Wednesday, August 3, 2016

What is to be done?

"So what is to be done? It was the question at the core of al the questions I had been asking. Life is suffering. There is no way around it. The human condition – the knowledge of this – drives many of us to drink, to drugs, to denial, to running as fast as we can away from the truth of life's fragility. We think we can shore ourselves up. If only we work hard enough, make lots of money, are good and kind enough, pray hard enough, we will somehow be exempt. Then we discover that no one is exempt. What is to be done?"
~Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

What is to be done? I roamed my house, wringing my hands and muttering "what do I do?" over and over and over.
The notion of simply being was, at that point, utterly foreign to me. I was a doer. I was a survivor. I was a roll-up-your-sleeves and get to work-er. 
But the pain of betrayal? What is to be done?
Well...perhaps nothing. Not at first. While it might be worth showing the door to an unrepentant cheater, one who responds by blaming you, threatening you, or for whom the betrayal of you was just one more incident in a long list of abuse. Clearing your home of such a toxic person is good first step.
But for the many others of us, for whom the cheating blindsides us because, "my husband would never do that to me", we're on shifting ground. We feel we should be doing something but...what?
Kicking him out feels like self-sacrifice. After all, we meant our vows. We love this idiot man.
Letting him stay feels like surrender. How can we ever get past this?
But surely, we think, we should do something.
I don't think so.
I think giving ourselves permission to just be with our pain, to take the time to fully absorb this shock can be incredibly powerful. And liberating. Freeing ourselves to do something only when that something feels more clear strikes me as far wiser than reacting simply because we feel we must. Our society dismisses those who ponder and weigh and values the quick-responders. The doers. We need to get past that bias.
There are many things you'll have the chance to do, once you figure out your next right step. And that's all you need to know in the short term. Your next right step. Which might look like a bathrobe and cup of tea. It might look like a visit to a divorce lawyer. It might look like a walk in the woods
What is to be done? Self-care. Compassion for yourself. Kindness. Gentleness. A chance to forgive yourself for any missteps along the way. A chance to love yourself fully, to finally realize that you are enough and have always been enough. To learn that another's inability to see your true value is about his blindness. To recognize that we can't protect ourselves from all suffering but we can refuse to blame ourselves for it. 
And then, when you're ready, you can roll up your sleeves and embrace a life without him, or you can get into the trenches and begin rebuilding a marriage all the stronger for the storms it has weathered. 
That is what is to be done. 

26 comments:

  1. So needed to hear this, again and again. I know the next right step is this separation we are beginning. Most of the time I accept that this is what I need (woke up two days in a row without panic attacks. Literally the first time since Jan. This year). And yet I am also bewildered. How can he be thus confused? How did he get himself thus effed up? And will this version of "rehab" work? I know it is up to him now. There are good signs and mixed signals too. Is it possible he is trying to figure this out and fight his way back? He has been doing a lot of it and we still see the MC. I'm holding on to hope even as I am protecting myself and handing out some tough love. Any advice from those of you who have been through a separation? I'd love to hear some success stories right about now.

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    1. SS,
      I haven't been through a separation but I hope those who have will weigh in. No matter what you hear, you need to do what feels right for you. It would seem, given two days without a panic attack after months of daily ones, that this is exactly the right thing for you. Whether he steps up and heals himself isn't anything you can control. You know that. But you are moving yourself to a safer space emotionally and a place where your own future will become clearer, whether with or without him.

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    2. Fragments of HopeAugust 4, 2016 at 1:15 AM

      Sorry I don't have a separation story either SS but I wanted to say I do hope he figures it out and does the work. It sometimes seems to me that we, the betrayed spouses, bend over backwards to be understanding, accepting, ultimately forgiving and the cheating spouse rides on the wave of this acceptance and dodges the work and facing the hard questions. On a wider societal level I've seen the question asked, when are men as a unit going to ask themselves why they beat up women or rape and decide what they are going to stop this happening, instead of women having to prove they weren't 'asking for it' and so on. Men need to step up but as Elle has said, some men can't. When is society going to put pressure on men to act with greater integrity. (and i don't want to stereotype one gender but it does seem to men who perpetrate many of these things), The Good Men Project site is one that is having this conversation. https://goodmenproject.com/

