Wednesday, December 16, 2015

This is Gonna Hurt...

Many, many years ago, I decided to become a runner. I was in a miserable relationship that was long past its best-before date. I was working at a low-pay job that showed no signs of ever becoming a high-pay job. I was feeling left behind by friends who were getting married, launching careers, buying homes.
And so I chose to run.
We'll ignore what running meant metaphorically and instead focus on the fact that running was my private version of hell. I had never been an athlete. I didn't believe in sweating on purpose.
And yet, each evening after work, compelled by something I didn't quite understand, I would lace up my running shoes and set out. At first, it was all I could do to run a block without feeling as though my heart was going to pound out of my chest and I was going to die right there on a busy sidewalk, with my new sneakers barely worn in.
So I made it a game: I would force myself to run to something I could see ahead – a certain car parked on the road, a lamp post, a stop sign. Just that far, I would tell myself.
I would run to the car or the lamp post or the stop sign and when I didn't die as soon as I reached it, I would choose another car or lamp post or stop sign and run to it. Always, always I could go further than I believed I could. Some evenings a bit farther, some evenings a lot farther. Eventually I could run 10 kilometres that way. And then, I could run 26 miles that way.
It hurt. It hurt like hell. My legs burned. My feet ached. My back occasionally spasmed. There were many times I honestly thought I might die. I imagined heart attacks. Aneurysms. Strokes.
None of my doomsday scenarios happened. Instead I got strong and lean and powerful. Instead I got brave. Instead, the pain gave way to not pain. To ease. To joy in the running.

When I first learned that my husband had cheated on me, I couldn't imagine how I was going to survive the next five minutes, let alone the days and weeks and months that I knew lay ahead. I wanted to die. Scratch that. I didn't want to die, I wanted the pain to end and I couldn't imagine that happening any other way than for me to end. I fantasized about head injuries that would erase my memories and let me start over. I fantasized terminal illnesses that would let me die without guilt. I lived in darkness, stoking my pain and assuming this was my lot for the rest of my life.
But then I remembered my running strategy. Just get to the next...moment, morning, weekend. And then, when I'd make it, still heartbroken but nonetheless alive, I'd focus on just getting to the next. And the one after that.
It reminds me of the old writing adage from E.L. Doctorow:
"Writing is like driving a car at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make your whole trip that way."
Change writing to "healing" and you've got another truth:
"Healing is like driving a car at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
It's excruciating to not know what's around the corner. Will he cheat again? Is he cheating still? Will I still be in agony? Should I leave him? Will I find someone else? And on and on and round and round we go, asking questions that can only be answered by time. Time feels like the enemy. Night would stretch out like black ink that swallowed me, leaving me alone and terrified. Morning was no better. I was expected to behave like someone capable, someone rational, someone whose world wasn't shattered. How was I supposed to pull that off?
When you, m beloved BWC club members, write in with your pleas – "when will this stop hurting?" – I wish I could give you a date. It will stop hurting on July 13 at 7:12 p.m. Hang in there, sweetie. Instead I can only tell you that it will stop. I don't know when – it's different for each of us – but I know it will stop. But whether healing comes in months or years, it will come. And it will come in moments, not a sudden bolt of lightening. It is happening, moment by moment, even when you can't see it. In the meantime, it hurts like a motherfucker.
And so...this is gonna hurt. And it's gonna hurt for a whole lot longer than we'd like it to.
But each of us has the strength to endure. Even when we feel broken open, when we feel we just can't survive this heartbreak another minute, we can. And we will.
Because what other choice do we have?
We will choose to make it to the next...minute. The next morning. The next weekend. We will choose to cling to the promise of those who've gone before us that the day will come when this is behind us.
And as we heal, as time mends the cracks in our hearts in stitches so delicate but so sure, we will acknowledge the bravery with which we're handling this.
We can trust our headlights to take us as far as we need to see right now. And with that, we can make it the whole way.


  1. Thank you Elle. This is so timely & coincidental as just 2 days ago I was discussing with a dear friend my torment of not knowing whether to stay or go, my torment of not even knowing how I feel about my H anymore as it changes daily, my torment of being so betrayed......
    My friend came very close to death this year because of cancer and he told me how it has changed his outlook on life. He had an analogy for me, just the same as your car headlights.....he said if I am constantly looking in the rear view mirror, I am making myself depressed, if I am constantly looking beyond the headlights, I am making myself anxious and the best thing, whenever possible, is to look to where the headlights are shining, where I can see - try to focus on the now, the today and getting through that. Sometimes it won't even be getting through it, it will be finding some happiness in today and living for the now too.

    1. I'm with your friend. As the Buddha says, our suffering comes from living in the past or the future. We can find peace in the now. Some sliver of light on which to focus.

  2. I needed this in so many ways and that doesn't even cut it ... tears streaming down my face of hurt but also of hope as i read this. Thank you Elle ... you have a way to take this hot mess and turn it into something easier to understand in some posts i say ah you read my mind others hummmm i never thought of it that way and some just a simple amen sister and exactly!

