Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pain: Learning to shut the hell up

...Pain comes from the darkness
And we call it wisdom. It is pain.
~Randall Jarell, from 90 North

It can feel an affront, in the wake of discovering a spouse's betrayal, to be offered up platitudes. "We aren't given more than we can handle," we are told by well-meaning friends. "There's a reason for everything," we hear, knowing full well that the reason that particular armchair philosopher has in mind isn't that our husband is a morally-challenged idiot. Or, perhaps you're told, that within all this pain is wisdom. Um...gulp...that one might have been from me.
Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran "Pastrix" who has this to say about platitudes:
"...when I've experienced loss and felt so much pain that it feels like nothing else ever existed, the last thing I need is a well-meaning but vapid person saying that when God closes a door he opens a window. It makes me want to ask where exactly the window is so I can push him the fuck out of it."
Feel familiar?
Bolz-Weber goes on to explain, however, what she's figured out from working as a hospital chaplain, and being with people when they're in the worst pain of their lives – losing a child, a parent, a spouse:
 "...when...someone says something senselessly optimistic to you, it's about them. Either they want to feel like they can say something helpful, or they simply cannot allow themselves to entertain...pain, so instead they turn it into a Precious Moments greeting card.... As a chaplain, I felt that people really just needed me to mostly shut the hell up and deal with the reality of how painful it all is."
It's something so few of us understand about pain until we've experienced it ourselves. The cancer diagnosis. The death. The betrayal. And even then, some of us never learn. The continue to try and soothe us with well-meaning advice. Or quote-of-the-day wisdom.
Help, as my counsellor loved to remind me, is the sunny side of control. And control, many of us haven't quite yet learned, is what anxious people cling to because the alternative – that we're all just hanging on for dear life – is just too much to bear.
Those of us experiencing it right now? We don't expect others to fix it. We know they can't. But so much of the pain of betrayal is feeling as though we need to hide it.
Which is why those friends – in real life and in the virtual world – who can simply be with us in our pain are so valuable. They see us. Our pain is visible to them. And they respond not necessarily with advice (unless requested) but with compassion. They remind us gently that we won't always feel this way. They nudge us toward the tiniest bit of light.
As for me, I'll continue to write my experience. Some of what I've learned will sound like bullshit to you. Feel free to skip past it. As always on this site, take what works for you and leave the rest. There is no right or wrong way toward healing. There is only the way that takes each of us out of pain. If you want to share your own path, we're all ears.
Now I'll "shut the hell up" and listen.

31 comments:

  1. Priceless! I've read about Nadia before and have been so impressed by her work. She really nailed it. Thanks for posting.

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  2. Another excellent post to ponder and make sense of in my life. Just as you said, I read everything, think about it, use what I can and discard the rest...until I'm ready to digest it a little better.

    I have learned that there is no rushing the healing process. I have had to experience every single moment in order to move forward even a little bit. As I move forward, more of what you've said begins to make sense to me.

    Thank you for this website. It has helped me more than you'll ever know.

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  3. So much to say today but right now I have so little time I hope when I get home I can finish my post. It's good that I've chose to get back on here to give some updates from the happening of the past few weeks that I've been gone. My husband is in getting his 6 months today from my Dday getting his blood drawn again. I think after today we can go 6 months.

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  4. Can I add to the "shut the Hell up" list of ridiculous things to say to a betrayed wife?

    These little gems all came from my boss within ten minutes of my dday which came in the form of an anonymous phone call from the desperate OW:

    "don't over react, things like this happen all the time"

    "most married couples go through this at some point"
    (hmmm, very insightful considering he is past retirement age and has never been married)

    And, my all time favorite:

    "Your expectations regarding your marriage are unreasonably high, almost impossible for a man to live up to"

    (yep, expecting your man to be faithful is just setting him up to fail, and, all of this from a man I've worked for for almost ten years and he still didn't know my childrens' names)

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  5. Six months today I found out that my husband had been cheating on me. He came straight out after a Dr.'s advice and told me his hole sick and dirty story. I have found peace and healing but not without a horrible price. I know I still have aways to go.
    As far as no right or wrong way to heal I have to say this you have to be very careful. Lord only knows how much that I love my husband. Just like we all do or we wouldn't be here. I think I might have mentioned to everyone on here that I was hopeing that I can take my pain and help others. I knew I had to wait till I was headed but I didn't know that it was going to come so quick or at least so I thought. Around 5 or 6 weeks ago I was still searching for answers well I should have taken your word for it but I thought I could find out one more thing if only I could find the right person to ask that thought like my husband did well that did it. At least I did believed the guy when he said the worst sex that he ever had was great. From that point on I started to have one problem after another. Of course I went to the Internet for my answers. It started out just the two of us talking. He was asking me my story I trusted him but in about 3 days he had taken it to a hole new level. Well when I saw where it was going I blocked him and erased him off my computer. About the same time that I had met A. I was talking to B. I told him what I had to do and why but with him being a man I didn't go into any details. He started to ask me questions I answered them the best that I could and explained to him why I didn't want to talk about it that I was a christrian and that I didn't want to talk about it with a man. He said that he understood that he didn't want to embarrass me. He ask me what I was going to do about my husband's cheating and I told him the hole story and told him how I had been able to forgive my husband and that I loved him . This is about two weeks now. I said that I was going to take my pain to help others. He started to tell me about his wife and how he missed being close to her and how he needed someone like me to talk to that he had so much to offer someone like me. I knew I certainly didn't want anything from him and told him so. I knew that he couldn't help me but I went into detail about the pain this would cause his marriage if his wife found out that we were talking he assured me that she wouldn't find out. I agian told him what he needed to do to help his wife. I ask him if he thought that it was wrong talking to me about things like this. That was my day of reckoning. He then spilled the beans he didn't care anything about his wife or me or my husband all he wanted was his own needs met. That did it no more I was done finished I blocked him and got everything off my computer. No more! I want go there again. I'm not a councilor I haven't been to school to be a therapist. I'm sticking with women helping women. It made me sick it took me back 4 months from my own healing. I know now that for the most part they have had to have been borned with there brains in the wrong part of there bodies. I knew that he was married to another poor woman who some day was going to need us. Yes I am really coming through this well but I can't heal by helping those who's sick in the wrong head. H.has been really trying hard we are walking together almost every day and he wants me with him every day but there are things that I have to get things done around the house.
    I hope everyone is getting ready to have the best Christmas possible under the circumstances.
    Good night

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    1. Random Thoughts, Legal LassDecember 10, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      Lossing, I am glad that you posted. You haven't been around lately, I was worried about you. Sounds like you've had a tough time lately and I'm really sorry to hear about your experiences. We are here for you. Hoping things will start looking up.... For all of us.

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  6. Except for this site and my sister there is no place I can express and talk about the pain. I feel alone in my pain many times. I went to see the NP for an antidepressant medication change. I said I need something so the pain doesn't over take me but still function at work. To my surprise she said I know exactly what you need my husband had an affair 3 years ago and your the first person I have ever told. She spent the next 45 mins telling me about her pain and I understood exactly. It is sad in a way that it is shameful we can't talk more openly about our pain to others. Last Xmas on D day my kids thought I was mad at them because I was in so much pain and they could see it. My kids are great by the way. The problem is if you do tell then they say how can you stay with him? He spent your money on OW, he gave you herpes, he used you and he is capable of telling lies for 2.5 years. It is difficult to explain and there is no one who understands unless you have been through it. I grew up in a time if something was broken it was fixed not thrown away. I'm proud of my heart it has been stabbed, bleeding, in pain and broken but somehow it still works somehow. I wish the affair pain was a white crayon. Nobody uses that one.

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    1. Random Thoughts, Legal LassDecember 10, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      Lynn, my situation is the same, I have only told our son and my Mom. Neither of them are judging us, thank goodness. I wish I could tell my sister, but she would make everything harder.

      Hang in there with the rest of us. If people only knew how hard this is maybe they would be kinder and understand that our love for our husbands its truly amazing. I'm proud of all of the women in this club. There is such strength here!

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    2. Such strength indeed. Many of us have to keep our pain hidden. Which is why it's so important to have a place where you can be honest about what you're going through and know you'll find compassion and understanding and healing.

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  7. i agree with lynn. i only have one friend who has been through the same situation as i, and you beautiful ladies to talk to. this site has helped beyond words. no one understands the pain of betrayal until the one person you love more than anything does it to you. thank you all for your kind healing words. the support i have here helps me tell the pain to shut the hell up when i need it to.

