Friday, August 17, 2012

From Hell to Happiness: Advice from a Betrayed Wife

In my last post, one of our commenters, Eat My Scabs (love that name!) noted that she'd moved through the numbness, a stage that trips so many of us up and holds us too long.
I asked how she'd done this, as I feel I've lost some of my former passion for life.
Here's what she said. Wise and do-able. We would do well to take her advice, perhaps one piece at a time if that's all we can manage.
Thanks Scabs!

Emotions can be so crazy, can't they? For me, post D-Day was the most difficult phase to get through. It's like you say, bland. I felt lost and numb. Like residual Novocaine spreading into my gut and through my limbs. A coma. 
I remember spending lots of time on my couch in my sweatpants with a bag of cheesy popcorn. Staring at the ceiling, comatose. This isn't wrong. There is a time for wallowing and grieving our losses.
I remember the day I decided to get up. The thought had to come to my brain and then I told my brain to tell my heart and then my heart told my feet to get up and change my life and be happy. 
There have been many phases since that day, anger, bitterness, loss of hope, loss of respect, hatred, nothingness...
I can create a peaceful life around me even though Mr. Scabs' life may be hectic and hellish. It's not my life. Sure it's part of my life, but it's NOT my life. 
My friend made a list about this very thing. She outlines 8 things that made her accountable for her own happiness even after her husband of 6 weeks left her with no explanation:
•Only engage in relationships that make you feel uplifted. Let go of the people who pull you down.
•Make better use of your time. Minimize your obligations to the most important tasks and get rid of all time-wasters.
•Train your mind to think positively and look for the good in yourself and in the world. Purge your mind of toxic thoughts and stop being self-destructive.
•Try to improve your better habits and minimize your poor habits. You will feel better about the person you are.
•Be courageous! Don't be afraid to walk against the crowd if your values don't align. Live what you think is good!
•Be emotionally independent. Don't let yourself rely on another person for happiness. Be in control!
•Think more compassionately! Imagine what it's like in another's shoes. Be patient with people.
•Serve. Be completely bold and sincere when loving and caring for other people.
I believe thoughts are more tangible and real than we think. Not that we can actually touch them, but that our thoughts become real. Focusing on MY happiness, on my life makes me happy. I had a hard time with this because i felt like it was selfish, but it isn't. It's our gateway to freedom. 
Plus, as we can see, giving anyone the the power to make us happy/or unhappy seems like a loss of my own free agency. Does this make sense? Am I rambling?
I know we feel numb from this trauma – but if we start the seed of happiness in our minds, we will be able to feel passionately again. 
Numbness is part of grieving and then as time goes by it seems like numbness just became a habit of protecting myself. I remember being afraid to take the leap and start feeling again – it's like a step into the unknown.
Opening ourselves to feel is scary – but life will become more full when we do open. And when the bad comes our way (no one is exempt) we will be able to feel it and it won't destroy us. We will know how long we can "wallow in it" (which I like to do for a bit) and then we will know when it's time to stand up, choose happiness and move on.
Pain scars all of us. It may come in a million different ways – death, disease, betrayal, loss, addiction...but it feels intensely our own. We need each other. Sharing our pain lightens the load. 
I guess, ultimately, I want to feel joy, so my brain starts to think of joyful things and my body starts to feel it and then before you know it I'm happier than a bird with a french fry. 


  1. Wow! Imagine my surprise when I clicked to read your blog this morning. Sometimes I feel kinda weird giving advice. After all, I am only one person and everyone's experience is different. but thank you for the vote of confidence.

    1. Whoops! Meant to e-mail you to ask permission before I clicked "post"...but in the morning mayhem, I completely forgot. Thanks for your wisdom, in any case. I think you made some really good points...and I, for one, plan to take your advice!



  2. At close to 8 months out from d day, I am working on us, but need to do some more focus on me. I have been focused on just surviving. But survival in one shape or another seems more reliable now. I will survive this. But what do I want my future to look like? Maybe he will be there, maybe not. Depends on whether he does the work on reconciliation and on himself. But my boys and I will be there. Thanks for those words of advice.

  3. I know I had numb moments for the first few weeks after DDay, but they were short lived. The pain was so intense, I gave in to my dark side quickly and rage rode in.
    But, really...numb, angry, bitter or devastatingly depressed...the advice above still holds true.

