Monday, April 27, 2015

Outgrowing your pain

So often, in the early days/months post-betrayal, we ask the unanswerable: When will I be over this? Sometimes it's our exasperated spouses (those, who, ahem, created this shitstorm) who ask us. Sometimes it's our bewildered friends. But mostly, it's us. Within that question is, of course, the fear that we won't ever be over this. That this is our new normal. That pain is the new black.
What we forget when we're in agony, however, is that what we're experiencing is a normal response to emotional trauma. We're having feelings...and feelings are not facts.
What I mean by that is that feelings are transient. And yet, while nobody expects to feel happy every day of their lives, we often accept that we might feel misery every day of our lives. We skew toward negative emotions, far more convinced of their truth that that of positive emotions.
I was convinced that, post D-Day, I would never again experience even a minute of joy. I imagined myself donning a mask for the rest of my life, one that hid my genuine and relentless distress. Joy? That was for people who'd never been cheated on.
And yet...here I am. Able to experience that wide range of emotions that make up the human experience, including joy. Including peace. Including hope.
What changed? Well...not much. And everything.
To paraphrase Carl Jung, the greatest problems in life are generally not solved, but outgrown.
Sure my husband and I have devoted a great deal of time and energy to rebuilding our relationship. Sure I've spent countless hours on this site, reading your stories and sharing your pain, commiserating with you and virtually holding your hand in shared agony. But despite all that work, I haven't really "solved" anything. And, with due respect to Jung, I haven't outgrown it so much as grown into it.
I've incorporated the excruciating experience of betrayal into my larger life. Where I once thought it was the defining experience of my life, I can now see that it's one of the defining experiences of my life. No more important than becoming a mother. No more important that burying my mother. No bigger a part of me than my role as wife, as daughter, as friend, as mother, aunt, sister, writer, blogger.
That day will come for all of you. You can hasten it by doing your work, which includes keeping your heart soft even as it wants to harden against future pain. You can beckon it by taking good and gentle care of yourself.
But, I promise, the day will come when you are not simply a "betrayed wife" but someone who has survived betrayal. Someone who has outgrown that pain and grown from it. Wiser, stronger, more compassionate. Better able to appreciate the joy, having wondered if you would ever feel it again. But knowing that joy, like misery, doesn't last forever.

80 comments:

  1. Oh God Elle yes! This is exactly it! I thought that I too would wear a mask, never feel anything approaching happiness or joy or even normal in the days, weeks, months followng d day. How could I EVER feel anything not tainted with this crushing pain of betrayal. But life goes on and life brings other joys (and challenges) and every now and then you get to experience how you felt in the early days and it reminds you of far you have come. So yes the betrayal will always be there but in time it takes it's proper place, which is "something horrible that happened" past tense. It can rear its ugly head but it cannot and we must not let it take center stage and get all if the attention all of the time. Life becons and time moves and the betrayal might follow us but we don't keep it upon the mantel in the living room to look at ALL the time. It's too exhausting. Easy(ish) to say now but impossible to imagine for a good long while.

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  2. Dear Elle -

    Please get out of my head! I do not know how you do it, but you always seem to blog about exactly where I am at and what I need.

    My D-Day is coming up on two years and I don't feel any true joy. I still think about what happened every single day. Yes, there are now days in a row that I don't talk about it with my husband. He takes this as a good sign. But, there are many days he doesn't know how I weep in private. How I wake up at 3:30a.m. and can't get back to sleep - worrying - not just about the affair, but how I can't handle stress or any disappointment anymore without feeling like I am going to throw up and wanting to die - sometimes begging to die.

    Thank you for reminding me that maybe someday I will make it through.

    Anonymous

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    1. Anonymous,
      At two years, I think I was just beginning to come up for air. I'm sure it seems like a lifetime. (And I was about to respond with a comment suggesting that, perhaps, you seek a counsellor to help you through this...which might not be a bad idea.) But it was at two years that, I think, I began to see that there was indeed light at the end of the tunnel.
      The key, I think, is holding on to those little slivers of, if not joy, then at least respite from pain. Any time you notice yourself actually relaxing, maybe even enjoying...pay attention. Those slivers of light will lead you out. For me, it started one day when I was walking my dogs and it was snowy and the sunlight was shining and the snow was sparkling and my heart opened just a crack. But it was enough to assure me that it was possible to feel something other than pain.
      I would urge you to tell your husband that you're still struggling. And I would urge you to seek out a counsellor. Sometimes the trauma of betrayal spreads to a larger fear. It happened to me and, like you, I was in a fairly constant state of dread. The tiniest disappointment felt unbearable. My life felt incredibly fragile.
      It's an illusion. You're far stronger than you give yourself credit. But you might need help excavating that stronger self. Seek it.

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  3. Wow, this really spoke to me, shouted, screamed to my heart. To all, this is the absolute truth. It takes a lot of time to get here with hard work, excruciating hard work. My husband put me through hell with a 2 year affair with a kindergarten psycho teacher. Then I proceeded to put him through hell, screaming, acts of violence, make him cry several times a day, I can shake his core in a matter of minutes and wanting him to feel a small portion of my pain. I made his self esteem, everything he thought about himself take a nose dive into hell. Then I started to work on myself and I'm still working on my self-esteem. There are no drive-by solutions like picking up a hamburger or medication. But now I see what happened as a bad experience in my life. Like losing my grandmother, my daughter diagnosed with an incurable chronic disease etc... There are many days I lost hope. The largest part was my husband was willing to do anything to save our marriage and I mean anything. I don't have all my questions answered, the versions change, I still hurt, I'm still in pain. Even though I know how we got to that point it doesn't change the memories or movies that randomly pop into my head. My therapist keeps telling we will get to the point where this affair is just a bad memory. My hope is by working on myself, my self-esteem, fear of abdandoment, not being good enough it won't matter what happens in the future because I will be strong in myself, my values and know who I am. I cannot stop him from lying or having another affair. He knows this is his one shot, one chance he will not get another. But if another shit storm comes my way, I'll handle it just like I'm doing with this shit storm.

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    1. Lynn,
      You're absolutely on the right track. By working on you and finally putting to rest all those demons that have dogged you your whole life, you'll not only heal from his betrayal, you'll be healing some ancient wounds. Doesn't mean life will be roses and sunshine (never is!) but it does mean that you'll be better equipped to handle whatever comes your way with integrity and a trust in yourself.

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    2. Lynn, I just have to tell you how much I laugh whenever I read kindergarten psycho teacher. I know you're perfectly serious about that title for her, but it's one of the most creative labels I've seen for the OW.
      C.

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    3. Lynn,

      Thanks I needed that. I'm a screamer and a thrower of glass objects - the walls run when I come into a room. Not much glass left in the house. Thanks to the peer counselor and my therapist and now HIS therapist who is doing couples therapy with us once a week - I'm still in one piece. Boiling inside - yes. Lots of explosions last week.

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  4. Dear Elle, Steam, Lynn, all......

    Beautiful, agonizingly tender, yes oh yes......everything being said here. It will be 5 years this May since the "Discovery" and for us working together for the first time - as a couple. All up hill hard and fierce work, inward - inward, pushing - pulling at information and opening my hands over and over from fists....opening them again. Rocking in a ball on the floor saying over and over "Pain, Pain, Pain," until it would go away or subside enough for me to "function". I'd often think of a Racoon on the shore washing bits of food.. watching the way I'd go over and over..... what I saw as our family field burnt to the ground and everything in ashes as I was sorting through the hot coals... (family history) and piecing together facts, information and bits of what's been shattered and torn. Mending what could be restored of my family by weaving us back together. .

    The other day I was suddenly startled - to realize that I was smiling at someone's baby? An adorable infant was looking into my face and I was responding (positively and appropriately). Because for these past 5 years when I saw young mothers and infants all I'd do is start to well up in tears would start to fall and I'd have to leave quickly and go somewhere private to curl into a ball of gutted pain remembering myself and my babies.....(when I didn't "Know," what was "really," going on around me).

    Like that sunlight on snow those moments brilliant or gentle. Healing "ancient wounds" becomes a privilege because I could have lived a lifetime in that "adultery bubble." Called a "Fog" of hell. Can't stop anything but yeah sisters "I feel Ya" another "Shit Storm like this?" and I'm going to call for and ride upon fire breathing Dragons!

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    1. V,
      I want you to hang on to that "baby" moment like a life raft because that's what will lead you back into the sunshine. I spent too many years doing the same thing -- weddings, new babies, "happy" families -- I'd think to myself "just you wait...". What bitterness! Blech.
      But my story won't necessarily be their story. And if it does become their story, then I'll be ready to hug them and assure them that they'll be okay.
      So glad you had that realization, V. Onward...

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  5. I really needed this today. I'm always amazed that when I need to check in, there's another gem for me to read. I had been feeling like I could begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel last week when I went for my IC session. I walked in just fine, feeling hopeful, then walked out totally depressed and feeling as though I hadn't made the progress I thought I had. It's taken me several days to deal with that, with some help from my H, who listened to me and helped me. I've been outside working in the yard a lot, which has kept my mind off of things and tonight, while H was at a job, went to a cafe to grade papers and eat supper...and I became conscious of an old Chicago song playing...stopped and thought- yes- only the beginning of what I want to feel forever. It made me feel good- something I haven't felt for quite a while. And I thought, I AM getting better! I CAN see a sliver of light! And then I came here, and there was this wonderful post. While I know I'm not through this - and frankly, I suppose we are never "through" it- I now have a truly hopeful experience and feeling that is MINE and that I can have to hold onto. And here's the really good part- I had to remove my H's ringtone (Just You 'N Me, 'cause obviously, it wasn't just him and me) after D-Day...but tonight I thought- maybe this is his new ringtone- Only The Beginning.
    C.

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    1. C,
      I sometimes found that when I had my weekly sessions. I'd think I was doing great...and then I'd start talking and all this bottled up pain would pour out. And I'd think I hadn't progressed at all and it was all hopeless and why did I bother and...
      My therapist explained what she calls "recycling". It's not regressing, it's that sometimes we have to circle the same stuff over and over until it finally clicks. Therapy isn't some magic balm to remove the pain, it's a safe place where we can sift through it and, ultimately, move past it. And, like you, sometimes a few days later it would be like a fog had lifted and whatever had been weighing on me had been worked out.
      Healing isn't a straight line. It's up and down and all around. But you'll get there.
      Hang on to that awareness that you felt light and happy, even if briefly. That's your reminder that it's possible. And that can grow.

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    2. Definitely a day to hang onto my little sliver of hope...
      To clarify- the rough IC session was not so much about recycling (although I've done more than my fair share of that) as it was about what I'm starting to call jack-in-the-box moments. All of a sudden, from feeling as though I was recovering a bit, I was reminded (by my counselor) that I had issues of being second best, loss of identity, and low self-esteem. So, yes, I do...but I didn't want to deal with that at that particular moment and all of a sudden, there it was, in my face, and pow!- back to the cellar.
      That's what's kind of new...these unexpected moments where I go from feeling good to the basement because something unexpected pops up- jack-in-the-boxed. They're happening quite a bit this week- just glad I have this place to come and say what I need to and get encouragement from everyone else's successes- small or big.
      C.

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  6. I don't look at this site every day or even every week because I'm afraid the emotions it will stir up.However, when I do I am never disappointed and it is always a post exactly about what I was struggling with.
    My husband keeps saying lets just move forward, like it's just as easy as putting one foot in front of the other and it's not. He keeps telling me my discovering his affair "saved him". The problem is I do not believe it was ever my place to save him from himself. I grew abused and for so long that defined my life and now this feels like it is as well. Thank you for giving me hope that this too can come to end. I am beyond grateful for all of the women on this site who give me such hope.

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    1. I'm glad you checked in. I think often our husbands just can't understand what's taking so long. And I also think that for many of them, the discovery of the affair is what frees them. But it imprisons us until we find a way to unlock ourselves.
      Do you have an outlet for working through all the abuse and pain you're in? A therapist? Someone you can talk to? The only way out of this is through it.

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  7. Joy...that is exactly what is not part of my life any longer. There is nothing I find joy in. And I feel awful saying that. It's been alittle over 2 years since my dday. I'm with my husband, trying to 'work things' out. One minute I'm hopeful and in the same minute I think I'm an idiot for even considering hope!! I am so stuck in confusion and sadness.

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    1. DonMar,
      I think a lot of get stuck around two years. We figure it's been long enough that we should we getting past this...but, in healing time, it's really not that long. The first year or more is often just getting past the shock.
      Are you in couples counselling or seeing an individual therapist? Sometimes we get stuck when it feels as though the world has moved on...and we haven't. We get to a place where the pain isn't so severe, but we haven't yet replaced it with anything but numbness. Push through. Is there a reason (beyond fear) that makes you wonder if you're an idiot? Is your husband doing everything it takes? Are you able to regain respect for him? For some people, an affair simply becomes a deal-breaker no matter how badly they wish they could make it work. Where does the "hope" come in? Is it rooted in reality -- ie. you can see how good things can be once the raw pain is less? We have to be careful our "new" marriage is built on more than wishful thinking. We really do have to create a second marriage with our first husband.
      Give it some thought and see if you can cut through the confusion.

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  8. I just discovered your site recently. I so get what you are saying here. The pain will always be a part of the fabric of our life, but not the entirety of it. I find myself now "stuck in mediocrity." I no longer spend my days and nights crying, but I am afraid to feel happiness too. I am afraid to once again be vulnerable. I know it is time, after almost three years, to take that step. But, it is a damn hard step to take. As with everything in this life as of late (maybe always), it is a work in progress. . . TigerLily xx

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    1. Tiger and Mindless, I'm also afraid of trusting again or feel true happiness. I'm in a cycle, I start feeling better then I get frightened, feel like I'm going to be abandoned or rejected so I go back to the affair, mind movies and let the thought roll by me into misery. Then he needs to feel my misery which I freely share with him. Then he gives me the extra whatever I need at the time to get better. My therapist said to me - Ok you can't stop him from lying and your worrying so much your missing out on what you have. She said I can't control anything he does or decides to do. She said you have a plan if he messes up. (Leave his ass) You know you can get by without him because I already did for years, so enjoy what you have now. She said I will know if he messes up because we are so connected now. We are having more fun than ever. We talk about serious shit everyday. He talks about his feelings. We really fight now instead of storing up resentments. For the most part it is good if I will let it be good. So I'm trying to live in the moment, live right now. It is damn hard your right about that but i keep thinking ok if he messes up I have a plan so why worry in the meantime? im trying to think that way at least for this week.
      Also I never realized how far back MY ISSUES started in our marriage. I could write a book on that alone what I'm discovering about me put into context as it relates to the early days of our marriage.

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    2. I hope this doesn't end-up being a 20th post, I've had such trouble. Whenever I hit publish it seems to go to preview. Will give this one more go.

      Lynn, I do think that safety goes a long way where trust is missing. Without concrete measures of safety, I don't think I would even be as far as I am in this process. I have the polygraph, the post-nup, the fine details worked-out with MC about setting the kids and I up back "home" should I decide divorce is the best path forward. These things have certainly taken away one of fears (fear of what would become of the kids and I should we divorce). This has given us a freedom to try for R, not out of fear of divorce, but rather out of a choice to attempt to R. Still, while this takes away some of the fears, it does not take away the fear of getting hurt again. With the measures of safety firmly in place, I know I need to move to a place of finding happiness within myself, regardless of what happens with Mindless. This is such an important point, I think your therapist made such a good point. Still, so much easier said than done, isn't it? I will not take ADs, though I know they are helpful to many. I saw my Mother fall into a pit of despair, one she was never able to escape, with an addiction to ADs and painkillers and it is too big of a fear for me to go there. I do know that exercise is so mind lifting, but I have been so lacking motivation. I just started going back to the gym again. And, it does help my mind. But, this is a work in progress. As much as Mindless works to give me safety, the foundation necessary to even begin to build trust, I still need to find something within myself to give myself permission to risk living again, to not use the fear of getting hurt as a mechanism to avoid taking the risk to live again. So not easy, but working toward it. No matter what happens we will be ok, that doesn't mean we cannot be hurt again by something, someone, anything out there. That is true, no matter the path forward. I don't want to live as a zombie anymore, afraid the pain of what life brings might be too much. Now, putting theory into practice. Damn, why is that so hard?!

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    3. Lynn and TigerLily,
      I think working through that fear is the work we're meant to do. It's incredibly hard work when we've been traumatized to keep our hearts open enough to actually LIVE life. But it sounds as if you both of you are committed to doing that. Two steps forward, one back, perhaps. But focus on keeping your hearts soft enough to acknowledge the progress you're making. Too often we focus on what we DON'T have (a husband who's always been faithful) instead of focusing on what we do have (a chance to rebuild a relationship with a man committed to being faithful now). We grow, we learn, we inch forward. With him or without him, this is work we would need to do.

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  9. Really, Really needed this...Thanks to all of you for just being here for all of us who are just at the beginning of this journey....Only second time posting, but I am thankful for each and every one of you on this site..

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  10. On the eve of my birthday, five years after the first d day I can say I have finally refound a sense of peace and happiness. It has been hard won, come at great emotional and financial cost, but so worth it. It is also without my husband; sometimes trust cannot be won back and your heart and soul, and those of your children, need protection from the husband and father they once loved.

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    1. Anon,

      sometimes there is just too much damage after an affair to heal. And in my opinion the job of a mother is to protect her children and you felt you needed to do that, so blessings to you cause that took course I'm sure. The important thing is how your children process it I think any therapist would say. Given I lived the first 12 yrs of my life in hell with a mentally ill father I can say it is much better for children to get out of bad marriages. Give yourself credit that you made the best decision you could with the hand you were dealt. Wishing you peaceful thoughts and continued healing.

