Friday, November 14, 2014

No Path by David Whyte

came across this poem by the incredible David Whyte and it describes so perfectly those paralyzing moments when you just can't imagine which direction your life will take. Nothing seems right any more. Nobody seems who you thought they were. But as Whyte reminds us, "there is no path that goes all the way". Instead, focus on breathing. Focus on that first step – nobody's step but your own. Whyte, I believe, is talking about death, but betrayal is a death. Of our hopes. Of our "reality". Of our perceived future. Mourn that. And then recreate your life.


No Path by David Whyte

There is no path that goes all the way

Not that it stops us looking

for the full continuation.

The one line in the poem
we can start and follow
straight to the end.
The fixed belief we can hold,
facing a stranger that saves
us the trouble
of a real conversation.
But one day you are not
just imagining an empty chair
where your loved one sat.
You are not just telling a story
where the bridge is down and there’s
nowhere to cross.
You are not just trying
to pray to a God you imagined
would keep you safe.
No you’ve come to the place
where nothing you’ve done
will impress and nothing you
can promise will avert
the silent confrontation,
the place where
your body already seems to know
the way having kept
to the last its own secret
But still, there is no path
that goes all the way
one conversation leads
to another
one breath to the next
there’s no breath at all
the inevitable
final release
of the burden.
And then
your life will
have to start
all over again
for you to know
even a little
of who you had been.
~David Whyte


  1. Beautiful..... Thank you for posting.

  2. I think this poem works well with the betrayal in the marriage too. It does feel like a death of the original marriage that wasn't working. I would be lying to myself if I said everything in the marriage was perfect prior to the betrayal. I feel more in tuned to my husbands feelings and my own. I know there is a better way of dealing with problems then him running out and having an affair but it did definitely felt like hitting rock bottom. I guess the good news is that when your at rock bottom the only way is up. I feel more aware of my own needs and what I want and expect of him. It does help he acts and says he is grateful for me staying every day. I like going to this website for inspiration and it helps when I feel stuck in an emotional downward spiral. I feel this has been a place to discuss the pain and read about others. I have been coming here since post d day 4 months ago. I at first just read everyone's post but now found it is very therapeutic to post as well. A lot of times I feel after I throw my feelings on here I feel a sense of lightening the burden. I don't really have friends or family to turn to for support. They are too judgemental and i don't want to be treated as though I'm a victim instead of a strong and loving person. This is how I want to see myself.


    1. Those who view women who stay and rebuild their marriage as weak or doormats have absolutely no idea of the courage and resilience and, yes, compassion, it takes to stay. Whatever path each of us takes through betrayal shouldn't be judged. We need to support each other. I'm glad you've found that with this site. Many of us don't have people in our "real" lives with whom we can share this part of our journey. I hope you'll continue to post and share your own hard-won wisdom. Lighten your own burden by extending a hand to someone struggling. :)

  3. Silent confrontation rang a bell, the bridge is down with no way to cross to being stuck. This site helped me through another woman's comment to be unstuck. The woman wrote about her daughter who found out about her dads affair. That daughter was me but "in silent confrontation". I did not even discuss this after 11 months of therapy once a week. It is site brought out those painful memories. So my AHHA moment. I could not get unstuck no matter what. My husband has dramatically changed so much I don't even know who this great guty is at times. I learned during my dads affair as a kid I felt insecure, forgotten, betrayed, no one cared, neglected exactly the way I feel about my husband's affair. I have never had a positive experience once this happened. My feelings were so intense about my husband affair, unmanageable and I was making plans to leave although I didnt really want to. The intensity was from what I never confronted as a kid. My husband was taking all my rage for my dad, first husband and then his affair. I wanted peace, how do I usually get peace in this situation run away. I was getting ready to run away again. Once I realized I need to deal with what happened as a kid and separate this from my husband's affair the intensity of the what he did was dialed down a notch. I'm usually a forgiving person but not in this case. I couldn't figure out why. So if your stuck look for other events in your life that latch themselves on to your husband's affair. I could understand it all logically but not emotionally it was too intense. I'm writing a letter to my dad who I thought was a soft spot to fall, my hero and my great comforter who betrayed me too. I thought my husband was this man too.

    1. Lynn,
      You've articulated what a great many of us also experience. Affairs are devastating in themselves but they frequently re-traumatize those of us for whom affairs confirm what we already believe about ourselves -- that we don't matter, we're invisible, we're disposable. And that's what we need to address, as well as the more immediate betrayal our spouse.
      You might want to read this post, if you haven't already:

  4. You are so right it did just confirmed my worst fears. Thank you please don't ever close this site. I read this site the entire week after D day and it is a calling, a gift to many women in pain.

    1. It is tough to deal with all the post betrayal feelings it creates. I have recently had the pleasure of listening to a co-worker rants of how she wouldn't stay with her husband if he ever cheated on her. She doesn't realize that is something I am currently dealing with. She then went on to discuss how terrible her marriage is and how her husband is such a depressed person that won't do anything about it. It is kinda funny she perceives my marriage as being good too. I'm sure she would think differently if she knew that he had an affair and that we have been working on reconnecting. I felt initially hyperfocused on the affair after that discussion and depressed. But now I think about where would we be if all of this didn't play out the way it did. We would still be living as roommates instead of being a couple. My marriage was already on a destructive path prior to d day. This has been a new beginning with hopefully a positive outcome for the marriage. I have been in general more focused on what makes me happy and what are my needs and wants. I am typically a very indecisive person who never puts my needs first and since then I have been working on improving my own self worth. This is still a long road ahead of me with a lot of downs. It really helps between counseling and reading elle's posts and comments to others. I really feel there is a light at the end of the tunnel that includes a happier me.


    2. Jess,
      Healing from an affair isn't really something we have a blueprint for. Those who've done it have generally done it privately so we don't have the benefit of seeing those who've created wonderful marriages. We assume they were always that way.
      We do, however, have your co-worker's understanding of affairs. That we would "never" put up with it. Until, of course, it happens to us.
      Try and empathize with your co-worker. Being married to a depressive isn't unlike being married to a cheater. In both cases, you feel secondary. As if you don't matter enough. I wonder, too, if your co-worker "doth protest too much". I wonder if she fears her husband is cheating.
      No matter. Not your concern...but you might be surprised what you get back if you express a simple, "I'm really sorry for what you're going through. Every marriage has its ups and downs. I hope you're able to navigate this and come out the other side."

  5. staying in your marriage after infidelity is the hardest thing anyone can ever do. would it have been easy to leave, yes. my husband cheated on me, but he didnt only cheat on me, he cheated on our life together. i have said before, we also had issues prior to the betrayal, but nothing was going to get fixed until we hit rock bottom. infidelity is outright WRONG and can scar a person for life, but to rebuild a stronger YOU and a stronger US is far more difficult than just leaving. i also, was someone who said i would never stay if my husband cheated... well, here i am today almost 3 months post d day trying my hardest to rebuild a stronger marriage than ever. one thing this has showed me is that i am more in tune with mine and my husbands needs and wants. we were not giving one another what we needed to have a fulfilling marriage. NO ONE can judge until it actually happens to you.... i am on my way to becomming a stronger ME. a happier ME. everyday is a battle, and things may change... but for now, one day at a time, one day hoping to have that marriage we all dream of.

  6. Your first sentence is absolutely true. I'm 27 yrs down the road from you and all I can say is that recovering from the pain of my husband's affairs was as difficult as surviving an aggressive Cancer that may or not be related to the STD that he gave me. Think you're also right in that it is one day at a time. Maybe one step forward and two back but who said life was easy. We need to keep evolving as we grow until the end of time.

  7. Pilot's Wife, you've been dealing with this as long as I have been married. You are an amazing, strong woman! I'm only eight weeks past dday. I really want us to recover from this. I believe him when he says he'll never do it again. I can see the toll that his actions have taken on him, his disappointment, embarrassment, etc. it was a brief encounter started at a time of depression, workplace stress, and health questions. He ended it after only a few times with her because he said it felt so horribly bad and wrong. Our circumstances seem a lot less complicated than many others told here. If you had similar circumstances would it have made a difference in how you recovered? My instinct is to treat this like a temporary illness, help him recover, heal myself and move on. Everything in me says its the right way to go...... Am I a fool?

  8. yes, pilots wife. it seems everyday is a step forward and then two steps back. however, we are still taking a step forward right? that says something. i have read all your posts throughout this wonderfully suppprtive site and i have to say you are one of the steongest women i know. an insipration. so keep on truckin, and ill do the same. its so many mixed emotions... i look at my husband some days and think "i love this man so much, thats why im here..." but its always followed by "but, he cheated on me." so, like you said a step fprward and 2 back. i often wonder if the OW didnt tell me if it would have kept going. he tells me for ONE WHOLE YEAR he was trying to end it with her, but she threatened him with telling me. it had to end sooner or later, but then i got pregnant, and in some sick twisted way i understand why he didnt want me to find out when we were growing our he stayed. it became non sexual and forced. and then the threats got worse. then d day came, amd life hasnt been the same since. leaving would be easier, but i didnt marry this man and build a life to give up. if things change in the future then I KNOW i gave it my all. hugs to you pilots wife... keep on keepin on.

  9. Amen to the comments above. I always said I would throw my husband out, burn his clothes, etc. I am 1 year + from discovery & he agrees our relationship now is better than ever.

    I always say I am proud of myself for having stayed. It takes a lot of courage to go against what u think u should do, what the media & others who haven't been in ur shoes think u should do, & against what u always thought u would do. Although I think in many ways divorce would have been easier, I would have had a whole new set if problems to deal with.

    Bravo to all of us who didn't run away and are giving it our best shot, even if it doesn't work out in the end. Life never works out the way we planned.


  10. Hi Elle,
    This site a lot to cope up with my trauma I thank you for that and to all who shared their stories.
    I just wanna ask your opinion, is it ok to confront the OW?

    1. Ai,
      Whatever you need to do to heal (as long as it's legal and moral) is "ok". But I honestly don't think confronting the OW is helpful to our healing. I think the first problem is that our expectations are that this woman is going to be gracious in defeat, that she's going to be apologetic, that she's going to tell us what we want to know and that we're going to feel as if we've got the upper hand. I think that's rarely the case, particularly with OW who KNEW they were the OW. It takes a certain type of person to willingly participate in the deception of another person. And it's generally the type of person who's doesn't care what you're going through. Her motivation isn't to help you.
      What's more, I think it's crucial post D-Day to completely cut the OW out of your life. By confronting her, you're inviting her to stay in your life, in some capacity.
      And, finally, I generally think the OW isn't as important as you think she is. She was likely just a convenient distraction.

  11. If you don't mind Ai, I'd like to comment briefly.

    I did talk to the OW. I found out about the affair which I had suspected was going on for some.

    I of course confronted my husband first and then lashed out at her via email. She responded to me and asked me if I wanted to talk via phone or in person...I opted for in person, she was willing to answer any questions I had.

    We had a "good" talk...she was very understanding when I yelled at her, when I cried, we even laughed.

    After we talked, she told me to contact her if I needed too, she felt she owed it to me.

    I think I was lucky for lack of a better word...she was not mean, not vindictive. Most OW women do not care. I think it is a risk to confront the other woman.

    I have not spoken with her in months, I don't want to see her, talk to her, it brings up too many memories that I do not want to think about.

    Proceed with caution, do not go out of your way, I was fortunate that in my situation, she was understanding and felt genuinly terrible for her role in the affair.

    Her and her husband stayed together as well as myself and mine.

    Just be careful, you don't want to be hurt anymore than you already have.

    I hope this helps in your decision making process, good luck!

    1. Thank-you for sharing your experience. While I think the OW in your case was the exception, I nonetheless think you're wise to keep your distance.

    2. I think I had a weird sort of respect for her, because when I told her I knew, she told me she had told her husband months before I found out about the affair.

      As I so gently put it for my husband, I wish he had the balls she did...LOL



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