Tuesday, October 20, 2015

There's So Much Power In Owning Our Story

"When we own our stories, we avoid being trapped as characters in stories someone else is telling."
~Brené Brown, Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution.

There is another Web site devoted to betrayed wives which occasionally delights in skewering this one. I admire the woman who created it for the sanctuary she's created for those facing or seeking the dissolution of a marriage after betrayal. I envy her savviness at marketing, which includes a column in a widely read news site. I sometimes laugh at her smart humour. But I'm weary of her dismissal of this site and the women here as trafficking in fantasy. She might pay lip service to the possibility of reconciliation but her language around it is dismissive and demeaning.
The first time she wrote about me, it tied me in knots. I felt like the fool she was making me out to be. Worse, I feared I was fooling all of you. Was I was leading all of you down the garden path toward a future that would undoubtedly deliver you more pain? Was I peddling some sort of snake oil in the form of unlikely healing? My posts began to reflect this fear. Instead of delivering my clear thoughts, I waffled, afraid of looking like an "affair apologist", afraid of giving you the "wrong" impression.
It didn't take long until I realized that I had let her into the pages of my story. Though I inwardly railed against the caricature she'd constructed of me – naive, pathetic, a New-Age idiot – there was a part of me that wondered if she was right. Frankly, it's easier to insist that all cheaters deserve to be dumped. It follows our cultural script. It satisfies our desire for consequences. But that wasn't my story. I needed to find my own narrative again, to remain true to my story, not hers.
More recently, I noticed she had again linked to one of my posts in order to point out how deluded we all are. This time, however, it didn't faze me. I  know that no matter what she or anyone writes about me, it doesn't change my own story.
It isn't the first time I'm realizing this. I learned it following D-Day after I allowed myself to feel trapped by the story the OW was saying about me: I was pathetic. I was a fool. I deserved this.
Only when I challenged that story – really? What is it about being cheated on that makes ME pathetic? Am I really a fool for being loyal? For expecting people to behave with integrity? What am I satisfying by refusing to give a second chance? What am I denying? And what in the hell did I ever do to deserve this? – was I able to reclaim it as mine to tell. And it goes something like this:
Like all marriages, my husband's and mine had its challenges. Nonetheless, we had built a good life, a wonderful family. When I found out about my husband's betrayals, I was devastated. I wanted to die rather than endure another minute of the pain I was feeling. I wondered if I would ever feel anything close to happiness again. I couldn't imagine staying married to him. But I lacked the strength or conviction at that point in time with three young children to leave. So when he promised me that he would work every day of his life to become the man I had believed he was, I gave him that chance. Just as I had chosen to trust my mother two decades earlier when she promised to work toward sobriety after years of addiction.
That was close to ten years ago. I have no regrets. It has been hard at times. I have had many doubts, especially in the early years. Healing took far longer than I imagined. But the rewards have been greater. My husband has kept his promise. That's no guarantee that he will never break it but I have come to learn that the certainty I had about many things in life were illusions. I am only certain that I made the right choice for me. I continue to make that choice daily. I am neither a fool nor pathetic. I did nothing to deserve this. This is my story. And in my story, I am strong. I have approached the heartbreak of betrayal with courage and integrity (and a whole lot of tears). I have made my healing a story of compassion, no matter whether my husband is beside me or across from me. I have included all of you in my story – fellow travelers on this road, from whom I've gained so much. It has been worth the struggle.
I hope I have never given anyone the impression that my choice to rebuild my marriage is the right one for them. It can be tempting to believe in reconciliation when the alternative feels too painful. And there are many women who choose to offer a second chance to men who don't deserve it. In that sense, I suppose my counterpart's approach to dumping a cheater without a backward glance does remove any possibility he can do it again.
If that's your choice, I applaud you. If it takes you more than one (or two or three) D-Days to get there, then that's what it takes. But if your choice doesn't subscribe to what a Web site, or your sister, or any culture insists is the "right" one, then choose it anyway. If the idea of "choice" is something that doesn't feel available to you right now, then give yourself the time and space to access it. Each of us must recognize our truth, no matter what story others are making up about us. This is our story to tell, nobody else's.

36 comments:

  1. Elle,

    "Each of us must recognize our truth, no matter what story others are making up about us. This is our story to tell, nobody else's."

    Your website is a blessing and I am sad you'd had even a moment of doubt as you help so many people. It breaks my heart when I see sides being formed around intimacy deceit.....we have been BETRAYED and that alone joins us...how we respond or work through our own story is uniquely individual to those personally involved. My prayer for myself is increased compassion (yeah Right V) overall and to come from a more measured place when discussing betrayal. But mostly I want the discussion to keep happening no matter what and no matter who is talking I want to hear EVERYONE speak......I like the notion of I can agree to disagree on some points - but would never intentionally visit judgement on another person betrayed only concern for their safety and well being.

    I love your heart and also respect your work here..... and am grateful to all who visit this website

    As always and for all of us on this mind boggling journey,"shields up."

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    1. Hey Val,
      Thank-you for that. No worries. I'm over feeling anything but confusion at why there needs to be sides in this. I'm with you. Betrayal is excruciating enough without us judging each other on how we should respond to it.

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    2. Wow! I would really like to understand how any woman who is walking this path feels the need to say that those of us who chose to stay and save our marriages are weak and pathetic! We are nothing of the sort! It would have been easier to walk away and leave my husband! No doubt in my mind I could have walked away and survived! No doubt my three beautiful children would have suffered, but would have been more resilient than I think! I am a strong, confident, beautiful woman! I am staying and working to save my marriage because I am strong! I am staying because I believe in love and forgiveness! I believe in second chances! I believe that some things are worth fighting for! Maybe all marriages aren't worth saving, worth fighting for, but not mine! I would not take kindly to another woman, or man for that matter, to call me weak and pathetic for working to save my 19 year marriage, to keep my family intact, to raise my children together!!! I know that staying and drudging the the muck of betrayal is not for the faint of heart! Hell, I've considered throwing in the towel numerous times, but every time I see the man my husband is becoming, the leaps and bounds my marriage has made in terms of love, respect, communication, appreciation, understanding, compassion, forgiveness, intimacy,.... and more I think of all I would be missing out on if I had just thrown him to the curb! All marriages have difficulty, all marriages have problems. Obviously some greater than others, but whether we decide to walk away or stay doesn't make us weak! It makes it our journey, our choice, our story! I'd like to meet this blogger face-to-face and show her just how weak and pathetic I"m NOT!

      Thank you for this blog! It has inspired me and re-inspired me many, many times of the last 8 months! Thank you for sharing your story so that others can find the strength and support they need in the darkest hours of their darkest days!!

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    3. Wow, BentNotBroken! Yes! I love what you have said I love the encouragement I receive from everyone in this blog, so many of you have helped me in ways I can't list.
      Elle, you are that steady voice that always seems to have the right words at the right time.
      I've had a few down days but keep picking myself up and moving forward. Remind myself that it's okay to have those days now and then. It's all part of the healing.
      Hugs!

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    4. I want to thank Elle and BentNotBroken for your posts. I have yet worked up the strength to post my own story, but I do subscribe to and read the posts from this site. I have often questioned myself, if I am weak or a coward for not leaving but deep down I knew I still love my husband. When D Day happened I was not 100% sure I should leave so I decided to not make any decisions until I was 100% sure. (maybe being pregnant with fluctuating hormones has contributed to my indecisiveness.)
      Elle, I truly appreciate this website, it has helped me to know that there are others out there going through what I am going through. Everyone has their own story, I agree with this, but it also helps reading other women's stories and learning from their journeys. Please don't doubt the service you provide here and don't listen to those that need to lash out with negativity. Perhaps that's just her story.
      BentNotBroken- I love your name. I literally just watched the video for "Just Give Me a Reason" right before I came to this website. A very beautiful song that hits me on a different level since D Day.

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    5. Thanks all!
      And BNB? Your point re. whether all marriages are worth rebuilding is so true. We get to decide if ours is. The end.

