Thursday, July 21, 2016

Healing from Betrayal: How Feeling Sad Can Bring Back Happy

As a child, sad was my default mood. I was sad about orphans. I was sad about hurt animals. I was sad about dirty rivers and smoggy skies. And I was especially sad that my beloved mom had been swallowed by my addicted mom. 
So when I grew up, moved away and began to create my own world  – which included volunteer work to mix some sweat with my sadness and consequently make the world and my mood a little bit better – I was able to shake off that sadness like a coat that no longer fit.
Enter D-Day...and the sadness was back. Well, okay it was preceded by the rage – both expressed outwardly and inwardly – but eventually sadness settled over me like a cloud. I gave up thinking I could ever be happy and chastised myself for thinking I even deserved to be. 
That first year post D-Day was...sad. I felt trapped in a marriage I didn't want to be in because I felt neither physically nor emotionally strong enough to leave. I convinced myself that my happiness came second to my children's. The martyr role had always been one I sought out and I played it to the hilt, telling my husband that I was sacrificing my own future for the chance to give my children the stable childhood I had been denied. You could almost hear the violins playing the background.
Not to downplay my very real pain. We all know how deep the wound of betrayal goes. And how slow the healing.
Eventually I determined that I was going to rebuild our marriage. That first year had given me a good look at my husband as a man dedicated to making amends. He attended 12-step groups, he spent hours in counselling, he supported me in whatever I needed. 
But though I felt myself loving him, I still felt...sad. That was, if I was feeling anything at all. I'd become so adept at numbing myself to the agony I'd felt that, much of the time, I felt very little at all. I could pretend I was normal. Laugh at the right moments, sigh at the right moments, feign engagement with the wider world. But inside, I was getting scared. I wondered if emotions could die. I wondered if my heart was no longer capable of feeling the highs and lows of life. But mostly I wondered if I was destined to experience life through the lens of a pale gray sadness forever.
My husband urged me to try EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It seems a bit like hocus pocus. A trained therapist talks you through traumatic experiences while either guiding your eyes in a repetitive back-and-forth or rhythmically tapping on your hands or legs. Some use a buzzer. 
It's a therapy based on awareness that animals in the wild seem to recover quickly from trauma. To put it in the most simple terms, a zebra, for instance, that is chased by a predator, watches another zebra get eaten, relatively quickly is restored to a regular heartbeat and behaviour. Scientists theorized that the bilateral stimulation of walking played a role. Further research led to EMDR. 
The idea, my therapist explained, is to access memory stored as trauma and, essentially, refile it in a part of the brain that feels a greater control over the experience.  The website describes it as removing a block that's in the way of emotional healing.
However it's described, I couldn't quite believe it worked. And not only did it work on my trauma around my husband's betrayal, it worked on memories I'd buried so well, I hardly thought about them though they were no doubt festering deep down, like a forgotten splinter. What came bubbling to the surface was much of my childhood pain around losing my mother to addiction even while she was alive. I remembered a sexual assault I'd experienced in my early 20s, one that I'd held myself accountable for (what kind of idiot believes a guy when he says all your friends are joining him back at his place for a party...only to find out you were the only one invited! An "idiot" who takes people at their word, which is to say, not an "idiot" at all), and one I'd never breathed to a soul. I worked through the pain of my best friend betraying me at 24. 
I felt lighter than I'd felt in years. Free of so much sadness. Liberated from so much self-blame.
Better than that, I was able to access all those other emotions I'd forgotten felt so great. As my therapist explained, when we put the lid on pain in order to avoid feeling it, we also bottle up everything else, like joy and contentment and satisfaction. We don't get to be selective in what we bury and what we don't. By going back in and wrestling with the pain, I opened the way for all that good stuff too.
I still, of course, feel sadness. But I also feel joy. I feel contentment. I feel anger and satisfaction and desire and envy and pride. I feel the full range of human emotions. 
Including a deep love for that little girl who found the world unbearably sad. 
Count me among the supporters of EMDR. If you feel stuck, consider giving it a try. If you can't afford it (and it can be expensive), get out and walk every day. There's much evidence that the bilateral stimulation of walking can also excavate those buried feelings, letting them bubble to the surface where you can process them, reminding yourself that you're safe now, that you are strong enough to handle pain. And knowing that, behind that pain, lays a world of rich color and emotion that's worth fighting for. 


  1. This might sound odd but I feel like I am not sad but more not happy. Some things I find great happiness in. Overall maybe it is skepticism hanging over me. I am just not sure. My husband just keeps saying to me what he wants most is for me to be okay and happy. And I have thought about it and I am not sure what happy is or can be for me. And deep down I think he wants me to be happy and okay with him going out and away for a night or two with friends without me being worried. He has said he is on pins and needles while he is away from me worried that I am sad and not okay with him being gone. He is worried about misstepping. It took a while for him to make changes like if he goes out to eat after golfing and they eat one place then get a drink at another he would never tell me. Now I said I need to know where he is and who he is with. He now seems to have it down as a habit. But I am not sure where he is going with this. Lately I feel like I have a better read on his feelings and intentions than he does. And that worries me. I feel like he lacked self awareness and had a distorted perspective on things. He is surrounded by family and friends that build him up and make him feel entitled. So I am not sure where I am going with this but I just wonder what is happy and is it attainable?

    1. The short answer is "happy" is believing you are exactly where you want to be in your life -- surrounded by the people who matter and living a meaningful life, able to ride out life's ups and downs. And yes, it's attainable. In some ways, it's sweeter for having to fight so hard for it after any kind of pain. I walk daily with a friend who's a cancer survivor and she sometimes speaks of being better able to appreciate what really matters for having come close to losing it all. That's often how I feel.
      But attaining it, for me, came through EMDR and therapy. That was the key that unlocked the place where I'd stored so much of my pain. That pain acted like gauze, making any feelings of happiness somehow...muffled. I always had this sense that it couldn't last. That I didn't deserve it.
      Now? Damn right I deserve it, along with every other person on the planet. But it can't come at another's cost. It's about peace of mind. It's about living my life with integrity. It's about recognizing what really matters, who really matters. And it's about knowing that, if those around me choose to hurt me, I have the strength to walk away from that relationship. I'll be sad...until I'm happy again.
      That sense of instability you have, your fear that he hasn't really learned as much as you'd like, is legitimate. You're likely right. Can you talk to him about it? Express your concerns that he's vulnerable to going down that road again? Ask him what he has in place to stop himself? What messages is HE giving himself about who he is and what he deserves in life?

    2. Elle,

      All of what you are saying is so right. And I do have that feeling of a second chance and renewed hope. My husband at one point said he thought about just leaving me since he felt it would be too hard to tell me and just easier to make up a reason for us not to be together. I am thankful and have told him that over and over. And I have said and feel no matter what happens with him I am glad I know all of this. Both what the truth was and what was happening in my life and to be more aware no matter what life brings.

      I think a lot has to do with the idea of only controlling ourselves. I understand it intellectually but emotionally it is still hard for me. Life is easier or it seems easier if I can control everything. I know it is not possible, true or healthy but it is hard to change after so long. I see it in my kids and always have. As simple as afraid to answer a question in class because what if they are wrong. Also in that a fear of failure. It is easier when something is a sure thing. I grew up that way. And I now see it so clearly especially when I see it in my kids.

      And maybe I need more time. And heading back to my therapist would help too once summer is over. This is a lot to take and process and I am the kind of person who is tough and gets through things. And when live gets busy and feels normal which really means like old times it is rough on me. He does know all that. We have had talks and he is understanding and assures me with the changes he has made. And I am not worried or concerned about the immediate future but more with the passing of time. He did not shift his boundaries and start an affair over night. He claims he would never do it again even if we were not together that he hated himself and the person he had become and the life he led. This was his wake up call. He is genuine but I also am skeptical due to his profession. He is not phased by any question. He has answer for everything. I can tell he is the happiest he has ever been ,but he tells me it should be obvious how he is leading a different life and he can tell the differences. I knew he was detached back then but as I have told him when someone lies to you it leaves that person in the dark with no answers. And the friend conversation is just a round about topic for us. He sees it as a non issue. And what is bothering me the most regarding his friends is he told me he has stopped telling me about how one of his friends is deceiving his wife. It is not betrayal or cheating but lying, when I told my therapist about this friend he said he sounds pathological. And it is chronic. this has really rattled me. I understand his thought pattern but under the circumstances of the affairs I find it unacceptable. We need to sit down and talk you are right about that. Thank a for always having a great perspective and advice.