  3. Elle you hit the nail on the head with this... I too turned to running and journaling. I run almost everyday. It gets rid of the "bad thoughts." I run them away. It has helped me so much. I went from a size 18-20 to a size 8-10 in the past 4 years. Yes, it all started because I was miserable and didn't know why my life was not what I wanted it to be. It's all different now. I choose not to dwell on anxious thoughts, because I know I have the power to choose and make things different. I learned this after d-day. Thank you for your blog. It's a commitment that you made that has blessed me for 2 years. I know we have so many that find this blog in turmoil, but it makes a huge difference. Yes, it hurts. It really hurts, but we are making it through. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. - Ann from Texas

  4. Elle
    This post could not have come at a better time for me! Thank you! I'm so thankful your blog brings so many compassionate ladies to my rescue when I fall back instead of moving forward! Ann from Texas and wounded have been giving me helpful words of wisdom too! From the depths of the bottom of my heart I can't tell all of you the strength you all give me to pick myself back up and stop the self pity that washes over me from time to time!
    Ann from Texas like you my body has gone from x-large to 8- and I'm not able to run so I walk my lab! That's how I got started for my labs health but the benefits were for both of us! I'm the healthiest I've been in 18 years and now if I can keep my mental attitude in focus, life will be a little easier to manage! Hugs to all of us!

  5. Thank you. Your words here are honest and true. I seem to go forward and backwards at the same time. I hate my life. I hope on the promise of freedom from this pain one day. I appreciate you so much. Hope you are well.

    1. Cindy you not alone when you hit the "I hate my life" moments. Please look at your life as a whole. It is very special and this pain is only a small portion. The pain will dissipate. It happens slowly, but I know we would all love the "instant over" button. I too have uttered "I hate my life." I have truly felt that exact "wtf" did I do to ever deserve anything like this. The truth is I loved and love to this day. So it's "me" a "better me" that I have become through the pain. We all didn't deserve betrayal. We all never deserved the trauma and backlash from it, but we are all becoming more amazing everyday. That God given strength we use to pull through paves the way for all things to become good for us. We have to "choose" to focus and think on this. "We are all amazing." There is only one of each of us. We are irreplaceable. "Valuable!!" so why not allow the pain to be pushed out of our hearts so we can fill it with "HOPE." Hope for the future, our children, our families, our friends, but most importantly us and our healing. Every time you feel "hopeless" and "angry" know that these are just that "feelings." We all feel them in this healing process, but we don't and won't feel this way forever. We can choose what we let stay in our hearts. So my prayer for the past two years 9 months had been to heal past "bitterness." It is allowing me to finally feel "true joy," and actually enjoy my life again. Please Cindy don't hate your life. Focus on loving it, because you are a wonderful you. Love you girls - Ann from Texas

    2. Cindy,
      Ann is right. The "I hate my life" is a pretty rational response to having your life blown up. So don't think you'll feel this way forever. This can, however, be a time when we really do examine ALL of our life. When our life is in pieces, we can put it back together with only those parts of it that are healthy for us, that add joy, that fulfill us. We can use this time to discard people who haven't been good to us, to say 'no' to commitments that deplete us, to shift our focus to creating a life that's far better for us in the end.

  6. Like the rest of you, I'm sure, I'm shocked and saddened to find myself reading--much less posting--on a blog of this variety...yet here I am.

    I'm 12 weeks into this process and I've found so much comfort, grace, and compassion in the words written here, by you, Elle, as well as the commenters.

    Today's post really hit home for me as I am deep in the "will this pain ever end?" phase. I take some solace in knowing that there are others out there who have been through, and survived, a journey like mine. I love the idea of focusing on the headlights. My headlights for now are going to be Christmas. I was five weeks post partum with my first child when my husband's transgressions came to light. This is certainly not the "baby's first Christmas" I'd envisioned, but my goal is to make it through.

    Thank you, Elle, for that idea and for the reassurance that people can survive. Today, that seems far-fetched and impossible, but all I have to do for now is make it through next week. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. New Mom Anonymous,
      Wow. I bow to you. Motherhood is exhausting enough without factoring in the sucker punch of betrayal. Give yourself huge kudos for being able to get out of bed!
      No, not the "first Christmas" you imagined but being able to share it with a new being can still be pretty amazing. It sounds as if you recognize that and are able to seize joy where you can find it.
      Twelve weeks is still really really raw. And I wonder if even focussing on Christmas is too ambitious. It might be worth just concentrating on getting through the day. Moment by moment by moment. That's how we get through this.

    2. That's a good recommendation, Elle. Last night was proof positive that I was a bit too ambitious in where I cast my headlights. Alas, I will try to focus on today. What's one more, right? What's one more day? What's one more piece of my dignity? What's one more hour of pain? If you and Ann are to be believed, I suppose this too shall pass. I can only hope you're right. Thanks for the reframe and the kudos.

    3. New Mom,
      I well remember those early days of motherhood. The exhaustion. The drudgery. The thanklessness of it all. The constant demand for my body, my attention, my time. But there's also, as you no doubt know, that huge heartswelling love. You get to show this little person the beauty of this world...knowing all too well that there will be pain too. But you are giving him/her this incredible starting point, to be surrounded by love, to be kept safe by love.
      I suspect you could use some of that yourself too. To feel wrapped in love -- to feel mothered and safe. Do you have support from others around you? Are you able to find time away to process what you're going through?
      Be gentle with yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. This will pass, I guarantee it. Just like the seemingly endless days (and nights!!) of trying to comfort a baby. My "baby" is now 17 and preparing to leave next year for school. And it all feels like it was the blink of an eye.
      What's that saying -- the minutes crawl but the years fly? Holds true for healing from betrayal too.

