Friday, October 24, 2014

When Remembering Becomes Reliving

I was listening to a radio program recently about PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder.
I talk a lot about PTSD on this site because it was the paradigm that felt the most right to me after D-Day. After a friend of mine, who counsels those with PTSD from childhood sex abuse, suggested I was experiencing post-trauma, my response to my husband's infidelity began to make sense. Well, as much sense as PTSD ever makes.
It was a tough sell at first. As I've noted on this site before, PTSD seemed so...dramatic. As if I was exaggerating my experience. PTSD was for veterans and rape victims, domestic abuse survivors and people who fled the Twin Towers.
There's increasing research, however, that PTSD is more common than that. That those of us who experience a sudden, shocking event (infidelity anyone?) can come away with PTSD. Not all of us, of course. But some of us. Too many of us.
PTSD is created, explained the doctor on the radio program, when the feeling we experience during trauma (fear, grief, shame, for instance) becomes linked with certain stimuli (a sight, a smell, a sound).
As the doctor on the radio program put it, the neurons that "fire together, wire together."
It explains why a certain song can suddenly transport us back to that moment of finding out and suddenly our heart is racing, our blood pressure is skyrocketing, our hands are tingling. We're not just remembering the trauma, we're re-living it.
Maybe it's the sight of a certain model car. The voicemail message on a husband's cell phone (which I'd listened to roughly 30 times as I tried to reach him, knowing he was with her). A certain time of year. A snowstorm.
At first, it's normal for the entire experience to feel like a nightmare from which you can't awake. For some of us, however, that feeling lingers...and sometimes gets worse.
While we might become more functional in some ways, we have periods of the day when we're immobilized. When we're flashing back. When we're not remembering what we know but reliving it.
The most important thing to know is that this, under the circumstances is normal. Know also, that it's surmountable. Life will not always feel like a war-zone in which you're unsafe and insecure.
But it's important to get treated so that you can begin to heal. To have memories, including bad ones, without trauma.
Infidelity is so much more devastating than most of us could have imagined. Far more devastating than our culture understands. Unless, of course, you've lived through it.

51 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I have been feeling that this is what PTSD must be like but couldn't say it out loud to anyone for fear that they would judge me as overdramatic and seeking attention. It is impossible for someone who has never experienced infidelity in the role of loyal spouse to even remotely understand the range of trauma and emotion that you go through on an hourly (sometimes minute by minute) basis.

    In my case, receiving that phone call from the OW (while I was at work) took my breath away. One minute I was about to eat lunch and the next minute my heart was pounding and my entire body shaking. We've all been there. It felt like a physical attack. You feel like you can't breath, you've been sucker punched, blindsided, you're drowning. Driving the short distance from my office to my home suddenly became a challenge because I couldn't focus, couldn't concentrate. Who could possibly understand this physical and mental devastation if they haven't gone through it? I still get nauseous when I go to work because that is where I took that call. There are some days at work when I panic and shake all day because I know my H (who works nights) used my work schedule to his advantage. On really bad days I can barely get through my work day because the place and time of day triggers so much doubt and fear. I can only describe it as debilitating. Other triggers exist for me but none so devastating as those at my office --- my war-zone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know how you are feeling with the panic attacks and just feeling like your not functioning at work. I am almost at 4 months from d day. It seems to be getting better. I have been doing better at focusing better at work. My h is the one who told me of the affair so I'm glad I didn't hear it from the AP. I can only imagine that would be a traumatic way to find out about it especially being at work. My H and I also are on different shifts, and I agree it does make it easy for them to carry on an affair with the other person not knowing. I having been doing a lot of things for myself post affair to make myself feel better. And I have been working on hobbies as my therapist recommended just recently have been able to. My husband and I are working on making the marriage good at this time (I still feel uncertain at times if he's going to drop another bomb on me). It helps reading this site to know I'm not alone and there is still life after all of this. I know early on I let my manager know I was having marital problems since I was distracted at work, late, and calling off a lot and didn't want to be on any disciplinary action for it.

      Delete
    2. Thank you! I am only 5 weeks out, so a bit anxious still. My supervisor was there when it happened but he doesn't seem to think its that big of a deal. His response was that its fairly common! My husband has been coming by my office a lot, he knows its hard for me there and is doing what he can to help me. I know it was a one time thing and completely believe he is sincere, etc. still hurts though. We'll get through it. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, it helps tremendously!

      Delete
    3. LL,
      Five weeks is very raw. Keep the focus on you and what you need to get through and it will get better. I'm glad your husband recognizes that work is tough for you and is making himself available to help you through. Your supervisor clearly has the empathy of a slug so don't take it personally. I think I would have wondered what the big deal was if I hadn't gone through it myself.

      Anonymous, I'm glad you're resuming hobbies to help you stay focussed on yourself. That feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop can be debilitating. But you're definitely not alone and there is life post-betrayal. A rich, fulfilling life.

