Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: A Year of Cheating Dangerously

2009 was a heckuva year for adultery watchers (and aren't we all, these days?).
Just to recount, the year's cheat sheet includes John Edwards (well, okay, he admitted it in 2008 but his wife's book about it was released in 09), Jon Gosselin, John Ensign (who he?), Mark Sanford, David Letterman, Josh Duhamel, and, of course, Tiger Woods. And those are just the ones who haven't faded too quickly from the headlines. It's enough to turn my rose-colored glasses blue.
My own D-Day was more than three years ago and, I'm delighted to report, the pain is nowhere near as acute as it was. I get the occasional pang of sadness when I recall what I now call our "lost years", but time (and a whole lotta therapy) has brought me to a place where I believe my happiness is far more genuine now. It's rooted in reality; the knowledge that life can deliver me a knockout punch...but my feet are firmly enough on solid ground to keep me standing.
Which is a long way of saying that I can read about these affairs without taking it personally. Without making sweeping generalizations that, clearly, every man is a cheating scumbag and it's simply a matter of opportunity before they reveal themselves (literally and metaphorically). Without thinking that every marriage is doomed to failure and that every woman is simply setting themselves up for heartbreak. Yep, I was there. But thankfully no longer.
What about you, BWC readers? Do you find all the constant news about Tiger et al contributing to greater angst? Does misery love company? Or is it simply unnecessary gossip that has nothing to do with your life? 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Survival Guide to your Heartbroken Holidays

Let me share with you how I spent the holiday season 2006, which – oh how the gods spite me! – took place within days of DDay #1.
I woke up early. Had I even slept? My parents were here to share the holiday my family, including our three young children.
After opening presents and trying to smile nice for the camera, I can only recall that I somehow lost my mind.
I became obsessed with finding the Other Woman (OW) and letting her know that she had ruined my Christmas. I got into my husband's car and began driving to her part of town. I didn't know her address, only an intersection. So I cruised. And sobbed. And cruised and sobbed.
Eventually, I gave up and came home. Where I sobbed some more.
My husband and parents had been, of course, frantic.
My kids were confused.
And I? Well, I was sobbing. And reeling from the shock of my life.
So I'm hardly in any position to be offering up advice on how to handle the holidays...when your heart is breaking.
Except that I can at least offer up lessons. You know those things we learn from extreme suffering:
Lesson #1: Give up on traditions. Maybe the holidays in your house involve an elaborate gingerbread decorating event, followed by a family skate and hot chocolate. If you can pull it off, go for it. But many BWC members remember that any attempt to do "what we always did" simply magnified the one BIG difference this time around. Perhaps it's time to create some new traditions, like make voo-doo daddy dolls. Or beat the daddy-shaped piƱata. Maybe a gingerbread home-wrecker? Seriously, this might be the year to implement the holiday movie marathon (Black Christmas, perhaps?). Give it some serious thought – and only commit to events and activities that you can handle. Give yourself the gift of peace.
Lesson #2: Peace is not to be found at the bottom of the punch bowl. Trust me on that one. A happy drunk can make merry. A sloppy bitter drunk just makes Mary, Larry and Harry cringe. (And remember, too, if you're hardly eating a thing, have lost weight and aren't sleeping, alcohol will hit you hard.)
Lesson #3: Look forward, not back. Sure it's tradition to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the one to come. But nostalgia is often dishonest.
Take stock of where you are right now – even if that happens to be in a smelly bathrobe rummaging through the drawers for a sleep aid. This is NOT where you'll be in a year. It might not even be where you'll be in a month (fingers crossed). So face forward and march into your future – whatever it is – with a trust in yourself that you will handle this the best you can.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Guest Blog: T is for Trauma

by Merri

I remember well my first flashback. I vividly “saw” my husband standing beside our house months after we had separated. It was terrifying. The only problem was, in reality, he was about thirty miles away. But tell that to my sweaty palms and racing heart.
Betrayals of the heart often induce trauma (which is, after all, a very strong stress reaction). If you consider that betrayal feels like it comes out of nowhere, that our response is emotionally reactive, and that we perceive fear through loss of control – we’re ripe for the picking. What's more, our brain automatically filters memories from our relationship history and throws in childhood experiences. 