    3. I was at your junction too. I knew I should be happy. Back into therapy. My family was full blown narcissistic both of them. I called my sister to borrow money from my dad (he has dementia). I said, they ignored us, fucked us up so now they can pay to un-fucked us. She sent me the money and she continued her therapy. My H betrayal just added on to my already critical self. I'm going down the healing betrayal highway, still, but now taking a side road to end my critical self and my parents invisible influence still whispering in my ear, you are going to fail, you are not smart enough, your arms are fat, you don't deserve happiness and by the way your a terrible wife who can't keep her husband. Your so bad in all ways he found someone better than you. So I'm learning that my critical self and invisible influences are lying and stealing my happiness. My H has been very supportive and actually "gets it" when I talk about my therapy sessions and what I learned and what I practice to strangle this out of my life so I can be happy. He says, I always hated your parents for how they treated you. He could see it but never said anything. This side road has been a few months. Why didn't ever see all this stuff? I'm so critical of myself my brain throws away anything positive and only sees negative. I cannot actually tell when people are responding positive to me. My H says can't you see when on my face when I appreciate you? Nope. Can't you see how happy I am for a second chance? Nope. Can't you see how infatuated I am with you? Nope. Can't you see how my remorse, regret and guilt? Nope. So you can imagine how betrayal feeds right into this fire. I'm learning and becoming happier everyday, determined to go as far as my therapist or Dad's money can take me. I'm 62 years old and not giving up, on my right to be happy and have a happy marriage. The happy marriage part is more of a struggle I have to admit.

    4. LLP ... its never to late to be who and what you want to be it a choice and change we can make everyday. Ive seen change in your post and thing just being you isnt that bad though im sorry you're not been built up but broke down at times by people whos love you should be able to depend on ... ive been there too ..still there and look for that side road often i think there was a posted months back it was referred to as the scenic route. Do you ... you know thats do you and know that with my family instead of being angry hateful resentful i now can say im me good and bad because of all the bullshit but i know its not me its their faults and i remind myself often i can own control me and gently... know some peoples good is there best
      ... but i get to decide now what i will and wont tolerate. I want action now and not words and i also know in some instances you cant fix stupid ... there shit definitely not ours .
      . Me you the bwc were warriors and im carrying an invisible shovel to dig thru this shitshow to not become hardened but dig up that shimmer of hope, love and find compassion... wounded not broken.

    5. Lynnlesspain
      I can't help but wonder what model of parenting style our generations parents used to be parents! I'm certain it couldn't have been my grandparents for my mom or my stepdad because my grandparents were wonderful! Loving caring and always building up the self esteem for all 13 grandchildren! My mom is just like you describe always leaving my sisters and me never being good enough at anything! I recently stopped allowing my mom to get to me! Thanks to Elle, I'm just the hired help when I take her shopping or for doctors appointments!
      Wounded not broken, I'm bringing my shovel to help you dig up a shimmer of hope and then you and I will go help Lynnlesspain dig for some as well! One day at a time ladies!

    6. Just name the place girlfriend ... ha if only huh oll bring my shovel and a good bottle of wine!

  2. Very interesting read, Elle. My therapist mentioned EMDR a while back and I hadn't given it much thought, but I will now. Thanks.

    So much of what you describe (the wondering if you'll ever feel again, deciding to sacrifice your happiness for that of your kids, etc.) mirrors the thoughts and feelings I have as well. One thing always sticks out to me though... You talk about still loving your husband and it scares me that I don't feel that way. I love him as the father of my kids (yep, kidS now...#2 is on the way. There's a story for another day!) and I'm starting to love him as a friend again, but I really don't have romantic feelings toward him right now. We're 10 months out from discovery and I've had a few brief moments of being able to feel that, but mostly I just feel numb. Now add some pregnancy hormones and, well, I'm just a mess of strange emotions, none of which feel right or familiar. I feel broken sometimes, like I'll never feel that love toward him again. I'll note that we didn't have 20 years, or even 5, of good before this devastation hit us. He cheated 8 weeks into our marriage and my world came crashing down about a year and a half into our marriage. So I don't have decades of memories and love to fall back on. I wonder if that's making it harder for me to feel that again. Or is it just too early? Is it enough to just feel calm, to feel less rage, to feel like I can start to like him as a friend a bit? Will the romantic love ever return? Thoughts, advice?