      Delete
    4. I keep going back to the Sunday that the police was looking for my husband. What if they had came while I was here. What would I have done???? Would they have told me what they were here for. I did come home that afternoon for a little
      while. Were they here before or after I left???? One big panic attack. Yeasterday I was getting my nails done and one came in the salon it all came back. I felt like when I first saw him he was looking through to my soul. He wasn't even there to see me and I knew that but it didn't help the way I felt.
      Last night I had to go to the post office to mail my grand babies Halloween cards and there stood this poor little girl across the street from me. I would have been almost willing to have bet if I was a betting person that she was a prostitute. She was standing out there eating a bag of pop corn. I know she was one. Yeasterday wasn't a good day anyway and then there was all the triggers. H. was great over the weekend. He spent Saturday with me. We didn't talk but he was here for me and I got my sewing room back together. So now on to my old career. I've got to try to get back to my quilting.

      Delete
  2. Thank you for posting this Elle. I remember hearing from PTSD and always relating it to soldiers that come back home from war. Legal Lass the way you feel is very real and unfortunately just like Elle said. Being hypervigilant, feeling triggered constantly, and living day in and day out with anxiety are some of the characteristics of PTSD. Perhaps there wasn't any physical harm like the one experienced by soldiers but the emotional wounds are very deep. It is such a relief to be able to talk about this with people who can relate to my feelings, specially on those days when I am feeling like I am going crazy. Speaking of which, has anybody tried EMDR to address the symptoms of PTSD? What was your experience like with this kind of therapy? I am also getting a little frustrated trying to find a counselor or therapist who is in network. Any advice on what to look for in a counselor?

    Alexis B.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Alexis, for sharing and understanding these feelings. I haven't looked into any sort of counseling, so I can't add to that part of the conversation.

      Delete
    2. Alexis,

      I underwent EMDR just a year ago. I had been feeling really flat. Not bad, but not good. Just kinda existing. I had dismissed EMDR has a bit too woo-woo for me. But I got to the point where I figured I had nothing to lose. And besides, I thought, it's "research" for this blog.
      The woman I found was incredible. And EMDR was incredible. I still am a bit flummoxed as to how it works. But it definitely worked. I felt invigorated, like the color had come back into my life.
      As for what to look for in a counsellor -- the main thing is to simply find someone with whom you feel safe and who is offering up concrete help. You don't want to spend years just unloading on someone, you want someone to validate your experience, help you sift through the wreckage and get clear on what you want going forward and how to achieve it.

      Delete
  3. Thank you Elle. Each week, you always seem to know the right thing to say, the right subject to touch on and the most sincere way to say it. You are a stable force in my rather unstable world and I thank you for it, from the bottom of my heart...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am glad to know I am not just crazy. I am 10 months in and it seems that I am backsliding now instead of moving forward. I think it is because my retired husband spent the first 9 months after d day at my side almost constantly. Now he has a part-time job that is taking him away and I have more time alone- to think. I have stopped sleeping again. I think the more you trust them before D-day the harder this is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that might be true. Which is why it's important for you to learn how to trust yourself. To know that you can be your safe place in the world. To understand that you are strong yourself.
      In the meantime, figure out what you need from your husband to help re-establish some trust. It will never be blind trust but that's okay.

      Delete
  5. I was immediatly diagnoised with PTSD in our 1st MC session. Our counselor made it very clear to my husband that my reaction to his selfish and fucked up action was completly NORMAL, not that that makes you feel instantly better, but it was good to have a name for it. Reliving it over and over again is hard to avoid when you cannot stop thinking about it. I am 10 months out this week and I have done my best to "reclaim" the places and things that gave me joy, that he stole, that i thought he had stolen forever.. Since most of his affair was online with only three in person meetings--when they met (in another country) and two months later when they had sex twice (in another country) there is not much to reclaim. All i have asked is that he NOT take me to the place they had their one dinner. He said it was bad anyway and he would never go again, good--I dont need to go there, it was never mine to begin with. I am starting to feel safe again, and although i cannot ever trust him again like i did when i was blind, i do trust him a lot more. I no longer hit every e-mail address and social media page of his every day or even every week,, I no longer search for her online.but i watch the cell phone bill like a madwoman. Something i never ever checked which had all i ever needed to know.
    I feel a lot more like a better me, and our relationship has changed so drastically it's almost a miracle. And the hardest part to admit? It was not just him who had to change. I had to do my part too.

    If you are brand new to this, don't think YOU need to do that immediatly. You need to heal and he needs to help. It's only then that you can find a better version of yourself...she is in there, I promise.

    It's not your fault, it was never your fault, you are not the one who cheated. You are not the one who risked everytihng, so just take it minute by minute---dont rush it--go through it, not around or over or under it, and if you have a new relationship with your partner (we could never have found one without counseling) relish it.
    BTW, I had EMDR about 20 years ago and it was quite astonishing. If i was still living in the land of PTSD I would not hesitate, but first I wanted to beat my H up in counseling for a whle.
    lol
    Look at that, I just laughed. You will too...you will get through this unless your husband is an absolut a-hole and you are with a bad man, not a good man with issues and mistakes. Hang in there if he is worth staying with--and he will show you if he is-- and thrive.

    Elle, this transformation in me--started with a spark of hope I found on this website on day 1 when i could not get off the floor, let alone leave the house. I am FOREVER GREAT-ful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steam,
      That's one of the most beautiful comments I've read on this site. I'm so happy for you that you've been transformed in the best possible way by healing from betrayal.
      You're an absolute inspiration. Can I have permission to re-print this as a blog post so that more people will see it? It's full of wisdom and compassion.
      Thank-you.
      (And I'm curious -- do you remember what that "spark" was? I'd love to know.)

      Delete
  6. Of course you can repost this Elle..all i have wanted to do other than save my own relationship was to be able to help others who have been through this. Reposting would be an honor. The spark came while i was googling within hours of finding out on that horrible d-day. I was of the school "once a cheater always a cheater" and "if anyone ever did that to ME, he would be gone SO fast".

    arent we all?

    But when he DID do that to me, I gave him an immediate (and i add, loud and hysterical) choice he had to make--her or me. When i saw the absolute devestation in HIS eyes, seeing what he had done to ME, seeing his tears, hearing his words, feeling his absolute remorse,sadness, and looking into an opening into his soul i had never ever ever seen before. When I locked myself in the bedroom and he sat outside talking to me through the window, I surprised mySELF when I realized that even though i could not touch him or look at him right NOW, I wanted him to stay.
    I wanted to know if we could survive this.
    I wanted to know I would be ok (because how could I EVER be ok again??)
    I wanted HOPE.
    and this was the only place I found it.

    I hated the name "club"--lol I thought it would be just another husband bashing site, but it was not. Your words, as someone who had been through this, gave me HOPE-your essays and your links and your answers to others--so much wisdom and compassion, smart funny and sarcastic, but not bitter--it gave me what I needed. I wanted to get "there" where you are, and I am on my way.

    No one could have told me that I would ever get through this, but honestly, somewhere on this blog that very first day---you actually did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stay tuned. I'll post soon.
      And...thanks.

      Delete
  7. I agree with Steam, though I am just beginning this process. Elle, your posts and all of the other members' stories are what gave me hope that I could not only survive this and save my marriage, but that I could stay and fight for my marriage with dignity and pride. I found you on day two...... Thankfully. I have been here "learning" every day since then. You shared your story and turned your pain into a resource for all of us. Can't thank you enough.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am 10 months past Dday. My H had an affair with a kindergarten teacher for 2 years. I went through PTSD therapy. My therapist discovered what was the most painful things for me. We worked on them one at a time. I found out I had self esteem issues, negative core beliefs about life and not very assertive. The therapy was extremely painful and intense. The days following therapy was hard. But I have to say I'm thinking about throwing in the towel. He expresses guilt, remorse and now treats me like he should he prior to his affair. But the bitterness, hurt, anger and movies in my head won't go away no matter what I do. I'm so tired. I still don't understand why? He now has prostate cancer and impotent. I'm 60 not dead yet, finding myself and feeling good about myself for the first time. I'm not a wall flower but a successful business woman. He had his fun, now cancer and I'm suppose to take care of his ass? I'm suppose to the good wife's? Stuck it all up he got everything and I'm left with the pain and tears. I don't think I'm going to get over this one. My first husband beat me but this is far worse and the PTSD just won't go away. I'm feeling helpless to get better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Think I can relate to your story in some ways tho it was almost 30 yrs ago when my pilot husband had two affairs with flight attendants. When you hit 60, you realize that life is getting shorter. I sometimes refer to the affairs as when my husband was living at home and dating. Great to be thought of his mother. I understand your resentment, that he got to have some fun, date, and leave you to taking care of everyday life. There are days when I can tell myself not to dwell in anger cause really what does help but it's hard. Our culture says that women are less desirable as we age, too. Is it going to change anytime soon. Doubt it, so if you feel life has passed you by, why not grab some of it while you can? And rent Ruby Sparks DVD, exc lent for women who have made others their purpose rather than focusing on themselves.

      Pilots wife.

      Delete
    2. Lynn,
      You get to decide what your life looks like. His remorse doesn't dictate your future. Your loyalty must be to yourself first. Treat yourself with kindness and dignity. It will allow you to also treat him with kindness and dignity. But that's not the same as letting his needs and wants trump your own.

