Monday, October 3, 2016

Shame on Me? Not Anymore.

Shame strengthens our identity with our most harmful relationships because we believe we have something to hide and it is always what remains hidden that has the strongest hold over our lives. ~Wendy Strgar, Good Clean Love

So there's this serial adulterer in the news who has decided it's clever strategy to attack the wife of another serial adulterer for being an "enabler" of her husband's affairs and being "too stupid" to even realize the affairs were going on.
I don't know about you but my shame sensor is going off big-time. Because, really, what is this guy saying that we don't say to ourselves? And if I hadn't done a whole lotta work over the past decade to challenge my shame, I just might be swallowing this bullshit whole. Instead I'm able to recognize misogyny with a hefty dose of delusion.
In other words...nope. Not buying it. 
Not anymore.
Thing is, too many of us do.
We believe that smart women don't get blindsided like we did. We think that women who are able to "please their man" don't get cheated on. We believe that strong women throw him out. That men cheat when they're not getting it at home, that women must know on some level what's happening, that true feminists don't ever disparage the Other Woman, not even in a private e-mail to a dear friend.
Shame of those of us who get cheated on. Shame on those of us who didn't know. Shame on those of us who give our marriages another chance.
Shame. Shame. Shame.
Nope. Not buying it. Not anymore.
Shame is toxic. Shame is that sinister whisper at 3 a.m. that we let ourselves get too fat. It's that stomach-clench when we imagine how much sexier she must have been than us. How much more fun. How they must have laughed at our ignorance, our blithe conviction that, no, he wouldn't do that. 
Shame keeps us small and quiet. It keeps us – and our pain – hidden. 
It lies. 
The way out of shame is to tell our stories. Here. In our journals. To our most trusted friends. To ourselves. Tell our stories over and over again. Not the lies about how we should have known. Not the lies about our weight or our age or our depression or our career or...or...or.... That's not why he cheated. 
He cheated because he was broken somewhere deep inside and he didn't know how to heal himself. He cheated because it's easier to find something new and shiny to distract ourselves than it is to feel old and dull. He cheated because our culture encourages us to discard what isn't working rather than fix it. He cheated for any number of reasons, none of which are that there's something wrong with us. 
That's shame talking. 
Pull shame out of the shadows and examine it. It will likely look pretty pathetic in the cold light of day. It will sound like your mother or a teacher or a coach or whomever else in your life convinced you that you weren't enough. It will look like a culture that says beautiful women don't get cheated on. It will echo like a sexist old man who cheats on his wives as he discards each for the next and blames them for his empty soul. 
Nope. Don't buy it. 
Not anymore. 

55 comments:

  1. Thank you for this.

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  2. Hi! This is Serenity. This is so true! The cheater is broken, not the one who was fulfilling their vows, not the one who was continuing to love regardless if we suspected or knew something was not right with our husband but couldn't get him to talk about it. I have spent my entire married life working HARD at being the kind of wife my husband needed. He was the center of my world. And he is the one who was broken, not me. And now, as I continue to keep him as the center of my world and to keep on loving him the same as before because I have chosen the high road of forgiveness, I feel no shame. I have been forgiven much therefore I can forgive much and continue to love, just as Christ has done for me. Can I do any less?Christ saw no shame in suffering and forgiving so that we could be fixed. I see no shame in doing the same.

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  3. Thank you Elle for another beautiful post that helps to lift me a little further from my sadness and makes me realise there is no shame to be among such strong, caring and compassionate souls as all of the Warriors walking this path with me. This is such a long road we travel and even though It has been 2 years since dday ( I haven't posted anything in a long time as I have been struggling with everything-even though he is trying. There is just so much sadness in my heart now. I feel as though I have such a long way to go before I can think clearly enough to know all these things that I should know (I try to tell myself I am enough, it wasn't my fault, etc etc. hopefully one day I will wake up and feel it. Until then it helps to hear it from everyone here. We are enough, we are not the ones to feel the shame). I still get so much strength and comfort from what you write. Thank you.

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    1. Alone,
      You may have a long way to go but you're closer than you realize. So much depends on your ability to truly recognize that you don't control other people's choices. You never did. You never will. He cheated, not you. His actions are a reflection of him, not you.
      You are enough. You have always been enough. As I've said elsewhere, a diamond is no less valuable for someone's inability to recognize it.

