Monday, October 24, 2016

Radical Dangerous Hope

"It's much more dangerous, much more radical to hope."
~Mary Karr, author of Lit and The Art of Memoir

I am an incurable optimist. Hard-wired for sure but spurred on by a childhood marked by addiction and neglect. At night, in bed, I would curl up inside my hope to muffle the screaming and thumping in the bedroom beside mine. Believing, with all my heart, that things would get better. They had to.
They did. My mother got sober, my parents stayed together and I got the hell out just in time to take my dysfunction on my twenties roadshow.
That decade, like many people's early adulthood, consisted of falling madly in love and either being heartbroken or breaking someone's heart. But no matter, I always figured I was on the path to where I was supposed to be.
I graduated with one of the least marketable degrees possible. I worked retail, folding pants and watching the clock, until one day the area manager offered me the chance to take over a store. More money than I was accustomed to. More responsibility.
No, I said, convinced that something better – something I dreamed of doing – was on the horizon.
And it was.
I got married. A year later I was pregnant. A routine test revealed the possibility of an abnormality with the baby. The odds weren't great.
I prepared myself for the worst but hoped for the best.
She was born healthy.

Hope sometimes gets a bad rap. It's passive, they say. Naive. It's pie-in-the-sky. Better to be realistic. And by "realistic", they mean pessimistic. Better to aim low and be pleasantly surprised than aim high and risk disappointment.
But hope isn't about sitting around waiting for fate to smile on you. It's the energy that points you in the direction of where your dreams lie. It's the reason you can go in a different direction than everyone is telling you to go, to imagine yourself where you want to be rather than where you are. Hope is the keeper of both happiness and disappointment, author Bryant McGill reminds us. Hope is eyes wide open to what's in front of us, but eyes also trained on the barely discernible future where we can see the shape of what might be.

My hope took a beating around D-Day. I felt like a fool for being an optimist, surrounded by a cultural chorus of "once a cheater, always a cheater". I felt as though the universe had stomped on all those dreams I'd had for myself. My happily-ever-after dreams. My chutzpah that I was as entitled as anyone else to a loyal partner.
For awhile I took refuge on the plain of lethal flatness or "the dead zone". But all it got me was a life wrapped in gauze. I didn't really feel...anything. Sure I was dodging pain but I was missing out on joy too. So I fought my way back through fear to hope.
Hope that I would not only survive this agony but emerge from it somehow stronger. That my husband would fight for me, for our family, for himself. There were absolutely days when my hope seemed utterly misplaced. When I redirected it toward hoping (all the while working hard, so hard) that I could dispense with so many of those old messages that made me feel unworthy, that made me feel as though what had happened was comeuppance for my daring to dream big. After all, who the hell did I think I was?
But somewhere in there, between hope and sweat and tears, I realized that what I'd spent my whole childhood hoping for – that tomorrow could be better than today – was true even, especially, in the darkest period of my life.
It's true for you too.
Tomorrow can be better than today. And if it's not, then the next tomorrow can. And the next.
It's audacious to hope. It's dangerous and radical, as Mary Karr says, to imagine that things can be better.
But to give in to cynicism, to believe that life will deliver only more pain, isn't an option. Despair is no place to live.
Hope isn't about crossing your fingers, it's about grabbing your life with both hands and an open heart. It's about bending toward the sun that nurtures your growth, even when that growth takes you far out of your comfort zone.
Hope isn't wishful thinking. It's not about fantasy. It's about meeting people exactly where they are and inviting them to come along toward something better, knowing full well that they might not be ready for the trip.
But we are. Our bags are packed and we're ready.
And hope is the fuel that will take us the whole way.

