Monday, January 12, 2015

Guest Post: His cheating does not define me

by Steam

I am sitting here coming up on the one-year anniversary of D-Day, three feet from where I learned that the world I thought I was living in was an illusion, then crumbled, and then reimagined.

And life is so much different than I thought it would be.
Life is better.
As awful as that somehow feels to say – in admitting this it can feel as if the affair was a good thing and we all know an affair is NOT a good thing – it's true. It's something I thought I could never say,  something I thought I would never admit to, even if, as I had read, it could happen.
But I'm saying it: Life is actually better.

Whew.  It's so hard to admit but there, I have done it.

knew the moment of D-Day, with something so terrible, so disgusting, so sordid, so deceitful happening, something good had to come out of it. Whether I stayed with my husband or if I didn't.
Something had to blossom out of this pain.
It had to.
It had to turn into something else.
And it did.

But not into the something that I thought it would a year ago.

I thought that I would sell our vacation home when I discovered his ugly truth.  
Nothing went on there but it is where we had our biggest, ugliest fight.  
It is where I had my D-Day.
It was that fight we most all have on D-Day. The one that's a metaphoric vomiting of everything you are feeling and have felt for years, even if you didn't admit it or even knew you felt it.

The spewing of anger, hurt, disgust, disbelief, anger, more anger and more hurt and more pain than anyone could ever imagine unless you are reading this. 
If you are reading this, you know that pain.

How could we ever have another happy day here?
And yet, we didn't sell the house.
We have many happy days here, punctuated thoughout the year with small bouts of sadness and smallish triggers. But that can happen anywhere.

I thought that every time I would look at him, forever, I would see "her" somewhere in him.

I don't.

I do see a different, better man though. I think that D-Day was the first day he had been honest with me in years. He was forced to be.
Now I see a man much more open, much more honest, much more loving, and yes even sexual towards me (oooh la la).
A man who actually talks to me now. 

Takes my hand when we walk. Asks what's wrong (or right). And listens when I tell him.

More importantly, I thought I would forever be branded somehow, with a mark that no-one could see or a visible scar that I could not explain to anyone.

I thought my husband's betrayal would define me.

And it doesn't.


  1. Thank you for those words of hope. I am 6 months out from d day and still continue to think about the affair and the other woman and what she meant to him. At least in my mind what she meant to him. I hope to someday get past thinking about it and move on. My husband is continually by my side when he can be and we do everything together on his days off. He has been more open and honest with me. I just wish I could stop thinking about the fact he had an affair. It only lasted a month but during that time she was trying to convince him to leave me for her. He didn't though. I just keep thinking if things start going bad is he going to pick up another ap again since our marriage was rocky when he did the last time. I get he used her to stroke his ego at the time but I worry he may need that again. I keep telling myself that it gets better with time but it scares me when I read posts from others about a year later the husband decided he wanted to be with the ap instead. He doesn't have contact with her at all but I can't stop these feelings. Maybe it is just part of the rebuilding trust I hope. I will give it more time and see if these thoughts lessen or not. I do want the marriage to last and he says he wants it too as well.

    1. Jess,
      The fear is a big hurdle post-betrayal -- fear that there's more to find out, fear that he's not being honest about his desire to stay in the marriage, fear of a LOT of things. It really helped me to continually bring myself back to the moment. In this moment, all was okay. We create suffering when we live in the past and future, most of which we can't control.
      Have you tried mindfulness exercises? Meditation? Anything that can get you to focus on the "now" will help keep your mind from galloping into the future and creating all sorts of doomsday scenarios. You're right in that rebuilding trust takes time and consistent proof that he's being honest.

  2. Great post! Knowing the truth, as heart-breaking as it is, seems to lay a better set of foundations. It's a paradox but had I never had found out about my husband's adultery, I doubt that we would still be married! Having the D-day was actually not the end but the beginning of something else for us. Like you, I never experienced this level of honesty in my marriage before. Of course, I wish that it had never happened but I don't think I'd want to return to my pre-adultery relationship. Complicated eh?

    1. Marriagerecovery,
      I suspect that's the case for a great many of us. Marriage is really tough -- even without infidelity. We drag all our baggage, expectations, unfulfilled dreams into it...and then blame the other person when we're disappointed.
      Complicated indeed. But as you note, one of the upsides of coming through infidelity is we have to face up to our own stuff and clear it out of the way. Which is why those who really do the hard work of healing from betrayal so often describe a deeper, richer relationship. It's possible to get there without infidelity of course...but unfortunately, that's not the route my husband chose. :/

  3. I think if you ask anyone, most would say they would leave...faced with the reality of an affair, things change!

    It was the one thing I told him would send me packing if it ever happened. My mother had an affair, not my father, and I swore if it happened to me, I'd be gone. My dad stayed, I never really understood why. But I can say that after the affair, my parents were closer than ever.
    Some days, I feel stupid for staying, like I'm embarrassed I could let it happen, embarrassed that I stayed. But on a positive note, most days, I think I've made the right's a daily battle, some days better than others.
    Jess, I am 7 months out from d-day and I think about the affair daily. The affair ended 8 months before I even found out.
    Our marriage too was rocky, and it pisses me off that he felt the need to have his ego stroked by someone else. I have the Same insecure thoughts as you, and I think it's just normal. Trust is the biggest part of the rebuilding process, and it takes time...they lie to you for months, years and cannot expect the trust to be rebuilt in a short period of time.

    I know the affair is over, and finding out the truth was a sense of relief....I didn't have to wonder if it was happening anymore. I knew at that point we could move forward and try to repair us or go our seperate ways.

    It's tough....but I am convinced it has to get better and it will.


  4. Anon..6 months out is NOTHING. Seven months out we celebrated our anniversary, which is something I could not have celebrated at six. One day you will stop thinking about it every moment of every day. I promise. This AP sounds like a,loser. One month and she was begging your husband to leave you? What is she, 12? Remember you are the normal one in this relationship. You did not cheat, he did and for you to have fears at 6 months is completely normal, I know it does not help to know that, but maybe it should a little. What happens, is it gets exhausting to always have this worthless woman taking up real estate in your brain and your heart. And like a bad kidney transplant, your body will reject her and the place she has taken up residence in you will be filled With other and much better things. Just hang in there, focus on how great YOU are. We are pretty amazing, compassionate women to even Give these men a second chance, and if they are smart, they know it.

    1. Steam,
      Ha! Love the kidney transplant analogy. A diseased toxic kidney.

  5. Marriage Recovery..yes. It is the most complicated thing ever. EVER. I am sure you know, we wouldn't go back, because what we sometimes think we want to go back to, is a situation that led to an affair. What we thought was one thing, was another. I don't think I ever said that I "wanted to go back to how things were" nope, I screamed that he ruined everything, (and a lot more) and demanded of myself, something BETTER. He is lucky I included him in my game plan. And believe it or not, I am lucky he stayed, because he is a changed man. He had to change or go. My heartbreak, My rules.

  6. heartbreak, my rules; that speaks volumes! Love it! Words to live by!!!


    1. Steam is our spirit animal. Let's let her guide us to a place where we all wear t-shirts declaring "My heartbreak, my rules!" ;)

    2. For the record, I LOVE the term spirit animal lol

  7. Elle, thank you for your blog and the time and effort you have put into it over the years. Through your recommendations I have begun to follow both Susan Piver and Danielle La Porte. Great healing is to be found through following both of these women. I'm forever grateful. odd isn't it ? to think that without the betrayal I would not have found thissource of strength

    1. TerriAnn,
      That's so great to know. Thank-you. They're brilliant, aren't they? There's such compassion in the world and such strong women who will guide us if we look for them.

  8. Thanks ladies! "My heartbreak my rules"
    just popped out of my heart. I love it too! I am glad it resonates!

  9. I've spent the better part of almost two complete years trying not to feel so selfish that I was hurting so much. I was struggling so much inside and my husband would get visibly upset when I would withdraw into silence. I said I needed space to breathe and it would pass but he would state that he knew something was wrong because I was always so happy and social before I found out. I'm so sad still and to make things worse I relocated back to the "scene" from my self appointed sabbatical of 14 months in another state healing and rebuilding what was left of me. It took a new place, new job, new house and new friends to help me through. I had trusted him since I was 13. He had been my most important person for 20 years and he stabbed me in the back gutting me completely. Now I read your posts and I'm geeked with gratitude and tears because it hurts so much to be back "painting a new scene" with triggers and all. I loved my solitude in my sabbatical because none of those existed where I was located.
    So to see "my heartbreak my rules" means so much to me to not give in to this familiar place but stay strong.
    Thank you so much! I pray God bless everyone who faces this and may the come out stronger a true survivor.

    1. Anonymous,
      I know two years feels like a lifetime but it took me about three years to feel that I would not only survive but triumph over this...and about five years to believe I actually had. Betrayal cuts to the core of our belief in ourselves and the world. It's traumatizing. It takes a long time to heal from that. But you're on your way. You'll get there. Your heartbreak, your rules.

    2. Found this post when I searched the blog for stuff related to triggers. Once again, I've found something here that makes so much sense to me in the moment, offers the reassurance that I am not alone, and reminds me that what I'm feeling is normal. I'm six months out from my first d-day where I was told it was "just" an emotional affair and two months out from the day I got the full truth and all the ugly details. All contact with the OW was immediately cut and we have continued counseling. I never thought I would be in a place to say that while what happened was likely the worst thing I've ever experienced, I am grateful for the changes I am seeing in our marriage and in us as individuals. I still have many difficult moments, but the way my husband and I work through them gives me hope. Just last night, after an emotional conversation we both agreed that even with all the pain, we know we are in a better place than we were before the affair.., so much more communication and honesty. I certainly wouldn't have chosen this route but I'm grateful for the destination.
      Thank you all so much for your honesty. I never would have believed I would receive such comfort from the words of people I've never met.

  10. searching for strengthAugust 7, 2015 at 6:56 PM

    I just can't believe it right now. It seems like there is no possible way that things can be better. I'm so close to giving up completely.

    1. Searching,
      Do you want to tell us what's going on?
      If you do choose to give up, recognize that sometimes "giving up" is actually giving ourselves permission to walk through a different door into a better life. Nobody should tolerate a marriage in which they don't feel valued.



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