Thursday, November 10, 2016

What Donald Trump Can Teach Us About Ourselves

Well, it's official. The United States is now being led by a bully, a misogynist, a philanderer.
And while this election has been deeply painful to so many for so many reasons, Trump's victory can be particularly agonizing for those of us who know those behaviours well because we've seen them up close.
My divorced friend Jamie put it this way: "It's like living in my marriage all over again."
It might feel familiar to you too.
The gas-lighting for instance. The insistence that you didn't see what you say you did, that what you think is going on isn't. You're being hysterical. You're over-reacting. You're jealous. Men like this are masters at manipulation. At making you doubt yourself. Doubt is a reasonable response to such insistence that you are the one that has it wrong: well, did I see that? Did he actually say that? And before long, you've walked it back. Maybe I am over-reacting. I have been over-tired lately... What's more, we want to believe we're wrong. We want things to be okay. And so we silence our inner observer who knows damn well that something is going on.
If the gas-lighting doesn't work, the bully shows up. Shut up. Look at you, you're pathetic. I'll walk out that door and never look back. You don't deserve me. You're lucky I'm even here. 
Too often, those words have taken root in our heads and we agree with them. Thing is, none of us "deserves" a guy like this. On the contrary, we deserve respect and kindness and honesty. A bully is only effective is we agree with him, if the words he's flinging at us are words we're telling ourselves. Watch your self-talk. How kind are you to yourself or does your inner dialogue sound more like an abuse: You're such an idiot. How could you be so stupid. What's wrong with you? Pay attention to what you're saying and then talk back in words that speak the real truth. You are worthy. You are a person, like anyone else, who makes mistakes. You deserve love and compassion. 
The misogynist, of course, wants us to believe that objectifying women normal behaviour, "locker room" behaviour. Guys will be guys. That sexual assault – grabbing, groping, unwanted touching, is actually flattering, that we're attractive, we're desirable, he can't keep his hands off of us.
As for cheating, guys are wired this way. It's harmless. A little fun on the side.
It's agonizingly familiar. I don't know a single woman who hasn't been exposed to this type of twisted language and behaviour. If we resist it, we're frigid, bitches and worse. If we give in, we erode our humanity. We detach our bodies from our hearts. We lose our agency.
But just because this behaviour is so god-damned common, it's NOT normal. And it's certainly not harmless.
Part of what keeps us stuck in relationships with these guys is that the behaviour devolves over time. We might slowly become aware that we get a knot in our stomach if he's had a bad day because we're somehow going to be in the line of fire. We might notice that we avoid bringing up certain things because we can predict his response. The accusations, the anger.
We might find ourselves having sex out of a fear that he'll go elsewhere. That we "owe" it to him to make our bodies available. Guys have needs, right?
We might find ourselves wondering, abstractedly, where the "old" us has gone. What's happened to our hobbies? Our friends? Our joy? Our sense that we were okay just the way we were?
Why are we so skittish all the time? So anxious? Why does our mood depend so heavily on his mood? Sure it's natural to want the people we love to be happy but to need them to be happy? That's a sign that something is not right.
Trump is, clearly, a narcissist on a scale that would be comical if it wasn't so dangerous. He's managed to gaslight millions of people. To convince them that his worldview is the accurate one, despite clear factual evidence that he's wrong.
And it's deeply painful to see someone rewarded for such a con when we've lived our lives with the belief that good things happen to good people, that integrity matters. It's not unrelated to our desire to see the OW somehow punished for what she's done when, often, her life goes on pretty much undisturbed by the relationship that has devastated our own. That's not fair, we wail in vain.
But these people can be our teachers. They can make us acutely aware of where, in our relationships, we're not taking care of ourselves. Where we're denying what we know to be true in favor of another's alternate (and crazy) reality. It's not okay, for instance, for your husband to "stay friends" with the person he was cheating with. You being NOT okay with this isn't you being hysterical, it's you setting clear and healthy boundaries. It's you refusing to allow toxic behaviour into your life.
And that's the ultimate – and painful – lesson we can learn from the hell of betrayal and from watching a misogynistic bully on the world stage: We get to build our own lives. We get to parcel out pieces of our hearts only to those people who have shown themselves deserving of them and who value and respect our hearts.
Once you get there, the world becomes so much clearer. That muddy thinking, the but what if I'm over-reacting, what if I'm wrong turns into this is what I know and this is how I'll respond. We become much more self-focussed than other-focussed. We're coming at life from a place of self-respect rather than fear of the other's response.
If you're not there yet, you'll get there. Pay attention to how you've reacted to much of Trump's rhetoric. His "grab them by the pussy" talk, his doubling down on statements that have been easily proven to be lies, his discussion of women based on their faces, their bodies, their availability to him. And then ask yourself when you've felt like that in your marriage, when the knot in the stomach shows up, when the helpless rage begins to simmer, when you feel devalued, unheard, disrespected.
You are none of those things: Not helpless. Not worthless. Not hysterical or crazy or jealous.
You are a woman responding to a situation that is inherently emotionally abusive and arming herself with the tools that are going to help her heal.


  1. You just nailed how everyone who was a Hillary supporter feels! Every time I heard that man degrading another woman and out loud and proud of it, I wanted to shout out to the world can't you hear what he's saying! Omg! The nation that voted for this man swallowed his lies and overlooked his flaws because of their own frustrating lives and his promise to get rid of the 'big government'. Well all I can say is I hope that they are happy with who and what they chose to hire for the next four years! If not, I guess we'll see who's willing to battle him next and mean while, America will see how the Republican Party has been bullying the current potus for all 8 years! Prayers for all the women here that have that type mate! Thanking God that mine doesn't fit that mold and is embarrassed by that type of man!

  2. elle I love you .. you just say it so god damn well ... we are worth so much more, I asked a friend today why we put up with such pathetic weak men. My friends a police officer strong beautiful confident good at her job.. she's been separated for 8 years, it was a volatile and unhappy marriage one which made her question herself and chip away at her confidence.. her ex husband is currently sleeping on her couch he's penniless and would end up homeless if she didn't take him in.. she also has an 11yr old son with him.. so I ask the question again.. why???her response she does it for her child, she feels sorry for her ex .. I feel exactly the same as her.. yes my h can manipulate, lie and cheat but he's as weak and pathetic as the next man.. he's running scared from his past and present shit.. I actually think he would choose being on his own than dealing with his shit.. if I do decide to divorce I don't want to be stuck dealing with his shit.. I want free of him .. not sure how easy that would be!! Love yourself ladies .. xx

  3. Good choice of words Elle. I don't know if I just had my head in my ass for three years or what. Today was our anti-versay. I refuse to celebrate it but it makes me sad all day. For some reason I started thinking about how he wanted to hurt me during the affair. He told me he almost hated me and it was a revenge of type on me. I told him tonight, if he wanted revenge on me he got it, if he wanted to cause me pain, he got it. I told him he was cruel and my mom and first husband has nothing on him. Makes me sad. I know you all will say it is your choice to remain in his revenge painful wish on me. I know in my head it is but what a really cruel man to do this? He had a ton of other reasons but this hit me the hardest. I'm not looking for this shit in my mind. It is scarey to think about this and how his mind works. He is very smart and I have seen him make other people feel bad. I always told him I hope he never did it to me. Am I over reacting? Is his heart really black? Am I fooling myself in this R? Is he really cruel in there somewhere? I'm mean betrayal is the cruelest thing in the universe.

    1. Yes, Lynn, it is the cruelest! "The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from an enemy."
      And no matter how much a person might resent their spouse, dealing them this sort of pain is inexcusable. I don't know if his heart is black - but his love is seriously lacking, and he sounds very petty and insecure. And unstable. I know your ties to him are strong. I understand. But take care of yourself, sister. Look after yourself.

  4. As an American I am embarrassed that he was elected as our leader. He is a master manipulator and takes no responsibility for his actions. An immoral piece of garbage just like the OW that went after my husband and tried to destroy my family. She went as far as to say my husband raped her when everything blew up in their faces. All to try and keep the truth of what she did from coming out putting all the blame on my husband. But the people we all worked with knew what she did, that she was a liar and talked about it behind her back. Every time that she starts running her mouth she lets the truth out of what she actually did and people have seen that. The same thing will happen to Donald Trump. These people that see a super wonderful person will start seeing what the rest of us saw that did not vote for him. A big mouthed manipulating liar. Hopefully with good people behind him maybe, just maybe, he can "make our country great again". Just like hopefully after my husbands self destructive behavior we can make our marriage great again.

    1. Anonymous
      I hear you loud and clear! I too think it's now up to my h to be the kind of man that continues the behavior required to make our marriage great again! I too pray that this vile man will find others to help keep his narcissistic behavior in check! Our children deserve a better role model!

    2. Amen. I'm ashamed for America. Hopefully this is our lowest point, and it is uphill from here. Hopefully.

  5. Thank you Elle!!!

    The day after the election I kept thinking and feeling.... "why does the election of Trump feel strangely like my marriage". "This is the kind of toxic crap from men, I am trying to get out of and or change". "Now I'm stuck for 4 years with this guy runnning the country!!!" What the?? I thought I was weird for feelings these parallels.

    My response this will be radical self care and care for those in need as well. Together is the way forward, we have to light the path for each other.

