Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Healing Manifesto: Transforming Trauma

I don't abuse my children. I exercise. Floss. Do volunteer work.
All of which, I hoped, would inoculate me from tragedy.
Having grown up with alcoholic parents, I needed that sense of safety. I needed to believe that the chaos was over and that the rest of my life would be smooth sailing.
I kept score in my head: bad life events on one side, good life events on the other. If ever the "good" side seemed to tip too far, which it did often, I started to worry. The karmic balance, I figured, was out of whack. I'd better keep my head down because something bad was coming my way.
Of course, I was only mildly aware of my mental scorekeeping. And I was bothered by evidence of people who clearly had experienced a far greater hell than I ever had. Those who'd suffered genocide, debilitating disabilities, the loss of a child. I could barely imagine such grief.
Nonetheless, I felt I'd had my share. And I believed that my pain during childhood had been mine alone. There was nothing to "learn" from it, beyond some pretty unhealthy coping skills and the knowledge that I was a helluva an actress, able to convince the world that everything was absolutely fine...when it most definitely was not.
If there was any lesson I brought from my childhood it was that good things happened for other people, not for me.
The best I could hope for was to avoid more pain.
And so I tread softly into adulthood. Hoping fate wouldn't find me. That I could simply live my life out quietly with no more pain.
So when, after a disastrous seven-year relationship that ended badly, I met my husband and he was so kind, so smart, so fun so...safe, I let myself imagine that maybe I wasn't destined to misery. Maybe I could expect good things to happen for me too.
I dodged a few bullets. Scary results from a pregnancy test result turned out to be false and I gave birth to a healthy girl, followed by two more healthy babies. A cancer diagnosis for my long-sober mom that turned out to be a mistake.
But mostly, life was more than I'd allowed myself to dream. Career success. Financial security. Good friends.
I started feeling bolder, like perhaps I wasn't doomed. Like, just maybe, I was as entitled to live a happy life as anyone else.
I finally exhaled. I even confided in a friend that I'd been afraid to enjoy my life for fear that I'd get blindsided.
She, the survivor of childhood sex abuse and a scorekeeper herself, assured me that I'd had my share of pain. You're due some happiness, she told me.
I believed her.
And that's when it happened. My "perfect" marriage was revealed to be...not.
Deep down, of course, I had been expecting it. It confirmed my belief that I simply wasn't worthy of good things. That no matter how much I'd tried to earn my way into karmic peace by being kind and donating money to good causes and voluteering to help AIDS orphans (really!), it just wasn't enough to keep me safe.
I wallowed in that state for a good year or so. Paralyzed by despair. Desperately wanting my life to be just over – I couldn't imagine coping with anything more and I was sure more was on its way.
But in my moments of clarity, I had to admit that, though this really, really sucked, it wasn't a Holocaust, literally or figuratively. I still had my wonderful kids. My recovered-alcoholic parents. Good friends. Work I loved.
And a question started forming.
What if, instead of spending my life dodging pain, which clearly I seemed incapable of doing, I accepted some of it as inevitable.
I began to ask myself: How can I use this experience to value life more deeply – the good and the bad? To become  a better person? Not a more dutiful person, or a more selfless person but someone who transformed her pain into greater compassion for self and others, less judgement for self and others.
What if I stopped viewing myself as a victim and started seeing myself as having a fully human experience, which includes the full range of experiences?
Questioning my long-held view of myself as a victim of circumstance changed everything for me. It shifted my self-perception as powerless to powerful. It gave me agency. A belief that though I couldn't change what happened to me, I could absolutely determine how I responded to it. It was my life. It was my choice.
No matter that our husbands cheated on us, we are not victims. We are hurt by it, absolutely. Our lives are wracked by it for sure. We need to allow ourselves time to process the grief, feel the pain and let healing begin. But that simply makes us human.
We are not victims, which means we can respond to trauma in our lives with a grace and integrity and a seemingly endless well of strength. We will collapse in tears. We will have dark days and darker nights. But we will survive this and we will come to a place where we can recognize that it was through our wounds that growth took place.
My life will undoubtedly hold more pain. At 51, I have (hopefully) many years left. My kids will experience disappointment and, at times, feel their own hearts break.
And when they do, I will hold them while they weep and rage at life's cruelty. And then, I will watch the transformation that takes place as they recognize their own strength, as they find it within themselves to open their hearts again. As they remember that in every life there will be pleasure and there will be pain. And that they can handle it all.

71 comments:

  1. Part of my daily ritual is checking to see if my blog counselors 😊 have posted anything new. This may be my most favorite post ever. I need to read it everyday. Thanks Elle. Don't wait so long between posts k? You are a gift to me.

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  2. I concur, elladisenchanted, part of my daily ritual is checking to see if Elle has posted anything. I am healing as I am breathing in between the reading rituals. I am surviving and thriving. Elle and her posts and guest posts are merely comforting reminders that I am on the right track.
    I am trying to live authentically without fear. I have survived this. I love my husband and I LIKE him. I trust that he understands how deeply he has hurt me. He is working on his own healing. I go forward confidently with the support of amazing women warriors. Thank you to all!

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  3. Ditto to the above, life wouldn't be the same without this website x

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  4. Elle you are right, I couldn't change what happen to me but but I could change ME. I responded by finding out who I was. Hell, I didn't even know who I was or what I wanted. I was a blank sheet of paper. This betrayal started me to look at myself at around 8-12 months. I made a list for my therapist of things/actions I thought I had done wrong in our marriage. She helped me to see it was the circumstances played a big part. It was not all my fault. For example, my asshole husband was used to the military life. He was happy doing the job he loved. The military doesn't put family first no matter they say. I was put in a circumstance where my happy asshole husband said," it is going to be ok, you will figure it out". Great speech for the troops but not your wife. Sure I did figure it out, absent husband, no family, worked night shift, no household help and along with that started the resentment and the withdraw from him started. I could see this betrayal was life threatening but not going to be MY life destroying. After D day I globalize my feelings of hurt into everything I did or said. Shame, hurt and anger is dangerous because it takes over your entire being. He made a mistake so I must be a mistake. Or he didn't get what he needed so I'm a failure because I didn't provide it. Why wasn't I a mind reader, I should have known or he should have noticed. This is a lose-lose game I couldn't win. I worked on ME until I was finally strong enough, good enough and was enough to find my own way of healing. I took control of my life and what I really wanted for my life. This was around 13 to 18 months. I kept notes of questions and how I felt. I was walking through an emotional mind field every day and didn't trust my memory. I looked back from time to time to see how much I psychologically suffered. My sister listened endlessly about what I wrote. I also found out reoccurring themes. If I was going to stay it gave me full knowledge of prior problems and I could see how much he changed. I judged my marriage and life for myself. I knew I was competent to make a good decision but while I swimming in panic of unknown waters I didn't really know if I was making the right decision. But once I was strong enough about ME to stand on the shore, I knew I made the right decision. I deserved some ME peace and I did something everyone said not to do to get there. It was my last ditch effort but I felt strong and it was right for ME. That is the day I became unstuck and getting there was very painful, the wear and tear is significant. I reframed my experience by looking through a different lens of ME.

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    1. Lynn,
      This is so incredible to read. I love that you've found such clarity -- to see what is your responsibility but to see what is not and what you can release.
      You make an interesting point re a "good" decision and a "right" decision. I think a "good" decision, or perhaps, the next right decision, is all we can ever ask of ourselves. Expecting to know the "right" decision is too much pressure. And none of us really know until our story is over.

