Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to Put Yourself Back Together

We often turn to disaster metaphors to describe what betrayal feels like. It's a nuclear bomb, a tornado, a hurricane. Our lives feel destroyed, reduced to ruins, blown up. And we ourselves feel torn apart, broken, a wreck.
They're apt, these metaphors. And they speak to the truth that betrayal changes everything. Just like a natural disaster, nothing is left untouched in some way. Not ourselves, our children, our jobs, our friends.
Surrounded by rubble – whether literal or metaphorical – we're left with the task of rebuilding. How?

Fall apart: Well, that part might have happened on its own. But don't fight it. Even when others around you are insisting that you DO something, resist that urge. This is the time for extreme self-care. Eat what you can (smoothies, toast, soup...), sleep when you can, shut out the world if necessary, especially anyone without your best interests at heart. Watch hours of television. Go for long walks. Cry. Then cry some more. Breathe. Deeply.
Sometimes it's when we're stripped of everything we thought mattered that we come to see what truly does. And sometimes when the only thing we can trust is that we're still breathing, we understand that's all we need to know. At least for now.

But don't make yourself crazier: Here's what NOT to do:
•Stalk your husband's OW on Facebook.
•Drink/drug/shop/gamble to escape the pain.
•Have a revenge affair.
•Seek revenge against the OW.
•Track down an ex just to reminisce.
•Go to any event or spend time with any person that will make you feel worse.
•Do anything that could lead to you having your own parole officer.
•Hurt yourself physically.

Sift through the rubble to determine what's worth saving: Your marriage looks like a wreck. You have no idea whether to give him a second chance or not. Your kids are frightened. Your parents are wringing their hands. Your friends are wondering why you're not answering their texts. You haven't showered in eight days. Now's the time to take a good long look at what really isn't working in your life.
That friend you're avoiding because she always makes you feel lousy? Time to delete her from your life.
That job you hate? Time to consider your options. Back to school? Dust off the resumé? No need to DO anything yet, just be open to possibility.
Those toxic in-laws? Maybe now the is time to figure out your boundaries and learn ways of taking care of yourself that leads to self-love, not resentment.
That extra weight you're carrying? Start by walking off your pain. Those schlumpy clothes? Buy yourself something that makes you feel beautiful.
You get the idea. Open yourself to the possibility of a you who's ultimately healthier, inside and out.

Find support: I made haste to a therapist who could hold my head above water until I could tread water myself and/or make my way to shore. But support goes beyond simply the paid kind (though it's generally Worth. Every. Penny.). Surround yourself with those who love you unconditionally. Avoid those who think they know exactly what you should do, unless they're suggesting a long, hot bath. Steer clear of those with an axe to grind (their own nasty divorce/cheating husband/miserable life). This can be hard on those who love you though. So recognize that sometimes they'll step in it. That sometimes they'll get frustrated with you for not healing fast enough (it's hard to watch those we love in pain). But no matter. Explain to your trusted inner circle that you need their support and compassion, not their advice. That you need a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold and, perhaps, a casserole or two left by the front door. Sometimes you might need a gentle kick in the pants to remind you that there's a big beautiful world out there that needs your presence.
Seek out online support that's based on self-compassion...and compassion for others. There's a lot of cruelty on the Web. Don't support it, don't take it personally, and don't contribute to it.

Practice gratitude: Ugh. This can be a tough one. But study after study has shown that practising gratitude leads to a happier life. Today you might be grateful that you didn't follow through on your plans to smother your husband in his sleep. You might be grateful that your four-year-old doesn't know what as asshole her father is. You might be grateful you still have all your limbs. With time, you'll begin to notice that gratitude will creep into your life in bigger ways. And it will give you a platform on which to build a better life.

Hold tight to your values: Betrayal is such a primal wound that it pulls to the surface our most primal responses. We want to kill someone. We want to curl into the fetal position. We want to retreat to a cave and never show our face again. Feeling all that is absolutely fine...and to be expected. Acting on it? Not so fine. Once this shit-storm is over, you want to be able to hold your head high. You want your self-respect intact. You don't want to be wearing an orange jumpsuit (orange, frankly, is NOT the new black). Continue to live a life of honesty and compassion and kindness, even when it seems you're the only person who does. The day will come when you'll look back with pride on how you handled yourself.

Share your story: Whether in the pages of a journal, in e-mails to yourself or to a trusted friend, or on sites such as this one, sharing our story is a powerful way of putting ourselves back together. It allows us to see our stories from the outside, which can give us perspective. It is cathartic, giving us the chance to offload our fury, our pain and our confusion. And it's an important and scientifically proven way to heal from trauma.

Trust the process: It takes a long time to heal from betrayal and it can often seem as if you're stuck. Assuming you're taking steps to heal (counselling, self-care, boundary setting...), you are getting there. Trust that the day will come when this is simply part of your life story, not THE story.

Extend a healing hand: It's enormously healing to guide others along the path. None of us want to be in this club, yet here we are. And extending a hand to those who are feeling the same pain, struggling with the same confusion, reminds us that we're not alone. That we've healed, even just a bit. And if we've healed a bit, then we can heal a bit more. And bit by bit, we become whole.


  1. I really enjoy going to this site for words of inspiration. My d day was in july 2014. Prior to this time we had a rocky marriage. I know I held on to old baggage from being kicked out by my parents, an abusive ex husband, sexual molestation as a child, and a psychotic sister who would be my best friend one second and hate me and be mentally abusive the next. I have been to counselling before and had some bad counselors and would just give up. My current counselor has done testing on me and said I push people away due to fear of abandonment. I have done exactly that with my husband. In a way it helps me with forgiving him for cheating on me because at the time I told him I didn't want to be with him and wanted a divorce. This was at the end of May which is when his affair started. He didn't tell me about it until after we were taking steps to stay together, I initiated going to counselling and went to the first appointment myself. He was at first willing to leave our 16 year marriage at one point to be with the ow but then decided we should work on our marriage instead. I'm just affraid he will change his mind and decide to leave. He said he sees improvement but my anxiety remains. I have since then been on xanax, antidepressant, but lately smoking again and drinking to get drunk. I just keep trying to hang on to the idea it will get better with time but part of me says with time he will decide to leave. Any words of advice on how to make myself feel better, we already are in counseling

    1. I would suggest you stop drinking if you can, alcohol and medication are a concoction for disaster physically and mentally. Alcohol may numb the pain temporarily but you have to work your way thru the pain in a more productive way, I ran till I couldn't run anymore, cried till they dried up. There is no easy way to get thru this pain but to keep going, you will start feeling better in time but be kind to yourself give yourself time and space to think about what you want from herein.dont waste time and energy worrying about whether he will go or stay you have no control over his actions and cannot live in fear of him leaving. If he says he wants to be with you then trust your instincts, is he doing everything he can to help you heAl, will he disclose everything you want to know, is he worthy of a second chance? Trust that you will get thru this difficult time in your life, keep posting here these women are amazing and we all share what you are going thru, take care. X

    2. You have been through hell ten-times-over. I'm so sorry. Of course you push people away. It's a survival mechanism based on plenty of evidence in your life that people are messed up assholes. Perhaps, though, your husband isn't one. Perhaps, though I'm sure he's got his own issues, he made a bad choice during a time of rejection by you.
      So...that leaves you figuring out what to do about it. What NOT to do? Numb your feelings with booze and pills. Those feelings, as horrid as they are, are your way through. In fact, they're the only way through. You have to wade through the pain and the fury and the deep, deep sadness of how abandoned you've been in your life by the people who should have loved you best...and come, finally, to a place where you understand that they loved you the best they could, even though that best was horrible. And you'll get to a place where you finally understand that their inability to love you in a healthy way in NO way reflects your value. You are worthy of love. And you will learn ways to give it to yourself. To trust in your own value. It will feel like learning a new language. There will be days that you will feel lost and you'll mess up and disrespect yourself and you'll feel like all is lost. But it's not. You'll be learning.
      Ideally, your husband will be learning too. How to have a new relationship with someone who's getting healthier. How to talk about your pain to each other in a new way that doesn't involve threats to leave (I've been there. I know what I'm talking about...).
      And you'll even get to a place where even if someday he does leave, you'll understand that doesn't change your own value. You are worthy of love. Tell yourself that every day for the rest of your life until you know it in your marrow.
      And stop drinking. Now. And smoking. It will kill you and you want to be alive to enjoy this new life.

    3. My D-day was also in July 2014. Different circumstances. We've only been married 5 years, together for 6 1/2. And I'm pregnant. And July was both my birthday and our anniversary, both of which he spent texting and calling her and sending her pictures. Hang in there. Please don't get drunk, it's not going to solve anything. It's been a sore temptation for me, too, but then I also have an unborn baby to think about. I also have residual issues with abandonment from a mother who would disappear for hours when she was mad at my sister, brother and I when we were young, and an abusive ex-husband. It's hard not to push people away to protect ourselves. I know exactly how that feels. In spite of everything my husband is doing to repair our marriage, I'm still half convinced he'll just leave for no reason at all. Not even to return to the OW. But he's still with me, and doing the best he knows how. I'd hang on to the Xanax. I've been on it before, and it really helped me feel like myself. Ditch the other stuff. And hang in there with me. It's still really fresh, as it's only been a month or two at best. We are stronger than we realize, you and I.

  2. I have posted a few times on this site. I need to come clean about something. Yes my husband did have an affair that I have been feeling devastated by. I have had an emotional affair online 11 years prior that I just told him about. We would talk for hours online and it would sometimes be of a sexual nature. I ended it once he wanted to meet up and take it to the next level. He was the one who cut off ties with me and then moved on to someone else. I was at the time devastated over the loss of him and how he made me feel good about myself. I did think about it for awhile then shoved it far back in my mind and dismissed it as not cheating since we didn't have sex. I was at the time very disengaged from my husband and kids during that time. I never discussed it with him until a few weeks after d day. I guess I should be more sympathetic toward my husband and the emotions he is going through. I'm sure he from time to time longs for the ow just as I did for the other person initially but it then go away.

    1. Wow -- 11 years is the longest foreplay I've ever heard of.
      I think you're absolutely right in that your own experience gives you insight into your husband's feelings. It's that ability to disengage from spouse/family that is the green light for affairs, whether emotional or physical. It should be a huge RED light.
      Glad you've come clean and recognize how damaging your behaviour was too.

  3. Truly, this is a brilliant post with so many deep and valualable suggestions. I think the part about what words we use to describe our emotions are certainly key. Was betrayal a powerful life lesson for me? Yes. The question is what was learned and was I a survivor is more important than defining myself as betrayed. Being devalued as a human being is not to be dismissed and are these betrayals also part of the women issues most recently talked about with the NFL censure of Ray Rice. Men are still calling the shots in so many ways. I loved this post and wanted to ask if you have covered the question of affairs being a form of rape. Certainly erotic injury in one form is abuse in the worst way, isn't it.

  4. Oh I hope so, pray so. I feel like I will never have a day that I sincerely, wholeheartedly smile or laugh again, a day without sorrow suffocating me. This is awful. Instead of healing, I think I am just dying inside. Uggg.

    1. Maybe a part of us has to die for a new part to be reborn. I am not the person I was when I found out.

  5. This is a great reminder to see just how far I have come in just less than a year. I remember the tornado the wreckage, the broken heart, the need to want to curl up and die. I'm happy to say that these feelings of extreme pain to lift a little day by day, month by month and year by year. Coming up to a year post d day, I am proud of how I handled his betrayal and can look back and congratulate myself for not committing murder!! Instead I concentrated on me initially reinvented myself like Elle said by taking care of me and my needs. Once I was able to feel good about me I could then stArt trying to reinvent my marriage. Trying to sort out the issues that got us into a situation I never want to be in again. I wasn't giving up without a fight.. Looking back I was much calmer, understanding then I thought I ever would be upon finding out my husbands betrayal, maybe this was because I had a baby and a 9 year old to care for and ensure they were ok, maybe it was because I'd never been hurt in this way before and dealt with it the only way I knew how. This website certainly got me thru each day, it's in some ways better than a counsellor but if you can see a counsellor too thAn I would encourage you do do, I've survived betrayal along with many other brave courageous women and you will too. You can't go far wrong if you follow the step by step guide above Elle is absolutely fantastic she is there for us at our time of need, hope we can bring some comfort too Elle in sharing our stories and journeys along the way.
    I feel better for taking myself along the past year and seeing and hearing how far I have come.well done me : )
    Lots of love ladies x x x

  6. Thank you, Elle. Your writing is lovely and soothing and always just what I need to reflect upon. It is certainly sad that you need to write this and so many of us need to read it but I am certainly grateful that you are here!

  7. I really needed to read this today - THANK YOU! I haven't shared my story on the page yet - I don't know what I'm waiting for - but I see the posts and I'm thankful just knowing I'm not alone.

  8. Bravo, Elle! This is a very accurate, and extremely helpful list of what to do/not do after DDay. Too bad I didn't have the benefit of your expertise my first year after DDay. I did 7 out of the 9 things you listed to NOT DO!
    For those of you reading that have already strayed from a healthier healing calm. I recovered after my lengthy stay in Crazy Town. All of you can, too.
    It's just gonna be easier if you listen to Elle sooner rather than later!
    Hope & Hugs!

    1. Ha Shawn! I wish I had the benefit of this list my first year. I did some things right (not killing my husband when I had the chance, for instance) but plenty wrong (unleashing my fury on my long-sober mother for being such a crappy mom twenty years earlier. She died a few months later and I feel such regret).
      Read your most recent post re. court proceedings. You won, Shawn, in more ways than one.

  9. I just put a post on here under anonymous just now thank God I'll never put another one on under goggle. I didn't know I was live. I hope and pray no one seen it that could link me with the post. Now I don't see where my anonymous post has went.

  10. Is it to soon to try and take back my life? My h. hasn't mentioned any of the tips to being responsible for what he's done. He would die before he would go to counseling. My life has been cluttered for sometime now, I've let him put things where ever he chooses. The dining room table is piled up with all kinds of mostly his food mostly junk food. All the drawers in the house is junked up. For the first time in a while I fill like I might enjoy getting back into my quilting. I haven't quilted in I think over 3 years. He would say why do you want to quit when you can go to Walmart. I fill that's only another area of my life that he's taking away from me. It really hasn't bothered me any. I just went on to other interests things that I enjoyed doing and that needed doing. Which took me out of my home but with his trips to Main St. I don't fill secure enough to go back to my old life just yet plus the things that I was doing I had to quite because the church is under a big remodeling project. Until it's finished I can't use the kitchen there. I had to clean out all my stuff and all the churches stuff so they can get started on the remodeling the kitchen. So now I have that in my sewing room. Not knowing what I'm going to do with everything in my sewing room I hate to under take such a big task. How do I know that I'm ready for it. I fill when I get started my H. is going to raise h. like he always does. Today is the first time in many months that I fill like I could possibly take a little of my life back. I'm really scared of felling and then who knows how long it will take me to work on my sewing room. It's a big room but it's full of everything.

    1. Lossing,
      Like any big job (rebuilding a life, rebuilding a home...), the key is to break it down into small tasks. You've let your husband control so much of your life. Get to know yourself again. Do what YOU want to do, not what HE thinks you should do.
      He is abusive and controlling. Let him raise hell all he wants like a child throwing a temper tantrum. Then do what you need to do to make yourself healthy, emotionally and physically.

    2. You sound so trapped. I'm sorry. Part of this maybe a generational thing to religious viewpoint, but it's definitely not healthy if you need to ask your husband permission like a small child. My grandmother lived with my verbally abusive grandfather for yrs & rye and when she had had enough she would just tell him to keep still. He would actually do it and we were all amazed. But if you in any way feel he might physically hurt you, slap you, push you then you should think about a plan to leave if you need to. I know it's overwhelming to think of these things as we age. Would it be possible to at least talk to your pastor? I'm sure he has heard worse stories and even if it is a small town you need to let someone know what you're dealing with. My heart breaks for you. This is extremely difficult but you do need to speak up for yourself. Your husband maybe shocked but so what?

    3. You sound like me. I LOVE to crochet although I haven't in years. Since my d day 13 months ago I have start reading about infidelity but I've also read a few novels. I have yet to resume crocheting, although I just started teaching my 7 year old daughter how to. I have scrapbooks of memorabilia of all of the vacations my husband & I have taken until we had kids 9 years ago. I have all the memorabilia since but just can't seem to find the time to organize it all & put into my albums. I did start taking piano lessons with my husbands blessing. But don't ask ur husband for permission. I told my husband I need to read & take up a new hobby for me. He was supportive.

      You have to do something for u, as a distraction but also as an affirmation that u have interests & value as a person other than as a wife and mother.

      Absolutely resume quilting or even take up a new hobby!


    4. I went back to making jewelry and sewing after I found out and just to keep myself thinking about it again and again. My H was supportive that time about my hobbies. Now that he is completely out of OW, he doesn't like that I spend time for myself. He constantly complains that we don't have anything in common!!!
      Unfortunately, to please him, I gave it again!

  11. I sure wish you could put a "Like" button on the site. So many "likes' in this thread. Thanks, everyone.

  12. So it has been 108 days since finding out about my husband's affair.

    I am anxiously awaiting the day that I am put back together. Every time I think I'm on track and take a step forward, I feel like I take 3 steps back. I become comfortable with myself, the situation itself, and something sets me off and I snap.

    I have not turn to alcohol or drugs. Maybe a little extra shopping, but I've earned, I've lost 38lbs, and not from neglect, but out of choice, it was something that I needed to do. I have no desire to seek out another man...that would be absolutely pointless!

    Only yesterday, did I finally talk to a friend, a mutual friend to both of us, very briefly, but it did feel good to talk to someone besides my husband about it.

    The betrayal is so overwhelming, I will be truly greatful when this shit show comes to an end,or when I can put it behind me and move on.

    Until then, I am greatful for this site and the kind words and words of wisdom, thank you to all!

    1. I'm glad you found us. You're on track, though I know it feels like dragging yourself through wet cement. At just over three months, I could barely get out of bed. Kudos to you for the weight loss. You're taking control over what you can. I'm glad you reached out and shared your experience with another person. As long as we're careful about who we tell (some people's response can be even more damaging), it can really help us.

  13. Holding tight to your values. I have read this blog several times and have walked away with something new each time. Today was my 4 weeks of Dday for finding out about my STD that I was walking around with. Again I ask my Dr. how could I have possibly tested positive for Chamydia when 3 weeks before my h. tested negative. He said he had no clue unless he had been out with another prostitute. Which I know he hadn't. The one thing I can do is know in my heart it wasn't me. I am the only one who knows what I have done and I sleep good at night knowing that. My husband is to scared to leave the house to chase a W. If they were paying him. The only thing that I can come up with is some how the test wasn't read right. If any one could give an answer that would be great. His test were done 5 weeks and 4 days. Mine tests were 9 weeks and 2 days. His blood tests were done no more than 4 days maybe less after his last in counter. My three months want be up till 28th of Sept. but my Gyn. Ordered me another blood planel today. He said he should get my results back in a week. H.'s should be tomorrow. I did ask my Dr. today if he had any idea how many cases of HIV's in this state and he said he thought he had just read that there was 1,100 cases in this state. My luck they will all be right here in W.

  14. Dr. C. Called last night giving us both a clean bill of health. I guess we will be checked again in December and if that's good our final test will be next June.

  15. Lossing, I tried to reply to this last weekend, but it did not go through. I know it HURTS to think your husband actually did chase prostitutes. But apparently, that seems to be exactly what he did. Prostitution is not like Pretty Woman. My H's encounter with a whore was one he found online. This "lady" had a trashy apartment 10 miles from my house. My H went out for groceries and came back after a blow job. It took no time at all. There was no woooing, no cuddeling, no courting, no romance. He is a SHY and of course as I know now, damaged man with horribly low self esteem. The prostitute is the sure thing. It really takes no bravery at all. I really pray for you that this was his only time, although one is one too many. Mine saw two, and one became emotional (ugh) I trust by now your HIV test has come back clean?

  16. The last two days I've been trying to update my status and just about the time I get ready to send it I Iose the hole thing. I don't know what I'm doing wrong.
    We have passed our 3 months mark. I'm filling a lot better. H. has got in a big job he's starting to do some foundation work to our house. When he cleaned out my sewing room he decided he would tackle the panty and decided we shouldn't put it off any longer. So while he's busy with that I'm going to the N.Q.C. every night that's in TN. I have friends who invites me each yr. I'm filling so much better. All our blood work and tests have came back good. H's came back with a positive type one herpes virus for fever blisters the Dr. seamed to think he's had it for a long time. He didn't seam to think it required treatment. H. has never had one in the 39 years I've known him and I never had one before. Does anyone know anything about this?
    I hope I can get a lot accomplished today.

    1. Lossing,
      I'm glad you're feeling better. Sounds like your husband shows you he cares by doing stuff around the house. That's great...though at some point I hope he'll also be able to show up for emotionally and reassure you when you need it.
      Not sure re. herpes, though I know some types lie dormant for decades. Trust your doctor on this one.

  17. No Steam it was 6 prostitutes he had. One of them 2 times. So he went out 7 times. Yes thanks so far all tests has came back fine. We might have to have 2 more blood tests. One in Dec. and another to mark my Dday. Yes from what you said it, is just what he told me you pay your money and your in and out. Drive thru qick and done with. The price you really pay is later. After the effect. I wish I knew how he really fills about what he did but I really and truly thinks it's hurting him bad. At least I hope so. I would hate to think he doesn't have a concusius. I'm praying that he will see what he has done and come to The Lord before it's too late. Maybe I spoke to quickly but I was very up front with him and told him that I wanted him to know the love of God and I would forgive him the way that I was forgiven. Jesus is very clear we are forgiven by the way we forgive others. He has never forgiven others even when it's him that was at fault. We have 3 grandchildren we haven't seen in over a year because our son in law and he got into big argument over a year ago. I'm praying for all my family they have to know that they are lost. They are just going through life and not careing about there souls. They were raised with the truth.

  18. I was skeptical that journaling would help, but it really does. It's like you leave some of the pain behind on the page. Plus in it, I could call my husband a selfish effing bastard all I needed to without saying it to his face and being unable to take it back. Even if I felt he deserved to be called that, I knew it was just going to make reconciliation harder.

    Also, until this happened and I asked my doctor, I didn't know that there was free community counselling in my city, including specialized counselling for addictions. I just wish we'd known a decade ago, it might have made all the difference in the world. (But that's a 'what if?', and I know I can't let myself go down that rabbit hole.) My porn-addicted husband was finally able to get clean and stay clean for the first time in over 25 years because we got proper counselling. It never hurts to ask, your doctor or a public anonymous health line might know of what services are available for free or very low cost.




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