My XAH still gives me pants feelings

Old 09-11-2017, 08:02 AM
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My XAH still gives me pants feelings

It's been about a year since I posted here. Since then I have a new job, and my youngest child DD6 (who I was pregnant with when I found SR) started school. Life is good BUT I've been really bummed out for a few months, a mixture of self-pity and overwork. I have back problems that are getting me down, I'm trying to lose weight to better manage the back problems, and I'm tired. Don't get me wrong, all of this is manageable and I'm managing it, but deliberate health management stuff is an emotional drag. I'm eating better and trying to sleep more, practicing self-care, learning my new job, leaning on my support network.

But lately I've been dreaming (literally) of my XAH, back when we first got together and life was pretty good. Our relationship was good for awhile in the early days -- until it wasn't, and then it was my worst nightmare. We were high school sweethearts and have over twenty years of history together, a mixed bag of youthful memories and near the end, me crumbling under the weight of being married to and emotionally codependent for an addict while pregnant with DD6 and caring for my son from a previous relationship. I'm literally dreaming about him on a regular basis, this abusive XAH of mine, and my brain is romanticizing our past together. I dream about our early heady romance and then I wake up grumpy and irritated that this is where my dreams are going, making me miss my XAH. All the while I'm sleeping next to my new boyfriend and partner, a sweet and supportive man who loves me and my children in ways my XAH is and was incapable of. It makes me feel guilty and weird -- why is my brain betraying me?

Yesterday, I went out and picked up my DD6 from her weekend visitation with her dad. He is still living at his parents' house and has been unemployed for 5+ years, no changes at all in his recovery or lack thereof. The crazy goes on without me. He has 100% supervised visitations with DD6 and is not allowed to drive her anywhere, so I do the pickups and drop-offs. While I was there, he told me I look nice, made a nice observation about a piece of jewelry I was wearing, and was friendly and genuine.

This complimentary interaction really bothered me. It was nice and it was innocent, but it also made me so sad. I loved this man and our relationship was wrecked by addiction. I doubt his ability to return to the workforce -- he's turning forty next year and has ruined his health and his life. But we loved each other once and I still sympathize with all he's lost to addiction. And maybe what I've lost to his addiction too.

I miss...him? I actually don't know him -- not anymore and maybe never, he told me so many lies -- so maybe I am missing something else entirely. I have struggled with still feeling love and attraction for my XAH over time, and still feeling waves of heartbreak when I see him with DD6 (he's a good dad, with his parents' help, despite his troubles) and when he's kind to me. And I'm still physically attracted to him. Like, a lot.

So the long and short of it, my XAH still makes my heart flutter, even after all this time, even with all the recovery, heartbreak, abuse, addiction, abandonment, and adultery. Even with distance, divorce, and a new relationship.

I'll never act on these feelings, but they're there.
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Old 09-11-2017, 09:27 AM
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Hi Florence,

Dreams can have many meanings.

To dream of embracing an enemy can be a powerful symbol of making peace with ourselves. If we look to what this “enemy” represents to us, we may begin to understand what part or our personality we are learning to understand and accept.

Another lesson the embrace dream may be teaching us are lessons we were not ready to learn from the person we dream of when we first met them. Perhaps we met a wise guardian in our teen years, but were too busy growing up, testing boundaries and finding our own way in life that we didn’t pay real attention to the wisdom they were sharing with us. Or maybe this advice came at a time when we were too busy coping with a difficult situation to be able to sit back and absorb the wise words being spoken to us. But we still heard, and our subconscious remembered. And now that we are older, and have more quite time, or maybe the message is just that more relevant, that our dreaming mind will remind us of that special knowledge that was shared with us all those years ago.

We can also look at the feelings an embrace dream gives us. Is it one of peace, forgiveness, love, connection, intimacy, acceptance, calmness, wisdom, fulfillment, joy, nurturing, protection and so on..? Only you will know what this particular “holding close” dream means, but often it can be extremely cathartic, maybe a closure on a relationship, a saying goodbye to someone we never had the chance to, a saying thanks to someone we wish we had appreciated more, or a realisation of how important someone was to us.
First, accept yourself, as you are, loving, broken, evolving, changing, healing. This is a process. Second, go find something to truly enjoy today on a celular and spiritual level. Ice cream, coffee, dipping your feet into clear water, watching the sunset, the moon or the sun rise tomorrow morning. Third, pray and trust answers will come.

Ask for eyes to see, ears to hear. Look for signs.

Something is breaking free inside of uou. Maybe it's old hurts and pains, maybe it's a readiness to feel extreme emotions you've been shut off from... maybe it's simply a process of the old being released from your body, mind and soul.


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Old 09-11-2017, 09:38 AM
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It makes sense that you would have fond thoughts about someone you remember as a good person (for the first few years of your marriage), even though you know that is not the person you are dealing with now. Knowing that he is the father of your child would make this even more complicated.

It sounds to me like you are feeling guilty for romanticizing your ex and thinking about "what could have been" while you're with a new partner, who is many things your ex was not (sober, for one). I think it is normal to have "what-if" thoughts - what if my ex had stopped drinking? What if things had gone differently? It's kind of like imagining an alternate universe. As long as you're clear for yourself that it is just fantasy, that the real universe is what you've got, not an alternate dimension (and it sounds like you are very clear on that), I don't think you need to be too harsh on yourself for what your dreams are doing.

I can sympathize a bit because I too married quite young, to someone I knew in high school, and divorced after 25 years in large part because of his drinking. However, he did me the "favor" of behaving like a typical addict (deception, blame, rage outbursts, etc) so that I have never had a moment's ambivalence about the decision to leave him. I did go through (and am still to some extent going through) a mourning process for the person I thought he was, or the person he was before the addiction really took hold. I have to accept that that person is gone, almost as if he had died.

I've heard the process of separating from an alcoholic as "a death without a corpse", because the body of the person you once knew is still out there, walking and talking and occasionally even being pleasant, even though you know that the essence of that person is completely changed. It's a really complicated emotional situation, and you have my sympathy.
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Old 09-11-2017, 09:55 AM
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Florence....I find that when I have been over tired, over extended....under stress from any reason, is when I have dreams that can be unusually intense...
Sometimes, they are scary...and, sometimes, they are "hot"
Sometimes, they make a certain amount "sense". Like, maybe, some kind of theme that I have been struggling with...But, other times, they are just a mismatch of bizarre elements...
Recently, I had a disturbing dream that I was married to the current president of the United States....but, my friends had no idea!
Of course, I had fallen asleep, on the couch when watching a political discussion on CNN....
One time, I had a "sex" dream about a comedian that was popular when I was a kid...(and, I wasn't even attracted to him, then).....
I really don't attach too much literal meaning to dreams. They are, after all, just random electrical firings of our brain.....and, anything that we have ever experienced (or imagined), is fodder for these firings...and, in any jumbled up kind of manner.....

I really don't think that a person should ever have to feel guilty or responsible for their dreams....
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Old 09-11-2017, 11:00 AM
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I really like what others have already posted about allowing yourself the room to have these dreams and not feel guilt about them. You obviously really cared for this person at one time and I think it's probably normal for your subconscious to tap into those old feelings.

Perhaps its a coping mechanism to avoid your feelings about his reality because from what you've described it doesn't sound good at alcoholic, out of work, requires supervised visitation of your DD.

Whatever it is, I hope you give yourself the room and space to accept what is happening as being OK. It sounds like you have a new relationship with someone who treats you and your children well, as all of you deserve! That is wonderful.

It's only been about 11 months since I separated from my STBXAH and I don't know if I've gone 48 hours without mourning the person I thought he could be and the life I wanted for our family.

Sending you good thoughts today.
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Old 09-11-2017, 11:18 AM
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I am struck with the dissonance between knowing what's down that road, how terrible and soul-killing it is and would be for everyone involved, and still having the chemistry to want it a little bit.

When I started the recovery process with SR, we talked a lot about being programmed to be attracted to things that are bad for us. I'm six years out and I still feel the pull.
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Old 09-11-2017, 11:31 AM
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Completely natural. Accept that for what it is. Use it as looking at life in terms of integration instead of compartmentalized.

Then move on to what you choose to want out of life.
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Old 09-11-2017, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Florence View Post
I am struck with the dissonance between knowing what's down that road, how terrible and soul-killing it is and would be for everyone involved, and still having the chemistry to want it a little bit.

When I started the recovery process with SR, we talked a lot about being programmed to be attracted to things that are bad for us. I'm six years out and I still feel the pull.
Could you be inexperienced when it comes to healthy relationships like the one that you're currently in, and maybe even though it's better, it is also uncomfortable? Then, subconsciously you become attracted to the chaos of what you're "used" to even though you know better...

Just food for thought because it sounds like you have a great relationship now with someone who is healthy.
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Old 09-11-2017, 03:08 PM
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closest i can think is like the "thing" between me and crack. i am nine years out and 1000% certain i will never EVER get near that stuff again. gave enough of my life and self-respect.

i cannot allow myself the luxury of reminiscing, romanticizing, or ever talking about crack. i cannot watch a movie with people smoking crack, or stupid Intervention, or any other documentary or program that seems to think we all need to see that crap. i have a spontaneous aversion.

but since addiction is at best in remission i do have dreams, i do have moments of euphoric recall, i do hear the quiet voice now and then......i simply cannot engage in discussion or argument or debate with the voice. no can do. that voice must stay as unheard as possible.
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Old 09-11-2017, 04:27 PM
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I have a lot of dreams. Dark dreams with images, people and places that are so real- I could reach out and touch them. Sad dreams, hellish dreams. My brain comes out to play when I am asleep. It is like someone threw all of my memories and feelings up in the air...and I come along afterwards- see the messy mix on the floor and try and work out what it means.
To me it means I have stuff on my mind. Dreams and thoughts do not hurt anyone. Actions do. You have done nothing wrong. You are a human- who is juggling life- and coping as best you can. I personally do not read too much into dreams- except the if I dream I am drinking again and hide a stash, then wake up feeling crap. Does it mean I am going to relapse? Does it mean I want to drink? NO! The message is - DO NOT DRINK!
Of course you still have feelings for your ex. If you did not- that would be most unusual. It is good you have good memories. BUT you do not let this cloud who you are or what you are- they do not define you. They may be part of you- but only a part.
Support to you.
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Old 09-11-2017, 06:13 PM
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I think it is okay to feel what you are feeling. Actually, isn't it always? I am not the person to take advice from at this point in my recovery, and I will certainly not give it. What I will say that is many times I am asked the question of why I am still in love with my qualifier. In my case I am still with him, but I am talking only about feelings of love right now. Let's say I finally left him - not because I'd spontaneously fallen out of love with him, but say, I finally acted on that all too knowing gut and grew some courage and realized that love is just not enough to sustain a relationship. This part is true. Love alone doesn't actually conquer all, as many on this board including myself and yourself will tell you. We love people who are bad to us. Who hurt us. Who betray us. Who abuse us. Some say that isn't love. And while I agree that acts mentioned are not conducive to showing and acting out of real love, I disagree with the fact that we cannot love or feel affection toward a person who exhibits these behaviors. That if we do, something is wrong with us. Love cannot be measured or quantified by anything. Its just a feeling. I tried to explain this to my 8 year old nephew to see if he understood what love was, what it felt like. That when he says it to me or mommy what does it mean. He couldn't explain it, but I got the feeling that he just knew regardless of whether it was tangible.

I love my qualifier. That I know. My qualifier is also abusive, a terrible father, manipulative, unfaithful, and unwilling or able at this time to embrace recovery. Yet I still have feelings for him as there is the man inside there hidden away that I once fell deeply in love with. And the kicker? I sincerely believe he feels genuine love for me too. Remember I am not talking about whether it makes sense to be together (it does not), I am not talking about whether he can be a healthy partner (he cannot). But I am talking about human emotions that logic defies. If I wanted to I couldn't shut off my feelings. I could shut off my actions yes (as you have -this is a great accomplishment), but we cannot deny what our feelings are doing. Whom they are loving.
Hurt people hurt people. I know that each time I see an act of pain taken out on me as its victim. It doesn't make me love him less, it simply knocks me behind the knees to remind me that he is unable to show acts of love at this time in his life, and possibly forever.

This is and was a long winded way of telling you not to fear your feelings - shoot I promised I wouldn't give advice! Well, know that it is OKAY to feel affection and even attraction to someone you once loved and may very well still love. Especially given the history you have with him and the fact that you share children with him. Many people ask me how I could still be attracted to my qualifier (honestly it's peaks and valleys). Part of it I think is the romanticized idea of what it could have been, or dammit, what it was SUPPOSED to be - what it SHOULD be. And part of it is that weird unexplained bizarre love feeling I mentioned up above. The one that doesnt make sense. The one that says, how can you love or feel affection for someone who is like X,Y,Z?? Like grief, give yourself permission to feel it.

I think a lot of us also become addicted to the drama. That when we find nice and supportive partners we do not know how to be. We are so use to the highs and lows and the unpredictable that we can be stuck on the life we use to have. As awful as it was, it was unpredictable and it gave us something to chase our own tails for. I personally have never been in a stable relationship so I do not know how it would be. It sounds like you have something pretty great right now, but perhaps there is still a void there for you that AH once filled. I honestly wake up each day and wonder what the day will bring with Abf. Is he gonna disappear on a bender? Will he come over drunk? Is he going to be passive aggressive with me to get attention today?

Do you think there is a part of you that feels stagnant in this new found stability? Could that, in addition to to still genuinely loving him, be part of why these cravings are coming to surface?
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:18 AM
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For the ex-spouse of an addict, having to let go of an addict is like death without a corpse. I used to say that to other people long before I started reading that phrase on SR. Now that you're not living with your AXH anymore, and you are not experiencing his addiction drama, seeing him is going to be difficult because you are seeing him outside his "drama orbit".

Someone also said that people get addiction to the "addiction drama", that's what it's like being a relapsing codependent. So essentially, your AXH is triggering your codie tendencies.

I have the same problem. Lately I have been thinking of what things were like when things were good between STBAXH and me. But most of those memories are memories of plans I used to make with my addict, we had so many plans for the future, which never came to pass. My addict was never in any position to be responsible in a relationship. He could not be responsible for love. He wanted to be, I'm sure. He probably did love me very inadequately. I know that I still love him and I always will love him. I am also angry at him, sad for him, and hope in vain for his recovery... but I can do nothing about those feelings expect to just feel them.

I don't think there is anything wrong with you having dreams, but you do seem to have a good relationship now, and I'm happy for you.
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Old 09-12-2017, 04:18 AM
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Hi Florence-

I can imagine how frustrating this whole experience might feel.

In all honesty I read your post and felt hope. Part of why I continue to turn to this board for my ongoing recovery is for stories like yours. When I was first on this board I spent a lot of time comparing myself to other's story and feeling like I had not moved enough stuff, made enough recovery etc.

The longer I am on here the more I realize that recovery happens in steps and stages or layers. What I heard in your share was that you are hitting a deeper layer of stuff (which may or may not be about your ex), and it is an opportunity to deepen and broaden your recovery.....regardless of how, and probably because of how uncomfortable it might be. This is the piece I was missing initially. This is the piece that I get now when I see people returning with new life challenges after their initial recovery phase is over. It is less about healing from living with someone with addiction and more about healing yourself.

Thanks for sharing. So sorry for the discomfort right now. Thanks for reaffirming for me that this journey is so valuable and worth it.
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Old 09-12-2017, 05:06 AM
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Florence.....a couple of things that I take note of, from your post.....
You were high school sweethearts with 20yr., you must have been mid teens when the relationship started.....
Young love--first love--tends to have an intensity that is marked forever in our memory...Not necessarily, because it was the BEST love, but, because it was the FIRST love...
I think of all the people who say that they still remember their "first love" with special feelings....
You were with your Ex for 20yrs! Just by lovgevity and the time he came into your intimate live...he is a part of the fabric...the memory of your life.
Just because he was there!
Comparatively, your new person is much newer on the, you can't possibly have the amount of history with him, as your ex.
History takes time to build.

Of course, I don't know if this newer person is enough for you, on all levels..
He may or may not could I possibly
But, I do think that you should not be unduly alarmed by your feelings about the ex.
I think you will grow past their "importance" with time.
I know that I did!

Another thought....With my children's father...after the divorce..I seldom even laid eyes on him. He was a jerk, so that I kept contact with him to as little as humanly possible, given that there were 3 children.
I watched from a distance while they got into the car with him. I waited in his driveway, if I was picking them up....
I let my kids talk to him on the phone, when he said he was picking them upo for a weekend. I only spoke on the phone if absolutely necessary.
(almost like self-imposed restraining order "rules"
I think that the less contact you have with your ex...the better, for you....
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