Friday, January 20, 2017

You'll never get over this. And that's a good thing.

I was never going to get over the pain of betrayal. Not because I didn't want to. But because I couldn't fathom a day when the constant gnawing pain of what my husband did wouldn't be part of me. I imagined it would lessen, sure. But like a long-ago injury, I figured it would remain at the very least a dull ache. Worse on some days than others. But never ever gone.
It's a common fear. That the pain we feel in the wake of betrayal will be something we carry with us forever. And, I suppose, in some ways it is. It does stay with us. But not in the way we imagine.
It stays with us each time we hear about a woman discovering a partner's affair. In that moment, we know her pain in a way that we wouldn't have understood before it happened to us. In that moment, we can reach out to her and take her hand in a way we wouldn't have been able to before. To assure her that she's going to be okay. That she did nothing to deserve this betrayal. That, no matter what happens to her marriage, she is worth fighting for.
It stays with us in the way we remember to never take things for granted. In the way we're able to appreciate the joy in our lives because we never expected to feel that way again. Not ever. So it's sweeter for being unexpected. Sweeter for knowing it won't last. We now know that no feeling lasts forever. Not hurt. Not joy.
It stays with us at weddings when we see wide-eyed couples blithely promise each other that they will forsake all others. We remember that we said those things too. We probably even meant them, if we'd really thought them through. But we know now that promises get broken. That marriage isn't about what was promised that day but the promises we make to each other every day that follows. Promises backed up by hard choices.
It stays with us at funerals when we see, more clearly than at almost any other time, that it's our relationships with those who love us that matters more than anything else. Nobody's sports car shows up at the funeral. Nobody's bank account shows up, or the credentials at the end of their name. What shows up are the people to whom you mattered. The people whose lives will be emptier for the loss of you.
The pain of betrayal shows up when life knocks us down. When we don't get the job. When we're ignored or rejected. When we put on weight. When we get the diagnosis. When we feel stupid for trying. For a moment, we give in to those old beliefs: We're unlovable. We're not enough. Good things are for other people. But then we're reminded of us what betrayal taught us as we healed from its devastation. That we're so much stronger than we ever knew. That we have always been worthy, always been enough, have always deserved good things. That another's inability to see our value is their failure, not ours.
I'm "over this" in that I don't awake with a knot in my stomach and a dread of the day ahead. I'm "over it" in that I don't fantasize about my husband's death or the brutal murder of the OW. I'm "over it" in that I don't often think about the betrayal itself. But what the betrayal taught me is with me always. I carry those lessons in my heart and they are as much as part of me as what I've learned from being a parent or a daughter or a friend.
I will never stop being a betrayed wife. It's not the whole of who I am but healing from that pain cannot be separated from who I am. There is no part of me where the pain stopped and the old unbetrayed me remained.
I laugh again in a way I never thought I could. I have fun and feel good and celebrate my life in a way I never thought I could.
But I also remember in a way that I always will. I remember that people I love can profoundly disappoint me. I remember that I can only ever control myself and that's all I've ever been able to control, despite my beliefs to the contrary. I remember that I have a deep reservoir of strength that will get me through and that, when it's almost depleted, there is an army of women who will hold me up until I can fight for myself again.
I will never get over that because it was so unexpected – this anonymous support from some women I hardly knew and others I've never met. And it's one of the great lessons of my life.

53 comments:

  1. Elle that is simply beautiful and it made me cry like a happy ending at the movie. You really are something and I never say that about anyone.

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  2. Elle, I feel like you wrote that to me.

    10 weeks out and that is the #1 thing I am struggling with. We are making progress as a couple (although it is generally a 2 steps forward and one step back pattern). And me as an individual to a lesser degree. I haven't had a day yet that I don't think about some aspect of his A's and try to process how he could participate in knowingly hurting me so willingly. I long for a day when I don't think about it.

    We are going to a retreat for broken marriages this weekend - we leave tonight. I hear so many wonderful testimonials about the long term outcome, but also that tomorrow is going to be very hard - someone told me not to wear mascara. I do think H is recommitted to our marriage now and go forward. In order to do that, I need to stop perseverating on the A and he needs to realize he needs to work on understanding his motivations more. I just can't - I don't WNAT to think about it - I just do.

    There is a clear pattern of his looking outside our marriage when he had a job loss, risk of job loss or the death of a close relative. A clear pattern of him badmouthing me to his mother and the OW. Lack of positive influences. Drug and alcohol use. He has only scratched the surface on how much HE contributed to my reactions to him that lead to us not speaking each others love or apology language often enough for so many years.

    He says the OW spoke his love language (appreciation & sex). And because of that he thought he loved her. I know that isn't love: never in the same physical location, only communicating via email, cheating, complaining about your spouse, sexting, never dealing with real life. But even now in retrospect 7 years after they had their last face to face conversation he thinks he loved her. The MC tried t tell him that it was lust, not love. That is the #1 thing I am stuck on - I can't get past that. All the beautiful love letters he wrote me all things I did foe him/us. And he thinks he loved someone else just because they wrote him superfluous emails. So all I have to do is send him emails about how awesome he is and how much I want to do him and he will love me? I can stop being a real wife who shows love by real life actions?

    I hope by the time my children get married (they are only 11 & 14) that I will be willing to go to a wedding. We recently got invited to one and I know my H wants to go because the groom is a friend. Maybe I should let him go alone. Right now I feel so jaded about marriage vows (we renewed ours after the A (I was clueless that there was an A) and a year and a half later he reconnected with her (but thankfully had ED). So now I think most weddings are a farce.

    I wish those mind eraser things from Men In Black were real!

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    1. Hey Brown-eyed, You are just 10 weeks out. And there is so much learning you and your H need to do. We are 3 years past now, and finally my husband knows what love really is. I We both do. It is not how someone else makes you feel, or if they happen to speak your "love language." If he is indeed committed to the marriage, he also has to commit to learning about himself and the false assumptions he has about life, love and himself. And he has to commit to learning what love really is. You both do. Our concepts of marriage and love are deeply flawed. If you guys give yourself the opportunity to learn a new model, you can succeed. But that takes time. First mourn what has been lost (your hopes and beliefs about marraige and love), feel your grief, and rebuild trust together. I would also urge you to treat this process of one where you each heal yourselves as people if the marriage has any chance.

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    2. You are so early on in the process but it sounds like you are taking so many positive steps. I remember the feeling of 1 step forward 2 steps backwards and feeling like I was on a roller coaster. It was really a hard time. What helped me was this page, a therapist I saw just by myself and I really made an effort to pull back from all non necessary obligations. I simplified my life as much as possible. I found the more I had to deal with the worse I felt. And for me I needed more down time, time to sleep, rest, take a walk, cook, really whatever I felt like. But I did not need to worry about anything but me, my kids and our marriage.

      My kids are the same age too? And wow weddings have been hard for us. The first one we went to after dday was horrible. It was a family wedding so there was no way out. And it hit me while sitting in the pew. Luckily someone else took our kids to the reception and we had some alone time to talk afterwards. Still I was close to skipping the reception. Probably my kids were the only reason I did not. The second wedding was amazing and what I thought was one of our best times as a couple and we had really in depth talks. Well then next weekend was when dday 2 happened. So it was hard. What came out of all of it was a lot of discussions. It was hard and I still struggle from time to time. It all seems so fake to me. But we talk in advance regarding things like this. It helps both of us. And what is crazy is my husband told me he would ignore everything said at weddings for 10 years while he had his affairs. Even weddings he was a groomsman he never heard a word since he said it was the only way not to feel guilt and ashamed. It was upsetting and painful to hear that but it gave me a look into how he dealt with everything in his life. Now he is very attentive and over affectionate all the time. One of his favorite things is to say love is a verb and weddings always remind him of that.

      Make sure to give us an update from your weekend. I am sure it will be emotional but I am sure you will learn a lot.

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    3. Browneyedgirl - I too struggle with the "clear patterns." They have spanned 16 years and I now am not afraid to call him out on them. I now know there are some things that clearly cannot be handled by him with ease. Being respectful with social media, email, etc. I have boundaries that I establish and for whatever reason they have been broken through in the past. As of lately, I don't have time or will stand for the boundaries being broken. I need to be taken seriously now, as I have forgiven one too many times and I've set a pattern too. The pattern is 2017 is breaking.

      I also totally understand 2 steps forward, one step back. This is something that although is frustrating, I see it as a level set. It's important that they see the progress going forward being reset due to their actions. I just say... yep, this sucks, but I did not cause this reset.

      ((hugs))

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    4. Brown eyed girl
      I so feel your one step forward and two back! I had meltdown Friday night. His ow did a drive by while he was out of town and instead of telling him when it happened, I tried to handle the trigger by myself. He had been doing so good at talking me down from these triggers, however, we were out eating and honestly I know better than to drink tequila but this was a Mexican restaurant and shit hit the fan when we returned home. He was tipsy too and it just kept getting worse. He still doesn't understand why a major trigger causes the pain to go back to day one. I'm not sure either other than I'm guessing that one issue of taking her on the business trip hasn't been fully resolved. I'm working on it. We're in a better place once we sobered up. We also agreed that today we start over and strive to do better when discussing these triggers. 2 years 3 months and I can still find myself brought to my knees! Hugs!

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    5. Browneyedgirl, I don't doubt that he loved how she made him feel. He loved feeling valued by her because he doesn't know how to value himself. He loved feeling wanted by her because he doesn't know how to want himself. You expected a partner. He wanted a distorted mirror that only reflected back to him what he wanted to see. Not his failures, not his rejections, not his inability to emotionally show up. And she was that mirror. What's not to love about that, right? But it's not real. With work, he'll eventually get that. With work, he'll realize that he was seeking out a reflection of himself more than he valued HER. Her value lay in her desire to please him. That's a fantasy. You were/are reality.

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    6. Theresa,
      You had a setback, inflamed by a bit of tequila. That's what it was. It doesn't put you back at square one. It's a chance to revisit some things. It's a chance for the two of you to reconfirm that you're on the same team. She's the enemy, not each other.

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    7. Thanks Elle
      We said the same thing yesterday. We chose not to deal with the unresolved issue for now, I'm too emotional over some issues with my mothers health so we tabled our discussion for now.

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    8. Browneyedgirl, I hear you. Elle, your words about expecting a partner, but the h just looking for a distorted mirror really strike a chord with me too. Let these lost souls wake up and start to face their own real reflection.

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  3. Browneyedgirl,
    So much of what you say reminds me of how I felt about 6 months ago. You are entitled to all the pain, confusion, and anger you feel. I hear you trying to make yourself stop thinking of it. To get it out of your head. To "move past" it. I felt the same way. I was so tired of thinking of it. I think, for me at least, things got a little better when I stopped pushing myself in that way. I gave myself permission to think of it as much as I needed to. I sat with it. My H would be able to tell, so i'd just say I was sitting with some pain and other feelings and told him exactly what I needed from him. Mostly I said I wanted reassurance that he loved me and affection while I sat with those feelings. He gave me that and I didn't really need to spell out my exact crazy trains of thought and drag him into it. By that point, we'd discussed all the details and our plans... this was just about me having feelings and needing a hug and some kind words. I don't particularly like being a "needy" person, but I don't view this as weak anymore. If I push myself to be "tough" and force thoughts back, I end up in a pile on the floor. If I sit with the thoughts and ask for what I need, I get through it and we grow closer needing each other that way. After a LONG time of doing this, my H started coming to me when he is hurting. I didn't think he did, but of course he does! Anyway, you sound like you're very much on the right track, browneyedgirl. Just don't rush yourself to stop the thoughts. My son has Tourettes, and suppressing ticks makes them explode out later! For me it was the same with the negative thoughts.

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  4. Elle
    This is a powerful post! It is and will be a part of my memory as well but thankfully my h has stepped up to the plate and he too has been marked by this for the rest of his life! Sad that the memories he had for the first few romps turned into his worst nightmare as well! He gets up each day striving to be better than yesterday. Just like me. Peggy posted in feeling stuck 18 and I can't seem to find it except in my email. I'll look again.

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  5. Hmmm, this is so spot on and I thank you so kindly for being able to articulate this truth so clearly for all of us. I am just really now beginning to separate "me" from "us" in a way that allows me to think of myself as a "woman who was betrayed instead of a betrayed wife". That is a big difference. I'm just now moving into the realm of life where I can think, do and act in ways that are healthy for me and not be worried or concerned about how he feels about my choices because he doesn't have to make the same choices. (I'm marching tomorrow here with hundreds of other women and he is doing something else equally important. I'm not sure if he would march or not as I did not ask him because the other thing is fairly critical.) In any event I am also beginning to laugh a lot more and I have days where I do not think about my husbands bad choices even in the fact of reminders. Now that is something I NEVER believed possible. Even as I type this response I feel a bit unsettled but confident in my ability to move forward. God, I love all of you and Elle, you are such a wonderful leader. Your example is awesome.

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  6. Maiden of the shieldJanuary 20, 2017 at 11:41 AM

    Me too browneyed girl. What I wouldn't give for a good mind erase.


    I'm 16 weeks out. It's also the same amount of time the A lasted. It was much of the same, she pretty much just flat out told him she wanted to screw him and then did not stop until it happened. And it was that it made him feel good because someone wanted him. But I always wanted him. I never stopped. Now we are here, on an even playing field. 4 months of lies and deception followed by 4 months of living hell. The happy moments are starting to be brighter and more often.

    The darkness is there. Some days it stays at bay....others it takes over and.....it really fucking hurts. And I want to lash out, to strike back. To repay the favor. To let someone else carry this open bleeding hurts worse than anything in this life wound.

    So here we are today. And I know I will never get over it. Some days that breaks my heart. Some days it is good fuel for change and moving forward. Other days it is an anchor that is slowly drowning me.

    My therapist made me vocalize out loud that I will never get my marriage back the way it was. That I have to stop fighting for what was and what it wasnt. That I have to start fighting for what it can and will be now. That was hard.

    I know I will never get over it. I want to get to the point where it doesn't take over me.

    I know that I won't get over it. But I sure hope I get past it.

    I never knew I could be so broken.



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    1. Maiden of the shield
      I never knew I could be so broken! That is where I'm struggling. Every time I think I've gotten over a major trigger, I have a setback. I'm just glad Elle knows the words to calm me back to earth. Thanks for posting your thoughts! Hugs!

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    2. Maiden of the shieldJanuary 23, 2017 at 11:58 AM

      Thank you Theresa. I hope you are winning today's struggle. Today I got nothing done that I needed to but, I did have the first real conversation with a friend since D day. I have isolated myself and pretty much stopped socializing at all. I felt sad because no one noticed. Today I realized that someone did notice. And she called me and said...what's wrong? Because I can tell you aren't ok. And that was so amazing. To know that somewhere out there someone noticed I wasn't ok. And cared enough to listen to me cry and tell me that she will listen to me cry again.

      I never knew I could be this broken. And I never thought I'd be strong enough to put myself back together. Today I have a little less darkness. I never knew I could be this broken, but maybe there is hope that I am not broken forever.

      Guess we will just have to wait and see.

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  7. Maiden of the shieldJanuary 20, 2017 at 11:46 AM

    I hold out hope every day though. Every day I make it through to tomorrow is a success. And some days I find myself actually enjoying life a little. So I know that time helps, and sunshine helps, and hope helps. Hope for a day where "it" is simply another book on our shelf and we don't worry about a certain song, or a certain name, or anything at all.

    I hope I get there.

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  8. This post touched my heart as I cried my way through it. 4 months out I still think about the A every day, but I am having good days. And on bad days I try to find the good moments. Thank you for this.

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  9. Thank you so much for these words, Elle. I'm 16 months out and the idea of ever feeling whole or happy again seems impossible. DDay for me was when my first son was 5 weeks old. In the midst of trying to save our marriage, I got pregnant with son #2 who was born 10 weeks ago. On top of still reeling from the discovery of my husband's affair, I'm pretty sure I'm also battling PPD. The pain feels insurmountable some days. I want to be free of this pain, but the idea of letting my guard down is so scary. I feel frozen--unable to move forward, and yet unable to stay where I am. I take comfort in knowing that some people break free of this limbo. I hope my day is coming. I'm not sure how much more I can take. Thank you for the positive message; so many days this site is my lifeline.

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    1. New Mom, I am thinking of you. I hope you are seeing your OB/GYN about the PPD. Don't be afraid to take antidepressants for a few months for your kids.

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    2. Thanks Anon. I appreciate the reply and the thoughts.

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    3. Hang in there New Mom. Please consider seeing a doctor for help with PPD. Some of your battle may simply be hormones -- medicine can get them back on track.

      I have discovered that my progress is very much affected by PMS. My cycle has become totally unpredictable and intense in mid-life. Now it seems whenever I have one or two days of rage/depression where it seems I randomly hate my H and the OWs and life in general all over again, aha! I get my period. Figuring this out has really made a difference in how I handle these emotions when they come. Instead of being overwhelmed by a setback, I can remind myself that its (mostly) the hormones talking.

      I'm not minimizing your betrayal -- of course that is the real problem! Every woman here knows that! But I encourage you to reach out for medical advice. A compassionate doctor can really help you to heal.

      Wishing you peace. Hugs!

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  10. Brown eyed girl,
    Your pain and disbelief screams off the page. The "affair fog is real" and may take several months to emerge. The affair fog is their justifications for their actions. My husband as well had a pattern of going out and having sex with someone to escape. Until I started asking about his dating life before me, I didn't' know this. Just wait and watch. He may love her but it is too soon to tell if he really did or he just told her that to justify her actions. I found survivinginfidelty.com to help. There is a forum where BS can ask WS questions. There is also a WS forum that helped me see how affairs progress in other lives and how the WS feels about the entire thing. Don't do anything you don't want to do. You will figure this out and I mean all of it. Unfortunately it takes time for me it was a year to just get the truth. Year 2 I realized his guilt. Year 3 he figured out the whys and character flaws. Just wait. Not to give you a false positive, if he really loved her then he would be with her not going to a recovery weekend. Watch for the signs of a true recover, sometimes these assholes will put women through a false recovery. Take care of yourself first, watch and wait. I can tell you the truth always wins out. Maybe not as fast as we would like but it does. Hang in there.

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    1. Thanks Lynn Less Pain,
      I have read so many of your posts here. You have such great perspective. The A started in Deember 12/2005, only 1 physical encounter, but then stayed EA on & off for 4 years (email) then one failed in person encounter (ED) in 1/2010. I am really struggling the most with him looking back 7 years and saying "I thought I loved her"... It might be the thing that keeps me form moving past it. I can move past 1x sex in the backseat of a car (that's nothing special - nor is it where you take someone you love). So he is well out of the 'fog' but still a lot of work to do on introspection and self-awareness!

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  11. Hi Browneyedgirl.
    You have summed up one of the things that bugs me most too. Professing love for the AP when the circumstances of the affair are fantasy, not reality. They do not take place with the real, every-day 'I have a mortgage and children and am tired and overworked and often dressed in my daggy clothes' person. They take place with the well dressed and well groomed person who comes to work each day, or whom they have met online - presented post facial, waxing and manicure and looking fantabulous!! They don't have real meaningful conversations, about the hard stuff of life or a deep connection based around sharing all that a marriage entails. They faff (not sure if that is a real word)around, propping one another up with bullshit about the 'deep pool of your eyes' or 'how terribly wonderful you are'. It's shallow and it's crap and it's definitely not love. And it would not stand the test of marriage or time (although my husband's affair lasted 9 years ...ugh... he walked away from it when it was discovered without a backward glance. Where was the love???).

    I hope your weekend goes really well.

    Hugs!

    Marti

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  12. Thirty yrs past by husband's 2nd affair, and I still regard weddings as a waste of time. Our son eloped thank goodness but our daughter married a guy who had a 3 mo affair last spring. Her response was that she might as well forgive him because after all her dad cheated and she'd just pick another guy who would cheat. That was crushing to hear! Every decision has consequences, we wish it didn't but it does. Can't be on an airplane without wanting to pour coffee on some flight attendant. But that's just holding a grudge. There's enough more bad stuff coming down the pike without thinking about the past. My husband has been a really good guy over the last 30 yrs but some how I was the one who couldn't or wouldn't forget. Elderly parent and helping me recover from a deadly cancer speaks to his worth. We're all flawed unfortunately so best to grab those golden sweet moment that come our way. Despite having grown up in the shadows of infidelity our children are really good people, not without flaws but we all get something, don't we? Best of luck until you reach the day when you're having more good days than sad ones. Your children are watching you wether you know it or not.

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    1. Pilot's wife,
      My H is an airline pilot too and all his sexual encounters have been with flight attendants. Your thought about pouring coffee on a flight attendant during a flight made me laugh so hard that I spit out my hot tea everywhere. I've had the exact same fantasy. It's a special circumstance not everyone can understand... to work through this pain while waiving goodbye to your H every week while he goes on a trip with brand new (and many times sexually aggressive) flight attendants. I'm all for getting the hate out of my heart for these sirens in the sky, but so far I've not mastered that. I'm glad I never acted on these thoughts, but it was quite comforting to hear that you have those thoughts even now. Perhaps instead of fighting the thought, I will just consider it an inside joke.

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    2. Ann,

      It's so great to meet someone who understands what it's like being married to a Skygod! Yes, there are some perks to the job but you nailed it when you said there are some aggressive Skysluts. Of course not all airline people cheat but the nature of the job makes it easy as well as the type of people who choose that career. My husband is super smart, good looking , and charming but has a huge ego to match. It goes without saying, that you do want a confident person flying that 777. At the end of his career, I didn't worry about any cheating because he was flying international, trips to Shanghai didn't leave much energy to cheat I'm sure. Plus he got so burned by the last FA that he was pretty much affair proofed. Good luck if your h is still doing the job. After what my h did, I put up so many walls that I didn't really care if he did again but he wasn't going to he said and at some point I believed him. And despite all the yrs, I can't get on an airplane and not wonder who is sleeping with the captain, can you?

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    3. Pilot's wife - I LOL at you thinking of pouring coffee on some flight attendant. I met a woman this weekend (she must have been in her 70's) her husband had an affair 30 years ago and they recovered and have been happily married for decades. Anyway she told how she wanted to ram into the back of the car of any woman who had the same hairstyle as the OW. Our generation is not the first to deal with CH's. I imagine this sweet looking grey haired woman ramming another car and explaining to the officer. Now I totally get it! And appreciate the dark humor.

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    4. Pilot's wife- I have come to realize those exact same things about my husband's personality. When we met and married, he was young, skinny, nerdy (or at least extra focused on aviation), lived with his parents, and made the same amount of money I did as a teacher while he worked at a commuter airline. Now in his 40's he works for a major as a captain, face filled out, works out a lot, makes a lot of money... he's changed a lot. Just like a heart surgeon he's risen to the top of a competitive field and "sky god" is the perfect way to describe it. Me finding out about the affairs has knocked him back to human at this point, but we have discussed frequently why humility is going to be a struggle for him. I frequently remind him to, "check yo self before you wreck yo self." He's still working in the field, so yes, I will need lots of luck. There's some shame for me looking back and remembering all the times someone mentioned the stereotype of the cheating pilot. I always said, "not mine. he's not like that." ugh. Every time we're at the airport or on a plane I think the exact same thing as you... I wonder who is sleeping with who here? I wonder which FA got which STD this week?

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    5. Ann,

      We started out young with him drafted into the AF so got to skip the commuter airlines route, but the military was no fun in the Vietnam war. As luck had it, husband got into a major airline as soon as he left, skipped furloughs tho it was always in the shadows and we lived below our means just in case he lost the job. And as soon as he made young capt. that's when the ego blossomed. But damn it, I wasn't going to be some cliche! It was my teaching job that supported us in the early yrs. the thing that pulled us under was his parents wanting to meet the FA. Kid you not!!! He was playing eenie meanie mo & we weren't even separated. The super religious parents wanted their son to be happy, to be adored and those who share the rarified air of flying, well no one appreciates the capt more than the sky goddess slut. Obviously once he made the choice to work on our marriage with me, his parents were in awkward I'll even. And me, I got the STD (HPV) priceless souvenir that may have caused my cancer many yrs down the road. To this day I feel such anger about that since my husband was the only one I've had sex with. Wow! What in the world was I saving my myself for? For you dealing with a working fly boy, you might suggest what my husband did. Once reformed, he skipped dinners with crews and just ate in the room. Plenty of time to study for check rides, updates, etc and a good way to stay out of trouble.

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  13. I can so realte, Browneyedgirl! It's been 1 1/2 years since I found out and even though I tell myself that today I will not be paranoid, nor will I fell the need to check my husband's location on his phone, nor will I think of all the times he was with her and didn't come home, etc. I find myself traveling to those hurtful times and do not know how to heal from it enough to free myself and be myself! I am tear soaked right now even writing this. I allowed my husband to manipulate and walk all over me. How do I get to a point of letting go and letting myself love him totally? I know it takes time and it's one day at a time, but how, just how do I do it? Some days are better than other, but I do have specific days and locations that are triggers. My husband asked me how long I will feel paranoid and I stated that it will take time and I do not know. I am just hoping for some type of assurance that it gets easier and it will be worth it. My husband says he, "content" in our marriage now and wont' give up on us. We both know it will take time and we are both hoping that the love we once had will return. The love we have now and will in the future, I believe is and will be different. We have been rebuilding our marriage and had to start from scratch after 15 1/2 years of marriage. I also do wish mind erasers worked paranoia didn't exist. Thanks for reading!

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  14. This is so accurate for me. I felt all of those things. As I sit here at 22 months past dday I remember a moment a few months after dday when my husband said that he thought maybe I would be better without him. He wished we had never met or that I ended up with someone else. Or maybe I should move on so I could be with the type of person I deserve. He was in deep pain since as he said it hurt him so bad since he actually loved me more than anyone in his life. He said it would be a lot easier on him if he did not love me. I thought about this for a long time and came to the conclusion that this will always be part of my life with or without him. And I cannot undo the past and choose someone else as he cannot undo his poor decisions. So I made a decision that day to really be positive and focus on the present and helping me move forwad. Of course it was hard but in the end working through this has brought us closer. Going through this has created a bond between us I never thought we could have. We truly are closest to each other.

    I try to put to use all I have learned through this. I make sure to make the best choices for me not for others. I value the time with my kids and our family time more than ever. It is crazy to feel this way since I never felt like it would be possible again. But yes this will always be part of our story. I wish it had never happened but since it did I am glad it came out when it did so we can have as many years of a quality relationship as possible.

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  15. Recently I had this realization and I'm also almost 3yrs into my healing. I really like how you put it. My daughter got married this past October and I really had to keep saying that not all marriage will end up like mine. I tell all 3 of my kids about what a marriage is like. I think they know better because of our experience where someone who hasn't experienced it firsthand. I think they are better prepared BECAUSE of it.

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  16. This article lead me to some random thought this weekend. I also did some random reading and these were my take-always.

    We say the cheater has to show remorse and really prove that he deserves a second chance. How can you tell if the recovery is true? The cheater has to drive the marriage recovery effort. If he doesn't I would question if he is all in. I wanted a divorce for a year and half but my husband put his all into marriage recovery. I don't want to say he drove my healing but in a way he did.

    Next the woman is seen as a nurturer - children, parents and nurturer of a marriage. In our culture during betrayal it seems the wife gets the blame. What did you do wrong that you didn't nurture your marriage so he looked elsewhere? It really made sense on how some of my friends reacted to me like it was my fault.

    Stay or go. It makes sense not to make any decisions for awhile. The roller coaster of emotions, lethal flatness, don't give a shit. The reason to wait is your able to make a rational decision. I couldn't have the right decision while I was raging, crying, throwing things, crying. Without much thought I waited until I could make a rational decision.

    Just some thoughts.





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    1. Hi friends,

      I want to give you an update from our weekend. We learned a lot about each other's feelings. We learned to be introspective. We learned to communicate better. My H brought cards and gave me one each day. I brought the box of love letters and cards we have given to eachother over the years. I let him read his own words including what he handwrote in a card while I was pregnant just a few month before the worst affair (the only one that was physical - in MC he said at that time he thought we didn't love each other, then this weekend he read his own words). I saw him start to become more introspective. He admitted that he could see when we fight that he turns the tables and I end up apologizing when he was in the wrong (HALLELUIJAH)! The weekend was facilitated by 3 volunteer couples who shared their stories (they were 9-30 years out). This retreat was for all kinds of marriages on the brink, but somehow it just so happened this weekend each of the 3 couples had had experienced infidelity. It was really encouraging to see how they were so committed to each other and to helping other people save their marriages. There were 20 couples there. At the end one couple who had been separated for 2 years said they were going home to tell their children they loved each other. One other couple that was separated 3 mos decided to move back in together. Most all of us committed to doing this week's "homework" and to the first follow-up session next weekend. So for me, I truly believe that not only does my H love me, but that he is in love with me again. I know that doesn't guarantee anything. But, I saw him grow in his faith - last night he asked me to pray with him (we go to church together, say blessings before meals and we used to say good night prayers together as a family when the children were smaller - but he never has led the two of us in prayer together before bed). We prayed for all the couples there, the couples who shared their painful stories of their journeys to recovery with us to give us hope and most importantly for the couples who are hurting but didn't attend. I prayed for all of you.

      For the majority of the couples there, I don't think any of them has any delusion that 100% of us (or any of us) will stay married till death do us part, but I am confident I will see almost all of them next Sunday. As Elle and others have said "next best step". These were ALL marriages on the brink. Nobody was asked to share their stories, but I am sure in the room were serious financial mistakes, deceit, addiction, abuse, infidelity, betrayal, lots and lots of anger, total communication breakdown and pain. My H committed to going to IC this week (last week he was so upset after MC he said he wouldn't do IC anymore, just MC).

      I started to eat a little more and I slept a little more this weekend. I started to find peace. Peace that I am regaining my faith and learning more about myself. Peace because my H took accountability and asked for my forgiveness (I am still working on that). Oh I still had triggers - during small talk one couple told us about a family home in the town that my H drove to meet the OW in the parking lot (yes, classy) I got up from the table to run away so fast I almost tripped and knocked over my chair. I still woke up at least once a night to think about the A. I still had at least 1 panic attack a day. I guess I would summarize it say we finally took two steps forward without the step back.

      I think there are 2 main risks to our recovery: First, if H doesn't continue to do introspection and admit what he finds, and second if I "just can't get over it" (if I can't it will be because the circumstances of what occurred over the course of 13/20 years together too big to forget). I am going to work on understanding more about this on my own with my IC.

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    2. Good for you! It sounds like there was a lot of benefit for both of you. What it reminds me of is we had to clean out our basement and in turn we found all of the letters my husband sent me while we were dating. Some were cards but many were when we were long distance. There are a lot of them as we spent a summer apart and then over a year after college apart. I think it was a reminder of what our lives used to be like. As he says he did not deal with all the changes in his life in a positive or healthy way. And my husband had to be introspective which was hard at time for my husband. Basically it forced him to face his shame and guilt head on. But I knew he had to be the one to do it. I had general expectations but I needed him to step up and deal with his actions. I guess luckily he is in the mental health field so he was always more this way in general. But he has pushed all of this to a deep dark spot and detached from it since he had ended his affairs over a year before dday. But in the end there was something keeping us from being truly close.

      This has been the most difficult thing I have ever endured but if it had to happen I am glad it came out. I would never go back and live the old life. This is so much better. Keep us updated!

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  17. Amazingly written! One of the things I am struggling with during my recovery is the grief that my life will never be without this scar, this demon, this memory. I have started reading a book called How's Your Soul, because I feel like I have lost myself through all of this. I have let the affair define me and determine my happiness (or more likely my unhappiness) and I have become comfortable in that space...yet miserable. The only way out is become uncomfortable with my misery and grow and evolve through this challenge. I am strong and have overcome much larger hurdles in my life with much more grace than I am right now.

    A recent struggle I have been working through is why did it take an affair to produce the man of my dreams? Yet my anger towards the affair keeps me from letting that new man into my heart. I feel like if I give in and say "the affair made us even better than we were before" it's giving power and positivity to the affair. Even though this statement is true, I fight it tooth and nail. How do you release that grip of the ego and just let go to the universe? Let go that God has his plan and that this was part of his plan? I feel like giving into this make her the heroine versus the villain. Without the affair would my husband have become the man he is today? Why didn't he just love me enough to always want to be this new man? I can see that our healing is on the other side of this conundrum, but I can't figure out out to bite my tongue, quiet my ego, and just release and accept that I do have a better man because of his affair.

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    1. Fight Like A Girl, I was really struggling a lot in the fall so around 15-18 months past dday. I was isolating myself, vigilant and not letting my guard down. I felt so stuck. I could see how my husband had changed which was a lot and remarkable. However I still felt like there was a barrier between us. I too felt all the things you did. I asked myself all those same questions.

      In the end my therapist said he felt like for my case that I needed to be self protective and really exercise caution. He said it was a good way for me to learn to trust my gut and and put myself first. However at around 15 months he said I needed to start at least thinking about being vulnerable. He did not push me but he said to gradually start to relax and open up more. Otherwise he said I really risked letting this drag me down and ultimately keep me from enjoying happiness as an individual. Which was all true at the time. He told me of a couple he saw for years and finally he suggested they separate and divorce. He said it might be the only time in 30+ years but at the point they were at there was nothing else that could be done. The husband had done all the hard work and repaired the marriage the best he could. But he said the wife literally 5 years later could not let go and move past the affairs. And I am not saying you are being like this. But in the end his point was if you cannot move past the hurt and pain to become more vulnerable what is stopping you. Do you need more information, more from your spouse, more work together or is it resistance.

      It took me several months and I was really open with my husband that I was scared and did not want to let my guard down. I was holding myself back and in turn us. He was very understanding and we talked about what would help me move forward. My husband was shocked when I told him how I was feeling since he was in such a great place. But we decided we needed to spend more time together, decrease my stress, he needed to make even more of an effort (around the house, with the kids, emotionally, physically), and we decided to do more checking in with each other (we did this weekly after dday but since things had improved we stopped). He explained that he felt like a new person and felt his entire life was so different in a positive way. But for me was we moved well past a year past dday I felt like nervousness and doubt was creeping in. And I know I have said it before but I had to explain to my husband that I had even higher expectations now since he had stepped it up. His old base level help and ways of connecting needed to increase. I needed and wanted more from him and our marriage. It helped so much but I think what we learned most is we need to be really attentive of each other and our marriage forever.

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    2. Fight Like a Girl, thank you for so eloquently putting into words the struggle I feel as well. I wish I had answers or suggestions for you, but I don't. Not yet. I do, however, want you to know that you're not alone in your struggles. I, too, feel unable to let my guard down, like somehow that will make what he did okay. The idea of letting myself see and feel the good that has come from this feels like a betrayal of myself. I want to move forward, but I feel stuck. I hope that you find healing on your path. I hope that your desire for that healing becomes greater than your fear of letting yourself be vulnerable again. I'll be here trying for the same; I'll let you know if I find the magic solution (haha... If only there were such a thing.) In the meantime, hugs to you.

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    3. Fight Like A Girl,
      I wish I knew the magic answer to letting it go. I understand what you are saying. I've spent a lot of time wondering why it took this to get to where we are now. I've questioned why God's plan involved so much pain for me.
      But as I read what you wrote and thought about it, I realized that, yes, the affair is what caused my husband to reach rock bottom, but he is who he is today because of all the work he's done on himself since it was discovered. The OW gets no credit for that and she's not the heroine in my story. She's a broken person who still, nearly two years later crops up in an effort to make herself relevant in our lives. (Thank you, Elle for pointing that out to me.) If she chooses to work on herself and her own marriage, she can be the heroine of her own story. As far as our husbands loving us enough before to be the men they became after the affair, I think the problem is that they didn't love themselves enough to be that person. It wasn't ever about us or how much they loved us.
      It's a struggle and I know how easy it is for me to fall back into thoughts and behaviors that don't help me move forward. Some days I fail, but I try not to beat myself up.

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  18. I.LOVE.THIS. Dearest Elle this really spoke to me. I am 18 months out now and still hanging on, sometimes by the thinnest of threads. Though I don't post often I read every day. My struggle is just as Maiden and Browneyedgirl describe in wanting a mind erase...wanting what I had before. WHY? I realize now that I was worthy of a much better husband and marriage, which is what I have now. But I continue to mourn and want it to not be a part of my "story" as if I think I am wearing a T-shirt that says BETRAYED WIFE. My therapist says I am the most authentic person she has ever met and she helped me to realize THAT is the struggle for me. When I feel happy and grateful for my spouse my authenticity makes me feel like a hypocrite, like it isn't real or doesn't count because the infidelity happened. I need to remember as you said Elle, the reasons that are good we won't forget and why. It's NOT to punish ourselves or in my case keep making myself miserable because I think THAT is my cross to bear as a betrayed wife. My downward spiral last week started with the news that a McDonalds was closing, where my husband and I met and worked as teenagers 41 years ago. I felt it was a "sign". He and I went and took our picture outside of it and I wanted to post it on FB but felt like a hypocrite once again. Like our marriage of 35 years and 41 year friendship didn't count because of his one selfish act. But then I started to see the positive light and kept "swimming" towards it. Do we still love each other, are committed to each other, and are still together? YES, and more strongly than ever. So it IS authentic and I posted it to celebrate it. However, at times that nagging voice in my head tried to make me feel like I was a hypocrite and then I read your beautiful writing, Elle. Thank you for writing this and reminding me of my strength. The support and sisterhood this site is provides is tremendous. We ARE worthy and enough!

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    1. My husband struggled with this more from the standpoint of he felt like I could do so much better or wishing we had never met. Granted I struggled for a long time with what he did to our marriage, himself and me. It was shocking especially the length of time. And it honestly made me the most sad he was so broken that those were the choices he made. I realized he was miserable and hated himself for over 10 years. It explains a lot now looking back!

      Maybe this is just my way to justify it but I have told my husband over and over that when you look at statistics close to or over half of the households are touched by infidelity.
      And then many people have other issues financial, drug, alcohol abuse... I would not wish this on anyone ever as it is the worst thing I have dealt with. Illness has not compared since it was not an action someone was taking against me or directly hurting me.

      I also read a quote and I wish I remember who it was but it was a psychologist or psychiatrist who gave a speech/talk and his wife was there. someone asked about their marriage. And he cited the 10 rough years. It was much better stated than that but it is true ask most people and they go through some major challenges. Yes many handle them better but many do not. I know my husband has friends who lie about a lot to their wives and none of it is right. I think going through this has opened his eyes that really no lie is okay or worth it. But I think our society and at least who my husband hangs around has a boys will be boys mentality and even though they are all very successful they act immature.

      And I too felt bad the first few anniversaries or when asked how and when we met I hated describing it all. Actually feeling like I was going to throw up. I felt so fake. Or people will tell me how much my husband has helped them, a family member or their kid (he is in the mental health field) and i would think great but he could not control or help himself! But I have moved past this. It took a lot of time and a major effort of positive thinking. I am proud of what we have. We are closer than ever and we have a totally open line of communication. I think this kind of feeling though has taken a long time and evolves. Good for you and that is an awesome story and I love you took photos. You should be proud.

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    2. My H ... same thing 30 ... twenty months out and some days this still happens or he has a fear ill just pick up and leave or cheat on him ... stay in the day I tell him much easier. I think he might still be dealing with the shame and guilt he thinks about what he did everyday how stupid it was how toooooo long it went on and tells me sorry often and this is one of many reasons im still here.

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    3. Elle .. I cried when I read this post. 20 mon the out its still in my rearview mirror only i find myself looking ahead more often now then I look back ... i feel my happy again over small joys and am much more selective in general on everything about life some in a good way and change others im still processing and working on and thats ok. Thanks for this Elle and ladies this post defiantly feels like a soft hopeful place we can land.

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  19. When I come here to sit with my sisters, each new face, new name, breaks my heart. That there is so much of this, so many of us and so many who never find this safe haven....
    Elle, thanks for this post, your writing, your wise heart. I can't express how impossible it feels to have this much love and appreciation for a woman I have never met. Thank you for shining such a bright light for us all.
    For everyone struggling, please know that one way or another you will survive this, you will feel better, you will feel joy again. This event will not define you and you will decide whether it is the making or the breaking of you. Maybe both. And no, I'm not dropping any "things happen for a reason" bullshit on you. I would never, ever minimize or marginalize anyone's pain that way. But in my own experience, on Dday 1 everything I knew or believed about myself and my life was stripped away. All the things I had wrapped myself up in to insulate myself from the uncomfortable reality that was my marriage and my very real self loathing, all was burnt away by the disclosure that the one person I thought I could trust the most was completely unworthy of that trust. And all that was left was... me. And in that dark, shaking, terrifying place I knew I had a choice. Choose to rise and be the heroine in this story, one I could be proud of or cease to exist at all. And so I chose to rise. Because fuck if I'm going to be beaten, defeated by this. I will fight for my right to live and love completely and be loved the way I deserve until my last breath. And that love has to come from inside me first. And I knew I could do it. Maybe as a survivor of rape, I already had experience that told me that you survive these things, that the pain is not there all the time, forever, that I wouldn't think of myself as "the girl who was raped" or "damaged goods" forever. That my fundamental hopeful, joyful, happy, loving, trusting nature is completely kick ass.
    It takes work. It requires an active choice every day to put yourself first (or at least as close to the top of your list as life allows). Sometimes that is just sitting with your grief, or just showing up. And some days it is completely kicking ass and taking names.
    Not all men are the broken guy who raped me or my sex addicted ex. Not all women are my alcoholic mother. Not all marriages are doomed or a farce or whatever angry words we want to assign. I've actually designated myself the good fairy or marriage and try to sprinkle love and good will whenever I can. When my friends start to moan about their husbands, I will sometimes pause and point to myself and say "be careful what you wish for" Or "don't you see how he looks at you?" whatever it is, a reframing. My nephew recently got engaged and I had to meditate on how I felt. Definitely mixed feelings, sadness and joy, hope and fear, bitterness for sure, but my story need not be theirs. So I bought them the five love languages book. A friend going through divorce just got a copy of Rising Strong from me because I love her and want her to get an amazing do over.
    My sisters, there is always light, not just at the end of the tunnel, but all around us. Much love! SS

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  20. my gosh ss .. I'm sat here with absolute admiration for your strength . The love you share with us and everyone around you is testament to how incredible you are..I take my hat of to you my friend. Xxx

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  21. Still standing
    Reading this today after a weekend from hell gives me hope. Hope that I can return totally to the self confidant woman I was before dday turned me into a needy emotional wreck at the most likely moments. Dealing with triggers in a public place stinks! Thanks for your uplifting post!

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  22. Still Standing
    Preach girl, preach.
    and yes, this: "And no, I'm not dropping any "things happen for a reason" bullshit on you"
    reminds me of something I found about 10 months after dday one and it's helped me in so many ways on so many days. the reality is, we take the crap thrown at us and we are the ones who turn it into something meaningful. You are an inspiration. Thank you so much for sticking around.
    http://www.timjlawrence.com/blog/2015/10/19/everything-doesnt-happen-for-a-reason

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    1. Steam I love that Tim Lawrence piece. He's amazing.

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    2. Thanks for that link Steam. It is awesome and spot on.

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