Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Healed" is Not a Place...But a Process

No-one can say I'm not an optimist. When I first began seeing a therapist, in my mid-20s, I was in a lousy relationship with a guy I was nuts about and just beginning to acknowledge that maybe my parents' alcoholism and volatile marriage wasn't exactly the best blueprint for an adult relationship. I figured I'd be in counselling for a month, maybe two. Then I'd be "healed" of my crappy childhood and could move forward into a perfect life.
You can imagine how that turned out.
Over the next two decades, each life stage seemed to call forth unhealthy responses in me based on unhealed injuries from my past.
And then, of course, came the whopper on December 11, 2006, when I discovered that my husband was cheating on me.
My childhood issues – fear of abandonment, insecurity, a desperate need to be perfect, an inability to "give up" – came back with a vengeance. Suddenly it was as if all those hard years of therapy, where I really thought I was getting somewhere – were for naught. I was, I believed, right back where I started, wondering where the hell I'd gone so wrong.
I wasn't, of course. I may not have reached the magical land of "healed" but I certainly wasn't back at the starting line either.

I'm often asked on this site about healing and being "healed". So many of us think of "healed" as this magical place where our husband's transgressions will dissolve into the ether and we'll face our future, confident and happy, having vanquished the past.
It's a wonderful fantasy.  But bears virtually no resemblance to the truth.

My mother was a dedicated alcoholic. She wasn't someone about whom people might wonder if she had a "drinking problem". She embraced booze with the same enthusiasm and commitment she had previously brought to the PTA and local politics. She drank vodka in her morning coffee, fell down the stairs at 3 a.m. on her way to her secret stash for "one more drink" to help her sleep. In fact, drunk became her normal. Ultimately she threw herself into her sobriety with the same ferver to which she'd dedicated herself to booze. She attended 12-step meetings two or three times daily. She read her Big Book. She talked for hours with her sponsor.
Years later, after she'd been sober close to two decades and had long since replaced her time spent becoming sober with book clubs, friendships and grandmothering her beloved grandkids, I asked her why she didn't occasionally join the rest of us in a glass of wine. I was sure, I said, that she'd never go back to drinking like she had.
My mother looked at me and she said, "The thing with an alcoholic – no matter how long sober – is that you never know. One drink just might lead to another. Then another." For her, it simply wasn't worth the risk.

That, my friends, is "healed". She no longer thought about drinking. She didn't miss drinking. She'd long since woven that part of her personality into the quilt of her life. But...she also knew it was never really in the past. That it was by sheer force of will that she was refusing to allow it into her present. She loved her life too much to even take the chance.

We, too, can reach that place where we don't think much about our husband's betrayal. We can relegate it to our past. But it will always be crouching in the shadows with the possibility of intruding upon our present. Our future will hold occasional triggers that remind us of our pain...and what we've overcome. They'll become fewer and further between. But thinking that "healed" is anything more than a process forever evolving is fooling ourselves. And most of us, I think, have vowed never to be fooled again.


  1. Thank you for this glimpse of a realistic potential life after discovery. I'm 20 months out and today the idea of "healing" as a process gives me hope. Your insights are always helpful. Thank you.

  2. I am two weeks since finding out my husband has had an affair with a work colleague. To say that he would be the last person anyone would consider "the type" (whatever that is!) is an understatement. I am horrified and devastated. He is bereft at the hurt he has caused us and vows to do everything in his power to prove that this was a mistake and me and our little family (including a 4week old baby) is his priority. It was going on four months and one of the (many) things that kills me is that I was pregnant while it was going on. At this time I am going between devastation, not eating or sleeping, raging, becoming stony faced, seeing light at the end of the tunnel and thinking about life after him as I can't forgive this immense crime against our family and me. I just don't know how to function and feel its so unfair that I have two babies who depend on me when all I want to do is to cover my head and give into this unbelievable depression. We had 9 years together and I always considered us so lucky. He loved me and I always felt it but now i feel empty and dead inside. I am constantly asking questions about how/when/what they did together and although he wants to protect me from the details, he is being completely honest and open. We are beginning counselling but sometimes the road seems too long and the offence too much to ever get over let alone forgive. Sometimes I can't look at him and other times when he is devastated I hug him and it still feels like him. He is a good person and says he was distracted and foolish and is devastated that he has ruined everything, no less, this special time with a new baby. I am taking solace from this wonderful blog and stories of redemption and forgiveness but I just don't know if I can even consider a life with him as our previous life was so happy and he has destroyed it

    1. Anon,
      I so remember those early days of crying, raging, numbness, devastation and emptiness. Your mind and body are in shock and you're responding accordingly – swinging wildly from one emotion to the next. And on top of it all, you've got postpartum hormones to deal with and a new baby that depends on you for his/her very survival. Good Lord, you've got more on your plate than any new mom ever should. Which is why it's time to focus on what you can control right now – which is your devotion to and pleasure in your beloved new baby and, perhaps, an older sibling who might be feeling a bit confused at the moment. It's not easy, I know. It will perhaps be the hardest thing you've ever done. But right now you must, with the help of counsellors, medication, your husband, your family, whatever, get yourself to a place where you can be healthy and sane for your children. You can do it. So many of us have. Seek joy in your baby's sweet face and remind yourself that joy is possible again. Maybe not easily. Maybe not right now. But soon.
      And please get yourself enough breaks that you can cry/rage/pull the covers over your head and get out some pain that you can be restored just enough to survive through another day.
      Eventually, with time, self-compassion and, ideally, the support and love of your husband/family/friends/therapist, you'll sift through that crazy-cocktail of anger/love/emptiness and figure out what your path will be. But that's for later. You, my dear, are not in the right place to be making lifelong decisions about whether to give your husband another chance to remain your husband. Give him today. And then tomorrow, give him another day. And eventually the day will come when the future will become more clear. He'll either have proven himself worthy of another chance...or you'll decide to take your love elsewhere. But – again I stress – that's for another day. This likely isn't news to you, but hormonal, sleep-deprived, emotionally traumatized new moms are not the most clear-headed. Except about one thing: to love and care for this incredible new life you've brought into the world. This new person who will grow up to make mistakes, feel and sometimes cause pain...but who is gloriously human and always worthy of love. That's your "right now". Tomorrow can wait.


