Monday, January 30, 2017

Cultivating Hope When All Feels Hopeless

Hope can kinda stupid in the face of betrayal. It can feel naive. Weak. Passive.
And yet, what do we have when we discover that the person we trusted most has betrayed that trust? What do we do with the pain?
We can become brittle with anger and bitterness. We can become numb from self-protection. We can turn that anger inward and become depressed and anxious.
Or we can hope. 
Not a passive cross-your-fingers kinda hope but a rolling-up-your-sleeves hope. The kind of hope that spurs us to seek help for our pain, that pushes us out of comfort zone to ask for support, that gives us the clear-eyed understanding that his bad behaviour doesn't define us. That his betrayal is not our shame to bear but his.
Hope that we will not only survive this but triumph over it, to become stronger and wiser. 
"What I’ve observed from my own struggles and those of others is that in order to be hopeful people, we must constantly work at it," wrote Robert Hardies recently in The Washington Post.  "...hope is like love. It’s not a once-and-for-all cure, it’s one of the most important ongoing spiritual projects of our lives. Hope is a journey. A difficult path through a beautiful and broken world."
Hardies, a Unitarian minister, goes on to offer up lessons he's learned in cultivating his own hope. And while they apply to our larger world, they work for us in our private pain too. To help us recognize the courage inside each of us to ignite a spark of hope. 
1. Start where you are and take one step at a time. Hopeful people, says Hardie, "take concrete action to make a difference, even if it’s a small difference."
What might this look like in your life. Does it involve making an appointment with a therapist? Maybe it means sharing your pain with a trusted friend. Perhaps it's a daily commitment to walk, trying to notice the beauty around you and remembering that all things are temporary, including pain. 
2. Cultivate a spiritual practice.
For some of us, this means a formal religion but it doesn't need to. A spiritual practice includes anything that takes you outside of your experience and reminds you that you are part of something large and mysterious. You might find your spirituality in a grand cathedral with stained glass windows, you might find it on a yoga mat, your might find it in a basement following the 12 steps. You might find it in literature or music or in handing out lunch at a soup kitchen. The important thing is to connect yourself to something bigger than you, something that reminds you that you are only a small part of this world but that without you, the world loses some of its lustre. 
3. Don’t make the journey alone. "We need companions for the journey of hope," says Hardie  "The hopeful people are the together people. We’re on this journey together."
It's no coincidence that so much healing takes place in this rag-tag club of betrayed wives. It's because hope is contagious. When hope is extended to others by way of affirming each other's pain, through sharing hard-won wisdom, through laughing together, through crying together, through rooting for each others' healing, it grows in each of us. If she can do it, we come to believe, then I can too. If healing is possible for others, then it's possible for me too. 
And it is possible. It is even probable when you practice roll-up-your-sleeves hope. When you refuse to accept defeat as an option. Betrayal will bring you to your knees. Rest there as hope takes root. And then rise again. 

45 comments:

  1. Hello Sisters,

    So last week at IC I told my psychologist that something had shifted and I was feeling more positive and dare I say it.... happy with myself (definitely just myself because my marriage is not on a reconciliation path)than I had in a very
    long time. After 19 months of darkness sometimes with only faith and hope to go on this process finally genuinely feels fruitful. That things between my head heart and spirit are connecting in a way that feels..... dare I say it ..... like healing! Although, of course I have a long way to go, but I feel that I can make it now. For so so many months I thought I'm not going to make it.... and it truly was through little acts of hope and faith that made all the difference. Going for a walk, snuggle my dog, meditation when I want to stay in bed, therapy even when it is scary and $, excerise even just for the temporary endorphins, sleep, drinking water instead of too much wine, learning and practice self compassion, speaking shame, the sisters on this site lighting the way! The faith and hope that if I stay through the pain and darkness (don't run, don't shut down, don't armor) lean in, the my dawn will come too just like it has for so many sisters here!!! I used to read posts from sisters much further along the journey and think " oh God, will that ever be me?"