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    2. Lynn,

      I've been absent but checking in as often as possible and reading the posts. I read your post on how you made an "executive decision" (as I consider it) to approach the OW. I am sooooo happy you were able to do so with someone who was able to give you what you needed. You filled in the gaps of the story where your husband couldn't, you got another perspective, and you were able to get closure. I am really excited for you. And, from reading this post, it really is working for you--you are moving forward! Alleluia! I couldn't be happier for you. You have done the hard work to get you where you are and maybe now you can find some peace and happiness as you define what your "new" marriage will look like from here. Please keep writing for those of us who are yet to be in your shoes, including myself. We find great value in your writing. xo

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  5. This was such a confirmation of my journey through the trauma that hit me and that I am on the right track in healing this gaping wound from my husband's betrayal. I have struggled with the healing process wondering if it will ever be complete. I am gaining more hope as I press on. All through this journey I have had the underlying realization that no matter the outcome of my marriage I am whole and I will be secure in me. I have the blessing of a genuinely remorseful and willing husband to walk the journey of restoration of our marriage. We are far beyond the 25 year marriage that ended in betrayal. The pain and heartache of the affair and all the loss orf trust, commiment, time, money,, memories, and security is so vast but the building of a new marriage foundation gives me hope. One foundational huilding block laid at a time restores the gaping hole in the core of my being and the new marriage we are creating. I am liking what is beginning to take shape. Will I see a beautiful structure of a marriage? I hope so but I know that as with any reconstructiin there can be delays and sometimes total shut down. So I press on laboring to give my best efforts along with my husband's best efforts to see a rebuilt marriage, stronger and a new beautiful structure. Each of those foundational blocks represents the things we are learning about in facing each wave of grief that comes. Intimacy, friendship, respect, investment in each other, evaluating each pattern in our behavior, throwing out old destructive behaviors, and more to discover are the foundational building blocks of our new marriage. I hope to see a beautifully restored sound architecture of our marriage.

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    1. Deby,
      I love your "renovation" metaphor. But I would caution you -- and all of us (including me) -- to recognize that marriage will always have its ups and downs.. To stick with your metaphor, there will always be minor repairs and upkeep. But a solid foundation helps ensure that those other things remain manageable.

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  6. Yes, that's how I stumbled upon this sight one wee small hour of the morning. This was the first sight I found that didn't feel me with dread and lack of hope. So when I read the posts from the women it occurred to me that no matter what their was hope. I thanked God that night for helping me find a place of peace. Love you girls - Ann from Texas

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  7. Sometimes I go back and read the responses that have received from the ladies before. Especially on a topic I am still dealing with. I just did that, and I noticed I neglected to think queen b. Queen, thank you for your comments to me it always means so much when you hear that someone else is going through what you are and The way in which they dealt with it.

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  8. Ladies, I am posing another question which puzzles me. I have always been a firm believer in psychological therapy. Not surprisingly, my husband is not such a firm believer. We had gone to counseling briefly in the past and he always ended it. One of the marriage counselors even called us and wrote us a letter encouraging my h to come back for individual counseling. Of course he did not.
    As L pointed out some time ago my husband is fearful of emotions, his or mine. Even now, we tend to only talk about our situation about once a week and when we do he becomes severely nauseous and frightened. He tells me that when we speak of the situation he feels as if he wants to vomit. In my last conversation with him a few days ago, I told him of a new marriage counselor who I had found that I thought we should try. He really doesn't want to, and he feels that a therapist can in essence brainwash you and that they all have different takes on the situation. He truly feels you're just better at helping yourself. I asked him how he wanted to work on the relationship, on the marriage and of course he could not give an answer. At the time, which was a few days ago, I said okay, we can wait and see what happens. But in my heart of hearts, I don't know how we will move forward without professional guidance. Our marriage counselor right after D-Day did recommend the book, "After the Affair" and another EFT book. We had been reading After the Affair together and I know that I could get him to do that again.
    I remember someone on this blog said that they do not go to therapy. And I do know some people simply do not believe in therapy. My 94-year-old mother reminds me of that LOL she says, you know honey I would never go to therapy and neither would your father.
    Any thoughts please?

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    1. Melissa,
      I'm always curious about people's resistance to therapy. I kinda get that some people just aren't that interested in their own interior lives. So, vive la difference.
      But when someone is terrified of therapy, that tells me something else entirely. I'm no psychologist but what, exactly, is he so afraid of? There's clearly something there that he's heavily invested in NOT finding out.
      My husband spent a decade insisting that his family/childhood were wonderful. Wasn't interested in therapy -- that was for "crazy" people (ie. me and my family). But when even he realized what a mess he'd made of his life, he sought a counsellor and the excavation began: childhood abuse, extreme neglect, an emotionally absent mother, and more. To this day, he insists that nothing happened to him at the church or school he went to. And maybe he's right. And yet, he can't walk into a church without physically clenching and feeling nauseous. Strikes me as a pretty extreme reaction to "nothing".
      So....that's a long way of saying that I think there's deep pain there that you husband doesn't want to re-experience in any way. And yet it's undoubtedly driving much of his behaviour. Thing is...it's his life. He gets to decide what he does with it, including letting himself be affected by events and feelings he refuses to acknowledge.
      You get to decide what to do with yours.
      Maybe reading books togethers and talking about them will get the ball rolling. Or maybe you can find a therapist who's straightforward and deals with therapist-averse people.
      But I think your instincts are right.

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  9. I'm like some big-mouthed fish, gobbling up your gratitude for this site. I set out to create the site I wished existed when I was going through this. And it means so much to me to know that it's reaching many, many (roughly 2,000 a DAY) betrayed wives. Thank-you for what YOU all bring to the site. Your wisdom, your vulnerability, your compassion and support for each other, the lessons you've learned, the questions you have. We guide each other through.

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    1. Elle,

      I want to thank you for this site, as well. My heart breaks that you didn't have a site such as this when you needed it. You truly have created a forum where we can feel safe, validated, loved and even appreciated. And the guidance is almost better than therapy sessions, lol! In fact, it IS a therapy session!

      Like a lot of the other women here, I visited many, many sites and found them either to be hopeless, negative or just plain vindictive. I visited many sites written by men for men and, luckily for them, I was too destraught to comment. I would have given them an earfull, lol! (We all know how "wordy" I can be, lol!)

      This site, however, offered something entirely different--a healthy dose of good, common sense. It offered an alternative to the "kick-him-to-the-curb" mentality. Not that I had decided I wouldn't be doing exactly that, mind you. But I needed lots of education and reflection before making any decisions at all. I love the cut-to-the-chase honesty here. No mincing words--just pure, unadulterated honesty. I always appreciate honesty. And I also appreciate the opportunity you provide to look at ourselves through a clear lens. I know I am not perfect. I may not have forced my husband to do what he did, but certainly my marriage was not without flaws and I am not too proud to explore my role in how we arrived at this place in time.

      So, for the people truly looking for answers and who really want to find happiness within themselves and their marriage, or even to begin a new way of life, you have provided us all with the means by which to accomplish some very positive changes in our lives without judgment of any kind. Reading, commenting and becoming part of this community is worth its weight in gold.