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    6. I agree with all of this. One thing I have found out and knew before but now more than ever you cannot judge anyone else. You cannot know what goes on with anyone else individually or in their relationships. There are always two sides to every story too. So for others to judge and look at what had happened in other people's lives is really not a good idea. I love this site since it provides so much unconditional support whatever your decision might be. Also to come and find others with similar stories and/or feelings is empowering at an extremely vulnerable time. Society does not support reconciliation and forgiveness. I hear it every day on the radio, TV and conversations with friends. People do not have empathy or support and really our society is about quick fixes and what is in it for me. I can see where for many walking away would or could be easier. My husband even said he thought about never telling me and either continuing on ending our marriage. Since he said he did not know if he could deal with the pain he knew this would cause and that he is really totally at fault for it. He did or know if I would leave him and take the kids etc. so he thought about protecting himself. I am grateful he did not choose that route as I would never know what went wrong. I think so many people think the grass is greener, I can be happier. I just don't see that as realistic instead it is escape and avoidance. So many people give up so easily these days. Thanks for supporting all options and finding a way to work though the most challenging days of our life to come out stronger and better prepared to handle what comes our way.

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  2. Elle. This has been the hardest road I've ever travelled down. It also is the loneliest - not because I don't have family or friends.
    I do, and they have pulled me away from
    the brink of despair often, but I have no one who has walked this path- who gets the tangled emotions, the triggers, the depth of grief, the feeling of being completely dismissed and devalued by the person you trusted the most. The shame of possible STD's . The vile words of the ow. The feeling that what was once solid ground is now always going to feel unsteady- it's so lonely, but you created this place. I was blessed to find it and feel pride - not ever in the road - but always in the women I have found here walking along with me.

    This isn't the story I wanted but I'm determined by Gods grace to pick up the torn and crumbled pieces and still make my life's story an incredible one.

    Thank you for helping me when I falter in that endeavor or lose heart. I'm so grateful my story intersected with yours.

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  3. Elle
    Your words are always the source of strength and power for me! I had already decided to stay and fight for my marriage! I'm so grateful I found your blog rather than miss negativity! I have never felt you pressure any one of us to make the same decision as you rather your words give each of us our options and the power to make our own way to the decision right for each of the ladies stumbling down this path! I'm grateful for each of the other stories because they leave me feeling less alone and crazy! People will always have different views and society puts more pressure to just end it but that doesn't have to be the right thing to do do! I read Bent not broken twice because her words follow my path as I have reflected on the past 18 months! I'm certain I would be this for down the path with out the advice I have found here! I'm giving you back your own advice listen to your heart and not what someone else is saying about you or the words you share! Thank you for continuing on! Hugs!

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  4. Hello to All of You Wonderful Beings. I have been silently visiting this site since 2 a.m on March 11, 2015...a very long night after my D-Day on March 10. This is the first time I am writing because this conversation comes at a critical point in my story. My "husband" (at the time--I removed my wedding ring and currently refer to us as in a relationship), had a drunken one night stand on October 21, 2010. The anniversary of that one night stand is tomorrow which also happens to be my birthday. He was addicted to pornography for the entire 20 years of our marriage, went to strip clubs, had lap dances and even a lady-parts sex toy (I knew nothing--all revealed on D-Day). On March 10 of this year he came clean and like the blogger who seems adamant to peddle the narrative that the only answer is RUN, I envisioned my future as a divorced mother of four because that was my only option. Then Elle, I read every post you had ever made. I read the comments and wept for all of us who had been intertwined by this prickly thread of deceit and betrayal. I could have left then, or yesterday, or I could leave tomorrow. After all I will live out the remainder of my life knowing my husband celebrated my 43rd birthday by getting some. I did something I never could have imagined--something I swore I would NEVER do. I did something else--I stayed. I didn't stay because Elle or any commenter rationalized/justified my clingy, needy despair....I stayed because I couldn't think clearly in the throes of throwing (yes I threw punches and dishes and insults and lit matches and rocks and tantrums!). Weeks later I stayed because I was tired, malnourished and disoriented and months later I stayed because this was precisely where I wanted to be. Betrayal has changed me. Betrayal has rewritten me body and soul and yes, I hate that betrayal is a piece of my storyline. What I do not hate--and what Elle and everyone here has taught me is that I needed to be stronger and more brave (just like women who leave). I had a lot to relearn about myself (just like women who leave). Nothing is guaranteed and I might agonize over betrayal, death, financial ruin or a zombie apocalypse (just like women who leave), but we are more than one half of a marriage and very often, much more than we permit ourselves to imagine. I sincerely hope we can abandon the team mentality--women are forever pitted against one another and maybe that is the germ that becomes the OW. Breast vs bottle, Caesarean vs vaginal, working mom vs stay at home, stay vs leave, wife vs "them". It is my hope that we will honour our own truths and challenge our beliefs that every other perspective is wrong, threatening or crazy. Other blogs have demanded we run from these men because they are the monster under the bed. Elle, you have encouraged us to summon our guts, look under the bed and then realize that the monster under there is fear or doubt or self loathing. Other blogs leave us frozen and afraid to touch the floor and Elle teaches us the floor is for dancing, cuddling the children, new shoes and standing tall.

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    1. Anon I have so much to add but I must say you have given me chills up one side and down the other. Preach sister preach Wow.

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    2. Your words are lovely and so true.

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    3. Anon--Very well said.

      We stay for our own reasons. There's no right or wrong reason for staying or for leaving for that matter. One person's loss or betrayal is no greater or less than another's.

      Our decisions are our own and for me, just like Elle's article, I own my story. And my taking ownership of MY story is probably the single most healing factor in this crazy journey.

      I know the blog to which Elle is referring. I read it regularly, but don't have time or interest to read all the comments. I did not realize this blogger was targeting Elle's blog. I thought it was in reference to another very bizarre reconciliation support blog where if one word is spoken that doesn't suit the editors your are banned for life. Those people over there scare me :)

      I get what she's saying and her blog is very clear where she stands with regards to reconciliation. So I read it and get a chuckle and some helpful information and leave what doesn't apply.

      Elle- I am happy you have realized that you have nothing about which to despair with regards to the criticisms from that blog. No apologies, no excuses for our choices. Folks can and will judge regardless.

      The thing is Elle, most the people there were never given a choice in their marriage. They either did give the cheater a chance and they continued to cheat or the cheater left without a second look back. It happens and I think she is a great support for people going through that anguish.

      I've also learned through her blog that just because they decided to dump the cheater and gain a life :) they still aren't very far down their road to happily ever after. They still struggle. They still parse their cheaters words and actions. They still hate the cheater and the AP. So how are they really different from us?

      And this is how I measure and decide everyday how I will live the rest of my life. Would being divorced and away from my cheater make me any happier? Sadly, I don't think so.

      Infidelity makes it's mark permanently. I don't care if you reconcile or divorce. It's forever.

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    4. TH,
      Yes, it's pretty clear that the women there are often fleeing or being expelled from really toxic marriages. So I absolutely get that the "fuck them!" rallying cry can feel really empowering to women who are feeling so disempowered. I just object to the eye-rolling that accompanies reference to this site. We're all eating the same "shit sandwich", as its referred to there. Not sure why there needs to be animosity at all. The last thing any one of us going through this needs is to stumble on ANY site (don't think I know the reconciliation site you're referring to that shuns detractors) that makes us feel stupider than many of us already feel.

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    5. Elle
      Yes, the eye rolling part is the one I ignore :) Who knows? Maybe they are right? Heck, I'm not even convinced I've made the right choice, but by golly it's my damn story and I'm sticking to it!!!

      You rock, just keep on rockin' and screw they don't like it. As she likes to say here site is obvious in the head line--dump a cheater, get a life. I don't like the message I don't have to read it. Same can be said for yours. Your blog is to support betrayed women. Not that men couldn't gain from our awesomeness and insights but it also support reconciliation. They don't like it, move on!

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    6. A brilliant piece of writing, thank you! Almost 28 yrs past my husband's affairs, I can say had this site been available way back then maybe I wouldn't still wake in the middle of the nite thinking of the the Flight Attendants who came into my life uninvited. Years of keeping it a secret and feeling ashamed I finally have come to the point I realize it wasn't my fault. Elle and the women who post here are inspiring and yet I still feel alone cause who else in my group is here? Some the most important words written for women issues are right here in the stories we all have given. Wishing strength and peaceful thoughts.

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    7. I don't think all the commenters at CL are still angry, many of them are 'meh' (indifferent) but the comment threads are a social group they feel happy with and they want to support other people. Some of their 'nation' are hilarious. The blogger is a clever satirist and I'm glad she's there, to repeat others some betrayed have no choice about reconciliation because their spouse vanishes/morphs into a zombie/continues to abuse them. There needs to be somewhere which addresses this trauma with clarity and even humour. A good dose of satirical humour and a shared laugh at the expense of the badly behaved can carry a person through the isolation of a dark place. It is such a lonely experience.

      They have an idea about the 'disordered' on CL which may have some truth to it although the concept of PD isn't universally accepted. You could just say some people have far less capacity for empathy than others. Certainly the ability of some individuals to resist 'personal growth' or taking responsibility for their own actions is truly remarkable.

      HOWEVER the side-swipes at this blog are uncalled for and don't make any sense because Elle doesn't recommend staying with a partner who's unsafe and her advice is sensible. It's quite possible for someone to fuck up very seriously and face up to what they've done; it is possible to change one's view of the importance of fidelity or the nature of love and to grow up. It may not be easy and it may well not guarantee that a betrayed wants to stay in a marriage but even so, not all people who cheat WANT to do it again. Some of them REALLY don't want to. They do not become 'other' by cheating and fall into some pit of hell but to be someone worth knowing they do have to understand the nature of betrayal: what it is and what it costs. Our society doesn't have the language to deal with this in any sensible way which is why blogs like this one are so important, why all the comments and the personal stories are important. There is an urgent need to develop a new narrative about infidelity and it isn't going to originate with the mainstream media.

      It is extraordinary and rather wonderful how much empathy and kindness there is on these blogs and it does seem a shame for someone with a secure position to attack another blogger, something which happens all the time of course on the web when people disagree. This is pretty mild, thank goodness.

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    8. Iris,
      You have such a simple, eloquent way of stating things. "Our society doesn't have the language to deal with this in any sensible way..." It's been one of the drivers of this blog to try and create some space to talk about it. Esther Perel is doing an incredible job of pulling this into the light of day but is, of course, facing some vitriol (though she seems impervious to it).
      I don't want us to get to a place, culturally, where we so much accept infidelity (whatever!) as that we acknowledge how widespread it is and include that recognition into our understanding of how to respond to it. Though I suppose we need to go back even further and somehow teach kids what a healthy adult relationship looks like. Sigh...

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    9. So interesting since I do think our society glorifies and at least normalizes affairs. The signs of it are everywhere. Hollywood stars, shows, personal friends it goes on and on. I feel like it is just so accepted at least that it happens. And maybe since it is so common. But I think that allows people that have affairs to think they are not alone and this is somehow "normal". Sort of like violence with movies or video games. That become normalized for many people and they are desensitized to it. I feel like I see the same thing with affairs. Sexualized behavior is everywhere and easier to access. With technology it is easier than ever to connect and stay in touch with people. You can text set up free emails easier than ever. Then I feel like the flip side is highly moralistic people who would never engage in so much of this behavior, I have never had one inappropriate relationship, interaction or behavior with any male since before I met my husband. Even when dating in college I was adamant that I not behave the way so many others did. In the end I wonder why are we so different in this way? I do think upbringing can play into this looking at our own families. He was entitled and handed a lot. I had to work hard and earn everything. My parents never pushed the boundaries of ethics. Who knows. I guess I wonder if we can make this work. I know I am more than capable and I do not give up easily. The question is my husband being genuine and honest. Sometimes I wonder if he is being something he is not truly inside. Is he doing what is right? Can this last long term or is this amazing happiness just a honeymoon phase?

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    10. I don't think our personality is "fixed". I think we're all capable of change; it just takes some of us down the wrong road a few times before we commit to it. We all continue to change throughout our lives. The challenge is to grow more wise and more compassionate rather than let fear and bitterness change us in ways that make our lives smaller.

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  5. What would I have done without this site to help me through last year? I had no one I could talk with. No one who would understand any of what had happened, how I felt, or who would even believe what my H had done in secret for a decade. There was no where to go- no way to find out if what I was feeling or thinking or behaving was normal. The decision I made to hold my H accountable and to work through this horrible mess was mine alone and the advice, the thoughts, the experiences others wrote about...well, this was my group therapy. And I am forever grateful for all of you. I drop in from time to time now and love reading Elle's blogs- she always seems to write just what I need in the nick of time. We are the best support group anyone could ask for no matter what path we choose to take. And in the end, our collective story is a story of survival, growth, change, strength, forgiveness and love. I choose that story over all others.

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  6. Anonymous!

    Wow, give us a NAME Sing it Sister A.... you ROCK.