    It's a different timeline for everyone, but the sooner you can make the effort to just TRY and find the road back to happy, the better. Attitude is everything. Might as well pick a good one.
    Thanks. Thoughtful and inspiring.
    Hope & Hugs, Shawn

    1. Shawn,

      How true. We tend to forget that we do have choice in the matter. It can feel as if this is being done TO us...and in some ways, it is. But Elie Wiesel, the death camp survivor and author of Night (among other books) pointed out that the one thing the Nazis couldn't control was his attitude. He clung to hope and noted that, "Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair."
      If HE can look on the bright side...


  4. I'm really new to this, only 3 weeks in. But I've had major depression for years, and had only climbed out of a huge hole when my WH dropped the bomb of an affair that started on Facebook (old HS friend) who he screwed at HS reunion, then had an intense emotional affair with via texting for the last year. he hid the texting from me when he told, I found the phone records, and the truth has been coming out in bits and bobs. I'm obviously very raw. But--I just don't have the strength to climb out of another major depression and don't even feel like it's worth it. I've done this 5x before for other life abuses: I was finally OK--kid stable, decent job after 2 year search, "life plan" with husband (hah) . Now this. I don't now where to go. I have therapist, couples therapist, psych meds doc. you name it. I feel done for.

    1. I'm so, so sorry you're going through this.
      But yes, you are really raw. And I promise you it gets better. You've got to lean on other people in the meantime to get you through the worst of it. Read everything you can get your hands on, to remind yourself minute-by-minute that you are bigger than this and that you are worth fighting for.
      Is your husband helping in any way? Remorseful? Able to support you while you wail and rage and crawl back under the covers? Can anyone be there for you?
      You've shown your strength already by beating back depression. You know it can be done. Give yourself time to lick your wounds but don't retreat completely. You owe it to your child to fight for yourself – to show him/her that the human spirit is strong enough to survive such pain.
      I was suicidal for a few months. Though I hadn't had clinical depression, I'd certainly felt like I'd had more than my share of pain in life. And, like you, I didn't think I could pick myself off the floor one more time.
      But I slowly managed to by, literally, taking life moment by moment. By focussing on the tiny things that were worth living for – sunlight sparkling on fresh snow, my dogs playing with each other, my kids' hugs... And by being able to feel tiny flickers of joy, I was reminded that I was still capable of it. And that, maybe, it could get better.
      Betrayal is excruciating. But the pain does abate. It takes time...but it will get better. There are lots of us here who can attest to that.
      Please keep posting and let us know how you're doing. We've been there...and many of us aren't there anymore. Let us pull you through.


    2. Thank you. I'm so glad I found this blog and this community. It feels like a lifeline. I'll be around. Deeply grateful for the kind words. I know, that you know how much they mean right now.

    3. Hi--I'm the same person with a new nick. Thanks so much for your lovely response. I have gotten so much support and help from reading your site, and from your compassionate responses. I am deeply grateful, and I hope I can similarly help someone else some day.

    4. This is terrible! Every time I hear these stories I get so upset. Really, do these people deserve anything that they have??? They take advantage and hurt...I'm sorry. I'm really really sorry---the pain is undeniable.

      I agree with Elle, you've kick ass before. And can keep kicking ass. You are not done for. Life is hard and it will always throw hard things our way. But inside you, there is a flicker of life...a part of you that knows who you are and what your value is.

      This garbage, this attitude of entitlement that we see everywhere. It isn't real. What's real is what's inside us. You are doing the things to keep yourself whole. You know how to take care of yourself. It's amazing, what you've been able to do. It's amazing what you are doing.

  5. ...thanks so much...and then I found out he was lying again, in person and in couples therapy. for the first month after revelation. he claims he's now being honest. and lord knows I want to believe. One of the reasons I married this man more than a quarter-century ago was his honesty--really! How do people change like that? Meantime his OW has taken out a (baseless) restraining order against me...out of state, under false pretenses, so we are trying to deal with that and will have to pay all the lawyers. She turns out to be a rabbit-boiling lady. I said, aren't you glad your daughter is in Germany where she is safe and crazy OW can't get to her? what if she shows up with a gun?

    I also learned from an old friend that the ex-pat culture he grew up within was rife with adultery and infidelity. She said her mother "was dead inside." Anybody else heard of that w/respect to ex-pat communties, diplomats, oil companies and so on?

    nous marchons.



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