31 comments:

  1. I remember when my husband first revealed his emotional affair, I wanted to be understanding, not a victim, not resentful but then followed a series of shocking disloyalties that I did not expect when he had first levelled with me. What we call the 'fog' but what is also possibly called 'addiction', 'selfishness', 'narcissism. During the last few years when we desperately needed professional help for our eldest son with Aspergers, the poor system here in Ireland failed us. Alongside wonderful individuals who did their best there were huge failures, institutional, professional and personal that still have reprecussions today. When my mother in law had a stroke there were also some serious deficiencies in her care that have no doubt contributed to a worse outcome for her. So, although I have always been someone who tries to see the best in people I have struggled with this, the cynicism. When you've been hurt, or let down several times over I find it more of a trigger now and even more depressing when others are not thoughtful, helpful and kind, while knowing that in reality they may not mean to be mean but inaction and thoughtlessness also does not help. The first time my faith in humanity was blown away was when I just turned 9. We had just moved country and I learned that people will turn on you just because you're 'not from around here.' I never imagined people would be like that. I still feel that 8 was the sacred age before I knew how awful people could be. Whispers behind the back, name calling. It all came back to me with the affair when I read my husband slating me to the OW or at least not standing up for me. I want to have faith in others but the last few years have been made so much worse by the actions or inactions of others. An affair makes you wary, due to lack of trust, being hurt makes you cynical. I'm not sure how to unlearn that cynicism.

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    1. FOH,
      I hear you. And there's plenty of evidence that people can be awful. But there's also plenty of evidence that people are wonderful. It really can come down to what we focus on. If you want to see the bad, you'll find it. But the good is right there alongside it. And once you start paying attention, you'll see it everywhere.
      Have you ever considered a gratitude journal? It sounds hokey but is one of the few practices that science backs up as actually making us happier. It involves writing down at the end of the day five things you're grateful for. Some days that might consist of 'I'm grateful I didn't murder my husband in his sleep'. It might include gratitude for a beautiful tree, or for a child's hug, or for a nap. But with everything you've got going on in your life, it might help all the bad stuff fade into the background while the good stuff takes centre stage.

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    2. Thanks Elle :) I have a gratitude journal on the hall table! And I'm so aware of those 'recency' and 'primacy' tricks the mind plays on us. So if we're looking to buy a new home, suddenly For Sale signs are everywhere. On top of what I listed earlier my husband and new colleagues were sued by his unscruplous ex boss, in a move purely to destroy the new company and hurt individuals. I've just had too many recent examples of people behaving very badly, as well, of course of examples within my own home. I guess it's similar to the wariness, perhaps I just need a bit more time to pass for the sting to go out of everything (like a hurt knee!) and then I'll be able to start feeling hopeful again.

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  2. Elle
    Yes, that's the essence of why and how my h and I stayed married in the first years of our marriage. We got married so young because of a pregnancy and when I had the miscarriage, I gave him the opportunity to dissolve the marriage but we were so in love with each other that we just stayed together. That was blind hope. We were married 7 years before we had our son, and then our daughter. Raising our family was the hardest but most rewarding time of our lives. When my h went on to have his affair, it was the lowest point in his life! Truly a midlife crisis and he was in a very vulnerable place, but so was I! I chose not to have an affair even though it would have been just as easy for me because we were living in separate houses due to work and family crisis with our daughter! I'm certain that if I hadn't found your blog, the outcome would have been very different for us! You probably didn't get your psychology degree from a college, but your PH.D. came from the hard knock college of life! Thank you so much for the courage to keep this blog viable! My heart aches for each new lady that finds us because I know that raw pain so well! You and your warriors have given me the strength and courage to reshape our marriage to a new place full of hope!

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    1. Thanks Theresa. Your words mean a lot. And all the support you offer others on this site goes a long way, as I think you know.

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  3. Oh Elle, I feel like you sat down at my kitchen table and spoke these words just to me. The vulnerability you allude to in needing to accept that others might not be ready for the trip, as you say, is hard to let in. One day at a time!

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    1. Starboard 79,
      I saw on another thread you suspect you're dealing with an addict. And that's a tough situation to be in. I've spent a lifetime with addicts (hence my need for "hope") and the best lesson you can learn is that you can't change them. What you can do is find support for yourself and change yourself and your interactions with them. Addicts will break your heart but it's because they're so broken themselves. As my mother (a recovered alcoholic for 25 years when she passed away a few years ago) said to me, "people love us the best way they know how. It's just that sometimes their best isn't very good."

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    2. Thanks Elle. Knowing I can't change my H or make him get help is a bitter pill to swallow, but I'm trying hard to accept it. I started seeing a therapist individually right away and continue to go weekly. I'm also very lucky to have extremely supportive parents nearby, who listened to my story with complete impartiality and who continue to offer only an ear to listen and shoulder to cry on. My dad is a recovering alcoholic, sober 41 years now, and my parents have been married 47 years. I'm grateful for the personal experiences they have shared with me about addiction.