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  4. WOW, way to hit the nail on the head Elle. I'm in San Diego and having a bad day. The political BS is sucking my emotions and some historical information about my husbands bad choices has been surfacing at inopportune times. We watched NCIS last night and the ending sent me into a downward spiral as it exposed a trafficking ring. I am sure my husband's choice of young, Asian prostitutes/escorts/massage workers/led him to some of those women. Although he appears to be on the right path, all it takes is to be around young, beautiful Asian women and hear the political crap and see a show to send me into a terrible nose dive and awful nightmares. Honestly, as I write this after watching several video clips and pod casts from Bloom and Brene I am slowly regaining my footing. All I can think is, "He only needs $100 in his pocket and is able to find momentary happiness on Craig's list or whatever". He says he will never go there or do that again. God, I want to believe him. How long does this really take? It sucks. Why does one reminder of his lifelong series of compulsive sexual activity events (porn and prostitutes) lead me to the fires of hell? I want so much to be free from this. I don't think I can watch or hear much more of these political things. Love, Beach Girl (PS We have our new rings and he continues to tell me how much he loves me, honors me and is faithful to me. Forever. After 37 years of lies, how does one move forward? I make the choice to stay every day which means I get to suffer the painful memories of all his lies and cheating when triggers arise. Hugs to all

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    1. Beach Girl, I have been thinking about you and your travels! SO good to hear from you. I have really struggled with the political news lately. The focus of the attacks and it is coming from so many directions. And from people that in my opinion have no right to talk about it based on their past behaviors. And it is discussed with such cavalier attitudes. And tv shows and movies too lately. It just brings me down lower and lower. Over and over it seems to place blame and shame on the woman. And this attitude that everyone has infidelity in their lives.

      Thanks for the update regarding your rings. We have done nothing like that but my husband tells me every day that all he dreams about is his time with me, travelling with me, retiring with me, doing the small things with me like going to the grocery store. It is hard still. He is saying the right things like you said but after so long it is so hard. I like what you say that we make a choice every day to stay. But the memories and triggers are so hard. Keep the updates coming.

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    2. BeachGirl,
      It takes a long time to rewire our brains after trauma. But you're on the way. Each time you come up against a trigger and work through it, you're moving closer toward healing. Don't turn away from the pain, turn into it. Trust that you can handle it.

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  5. Exactly. I haven't been here for SO long, but I was curious as to whether you were addressing this particular issue, so here I am.
    My H was going on the other morning about how that particular wife had attacked the OW and I stopped him by saying that it was the one thing I understood. That you feel so much shame and you can't believe what you're hearing and if you want to save your marriage you can't turn your anger on your husband, so you turn it on the OW. Then I said that it was the one thing I would never criticize her for. Silence.
    I find it interesting that some men (my H included) really don't understand the deep, personal shame we feel because of their affairs. That they can go on and on about how this woman or that woman (publicly) attacked the OW and isn't that so hypocritical (if you're a feminist). Would my h have preferred I took my immense anger out on him? He certainly got some of it, but I reserved my deepest disgust and worst language for the other women- one of whom pursued him, the other perhaps did not deserve what I was throwing at her in the privacy of my home.
    This public episode is certainly bringing back bad memories, but I also know that if I can't use my experience to help others understand how deep and scarring the shame can be, then why did I go through it? Maybe, just maybe- maybe my H now understands that even though WE are better, there is a part of me that is forever changed. Not sure he has understood it until I stood up for this particular public wife.
    C.

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    1. C,
      I don't think most people get it until they've gone through it. Men, especially, feel shame when their partners cheat because our culture still believes in that whole cuckhold mentality. But those who DO the cheating...they're often so mired in the shame they feel themselves that they're oblivious to the shame we feel. A shame that's exacerbated by keeping silent about it.
      All the conversation around infidelity and the wive's role, etc. is painful but it can also act out, on a public stage, our culture's response to it. I find it easier to see, in this case, that Clinton has responded to all of it with an integrity and intelligence and strength. That's all of us too, though we haven't had to display it so publicly.

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  6. Thank you Elle for the timely post. I'm struggling with those feelings of "I must not have been enough" and "how stupid and naiive was I" so much lately. I am very early in my process, just three months out from discovering my husband of 10 years spent at least half that time hiring prostitutes on a regular basis and engaging in compulsive porn use. Every day is a struggle emotionally, but I do manage small moments of strength and clarity. I give myself a good look in the mirror every morning and remind myself I am beautiful. (Ladies, each one of you is stunning, don't ever forget that!). When the feelings of shame are especially tough, I try hard to remember what I recently heard from a life coach, which is: infidelity is not democratic...I had no vote in this and therefore this was in no way my fault. My husband never said, you know, if you don't change x, y, or z I'm going to look elsewhere. I was never given a chance. What has also helped is a bit of compassion (this is hard amidst the anger). I truly feel sorry for my husband...that he coped with life the way he did. He has to live with his actions forever. I get to live my life knowing my personal integrity has always been intact. This is something I can feel good about. Thank you for this wonderful community. I have been passively engaged these past few months and you all have helped me more than you'll ever know. Hugs!

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    1. Starboard 79,
      That's such an interesting way of framing infidelity: It's not democratic. We weren't given a vote so we certainly can't be held responsible in any way for the fallout.
      And yes, we are all beautiful. Those affirmations are powerful. And we grow into their truth. We can believe ourselves beautiful. Magic.

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    2. Agreed Starboard79.
      And the thing is, without knowing anything else about you, but knowing what I now understand about adultery -- it was never even YOU that needed to change x, y, or z. It was HIM that needed to change x, y, or z.
      It breaks my heart that our Hs think their only option to relieve whatever hurts they hold is to keep a secret life with other desperate souls. I would have walked thru Hell and back to love my H -- I certainly am now. Why did they give us so little credit? So disrespectful.
      We did what we were supposed to -- we loved and trusted our spouses. No shame there.
      Hugs!

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    3. So true.

      I recall thinking, "I wasn't given a vote" the day after discovering the reality of my husband's affair. It was truly galling to think that those two pathetic cheaters made a life-changing decision on my behalf. I think that a great part of the damage and a source of my rage was realizing that I was just "collateral damage" and expendable. Now I am left to sweep up the remains and make a new life and the two cheaters get to move on and ignore their past choices.

      Thank you for this site. I come here for sustenance and always find things of value in this long healing journey.

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    4. Thank you, Elle, Anon, and Sal for your replies. This process can be so lonely, so it is incredibly uplifting to have your support.

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  7. Hugs to you too Beach Girl and Alone and Serenity and all the others. Beach Girl, your statement 'I make the choice to stay every day which means I get to suffer the painful memories of all his lies and cheating when triggers arise' really hits home with me. Today is the 2nd anniversary of D-Day 2, the gut punch when I found out that he was in contact again (no physical (emotional affair) and at that point he said he was untangling himself. I come here to mark the day having bought myself flowers and made another bouquet from the garden. He will not remember the day, tho he is trying to saying the right things, knowing I'm low. I had a weekend away with my parents, sisters and 12 yo daughter. What struck home was how I could relax, sleep in a room where there were no triggers (he sprung the affair news on me in our bedroom, just as I was settling down to sleep, now the room is 'infected' with the shock of that memory and all the heartrending conversations afterwards (even tho I've tried to change the decor.) The weekend was a chance to be in a new place that has no downward pull of connotations. Our house has been full of stress these last years. My son (15) with Aspergers was very volatile - though we've had a fantastic uplift recently as he has returned to school after almost 2 years and is very positive. I still feel though that my feet are in treacle trying to live 'in spite of' what happened. I was doing well with my writing endeavours, shortlisted for awards etc (having dealt with the shock of my dear mother in law's terrible stroke) but when the affair was outed I lost all momentum and between that and the stress of my son I still feel my mind has been disabled. Things are so much better but those triggers are still a struggle. The shame of having the OW back in our lives again on D-day 2, when it was she who told me he'd been in contact, the shame of having my weaknesses shared with the OW, it's been so hard. Yes, it's not our fault, not our shame, rationally that's true, harder to move on emotionally and subconsciously. So, still the triggers and the feet in treacle. My husband starts a proper drama course this evening. Even though it will keep him out 2 nights a week, my daughter and I really encouraged him as it's something he's wanted to do for years and I see it as a way for he and I to really connect through the creative arts and it will be good for him to find a way to work through and communicate emotions. I just wish I could find a way for myself to step out from this brain fog and live a fulfilling life.

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    1. Fragments,
      You've had so much to wade through. I'm glad your son is doing better. That must be a huge relief. And it's telling that your weekend away felt like an escape. I wonder if there are some things you can do to remove those painful triggers. Re-arrange your bedroom? Put some totem of strength on your bedside to remind you of your strength and courage?
      As for your writing, have you considered writing about your experience through this? Even if it's not something you publish (though you might be surprised), it might get that impulse going again. Or offering a course to aspiring writers in your community? I think, for an artist, not creating art feels like a tiny death of something. See if there's some way to kickstart that again.

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  8. Elle
    I'm not sure looking back when I was able to get the shame off me and redirected to the two people who should have been feeling the shame! I saw the shame my h felt in those early months but the cow felt no shame and virtually told us so with her text declaration of true love. I've finally let go of what she thinks because I'm the one that has seen the man she thinks she's in love with change to the man I need him to be. In 20 days, it will be two years since she thought she was going to blast me out of my marriage. You might say I'm one of the lucky women that had a really crazy ow that showed him her true colors and that has been one of the reasons we are able to get past the shame both of us felt then! Somehow you always put into words the feelings most of us have!

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    1. However it happened, Theresa, I'm glad it did. It's liberating when we finally truly get that his cheating wasn't about us at all.

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  9. I think part of the reason people are so quick to blame the victim is fear. They think that this somehow keeps them safe. If they can convince themselves that they won't ever "let themselves go", they will always make sure their partner doesn't have a "reason" to stray, etc, etc, then they are safe. They'll never be cheated on, because they'll do all the right things. Admitting that they can do everything right and still be betrayed--that's a scary thing to face. So it's easier to blame the victim to convince yourself that it will never happen to you.

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    1. Gee
      The thing is that even beautiful wives get betrayed because they happen to be married to men with broken morals! I've learned by listening to my h that it had nothing to do with me/us but what was inside of him and his broken sense of entitlement to seek out different sex. His cow actually told me to find him a prostitute to fix his needs for sex. Unfortunately for my h, cow fell in love with the cheating lying asshole that my h was then! We're still dealing with the fall out from her love!

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    2. Gee, you nailed it. Blame the victim, so I can pretend that this won't happen to me.

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    3. Gee,
      I think you're right. I see the same thing happen when someone is diagnosed with cancer. People rush to examine behaviour to convince themselves it couldn't happen to them -- the patient smoked, or didn't eat well, or blah blah blah. Sometimes shitty things happen to people who did NOTHING to deserve them. And that's terrifying to most of us.

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    4. Oh my gosh. Exactly. You are describing me pre-DDay.
      I always paid lip service to the idea that bad things can happen to good people. Being betrayed made me face that truth on a whole different level. Yikes -- such arrogance I had.

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  10. I agree with so many of the comments above. I think this goes even further that women have a lot of shame in general. Related to the work place, home life, motherhood, marriage etc... Through the years one of our big disagreements was my husband would want to have his parents over but he would not want to clean, pick up the house or make anything for dinner. As I explained to him when his mom walks in the door she does not say oh look they both did not clean or make dinner. She says I did not do those things. He says who cares but he has never minded his mom coming in and cleaning up right when she walks in the door. I think so much is placed on women. They have done the studies and even when the woman is the breadwinner she still has the burden of the household and child rearing duties.

    As far as shame goes related to infidelity it is so strong. It is secretive in nature in all aspects. At least the circles we are in it is not discussed except who is divorcing and did someone cheat on them. People cannot believe someone would do that etc.. I know before this happened to me I would have never blamed the woman but I would think how can she stay. I was not aware and had never been exposed to infidelity except on tv and movies. In a way I want to tell everyone to educate them and explain what it looks like and does to people and a family. But on the other hand I think this is for us to work on. I am not sure if there is a right or wrong way. We just continue moving forward. I am thankful my husband has taken full responsibility for all he did. But for me it still lingers and the shame arises from time to time. It is hard for me not to feel like I was less than what I thought I was. But in the end I feel so sad that my husband made the choices he did. I think how low he must have been that this was his out. From all of our discussions I found that it was shameful for him and shortly after starting the affairs he realized it was the worst decision ever. And in the end I know as someone else stated I have my integrity and he does have to live with this till the day he dies. That is a major burden.

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    1. Hopeful30,
      Your mother-in-law sounds like a nasty piece of work. As my friend posted on her door, "If you've come to see the house, make an appointment. If you've come to visit me, come on in."

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    2. The worst part about it is she thinks so is being helpful. And my husband has always told me she is the nicest most kind person he knows and she is just trying to help. For me him and his family dynamics is a huge issue related to his identity and his life choices. Not so sure he wants to see it that way. Granted his eyes are more wide open than ever before.

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  11. Elle, I logged on to my email to see this post. I started sobbing. THIS. This is how I feel still...a year and a half out and I feel so ashamed. Ashamed for staying, ashamed for not knowing, ashamed for having picked someone who did not love me the way I loved him. So thank you. I KNOW you are right. I should stand strong in who I am and all I have offered. This is a rough road. Any wife who has been on this path is certainly not stupid or weak. If anything, I have a deep respect for her.

    Any tips on losing the shame...when you know intellectually you should not feel any?

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    1. Anonymous,
      You just keep challenging it. What do you have to be ashamed about? If you should have known, then we ALL should have known. If you had been a "better wife", then we ALL should have been better wives. The best antidote to shame for me was really beginning to understand why people cheat. There isn't a single expert who will suggest it's because of the partner. Not one. At least not a reputable one. People cheat because they're broken, not because their partner is broken. Affairs are distractions from pain. That's all. They're about ego not integrity.
      And yes, the women I've met on this path toward healing are among the strongest, warmest and smartest women I've ever known. And the most compassionate. Extend that compassion toward you. Be your own best friend. I bet you'd never say to your best friend some of the things you've said to yourself. Nope, you'd look her in the eye and you'd tell her that she did NOTHING to deserve this pain. And then you'd remind her that you're right beside her as she faces down this shame and pain.

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    2. Here is an article I read on staying in the marriage that really helped me stay strong. It also may give you answers for all the naysayers who have never walked even two seconds in our shoes! http://beyondaffairs.com/how-to-rebuild-your-marriage/is-staying-in-a-marriage-after-an-affair-stupid/

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    3. A lot of helpful points in this article, Anon, thanks for posting!

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  12. I guess at times we all feel like ALONE. I realized (but only after I found all of you) that I was enough. I know that is was him that was broken. In fact I am ashamed of him and sad that he thought so much of himself. Selfish to say the least. That he lacked integrity among other things. I always refer to me and the kids as collateral damage. There are some things I need to work on, Trusting again, believing what he says, and truly loving him again. I do love him, but not the way I did before. He knows that and as difficult as it is he is trying so very very hard.
    I know I would have never gotten this far if it were not for Elle and all of you. I am quiet but I do check in all the time. It still is a difficult journey but one that I feel is well worth it. I guess it just takes time... Thanks to all of you for just being there for each other. Sammy G

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    1. Yes, Sammy G, it takes time. A lot of time. At three years, I was still sifting through the pain, figuring out who I was and what I wanted my life to look like.
      And it took longer still to look at my husband with respect for how mightily he has struggled and with love for the incredible person he is.

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  13. Three years later and I still struggle with this but I am trying to challenge it more and more instead of keeping the narrative going that I am not enough. It is so hard and I am sometimes frustrated by the fact that I still spend so much time processing and healing three years later. I have never told anyone my story except one therapist in the beginning. Maybe I need to spend some time writing it down because I do feel stress about the secrets all locked up in my head.

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    1. Enigma. I noted your three years in my comment above. I hope you will write down your story. And recognize that it will change over time. In one version, you might feel like a victim, but in another, you might feel like a hero. But it can be incredibly cathartic to get it out and to revisit it.

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    2. So true it is hard for me to accept the evolution of this process. I feel like once I am done with one stage I should move on and proceed somewhat orderly. But it is anything but that. My husband and I had a long discussion about the secrecy we have now created. He feels like maybe I am suffering from the same issues he did keeping it a secret for 10 years. It is as if I have taken on his shame and now suffer the consequences. Yet I am cautious about telling others. I know that it might not all be positive. I have only told one therapist otherwise no one else knows.

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    3. Elle I'm doing a test post. I have posted on her a few times and it doesn't show..I write out my feelings and they disappear..I was hoping for some feed back.

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    4. In Search of Me, I have found nothing I write and submit on my iPhone ever shows up even when it verifies it is submitted. My iPad and desktop both work. I have no idea why but this is what I have found. Good luck figuring it out since I think this website is one of the best resources.

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  14. Thank you for writing this, Elle. I have been thinking about this since I heard the comments about "enabling". It's disgusting and insulting to betrayed spouses on so many levels.

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  15. So glad to read, Elle, that you've recovered respect for you husband. That's my main struggle and the main thought that pops into my head...how much respect I've lost for him. (And maybe love? That one scares me a bit.) The pedestal came crashing down and while it will never go back up, I was hoping by now (2+ years) that some of the respect would have returned, especially since he's done the hard work and continues to try to make things right. I know how ashamed he is, so why haven't I been able to regain some of the respect I've lost for him? Maybe it just needs to work itself out and I need to trust in my process- whatever that is. I know it takes from 2-5 years; it's such a slow, cyclic process.
    C.

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    1. Anon, I too am struggling with respect and love for him. I think my biggest problem is that he was always the 'perfect husband', saying and doing all the right things, always made me feel loved and cherished. So now he says 'all the right things' again, in his recovery/atonement stage, and I am deeply suspicious, I tell him: "You sound too much like the 'other you'". He says he really felt that way then, it wasn't an act, because he compartmentalized the serial cheating and betrayal, but I'm still calling bullshit on that, I cannot wrap my head around how you can look into my eyes and lie that you aren't cheating (yes, I asked a few times when my Spidey Sense was tingling) and have compartmentalized your cheating so much you claim to have blocked it out while answering me. Not to mention how he has told me he couldn't forgive his ex wife for doing exactly the same to him when he asked her.
      Ooops, I digress. Sorry. Obviously I am still working through this. I think I am blurring who he was and the respect I had for him before the pedestal fell (I like that, Anon) and the person he says he is now...damnit, they just look and sound too similar to me. It is definitely not fair to him now, if he is in fact doing all this work to repair the marriage, but my phoenix is rabidly cautious about trusting what I see. I tell him I do not love him, but I wonder how much of that is a self defense mechanism. I ran my first marathon yesterday and he was cheering at the finish and I was so glad to see him, in fact, I was looking for him as I finished. So is the fact that I was wanting him to share that accomplishment with me a good sign? Or is he just a habit with me at this point?
      (Backstory: he is a wonderful father to our two young children and I don't want to upset their lives before I am 100% sure I am done, so I gave him aprox a year to show me he is committed to rebuilding).
      I think it is only natural we question our love and respect for them, after all, they deeply fractured our faith and trust in our own perceptions. I keep telling him: "you didn't just kill our marriage, you killed my trust in myself'. I question everything now, what motives do others have, what lies beneath??

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    2. This quote resonated with me. I cannot get the image to upload, however

      https://www.pinterest.com/pin/233905774375114936/

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    3. Suzannah, This is pretty much how I currently feel at around 18 months. I literally listen to my husband and I think he said those things then most likely hopped on his iPad and followed his affair partner lives on FB or texted or emailed them. Or ended up meeting up with them. My husbands affairs were sporadic so it was not obvious that he was engaged with other women. And I too asked him how he interacted with women when he went out with his friends. I asked if he got attention from them or flirted with them. He said never to my face. He gave me amazing gifts, his cards were filled with thoughtful words, he planned amazing vacations. So now when this year he did not give me any card for our anniversary and instead said he decided to clean up our first floor of our house while I was working I was kind of sad. But then the flip side is I thought to myself what does a card mean. I have a stack of cards from 10 years of our marriage while all of this was going on filled with amazing words. He will tell me it was not black and white but to me it is so hard to move past. It is so hard to truly trust again. Can it ever be there. I thought over time as he proved himself we would grow closer. For a while we did but now I feel like is this it? I just have to wonder the rest of my life if he is always being honest. And I feel like with technology it could come at us from so many directions. Other women, online communication, texting, porn, etc. Without our kids being part of this equation I am not sure if I could do this. It is hard to even know what to say to him. He says the most amazing things to me but I always wonder in the back of my mind is this the truth or just what he is telling me.

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    4. Wow- that is one powerful quotation! Hits it right on the head. Wish I'd thought of saying that at some time.
      My favorite new H memory is when I started playing my musical instrument again after giving it up for 30-odd years- lots of reasons having to do with little to no support in household/child raising duties. After my first rehearsal, he was at the door when I came home, cheering and clapping for me. I loved that. So he's different now than he was during his two affairs. I just wish I could have more of those moments. They are few and far between, so when they happen they're special.
      C.

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  16. Hopeful 30
    I too struggled with the beautiful cards my h has given me in all these years! We've had long discussions regarding the boxes he compartmentalized the us/them. I'm not able to do that but I am able to understand that it's the only way he can live his life and meet all expectations of work and the struggles of life in general. My h also insists that he meant every word that was in the cards and yet, his cow had six months to put so much doubt in my mind that I'm surprised we survived that time period. Once I realized that she was/is delusional. I could begin to actually listen to my h and hear the new honest feelings from his heart. We are making such good progress despite the cow continues to stalk him on LinkedIn. We're busy making new memories and at times looking back to our favorite old memories. Just moving through time and hopefully I can get to the place where none of this will be in my daily life. This site is helping me move toward that place! Hugs! Keep moving forward!

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  17. I needed to read this today. I am 5 months out from Dday myself and have found all the news lately so triggering. I am only just now looking at my shame about staying (even though I stand by my decision). That's a really hard one to talk about with my husband, and since no one else knows... complicated to work through. I feel so much comfort in reading that so many other people here have felt the things I've felt.

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    1. Ann, It is hard when you are working through this and are not sharing with anyone else. At around 5 months is when I decided to find a therapist. It has been a major help and support for me. He is very experienced in what I am going through. And I agree being on here with a group of women that can say me too really is the best support for me.

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    2. Thank you, Hopeful. I actually started working with a therapist right from week one personally and we've been going to couples therapy weekly as well. Without those, I would have truly gone crazy. I have many close friends and I'm close with my family. Not telling THEM makes me feel disconnected and "fake" somehow. They all congratulate me on my amazing weight loss (35 pounds!) and tell me how wonderful I look. So calm... The weight loss was (of course) due to the fact that I couldn't eat food for so long and my "calm" nature is because I'm doing so much thinking under the surface. Seeing what others have said here is so comforting. I assumed I was the only one who struggled with feeling unauthentic to everyone except my husband now. At some point, I may be able to tell my story to a few I am close to. I think it's the shame (strong women would never stand for this) messages I need to tackle first before I can do that.

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  18. Hopeful 30-
    I can relate. It was so hard to decide whether we would exchange cards on our anniversary (happened 3 months after D-Day), but FINALLY he got me a card with the right words and sentiments. Cards before had been funny and always with a hint of sex- this time- and since then- I end up with cards that say what he cannot (words elude him a lot!) but say what I need him to say. As for the cards he gave me during his 10 year set of affairs...they either have been recycled or they are in a separate place in the basement storage. They mean nothing to me, and only remind me of those awful years when I was blind to what was going on. And you're so right- technology has changed the way we all interact and it seeps into our lives in ways we don't want it to with disastrous results.
    I keep struggling with the idea of respect and we're 2+ years out. I'm not sure how I work on this- or even if I should- is it something that is lying dormant while my brain works it out? And trust- I say I trust him now- he's earning it back...but do I really? I'm finding that after so many months of feeling like the worst is over, that a new phase is creeping in. Doubt.
    And back to Elle's original post...this horrible stuff that's out in the political arena is just fueling it. I have to stop watching, listening and paying attention to any of it. It triggers stuff that hasn't been triggered in such a long time, and here I am on our site again. WHEN will society stop judging women who stay with (serial) cheaters? WHEN will the double standard for women disappear? WHEN can we openly talk about the damage done to faithful spouses and to our marriages from the behaviors of our spouses that all of us on this site are working to overcome? It's such hard work. I believe it's the most worthwhile work,however, or I would have given up on my marriage a long time ago.
    But I want us to be better than we are now- I want the doubt to go away and be replaced by the warm feelings I used to have. I feel like I'm hibernating a bit. Waiting for a new springtime when things will feel refreshed and new. I know it can happen- Elle is the best example that it can happen again. Who else is here that can help us who are in this waiting room? Advice? Hopeful stories?
    C.

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    1. C, So true all of what you said. It is interesting how the new phase of this recovery starts. We are at 19 months. At times I find it hard since I do not know what I want or need from my husband. In the end I want him to make this effort above and beyond. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it does not. The first anniversary after dday he wrote me the most amazing poem yet this year there was no card. And I think do I say something? The last thing I want is him going out and buying a card out of pure obligation. But he throws away all cards he is given. He literally does not care about these things. If I say anything he takes it so personally since he feels like a total failure as a husband, father and he did the worst possible thing by having his affairs. He knows all of this and it still is hard on him.

      Doubt creeps in on me. It is hard for me not feel like most aspects of our lives revolve around this. I see everything as interconnected. The kids gravitate towards me and that can hurt him yet I was the one there for them. And a million other things.

      We work hard to create new memories as he calls it a corrective emotional experience. He is conscious most of the time when something will trigger or bother me. Otherwise I bring it up in advance. I find that it is just easier that way. He is aware then. He has been open and accepting of me talking with him related to that. I also find that it is hard for me and us to feel positive about our marriage when we get busy and over scheduled or stressed. We both feel this way and more distant. We make an effort to say no to things unless it is something we can do as a couple and we make those a priority. We say we are cocooning. And really we do we go through phases of spending as much time as we can together. It is not always easy but it helps when we make that a priority.

      I feel like I am waiting for an a-ha moment or something major for me to feel some great shift in our relationship. I really am optimistic and hopeful for this. It is so hard with timing and the fact it is dependent on both of us being in that spot at the same time.

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  19. New here, I just discovered this club for the only reason I would ever google "how long to get over infidelity" - I just discovered a whole double life of the man I'm married to. And I've never felt more angry and ashamed in my entire life. I haven't even cried yet and it's been 4 days. I just shake with ... well I guess this is rage. Things never got physical between him and HER,but they would have if the were not separated by distance (let's just say I stumbled across them having sex through texts... Sexting, did I do that right?) But it is the emotional connection between them and the "I love you"s that cut deepest right now.

    I don't even have a particular point I'm trying to make, just thank you all so much for making this a safe haven. I have told only those closest to me about what is going on (so, like 2 people), and needed to vent somewhere. The post that google brought up was from years ago, and I cannot tell you how relieved I was to see this is still an active site.

    So here's looking forward to the days I can actually cry and wallow without having to be strong in front of the kids. I'm too young for this. (As if there were a better age for this to happen :/ )

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    1. Anon, I'm so, so sorry. I'm giving you a hug. Just wanted you to know that you are heard. Go gently with yourself. Breathe, get through each day. Think about what you need to feel safe, what you need from your h to heal and move forward, if that is what you choose or however that looks for you. And, gently, be prepared to have more bombs dropped. You may not have all the truth yet. You may. But ask questions, check your gut. I'm going to tell you that you are strong, resilient and will get through this. You'll get suck of hearing it, but it is true nonetheless. So sorry you are here. So glad you landed in the best place I have found for support and healing. Much love...

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    2. Yep, Anonymous, everything that Still Standing said. Please find yourself support through a therapist. This is excruciating and you need to have a safe place in real life where you can put it all down. I had three young kids when I learned of my husband's double life and it's damn near impossible to hold it all together. Be gentle with yourself.

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    3. Anonymous- Just keep coming here. Read all the posts you can handle at one time. Share your story- vent all you need to. There is so much wisdom here that I never found elsewhere. What I learned about getting through betrayal, I learned on this site. Rage was my friend for a few weeks, even though my counselor kept trying to get me to control myself (shh! don't tell anyone, but I don't regret the rage.) Still Standing is right- be prepared for more shoes to drop. I hope your H has been honest with you, but so often they are in la-la land for weeks or months after the discovery. Mine was. (I even watched him break up with the last woman over the phone- I kept thinking, "What? Is this high school of something????" And then who comforted him? Me.) So do be prepared.
      The main thing I've learned, and I'm sure it would be echoed by others here, is that you need to trust yourself. You actually know what you need to do to get through this. Listen to yourself. If you need to ask questions, ask them. Redraw the boundary around your marriage. Husbands don't always know what we need to heal, so be sure to tell him what he needs to do. Hold him accountable. And know that what he did had NOTHING to do with you. It had to do with him. Only.
      Trust yourself. And know that you will work your way through it. Hang in there.
      C.

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  20. I'm so sorry you're going through this too. I remember those first days as being extremely overwhelming. My head spun and I went from one extreme to another. I, too, did not cry really until later. I even comforted him while he was falling apart somehow. The shock is there to protect you a little I think. As is wears off, commit to taking care of yourself. Consider what you need (sleep, nourishment, someone to talk to...) and make sure you find a way to get them. This will take time, so be patient with yourself and get help from a professional if you can. This whole thing says so much more about him and the state of his soul than it will ever say about you, but you do have an opportunity (unexpected and unwanted though it may be) for growth here. You get to choose how you want to handle this (but not all at once). You are so much stronger than you thought you were. I promise you that!

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