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    3. FOH thank you for your encouragement and perspective. I agree with what you are saying and that this competitive conquest mindset we(society) teach our boys and men is as harmful and limiting to them as the gender types we impose on our girls and women. So them men go blindly through life until something brings this to a head and then they don't have the skills to cope and make shitty choices. And the people who love them are both collateral damage and clean up crew. So my h is in IC and has been since D-day 1. I have seen process both in how he communicates and who he holds responsible for his pain and thus mess (I was to blame in Jan but now he says this is not my fault, nothing to do with me in fact. That it was all things he brought in to the relationship ). So I remain cautiously hopeful but am also trying to get on with making a life of my own.

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    4. I went through the separation. I know the anxiety of it, how empowering you think it is but inside your asking yourself "how did this happen?" I know he still talked to OW in the weeks leading up to and after separating. I was so mad and devastated. I mean I love my husband then and just couldn't reconcile that with the man I was looking at now. We lived apart for 5 months. The hardest of my life and I'm not going to lie and say coming together was easy. You have to rediscover yourself as an independent and as s married woman again. The trust is still being rebuilt even after 2 years and he knows I don't completely trust him. I worked 2 jobs when we separated and that pissed me off. I had 2 kids at home. I would go work out. Hang out with my friend. I cut off my family so I could find me. I mean I saw them as little as possible. My family worried as I lost so much weight. But things get better whether you work it out or not. I asked him if he wanted a divorce and he could not answer me. Do what makes you happy because that's all you can do.

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    5. Thank you Heather, hearing "me too" stories is so helpful. I am trying to take each day as it comes and treasure each moment of joy or peace as they happen and be patient with myself on days when I struggle more with the "how did this happen? How did I get here?" I also appreciate your saying that coming back together was not easy. I have already thought long and hard about that, should he express a wish to move home. I will ask for certain things (including std testing which he has been in denial about so far) and I will insist on a trial union where we are rebuilding and reconnectingin new ways before he is back in the house 100%. He's got to prove to me that he wants to earn my trust back, work for it. And I will want time to decide if it is good enough for me.

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    6. Heather, you've summed up exactly how I feel. That this is empowering but at the same time devastating. Knowing he is still in contact w the OW. Hoping he is trying to fight his way back because I love him and can't put his behavior and choices together with the hurt insane person he has been for the last 8 months. And although we are just getting started, I know if we come back together it will be so difficult. I am so angry at him for making the choice that have brought us here. I'm in the category too. Things do seem to be creeping in the right direction or a right direction anyway. First day home alone and I am kind of going off my gourd a bit, restless, tired after a long drive home yesterday. I've already run, and done groceries and laundry. I guess now is when I need to be still and think about what I really want to be doing...

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  2. I just discovered this blog and decided to share my story.I am currently going through a heart break.I have been married to my hubby for 13 years,I just discovered he has been having an affair with a single girl who was our church member.This affair started since 2012 but i found out about it in May.This hurt so badly,when I discovered ,he apologized to me but I found out they are still seeing themselves.I feel down and betrayed right now ,it's painful my hubby has been trying to defend himself and not sober as expected.We have not really been talking lately,we have not been intimate for about 3 weeks now.We have 2 lovely kids and I am not ready to leave my home for any strange woman.I have been praying and trusting God to bring him back to me 100%.

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    1. Dee,
      I'm so sorry for what you're going through. And I'm glad you found us.
      You gave your husband an incredible gift when you agreed to give him a second chance. It sounds as though he doesn't recognize that. Second chances, however, shouldn't come without clear guidelines on what you require from him. For a start, he needs to have absolutely NO CONTACT with this woman. None. And you should insist that he seek counselling to figure out why he's risking his marriage when it seems he doesn't want it to end. Without that commitment from him and a clear desire that he wants to sort himself out, you're likely going to face more heartbreak. And he needs to be totally transparent, which includes giving you access to any and all forms of communication. Access to his cell phone, his computer, etc. He needs to prove to you that he's where he says he is and with whom he says he's with.
      Dee, it's really hard to imagine your life without him. But without taking steps to protect yourself, I fear you're stuck in a marriage that will serve up more pain. If praying gives you strength, that's great. But you're going to need to take steps to make it clear that your husband cannot continue to disrespect you this way and to cause pain to your family. You would be wise to seek counselling yourself to help you through the agony of betrayal.