    Love
    v

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  7. Elle, I was going to write in your support… as I have done many times before. But OMG Anonymous, you said it better than I ever could begin to! Amazingly well written. (I stumbled across that other site, Elle, I too would support any woman, or man, and their choice to stay or go. However, I felt that site to have a very negative tone. I do believe it is written more out of an intention of fear, rather than an intention of love. With this site, your site, our site, I feel the unending intention of love, whether one decides to stay or go. Thank you Elle, for providing us with this forum, a forum of love and support .

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  8. This OW blogger site really pisses me off. It is all about a woman casting judgement on other woman's choices. You site is all about choices, not any choice but encouragement to make the right choices. The adultery is really just the backdrop on the stage of life. Your script we read is about finding ourselves again and what we want our life to look like. This site is about finding ourselves, our true selves. It is unfortunate we are on the stage being a star in the affair scene but the ending is ours to chose you always make that clear. Your sight offers many choices, just one of them is to stayed married. In the early days, I read this "other site" as well but it as so so negative that I just stopped reading it. To me it was like a somebody lost the game, wasn't chosen and spewed their bitterness about the situation. No marketing in the world would make me want to bring that type of bitterness in my mind. This other site has too much time on their hands to think that the BWC site or any other one could steer my choice one way or the other.

    What I can say is your site and comments/response did give me a choice, other options, other alternatives. I find myself very proud that I'm strong enough to know what I want, who I am and I'm strong enough to get myself where I want to be regardless of the circumstances. Duh, we come to this site to ask for comments not only from you but others who have experienced adultery. Any idiot would know we all realize the person offering advice doesn't have to live with result of that advice so we make our own choices. If I think your off base then I say so and there are times when we disagree, now that is choice. For me, this site saved MYSELF, ME, I, LYNN PAIN not my marriage. Why wouldn't everyone want to be happy about this site as as a catalyst to find ME? Your post made me think of all the wonderful experiences I would have missed out on if I had not found this site to amp me down so I was no longer living under delusions about MY life. We are almost like family on this site, tell it straight up no BS. All the woman on this site have a pretty good BS meter.

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  9. It's a mystery to me why anyone would pass judgment on the agonizing choices we all must make after being thrown headfirst into the world of adultery. Perhaps she is threatened by our choice to stay. Maybe deep down she wonders if she should have tried to reconcile. Yet, I have no judgement for those who choose to leave. I support all betrayed wives and applaud the strength it takes to pick yourself up and move forward after such devastation. Regardless of what that exactly looks like for each of us. Three years on from d-day, I don't regret the choice I made to stay. That choice was made with boundaries. It was made with conditions. My husband has kept them all. Met or exceeded them all. I don't know what the future holds. But I do know who I am now. I know that I have given my all to this marriage, and if I ever need to walk away I will do so with that knowledge at the forefront of my mind.

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  10. I am extremely grateful for this site. I don't see you as an affair apologist. I have never once seen you counsel a woman to stay in a marriage that was crushing her soul or was abusive/unhealthy. In fact, you've been very clear that staying is a choice, not something anyone should feel forced into. You have always said that infidelity is wrong, but that there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer on how to deal with it.

    This site was one of the first ones that helped me to see I was not being a wimp or a doormat by wanting to save my marriage. I also like the realism: any other site I'd seen that said that a marriage could be saved after betrayal was also subscribing to the Pollyanna "my husband's affair turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me!" belief, and I think that is ridiculous. I will NEVER think that my husband cheating on me was a good thing. Never. That goes way too far. I thank you for being real about it, and for sharing your insight with us all.

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  11. Alone (not-so-Alone)October 21, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    Elle. I have never read that other site and have no desire to. I get great comfort from what I read here. When I first found this site I felt so alone, desperately needing someone to talk to, someone to listen to me without judging me. We are judged by society because this happened to us and now we are judged because we make the choices on how we deal with that. It is nice to be able to come here and escape that feeling of being judged.
    There are so many responses here that say it so much better than I have.
    The thing that has kept me coming back here is that you talk of rebuilding ourselves and offer hope and encouragement that we can again feel whole as individuals and that we can achieve this no matter what path we follow ( stay or leave). We are more than just a betrayed spouse - we are strong, compassionate, loyal souls. Thank you for making me feel less-alone and don't ever doubt the value of your site. Without you the world we find ourselves in after the storm of betrayal hits would be filled with loneliness.

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  12. Ive read the other blog - the "Bitter Blog," as I like to call it. In fact, like most of you, I've read more blogs than I can count. This is the one I come back to time and time again, for a variety of reasons. I don't want to stay in my marriage, but I know its the right thing to do right now. There may never be a happily-ever-after for me; he no longer owns my heart, but he's fighting mighty hard to win it back. I'm just not sure I'll ever love him again. But for reasons I simply don't feel like reflecting on at this moment, I know I'm doing the right thing by staying.

    I may change my mind a year from now. If there's a silver lining in my mess, it's that I'm free to stay and free to leave, and I don't need him as I did when the kids were little and he was our sole provider. I hold a get-out-of-jail-free card, but in so many ways, I've been totally liberated. I no longer cling. I don't put up with crap. I don't cook, and he's learned that he kind of enjoys it. I don't make demands on him, other than honesty and fidelity, and I don't allow him to make demands on me. I do the great things I didn't do for so many years because I put everybody else ahead of me. Life is good now. I know I'm where I need to be, and when I begin to sink into disillusionment, I come visit with you, ladies, and you remind me that I am so much more than my marriage. Thank you for that.

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  13. BWC ... while im not thrilled on why we are all here im so thankful for finding you! In my case noone knows just you ladies my outlet if im angry, my go to for advice, my strength to grow from all of you and my reassurance that im not alone even when i feel the loneliness. Elle and other posts might make you think, question or best of all see things in a new light different perspective. Some blogs are just comforting to say the least ... like ah ha thats it me put into words which i was to drained tired sad or confused to put together myself .... ahhhhhh clarity.

    Im too worried about my own grass ... to worry if someone elses is greener. Maybe the other lady should put that in her pipe? Noones asking her or anyone here to agree or disagree with this blog ... but just know all seem welcomed.

    AGREE wholeheartedly. ... im here to try because i love my H and because i do truly believe leaving would feel just as bad as staying ... maybe worse because is never know what could have been ... if we just tried. No gaurantees it be any better or worse elsewhere. ... so much invested .... worth it to try as long as hes willing i am to .... time another 4 letter word some days. Wounded not broken.

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  14. I love that you are wounded but not broken!

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  15. Dearest Elle, you have a brilliant web site and was one of the first that resonated with me and got me into blogging myself. You and all your contributors are a wonderful resource for hope and a feeling of not being alone.

    I have never had the impression that you think that what is right for you is right for others. In my opinion, you make this very clear. Your concern is for the healing and that comes in all shapes and sizes, as your site clearly demonstrates.

    It's a shame that Chump Lady directly cites you in the way that she does. She doesn't need to do this to make her case for leaving a cheater any stronger - she has a powerful case already which she has created through her own experience and a particular style of writing within a particular perspective. I, like you, like her site and welcome her perspective. It's all just part of the same continuum. We are all on the same side. All of us reacting and responding to the nightmare of being betrayed - some of us remaining with our betrayer, others choosing to separate.

    For me, someone who has not left her cheater, both your site and Tracy's offer hope in this misery that we're dealing with. Whether we stay or leave we have to have hope that we can heal and that this pain will eventually dissipate. We have to get our life back on track. Staying requires a certain set of ingredients in order to facilitate healing as does leaving, but even then, there's no silver bullet; no one way. Adultery leaves land mines in its wake, once experienced we walk a lot more carefully, with or without our spouses.

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  16. I couldn't agree with Theresa and Marriage Recovery any more. Very well said ladies.

    I like that there is room for all. CL makes very fine points. Points that all of us have considered. And maybe, just maybe there are really are unicorns.

    Support is the important word here. Support and not criticism or judgement.

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  17. Elle,

    When my husband finally confessed to what I had always known in my heart, I thought I'd be fine because I always knew the truth. I handled myself well that day. In fact, I surprised myself at how calm I remained. In reality, I was standing outside my body watching from a distance. I was in shock. I knew this day would come and I could not believe the pain. It was far worse than anything I had imagined...and I had imagined this day many times. I thought I was prepared. There is no preparing one's self for this kind of thing. It goes far beyond the depths of despair.

