Monday, December 1, 2014

Guest post: A Post-Betrayal Guide to Surviving the Holidays (or Just Surviving)

"Steam" often comments on posts and shares her hard-won wisdom with others on this site. She's got such compassion and common sense that I invited her to contribute more regularly. Here's her inaugural post:

There are many of us on this site who have been in this state of knowing what we know for many years; there are others, like me, approaching my first holiday season armed with a lot more sad knowledge than I had last Christmas. I am prepared in case I take a nosedive but I don't feel like I will.

It seems, though it might just be that I notice, that a lot of us find out about our spouse’s affair close to the holidays. Why, I don't know (there is a lot I don't know): new phones? New devices left unlocked? Too much holiday cheer leading to carelessness on the cheaters’ part or boldness on the part of the OW.

With a new year looming and, for many, without the “happy” to preface it, maybe it's time for a refresher course. Or for those just finding out…a how-to guide. Survival 101.
Not definitive, and your suggestions and thoughts are totally welcome.

You, in the moment of discovery, may stay focused in the moment, that moment your knees buckled and you ended up on the floor, or you opened your mouth but no sound came out and you quite literally could not breathe...or you may have immediately jumped to thoughts of your life alone, your first homicide (kidding) your 2nd (kidding) and how you are going to make though it at all – so let’s just look at what you can do to get through right now, and then maybe one more day.

This is how it happened for me: My H had gone to the store and I needed to download photos onto the laptop we were sharing (as I spent most of my time with a tablet.) As my photos were downloading, many many others were quickly drawn from the laptop into the photo program I was using. Due to the nature of my H's business, none of them really shocked me –they were going by me at a rapid blur. It was logging onto my OWN Facebook page to post when a dropdown menu appeared with a name I had never seen before, and a saved password. That led me to snoop for the first time ever, in 14 years, only to find an e-mail under the same name also with a saved password. Wow, was he screaming to get caught or what?

I demanded, within one hour of finding out (longest hour of my life waiting for him to get back) that my H write ONE last e-mail to the woman he cheated with. Telling her that I knew (she didn't even think he had a GIRLFRIEND) and that this was OVER, he was deleting the e-mail account (which he did) and that I would have passwords to all of his accounts online (which I did). Ha! I'm writing like I did this all very rationally. I am leaving out my complete and utter insanity, profanity, slaps, threats of destruction of the laptop held high over my head.

Do Not Expect to Think Rationally
 What do you do if your husband is not ON HIS KNEES begging forgiveness, crying, swearing he never meant to hurt you, telling you he wasn't thinking clearly? I don't know. That was not my experience, but let’s just say, by the time he got home, I all but had his bags packed, I was ready to kick him out without a doubt. I had made arrangements in my head already that I would without a doubt, have carried out that day. I also would have taken his phone, work laptop and Kindle. 

This was a deal-breaker for me. It might not be for you. But if I thought for one second that he was going to spend one more minute online with her as he had that last two months, he was not going to do it while he was under the same roof as me.

What do you do then – what do you do after that first fitful night when you sleep or you don't, and the sun rises and you know it was – sigh – not just a bad dream.
I wish there was a one-size-fits-all fix.
I guess much of your survival depends on your situation.

Excuse yourself
Do you have kids? Is there ANYWAY at all you can fake the flu, and give them to a relative for a day or two? I really don't know because I am not a mother. 

Maybe being mom can help you feel grounded and give you something to keep you out of your head and all of those horrible thoughts that you cannot control.
If you have those thoughts, BTW, you are completely normal. 

I don't have kids, but I faked the flu anyway. I looked like HELL frozen and then boiled over. My eyes were puffy, there was no way to hide the history of tears and sleepless nights. So I said I had the flu. Everyone bought it.
I canceled New Year’s plans. I could not be festive.

While I was breathing via hyperventilating, I really did have to stop and really breathe – those big breaths everyone tells you about? Take them. 

Do your best to count to 10 before lashing out because chances are good you are going to lash out. I was lucky if I got to 3, but at least it got me somewhere.

You might think about next week or six months from now but it's really not the time. You will have emotions you did not know you had in you and just making it through the day, or the next hour should be your biggest concern.

You might want to stay away from the “once a cheater always a cheater” websites. I was angry as HELL and I could not even tolerate them THEN. I had enough anger to last my own lifetime and I did not need more. 

Avoid most 'reformed cheaters' websites, although you might be surprised at what you learn – that cheaters have a LOT of shame and remorse, they even take responsibility and don't blame their spouse but you might also read accounts of how much a cheater misses their co-cheater, and that's about the last thing you want to hear. You have enough fuel in your fire already. And watch out if you Google celebrity cheater’s names in the comments sections – EVERYONE has an opinion on EVERYTHING and it was probably, in the end, Obama or Bush's fault anyway. :o)
Download or buy a copy of “After theAffair” and start reading NOW.

Come to websites like this and realize you are NOT alone. It's amazing the compassion you might feel for others. It's nice to know you can feel something other than anger.

Take your anger and do something with it, even if it means just writing it down. Journal your broken heart out...put that unanswerable question on there – the WHY in big bold letters. Maybe when you get your emotions down on paper they will come to you, the questions you really want to ask.

 This next one is going to seem impossible... 

Be nice to someone
I don't know where it came from but suddenly I was connected to the great suffering of people around the world (I know – hard to believe there was suffering greater than mine) and realized that I never knew really what was going on with perfect strangers, acquaintances and even friends.

When I left my house after two days, it was the night of New Year’s day and I saw a few acquaintances coming into a restaurant, each alone, where I had agreed to go out to dinner with my husband (after of course, spending New Year’s Eve NOT celebrating). I had the urge to go over and wish every one of them a happy new year as they came in. These were all acquaintances, not people I would normally hug. I still don't know what they thought about it or me, but I remember a huge sense of gratitude that I was able to give something when I felt that I had nothing at all to give.

Again, it was a horrible way to spend the remainder of a vacation, but my D-Day was during a vacation, so I was able to sleep in and answer to no-one.
Grab sleep whenever you can.
I can't give medical advice of course but there are over-the-counter remedies that can help. I was fortunate enough to have the Big Guns due to a slight insomnia issue. They are not Ambien but I will add, do NOT try to stay awake on Ambien. You will most likely live to regret your actions, and you have enough going on. Please be careful how you use any medication as the temptation to overuse them was incredibly strong.

Be careful who you tell
I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! I wanted to tell his family! I wanted to tell my FRIENDS. Selfishly though, I worried that they might secretly wonder just what it was that I DID to “drive” him to this.
That ended up being a great self-defense mechanism because now, almost a year later, only two people know and that was one too many. Unless someone has been through this, his/her automatic reaction is to think your husband is scum and you might be teetering on the edge of foolishness to stay. You know, the way YOU might have reacted had the same been done to them prior to your own D-Day and they told you. You don't need to defend your actions to anyone and, one way or another, you will be asked to in blatant or subtle ways

It's good if you are able to lean on and cry on your friend’s shoulder. Friends can be a godsend, but they are sometimes going to give you advice and a bunch of platitudes and sometimes it feels like they are patting you on your poor little head. They cannot always know what to do...not only with your life in general but NOW.

By the way, what you will find out is if you choose to stay is that it is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength, compassion, forgiveness and even love. Not now – you don't need to feel compassion or forgiveness or love now – but love is probably the deeply hidden driving force that eventually leads to compassion and forgiveness.

Strength, you have always had, it just probably has never been tested like this. Women who get that surge of adrenalin to pick cars up that have rolled onto their kids? Yup, we're strong like that.

Don't make long-term plans right now.
 Everyone who has gone on this unplanned journey or studied the travelers on this well-beaten but rarely-spoken-of-rationally-in-public road says to wait. Wait six months to a year before making this big decision or any other big decisions.
Things will change. He will change, you will change. And the 3rd entity in this – your relationship will change. The one you thought was going pretty well can thrive and MUST change so that you are not in this situation again.
I often say “if you're lucky” these things will happen, but it's not luck. It's work. You will eventually have to work (and so will he!)  but right now…

You have just received a terrible blow. You can rest a while. You need to. This was like a surgery to rip your soul out. Your doctor would tell you to rest after having a tooth removed. This is a lot more painful than that.

Find help for your recovery
I am sure there are people who can make it through without therapy. I don’t know any of those people. Nothing in your life, hopefully, has prepared you for this. What do you do with the anger, sadness, not to mention that shame that is NOT yours (so stop feeling ashamed)? How do you eventually learn to talk without screaming and crying? A good marital counselor will gently help you regain your balance and remind you that this was not your fault (I mean, come on, did he tell you he was doing this ahead of time? Or even considering it? Or perhaps mentioning he was a bit bored or restless? Give you a chance to 'fix' what needed fixing? No? There ya go, no wonder you felt like you were slapped upside the head.) Your spouse should go, of course your spouse should go, not that you asked me but that's a must in my book. If he won’t go, then YOU go. None of this “but he refuses and gets upset if I go”. To this I say “too effing bad.” Does he not realize if he doesn’t go that he's going to be talked ABOUT behind his back for an hour at a time? Come on – he's got to go. But if he doesn’t, you MUST. You might cry your way through the hour but you may be doing that anyway, and every counselor’s office has already paid for the big box of Kleenex. Take advantage of at least that. 

You do not have to accept that time heals all wounds. That’s just something people say when they have no idea what else to say. The reality is that the more time between you and discovery, the less and less it hurts. I'm not saying there won’t be a scar, I'm saying that time will somehow work some magic, like it or not.


  1. That's awesome advice. I am a year-ish out (a year since final d-day/long story). Somethings I am greatful that I followed (waiting, giving things time) and some things I failed to do (taking a flu day, telling 99% fewer people) and wish I did.

    Hope newbies take heed.

    My only comment is on the statement that "time heals all wounds." It hurts less and less, but how you both handle the time makes a huge difference on how deep the wound is and how big the scar is. My spouse botched ALOT in the past 17 months post d-day #1. Things are getting better but he still struggles with how to approach recovery with his head out of his -ss. My anger and resentment doesn't help either. The wound would be more healed if we (and HE) made different choices post disclosure. I am reading Janice Springs "How Can I Forgive You," (author of After the Affair) and she talks alot about cheap forgiveness and healing vs. genuine forgiveness and acceptance. That is a transaction that you must negotiate together in order to maximize healing. Otherwise, you will have a very ugly scar.

    1. MBS,
      I agree re. cheap forgiveness. Whenever I hear a woman note that she's "forgiven" her husband in the immediate weeks post-betrayal, I'm generally sceptical. Forgiveness can't happen, I believe, without a genuine understanding of everything that was involved re. the deception and the chance to truly process all the emotions. Otherwise, I suspect, the "forgiveness" is more a desire to pretend that everything can go back to "normal". True forgiveness is understanding that there's a new normal.