    2. Thank you Elle. You are the voice of compassion, empathy and hope. You are providing an invaluable support network for all these girls who have been wronged and I will continue to seek solace in your posts and advice and thoughts of others who do likewise

    3. Thanks Sweetie. What I am is the voice of experience. Been there, done that. Burnt the damn t-shirt.
      Hang in there. Breathe. Trust.

    4. Hi Anon - I can empathize deeply. I found out about my husband's 6-month affair (also with a co-worker) 5 days before the birth of our twins. So, yes, you & I (and many others, I've since come to find out) are unfortunate members of the betrayed *pregnant* wives club. You're right -- "horrific" doesn't come close to describing it; the word "devastation" is an understatement. Your description of how you currently feel is *exactly* how I felt.

      I'm now almost 20 months from DDay and things feel a lot different, and they will for you too, eventually. I'm not obsessed with an unending list of questions, I can eat again, I can sleep at night, I can smile, I enjoy my now-toddlers (when I'm not exasperated chasing them around!), I think my husband was a really good guy (also not "the type") who made a really horrible & tragic decision prompted by a perfect storm of lots of messed-up stuff that we've spent A TON of time sifting through together in therapy. I'm no longer as raw as a bloody wound, a scar is slowly forming. As Elle wrote, "healed" is a process, not a place... and I'm definitely in that process somewhere. But that somewhere, as Elle said, is for tomorrow when you're so new to this mess... as much as possible please try to focus on your health and your babies. I ended up taking medication because my depression about it all got to be too much... and now I'm not on that medication anymore. I also confided in a couple of close people -- my sister, a friend who went through something similar. I cried A LOT, by myself, with them, with my husband, around my babies. I'm not normally a crier and was surprised I had that in me, but it was necessary. Most importantly, I didn't make ANY decisions about my marriage for a while -- a year + -- because I wasn't in the right frame of mind to. I'm still sometimes too much in the 'tomorrow can wait' mindset and just feeling today, but that's also a lesson this HORRIBLE experience has taught me.

      I'll be thinking of you & please reach out if you ever need support. I KNOW how very hard it is.

    5. Erica, what an awful experience you had. I actually thought yesterday that I was lucky not to have uncovered the truth before I had my baby because I had my husbands support in the operating theatre and I needed him then and god only knows how I would have reacted having him there knowing what I do now. I think you're tremendously brave and honest to be sharing your story and supporting girls in a similar position. This sounds very cruel but the last few days I am empty, cannot cry and am feeling very angry and like our counselling session tonight (it's the first one) will be completely in vain as part of me (the most part) thinks this is WAY too big to see past. To be honest Erica, today I don't even know if I want to even look at my husband let alone share a counselling session to help us see a way forward to save our marriage. I am aware of the myriad of emotions that will come but I just can't believe my best friend could do this to me/us and while tomorrow may bring immense sadness, today has brought complacency almost. Thank you for the words of experience

    6. Brace yourself for a roller coaster of emotions – up, down and everything in between. It's one of the reasons why it's wise NOT to make any big decisions right now. I would proceed with the counselling sessions. Even if you ultimately decide to walk away from the marriage, the sessions can ensure that you do it with a clear head...and help make any separation as amicable as possible, which I'm sure you want for your children and yourselves. So either way, counselling can provide a springboard for a life together or a life apart. You likely won't be clear about which life you want for another few months. But it will become clearer with time.

      And thanks Erica for sharing your story here. Nobody understands like someone who has been in our shoes.


  3. I absolutely know what you mean. I too couldn't even LOOK at my husband -- literally would face the other direction -- since he disgusted me too much. (In face, I realize now that it's only recently that I even use the term "husband" again... he lost that title in my eyes.) I certainly didn't use that term when I was in the operating room getting a C-section... was laying there getting cut open and only thinking, "I can't believe my former best friend had sex with someone else 2 weeks ago... and now we're about to have 2 babies... how can this be my life? Is this a nightmare? How COULD he have done this?!" It felt -- as was! -- so very wrong.

    Elle is absolutely right about the roller coaster. In the past 20 months I have ping ponged between a deep, dark sadness to a red, raging anger I never knew I had in me, and all the possible emotions in between. Therapy was helpful, actually, both couples counseling and my own individual counseling. Through it all I learned A LOT about myself, about him, about our relationship. And with children in the picture it's so, so complicated and I figured whether we stayed together or not we needed to align on how to raise the kiddos. So - I again agree with Elle that it's worth going to the counseling session tonight... even if you're despondent, even if you're enraged, even if you're complacent, even if you're depressed. And even if you say 'F you... I never want to see you again... and I can't imagine not seeing you again.' Counseling isn't necessarily to save your marriage... it's to see some path forward involving two people - married or not.

    Good luck... let us know how you're doing.

    1. Hello Erica and Elle, just wanted to ditch the "anon" title and pop in my name! Again I have to say thank you for the kind words and for sharing. We had our first counselling session last night. The complacency and silence I have felt the last few days disappeared almost the minute I set foot in the door. I realised that there was no point in resorting to silence when I have so much to say, so many questions and so much hurt to work through. Silence as far as I could see could only pave the way for hatred to set in and that is not what I want. The counsellor was a lovely person, she was very professional and straight talking. She asked lots of background questions in order to build a picture of us separately and lives together. We touched on the affair and my husband was completely honest and open. The counsellor wants us to commit to a 6 week programme and then for us to see how we want to progress. The session ended and I was nervous. How would I deal with him on the car journey home when some things I heard in the session upset me. One thing was that the counsellor asked him if the affair was over and he said yes. I offered that it was over only because I discovered it and called the OW. She asked if he would have seen her again and he said yes, probably. This nearly killed me but on reflection I mused that, of course he would have seen her, the affair was undiscovered, free to continue. She asked if he would have ended it and he said yes, it was coming to an end as he couldn't handle the stress and deceit of it all.

      In the car the silence continued, I didn't trust myself to speak about the session even when he asked how he thought it went. Later however I wanted to talk, to rage to frighten him and to make sure he knew my opinion of the home wrecker colleague. He is still insisting he loves me and will stop at nothing to make amends and to prove himself worthy of us.

      The tears returned today with a vengeance and then thoughts of us perhaps taking a drive without the girls and talking maybe even over a coffee surfaced.

      One thing I broached was the unresolved issues with the OW. As I discovered the affair and called her, my husband has had no contact with her whatsoever. That presents another scenario, will she be sensible enough to steer clear of him or will she seek him out to get answers to her questions. She will doubtless want to know how it was discovered and although he insists there was no expectation of him to leave us due to her engagement to another man, she surely will have questions. I voiced this and he said that there will be no contact whatsoever, I asked if on some ridiculous level did he feel like he was leaving her in the lurch due to the sudden nature of the ending of the affair and he said yes, on some level he felt that. I wanted to throw him out of the car for being such an idiot but as I heard in a song today "the truth hurts, a lie is worse" and he has committed to the truth 100%.

      Can I ask, what level of contact did you have with your husbands in the weeks post discovery? Was there dialogue? Physical contact (limited to the occasional hug during distress)? Rage and angry exchanges? My husband is in the spare room and although j would dearly love to talk about silly and mundane things like shopping lists or dinner duties, all I want to do is talk about the affair and if I don't feel like that, I just shut down. The counsellor advocated staying in the same house if we can manage, if only to help with the children.

      As always I would appreciate your thoughts on this, the two week anniversary of discovering the most horrendous thing I will ever learn about my husband


    2. Lucy,
      You amaze me. A four-week-old baby is enough to turn most women into exhausted wrecks, let alone dealing with the horrendous pain of your husband's betrayal. Give yourself a HUGE hug for being so...sane. (And yes, I know you've probably got your moments of falling apart, but, honestly, your insight and common sense are astounding.)
      So...given that this is incredibly fresh, I think you're handling it as well as anyone could. I agree with your counsellor re. staying in the same house while you work through this. Help with the kids, definitely. Less confusion for your older child. And the chance to, slowly, rebuild at least a friendship/partnership.
      And I commend your husband for his honesty. Yes, it hurts, but I think most of would ultimately prefer to proceed with all the facts in place, then make life decisions based on fiction. Lies are what got the two of you into this mess.
      Try and take a breath (or two) before you respond to any of his admissions. You'll know when you've heard enough. The time will come when you'll realize that learning any more is simply masochism...and that it's time to let that go.
      And though your husband (and the OW) might feel the affair is unfinished business...it needs to stay that way. It ended. Relationships rarely end neatly. They're messy things. So...this mess needs to be left. The "no contact" is critical...and the OW needs to know that's non-negotiable. Do you and your husband have a plan for if she tries to contact him or "bump into" him? Helps to feel like you're both on the same team, and that she's the common enemy. She slept with a married man. How did she think this was going to turn out?
      Re. contact with my husband: We were together almost 24/7 at first. I found out just before Christmas. The OW was my husband's assistant and needed to be let go (this wasn't her only transgression) so, except for meetings with lawyers, managers, etc., he was home with me until after Christmas. It was important for me to know EXACTLY where he was, whom he was with, and when. The OW tried to contact him a number of times, and he had to speak with her re. various work issues. I was always in the room and was privy to any e-mails. She moaned about how she couldn't sleep, was so upset, etc. But he always kept it professional and brief.
      My husband and I did go through an episode of "hysterical bonding". It's basically when the betrayed spouse becomes hyper-sexual. There's a post on this site about it and you'll see from the comments how common (and confusing) it is.
      And yes, I raged, cried, laughed, hugged, pushed away. I pretty much covered it all. I even, I'm ashamed to say, threw a hot pizza slice at him in front of my children. Not my finest moment, to be sure.
      There is no right or wrong way to get through this. Give your emotions free reign within the parameters of not scaring your kids. Talk when you need to talk; have silence when you don't. Let your counsellor move you through the rawness of the next six weeks...and then see where you want to go from there.
      And I sincerely hope you can find the emotional space to enjoy your new baby. My youngest is nine...but I still remember those days when her head fit perfectly in the spot between my shoulder and neck, like two puzzle pieces. You don't get those days back. And, as much as you might think your husband is a total prick, he doesn't get those days back either and will live with the awareness of what his actions did at this time in your lives. I hope he can take joy in this new baby too.


  4. As I sit here cradling my dozing new bundle, I was thinking about Ericas story alot because of the added pain of bringing new much loved life to the world at the same time as discovering the awful truth. Erica, I can't even imagine the awfulness you suffered as your D-Day preceded your twins birth. The days before you had the babies must have been a horrible, painful blur and the excitement/nervousness that should have been experienced I can only surmise were replaced by shocked grief.

    If its not too much to ask, could you relive the weeks after the births, did you confide in only a close knit circle of family and perhaps a couple of friends about the affair? Did you feel at any stage that bonding was delayed or affected? Did you feel robbed of this precious sacred time? Was the grave offence your husband committed made a hundred times worse because he ruined a time that should have been the happiest in your lives because of the timing of the discovery?

    There is no "good time" to discover anything as painful as your best friend seeking solace (or whatever the hell they seek) outside the marriage but to find out prior to or just after becoming a new mother is perhaps the worst feeling there can be. The knowledge that all the while he was stroking the bump and listening to the rapid, furious little heartbeat with such wonder and pride, he was stroking someone else is simply sickening. Dealing with the rollercoaster is becoming something that I am accepting. I am not accepting of the affair or any of the ugliness that recalls but I am accepting that this process of reaction is unique to each new day and unique to me. I am not dealing very well with the fact that my beautiful new baby girl has not sat with me and her father and older sister for a family photograph. It bothers me greatly that she (and we) have been denied this because of my husbands stupidity and thoughtlessness. Family says not to worry, there is plenty of time for that but I am saddened so much that I was too busy and tired in the days following the birth (and pre D-day) to organise a family member to take a few snaps of us as a family. Granted, they now would have been viewed with utter sadness given what I know now but even worse, I can't even contemplate a family picture at all.

    I now am taking on the role of liar too, it's self preservation really and a desire to hide this ugly truth from all except close family and one dear friend. I have shut out all my other close friends, colleagues and extended family. I have told people who are really eager to see the new little sweetheart that I have post partum depression. I don't. I just have depression. Situational depression. People are so thoughtful and caring, texts arrive daily asking how I am doing, advice to "hang in there, it will get better", offers from family of help with housework and complete concern. I feel like a fraud in a way. At this time I should be taking my new bundle to my workplace, to have her surrounded by adoring, clucking colleagues but that simple act has also been cancelled. I'm afraid they will look in my eyes and see the deadness inside and think its something other then the scourge of tiredness.

    My close friend who knows the story caught me looking at my beautiful girl with utter sadness yesterday and told me not to look at her with pity and grief but, as Elle suggested, to take solace from and enjoy these special days and weeks. But there is something about a new baby, with their perfect features and clean, pure soul that brings into focus the sharp contrast between them and the heinous acts carried out within an affair had by their dad. Their dad who loves them as much as I do and will feel the added burden of destroying their first precious weeks forever.

  5. I am also new to this blog, but I am so thankful I found it. I have always felt so alone with my emotions when it comes to my husband's affair. I don't have anyone to talk to about this - mostly due to embarrassment and shame. Shame because I can't believe it happened to me...I, too, fall into the category of, "he wasn't the type." I knew something was going on with him because of the moodiness and distance he was putting between me and him, as well as the distance between him and all his family and friends. I had my suspicions, but I guess I was hoping that was the last thing that could possibly be going on.

    I was pregnant with our 2nd child when I noticed changes in him. My worst nightmare was officially confirmed when he told me 2 months after the birth of our daughter that everything I was fearing was true. I had confronted him about it before over and over before he finally confessed (which was the day we were celebrating Christmas with my family)and until then he denied, denied, denied. So, naturally I thought he was just going through a hard time in life. I tried to make his life easier, all the while raising our two children by myself so he could figure things out, keeping up on chores, laundry, ironing, cooking, etc. He was also working nights so I was literally by myself with an infant and a toddler.

    This December will be 3 years and there are days when it feels like yesterday. Then there are days when I almost forget it happened. I say almost because I will never forget. I could never have imagined the pain that I feel from what he did. Also my best friend like so many of you. We were married 5 years, together about 11 when all this came about. When I think of the wonderful moments he took away from me and the first several months of my daughter's life it just tears me apart. I want so badly to feel like I am healing, but these days it feels hopeless. I just don't know how to get to a place of forgiveness...

    We just started counseling a few months ago. He has refused any counseling until now. I couldn't stand it any longer - fighting my emotions - so I took the initiative and made my first appointment this summer. I told him that it wasn't fair for me to fight this battle alone and since he can't give me an explanation as to why he did this to me and our family he needed to go with me. We have our first session next month where we see our therapist together and I have no idea what to expect. He seems committed to our family and our marriage, but I thought that the first time so my guard is defintely up. I have nightmares occasionally reliving what I have been through, the most recent being this past weekend. I told him about it, he showed no response, so now I really feel like maybe it's happening again...The paranoia and distrust is enough to drive me insane.

    I don't know how to get myself out of the slump I'm currently in. I don't recognize myself most of the time. This isn't where I thought I would be at this stage in my life. I feel like I am failing as a mother because I am letting my emotions get the best of me. I feel so alone...I am so glad I found all of you. I feel like my feelings are validated now because I know EXACTLY how you feel...unfortuneately I hate that I know exactly how you feel...The fact that he could do this at all, let alone during what was supposed to be one of the happiest time in our lives is so hard to overcome...I just don't know what to do...

    1. Kim,
      You're most definitely not alone. We're right there with you.
      And I could have written your words when I was three years out – some days I wondered if I'd ever get past it; others I was sure I had.
      You're smart to get counselling both for you individually and as a couple. You can't get past something this traumatizing until you can feel safe that he understands why he did what he did...and has a plan in place to ensure that he doesn't do it again. You need to feel as if you're in this together. It's very hard (which is why many men refuse) to go back and examine behavior which evokes so much shame and guilt. But unless he's willing to do that for you, you're going to continue to feel unsafe and unable to truly move forward.
      And counselling will help you to examine some of your strong feelings around this, allowing you to be more present to your kids without the residual pain that comes from feeling alone and emotionally abandoned.
      You'll get there. But it's a tough road. Took me about five years before I could honestly believe that the worst was over. And even now, closing in on six years, we're still working through my trust issues (or rather, lack of trust issues). But, like you, we spent a couple of years not in counselling....which I think delayed discussion of much of what weighed on my mind.
      Hang in there. Please feel free to post and share your thoughts or ask questions. There's a wonderful group of women on this site who are so generous with their support and advice and compassion. When you don't feel strong enough to hold yourself up, let us do it for you.


  6. Hi Lucy - Happy to share my unhappy times in hopes that it helps you & perhaps others too. (It's long and rambling, and in several parts. Elle, if you prefer not to include all this on your blog feel free to connect me directly with Lucy so we can email or something...)

    PRE-BABIES -- The 5 days between when I found out and when the babies arrived were awful. MANY emergency therapy appointments, no sleep, endless questions, lots of TT (trickle truth) on my husband's part (little lies to not reveal everything at once... horrible), no eating, barely drinking, losing weight. I confided only in my sister, who was piping mad at my husband. I remember saying to our counselor "just tell us what we need to do to get past this because I want this behind us by the time our babies are born". Ha!

    BABIES! -- I remember the birth part really well... I think I was intentionally pushing out the 'my H cheated on me' feelings and was in pretend land. But, as I mentioned before, when I was mid-C-section all I could think was 'my H is sitting here holding my hand now, but he slept with someone else 2 weeks ago'! While the A certainly tainted the moment, when I think back now I don't focus on that and just remember the doctor announcing that Baby A was 5.7 pounds and then, 1 minute later, hearing that Baby B was 5.7 pounds too (all the ultrasounds had predicted he'd be much bigger than his sister)! A couple days later I had a moment of internal rage and thought to override our decision to give the babies my H's last name (I kept my maiden name) and just use my own last name. I felt at the time that he cheated on the babies and not just me and he has no rights to them. I didn't feel this deep down, just a flash when I was filling in the paperwork. It was a really hard time... 5 days after DDay and I knew that even if it didn't work out with us that these are the first days with his babies too, not just mine.

    The days & immediate months after the babies arrived were a complete blur and I don't remember much. Would I remember if the A hadn't happened? Who knows! I was nursing 2 newborns every 2 hours. My H was up for all the burping and diapering so I could just focus on nursing. We were both deeply exhausted. We also had countless sobbing sessions, fighting sessions, and some makeup sessions too. I remember some phrases and words I said to him, such as ... "have you no moral compass?", "how could you F such an unstable and hideous b-tch... I thought you had better taste" (gives me a chuckle thinking back... would I have responded better if she were stable & pretty?!), "I never should have married you", "I want a divorce", "I HATE you to the depths of my soul", "you don't deserve these beautiful babies" and the real kicker of "I fantasize about committing suicide and leaving a note so the babies find out some day that you cheated on and killed their mother... they'll hate you forever and that's what you deserve." I was letting it all out and even though I remember parts, much of it is a blur and I'm actually somewhat glad for that now.

  7. (Part 2)
    I did, however, take lots of pictures of the babies. I think I wanted to have a lot of pictures to be able to really see THEM at a time when I, quite sadly, wasn't in a position to really SEE them. The pics are mostly of the babies, and only one or two of all four of us together. Those were prompted by my mother who was staying with us to help and who didn't know at the time what was going on. I too felt like a fraud -- saying I must be so exhausted because of the babies, maybe I have some post-partum, not returning friends' phone calls, rejecting offers for people to visit. It was really tough. I mostly felt numb and dead. I ended up breaking down one day & told my mother, who told my father. In retrospect I wish I hadn't told them because they (very politely & respectfully) now ask a lot how I'm doing, how we're doing, and just in general are always concerned about me. I wish I hadn't put that burden on them. Plus, how could they not feel negative things toward my H? (I would if my daughter's H betrayed her like that!) My advice here, then, is to think very hard about who you tell & why!

    Around that time too there was high drama with the OW -- she kept contacting my H, who wouldn't reply to her emails at all. Way back in week 1 I had threatened to tell the OW's H, which prompted the OW to tell him herself. The OW's H had reached out to me in kindness but later made physical threats against my H (I understood -- I felt physically violent too, though I didn't ever send threatening emails). The OW's H went as far as writing a letter to my H's parents telling them about the A. It was all a mess and very soap opera -- my H had to leave his job, a number people at his work found out, he had to tell a couple of others, and on & on. It was deeply stressful and humiliating and I kept thinking "how could this be my life?!?"

  8. PART 3
    NOW -- we each go to individual therapy & to couples too. We have gained deep insight into why this happened. How infertility & pregnancy played into this, how his family life gave him 'a lens of deprivation' and that's how he saw our relationship, how my workaholic tendencies made him feel like he was always second, how I tended to be 'cool' toward him because I have a fear about deep intimacy, how I view him as needy and that's not good in my book, how he wanted closeness with me but didn't feel that so jumped at a proposition made by a sicko woman struggling with her own fertility (and I suspect wanted to get pregnant by my H). I 'get' all the WHYs now. And I'm now 20 months from DDay and feel really, really different than week 1. I can sleep, I can even let my husband snuggle me while I sleep. I can *sometimes* be intimate with him, although that's a really hard one for me still and we have a lot of issues there. I don't wear my wedding ring anymore because I don't feel married exactly. I feel like we're trying to (slowly) reinitiate a relationship that was once pretty good and can perhaps be great someday, somehow. My H wants to jump in and love me in a big way, but I won't let him (yet?) because I still feel quite hurt some days. But not all days. And I remember the hurt used to be 24/7, every second of every day. I can absolutely look at pictures from when the babies were born, but I can't look at pictures from the 6 months when I was pregnant and he was in an affair.
    One of the questions you asked is whether that new baby phase feels tainted. Yes, in many ways it does. And I'll forever feel sad about that, and sometimes angry. But I look at my babies now and I just try to live in the moment with them and their cuteness. And LAUGH. And look back with happiness. I may not feel married (my H isn't happy about that, by the way) but I feel like I'm trying NOW, in the moment, to make a good life NOW. I hope someday to wear a wedding ring again. I see the funny looks and know people wonder. But that's for later... I'm trying to make the now feel and be as good as can be... because I (and you! and all of us here!) deserve a kick-a$$ glorious life!

    1. Thanks Erica for posting your memories. I'm always amazed at how similar our stories are -- all of us. There are so many almost universal responses to infidelity. The feeling "not married", the rage...but also the desire/ability of the human soul to keep bending toward happiness, even if it seems elusive some days.


  9. Erica, thank you so much for reliving that very traumatic time. I just thought so much about how similar our stories are and how we (and plenty of other unfortunate girls) had to deal with the horrific reality of our husbands betrayal whilst being pregnant/becoming a new mommy. I just can identify so much with your story and think you are an exceptionally strong person and an inspiring person and deserve all the happiness in the world with your beautiful children and a husband who, no doubt, will be forever thankful to have you, his children and the support of friends and family.

    It's 3 weeks today since D-Day....wow, what a rollercoaster it has been. My beautiful little girl is snoring her 6 week old head off and it strikes me how I should have nothing else to worry about except making sure my girls are fed and watered and which one of us will do the night feed and the shopping. Instead I am a devastated, venomous, vengeful, tearful mess. My husband has stopped communicating with me and last week was awful...a tension filled home devoid of conversation. He talks in marriage counselling but I KNOW that he wishes the questions would stop, that the tears would stop that he could feel like he could look at me in the eye without feeling shame and guilt. The M.C agreed with my husband that the "how? Where? When? How often? How amazing?" questions were not doing any good. I sat there nodding and came up with another 5 as I was doing so. She asked my husband to think of the conditions that led to this 4 month affair, how was the marriage in the run up to it (eh, fine) what was it about HER that led him to cross that line. A line that can never be erased. He admitted that he had a chemistry with this OW that he never had with me....talk about gut wrenching. Big plopping tears fell onto my skinny jeans (the only silver lining in all this is my fitting into my skinny jeans 6 weeks after giving birth!!) and I felt so so ugly. He is being completely honest and the counsellor is advocating just that..complete honesty with a view to discovering why and to see how to proceed.

    Like you Erica I have also fantasised about suicide. To hurt him and have him explain to my girls what had led their mother to that desperate point. I have also had day dreams about slapping the OW hard across the face, about making my husband worried sick after I drive off at high speed from the house that was my refuge and centre of love and which now is the place that I discovered those awful texts and stumbled across the truth.

    When there is no communication there is room and time for imagining all kinds of sceanarios. That he loves HER, that he wants to stay purely for the children and house, that there is still contact, that he misses HER, god, the thoughts of love and him missing her is almost as bad as the thoughts of physical frenzy between them. Last night after counselling I was so frustrated with the lack of communication outside of the M.C's office that I got into a very beligerant mood and basically told him he didn't give a f**k about me and if I, our marriage and babies weren't enough to keep him faithful well then he could just go. The reaction I expected and wanted (crying, begging, expressions of deep remorse, promises to prove himself worth of me and our life) never materialised. He accepted what I said and didn't follow me from the spare room but instead (as I imagined) drifted into a trouble free and peaceful sleep.

    3 weeks from D-Day and I felt like he wanted me to be magically cured-I would love nothing better to be free of this horrible limbo I find myself in, to click my fingers and my marriage vows would be intact, my husband would be the pure and lovely man I thought he was and I wouldn't be faced with "how can I ever see past this awful thing he has done" or "maybe, just maybe with lots of help, talking, crying, cleansing and discovering each other again we can put this behind us"

    1. Lucy,
      I disagree with your counsellor and wonder if she's doing more harm than good. She and your husband don't get to decide when you've heard enough. Yes, I'm sure it's horrible for him to have to relive what he did for you to hear. I'm sure it evokes all sorts of shame and guilt. But that's the price. And YOU get to decide when you've heard enough. That said, I think you need to really figure out what you need to know and don't need to know, keeping in mind that once you know it you can't UN-know it. But the other woman has had a window into your relationship with your husband. Now it's YOUR turn to have a window into theirs. Pretty much any expert I've ever heard/read about reconciliation insists that total honesty is the first step and that YOU get to be the one to define the terms of it. It's crucial to your healing.
      That said...you're going to hear some things that hurt. That really, really hurt. The thing about the chemistry is tough to hear. But a lot of "chemistry" can be the result of being in a forbidden relationship. It's easier to have "chemistry" when there's a buildup of longing/desire/whatever. Chemistry tends to fade in the context of a longterm relationship. Otherwise, no-one would ever get the laundry done. So try and put that comment into perspective.
      My other bit of advice is to be patient with yourself...and him, if you can manage it. This is undoubtedly hurting him -- and having to face the pain in your eyes, if he has any soul at all, must be excruciating. But...again...that's the price of having an affair. And the more he's able to get present for you and available to you, emotionally, the quicker your healing with take place. It's still soooo early for you both. To expect you to be able to get out of bed is asking a lot.
      Hang in there. And perhaps ask your therapist if she's familiar with any of the "after the affair" type literature. That said, you might want to do some reading yourself, if you haven't already. "After the Affair" is a good one. "Can I Ever Forgive You", "Not Just Friends"...


  10. #2: tonight we are going to talk. After a brief and distracted discussion earlier he said that maybe we need space from each other to help us think. I didn't want this. I felt as the "victim" in all this that I should have him on hie knees begging me everyday to give him a chance, not for the one doing the hurting to be making a decision for us. I understand that the tension in the house created by him not talking about the A and the fallout of same is a very stressful environment. There have been days I would go shopping and spend hours on end away from the house to avoid the atmosphere. The counsellor said that we should try and stay in the same house if we weren't killing each other but I ask you girls, does any of my husbands behavioua resonate with you? Shame on my husbands behalf is a big factor but I say he has to "man up" and face my tears, rage, feelings of rejection and embarrassment and stay. I will try and stop, or at least limit, the questions relating to the intimacy he shared with HER, but I do need to bring communication into the forefront as I think it's the only way to resolution, be that together or apart.

    As always, thanks Elle for your wonderful insight and this life saving blog! Thank you also Erica for taking such time to write such a concise and honest blog. I can't imagine it's easy to find time to do that with two little treasures running around!!

  11. yes Elle I agree with you, I think I should be the one who decides I have heard enough. I do wonder if that day will ever come as I think of hundreds of questions every day. I know I am bordering on masochistic but there is an absolute need in me that i think you and the other girls on the site will identify with.

    isn't it strange that the fact there was an emotional attachment and possibly very deep feelings plus insane chemistry involved is killing me in equal measure. the physical acts haunt me but also does the thought of my husband getting "butterflies" for her, I imagine him driving at breakneck speed in order to get to her asap, that she probably couldn't get the door closed quick enough so they could launch themselves onto each other. its utterly horrendous. its so so early days. Elle, when did you "decide" to give your marriage another chance?

    I feel like this affair is defining me. its all consuming, its my every waking thought and I even dream (or have nightmares) about it. I swing wildly between saying "no, I cannot possibly forgive him, he did this when I was pregnant and I didnt see it coming, he deserves for us to cut him out of our life" and "perhaps at some stage we might be able to renew our wedding vows and make new ones to each other". I never signed up for this. I never thought we needed to have the "cheating is a dealbreaker" conversation because it wasn't an issue for us, it was included in our wedding vows.

    I read awful stories like Kim's and Erica's and your own Elle and I see that you are further down the line then me (D-Day being only 24 days ago) and i think about the long, long winding road that is ahead. Did any of you think "no, enough, the road is too long and fraught with sadness, I am going to cut loose now"?

    Kim, I completely empathise with you, there is nothing lower (as my husband says) then cheating on a pregnant wife. Erica's story is one to draw comfort from. I think Kim your situation was made worse as there was not only denial but a refusal to accept therapy. this delay no doubt played havoc with your self esteem, confidence, mood and may have felt like you were still in limbo. do you find counselling helps? my husband was confronted by me and admitted everything, was completely honest and open and suggested counselling. mind you, he had no choice to confirm the goings on as I had found messages to the H.H. (horrible homewrecker!!) on his phone.

    I am really taking solace from this blog. today I am really upset, yesterday I was fully functional and eating, tomorrow I may take to the bed, who knows? my husband decided that we were living together in a very tension filled house (100% correct) and that he would stay in his parents. I have to admit I wanted to scream that if he left he was not getting back in but I know that the "toxic" silence that prevailed was no good for our daughter to witness. it means that I have been on my own at night for the last 3 nights with a newborn. last night she was very unsettled and one feed led into another and I got virtually no sleep and feel extremely lonely and depressed. this is the difference between men and women, women and mothers would not consider leaving (well, most wouldnt) the few confidantes who know about our situation have said it may be good to put a bit of distance between us. he is still helping with the children and misses them terribly but I dont know if distance will "maker the heart grow fonder" or "enhance the view" (of the awful cruel situation that he catapulted us into)

  12. were there times when you all thought that it just wasnt worth it, that the love that was there was just not enough or that you were letting yourself down by even considering a reconciliation? I laugh at my previous thoughtless comments when girlfriends and I were discussing infidelity...."no way, I wouldnt put up with it/once a cheater always a cheater/I'd cut up his clothes and key his car". I seem like a different person. I didnt so much as hit him across the face (wish I could turn back the clock!)

    having a bad day. very sad/haunted by wedding day memories/depressed/angry/trying to cry quietly in the kitchen while my little girl watches tv.

    am trying to take inspiration and solace from happy ending stories and quotes like Winston Churchill's "if you're going through hell...keep going". I say, it depends, if you're not far enough in, reverse!

    sorry for the sombre mood girls. perhaps I can be of some help in the future on the site but I guess at the moment i'm such a devastated "newbie" to this club that the darker days are outweighing the good ones

    1. Oh Lucy, I wish I could give you a huge hug and look you in the eye and PROMISE you that the day will come when this is just a bad memory.
      Discovering your husband's affair would be hell in any case...but factor in lack of sleep, post-partum hormones and all the new-mom exhaustion and it's a miracle you're able to form a coherent sentence. You are so much stronger than you're giving yourself credit for. Your life is so much bigger than this horrible chapter.
      Can anyone come and help you out? A mom? Sister? Friend? I wonder if part of the problem is the lack of adult conversation/distraction from your thoughts. It is (sadly) normal for your mind/imagination to be in overdrive. As best as you can, try not to obsess or dwell about the details. Yes I think it's important to have questions answered. That said, there's little that my husband told me way back when that I can a) recall now or b) really made any difference one way or the other. What it DID do was open the window to the affair to me and shut the door to my life for her. Try the 24-hour rule. If there's something you think you want to ask, wait 24 hours. If you still want to ask that same question a full day later, then ask away. Most of the time, the question has vanished because it wasn't really that important. It came from fear/anxiety/loneliness/masochism/a desire to hurt him.
      And I've no doubt you will be of help to others on this site in the future, just like Erica has been for you. You will get through this. And you'll have your two beautiful kids and a soul that has become stronger and wiser and even more compassionate. Whether your husband will be a part of your day-to-day life doesn't need to be decided right now. There's no need for big decisions. Just focus on the "next right thing" as a smart friend of mine calls it.


  13. Dear Elle, thank you! It is hard to give yourself a break when this is happening, you constantly think that you're not enough for the children, that you should be clearer in your mind what kind of way forward you want, that the affair is all encompassing and is the only thing you're capable of thinking and talking about.

    the reality of course is different. the children are fed, clothed, washed and taken to the playground. it may all be done with a heavy, heavy heart but they are being looked after and its so lovely to have little breaks in the grieving when a cute and funny comment is made by my little girl or if my baby pulls a windy smile. clarity is something, i expect, that will come with plenty more counselling sessions-I cannot expect myself to come to life changing realisations so soon and indeed it would be irresponsible to make rash decisions on foot of the hurt and anger I'm experiencing. the affair may be the primary thing I'm thinking about privately but with others who do not know what is happening in my lovely marriage, I am talking about "normal" things - I have zero interest in "normal" things of course, but it is necessary to keep up the facade.

