Tuesday, April 23, 2019

When We Shift, When We Become: Infidelity Through the Lens of Trauma

We experience a subtle spiritual awakening the moment we see that life goes on, even after our life has been ripped apart by loss. However unimaginable, life goes on even when we don’t recognize it as our life. It’s absent of the familiar people, places, or things we previously used to navigate it, and it’s without the tenuous threads we used to bind it together. When a relationship so central to our life proves unreliable, we might wonder what is real.

It's a feeling familiar to anyone who's experienced trauma. "We might wonder what is real." Is this really happening? Will I wake up from this nightmare? Can I step out of this back into my life?
We're jolted from our comfortable lives (or even from our uncomfortable but familiar lives) into something that feels unreal. Wrong. Like we've been cast in the wrong role in the wrong play. This isn't where we're supposed to be. This wasn't supposed to happen.
And then, compounding our incredulity, the sun comes up again the next day. And the day after that. The earth continues to tilt on its axis. The tides rise and fall. The bills come due. The fridge empties. The laundry piles up. Life, even if it's a life we no longer recognize, goes on. 
And that realization creates a barely perceptible shift, an understanding that though nothing feels the same and reality itself feels like an illusion, the laws still apply and, wonder of wonders, we're still here.
How is this possible? We look in the mirror. Except for some dark circles and, perhaps, a skinnier frame, we look the same. But we're not the same. We're not the same at all. Everything has changed. Why doesn't the world see that?
A lot of struggle with seeing infidelity through the lens of trauma. I did. A friend of mine, recently struggling with her husband's emotional affair, is beginning to recognize that what she's experiencing now is trauma, but it has taken her two years. Part of it is that the word trauma feels so...dramatic. Like we're making a big deal. We weren't raped, we think. We haven't returned from a war zone.
But let's consider what trauma does. It leads us to wonder what is real. It creates hyper-vigilance. The world feels unsafe. We don't trust anyone. 
Sound familiar?
Thought so.
It was when I began to allow myself to use that word – trauma – to describe my own experience that things began to make more sense. My responses didn't seem crazy, they seemed to fit right in with what therapists expect with post-trauma. 
I gave myself permission to sit with the pain. I took tentative steps toward healing. I rested when necessary. And slowly, I rose
You will too. 
I promise.
But first, you hurt.
And that hurt goes deep. That hurt is, often, traumatic.
That's not drama, that's truth.
Seek help. Let others hold you. Let the light of those further ahead on the path to healing guide you.
Learn to trust yourself again.
You are shifting inside. No matter that the world seems the same, you will never be. And that's okay. You are becoming...






38 comments:

  1. Being able to apply the word trauma to what I was experiencing, having that validated here was so liberating. It meant I was not crazy or dramatic or too much. It just meant that someone (all those gathered here) saw and understood how much pain I was in, how hard it was just to get through the day, how weird, unexpected things could set your heart racing and hands shaking. How you can rage one minute and be a weeping mess the next. And suddenly that was all OK, I was allowed to feel those things and hear, "yah, me too." And then learning that the only way out was through, you can't skip the middle (and there's sooo much middle).
    Three plus years later, it's hard to reconcile where I was vs where I am. Still a work in progress, but so much more sure of who I am and that, no matter what comes, I will be ok. I learned so much of that here.

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    1. "Sooo much middle..." Ain't that the truth. It's pretty much all middle, isn't it?
      That was my experience too -- that once I gave myself permission to acknowledge that this was trauma, I could give myself over to just feeling it. I stopped resisting so much. I stopped expecting myself to be somewhere different, somewhere further along. Thank god for others to reassure us that we're normal, that we're enough.

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  2. Yessss! 100% YES! My therapist(s) have been saying that but it feels so dramatic and even guilty to admit to having PTSD since my husband's affair. I have family members who suffer from it due to mental, physical, and sexual abuse plus military friends who have it after being in a war zone. It feels wrong for me to admit that his betrayal has been that traumatic for me. But it has. It's 2 years since the affair began (definitely triggering lots of memories right now) and 18 months since the discovery. We have been married over 30 years and even though the affair was only a short 6 months compared to the many years we've been together it is still so hard to breathe when I think about it. The fact that it happened and I was so oblivious and supported the friendship with the woman still makes me doubt myself. It's taken months of individual and couples counseling but we are still together and actually happier than ever. Our marriage has not only survived but thrived. We are in a much better place and really are taking every advantage of this 2nd chance we have been given. Some days though the thoughts of what happened still haunts me. There's not a day that goes by that something doesn't remind me. Most days now I can get past the thoughts without tears or wanting to scream. Sometimes though I can't fight the sadness, anger or confusion. This morning something reminded me and it felt like I had been punched in the gut. And it made my heart feel like it was being crushed all over again. It was just a fleeting thought but it caused physical pain that lasted several minutes. Each day it gets easier but I look forward to the day when "it" doesn't hurt me anymore.

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    1. Anonymous, That day is coming. I promise you, it is.
      In the meantime, bravo to you for all the work you (and your husband) have done to create a marriage that feels so rich and deep and good. But yes, those gut-punches still come. They will lessen with time. I feel them very very rarely (and they don't pack the double-over, can-barely-breath shock that they did).

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    2. I am amazed by how so many seem to be getting through so quickly. Discovery was over 4 years ago for me. He denied so many of them for as long as he could. We spent a Lot of our retirement money on therapy for him and some for me. I am triggered more then once a day and it is still the crushing can't breath reaction. Cry a lot. He goes to two mtgs a week, we go to church, pray together twice daily and spend all our time together if we are not at work. But we always spent our free time together. Most of his cheating was during the day. Web cam and emails etc was done in the middle of the night. Surviving barely. Want to Thrive.

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    3. Unknown, I'm curious whether you've had other trauma in your life, or other gaslighting. Sometimes, and this is just a layperson's opinion given what I've heard so often on this site, when we've already experienced childhood trauma (abuse, dysfunction, addiction, etc.), the betrayal can reopen old wounds that were never addressed or healed, making it that much more difficult to process the betrayal. It certainly sounds as though you're continuing to experience post-trauma.

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    4. I know it is believed that ducks don't marry chickens but in our case that is just not true. I didn't have any of what you are asking. Grew up in a happy home. Member of church choir, youth group, lots of friends. Brother and a sister both younger, played lots of sports. I had deaths in the family that were traumatc, as I believe all are in some way. I just think he was so gracious, wonderful and involved, my rock through the deaths. Whenever we drove someplace he always held my hand. Kissed the back of it. When we watched TV he held my hand. Kissed me multiple times a day. Always told me he loved me. If he could be like that and have really no regard for me at all, then? The best under cover agent ever. He had a rough childhood but he is an Adult. Its pretty clear what right and wrong behavior is. It seems a lot of women say they have a back up plan etc. If I have to plan for failure then whats the point?

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    5. I have a friend whose childhood sounds similar to yours. Loving parents, great schools, wonderful friends. She's close to her siblings. Has a great job. And recently divorced her second cheating husband.
      Her therapist suggested that nothing in her childhood prepared her to recognize someone whose wounds would ultimately hurt her. As the adage goes, hurt people hurt people.
      I still maintain that you're experiencing post-trauma and I hope you can find someone to help you with it. There's a therapy called EMDR, which seems kinda woo-woo but that really works with post-trauma. And, of course, keep posting here. It's amazing the power of a community of women who know your pain and can light your way forward.

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    6. Thank you. I have been told about EMDR but so far the only person that does that was my H therapist. I will keep looking.

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  3. Devastated was the word that stuck out in my mind, and it wasn't until I read the definition that I felt it was a valid word to describe how I felt. I was devastated. I wasn't being overly dramatic. I wasn't crazy. I was traumatized. Everything felt like it was affected by his shit choices, and a lot of my life was, but now, 28 months out from D-day 2, I am left with trust issues. I seriously doubt he will step out again, but he is so afraid to make necessary changes in his life so that he can have an authentically happy life. I don't think he has a clue what that can be like. For me, I can not thank you all enough for how you have helped me get through the shit storm. 28 months ago, I never thought I would be able to laugh again, or feel joy, or be creative, but here I am. I take no shit from anyone and I'm so good with that level of self respect. I do what I want and I'm good with that level of self love. I've become an introvert and I love the peace of my company. Devastation brought about a foundation to build on and I'm doing the best with putting me back together again.

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    1. Michelle,
      I am so happy to hear that you are doing so great. That foundation you've built will keep YOU on solid ground, no matter what happens with those around you.
      As for your husband, it's hard when people won't help themselves. I often wonder what they fear so deeply that they just won't pull back the curtain and examine it. What we hide, even from ourselves, has SO MUCH POWER over us. Pull it into the light and it's rarely as scary as we think it is.

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  4. Rambling Ex-TexanApril 23, 2019 at 9:04 PM

    Hello group. I am new and found this website for pure chance looking for help. I have to say I have found such a sense of relief and support from just a number of articles and reading responses. I have felt so alone and my situation is made more complicated by my husband having a mood disorder where he has cheated outside our marriage while manic. Where I am is a lonely and shameful place and I am moving through the pain daily.

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    1. Rambling Ex-Texan,
      I'm so glad you found us. That loneliness and shame is exactly why this site exists. I needed a place where there were others who understood my pain. And what we've created together is a space where we can remind each other that the shame isn't yours to carry. And where you don't have to feel lonely because there is an army of us to be with you, to listen to you, to tell you our stories too.
      My daughter has bipolar disorder so I'm familiar with mania and how it can inspire risk-taking behaviour. Is your husband getting treated? The right medication can make ALL the difference. And it can take some time to get the dosage, etc. right. But it can give people with mood disorders their lives back. And I hope you can find support -- even without infidelity, living with someone with a mood disorder can feel totally destabilizing.
      I hope yo'll continue to share your story. The women here are amazing (and I'm not sure where you are in Texas but one our amazing warriors -- LilyLove -- has organized a Betrayed Wives Club chapter in Houston).

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    2. The Bipolar Blog is called BPHope. Hope and Harmony for People with Bipolar

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    3. My h has the same disease as does my daughter. The BPHope helps you notice the signs. I know when my h had his affair he talking how he could feel himself change but he couldn't stop it. You aren't alone on here. But this is a subject that most people with bipolar don't talk about. I'm sure there are many women that stop by here looking for the same thing we have and I hope your h is on a treatment plan so that he and you can understand what this disease does.

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  5. I think that the trauma causes a major spiritual awakening in a lot of people. It certainly did me as well as my husband. It was the most painful, confusing time of my life. I dealt with disconnecting from everyone and everything. I still struggle at times going through this because it changes you in a way that is hard to explain. When you think that you've found peace change hits you again. Learning to except change has been a big part of my healing because that change continues with each level of awakening. You start seeing synchronicity. You feel like you are going crazy and start looking for your purpose in life. I thought it was all bullshit at first and didn't want to believe I was going through something called a Spiritual Awakening. When I excepted the pain and worked through it things started to change. It's a very lonely and scary experience. But, once you go through this process you never go back to who you were no matter how hard you try.

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    1. Anonymous,
      You've described it beautifully. I never would have chosen this but now that I'm here, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It has opened my heart in ways I couldn't imagine, it has helped me feel connected to others, and it has revealed a strength and resilience in me that I trust to keep myself safe.

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  6. Trauma was the one word my h didn’t expect when I first found out about his betrayal! He just thought that I would be ‘mad’... boy was I mad! But the hurt that followed was not what he expected any more than I did but of course I didn’t know what to expect from the knowledge and then I found this blog and learned that what I was living through was similar to what others were feeling and that I wasn’t just crazy! Trauma did seem to be a little dramatic but the trauma was very real...with lots of tears and lots of yelling and then lots of discussion we have moved through the worst years of our marriage and now we are headed in the right direction for a healthy relationship that is stronger than before. I think it’s because of the trauma and the way he responded to my trauma once he understood it was the normal reaction to his betrayal!

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    1. "Mad" is what I think most men who cheat expect. And that's such a fundamental understanding of infidelity and it's something our culture so rarely talks about. I know I go on about this but I absolutely believe that our culture frames infidelity in ways that are dishonest and that keep so many of us silent and suffering alone. If there was less celebration of "revenge" and more acknowledgement of lost productivity, lost families, devastated marriages, maybe people would see infidelity as less titillating more dangerous.

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  7. Not sure how anyone can say their relationship is better. How? 35 years of a loving wonderful marriage and then find out you are really married to the most evil and expert liars. They say they have changed, they say they say. They are expert liars. 4 and 1/2 years later not through yet. Can't see the end. How can you trust Ever?

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    1. Unknown, There are those who cheat who are narcissists and sociopaths. They will likely never become men who deserve a second chance. You get to decide which your husband is. A good guy who made a horrible choice? Or a dangerous guy who deserves the door? What is he revealing himself to be? If he's not doing everything he can to become a better man, then he's telling you he's not worth sticking around for.

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    2. Unknown
      Trust didn’t keep him from cheating to begin with and even if you rebuild a certain amount of trust, it doesn’t mean that he may not cheat again but you can build trust in yourself that you know how to take care of yourself with or without him in your life...I trust that my h knows that this was his one chance to make the right decision if ever he’s tempted again, and I trust me that if that were to happen, I have a financial back up plan and I know I have the strength to do life with out him if necessary...there’s no guarantees either way..,

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    3. Unknown, I was married over 35 years and believed I had a wonderful marriage to a wonderful guy until he told me he thought he had AIDS because he had been buying sex from whores for ten years. Talk about a wake up call and reality check. Just because I believed my life was one way and it was in my eyes most of the time, I had no idea how mentally ill and unstable my husband was because he was able to compartmentalize his life until he hit that wall of facing death. That made him decide that his life was over whether he told me or not so he told me. The chaos that followed was awful. We will hit the 4 year D-day in mid June and our lives are so much better now and very different because our marriage is now based on honesty. I know he was not honest with me prior to D-day and I also know he was not honest with himself about his past or his choices. He has done everything I asked him to do plus so much more. My healing and acceptance of his truth (which includes a childhood history of things I had no idea of when we married) has taken a long time and although there will continue to be triggers and things that create unsettling feelings in me, I see the changes in him every single day. I've somehow managed to let go of the past because I can't change it and neither can he. We can only live the present. Our lives have changed dramatically for the best even though it has caused many in the rest of our family to scratch their heads and wonder what the heck happened but I am happy now and so is he. We do not live where we use to live most of the time and we make choices and decisions about our own lives that our adult kids don't particularly like but they are adults and this will give them a growth experience. A couple of posts ago Elle made a statement that brought me to a deeper peace. I'll paraphrase here, "If he does cheat or cross boundaries I will know he did it knowing he chose to leave the marriage." My husband has to travel to a place in June where he visited prostitutes in the past and we've talked about that trip. Last night I said, "I know you have promised to be honest with me and I also know that if you choose to do anything that crosses our agreed upon boundaries you have deliberately chosen to leave our marriage." He just looked at me and said, "I will never do anything again that dishonors me or you or our marriage. My life is too good to screw up."

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    4. The trauma of infidelity cannot be under estimated in my opinion. When my husband disclosed to me I felt like my entire life shattered like a mirror into a zillion shards. As I explained to my therapist, everywhere I looked I only saw broken shards of glass reflecting back pieces of me, my face, my life, my reality. It was surreal to say the least. It took a very long time to get that under control but here I am, a complete human again. I see myself as an independent person and also as part of a couple but that long stretch of "the middle" seemed to last forever. (Thanks SS1 for that description!) I never thought I could get past that middle but here I am. I am stronger than ever and more determined than ever to live my best life. I'll help my adult kids when asked but the next third of my life will be focused on me, what I want and like to do and how I can maintain myself within this marriage. Hubby and I sometimes talk about how good things are now and I often say, "We are a team now. If one of us does not hold up our part of the agreement we are no longer a team." He often laughs and says, "Ya, I know, if I don't get the pots and pans done I don't get to eat the next day, LOL" because part of our agreement as a team is that I cook and he cleans up and I don't cook in a dirty kitchen and I don't clean up a dirty kitchen. Might sound like a small thing here but for 35 plus years I did it all and never again. Life is good and getting better. I take no shit from anyone anymore and I only hang with people I like to be with. Even in mixed company I will speak up and not allow anyone to bully me whether in politics, religion, parenting or life. Hope "Oliveme" is still reading because I still love her statement, "Fuck that shit" Peace and love all

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    5. Thank you beach girl for your sharing. Thank you to everyone. Still hard for me to understand your believing anything your H say when he could have given you a horrible std. I don't want to be to personnal but how do you dare be intimate? I just can't. We are in many ways but not in the way I could be given an STD. As well I just can't get the sight of him doing the same thing with others. It want to vomit.

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    6. Unknown
      I have been with my h since I was a virgin of 16. He introduced me to the HPV the next year. I knew when we were kids then that I was not his first sex partner. I didn’t really understand the impact of the early years until now that I face the cancer from that virus. That said we married 3-4 years later and have been married since then. We have adult children and grandchildren and he chose to cheat at a time when circumstances allowed but for us/him his short term gratification, sex, didn’t live up to the fantasy that led him down that path. By the time I had my dday , our sex life was normal and I was just hit with the reality that I was already exposed to every sexual transmitted infection possible. He had to be tested and so did I it was very humiliating for both of us. I worried about every bump down there being a genital wart. Nothing was positive and then we have had many ups and downs but when we re committed to our marriage we have struggled one day at a time to get through that part of the process...normal love making came somewhere in between that shitstorm...my heart aches for what I have felt like you!

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    7. Unknown,
      I so understand what you are feeling. My husband and I went together and got STD testing shortly after I found out. Unfortunately, I would have already been exposed because his affair went on for over a year and we were having unprotected sex during that time. He claimed to always use condoms with the OW; however, to be blunt, there was still physical contact and oral sex with nothing. For me, STD testing was necessary so I would know with certainty if I had been affected.
      Our intimacy has waxed and waned often over four years of healing. We went through a lengthy period of hysterical bonding. And a period where I could think of nothing but him with her. My only suggestion would be to take it at whatever pace is comfortable for you. The biggest hurdle for me at times has been not allowing my thoughts to take over. A positive that has come from this in my relationship is that my husband and I now have true intimacy rather than him viewing sex as just the physical part. Also there is a thread on this blog about sex and intimacy in the wake of this if you feel ready to read there.
      Hugs! ❤️

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    8. I'm still here BeachGirl and fuck that shit is still my motto. I sometimes use it instead of no. I also embroidered it on a pretty pink floral piece of fabric with pretty flowers and the letters in Black. You all help me every day. We will transcend!! So much love to you all ♥

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    9. Unknown, I understand too. I will say I never thought I would make it through any of this on dday. It has been a process. As far as feeling safe to be intimate that came after I felt assured and safe emotionally. At least for me they are intertwined. One of the non negotiables was to get STD testing together. He jumped on board but it was not easy for either of us. We did choose to go out of town and went to a Planned Parenthood. It was a really positive experience for both of us. One thing that came out was with the second ow (my husband had two affairs sporadically over ten years) that the first time they were together it was unprotected. Well if you learn anything that helps some but other STD's can be transferred even while using protection via skin to skin contact or orally. He disclosed that he went an got tested anonymously over a year after that incident since he could not sleep at night. It was an interesting disclosure to me since it hit him that hard but he still was in both affairs. He also had convinced himself that since one of the ow was a nurse the hospital tested her for "everything". I laughed at that. Basically he told himself whatever he had to. It was rough. One major question was if he had a kid with anyone else and the other one was him endangering my life through his affairs.

      We are over four years past dday and we both talk together often of how we wish we could erase the past but we are closer than ever. I would say we moved through some of the recovery quickly since he ended both affairs over 15 months before dday on his own. For me trust was something I was guarded with for a long time. I went to therapy and we had very detailed expectations and boundaries. Basically I had to see if his actions matched his words over and over. I also have talked about just "not cheating" was not enough. he really had to re-evaluate his entire life. All of his friendships and relationships. Everything changed. It was a long process and took time. Over time and with the support of my therapist I gradually started to become more vulnerable. It was the hardest part. In the end I realized I had to learn to trust myself and my gut. Also through watching him go through this I realized he betrayed himself first and foremost. I would never wish this upon anyone ever but I try to focus on the present and where we are today.

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    10. Thank you to everyone that shared. This not anythingany of us should have experienced. Women are far from the weaker sex. 😁

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  8. Part of my trauma includes one of my husband's friend. My husband was caught cheating with his assistant who was also a family friend Feb 2016. She ran most of the finances in our business. I was working else where when I caught him. Safe to say, she no longer worked for him immediately. Months later, as I came to work in our business permanately (April 2017), I noticed while cleaning up files that she was writing checks 3 weeks past discovery date. When I questioned my husband, he said it was his handwriting. I've been with this man for years, his best friend before dating. I can tell his handwriting from a mile away. So, I questioned it again. This time he said his friend, in an attempt to help my husband with backed payment and paperwork, asked the OW if she can help him. So my husband's friend who was supposed to be the one helping my husband, had my husband's laptop and scanner at her home and had her doing all the backed up bills and scanning invoices. My husband didn't happen to know until he noticed check stubs of checks she had written (so he says). I literally despise the guy and can't even see him. My husband thinks I shouldn't be upset because he did it to help him. My argument is, you see your friend going through marital issues because he was caught cheating with this woman, as his friend, you should keep her far away as possible. Not involve her in anything. If he's the OW's friend that's his business not my husbands. What do you guys think?

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    1. I agree. And one of the things couples sometimes need to do is remove "friends of the affair", those who someone enabled or supported or even encouraged the affair. It wonder, in this case, if it's worth your husband having a talk with this guy and simply making it clear that this OW cannot be involved in anything. That she must be completely removed and that your husband expects this friend to respect that. And then, if he violates that, he's not a friend. Your husband's loyalty needs to be to you and your healing, foremost.

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    2. Anon, I can only speak to my experience and luckily my husband's affairs did not ever cross into his business/professional life. At first both of us thought about it as black and white. No contact with the ow and the friend that introduced him to the two ow. But as we moved through recovery it became obvious that he lived his life differently than he portrayed it in most aspects. I would say he cut corners and pushed boundaries. It was about what was best for him. I heard a lot of "what's the big deal". It really was in all aspects of his life. Along with the affair recovery he and we really assessed every detail of how he lived. And our boundaries and expectations were very detailed.

      This was a process and took a long time. I give him credit since it was as if we were nit picking and pulling apart every detail of his life. At first he was like I am not cheating there is no contact. But I had to sit down and tell him that was not enough. If I am staying in this marriage then I want it to be a marriage I am happy to be a partner in. After going through 10 years of affairs and everything he did I am not sticking around just for no cheating. He got it.

      And I will say there were things in the beginning my husband said were no big deal and things he has no recollection of saying post dday. We are over four years out. He used to always stick up for his friends and give them the benefit of the doubt even when they were less than great. His perspective has changed. But it has taken a lot of work. And there are many friends he has no contact with or very little. His goal has been to live his life 100% transparent and authentic to be the best father and husband. He said he was not sure he could do that since he never lived that way but he said it has been rewarding and easy.

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  9. I am so glad I found this blog. I am not alone.

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    1. No, you are not alone. There are literally millions of us and, on this site, thousands of us. When you're ready, I hope you'll share your story. It can begin the healing.

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  10. Michelle/Oliveme! Yeah! Thanks for checking in! FTS is such a powerful motto and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I was corresponding with another one of our "sisters" here and mistakenly typed FT Ship. I had to send another email and correct myself but by then, she was peeing herself with my mistake and howling with laughter. So FTS can be such a source of laughter and joy, right LilyLove?

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  11. I found this blood heater day when looking for the aftermath of infidelity. It's been 16 months of Dday for me now And I still so hurt.I feel stuck in all this memories that my mind replays on and on ,It's not been a day that I don't have thoughts about the affair that lasted a year and I found about by accident.
    I thought I could handle this alone but now I think is time to look for some help to go through this.He cheated on me with a co worker even though by that time he was working in another school. She also had been my coworker few years ago in another school. I don't know if this is normal but I have all my hate in her direction ,not him. At this time I think that she deserves to suffer the consequences ( what she hasn't) of her actions y and sometimes I would like everyone to know what she did. Getting rid of this hate it's been one of the hardest part,getting rid of all the time that my H spent with this OW is really difficult for me. I still picturing it. Do you ever get rid of these thoughts? Do the pain really goes away? Should I be in a better place by now?
    We are working the situation together and most of the time he has been very supportive but I still need more.

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  12. My spouse had (at least) an emotional affair of (at least) a few months with a co-worker, decided to tell me about it and then left the house. They blamed my insecurities and jealous personality for their affair and that if I want the marriage to survive, I have to change my shortcomings fast. Now my spouse is living alone and considering whether they want to remain in our marriage, remain friends (or more) with the person they cheated with, or just plain getting divorced and remaining alone. They say they don't have a lot of hope regarding the marriage surviving, but they love me more than the other person, they don't want the marriage to end and they want to come back home. However, they don't see coming home with necessarily being in a relationship with me. I can't begin to express the hurt, confusion and anger I feel. I wish that my spouse's position about all of this was clear so I could start working in one direction: reconciling, healing, detaching, etc. Instead, I feel like my state of mind depends on how my spouse acts with me one given day. I build up hope, just to be disappointed the next day. Then I feel like I should consider the relationship to be almost over and start moving on, only to get dragged back into hope the next hour.

    I relate to using the word "trauma" to describe how I feel about the fact that they cheated emotionally. I can only imagine how it feels if I learned that I was cheated on physically on top of it. The feeling of betrayal and abandonment is unbearable. I also catch myself hoping that this is just a bad dream and that my spouse will call me one day to tell me that this never happened. I feel like that would be the only way for me to get over the pain and suffering. But I am painfully aware that this is absolutely impossible, and the thought of having no way to "fix" this situation and having to face reality is literally killing me. I lost a lot of weight since my spouse left the house. I cannot eat and I have trouble sleeping.

    Thank you to everyone here for your stories and for giving me the comfort to know that other strong people are surviving out there and that we are not crazy.

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