    1. My H wants amother baby .... baby are a blessing ... but i. Not there yet or possible never .i have a fear thats when his cheating became continual and of doing it all again im sure all fears...but im pushing the pregnancy clock too . So for now im happy with the one i have.. please take care of you!!!! Those pregger hormones can get best of you. As far as the rest sit idle till its clearer... time .... a 4 letter word somedays.

    2. Oh, I have wondered about babies after betrayal. So many on this site seem to be those who have been married for 20+ years and past the baby stage, but we have only been married for six years and my husband wants more kids. (I did too before I found out about the affair.) I have learned through this all that my husband is incredibly selfish and wants attention. If he doesn't get it from me, he finds it elsewhere. We had a three year old and an infant when he started his affair. Those with kids know how tiring those early years can be and while we weren't connecting like we would have liked, I thought it was a phase to get through and that we were a good team and it would get easier when the kids were older. Now I know he escaped to a fantasy life and betrayed me and our sons. He wants another baby and while I am mourning the bigger family I desired once, I don't know that I can trust him enough to be vulnerable and add to our family. Sometimes I look at our two boys and feel like they are enough and our family is complete and other times, I feel like someone is missing. Plus the constant comments from people about when we're going to try for our next baby from family, friends, and complete strangers are like a knife to my heart. No one knows about my husband's affair except his parents. Everyone thinks we are the perfect family.
      As for the romantic feelings, I think they can return. Mine have to an extent. (I am 12 months past D-Day now) The hardest part is when I begin to feel those things, I tend to push him away or shut down because the fear wins and being vulnerable is scary and I don't want to trust him. And cycling through the different stages of grief like anger and numbness can make feelings for him confusing too. Throw in some pregnancy hormones and I can't imagine. Be gentle with yourself.

    3. Wounded and Grace: thanks for your thoughts and input. It is scary to be growing our family amidst all of this, but given my age, we didn't have much of a choice if we wanted our son to have a sibling. The hormones are a real struggle and I have to stay very cognizant of when I'm letting emotions get combined. Luckily, my husband is very understanding and empathetic given everything going on. Even still, there are moments that I rage at him, and that is scary as I had the rage part of things pretty well dialed back pre-pregnancy. Or maybe this is just another aspect of the cyclical nature of healing--revisiting some of those early emotions and responses.

      Grace, I'm glad to hear that the loving feelings returned for you! I, too, struggle with allowing myself to feel that, to be vulnerable. It's really scary and part of it feels disloyal to myself, like I'm letting him off too easy or something. Like removing the armor of hurt that has kept me safe for the last 10 months will just expose me to more pain. But living numb and scared is no picnic either. Good for you for taking the plunge... You will be my inspiration to try to let the love in some.

      Big hugs to all this Monday morning, and thanks again for the replies.

    4. For us the 10 years of affairs started when I was pregnant with our second. It is hard for me to deal with that still. A lot of it has come out as we celebrated her birthday. I have a lot of resentment since looking back I can see how I got so little support with our kids and my career much less as a person and our marriage. He is the one that pushed for the second kid not me at all. I find that interesting. Then I feel guilty for thinking this since I treasure my kids both of them, but it is complicated all the feelings wrapped in it. The flip side is he will never have what I have with them due to his behavior over those 10 years. But that does not take away the pain and fear. I think kids complicate and add a layer of stress. And mine are heading into the teen years so it is different than the baby/little kid phase but it is stressful too. And honestly I am glad this came out now I think we would have had more conflict since the teen years at least personally bring out a lot in me related to this betrayal. My kids and I talk about how to treat others, about boundaries, relationships etc all the time.

