Friday, December 23, 2016

Woman's Search for Meaning After Betrayal

Suffering threatens to make life meaningless. That is its greatest danger, not the pain it inflicts. It is up to each of us to restore meaning. Doctors cannot do it for us with their medicine; friends cannot do it for us with their solace and comfort. You are healed when you can say to yourself, “I matter, I belong, I am worthy, I am safe, I can express myself, I am loved.
~Deepak Chopra

My friend is mourning the end of her marriage. Her husband of 12 years has moved on with another woman. She, more inclined to self-reflection than he, recently wondered aloud whether the marriage had meant anything to him. Though she by now recognizes his patterns – he needs the adoration of women like the rest of us need food and water – in her darker moments, the loss threatens to make her marriage seem meaningless. What, she wondered, was the point?

Plenty of us have been there. In the wake of another's tragedy, our lives seem small. Our concerns seem petty. In the wake of our own tragedy, our lives, for a moment seem epic. Our pain is momentous. But when the drama begins to shrink and our healing begins, it can all seem so...mundane. Meaningless. We sift through the memories and wonder if they're real. We pour over the photo album and try to discern the other's thoughts. Was this when he fell out of love with me? Was he really there or was his mind somewhere else?
It's crazy-making.

And pointless.
Meaning in our lives doesn't come from another deciding we mean something to him. It comes from knowing that we have a place in this world. It comes from our deeper knowing that we have value, no matter whether anyone else in the world sees it. I've said it before: A diamond is still a diamond even when another sees only a stone. Our every breath is sacred. 
Meaning doesn't come from drama. It isn't about feeling important. It isn't about feeling joy. Meaning is found in every moment, those of excruciating pain and those of bliss. It's about living with intention. It's about trusting ourselves. It's about loving ourselves.
It always come down to that: We must love ourselves no matter what. We must come to that deep knowing of our worth, of our belonging, of our meaning. 


  1. I have been doing the photo album search nearly daily for the past few weeks. I just can't reconcile what I remember with what actually happened. WE did have problems and HE had problems. But I also felt friendship and love and security all the while he was betraying me. I was one of the strongest women I knew before this discovery. Now I am a shell of who I was. The holidays are the hardest time for multiple reasons. Working on loving myself again little by little day by day. Thank you for this BlogSpot, Elle. Merry Christmas.

  2. Like usual, I needed this today. There are days I struggle with questions about if I mean anything to my h. Or if our kids do. Our family. this is exactly what I need to remember. My h doesn't get to define my meaning. I do. And it's taken this affair to really make me realize that.

  3. Oh Elle. This is what I am struggling with and have been my entire life. I don't love myself no matter what. I don't have that deep knowing of my worth, of my belonging, of my meaning.
    What do I do?

  4. The part that resonates with me most is the looking through pictures... looking for when it happened. What was I doing then? How was I so blind? Last year on this very night my pilot husband got into a hot tub at a hotel with a married flight attendant who was wearing only her underwear. Afterward, they went to his room where he felt her up, unzipped her pants, played a bit, and then she got up. She said it was, "getting late" and she left. She's the only one who ever left before things got even more complicated. At the exact same time, I was entertaining our son. Trying to explain to him that dad's job as a pilot requires him to work on holidays and that the two of us would have to make the best of it until he came back. I took pictures of what we did that night through Christmas, and they made our family scrapbook. I look at them now and I think, "My God. I was watching Star Wars while my husband was in another woman's pants." It's hard to reconcile. I'm actually thankful that this woman stopped things because 4 other women did not. I had full panel STD testing because of those other women in 2016 when I found out. I am so ready for 2016 to be over. 2017 CANNOT be worse. What this post reminds me of is how I am valuable. I was valuable even then when I was in the dark. When I had no idea. I am valuable now too. I am actually glad I know. Despite the pain, I want to know.I do not want to be watching Star Wars while my life unravels. Because life works like this, my H is off on a a work trip tonight too.Because of our agreements, he's been calling often. I feel ok about what I think he's doing (eating and going to sleep like a normal person), but I feel valuable even if one day I look at a picture of what I'm doing tonight after finding out that he might have done something awful. What he does is not a statement about my worth. Thank you for this post!