    today I met my brother for a coffee and a chat - he is a source of great support to me as are my parents, parents in law and sister in law. my brother is great at the devils advocate approach and challenges me to work through certain scenarios. while we were chatting we passed a small photographic studio. I immediately went in and booked a session for our family for this weekend. I just thought that my gorgeous newborn deserves a family portrait as there have been no pictures of the 4 of us. I dont know how I will feel come the sitting or indeed the viewing of the pictures but I am hoping, whatever the outcome of all this, that I will be so grateful that I made that decision to get them done.

    my husband is genuinely heartbroken but the phrase I am losing patience with is "I dont know". "do you love her?" "I dont know". he has already told me he misses her, I want to scream and carry out brain surgery on him. I know the day may come that he hates her with every fibre of his being but my god, I wish that were the case this instant. How could he miss and have feelings for someone who ignored his precious position of husband and father and who could smile at me and my big bump and all the while have designs on him. NOT A GOOD PERSON. (i am not in the business of placing 100% blame on the OW, he was worse as he had it all to lose) I verbalised that I hoped she would never get the chance to be a mother and experience the love I have for, and receive from, my children. I told him he needs to do alot of thinking before our next counselling session as "I dont know" is not going to cut it. i know its hard to delve into the why but it, like the transparency, is necessary. he is going to write thoughts down. I am a talker, I am a writer, I have been writing poetry since I was 11 and I find writing the most therapeutic and honest examination of your feelings you can initiate. i expect him to put more "work" into this. self pity and shame and guilt can only carry so much weight, he needs to work outside of the counselling sessions, to be honest with himself primarily and to delve into the difficult questions so he can too begin to heal.

    1. Lucy,
      Yes! Your gorgeous newborn does deserve a family photo...to see how adored she was from the very beginning by her mom, her dad, her older sister. Keep that in mind when you want to stick a dagger in your husband's heard as the photographer asks you to "smile" or "move in closer". This one tiny thing isn't about you or him or the other "her". It's about your baby. It's a gift to her.
      I'm glad you've got such family support. That will carry you far. I'm going to make a suggestion though, around your husband's inability to immediately dismiss any feelings for this Other Woman. It's incredibly unfair to you...but he needs to grieve the loss of that relationship. No matter that it was unhealthy and built on deceit, it nonetheless filled a need in him and he needs to get used to the idea that it's gone. He may have been more in love with the "him" he saw in her eyes – sexy, desirable, interesting...new. It's an intoxicating feeling to know that we're desired and, let's be honest, married couples with kids often lose that sense or urgency amidst conversations about mortgages, diapers, daycare. Immature to give in to it, yes. But hard for too many people to resist.
      I was given the advice, fairly early after my first D-Day to "not manage my husband's recovery." It was really tough for a total control freak like me to stop telling him what he had to do. Of course, the fear following D-Day just made me more controlling. But there's a HUGE difference between telling him what he must feel and report to you, and creating boundaries for yourself to feel safe.
      You deserve to have questions answered. But "I don't know" just might be the most honest response he can give. He probably doesn't know. He's probably confused as hell about all this. And what you can do (and should!!) is insist on "No Contact" with the OW. Insist that you're notified immediately if the OW tries to contact him. Insist that he give you honesty and compassion...and answers about specifics that you deem necessary to know (ie. did he wear a condom or do you need to be tested for STDs?). But you can't, as much as you want to, dictate his feelings. It's the hardest thing you'll ever do...to create your boundaries and then sit back and let him work through his feelings around this. And, as I said, it's so incredibly unfair. But it's the only way.
      You're a really smart woman, Lucy. And you're compassionate and incredibly strong. Those traits will bring you through this. And, whether your kids know it or not, you're modelling healthy behaviour to them. You're showing them that we can't control what others do, nor can we control their feelings, but we can control how we respond to them. We can treat ourselves with respect and insist that others do too. From the sounds of it, your husband is doing his best to respect you (at least now)...and he's being honest when it would probably be easier to lie (again) to you about how he feels. That, in this crazy world post-discovery, is progress.


  14. Lucy, I think for me I knew that I wanted to try and save the marriage once I saw that my husband was willing to do whatever it took. Granted the counseling is just now starting, but he was more than willing to answer my questions openly and honestly and I can tell you that almost every answer to every question stung, with some casting a devastating blow to the self-esteem and the heart. He was very apologetic and showed remorse which was very important to me. I, too, didn't think I needed those "deal-breaker" conversations. It makes me sad to think that maybe we should've, but I was under the impression that cheating was a deal breaker, whether or not the conversation ever took place. I, too, always thought I would leave my husband if he ever cheated and yet, here I am, almost 3 years out...

    You'll know in your own time whether or not your marriage is worth saving. Every situation is different. For me, during the time of the affair my husband was not recognizable. He was depressed, withdrawn, sleep-deprived, and just down right out of character. He was fighting his own internal battles of his own life-long demons (thank goodness he is in counseling now). I know it sounds like I'm making excuses for him, but the man he was during that time was not the man I fell in love with. I actually hate saying those things because I think I'm making excuses for him. Regardless of what he was going through, having an affair was not the solution.

    I think you are doing the best you can and like Elle said you should give yourself more credit. I remember being a zombie those first couple of months. I actually left for about 2.5 weeks and went and stayed with my parents. He still got to see the girls, but that sent me through more emotions. Why should he get to see them at all? Why should I have to miss nights with my brand new baby? All the while dealing with the aftermath of the affair. It just wasn't fair...I didn't leave my oldest child overnight with anyone until she was over a year and that was to have an overnight date with my husband. It was hard enough to leave her for a fun reason. But to leave my youngest under these circumstances was devastating on so many levels

    I agree with Erica about bring careful who you tell. I regret telling one of my friends and probably my parents took. Shoot, I wish no one knew...I wish it never happened. I'm still trying to figure out why I have to go through this. Everything happens for a reason right. So what is the reason? I haven't figured it out yet, but I'm trying everyday...



Related Posts with Thumbnails