    5. New mom. I can relate in many ways. I'm nearly at the 1 year mark.
      He started his affair when my son was 4 months old and we had been married for 7 months.
      I love him as the Father of my son, as a friend but am also struggling romantically / physically.
      My therapist reminds me, that 11 months ago I couldn't imagine even looking at his face again. At 10 months ago I couldn't imagine having a normal conversation with him. 9 months ago if she'd told me that in July of this year we would go on a family holiday with him and my son, I would have laughed in her face. The list goes on and I guess we need to remind ourselves how far we've come in a relatively short space of time.
      Up until fairly recently I was almost paralysed - in a permanent choke hold of thoughts of his affair. I couldn't imagine going more than 10 minutes without thinking about it or having a trigger or dissolving into tears. I didn't believe the triggers would become less frequent but they have.
      I think it's a lot of it is down to time and allowing ourselves to let our guard down slightly but I know at the moment I'm not still not quite ready, but that's ok.
      We are soon to move back in together as we have been separated but are spending most nights together. My therapist also reminds me that if I can't get those physical and romantic feelings back after all, I am allowed to change my mind about my marriage. For now I have decided I want to try and make it work, especially due to all the work and changes he has made. But it's ok to change my mind down the line. Gawd knows, I know nothing in life is guaranteed anymore, that's for sure!
      But for now this is all more than enough and I think it's ok to take things one day at a time. I guess we need to remind ourselves of that! I never thought a friendship would ever return, so think the romantic feelings will too and maybe it's just a matter of that trust being built up to allow to them to.

  3. I must say that I agree that first year was sad! I was sad from the loss of my sister and my marriage was in tatters all within two weeks. Yeah I was a mess of sadness! I'm glad I finally made it through that process! I'm not sure if I could have with out this blog! I've learned so much from every story! I've always been able to make my own happy place but this threw me to the floor! I'm glad I'm more able to find my new sense of happiness with my h!

  4. I certainly can't afford the therapy, but I like the suggestion of walking, it makes a lot of sense.
    From my long experience with depression, I knew that you have to wait it out, see hope in the distance and hold onto it.. That applies chemical depression, depression with no discernible cause. This was different, because my depression this year had a very clear cause. From this blog and other sources, I learned that you still have to wait it out, and that you have to grieve, to fully feel and experience the pain and sadness, until eventually it begins to loosen its grip on you. Then you start to experience little moments of joy, which are all the more precious because it has been a while since you were able to feel it. I don't know, really, what happiness is, but a sense of peace and quiet satisfaction, interspersed with those feelings of joy, is good enough for me right now. You know how sometimes you experience physical pain for a time, and then, when the pain finally stops, it feels so good, and you find yourself thinking that the simple absence of pain is the greatest feeling in the world? That's where I am right now, emotionally. The worst of the pain has passed, and I feel good and peaceful. I know this is just a mile marker, a resting place, but it feels good to get this far. I have suffered, and at 10 1/2 months out I am resting, healing, and rediscovering joy.

    1. Phoenix,
      It sounds like you're in a really great place -- and you fought to get there so I hope you're giving yourself credit for that.
      I think "happiness" is something of a pipe dream. We've been sold the idea of happiness as a default feeling. When it's not, any more than sadness is a default feeling. We feel a range of feelings every single day of our lives. Happiness is temporary. Just as sadness is. So if you achieve a general state of peace and contentment, then you're better off than many people, no matter what's going on in their lives.

  5. Happiness seems unattainable right now. My H had an affair Less than 2 months ago. I found out about it 4 weeks ago and thought I ease parking through the feelings. As angry and sad and full of despair as I was feeling, I was starting to have moments of strength. Until I found out he'd been continuing to talk to the OW. Not just once in a while, but constantly throughout the days and nights. He had every opportunity to tell me about the communication- I flat out asked him multiple times. He lied. He did things to try to make sure I never found phone records. But I did. And those feelings of betrayal started all over again. He claims all the talking wasn't romantic in nature. And how he started to see the OW in a different light- that she was selfish and a fake. How will I ever trust again? He's made so many poor choices. I just can't see this tiring around for us.

