Monday, May 26, 2014

Letter to a Betrayed (and Abandoned) Wife

A BWC member recently posted on one of the Share Your Story pages. She's experiencing what so many of us experience, and she asked a question that so many of us ask: When does the crazy end?
Here's a part of her letter...

I've read so many blogs and boards about giving things time. I know time is the only thing that will work but I feel like I may never heal. I am afraid I am always going to be this new version of myself, the bitter, angry, b**** who is depressed one minute and mad the next. I want my WH to feel the pain I feel, to understand the devastation and loss I feel. He doesn't and I am afraid he never will. I'm afraid there will be no consequences for him- he gets to be happy and move on. Everyone keeps telling me that his day will come, he will regret this, he will someday realize what he is throwing away. But, I don't believe it. I don't think it will ever happen and that makes me mad too. Wouldn't it be nice if all adulterers got what they 'deserve?' If they had to feel the crap we feel?? I like to think it would help me feel a bit better if he had consequences too. I have to deal with the consequences of HIS actions, HIS choices; it would be nice if he had to deal with them too.
I keep praying for strength. I keep praying that God will hear me and see my suffering and bring me out of this darkness. Thanks to everyone else who have shared their stories- it brings me comfort knowing I am not the only one dealing with this and helps me feel a bit 'normal' and not so much like a crazy person. When does the "crazy" end??

...and my response:
Dear "Crazy",
Let me start by telling you how sorry I am for what you're going through. Here you are with two young children and a husband who's suddenly AWOL. Your poor heart has been through the wringer.
You're right that you're having to deal with the fallout from HIS choices. This absolutely isn't fair. And that notion of "fair" was what tripped me up so often in the early days. "But this isn't FAIR," I would scream, night and day. Nothing about betrayal is "fair" so the sooner you can stop obsessing about what you can't control, the sooner you can move on to what you can control, which is yourself.
Yes, you need to give yourself time. This has been a huge shock to your head, your heart...and the practical part of your life (bills, mortgage, how you spend your time...). You need to grieve the loss of the life you thought you had. Anger is a pretty standard emotion for what's happened. But I want you to think about what's behind that anger. Anger, as my therapist often reminded me, is a secondary emotion. It generally masks hurt and fear, and I would guess you're feeling both in spades. The thing is, hurt and fear make us feel vulnerable. Anger makes us feel powerful. It's an illusion though. Anger isn't power. And usually the only person we hurt with anger is ourselves. So exorcise it. Get it out. Punch a pillow, take kickboxing, go for a run, park your car somewhere in the country and scream until you're hoarse. Write a horrible scathing letter to your jerk husband and his icky girlfriend (don't send it).
And then...let it go. Do this as often as you need to. The anger won't disappear. But it will slowly dissipate. It will slowly give way to what's beneath it -- the deep hurt you feel from what you perceive as his rejection of you, and the fear of what's ahead. Both are legitimate emotions that all of us feel post-betrayal. But, I want you to know, you can get through this. We want to help you get through it without turning into a bitter shell of yourself.
Your prayers for strength are working, though you may not be able to see that yet. You are strong. You are upright. You are taking care of your children. That in itself shows Herculean strength. Getting out of bed takes strength. Acknowledge yourself for the strength you're showing. Be kind to yourself. None of this is easy. Acknowledge that right now, just getting by is enough.
Focus on you and take the focus on him and his "new" life. Nothing is as good as it appears on the surface. No matter how it looks on the outside, he has left his wife and his babies. That can't possibly feel good. He has chosen escape rather than facing his issues. Lots of people do, through affairs, addiction, distraction. It seems easier in the short term but will undoubtedly bite him in the ass as time moves on. No matter, that's his problem, not yours.
Figure out what you want going forward. You're going to lose parts of your life that you enjoyed, but you can gain things you never thought of. Make a list of all the things he did that drove you completely crazy...and take a moment of gratitude for no longer having to deal with it. 
I would strongly urge you to find a therapist to help you process your grief and loss and guide you forward.
Your husband won't understand your pain but I assure you he isn't "happy" in the way you think he is. He has to live with himself as a liar and a cheat. If he's the kind of guy who thinks that's okay, then he's NOT the kind of guy you want in your life. He might regret it, he might not. But by the time he figures that out, you'll likely be able to see him for the half-man he is, who runs from his emotions rather than deals with them honestly and with integrity.
As so many of us discover, the karma bus will hit him...but we don't always get to be around to see it happen.

Please know that the darkness doesn't last forever. Begin to pay attention to those tiny slivers of light. The sound of your children's laughter. A friend's kindness. The taste of coffee in the morning. The women here who share your pain and want you to know that you'll get through this, wiser, stronger, more compassionate. That your children will benefit from your strength. That you'll teach them to keep their hearts open but share their hearts only with those who respect them and show them kindness and compassion.
"Crazy" will end the day you recognize that you're just fine. That you've always been fine. That even though you've experienced deep betrayal, you're fine. That even on days you thought you couldn't face on more minute, you're fine.

Him? Not so fine.
I think adulterers, those who never acknowledge or grow from their betrayal, do get what they deserve. Relationships devoid of true commitment. Never knowing the deep satisfaction of fighting through hell and coming out the other side or the peace that comes with integrity and self-respect. They settle for a life of always running – from commitment, from pain, from loss, from themselves. Sounds exhausting to me. Frankly, it sounds crazy.



  1. I wore anger like a suit of amor! I felt so much stronger when I was angry, acting out in "crazy town", working to hurt my FWH and the OW. I wore the armor for a year. It made me feel stronger. The deep pain and unprecedented sorrow left me limp and hopeless. The anger made me feel like I was in control. Not so much.
    The heartache and shock of betrayal are so scary. It's just self preservation to clothe yourself in Anger Armor, but the truth gotta feel it all to be able to deal with it all. What is the saying? You can't get over it or go around gotta go through it.
    Reaching out to other betrayed spouses that had walked the Road back to Happy before me is how I began to really go THROUGH it. I shed my armor and allowed myself to be vulnerable. Vulnerable doesn't mean defenseless. It just means open to new things.
    So...To CRAZY: You found a safe place to reach out for support. That is a very brave first step on the Road to Happy. You will be OK. Maybe not for a while, but healing happens.
    Maybe your next step could be letting go of your armor. You can never hurt them the way they hurt you, Never. Why waste your precious energy trying? Why give them any more of you?

    1. Thanks Shawn. Not that I would wish this on anyone...but I'm glad you're one of "us".


    2. "You can never hurt them the way they hurt you, Never. Why waste your precious energy trying? Why give them any more of you?"

      Love that. I haven't gone to crazy town but I think part of my brain tries to come up with ways to make them accountable. Make them feel shame or guilt. Make them feel bad about what they did. But it will really pale in comparison. It is fruitless. It is sucking away precious space, even if it is happening on a subconscious level.


  2. Dear crazy......I know exactly how you feel.....except one thing. You are really luckly. What I mean is your pain has ended in a since. Mine refuses to leave but continues to work and see these two woman. Even his family has welcomed them. Mine refuses to leave or break off ties. Consider yourself luckly. I continue to pray even though I haven't any answers or ideas what to do.....I love him but im tired and mad. I constantly have these two women thrown in my face....and yes they know about each other. Sorry to vent but I have no one....and im stuck. Hope u live to see the karma. This site does help thanks elle! Im helpless.....

    1. Helpless,
      You are not helpless. But you need to help yourself get out of this incredibly cruel situation.
      I'm not sure if there are cultural/religious barriers to leaving...but can I ask why you're staying with a man who disrespects you so flagrantly? Whose family is toxic to you?
      How can you love a man who treats you so poorly? Please tell me you love yourself more. You deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. He clearly can't do that...but you can do it for yourself.


    2. I know you think I'm crazy but he is a good man to everyone else. All the people in town love him but they also know whats was going on. He refuses to talk about it tells me to get over it and he refuses to leave. If I leave and our child doesn't go with me I stand the chance of having to pay him child support and alimony. For abandonment. Both woman divorced their husbands for my husband. I saw the texts where he promised to be with them. The key is the first one has done this before so she knew how to get by and the second is very knowledgeable about the law. When I finally told my family what was going on they had a fit and want nothing to do with him or his family. I believes are I love him and he is making a big mistake. But he has no respect for me I know this. He tells me to get over it and refuses to give me any clarity or to talk about it. He says nothing has happened. I know for a fact that it has. It feels like I can't get out of this cycle everywhere I turn there they are getting closer to my child and husband. Im sorry to unload especially on someone elses troubles. But I see all of these who their husband left and took their garbage with them......mine says I don't deserve half. So he refuses to leave.

    3. Anon,
      It doesn't matter if he's a good man to everyone else. If he can't be good to you, then he's poison to you. Peanuts are fine for me to eat, but they can kill some people. Don't get hung up on whether he's a "good man" too others. Ask yourself whether he's allowing you to be your best self and live your best life or whether he's pulling you down.
      Please talk with a lawyer and get absolutely clear on what your rights are. If you have any way to get copies of his texts or take photos of them, please do.
      Don't ever apologize to us for "unloading your troubles." That's what this site is for -- it's why we're all here. To help each other through the worst pain of our lives.
      You are a prisoner to this man's toxic whims. But you don't have to be. Please show your child what self-respect looks like. Show your child that nobody gets to disrespect their mother. Please. You deserve so much more than this.


  3. Thanks. ...I have talked to a lawyer. The proof I had is not enough and if I file I would have to leave. And ig my child doesnt go with I could lose them. And pay. If I file without proof I would have to leave.....not fair. I have no where to go. He does..... the proof I have is too old now. But I cant get those images out of my mind. Him saying he lives her and promises to be with them. I almost wish I didnt know. But the people who knew it was going in just came to me and told me but didnt want to get involved and then i would ask him he would demand who said something and then he would go and tell them to mind their own business. And it would be my fault that I didnt keep my mouth shut. He hides his phone and at one time had two. He goes through my phone.....which I dont mind cause im not hiding anything. But he wont put his down for one second. Its crazy. He did say he broke it off.....but there is nothing going on.....but if someone had promised to be with me and I divorced my husband ....and then he decided to stay with his wife. I told him that they would be mad beyond believe. And when they are all together they act like nothing is wrong. Thats why I dont think its over....sorry for babbling.

    1. How old is your child? What makes you think he'd get full custody?
      In any case, I hate how trapped you're feeling. And how disrespectful he is of you and your feelings. Even getting mad at the people for telling you what he's doing is childish and ridiculous.
      It's hard to get rid of images once we've seen them. Many women struggle with that. It can help to replace them with something else. One woman pictured a plucked chicken every time she imagined the Other Woman. Eventually she was able to giggle about it. I often imagined a big red STOP sign when my mind would picture things. The key is to try not to give in to the images -- distract yourself even if it's by snapping an elastic on your wrist or something. Anything to pull your mind away from going down that dark hole.
      As for your phone, he sounds like a bully. You two should have the same rules. Either you both check each other's phones or neither does.
      And, again, there's absolutely no need to apologize (I'm getting the sense that you apologize for a lot of things that are absolutely NOT your fault and for which you don't need to).
      Can you get yourself a counsellor? Or get a copy of Melody Beattie's Co-Dependent No More, a great book for women stuck in relationships with controlling men. You don't need to live like this.


  4. Thanks I will check it out. Our child is 14. And where we live he could get me for abandonment if I left and if our child didnt go he auto gets them. I dont know what to do. Thanks again for listening and keep up the blog. You dont know many you have helped.



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