  5. I know that this is the most excruciating pain then I have ever been through. And I truly think that it is for my husband too.

    But I found a new me through this. I love myself now and I know that I am worthy. I feel joy that I haven't felt in a long time. My husband and I do things together that we never took the time to do with each other before the kids came along.

    Some days I still feel the triggers, it's been about 16 months but, I have been able to breath through them. I was very obsessed with getting even with the OW. I've come to realize that what ever the OW thought she was going to get only backfired on her and she is the one that has to live with the lies she told, the unscrupulous things she and her friends have done to try to destroy my marriage and my family. And she has to look at herself everyday in the mirror and try to like what she sees looking back in the reflection.
    I feel like I won, if that makes any sense.

    I also had to work on finding me again. I now like what I see in the mirror when I look at myself. I feel more confident and don't let so many little things get to me as much anymore. I don't see the broken scared woman I was on D-day. Sometimes I think that this second chance for him is also a second chance for me to rediscover who I really am not just my kids mother and his wife. The crazy memory of D-day is becoming less and less painful. It's like it was a bad dream that I woke up from and I can just get up and go on and have a better day then the day before. This site has been a tremendous help in my healing. Thank you all. No matter what our stories are at least we have a place to come and vent and get advice from others that have experienced only the pain that each of us understands only too well.
    Merry Christmas Ladies. I hope 2017 is a better year for all of us.

  6. Oh gosh yes, this is so true - thank you x

  7. He left last night, after 14 months of trying to rebuild my trust --- the trust just wouldn't come back. And he didn't want to be married to someone who doesn't trust himI still love my husband. Please help me, help me to realize I am worth loving again. I feel like the ow won, I have no idea if she is still in the picture, but if not now soon enough and she will have won. The pain, the sadness, the loneliness is excruciating.

    1. Sososad
      I'm so sorry he didn't or couldn't see that trust that's destroyed by betrayal doesn't have a timetable for can only return based on his actions towards you as you process that pain carefully and throughly. If he truly loves you and wants you, he would have been working his ass off the past 14 months instead of just one day saying that it's never going to come back. And I'm sorry but if he is still in contact with the ow for this past 14 months, what the hell trust did he think he was earning? If he walks away from you and runs right back to the ow, just what has she won...a broken man who doesn't care who he hurts so long as he gets what he wants...which probably means he doesn't know what he's looking for and to immature to find out. He didn't want to be married to someone who doesn't trust him yet he's the one that broke the trust in the first place! I don't know if you have had therapy but you certainly could benefit from it even if he's not willing to go with you! You are worth loving, he's just not capable of being that man! I'm so so sorry and just know you're not alone! I know how excruciating the sadness and the pain can be! Hugs!

    2. So so sad I'm sorry your hurting but the truth is your h is trying to blame you for him
      Leaving, it isn't you it's him. Like Theresa said if he had been doing all the hard work to regain your trust things would be very different.. he sounds like a man who is too afraid to be honest and has used the situation to his advantage.. whether the ow has him or not is not the issue here.. you need to look after you, find yourself a good counsellor or trusted friend.. please don't blame yourself this is exactly what he wants it takes the owness of him... arrrggghh these men
      Piss me of so much how they turn their shit onto us.. so so sad you will be ok trust me .. not right now but with a good counsellor and time you will be just fine... please just concentrate on you right now .. you matter .. big hugs .. Sam xxx

    3. To SoSoSad:
      I feel exactly the same way as you about the OW having won. Intellectually I know what she has won is a man with lots of issues, who is so selfish and lies repeatedly, even to his own children. But somehow I still feel so defeated that he has chosen to abandon me for her. She gloats to me, sending pictures of him to me with the caption, "This is how he looks when he is truly happy."

    4. Oh my God Anonymous... give me her email... I want to write to her myself and tell her how wrong and horrible she is!
      Obviously she's crazy. She will get hers soon enough when she realizes he's lying to her too. People who are sick enough to lie to their own children lie to everyone in their lives sooner or later, and she will be the next I'm sure. She's only sending those to you to make herself feel secure... I'm sure she is already feeling deep inside that anyone who does what your husband did should not be trusted...and that people who did what she did are asking for it. She's hoping that he is "truly happy" but he is not.