    1. Anon, I'm so sorry. How hurtful and scary and what an awful renewed loss of safety. Without telling you what to do, I'd recommend taking a look at your boundaries, what you will and will not put up with. Why is he still in touch with her and why was it secret? My husband pulled the same crap. Not ok. You deserve better. No contact is a must, for your own health and safety and because he is clearly weak and not able to do the right thing on his own right now. My H renewed contact and it wasn't romantic, just checking to see how she was doing. This lead to a six month slide back in to romantic contact and he even traveled to see her for he birthday last month. I've had enough and now we are beginning a controlled separation. I wasn't strong enough emotionally to draw that boundary just a few weeks after dday 1, so I get how hard it is. It is OK if you are not either. You look at what is going to be right for you. What do you need right now? Take care of you. It is hard to imagine, but one way or another, you will get through this. You won't always feel so sad. Much love. SS

    2. Anonymous July 23
      It sounds like he's still in the affair fog! If you just found out 4 weeks ago he may have been trying to end the affair gently but from our experience, until my h began to send texts that included harsh words to the ow, she would not stop contact. My h had tried for a couple of years to get the ow to stop contact but she was very persistent! I'm so sorry you are going through this! If your h really wants to get your marriage back, he has to stop all contact! No friendship of any kind! Trust can't come until he gives you reason to trust that he's changed his ways of choosing dishonesty in his relationship with you! My advice is to keep reading this blog there's a wealth of knowledge and a large supply of compassionate women here to help you through the tough days ahead! Hugs for the pain I know so well!

    3. Anonymous,
      It's not uncommon for a cheating partner to continue to lie and deceive but it does so much additional damage. What have you done about his continued deception? You need to make it clear that you will not tolerate this. The only way to rebuild a marriage is with him essentially exorcising this person from both of your lives and then recommitting to total transparency and honesty. You should have access to any and all forms of communication so that you can ensure there is none. And he needs to know exactly what the consequences are for violating that.

    4. My therapist refuses to see a couple if the contact continues. She said the chance of R is zero unless the H goes no contact.

  6. An update for those of you following along... So you know we let my MIL know about the separation and she took it very well. Elle you warned me not to buy it and you were right. Luckily, I was with my daughter on a short, fun trip to Boston the next day (it was the one year mark for when my H met the OW at a company picnic and I didn't want to be around him - instead some nice QT with my best girl). My h got the full brunt of her flailing, making him responsible for stuff that hasn't even happened yet on a vacation that he is no longer going on with us - just crazy co-dependent, self absorbed parent crap. He ended up asserting his boundary pretty hard (good fo rhim, he eeds to learn to do this to get somewhere better) and of course she spent the next to days in bed with a hanky over her face. And since I got back she's been sulking at me for reasons I can't fathom. I'm pretty much ignoring the behavior in the same way you ignore a toddlers tantrum. "You can lay on the floor if you like. I'll be going over here to do my thing." So, to the topic at hand, sadness. I came back from Boston and the next morning my H and I discussed our separation with the kids. My daughter, who has know about my h's affair since Jan, was not surprised. Even expressed relief, but I can also tell she is angry. My son, was so so so sad, Got angry, cried. My heart broke open for him. I'm tearing up thinking about him, about them both. I am very proud of how I handled my self. Emphasized that this was a decision we made together with our therapist and was the next right step for us. Told them we were looking at 6 months, and that dad wouldn't be going on vacation next week since he would take that time to move out. I also said there were no sides to take, that we both loved them and were still their parents. That none of this was their fault or for them to fix. that was our job. My son still doesn't know about my H's affair (as far as I can tell) and my H agreed we want to keep it that way. Interestng. My daughter later asked me what we had decided about dating other people. Yikes. I said I wasn't comfortable discussing. She pushed and said I already know and you guys must have talked about it. SO I said I don't plan to. I can't answer for your father. She said yea but if I ask him he will just start crying. Ouch. but true. not sure if I handled that as well, but best I could do in the moment. She clearly identifies with me strongly in this, asked if it is weird we are stil vacationing with "his" family. I reminded her that they are her family too and still my family. She went on her day as usual with her friend, went to movies, hung out with friends. Not much changed because she's had so long to process already and I think her anger at her father is a bit of insulation. Will need to keep a sharp eye on her for changes. Spent the rest of the day just hanging with my son. At bed time he asked me to stay with him. We ended up staying up until 2 wathcing funny vids on youtube. he said he ws really sad. I said me too. He said if you don't want to go and dad doesn't want to go, why does he have to go? I sad, I am no sure how to answer that, but we have some stuff we need to figure out and dad needs some time and space to figure his stuff out. I do too. So this is what we think is best right now. Then he said six months is such a long time. I said it does feel long, but we may not need all six months. Or we may need a few more. I just don't know what it will look like right now. He's handling this really well and I am so proud of him, both for talking about his feelings and asking for what he needs. So I've got one more week of my H being here then we are off for a large family vacation at a beautiful lake in the mountains. Then he is out. Wish me luck. I am relieved but still wake up anxious every day. Hope this will get better. So sad for my kids this morning.

