Years ago I suffered a phobia. The one session I had with a coach who dealt with that phobia and only that phobia, changed my life. And though betrayal is, of course, different, I think what I learned might be helpful here:
Picture the future – and who you are in it.
This coach/therapist told me to carry a mental black-and-white photo in my back pocket that I was only allowed to glance at. It was me as a bitter old woman, stuck in my phobia (or in our case, pain), unwilling to move, unwilling to let go of this terrible thing that has happened. In fact we have clung to it because we think, somehow, that to move on will make what has happened see okay and it's not okay.
So there we are 20, 30, 40 years in the future. Still in pain.
It's a sad photo and it's all crumpled up because we have carried it for years. It's cracking, it's tearing, it's faded, it's beat up. You can only look at it briefly as a reminder of what may become of us if we stay here in pain and bitterness, with no wisdom to share, no stories to tell.
We didn't try to pick up the pieces of ourselves and move along. We just sat in our pain. Wallowed in it.
However, in my purse, I also carried an imaginary VHS (this therapy was a while ago – we can make it a DVD or a file on a thumbdrive now or on our phones). That movie is of me or of us, of you-of me – moved on through the pain – we kept going, we got better with time, we looked for and found happiness again, we refused to remain paralyzed by this awful event that has happened to us. We did not give up.
We worked it out, we lead full rich lives, we have great stories, and friends, maybe grandkids who want to hear our beautiful stories. Our lives have been fantastic. Maybe in small ways, maybe larger ways. (I had met a woman who raised a few dozen goats humanely for milk and cheese, after her husband passed – she loved working with those goats. She was a huge inspiration at the time.)
We should watch that imaginary movie over and over and over again. It's hard to believe we can get there, but we can. First step is to take the first step.
We just cannot let ourselves be stuck here in this pain forever. (Look at that old picture again. Don't we look miserable? Now put it away. NOW!)
Watch your movie again. In that vivid movie, the future you in HD is wiser, stronger, has risen through the muck and left that past (eventually) where it belongs and there you are in that movie, you are the star! Maybe a bit worn from the struggle (who isn't?) but there we are – there you are, happy in a beautiful garden you have planted, you have fruit and flowers for both beauty and sustenance for those in need of it and there's a chair on your beautiful porch to offer others a place to sit – and they love to sit with you because you are amazing and also have wisdom to offer.
Who would you rather be?
Getting through the pain is nothing you can or should rush. But if you can picture a goal, I think it can be helpful. Because I DID conquer that phobia, I lead a life I could never have led had i still been weighted down by it.
In regards to my H's cheating, I do lead a richer (but far from perfect) life, not because of his affair but because of my choices after the worst day of my life.
I can't change that day.
I can change what I did after it.
I did, I do and will continue to.
Take the step. Make your movie.