      Delete
    3. Lynn Pain - I was 65 when my husband told me he had been having an affair. He had been told a year before that he might have cancer of the kidneys and lung, but he didn't believe the doctor. Didn't go to an oncologist, nothing - he said the doctor was nuts. He lost weight rapidly and I did everything to get him to see a doctor, but it would make him mad, so I stopped. He started sneaking out at night, and I caught him one night. He denied it. It didn't stop, so I cut him off by telling him my post menopause symptoms were too painful. Which they were. I am slowly losing my eyesight and was dependent upon him to drive me. He always promised he would take care of me, not to worry. So, he started making it more obvious that he was having an affair, on purpose! I think the other woman was pressuring him, and I think he wanted me to kick him out and then he wouldn't feel guilty for leaving. I knew he had cancer, I just could see it, and I knew someone would have to take care of him. I started thinking that if I blew up he would go running to her, so I never said a word to him to let him know that I knew. We were married 35 years, and I scrimped so that we could save the limit in our 401k's for years. I never had the nice clothes and homes that others had. I was saving for retirement. I knew if I threw a fit he would run to her, live a few months, die, and then leave it all to her. For a year I acted like things were fine. One day I heard him outside on the phone assuring her that he would tell me, over and over. Then he came in the house laughing and told me he hadn't been "doing without." My blood pressure must have been very high. I could feel it, but I didn't say anything, just looked away. He was having so much fun over fooling me. Then a couple days later, I persuaded him to go to a dr. and he was told he was dying. All of a sudden he was telling me how pretty I am, how he grabbed me when he got the chance and was never sorry, etc. He repeated the same lines over and over. I was nothing but kindness itself to him, because I wanted to do the right thing. His body shut down one morning. I had fully intended on getting him through it. I did still love him. So he has been dead for several years; I'm still having bad days. I had a friend tell me, "well, you've got all that money, you can relax and enjoy life now, which you haven't been able to do for all these years." Which is true, but I can't forget the pain he put me through. said it. I am just now realizing that I can do what I want in my own house and be my own person. But, I am still going blind and nothing can be done about it. He pretty much ruined my life. I live in a rural area and my closest relative is over an hour away from here. My advice is to stick it out and get the money. Why is the wife is the one they run to when they get cancer? Why not the younger woman? In my husband's case, I think it was vanity. His first reaction was, "but I'll go bald." Like that was the worst of it. If my husband had lived, I would have left him because he knew I couldn't drive and so I was not going to find out that he was taking her to nice restaurants at noon and even eating with his co-workers and her. It was a big joke on me. He was not much of a man, in my opinion.

      Delete
    4. Sweetheart, you've been in an extremely abusive relationship. What he did to you was cruel and heartless. Not much of a man, indeed.
      Please use some of your retirement money to get yourself a wonderful counsellor who can help you heal from his betrayal. Blind or not, you've got plenty you can look forward to but you need to spend some time getting through all that residual pain in order to find the light that waits behind the clouds.

      Delete
    5. I have talked to my pastor many times, and when I ask why? He always tells me that it is just sin and that is all there is to it. He talks about our sinful nature and that it comes out in different ways with everyone, and unfortunately "sex" is one of those ways. He said it depended on your personality and your upbringing which sins we each are capable of. I cannot go to another type of counselor because I live in a small town and it would be all over town before the day was over because I have to get someone to drive me there, and they all talk. I will be ok when I can move out of this house and get rid of all his things that triggers the sadness. I go for walks, but just on my property and down a straight lane with nothing on it - not even trees nearby. I live in a rural area with no sidewalks, just a busy highway in front of my house about 1/2 mile away. I will move and become more involved with church and my grandchildren. When I am with them, I don't have time for thoughts of how he treated me. My pain is repressed anger from having to just "take it" for so long. I realize that. He can't hurt me any more if I don't let him. Thanks, Elle

      Delete
    6. You're a strong woman. I hope you find peace and healing. It makes me sad that a community would gossip when someone is seeking help for a problem but I'm glad you've got someone to talk to.

      Delete
    7. ELLE thank you for saying his remorse doesn't dictate my future. your right but I never really thought about it in that way. Do you believe once a cheater always a cheater?

      Delete
    8. I was raised by a totally full blown narsistic mother. With that said, I was never good enough and could write a novel about getting over that. But I'm afraid of making the wrong decision at 60 years old. Here are reasons why I stay: I don't like to be alone. I do enjoy his companionship. He is remorseful and deeply regrets it all. His relationship with the married kindergarten teacher was not intimate or based on love. She was something to do fill his time so there was no connection and he never intended on leaving me. When I found out he turned and walked away from her without ever looking back. He has changed so much and the marriage is so much better. I would have to work longer but my lifestyle would not change because I make a shit load of money. I'm at a time when I looked forward to retirement not all this shit. His health is not good.

      There’s an uncomfortable thought process between staying and thinking about leaving after the affair. I'm staying in it but I try to grasp at how it will be ok after his sucker punch, upper cut of a grand knock out he gave me.

      My past experience with forgiveness has not been good. I separated/left My first husband three times. I forgave him four times and my forgiveness didn't mean much to him. I stupidly had the can't live without you love, the doesn't make any sense, why are you going back, "because I love him" type but I was also only 24 years old. I said I would never go through that pain again. But here I am again but the pain is much worse than what I could ever have imagined and didn't deserve any of it.

      Just for the record I lost 60 pounds and take good care of myself now. I'm having a tummy tuck and skin off the arms in December. I work with professionals and have some good friends. The professional women that are single are miserable and think of things to do to fill their time. They go home to an empty house. I don't know what I'm rambling about or why but just felt like it. Any other older women out there who left or stayed?




      Delete
    9. I am only 42 & am over 1 year past d day. From the beginning I said I would stay, although prior to d day I would always say I would divorce him if he ever cheated.

      The main reason I stayed was our kids. He has definitely changed & is more considerate to me, spends more time with the kids than ever.

      I just wrote a long post on this same blog lower down about how we are fighting right now over my at attempting to punish our son over lying, which is a definite trigger for me. I wrote down how what do I really need my husband for anyway?

      But to be honest, now that we are not speaking I miss cuddling together at nite when we go to bed, I miss kissing him good bye before he leaves for work, I miss our talks in the morning after the kids get on the bus, I miss when he would call me midday to go over our schedule for the weekend or catch me up on the days events at work. Basically I miss his companionship. & all those little habits I just listed have all occurred since d day, so maybe it wasn't ALL bad.

      On days like today I feel torn.

      Sam

      Delete
    10. Lynn,

      I definitely don't believe the "once a cheater..." adage or I wouldn't still be in my own marriage. I think there's a percentage of cheaters who never fully deal with their own cheating and who will likely continue it in whatever relationship they're in. But I think those who confront their cheating are able to learn from it and find healthier ways to handle their issues. My husband, I think, is a far happier person for having faced his own demons.
      As for whether to stay or go, I think many of us struggle with that. On the one hand, it feels as if we're saying what they did was okay if we stay. On the other, there can still be something worth saving in a relationship marked by infidelity. I think it's the old Ann Landers question: Are you better of with him or without him? Is he willing to help you rebuild to create a relationship that serves both partners' needs and wants? Is he a good person who made a bad choice? Or does he have other qualities that make him a poor partner?
      Your experience with others (ie. mom) in your life who taught you early on that your needs don't matter has undoubtedly been triggered by your husband's affair. The trick, of course, is parsing out how much of your pain is "old stuff" that's still unaddressed (and will be there regardless of whether you stay in your marriage) and how much is based on your husband's affair.
      Take some time to get clear on what you want. Don't let age dictate your choices. Sixty means there's still a lot of years to live -- do you want them to be with him by your side? Or on your own (potentially with a new partner)?

      Delete
  9. Lynn, good for you! You got treated---but what about your husband? He has the guilt remorse, sorrow, the works, but has he also had therapy with and or without you? Although yesterday was my 10 month 'eff-a-versary" TODAY is the one year anniversary of his 1st physical act. When he went out for halloween candy and came back after a blow job. This is NOT a good day for me. No matter what-it's just not. My H and i have addressed everything and it's my hardest (but not hysterical) day in months. I dont know where I would have been without MC. And if you cannot get through this, I hope he would get his ass to therapy for the both of you. Best of luck to you, at least now you know what you are worth, and you got a lot less than you deserved for two years. I am so sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  10. He was in therapy too every week. Staying is a much harder road than I thought. What I try to do on the reminder days is not a "do-over" like a competition but our therapist says to make a new memory. So instead of have Xmas at home, we are going to The north country to go ice fishing and snowmobiling. We told our kids we were skipping Xmas. At this point I have taken over my life for what I want to do. I told him he better come up with one expensive gift but I could not bring myself to buy him one. His dirty pussy kindergarten teach got more expensive gifts than me for 3 years in a row. Hell he even paid $22 for the gift wrap . What was my favorite holiday. (The only day my mom was nice to us) is now my nightmare. If I don't get some peace in my mind and get over the PTSD triggers I think it might be better to split. For our ant-versary. He got me a blue diamond cross. He said he buying me the gifts he should have all along. He is trying to make up for it all. I just don't know if it will be enough. I'm stuck.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well yesterday was an interesting day for me. I was remembering how he cheated on me with someone younger then me. Getting older sucks I'm 42 and she was 28. I have seen her before and she looks older then her age and is 100 lbs heavier then me. I try not to compare us but some days it is harder not to and yesterday was one of them. Later on that day when my husband came home from work he asked if something was wrong I lied and told him nothing. I just don't want to have to keep reminding him of the mistake he had made. I already asked him questions and got the answers I needed and felt it doesn't do me any good to ask the same things over and over. I know he does feel guilty about it and has been very supportive of me. He has been doing a lot of the house and yard work lately. I will start doing housework on my days off then end up taking naps instead. I feel some of these feelings are just ones I need to work through on my own and will improve with time. I am almost 4 months out and have noticed I don't think about her as much as I used to in the first month. I am glad the affair was very brief and he has had no contact with her since then. It does seem to help a lot to read others post and to post here to. I have been finding after I post about it I feel better. I have been doing things to just feel better about myself which seems to help. I am still going to counseling regularly too. I do have to say I'm looking forward to the holiday season too. It feels like I'm achieving a milestone by getting there. Oh and it isn't that I feel he wouldn't reassure me that he is 100% on board with making the marriage work if I expressed concerns about it.

    Jess

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jess,
      Pay attention to the fact that by treating yourself with respect, you're beginning to feel better. That's important!
      But it's also important to be honest with your own emotions. Tell him that asking you if something's "wrong" isn't helpful. Of COURSE something is wrong. Better that he assume you're hurting and offer up compassion. On days when you're feeling good, he can breathe a sigh of relief.

      Delete
  12. Your pain is still raw. My therapist said it would take between 2-5 yrs and there have been days now 27 yrs later that I can play the mind movies until I'm sick. Two am in the dark I can insert my husband and his sky slut in Denzel Washington's movie, Flight. Being on an airplane, watching FAs & pilots walking down the concourse and I still get bitter. It's ridiculous so many yrs later. We just took some trips to see our first grandchild, so when I'm reliving the past I bring up pictures in my mind of the baby.

    If possible, you can create a life for yourself. Eat Pray Love or some version of that if that's what you want and certainly at this point in life, you don't have to play The Good Wife unless you want.

    ReplyDelete
  13. My husband this morning had posted a note on our door that said thanks for loving him and staying with him. I goto work early and he goes in at 2pm. It was a very sweet gesture. Especially since I have been having some downer days. It was a nice way to start the day.

    Jess

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's amazing how easy we really are to please. Small kindnesses. Respect. Fidelity. We don't ask for much. :)

      Delete
  14. Anon? Our therapist also suggested "do overs" but calls them "reclaiming". that was impossible to do on Halloween due to work and scheduling issues, and i feel so pissed that we could not make it work. It really is the first day in a long long time i have had pretty bad issues...it's easy for me to say that it gets EASIER as time goes by--because for me it has, but I also understand people who cannot get over it. I really thought i would be one of those people, and Friday reminded me of how awful the feelings can be and how TERRIBLE l it must feel to be stuck there.

    ReplyDelete
  15. On more comment on PTSD, I seem to have bad triggers on Sunday afternoon. This time I wrote down "the anatomy of a trigger". I enter the time and exactly how I felt. I discovered it started out with his wedding ring "in you know where" then as the afternoon progressed it went on to all the things he didn't do in our marriage prior to the affair". So instead of "beating him up" I let him read it. He had no idea how I felt about, him going back to work a day after my surgery" (he didn't cate) when I took care of him whenever he was sick, he was never concerned for my safety (didn't put new windshield wipers on so I could see to drive). There are many ... It surprised him to see how my love for him got less and less as the rest net got bigger. Anyway it was a way to see just what I was thinking. Much of my anger had little to do with affair. I try anything and everything to stop the thoughts. So far it is just not one thing I try over and over with several things. PTSD is no fun. The more the damage the longer to heal. My PTSD is also the baggage I carry around which really has nothing to do with the affair. Learned that in therapy. After I started to work on me I had no idea how really I was screwed up, with or without him. My therapist said the affair was just icing and cherry on my cake. I eventually had to deal with ME. I couldn't heal until I healed ME. I'm still struggling with it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too have discovered all this buried anger and resentment I had toward my husband that had nothing to do with his affairs. One of my books calls it dead bodies rising to the surface. Basically since the worst thing possible has happened to our marriage in the form of affairs we now will bring all of our problems out into the open because compared to that, all these other problems seem trivial. I am not afraid to tell him how I resented his going out with his friend all those years without me leaving me to stay with the kids as if I were a sitter, never even giving it a second thought. I felt as though he thought it was his right & my duty. In reality, he thought not only that I didn't mind, but that I'd rather be home with the kids. What I have learned thru all of my readings is that what I think should be obvious is not obvious at all to the spouse, & it pays to point it out.

      For example, he couldn't understand why I kept asking where they went-- movies, wine tasting, a spa, & which specific restaurants. One was the melting pot, a fondue restaurant, where I had expressed an interest in going several times. He kept skirting the issue, saying why did I want to go there? Finally I told him the truth-- I don't want him to have any special places w them, anywhere that is "their place". He immediately understood & said ok, let's go. That was prob 6 mos ago & we still haven't gone, because once he saw my logic & agreed to go I didn't feel I HAD to anymore. He wasn't trying to keep that place special, he prob just didn't want to be reminded.

      Sam

      Delete
    2. Lynn and Sam,
      I discovered exactly what you two are discovering. That I had so much resentment built up that my marriage felt more like a cold war. So even though it looked, on the surface, as if everything was fine, deep down I was seething. But I kept thinking there was something wrong with me. Why couldn't I be happy? Why did I always want more? Now it's easy to see that I felt invisible to him. As if I didn't matter. It wasn't that I couldn't be happy with the material things, not to mention three healthy wonderful kids, it was that I needed a deeper connection with him but couldn't get him to meet me half-way. I simply didn't have the language to explain and, frankly, he wouldn't have understood either. We were each playing the role of "husband" and "wife". Each of us felt lonely but unable to get past our respective pain to find each other.

      Delete
    3. Wow, I think you just did a huge favor to anyone whose been betrayed and can't feel the same way about places their husband took another woman. Because I never would have thought of it that way, that rather than those be the places that are tainted, we could patron those places and ruin them from where they stood in the fantasy world of the other woman. It'd never be their place again :) thanks for that.

      Delete
  16. My husband & I have been fighting for last 2 days, not really talking, although business as usual in front of the kids. I still cook & prepare his food for him when he comes home, went grocery shopping last nite but we've pretty much been staying out of each other's way.

    Unfortunately I'm actually enjoying this. It's actually much easier than constantly talking to him & sharing what's going on in our lives. It's easier because I don't care and I don't want to care-- if we are just being co-parents & roommates rather than partners then it doesn't matter if as he's sharing his day with me he's lying to my face about where he's going & whom with. I've discovered if there's no expectation of fidelity then there can be no betrayal.

    Yesterday I wrote down a list of personal goals, things I wanted to do with my life. Don't u know with the exception of travel (because it's nice to have someone to travel with) not one involved my h. One reason I wanted to get married was to have children, but here's where my resentment comes in. I never imagined that when the kids came my socializing with my husband would stop. My social life ended but his didn't. Seems to me he got married to have kids, leave me home wih them, & he still got to go out on dates to dinner, the movies, broadway shows, wine tasting, great adventure, exhibits, a spa, (& these are just the things I know about). My thinking is at this point except for him being a father to the kids & us going to family things together, what do I need him for. He can live his life & I'll live mine.

    Funny, before this happened he always used to tell me if we got divorced or he died I would be remarried in seconds. After this whole experience I can say no way! He did what 70% of men do so chances are the same thing would happen again with another one. But now that I know what he's done I can tell u he is full of shit. He always said he would never remarry & I can tell u he wouldn't last a second because he's used to someone doing his shopping cooking & laundry. Nice to know my place in his world. I did tell him though if he ever remarried she would be after his money as opposed to me.

    Sam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sam, it sounds like your having a difficult time at the moment. This will pass. To divert your attention from your h affair start focusing on you, what will make you happy going forward whether it be a new hobby, a holiday, retail therapy or some extra sessions of counselling just for you. You probably don't recognise it but you have come such a long way from when you first posted here I have followed your journey of healing, your doing tremendously well. We all get blips in our healing and this is what your experiencing now, you will get through this your a strong minded lady. Give yourself some space/time for you figure out what you want from life and ultimately your h. Hope your feeling better, keep smiling and give yourself a pat on the back. Your amazing :)

      Delete
    2. Sam,
      There's something keeping you in this holding pattern. You're not full IN the marriage in terms of rebuilding it, but you're also not leaving it. I think it's important to take time to really figure out what you want going forward. I just don't want you to become something stuck and unwilling to make a choice one way or the other. I don't think, from what you've posted here before, that your husband makes this easy for you. He's not the model ex-cheater. But I think so much of your resentment is about your role as his partner/parent and that you feel completely ripped off. Might be worth focussing on that piece of the puzzle to determine if you can create a more equitable arrangement that allows you to feel appreciated for the work you do and guilt-free for what you don't choose to do.

      Delete
    3. To Sam A:

      Thank u so much for ur beautiful words of encouragement. I found it empowering that I have found such a large support base through this club. I think Elle for masterminding it. I have told no one, initially because I was ashamed & now simply because unless u have gone thru it yourself I don't think there is anything a non- betrayed spouse can help me with.

      Yes I have taken up new hobbies & resumed old ones. And I hope I can do even more of that going forward as my kids get older.

      To Elle, as usual you hit the nail on the head. My husband was actually teasing me this morning of how he never has to ask if I want to go to dinner or try out a new restaurant because my answer is always yes. Of course that started a mini argument. I texted him a little while later the following:

      I've told u before that it bothers me more that u dated these women: went to dinner, movies, exhibits, broadway shows & left me home w OUR kids (sort of like a babysitter) than that u slept w them. Stop rubbing salt on my wound.

      Of course this list encompasses both the supposedly emotional only affairs as well as the physical ones, because at this point it really makes no difference to me which it really was.

      Even with that text I still don't know if he gets it. But Elle certainly does. How sad is that? Maybe u have to be a woman to empathize with another woman.

      Sam

      Delete
  17. Sam again. I'm really feeling down. What started the whole fight btwn me & my husband was weds night when my son lied to me. It was something so stupid but he's the spitting image of my husband so it REALLY triggered me: how stupid can he be to lie about something so stupid. Does he think I'm stupid or crazy? Of course I know he's lying. And all of those thoughts were the same as all the times my h lied so I was pretty harsh with my son, which infuriated my h who of course didn't see what the big deal was. Of course not; he wasn't lied to for the last 10 years.

    I keep thinking maybe too much has happened to continue with this marriage. Some days the affairs are everywhere. It has changed my outlook on life, people, & the world. I feel like my h doesn't really know who I am now. I'm learning more about myself every day. How can he say he loves me if he doesn't KNOW me?

    I hold too much resentment. All these emails and voicemails from these women saying they love him, although I don't know what he responded I'm sure he said I love u to them. So was he lying to them? If so then how do I know he's not lying to me now when he says it to me?

    And as I rehash the 10 years my husband lived his life as a bachelor who happened to be married to me, I count at least 8 dates that he went on with these women (that I know of) & I have no idea how many times they went to dinner. Sounds silly getting upset over what amounts to 1 date per year. The thing is in that time he & I went to 0 movies, 0 dinners just the 2 of us, 0 dates, 0 shows, 0 exhibits,.....
    U get the picture. From where I'm coming from in my life, all that is WAY more painful than the sex. If it were just the sex is say he's a pig. Now he's a pig who leaves his wife home & has fun spending time with these women. He claims that he had to do these things with them or they wouldn't have slept with them. Maybe or maybe not. I'll certainly never know the truth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd be pissed off too -- and have been -- when my son acts like my husband (white lies, avoiding responsibility). And I come down hard on him because it's important to me to raise children who are forthright and honest and able to negotiate for what they want rather than take it and lie about it.
      That's an aside, though. You're wise in noticing that your resentment is poisoning you. But it's also telling you something really important about your marriage. You have felt invisible to him for a long time. I wonder though (given my own issues around this) if you also feel somewhat invisible to yourself. Do YOU believe you matter. Do YOU believe you're enough. I struggle with that a lot, which has made my own healing harder. I needed external love and acknowledgement because I didn't really feel it for myself. Your husband was an ass, absolutely. But (I ask this gently) why did you put up with it for so long? What message were you giving yourself that made his treatment (ie. no dates for you while he was out a lot) okay?
      Give it some thought.

      Delete
  18. Hi there. I thought I'd share a resource I find really helpful.

    http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Healing-Trauma-PTS-Health-Journeys/19

    I've listened to it a lot since my (now ex) husband's infidelity. I often play it on my mp3 player at night as I am falling asleep or in the morning if I wake up and find it hard to face the day. I am interested in whether others find it helpful too or if you have used other guided meditations?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ur absolutely right. Although anyone else looking in would think I have it all now & I seem really self confident, I was the oldest of 4 sibs. Being the oldest & the one who did great in school, it was my responsibility to tutor my dyslexic brother & help my younger sister with her homework. I actually remember my mom calling me once when I went to a friends house after school (which I never really did because I was not very popular) to come home to help my sister prepare for a test. I totally understand the importance of family & responsibility but not to the exclusion of oneself. So I was already used to sacrificing my wants to take care of someone else.

    Here I was, a pretty but nerdy inexperienced borderline socially phobic girl in med school who met this handsome smart charming flirtatious fellow student. I was so shocked that he would actually be interested in me. Maybe I was so shy & did so well in school that I scared people off. I don't know. Thru out our relationship I used to tell myself that I couldn't believe I was with HIM.

    U r right. A lot of my resentment toward him is me creating a self fulfilling prophecy for myself. I by no means am saying it's my fault he cheated; our marriage was certainly not bad at the time of the first affair. But he has repeatedly asked me why I never said anything to him about resenting being home. Although one might say it should be obvious, what I have learned from this whole experience & all of my books is to be honest & tell him what I want. He won't always guess it but if I tell him at least I'm giving him the best opportunity to fix it.

    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  20. This post really hits home. I've been having a lot of panic attacks lately. And migraines....I have never had so many migraines. Visual ones that make it hard to see or do anything. Since my husband brought his lover to our house repeatedly, I have triggers everywhere. i feel so violated. This is MY home. My children's home. I should feel safe here. Instead, I look at our pool and think of them. I see our dart board and think of them. I see plants in our yard and think of them. Almost every room. It's overwhelming. I don't know how to deal with it. I know what I am going through is normal. it's nice to know that i am not alone in my thoughts and feelings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RDM,
      Nope, you're definitely not alone. Though I'm so sorry that you're dealing with panic attacks and migraines. Are you in counselling? Is there anything you can take for the migraines?
      I also wonder if there's some way you can take back your home. Hire a painter to change the colors? Redecorate? Renovate? My home is my sanctuary and though my husband had been with her here (in the laundry room, for gawd sake), I was able to joke that the least she could have done was through in a load or two while she was there. That said, we did move our laundry to a different floor during a renovation so that helps. I will also say, however, that I haven't thought of that laundry room "thing" for years. So please know that these memories will fade and be replaced with happier ones. Your home is your HOME. Nothing changes that. She was an interloper. Like a raccoon who got into your garbage.

      Delete
  21. I think the hardest thing for my wayward husband in all of this is the realization that I now have PTSD from his betrayal. I already had the condition from an abusive childhood, and then he went and added to it. I guess the only silver lining in all of it was that I already had some practice in learning to deal with triggers, flashbacks, panic attacks, insomnia and all the other stuff that comes with the disorder.

    I highly recommend Pete Walker's book about Complex-PTSD (C-PTSD comes from exposure to extended trauma, but many of the symptoms and coping strategies are the same.) I think it has been the most important book I have ever read in my life, it has helped me that much. He also has a website with a lot of great information.

    ~Gee

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails