Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Power of Betrayed Wives Club

"We can never protect people from anything but we can give them a safe place to heal. We can build joy in the middle of madness."
~Eve Ensler, playwright, performer, activist and founder of City of Joy

Joy in the middle of madness.
If there is anything I wish for every single woman who finds herself here, it is that: joy in the middle of madness.
Maybe that joy comes from recognition. From reading so many stories that sound like your own. From recognizing the pain that, no matter how different the circumstances of our betrayal, feels like our own. There's so much power in that recognition. In that "me too" response. We are not alone. Not at all. And if these other women can go through this pain and heal, then so we can every single one of us.
It has been a long time since I felt that sense of defeat, that conviction that nobody had ever felt so stupid, so humiliated, so powerless to stop the hurt. But I know now that the community here is more powerful than the fear that we will never ever be okay again. The community here reminds us that we will heal. We will be okay again. We will be better than okay. We will feel joy. And this community, hopefully, even gives a little taste of that joy. In the middle of madness.
Maybe the joy comes from hope. From reading others' stories in which they share that they aren't where they were any more. That they don't cry so often. That the numbness has given way to a different pain, one that they can endure because feeling something is better than feeling nothing. That they laughed the other day at something their child said. That they met with a divorce lawyer and realized they were going to be okay. That the worst was the fear, not the reality.
Maybe the joy comes from time. From realizing that, contrary to all expectations, we're surviving this. Day after day. That we're healing incrementally.
Maybe the joy comes from the liberation of finally dealing with the truth instead of so many lies. That even if it has hurt like hell to know the truth, it's still better than that am-I-crazy feeling of living with deceit.
Maybe the joy comes from a partner who is able to support us through this pain. From being able to pull closer to each other and see each other's wounds and tend to our own in a way that's gentle and compassionate.
Maybe the joy comes from finally seeing that it's time to leave and that within that painful decision, there is an opening for so much more hope and joy down the road.
Maybe the joy comes helping others. From knowing that within our own healing is a blueprint for others. That we can share what we've learned and leave it to others to take from our story what works for them and leave what doesn't.
I know not all of you can see the joy on this site, especially when you first arrive, shattered and frightened.
But I promise you it's there. I see it every day. I see it in the compassionate voices that chime in to acknowledge each others' pain. I see it in the way we hold each others' stories as sacred. I see it in the way we can laugh at Stupid S#*t Cheaters Say. In the way we cheer each other on, whether their choice in responding to betrayal is like ours or not. In the ingenious ways we help others like us, such as the woman who purchased a gift card for running shoes for her therapist to give to a betrayed client who needed help finding her feet.
We all learn through this that we cannot protect people from what happens to them. We learn we couldn't even protect ourselves. But we can give others and ourselves a safe place to heal. And we can find joy there.


19 comments:

  1. Elle
    Your words are like a huge warm hug! Sending you one back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have found hearing from other women a lifesaver - those moments when feelings overwhelm, uncontrollable tears , the hard lump in my chest , sitting at my desk forgetting what I should be doing , that brokeness. That I'm actually normal. Responding to a terrible life event. And I can get better. My husband and I can work this out and be stronger. Thank you sisters. You give me strength.

      Delete
  2. This is so true and lovely to read. I feel like I'm experiencing some growing pains that are both welcomed and scary. I'm at the point where I can really see that none of this was my fault and that none of my flaws or shortcomings were justification for my husband's life choices. I love this secret sisterhood. I can come here any time I need to and look up any topic and find peace and comfort. We are a few months away from a major lifestyle change and I look forward to this with eager expectation because I will, for the first time since my marriage, be focused on things I love to do and want to do. Some will include my husband and some will not. He will also be able to explore his personal interests that I do not share and we are starting fresh in a new place where we have no ugly memories to face. Of course there will always be things that remind each of us about the past and I'm hoping to handle those better than I did a year ago. I've reached out to a coach, whom I "met" on this blog from very early posts and I think it will be great to have a survivor of this to hold my hand when I need it. My D-day 2 is coming up in June and I'm not feeling down like I did last year. Actually, I'm feeling kind of good about facing this date with courage and anticipation of doing something positive. I have read Martha Beck's article about stopping regretting decisions and things that are past and believe it or not, this has been so helpful for me every single day because I do tend to ruminate and dwell on the things he did and the feelings that brings up so it is good not to go there. I can only change me and the future choices I have. He is in charge of his own life and if we can continue to communicate together then I will give it a good try. Hopeful 30, like you, I still ask myself if this is who I want to spend the rest of my life with and sometimes the answer is "yes" and sometimes "no" and often, "I don't know" so for today, I'm maintaining the status quo and moving forward. Happy Memorial Day weekend to everyone. Junk food on the grill (hot dogs) plus chips, margaritas and more crap food in my yard Monday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so excited for your new adventures. Interesting I was thinking recently how I wish we could move away and have a fresh start with my husband. We are still too far away from it. If I even bring up moving my kids flip out. They are doing so well and are so happy. In the end I know that only some issues would be solved by a move but it sounds so good some days.

      I too have come to realize what you say about none of this is about me and also only being able to control my choices and decisions. In a way that has been so liberating. Working hard to control or try to control someone else is exhausting. I know I can count on myself and all of my decisions. That in itself is so empowering. And there are more days I want to stay in my marriage than I don't so for now I stay and focus on today. I am trying to give myself a break and focus on me and my kids. Sometimes I think I want to rush things and have them be "fixed". I know that is not realistic since for the long haul there will always be areas to work on in our marriage.

      Keep us updated with your new exciting changes!

      Delete
    2. Beach Girl, Your adventures sound enticing. So does your Memorial Day plan!
      Glad to hear you and Hopeful30 are both feeling pretty good these days.

      Delete
  3. I agree about the power here. I have gained so much joy and peace from interacting with you all and reading the wise Elle words here. Truly a blueprint for me. Right after Dday, the whole world seemed dark and full of people I could never trust. Slowly I have come to recognize the goodness and light all around me even in the midst of my pain. This site is the brightest light and most constant reminder to me that most people are good. That most people are not out to get me. Thank you to everyone who shares their pain, success, struggles, and insights here! I have an entirely new definition of love now and you are ALL a part of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ann,
      I STILL struggle with reminding myself that most people are good, decent, kind people. It's incredibly hard right now with a world that feels rooted in hate and division. But behind the headlines are millions of people reaching out to each other and extending a hand.
      I love your new definition of love. Works for me, too.

      Delete
  4. This week I watched The Girl on the Train alone (which I do not recommend in most cases! Trigger City!) Something great did happen for me when watching it. I had the sudden realization that I'm the girl on the Train (although not as severe/dramatic). The main character is numbing and obsessive when really the problem is not her. She can actually let all that shit go and move on (she just *thinks* the problem is her). In the end, when she does let go and realizes her value, she is healthy and whole. I felt healthy and whole at the end too. I don't have to keep digging if I'm done digging. I don't have to keep looking in windows if I'm done looking in windows. I don't have to keep feeling small and unworthy if I'm done feeling small and unworthy. In this particular situation, it wasn't me. It was him. I knew that rationally all along, but seeing the woman's transformation on the screen caused me to see some of the residual emotions and insecurities I have as completely unnecessary. I'm not saying I'm off the hook on all marriage issues and have no work or introspection to do... I just mean I'm done with introspection about my H affair choices. That's not me. That's him. So simple, but takes so much time and work to get there! (For me at least.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes our lessons come in surprising packages, huh?

      Delete
  5. I truly don't know where I'd be if I never found this blog about a week after Dday. I'm 6 mos out from Dday and I am still in so much pain and I still don't know if I want to stay in this marriage. I truly think I would be happier if I divorce him, but life for my kids will become drastically different and I really want them to have stability. This is the only place that others understand that. That adultery is painful and most of us do not end up in a clear-cut situation after the discovery, most of us end up with uncertainty. I am trying to find joy. I will say that whenever I need a good belly laugh I read the 'stupid shit cheaters say' over again and I often laugh so hard I cry. Laughter IS good medicine.

    My daughter is graduating from middle school today and I took her out today and bought us each a new dress and then we got mani/pedis. I felt joy in those moments with her, even though I cried on the drive there thinking about what her father was doing a decade ago when she graduated from pre-K. I hope all of you have a nice Memorial Day, pay tribute to those who died for our freedom, make memories with your kids and do something nice for yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Browneyedgirl
      I feel so sorry for what you are going though. I'm 18months out from D Day and I understand your pain all too well. After a 4 month separation, I took my h back in. For me, there's not a day that goes by that his betrayals are not on my mind and it's not healthy I know (I am going back to meditation soon). I still feel like kicking him out but like you we have kids too and I need the stability for them. My h thinks things are going along nicely and he is making an effort to do things with me, but he is in denial of my pain over what he has done and not wanting to face it by not talking to me or going to counselling. I was with my IC last week and he told me as much as my h may have IQ he has no EQ (emotional intelligence), not an excuse but just showing the level of crappy husbands we are dealing with. I was devastated by the separation, but he really was not “here”, but after a couple of weeks into the separation, I became a different person – a much happier person. Now we are back his betrayals are always on my mind. Sorry for not being updated on your story – but has your H broken it off with his affair partner? Are you and your H in counselling? If you consider trial separation you need to take into consideration how would that go financially and for your kids. Would your H still be prepared to do father duties? There are SO many other questions to consider before a separation, because sometimes you think “oh we’ll just separate for a little bit”, but then either one of you may not want to get back into the marriage. I know I want to divorce my h so many times, but like others have said here – you are in no hurry to do anything. I know that doesn’t help because when you are dealing with all this you just want it (the pain) to end, to have answers to feel good again. I must say 18months out I very rarely cry. Maybe I’ve cried so much I don’t have any tears left. BEG. It’s a no win situation isn’t it? 1) We want to stay in this marriage for our kid’s stability and happiness which are at the top of our list, yet in doing so our happiness and sense of self-worth are compromised. 2) We leave for our happiness yet our kids may become unsettled, angry, embarrassed ashamed….and will we end up happy with the separation/divorce?
      Don’t you wish we could have a crystal ball?
      You are doing the right thing to find happiness for you and glad you got to have that time with your daughter. Sounds like it was so much fun. Keep up the fun however that comes to you.
      Hugs
      Gabby xo

      Delete
    2. Hi Gabby, I tried to post long replies to you twice but it doesn't seem to come through. I will try again later... Thanks for listening!

      Delete
    3. Gabby, here’s my very complicated story...

      My H was abandoned by his mother as a toddler, an only-child raised by a single father who never gave him a good example of marriage. His parents have 5 divorces between them. His father let him get exposed to porn mags at single-digit age. H has a history of frequent porn & pot use as an adult.

      A few weeks after our 1st child was born I found very flirtatious emails between my H & one of his co-workers (Dday #1). It hadn’t gone on long & it hadn’t progressed to anything physical but I still consider that infidelity.

      3 years later when I was 8 mos pregnant with our 2nd child, working 2 jobs & studding for board exams H’s company was in the process of being shut-down & he did nothing to look for new work – I have to admit I lost respect for him. A few days after that Thanksgiving his cousin’s wife started emailing my H to complain about her H. We were not close to that cousin & his wife, but I had served them holiday meals in my home as part of the larger family. My H responded to her emails with a ‘me too’ & then she started flirting/sexting with him on email & of course he flirted back instead of saying ‘no way, my wife is pregnant & you are married to my cousin this will devastate an entire family’. Within a few weeks of sexting on their work emails she invited him to meet her for sex so he lied to me, called off sick, drove 2.5 hours, put our toddler’s car-seat in the trunk & had sex with her in the backseat of the family car I bought us (that was the only time they were physically together). He never took her anywhere, never bought her anything. Within a few days/weeks COW’s BH found the after-sex emails between them & on Christmas Day he confronted my H privately at a family event. That Christmas my H bought me a beautiful pair of pearl & diamond earrings (giving jewelry wasn’t his typical M.O.). The COW convinced her BH not to tell me ‘for the sake of the kids’. My H told his cousin he didn’t want a divorce & promised the A was over. A few weeks later our son was born. The BH was an emotional mess (of course) & my CH was worried he was going to tell me & H’s job had ended so he called her every so often after our son’s birth to make sure all was going to stay quiet. About 9 mos later CH finally got another job & knew I couldn’t read his work emails so he started emailing the COW again that ‘I didn’t love him’ & this was intermittent for about 6 mos or so at which time my H ‘found God’ & decided to get baptized. Through that process we renewed our vows in the church & later went on a 2nd honeymoon. H says he had NC with the COW during two years except maybe to check-in with her prior to seeing them at a family wedding/funeral/holiday to make sure her BH was going to remain silent. About 4 years after their backseat sex we visited my CH’s family & took about a dozen of them out for a holiday meal. COW & her BH were poor so I paid for their dinner. I have photos from that restaurant – my H was affectionate & kissing me. At the end of that meal COW sat on my lap & said to my CH “Isn’t she beautiful?” my H said “yes”. Soon after that COW’s BH kicked her out & filed for divorce. a few weeks later my CH went to visit my MIL to help her repair her house & MIL told CH about the divorce, so CH thought COW & her stbx-BH had nothing to lose & might tell me so he invited her to meet-up. They sat in the front seat of our car & talked then COW invited my CH to fool around & of course he obliged & they got in the backseat. Embarrassingly, CH had ED & he said he ‘let her down easy because hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ & CH was afraid if COW felt rejected that she would tell me. That evening he confessed the A to my MIL who ‘cried for him’ (not me) & agreed to keep his dirty secret. He said he emailed COW a couple more times & then NC since. That was 7 years ago.

      Delete
    4. A year later while we were on a family vacation & my H & kids were sleeping in the hotel I opened an email from his cousin’s mentally-ill brother who accused my CH of having had an A with the COW. I stepped out of the room, called my MIL & she lied to me & I believed her, after all the cousin’s brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia & was a convict for adult & battery so it was easy to believe he was delusional. About 5 years later my CH, unemployed for the 3rd time, signed up for Ashley Madison (which I consider cheating although he never met anyone in person). I found the account within a few weeks (Dday #2) & CH deleted all of it & made us appointments for MC. We went to MC for about 9 mos during the course of which I asked him about rumored PA with his cousin’s CW & he quite convincingly lied to my face in front of the MC. This past fall the COW’s ex-BH decided he was still angry with my H & to get revenge ex-BH publically shamed me by exposing the A on social media (Dday #3) & called me an idiot for all to see (despite all the kind things I did for him & his family for many years).

      After that Dday #3 (which was 6 mos ago) I made my H move into the guest room. There was good & bad. The bad: gaslighting, involving my MIL in our problems, continued use of pot & porn, he said he ‘thought he loved the COW’ (I am truly stuck on that emotion more than anything else), and he’s unemployed - again. The good: H made the apts for MC, we had hysterical bonding (great sex) pretty early on, H also goes to IC, got evaluated by a psychiatrist for depression & addiction, hasn’t missed an apt or a dose of his meds, H signed us up for Retrouvialle, writes me a love letter email each morning, has taken me on dates, we’ve taken weekend trips without the kids, tells me I am the ‘love of his life’, compliments me frequently, encourages me to do nice things for myself, finally minimized any communication with MIL, quit pot a few months ago, quit porn a few weeks ago, has become a man of faith & serving the church community, he does most of the chores around the house & he is a good dad.

      See why I’m undecided…

      Delete
    5. Thanks for sharing browneyedgirl
      What an amazing person, mother, wife you are!
      I feel for you being stuck on that emotion of you h thinking he loved the COW. My h never said to me he loved her, or told her, and I know Elle has said that i'ts usually not love, but love of the fantasy life etc. Still doesn't help me, so all I can do is feel your pain with you in understanding.
      Aren't in laws a piece of work? They are the root of so many problems in marriages. What a sad childhood your h had. How some people end up as parents really disgusts me. I think everyone has a story to tell, but as adults you grow up and want to change the story - not with my husband.
      I'm glad for you your h is making an effort and especially with IC/MC. Maybe admitting you have a problem on your own, and seeking help is the first step in healing. Whilst my h has had a few sessions of MC/IC, he doesn't want to go back. So this is weighing heavy on my mind, his lack of owning up and dealing with all this shit he put on me, our marriage and our family.
      I can totally relate to how you are feeling undecided.
      I firstly was happy to have him back after the separation for not only the children, but for me. But now, I just feel like my head and emotions are stuck in a black hole of no answers (courtesy of him) and I so many times want to kick him out, but then not - and thinking - always thinking of my kids.
      Just one day at a time hey?
      thinking of you and sending big hugs
      Gabby xo

      Delete
  6. OK, I need to modify my original post to say that I am coming up on the 2 year anniversary of my only D-Day. Sorry about that. Also, I wanted to mention for those of use who have spouse who use compulsive sex (or have a history of that behavior) that my therapist told me about a segment by Ester Perel on last weeks edition of This American Life. It is the second segment of the #617: Fermi's Paradox. Wow, it is pretty powerful. At this point, my husband is a little bit better than the husband she interviewed but he typically brings everything back to him. I'm at the point right now where I'm not usually going to make that an issue because he is so deep in his shame but trust me, one day I will ask him to listen to this segment because it will benefit him. Interesting, he has been experiencing ED for a couple of weeks and it is really upsetting him. We talked about it last night and again this morning some and he admitted that the pending 2 year anniversary is worrying him because he is expecting my big melt down. Right now, I don't see that coming but never say never. I'm still in a good space. Peace to all and oh, Steam, you will really like that segment as will you Elle.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I wanted to make sure I commented on this post in particular. Like so many who found their way here after d day,this site has been a lifeline. This community, the understanding and acceptance and love, the wisdom, insight and advice, being able to connect with women who "get it",being held regardless of the path we are choosing or has been chosen for us, that has been of immeasurable value.
    There were times when I remember waiting anxiously for the responses to posts to come through on my phone, where I read, in quiet desperation the word hugs, the reachings out, the little bit of connection when I felt so alone. Sometimes I was definitely using this to calm my through the roof anxiety. Like a towel wrapped around my head, dulling the sounds and sights and pains of my new reality. But we all know there were worse things I could have chosen to do to numb my pain. And here, I was encouraged to actually deal with my feelings, to engage in the radical act of feeling whatever I was feeling. I learned about self care here. I had/have such great role models. And every time I felt at my lowest, was thrashing like a loose fire hose, my friends here reached out and held me, stood by me, reminded me I was OK and was going to be better than OK and that it was OK to thrash and wail and gnash my teeth.
    I am not as active a commenter as I once was, but I still read every new post and often the comments and stories of my sister warriors. (partly because I feel like my new, singleish life and the ups and downs of almost dating, my struggles with the complete lack of sex in my life don't feel like they fit in with the mission here). I'll admit that it is sometimes hard to hear stories where husbands stayed, thought you were worth it, realized what they had put at risk. That's so hard for me and can send me to the "why am I not enough/too much?" (funny how those things go together) which I know is the wrong question, which I know is a lie. But that's where I'm still wounded and I know it. But I also know, thanks to this place, that life now is good (when I don't constantly have someone who has to blame me for all that is "wrong" in his life, where I get turned on my head and end up apologizing when I was the one raising a concern - how does that even happen?), that life ahead is full of promise. And when my heart aches because "I just want someone to love me, to pick me." I am reminded that I have lots of people who love me and that one broken man does not determine my worth.
    Elle, you've done an incredible thing here. I hope you know how much we all love you and how meaningful the work you are doing is. How much a space like this is needed. I'm so impressed with your honesty, strength and resilience, your connectedness to your own story. And your gift of being able to sense the emotional currents in this community you've created and give us eloquent (Elle-oquent?) words to name what we are experiencing. That's powerful juju.
    My heart is full as I write on this dreary spring morning. I'm tired and not feeling quite up to snuff. Joy is a little distant. I'm lonely. So lonely. Enough that I was crying into a rare glass of wine on Sunday night with my friends. Laughing afterwards "see, this is why I rarely drink, lol" (I might have even said lol - too much texting with my teens). But I'm glad I found you. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh SS, Crying into your wine with friends around to laugh about it with is a part of this. You might feel lonely but you're far from alone.
      And thank-you for the kind words. They mean so so much to me.
      As for your "why am I not enough/too much", I know that you know that's an old wound. You've always been enough/just right. You were born enough/just right. The problem is that not everybody has the eyes to see it. So your job is to find those who do and not waste time trying to convince those who don't. We should never sell ourselves to anyone who can't see our inherent value.
      A point re. teens: Having three tens myself, I'm increasingly aware that the hyper-hormones in my house brings up...feelings. No relationship can compete with the excitement of hyped up hormones. So I have to pay attention to my own feelings of nostalgia for long-gone loves. I wonder if that's perhaps part of what you're feeling too. Watching kids on the brink of relationships can increase our feelings of loss. They still have the chance to get it right, we think. Thing is, they also have some heartbreak of their own to go through. And, either way, it can pierce our own hearts.

      Delete

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails