The only mistake that will destroy you, is the one you won’t admit to.
I’m the last one to call an affair a mistake, I mean earthquakes and cyclones happen, you accidentally step in dog poo or brush your teeth with shaving cream instead of toothpaste, but no one just happens to cheat on their partner without a whole series of choices to make it happen.
As an unfaithful husband, my efforts to avoid feeling the shame of my behaviours meant that I minimised, hid, rationalised and blamed others. The effort I poured into not seeing myself was like cement being poured into the foundation of my problem.
The process solidified within and in time I became the master of self-deception and self-loathing.
Thirty plus years of internal conflict has been exhausting and damaging for myself and those closest to me, almost destroying my life and my family.
The emotional growth and revelation since 2019 have directed a ton of focus and energy into seeing myself as I truly am. A man whose hearts’ desire is to be accountable to that authentic person and his choices—someone determined to do the work for himself congruent with his own deep core values.
Chipping away at all the concrete rot I’d allowed into my soul over many decades is slow and frustrating work—it’s difficult to do alone or by relying on any singular resource, counsellor, program or mentor. Clearing out the debris and rebuilding my life has required a monumentally holistic effort. The art of self-compassion and kindness is not easily accepted by those who think so poorly of themselves let alone the unconditional love, acceptance and unwavering grace Noni continues to bestow upon us.
A part of my recovery journey—which is arguably up there and an unexpected positive from my previous existence—is a weekly call that I am privileged to be on with other guys who have betrayed their partners. Each of these men are genuinely great blokes and we’ve developed friendships out of absolutely dismal circumstances.
The majority of men who are hiding secrets of lust, pornography, affairs or acting out usually have a limited social network where they can be completely understood and heaven forbid even vulnerable. Men—at the best of times—find it hard to open up so it’s kind of refreshing to have this safe space to meet void of judgement.
An interesting observation is that as the group progresses through our individual recovery, we regularly find ourselves in similar situations to each other, maybe not in regard to lapse or relapse but warning signals that a maladaptive coping mechanism might be presenting. All of us have familiar patterns of behaviour whether that be anger, entitlement, expectation, anxiety, you name it, there are many common threads that impact our intimate relationships and we get to share this during our calls with people who get it!
Without exception, each one of us still frustrates ourselves by repeating deeply ingrained reflexes, often “knowing” after the event what we did wrong. Sometimes the frustration spills into one of us saying, “I am just hopeless at this” “I can’t see how this will ever change” or ” I really felt so crap I didn’t feel like calling in this week”. We’re all aware this could be dangerous territory because entertaining these thoughts has had dire consequences in the past. Thankfully what follows is a combination of supportive feedback and camaraderie.
Empathy – “Yeah that’s really difficult and frustrating, I know how you feel.”
Accountability – “What was actually going on with you at that time?” “What is reality and what is perception?” “You are going to share these insights with your partner right?”
Encouragement – “We can always get better, we can practice and look out for these situations and preceding thoughts.” “You’ve got this!” “It’s not easy but it’s worth it.”
We share healthy coping strategies and resources that we’ve found helpful and that work for us.
In recovery consistency and action count—not intentions.
If you know anyone who needs to hear this please share, get them to reach out, white-knuckling recovery just doesn’t cut it! Noni and I are more than happy to chat with anyone seeking support.