  2. MBS that is all SO true. I also made my own mistake, about a month after discovery of saying to my H, "i think i can forgive you" It was not a wrong feeling to have, but saying it outloud, it set me up to FALL the very next day as the roller coaster of emotions hit a low low and that up and down ride lasted months and months and months. I got mad at HIM for MY words. (How could i ever THINK i could forvige YOU?? for example.)

    My forgiveness would not have been real at that point at all.

    I did, at the start, and even now at times, want to RUSH towards that happy ending and get through it as quickly as possible.. It was not until months later I realized that that was impossible.

    Many times I have had to 'rinse, lather, repeat"

    I dont ever expect that time will heal our wounds, I really dont. It was a scar brought upon by knowlege I wish I did not have to gain, but I do hope and expect that we learn to live with the scar, and along with the anger, hurt and resentment it fades in time.

    I am so so sorry you seemed to have had a 2nd Dday and I hope if you need to get that out, that you would do that under "Share your Story". I cannot imagine that devestation after working with what you thought was the whole truth.
    Thank you so much for the book recomendation too. A little more light holiday reading for my list. :)
    Hugs to you.

  3. Thanks for the contribution, Steam. Whether going through recovery after infidelity, or are dealing with another type of trauma entirely, the thing that I have found works for me the most is what you recommend: be nice to someone. Certainly being on the butt end of misery puts you in the position to be empathetic with the troubles other people have. I found that doing good for other people is empowering- it's a way of combatting all the ugly and angry feelings which generally prevail in your mind. It's a way of thumbing your nose at all the $--t that you have been dealt by other people, and saying to the world, "I am able to rise above the evil that is in the world!"

    Truly, in the months since I have lost my husband, this is the ONLY thing that has made me feel any tiny bit better.

    Sending everyone in the BWC positive vibes!

    Jen from Ohio

    1. Yes that totally spoke to me too. I would recommend the same thing. I became more committed to being someone I actually liked, not so different from my beliefs and motivations before, but I had to focus on it more to stay sane. I think it was mix of wanting to counteract the poison in my life and be something good for others in need of it, and to spite the world I felt was out to get me. I want more people to react that way to this kind of pain. Because I would never dream of telling someone who's been through this to just think positive, put a smile on your face, insist to yourself that you're happy so that it'll come true. I would slap someone who said that to me while experiencing something tantamount to watching their world end, or at least the previews. However, attempting to put the smile on someone else's face is, finally, something we can control, and can worth the energy as a more realistic endeavor. It can do something good for another person with their own struggles and takes attention away from the OW and all the anger.

    2. Jen and Better Half,
      That's so great! And you're so right -- we can somehow dilute the toxicity of the affair and the OW when we refuse to contribute to it and instead actively offer up kindness and compassion to ourselves and others.

  4. This is so hard. I "forgave" only a number of months in - for it happening, for knowing him as I did, understanding as I did his difficult place (which I saw all along and could not extricate him from- it took 6 months) and for his weakness and insecurities, all of which seemed so crystal clear in the wake of "the truth." But from and through all of this (now at a year and a half) I continuously struggle with - for even after all of that - how he is unable to be with me in my pain and healing. How in a weak insecure moment, I am on my own. For so much damage seems to have been done since Dday and it is sometimes this which unbelievably I think I find harder to forgive.

    1. Inchworm, I feel you. I have an identical experience.

      The only thing that helps me is to remind me of the small steps we have both been making, despite the less than ideal events after d-day.

      I just want to send you internet hugs (never have done that before in my life) because I know this similar struggle and how brutal it is.

    2. Inchworm,
      Hurt people hurt people. I clung on to that truism like a lifeboat in the wake of D-Day. So many people who cheat because they're so messed up themselves find it difficult to help their spouse heal post D-Day because they simple don't have the tools in their toolkit. They almost need to learn a new language -- empathy, compassion, an ability to put your needs over their own. An ability to RECOGNIZE that you have needs.
      It's important to be sure that your husband isn't a narcissist or sociopath UNABLE to feel empathy and compassion.
      But assuming he's garden-variety asshole who simply doesn't get why you're making such a big deal out of this, then you need to stop asking him to be someone he's not. You need to figure out what you need to do for yourself and then do it. Expecting him to suddenly be someone he hasn't formerly been is a recipe for disappointment. That's not to say you can't insist upon it as groundless for reconciliation. You can absolutely insist that he get his shit together or you're out of there. Give him a deadline. And if he steps up to the plate and becomes that better man, then you'll have to let go of all that hurt he caused when he wasn't a better man. But if he can't or won't, then wishing it isn't going to change anything.

