Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Betrayed Wives Club: A Community to Help You Grieve

"Happiness has become the new mecca, and anything short of that often leaves us feeling that we have done something wrong or failed to live up to the acknowledged standard. This forces sorrow, pain, fear, weakness, and vulnerability into the underworld, where they fester and mutate into contorted expressions of themselves, often coated in a mantle of shame."
~Francis Weller, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief

Did you imagine the profound grief that came with betrayal? I, for one, did not. I'm not sure it's a failure of my imagination or an overestimation of my emotional fortitude but I always imagined betrayal, if it happened to me at all and I was pretty sure it would not, would be met with my anger. I would throw him out and that would be that.
Anyone who's read much on this blog knows that, instead, I responded like so many others. Anger, yes. I screamed and said horrible, cruel things. But more often, I felt pinned beneath the weight of my pain. I found it hard to breathe. I had trouble forming coherent thoughts. Somehow my young children survived. I got them to and from school. I fed them and put them to bed.
I participated in hysterical bonding, struck by a lust that would have made 20-year-old me blush.
But, mostly, I ached. My pain was so bad that I even wondered about taking my own life in order to be rid of it. I couldn't imagine coming to point of not feeling such pain. Which is what depression does, right? Convinces us that what we're feeling right now is what we will always feel. It lies to us.
And I won't lie to you now and tell you that I felt hopeful. I didn't. I was sure I would never, ever feel happy again. But because I couldn't leave my children without a mother, I decided to live, resigning myself to sacrificing my own life for theirs. Melodramatic, I know. But, again, depression thrives in absolutes. Always/never.
How I wish I'd stumbled on a community like Betrayed Wives Club when I was in such a dark place.
Not because this site would have protected me from experiencing the darkness but because it reminds us that darkness is necessary but not permanent.
Which is what Francis Weller, above, is telling us.
We fear sorrow and grief because we have such little experience with it. Our culture hides it away. Sorrow, we think, implies weakness, a lack of determination to be happy, a refusal to buck up. We celebrate victors and vanquishers. Those who go inward to tend to their hearts? We avert our eyes. Pain is private and we like it that way, the better to give ourselves permission to ignore another's sorrow. We tell ourselves we don't want to make the other person uncomfortable, that it's none of our business. But the truth is it makes us uncomfortable. Better to pretend we don't notice.
And then it happens to us. And we discover that sorrow and grief aren't weakness at all. We discover the courage it takes to stay with it, to walk through it, to hold it and not numb ourselves with distractions or delusion.
I wish I'd know this then. I wish I'd trusted that the pain I was in was temporary and that I had the strength I needed to get through it. I'm convinced it isn't the pain itself that cripples us, it's the misguided belief that it will never lift. And most of us discover something else too that's paradoxical: The more we face our pain and tend to it, the more quickly we move through it. And the more others are able to be with us in our woundedness, the more quickly we heal.
This community exists so that you will know these things to be true, sooner rather than later. It exists to provide a community of people who aren't afraid of this pain and who can help you shoulder your grief. We can't make the darkness lift but we can remind you – we can promise you – that the light will return.
We can remind you of your courage. We can salute your strength. And we can put our arms around you and sit with you in your sorrow.


  1. Elle
    Yes. This community that was born from your betrayal has brought more education, compassion, comfort and love than any Phd out there could! So thankful!

  2. There is a reason why people say, "Good Grief" but some of us have deeper grief than others. Today, we are driving off through the fires on our way to our new winter home in the Sonoran Desert. It is my hope that I'll find some of the old me, the girl who had an adventuresome spirit and a bag packed ready to go. So many things have changed in the past 2 years plus 2 months as you all know. Some things that might have triggered me big time over the past week were merely acknowledge internally and passed on. When a news blurb came on last week about 100 men caught in a prostitution sting my first thought was "I'm married to one of them". Sigh. I asked my husband what happened to his body when he heard that and he said, "I had a panic moment and then thought I am glad that was not me and it will never be me. I get those every single day and they remind me of what I did and where I never want to go again." I am so beginning to understand that betrayal changes how I view much of my life now but I am getting better at looking at my true story and not the rosy one I pretended to have. I think everyone of us who experience that "uh-oh" feeling about our marriage relationship and either ignored it or bought into their lies will need to review that story and rewrite it to our satisfaction with the truth as we knew/know it. The prior post really got me thinking a lot about why I still feel such shame at times over my husband's dalliances with prostitutes. I want so much to get rid of the thought, "I will never know the love of a decent man". My therapist has often reminded me that "Decent men still make bad decisions all the time but that decision should not define them, especially if they, like my husband, hit bottom and said "never again". I'm rethinking my story and I know his choices were not my fault but his choices did change how I view everything I did with him over the past 38 years. He knew all along what an ass he was yet he still did what he did and he knows that this is his chance to shine and he is really shining for the most part. I'll be on the road, dodging fires along the way my friends so send good thoughts for my journey. I'll be reading but not posting. Much love and thank you all for being there for me. Your posts, experiences, breakdowns and breakthroughs sustain me and help me see that I, too, am just experiencing something that is "normal" for those of us walking this path.

    1. Beach Girl, safe travels! Also my husband reacts similar when something reminds him of his past behaviors. Or I will mention a trigger and he feels triggered the same or even more than me. I think it is something that has helped us connect. And I will say he is emphatic when he says "never again". He says he hated himself so much and he can see it now that he is on the other side. For me it is stepping back and giving him room to reveal and show who he is. As of now I do believe he never forgets and he is reminded every day of his poor decisions and for leading such a selfish lifestyle. Recently i have found focusing on that to help me feel better. I guess it is the whole not focusing on the past thing. I think it does bond us together and makes us feel more of a team that we are both growing and moving forward in healing. There are still moments but trying so hard to make this my focus and letting him know my expectations. Again safe travels, I will be thinking of you.

    2. Beach Girl - first of all, I pray you are safe and sound as you make your way away from the fires. Will be anxious to "see" you on here again so we know you are safe! (Hugs) and prayers.

      Your post really helped me today, especially sharing your quote from your therapist about your husband being a decent man. I think that has been a bigger struggle for me than I realized until recently - how I view my husband. We have been married 20 years, together 7 before that - since I was 15. So much of me is defined by my relationship with him. And how I viewed him - I struggled to see him as decent for a long time because he hurt me for so long with his choices. Choices that I knew he was making, that I tried to change and he would not "see" me. But since dday, as you say, for "the most part" he has been shining. And hearing this reminder that even decent men make bad choices, but don't have to be defined by them - reminded me of him telling me he heard me and he is committed to "never again." And that I can see him as decent and I should see him as decent if we have any chance to heal.

      Thanks again for sharing. (Hugs)

    3. Beach girl
      Prayers for safe travels and when you can let us know you are safe! Sending hugs with my prayers!

    4. Stay safe, Beach Girl.
      I'm thinking of your "decent man" comment and it reminds me that people change all the time. Your husband's response to the news re. the prostitution ring tells me that he's rejected that old him. He doesn't want to be that guy, he's grateful he's no longer that guy.
      I had a similar moment with my own husband years ago. He told me that even if I left him, he never ever wanted to go back to his old behaviour. He was so glad to be done with it. And that's such a shift.
      It allowed me to respect him again. To see the hard work he was putting into changing his behaviour, to becoming someone he could feel proud of himself.
      You HAVE the love of a decent man. Right now. He's in front of you. (Or, if you're driving, beside you. ;) ) He wasn't that guy, it's true. But this isn't then. It's now. And it's all any of us have really got.

  3. The ache that hangs in your chest is what I felt for almost two years. The real grief didn't hit me until a year later because I was still dealing with not only my husband's mental illness but my daughter's too. I had no time at that point to grieve what we had lost. Moving away from my family and our friends hit me hard after we got to our new house. But I so understand what you were talking about regarding taking your own life. My husband's grief and the hurt he caused me lead him to want to end his own life. I thank God every day that he feel asleep in his truck out in the woods. When he woke up he realized how much of a mess he was and drove himself to the hospital to get help. I know that at times I didn't want to believe that this really happened. How did we get into this mess kept going through my mind and his. How did going to go work at this one place for a total of 10 weeks change my life so drastically. I never would have imagined this happening. Accepting things now is different and easier to get past. Understanding what really happened and that it was a nightmare for him too, makes my healing bearable. Finding this blog helped me come to terms with things and come out of the fog and bleakness that enfolded me daily. I so grateful for this blog and the women who post on it.

    1. We're grateful you found us too. And grateful your husband reached out for help before it was too late. Mental illness is horrible. It distorts our thinking and leads us to hurt ourselves and those who love us.
      I hope your days are brighter now. Once we accept what happened and stop wishing things were different, we're on the path toward healing.

  4. Very diffict day for me. I can't handle that they work together.i thought I can take it but TODAY I can't.

    I called him and told him this situation is unbearable for me and I don't accept it.

    That's all I said. I will not ask him to give up this job that he spent his life building . And she doesn't owe me anything so of course I don't expect her to leave.

    But isn't it my right to tell him that it's unbearable and that I shouldn't have to be ok with this situation?

    I don't know what he can do about it. There's no other jobs he can do right now. He can try handling me when he comes home and finds I've went crazy over these hours.... still, it was his fault so he has to deal with it.

    I have children that need me strong and funny and happy, I need to make sure they are eating/sleeping/homework/practice/ handling every day school bullies/stories and things they need to talk about. I can't do that fully unless I'm honored cherished appreciated and knowing that my feelings are understood.