    1. Still Standing,
      We're sad for you and your kids. This is a sad time. But it won't always be a sad time. And you're doing a wonderful thing by giving your kids permission to feel their feelings. To share their feelings. To trust that you can hear their feelings and not turn away from the sad but to feel it too.
      SS, you're doing everything right. I think you just have to trust that you're all going to get through this. "This" is not how you're always going to feel.
      As for your MIL, she needs to grow up. And she'll either rise to the occasion based on the boundaries you're setting or she'll continue to try and con you into giving in. Don't. Do your best to recognize her behaviour for the countermove it is -- sulking, aggression, anger, weeping, wailing, etc. Making this about her instead of about you. Expecting support for her feelings instead of supporting your feelings.
      The only way out of this, SS, is through. So keep going.

    2. Hear, Hear (to Elle's words). I am just heading back from a trip with my family. Since recognizing parental tantrums/countermoves from Elle, I was able to stand strong against my dad's controlling/OCD/demanding/out of control behavior. I refused to answer his demands with anything but a "no, thank you," even though he threw his tantrums like a little Napoleon/Yosemite Sam. I felt guilty briefly, mostly because my family often labels boundaries as not being "nice." But I just reasserted that I don't have to listen to him and will do what is right for me and my family. For fuck's sake, I am 42 years old--ok, I didn't say that outloud.

      As for how you are communicating with your kids---you are doing exactly the opposite of what your H's mother does. You are leaving plenty of room for their feelings and not making them responsible for yours. You are undoing the cycle of codependency. You are doing amazing things.

    3. Still Standing, I went through a total of seven years of pre, during and post affair with my parents. I ended up a wild teenager, alone, abandoned by both parents. My mother or dad never talked to us. May I recommend you have a regular time to meet with your children once a week for a year. Just listen to their pain and sorrow. There is much they aren't saying to you. Even if they don't want to talk, then pay some small type attention to them. You know how it feels to be abandoned. I can tell you no matter how hard you tell them, they feel abandoned by both parents. I wish my mom would have showed me in little ways, how to put on make-up, insert a tampon or cook something together. They are going through what you went through wanting their old life back. Even if they throw a hissy fit, listen but don't give in to something that makes you feel good in the moment but isn't right for them. You sound like the mom I wish I had, warm, supportive and cares. You just really need to have open communication and go over the top with this. This is a healing road for them too, very similar so you can help them in the way you helped yourself. Don't talk about the OW or what your H is doing. It only makes it hurts worse. Don't assume brother doesn't know, siblings talk about everything. My sister and Inended up supporting each other which meant what I knew so did she. You got this mom.

    4. Still Standing. I understand your sadness I am thinking of you. (I am also thinking of all you other ladies).
      My h and I are in MC which is going quite ok, despite the fact he is still lying about keeping in contact with the ow. So, I've decided to give myself the next couple of weeks before we return to MC to see if he comes clean on his own about everything else I don't know about, ie actually admitting he is still in contact with the ow etc. If he does, good, we have something to work on. If not, I'll be asking him to move out. - (This will be a sad time, but it hasn't happened yet, so I won't get sad about it now).
      I saw my IC yesterday, and she commented to me - "you seem more at peace". I said "yes, because I feel stronger, and I've reached a point where I'm so over all his constant lies that perhaps even though I have known all along the kids and I don't deserve this, I am now admitting it and facing the truth with this renewed strength, that I and the kids are worth so much more than living a life with someone who can lie so easily to the people he's supposed to love more than anything in life".

      In a message to my h after I initially found out he'd been cheating I wrote -
      "Everyone's marriages go through ups and downs - everyone's life does - not a cause for cheating and disrespecting your wife/partner etc". So I put it to h. (Mind you our kids are REALLY good and cause no problem, even the teenagers!) "If the kids aren't doing the right thing, behaving how you want them, you wouldn't go out and get other kids, you work on fixing the issue with them."... He didn't have anything to say over that.

      So thank you SS for sharing how you told your kids. It's a great guide for how I/we should approach talking to our kids if it comes to that.
      Thanks also to you BW for your helpful comments.

      I don't know if any of you have looked at the websites with cheating/lying husband quotes and with pictures. Some of them are quite funny and have got me over times of sadness. Here's one I sent to h, which he was not impressed about. (but obviously not enough to change)
      quote "Guys, close your eyes. Imagine you have a daughter, Imagine she is dating a guy just like you. Did you smile? No? Then change".

      Hang in there ladies. I know we will have our sad days, but don't happy days feel so much better? (yes I'm having a happy day today)

      Gabby xo

    5. Thanks so much everyone. I feel so wraped up in love this morning, just what I needed after an early morning of wakefulness and indulging in some feeling sorry for myself. LLP I will take your advice seriously. My relationships with both my kids is good, but I will crank it up a notch or three. I've been spending a lot of time just sitting with my son, while he is doing games etc. and I know he likes that. He's a quality time kind of guy. My daughter is all about acts of service as love, so I make sure I am "doing" for her. Picking up her favorite sandwiches for dinner, putting gas in her car, going to get pedicures together. We just got back from a weekend trip to Boston, just us two, where she got to decide all our activities (this involved mostly shopping, but we had a great time). So just talking to myself. Thank you all for the support. The validation is so important to me right now when I feel like a crazy person, especially when it comes from rational adults, who know what it is like to be where I am. Honestly, you all kick so much ass!!! Hugs

    6. SS,
      One more piece of advice: Don't forget you in all of this. It's wonderful that you're so tuned in to your kids. But remember that you can't give anything to anyone if you're running on empty. Give yourself what you need, whether that's time with friends, time alone, or whatever soothes your own soul.

  7. Anon 8.18am. This is the pattern that develops. Please beware i dont want to alarm you but my H carried this on for nearly 3 years after he said it was over but she wanted it to continue so he was weak and let it. U cannot mend or move on together until he has told this woman to go away and if she has a husband you need to tell him what is going on useless it is a danger to you or your family of course. I didnt tell the H until 2 years had gone by, two years of my life with her still in the back ground (I was unaware). The physical side of the relationship may to finished but the emotional connection May in the end. Please don't despair there is hope at the end of the tunnel, my H and I are really quite happy after over a year. I hope you can get through this be strong and tell him he MUST stop contact or go. This is my experience and i want to help other people if i can so they dont waste years of their lives and be lied to over and over again. xx

  8. Anonymous,

    So sorry you are going through this. I did not have the exact same circumstance but can relate. As far as I know the only contact with the others women was shown to me. But I had a lot of trickle truth and dday 2. And for me dday 2 was 5 months after dday 1. It was not really new info but it was accurate info, my husband had lied about when his first affair started by four years. Which was very significant. And affair number 2 he had told me only lasted for 1 year yet I knew he was not telling me the truth. Instead it was a 9 year relationship and physical for 5 years. So these lies were hard to take and I still am dealing with them. We are 15 months past dday 1. But dday 2 was worse than dday 1. Of course hearing it for the first time was bad. But once I knew and I told him to be honest and we tried to work through things and I asked him so many direct questions he denied or basically treated me like he was gaslighting me it was bad. He did a lot of damage. I intellectually understand why he did it. He had a lot of shame and he did not want to admit what he had done. But it did cause a lot of damage vs just being honest up front. For me journaling helped and going to therapy. This website too. What I have had to face is making my life the best it can be, being true to myself and also the fact I cannot change or control him. I have worked hard with him to repair things and establish healthy boundaries. It has been a lot of work and we are still at it 15 months later but it has been hard. I would say establishing no contact expectations, transparency and honesty have to be done for you to even start to feel safe. That is what we did. Then we created more concrete boundaries. And for my husband things he has said and his perspective has changed over the 15 months so that has been normal for us. His perspective has evolved.

  9. I second the EMDR recommendation. I had two sessions of it, and it did help with my tendency to ruminate and ruminate and ruminate. It didn't magically make everything better, of course, but I was surprised how well it did work at giving me control over my thoughts again.



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