  5. I am one of those who forgave too early. The thing is, I really meant it when I did. I felt a bit at peace after meeting the OW (I knew her) and hearing her apologies and explanations. Then the real truth came out. I stupidly thought I couldn't possibly take back my forgiveness. But I finally realized while I had forgiven him in part, I did not forgive the new truths. So I am working on it. I'm experimenting with writing his apology letter to me. I don't remember which book recommended trying this. He, like some men, cannot seem to put words to his emotions. I know how sorry he is. I know how hard he is trying. But he can't seem to say what I need him to say even though I've told him I need words in addition to his actions. So I thought I would try writing it to see if it helped me. I put it off for several days because I really was terrified it would just bring up anger and resentment. But I have to tell you, in some kind of weird way, I think it is helping. I think I'm gaining some empathy and understanding- for both of us. I hope so.
    But at the same time, I dread this holiday season. I've already given my H a heads' up that I will have the flu on Christmas. Several times. (I was so happy to see Steam give me permission to do that!) I don't think he believes me. i don't want to see anyone this year or be with anyone this year or try to act like I'm all happy and stuff, because I'm not. I have no spirit this year. None. I really don't know how I'm going to get through this. I've never wanted to run away like I do now. I am not happy when I think of all the years I made sure we had a good Christmas..the baking, the shopping (for his and my relatives) the house decorating. And while I was taking care of that, he was thinking of her and buying her pretty things. One year he left THAT store and went directly to another to buy me mixing bowls. And spent a lot of time on the phone with her for the last 6 or 7 Christmases-before I got up and after I went to bed and, I suppose, from the bathroom. (So you can see, I'm still working on the forgiveness thing!) I'm hoping that I can work through this, but I also know, thanks to everyone on this site, that I have to be patient and let everything work out in its own time. Pretty tall order for me- not exactly known for my patience!
    I've asked him to help me get through Christmas- to help me get my spirit back. This is my favorite time of year and I just feel dead. I know I can allow myself to feel this way and I can give myself a pass on Christmas this year. But no one knows, and we always host Christmas because we have the largest house. So I'm caught between being selfish (and I want to be selfish for a change!) and having people depend on us. I think that's why I want to run away- so I don't have to feel that way.
    Sorry for the rambling. Just needed to say that. Really appreciate this site for allowing us to ramble when we need to.

    1. C,
      Selfish? There is absolutely NOTHING selfish about respecting your own needs and nurturing your own wounded soul. Please don't think you owe anybody anything more. We're generally not as indispensable as we think we are in any case. They'll all get through.
      In the meantime, be gentle with yourself. The first Christmas (I found out on Dec. 10. Or 11th. Can't remember, which goes to show you that time does heal...or at least blur) was absolute HELL for me. I couldn't wait for the damn day to be over. Now, in hindsight, it was just another Christmas. I made some effort for my kids who were still so young. But then I drove to the OW's neighbourhood with plans to confront her and unleash my fury. Couldn't find her home so I pulled over and sobbed for an hour, then came home and acted mean to everyone, including my children. Merry freaking Christmas huh.

  6. 1. I absolutely LOVE the "lather rice repeat" analogy. It is perfect.
    2. Be selfish. On several occasions I said to my husband: u did what u wanted; now it's my turn.
    For example, I started taking piano lessons, I resumed crocheting, I have read a ton of books about infidelity but rediscovered my love of reading & have started reading other books as well. When I want to go out to dinner, I tell him. This past year I told him I wanted a Valentine's day gift, & he complied (although he hates valentines day). We have hosted thanksgiving every year for the past 5 at least, including last year which was the first 1 post d day but this year it was just the core family & so much nicer).
    Taking care of you is NOT selfish. It's necessary.


  7. Oh C, my heart is BREAKING for you.
    Be Selfish!!!
    There is NO reason for you to not have the "FLU"-
    -and there has to be a good acronym in there somewhere, anyone?

    I have forced myself to do things on my own, things that might trigger me: watch certain shows or movies, or listen to songs, but I do them ALONE. I will not do something that might trigger me in public. I did that within a month and ended up in an ugly cry that lasted for hours. I still wont do it. I am almost a year out and in some ways I guess I am still a big chicken. There is just no way I would expect you to force the false cheer, in your very own home, surrounded by people, with the chance there was no place to hide in your very own home, if a rightly warrented "mood" hit. That makes me shudder for you.

    Mixing bowls? UGH!! My H gave me (5 days before D day) a lovely sapphire necklace which I promptly RIPPED off my neck and threw at him on D day, JUST like in the movies! It was not until 2-3 weeks later, I realized I had access to everything except his bank account, amazon and paypal. I asked for those and thankfully saw no large withdrawals of cash or proof of any purchases. I have never asked if he bought her anything--I told him i wanted those accounts to make sure he wasnt sending her things or money on an ongoing basis--he wasnt and at this point, i really dont want to know if she has anything from him. Hopefully he pissed her off so much she tossed them, if he gave her anything.
    also, right or wrong, I have still not really forgiven the acts of my husband. My husband, ummm, wellll----- I think I forgive him. I dont throw it at him or hold it against him, so that is progress. It's helpful that he is quite a different person now, when I see glimpses of the "old" him, that still triggers stuff in me, and I realize that is my fault, not his.

    I have to remind myself that just because I cannot forget, doesnt mean I cannot forgive.

    but what he did? Can i forgive what he did? the actual acts? It's a fine line and I am still working on it.
    Like that old christian saying, excuse me if I get this wrong. "hate the sin, not the sinner"
    Ohh, it sounds so simple.

  8. I saw the text on Dec. 6th "Pp help me bring me some coffee I need TLC." I foolishly said this makes me feel uncomfortable tell her to take your working relationship to a professional level. He did nothing. Next text on Dec. 13th he was going to buy her perfume then I knew and confronted him. He lied to me about the extent of their just friend relationship for six months. I caught him in his lies about when the affair started not August 2012 but Oct. 2011. Anyway back to Christmas- it was a special day growing up It was the one day in the year my mom was nice. Our gifts didn't have to be earned, never taken back or given a guilt trip like what usually happened with my mom. I found the text by trying to play Xmas music while decorating the tree. My asshole bought the OW a more expensive gift for two years in a row. Gave her $500 to pay her bills. He paid $22 for gift wrapping. He always set a budget on how much we could spend on each other but not on the OW he gave her a $1500 gold necklace. I got a cheap vacuum and cast iron pot. Our kids no longer live at home. I refused to participate in any Xmas stuff. He has ruined it for me. I refused to do the following: put up a tree or decorations of any type, he had to buy everyone their gifts, I didn't buy a single thing for anyone. He likes the spirit of giving so much I many ways then he can do it. He got her gifts because she asked him to. What an excuse. I decided I wanted to go to Minnesota go snowmobiling and ice fishing which I have never done before I could not face Xmas at home. My older kids got mad because our Xmas at the house was an extravaganza but I explained to each one why I couldn't stay home. I said I could but did they really want me to be a female Chuckie? They understood and figured out about their dads affair situation months ago. Then in therapy we realized we never had a Xmas just us alone. We never had that romantic time with just us. My therapist who is usually trying to help me move forward, doesn't give me much slack said, almost giving me permission said you know it is going to take you several years to get back to liking Xmas. Then I knew how bad it really was for me.

    We are having our family Xmas on Dec 14th. Then the next weekend we leave for Minnesota. Trying to make new memories, stay connected and I told him he better buy me a big honking gift. In therapy I found out he really doesn't like Xmas, never did because it is associated with bad memories which I never knew. Now he really has some bad memories. The therapist asked me why I was doing nothing to punish him? I said yes. She said why and I said he deserves it. Last Xmas as I went through the motions my kids saw me as so sad they thought I was mad at them. It is all a blur . I knew in my heart there was no way I could participate in any Xmas without having some serious breakdowns. My heart goes out to all the BTWC who has kids and has to through Xmas. I don't have any advice because I'm running away and can't stand it. But I just couldn't allow this OW to ruin everything for me. I just decided what I wanted, what I could handle, stay true to myself. I'm a year out and it does get better I don't know how but it just does. But I'm still punishing him and I don't give a shit if it is not moving forward for one freaking day. So be it!

  9. I have to add it is the one day I'm going to be selfish. It is the one day I'm not moving foward. Give your self permission to be and do whatever you want. Be selfish it is your turn. The day is going to suck anyway no matter if your naughty or nice. I figure I'm never going to have Xmas for the rest of my life. I have given my kids 35 great Xmas years so now it is time for me and I'm going to do and be whatever I feel like.

  10. Whoa this holiday is really bringing up a LOT of stuff. Self included! My H is on the road with a GPS tracker on his car, mostly for safety in the long distance he is driving, but i feel great knowing that tracker is on. Even though, like everything else, of course, there are ways around it if he chose to. I dont think he will choose to. He's had the tracker for 5 years. Lot of good that did me eh? Our Christmas vacation starts this weekend. It was this Christmas trip last year that all hell broke loose. Last night he said "why are you distant"? its true, I was. and I said "it's a hard time of year" and--oh god he NEVER says anything like this, but he said "how come?" OMG, really? I simply said "do i really need to explain it to you?" In all honesty, things have changed so much that it shocked me that I felt how I felt and it shocked me that he didnt "get it" for about 30 seconds. We got through it fine, but there are a lot of reminders right now that are bringing this up ahead of schedule. I honestly don't want to torture him, I dont want to punish him, it's keeping myself out of the funk which is my next (and ongoing) trial. I am thankful that my downward moods seem to only last minutes now. A far far cry from a year ago this month when i thought I would never stop crying.

    1. Steam,
      I think a lot of us get blindsided when we're going along, things are looking up, and then - bam! - a date reminds us, or we hear something or see something. It can be easy to feel like we're backsliding but I don't think that's the case. I think we need to circle around these feelings over and over, each time getting a bit clearer on what they're telling us. As you noted, this year doesn't have nearly the same pain as last year. And it will, of course, continue to get better. But I think we all need to expect that there will be triggers or moments when it all feels raw. And to give ourselves permission to feel it.
      Happy trails!

  11. Random Thoughts - Day 77 (and, there will be no more counting):
    I really do get so much help from reading all of the posts and responses here. Hopefully more women in our position will find this place where they can share their thoughts and experiences. You are all pretty amazing.

    My husband and I continue to work on our relationship and I have to say I am extremely happy with the progress we have made. My mood changes daily but is FINALLY starting to even out! It’s only been a few days since my last post and really do see a light at the end of this emotional tunnel. Something has changed. I can’t pinpoint what it was, but I am starting to function and think normally again. It is so obvious that we are both happy again. It is interesting that the happiness I see in both of us NOW is what has given me the ability to see how unhappy we both were right before “the event.”

    Anyway, I have a plan for a different Christmas experience. We lost my sister during the Christmas season a few years ago. Subsequent Christmas' have been sad and I simply went through the motions for our sons. But, even before my sister's passing, the holiday season seemed to always find me in a frantic race to find the perfect gifts, make the house beautiful, bake all the special recipes, etc., etc., etc. EVERYTHING MUST ALWAYS BE PERFECT, right?

    But, while dealing with "this thing" we find ourselves talking more and sharing our thoughts, likes and dislikes, etc. In one of those talks we found that neither of us really wanted our version of a traditional Christmas this year. I also decided that I definitely do not want to spend it crying and reliving “this thing” which has already been dissected and examined under a microscope daily. No surprise, he doesn't want to do that either. We decided that this Christmas will be for our family of four to celebrate as a season rather than a crazy, frantic race filled with ridiculous tasks (for ME to accomplish) right up to Christmas day. We have purchased most gifts and only have a few left to find. We decorated together and will have everything completed this weekend. We have planned special outings for ourselves (as a couple) and special activities to do with our sons and their girlfriends throughout the next few weeks. We have opted, for the first time in MANY years, to spend Christmas at home. It will be just the four of us, no drama, no personality conflicts of the larger extended family, no ridiculous traditional holiday meal that requires me to be in the kitchen all day with the other women while the men enjoy their day, no bullshit. Just a nice, quiet, day with our family.

    I am determined that "whatever that was" that my husband went through this past summer is going to be relegated (in my mind) to "sometime" in August, when it actually happened. I am lucky. It happened over a brief period of time, there were no romantic dates, no gifts, and no love involved. It was simply sex in a car. The other woman wasn’t even someone he was attracted to, she simply made herself available and he took advantage of it. I will not give it any more space in our lives than the act itself is worthy of. If there must be a time to remember and reflect upon our loss, a date on the calendar to mark my pain, it will be, like the random stupid act itself, some random date in August. If it meant so little to him that he can’t remember the actual dates these acts took place, why should I mark it on my calendar and mourn it? To let it take over special times in our lives would be assigning it way more importance than sex in a car deserves.

    There are events in life that are painful (yet survivable) and there are events in life that change you forever. My husband's "fall" was painful but I know now that I will survive it. Regardless of whether this marriage lasts, I will survive it. The death of my sister has changed me forever, and it is the ONLY loss in my life that is important enough to carry with me and reflect upon daily.

    1. Random Thoughts,

      Sounds like you've got a really good perspective around this. I'm sorry you've had to go through so much pain to get there.

  12. What an absolutely beautiful post. Thank u to the above woman for sharing ur thoughts. I'm a little down today but reading this have lifted my spirits.


  13. Thank you, Sam. You should know that many of your posts have also helped me! Hugs to you!

    Legal Lass/Random Thoughts.... Etc.

  14. I love that everyone who is posting knows that it is ok to let this first Christmas slide. Thank you! That in itself makes me feel better. Like another writer, I wanted us to have our own Christmas- we never have had our very own, no one else Christmas. I've suggested a trip away, but know that it won't be this year. BUT...the good news since I posted- my H planned a surprise trip for us this coming week (!), and it's only because we got our wires crossed that I even know about it. He's never done anything like this- it's as close to spontaneous as we've ever come! All I know is where we're going- what we're going to do when we get there...he's keeping that a surprise. He said he wants to help me get my Christmas back, and he wants Christmas to be good. He's very upset that he's ruined this time of year for me. So he's really trying and right now, I feel so much better. My expectations for this Christmas are now very low and I'm going to take care of myself. Will there be a tree? I don't know. Cookies? Decorated house? I don't know. And now I know it will be ok if none of that happens. And if I need to get the flu, well, I will and not feel bad about it. I love that everyone on this site provides support for everyone else and helps everyone know what is normal and what to expect along the way to recovery.
    And Dec. 5 anonymous- you are right- painful events are survivable- my H's lost years are painful, but we'll survive that, too, and our marriage is going to be better. I wasn't sure of that just a month ago. Maybe that's my Christmas present this year.
    This site is a life saver.

    1. C,
      Expectations have been absolutely the biggest challenge of my life. They have stood in the way of so much joy. It's still hard for me but I'm getting so much better at just showing up and letting life unfold, trusting that, no matter what happens, I'll be okay.

  15. I know the feeling of being depressed this holiday season. I am trying to keep it all together and not head on that downward spiral. I am now 6 months out from d day and feel I'm moving past the hysterical bonding phase to one of reliving the memories of him being with the ow. He at one point wasn't sure if he wanted to be with me or her. Before I was even aware of the affair she was pressuring him to leave me for her. Our marriage wasn't good at the time and there were discussions of divorce before the affair. I just feel it wasn't fair that I didn't have all the information about the affair when I made the decision to work on improving the marriage and going to counseling and the ow did of course. He made the decision to stay with me and we had started counseling before he disclosed to me about the affair. She got to willingly participate in the affair and even gave him a letter saying how she would always love him and would wait for him. I have been mentally rereading the letter in my mind and been thinking about him with her replaying in my mind. I think of the great prize I have won (I mean that sarcastically). He has ed, has high blood pressure, drinks to much at times, and isn't even 40 yet. Sometimes I think I should've let her have him with all his downfalls so she could see what a real winner she was getting. She only got to see the good parts and not the fact he is kinda a slob too and his meds for blood pressure makes him drowsy a lot. I mentally picture her perfect image she had of him crumble and how I could've laughed at her for trying to steal him. I am trying to not think about all of his negative qualities but they pop in my mind when I think about her. He really has been trying to be a better person nowadays and I'm sure I won't always just remember his bad qualities. The other thing I laugh at is the fact the ow is a very selfish and greedy person that if he had stayed with would have had them drowning in debt. I have actually met her a few times before she divorced her husband and know she spends well above her means. She got a divorce because he didn't want to stay with her after she had cheated on him with a different married man who decided to stay with his wife. Wow what a prize the b**** would've been for my husband as well. Sorry for my rants but I didn't want to just keep all of these emotions bottled up. On a positive note I only think about this for a small portion of each day and then focus on things to make me feel good about me. Thank goodness my husband tells me daily how happy and lucky he feels that I'm here with him. If he didn't make me feel like he thought he was the lucky one in the situation I would've told him goodbye and good luck with that selfish bitch.


    1. Jess,
      Spill away. It's important to have a place where you can let all the awful thoughts out. They lose their power over us when we release them from the shadows.

    2. Jess I love you point of view of how the OW viewed your husband. I think the OW viewed my husband as having money ( my salary). I never really thought about it but this really helped me today and made me smile to think about it.

    3. Jess, I loved your take on the view of the OW of your husband. I never really thought about it. The OW thought he had money but it was really my salary. She looked at his new truck which I traded in my expensive car. made me smile thanks

  16. I like your post gives us all hope especially the I will survive regardless.

    1. Lynn,
      Yes, you will survive. Stay focussed on self-care, which is being responsible FOR yourself (keeping yourself safe and not doing things you resent) and TO others, to treat them with honesty. That's it.

  17. I am 8 weeks out and I need to ask you ladies for help. I no longer know how to be with my husband. I have nothing to say. When we are together, I can't look at him. How am I supposed to be? What did you say and do with him to get through the days? It is so awkward and the silence is deafening. I have no interest in small talk and there's only so much we can say about everything that's happened. Help!

    1. I am a year out not all days are good but your reaction is you are in shock but you are NORMAL! I was in shock for at least 4 months walking around like a zombie. It was only therapy that taught us how to talk to each other and open up. How long have you been married? How did you find out? The amount of the damage is the amount of healing and time it will take. Take care of yourself and only worry about yourself for the next few months. A bomb has just dropped out of the sky on your head you are going to be shell shocked

    2. Anon,
      Both Lynn (above) and Random Thoughts (below) have good advice. Take care of yourself. Don't assume that silence is distance. You've undergone a shock and your brain needs to digest all the new information. There is no "normal", or rather, whatever you're experiencing is your new "normal". Give yourself time. Breathe. Take care of yourself. I know it might not seem helpful because we're so programmed to DO something, to FIX things. But that's one of the lessons hidden in this heartbreak. We learn that simply being is enough. We learn that stillness can heal.

  18. I've only been dealing with this three weeks longer than you. So, while my experience isn't extensive, it is recent. Here is what has helped us, though every couple is different.

    1. Spend this time doing things that make you happy and bring you comfort. Do more for yourself than you ever would have before. do something to lighten your heart, make yourself feel good, etc. You deserve this right now.

    2. Look into yourself and decide how far you are wiling to go to work on your marriage. Discuss what you expect from your husband and tell him what you will not tolerate. If he is still there, you have power, use it. Communicate often and honestly about what you need to continue to fight for your marriage.

    3. I know its hard to look at him and talk to him, but if you want to stay together you need to take this opportunity to explore where it all went wrong. My husband felt so bad about what he had done, he became an open book. We talked about the details of the "event" until we were both quite sick of it. But, we eventually moved beyond that to reminiscing about the good times and finally opening up about how we got to this point. If he is interested in fixing this he will participate in these conversations and also find other ways to reconnect with you. Honestly, after what he has done, he should he bending over backwards to help you understand how it happened and that it will never. happen again. If he isn't, I question his sincerity in wanting to rebuild the marriage.

    4. It really helped me to explore my options. I looked into our finances and did some research regarding selling our home, liquidating, etc. I realized that though my standard of living would be completely different, I could do it all on my own if I had to. That took a lot of the fear out of the situation. I knew I could make it on my own and that I had OPTIONS. Having options makes staying and fighting a CHOICE rather than a need and that makes you stronger!

    5. Take this opportunity to examine this broken thing, your marriage and yourselves. Keep only the most amazing pieces and build something beautiful.

    That's my two cents, for what its worth. Wishing you all the best!

    ~Random Thoughts/ Legal Lass depending on my mood......

  19. I found that the silence was absolutely normal...sometimes, I spent hours alone up in my room because I would rather be alone in silence.

    You are in the early stages, conversation will either happen, or it will prepared for anything. You may not want to hear some things he has to say.

    The conversation doesn't always need to be about the affair itself. It's a tough journey. I am just at the 6 month mark, and for us, it has gotten easier, but there were times that I thought it would never work.

    I still have triggers, it is not perfect by any means.

    All the best to you!!

  20. anon,
    i felt the same way. i am now 3.5 months, 110 days out from d day (but whos counting!) i spent alot of time with friends and family, none of whom knew that my H had cheated. alot of the time it was mutual friends, so we would go out together. it made me feel somewhat normal, and gave me a break from the most horrendous time in my life. make time to do things you want to do... just because you have decided to stay means that you must want to be around your H at all times... not the case! go shopping, get a massage, a mani, pedi. you deserve it. sometimes.not being around your husband and being reminded of what he has done to hurt you is the best medicine.
    i found it took until recently to look at my husband and see a potential light of hope in repairing our relationship. its a LONG road ahead. i am by no means in a place where i can say i dont have pain, and sadness everyday, but i also have some smiles and laughs now... i know in time we will all prosper. time is all we need.

  21. I am in the same boat.. i cant forget nor forgive even if
    I try

  22. To the woman worried about the awkward silences:

    1. Sometimes silence is ok. U don't have to fill it with small talk. It gives him a chance to talk. It lets him see u r sad, u r pensive, u r changed as a result of what has happened. It lets u both see some things & issues r so important it makes other things seem so trivial that u don't want to discuss them.

    2. I was never much of a loner, but since d day I have engaged in more alone activities that are just for me: taking piano lessons & practicing every day, resuming my crocheting, & reading everything I can about infidelity then moving on to other topics when it felt I didn't need the affair help as much.

    3. U & ur husband don't have to talk to be able to reconnect. It's fine if u don't feel like talking, but don't shun him or shut him out either. Some things my books suggest are going to movies or shows-- things u can do together without having to talk much (unlike say going for a walk).

    4. I have read in many books: fake it til u make it. Any time u feel loving feelings towards him, either tell him or text him or leave him a note that he will find later in the day. Expressing ur love will help u feel it.

    5. People respond to positive reinforcement so even on days u don't want to talk or can't stand to look at him, If he does something thoughtful let him know u appreciate it. Say thank u for doing this or thank u for askin that or thank u for suggesting this or it was thoughtful of u to do that. The more u show him u appreciate, the more hell do. The more he does the more positive memories u will create from this point that will go a long way to rebuilding ur relationship.

    6. Sitting in silence is ok. U can still connect physically by holding hands or cuddling or putting ur arm around him.

    7. Several books suggested engaging in an activity as a couple that ur good at. I found I had much more positive feelings about my husband when we did things as a family with my kids. That was mentioned in 1 of my books.

    7. U can try something new together which Weill give u something to discuss other than the affair/s or ur relationship. U will also make new memories.

    Good luck


    1. I'm having a bit of an anxiety attack. We've been doing well but today I felt something off all day. When I checking the missed calls on our home phone today I saw a number I didn't recognize. I called it and got a mans voicemail. I was pretty freaked out when I realized that its the OWs husband. I've wanted to contact him since dday but was afraid of putting my husband at risk. But now he has found us. I left him a voicemail but he hasn't called back. Part of me is glad he found us, maybe we'll get some closure, part of me is scared. I hope he isn't a violent man. I also don't know if he is calling for my husband or me.... Looks like its going to be another sleepless night. When all just go away?

  23. Random thoughts! I have been thinking bout your for days. What happened with the man/voicemail?

    1. Hey Steam, thank you for asking. I called the number and left a voicemail message for him to call me. It has been 10 days and he hasn't called. This makes me wonder if "she" might have used her husbands phone to call our home. Its the only way she can get through because my husband blocked all of her numbers on dday. This woman isn't very bright, so it wouldn't surprise me. I warned her on dday that if she ever contacted me again I would take legal action and also post her nasty video/photos anywhere and everywhere on the internet. That seems to have worked until now. I honesty can't imagine what she hopes to gain by calling my H. He realized early on that it was wrong and was trying to extricate himself from the situation. At first he tried to just be honest but her behavior made him think it wasnt going to be so easy. He tried to be kind and said he couldn't give her what she wanted. His breaking point came with a pretty disgusting video she made of herself and sent via text. He responded with an honest text about how disgusting she was, and then the threats came. Within hours of that came my dday, her revenge on him. His final text to her was very clear. He then blocked all of her phone numbers, changed his cell number and email address. We didn't do a no contact letter because he feels he had already broken it off with her way before dday. So, what on earth does this woman who advertises her need for no strings attached sex on CL want? Do you think I should continue to call her husbands cell phone or just leave it alone and block his phone number too?

  24. Oh gosh, the temptation to tell on her is just soooooo HUGE. So I will tell you what I think, instead of what I would like to do. Let it be. Let it lie. Unless you want to stir up the hornets nest. If it is her, she's obvious just proving she's an idiot. Makes sense that it was her since no message was left. Lovely people aren't they? (Silently I scream)

  25. I have no memory of last Christmas...cloaked in anger and bewilderment, I have pretty much shut it all out. I learned about the affair, from the two of them together, the night before Thanksgiving 2013. It was cruel and terrifying. I could only resort to being a zombie. A few weeks later, I requested that they tell the betrayed husband. Which she did and he promptly left her, two weeks before Christmas. Their divorce is done, but I am still here with my husband, because he runs our business, and he could not survive without my income. It is all frustrating. Up until last week, there was still contact because he felt guilty about their marriage ending and he loves her. Meanwhile, I am the gravy train, working my butt off to provide for the two of us (no kids, thank goodness) and trying to sell the business.

    However, this holiday season has been joyful. I have thrown myself into the planning and preening and have found a new spirit. I attended every party and accepted all invitations. A big step forward.

    This morning, I am reading through the advice and wishing that I had seen this post last year. (I just found you all.) I wish that I had not told so many people. I wish that I hadn't been so patient with the both of them, waiting for their affair to run its course. I have come to the conclusion that in his heart, this was the great love of his life and I will never be enough. BUT...guess what? He is not enough for me. But, I will smile and have a good time with his family tomorrow, because I love them and this may be our last holiday together. Bittersweet.

    1. Bittersweet but you sound a whole lot more sweet than bitter. I fear he'll learn too late that he lost the best thing that happened to him (you) but that's his loss. In the meantime, I predict great things for you. Keep us posted.

  26. To bittersweet, the statistics say that she likely is not the love of his life. Something like 3% of affairs end up as successful marriages. He may think she's love of his life, she may think it, u may think it, but I don't think so. U sound like a pretty great person who is taking this a lot better than many of us. I agree with Elle-- he may come to realize this or he may not & if he doesn't ur better off.




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