      Some time ago, I told my husband to visit this site and read some of the very personal stories shared. He did and it has been extremely helpful in his growth as a human being. It was hard for him as he was able to identify himself in so many stories. Doing so opened his eyes to the reality he had created and to the man he had become. He is a subscriber now. I don't know how often he visits, but I do know he visits. So it has proven to be invaluable to us both.

      So, thank you again, Elle. Soak up the glory and keep up the good work. I will always be grateful that you had the courgage to buck societal standards and forge ahead in order to bring a long hidden topic to light. You have addressed the many misconceptions surrounding infidelity and have educated us all on the after effects--especially PTSD, which I may not have recognized on my own. Your site will hopefully aid in bringing positive change to the world and in humankind, one marriage at a time.

      Very Sincerely,
      Merilee

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  10. This post was beautiful. I will probably re-read it several times. :-)
    Like others have said, this site has been a gift to me. The reassurance and comfort I have found in the posts and the comments of others has amazed me. I was initially hesitant to comment on anything I read because I had been so limited in who I told. But, wow, am I glad I got past that! You all are amazing!

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  11. Elle,

    Thank you for this website. 2,000 a day. From the ashes of pain we help each other stand and face another minute, hour, day as we survive this tsunami of pain and gather strength. We have NOTHING to be ashamed of and we are NOT victims.

    Elle, thank you, thank you, thank you for saving lives.

    Much Love to all
    Val

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  12. Elle and ladies ... I read this article sometime ago and find it fascinating. It speaks to women's desire for emotional conversations (at home or in therapy) as well as a man's avetsion to such types of conversation. And it goes much deeper.

    http://www.alternet.org/story/147268/do_men_love_differently_than_women#.VYGVx7srSSs.mailto


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    1. Hi Melissa,

      It rings true, in broad strokes. But when a man cheats on someone he ostensibly loves, it raises the issue that there's clearly something going on that's driving this seemingly irrational behaviour. And when someone is so resistant to figuring out what that is -- despite the risk of losing something/someone valuable to them -- it makes me wonder why.
      Could be that your husband really is just confused as hell by therapy and by what's expected of him there and would rather avoid the whole thing. I think, however, that avoidance is a large part of the problem with most "happily" married men who cheat.

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  13. Heads up ... it is a long article so give yourself time ... and a portion of it repeats itself ... not sure why ...

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  14. Yes, Elle, I agree. And yes, he is confused during therapy. After DDay we went to about 9 treatment sessions ... and with reading the book we have some idea why he had the affair and why he continued it ... granted we don't have full understanding, and perhaps never will. When I cheated on my first husband I never went to therapy to figure out why, but I can look back now and see I needed the OMs constant adulation of me ... my low self esteem at the time ... and the life lesson was so strong ... I will never, ever cheat on someone again. I didn't need therapy to figure that out, however I did need therapy to get away from the OM. Despite knowing ours was an unhealthy relationship ... I went back to him on more than one occasion. As for my current husband ... Yes, he needs therapy in my eyes. As our marriage counselor pointed out, he is not capable of identifying and therefore addressing emotions. During a session one day, she asked us, "does h express his emotions easily?" He answered, "Yes, I do ... like if she asks where I would like to go to dinner, I tell her ... ". Unfortunately, the mc laughed ... she had done so at something else he had said at another session ... after the sessions he would tell me how upsetting this was to him, however he did not address it with her. As a child his mother would taunt and tease him if he was upset, rather than comfort him. Yes, Elle, he desparately needs therapy ... and as I told him, through my tears, I hope one day, whether we are together or not, he will get the help he needs. Otherwise he will continue to bury his emotions and run from his problems ... so very sad ... but I can only control myself and my life. For now, I have chosen to stay in my marriage and take it day by day. I find comfort in his presence in our home . ... we are being good to one another ... we are finding time to be productive and time to laugh ... and time to talk about us, although I'm not sure it's productive ... time will tell. Thank you Elle, thank you.

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    1. Melissa,
      That's really heartbreaking. And I think it showed a real lack of understanding for the MC to laugh. We've been really lucky with the woman we ultimately wound up with (took us three tries, with plenty of no-therapy time in between). Each of us has confessed we secretly think she likes each best. My husband thinks he's her favourite and I think I'm her favourite. That, to me, is an awesome MC.
      That's heartbreaking re. your husband. He must have felt so small when she laughed at him. And here he thought he had the "right" answer. I hate seeing people shamed, even when unintentional. It does shut people down.
      Would your husband ever read any of Brené Brown's books about shame? She's got such a lovely way of making us feel like we're all in the same boat. And a lovely way of helping us out of it. Daring Greatly is a fabulous book that's not at all woo-woo.

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    2. Hi Elle!
      I am in the same boat as Melissa. Only went to one therapy session so far and it was so bad my husband refuses to go back! I want to write more but need help figuring out how to publish other than "Anonymous". I have a Google account but don't want it to publish my full name. Any help to do this would be greatly appreciated!
      -H

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  15. I too check this site daily for wisdom!! I would like to meet you Elle. Thank you for being you.

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    1. Awww...thanks. As Kurt Vonnegut famously said, "Just be yourself. Unless you suck. In which case, be someone else." :)

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  16. Pema Chodron, author of The Things That Scare You, helped me to learn to relax with and accept uncertainty. She also helped me learn maitri, unconditional love for oneself.

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    1. I love Pema Chodron. That book also helped me. She writes with such compassion.

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  17. I too love Pema ... Living Beautifully in Times of Uncertainty and Change ... and thanks Elle, re: Brene Brown suggestion ... I have heard her speak yet have no books of hers. Also, thanks for mentioning that you went through three therapists to find a good one and you had no therapy times in between. That is helpful as well.

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  18. Anger is the noise of my hurting soul. It irritates my heart. The louder it gets the more desperate I became. I would think you don't have a clue about betrayal. And most of the time I was right except on this site. I had a very clear view of how my future would be unless I dealt with the hurt and anger. I didn't want to turn into one of those bitter angry old women. You know the type.

    I x-rayed my soul and saw the tumor of bitterness. The cancer black and menacing. The fatal fibers creeping around my heart to eat it while it was still beating. Broken but beating. Yesterday I can't change but my reaction to it I can. I can't change what happened but I can change my response to what happened regardless if I stayed or I left. My sister told me be patient you will have a moment of clarity. I waited and waited, 6 months past, then a year, then a year and half. It will come you when in your gut you know are making the right decision for you. It is a time in your soul when the picture becomes perfectly clear of what is right for you. The radiation and chemotherapy to unwrap your cancer from around your heart is self love. I had to take fairly large doses and it made me vomit, sick and painful. I didn't love my self for many reasons in my family past and finding out about the betrayal. You did absolutely nothing wrong. Don't let that anger cancer wrap its way around your faithful heart. Your beautiful faithful, loving, strong heart.

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    1. Really beautiful Lynn. Thank-you.