    Love and support sisters!

  6. What I needed to hear right now. Reading so much of my life now in this post, what I am coming to realize I had been living. So sad. I don't think he knows how to not lie. Even in the set up as we are going to tell the kids about the divorce this afternoon. He can't just say, I need you guys at home for a family meeting. Our daughter thinks he is coming over to hang out because he hasn't seen her in a while. And I don't think my son has any idea he's coming over. And I am manipulated into a corner. I can't say anything in warning that is going to ease them into this hurt. I feel like he's set this up so it will be even more shocking, but it protects him from dealing with any potential emotional stuff outside of the controlled environment. Just crazy. All this does is help me be more clear that I am going to be so much better off. Given chance to heal, to clear him out of the house. We will be OK. Prayers for me and the kids this weekend.
    (Also - Elle, I think page 2 of sep & div is full?)

  7. Personally, I am disappointed to have politics infused into this site. Over half of Americans voted. With our choice so awful, lots of people voted against rather than for. You can make a case equally as ugly against Hillary Clinton with traits mirroring our husbands and the OW. Election Day is over. I can't tell you how many elections I have felt disappointed but made the best of it. Let's get over it and work together.

    1. Anonymous,
      I thought hard before posting this because this site isn't about who should be in the White House. But I couldn't ignore how many women (including me!) who've felt incredibly triggered by Trump's behaviour, which is, frankly, indefensible and which has played out for many long months on the front pages of newspapers and on endless loops of cable news. That he has ultimately been rewarded for his behaviour is deeply wounding to those of us who've experienced similar abuse.
      I'm willing to entertain any reasonable argument that Clinton's behaviour is triggering too. Though I will not give airtime to any of this "but she's just as bad". She's not. Full stop. She endured uncalled for humiliation during this election cycle for having stayed with her husband, something most of us imagined we might experience if we disclosed our situation and something many women on this site DO experience when they reveal a partner's betrayal to friends and family.
      As we often remind each other on this site, there is no "right" way to respond to betrayal. There is only what is right for us. There is however a "wrong" way to respond to gas lighting and a wholesale dismissal of sexual assault allegations, not to mention admission of extramarital affairs, and that to tell any of us that it's not happening and that women's voices cannot be trusted or believed.
      We can only work together when we can acknowledge each other's pain and validate each other's experiences, even if they do not match our own.

    2. "That he has ultimately been rewarded for his behaviour is deeply wounding to those of us who've experienced similar abuse."
      Exactly. Anonymous, Elle did not "infuse politics into this site" by making this observation anymore than she did when she wrote about Elizabeth Edwards. It was about a country's massive acceptance of misogyny, uncivil behavior, name-calling, and mocking of other people. (Can you imagine if Hillary were the one to have children by three different spouses, with one of them born out of wedlock after cheating on her first spouse? Trump would have been all over that.)

    3. Yes, Jennifer. Exactly. It's the acceptance, the normalizing, of such ugliness that is the problem, not the calling out of it. Elle hasn't infused politics into this site -- life has. I know I wouldn't be here if my H hadn't considered such misogynistic language and behavior "normal." Or -- far more importantly -- if I hadn't.

      I've been reading a lot lately about why we women do this to ourselves, why we allow it. Why we say, its okay, he probably didn't really mean it, at least not about me. Ha. Yes he did. Trump did, and my husband did, and my abusive first boyfriend did, and my obnoxious colleagues did, and the monster who raped my mother did. They really, truly meant it. We have to stop accepting it. We have to stop internalizing it. We need to start taking these men at their word the first time, and saying enough is enough.

      One sign of hope for me: my H looked at me during the second debate with tears in his eyes and said "My God, you have to put up with this shit all the time, don't you? I am so, so sorry." It's a start.

      A second sign of hope for me: my sons. My teenage sons who have seen their father's tears. At least in my family, it stops with my sons.

    4. The thing is, this isn't merely politics, Anon. It is about human dignity. Civil Rights and Womens Rights isn't merely politics. That is why this triggers so many of us. Somehow, alot of women (not to mention, mostly white men) have voted for a man who degrades them and whole hosts of other groups. It is confusing and baffling--except when you recognize how many women stay in abusive marraiges because "he's not that bad." Half of America seems to think that it is acceptable that we should be disrespected so incredibly--because, um, his "policies" or whatever. For those many of us who have had our self respect shattered and are learning to rebuild it stronger than anything, this man normalizes everything we have fought against. But it just means that we have to fight harder ladies. I am taking my newfound awareness of what it means to fight for rights, stand up for others, and speak the truth. I will not be gaslighted by a cheater, our president, or the clueless men and women who tell us he is not that bad. So much of what i have learned in my recovery is serving me well in healing from this heartbreaking election and not taking it laying down. I see the election of this man as a countermove--women, gays, minorities are asserting themselves too much and we want to put them back in the box. The parallels for those in bad relationships is uncanny. But once I started speaking up, saying this isn't acceptable, insisting upon respect, my marriage changed. I hope us recovering BW can do that in our lives, in all arenas.

    5. I find Donald Trump's behavior to be a trigger because of his objectification of all women- rating them on a scale, thinking he is some great "catch" that there couldn't be a woman who would decline, etc. I also find Hillary's behavior to be triggering. She claims to be a champion for women but I can't get over the fact that she defends Bill- who is a proven liar- against the rape allegations several women have come forward with. An affair, as we all know, is horrifying to live through. I wasn't sure I could stay and forgive my husband. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision or if it'll bite me in the butt in the future. Rape is a whole other level that is beyond horrifying. I have no doubt in my mind that I would end any relationship with a person of that caliber. I realize that Bill hasn't been tried or convicted of these crimes so his guilt or innocence on my part is speculation but since he is a proven liar it triggers me to see Hillary go to bat for him on such a serious charge. We've all known women who put up with multiple affairs and abuse from men who pledge to be sorry but really aren't. Maybe Bill has turned over a new leaf and has gotten his life on track but if his previous life included the rape of several women, I find it disgusting that anyone- man or woman- could defend that person. I don't know what the truth is (oh, how I've been there before) but because I don't know the truth and Bill/Hillary have a reputation for dishonesty, I find her defense of him triggering regardless of how gracious she is in the public eye about his affairs. She is a stronger woman than I to be that gracious and I'll give her credit for that but it still doesn't mean I gave her my vote.

    6. I really don't think we need to get into "votes" and Anonymous (who posted directly above), I appreciate your take on your particular issue with Hillary Clinton defending her husband against rape allegations. My intent with the original post was to address the pain that I knew many women were dealing with as they tried to heal against a backdrop of misogyny. When the wider culture is either shrugging its shoulders at or outright applauding someone who is gas lighting, lying and bullying (and those are objective truth, not opinion) it can feel isolating to be fighting against that same behaviour in our own lives.

  8. Anonymous it is a sad day when you can't see the difference between the new American president and the woman who won by popular vote and lost to electoral vote. Everything Donald Trump stands for triggers me and Hillary has taught me the real meaning of compassion in light of my husband's betrayal. I can only hope that Bill Clinton has made sincere changes in his life as my husband has done. Unlike Hillary, I live with the secret of betrayal and Hillary has held her head high. She is a much stronger woman than I. Peace and love to all. Seeking compassion in these difficult times.

    1. I like to imagine the same thing because I do see genuine respect in his behaviour towards her. I like to think that, at some point, he has said to her how deeply sorry he is for all the pain and humiliation and double-standards she's had to endure because of his incredibly stupid actions and that he has gone to great lengths to make amends. Who knows, right? But I hope so.

    2. Elle
      I have to believe that they made their peace with each other during her husbands midlife crisis at the worst time in her life. I thought I was proud of the way she handled it when she was living through it but until I lived through it myself, I didn't understand how much harder it must have been to live it in the publics eyes! How much humiliation she has had to endure and then this pig of a man just poured salt into a n old sore that she must have thought was healed! I'm so sorry for what all of this election has festered in all of us!

    3. Beach Girl, I believe you are in CA. I lived 1 town over from the Clinton's in NY and know workman, restaurants, mutual friends of theirs. I have been in a bakery with Hillary. The picture of them on TV or in print is not real life. That is all I am saying about that, as I don't want to turn this into a gossip session which would serve no one. Please re-read my post, as I stated my disappointment and stated 2 sides of the story.
      Since I'm on this post, I understand all too well triggers, betrayal and womanizing!
      I come here to feel the inclusion of woman who have walked in my shoes, felt the awful pain in silence, in my case. Feel the love and acceptance of fellow sisters. Not so much now.
      Sorry if I offended anyone but I thought it was safe to give my opinion here without reproach.

    4. While I see the point Anonymous is making - it is risky to introduce politics onto a site that is meant for emotional support - I'm still glad that Elle did it.

      This is why: I had friends who were disappointed in the results of the election - not many, because of where I live, but some. But even with these friends, I could not talk about the deeply personal feelings that this election triggered in me, in relation to my husband's betrayal. Because it is private, and because, unless they have been betrayed, they would not understand. THIS is the only place I can vent about how my depression over the election tied into my feelings about the death of my marriage. And I am grateful to Elle for making it possible for me to do so.
      I apologize to any Trump supporters I have offended. I may not respect him, but I respect you. We will move on from this subject quickly, and your candidate will be in the White House, so please do us a favor and ride it out with us for this brief time. Thank you for your forbearance.

    5. Anon, I posted my reply at the same time as your second post; I was not responding to it. I'm sorry if my words seemed insensitive. I would not for the world want to cause you to feel more pain and alienation. Yes, please express your opinion. I for one do not intend any reproach, nor do I feel offended. It's scary to say what you think when others don''t agree. I respect your honesty and courage.

    6. "I may not respect him but I respect you." Thank-you for that Phoenix. When we're all carrying such pain, I don't want anything to think they're not welcome here. What isn't welcome here is the bullying, gas lighting and lying. And, touch wood, it rarely shows its face on this site. I thank you all for keeping it that way.

  9. A bird has a right wing and a left wing but in the end it is an entire bird. I feel empathy for the wives. Either way a cheater would be placing his lying ass in a Lincoln bed. I just feel sorry for the wives. What is disturbing is this is seen as normal behavior to be swept under the rug. Either for Bill or Donald we know it takes more than an apology.

  10. Trump is not the first president elected with a history of womanizing. It's hard to understand the public acceptance of that, but here we are. Hillary may deserve our respect for how she has soldiered on in spite of great personal and public humiliation because of her husband’s cheating, but that really doesn’t have anything to do with elections and politics.

    1. dazed, this isn't about his womanizing, it is about his fundamental disrespect of women. I for one believe that one of the underlying forces of infidelity is disrespect of women, objectification of women, and using women. That is what Trump promotes and what hurts that fellow women won't stand up for others.

    2. What about JFK, Bill Clinton? They were just as guilty as Trump is in disrespecting and objectifying women, they just were more discreet than bombastic Trump. if we want to stand up and be heard, we have to go back to other powerful people who have also held mysigonistic views and habits, and not give them a pass. It's not just Trump! I might venture to add that Hillary can be a big trigger for some of us here as well. She has been aware of Bills infidelities since he was Governor, and probably before, but she has never publicly held him to accountability. She rug swept it and blamed the women, never Bill. They have worked it all out in a way that works for them. But many people look away, we need to be consistent in who we call out this, if we are going to be true to our womanhood.

    3. Dazed,
      Trust me, if JFK or Bill Clinton was vying for the presidency, we'd no doubt be discussing how triggering their casual infidelity was. But, as MBS pointed out, what makes Trump uniquely triggering is his behaviour that so closely follows the script of a cheater -- what I highlight in my post. The gas lighting, the bullying, the up-is-down/black-is-white lying. It's that alternate reality, that makes so many of us wonder if WE'RE the crazy ones, that's damaging even beyond the heartbreak of infidelity. And Trump personifies it on a large scale, making him the ideal exemplar of what to notice and fight back against.

  11. Thank you for taking this on, Elle. I have such PTSD watching Trump... a man who cheats, lies, trades people in. Never really apologizes, he's always right. He sounds like my ex, not this h, or I would have bailed already. Don't feel that way, what's wrong with you... I believed it much too long. Healthy people don't act like that. Smart people know. The rest will know soon enough.

  12. The morning after the election, I cried. It was a trigger for me, because Trump is not just a cheater. He is a cheater who had shown zero remorse and regret. He feels perfectly justified because it's all about HIM. Right and wrong, and other people's feelings, are insignificant.
    And it was the same feeling I had when I shouted at my husband: "Where is the JUSTICE? Why does she get to injure me and walk away, treat me like less than a person and be held blameless?" It was a primal cry from the bottom of my wounded heart. Are my feelings so insignificant?
    And so on Wednesday I walked around in a funk, feeling like "the villain wins again', surrounded by happy, self-satisfied people congratulating themselves for electing an immature, egocentric hate-monger. I live in Alabama, you know. Clinton never had a chance here. And I like and love these people! I felt so alone.
    I was angry at BOTH parties for nominating such divisive candidates. And I was depressed by the fact that I am surrounded by cheaters. The president elect. The governor. My beloved parents. My former husband and best friend. Does no one hold promises sacred, or honor the feelings of their spouse? Am I the only one who feels the sting and the bitterness, who hates this behavior SO MUCH?
    And of course, I'm not. All my BWC sistesr understand, no matter which way they lean politically. And by Thursday, I was able to emerge from my dark place and see hope. Hope that Trump won't be as bad as I think he is, or will at least restrain his more hateful behaviors. Hope that there will be sane, decent people in the government who will keep us track. Hope that this election was a temporary aberration. And that we will have candidates we can respect in the next election.
    Yes, Elle, it is a lesson to us. A lesson to set our boundaries and trust our instincts. In personal or political life, we should value and respect ourselves, stand up for ourselves unapologetically, and not allow ourselves to be manipulated or gaslighted. We are mature women who have learned hard lessons about the underbelly of human nature. May we take what we've learned and apply it wisely, for ourselves and our families.
    Thank you, Elle!

  13. Elle, thank you, once again. You have this uncanny and amazing ability to express exactly how I feel. I was deeply saddened by the election of Donald Trump. This was not about politics or policies; this was not about one party versus another; this was about hate and intolerance versus love and tolerance. And sadly, hate and intolerance won. For me, the parallels were not with my husband, nor my marriage, but with a former boss. ( and creepy friends of friends who came out on Facebook to say simply appalling things. People who just don't get it and strangely somehow condone it?) As a very young woman I began my career with this man. I remember the first time he ran his fingers up and down my back while giving me instruction as to a task I had to complete. I was 22, fresh off the farm, and Anita Hill had not come to light as of yet. As much as I did to try to avoid him, while I was employed with this company, it only got worse and worse - despite the fact that I reported him. He owned the company. What do you think happened? Had I had the knowledge, strength and government policies that exist now… Behind me then… I could've at least attempted to fight back. Yet I think, even now, with all the women coming forward in regards toTtrumps sexual assault… Many do not believe them. And of course, he did not stop there. My former boss, as well as Trump, cared for no one but themselves, going so far as making fun of others ... unacceptable, hateful behavior. My great sadness is the fact that approximately half of our country thinks that that is OK. It's not politics. It truly has nothing to do with politics. A man of hate and intolerance was somehow rewarded for this despicable behavior. After a few days of utter despair, I pulled myself together and decided I would do what I could to continue to spread light and love into my world. I will step up my volunteer service. I will continue to speak out against racism, intolerance and misogyny.
    Thank you Elle for getting it. And for knowing that we needed to hear from you ❤️

  14. My h has turned into such a DICK lately! Obviously he wasn't high on my list of favorite people when he told me he cheated but since then he has gone even lower in my estimation. He has these little breakthroughs and insight about what happened "you aren't the problem I am. It was all me it doesn't have anything to do with you" then all of a sudden he's back to blaming me. I WAS feeling really good about things. He was looking for a therapist and said he still loved me (even though he's not in love with me BULLSHIT!) and wanted to work it out. Now it's all "I'm tired of feeling bad all the time and I want to know when I'll feel better" less than TWO WEEKS after he cut off contact with the OW. SERIOUSLY?! Can I stab him? I'm so done. I hate him right now. We can get by together but if we split everything in half and divorce neither of us can make it on our own. I can't even begin to imagine what it will be like dividing our shared life in equal halves and then having to start again at 32 in someone's second bedroom with a cat and a broken heart. Why did this happen? Why is my idiot h so fucked up? And why can't he listen to me? I loved this quote from Elle from another post "Life would be so much better if people just did what we told them to do. We know what's best for them! But life doesn't work that way. We each get to make our own choices, even when those choices are stupid and hurtful and wrong." Because that is me right now. If only he would listen. He knows I'm right! But he can't. He's too up his own ass to figure out that if he'd STOP being angry and hiding behind that he could become who I know he has inside himself. He USED to be kind and caring and fun and happy. But he is CHOOSING to be a dick. I hope this is affair fog versus him actually being gone but I just don't know. I feel like he has poisoned his own mind into believing it's too late because it was a convenient excuse and now faced with the actual truth he can't accept that feelings aren't fact and that there is a way back. Can I just run him over for the life insurance and move on? ;-D

    1. Sad Shelby
      Two weeks and he flips back and forth on what he wants? What does it mean to say I love you but I'm not in love with you? My h has said to me that he may not ever love me the way I want him to but the truth is he is doing the things that show me his love. My h can't express emotions even though he's very sensitive and I see his tears when something touched his heart. That compassion for others is what got him into his affair in the first place. That and his midlife crisis. However, he's learning how to show compassion towards me and that makes a big difference! Your h apparently is still in the fog and hasn't realized that his behavior is stressing you which results in tensions between the two of you. When we were going through some very triggering months with my rage, there was a time my h almost walked away from us rather than towards us. Walking away felt easy compared to listening my anger and humiliating words. Since that last outburst, we have learned that the way to communicate had to change. It has and now both of us find it much easier to discuss our feelings even if it hurts. That's the honesty that has returned to our marriage. We can agree to disagree and move on. Just be patient with your man and yourself. This takes a lot longer than any of us thought it would and believe me it's one foot forward and two backwards for a lot of us! Be kind to yourself and it'll be easier to be kind to him. Which given what he chose to do isn't very easy to do. Hugs!

    2. Sad Shelby, I have been there too the I love you but I am not in love with you. What was really hard for me is that there is no control and no matter what I do, say, act like that will not control or change how my husband acts. I always felt like we were similar, lived a great life together etc. It was a real shock to hear everything on dday. It was hard to understand how he had lied to me for 10 years. It is still hard sometimes 20 months out. My husband on dday did not tell me everything since he was caught off guard and also did not know what he wanted. It took 5 months and dday 2 happened. It was really hard and worst than dday one since I felt more betrayed than ever. In his eyes he was trying to protect me. It was so bad but up until then he was keeping in too much still. And I knew it and kept pressing him. It was nothing new just he minimized how many years his affairs lasted etc. But it was enough he was not transparent and it was still taking a toll on him. Maybe something like that is going on or maybe the guilt and shame is wearing on him and this is how he acts out. My husband still struggles and apologizes even after we have been through a lot. He will always have to carry the burden of his decisions.

      I think it is important just as Elle says to make your next best decision. Is it that you want to work this out with him if possible. What can you do? See a therapist? If he won't go then you go by yourself. That is what I did and it was so valuable. Another thing is once we got past the initial shock of betrayal is focus on our marriage and communication. It was mainly me pressing the issue. He would have been happier initially just sweeping it all under the rug and pinky swearing to never do it again. But I had to press it. Another thing that helped me was to journal/take notes. When looking back I was able to see the changes. And my expectations are a lot higher now than they were on dday. I tell my husband that. He needs to know what I tolerated and accepted then is not okay now. And one last thing I realized through all of this is it will always be in the background and that in order at least for me to feel safe we will need to work at our marriage. We both feel less than great when we get busy or stressed. Hang in there!

    3. It definitely sounds like affair fog Sad Shelby. When my husband was still involved in his emotional affair, he pushed us down a track where he was trying to split up from me because of all the problems, he came to a point he didn't want things to turn around once he had the relief of deciding he wanted things to end between us. But he could not make that decision while still in angry, blame mode with the other person whispering sweet nothings in his ear. Even when he got a shock and realised how far he had gone down a track he didn't want to and wanted to stay, it still took months for him to properly come round and become, as you say, the man he could be. If its any help to your husband, mine is pleased with the more connected (with me, colleagues, friends, kids) kind of guy he is, he is able to create happiness and good times around him rather than be resentful towards the rest of us. He has taken up acting, something that he wanted to do for years and which is a better way of negotiating his difficult feelings and stresses. My husband went back talking to the OW nine months after D-day as he still, in his own words had not figured out what she meant to him, as in, what was she helping him with in his life. He says that was the key question that helped him move on and see things for what they really were. Your husband sounds like he is still filled with horrible feelings, towards life and himself. He is probably still projecting them on you. He needs a good counsellor or a commitment to exploring what has been missing inside him, what he needs to fill (in a healthy way) to be a man of integrity and positivity.

  15. This election has been a challenge for me. To me the voting and actual election are separate from how each candidate was portrayed, spoke, and has inspired their base. I will say I was unable to watch the debates and much of the news coverage. I honestly had to stop watching it.

    One thing I have learned from my husband's betrayal is no one knows what goes on behind closed doors with anyone. I had no idea and my husband lied to me for 10 years. My husband has been disgusted by the many statements Trump has made, his language and rhetoric towards Hillary, Meghan Kelly, Miss Universe, among many other women, his language used towards Americans whose heritage is from other countries. At times I find it hard since I think my husband was not that different. But he is now disgusted by this. It is hard for me to understand and process. My husband has made many changes to his lifestyle and the way he lives his life. I am giving him a second chance. I struggle with a person that has no insight and feels he can say these things and make excuses. It feels like I am getting lied to all over again. As for Hillary she has been through a lot but I find it sad that a man can do what he wants but then something she had no control over has been held against her. It makes me sad.

    The last thing I am going to say is I never knew much about infidelity until dday. It is a lot more common than I ever knew. I do worry about the general climate. This election hit a new low and I feel like normalizes this behavior. Women being described and made to feel negatively or assaulted is disgusting. All I know is the one tape that was played Billy Bush was fired from the Today show as a side participant but Donald Trump is going to be our president. My husband is still shocked that all of the Howard Stern shows he has been on have not come out.

    It inspires me to work harder for the right thing and to treat everyone with kindness. We have to have daily discussions with our kids based on the hate language they are hearing at school against kids that are US citizens but are told to go back to Mexico and Africa regularly. The Muslim Americans who are citizens that we know are also scared. These people are confronted regularly in public with people that are verbally abusive to them. One thing that stands out is racism and sexism is alive and very real for so many of our citizens.

    1. Hopeful 30, you and I have so many parallels in our lives. Did you ever post your story? I don't think I know it and would like to hear how you got here. I've posted mine a few times, never in the "correct" spot. I had an incredibly awful, painful meltdown the night before last directly related to the election and all the dirt. So many things to remind me of pain. I took a Mindfulness for Stress Reduction Class in March of this year and it was helpful. I continue to use yoga, meditation and self-talk to try to drag myself up and out of the hole when I start ruminating. I've had those conversations with my kids when they were growing up because we have a very diverse family. (Filipino, Korean, Mexican, African American and mixed race) My husband never wants to be "that guy" again and believes he has put many tools in his tool box to alert him to dangerous thoughts that led to his acting out. We have hard conversations that help me and last night he told me I was his "therapist". He also says he is disgusted about our new president and always was disgusted by men who cheated but when he felt powerless, the one thing he could control was sex. (insert 1,000 cuss words from me here) He is fairly sure it wont happen again. We have so much good intimacy now. I still have major trust issues. Going forward it helps that he and I are on the same page. Aloha and Peace

    2. Beach Girl, So good to hear from you! Yes I feel the same that there are a lot of parallels. I know I can relate to every one of your posts. I think I posted my story but it was probably on here before you entered the club since I am 20 months out.

      My husband and I met young in college, got married young (his doing, with no pushing from me at all, I was focused on my career), supported him through his education and training (mental health) both time wise and financially. I agreed to move where he had the career opportunity which meant limiting my career future. We had two kids (again I would say more him pushing this especially number 2). His first affair started when I was still pregnant with number 2. He was out of town with friends and one of his friends introduced him to a woman he had met before my husband got there. She pursued him all day and night and he went for it. She does not live near us so they only communicated sporadically. He only saw her/was with her three times in the 10 year relationship. They would email and text once in a while. He would go 6-12 months without hearing from her. And he never reached out to her. This is all what he is telling me. No idea why woman did this since it did not seem like she got much out of it. He has no idea. The second affair started three years after the first or maybe four years he cannot remember which year only that it was the fall. He was introduced to her by the same friend the same year the first affair started. She would find out where and when my husband would be places and show up. For 3-4 years he begged him for his number. The night the actual affair started she got dropped off where he was without a ride and got his number and got him to give her a ride home. And it just went on from there. This one was more local so they would see each other more often. It was still sporadic but I never got any real answer as to how often he saw her etc or how many times they were together. I get the feeling this was more of a relationship. But again not very clear. He did break up with her over a year before dday. Lots of more details, too many to write here but he just decided he was done.

      He also from his current admission watched too much porn but did not see it that way at the time. He had a fake email he would im women he met while playing online poker. He would message women on fb too.

      So overall this all lasted 10 years. He does not see it that way since he felt like the first affair ended after he had seen her the last time in person which was something like 6 years before dday. But I said no since they still had contact.

      Our first dday he lied to me about how long the affairs lasted and key details. I pressed him and more came out 5 months later for dday 2. He is a mental health provider and admitted from day one he knew better before he ever did it. He basically was selfish and lived a taker lifestyle. He drank too much and only worried about himself. He said once he did it it was a slippery slope and just got worse. I am sure he was depressed as he said he struggle to get out of bed each day and look himself in the mirror.

      I am sure I am leaving out a ton of details. The path has been long and bumpy!

  16. I am disappointed too that politics was brought into this site.

    Trump didn't rape people like Clinton did and have sex with an intern in the oval office, lie under oath, get disbarred as an attorney and impeached as a president. Not only that, but Hillary Clinton and the pressed made sure they made Paula Jones, Cathleen Willy and Juanita Broderick SUFFER for coming forward as whistle blowers.

    These women lived in fear for their lives and all three were Democrats.

    Clinton had to pay out over 850K to Jones in a settlement for his sexual assault on her.

    Clinton has cheated on Hillary with over 1000 women. She is THE most cheated on woman in America and how can any feminist vote for her.

    Therefore, there is no comparison b/t Trump and Clinton b/c Trump never raped and/or sexually assaulted women.

    Anne from VA.

    Since everyone put their two cents worth in, I decided too. I really hope you decide not to bring politics here.

    1. Agree. Keep politics out of it. No party has a monopoly on adultery or deceit.

    2. This isn't about politics. The entire post is about behaviour that many of us have experienced first-hand. The gas-lighting, the dismissal of our own experience, the sense of cavalier entitlement, the conviction that women are little more than bodies, or rather, pussies.
      I've heard from too many women who've found his public behaviour hits far too close to home.
      We can learn a lot by watching how he operates. And then we can strengthen our resolve to never, ever tolerate that in our private lives.

    3. And Anne...I'm not sure where you're getting your "news" but I would urge you to be a bit more skeptical about the source.



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