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  4. I remember right after my H expressed his unhappiness in our marriage, just a few days before he revealed the affairs, I was feeling the lowest I'd ever felt in my whole life (so far!) I decided to try to eat outdoors alone in a park. There was a bluebird hoping around and I was suddenly flooded with gratitude. It was like I couldn't believe I could even experience an emotion other than despair at that moment, and I was so relieved to be able to still enjoy something so simple as nature. When I get really low, I try to go outside. People can be mean, but bluebirds don't hurt me I guess. I am grateful to have the attitude that no matter how badly I'm hurting, there is still some joy for me to find somewhere no matter how small it might be. I still need to work to see the good in people sometimes when I'm feeling anxious or low, but I'm getting better at it.

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    1. Ann I feel the same about the restorative power of nature. What gets me through is picking a few raspberries from the garden or tending to the roses or going to a beautiful gardens near here. It really is a gift.

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  5. Elle I love your optimism, you give me hope when I read your words.., everything you have said is absolutely true I love the way you take life by the horns and run with it. .. your positive thinking no doubt will make you a fantastic mum, friend wife and person to be around... wish I had you around me you make my world a better place .. love you Elle xxx

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  6. Thank you for this post. It is a good read. It is a really hard area for me to move past. Being wrapped in gauze is a good analogy. I have been opening up to my husband more lately. It is not easy at all. Sometimes I think is there too much to say to him. Can he really take it?

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  7. Thanks for this. Sometimes I feel like such a dumbass for hoping. Sometimes hope is all that gets me through. Because it is either that or despair or not living. And I just can't do that. Growing up with an alcoholic mother (who denies she has a problem to this day) and who cheated on my dad (twice I'm pretty sure, both when I was very young) and then proceeded to sabotage my relationship with my dad by using me as confidante at an inappropriately young age and suggesting that I should be mad at him for his emotional involvements with other women (I'm not even sure these were real, but pot meet kettle), I wonder sometimes how I learned to hope or how I even made it to adulthood (have I?). Hope was believing that there had to be something better out there. Was wishing. Was waiting out on the back steps in 1983 (ish) and hoping that Jedi were real and one of them would land in their space ship and come take me away because I was special enough. Its magical thinking, but there is a kernel of defiant inner child in there who thinks I am imagining this because I deserve better than this reality. And I think it is the defiant inner child who now is saying, you deserve better and if you hang in, better is coming, but don't just wait, you have to work for it. No Jedi ship is coming for me, I've learned.
    And as I look for them, symbols of hope and meaning come fast, overwhelmingly fast, so fast I can't always figure out what they mean to me. A single purple violet in the lawn, well past the season for violets. An eagle flies right over me. A complete stranger in the grocery, a woman I've never met, gives me such a smile, that I know for a brief second it is God saying "I see you. I've got you." Or as I'm driving on my birthday and crying a little and begging the universe to please just show me something, and as I look left into a house, into the well light family room there is a banner that reads "happy birthday." These things only have the meaning I assign them. They are signs because I make them so, but they remind me that I am safe and loved and that hope is OK.

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  8. Oh Elle, nice to know we belong to the same optimist club despite ongoing adversity and pain. I have always seen the world through rose colored glasses although this past 16 months has nearly done me in. I'm slowly coming to accept that things will be very different moving forward as I insulate myself as best I can against any more pain from my husband's betrayal. Still Standing, we are never "a dumb ass" for having hope because that will sustain us. I may never be "in love" with my husband again like I was but I do "love him" now and that, combined with his openness and honesty and new-found integrity allows me to have hope for us as a couple. Ann, I love birds and they lift my spirits every day. Grab your Bluebird of Happiness! Starboard79, dear one, if you are dealing with an addict/compulsion, read "Your sexually addicted spouse" and take care of yourself. This is just a hard path and only your spouse can decide if he wants to do the hard work to change. No matter what you do, you cannot change him or his life. My husband told me early on that the pain of living life the way he was (porn, prostitutes and other ick) was far worse than the pain of facing me and the possibility of losing me. He was out of control and desperate to feel loved, wanted and accepted. So much learned to date but I have hope. It has been several days now since I posted about reading an article about the hole left inside when the pain leaves. I have that hole and the pain is gone, hopefully forever but let's be realistic here... In any event, I see this hole as my private space where I can decide what goes there. It will be all good for me. I am feeling very hopeful at the moment. Much love, Beach Girl.

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    1. My husband too said his life was horrible for the 10 affair years. He was not happy or enjoying it. But he was so scared I would leave him. He knew he would lose everything. He says through it all he never wanted to leave me and loved me the entire time. It is hard to believe and understand. But that is what he lived through. It has been hard and still can be. Affairs come up in conversation he hates hearing it but he says he worries more how it affects me. He is his happiest ever which is good. But he feels this is a second chance he never thought he would have. I am hopeful when we talk. The fact that he thinks about this and it affects him too. I worried he wanted to sweep it all under the rug and move on. But he said he will wait as long as it takes. I am not sure how long it will take but we continue to move forward.

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    2. Hopeful 30, my husband feels the same way yours does. A day rarely goes by when my husband doesn't tell me that he loves me and that he hopes I won't leave him. He is very sorry and tells me that every time it is appropriate. He loves his new life and feels confident he has the tools to walk the path we are on together. Feels good. He tells me he will not leave me and that any changes will be of my doing. I am committed to my marriage as long as he does not fall off the trail. That is my deal breaker. Black and white, no shades of gray. Love to you.

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    3. Beach Girl, I love the idea of creating something beautiful in the space (hole) that's left from this experience. I can totally choose what I want to do with it. It belongs to me now! Thank you for that analogy. I can choose to feel empty or I can choose to work on creating beauty for that space.

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  9. Even after 3 years I search everyday for understanding about his affair. I have researched this more than I did any term paper in college. I researched this subject more than all the drugs, anatomy, microbiology or bones in nursing school. I researched this more than anything about thumb sucking, pacifiers, potty training, teenagers etc...He won't say much about it anymore. I get platitudes like it is complicated if I ask about contradicting statements. My confusion keeps knocking at his door. You said you didn't feel this but then you say you felt that. He thinks that it has a different meaning but it sounds the same to me.

    My therapist says I'm an analytical person. She says I will never know everything. She talked about forgiveness. I told her adultery is unforgivable to me. It was not a line in the sand but more like a crevice from an earthquake. So she said ok, just tell yourself that is the way it is going to be. Maybe if you say to yourself this is how I feel and I know I'm not going to change then get on with a happy life. Just accept it. I asked her what usually happens to a couple whose wife get stuck? Is this normal? She said yes. She said the man usually ends up saying I cannot continue to live like this. My therapist said "I would rather have a flawed man who will do anything for me to right his wrong than a perfect man who didn't give a shit about me.

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    1. I too have many similar feelings. And as you said after analyzing and thinking about it more than anything ever before I have come to see that we are very different people. We agree on day to day things but who we are and how we handle challenges and life is more different than I could imagine. I also am open and talk about any issues I have had where he represses them and keeps them internalized.

      I will say through all of this even my husband recognizes he is a different person. He has changed so much he is not who he was when he made those decisions. He has a hard time even hearing what he said or told me post dday. I still struggle with it but as the days go by I see him as this new person. it is another issue getting past all those years that now to me feel like a sham and fake. But in the present as we have said he should go to Hollywood if he is not genuine. It would be the best acting job every day for 1 1/2 years.

      My therapist too has talked with me about my struggle for answers and wanting to know and understand more. He basically said to me what can he tell you that will make you feel better? Will there ever be enough details? He urged me to get the information I needed to be as okay as possible but then to focus on the bigger issues and us. He urged me to talk to my husband about behaviors and decision making and get to boundary setting. But not just in check in with me if you change your plans more about principles and how decisions are made.

      And since my husband is in the mental health field he has told me that the number of people especially men who are in therapy and do not cheat but are unhappy, miserable, not connected, waiting for their kids to go to college etc is a lot. So they might not be cheating but they have no relationship basically. And he was not using this as an excuse but I struggled at first since I know we are a lot closer the two of us even before dday than any of my friends and their husbands. Most live a life as roommates the mom doing everything and the husband off in their own world. And if you hear anything all they do is complain about each other.

      We just talked about all of this last week since he asked me if it was too painful for me to stay in our marriage and I made a comment about maybe we are just too different. Was it too much for me. And I did think about it and have since dday. I honestly feel like as of now it is not. We have too much good in our past. He did mess it up but all he has done is try to repair and improve what we have. Where we are now is a really great place. Still lots of work and hard for me and him but little by little it gets better. It is all so hard.

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    2. Lynnlesspain
      I love the questions you posted on the other thread and plan on using some of these as conversation starter. Some I already have answered.
      I'm afraid I have to agree with your therapist, I've known my h was flawed even before his mid life crisis and affair. I continue to have hope for him to one day grow past what appears to me as a man who never grew emotionally past the middle school mentality. We've had discussions regarding selfish behavior and I pretty much told him I felt like that first date he had with her was the single most selfish thing he ever chose to do.
      We went to see his favorite football team and his family on Saturday and when we returned on Sunday it was being replayed on tv, so we watched it again...Then last night he turned it on and that game was being discussed so we listened to this part. So then he suggested we tune into the NFL game and I asked him do you think it's kinda selfish to continue to watch just the programs you like and not even ask my opinion... We watched my show after he realized that he was being selfish. Big change for him to admit out loud. I try telling him all the time, it's the little things that matter most. In my world I could use a little consideration for my feelings and how we spend our time together! We're making progress as this didn't lead to a meltdown or fight! Baby steps!

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  10. I really don't get what being "the last one" is all about.I've known my husband for 14 years,10 of them we've been married.Unfortunately,I was cheated early in our dating days,but,I left him for a month,and that whole month he never stopped reaching out for my forgiveness,so I ended up forgiving him,during our 4 years of dating,he chatted on line with other women,or talked to "other women" on the phone,but 'till this day he says he never did anything physical with them.On our 5th year of marriage I got a hold of his phone where I came across an online dating site app where he had a profile,and at least 2 women were sending him "sexy"videos&photos...once again I forgave him,and he again promised to change,he said it was like a "hobby" that he had to let go of.It's been another 6 years since finding about that dating site Profile of his,and all of these 6 years all of our fights have been due to constant "sexy friends" on Facebook,he kept taking them down,just to add new ones later on (thinking I wouldn't notice)...then he added 2 ex girlfriends onFB,so we fought again,he took them off FB,but continued adding sexy girls as FB friends.So I got tired and said "Fine,you won't stop,so I'll add sexy guys on my page as well!,but it doesn't make it any better,for I don't enjoy it like he does!.Now,just 10 days ago I went through his phone records and he's been talking&texting some other woman(I don't know her,but I call the cellphone number & the voice message states her name),since I found out I've been just studying him,and he's definitely acting different,he even finds reasons to be mad at me&sleep on the couch(just to text or call that other woman)...I haven't confront him,for I really don't know how to go about it;we've tried marriage counseling,we've said we'd work on our marriage:you know to rebuild my trust in him,but this time...I don't think I believe that is just a game...or a "hobby"as he had expressed in the past...I actually played a trick on him,and opened a Facebook profile with someone else's picture in it,then friended him,and started chatting with him (of course,posing as another woman)...he has told this "new Facebook friend",that she's so pretty,that he can't wait to finally hear her voice,that he wishes he had met her earlier ,etc,etc,etc....I really dont know how I'm gonna break it all to him,but....as far as this being "the last one"....all I can say,I can't believe in him anymore,and if anything I think this may me "the last one"....yeah "THE LAST TIME"...I BELIEVE IN HIM..THAT'S ALL...I'M WAY TOO HURT...I'M SO HURT...I CAN'T EVEN FACE HIM WITH MY FINDINGS...I'VE BEEN JUST CONSTANTLY CHECKING HOW OFTEN HE TALKS AND TEXTS THAT WOMAN,AND ALSO CONSTANTLY CHATTING WITH HIM,POSING AS "HIS NEW FB FRIEND"....just to hear how he enamores another woman....I don't even know why I continue doing it!!!,all I wanted was to catch him chatting,and finding out what he chats about....but..how do I stop now???

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    1. anonymous,

      I had no idea anything was going on and I saw a text pop on my husband's ipad he left at home while he was out of town late at night. What I did was I took screen shots of everything. I went through everything I could think of that night on his ipad. I logged onto cell phone records everything I had a password for. I printed or screen shot everything. I still have all the files and we are 19 months past dday. In the end when I told my husband I saw the texts I thought that was all it was. There was no record of his affair anywhere. But he told me. I was prepared though to pull out all of this information. I would think if he denies or minimizes this I would make sure to have a record of it all. If at all possible find an individual therapist that can help you through this. I immediately said no contact with any women. We worked for way too long for me to find out the truth. It was rough and many ups and downs and stages. But I think if he continues to call it a hobby then you need to decide what you want from your marriage. And make it clear to him what your expectations are. If you struggle with what to say write it out. You can read him a letter or use it to start the conversation. I find writing it out works well since i cover everything I need to say but can revise it. Emotions do not get in the way as easily. And most importantly he cannot divert or talk over what you are saying. Seeing it all in black and white helps I think if someone is in denial.

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  11. Still Standing--this made me cry--for real. "A complete stranger in the grocery, a woman I've never met, gives me such a smile, that I know for a brief second it is God saying "I see you. I've got you." UGH. ugly cry. It's been a truly emotional (and not the good emotional) kind of week and I too feel like a dumb ass for having hope sometimes, even though like Beach Girl, I know I should not. OK I +mostly+ think I should not, but what else do i have? I have a husband who is 2000 miles away doing agreed research on something that I just don't enjoy like he does, this is the perfect time to do it, while we are seperated. He doesn't have cell service where he is so he drives to town twice a day every day to text and write to me, and last night we had a very heated phone conversation based on a truly angry text that I sent him. But you know what? He got off his ass and made the drive and called--hhe saw how pissed and hopeless I was feeling and he did not run away. I find glimmers of hope in things like that. Starboard, I don't know your story but I am going to search it out. I 2nd the recommendation for the book "your sexually addicted spouse" I cannot find another book that even comes CLOSE to that book. I first thought my husband "simply" had an affair, but then after a year and 2 months, his addiction WON, and like any addiction, it's progressive, it did not happen overnight and it FLOORED me. I was prepared and held my boundary of "if you ever do that again you're gone". I am so thankful I had that boundary in place as I could not think at all. I just fell back on the plan that we agreed on. you thought i was shocked at one affair? Holy smokes, nothing prepared me for "sex addict".

    I know VERY few partners of sex addicts in real life whose husbands are even in any sort of treatment, mine is (although there are no meetings where he is there is a plan when he comes home next month) I find some hope in THAT too. He's not in denial anymore. I find hope in that. A friend reached out to me having a huge crisis of her own, and asked me how I was, (I told her) and asked if I was doing basic self care. I had forgotten even what "basic self care" was. But she reminded me--and she truly LOVES me--that's hope too. So thanks for letting me vent. I find myself so dragged down sometimes researching the internet on why i stay with him, and keep stumbling on articles about HIS problem, not mine. I get triggered and down the rabbit hole I go. Then I remember the light and the hope here, thanks Elle, thanks BRAVE LADIES for listening and caring and giving me hope. You always do.

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  12. Anon,, please stop doing this to yourself.. this is mental torture.. you need as much distance between you and your h right now, to be able to see him clearly for what he is and I'm not going to tell you what he is as you've no doubt already figured it out.. right now you need solace, you need you my love.. take a step back, call upon a trusted friend, breathe cry and let it all out.. you can't control any of what your h is going, but you can control you.. anon get yourself a therapist to help you through this trauma it's heartbreaking and we understand what your going through .. please anon keep us posted and don't give him another second of your time xxxx

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  13. Anon--what did he LEARN in therapy, anything? or did he just show up to make you "happy" this is BS.
    ONE --he has to admit he has a problem and then address it.
    TWO He's had plenty of chances and blows it every time.

    My H told me it was a bad "habit", well he had to get his ass to not just therapy but a whole lot of other things to break that habit. He knows its self destructive, he knows it kills me and he knows we're this close to losing our marriage if it continues. He's taking it seriously this time, he's taking it seriously, and its STILL difficult.

    3)Your Boy of a husband wont even admit it's an issue? with all the fighting?

    4) it has to be exhausting trying to continue to try to "trap" him when he's already been caught numerous times. You can stop and you can let him know you mean business. I'm so sorry he's being SUCH an ass. I fear he'll keep doing it until being confronted and even then he might not stop. make a plan for you--See Sam A's and Hopefull's advice above.

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  14. I love this post. It reminds me that Hope as horrible it is to have is also wonderful too and it is the piston or the drive that keep us moving forward. Hope is a love, hate relationship, but so worth having instead of emptiness.

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  15. Thank you for writing this. As I approach my one year anniversary of DDay this Halloween night I have been experiencing a tornado of emotions, PTSD, tears, trying to be tough, and trying to have HOPE as well as love. Hope being the hardest because I have turned from the optimist to the pessimist. I had put my husband on such a high pedestal because I thought his character and integrity would never let me down or ever allow for him to do such a thing...and yet he did. I love what you said about having the choice to look at the good or bad in a person. I have struggled with this greatly. My H recently had me read some letters of recommendation for advancement in his career. I'm glad he did. It was a good reminder for me of all the wonderful qualities he does possess. He is a good man that did a bad thing. This concept has been very hard for me to grasp because the voice in my head says "but a good man would never do that to you". But the truth is...he did...and is still in his heart and his career a good man. I tell you, I could not have read your post at a more pertinent time in my recovery.

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    1. I have felt this way too. It is hard sometimes I stand there and look at my husband and think who are you? Did I really spend/waste 10+ years or maybe 25 since was he ever invested in me. He faked it all for so long. I know now he was torn between doing what he felt he should and what he wanted to do only for himself. My therapist said it really can take a long time especially for me my husband had two long overlapping affairs. It wasn't like a one night stand or anything. His behavior was ongoing even though it was sporadic. When my husband tells me he only looked forward to his time out and away from home it is hard to hear. It brings up a lot of terrible feelings and emotions. I try to focus on the present. And I know too my husband has a great reputation among his friends, professionally and everyone in the community. If people knew they would be shocked. He has to cope with that more. He said he feels fake especially to friends and family. Infidelity comes up all the time and he feels it differently than I do. One thing that has helped us is we do discuss in depth what we want our life to stand for. He has thought a lot about his legacy and what he wants that to be. It has changed dramatically. He is successful professionally so that is fine but he really is focused on being the best husband and father he can be. He said it is more of a macro vs micro view. He used to really only think about himself, what he wanted, what he needed, what you could do for him. Where now he said he thinks about me and the kids first. And he said he realized he is a lot happier that way. It takes a lot of work from everyone to heal from this. But keep at it. Hang in there and look back to where you started a year ago. Some days it is hard to see the progress day to day.

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  16. Hey Still Standing, this is also Still Standing (great minds think alike). May I ask you to add a number after your screen name like "Still Standing 2" so we don't confuse our friends here and our stories? Thanks so much.
    And also, I am happy this post came at the time you needed. Its uncanny to me how often I read things or hear things ar a friend reaches out precisely when I need it. hugs, SS

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  17. Whoops...sorry. Guess was just focusing on stories versus names. Will change to "Fight Like a Girl" ��

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  18. I recently came up with a metaphor that helps me deal with the negative thoughts that creep in. The voice at night that whispers in my ear, "Well, he never said no to sex with any of THEM. Just you." or "He's so damaged he's just going to keep doing this and lying to you. You won't find out again for years!"-- I've decided to call this 'the voice of the prosecution'. It's like there's a trial going on. I'm the one on trial, and the crime I'm accused of is 'being stupid'. I do really well while the defense attorney is asking the questions. I feel supported and I know that what I'm doing is right. Then every once in a while, the prosecution starts at me and I doubt myself. As the person on the stand, I KNOW what the truth is. (I'm referring to the truth about me, not my H). I should not do things to help out the prosecution or doubt myself while I'm on the stand. One of the things I do that helps 'the prosecution' is obsess about these other women or timelines or all of the pain surfing. Thinking about myself on the stand and facing the 'the prosecution' with clarity and strength makes it a little easier when I hear those negative whispers. They can keep whispering, but I don't have to get rattled by it and I don't have to do anything that helps their case!

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