  8. I just yesterday found that my husband of 15 years was talking to another woman on Facebook. The OW does not live anywhere near us but they message each other proclaiming their love and how they are soulmates . He has since apologized but it doesn't feel sincere. I am really struggling and feel that this emotional relationship is worse than any kind of physical one. I feel like I have been betrayed by my best friend . I can't sleep, eat or even stop crying. I would not wish this pain on my worst enemy . This is the hardest thing I've ever had to try to deal with. How do you stop thinking about it ? I can't seem to get my mind off it and I feel like I'm going crazy .. please any advise would help !!!

    1. Devastated
      Full blown affairs often begins with an emotional friendship that gets to be more. You just found out that your h has an attachment to someone besides you doesn't matter if sex was involved or not the pain is basically the same. I felt crazy too! I'm sure at times I also acted in a crazy manner but I slowly am getting past the craziest part but truthfully what you feel is so normal given the circumstances you find yourself in. I'm so sorry but just know that it gets better with time and the ability to take care of your basic needs which for me was impossible for weeks. I'm suggesting that you read more of this blog it's several years long with tons of advice and wisdom. I also suggest a good therapist. But for now just slow down and take time as much time as you need! Hugs!

  9. Elle
    I've pondered this post for a while and decided that I have to share my thoughts! I too stared at photos and tried to see the moment he fell out of love with me but the truth is that he never stopped loving us, rather he stopped loving himself as he fell in lust with the ow. Yes, I know now that she fell in love with my h, I can't blame her for that. He really is a kind compassionate man but he has issues she will never understand but I took the time to listen to and believe that he has finally come to understand what was broken in his own life and what is really important to him. The ow tried to convince me that my marriage was fake and built on lies just for the sake of our children and that my h just couldn't reach for what he honestly wanted, which in her mind was a life with her. The truth is that their relationship was a fantasy that happened at a time when my h was so lonely and seeing life as just about over. Once he realized about two months into the affair, the complicated mess he created was going to be more difficult to stop than he ever imagined, he began his nightmare of trying to rid himself of her. Bless his heart he tried really hard to keep her from destroying me and my sanity. When he realized that he couldn't stop her, he had no choice but to send her to jail. You would think that would kill the love she had but instead in her mind, he was just doing what I was telling him to do not what his heart was telling him. Well he sent her back to see the judge and thankfully since March she has left us alone other than a few drive bys and looking at his linked in. This year when it's time to choose going to trial or dropping charges, we plan to drop it with the stipulation that if she attempted to contact in the future she faces jail. I'm hopeful that she finally can accept that the truth about their relationship was the fake and finally begin her own healing! I'm looking forward to the new year and our new marriage and our new grand child in July! Looking forward to happy times beats the hell out of looking at his past worst choice ever and beating me up for his choice! I'm so thankful for you and this blog and also for the introduction to Terri St. Cloud! Gather round all you ladies that have had to join this club! Listen to what you hear, and just know it is his wrong and you are worth loving and you have to start by loving yourself first! Shall we lock arms and march forward stronger together! Hugs to all that are struggling!

  10. Affairs separate you from yourself... from your ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, from your very identity and the validity of your past history.
    Affairs destroy your reality and the psychological damage of that is immense.
    Acceptance, let alone forgiveness, in the face of this damage is extremely difficult - time make its possible I hope, though there is a terrible sense of loss , lonliness and wasted years that I have to keep reminding myself had other meaning. But always I wonder - for example, our son had lung surgery mid affair - I have asked if he told her, what he shared with her about that - his anxiety, his relief that the surgery was successful - was that not my territory?? WTF was he doing sharing it with her??? Was there anything that was ours? The answer - MY illness in 2011. A significant illness and one through which he supported me, but was he with her when I was in hospital? Were they 'lunching' while I was having tests and scans??? What does it mean, then??
    The loss of meaning of what one previously thought meaningful and the deconstruction of that meaning, because it was never real, is one of the hardest things I am dealing with. Still moving forward, with this new reality, new history and new narrative in my life - and trusting that there is greater strength and wisdom to be born of this immense pain.
    I found it so hard to know that my husband had 'singularised' himself in his texts and emails to his OW - "I' instead of 'we'. He spoke about things we had done together as if he had done them alone, he shared every part of our lives with her, as if I did not exist. When I read the text he sent, this hit home so painfully. This intentionally slicing away of ME - as if I were not there, not part of the event or occasion. Given that his affair was 9 years long, the hit my personal meaning, value and significance has taken, let alone the times, memories, life we shared in that time has been enormous and the process of rebuilding meaning - even the meaning of the affair itself is excrutiatingly painful.

  11. Hi Marti
    Your post was beautifully written, and I understand all of it. My situation is similar, and I too feel such pain when I know that my husband shared things with the OW (there were two over 5 years) about my children. Apparently these "girls" didn't want to know much about me. They pretended I didn't even exist. They controlled him easily (such is his personality) and he let them. He didn't stand up for anything. He didn't stand up for what we had. And he was not there for me when I needed him.
    Now he's trying very hard to make it up to me and my kids. He is much better with them now and they are thriving, for that I am thankful. But it will take time with me. I'm a very trusting person but I will never be the same, I am certain of that, and I must accept it. I've been around the block and back now. It's been a year, in fact I'm in the one year anniversary week. It's horrible. Best luck to you��

    1. Thank you Julia. Best of luck to you too. One year out is not a very long time. I would previously have thought it was, but I am learning that it takes an awfully long time to heal from such deep betrayal.
      I find I am different too, as is our marriage. I now ask for more, have set clear and shared boundaries with him (something I guess I just assumed we had a shared understanding of prior to his Affair, I say how I feel and what I think, and ask for what I want. He used to silence me - with anger, with gas lighting, with fear of getting an answer I was not ready to accept was real. I am not silent any more - if I want to talk about the Affair - I tell him so, and we make a time to do that. But, I don't go back now. I used to, over and over and over the same ground. I think it was part of processing that this was real, that I had to accept that it happened (not WHAT happened - that is totally unacceptable - but that it did happen and it is part of my life story now; but it is not me. I am not my pain, I am not my husband's affair - there's much more to me.
      This site has helped me in so many ways and the obsession with the OW is my current struggle. The more I read from Elle, the more I am able to begin to let that go. I also read some excerpts from private Lies and the part that resonated was that Affairs are not about what is wrong with the spouse - but with the betrayer. My husband struggles with what he did. He says it haunts him. He speaks of being 'smacked in the face' with the reality of what he had become. Be that as it may, we have a long way to go and at two years and three months from DDay - I have really only just decided that I am staying and that I can find it in myself to do the work needed to rebuild our marriage - he was all ready to begin again from the time I discovered his Affair. The compartment in his mind where the Affair lived was closed down and his AP scuttled back to her husband and family. There ended the Affair and there began the long and arduous journey of personal change and growth, of self discovery and self repair and of relationship reimagining that has to happen for us to go forward together...

  12. It is 41/2 years since my h left and although I feel I am 99/% recovered. sometimes it is still difficult to feel loveable because of the deep feelings of hurt and of betrayal by someone I was so close to for 31years . why did his ego need the excitement and reassurance this other woman has given him ? Where did loyalty commitment and love fit into this affair ? I sometimes feel like it never was there in the first place at least not in any deep meaningful way , I look back and even doubt was this the first one /affair ? Men really have a different mindset than women , this woman had wanted him for years so why did he do it when I was older and of no more use to him ? His excuses are empty and just his, they don't have any real substance , it's hard to come back from this and still have faith in others and to believe I am still worthy and loveable !! Especially on days like today . But in general I look back and truly believe I am better away from such a toxic relationship and I have challenged myself more and have grown as a person because of this . So there is lots to be grateful for. However there is just a tiny link missing to fulfil and complete the new me . But even on my worse days like today, I feel i am better off out of such a toxic relationship were I was told everything was because of my sensitivity and nothing to do with his actions ! I have never written on the site before but I have gained such strength from the articles and all the experiences that you have all wrote about so thank you all and I shall endeavour to make this an experience that has a positive outcome
    And I wish the same positivity and healing for you all



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