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  19. First off I swear. Every woman here is just so damn brave and articulate and despite the horrid pain so willing to see if we somehow played a part or how we can save ourselves no matter the outcome. And then we help others thru this wretched pain. We are truly in breathtaking company here. One comment, although I have not read the article yet about men and communication. I thought I was the perfect conversationalist with my H. I had read and been "taught" by other boyfriends that men are not like women in their conversations. We woman have a huge capacity for writing and talking endlessly on a deep level. Men's attention spans were much shorter. I thought so many of my friends were practically berating their husbands. Torturing them with long emotionally charged talks daily. So what did I do? Let mine BE. I never rattled off for emotional help on the daily events when someone hurt my feelins, ticked me off or gossiped. I mentioned it sure, but did not talk endlessly. I was tired of talk after work anyway so I had little need and thought he had even less. Who knew he felt so lonly he would turn to someone else. He did that because he had no capacity to tell me his emotional needs. I thought he was just strong and silent. I loved our silence. Felt connected in it really. Fekt content. I swear I didn't think he had any deeper need beyond what was right there in front if us. . Boy have we had to work on that. Not easy. But so far. Worth it. Rock on ladies. We are something. Something amazing. Thank you Elle for this piece(and this whole site) that is resonating far beyond what you will ever know. Waves.

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  20. I wrote up a comment broken into two posts this morning but since I accidentally signed out the other day, I don't think it went through. So here goes as best as I can remember. (Part 1)
    This is a bit of an emergency post for me. A best friend of the OW and old high school of my SO died. We expected he'd be getting a call from her. For the many here who don't know, this OW is his ex and in addition to cheating with him, she was incredibly cruel and insensitive and ugly about the situation as she could have possibly been. Insults, Facebook humiliation, getting "pocket dials" with her laughing in the background sounding like they were having a great ol time when he was out with her while I waited anxiously for him to return, going along with things that were happening right under my nose, and overall behaving like she took priority because she was there first (even though they had been over for quite a looong time before he and i started dating) and acting like I was imposing on THEIR relationship whenever I made any attempt to redirect his attention back to the primary one. I'm not happy that she's going through losing her friend and I don't rejoice any time that I hear of bad things in her life, but I just can't feel anything for her. And I understand irrational empathy, as there have been times in my life when if something awful happened to someone I thought I hated more than anything, I would actually manage to feel some sympathy, but I just can't with her. I see her as empty.
    When he'd had time to process the news and that call still didn't come, I thought maybe finally I'd successfully marked my boundaries and she had too much shame (or something...some equivalent that she'd be capable of feeling). But then while we were out having dinner, she called twice on a new number and texted saying who it was and to call her. I've lost a close friend to the same thing she did and I know she must be in a bad place, but on the other hand I just can't believe the nerve that she has to try contacting HIM of all people, the partner of someone she helped devastate and permanently scar, to support her. Asking him to disregard me yet again for her.
    But I can't stand the situation because it feels like I'm just being cast back into that role of a cold bitch that betrayed partners are usually portrayed as. I don't really care if it's me being cold to her; it's more than I don't want to seem like that to him even subtly. Because I know that even if it's like he says, that he has no personal desire to talk to her, that it's still hard for him to just ignore it and leave it like that.

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  21. Part 2) He's pretty much willing to do whatever I want but I guess the fact that it even became a question made me feel like I had to consider if anything a message explaining that for the sake of us she needs to go find someone else for support. Basically we were arguing about what that message would look like, as my idea would be enough to let her know that what they did destroyed me and this is more a result of her actions than my just trying to keep them apart, and his idea was too nice. I wouldn't want to kick anyone while they're down but his thoughts would not get the message across that after what happened it's not appropriate for her to dare reel HIM in for support, and that he can't prioritize her "feelings" over mine and my ability to recover from what happened. We were out at the time and fought about it briefly before I threw up the 15 dollar burger I'd had for dinner. Shortly he would say that he didn't want to fight about it, made nice and we didn't talk about it for the rest of the evening.
    It sucks. I know how it feels to lose someone, but even if she feels that as a normal person would, this person cared fuck all about my feelings, my life. I can't even talk about the whole story with anyone but my SO but what they did and she was so entertained by killed my dignity and I've barely gotten any of it back yet after a year. If there were any part of me that could have felt anything in the way of empathy for her, they killed it. In a lot of ways beyond just cheating but what happened in the following weeks, some of it she did all through her own will.
    So I know considering how she decided she wasn't responsible for my feelings or sense of well being, I'm not obligated to hers. He seems to get that enough, but maybe not the way that I do. Either that or he just can't express it because he hates it being dragged into light because of his shame about what he did and letting it all happen. I know that the best thing would be to keep the lines of communication permanently down, especially since the next time something had happens to her she'll just think she can text him and she'll get a response. I'm not ready to do this again and again. I just don't want to feel the way that the whole thing is making me feel. And because of this shit, I feel like I haven't even been able to keep the focus on supporting HIM through his grief over losing this friend of his. It can't be all about me and this poison in my life so it's like I haven't even been there for him in his pain as much as I should and want to.

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    1. better half. The no contact should remain in tact FOREVER regardless of the situation. You are correct, opening the line of communication as a one off, will lead to further one off's down the road. He should NEVER have any contact with her again. She has other friends and family that can help her with her grief and you can be there for your SO with his grief. No contact, No contact, No contact and NO exceptions should be your first and strictest boundary...NO EXCEPTIONS. He should NEVER want any contact with her ever again for any reason. If my husband felt ANY responsibility to make OW feel better about ANYTHING, I would go directly to a lawyer as I would see that as a huge sign that he is more worried about her feelings than mine.....and that would signal the end of my marriage for sure for me.

      Delete
    2. BH,
      I absolutely agree with Lizzie. No contact. He is NOT the person she should be turning to. It's over. You support your husband in his grief and she finds people to support her (or not -- not your problem). You're a nice person and you don't want to look like a bad person or an unsympathetic one. Which is ironic, given that nobody worried about what THEY looked like when they were deceiving you.
      I'll keep reading to see if you've posted how you handled it.

      Delete
  22. Fragments of HopeJune 20, 2015 at 11:02 AM

    Better half, reading your message, I really get how much you want to be a caring and understanding person, how you feel for others and their plight and you can even see your husband's point of view and how he might feel torn with this contact. What a kind and considerate person you are and how badly you were treated by this OW and how much you suffered due to your husband's involvement with her. My husband had a slide back when the OW recontacted him, he kept in contact for a month without telling me although at that time he wanted nothing to do with her and did want to be with me and make things work but he was beguiled and shocked really at his residual feelings for her and he needed to work through that. So IN A WAY your understanding of your husband's dilemma is realistic. However I do agree with Lizzie that if she gets any sympathy from him or if he is called to be her superman once more that is back in afffair territory. Ideally he would go for the no contact at all option AND block her new number. She doesn't even know if the message got through for sure. Otherwise he could send a very short message saying Very sad news about X but I don't want any further contact. THEN immediately block her number/email etc. and be wary of answering any unknown numbers. You wondered whether you should send a message explaining about her 'destroying you' and so on. I think this would be fruitless and give her more ammunition, I sent a message myself to the OW (after she first contacted me, it was kind enough and understanding of the bad place she had come from) however she showed no remorse only entitlement and bad grace. You can sympathise with your husband that the situation is difficult but say to him that it will be better for you both and very important that he does not respond, that it will speed the healing and that it is better for the OW to find someone new to support her. The OW does not deserve any consideration from you after what you've been through. All the best.

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  23. Better Half,

    So sorry for what you are going through. I agree wholeheartedly with Lizzie. Absolutely no contact with the OW for any reason whatsoever--not now, not ever! In fact, I would take it one step further by going into your SO's phone contacts and blocking her phone number. He should never except nor receive any phone calls from her ever again. There is no acceptable reason to do so ever again, no matter what.

