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Will he ever be the person he used to be and possibly leave this other woman and try and come back to me and the kids or will he continue to be this stranger that seems to enjoy doing everything to hurt me? Should we cut our losses and move on?
What do you want? Do you want to reconcile—not with the midlife crisis Monster, but with the core person who is your husband? Determine whether to cut your losses by determining what it is you want. I cannot tell you whether he will ever leave the alienator and stop being a jerk because there are no guarantees. What I can tell you is that some choose to come home—or they would if their spouse would let them. That means that in many cases the situation is up to the left behind spouse.
When was Bomb Drop?
This is a common question and fear. So look at it from where you are from Bomb Drop. Was Bomb Drop 6 months ago, 2 years ago, 6 years ago? Maybe it’s only been 6 months, but he seems so certain. Of course he seems certain; he’s at the start of a midlife crisis! Maybe it’s been 2 years and he still seems certain. Of course he seems certain, he’s in a midlife crisis and midlife crisis averages 2 to 7 years. Were you focusing on the end of that range—the ends of ranges are often outliers. Some will see more looking back toward the left behind spouse at the 2 year mark, but that does not mean most will experience that. Maybe it’s been 6 years; that is a long time. So what are you observing? Does he still seem to be regressing—is he still in Escape & Avoid? Or is their more overt depression if he was a High-Energy Replayer? Has he reconnected with pieces of his pre-MLC Self? What is the quality of the affair relationship—volatile, abusive, jealous, controlling, emotional blackmail…? Has it escalated, stayed the same or improved?
If it’s been 6 months, the contact level may still be in flux, but if it’s been 6 years and you have not seen or heard from your MLCer in 4 years, how does that—or should that—affect your decisions as a Stander? You may have had indirect contact or communications—through lawyers, the kids, friend and family or a community grapevine. What do you know about what is going on in your MLCer’s life? Do your sources say he is depressed, growing up, angry, sick, happy, settling down…?
What do you think they might do if you initiated contact—maybe just a hello, how are you phone call or a thinking of you card? If you still want to reconcile your marriage, is that going to happen by maintaining No Contact forever? Or maybe you have the fantasy of reconciliation, but you know it’s a fantasy and yet is holding you back. What more can you do to get closure?
If your MLCer is a Close Contacter, the qualities of their interactions will change—especially as you detach and learn to respond instead of react. They will Monster in the beginning—for many months or a few years. Some may Monster longer than others—a few seem to be all Monster all the time. They will cycle and so Monstering may have gaps where they are not Monstering and then they return to Monster.
The approach to Liminal Depression is especially frightening and may thus enable an increase in anger as they try to avoid this phase and anger may mean more Monster. It may mean more fear and a need for reassurance from you—depending on how your relationship has been progressing in their crisis.
Pleasure in Your Pain
This seems to go along with narcissism—not that your MLCer has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but that narcissistic attributes tend to increase during midlife crisis, especially during the Escape & Avoid phase.
How are you reacting or responding to this Monstering? Are you giving energy to his antics? Does he get attention from you? Do you show him that you are bothered or hurt? Do you fight back, defend, accuse, verbalize judgment…? If you are doing those things, you are feeding the Monster, instead walk away or hang up or do not answer and block his calls or emails if necessary. Do not engage with Monster—even to let Monster know that it’s wrong. Instead choose an intermediary for contact if possible, a friend, family member or your lawyer. Set a boundary against the abuse and if you are Standing include an opt-out clause that you communicate either when you set the No Contact boundary or through the intermediary.
The idea here is that you need to stop being the object of your MLCer’s projections. When you no longer engage and accept the projections, an MLCer will either find another object of projection or start pointing that accusatory finger back at themselves. Why should they self-reflect when there are others willing to reflect toward them? Take that away and what do they have left but themselves.
The Core Person
Will he ever be the person he used to be?
Yes and No. Are you the same person you were at 20? Was the person you were at 20 the person you were at 35? Probably yes and no. I am still who I was in college. My ideals are pretty much the same and my inner needs are the same. My core is an introvert and so I need solitude. I love books—and that is not going to change! I love to read and to write and for me writing is part of living. Those are part of my deep core.
But I’ve experience more life since college. I learned that I’m good at tedious stuff like organizing and reviewing data but not so good at the laboratory side of my science major. I was only 15 when I renewed my love of traditional tales, but not until after college that I started reading Joseph Campbell and then Jung and that rocked my world. Somewhere along the way I learned that I can read people. I don’t know how, but I noticed it in a lab environment as I explained some of the working personalities later to my mom. Wow, that was new. And then came MLC and that ability to read people and my interest in Jungian studies came together—those were not something I was aware of about myself in college.
I have learned and grown and so will your MLCer. But I still need my solitude and I’m still terrible at multitasking and I can easily get overwhelmed by too much stimuli. Your MLCer will come through their crisis with their core intact and yet they will also be different. How different? Some change more than others. They discover more new things they like or a lot of old stuff they didn’t like that they get rid of. Chuck has matured, but he’s still Chuck. He still freaks out at clutter and his anticipation of being stressed. But he no longer fears losing Us and so he is still more even keeled.
The point, I guess, is that there are a lot of variables—High versus Low Energy, Distant versus Close Contact, Time since Bomb Drop, your growth and level of detachment… What I can tell you is that MLCers can and do come through their crisis and still want to reconcile. They do leave the alienator—even if they don’t want to reconcile that relationship is doomed. It doesn’t really matter that your MLCer seems certain—he probably seemed certain when he took his wedding vows too. It doesn’t matter that they seem happy with the alienator; sometimes realizing the fantasy is elating and yet that is temporary, you also can’t see behind closed doors and it may be a façade.
Focus on your Self, your children, your life and healing and growth and detach. I know that seems counterproductive—there must be something you can do! There is, and the somethings you can do are directed toward you because they will ripple outward and affect others.