Monday, February 27, 2017

Is your fantasy future getting in the way?

"...there is a difference between feeling the pain of things breaking, ending, or drifting apart, and the sharper pain that comes from measuring the inevitable events of life against some ideal of  how we imagined things are supposed to be."
~Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

I don't know about you but this was not supposed to be my life. My life, after a crappy childhood with parents who did crappy things, was going to be sane and predictable and interesting. There would be no dark secrets.
And so I set about creating that life. I told my husband on our third date that I came from a long line of addicts and if he wanted to flee, then there's the door. He stayed.
Married and being urged by him to start a family, I told him that if we were to have children then I needed his promise that we would do everything to keep our marriage strong. I would not, I told him, bring children into a relationship that didn't have two parents who were all in. Sure, he agreed.
Ten years and three children later, I felt resentful and frustrated by my husband's lack of engagement with our family. He worked too much, I thought. He shared too little, I thought. And so, when I found myself enjoying the company of a male friend a bit too much, I told my husband that we needed counselling. To my surprise, the guy who had long insisted that he was fine – that I was the one with the problems (pointing to my third-date admission as evidence) – agreed.
A few months later, I had my first D-Day. Six months after that, I had my second.
And the future I had imagined – which might not have held the glossy promise of bliss it did on my wedding day but still felt like more than I deserved – vanished altogether.
Replaced by a conviction that my future was apocalyptic.
And the pain was excruciating.
It's no coincidence that so many of us who first post on this site seem as though we're reading from the same script. "This isn't the person I married," we write. "This can't be my life," we write. "My life is ruined forever," we write.
And though those of us on the far shore try and wave the newbies in – "you'll get through this," we promise, "you will be fine," we promise – but I wonder how convincing we are. Life was always going to be a series of peaks and valleys. And though we're in a helluva valley, we won't always be. But it can be hard to see the other side when we're blinded by the idea of how it was "supposed" to be.
I wasn't supposed to wind up with a sex-addicted husband. I was so busy making sure that I didn't marry an alcoholic because I would be damned if my future was going to resemble my past.
Gulp.
Yet here I am.
And from this far shore I can tell you this. Maybe I was supposed to go through this. Maybe there are lessons within this experience that I still needed to learn.
Or maybe, like everybody else, it's a matter of having my share of ups and downs.
However you look at it, letting go of this idealized future is key to letting go of some of the pain.
When you find yourself imagining this new post-betrayal future in apocalyptic terms – "ruined", "destroyed", "miserable" – take note of it and then remind yourself that you're telling yourself a story.
Our future is a fiction until we live it into truth.


39 comments:

  1. I love this post. I have felt lots of you waiving, me in and I so appreciate all the wisdom I gain from reading about this unexpected experience through all your eyes. As a mom of a special needs son, I have read the "Welcome to Holland" metaphor many times. It applies here as well (at least for me). This life is not the one I planned (in fact, parts of it are the complete opposite of what I planned), but there is beauty and love here. If you haven't read Welcome to Holland:

    WELCOME TO HOLLAND

    by
    Emily Perl Kingsley.


    I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

    When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

    After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

    "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

    But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

    The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

    So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

    It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

    But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

    And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

    But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

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    1. Ann, I really enjoyed your Holland analogy. It is spot on for me. Thanks so very much for sharing it. I never ever thought I'd be in Holland, but I guess it was meant to be. I, too, don't know what I would have done without this site. The wisdom, advice, and others sharing their stories made me realize that no matter what happened I would be okay. I'm 14 mos. out now and I'm stronger than I thought I would be. It isn't always easy, and no two days are ever alike (nor perfect) but I'm learning to accept and find something beautiful in Holland every day:)

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    2. ann, that's beautiful - I've never read that before - thank you!

      Elle, "Welcome to Holland" is one for the recycle bin in the future for sure!

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    3. Thank you for posting that. I read it years ago with regards to my own child – not special needs but certainly challenging. And I remember wailing to a friend about how she wasn't being "herself" and my friend pointedly telling me that she was, in fact, being herself. And sometimes "herself" included parts that I didn't like. Gulp.

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  2. All so familiar! I have felt all of those things and feel some too. I think there is a little truth to it all for me. I love the advice here but most of all I don't feel alone here. No matter how great my husband is he will never know what I am going through and he has even said that since he knows I would never do what he did ever. So this is the place where I feel that I have people I can relate to and in a society that is not aware or does not see betrayal as we do and talk about it I find this comforting.

    Even though I married young I knew it was not going to be perfect. But yes I never thought this person would lie to my face for years and years. Would pretend to be on the same team when only thinking of himself. Those are hard concepts. Probably the hardest that I can only control myself and no matter how perfect I am others will do what they want. It has been an important realization but also one that I know has caused me to isolate. I know I have work to do since I can see that I am putting up a wall to protect myself. I just have a hard time enjoying others company. I find good friends to be shallow, gossip, negative etc. There are a few people I enjoy being around who are genuine. Maybe I will fee closer to them in time.

    It is hard to know if all of this is the peaks and valleys or what we were supposed to go through. My husband said for months he wished he had broken up with me and I could have found a "good" guy. But I honestly even now am not sure if that exists. We all have our issues and every relationship has their dynamics. Ours is very open and transparent right now. I also feel like we are putting a lot of effort into our relationship/marriage as a whole we don't have much time for other friendships. It is us, kids and work and that is about all we have time for. We have both pulled back from friends. Him more because he has changed. I will say I never feel like my present or future is ruined or anything like that. I work hard to listen to myself to make sure that I am following my "gut" feelings. That is one thing I work hard at personally. And one last thing is this site has made me see through others examples, words and support that I will be fine no matter what. Two years ago I would have never thought I would survive something like yet come out the other end happy and still married or be okay with the idea that if it does not work I can make it. Thank you!

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    1. Hopeful 30,

      I have isolated myself as well. I'm generally a people person so it's been hard. I was active in our neighborhood (monthly ladies bunco nights, neighborhood gatherings, HOA board member) but I just don't have the energy any more. I am sure it's been noticed although no one has actually said anything - it could all just be in my mind. I just don't have the energy for much except my H and our relationship, work, and our children and grandchildren.

      My H and I married young as well (will be 38 yrs this year) and I never ever ever thought something like this would happen. My H is in sales and travels and I've often thought he could have a different OW in various cities but never thought he would do anything. Now I know better. It has been 14 mos. of ups & downs and days I thought I would never survive, but I did -- thanks to this site and words from women like you, Elle, and the others that have provided guidance and advice when I needed it. I know the rest of my life will have valleys and peaks, but I will survive and be okay.

      Thanks to you all!

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    2. Hopeful30,
      Regarding your comment about friends: I also went through a phase where so many people around me seemed shallow and gossipy. I withdrew a lot (for many reasons, of course) and when I felt ready to emerge, one of the things I did was sorta clean house. I simply didn't reconnect with anyone who I thought wasn't someone I really respected and valued in my life. Consequently, I'm surrounded now by incredible women -- most haven't a clue what I've gone through but they're genuine and smart and interesting and I never feel icky about what they talk about. It takes time to create that but it was worth a bit of isolation to get there.

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    3. Feeling lost, good to hear from you and know we are not alone as I said!

      Elle, I hope that happens some day. Where I live there is not a big influx of new people. So the choices are limited. I did not grow up here thankfully but everyone is connected like 1 degree of separation so it is limited. Many great friends have moved away too so that is hard. Maybe with time I will open or I hope when it is right. Even as couples we lack the ability to find people to spend time with. We have tried so hard with existing and new couples. Either people seem too busy/distracted or again negative. With couples I have always noticed this but even more now how negative they are. Every couple we go out with it separates to wives and husbands. I will say sit next to your husband and they will say please no. And this happens over and over. Or couples we try to connect with are so caught up in their kids lives that they do nothing even as a couple or with other people. We do a lot with our kids but we make every effort for that to be family time and our kids support each other vs going in separate directions. It is challenging. I guess the good thing is my husband and I are happy focusing on ourselves, our relationship and family. He has been able to maintain more friendships. He started out with more friends and he can compartmentalize more easily than I can. And honestly men don't have the burden of work, the house and kids. My friends do not have or make time for themselves no matter what I suggest. His friends do not miss a game, golf etc.

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    4. Hopeful 30 and Feeling Lost... I am right there with you about isolating myself. At first I thought it was just depression, but as that lifts I still find myself not wanting to venture out or try to nurture current or new friendships. I think part of it is not wanting to become vulnerable to their (perceived) rejections or the possibility of being judged. I find myself just saying "it's not worth putting myself out there". I know it is not healthy to live so sheltered but I feel like I am still in self preservation mode. I do reach out to friends who have stood the test of time and even have a couple going through the same thing. Those are the ones I focus on and give my time to. However I do have to say it does get lonely at times. Mostly that happens when I am not working but my husband is. That offers up a lot of "thinking time" which is not always good to have

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    5. Hopeful 30, your post and this blog post both resonate with me as usual. I think I tried to send an early response but the universe ate it so will try again. I often feel very lonely. My husband has never been very social and his only friends are from high school which is a very, very long time ago. I now know why he never really made friends or even liked to socialize over the years. Our friends were always "my" friends and but we never found many couples we had much in common with to socialize with. His job required travel and I had three kids plus a variety of extended family burdens from both sides that I gladly took on so that he could focus on work. Little did I know he was cavorting while out of town. Sigh. Even when I have an opportunity to walk with my sister who lives near me, the dialogue often goes places I don't want to go. Last weekend we took a walk and she told me about her niece whose husband has had an ongoing affair with his masseuse and my sister expressed disgust that her niece stayed with him because he is a high wage earner. "She is basically willing to put up with him so her standard of living doesn't go down." Wow, even though my sisters husband's family are all right wing nuts who support 45 I meekly said, "Well maybe they are trying to work on their marriage behind the scenes to see if it is salvageable?" She just expressed more disgust and then I said something benign about Hillary staying with Bill but by then I needed to change the subject. Sometimes I honestly think I just don't have enough energy to go around outside of my kids and grandkids and husband and best friend. It is emotionally exhausting to be guarded all the time, even when I don't realize I'm guarded. So many things don't trigger big events but they do tweak my heart and head. I'm familiar with the "Welcome to Holland" scenario and when I read it I changed it in my mind to reflect my situation. Weird how we can do that. My saving grace is this blog and the unknown number of women who don't know me yet know me so much better than anyone who has "known" me for years. Like so many of you I tried really hard to break my old patterns and promised myself I would not make the same mistakes that run in my family of origin. I also thought if I looked, acted and thought a particular way I'd be OK. Things would be great in my life but here I am. I still grieve the past I thought I had with my husband but some of it is probably still correct. I continue to struggle to NOT try to pave the way to a future because that can backfire too. I just want to keep Steam's voice in the back of my head present so I can look back and see that I did my best to create a positive life for me given the shit storm my husband created in his life. His ability to compartmentalize his life means he sleeps well and lives well and manages to not think about the things he use to think about but baby, it just isn't that easy for me. I'm at least at the point where I can say, "This isn't helpful or that thought is not going to get you to a good place" but as I told my husband, "It's your fucking fault I even have these thoughts". Ugh. We are really focusing on ourselves and trying to make the best life possible now. If I am honest with myself and you all, there are many times I look at him and wonder what I ever did that was so bad that led me to this life. I really did not sign up for whatever life lesson this might turn out to be so I'll just do my best. And Hopeful 30, I don't think it is unusual for your husbands and his friends to prioritize their fun and the women to not take time for themselves. I am guilty as charged. Over the years when I did take time for myself I felt terribly guilty. Not going to do that any more. Love to all. Hanging in with everyone and looking forward to sunshine and warm temps soon.

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    6. Beach Girl, have you considered reaching out privately to her niece?

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    7. Beach Girl,
      I have had that same thought before... "What did I ever do to deserve this?" Which quickly becomes, "I did not deserve what happened to me. I did nothing to deserve this treatment." The first question is a attempt to feel control over the uncontrollable. Afterall, if I did something to deserve this, I just won't do it again! Ever! Then I'll finally be safe. The kind of safe I thought I was before D day. The problem there is that no one is safe, there's nothing I did to deserve this, and I have no control. None. No control of this specific thing because it involves the choices of another person who is not me. The second statements, "I didn't deserve what happened to me" that come up in my head next are a little better. They are true statements at least. I did not deserve what happened to me in my marriage. None of us did. We were all the best wives we knew how to be. We didn't deserve it. However, I do think dwelling on that fact after a certain point will keep me stuck. When that thought enters now it just keeps me sad. And I think on some level that is about control too. If I can keep myself sad, then I won't have to go from happy TO sad. That big swing in emotions on Dday felt like it was going to kill me. It was the fall from the height! But then there is a big problem with that obviously. Staying sad for the rest of my life to avoid a fall will rob me of the happiness I DO deserve. Somehow, on my very best days, I am able to surrender completely to God, the universe, (whatever) that I can't keep this from happening to me. And I couldn't keep it from happening to me the first time. Some things have happened to me that I didn't deserve, and my H's affairs were the most painful to date; but I won't deserve it when my parents die. I won't deserve it when a loved one gets a terrible disease. I won't deserve it if something happens to my child. I didn't deserve it when a friend wronged me in middle school. I didn't deserve it when my college boyfriend was verbally abusive to me... We got a raw deal. It is bullshit. It is not fair. I will never not feel those things because they are true. However, I'm sometimes able to put my H's affairs in the same box with the rest of the raw deals I've gotten in life (and sometimes I'm not). When I can think of it as not quite as big and surrender control, I feel more like the person I'm supposed to be after all of this growth. I do think it's ok to have days when I slip into wanting control or pain shopping though... That's part of all of this. Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel instead of forcing things. But when you can label it, know it, and frame it better when you're stronger-- That's when you start feeling like you can do this. Like you can go on with this level of uncertainty... the possible highs and lows that are coming for you. In my opinion anyway...

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    8. I think what so many of us deal with post-betrayal is coming up against this cultural rigidity that so many have about infidelity and the "right" response to it. We know there is no "right" response but I'm guessing a lot of us didn't really think that until we were in the situation. I know that I, for one, was in the "I'd dump him" camp. Ah yes, the certainty of the ignorant, huh?
      It is hard to deal with people who are so judgey about others' response to pain. Whether your niece, Beach Girl, is really staying with her husband because he's a high earner, or whether she's staying with him because, like me, she just doesn't have the strength to leave, it's HER choice. And I appreciate how demoralizing it is to listen to people who are SO SURE how others should live their lives. I generally opt for a very pointed "well, I don't pretend to know how others should live their lives. It's enough to figure out my own", which can surprisingly often shut people up. Or I'll make reference to how none of us really knows what goes on in another person's marriage.
      This is something I'd like to address in a blog post because I think so many of us deal with it to varying degrees. Thanks for the nudge.

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    9. BEG, this woman is my sister's niece and I've never met her. Elle and ann, thank you for your thoughtful responses. Ann, you have really identified some things that were/are going on with me that I was not aware of so thank you a million times for being able to articulate your response in such a way that I can understand and internalize this. I do think that I often keep myself sad in order to not have another fall from happy to sad. It is clear to me that I need to purge that "What did I ever do to deserve this?" question from my unhelpful and harmful thoughts because you are correct that none of us ever deserved this so we should just stop asking ourselves that question. Wow, see my palm hit my forehead. Trauma sucks and prevents me from thinking clearly at times. I also never even considered putting my husbands addiction/compulsions in the same box as the other things that I did not deserve in my almost 66 years on this earth. That consideration feels doable on so many levels. I value your opinion so much. Oh and Elle, I'm going to do my best to remember your response to statements that touch and trigger my molecular trauma mode. Truth be told, I really don't pretend to know how anyone should live their lives as I sometimes do struggle to figure out my own life. What would I do without all of you? Love and peace to all.

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    10. What I have learned is none of us know how we or others will react until put in a situation. And we never really know what is going on in any individual or couple's lives. It is just not possible. People are just not that transparent. And I agree it is based off of society and what people think.

      Beach Girl, I hear you on so much of what you say. I think about the same things. In the end I think you know what I did? I was too nice, too good at what I did (being a great wife, mom, partner). I honestly think I excel, work hard, and do good at what I set my mind to. I really think I made it easy for my husband. I took care of everything and did it really well. My husband's affairs were sporadic so now I see where his moods, closeness varied. It was not like he was checked out for a certain amount of time. Not that he was perfect or great but he would really vary over time. So when I look back I think if my only fault was that I was too good then I would do it all over again. I confronted him multiple times about our relationship, the possibility of other women etc. He has all the training and knowledge and he lied to my face over 10 years. So it is on him! And in the end I have an amazing relationship with my kids and the best memories. He was not as solid for them since he delegated more to me or deferred.

      In the end I find it striking how much this is still sitting with him. I know he tries to be upbeat and is happy but this sits with him more than me at this point. Not sure what that says?? Today being March 1st and our dday is March 13th (he does not remember the exact day), but he was down this am. He gushes at me and says it does not go unnoticed the date coming up. And he says he is so sad and disgusted by how he lived his life 2 years ago and before. Never wants to lose me.... All good and revealing. I need to dig deeper when we have time.

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    11. What is interesting is I always get asked about mental health related topics because of what my husband does. I guess guilt through association or osmosis?? But I have always been careful whether about a person and their marriage, kids or whatever their issue to do more listening. As of now I am not even close to sharing what has happened with us to even a close friend. I have had people ask me for marriage advice since dday and I take into account my experiences. It is interesting no one thinks it is based on personal experience but more what I hear and have learned from my husband. I have always read a lot of self help books and dive into topics. So anyone that knows me at all doesn't think anything about it. My husband has encouraged me to pursue a formal education in mental health and to consider practicing. I would like to find a way to utilize what I have learned but I am not into creating a formal career and practice. Also that would really only make sense if I wanted to intertwine my career with his and that is not something I want now. We will see so interesting as we grow and learn about ourselves, our husbands and the world.

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  3. Yes, I was just thinking yesterday - why should I be surprised that something like this could happen to me. Why shouldn't it happen? Anything is possible in life - good and bad surprises.

    I like the Holland idea from Ann. I thought we were going to live together on planet Earth, but it seems to me that the man I married has been abducted by aliens. I don't know if he will ever (be able to) come back.

    In the meantime, I need to find a path across all these mountains and valleys which is life-affirming for me and my toddler (who often likes to be carried and is getting very heavy!) I have to do this with no map or compass, and even if I knew how to navigate by the stars, these nights are often very cloudy. But I know that I cannot stay here in this limbo valley of fog any longer.

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    1. Selkie,
      I used to try and sell myself on the idea of toddler as weight-training (I imagined strong, shapely arms) so that I didn't get so resentful having to carry someone with perfectly functional legs. :)
      As for the fog, it will lift. Your next right step. That's all you need to know. Or, as E.L. Doctorow put it, your headlights only reveal what's right in front of you, but you they'll get you the whole way home.

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    2. Thanks, Elle.
      Too right about the weight training mindset, but alas no visible effects on my arms so far!
      Yes, I will stay clear on the next right step for now and stop trying to squint through the fog.
      It feels less like headlights and more like a wobbly headtorch with low battery sometimes... but I'm sure each step forward will generate more energy and light.

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  4. Yet again I hear my own story through you post.
    I married someone who I believed shared my values. I laid it out within the 1st 6 weeks of our dating. He knew my family already, he knew what I had had to deal with growing up.
    Like you said, it's one thing adults committing, but it goes to a whole other level when you bring children into it.
    Since I had my 2nd day day, I have felt the betrayal, not just for me, but for our kids.
    At times DH has used that against me, when I've wanted to bail.
    I do get what you say about 'needing to go through, lessons that need to be learnt etc'
    16 years married and 6 years since 2nd day day, it still feels apocalyptic.
    But since starting IC, DH has agreed to MC.
    I know hat I have to let go, and have hope for our future. As the poem Ann shared goes, we have to embrace the land we are in!
    Welcome to Holland indeed!

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    1. Faith Rose,
      When something still feels apocalyptic after such a long time, I believe it's because it's still being processed, or perhaps that you're stuck in post-trauma. And that's worth really examining. It's not that you don't want to be further ahead -- it's that something is keeping you where you are. Something that needs your attention.

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  5. I was like you and was hell bent on NOT turning out like my parents. I was not going to marry a cheater or liar. I was not going to be a single mom. I was going to have a picture perfect family. Well my expectations were crushed on dday.
    I am 6 months out and In that moment I would have never known this was possible. I am learning to love myself, something I have never ever done. I am putting myself first and practicing self love. I have this incredible bond with so many women who have gone through the same thing, women I have never met, but who I look up to and admire incredibly.
    This process is tough. Tougher than I would have ever imagined. But like Hopeful said, no matter what happens I will be ok.
    Thank you Elle for another amazing post

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    1. Katie P,
      That's the kicker with so many of us who grow up with dysfunction. We think that we can plan or declare that things will be different for us, without really understanding that we often simply don't have the toolbox to create that life, nor do we have the boundaries and ability to recognize when someone violates them.
      We need to look back on our former selves with forgiveness for not knowing better. For not knowing before what we couldn't have known until we knew it, if that makes sense.
      And yes, learning to give ourselves the care that we lacked is lesson #1.

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    2. Katie P
      Self care is so important. I didn't find this site until a couple of years after d day. A little while ago there was a blog on here about how to go easy on yourself in the aftermath.
      It is so hard coming from a broken home. My Mum is 3 times divorced and her last husband left her for another woman a few months after my 2nd d day.
      This blog gives me hope that the cycle of Co dependant and toxic relationships will stop with me. There is a way for us to be even more who we are meant to be as a result of this. I know I am more protective of myself now and have started counselling to work on my own stuff.
      There is a part of me that think however much of a wreck I am, to over come this, I am a survivor, I do have strength.
      That is something to be proud of.

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    3. What is interesting is I really had little to no dysfunction. But what I think I was conditioned was if I do the right things and act the right way things will be perfect or close enough. I always did the right they, never got in trouble. It is so interesting how I controlled and compensated my whole life yet in a different way.

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    4. Yes, Hopeful30, me too. I spent lots of energy being good and careful and thinking of others. I feel like I missed out on 'wildness' when I was young, but I didn't dare at that time. I don't think I was particularly trying to please people, but I just didn't know any other way to act. My parents always taught me to make allowances for other people. I find it very hard to set emotional limits as to listening and trying to help others. Now I know I need to use some of that caring energy for my own self. I'm not used to being the recipient- I feel like I should be the giver. Time for a break...

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  6. Fragments of HopeMarch 1, 2017 at 1:36 AM

    I think the Holland analogy is helpful in that even in awful situations there is always something that you can enjoy and be thankful for. I've certainly been to Holland with my eldest son and the difficult side and consequences of his Aspergers diagnosis. Somedays I feel proud and, in a way, privileged to have faced into the true reality of relationships and to be working with them authentically. On the other hand, sometimes you really tire Holland. There has been a whole litany of difficulties within these last few years, huge work disappointments, mother-in-laws stroke, my sons meltdowns, aggression, two year school refusal, the shock of the affair, my sister miscarrying her IVF baby, and now a new venture my husband is in is struggling and he might be out of a job any day (he is in IT so it will, ultimately be fine). I think I will realise the strengths I've gained once all these pressures are off, I'm certainly growing in confidence and have applied for a part-time position just to feel I can. Today, though, i had one of those tsunamis you all recognise. During the affair, there was an incident where we had an important family occasion (Catholic confirmation day) for my eldest son. My father who lives several hours away had recently had a mild heart attack and couldn't attend. I was emotional about it. My husband's sister also declined to come (no reason) given. She is the only sister he has and it is her mum who is now in the wheelchair with stroke. I found out at the last min she wasn't coming. I got very emotional and upset on the day. In the affair texts I read (too much info)my husband had been consoling her because her son was upset that his (seperated) Dad was not coming to her son's event but he sent several texts to her that day complaining about 'her behaviour' (mine). I found it chillingly cruel that he had no compassion for the fact that my parents were absent due to my father's worrying illhealth and used the occasion to out my emotional behaviour to her. (There is also a level of shame because I was always designated the emotional one and over the top and i do suffer from anxiety). Our children are two years apart, so since then, ever two years we have had a confirmation day come up, it's my daughter's shortly. I am triggered and filled with rage once more about this particular cruelty. I wonder to myself 'how much is too much'. I knew my husband since he was 19, he knew my strengths and weaknesses, so cruel to share such personal detail with the OW, such a core betrayal of what we should have been to each other with such a long history. My husband thinks when I feel like this that I'm discounting all the good stuff. I don't, I'm used to Holland, I keep going but sometimes you get disillusioned and I know there are some particular things I won't forgive him for and will never understand him doing.

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    1. Fragments of Hope, I feel your struggle with the "cruelty". The EA part of my H's only PA is the worst. The PA was only 1.5x (ED - ha) and I think will heal from that eventually. I never got to read the emails because my Dday was a decade after H ended the A. Therefore, all I know is based on what H has admitted in the past 3.5 months. The A was based on complaint about their spouses. The 1 person who I thought knew my heart and soul better than anyone on earth told a married family member who was a scheming self-serving whore horrible things about me. All the while I was the one who was faithful, pregnant, working 2 jobs (one caring for the elderly the other for people on hospice - what an cold bitch I was, right?), paying his bills, buying his close, cooking his meals, making our house a home, giving generously to his family. It is beyond painful to not only NOT be recognized for the vulnerable, kind, generous person you are, but to take it further and confide in a truly evil cheating OW that your wife makes you miserable. And when I asked he admitted to thinking he "loved" her and "having a future with her" at the time. I don't know if my heart can ever heal from that.

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    2. Fragments of Hope,
      I feel so many of the same things you mention. Most of the time I can keep my emotional life where it needs to be, but those specific ways we were betrayed... the complaints about us to the OW, the tiny physical details (holding pinkeys under the table actually feels like it hurts me more than the sex now... weird), the way they turned it all on us... These things hurt so much. Rationally I know that my H had two choices in the affairs. 1. He could face the fact that he was doing terrible things and might be an actual terrible person. 2. He could decide that there was something wrong with ME (too emotional, not emotional enough, too fat, too short, too old...) that was the true reason behind it all. All of our H's initially chose option number 2 to avoid the truth of option number 1. When you read those texts or when I am faced with the sharply painful details of how my H betrayed me, we are seeing someone's response when they opened the wrong door psychologically. It hurts that he made terrible mistakes and chose to blame me for them and act accordingly. H's who have remorse are saying that they now know that they opened the wrong door. They are facing that truth that they did a terrible thing and might be a terrible person (and they're trying to make sure they aren't a terrible person). When your H said you were behaving emotionally to the OW, he was trying to blame you for his cruelty. He was lost and desperate to convince himself that he wasn't a monster. Like crabs in a barrel, our H's grabbed on to us pulling us down to try to get themselves out. It didn't work and it left us both farther down in the barrel than we started out. I don't think that ever stops hurting, but you aren't alone in feeling it!!

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    3. FOH,
      Boy oh boy, have I been in your shoes. The rage, the self-righteous fury. But you have so much else going on that I would urge you to conserve your emotional energy. So here's what I'm suggesting:
      While your husband completely screwed up and what he did with texting her and throwing you under the bus was unforgivable. I will never ask you to forgive him for that.
      Here's what I will do, though. Take a look at him now. My guess is that if he could reach back in time and undo that horrible day, he would. He can't do that. Neither can you. What you can do is remind him how deeply hurt you were by that. Point out that a similar even is coming and it's triggering you, especially with everything else that's going on your life. Ask him if you two can figure out a way to support each other through this confirmation. What do you want the day to look like? What can you control? What will you each have to let go of? And then...work to create it. Together. It won't un-do what he did. But it might go a long way toward reminding each of you that now is so much better.

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    4. Wow! I needed to hear your responses, Ann and Elle. I read Fragments' comment and knew I had my one particular instance that sticks with me that carries more pain than others. I keep looking at it and wondering how he could have done it. They were not the actions of the man I'm married to now. He's done everything he can to make the particular day it's associated with) the anniversary of my mom's death) different now. And I know if he could go back and undo it (and everything else), he would. I feel like he's progressed so much more than I have some days.
      A friend mentioned the concept of radical acceptance the other day in regard to a matter completely separate from infidelity. I read a bit on it and just ordered Tara Brach's book. The concept isn't new to me after reading this blog and initially I think it's similar to what many here are doing. Accepting that what happened is the reality. Accepting doesn't mean condoning. But acceptance may help in the healing process. I've struggled so much with the idea of forgiveness over the past two years and have received a lot of good advice from you all here. I know that so much of my idea of forgiveness is a mindset that was ingrained in me from childhood, but then there's that part of me that still harbors anger and fights against what has happened. I'm going to read this book and see if it helps me along in the process.

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    5. Ann and Elle I agree with so much of what you have said. For us we have a lot of dates, triggers, memories that cause issues. Or even certain behaviors. It is I think normal to have things bring up feelings. Sometimes they can be good but since dday there are a lot of negative ones.

      I found the only effective way to lessen the pain and upset for me is to think a lot about it and to talk about it up front. This has helped us a lot. When we have these discussions what has been interesting is my husband usually always says I was feeling that or thinking that too. He just did not want to say anything to upset me or bring it up. We have gotten to a place where we have more matter of fact discussions and less emotional. It has made a huge difference. He has even started bringing up dates/events that will be hard. It can even be a simple statement or conversation made by a friend. He knows exactly what will trigger me or stir feelings and he feels it too. In time it has gotten so much easier and working at this understanding my own feelings in advance and also working with my husband has helped us move forward.

      Another thing that has helped is we continue to assess where stress comes from in our lives. I know some we cannot control, but we both have noticed a benefit to simplifying our lives and decreasing stress.

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  7. Fragments of HopeMarch 2, 2017 at 2:28 AM

    Thank you ladies for your excellent and articulate responses.Brown eyed girl, you have it exactly, not only not to be recognised but then confide in the evil OW from someone who knew your 'heart and soul'. And Ann, you describe so well the decision either to face up to the monster they were becoming versus loading the blame on us. Knee jerk reaction maybe, Jerk reaction Yes! YOu also mention, it is the specifics that really get to us. I thought about this yesterday:

    I can understand and forgive him for turning elsewhere under pressure and feeding off the uplift she gave him (emotional affair, coffees, heart to hearts, handholding)
    I can understand and forgive, most probably the direct lies and the hiding when he was grappling with the addiction to the high and the concurrent shame.
    I can somewhat understand but find it too difficult right now to either accept or forgive the cruelty of that occasion when he had absolutely no compassion for the fact that my father was ill, that I'd be missing my parents, no understanding/care for how it would affect me, no sense of guilt/responsibilty that he should have made an effort to bring all other family members together, such disconnect that he stepped outside the event to text, such cruelty and disloyalty that used my upset against me and shared it. As someone said above, rationally I can understand how it came about but still can't get my head around the lack of any barriers in his head to those awful actions. Dandelion, the idea of radical acceptance sounds interesting. I can see its something I can achieve. But I know I will also remain very vigilant that I am not being taken for a fool or that all his work drama is not a feature of some aspect of his personality.

    However, as Elle and others have said, this is not him now. I know that. Dandelion, my husband too has said, he would love to go back and undo it. Elle, you're right about addressing what will help on the day. I've already invited his sister and, since she's my daughter's godmother, she has a specific role and will be there. The event will take place in my sisters home rather than here as her son shares the confirmation day. I have said on these occasions in the past that my husband needs to (briefly) acknowledge the trigger. Its never quite enough to neutralise this particular memory but, that, and some visualisation techniques should assist. I guess I'm just very understandably fed up of all the work drama - there's a chance that things will wind up very quickly in the next few days and his wages won't be paid, we are waiting to see if we can pay the mortgage! There is also a court case hanging over the company (and ultimately him, personally if the company folds.)It's like a soap opera. I'm pulling myself together but the sh*t keeps coming. I'm weary of it. However you ladies are absolutely brilliant in helping to keep up spirits and to support and encourage. Thanks once more.

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  8. We are rapidly approaching two years since D day, and my feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, and fear are rushing back. I feel more easily triggered, and generally unsafe. I am trying to accept that this is just where I am right now, but I can't help but feel resentful and angry that I still feel so angry. It's not constant, but it has been more often lately and I am sure that has to do with the approaching D Day, but it doesn't make it easier. It has brought up thinking about and looking up the OW often, I think because it gives me a sense of control...it's like if I know what she is doing then she can't sneak up on me...it doesn't feel healthy, but it also makes me feel calm in some ways too.

    I wish that these feelings, this hurt would all just go away. It has lessened over the two years, but like the post suggests I keep looking toward a future where it won't be a part of my life, and this post helped me to see that that is unrealistic. But, I don't know how to have hope and allow there to be space for the pain of being betrayed so deeply at the same time. Like you, I had trouble trusting because of my background, and it took me such a long time to heal from that and finally really trust my H, and then he took 18 years of marriage and earned trust and flushed it down the toilet to have sex with another woman. He threw me away because she was new and exciting and paid attention to him...I hate that this happened and I still feel so angry with him for what he did. All I can do is hope that one day the pain of it all will reduce a dull ache. I can't unknow what I know, and remembering the affair will always hurt I suppose.

    The early comments about feeling lonely and not being very interested in friends and friendships really helped. I thought I was alone on this, and I feel about it. But, frankly I just done' have the time or the tolerance to be around most of my friends. I think I am ready to let go of some relationships, but I feel bad about it. They are a part of my history - but I really just don't enjoy being with them anymore. Making new friends feels difficult too, becasue healing from and reorganizing my life after the affair is such a priority, but I can't really talk with new people about what I am going though, and I'm not sure I would want them to know anyway. Part of me wants to get rid of everything and everyone in my life pre D Day (kids not included) and just start over in a new place that doesn't have all of the reminders and baggage of pain and hurt. A place where the constant fear of running into the OW isn't always in the back of my mind, a place that is far away from where she lives so the possibility of my H and her running into each other will disappear. But, at the same time I love my community, and would feel resentful to leave it because of something HE did.

    The pain confuses me, and angers me, and scares me all at once....some days (some weeks even) It just feels like it's never going to end. But, then some days are so beautiful, so full of love, so full of joy that I am (almost) grateful to have gone through this, because there is no way such deep happiness could be experienced without the profound pain.

    Anyway, thank you all for sharing your stories and reminding me that I am not alone...much love to you all.

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    1. Seeing the Love,
      I read your post and I know those feelings. The two year anniversary of our final d-day is coming up for me as well. Sam A and Theresa have given you really good advice.
      Taking care of yourself is so important. I think the triggers and feeling the need to check are normal. I'm feeling that as well and I think it's my own anxiety over the anniversary coupled with some increased stress that's completely unrelated to the affair. Any time I'm not taking care of myself and my needs, I don't do as well in the healing process. As an example, last night I had a nightmare where our final d-day played out again and it was terribly realistic. My husband attempted to comfort me but I wasn't having any part of that and I lashed out at him instead. This morning, I'm exhausted but I'm trying to get myself back on track. For me that mean an hour alone to run tonight, a hot bath and a good meal. And not taking on anyone else's stuff today.
      I'm working on the lonely part. I shy away from old friends and don't invest the time in new ones. I have a few close people I trust and you ladies here who I don't hesitate to share with. I want closeness and connection but am still very hesitant with people. I hope to see changes in this over time.
      Hugs to you!

      Sam A and Theresa, good to see posts from you both. Had been wondering about you. :-)

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    2. Hey dandelion.. so pleased your looking after you, we get lost in other people's stuff sometimes that it takes us away from our self care..try not to focus too much on the 2 year mark it will come and go like any other day.. it's entirely up to you how you spend it. You've come a long way dandelion be proud of where you stand today!!! Sending big hugs xxxx

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  9. Seeing the love, there is no timeline to healing .. when you have these triggers it's a sign that you need to look after you.. go back to basics how did you look after yourself in the early days following d day.. I think (me included) we get stuck in pushing forward to a healthier place that we sometimes forget our self care along the way.. I can understand you wanting to leave the past behind move away and start afresh, I often dream of the same thing the sad truth is where ever we go in the world we will take our past and the pain with us.. figure out what makes you feel good seeing the love, is it a bike ride? A walk in the park? A holiday by yourself? A meal out? A massage? Whatever it maybe take some time out for you.. some counselling sessions to work through these recent triggers maybe?? Keep posting seeing the love let us know how you get on .. big hugs xxx

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  10. Seeing the love
    Sam A is spot on! Time to go back to the basic self care! Boy have I had to do this for the past two weeks dealing with the realities of caring for a disabled parent! My h and his drama queen is on the back burner, but yesterday we were out enjoying a round of golf, his way of distracting me from the stress of decision making for my mother, when I triggered over something he was saying about golf etiquette of all things! I was moving slow and holding up the next players, my trigger was how the hell can you know so much about golf etiquette and not have any understanding of real life etiquette towards your own wife when you were having an affair! Such a silly trigger but it hit me in the guts and I came close to walking off the course! He realized what was happening and took a different approach to getting me through the tense moments of my trigger. I've learned to put some of this mess into 'the box', the one he used, compartmentalizations, in order to stay focused on the necessary routines for the day. Not easy for me, but I'm working in it! As for looking up the ow, guilty as charged here too! I understand the need for control, the ow in our situation tried to have control over my marriage and my h but I took that control from her, she has nothing I need to be like, I'm better than her in everything my h needs and wants, she was nothing but a fantasy that turned into a nightmare. I look her up sometimes just hoping to see that she has moved on in her life with a new relationship. She still rides by our house from time to time. My h calls this 'pining' for what she wanted but can never have, which is in reality my life of being married to my h. I'm sorry you and I still have this petty need to give even a small damn about what this crazy ow is doing! Let's try to help each other learn a different way to deal with this! Hugs!

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    1. Theresa, I'm with you. My husband won't eat off a buffet line because he considers it unsanitary but he paid for all kinds of sex with strange women. Figure that out. Pisses me off. Oh and yesterday we were at the store to pick up some lube for sex and he asked me where it was. I think I punched him in my mind cause it is where the condoms are you moron. I just said, loudly, near the condoms. He meekly went to look for it. Geesh. Shit they put us through.

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