    Do not judge yourself for not feeling empathy for the OW or what she is going through. No one would feel any differently in your shoes--not even your SO. And if your SO had a true understanding of the hell you've been through, he wouldn't expect anything less. He would know that he would feel the same way should the circumstances be reversed.

    Most of all, please do not judge yourself or worry about how others are judging you. Set firm boundaries in the things that feel important to you and do not second guess yourself. Really listen to yourself and your needs and then trust yourself to know what is best for you. Your needs do not need to make sense to anyone else, but should be respected regardless. Set firm boundaries and do not accept less. Do this for yourself and, above all else, know that you are worth it!

    I hope this all works out for you. I will be looking for you in the future to see how you are doing.

    Merilee

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  24. Thank you for this. We are trying again, and my husband has been trying. He wiped his phone clean, blocked the other woman and has given me access to anything I need.

    Last night he went out for the first time since dDay with a group of old friends. At about 11:30pm I noticed his profile picture on Whatsapp had disappeared and I convinced myself he had blocked me so he could text her...I tried calling and got voice mail. As soon as he got back to the hotel he changed his phone and text me - even though it was 2 am to tell me his phone had died. His profile pic was back up and he even sent me a photo of him and his buddy so I could see where he was.

    But. I can't shake that he was lying to me. He is a great liar! And I have heard from the OW recently that her and her husband and trying to move past what happened.

    The thing I'm struggling with is that she was happy to be a part time lover, she and him were both aware that they could only see each other once every few months.

    So I am struggling to believe it's over between them, even though he says and she says it is....what do I do?

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    1. I agree something is fishy you should be able to reach him at anytime. He had 2 1/2 hours of dead phone? He didn't call you just a text? You don't say how long it has been since Dday. You need to lay down some ground rules. I would tell him I was going to request phone numbers from the phone company See what he says. Then do it. How can a profile picture disappear because your phone is dead? If I had to do it over again that first year, I would know half truths are the name of he game.

      Delete
    2. My WH's phone died one day when he was driving home from a distance and knew I couldn't reach him. He also knew that I would be completely freaked out so he found a pay phone as soon as he could to call and reassure me. Pay phones are hard to find now so it took him a while and I was freaking out but he found one to make me feel better. He needs to be thinking about how you feel first.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous, I commented below… I do want to clarify something. I agree with Lynn, that there should be clear boundaries set with your husband. Given the fact that there was an affair… You should be able to get in touch with him at all times. He should be very aware of having to charge his phone and if for any reason he loses his charge or his phone is not working… He should at that very moment make every effort to call you and assure you, right away. And at that time he can provide a phone number to one of his friends so that you could get in touch with him. This does not need to go on forever… Yet it does need to go on until you feel comfortable again. Hugs!

      Delete
  25. Part 1
    In the end, I decided that letting the house remain atop the wicked witch and leaving her to rot was the only option i could live with. At first I couldn't help but feel some shame for the type of person it made me feel like. Then the more time I spent anxious and miserable (and nauseous) over the last day or so, at the mercy of every detail of every flashback, any way that I felt conflicted has begun to dissipate. Now I feel shame in sensing I'm the doormat i think I am destined to be treated as by everyone on this planet, who simply looks at me and sees some scarlet letter indicating such, for even considering allowing him to send any speck of clarity her way.
    As soon as he got the news he said before I'd brought it up that no, he was not going to contact her. And I believe when he says he does not WANT to talk to her, but I also sense that he doesn't feel great about letting her wait and wonder if he'll reach out back to her under these particular circumstances. He knows what it's like as he too has lost friends like this; in fact it was right after a good friend of his died that they started talking again, beginning the situation in which he cheated. That's not what I'm worried about as there is a fair bit of distance between where we live and she lives now, and more importantly his opinion of her has changed drastically.
    That's another thing that hurts about this though. For the year since he extracted himself and pulled further and further away from the fog, he has hated "that bitch". When it came up he thought so little of her as a person, made jokes at her expense and expressed how much he grew to resent her as the full impact of the guilt over what they did and how he allowed me to be subjected to that cruelty sunk in. Maybe it's petty and mean spirited to enjoy that (although certainly no more than her behavior towards someone innocent), but you all know why that is so relieving in its contrast to how our partners used to idealize these women during the affair. Soon enough he had started to sound like myself when she came up and I knew it was of his own volition. I couldn't have poisoned him against her if I tried. I did try, and I failed. So, I promise, this brings me to my point - that being, that even if he doesn't want to talk to her for any reason at all self-motivated, him feeling at all like he wished he didn't have to leave her hanging at this time, feels inconsistent with how he seemed to despise her for so long. It's hard for me to even think of how to verbalize this, because when I calmly and reasonably as I meant to asked him how those two pieces fit and what to think about this, he said it wasn't about her. Basically that he doesn't feel anything positive for her enough to have that slight empathy for HER, but just anyone in this form of grief considering his experience with it. I want to believe that, and maybe I'm making too big a deal of this aspect out of ego and self-interest, but I feel safer with the version of him that is human but still truly hates her guts. Can't help it.

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  26. Part 2

    Just to clarify, yes I do understand that the no-contact rule is not meant to be subject to exceptions. I guess I just wondered if I could make anything about this better for him and a one-way message to notify her about a lack of further response so she doesn't sit there counting on it, was the nicest thing I'm remotely capable of doing for that shell of a human being. I didn't start to think about any other course of action until he asked at one point that evening she called, "what do you want me to do?" I may have been too freaked out at the time to realize it but I know now that he meant that not as an actual question implying there was anything TO do, but more out of frustration because I was visibly unhappy that I was triggered by her even having the nerve to request HIS commiseration which she knew damn well would be at my expense, after all the other damage done. So no he never argued with my needs, and had already said he'd do whatever I wanted with it. Honestly, I question her ability to feel grief or loss to the extent that the average person would. Her shocking lack of sincerity and inability to empathize with anyone else who wasn't complicit in serving her interests (members of his family in addition to myself), as well as other patterns of her behavior were completely in line with those of a sociopath. Whether it's that or another personality disorder, it became really clear that there was just something fundamental missing there.
    Fortunately, we haven't heard from her since that evening and my SO seems to be coping reasonably well with the loss of the friend who passed. But as fragile and insecure as I'd already been feeling lately it's like I just KNEW I was approaching a major setback. Any insight or support would be appreciated.

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    1. BH,
      I think this might just be one of those things you have to white-knuckle your way through. It feels awful and uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking. But that doesn't mean you can't get through it without actually DOING anything. Just sit with it. Keep talking with your husband. See if you can use this to pull closer together. It sounds as if he's being considerate of your needs. It also sounds as if you're both nice people who hate feeling like the "bad" guy. But you're not. You're simply protecting the most important person in each other's life. If that's at the expense of her, well, that's just the way it is -- and it's largely of her making.
      Focus on the loss of your husband's friend. Use this time to talk about grief,including grief as it plays out in betrayal. And use this time to work together. Once the discomfort fades -- which it will -- you'll have learned even more and built an even stronger foundation.

      Delete
  27. Yes, better half. What Lizzie said

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  28. After I made my decision, after I'm on the road to healing, feeling better about myself. I wake up at 2am almost everyday and say to myself, "what are you doing? How can you stay with someone who totally disregarded you? He is a weak man? Then I see myself divorced. I think about divorce. I think about the hurt. How long does this go on? Why is this happening involuntarily?