    4. Thank you for your kind and wise words. It is just what I needed to hear today. I am 4 months post DDay and still living moment to moment. I am learning patience and have to believe that soon this will not hurt as much. Thank you again!

    5. Anon: I'm 13 weeks out from DDay (just a few weeks shy of you) and I, too, am moment-to-moment. It strangely feels good to know that someone else is in a similar place on this screwed up journey no one asked to take. I hope your hurt ends soon. Please reach out if you'd like to support each other as we go.

  7. Thanks, Elle. I feel like I'm doing an awful job at keeping my beautiful son safe with love. The screaming fights, the slamming doors...his early existence has seen some anger and pain I hoped he'd never know. One of the greatest injustices of this is that after a miscarriage, then a terrifying birth with my son, I now can barely enjoy this time I've waited so long for. I feel like a zombie most days--barely holding it together to function, and missing out on a most precious time with what may be my only child (because who actually puts their body through pregnancy and childbirth again after learning what I've learned about my husband?)

    Your responses have brought tears to my eyes as they are the only moments of mothering or gentleness I've known in this experience. It's not that my husband doesn't try, he really does...but I find it hard to be vulnerable enough in front of him to let him see the wounds he's inflicted, let alone get close enough to try to soothe them. Reading the words of your post "hang in there, sweetie," made me collapse in was what I've been needing to hear so desperately. Thank you for that.

    Congrats to you on your baby going off to college next year. I can only imagine how bittersweet that must be: on the one hand, being proud of and excited for your child, and on the other, wanting to wrap them in bubble wrap as they proceed out into the world. If you're half as insightful, kind, compassionate, and funny as a mom as you are as a blogger, I'm confident your baby is ready to fly and succeed. My new mom hat is off to you. (Hugs)

    1. New Mom... I am in awe of you, going through this as a brand new mommy. My littles are 2 and 5. I cannot imagine struggling with this betrayal post partum, and being sleep-deprived, having a body shifting hormones around still, and adding insult to injury at this projected happy time in your life being tarnished by HIS actions.

      My heart aches for you worrying about what this is doing to your little guy in his early days. That shows what a great mom you are, that you worry. I have no magic words of solace for you, I wish I did. All I can say is take as much comfort from the gift of your son and know that babies grow with the love they get. All the rest is background noise to them. And I know your son is being showered with love from his mommy.

      (((hugs))) and loads of empathy from me.

    2. New Mom,
      Suzannah is right. This is a small blip in his life (though I would urge you to have your fights behind closed doors). My third child (yes, I went on to have two more even after "spirited" child #1 just about did me in) had to listen to me deal with her older sister. I used to worry that she was going to be somehow scarred by it all. Now 12, she's on "old soul". So full of wisdom. So kind. But with an incredible sense of her own value. She's struggling at the moment with how to tell kids at school when she doesn't want to be part of a crowd. She's an introvert -- has friends but finds any more than 3 people just too much for her. So we brainstormed how she can respectfully tell people that she needs some space. And I know that, on some level, everything I've learned through this whole painful experience with my husband has given me the tools to help her honour herself while still respecting others.
      Without going through the hell I've been through, I'd still be trying to keep a zillion balls in the air, trying to please everybody to somehow show the world that I'm a superstar...or at least worthy of attention. Instead, I'm able to model self-care and self-respect. I'm able to model strength and conviction.
      (And, incidentally, "spirited" child #1 is doing great. Her fierce determination has served her well. Even "centre" son is awesome. And all three of them lived through some really, REALLY stormy months.)
      That's you, New Mom. Strong. Loving. Muddling through (because that's all any of us really do).

  8. New Mom ... you will get thru this ... go see santa with your new bundle, buy a baby first xmas ornament and then be kind to yourself thats enough for this xmas ... one thing i truly know growing and caring for life is exhausting but worth it ... look for the sparkle in each day even if only a slight quick shimmer ... mama are unbreakable even when it feels the walls are crumbling around us ... kiss that baby thats all they truly need love ... and when i feed that precious baby remind yourself you must eat and drink too ... so hard i know. While my dday didnt happen as yours did the affair started shortly after the delivery of my little bundle and went on long term ... i thought wtf the happiest time in my life my baby firsts and everything after seemed tarnished but now 7mo out all those moments are still mine ours ... tho i still have a long way to go ... i cant imagine being a brand new mom and dealing with this ... you are a warrior ... treat yourself to a mani/pedi for xmas cause everyone feels better with pretty toes. Hugs to you nee mom let your new baby give you strength light and hope to a bright future ahead whatever that turns out to be ... i hope you have someone to count on during this or even let your obgyn know??? Post baby and betrayal maybe very overwhelming know you are not alone. Arent crazy and most of all you are a great mom regardless of the shitstorm swirling around you. Xo

    1. Wounded,
      "Everyone feels better with pretty toes" should be our mantra. :)

    2. Suzannah, Elle, and Wounded: Thank you all so much for your words of comfort and empathy. Today is one of those days where the images play on loop in my mind and it feels easier to disappear than it is to live with this pain for one more second. Suzannah and Elle, thank you for the reassurances that my sweet boy will not be irreparably harmed by this tumultuous time. I truly don't know how you both did it with older kids! Wounded, thank you for the gentleness and the reminder to just let myself be...and you're right, pretty toes always help. I love that!

      I feel so grateful to have finally found other people who understand this process, though I hate that each of you is here for the same reason I am. I appreciate the strength it takes to comfort me while dealing with your own pain. Y'all are amazing. Here's to making it through one more day.

    3. New mom
      I just read your posts and I wanted to let you know that you are much stronger than you think. New motherhood is hard and dealing with betrayal is hard. I never had to cope with them together. I think you have a strength that you don't realise because it sounds like you are doing a great job of loving your little boy and thinking of his needs when you are at such a difficult point in your life. Please remember to look after yourself. Sleep, eat and take time to just look at your little boy. He has so much love to give you. I hope you have someone who can help you or just be a shoulder to cry on. I really just wanted to say I'm thinking of you, keep getting though each day and look for the little things they are there - the smiles, the giggles and the way they look at you and the hugs, they really do grow up quickly. This last year I feel like I haven't been there for my kids as much as I wanted to be but I have been trying to cope and that has meant taking time to heal so a few parties or friends visits have had to be cancelled. In the long run they won't mind. You have so much to look forward to. He won't remember if his first Christmas had all the trimmings but he will remember the love you give him throughout his life. This Christmas look after yourself so you can be there for him when he needs you.

    4. Thank you so much, Alone. The new mommyhood plus this betrayal has been pretty crushing. It's easy to focus on all of the things wrong with my son's first Christmas--I appreciate the reminder that he won't remember or care; the important thing is for him to feel love, and he sure gets a lot of that! My husband, for all of his crummy acts, is an amazing father. The one thing we can agree on these days is loving our child. Thank you for the kind words. It is hard to see our own strength in these times, isn't it? Sending you hugs and appreciation. Please know that you're not truly alone. I'd love to be a source of comfort for you, as you have been to me today.

    5. I feel your pain New Mom, DDay 1 happened at 8 months pregnant (#5) DDay #2 when baby was 5 weeks. I have had to and still am deeply grieving the joy robbed during this special time. I at the same time know God has given this baby to me to keep from going off the absolute deep end - I cherish the snuggles that only a baby gives. But I am so sorry for this. The pain of a betrayal is horrendous to put it mildly and it is added difficult that others cannot comprehend. People assume I'm not sleeping bc of the baby but they have no clue the real reason is my husband's affair. Hang in there!

    6. Anon: you have my sympathies! I, too, get the "oh you're just strung out from having a newborn..." if only people actually knew! My thoughts are with you. I'm so happy you're able to find peace and comfort in your new little one. I'm trying, day-by-day. As you said, these little souls joined our lives at this point for a reason. Blessings to you in 2016.

    7. New Mom,
      My heart just breaks for you, as I know exactly where you are all too well. I was exactly 5 weeks postpartum with my third child when I found out about my husband's affair, which had been going on since before I was even pregnant with that child. I was sleep-deprived, heart-broken, healing from a third c-section, breastfeeding and having to drag myself out of bed every morning to get my other two children ready and off to school. It was excruciating, and there were so many days when I thought there was no way I would ever make it through, but here I am, almost three years later, with a 4th baby who is eight months old (our miracle baby), and although I am still healing and still have a long way to go, every day gets better. Things have been rocky for us. We live in the same town with the OW, and she has never stopped harassing us for over two years now. Her constant and persistent communication with my husband led to several subsequent d days before he came out of the "fog", and each of those has made my healing process lengthier and more difficult. Nonetheless, I had and still have all the same feelings, worries, and resentment that you do about such a special time in your life with a new little one to enjoy. Sometimes I hated myself for being so self-consumed with my own pain that I wasn't even taking time to enjoy my sweet baby. But what everyone else is telling you is so true. Things will get better, you are so much stronger than you know, and that sweet little boy of yours will be just fine. My sweet baby is almost 3, and he is the sweetest, happiest and most joyful child you could meet. And one of the best decisions we ever made as parents was to never discuss any of what we were going through or argue about it in front of our children, except our newborn some of the time. Now, we have an 8 year old, a 6 year old, and an almost 3 year old who are none the wiser about all that we have been through. They have no idea how hard we have fought for them and for keeping our family together, and my hope for you and your husband is that you will fight as hard for your little family together, and that he too, will never know. But you will know. You will look back and know how strong you were and are, and how hard you fought to keep your family together, and he will know the only thing he needs to know, and that is that he is one very loved little boy. I would love to talk to you, be there for you, and help support you or guide you in any way I can. Please feel free to email me at

      I have so many wishes for peace, healing and a happier year this year for you and for everyone here on this site.

  9. I needed this today and am reading it with tears streaming down my face. I wanted today to be a great day, wanted it in the worst way and there were moments that were really great, but overall I was just so freaking sad. We were listening to the radio while driving and Cam's burning house song came on: "try to take what's lost and broke and make it right". The one thought that kept running through my head was "how do I live with this?". Not with what he's done and what's coming, but with the oxygen sucking pain. I can't ever unknow that the person I loved with every fiber of my being could willingly and continuously cause me to hurt like this, that he could be so selfish. He's trying so damn hard and I want us in the worst way, but it hurts so bad... Something set me off tonight and I just went back to the bedroom and cried. He came back to hold me. I yelled that I hated being like this, I hate being an emotional train wreck, I hate that I have to question everything, I HATE it. He told me he was sorry, that he knows it's his fault I'm feeling like this... it just feels like it's never going to end and I don't know how I would believe it will if it wasn't for everyone here, who actually gets it. Thank you Elle, for providing light for those of us in the darkness.

    1. Ashes,
      I know you want great days. And they'll come. But let them just happen. I wonder if some of the pain comes from the expectation that things will be different "today"...and then they're not. Let go of those expectations. Let today unfold in moments. Some good, some shitty.
      And no, you can't unknow that he hurt you. But you can learn that it was never about you. You can learn that he's trying to hard to become a better person. You can be gentle with yourself while you process this, knowing that it won't feel like this forever. Feelings are not facts, as my old therapist used to tell me. They're feelings. They shift, they ebb, they vanish. Right now, it hurts like hell.

    2. Ashes
      When I read your post it was exactly the way I feel. I wake up in the morning and think today I won't think about it and I'll be happy but then it pops into my head, uninvited and I'm sad. I never thought of it like I'm setting myself up for disappointment. Maybe I need to go with the feelings more. I just want you to know I feel exactly the same about my husband as you do about yours. I hate being like this too. We will be ok, we have been ok so far and minute by minute we will get through this.

  10. Yes, Elle! This is so truthful! I've also taken to running and initially I handled it like I handled my pain. I'm a treadmill runner simply for the ease of it so I've got that darn display taunting me. Oh, I've only been a half a mile, why does it seem so much longer? What do you mean I've only been on here for 15 minutes? Feels like I should have run a lot further than that in 15 minutes. Why am I so slow?
    Healing from my husband's betrayal has been much like that... the constant wondering... how much longer is this going to take? My solution for the treadmill display was to throw a towel over it, put on good music or a good tv show and JUST run. I'm certainly not a marathon runner, but the miles get easier and my confidence in what I can do has increased. I know I can't simply cover up my husband's betrayaI or the resulting pain, but I can stop questioning myself, stop rushing it and accept that healing will come. It won't necessarily come easy, but it will come.
    I surprised myself just yesterday by surviving the one year anniversary of D-Day #1 without a full meltdown. Yes, there was sadness and I shed some tears, but overall it was a day filled with more happy than sad and I survived it. That's something I never would have believed earlier this year. I have so much gratitude for so many of you here for your encouragement when I didn't even feel strong enough to believe in myself.
    Hugs to all of you!

    1. Dandelion,
      Do you know how many times I've read "I never would have believed this a year ago..." followed by news that things are, against all odds, looking up? I've heard it a LOT. So glad that you're getting there (wherever "there" is -- healing? joy? peace?). I love the towel idea. Screw the treadmill. Run for yourself. However far you make it is how far you can make it today. Tomorrow will be different. Same holds true for healing from betrayal.

  11. Pfffft, Elle, yet again you nailed it, how I was feeling. (Right down to the running part, that was my strategy as well. I have a pine tree I give 'high-fives' to when I mentally push myself to get past it's low hanging branches on my long runs. lol).

    I bring a lot of what you say, and insights from the other sisters here, to our couples counselling sessions. I am almost 3 months in, and in line with your post last week regarding transformation, I am seeing changes in how I deal, and deal with him.

    I still rage. I still hurt, worse than any pain I have ever felt before. Part of me will never get over it. But one thing I am beginning to see is how profoundly damaged my husband is. It's like peeling back onion layers, there is always one more layer to deal with. Having a psych background, I did see some of this denial and displacement behavior in him, just in little things, but never in a million years would have thought it extended to this insane level of physical and emotional deception. In a way, the huge scope of his f*ck-up gives him a isn't something a rational, healthy person does. (Over 8600 texts to one of his playmates in May of this year?? I literally almost fell to the floor when I saw that the day I began digging for info).

    Our therapist is a recovering addict as well, and is helping both of us see how my husband is an addict. It's like they all follow a script in the progress of the addiction! This is enabling me to realize that it is NOT a failing of me. He would have done this no matter who he was with. I just happened to be present in his life at this level of escalation of his addiction. Lucky me... :/

    Having this insight enables me to begin my own healing, as you said, step at a time, only seeing as far as the headlights illuminate in the fog, yet suddenly realizing they are illuminating new vistas each day as I creep carefully along.

    My husband is a mess. I would not want to be him in his head right now. As damaged as I am because of this, my torment is laid out on the table, in plain sight. His is just beginning as he dredges all the issues up which created, nurtured and fed this addiction, and let him escape from his own mind and self. The issues are real, valid, and quite frankly, scary. And he has to do all this 'sober', with no escape to his secret sexual fantasy life he built for himself.

    I read a quote when I was 2 days in (post-D day) which read something like: Is your definition of love strong enough to encompass profound failure? I keep asking myself that. I tell myself and him that I no longer love him. Like you, I do not wear my wedding ring, which was given to me with promises which were betrayed. But somthing makes me stay. I am attempting to be his friend as he struggles through this. I hope my compassion for his pain he is going through to better himself and become the person we thought he was allows me to consider loving him again.

    I just gotta keep peering through the fog, and see what the headlights illuminate.

    1. It is worse than any pain I'd experienced too. Which surprised me. I think it surprises most people. It's a primal wound. It affects us so deeply.
      Your husband sounds a lot like mine. He too was a total mess. A piece of why he stayed was that he was such a mess, I couldn't imagine leaving my kids alone with him for any amount of time. And yes, they're facing this huge reckoning without their drug of choice.
      My husband made it. We're able to laugh about it. Last week held our one-year anti-versary and when I asked him if he remembered what day it was, his face got sheepish and he responded with "it's cognitive dissociation awareness day". Which made me laugh. Did I ever imagine nine years ago that I wouyld be able to laugh at our situation? Not in a million years!

    2. Suzannah, our husbands sound a lot alike. I'm amazed at your grace such a short way in to be having compassion for your husband. I really like the quote...I ask myself that on a daily basis! One of Elle's recent posts talked about wondering what the other woman has...and the answer that whatever she had, you wouldn't want. I think that applies to our husbands too. It's easy to focus on "but he got to (fill in the blank)" but as you say, our husbands are broken men. I would not want to sort through the pile of internal BS that they have to face.

      Your perspective is amazing. Sending you high fives. May your healing continue to come.

    3. Susannah
      What a beautiful insightful post. I hope you stay around with us. Hugs and courage sent to you

    4. Thank you, sisters.
      I am happy and grateful to have your perspectives. You all help me so much.

  12. One of my favorite songs this past year has been 'Girl Crush'! I sing it for me because the words are the ow words! I sing it from her perception that happened to her the first time she faced me and proclaimed what a wonderful friend my h is. That's what she wanted was my life and she never could have filled my shoes as I read in someone else's post! She wants everything I have but will never have what I have with my h! Life is getting so much better! Hugs!

    1. Theresa, It's funny you should say that! Music has been so difficult for me during our R. There are so many songs I used to love, but can no longer enjoy! I am a big LBT fan. I've seen them in concert twice, including this past weekend.

      Awhile back, my 14 year old DD asked my why they wrote a song about lesbians. I explained to her the real meaning of the song in the presence of my WH. He turned white and clammy. A few days later we were in the car together and Girl Crush came on the radio. MY WH quickly reached to change the channel. He said "I'm sure you don't want to hear that song!" I then basically told him the same thing you said.

      When I hear that song, I think of her looking at me knowing that she could never be me! I am prettier, I am skinnier, I am a better person, mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, etc! Fact of the matter is that I am fucking awesome and she could never, ever be me!!! Love & hugs to you!!!!

    2. Bent not broken
      I'm glad you said that you were able to turn the song around for the betterment of you! Girl. Power! LBT sang that song to me this past summer! Was very therapeutic!

  13. I used to play the "run to the stop sign, run to the lamp post" game too. For years. :) Just a few month shy of Dday, all my running had taken its toll on my body and, in hopes of getting back to my old running routine, I stumbled into a yoga class hoping to fix what the running had broken. Looking back, I think God knew what was coming and so he/she glued me to a yoga mat so that I could survive. When Dday blew me to pieces, yoga helped me find the pieces - to say nothing of putting them back together. Putting back together means you have all the pieces... it was a long time before I had all the pieces. My yoga mat, the yoga studio, became my refuge. The only place where I had any hope of escaping the mind loops, or the effing thoughts of the OW, or the bottomless well of sorrow.

    That first year, my yoga teacher said over and over and over 'open your heart'. Can you imagine? :) There I was, in the middle of the most excruciating pain I'd ever known, terrified of doing the exact thing she was asking for. Open your heart. I know it was physical directive, a cue for physical responses... but I've always wondered what effect hearing that over and over had on my healing, battered heart. I've always kinda thought it helped me find courage and bravery and the strength to keep my heart open when I wanted very badly to slam it shut and hide it away.

    I remember wailing to my mother that statistics showed healing from infidelity was a 3-5 year process. Wailing! I thought I would be that woman - that walking mass of raw nerves for the entire 3 - 5 YEARS! I could not imagine enduring the pain that long. I couldn't conceive that it wouldn't always hurt so horribly badly. While I was much better by the one year mark, I was still hurt deeply, still crying a lot, still shell shocked. I remember, shortly after that one year mark, feeling a tremendous acceptance that this was a time of sorrow for me. My season of sorrow, I called it. And it would last as long as it needed to last. Accepting that seemed to help me let it pass, let it move through me. Helped me stop fighting it. I think that was a turning point for me - like by saying "fine, I'll hurt damn it" I was finally able to actually stop hurting. Of course, we had been working our asses off for the 12 months before that so maybe it was just coincidence - maybe all that work just finally started coming to fruition... whatever. There was such peace in just giving myself the room to grieve.

    We're about 3.5 years out from Dday and I can breath deeply and fully and peacefully most days now. Periodically, I find that I need to have a good cry about the affair but those moments are further and further apart and my days aren't spent dwelling on it. We've worked so hard and we're different people, in a different marriage. I really believe that my first marriage ended on Dday, or shortly after. It took me about a year and half to truly and deeply mourn for it and all the dreams I'd associated with it. But I think the fact that I honored that grief meant I could build something new.