    There are some new sisters here, I have read your stories and sent you energy of love and hugs. Please dear ones embrace yourself- when it is dark and you feel alone, hug yourself and know your dawn will also come! Let your tears out, hold your head high and take one step at a time. No matter what happens to your marriage, you can find your way home to yourself and I promise you will love yourself when you get there. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, don't worry I didn't either. feel my through..... self love.... stay with the pain... what the???? Just keep reading, think from your heart space, and then stop thinking and feel from your heart space and one day these things will start to make some sense!

    Most importantly remember you are not alone! All your sisters here love and support you and know exactly how much it hurts and exactly why you still love your H! No matter what happens to your marriage, you have a path to healing and a little hope can carry you a very long way!!

    Elle, thank you for this beautiful amazing site!! I would have been lost and alone without it!! I am eternally grateful.

    Love and support sisters
    Becky

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    1. I'm so happy for you Becky. I remember a specific moment when I reached the point you're at -- when I could finally imagine a way out of the darkness. I was walking my dogs on a sunny winter day and I was trying to focus on what was around me instead of the apocalyptic chatter in my head. I watched as the white white snow twinkled in the sunshine. It was beautiful and took me out of my pain for an instant. And that was all it took. For an instant, I saw a crack in the darkness and a sliver of light got in. And that made me realize it was possible for that sliver to grow. The rest is history, most of it written on this site. ;)
      So yes, Becky, I think you're there too. Keep doing what you're doing, which is caring for yourself, respecting yourself, nurturing yourself and learning to love yourself. Because I daresay you're coming to recognize just how lovable you are.

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    2. Becky, I can feel the glow of your light from here! I so feel where you are, am on the same path, I feel like we've walked parallel for some time. And the light breaks through.
      "If healing is possible for others, then it's possible for me too." Yes for each of us. And each of us that shows up here gives and receives in equal, uncalculated measure.
      And Elle, I picture you walking your dogs in the snow. You were all on your own, forging a path with your steps that makes it just a bit easier for each of us that follow you through the knee deep snow.

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    3. SS,
      I love that image. That behind me, even if I didn't yet know it, was an army of women who had my back.

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    4. Becky, your post made my day! I am thrilled for you. It's been 13 months since DD and I'm slowly finding my way up and out of the deepest despair I've ever experienced. This site has been one of the things that has helped me through. Not all days are hard any more and my marriage is on its way to being stronger every day. This site, the women here...bring me hope that I'll find my happy again. It's on the surface just waiting to emerge. But I realize that only "I" can make me and my life happy. But I hope that every day will get better and better. I've truly come a long way in these 13 months on a journey I didn't want to go on, but without the hope from others before me did I have the strength to go on.

      I am so happy for you, Becky! I actually felt your happy through my computer and I smiled. And thanks for the love and support. It means a lot.

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    5. Thank you Sisters,

      I think we all learn that this journey often includes some hard fought battles with ourselves. Let's never give up the high ground where hope is always there to give us reinforcements!!

      Love and support sisters
      Becky

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    6. Becky, you are amazing. We've been walking together on this road for some time now, and it makes my heart so glad to hear your words of hope, to know that you are on the path to healing. You are such a strong and beautiful person. Thank you for your positive message!

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    7. Hi Phoenix - yes, we have been walking together for quite a while and your faith and courage have often given me hope! Thank you for your support and kindness. Lots of love to you and your girls!!

      Becky

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  2. Becky, thank you for showing me a light at the end! Your words are inspiring. I am wishing you light and love all around you.

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  3. I felt much more hopeful at the start of the New Year. Today, at the end of the trigger month (3 years now since the D-day1 month of panic and pain) I feel washed out and low again. My husband does what he is capable of, mainly practical actions to help out but I had hoped for more heartfelt declarations (or any!) one the couple of key trigger days (which he did know about). I say what I need - to fill the hole where it looked like he was all about her and hated me, to acknowledge that he is happy to be with me, that he values me and so on. But he says that he is not good with words, that he does say things but I don't think they are the right things (yes, I say they are generic, not personal, he talks about me 'having a tough time' rather than say something loving. He has always been argumentative and we seem to end up having a conversation about conversing and what was said, and why he can't say things and didn't he do x, y, z last time. I end up all jumbled and not knowing if what I am asking for is 'too much'. I know that I may be too needy. I know I need to build myself up after both his emotional affair and the verbal aggression that comes from my son's condition. Sometimes I just think we'd be better off as friends. I know I still have a lot of growing up to do and so does my husband. I feel confident and vigourous when interacting with others, friends, and my other three children. But with my husband and son, I often feel I am so often at cross purposes and very addled and not the best person I can be. I need to figure out if is me and the way I am (I can be a bit panicky and reactive) and if I can do something about it or am I trying to get honey out of a dead hive (the marriage). Sometimes it seems far too much trouble than it's worth. I want to keep us together while the children are still here (youngest nine) but sometimes I feel it would be better just to be amiable parents not romantic partners. Husband says we can only decide from now what we have and to forget about the past where there were a lot of issues even before the affair. But the new phase is only beginning and the dead weight of the disloyalty still holds us back. There is lots of good but I just don't know if it's enough. Any advice from others who've felt the same way?

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    1. FOH,
      Let's start with a couple of things: You are not "too" needy. You need something from him that he is perfectly capable of giving you (even if it's hard, even if he doesn't realize he's capable yet). This is perfectly normal after such a deep betrayal. But it sounds as if he's just not there yet. It sounds as if you're both bogged down by disappointment in the way you each interact. He thinks he can't ever get it quite right so it's easier to not try than disappoint you again. You anticipate disappointment and have a script in your head of what you need to hear so his actual words are rarely going to match.
      Do you two see a counsellor? If not, this is something a counsellor could help with. Our counsellor literally gave my husband a script. She pointed out to him that his generic "there, there, everything is going to be okay" was not exactly helpful and that what I needed to hear was specific reassurance that he would do everything in his power to not hurt me again. I believe the script went something like this: "I am so sorry for the pain I've caused and I am trying really hard to make sure I don't go down that path again because I never want to hurt you like that." And then my husband talked about how awful it was for him to see the pain in my eyes and that he would hate to see that again. At first, it feels artificial because it's not his natural way of talking. But with time, he absorbed the words and began to realize that he did have the ability to diffuse a situation simply by saying what he honestly felt but in a way that I needed to hear it.
      In the meantime though, Fragments of Hope, your reactivity and anxiety is something for you to address. So while he's dealing with his stuff, you need to focus on yours (again, are either of you in counselling?). Consider trying meditation, which is a great skill to help us not be so reactive and to teach us that anxiety will crest and then fall, just like every other feeling. It can give us the space we need to just feel the feeing and then respond intentionally (or not respond, if we choose) rather than react.
      If there's "lots of good", then you can build on that. If you genuinely are ready to leave, then that's perfectly okay too. But it sounds to me as if you're in a valley right now and that you both want this to work, you just don't have the roadmap you need.
      There was a book floating around, something about Love Languages. I didn't read it but a lot of my friends did and said it helped them understand how their spouse "talked" to them. By changing the oil in the car, by buying gifts, by being affectionate, etc. Words are tough for some guys (and women).
      In any case, this isn't just your problem, FOH. Feeling anxious and disappointed and reactive is pretty normal, under the circumstances. But it does get in the way of your own healing and makes it a bit of minefield for your partner. It can shut others down because they're so afraid of making a mistake and making things worse. But by shutting down, it triggers our anxiety even more.
      Think about it. Parse out what you need to focus on in yourself (ie. what you can control and what you cannot control) and ask him to spend some time trying to shift how he responds to your pain. It can help to liken our condition post-betrayal to someone who's been terribly injured. We don't tell the injured person what they need, we pay attention to where it hurts and respond to what they need. Post-betrayal is post-trauma. We're wounded.

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    2. Elle
      Wounded! That's what happens over and over when I see that person drive by our home! I feel wounded and she's slowly pulling that bandage off one more time! Dealing with this continual pain weakens my soul! I come here and read this post of hope and get filled with strength! I read that Becky has found some light through her darkness! More strength! I read Fragments still has struggles. I want to give her some strength and peace of mind. My h has the volcalbulary of a third grader when it comes to discussing feelings! And through all this messed up scrambled up tornado of emotions, you give us all hope! Thanks!

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    3. Theresa,
      I'm so sorry this person continues to insert herself into your life. It's pathetic and sad for everyone, including her. What a way to spend your life. What wasted time. I hope she'll wake up soon. And I wish you the strength and peace of mind to keep focussed on your own richer life.

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    4. FOH, sometimes my husband does not express in words what I need to hear either. He has said, many times when I need to hear it (and will do so as long as it takes:), that he never wants to hurt me like he did. Sending you a hug, some strength, and hope that you can take care of yourself during this struggle you're having.

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    5. Thank you Elle for your generous, helpful and thoughtful responses and to Theresa, Feeling Lost and the other ladies sending their good wishes and sharing their stories. We must have read every book because my husband said the other day 'I know I'm not speaking your Love language' so yes we know and to hear you other ladies say that your husbands struggle with saying the right words was helpful, even though I feel frustration for all of us, Theresa 'the vocabulary of a third grader!' made me laugh, even though I know how we wish this was different! As I've mentioned before, I'm a writer, words are my thing! We are not in counselling Elle, we went for a while at the start but probably not long enough. Coincidentally I've just started doing some meditation, so maybe I'm on the right track. It's probably not a good time to judge the situation when in the trigger zone. Thanks for giving me some clarity and perspective.

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    6. Theresa, I don't know if this will help you but I found Steven Stosny's (Living and Loving After Betrayal)really great. There is a key exercise where he helps you to practice linking positive thoughts about yourself and your values with triggering and upsetting incidents. This woman's drive by is a repeating trigger, so it's reinforcing your feelings of helplessness and anger, you are washed over with these sensations every time. By associating some of my most upsetting incidents with images of myself acting in ways that were strong, loving, kind, appreciative of nature and so on it really has helped. Now when a trigger occurs it brings to mind the good stuff about me, more so than the horror of my husband and the OW. Its harder when the thing keeps happening as in your case but when I hear how you feel it 'weakens your soul' it made me think that Stosny's technique might help. He gets us to think of our best kind, strong, appreciative and spiritual (whatever that means in your life) selves. He helps us replenish our sense of core value and strength. The technique is repeated over and over so it becomes automatic. Either way, I wish you strength too over this!

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    7. FOH, I think Elle's advice is excellent. I think for us it really was two pronged. We both needed to work on ourselves. I had to face all of the disappointment, sadness, hurt and pain. He had a lot more work to do facing all of that plus letting me down, plus changing how he lived many aspects of his life. Then I would say since about 15-18 months past dday it has been more about us. His issues I would say still come up since they are connected and come out from time to time. I think though as we got to 18 months past dday we had a major discussion since at that time I needed more. After dday his efforts were good but once we had more time under our belts I really needed him to step up more. Also I found as we were past our weekly talks it left me feeling like I was floundering. So we have made an effort to still talk but more focused on us and our marriage now. That has helped me a lot.

      We did take the love language quiz online and my kids did too. So we looked at it more as a family. To me it was all obvious but I think it allows people to see how they interact with each other and to not feel disappointed if someone is not giving them what they need. My kids have total opposite 1 and 5 languages. It was very useful for them to see that. As kids being egocentric and wanting what they want they can see why each other is the way they are.

      In the end it has just taken me time. My therapist said that my husband had to deal with and basically accommodate any of my needs or requests. Of course he suggested finding a positive way to interact but if that meant no golfing or hanging out with friends for two years then that is what it takes. Basically he said he has had a lifetime of trust and getting to do what he wanted and he was the one that ruined it and gave it up. So now if he wants this to work between us then he will have to sacrifice. In time things will loosen up but really it is up to us. I found talking with my husband in as neutral/non emotional way helped him process. If I am emotional, upset or crying he shuts down. Even more so with this topic since he feels he is the cause of it all which he is.

      Coming on here is excellent but if you are feeling stuck at all or like you need more help I think a therapist is so helpful. It was my lifeline and gave me the courage to be more assertive and speak up for myself. It was the best decision I made.

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    8. Fragments of hope
      I understand those feelings well. I too have confidence when I'm around my children and friends. I feel like me. The me that isn't needy as you feel.? I feel overly needy with regards to my h as well. If he could pursue another woman chase her for sex, by God I deserve some of that kind of attention too. Not realistic in our relationship. We've been together too long for romantic games. My h chased me in our dating years. We were together since I was 15. I told him to take a hike several times in those dating years. However, he could always sweet talk his way back into my life then. He had the right words as a desparate teenager. In the early months post dday, he found the right words to give me hope to continue our marriage. Now, his words have dried up again. We discuss the foods we eat. I still do most of the shopping cooking and cleaning. He still works, I'm retired. We are finding new things to do together but the easy banter and teasing we used to share is strained. His fear of triggering me. That's happened several times. While I'm not having the stress you have with your son, I'm stressing through the care of dementia with my mother. These stresses add tension to an already stressed marriage. It takes work everyday to keep the peace. I love my h but there are also times when I can't stand to be in the same space with him. I reflect back and I realize there were always those kinds of feelings in the past as well. They aren't directly caused by the affair. Just part of the day to day stress of marriage no matter how good a marriage is. Usually I can get through these stressful days digging dirt/weeds in my garden. Or lose myself in a watercolor painting. But sometimes, I just have to let it out in tears. Like you, I'm hopeful with time this gets easier. Hugs!

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    9. FOH,
      My husband gets really frustrated with my ability to express myself so I wonder if it's similar with your husband. When we have such facility with words, it can be intimidating. My husband feels as though he can't find the right words and then I pounce because I'm soooo precise in my own words. It has taken us time to just go easy on each other, to realize that we both, ultimately, want the same thing. WE just have different speeds on getting there.

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    10. Elle
      I like that! We have different speeds on getting there!

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    11. You have nailed it exactly Elle! My husband does feel intimidated and that he will make a mistake with the words or use the wrong ones. He says just that! I guess I'm not much good at fixing engines or writing software but I'm not under fire for that!

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    12. Hopeful 30, thanks, really great points there, my husband shuts down too with the emotion and he does feel really bad about it. Interesting to hear about doing love languages as a family, I think it would benefit my kids too to look at getting on as taking other's perspectives.

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    13. Theresa, thanks for the lovely comment above. My husband chased me too, at the start (we met, he was 19, I, 20)and it wasn't plain sailing at the start either, we were friends, then dating, then I moved across the country and said we should leave it for a while etc etc. As you say, real relationships have a lot of normal and feeling irritated etc as well as long term closeness. And yes, the stresses add to tension between people and its been a rough few years outside the affair. It's good to hear your perspective on it all, it really helps.

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  4. Hope has always been such a huge part of my life. After dday I feel like my concept of hope changed. At first there was none. But slowly I am developing the hope again. Not the naive hope I had before, but the gritty, hard work hope. The whole process scares me to death. Because it makes me face some real issues within myself that have been there for a long time. I find my happiness in the small things now, becauSe somedays that's the only place it is. Thank you ladies for your beautiful and encouraging words. I find relief in knowing there is a light at the end of this tunnel

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    1. Katie P,
      I too found (and find!) happiness in small things. But they're not small things. For instance, I bought myself tulips a week ago. Cost me $5 at the grocery store. But they make me smile every single time I walk into my home and see them on the hall table. Small thing but one that contributes to something bigger -- an ability to find light in the dark. You keep doing that and you'll discover something amazing. A gratitude for where you are, even as it hurts to be there.

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    2. Katie P,
      I am scared to death of this process too. Sometimes it really helps me to just admit how scared I am! I have a way of looking at those little things you mention that is new for me. I recently read about the differences between joy and happiness. Happiness is dependent on your present circumstances, but joy is not. Being "happy" is difficult to manage and balance. It kind of comes and goes and is tied to so many other factors. Joy, however, is always there. You don't always see it or feel it, but it is all around in all those little things if you look for them. For me, at my very lowest, most desperate, darkest moment I saw a blue jay out of nowhere hopping along the ground and I felt joy. It was the strangest feeling to be so sad and feel joy at seeing this neat-looking creature at the same time. I was far from happy, but I felt joy! When I'm so scared this truth helps me. No matter what I face in the future or how unhappy I may find myself, I can look for joy and I know I will find it. It will sustain me until I can feel happy again. If I do anything to numb the pain, I will numb joy at the same time and could miss some of these little things. Feeling the pain and caring for myself while looking for joy is the only way forward for me.

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    3. I agree with Elle, Kate, the small things are not just small, they are restorative and wonderful. I've recently taken up photographing elements of nature very close up or checking out art and websites (such as Colossal) that celebrate people's beautiful unique artistic achievements. I find it so restorative. Appreciation of nature, other relationships, the way the light comes through the window, a great song or movie, everything helps!

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  5. Maiden of the shieldJanuary 31, 2017 at 7:35 AM

    I like the way you talk about different kinds of hope. Rather than a passive hope an active hope. Because nothing comes without work. This post in particular is sticking with me. Thank you for the perspective


    This is really hard work. Every single day is a struggle.


    Hope is there.....


    I hope....



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    1. Maiden,
      Yes, hope is there. But don't make it something else to force. Hope emerges, I think, when we create space for all our emotions. Mixed in with the despair and anger and the pain will be hope. And when you allow yourself to feel everything, the dark won't eclipse the light. So cry when you're sad, punch a pillow when you're furious, write your feelings when you're confused. And notice when hope shows itself. Invite it in further.

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  6. Such a timely post as usual. Over the past couple of weeks I've posted a few times and each time I've felt strong and hopeful about life in my marriage. At 19 months out I am still surprised by the depth and intensity of the pain I feel when I get triggered. The other night my husband and I watched a show about Hawaiian musicians and the scenery of Oahu triggered us both. I said nothing but felt myself being sucked down into the vortex of pain and tears. When we were in bed my husband held me and said, "I am so sorry for the pain I caused you and the hurt I caused you and the pain I caused our marriage. I will never do that again. I love you so much and I am so grateful you are still with me." That told me he was also triggered. I slept little that night and the next day I woke up crying and cried all day. The physical pain in my chest was so intense I thought I was having a heart attack. We talked about it a little bit when I could talk and I told him he had defaced the place I loved the most in the world. Watching the scenes in Oahu brought up pain, shame and regret for him too. He said we did not have to go to Hawaii again if it caused me pain. He said I did not deserve this and he apologized again. This dark gray place I live in doesn't help my mood. Anyway, I continue to read uplifting posts and try to control the monkey in my head. Like Hopeful 30, I've asked myself if I would have stayed if I did not have children/grandchildren and I believe the answer would have been "no". I am still here however and my kids/grandkids/family and friends still think of my husband as a saint and all around good-guy because only my best friend knows some of the truth. I love him but find myself thinking about my life without him. Unfortunately, I know the pain of this will always be in my body regardless of if he is dead or alive but the days between extreme sadness and despair and happiness and anticipation of good things are getting further apart. We are having many good times together but when I look at him I know exactly what he did and what he is capable of doing again even if he promises me he will never do those things again and that he will never hurt me like that again. He made those promises once before so we are on our last chance journey. I know I will be OK but I never anticipated anything like this in my life. The sun is out and it is 29 degrees. Maybe I will take a walk. Peace and love to you all.

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    1. Beach Girl,
      As painful as those experiences are, I do think that, as you express that pain and move through it, it takes you further toward healing. It's so hard to believe but you won't always feel this way about that scenery and that place. You might come to, some day, reclaim it.

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    2. I havent been back to my favorite place in awhile and not at all since a ddayear where I learned he took her there one weekend this is not just our destination but where I spent family time as a kid. We toggle with going there i fear I might be triggered to give it up and ban it forever feels like a loss too ... afterall like my H and my favorite spot it has always been my she was just a temporary fixture and could have been anyone! But still the hurt shes been to my favorite place and done an activity we did together burns. Asshole ... it makes me mad to he was there last with her .. but whatever it sacked anyways everything that could go wrong did on their weekend away. Ha! Karma?

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  7. Maiden of the shieldJanuary 31, 2017 at 11:07 AM

    You seem to have the perfect words for me today Elle.

    I am in a place where moving forward is more of a goal than striking back. But that's not to say the urge isn't there. Daily I fight the urge to lash out. Most days now tho it's just an urge and it passes. Some days it's stronger and harder to shake off and focus.

    Today I am just taking life for what it is right now, in this moment.

    I am learning that when the switch gets flipped and the anger and hurt and desperation take over, that those are feelings that are not for today. And the fact that I can even say that gives me hope. Not hope for a happy fairytale ending, but hope for myself. Maybe I will one day be able to carry this scar without it crushing me and defining me.

    One day I hope that I look back at myself right now and give myself a big pat on the back for not giving up.

    Today I can say with certainty that I know this was not my fault. I cannot say I feel beautiful or confident... I cannot say that everything is going to be alright. I can say that I have surprised myself and am proud of myself for being stronger than I ever thought I could be.

    So I guess hope finds a way to make its presence known.


    Namaste


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    1. Maiden, That's a really incredible thing to notice -- that those feelings are about the past, not the present. And that, by holding back on lashing out, you're reclaiming control.
      You will one day carry the scar but it won't crush you or define you. It will be something that happened to you. Something that you had the strength and the wisdom to survive.
      Start today by giving yourself that pat on the back. None of this is easy. But you're handling it with dignity and courage.

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  8. I feel like many times I have to make the choice for hope. I have always by nature been a very optimistic person. I would say this betrayal has made me more skeptical but not pessimistic. I try to keep that perspective and move towards optimism as much as possible.

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    1. I would describe myself the same way. I was an optimist -- even ridiculously so. Now, I'm a skeptical optimist. People need to work a bit harder for my loyalty.

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    2. Same ladies ... i recall earlier on telling myself this sucks it's bad but somehow someway it could always be worse. Staying in the day helps now that I have better wits to focus. Still ups and downs but as long as I see efforts from us both .. im still here.

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  9. This was exactly what I needed to read at this moment. Crying and feeling so lost and rejected after yet another mealy-mouthed non-conversation with my h who still (five months on) "can't decide" whether to stay or leave. Hope, which had been my one link to calmness, was flickering low. Elle's post, Becky's encouraging update and all your comments have lifted me up again. I don't feel so lonely any more. I'm still very sad, but I also have tulips on my kitchen table (and a few little shoots poking up in a pot outside).

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    1. Selkie,
      What do YOU want right now? Why are you continuing to give him five MONTHS to decide if he wants to stay?What, exactly, is he doing to help with his decision? What is he waiting for? And what are YOU waiting for?
      I can't help but worry that you've handed over your power and your agency to him. YOU get to decide what happens. If he can't figure it out, then maybe he needs a little push off that fence. If you're letting him stay out of fear, then that's only setting you up for a fearful position in your marriage. You can't control him, Selkie, but you can control you. And you deserve much more consideration and respect than this. Hope isn't about crossing your fingers and waiting. It's really about creating the circumstances to help bring about what you want in life.
      Of course, you're lonely and of course, you're sad. And I don't want to bring you down. I just want you to fight like hell for yourself. You are a loyal wonderful wife who deserves so much better than this.

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    2. Selkie 3 to 5 mo my h was also in the fog and i numb a deer in headlights I had enough give a shit about us and show it or lose it all! Worked on it daily lots of ups and downs id say it was at least 7 mo before it looked up and said I'm an idiot everything I wanted is here and then we began to walk slowly together before then I felt exactly like you. Listen to ur heart or sit idle until u feel u know the next right step without a participating husband things might be damn right impossible or at least they feel that way. Been there done that and u have a choice and voice everyday even if at first it feels uncomfortable... maybe if unsure take focus off him do you ... a pedicure a walk something!!! I'm rooting for u and at 21mo and just beginning to feel alot like me but also new and still dips in road. U get to decide