For some of us bouncing between detachment and hyper-vigilance felt completely normal. It was far from it – but my childhood experiences conditioned me believe this state was reasonable day-to-day functioning. Chronic low-level stress (lasting for more than 90 days) can also induce a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd).
My concentrated efforts in trauma therapy helped me more than anything else ever had. I finally found the simple tools to cope that I had been looking for my whole life. 
Grounding strategies were key for me. I asked someone I trusted to be my "grounder" for awhile. The feelings you experience can be extreme (panic attacks, anxiety, hypervigilance) and these emotions block logic so it’s necessary to calm them in order to think logically. The one thing I needed to hear repeatedly was that I was “safe", that most people were good, and that I would be okay in the long term.

•Doing a cognitive behave workbook was another simple exercise (simple in that it’s available at any bookstore. I suggest 
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook For Dummies by Rhena Branch and Rob Willson). I still occasionally use the exercises.

•And EMDR helped the most. I found something similar online I could do on my own called emotional freedom technique – for me it wasn't as good but it still worked.

It’s a good idea to seek professional help if a betrayal has left you:
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Suffering through moments of severe fear, anxiety, or depression
  • Overly cautious/suspicious of people when you weren’t before
  • Experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
  • Avoiding more and more things that remind you of the trauma or gave you pleasure before
  • Feeling emotionally numb and/or disconnected from others
  • Using alcohol or drugs to feel better

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Guest Blog: Endless Questions...

by Meg

I've been coping with the fallout of betrayal for about a year. I keep asking myself "When do I get to be happy again?" I ask myself hundreds if not thousands of questions a day. Probably not healthy – maybe a bit obsessive. I've got to work on that negative self-talk problem.
There are the usual questions: "Why wasn't I enough?", "How didn't I know?", "Will I always be alone?", "Will I be able to trust again?"
It's hard to feel hopeful with those questions constantly running through my head. They are filled with doubt about my future and my ability to be me again. What if I find love again, will I be able to believe in it?
 For me, and for many of us, my life changed in an instant. The day before my D-Day my husband sent me a lovely note: "10 reasons why I'm so lucky you're my wife." How many women have a husband who says stuff like that out of the blue? I read that and
felt so lucky, so loved, so safe. Now I think back to that list and think maybe he was was making a pros vs. cons list about me...and just decided to share the pros with me. 
Today I got an e-mail from him asking why our divorce is taking so long. My how times have changed! Yesterday, I spent a lot of time asking the question I ask the most: "What happened to the man I loved?"  Can I just ask all of you – when do the questions end?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Arguing Over Addiction

I recently spoke with a reporter for The Daily Beast about sex addiction. Since the number of Tiger Woods' conquests seems to grow daily, many are speculating about whether he's a sex addict...or just a scumbag player.
The comments are scathing, with most falling on the "scumbag" side of the debate. And, frankly, I can understand why some dismiss the possibility of sex addiction.
For one thing, sex addiction has only recently become the celebrity curse-du-jour, with David Duchovny's admission and Dr. Drew creating a show around it. And sure, it can seem like a convenient excuse. "Gee, I would have liked to have said 'no' to the porn star, but I couldn't help myself because I'm a sex addict."
At least that's what those who dismiss sex addiction as a fad, or an excuse might suspect.
But the reality is hardly convenient. Or an excuse.
What a sex addict does is no less embarrassing to them if they admit to sex addiction. If anything, it's worse. Imagine the humiliation of going through a 12-step program for sex addiction (some of which don't allow all. Ever.). Imagine having to take a personal inventory of those you've hurt and make reparations. Think of how excruciating it must be to recount every encounter to your spouse (and yourself!) when you've spent most of your time convincing yourself that what you're doing isn't really hurting anyone.
Whether or not Tiger Woods is a sex addict, whether or not sex addiction makes it into the DSM-IV is of no consequence to those who use sex (or porn) in an unhealthy way. And most of the comments around sex addiction reveal not only a lack of compassion but a lack of understanding about addiction in general and sex addiction in particular.
Adultery sucks. Doesn't matter much why our spouses cheated on the end we expect them to take responsibility for what they did. And sex addiction offers up nothing to hide behind, but rather a label that they will carry with them forward.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Time Is a Four-Letter Word

I just spent the weekend with a BWC member. But rather than weep and wring our hands about our respective betrayals, we laughed – heartily.
We giggled over what we did when we found out (I insisted that my husband put the OW on the phone...and to my utter amazement, she actually took it!); we chuckled over how delighted we were – in the midst of heartbreak – to step on the scales and discover that, while our lives might feel shattered, we were really wonderfully skinny.
In short, we were able to reflect on the most painful chapter of our lives...and, with the benefit of time, recognize that while it sucked...we weren't on that page anymore. Hallelujah.
Sadly, when your heart is breaking, it's almost impossible to believe it will ever feel whole again. And when those around you suggest that time will heal, you might nod...but inside you think they can't possibly know how all-consuming your pain is. Time, for me, became a bitter four-letter word.
My own pain grew to eclipse all else, including the love of my three children. I wanted desperately to escape it, desperately enough to wish I could die. Never have I been so low.
Which is why sharing some laughs three years later with a good friend who has also experienced betrayal is as surprising as it is healing.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Face Your Pain? A Radical Therapy for a Broken Heart

We're a society that hates pain, of any kind. We reach for Tylenol, or a glass of wine, or a shopping expedition...anything to make our uncomfortable feelings go away, even for just a short time.
When your heart has been shattered through betrayal, those same escapes beckon...but rarely work. Or certainly don't work for long.
What does work?
The answer is as surprising as it is simple. Feel your feelings. That's right. Stop wishing things were different. Or distracting yourself with food, alcohol, men or any other poison of choice.
Accept that this is excruciating. But know that it won't cripple you. You are stronger than this. You will survive. It will take time. But that time can be dramatically shortened by going through the pain, rather than trying to get around it.
Consider all those actions that always seemed too flakey (or was that just me?): meditation, silence, journaling... Anything that encourages you to face your feelings. They're just feelings, as one wise soul (okay, she's my therapist) often reminds me, not facts. And feelings are neither right or wrong, they just are.

If you're going through heartbreak, what are you doing for yourself?
If you've survived betrayal, what helped you through?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hell Hath No Fury: Is Violence Justified Against a Cheating Spouse?

“Swing it again, Elin!” wrote Jan Helin, editor-in-chief of Aftonbladet, Sweden’s biggest newspaper.

While we BWC members have undoubtedly felt the rage, the unbridled fury that Elin Nordegren felt when she learned of husband Tiger Woods' cheating, we are dismayed by the popular support of the alleged golf-club attack.
Media has been ripe with jokes, jeers and cheers, lending an air of endorsement to least against someone who's cheated.
Sure, we joke about wanting to murder our philandering spouses (or ex-spouses). We might even fantasize about carefully exacted revenge. The thing is...we don't act on it.
It's kinda like cheating itself. It's okay to have...errrr...impure thoughts about the neighbor...or his 17-year-old son, for that matter.
We might even acknowledge that it's similarly okay for our husbands to have fantasies about another woman (or women!). But – and it's a big but – it's the actual doing of it that's the problem.
And the fact that she's a woman is no excuse.
Imagine, if Elin had been caught cheating. Would there be the same public support if he had taken a golf club to her? Of course not. That would be considered domestic violence.
I ache for Elin Nordegren and the pain and humiliation she's enduring...whether she divorces or not.
But at no point am I proud to be part of a group that encourages violence against anyone.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Your Marriage Can Survive an Affair...Say the Stats

A great article posted here offers up three couples who are doing the hard work of piecing their marriage together after betrayal. The emotions are so raw that it's hard to read...their pain is palpable. Still, it offers up some good resources (with the notable exception of Betrayed Wives Club) and depicts the devastation wrought by affairs.
What are your thoughts? Can a marriage be better after betrayal? Or will it always bear the scars?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tiger's OW offers up definition of "ironic"

Though I try (really, really I do!) to take the high road when it comes to matters of the OW (Other Woman for those unfamiliar with my acronyms), sometimes I just can't help myself.
Yes, I know that not all OW are nasty or stupid or morally challenged. But it's just that some...are. So, since this OW walked right into this particular exchange with nary a thought to the irony of her words, I can't help but poke just a little bit of fun.
So...with that pseudo-apology out of the way:
According to a recent article in some sleazy tabloid, Jamie Junger (has anyone else been a bit weirded out by the number of Jamie/Jamee/etc. that Tiger allegedly slept with?? Easier to keep their names straight?) commented on Tiger's...errrr...tightness with cash. According to this paragon of virtue...

"When we'd go out for dinner, he never left a tip or he'd ask for the meal to be complimentary because he was 'Tiger Woods'. I just thought that was cheap and it always embarrassed me."

Apparently "dating"/sleeping with a married man isn't the least bit cheap or embarrassing...

"My Husband Cheated on Me!" Meet Three Women Who Made Different Choices

I recently told my story to a writer for BettyConfidential, an online women's site. Check it out here.

And please share your story. Did you stay? Leave? Have an affair yourself? Is there a "right" way to deal with a spouse's infidelity?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Endorse Ashley Madison? Tiger's life is a train wreck!

Recent allegations that Tiger Woods has been invited to become the new face of married-cheaters Web site ashleymadison aren't surprising.
And, though my initial reaction was one of disgust and dismissal, I'm beginning to think it's actually a great idea.
Who better to endorse a site dedicated to adultery and determined to promote it as harmless fun than someone whose "harmless fun" has resulted in devastation, a shattered family, humiliation and lost income? Better that married people see exactly how their ostensibly discreet liaisons could ultimately turn out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Funny – A new weekly feature to give you a giggle

Why men shouldn't write advice columns...

"What type of underpants does she wear?": How much info is too much?

The news is full of details of Tiger Wood's exploits. The women, the sex, the locations, the status of each "relationship"... It's all there for the whole world to discover.
For those of us involved in less public pain, discovering the details about our spouse's affairs often requires some sleuthing...or endless questions. But how much info about our spouse's extracurriculars should we know. And is there ever too much?
I wanted all the details...right down to...well...the dirty stuff. Annie was the same, asking over and over for details about the Other Woman's (OW) vital stats.
A lot of betrayed wives find themselves obsessing about the details of the affair: From where they had coffee (and whether the OW took sugar or a sugar substitute) to where they had sex, for how long and whether they talked before, during or after. Many of us also ask the same questions repeatedly, as if we simply can't absorb the answers.
"Experts" offer up plenty of opinions about what you should know, if you should know and why you should know.
As a recovered obsessive interrogator (ROI), let me clarify a few things:
1. If your spouse wants to remain married to you, he needs to answer any and all of your questions honestly. I've heard it said that when your spouse was engaged in the affair, the OW had the window into your marriage. Now it's time to switch and give you the window into the affair. It can go a long way toward restoring trust and helping you realize it wasn't the romantic sexcapade you might imagine. Then again...
2. Be sure you really want the information. There is such a thing as TMI, in terms of affairs. When I realized that much of the information I was getting was only feeding my obsession with what SHE had that I did not, I put the brakes on. My questions were no longer about trying to understand the affair, they were psychological self-flagellation. I implemented the 24-hour rule. If I felt the need to know something and I wasn't sure if I really needed to know, I forced myself to wait 24 hours. If I still wanted to ask, I did. However, almost every time, I couldn't even remember the question. It was some minor detail that fed my masochism...not my healing.
3. You're not crazy! Your need to hear the details over and over again is not evidence of your declining mental state, but rather your post-traumatic state. Betrayal is traumatizing and anyone who minimizes its effect doesn't truly understand it. People who've been through trauma (whether betrayal, accident or disaster) often need to tell their story over and over as that's how they process it themselves. You can't tell the story when you don't really know the story. Hence the need to create the whole picture.

In short, the BWC says that getting the answers to your questions is part of the healing process. Your spouse's willingness to answer your questions honestly – as painful as the experience is for both of you – helps restore trust and allow you to move forward with transparency and honesty, vital for a healthy marriage. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Guest Blog: Betray Bond

by Merri

There’s a test I wish every person would take before starting longer relationships – the betrayal bond quiz. If I had taken the quiz early in my life, I believe it would have spared me years of grief, improved my marriage or made therapy efforts more focused.

To get through minor trauma (or emotional humiliation), our brain acts automatically to defend our ego and minimize the pain we feel. Beginning in childhood, these small moments begin to accumulate and stored in your memory. If there are consistent patterns of hurt/neglect, the built-up defenses may cause incredible anxiety as we move forward – and we may not be completely aware of why we feel the way we do in the present moment. The over- or under-reaction you have after hearing your spouse raise their voice, may in fact be a subconscious response based on years of being yelled at by a parent. I certainly never figured out the depth or extent of how this affected me, not for many years.