    Somehow I was able to keep my wits about me long enough to seek support online. I knew I was very close to falling apart. I also knew that anger was welling inside me and I didn't need any encouragement to unleash this wrath. Thankfully, I was in shock and survival directed me to get help--help that would heal me, not "help" from someone mired in her own hate and pain. That would have landed me in jail for murder. I was already too close for comfort.

    I was on autopilot seeking direction. I had no idea if I would stay or go, but I was definitely leaning toward going. That's when I found your site. I read as much as I could until I could no longer hold my story in. I wrote on more than one occasion. I was so surprised when you responded. I never thought anyone would respond. I felt completely and utterly alone--even on your site—out there in the cold worldwide web with no real person on the other end.

    When you responded to me, you touched my heart. You acknowledged me and acknowledged my pain. You validated me and my situation. You empathized and felt sorrowful that I had to go through this. And you advised me not to make hasty decisions. That, my dear Elle, is what saved me. You helped me and continue to help me, never caring what decision I made. You never judged me one way or the other. You said, “Only you know what is right for you.”

    Your validation and sisterhood you offered is exactly what I needed. Clearly and concisely, you offered me very basic advice: to breathe, to eat, to rest, to be kind to myself. You advised me not to make decisions right now. You offered friendship. I will never, ever forget your words. I will never forget that someone I didn’t know, who lives in another country, reached out to me and offered sisterhood. I am in tears as I write because that seemingly small gesture still means so much to me.

    Common sense told me to seek a website that offered “food for my soul to heal.” That is what I found here. I couldn’t hear anything negative--even if I decided to leave, I couldn't fill my soul with negativity. My plan from the beginning was to heal, no matter what decision I ultimately made for or against my marriage, and healing can only be done from a positive place inside.

    So here I am, still reading and writing, although not quite as often as before. I only write when I feel I may have something insightful to say. I hope my letter touches your heart as you touched mine. And you truly did touch my heart just by responding to someone who felt completely broken…and completely invisible. Thank you.

    Thank you for being strong, kind and caring; for reaching out to others in this terrible circumstance. Thank you for sharing your expert advice. You have always been honest, kind, upfront, straight to the point, uplifting, empowering and even humorous. Thank you for reaching out when you didn't have to--you very well could have put this whole thing behind you and never looked back, but you chose to stay and reach for our hands to help us through the fire. And it is fire. And it does burn...straight through to the core.

    Thank you for offering me a safe place to be at the most unsafe time in my life. You are an angel on earth. I know…you don’t want to hear all this “flowery” stuff. But sometimes you just need to say “thank you” and know in your heart you’ve done a good thing. I will never forget that you chose to help me.

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    1. Merilee,
      Thank-you for telling me this. I've written here often that it was my own loneliness and isolation that prompted me to create this. Surely I wasn't the only woman in the world who was so devastated by infidelity. Surely there was power in sharing our stories.
      And your letter speaks to that power. I love it when I see you responding to each other -- sharing your own experience, offering up support. As Brené Brown writes, two of the most powerful words in the world are "Me too."
      As for what you've written Merilee, let me say "me too." When I thought of winding this site down last year, I ultimately realized that my life would be the poorer for not having all of you in it. And so, here we are. :)

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    2. That is so true and powerful. Hearing "me too" is really key. At a time when I have felt much doubt, loneliness, confusing among a million other difficult emotions you have been here for me with others. I think it is hard for me to see how far I have come since D Day. That is one thing that I find a common theme which is a great reminder to me. Also writing our own stories but also replying to others has helped me.

      To be honest I am sure I was in a fog and/or shock for some time after d-day. I did turn to google for this as I do for what seems like everything these days. I do not know if I came across this other site. Maybe I did but this is the on i return to. This is the one I read over and over from shortly after d day to the present day, I come for your posts and the comments. Thank you for creating this space and taking the time to continue and maintain this space. It is really a meaningful part of my journey, road, healing process or whatever we call this. Thank you

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  18. Thank-you all. I hadn't realized my post would prompt such an outpouring of support. That all of you feel so protective of this site and of me is really sweet and speaks to the value we all place on each other here.
    I think we can file this under the "live and let live" section. She can do her thing (and I'll duck the occasional slings and arrows), I'll do mine and others will do theirs.
    I really just wanted to share one of the most important things I've learned over the years and that is the power in owning our story. It can't be underestimated.

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