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  10. Hope. I desperately need it. I feel so stuck in this pain, sadness and anxiety. I want to so much to rise above it so I left home today to stay at my moms and give him and I a break from this darkness I feel stuck in. I went to the Dr and asked for wellbutrin and xanax to hold me over til the wellbutrin kicks in. I am so stuck and want to unstick so I can begin to heal. He is trying but my vision is blurred by the pain and it feels like it's not enough, and the cycle continues. A cycle I want to break. We both have work to do and me taking this step is a start. While I feel so sad at taking this step, I know it was what I needed to do for my salvation. He wept when I left and asked me to stay but I know in my heart I had to leave. Im going to therapy today as well. I hope she can give me some guideance to help me move forward to a more optimistic reality with or without him. All I know right now is anxiety and sadness and I'm so over that. I miss who I used to be and long to feel joy again.

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    1. Olive Mee, I'm so sorry for all the pain and darkness and anxiety. Can you imagine for yourself, that all of us here are standing around you holding you up? Lean back, we've got you.
      What a brave, brave woman you are to decide to leave, even just for a while, to take the space you need to begin to think about recovery, whatever that may look like. Bravo for putting yourself and your needs first. That takes incredible strength and courage.
      On your anxiety and sadness, please give yourself time and space to feel it, sit with it, experience it and let it works its way out of your body. Move slowly, be gentle with yourself. Meditate, walk, breathe but don't fight those uncomfortable feelings. You are having them for a reason. What wisdom do they have for you? Feeling them all the way through, grieving all the way through is the path to healing. Be as kind as you can with yourself, they way you'd treat your dearest friend if she were going through this. Much love, SS

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    2. Olive Mee,

      I think we are in a similar spot. I too have been on sleeping pills for 3 months and finally caved and started bupropion and can't wait for it to kick in. CH has been doing all the right things: asked for forgiveness, took accountability, going to IC/MC, cried with me, etc. However, he has also broken my trust a few times since dday. And the betrayal was big & complicated. So I am still crying and in pain every day. I also realize at some point seeing me like this every day is going to hit a tipping point for one or both of us. I was one of the strongest got your $h!t people together I knew and it is what made me love myself and attracted my husband to me in the first place. Unfortunately as he started having his own issues my success also became the thing that made him feel inferior to me. Now after dday I am a shell of who I was. I don't know the person looking back at me in the mirror.

      I think I am finally beginning to have a deeper understanding from all these amazing women on here who advise us to take care of ourselves first. I have always put myself last. Putting myself first in this recovery has not been a priority for me yet. Try to take a walk, find one friend you can confide in, see your IC, take the meds, do nice things for yourself, pray. I know it's easier said than done (I am right there with you). I hope I can get to a day where I no longer physically feel my heart broken in two.

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  11. Still Standing and Brown eyed girl. I can't thank you enough for your up lifting words and loving support. It was nice to be at mom's. She gave me space when I needed it and hugged me while I cried. I spent a few days in bed thinking and reading and it was good medicine. I tried welbutrin with no success. It made me feel worse than I did but I realized that I don't really need it. I know my anxiety comes from the uncertainty of the future of my marriage and I realize that I will/can survive without him. My therapist really focused on that fact...that I am much stronger than I give myself credit for. I also now know that he is going through midlife so I did much reading today about it. I had no idea men experience midlife so differently than women and all the things he's been expressing to me about his confusion and the "black hole" he feels he's in puts all the disconnect and recent bullshit in a whole different light. Makes me feel empowered somehow. He's been asking me to come home everyday and this pasted weekend we had a good time together. We went wine tasting on saturday and I came home on Sunday and we did stuff around the house which is something we enjoy doing together. Yesterday at cc the therapist said "you can't work on the marriage and with each other if you aren't home" so I came home. It's been a peaceful few days. He's been more present and it's nice. I just have to learn to be me again and feel comfortable doing that around him...not worry whether he approves or not. I'm actually going out to get my hair cut in a few cause I need it bad and I'm happy to be doing it. One day, one moment at a time. Love to you all

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