    So go ahead, ladies. Let it hurt like a mother fucker but keep your heart open. Let it wash through you but don't hold on to it. Honor what you lost so that you have the strength to build something new. With him or without him.

    Hugs to each and every one of us.

    1. "Let it hurt like a mother fucker but keep your heart open. Let it wash through you but don't hold on to it. Honor what you lost so that you have the strength to build something new." Can I get that stitched on a pillow?! Amen, girl.

    2. New mom
      I'm so sorry for the heart break you are feeling just as you are supposed to be feeling nothing but joy! I'm so much older than you when this hell happened to me! I can only tell you the pain is still the same! It hurts to the very core of your soul but God made woman from the rib of man to be stronger of spirit in order to meet his demanding needs and to be able to put that man on the back burner once we procreate to enable us to love and protect the child. Your h will have to pick himself up and decide how to live with what he chose to do! Your job is to take care of self first in order to be able to give your son what he needs! You are so much stronger than you feel and remember we have all been where you are in the pain cycle but you are so much better because you can focus your love and energy on you and your child! God bless you for all you are doing! Hugs!

    3. I will take a pillow, too, New Mom. ;)

    4. Beautiful, Leslie. I know for me it's really necessary to grieve the loss as I've spent my whole life running from the tough stuff. We take a giant leap when we continue to leave our hearts open, but I am acknowledging now that life has never held any guarantees. Sadly, my husband's betrayal is what brought that to light. It was always true, I just never realized it. It also took this to make me acknowledge that it's okay to be vulnerable and that vulnerable doesn't mean weak.

    5. Dandelion,
      I could have written every word of your comment. Control is an illusion. We can only ever control our responses to what life gives us.

    6. Yes, Elle. You and our therapist have really helped me to understand that. It's a tough lesson for someone who always thought she was in control of everything. But when you can let go of some of that... wow, it makes life a whole lot easier. And honestly, realizing that I can't be responsible for my husband's actions (or anyone else's for that matter) gives me a whole lot less to,worry about and more time to focus on my healing. Because, as you said, the only thing we can control is how we respond.

    7. It's amazing, isn't it? I always thought control was what made my life feel safe. To learn that it was the opposite of safe was a total shock to me. But you're right -- letting go of all the stuff we can't control does make life a lot easier. We just need to focus on ourselves and who we want to be in any given moment.

  14. It is gonna hurt no matter what, the emotional force of betrayal is like nothing I could ever imagine. I have been thinking about the last post on loyalty and the pain. I already knew I was not appreciated so was it loyalty or servitude? My loyalty was - " I don't love you madly anymore because I resent the way you have treated me but since we both just are drifting apart let's try to make the best of it." We didn't deal with it. We didn't make a decision. This lead to compromises on both our parts. I compromised myself, me, herself and yours truly. I was disingenuous to myself. My compromise was different than his. His compromise led to my pain. My compromise led to - well I haven't figured that out yet. The pain gets less, I'm not telling a lie, it does get less. If I could lie, I would have had a different penis than my husbands.

    Parts of you are broken. Parts of you are bitter. You have been betrayed and you are angry. The wounds are fresh. It is like he said vows and took the whore in your house, car just in your space. It is like he said I'm going out with some friends but then doesn't call or come home. He tells you one story but the the text messages don't add up. The vows that were said, were easily forgotten for a vagina wagging in his face. Who wants to wait to get to know the person. If he took time to get to know her then he would have seen the glimmer of whore, mentally unstable and desperate person but that wasn't what he wanted. It is easier to throw a vagina in his face.

    Parts of you want to cry out and do. Parts of you are burning like fire in a your heart and that is anger. You are left with a decision. Do I put the fire out or do I heat it up? Do I get over it or get even? Do I release it or resentment it? Betrayal is wrong. Revenge is bad. Without giving a pardon (I don't like forgiveness) all that is left is bitter. You will go back and forth many times. I stayed because I wanted to stay not because I needed to stay. I said to hell with it, threw out everything I thought I knew was right. I said the hell with it did what I wanted to do not what I felt obligated to do. My life is richer for it. Don't hang on to the old stuff it is not worth it to keep holding on by your fingernails on that ledge. Let it go, let yourself all hang out (yes that is a 60's saying). The worst has already happened to you. Nothing you do or don't do can make it worse and that includes the chest gripping pain. All I'm trying to say, if he what you want then the pain will get less. I didn't believe it either but it does.

  15. New Mom
    How wonderful to have a new little to celebrate Christmas. Concentrate on the small things. Marvel at his tiny little hands and beautiful little rosebud mouth. Warm your heart and soul with his complete dependence on you. You're his Mom. His whole world. And also make sure you are resting when he rests!!!

    Don't direct your energy to your husband and his betrayal of you. You will sort that out one way or another and I promise you it does sort out.

    Take care of yourself and your baby and let the rest go.

    As far as living moment by moment this is my credo and I'm 4 years out!!! Living moment by moment is the only way to handle this awful situation especially in the early days. Don't look too far in the future. We all only have today

    As Elle put it with her running. Small victories. Set small goals. Don't try to fix everything today. Can't be done.