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  3. SS My husband and I are in a so far two month separation which is going to last a few months at least

    His first betrayal 2013 I could not imagine being apart. Could not fathom how that could help. We were focusing on "us"'and the relationship. It was s hard but good year. But boundaries were set. He tcrossed the big one by doing it again. He knew the boundary and did it anyway. This is the oddest thing. I am exhausted but also feel wonderful. Can you believe I unhooked up an old tv and hooked up another myself? Sounds easy until I saw there were about 26 inputs I had to reconnect. I went in a two week trip we had planned but I went alone. Best thing I ever did. He is a diagnoised sex addict, so there is nothing I can do to cure that so he's out of the house working in himself. All I need to focus on now is me (and the many dogs). It's a GLORIOUS time. So seperatly we are working on becoming better people who can hopefully join again in a MUCH better relationship. I dint know if it's fitting for you. I would not have survived it the first time but this time? Up there with one of the best decisions I have ever made

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    1. Steam!! Thank you thank you thank you! I need to keep reminding myself of all the things I handle and have mastered that I didn't believe I could handle in the past. Simple like handling all the mowing and gasing up the weed whacker . Dealing with bills. Putting together furniture. I got a tatoo! I'm taking painting classes and started piano lessons. I am looking forward to time to connect with my kids, teach them to cook, talk with them. Trying to remind myself that this time is for me to claim a life I want. I'm still afraid. And still hopeful that the better guy will show up because I think I deserve some time with that dude. But more and more realizing that I'm awesome and good things are ahead no matter what and regardless of when or if that better guy shows up.
      I love how strong and sure you sound. I really can see that much better relationship in store for you, can hear it in your writing. Thanks for sharing that with me.

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  4. Dee
    I'm so sorry you had to find this blog but I know the pain you feel! Elle is so right about the choice he seems to be still making! Until he's clearly out of contact with her, you don't stand a chance to repair the damage he's caused much less still causing you! Like you I prayed for clarity and I listened both to my h, my own heart and what I believe God was telling me was true. Sweetie this is not an easy road to walk but if your h wakes up to the reality that he is truly going to lose you and your marriage, only then can you begin to heal and repair the damage he's caused. I'm lifting you up in my prayers for I know how hard it is to get to a more peaceful place! Hugs!

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    1. PD Young BillionaireAugust 5, 2016 at 7:37 PM

      @Elle....Thanks so much for your advice.

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    2. PD Young BillionaireAugust 5, 2016 at 7:40 PM

      @Theresa.....Thanks and God bless.I must confess I am still wondering how this girl crept into my marriage.I thought I had it all.I have never been this hurt in my life.

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    3. PD Billionaire
      Those other women didn't creep into our marriage they jumped in and tried to become us! Don't let her!! I do know this is the worst of all hurts! I'm so sorry! I too thought I had it all ! We did ! But there was something missing in my husband . Only he can describe and for our situation I now understand . Each story is different but the pain is the same. You need to take your time and walk slowly one step and one day at a time! We will all be here to lift you up! Hugs!

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    4. Theresa, "but there was something missing in my husband." yes! yes! yes! once I realized that I was freer to focus on self care. As he is starting to realize this, he's stopped blaming me for everything wrong in his life and started fixing his stuff. PD Billionaire - I pray too. All the time. Early on I prayed for him to remember how he felt about me, to "come back to me" but eventually I started praying for the things that I needed, peace, clarity, strength for my kids. Once I shifted my focus on me things started to line up. Even though my H and I are now in a constructive separation and I am scared as hell, I also wake up without the physical pain caused by being around him and the betrayal. This is the next right step for me. Take a deep breath and pray for what you need and then give your self time to hear the answers as they unfold. No time limit, no deadline. You are enough, no matter what he's done. It's about him not you. Honor the hurt, don't fight it. Sending love your way.

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  5. Hi steam, lovely to hear from you, sounds like your having a whale of a time : ) .