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    1. Lynn, I do that all the time also. Second guess my decisions and wonder if i can do it. One minute I am feeling very positive about the future and my ability to live with this hell and then the next i am wondering how will this ever be possible without being in constant pain. I do know that I love him and I want it to work so that will be my goal going forward and I feel that the fact that I have so many more positive moments now than before is a good sign that the balance of positive/negative will continue to change in favour of positive.
      What your WH and all the rest of us on here did, was completely disrespectful to us as a person, spouse and human being. All of our WS's are weak or they wouldn't have done it....as it has been said before, they are broken in some way. I can see it in my WH to a point. How long does this go on? I really can't tell you that since I am wondering that daily also. The pain seems never ending and just when you think you are starting to feel better, another trigger that sends you reeling. Others on this site and other sites as well as my therapist say it will get better but it will take a long time. I have read 2 years and some say at least 5-6 years. I believe its a personal journey and it takes as long as it takes and at some point, we will just KNOW if its something we can really live with or if its something we have to walk away from. I am not at either point yet but feeling more positive. Sending you hugs and I hope you feel better. Just remember, its him that is broken. I was thinking recently that it must be absolute HELL for the betrayer (assuming they feel guilt) to have to go the rest of their lives KNOWING and having seen the hurt and damage that they "intentionally" did to the person they profess to love the most. How do you live with that? It makes me look at him a little differently.....he has to live with that. That is something that would haunt me every single day of my life and I am so glad it isn't me that did the hurting.

      Delete
    2. Lynn,
      I still occasionally get that feeling. Rarely...but it happens. I call those 4 a.m. thoughts the "dark dogs". They circle. They show their teeth. They convince me that I'm pathetic, a loser, a horrible mother, a lousy wife, etc. etc. But they don't speak truth. They speak fear and anxiety and depression.
      Recognize them for what they are. Talk back to them. They will retreat when you call them out into the light.

      Delete
  29. Better Half,

    I absolutely agree with Lizzie! NO CONTACT to the OW period. Block her numbers.

    Wish I could wave a wand or hit her over the head with an iron skillet.

    Here is how I look at these women:

    At the very minimum these women are indifferent to you as betrayed partner at the maximum they are lethal, toxic and unstable. These are archetypes of personality and behavior.

    Malicious female vanity and narcissism.

    This is the safest most amazing place to express your sense of outrage and injustice. As a woman we are told to "Be Nice," when others (especially other women) are downright evil and get away with it. I hope you can find ways to kind and gentle to yourself. Vent all you want (wow do I get it) and keep building boundaries and getting real clear about what you need to happen in order to move forward and find some peace. Shield up yo! You can do this......

    Love to all
    Val

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  30. Elle,

    I just got around to reading our NYT Sunday paper today June 21, and two articles jumped out at me one in Sunday Review "No time to Be Nice," we're rude at work and it's hurting profits, health and happiness.' did not read it yet but the title made me think Hey let's look at what's really going on in marriages,lies, deceit how mean is that? Think it impacts betrayed partners health? Could Brene Brown PLEASE write about infidelity shame....please.....

    But today what really got me was in Sunday Styles p8 Social Qs. OMG!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!

    "A fox Guarding The Henhouse."

    "Our 4 year old son has a playmate whose parents have become friends. Our college age babysitter met the playmate and her father at the playground. She reported that while the children were playing the father asked for her phone number and to meet her for dinner. She said it was obviously not to discuss babysitting. My wife and I are conflicted about saying something to the wife. Rearless there will be a huge elephant in the room when we meet next. What do you suggest?

    Philip Galanes rightly suggests initially to focus on the babysitter and praise her for reporting the creepy overture etc if she was spooked tell the guy "stay away from her with or without the kids. We'll let you sort out the logistics with your wife" Even if the sitter was fine, you may still decide to make that call......and here I LOST IT

    "BUT LEAVE THE WIFE OUT OF IT. SHE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HER HUSBANDS BEHAVIOR AND CAN'T CONTROL IT, EITHER. AND HIS STABS AT INFIDELITY ARE NONE OF OUR BEESWAX.

    goes on but ends with.......

    Here's hoping that the parents of your son's other pals cheat NORMALLY (i.e,, at reasonable distance from the playroom)

    Here we have it from the mouths of idiots about the "Wife." and infidelity. What if it were he was drinking a bottle of vodka and getting into a car with small children. Should the wife be notified? Infidelity strikes at the heart of a family THE CHILDREN the same but in different ways. What is wrong with our culture? How glib? How casual infidelity is regarded by the sexually elite.

    Don't TELL the wife....it's non of our beeswax?

    Really,
    Val (ugh)

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    1. Val,
      I read that. And I completely disagree. I think that sort of culture -- the "it's none of our business", "maybe they have an open marriage" blah blah blah -- is a big part of what keeps infidelity alive and well. I hate that flip attitude about cheating "normally". Ugh.
      My advice? Tell the wife. She deserves to know. What she does with that information is up to her. But we're complicit if we know and say nothing.

      Delete
  31. Lynn, yes, your husband was weak, and selfish and sick ... and yes, you get to decide if he, and your marriage is worth fighting for. I have a dear friend who went through hell and back during her husband's infidelity ... he had gotten his own apartment and was seeing both women for over a year! (Having sex and overnights with the OW; having dinner with wife.). My friend hung in for love, for her children and due to her faith ... it has been five years since he moved back home and they are doing better than ever. Some think she was crazy; some admire her. And you know what ... it does not matter what anyone thinks ... only what she thinks and feels about her decision.
    I do wonder ... has something changed with you and your husband recently that is bringing on these thoughts? Is there something you want to address with him? What is really bothering you? If anything ... just speculating.
    Wishing you clarity, peace and light.

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    1. You raised such interesting thoughtful questions, making me think deeper. I guess deep down I still think I'm crazy to stay with someone who is so weak, not moral and threw me under the bus. He was not a strong enough man to get out of something he lamented to the OW, we have to stop, I love my wife and I don't love you. I know all the reason or excuses but somehow that doesn't balance it out. An affair was the line in the sand for me, the only line I ever drew with him early on in our marriage. So in one hand he is the man I love, not as much as before and in the other hand as my self esteem grows, am I compromising myself? Woman who think something of themselves in the self esteem realm have boundaries and dont compromise their values. I think also as he is opening up more to me I'm learning who he is. I like what I see but know deep down he is weak while I always thought he was strong. He really isn't that strong which is how the OW reeled him in, she said, "I wanted to help hm by making him feel like a man." He has been to war, led men into battle raised three kids who all graduated from college, have jobs and were never in jail. Maybe I worry about my ability to meet this Hercules type of need. Your right I have figure this out. Therapy today, let you know. I also realize he hasn't really resolved his issues. I told him he has to go therapy at least once a month or I'm out of here. He has complied. Thank you for responding, I love the site. You strong woman are the only ones who understand deep down and can offer help. Nothing has changed I just wake up in middle for the last 6 months night thinking , you are a fool. Your stronger than he is or ever will be.

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    2. Elle,
      I want to donate but a little hesitant to give my financial info. I believe in my heart you would never do anything to compromise any of us. Can you write something about how this works?

      Delete
    3. Thank you for sharing another positive story, Melissa! I love to hear them. We are still pretty early in the process, but those stories are so reassuring.
      I feel fortunate to see a lot of changes in my husband, but I sometimes get caught up thinking "I did nothing to deserve this". It happens regardless of what I see him doing on a daily basis. I wonder sometimes if it is partially my own pride (Never thought I would be the wife who stayed) and perhaps a little bit of feeling like I need to hold it against my husband. Sort of like "If I'm hurting, you need to hurt too." Nevermind the hurt he already feels as a result of his actions and the consequences. And it may be for the same reason that I harbor anger toward the OW... because as much I as I want to, I can't see her hurting.
      I read what others post about not letting the OW take up space in your head and I wonder when I will get there. And I've read some posts on how you have to focus more on the present and not get stuck. I don't fixate on these things every day like I did in the very beginning but I'm frustrated when I do. Does it just take time? How much of this is just part of the process? I'm trying to be patient with myself.
      I love that you said that what others think doesn't matter. You are right! Ultimately, I chose to stay because I love him despite his awful choices and because I believe he has the willingness and ability to confront and deal with what allowed him to make those choices in the first place. I also know I have the choice to walk away if any of that changes.

      Delete
    4. Lynn and Dandelion,
      Melissa's point that it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks is so true...but so hard to hold onto when we feel ashamed because we're staying. And I think that's where a lot of the ambivalence about staying comes from: shame. We're raised to believe that this is a deal-breaker. This it's the ONE thing we simply won't tolerate. Can't tolerate. Should NOT tolerate. We're offered up a "you go girl" attitude when a woman kicks the man to the curb. And we avert our eyes when a woman decides to stay because, c'mon, who would put up with THAT?
      Those cultural prescriptions live deep in our psyche. As do our ideals of what makes a man a man. Few men are constantly strong. We're human. We screw up. None of this is to say anyone has to stay in a relationship that isn't serving them. It's just to point out that we're all flawed. Especially those of us who aren't given permission to be. The higher we are on our pedestal, the farther we fall. I'd like to write about this further in a blog post. It's such an interesting point.
      And Lynn, the way the donations work is that it goes through PayPal so nobody else sees who's donating or how much. It simply gets deposited into my PayPal account. It's highly secure and safe and anonymous. I'll write more about that too in a blog post. I'm incredibly grateful for the donations. They allow me to spend more time on this site (which is taking up ever more of my time) without compromising my "real" writing income.

      Delete
  32. Anonymous, if your husband wants to have an affair, he will have one. I found that all the checking and tracking and craziness was causing such stress for me and my h ... after he moved back home (we were separated for six weeks) I told him I would not be checking anymore. If he wanted to be with her ... then just go. The truth will come out in the end. In the meantime, my feeling is you must believe him ... and trust your instincts ... those two forces may be in opposition, but all your obsessions about was he or wasn't he with her .... the worrying and obsessing is not serving you or your marriage. You are better served by addressing your assessment of your husband "he's such a good liar" through counseling. May peace and strength be with you.

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  33. Thank you for the responses. I realise I should have pointed out that the ow lives hundreds of miles away. There was no way he was with her, but it was more the feelings of mistrust that came rushing back. dDay was March, then I had another dDay in May when I found out he had been to see her again. He said he saw her and ended it but then I found out.

    I went nuts. Somethjng flipper in me and I told him I had had enough and we were splitting up. We sat the kids down and told them and then....then it hit him.

    I feel we've hit rock bottom and are on the way up, but I can't help wishing karma would hurry up!

    He says often that he wouldn't be surprised if I found some one else in the future and dumped him because he has been such a terrible husband. How do I explain that I not like him? That I wouldn't do that?

    It's a tough road ladies, and I'm so glad this place exists as a safe haven for the crazy. Thanks again

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  34. Lynn Pain,

    I know exactly how you feel. Just the other night I was thinking AGAIN about leaving. Because I can not look back at two decades of deceit and such selfish cruelty. I hold competing notions together that even on the one hand as I have always and will always love my husband and that this "Discovery" has revitalized our marriage. I may also remain a person who will never completely recover from the after effects of such long -term betrayal. For even as we appear stable much of my internal joy and happiness has been permanently lost. There something in me has fundamentally and irrevocably broken inside of me as I witness the world of people around me.

    I keep thinking of a small apartment and silence and PEACE. But then my husband weeps, and then I look at my daughters and I stay where I am. Oh, Lynn I feel a similar haunting....whisper in my ear that says "Bolt," "Leave, run....and don't look back." It's such an interesting mixture of emotions wanting to stay and heal together and other appalled at the hell and fury brought into the home. I have no answer and tell myself I can always leave if I decide to and will 'walk,' not run.... but today I'm sitting still.

    Love to you dear Lynn
    val

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    1. Thank you that I'm not crazy! I raised these concerns in therapy. Previously I was thinking all the time about the three of us - me, the OW and asshole. NOW I realize I'm thinking about him and him alone. What he did. I faced the psycho kindergarten teacher and know there is no competion. These thoughts are stemming from HIM having an affair, being weak etc... The OW is totally out of everything and anything I think about it, go to or see. My mind is focusing just on him, what he did and who he is. You take the OW out of the equation and suddenly I'm seeing him like emotionally naked in front of me not them together just him. Therefore the run away senerio starts because I'm really seeing him.

      I also learned today how he is now looking at himself about what he did, what type of man he is and why didn't he do things differently. Men do look at their lives and what type of life they lived. I'm finally hearing about how bad he feels, guilty and he is not liking what he sees. I never thought this day would come. He is looking at himself thinking, reflecting about what he has accomplished in his life. He gets to last page feels sick, disgusted about himself and not just little. He is dealing with what he did and it is more difficult for him than I ever imagined. I don't think he will forgive himself and I really don't give a damn. I know I'm going to be OK. Touché

      Delete
  35. Elle,

    Okay inspired by another amazing betrayed spouse and led to another amazing website Tracy Schors Chump lady..anyway looking for her comments on another subject read an old letter she took from an OW and a line jumped out at me!

    My idea? Make a t-shirt, button and bumper sticker. (oh and I will) some night when the time is right I will go and put this bumper sticker on my husbands long-term (18 years) mistresses car which will read

    "I flatter men and they fuck me, I'm "SPECIAL."

    :) if you don't print this I will so understand....
    val

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    1. Val, I am dying! Funniest thing I have read all day. Think we could get a discount if we place a group order? ;-)

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    2. I like this :) a much needed giggle so Thankyou - anon from earlier on here

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    3. hysterical!!! I love it, great idea ;)

      R

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  36. Hello all,

    This post by Elle is just what I needed to read today. I'm taking this one day at a time. HIMSELF is still the same - the ninja master liar. I am moving forward - slowly. Still seeing my original therapist but start with new therapy group in a few days. The polygraph is OUT. My current therapist worked with me on that issue last week and I came to the conclusion that he could pass the polygraph and start lying again the second it was over. Had HIMSELF taken the polygraph 2 months ago he would have passed with flying colors because he would have been able to honestly answer most of the questions - he was not in a RELATIONSHIP with a very young female - he was in a parallel fake "marriage" for 20 years with a woman about our age. I will take the polygraph money and will treat myself to a solo vacation.