    I hope you have family or friends you can depend on nearby. Hugs to you and your new child

    1. TryingHard...four years, you go! Good for you. It is so helpful and reassuring to hear the messages of "you can make it." Thank you so much for the kind words. I really can't put into words how much it means to me. Moment-by-moment, that's how I'll go, strengthened today by your kindness. Thank you. I'm inspired by your four years.

  16. I'm able to do just 10 minutes on a stationary bike and it's a start.

    We're joining the Y this week and I love to swim. I also do art and play piano too.

    Anne of VA

    Elle, I love your site the best...but have you ever thought putting it into a forum setting instead? I don't want to make your job harder, but it's kinda hard to post and wait for it to appear. I understand their are nefarious forces out there, but I thought maybe I'd just suggest it.

    Thanks so much for your articles. My hubby and I are separated in the home for over a year now b/c of his porn use.

    1. Anon,
      You're the second person in a week who's asked me to try and create a forum. I can't do it on the blogging platform I'm on and I'm not sure how to move the whole site to another platform without losing everything. So for now, this is what we've got. Sorry!!

    2. That's OK! I'm not techy saavy myself. I have to ask my kids how to do stuff on the puter since I'm 43 and didn't grow up with puters.

      I also know money is tight and I thank you for this site. I don't know if you'd have to open up a new site for a forum section and link it from here and I know that could be very expensive.

      God Bless you for this site hon.

      Anne from VA

  17. Amen. Beautifully spoken Elle and I'm a living breathing testament to time healing our brokenness. 2 yrs, 1 mo past D-Day and I am becoming my old self, no, a stronger version of her. I have walked thru the instense pain of betrayal and when I felt like I couldn't go on, prayer,counseling,reading, and mostly this board kept me going. Yesterday I returned his wedding band to him. I had taken it from him after D-Day, but finally felt healed enough to return. We are doing well. Never in a million years did I think it could happen. To all who are new, please be patient.

    1. J,
      Thank you for sharing that. It's always great to read a post like yours. I think what you've said, along with Elle's reminders to be gentle with ourselves, is what many of us need to hear. I'm now 8 months out from the last D-Day and I know it took me many months to reach a place where I didn't constantly feel like a crazy person. It also took a lot of honesty between my husband and me, reading up on affairs, counseling, and prayer. We are at a place where we see more light days than dark. I know that is hard to hear and even harder to believe when the pain is fresh. I know in the early days and weeks, I was just struggling to keep my head above water.
      For those of you who find yourselves in that same place, try to take it moment by moment until you reach a point where you can take it day by day.
      Hugs to all!

    2. J and Dandelion,
      I think it's really great that you're able to share that with those just learning of their spouse's betrayal. We never believe we'll feel anything but pain. It's valuable to hear from those further along who can assure us that life does get better.

  18. I needed to hear that today Anonymous. Being patient is not my forte! It's only been 4 months. I am stronger than I thought I was but every day is different, very up and down. The thing I am most struggling at the moment is whether I still love my husband. I don't certainly don't respect him now. We've been living apart for 5 months, he left a month before I found out, drowning in his own lies he told the biggest of all (he says) which was to say 'I don't love you anymore' and left. He is now a mess of a man, disgusted at himself, having counselling and hopes we can reconcile in the future. I believe his remorse and actually (perhaps naively) can imagine trusting him again. But I don't know if all his damage has damaged my love for him too much. Or perhaps I've just got too used to living in our house, just me and my 2 year old son. I guess it's 'normal' to question love for someone who has betrayed so deeply, it's all part of figuring out how I feel and if I am willing to start again with my H. Any words of advice / experience gratefully received.........!

    1. Anonymous,
      I agree that it's normal to feel the way you do. All of our situations are different but we go through many of the same emotions. I wondered how I could ever look at my husband the same way knowing he had betrayed me and lied to me.
      What convinced me to stay and try to repair our marriage was seeing his remorse and his willingness to face head on the issues that allowed him to behave the way he did. We've gone to counseling, we have open conversations and there is complete transparency. Eight months out there are many changes in him and in our relationship.
      I hope this helps in some way.

    2. Anonymous,
      I think it can be helpful to view your relationship with him as a new one. The old marriage is dead. Bury it. It sounds as if there are things about him that drew you to him. What about now? What does he bring to your life that enriches it? Your son's life? If there's something to build on, then that bodes well for a second marriage with your first husband. But sometimes we discover that we can care about our spouse...but don't want a future with him. That's the cost of betrayal sometimes. We each get to decide whether our life is better with him in it or without him.

  19. Thanks Dandelion - like your h my husband's remorse is genuine and so is his willingness to face his issues, he is having his counselling as well as our joint counselling. I can see how there will be total transparency now which is a good thing.
    But....Elle like you said, I have to look at it as a new relationship and whilst I can see how he enriches my son's life, but for me I cannot see past the betrayal. My counsellor said I should also look at it as a new relationship and ask myself if I had just met him and he said he had an 18 month on-off affair which caused the breakdown of his marriage, how would I feel about him then. It's not a very attractive proposition to be honest! Perhaps I just need to give it more time to be certain. We haven't spent any time out of our house (we live separately) just the two of us, only with our son which then makes for a nice day as he is our focus and brings us happiness. Maybe we need to do this so I can truly feel if he will enrich my life, or not.
    Thank you both.



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