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  8. Platitudes are my pet peeve. I know people mean well, but there is NOTHING you can pu t in a greeting card (such a great line) that can help, unless you are 12 and have never been ripped to shreds or heard a kind word. That is the ONLY time something so simple can help...maybe. I thought it was just me Elle, I thought it was just me who could not STAND them. I don't want to HEAR how someone's death is the start of another journey (even if I believe it) I don't want to HEAR time heals all wounds, (they leave out the part about the lasting scar), I don't want to hear everything happens for a reason,of god needed another angel or this too shall pass (again, even if I believe it) So I don't say it, and I don't want to hear it. I want someone to sit with me, let me VENT, hold my hand, just BE with me. their words mean well! but I can do without the words. let me be, let me talk, let me go through it, be my soft place to fall when I stumble. But don't try to fix it or me with something I have heard 100 times in 100 situations. But is "you are a godsend" a platitude, if so, excuse me for saying it, but yiu Elle, are. Thank you, thank you.

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    1. As is everyone here. This site has taken me such a long way in creating a different life for myself. I learn from all of you everyday.

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  9. now being 18 months post D-Day, am I the only betrayed spouse that after going through it all again and again, trying to make some sense of it all into one HUGE package that I can just put aside even for a short time, have moments that I just look at my husband and think that the only thing that will reduce my pain right now is to just punch a few of his teeth out?
    it's nothing "new" that that's he has said or done, maybe its the time of year with the holidays fast approaching or the fact that our 24th Anniversary is in a couple of days, but I have times I just think that it would be easier for both of us to heal if I just say "fuck it, I have had enough of this BS" and be done with it! I don't know, it feels like its getting harder not easier some days!

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    1. Alias,
      I would venture that it IS the time the year, the upcoming anniversary, that is making you feel as though you're backsliding.
      Quite often we experience what feels like a total regression around certain dates/times of year. This is likely triggering you -- reminding you (even if subconsciously).
      It's also pretty normal to have those "why am I still here?" moments when it seems so much easier to just leave. Why not ask yourself why are you still there? Is it still worth it? Or is it time to pack your bags? Sometimes taking the time to really focus on that makes us realize that our reasons for staying are still valid. But sometimes it becomes clear that we're the only ones actually doing any of the work.

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    2. Alias,
      No, you aren't the only one! I'm there with you. I hate it. Sure hope I'm going to get some wisdom out of this because after three years it's still very hard. But as Elle mentioned in her response, could it be because you need him to do more? That's what I have recently realized, after reading through my journals and seeing that I was saying and thinking and agonizing about the same things two and even three years ago. While I thought I was patiently waiting for him to come out of the fog and "get it," I was actually taking on too much of the responsibility for repairing this mess. Like, all of it. I suspect this is why I feel so stuck and hopeless -- I need to INSIST that he start doing the work. My husband just seems to think that time will eventually heal. I'm thinking that time will eventually drive me away from him completely if he doesnt assume true responsibility.
      Anyway, please know that others here understand how you feel! Good luck with your anniversary date. :)

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    3. Thanks for the support ladies :) in truth my husband really has taken full responsibility for all his actions, and when talking about it he just says it all comes down to him being a selfish .... and that he thought it would never hurt anyone, hhmmm.... he knows better now
      his affair lasted as best he can remember 2.5 - 3 years, then when he tried to end it ( because of his guilt and that she wasn't quite wired right) she started telling him that I should know, it's not fair to me blah blah, so kept on seeing her as "friends" but it turns out she always wanted more, she wanted my life.. this went on for 8 more years, I don't know how he did it living it that threat etc, so anyhow, there is so much and he always answers all my questions, but it is so hard to piece together, so I have asked him to tell me HIS STORY, in full truth from start to finish to try and help me understand their relationship, because in that dept. in my own mind I am loosing :( we haven't done it yet, he thinks I'm not ready and the time is never right, I think that is my decision, I am not sure it will make or break us, but it has to be better than sitting and wondering isn't it??? Has anyone else done this and what was the result?

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    4. I think it is fair to have your questions answered by him even if it is painful. He should make time to talk about it and answer questions. We may never be able to fully understand why the relationship happened but it would make it really hard to move forward without the honesty. I can tell you my husband did sit down with me multiple times to answer my questions. I didn't need intimate details but needed to know his feelings about the ow and to know if I was plan b if it didn't work out. His affair was short lived thank goodness it lasted about 2 months. I can't imagine what you must be going through with how long he kept in contact with her. He does need to help you through the healing process though and make time to do it even if it causes him pain to do so. Are you 2 in any type of marriage counseling because that helps too.

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    5. I think, if you want to hear the whole story, it should be done in the context of a marriage counselling session -- a relative "safe" space with an objective person who can keep it on track. There are things that you can never unhear or unknow...but that do nothing to help you heal.
      And yes, I think it's crucial to see that your husband is taking serious steps to understand the choices he made. What allowed him to make choices that hurt his relationship? What was he thinking? What stories was he telling himself? Without evidence that he's learned something more than "don't do that again", it can be hard for you to move forward. You want to see that he recognizes the red flags, that he's aware of the weakness in himself that led him down that path. Affairs are very rarely about just sex -- they're almost always about escape and distraction and an inability to handle life's painful feelings.

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  10. OMG, Elle! Preach, Sister!
    This is priceless! Sometimes when I revisit a post on my blog, some of the well meaning words (a euphemism for Bull Shit) I have written, especially in the replies to a reader in the comments, make me swallow hard! I am no fan of dime-store therapy! Yet...I find myself vomiting syllables filled with false comfort when I KNOW my words can never soothe that kind of pain. When many readers reach out, I feel so inadequate, but I want to comfort them. New flash...It ain't about me!
    I never thought I'd feel so good about someone telling me to "Shut the Hell Up".
    So...thanks!
    Hope & Hugs, Shawn

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    1. Yup. Guilty as charged. And though I really do believe a lot of it (it has been true for me), I know that it can be really hard to hear. That's the challenge, huh? To know when to say to a friend "me too" and sigh together. And when to offer up a pep talk. Both are legit, depending on what's being asked for.

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  11. i saw this quote the other day... and thought it was appropriate for all of us:

    "Sometimes smiling is the greatest act of defiance, and sometimes asking for help is the most meaningful act of self reliance. sometimes, the best medicine is just to laugh until you cry, and sometimes the greatest wisdom comes from accepting that you will never know why. sometimes just going to bed is the best antidote to trials and tribulations, and sometimes just being blessed to get up and face it all for one more day is worthy of celebration."
    -unknown

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  12. Thank u to yet another anonymous member of our club for another wonderful inspiring post.

    Sam

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    1. thank you sam. i look through quotes (daily) to help me through the day, and this one rang in my heart! we are STRONG, stronger than any single one of us know. xo.

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  13. My friend, one of our sister's, where were we when this poor sister needed us? Well probably some of us wasn't even borned yet. I have to say that I was borned but I was very young. I wonder how it didn't make the top gossip column or was I just to small to know.
    Week before last I had a complete melt down. Crazy huh I couldn't explain it. All week long I almost felt like I was back to day one. I know everytime it gets about time for another blood draw it gets pretty rough. Anyway last Sunday night after church I got two good friends that I knew had been through this before but not putting either one on the spot I invited them out to eat. One dear friend knew my story and the other one I had never told. The one I mentioned above. We ate and after we got finished I plowed right in.
    I will address the one that knows as A and the one that doesn't as B. A & B knows each other well but neither knows about the affair partner. I have talked to A in details but for mouths I've skirted around B. Of course I didn't want to divulge what A had told and since I didn't want B to know anything that I knew about her I kelpt it all about me. As we sat there and talked I was telling the girls the way that I was feeling. I explained how I didn't know if I could go on feeling this way. Thankfully A told me in about two seconds what my problem was she told me it was fear. She said the anxiety and fear of the unknown was my problem she told me that the constant feeling that I was having was stealing all my peace. I knew she was right. We visited a few minutes longer then we went home. Mrs. B was riding with me so when I got her back to her car I ask her if she was in a hurry she said no so we set and talked. I told her that I knew she had to know something bad had been going on with me all summer. She said yes that she knew. So I told her my story. She broke down in tears her heart was breaking. She said that I was the only person that she had ever told at church. She's 79 years old. She said when her only son was 14 she found out her husband was cheating on her he was living with a woman in our home town. He had been having an affair for about three years. Her grandson is 26 now. Her husband came back to her but from the time her son was 14 her and her husband has never slept in the same bed together. She said she had never told another person in our church except me. I'm not going to say anything to anyone but I already knew my brother told me about it years ago. I am her good friend & I cut her husband's hair we talk often on the phone. I'm not trying to analyze them but in all my life I have never saw any two people as unhappy as they are in my life. I think over the years they have destroyed each other. Her husband is really ill. He has diabetes, heart problems and other bad health issues. So, so sad. They have lived there hole lives both broken hearted. I hope this story will bring someone true peace.
    My husband and I have, at least I pray that we have found peace. I know that I've completely forgiven him. I love my husband I try to focus on all the good that he does and I try not live in the past.
    I'm looking for the Dr. to call one day this week who knows if we don't get good news it might all comes back in vengeances. All we can do is live for the moment and trust God that he's in control. Which He is.

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  14. That is so true about the bull sh*t you hear post d day especially from well meaning people who don't know what to say. There really isn't much that can be said to make you feel better from those who have not experienced it. It felt alot like when my father died when d day happened which was only a few months prior to that. You take it one day at a time and hope you don't burst out in tears throughout the day especially in public places or at work. It has been 6 months since and I am happy that the tears have lessened but I still find I need to be alone at times with my own thoughts of it all. You ladies who have been through the affair as well please don't stop your encouraging words they really do help give me a ray of hope. Your words mean more then the well meaning friends since you've been through it unlike them. I have been taking your advice and that of my counselors by doing things for myself and thinking about what I want. I am exercising again, eating better, getting my manicures/pedicures, and hobbies as well. I have been using this website as a means to let out my feelings about the affair which seems therapeutic. It helps to read others posts as they are going through the healing process as well.
    Jess

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  15. I am new to this blog but really need some help. My husband had a six month affair about two years ago. At first he was unwilling to stop communicating with her I think he was really unsure of what he wanted. He was distant away from home a lot hiding his phone. Little by little I began to trust him again not 100% but he became accountable and present. His behaviors changed. However post affair the ow constantly contacted me via social media and by calling from all different phone numbers. She wanted to either tell me she was still talking to my husband or ask why I was still with someone like that. Just making me relive all the old information nothing new ever presented. I changed my number and media names all except one. I just felt like I was afraid to close all doors. Communication has been less frequent but most recently now two years later she is posting things to either tell me she is talking to my husband or to make me think she is. I need to know had some one else experienced the ow remaining in contact all these years later .... I mean she obviously hasn't moved on or they really are still continuing the affair. Help!!

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    1. She is toxic, whether or not they're continuing their affair. Do you have access to all his electronics? Can you verify in any way if they're in contact? What does your husband say about this?
      Have you considered calling the police and reporting harassment? Did your husband ever send her a no contact message to make it clear that she's to leave you both the hell alone?
      I can imagine how off balance you must feel. But step one is determining if she's telling the truth or lying. And assuming she's lying, step two is making sure she understands that she is to stop all contact or face harassment charges. Honestly...these women are nuts.

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  16. Please has anyone had experience with the ow continuing to contact you to either tell you she is still talking to your husband or to tell you that you shouldn't be with him? Does this generally mean they are still contacting each other? My husbands behaviors have gotten better since the affair like currently I would not have assumed he was doing anything he is present at home accountable and doesn't hide his phone. But obviously this girl hasn't moved on and I don't understand why

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  17. Rudy Perry: Does your husband know she's contacting you? She is probably just trying to rattle you. I believe that if she had proof of contact (i.e., emails, photos, etc.), you would have seen it as quickly as she could have thrown it in your face. My husband ended his shortly after it began; it lasted about three weeks, which included two weeks of him listening to her threats cause he wanted to call it done. Its been over for three months, he has had absolutely no contact but she is now using her husbands cell phone to call our home and hang up. These types of women are desperate, pathetic people. How the Hell do they get so attached? I can't figure that out, they're just broken, maybe Don't let her mess up what you two are trying to rebuild. Good luck to you.

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  18. My therapist said no contact no matter what. We had drive by's and phone calls. It is like a child who doesn't want to go to bed any positive or negative contact is still attention. I do think it is a long time out to still be in contact. My husband and and I talked in details why she still would be trying to contact him. I trust but verify. I don't believe anything he says. I ask my husband did he make promises to lead her on? Not to be a downer but I would check all sources of my husband's communication just for peace of mind. If he is least bit hesitant about sharing then a red light should go off.

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    1. Trust but verify should be the golden rule for the first few years at least.

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