Monday, April 16, 2018

Accepting Isn't the Same as Liking

I'm convinced we can't move forward from betrayal until we've accepted it. I can imagine you reading that line and having a visceral reaction. Accept it? your all likely shouting at your computer. I have to accept his lies? I have to accept his absences? I have to accept that this is okay?
No. That is not at all what I'm suggesting though I've little doubt that I would have heard it exactly that way back in my early days post-bomb-going-off-in-my-life.
I also know that I spent a whole lot of time cursing what had happened to me. I spent a whole lot of time rehearsing what I should have said or done differently to have created a different outcome. I spent a whole lot of time nursing my pain. Days. Weeks. Months. Maybe even a year or two.
And then, eventually, I realized that wasn't working. All the wishing that things were different, all the imagining that if I was different, if he was different, if we were different, if my parents were different – you get the idea – wasn't making a bit of difference in my life, except keeping me stuck in a state of wishful thinking. 
It wasn't helping me heal
What finally made a difference was accepting that there was no way, no how, that I was going to be able to undo my husband's cheating. This was my life and I'd darn well better figure out what I was going to do with it.
The whole nasty package had arrived at my door and it didn't matter that I didn't want to sign for it. 
It was mine.
But lord, it felt awful. Finally accepting that this was my life didn't feel good at all. It felt like defeat. It felt like failure. 
But that's what often gets in the way of acceptance. We think accepting what happened is the same as liking it. We hear those people who say "my husband's affair was the best thing that happened to me" and we think to ourselves, no way, no how. That's crazy talk. Best thing? You've got to be kidding me. It was hell. It knocked me on my ass. Nope. Not buying it. 
But acceptance isn't just "my husband's affair was the best thing that happened to me". Sometimes acceptance is a long deep sigh before signing up for a new class. It might be telling a close friend what's really going on in your marriage. It could include calling a lawyer and asking him to draw up a separation agreement. It might also be the resolve to finally stop looking at the Other Woman's social media accounts.
However acceptance looks in your life, I promise you it's a crucial step on your path to healing from betrayal. It might feel horrible. It might feel as though you're giving up, that you've abandoned any hope of having a better past. And to some extent, that's exactly what it is. It's about recognizing that there is nothing – nothing! – you can do or imagine or rehearse that will change what's happened to do. You might not want to sign for the package but it's there, at your door, and it's not going anywhere.
But here's where acceptance is a gift. It frees up all that energy that you've been using to try and rewrite your past for reimagining your future. It gives you the space and clarity you need to look at your life, right now, exactly the way it is, and take steps, your Next Right Step, toward a better future.  It reminds us that, as my friend says, all we can ever do is keep our side of the street clean. And that's all we ever need to do.
Acceptance doesn't at all mean that what happened to you was okay. It will never be okay. But it does mean that YOU will be okay. 
I recently heard Tim Storey on a podcast talking about how a comeback isn't the same as a go-back. A comeback, he explained, is the result of accepting where you are in life and developing a resilience, a way of moving forward. A go-back, conversely, is exactly what it sounds like: a backward look that keeps us mired in what happened.
We often need time to digest betrayal. Nobody needs to take immediate action. But when you realize that you've remained stuck, that you're living in some suspended state of wishfulness, then it's time to un-stuck yourself.
And acceptance just might be the solution. 


  1. This is all so true. And I also think this is true for my husband. I big shift had to happen for him to realize he had to accept everything. He had to accept what he had done and also moving forward our new marriage and way of life. He has done an amazing job of feeling great about things. As he states it he never thought we could be together after disclosure so this is a true second chance he never thought possible. He still tells me dday was like the first day of his life and he lives each day that way.

    1. Hopeful30,
      That is a really good point that I didn't make in the post. The betrayer has to accept too. Instead, too often, they minimize, they deflect, they rationalize, they blame-shift, ALL of which is NOT a full acceptance of what they did and the damage it caused.

  2. Spot on Elle,we’re not heading anywhere unless we accept this is what happened and look at ways to make the situation better.. I hate being stuck, I hate being angry and out of control like I’ve said before it does me no justice at all. To be able to be nice to my h after what he did is accepting what he did, working out a separation or divorce is accepting, letting go of the ow’s name would be accepting but I can’t seem to do that just yet. I really dislike her name and Gucci shoes as this is what she wore when I cAme face to face with her.

    I truly believe their are no winners or losers in betrayal, it hurts like hell and even if your h has chosen to stay in the marriage it still doesn’t feel like you’ve won the prize. I’ve tried to be nice to my h the last few days let him into my home, given him a glimpse of my life all because he’s going away tomorrow on a pilgrimage for 2 weeks and I didn’t want him to leave on harsh words, what if he never returned I’d feel awful. Anyhow the day before he goes tomorrow I have a rant not a big one but a rant and I upset myself, I felt bad for because my horrible ( I know that’s crazy right) but I don’t like being that person I really don’t. I’m glad he’s going away for 2 weeks I’m ready for some piece and quiet, kids are back to school tomorrow after a 2 week holiday so I’m ready for ‘ me’ time. Started slimming world last week my first weigh in tomorrow so I’m hoping I’ve lost I’ve been good with food and exercise. I’ll let you know how I go on.. sorry if I’ve rambled and changed the subject a million times : ) love you ladies xx

    1. Sam A, In my experience, the more I tried to keep the lid on my anger, the more likely it was to explode. So please don't beat yourself up for being "that person". "That person" is deeply wounded and as we know, pain often comes out as anger.
      I hope you get your peace and quiet and some time to catch your breath.

  3. Oh Elle - once again you seem to say just what I need to hear. I think this has actually been on my heart a lot lately - the need to accept. I spend so much time wishing - wishing I'd made different choices years ago, wishing he had made different choices around the EA, wishing this weren't our story, wishing there wasn't pain, wishing I had done or said this after dday. Wishing won't change a thing.

    I also spend a lot of time now checking...little things to try to find those things that make me feel better but all it was doing was making me feel worse.

    I can't change what I did in the past. I can't change what my husband did in the past. It is forever a part of our story - whether we stay married or end up apart. Right now, today, we are in this thing called marriage together and trying to get through each day moving forward. Is it perfect? Hell no. We both have demons. The OW is still around (coworker). But we are in this together. I have to focus on that and really accept the past.

    Part of my acceptance has been in putting the focus back on me. Of letting go of trying to own his decisions...that is not on me, those are on him. The less I check, the more I thought stop, the better I feel.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Jules,
      We all need reminders. It's so easy to get caught back up in that "why did this have to happen?" cycle where we go back over every step of ours, of his, etc.
      But it sounds as though you're able to catch yourself, bring yourself back to the right now, and then do some radical self-care.

  4. This is an interesting post. I had a front row seat watching this pig go after my husband. Had I known then what I know now I probably would have handled things differently. Accepting that this happened and letting go seem to be two different things. I've accepted that this happened but have a hard time in letting it go due to the extent this woman and her friends went through to trying to destroy my marriage. The naive and trusting person I was always thought that this only happened in "Lifetime Movies". Boy was I wrong. I work on myself daily and we work hard together at putting our marriage back, stronger then what I thought it was before this shit happened. Never in a million years would I have thought that this would happen to us. All of our stories are stories from hell as far as I'm concerned and how we each handle it shows strength and courage. Sometimes this blog makes me look really hard at myself like this one did and I'm not sure I like what I see and feel. I guess it just means that I need to work a little harder on me.

    1. Anonymous,
      I think there are a lot of "never thought it would happen to me"s in this group. :)
      And yes, I see enormous strength and courage every day on this site. It's important to look at ourselves but do it with kindness. Make sure you notice the good.

  5. This is so true. I think sometimes it is so completely confusing when you're bogged down and overwhelmed by it...because it is slow. I am on a come back but sometimes I look like I am stuck and on a go-back. I'm not always. I am just going through the middle and it's painfully slow. There is no magic switch for me. It's hard others can't often see these teeny tiny incremental steps and breakthroughs inching you forward...they see it as a 'go back' because you can't miraculously put it behind you overnight. It's a very lonely experience.

    1. Luly,
      It's incredibly lonely. It's why I created this site. Because I felt so alone.'ve got us. An army of women who know exactly how you feel.
      And yes, it is incredibly slow. Two steps forward, one back. But, as my therapist used to remind me, it isn't actually going back. It's revisiting. And there's a difference. Sometimes we need to take a look with the new eyes we have, to examine things again with a fresh perspective. It's what moves us forward. And Luly, you don't need others to see your progress. Notice it yourself. Congratulate yourself for the days you progress and congratulate yourself for the days you can barely get out of bed. It's all progress, even when you can't see it. Think how long a seed is buried in the ground, slowly evolving, until we actually see it. You're that seed.

    2. Thank you x It is true. I need to give myself more credit for the changes and steps forward I make each day. I also have to remind myself that people that have not been through it do not understand. They try. But often the 'you have to get over it' mentality isn't coming from a bad place, just a place of not understanding and/or not seeing. Thank goodness for this army!! I really like your therapists take on it as revisiting with new eyes. I used to almost feel ashamed for going back into the rabbit hole but I really think I get closer to understanding and acceptance each time I revisit because my view is evolving the more I grow. I AM THE SEED!! :-)

  6. This can still be a struggle for me at times but it is true that he owns all of it. It had nothing to do with me regardless of what he said early on. He is a very wounded man who is doing his best to live the life he wants to lead. Knowing now that the life I thought I had was an illusion, well, I can usually see that the life I lead NOW, is much healthier and honest than pre-D-day.

    1. BG,
      I think it's a struggle for all of us, and not just around betrayal. part of what inspired me to write this was my realization that I find myself wishing things were different with my kids sometimes. Wishing they didn't have the mental health issues they do, wishing they could be "more like other kids". And then, I realize, that's getting in the way of me seeing all the ways in which they're so amazing.

  7. The go-back. That’s what I’ve focused so much of my time on in the past 10 months. Today is the day they had sex for the first time. I was out of town for the day taking my son on a college visit. I’ve spent the last month trying to connect the dots trying to figure out what I could have done differently. But I can’t go back and redo time. I can’t go back and derail the train. It happened.

    My comeback. I’m still determining what that looks like. I’m working on figuring out what safety looks like and what I need to begin to trust again. I’m trying to wrap my head around the recent deception and what it means to our future.

    Elle thank you again for a very timely post. I needed the brunt reminder that I cannot go back. By continuously focusing on the past it doesn’t leave the energy I need to look forward. And by beating my head against a closed door I’m just inflicting unnecessary pain on myself.

  8. I would hate to go back to not knowing what was going on behind my back. As cruel as it has been, at least im not in the dark anymore. That, in itself is a comfort.

  9. I need to accept my life now. I am stuck. I have been, like Gabby said, fighting for the marriage and the life I was supposed to have had with my husband. But it’s not there. He’s not there. That is what I have been grasping onto I think and what is keeping me stuck.

    I need to accept that he is not the man I fell in love with. I need to accept all that he has done and what he is doing now. I can’t change any of it or him. I can’t make him get help and try with me.

    It definitely takes up all my energy that I should be putting toward preparing for this Mediation, getting out and making friends, helping my daughter who needs to get back to college and out of our house that has been a cocoon for her, she is stuck herself, helping my 3 other girls, working, fixing up the house, etc.

    The “finally stop looking at the OW’s social media accounts” is a tough one for me. I was doing so well for about a month, and feeling so good. But when my husband texted that he was thinking about us at the beginning of March and then a few weeks later told me he had left his girlfriend-I just had to look to prove him wrong. I had to prove that what I suspected, that she is the final nail in the coffin to our already failed marriage and that he was just telling me he had left her to put that out of my mind so I wouldn’t think she was a reason for our separation. That led me on a fast dark spiral back into hyper-vigilant mode and it sucks! I can’t look any more! It’s all fake and such crap! How can people live with themselves-like my H and his FB. All his sluts he cheated on me with are still his “friends”, and they all think he is such a great guy?! If they only knew the real him.

    I am stuck also because my stupid H keeps telling me to breathe, let go of the hate, life is too short and we should be happy and all that other bull shit that is probably true and things I should do, but no way am I taking advise from him! I can Hate him all I want and blame him and make his life miserable if I want!

    But, I know what I need to do, the things that move me forward and make me feel a little better, it’s just so hard to do them.

    1. Ann, (part 1)
      I spent about 18 months being so totally stuck! I watched and listened to about every youtube vid/podcast on getting unstuck and they just didn't seem to help. Not sure if we just mentally belong there after this betrayal, as a mode of protection or what? Believe me, I understand the complete frustration of being in that place and tried everything to get out.

      Here's some things I did:
      I had pretty much told my H that I wanted to work things out and really really tried hard to make it all happen. He was 100 percent on board verbally, but his actions were not there. We are in a good spot now after 3 years, but he and I were not on the same page for a very long time on how to heal together. I tried to do what I could do, and came up with all kinds of ideas for us. In the end, I decided that all I could do was try and change how I reacted to this and try my hardest to heal myself. If he was there in the end, great, but I needed to save myself from myself. Not sure if that makes sense. My thought process and behaviors were killing me slowly. I was a google private detective and social media wiz that set out to find pain daily. The worst online shopper of all time!

      So try making baby steps to lift you out of this. Seems really corny, but on a Post-It Note that I put in my walk-in closet, I wrote "Choose You" Each and every day I began getting dressed looking at the post it note. What did it mean? It was a simple reinforcement each and every day to remind myself that that is the only part of things I could control. I chose myself each day and worked each day to honor my health and mindset. Some days all I could do was look at the post it note and cry. Other days I would think "I got this, I'm going to try one new thing to get unstuck.

      EAT GOOD: I had zero appetite and was dropping weight fast. I was not hungry and putting food in my mouth actually made me exhausted. You start to question why eating would help. Well, it helps and it's a good way to start a new habit. I love green beans and love to cook. Some days all by myself I would cut up green beans, toss them into olive oil and throw them into the oven to roast. I would take them out and actually eat them right off the pan. Sometimes all of them. I was putting something good in my body to try and heal.

      EXERCISE: I hate exercise and I was loosing weight so why? Well, it made me tired and it felt good. I slept very little for months, so tiring myself out actually helped me sleep a little better. It's hard to start anything, but again in trying to get unstuck, I needed change. I walked my dog for an hour each day. Sometimes a slower pace, sometimes faster. I tried yoga, it seemed to help me actually feel better. All of this produced endorphins, that lifted my spirits, even though I had a very dark cloud over me.

      MUSIC: Music is healing. On my walks I listened to music that made me energetic to walk faster and feel alive. It made me put a skip in my step. Some days the first part of my walk was listening to music that was about loss of loves, very sad music. I really needed at times to listen to sad music to feel the pain. I was in shock for so long and going through the motions and didn't feel a thing. It helped me tons.

      KIDS/ELDERLY: Plan a special day away with someone other than your h. I took my kids to a nearby town, we rented tandem bikes, ate lunch in a cute town and finished the day off with pie. I tried something new with them and it lifted my spirits. My H was actually out of town at the time and he instantly messaged me and said "where are you?" We took pictures of the landscape, enjoyed nature and enjoyed each other. When you tend to fall out of love with yourself, you can find yourself in the love of your children (or any child if you don't have children) I'm pretty sure this also could be accomplished by taking time to meet with an elderly relative or friend as well. Something about their life stories is interesting.

      ...see part 2

    2. Ann (part 2)
      HELP OTHERS: I decided that I would get away by myself for the weekend in the midst of being stuck. Told my h that I was stuck and needed to get away and he was somewhat bothered/alerted. Funds were really tight and I had no clue where I would go. So I'm going to sit in a hotel and do what? I just was at a loss. An old workplace acquaintance had lost her husband to ALS and was now a single mom with two kids. I hadn't talked to her in years, just followed and supported her journey on FB. So I messaged her and said, "what could I do for you today?" I can clean, cook, do yard work, you name it. She replied, "thank you!" She left me to tend to her house and I cleaned the entire main floor, dishes, laundry, raked leaves and bought her flowers. She was able to do her grocery shopping and some early Christmas shopping and the entire escape from household duties brought a smile to her face. It was a stress release for me! She had no idea what I was going through. She hugged me so hard and man, did I need that hug. She was grieving the loss of her husband and getting used to being widow and I was grieving the loss of my marriage (what I thought it was). Man, that was an amazing day. There were tears, but very happy tears. I needed her and she needed me.

      Chose You today! Simple corny things in life that don't cost much and are new experiences can really catapult you. I'm convinced there is a purpose being STUCK in this journey, but getting out of it is the tricky part. (((HUGS))) Ann! You can do this!!

    3. Heartfelt, I'm in tears of joy and admiration of your strength and journey and wisdom. Thank you so much for this primer on how to heal yourself. XOXOXO

    4. Great ideas there from Heartfelt.
      I just wanted to say, Ann, I really identify with your frustration as your h suggests "calming down". Mine started meditation (with an app) and became incredibly annoying and self-satisfied about it. Totally missing the point. And totally making me want to do anything but slow down and "just breathe"!

    5. SS1- Thanks, I also owe much of my calming moments to this group of women and the posts. It helps to read what others feel so that you just feel normal. It takes a village ��

    6. Ann, I know we are in different places but I struggle with my husband and his number one wish is for me to be happy. He has said this from early on. I find this challenging and upsetting. First of all I am bothered even now that he I guess wants to dictate my feelings. And I am still not sure what happy is (beyond the time I spend with my kids). In the end I see those comments and wishes as a way for my husband to feel better about himself. If I am happy then he does not have to feel like such a horrible person. I have learned and promised I will not hide or suppress feelings. I spend a lot of time alone in quiet just thinking. And even with others I talk less and listen more. I find that serves me well. Hang in there and focus on yourself and your girls as much as you can.

    7. Heartfelt, Selkie, Hopeful 30, SS1,

      Heartfelt! Such Great Ideas! This is like my 50th Dday so I am kind of accustomed to it. You would think I would be an expert at this point. But - for the past almost a year and a half the affairs are post my Anemia Coma and now this latest one I think he is in Love with - so very different than the past.

      I have been exercising all the time! I started back up last August and I haven't stopped since. I would be dead if I couldn't go to HIIT IT or Body Combat. Yes, Yes, Yes. Exercise is so key.

      I do try and eat good! I do like to cook! My stomach is what gets upset with my stress of everything which my IC says is most of the time. Once I get some trauma under control I think that will help. I should look into a cooking class! That would be something new!!

      I love music and I have been hesitant to listen to it because some songs just make me cry and others remind me of him and her and I just can't deal. But you are right, it might help release some of that sadness and help me move on.

      I need to do more fun stuff with my kids!! Back in January I did try little things to get me out of the dumps. I took some of them to a new coffee shop and hiking trails near our house - stuff like that does help with everything. I love my kids - I do and love to be with them and have them here, but sometimes I get resentful towards my H, that he doesn't have to have any burden of the kids and gets to travel and have his place in Miami and go out on the town where ever he is and with whoever he wants - I know he loves his time with the kids but he gets the best of both worlds and I hate him for it.

      I need to help others! I do. That is such great advice. That is the perfect thing to get me unstuck, I think! I help at school and stuff but I know I need to do something more substantial. I will be looking for opportunities to do this for sure.

      Selkie and Hopeful 30 - I am glad you got what I wrote. It makes me so mad to hear him talk about finding peace and letting go of the blame and hate. Really? OK. Poof - now I don't hate, blame and it's all better!!! He should be hating every miserable day of his life, not trying to look for happiness! He wants to be happy?!?!! Does he deserve to be happy - NO!!! He texted me what he was thinking a few weeks back - what he would want emotionally and now what he thinks of our relationship in practical terms. He mentioned the pain we are all in. Him, me and the kids, how the pain WE caused has made everyone suffer. WE? We? He can't even take the blame for it all!!

      A lot to think about! A lot of ways to get over yourself and move forward!

      Thank you ladies! I am floundering and you helped me out again!

    8. Heartfelt, what an amazing post!

      Ann, until he’s been backstabbed and emotionally violated by the person he loves, he doesn’t get to tell you to “let go”. JMO. As we say here: your pain, your rules. Sounds like he’s enjoying his sense of smug superiority - but believe me, he’d be singing a very different tune if he were the one hurting. Just ignore Captain Clueless, sweetheart, and heal at your own pace.

    9. Ann, Great to hear you are doing all that! You are making progress for sure. It’s a daily inside job, that’s for sure! I started PiYO a couple months ago and love that. As much as we feel stuck and that we don’t got it together, it’s amazing how we are probably doing better than the H. So sorry he is such a lost soul and continues to throw pain your way. Causing 50 ddays means he is never going to be happy, as he obviously is always in search of something better.
      You get so busy living YOU that you have little time to worry about him and the flavor of the month. Anyone that posts their complete happiness online and convinces another they have found PEACE amidst the war zone they caused, is Captain Clueless as Phoenix nicknamed him.
      Wishing you a great week Ann. You so got this!

  10. I think it’s the moment that I really accepted that he did this and there was nothing that could change that but because of what he chose to do after dday was what truly made the difference! Not even close to perfect yet but I now realize that nothing is ever going to be perfect! It wasn’t before he chose his path through hell and back! Hugs to us all!



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