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    2. Please share you story Anon at 10:11 am.

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    3. Such a long process; perhaps the only truly honest thing my husband said to me in the second half of our 20 year+ marriage was when he told me very defensively on the first D Day that our 'marriage was a sham'. I didn't find out how prophetic that comment was until just before Xmas 14 when I found evidence that the unfaithfulness may have gone on, with multiple affairs, from as early as 1996 when our second child was born. Far from ending on Day D I also discovered the affair went on in secret for another three years; years during which we had counselling and remained married. He also spent the money set aside for our children's college education and more against our home. Strangely, finding the depth of his betrayal finally liberated me - it was stealing from my children's education fund that did it. He had broken my heart in a way I could never have imagined, but I tried to endure that for the good of the family. I could not endure him doing the same to our children. We are good now :) poorer, yes, but rich in the knowledge that we now know the truth and still have each other.

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    4. Anon,
      Thank-you so much for sharing your story. It's so important that we all realize there isn't a "right" way out of this. I also think it's important to hear from women who've left the marriage and achieved peace and happiness. Liberated indeed!

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  11. Thank you for so compassionately being spot on. There's an internal bell that goes off when one hears/reads the truth. I'm 5 and a half months into this and happiness is a far off illusion. I'm now at the stage where I see photos of myself 5 months ago and all the light has vanished from my face and eyes and I wonder how I was making it through the days, but somehow I did. I have moments of neutrality, but most of the moments are still filled with hurt, sadness, fear and confusion. I show up to work, do my work well, have moments of being present with another human in their pain/suffering and the second that's over, I resume my new normal and that new normal is sucking the life out of me. And to anonymous, I couldn't agree with you more. I too am so truly grateful for this site which makes me feel connected and not so isolated.

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    1. V,
      It took me a long time for that light to come back on. I even had a friend who knew nothing about what I was going through ask me what was wrong because "the light has gone out of your eyes." I almost wept but put on my brave face.
      This is part of healing. Being gentle with yourself. Acknowledging the deep pain you're feeling. And trusting that it won't last forever. I promise that.

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  12. wow! whoever is the first to make the statement "experience is the best teacher" must have gone through a lot. reading through this post i see the truth in the above statement. it can be maddening to see all the care and trust you put in your marriage betrayed. no matter what anybody is facing, the light of hope should never be put off. even though the pain and agony in your heart tend to shut all doors of hope, please do not let go. i sincerely appreciate you for letting us know that betrayal is not really the end. thanks a million!

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  13. I am 1 year post first DDay and 8 days post Dday #2- not new affair but the truth about the true nature of the affair-how long, what it actually was. Not that my husband was the one to tell me, I had to find it all out myself, then he came clean and I am hoping that there is no more....not that there is much more that could come out. I have to say that while I was prepared for there to be more, I had no idea how much more and while I thought I could handle the more, here I am more traumatized than the first time around. Am I surprised that there was more- no. I honestly think its the combination of just how much more there was and more importantly the constant lies. I understand what he says about living in terror that I would find out the rest and that I would not be able to stay with him, I get it, however, after everything he has already put me through, I deserved the truth. I deserved to know the depth of the betrayal as well as just how much my health may or may not have been put at risk. This should not have been something that he had a say in. I find myself looking at him, wondering what happened to the man I married almost 28 years ago and wondering if I even knew who he was when I married him. Who knows. We have been together so long that I think he lost himself. I am happy that he now wants to find out what happened to him however, I am at a spot where I don't know if what he did will be too much for me to live with. With or without him, I have to learn to live with it. He asked me something this morning "After everything I have done to you, how can you still make love to me?" My answer was that I love him....however it is a struggle. Not because I don't love him or question my love for him, its because the constant visions. It is the deepest pain I have ever felt. This second time around even more so. The flip flopping in my head while we make love while I have visions of them together is seriously driving me mad and makes me want to vomit. I honestly don't know how I am able to enjoy it. I have had a years worth of time to learn how to try to push the visions aside but it is no longer working. I wonder if this time will prove to be impossible or if its true time will heal the wounds. I don't see it myself. I believe that I can get to a point where I will live a fairly happy life with him but I also believe that I will still be angry and hurt carrying daily visions. I read about those on the board that say it gets better....I sure hope it does because this has been hell. A hell I didn't think could exist. Is it just me or is it worse when they can't tell you why they did it?

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    1. My husband did the same thing! He lied to our therapist and me about the affair with psycho kindergarten teacher. I found out as well by looking at earlier bank statements. It didn't last 10 months but 2.5 years, he took her out of town and bought her a hell of a lot more than what he said. Unbelievable he would sit there and lie to the therapist and I about the timelines. It took me right back to day one and I called the divorce attorney. Yes, I relived the trauma again, thought loops, movies the entire trauma again. My husband was trying to control me. Through therapy only did I get through this, it was only 1 month ago I decided to stick with him. I told him he had to at least go to therapy once a month to figure out the why and if I he was ever dishonest again then bye bye. He now has a laundry list of pages of various reasons why he did it. None of the excuses/reasons are good enough but I have a general understanding. He also knows now he has a problem with avoidance of everything that might upset anyone including the 59 year old sorority retired psycho teacher he just couldn't break it off while he was getting weekly BJ's and more. I'm sorry but his new revelation of truth it starts the hell all over again. Give yourself some time until your sure in your heart what you want. You have to be honest with him and tell him how this new information has devastated you and started the pain cycle again. I let it all hang out and he took it and learned from it that I'm not going to put with his shit lies, omissions or avoidance. Throw a hissy fit. Figure out what you want, if he wants you he will stick with whatever you throw his way. It is so not fair, did he really think you wouldn't find out? Lies always surface and he needs to know that and stop trying to control you. You need to get stronger so no one can control you in that manner. I don't know you but I can tell you are strong.

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    2. The agony of trickle truth. Just when we think we can exhale...there's more.
      I'm so sorry Anne and Lynn. Anne, perhaps making love with him isn't in the cards right now. In some ways, it can be healing. But if it's triggering disgust and pain, then maybe it's time to let him just hold you. To re-establish intimacy.

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  14. Update on my separation…i'm dealing with a great deal of anxiety ... it comes and goes. Not so good at the 180… Or should I say I'm good sometimes and sometimes not so good. I have reached out to my husband twice recently when I was exceedingly anxious. He admitted to me that he too was having a difficult time and at least 100 times he picked up the phone and wanted to call or text me, but didn't. why didn't he? Because like he said he wanted the separation…I am traveling for business this week and although I have traveled alone several times and typically enjoy it… I found this time, with the stressors of the affair and the separation, to make my level of anxiety very difficult just before and at the start of the trip… I did reach out for support from friends and family and was given a lot of it. Yet when I got here to the hotel I felt exceedingly anxious again and that's when I called my husband again. it's such a Catch-22 you don't want to look needy and anxious and clingy yet you also want them to know that this is not easy and that you in fact do miss them and "need" them. And frankly, for me, when I speak my truth, what's in my heart… then my anxiety escapes me. So, if occasionally speaking my truth and representing my true self is going to be detrimental to my getting back together with my husband… Well, I guess it's going to have to be that way. I also recognize that it is my job to work on my anxiety because it will not serve me in this relationship, or the next, if this relationship does not work. And, I do know that and actually doing very well it is been 2 1/2 weeks at one point when I spoke with my husband and I said I am doing very well and he said yes, perhaps too well ... So, here's to getting myself some kudos and to recognizing I have a long way to go…just thought I would share about the traveling anxiety, unusual for me… So that if anyone of you travel on your own and feel this I was told by my peer counselor that it is normal. Okay, hugs all I'm going to do my best to sleep tonight

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    1. Melissa,
      You are so brave!! I hope you give yourself credit for how incredibly well you're doing with something that's a huge challenge for you.
      You might also want to consider journalling when you're anxious. It can be a really helpful way to get all that pent-up anxiety out. And I'm so glad your friends/family are able to support you through this. They're probably proud of you too!

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  15. This site is so powerful for helping all of us heal. Sharing our stories and our pain gives us light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what the outcome we know we will survive this as so many of you already have. I am 18 months from D Day and while I have had happy moments and joy. I still suffer so much pain and so many triggers and doubts.
    I want to share my recent doubts and ask if anyone else has shared a similar situation whose marriage has survived. I need a little hope right now, as I'm losing some faith. So, here's some of my story. My husband and I have been together 31 years and he had a 2 year affair and its been 18 months from D day and the end of the affair. My husband has shown so much remorse and has been working on himself and on our marriage. The problem I have and what causes me so much pain still is that while he has told me he loves me. He also said he loved her and he feels alot of guilt for hurting her too. He was forced to tell me and abruptly end things with her, when my friend caught him. He had been trying to end things with her for a long time, but couldn't do it. Several times when he tried she threatened suicide and threatened to tell me. I know these things because I read every email between them, including ones from him telling her he couldn't hurt me anymore and still loved me and I found several letters he drafted but didn't send to her. I believe part of him didn't want it to end and he used her suicide threats as an excuse for not leaving her. My problem is that I thought once we started working on our marriage and understanding the affair that he would realize that he really wasn't in love with her and what they had wasn't real. I need for him to tell me that she doesn't mean anything to him, but he can't tell me that. I have an overwhelming feeling that he still has feelings for her and misses her and I can't shake it. When i bring it up at the therapist, he reminds me that he chose me and is with me, so that should tell me who he wants to be with. Well that isn't enough. He can be with me and still love her or long for her and this is something I can't accept. I will not share his heart with her. If he still has feelings for her after everything they did to me and after all the threats she made and after 18 months of not being with her, then maybe he should be with her and not me. I can't be with someone who doesn't really want to be with me or still longs for someone else or something else that he felt with her. Has anyone else experienced this where it took their husband a while to forget the OW. He won't tell me the things i need to her about his feelings because he doesn't want to lie to me or hurt me anymore. He can't tell me he doesn't miss her. When confronted with his feelings about her, all he can say is that he feels guilty for hurting her too. She knew from the beginning that he was married, so she was not blindsided by betrayal, she made the choice to share him with me (I didn't). She was just hurt when he abruptly stopped seeing her. So many of these stories share how there husbands realized that the OW was not special and that they didn't love them, but has anyone experienced where the husband believes he loved both women. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.
    SR

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    1. Hello SR - my heart goes out to you. If you are 100% certain that there is no contact between your H and the OW, and that he wants to be married to you, and otherwise is doing all of the right things (counselling, addressing his own personal issues and failings, accepting/owning his actions) then I don't think you should try and force him to not feel things for the OW. He has to work through this on his own. Just as you have to work through some of your healing on your own. Are you two working together to build a better marriage? Finding fun things to do together? Do YOU want to be with HIM??? These are the things you should try to focus on. And no, it is NOT easy. Good luck and godspeed!
      -Mary

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    2. SR, yes, like Mary I wonder if he's still in contact with her in some way. She's still present (the affair is still 'ongoing') if she's still actively in his thoughts. To a certain extent we can choose what we think about. If he's serious about saving your marriage he has to ping that elastic band on his wrist - in reality or metaphorically - every time she enters his thoughts. He may be surprised at how quickly his feelings change when she's removed from centre stage in his memory. Or even loitering in the wings.

      And Mary is right too in hinting that we can't make people change their feelings. They are however just 'feelings', which we humans tend to take more seriously than perhaps we should.

      I don't think you should stay with a person who refuses to be honest with you and is still harbouring some fantasy about a third party. Absolutely it isn't good enough. This is why we vow 'forsaking all others'. Of course he can't feel that strongly about her or he wouldn't be with you, he's just cake eating. 18 months on torturing you in this way isn't good enough. I'm afraid you're going to have to take action to protect yourself.

      Imagine you're clinging to a rock in the ocean and getting more and more tired. You know if you let go and swim out you'll eventually reach the shore but it's terrifying - what if you're not strong enough to make it? But if you stay where you are you're going to drown anyway, eventually.

      I bet if you start on your way out he will wake up from his enchanted reverie. If he doesn't - what have you lost? What you do not want to happen is the tragedy of losing yourself. Don't let him drag you under.

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    3. Think about it, how many guys have went a woman who threaten suicide. (OW) sounds like real drama queen on steroids. I don't know that my husband would know what to do if the OW threatened that way. He would be clueless so he would cave in to her demands. My husband kept information from me at first because he didn't want to cause more pain. My husband didn't love the Pycho-bitch kindergarten teacher but he did feel sorry for her. He did feel some guilt about using her too. When your husband can't tell you that you she didn't mean anything maybe because he is telling the truth now. In therapy I learned to listen to my husband but on a different frequency. I also had a hard time believing their relationship meant little. How can you stay with someone for 2 years? What kind of death grip did she have on him? He must have enjoyed it on some level. I'm 18 months out and today after an argument and me asking questions he did admit he enjoyed the affair on some level. He said she was a substitute when I was out of town. Painful yes truthful yes.

      One more comment it took me many months to be able to believe he wanted to stay with me. That he chose me because of me. I didn't deserve to be chosen so I don't believe it what he says is true. My self esteem was circling the drain so I couldn't believe or expect him to love me more than her since I was such a loser I couldn't keep my husband from straying. i know now that it was a crock of shit but it took me awhile to get there. Either listen and believe him no matter how hard it hurts and then rebuild from there if you can. It takes time to believe what the scum bags say because they lied for so long it sounded true. I would say to my husband "tell me the truth even if it hurts me." It was like giving him permission. I was clear I wanted the truth, unvarnished, uncensored no matter what. Then I had to listen, as I said I would, without attacking him. But I think I came to a better understanding of what happened through him telling me the painful truth.

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    4. Anonymous,
      I think the "club" has given you some really good advice. And I would further suggest that at this point (18 months on), he's less in love with "her" than the idea of her (assuming there has been absolutely no contact). She's not reality, she's fantasy. And it's hard (impossible!) to compete with fantasy -- nor should we have to.
      The fact that she threatened suicide when he tried to break it off makes her sound either mentally ill or manipulative. She willingly walked into an affair with a married man. What is attractive about that? I wonder if your husband needs to do a bit more work to parse about what it was about this affair that fed something in him -- a need to be needed? Thrill-seeking? White knight stuff?
      But that's HIS work, not yours. As others have noted, you can't control his feelings. And I would argue that it's possible to "love" two people at the same time. Life is about choices. And then living those choices with integrity.

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    5. Thank you all for your comments. Lynn Pain, I found it interesting that you used the words Drama Queen on Steroids, because the OW was a body builder. There has been no contact, although she did contact him several times during the first year and in the first 6 months, he made plans once to meet her for coffee and then realized he would lose me if he did, so he told her he loved me and couldn't meet her and not to contact him anymore. He then came clean and showed me the messages. She got really angry and sent him a nasty message and then one last message professing her love, these were shared with me and our counselor and we did not respond. Through counseling it has come out that he was trying to 'save her', the whole white knight thing. He used to feel needed by me, but I have become more independent and successful at work and he didn't feel I needed him anymore. He also wasn't feeling fulfilled at work and this was a distraction and helped him feel he was helping her become a better person. She is a very self centered person and can't keep alot of friends. He felt like he was showing her how to open up to people. I know it sounds ridiculous, but they really do convince themselves of these things so they can allow themselves to continue in the affair. Anyways I am digressing. I mostly wanted to say, thanks for all the advice.
      Iris, I agree with you that he needs to ping the elastic band. That is what I really want. I want to know that he is pushing thoughts of her away and seeing the negative in their relationship, not just the positive or the pain she might be feeling. I do not believe he would see her, but my fear is that he still thinks of her, how does that affect us and how he thinks about me.
      With regards to loving two people at the same time, I get that on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level, I don't know how to cope with that. How do I stay in a relationship with a man who harbors feelings of love for another person. Even if he never acts on those feelings, isn't that still a threat to our relationship. Do I just have to wait for time to fade those feelings or will they always be there just under the surface?
      Thanks again to everyone for all your thoughts and advice.
      SR

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    6. SR,
      No I don't think the feelings just stay there. Love isn't a feeling so much as it's an action. We love people by, well, caring for them, cooking for them, hugging them, wiping their tears, making them laugh. Without feeding love, it withers. I suspect your husband thinks he was in love with her but I suspect he was more in love with the reflection of himself he saw in her eyes: the white knight, the hero. That's tough to give up and go back to being mortal, just another flawed husband with a flawed wife. The benefits though, of just being loved for who you are, is worth it.

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  16. After reading this site for the past few weeks, I've noticed that there are some of us who are able to move through the utter devastation and come out the other side with some sense of renewed happiness in their marriage. But then others are still suffering with the same initial grief a year, 2 years, 10 years later, even though they have chosen to remain in their marriage and to work at reconciliation.

    As someone just 9 weeks out, I'm wondering if there are any commonalities within the first group that make that success more likely? And likewise, does the second group share something that makes that success more difficult to attain? Or is it just completely individual?

    I love my husband and I'm choosing to try to build something better with him than what we had before, but the damn affair just has me stuck in a cycle of anxiety (I already had generalized anxiety disorder, so this is totally feelding it) and sadness. And I'm afraid that I'm not going to be able to move forward and ever be happy again.

    H is cautiously hopeful that if I could just finally understand and accept that he never wanted to leave me, that he never felt for her what he feels for me and that he can't, and never could, imagine a life without me, that I'll be able to be free of the agony. He doesn't "get it", he really can't.

    Dana.

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    1. Hi Dana,
      I was just listening to a radio program (linked below) about how people can successfully transform pain, trauma, suffering, and stress and it talks alot about what attributes allow people to not become overwhelmed and to recover from difficulty.
      I think our recovery depends as much or more on what we do as it does on what our spouses do. It is hard to recognize that sometimes. I am just recovering from an attack of PTSD and realize that that it is up to me to learn how to cope with that response system. Anxiety, fear, and other other severe emotional response can continue long after the actual event. How WE deal with it is key to our recovery. But it is important to not rush that either.

      http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201505011000
      the audio to the program may not be on the site yet. check back in a day if it isn't.

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    2. Dana-
      I'm one year plus out. In spite of the ups and downs, I am one of the those who is happier in my marriage now. I can't speak for others, but one BIG thing for me was that he realized very quickly that he had done something terrible and returned to our marriage, no question or doubt for him. While he is a trickle-truther and until the day before yesterday did not realize how important it was to come out with the whole truth AT THE BEGINNING as I asked him to do...multiple times. He doesn't know why he could not tell me the truth when I asked for it.
      The bottom line is that he is repairing the damage and has been repairing the damage from about day 3. He pays attention to me, brings me little presents (never did that before), makes me feel as though I am THE one. He can now pick up on my moods (!!!), is more sensitive and understanding. He is in counseling and finds it valuable (!!!). We are in MC. I am in counseling.
      While he now knows the true meaning of the phrase hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, I work at being compassionate- something truly was wrong with him and he turned to 2 other women to fill some kind of need. THAT guy was not the guy I married. Why he spent tons of money on one of them is still beyond my comprehension (and his). I've realized I cannot know all the whys, but I now have what I believe is the whole truth (last trickle was 2 days ago) and I can feel the door closing on this sad chapter in our lives. It would not be closing so early if he hadn't done what he's done, or if I had not hung in there even when he threw me back to the beginning each time a bit more of the story was discovered (by me)...and if HE had not hung in there when I was the woman from hell.
      That's all I can tell you...my cycles of anxiety were terrible even as recently as a month ago, but they were getting fewer and farther between. I actually am feeling some peace returning. I would (and will) never go through anything like this again. It is truly a life-changer. Oh- and while his was an emotional affair, it was 10 years long. We've been married over 35 years.
      C.

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    3. Dana,
      I've come to believe that how much joy we have in our lives is as much (or more) a matter of choice than circumstance. I've chosen to rebuild a relationship with my husband. And within that choice is work I've had to do to heal a lot of my old wounds. My husband has, similarly, done work so that we're bringing less of that old baggage (from childhood as well as early in our relationship) into this new phase. The best outcomes I've seen are those who genuinely view this as a second marriage with a first husband.
      The marriages who seem to be more in a holding pattern are those in which one or both partners refuse to really look at their own behaviour and be accountable for it, those in which there's substance abuse/emotional abuse/physical abuse, and those who are unable or unwilling to drill down deeply enough to unearth a lot of old trauma that's getting in the way.
      I've often said that the silver lining in this shitstorm (to mix my metaphors) was that it demanded of me that I really heal some long-ago pain from childhood. I could have skated along life, thinking all was fine, focusing on things that I thought mattered. Instead...I was shaken to the core and really forced to figure out what I wanted from my life and how I was going to achieve that. I think many of us get that wake-up call -- in the form of a diagnosis, a sick child, job loss, whatever. It's what we do with it that guides us forward.

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  17. He can't get it for many reasons. First of all he was justifying it in his mind to the point where he may actually believe some of the bullshit to some degree. Also it's hard for the cheater to put himself in your shoes and see exactly how much pain they have caused their loved one, almost like a self defense mechanism they have to believe what thy did wasn't really so bad; otherwise how can they live with themselves? Also, from my readings, most men and women are different in how/why they cheat & their justifications. Men think it's ok if they don't leave & don't want to leave their wife, it's ok if they don't love the affair partner, and if they are discrete and trying to protect the wife from ever finding out. It's ok if it's just sex. (My h subscribes to all of these). Women cheat because they are unhappy lacking attention, looking for an exit affair. Women think it's ok if they are in love, because love justifies all. So that's why it was so hard for me because I automatically assumed I wasn't good enough, did he love them more than me etc. but reading from both sexes point of view slowly got me accepting that he did it because he could, because they were easy, because he was selfish and thought he needed it to boost his self image, because he was bored, because in his mind that's what society says most men do, boys will be boys, it's expected and in many places accepted.

    Try reading some of the books on the tab at this site. It will help u see a little better from a mans perspective. I'm by no means condoning simply saying I know what ur feeling and thinking and this has helped me.

    Sam

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    1. I think my husband's depression and communication disorder sometimes cause him to retreat from me when I need him most. He perceives anger as hatred and sadness as surrender. He often assumes I'm "done with" him when I get upset or angry over the affair. And so, he retreats into his own head, becoming distant and emotionless out of fear. I can easily see how hard he is trying to be the husband I've always wanted...but my emotions are still riding the rollercoaster and it's very clear that he's ill prepared for the sharp turns and freefalls.

      My husband cheated because he was depressed and unhappy with himself, dissatisfied with our marriage (didn't think I truly loved him) and was being "adored" by a professional husband stealer...these were all HIS issues. But the devastation this has brought down on me and my childhood issues with rejection and abandonment are making it very difficult for me to muddle through.

      I've purchased and read some of the books on the tab and logically, I "get it", but, in my heart, not even close.

      Dana

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    2. Dana,
      While it can help us in our healing to understand "why" someone cheated on us, it doesn't help us emotionally to use that as the reason why we should be able to move past it. Regardless of why, we've been injured. Doesn't help someone run over by a bus to know the driver was having a seizure. The broken bones still need tending.
      So that's what you need to do. Tend to your broken heart. Let yourself feel the hurt, knowing that it won't last forever. Acknowledge just how devastated you are. In the meantime, would your husband consider reading a book about how to help YOU through this? There's one specifically for that and though I haven't read it, I've heard good things said about it on this site and others.
      http://www.amazon.com/Help-Your-Spouse-Heal-Affair/dp/145055332X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431011871&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+help+your+spouse+heal+from+your+affair
      Or give him this link (below) to read -- it's my post for husbands. Either way, while I recognize that not all of us have the same skills/abilities re. communicating, there's work he can do to help himself help you.
      http://betrayedwivesclub.blogspot.ca/2014/04/my-letter-to-husbands-just-talk-about.html

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    3. Funny, Elle, our therapist saw me alone for a few minutes last night (H was on his way) and he told me that he really wanted me to stop focusing so much on "why"...that the reasons will never satisfy and that I already know the logistics. Now it's time that I work on not hurting myself emotionally over the affair. One thing I need to work on is my obsessive thinking (typical anxiety disorder stuff) and the way I almost force myself to relive the trauma over and over again...sometimes for hours and hours at a time. So that's kind of my focus right now...it has to be in order for me to heal.

      H has read How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair (we've both read After the Affair as well) and he's defintiely been trying to implement the suggestions. Some of the problem is that a part of me expects him to do everything in the book...and do it perfectly...without my having to prompt him in any way. And then we have his baggage of lifelong shame and self-hatred, so the two of us create the perfect storm for misunderstandings, disappointment and pain. For him, in his eyes, he's now done something to warrant all of the negative things he internalized about himself as a child that carried on into adulthood. He's manifested what he was told and what he gleaned from his abuse...he's a worthless piece of shit (his words). So, while we are working on my own anxiety issues, we are working on his self-worth. He can't help heal this wound when he beleives that he's unredeemable...in my eyes and his own.

      So, while I don't hold back my pain and anger from him and he's always (reluctantly) willing to answer any question I throw his way, he really struggles with his perceptions of what all of that means. I don't hate him, I don't think that what he did defines who he is and I don't think that he's unworthy of forgiveness or love. But I'm hurting and I'm angry, and that's some of the price he has to pay for his choices...not because I want him to hurt more than he already does, but because this is where I am right now and I'm not going to hide or pretend otherwise. Authenticity is paramount for both of us right now.

      Dana

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    4. Dana,
      I walked in your shoes. My husband's shame was so deep that he could barely even register my own pain. It confirmed what he believed about himself, that he was unworthy.
      That's where his therapy will help him. Teach him to take responsibility without beating himself up. And yes,like you, I expected a perfectly reformed husband. Which takes a long time, if ever, to achieve.
      Focus on you. Keep doing what you're doing. Life is a scary thing but you're strong and resilient and, as you're learning, can handle so much more than you realized. You will get there.

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  18. Anonymous and Dana,

    I try to read these recent posts daily and keep up but there is so much here!

    Think if I were to do anything differently from my D-Day it would have been to go off on my own for a period of time. But I had children. Other than that I would not have changed our course. We are still together but I was the one to lead the charge into truth telling, therapy, recovery etc. I pulled my spouse onto the marriage mat (the one he keep sneaking off from without my knowing). It's a entirely different marriage today.

    My opinion about the OW and threats of suicide? Like Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina and Anna the adulteress in Hausfrau CAN WE WATCH? Please just do us a favor and Just jump already. But in real-life? These needy, vain, self-absorbed creatures manipulate 24/7 and these particular men are stupid and don't care (to see who the women really is) because it's boo-boo-mommy who feeds their ego.

    The most powerful thing I've learned from this experience is that I can and will handle anything. I won't bend or break for my husband and I've taken back what was mine.....myself. If he is, authentic, genuine and honest game on. If not I'm gone.

    As for those "other women" out there that's what I mean by my fleeting anxieties and 'Yoko" moments the shadow women.....(who specifically go after married men). They will always be lurking.

    I live knowing I'm not one of them...not lying, deceitful, as someone beautifully said on the website these type of people who..... walk by other people's houses with the 'open window,' they want to slip into other peoples lives. Intimacy terrorists, poachers.

    Once this bomb drops on you it's a world of pain with no road map or predictable outcome. I strongly believe that unless this happens to you - you can't understand. (Including the betraying spouse).

    I can't predict my husband won't cheat again and it's a roller coaster of emotions....(I will be elderly and still raising my cane up to the heavens feeling my sense of outrage and injustice).

    Yes I still believe in renewed happiness in a marriage but even more strongly gaining a renewed sense of self efficacy and empowerment on my very own.

    Everyday I say to myself breath..... and work for patience.

    With Great love,
    V

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    1. V

      Awesome post, thank you!

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    2. Wow, V.
      Intimacy terrorists. Poachers. You go, girl!!

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  19. Hi Anne
    I thought for a minute I was reading my own post. 30 years of marriage and doubting that he is the man I thought he was. I think that is the worst of it. Second guessing your whole married life. I, too want the man I married back
    The great father who could never say no to me and his kids. The funny, optimistic man who made my life view a little bit brighter. That is why I married him. Great chemistry and great sex. Great father who loved hos children almost too much. I cannot reconcile the betrayal and lies with who I thought I knew. I don't trust my instincts anymore and am living in a fog trying to figure out whether to leave or stay. Is he worth taking a risk on? What if he does it again ? I too feel like intimacy isas struggle
    Wanting to be close, but hating him and feeling like I could scream. He tells me he is a changed man. He will be the husband he should of been. He begs me to not take his world away from him and how sorry he is. Tells me he will dedicate his life to me and that the affair meant noting. Just a escape from issues we had in our life at the time. The thing he doesn't understand, is that I never thought he could ever prefer anyone but me! How do you reconcile that? I know I deserve better and I really think that if I had the courage to do it, I would find someone who would truly be my best friend and lover. Its hard when so much time has been invested and I hear everyday how much he loves me and how much he will fight for me and his kids. I now realize that I will never know why. Selfish, fragile ego looking for someone to make him feel special without kids, bills and the craziness of our married life. She was a fantasy and that fantasy is quickly dispelled when they realize what they have to lose! I think one of the above posters summed it up so well while looking at old photos and seeing that the light and love had gone out of her eyes. I think we all think this. There is before and after. Its so sad and I feel such anger and compassionate for what we all are going through. If they could have had a crystal ball and saw the devastation their lives have become, they would not of thought convenient sex was worth the price. My husband said to me yesterday, that if he had the chance of winning a million dollars or going back in time, he would take the time back in a minute. Cause money doesnt buy happiness. Its honesty and faithfulness and commitment and trust. The reasons we married him. The vows of the marriage. They are broke now and we must put one foot in front of another and look forward with hope. The decision to be happy is ours. With or without him. Love to all!
    RECLAIM

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    1. 'Tells me he will dedicate his life to me and that the affair meant nothing. Just a escape from issues we had in our life at the time.'

      No no anon - Just a escape from issues HE had in HIS life at the time and possibly much of his life. We all have issues. Life is issues. He has to look at the character faults (selfishness, an ability to lie to those closest to him etc) which enabled him to make those particular choices. It isn't that you're perfect yourself (I hope) but this is his turn for self-examination and owning his... well, shit, frankly.

      I suspect you will respect him more when he does more accurate heavy lifting.

      Love to you too x

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    2. Reading these posts make me feel less alone. I relate to the comments about 'self-justification, the 'They think it's all right if the wife doesn't find out' even the 'it went on for 10 years (or in my case 18). The before and after and realisation that your life wasn't what you thought it was is what I am struggling with. He is trying and regretful but I still think he has no idea what he has done to me, and he never will

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    3. Reclaim,
      Your post rings so true to so many of us. That feeling of "I thought I was special". And "how could he?"
      What I've come to learn, however, is that notion of a pure love is a bit of fantasy. We CHOOSE to keep our relationship safe. And then...one of us doesn't. But just as I've met people with whom I could imagine testing that "spark" in another life, so has my husband. The difference is that sometimes it happens when one partner doesn't say "no" to it.
      Knowing that can actually help. I went through that horrible sense of loss because I believed my husband couldn't even fathom being with anyone but me.
      Now I know differently. But I also know that he's with me because he chooses to be. Even when it's sometimes dull. Even when I've got the flu. I've come to learn that's a deeper love than I first realized.

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  20. Dear reclaim,

    I dot know how far u r out now. I did feel what seemed like )perpetual sadness for a long time, which came after anger. I did feel like the light & love were gone forever. But like pilots wife always says, feelings change. I was always a baseline happy person & now 1 1/2 years after d day # 1 I'm back to my old self. One of the main reasons I was attracted to my husband was he made me laugh. He reminded me of jerry Seinfeld. I love to laugh & the laughter is back. We even make jokes (both of us) about the affairs, the other women, my snooping, my questioning him at 2:30 am about something we've already discussed a million times. I contribute too & sometimes poke fun at him for cheating or sexting, etc. to me that symbolizes that I'm back to my old self, not so sensitive about the affairs anymore, and we actually laugh as opposed to me sarcastically trying to hurt him.

    My h is also a trickle Truther and to this day I'm sure I don't know everything. But enough time has elapsed & I have done enough reading that I don't really care (maybe a little) about exact details anymore.

    While I believe the rebuilding of the relationship depends on the cheater's help willingness to accept responsibility and go above and beyond in trying to make it up to us,

    I also believe like so many women who have stated that getting the love back in our eyes is up to us. We have to let it back in. For a long time I felt that whenever I started feeling good either about my h or my life or myself I had to remind myself about the affairs. I had to perpetuate the victim role, keep it in the forefront. It was like i constantly has to make sure that big letter V was on my forehead. Slowly I let it disappear pysychologically. It still occasionally reappears, usually when I am triggered but it's gone for the most part.

    That's how u get the light and love back in ur eyes, u welcome the moments when the v is gone, u hold onto them, u cherish them and tell urself it is ok to be happy again. U r not betraying urself by being happy. As a matter of fact, u owe it to urself.

    Sam

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    1. Hi Sam, I'm so pleased your at a place of happiness. Your d day is the same as mine and I'm pretty much where you are now. We too sometimes poke fun at the affair, and like you say if you can do that without wanting to scratch his eyes out then in my eyes that's success.

      That's not to say there aren't triggers, we planned a family day out near to where the ow lived, is thought about how I would feel about being there knowing my husband had been there with her but I thought about it and let it go without it spoiling my day with my husband and kids. I think my husband knew how I was feeling and did his best to say and do all the right things and thankfully we came awAy unscathed.

      Ladies be happy whenever you can feel that sadness when it appears and keep going. Life really is for living .

      Lots of love

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  21. Hi Anonymous, thank you for your post. I agree, feeling like you don't know the person you are married to anymore is by far the worst part. I don't trust my instincts anymore. Why did it take so long for me to realize something was up. I knew he seemed off but i thought it was work related. Until I saw the pictures, I had no idea what was going on and from the day I married him I completely believed that he would NEVER do this to me. Boy was I wrong. So now, I don't trust my instincts about other people. I am however, starting to trust my gut instincts about this. He is a trickle truther as someone else commented about and for a year now I was bothered that I wasn't told the truth while he assured and promised me that I had. It was me who found out the rest, not him. The second devastation was even worse than the first. I lost it completely. The foundation that I was rebuilding with him was again gone. Why are they so stupid. My husband also tells me he is a changed man. He is wanting to go to therapy to find out what happened to him. He feels that he has spent the past 10 years or so with something very wrong. He says he looks back and sees himself with a lot of anger and hate....called himself a cold bastard. I am holding out hope that with his counselling he will come to see what happened and become the person that I married again. I often wonder if I would be better off without him. He is a constant reminder of the hurt. While he was in the hospital, I didn't have him here and it didn't help. I am usually worse when I am alone. I know I deserve better that what he has given me and wonder why have I settled for less. I didn't know I was settling for less until now. I used to always say I would never put up with cheating, we would be over. Why then am I thinking differently now? Why am I willing and wanting to make this work? Can it work. I know I will NEVER forget what he did and how I feel. I too have the same questions about what will happen if I risk staying and he does it again. I know I can't handle it again. I would completely die inside. I also wonder if I am only staying out of fear of being by myself. I know if he could go back and change what he did, he would. He would never allow it to happen-or at least thats what he tells me. In all honesty, I don't know if I am being told the truth or not yet. Trust is a fragile thing, takes years to build and a second to break and he has broken my trust thousands of times over the past 10 years, I honestly don't know if it will come back....I know for sure it will never be blind trust like it was before. I don't understand the mindset of cheaters...sure sex is great and a great fantasy and escape but is it really so hard to think past a good orgasm to the consequences of your actions. I try to think about consequences before I do anything....what is wrong with people? continued in next post

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  22. second part
    I know people have psychological issues from past or present traumas etc. So do I. I have lived through some serious trauma, I have stress in my life. I need a pick me up on occasion. I have lived through sexual abuse from more than one person, I am fully responsible for our family finances, I have work related stress, I have low self esteem, I have body image issues, I have daily stress. I have had to keep the family going while my husband was feeding his need for a new challenge through sports. Maybe the OW was just another challenge he needed to conquer, who knows. I don't think I will ever know for sure. What I do know is that while I was dealing with all my issues, holding down the fort at home with all the chores, cleaning, finances, child rearing etc, he was off doing "his thing" and apparently the girlfriend too. I didn't feel the need to cheat or have another man make me feel better about myself. Never entered my mind and I have had offers. Cheaters are obviously weak. When you marry and have children, you are making a decision to put your families needs and feelings BEFORE your own. If a quick screw in the passenger seat of a car and a little verbal flattery is what you need to feel better about yourself and the relationship you have with your family isn't sufficient enough to keep your pants on then you don't deserve them. When the going gets a little tough, you don't devastate the people you say you love the most. Just my opinion, obviously not shared with the cheaters in this world. I am feeling a little cynical right now about the sincerity and morals of a large part of the population.

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    Replies
    1. Anne,

      I couldn't agree more, but here's the thing. Frank Pittman would say that cheaters learn these behaviors in the family they grew up in. Loyalty wasn't model but selfishness was probably to the nth degree. As one of those who did stay for the sake of the children, I would do it again given that my husband was remorseful and tried to make it right( his words). And in a recent conversation with my therapist, he said that people rarely change a whole lot. So being cynical may be exactly the right way to go when dealing with a recovering cheater...or as my aunt would say, watch out for the snakes in the woodpile.

      Delete
  23. Dear reclaim,

    He doesn't prefer anyone to u. One of my books said to find an affair partner one only has to look next door. Pretty much anyone available will suffice. People don't spend as much time being choosy for an affair partner as for a spouse because they know consciously or subconsciously that it's not for life. He didn't choose her over u or over his marriage. He was being stupid/selfish-- he wanted his cake and to eat it too.

    My husband never said it just happened. My husband admits it was very calculated. Prior to his first sexual affair a single woman was interested but he says he figured she would want more-- she was single and at the time we were engaged so he figured she would want him to leave me and might even tell me if they had an affair. Shortly after we got married a married nurse with 3 kids was interested in him. He says he thought it was his last chance; he was getting older (not even 40 yet mind u) & losing his hair. He thought she wouldn't want more than just sex because she wouldn't want to disrupt her family; he was wrong. That affair lasted 2 years and only ended because she gave him an ultimatum. The next affair he kept as only emotional. After that experience he figured this married drug rep/ex-nurse with 3 kids would also pressure him to leave me. The next affair emotional at first, but became sexual once this married resident with 1 child accepted an out of state job. At that point he figured she wouldn't pressure him to leave because she wa moving. Irrational on her part but right before she moved she did pressure him to leave me. So then he moved on to sexting. He figured this one was sure fire not to go anywhere.

    As u can see, he didn't prefer any of these women to me. I have been the constant thruout. Of course he thinks this should mean everything to me, it should show me that these other women and affairs meant "nothing". My response so typical of women like me is who risks their family for something/someone that means nothing. His reply like so many who cheat is he never thought he would be caught.

    I'm not trying to convince u of anything. Just to tell u I know how u feel and it gets better with time & also reading about others experiencing the same thing.

    Sam

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  24. Sam

    Ah Yes that ancient social wisdom (so lethal) "it won't hurt my wife if she doesn't know." (men's club mentality)

    "It didn't mean anything."

    DIDN'T MEAN ANYTHING TO WHOM? (Frank Pittman)

    My husband referred to his married-long-term mistress in various ways... non threatening, easy, willing, "low hanging fruit," controllable, malleable and fawning. (she did however use that relationship as power in the office). He knew his mistress would never threaten his marriage.

    (But I really wonder (like your 10 years of sensing) What was really going on for me being betrayed on such a profound, deep and fundamental way? I found out later from others that she wished me ill....so what was that energy she was sending silently, secretly doing to me? As my husband handed over the family blueprints to this woman he didn't want to look too closely at.

    The gaslighting and shadows, people watching, whispering

    Way back in the day and in that very moment he kissed her at an office Christmas party That was the moment he threw me under the bus. And couldn't really be intimate with me, with her or ultimately with himself.

    Still after 5 years I sometimes ask the same questions like.... for what? and he says.."I had a parallel life." (that still doesn't help me)

    I think about Bill Cosby's Ghosts coming up from the ground......how arrogantly cheaters assume they will never be caught.

    How often unaware the impact of their secrets and lies on those around them.



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  25. Hello all,

    I'm going back. I am sure if anyone has read my rambling posts these past 2-3 days you wonder what drug I'm on. I had made up my mind not to go back to couples therapy this week (today is Monday tomorrow is therapy day - Tuesday). I just get so very messed up after leaving the couple’s session. I had purchased the packing boxes and already had a few boxes packed. I had started emptying out the kitchen cabinets (what was left after I broke most of the dishes). I was calm on the outside but silently screaming inside. After couple hours of this packing I went upstairs to go to sleep - or perhaps I should say to lay down because I do not sleep very much. HIMSELF came up and knocked on the bedroom door. I just told him to go away. He said he just had to talk to me because he had something to tell me. I got up and unlocked the door. HIMSELF agreed to take the polygraph. He said it was not going to be pretty. I simply said - once I know everything I will know how to move forward -- one way or another.

    I will go to the couple’s session Tuesday and discuss this with HIS therapist who is presently our couple’s counselor. I’ve got to figure out how this works because when I previously spoke to his therapist alone he did not seem to know how disclosure and then polygraph works. He is doctor of psychology with specialty in sexual issues and couples counseling but he is not a sex addiction specialist. Hell, I do not even know if HIMSELF is a sex addict. In our town there are NO sex addiction therapists. We’ve got a major medical center here with a HUGE psychiatry/psychology department - no one in the whole place specializes in sex addiction stuff. Oh well, I’m doing research online for the proper questions to ask during this polygraph AND the necessary information HIMSELF must reveal during the disclosure. Wish me luck…

    Good article I found for polygraph and how it might help some folks::
    http://www.salon.com/2013/01/02/the_lie_detector_test_that_saved_my_marriage/

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  26. Silent Scream,

    You are an amazing, strong woman on the battle field! Shield Up!

    Since you are in a small town with limited resources.....Please take this article into your doctor therapist and give it to him

    'Sexual Sobriety' Leaves Victims Untreated By Omar Minwalla, Psy.D March 31, 2015

    As for polygraph tests?

    Last week I was directed to a website for women. Many have worked for years with their husbands. They appear to have been through the very worst behavior imaginable. If I call myself Valkyrie these women are "Furies." But you could certainly ask them questions.

    JoAnn Russell & Sisterhoodofsupport.org

    JoAnn is a nurse and the website involves a small fee but might prove useful to you.

    Lastly this morning I received at text from another woman in my support group of betrayed spouses:

    "The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong, and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes."

    made me think of you!
    Peace out,
    V

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  27. SS,

    My husband took a polygraph. Before he took it, he wrote out the timeline from start of our marriage to present, every sexually related thing (porn use, illicit conversations and meet-ups, affairs, etc. . .). The Polygraph examiner used that timeline to develop the questions. There were four questions, basically getting at the idea of whether the timeline was a complete and accurate picture or whether my husband was still withholding information, obscuring information or lying to me. The questions were very specific, no feeling based questions, but all generally getting at that same idea. He passed. It helped immensely. This was a baseline poly, he has had two more since, which he also passed. If you do decide to stay and try, I would also HIGHLY recommend him pursuing a post-nuptial agreement with infidelity clause to give to you, a gesture to show you that your safety is his top priority in every way. Good luck with the poly and best to you on your path forward, whatever path you decide is best! TigerLily

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  28. I understand that we all have to do what it takes to get through this hellish stuff on our own terms, but as somebody who eventually decided the kids and I were better off on our own needing your husband/wife to do a lie detector test to reestablish trust seems pretty extreme ie. Are they worth it? On the other hand, a post nup agreement sounds like a wonderful idea, especially with an infidelity clause.

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  29. TigerLily,

    Thanks for the information. We went earlier today for the couple’s session with HIS therapist. This guy has so many degrees -but- I was very, very disappointed in how he handled the session. We spoke about the polygraph and he basically said he wanted to get the poly done and then HIMSELF and I could move away from the betrayal. NOT !! He does not seem to understand the process of disclosure and how to educate HIMSELF to do the written history. I have found the polygraph examiner and they seem to know more about how the test should go and what questions are usually asked. Tomorrow I go to my therapist so will talk with her and see if she is anymore 'educated' about how to proceed. I’ve done LOTS of research on how the disclosure unfolds and how the polygraph for infidelity proceeds. Thanks for the information about the post-nup. HIMSELF and I have been together for 44 years but we are not legally married. We have business interest together. We have parented two fantastic children - both grown and 40+ years old. Everything financial is either jointly owned as in -- I have the papers to make sure I get the property and $$ coming my way regardless how he acts. The thing is I never expected to need this legal security. But then none of us here thought we would ever be in this position.

    Anon,

    Extreme yes. Is he worth it?? Do not know yet! Before this madness of betrayal I would have moved heaven and earth for him and I thought he would do the same for me. I want to stay if at all possible but I am a facts oriented type person and need "the facts" regardless how down and dirty they may be. He has told me some things but as he is either a sex addict or a heavy duty serial cheater - I want to "know the facts as they are - not as HE sees them -- BUT verify". His long term affair lasted almost 5 years - as far as I know. During that time he had other affairs and saw prostitutes. He managed to lie to my face the entire time - and I believed him. Thus -- the polygraph as he now claims he is telling the truth. He also admits that what I will learn in the disclosure and subsequent polygraph will not be pretty. He has lung cancer now and although that may play a small role in my decision - I need the polygraph to help me come to a fully informed decision. Also, I want to see him squirm!! He will do a disclosure with therapist before the polygraph and during that session I fully expect him to be very uncomfortable.

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  30. Valkyrie,

    Thanks for your comment. Actually I'm in a major metropolitan area and the University is quite well known not just in our area but widely regarded as top notch. I had just discovered the Sisterhood the day of your post but had not had time to sit down and read the site. With your recommendation I will go back tonight and do some serious reading. Good to know JoAnn is a nurse as I am also retired OB/GYN nurse with a few years oncology and orthopedics thrown in for good measure. I'm 65yo been with HIMSELF for 44+ years, been around the block a few times and always believed it possible for anyone to lose their way occasionally -but- almost 5 YEARS with the same female and then other females thrown in for variety during the 5 years and then prostitutes?? YIKES!! Just NO, NO, NO!!

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  31. SS, Tell HIMSELF that the polygraph is simply giving you a ground zero. Then the hard work begins. We don't look at the poly as an equivalent replacement for trust. It is simply a measure of safety as Mindless consistently shows that his actions and words match and as I learn more and more that I can trust my instincts. By the way, we don't call it sex addiction in our home. We refer to it as Selfish Oppressive Bastard (SOB) syndrome, because it was actually (for Mindless anyway) an addiction to self-pity, self-centeredness and entitlement above all else. TigerLily xx

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    Replies
    1. TigerLily,

      Genius!! I never thought of polygraph as you describe. I am going to adopt your words and give them a few extra words for good measure and put all of that into a note for HIMSELF. I write him notes and essays a lot. He claims he reads them - "claims" being the operative word here. Selfish Oppressive Bastard Syndrome - Oh yeah - I can certainly work with those words.

      Thanks for your comment. One more brick in my healing wall :-))

      Delete
    2. TigerLily,
      I think "Mindless" suits for pretty much any of the guys written about this site. Love it. :)
      And also love your appraisal of the polygraph. You're right. It gives a starting point. It's certainly not something that removes the need for healing.

      Delete
    3. Elle, Thanks. He actually chose the handle MindlessCraft. I think Mindless works equally as well. ;)

      SS, glad a different angle was useful. We find it so helpful to explore the different ways of processing and dealing with it all from others. Nice to be able to give to that conversation in a helpful way now and again.

      Delete
  32. Valkyrie,

    WOW!! Just read the article "Sexual Sobriety" which you recommended in the above post. I have printed it out for my therapist and will give her a copy later today when I see her. I will also mail a copy to HIS therapist with a cover letter. HIMSELF will not get a copy but I will read the article to him.

    Thank You!!

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  33. SilentScream,

    You sound real clear, strong and fierce. I can hear your roar......BRAVA!

    I am finding myself more proud over these past 5 years that the moment I found out (My husband had a "parallel life.") I went back to animal INSTINCT. NO ONE was going to knock me over with bullshit - Including the world around me. I was going rouge. That's why I say to myself "shield up." "Patience," "Trust your gut." I find myself saying "No," when others don't seem to get what I'm experiencing (Including therapists)...And I keep moving. Fall down, get up, and keep working "my side of the street."

    I learned real fast and hard that the world around me put a "SPIN ON ME" as the betrayed."WIFE."

    My husbands infidelity? Was not that, oh boys will be boys.... "occasional slip," but a "Complex-pathologic- System, of gaslighting me while others watched and even participated. It wasn't our marriage, or something I did/or didn't do, it was them. I was living in a labyrinth of lies, secrets and deceit. (with his malicious paramour watching me and waiting)

    Now we enter the realm of "Treatment/therapy" and I fully believe it is essential to find help and tell our story to find our "Voice." However (and this is my personal somewhat jaded experience) Most people (unless its you) still don't get 'Us' the betrayed. I think that's changing because we 'betrayed' are becoming more vocal.

    I wish you all the best
    V





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    Replies
    1. Valkyrie,

      Sent onto the battlefield to personally choose which souls should enter Valhalla!! Ab-so-freeking-loutly!! Oh, yeah...

      Yes, I am learning that treatment/therapy might be a real mess. I think how the therapist might apply the "treatment" can really harm some of us. I interviewed one therapist who told me that I gave HIMSELF "permission" to continue with his betrayal. Say what?? I did not even know he was developing his sexual exploits into a hobby. How in the hell was I supposed to be giving him 'permission' to do something that I did not even know he was doing?? Did I have a few nagging suspicions over the years? Sure - but I was too busy having a life to look for negatives. Initially I believed this therapist - but I never went back for a second session. Then I came to the Betrayed Wives Club and now I know better.

      If we do not send out the call - no one will hear us. Some therapists are starting to "get it." There is even an organization "The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS)" which educates therapists about how to help Trauma Survivors. NOTICE if you will the association is for PARTNERS - NOT VICTIMS. Yes we have been psychologically abused (some physically abused also) by these jerks.

      In the literal definition of the word 'victim' -- """a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action -- a person who is tricked or duped.""" we are literally victims. BUT - how we respond and begin to rebuild determines WHO we are - the act of betrayal does not define us (Thanks Elle!!). We are ENOUGH!! The betrayal was NOT caused by anything we did.

      Isn’t it really shitty that friends and relatives may know and participate in the betrayal -- yet they say nothing, zip, nada, butkus… Do not want to get involved they say. Do not want her to get hurt they say. The hell you say - she will hurt eventually because she WILL find out. I do tell - gently and with love. I usually do it by mail or taking the friend/relative being betrayed to an event the jerk will be attending with OW. If I see a bank robbery I call the police. If I see someone passed out on the street I call the ambulance/ rescue squad emergency number. It is just the way I was taught at home and in school.

      Full Disclosure and Polygraph - for me it is necessary. I keep telling my therapist - This is how I need to handle this. I need answers - and information. Yes, it will hurt and may make me really really angry for a time - but once the truth OR lies are known -- I know better how to move forward. I took the advice on this blog - make a plan to stay and make a plan to go -- one of them will be needed. I was a girl scout long, long ago and we had a motto -- "Be Prepared" -- who knew those two words would come to mean so very much!

      V, Thanks and Thanks again…

      Delete
    2. SS,
      I too get frustrated with the idea that we are somehow co-dependents in our husband's betrayal. I'm pretty good at taking responsibility for what was mine...but there is no way I will take responsibility for HIS choice to cheat repeatedly. I honestly hadn't a clue for most of our marriage. Never DREAMED he would do that. So a resounding NO to giving him "permission" to cheat.
      As for the polygraph -- if that's what you need, then that's what you need. It's that simple. Most good therapists will require a full disclosure session (or two!) because there's no way a couple can move forward without a full accounting of the depth of the betrayal. Nor should any partner be asked to. WE get to decide what we know...nobody else.

      Delete
  34. SilentScream

    I'm cheering in my seat!..... Deeply moved by your strength, insights....your hard won wisdom shining through like a bright sunlight.

    IT'S NOT YOU IT"S THEM (Hello? that's how I felt - suddenly it was.... whaaaaaaaat? Stop it! lights are ON in my room) (AS IF we make these men do this Uber-lying shit - really?)

    Oh Yes sing it Sister....especially the "really Shitty" fact that people can know, participate and say nothing. (Love that "bank robbery")

    And for the world around me all day long....I will keep raising my small voice..... and further more..... think about good old Upton Sinclair who said long ago.

    "You can't convince a man of understanding something his salary depends on him not understanding."

    So Hell Yeah I'm In.....onto the battlefield (getting ready for anything).....we are writing new music for Valhalla :)

    Peace out everyone,
    V

    .

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