Monday, April 23, 2012

The World Looks Different After Betrayal

I have a hard time separating the pain of my mother's death and my husband's betrayal because both occurred within a matter of months. And both left me reeling.
My mom was my rock, especially after D-Day #1. She was the first person I called and the only person who, I think, truly understood the depth of my pain.
And then, just a few weeks after D-Day #2, when I learned that my husband's affair wasn't one but many – and over many, many years – I lost my mom. Suddenly.
I felt utterly bereft. I still do much of the time.
And my world looks so different.
There's something about betrayal, however, that's different. That alters your world view in a way that routine death doesn't (and by routine, I simply mean the end of a life by natural means at a time of life when death is, somewhat, anticipated). Betrayal rips the glasses off your face...and replaces them with lenses that change your view of...well...pretty much everything.
On the one hand, you might see beauty in things you didn't much notice before. Your children's faces seem more precious. Your mother's aged hands stronger.
On the other, the world looks so much more sinister. People's smiles might be insincere. Seemingly happy relationships could be hiding treachery.
And there's no way of turning back. Your view is forever altered and it's up to you to determine which direction you want to face.
Though it has been an excruciating lesson, it was one I needed to learn.
These days, I'm far more clear-sighted about many things. I appreciate how fragile life is and understand how crucial it is to cherish every moment with those we love. I also have far lower tolerance for dishonesty and deceit. My friendship comes with the condition that you must treat me with respect and decency. If you don't on any occasion, friendship is withdrawn. As a result, the friendships I've developed post-betrayal are deeper. Gone are the friends whose discourtesy I tolerated and whose dishonesty I shrugged off. I won't bother with anyone I can't respect. It's a boundary I wish I'd had in place years ago...but it's there now.
So yes...the world looks different. Not necessarily better nor worse. But certainly clearer.


  1. I so agree with you on this. I used to trust so easily, and now I do not trust anyone at all. I mean, if the person you thought always had your back-never did, and you didn't see can I trust my own instincts believe someone/anyone is actually trustworthy. I am always looking over my shoulder, waiting...

    1. I think so many of us can relate to what you're saying. And it took me a long time to recognize that as a form of post-trauma. You don't feel safe because what you thought was safe turned out not to be. And it takes a long time to begin to trust yourself again.
      But it's critical, I think, to recognize what you're going through as post-trauma. To treat it as seriously as that. Once you can begin to acknowledge how severely your world-view has been shaken you can start to rebuild that sense of safety within yourself. The sad truth is that none of us is ever safe with another. We can never know what they will or won't do. What we can learn to trust is that we can take care of ourselves. That we can know we're okay no matter what happens around us.
      Hang in there. And pay attention to your instincts. You'll start to see that they're actually pretty's so frequently that we just didn't pay attention. Or didn't know what to look for.

  2. I truely have learned who my friends are..through my husbands sexual addictions and betrayal the people who I thought were my friends were not there for me but talked behind my back, as if his betrayal wasn't enough..

    1. Yes, that's definitely a consequence. I became far less tolerant of pseudo-friends and much more insistent on true loyalty. I now have fewer friends but definitely have truer friends.

  3. Thanks for this blog, I am still reeling after my husbands affair. I am really just in recovery of getting back to functioning. I, too, feel like everything is a lie. Like friendships were conditional. Like the only thing that is real is the love my children (4 and 1) and I have for each other. Only they love me (and I them) without judging or through a lens of leveraging who and what we offer to each other. I struggle being civil to my spouse despite still being pathetically in love with him. (I know I'm pathetic.) I'm sorry to have rambled, I just wanted to say that "Your blog is great... keep up the good work!"

  4. Sapphire,
    You're not pathetic at all. You're loyal and loving and able to separate the man from his actions. Those are all wonderful qualities, as long as you're with someone who's loyal, loving and able to separate the woman from her actions.
    Right now, you are reeling...and likely will be for a while. It takes longer than most realize to get your equilibrium back.
    In the meantime, has he broken it off? No contact? Willing to be totally transparent (ie. let you look at his phone/computer/confirm with friends/whatever you need to do) in order that you can begin to feel safe with him in your world. That's a long road...but crucial for him to earn back your trust.
    In the meantime, I hope you're doing what you can to nurture yourself. Getting sleep (not easy with a four- and one-year-old, I know...let alone dealing with an affair), eating well, finding time for whatever nourishes you (exercise, reading, journalling, hanging with friends, walking...).
    Hang in there. There are plenty of women on this site who can attest to the fact that it's possible to get past this without bitterness and without that constant ache. Who can assure you that the day will come when you'll laugh. When this will simply be a part of your past but not your present.
    In the meantime, be gentle on yourself and don't ever call yourself "pathetic". None of us are...including you.

  5. I totally understand the difficulty in separating pain. I found out about my husband's acting out from a friend while I was out of town at my dad's bedside. He had been diagnosed with cancer and died within weeks. I was totally blindsided by the knowledge of what my husband was into, when I truly thought he would be my rock thru my dad's illness and death. I have never felt so alone, abandoned and betrayed in my entire life. After the funeral, the knowledge of my husband's infidelity was too much for me to deal with and I stuffed it down as far as it could go and truly told myself it had never happened... but honestly, I was so torn up by the events of those few weeks that years later I still don't know that I've been able to grieve my dad's death truly, and when I think about that time in my life it's just a big jumbled up ball of pain.



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