    I'm also on a separation ss been separated 3 months now following a 2nd d day, like steam I didn't want to separate following d day 1 as my/our focus so I thought was healing from the affair and despairing out marrIage however he did it again and there was no doubt in my mind that this time I needed space to work on me and same for my h.. I'm really enjoying moments on my own, like having the bed to myself not having to listen to his whinging and moaning.. Doing what the hell I like ( within reason) I could get used to it lol.. I too am going away with my sister and the kids it's been a long time coming and I can't wait for some r&r..

    Ss I suppose a separation is what you make of it...you might even like it.. Take care ladies lots of love xxx

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  6. I absolutely love that we all come from different places emotionally and experientially, we're making different decisions based on our needs, some go and some stay; yet we're here to cheer each other! You've come to the right place, Dee. I'm glad you found us.

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  7. Elle,
    Your statement about not seeing our worth because they are blind just spoke to my soul. Wonderful insight. The blindness is related to their selfishness. I still ask my husband questions I still don't understand. His blindness was commitment. I asked him for the thousandth time. You loved me but fucked her for two years? He told me he received a Dear John letter while in Vietnam. His finance found "someone better". His first wife left him for "someone better". Here I come along and he told himself that although he loved me he wouldn't commit himself, all of himself, because he thought I might find someone better. The difference in his mind was the second I discovered the text, he knew he had to commit himself, no holding back, because he was going to lose me. I spent 36 years of seeing his noncommittal actions but feeling some of the love too. That is why I didn't really feel like he cared about me all those years. That answered a lot of questions for me regarding past and now. Talk about being blind your right. I'm sure there are types of blindness. I can relate with how painful this was was him both the Vietnam and first wife. This was more painful than he let on. He was kidding in a way when he said, I let something out of that armor. That was one big question. I had to throw a hissy fit to get the answer.

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  8. Elle, I needed this. I am nearly 2 years out from my husband's affair. What a long process it has been and somedays I feel like I take 2 steps forward only to take like 10 steps back. I feel like there should be something to make me feel better, to heal, to understand. Something to do. But it is a good reminder that sometimes what is to be done is to just be here and that is okay. To keep taking care of myself. Knowing progress is slow, but we are still working together to heal our relationship. This is a great reminder to just do what we can and know that is enough.

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  9. Elle, this post and this article remind me of how deep the pain gets buried and how long the aftermath takes. It's as if the waves get bigger and bigger and then you remember you can stand up.

    http://nationalpsychologist.com/2015/03/sexual-sobriety-leaves-victims-untreated/102810.html

    Love and Gratitude, Beach Girl

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    1. Wow, Beach Girl. Great article. And powerful. Certainly validates my experience around sex addiction.

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  10. I remember someone saying something that stuck with me: "We're human beings. Not human doings." We're so used to thinking we always have to be doing something that we don't know how the just be.

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  11. This is perfect for me today. Feeling so much pain and despair. I feel as though I should be able to do something to help myself feel better. I feel I should know what to do next. So many shoulds. So much pressure to be perfect. Feeling so imperfect (especially in comparison to the perfect OW). The advice to just be and take time does feel liberating. Thank you Elle.

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    1. Anonymous,
      This is where I want you to really start to notice the stories you're telling yourself around what happened. Any time we're comparing ourselves, we're making up stories about the other person because we don't know their true story. So...what are your stories? Really pay attention. And then ask yourself, is it true? My guess is that you're comparing your insides to her outsides -- your feelings to her public persona. It's an impossible game to win. And futile.
      You are you. And that's a wonderful thing to be. Even in your pain. You are a loyal, honest partner. You live your life with integrity. That's no small thing.
      Start cataloging all the things that make you wonderful. It will feel silly but it's surprisingly powerful and effective. And then remind yourself every single day (several times a day!) of your wonderful attributes. Pay attention to yourself and do your best to ignore thoughts about the OW. She's nobody you'd want to know.

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  12. Thank you for responding Elle. My first time ever writing on something like this though I have been doing a lot of reading. Feeling so alone. So unhappy. I wish there was a 'live chat' option somewhere out there on the www and this felt close to it. To hear something kind and validating means a great deal.

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