Stress brings all our defenses out in full force and oddly enough we may even be attracted to people or situations that bring this to a head. Repetition compulsion is a subconscious attempt to place yourself back into an uncomfortable circumstance – not to be tormented again but to resolve the fear or personal attack and to do now what you may not have had the power to do long ago. It’s often an unconscious method of self-help for your battle-weary defenses.

Take the quiz and find out if past betrayal is holding you back from reaching your full, intimate potential:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Surviving Infidelity: Anti-versaries

December 11 will mark three years since I discovered my husband's affair. And though the date doesn't create the kick-in-the-stomach thud it has in years past, I'm acutely aware on many levels that the anti-versary is coming.
Anti-versaries can trigger all sorts of emotions, even if, on the surface, you seem barely aware of what the calendar says. Janie reports that she suddenly found herself angry with her husband about little things, even though their reconciliation was going well. When she realized that the one-year anti-versary was coming, her anger made more sense.
I made sure that my husband and I had plans for the one-year anti-versary. I knew that being alone would be hard. So he took the day off work and the two of us spent the day Christmas shopping. We had a nice, long lunch and though we were both aware of the date, we didn't talk too much about it. Instead, we enjoyed knowing how different things were from the year earlier. We did the same thing on the two-year anti-versary. This year, I haven't quite decided what to do.
This notion, however, of "reclaiming" the date is an important one. It's a way of taking back emotional power and, rather than having the calendar define how you feel, creating circumstances that encourage you too feel safe, positive and healthy.
Those who ignore the date tend to find themselves blind-sided by negative emotions. Those who determine what they need to get through the date often report that it wasn't as bad as they'd thought.
Figure out what you need to do. And please share your coping strategy here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What to Do With The Wedding Ring...

I posted awhile back on my wedding ring. I took mine off shortly after learning of my husband's infidelity...and it remains in my jewellery box.
Another blogger, the fabulous Tabatha, linked to my post and blogged about her own conflicted feelings regarding her ring. Her words were so heartfelt and she so beautifully summed up the feelings of so many betrayed wives that, with her permission, I've copied them here:

But that ring ... it's like it burns when I put it on. It's almost as if it belongs to someone else, like I'm borrowing it to play dress-up, or more that I found it and no one's laying claim to it so I might as well keep it. It's the ring of a girl who had everything she wanted, who got her fairytale romance and wedding and family is now living in a modest castle somewhere in HappilyEverAfterVille, just north ofNeverNeverLand. It's the ring of a girl who believed in a lot of things, however naively, and just knew in her heart that this was the way things were supposed to be. It's a ring of hope and promise and trust and vindication and love and respect and ...

And a lot of things my marriage didn't end up being or containing.

I hope Tabatha is able to come to terms with her feelings about her ring and make a decision that feels right for her. Please...let me know how you felt about your wedding ring in the wake of D-Day. Symbol of love? Or reminder of pain...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

That Ain't Mommy Kissing Santa!: Spy Gadgets to Stuff His Stocking...

Though I was so clueless I never imagined my husband was cheating, there are plenty BWC members who caught their men red-handed, thanks to technology: keyloggers, voice-activated recorders, GPS devices...
So while I'm no expert on spy tech, fortunately others are. Check out this round-up of the best tech available.
Cheaters beware.

Oh No...He Wouldn't. Wood he??

More details about Tiger Wood's alleged affairs.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Is Tiger chasing tail? When even good guys cheat...

Things are not looking good for Tiger Woods. Following his bizarre car accident, bloody lip, and alleged mistress(es), he's awfully silent. And, as far too many betrayed wives know, "no comment" is entirely too clear a comment.
I'm not yet branding Tiger an adulterer. And I hope, for his family's sake, the allegations are false. Unfortunately, experience has revealed too often that smoke means fire. And a smokescreen can't hide guilt forever.
Still, my rose-colored glasses lose a little lustre when yet another "good guy" falls. Though I know – ohhhhh, how I know!!!! – that being a "good guy" doesn't ensure good behavior in all (ahem) circumstances, I'd still like to believe in some pure goodness. And yes, I'm aware how incredibly naive that sounds.
The days that follow will undoubtedly reveal more...or at least a lot more speculation. In the meantime, my heart goes out to Tiger's wife Elin. If there's anything more humiliating than discovering your husband's affair, it's discovering that the National Enquirer actually knew the truth before you did.


Related Posts with Thumbnails