    Stay or go?? Probably going to leave him but I am going to continue building my “nest egg” while I stay in this house. Right now the probability of leaving is running about 75% and I do not see it getting any better -unless- HIMSELF starts truth talking. Funny how my ‘gut’ just knows he is keeping secrets and continuing to lie. Wonder where that ‘gut’ feeling was all those 20 years -- well looking back I do see subtle and not so subtle signs. {{{{{HUGS}}}}}

    SS

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    1. Atta girl! You sound strong and clear-headed. Glad you're taking time to focus on what you need and what you want. And so glad to hear your voice again on this site! We missed you.

      Delete
  37. SilentScream,

    So happy to hear from you!

    Sounds like your in the continuation of the "thick of things." As I am also the unaware participant in a parallel "Fake," marriage I can say....I get you loud and clear. What were we feeling post discovery and all those years?.....breaks my heart..... hard to unpack. But I do know there is no point beating myself up....for his choices. I was lied to, manipulated and all truth withheld. I wouldn't have made most of the decisions I made but how was I to comprehend such inequity? Alas...

    Hope you do enjoy a solo vacation after all.....you've worked so hard and deserve some peace and rest.

    Love to you
    val

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  38. Thank you, Elle. This is exactly where I need to be now. Interestingly enough, my spouse's 8 month long affair made me face my greatest terror: Abandonment!! When I found out, I was struck with the worst sense of abject, paralyzing fear that I've ever known. I literally was trembling on the inside for about 10 days. When the trembling subsided, I understood that the dismay I felt was due to a life-long fear of being abandoned by someone I loved; this fear began in childhood when I felt abandoned by my mother.
    My husband's affair made my worst fear a reality -- abandonment by my friend, spouse, lover, in the most insidious way, with deception. After I realized I had faced that terror head on, and survived, I realized I am much stronger than I thought. I can live through abandonment, because I am a valid person in my own right. God loves me just as much as He loves the people I fear will abandon me. So from henceforth, I will not live a life in fear, a life wherein I lost myself trying to keep people from leaving me. Now I realize it is o.k. if people leave me, because I am still here. I am not a victim of their lack of loyalty and abandonment; sounds like a Tom Petty song, "You don't have to live like a refugee."
    Realizing we are not victims of our fears unless we let ourselves be victims of them has really enabled me to live with the hurt and grief; I can survive this as a stronger woman, and I still have many friends and family who have not abandoned me. And God will never abandon me. I will be fine, with our without my spouse. I have endured the most feared monster of my nightmares, and I am still here, alive and functioning.
    It is so incredibly cathartic to realize we are no one's victim, but we can become anyone's victim when we let our fears run our lives.
    Thank you for this wonderful blog -- it is not just about betrayal, it is about growth.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous,
      That's EXACTLY what this is about. I too realized that I could feel all these horrible feelings – and survive. It's incredibly liberating, isn't it? To finally recognize that we're so much stronger than we realize and that, once we're really right with ourselves, it matters far far less what other people do to us.
      What's more, once we understand that we'll be just fine, with or without our spouse, staying becomes a choice and not a compulsion. We stay because it's where we want to be, not because we're afraid to be alone. It also means we're far less likely to tolerate disrespect and violations of our boundaries. We know how to respect ourselves.
      So glad you're here.

      Delete
  39. Anonymous!

    Sing it sister! Your wonderful, "Now I realize it's o.k. if people leave, because I'm still here." and I am not (as in now that I know? I will NOT be anyone's) victim. Not to my spouse or/others lack of loyalty and abandonment." Amen and Amen sister anonymous

    The moment we realize we are o.k. solo (inside job) AND we don't need to carry the betrayers shame....the light shines into the room don't it just. Something biblical.


    Love
    val

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  40. Update on my h and therapy. Refresher: we went to mc for about nine weeks, weekly, then separated for six weeks now back together. H reluctant to go back to therapy even with new therapist I found (we both
    agreed we did not want to continue with last one) ... I had my third conversation with my h today about therapy. I explained it as such:
    You are very good mechanically, electrically, technically ... I respect that ... I'm not so good in those areas. I am very good emotionally, good with people, sensitive... I will never be as good as you mechanically ... you will never be as good as me emotionally ... Let's respect our strengths. I went on: you would never put a truck out on the road (he's a diesel mechanic) with bad or defective parts ... if you did you risk slow leaks or worse yet, blow outs ... you risk potential damage ... an accident ... potential tragedy. By not addressing our issues, through counseling ... our problems will continue to "leak" and one day "blow" and definitely lead to tragedy. He got it. He agreed to go to counseling after he completes some projects that are timely and involve other people. I am fine with that. In
    the meantime ... I am seeing this new counselor myself tomorrow.
    Since my h has returned home he has said to me on numerous occasions ... "Are you sure you want me?" and "You signed up for this again?" Yup. There are times he acts so cocky, yet Elle, I believe you got it right ... he came home because he doesn't want to lose me, yet he doesn't feel he deserves me. Here's to hoping this counselor can help us.
    Love and hugs all around.

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  41. I've subscribed to this blog for over three years now and I'd like to thank Elle and everyone who has shared her story. Because of all of you, I've kept my sanity. I'm still angry and I still get reminders every single f-cking day but I remember your advice and comforting words and I feel better. My husband had an affair with a girl half his age for over a year. he was an artist and met her at a sketching group where she modelled and started to hang out with the group frequently. I knew in my gut that something was wrong when he started spending a lot of time with the group, but I had no proof and I trusted. I finally knew when I saw his text to her, professing how he loved her so much, while we were having dinner with family friends at a hotel and he didn't realize I was looking over his shoulder. I couldn't breathe, I was so angry, so enraged. I ran from the function room where we were having dinner and he followed me. He said he didn't love her, he didn't want us to separate, he was sorry, he felt like throwing up. I shouted at him, I wanted to know everything but he only told me lies like how it was a recent thing, how it was a just a thing. The next days, weeks, months were a nightmare. I would have left and gone far away or killed myself from so much grief, if not for my son who was six years old at the time. I found the strength to get up, report for work where I'm a senior manager, do my work, function like a human being and break down in tears in the dark at the attic at night. I had so much rage because he broke my trust and utterly broke my heart until I really just wanted to die, just to not feel anything anymore. He also did exactly what my father did to my mother when I was eight -- had an affair with another woman and left my mother, sister, and me. Looking back, I now realize how this amplified my trauma and pain. For a long time, I couldn't tell what was real and what was not. I couldn't help myself from checking his phone all the time. As I found out more about the affair and the other woman, I had breakdowns where I asked him, pushed him to leave but he wouldn't. At some point, I've decided to take it one day at a time and pay attention to myself, prioritize my needs, be happy with my son. I realized I lost my self-confidence, my sense of self. I couldn't muster a smile and it's been a long time since I've felt joy. I'm slowly trying to regain these now and trying to feel good about myself. I still feel a lot of anger at him and the OW. I even cursed her: may she fall in love some day and be betrayed by that person in the same way that my husband betrayed me. Reading Elizabeth Gilbert's account and learning about how the OW has moved on to other older married men makes me think the OW was exactly like Gilbert - a selfish narcissist. My husband has made many changes to atone - he left the sketching group and moved to another, he says he realized that what was important for him was having me and our son. He says he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. We are together, but some days, I feel he doesn't really love me, he's just here because of our son and because I financially support us. My demons still hang around a lot, as you can see.

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