. I've been here on SI for a number of years now and I've seen a lot of instances where a BS had thought coming into the marriage that infidelity was a deal breaker for them and while that can still be the case for a good percentage of folks, it is not some hard and fast rule that infidelity = automatic divorce, do not collect $200 and do not pass go. More importantly, while disclosure is undoubtedly going to hurt your spouse, keep in mind that you already baked in that hurt when you made your choice to have an affair, the disclosure is one of your first steps toward healing yourself and being able to live your authentic life.
The overarching theme from your posts so far seem to be from fear of the unknown. Which, granted, fear can be paralyzing and the biggest challenge that I see you having is finding a way to overcome and conquer that fear. I mean, don't get me wrong, you should be under no illusion that your BH will take the disclosure well, but you truly won't know how he reacts until he knows.