    A simple solution really would be his understanding. Maybe that will help till something changes. But don't I have the right to tell him I'm not ok?

    I wont go back to bottling up my feelings just to make sure that I don't put anyone under pressure. I did that for a long time and I'm not doing it now after what he has done.

    1. Emma,
      I'm no expert, but I say YES. Yes it is OK for you to say anything you want about what you will and will not tolerate. It is ok for you to not be OK, and for you to express that! I hear you saying that he cannot do another job, but he could at some point in the future. Is he willing to entertain that option? I don't know what job your H has, so I'm going to go through all the options my H would have in his also very-hard-to-replace job.
      I could set a boundary that he begin planning a move and plan to have a new job within 3 months, a year, 5 years... That gives him time to get a new education, etc.
      He could move to a different department and take a pay cut. I could pick up some other job to make up the difference.
      He could work hard to be promoted to another office.
      He could ask for a transfer to another state/city.
      He could join the Peace corp.
      He could become a Hollywood actor.
      I'm getting silly, but I'm pointing out that YES, he does have options. Some are better than others. But I have options too. Neither of us is stuck even if it seems that way. He could decide to make changes at his job, or you could decide to make changes about him (set a new boundary, make a new plan, leave your marriage...) You don't have to decide now and you also don't have to feel badly if you need him to leave his job as soon as he is able. You aren't wrecking his career. He did that when he made his choices. Of course, he would have the option to stay in his career and let you go if it came to that. If he's willing to make that choice, then do you want him anyway? Perhaps if you planned his exit from his job together over a period of time that makes good sense for you both? If you had a plan together, would that make you feel better? I want you to feel justified for having your feelings, not being OK, and expressing that. I also want you to know that you're not stuck even when you feel like you are. One step at a time. Hugs!

    2. Emma, I think you said it perfectly that you should not keep your feelings bottled up. That is one thing I learned through all of this keeping my feelings inside does not help either of us. These feelings have never gone away and only get worse. I have learned that I have to speak up no matter what the implications. I have learned my husband prefers that I speak up.

      We did not have to deal with work place issues but it would have been a major problem/implication. His career is built with both of our help for over 20 years, the high cost of his education which I funded since I was the full time worker and all of the support over the 20 years that has allowed him to commit 110% to it. In general no matter what the challenge is for us it helps us both to have a plan in place. I think figuring out a timeline or what can be done to move towards them not working together. In the meantime is there any way to help with transparency, him checking in with you at set times, you having access to his work communications (if this is allowed, for me never an option since my husband is in the mental health field). I usually try to go into these types of conversations with some ideas of what might help me. Could you set a weekly meeting to talk about it. For us when I was having the hardest time with our recovery a weekly meeting helped. I would journal daily then before our weekly meeting I would review what I wrote. It allowed me not to be 100% focused on it daily. And I knew we would be having a conversation to discuss what I needed to talk about. My husband felt better since he could be prepared too. Otherwise I think he felt bombarded every night he came home since I was a mess each day. This system worked well for us.

    3. Emma
      Yes you have the right to tell him how you're feeling good bad or otherwise! I'm still learning how to do that without me totally having a meltdown but I'm still doing it as best I can. You have to take care of you first because if you don't you're right that everyone else around you will suffer! I agree with the others that you need a plan for him to change jobs. Make it together. My h is close to retirement and thank God she didn't work with him even though she knows where his office is. He offered to change jobs and sell our house but I wanted to reclaim my home and space! I'm rooting for you to be strong and let him know what you need!

  5. Elle - as always, such a beautiful post and such beautiful timing in where my heart is now. I've been silent on here a few days, mostly just because of life business, but also because I am working hard at this healing thing. Like the line you write above - "The more we face our pain and tend to it, the more quickly we move through it." This is so true and something I am just now learning, 18 months out from DDay. Those of you who have read some of my recent set backs and new discoveries can see this is where I have been. I am far, far from healed....but I have found that just in the last 2 weeks - the more I can focus on there here and now, the more I can feel what emotions/thoughts come into my mind and heart, but then move myself back to reality, the here and now, my desire to heal and my affirmations - the more quickly my pain is subsiding. Is it easy every day? No. But the more I focus on ME and MY HEALING, and just feeling the pain - the more I am feeling a change in me, the pain that is slowly lifting.

    I think right now where I am is how and when to talk to my husband about things. Not even the affair - just "us" in general. For so long I have been the one to bring things up, and I will continue to be just based on our personalities - but sometimes I'm just so tired of bringing it up, of talking that I don't say anything. Part of it is I have been in a better mental place, part of it he has been sick, part of it is me just wanting to "be." To live with my kids, with my husband, with myself in a better place. We still have a LOT of work to do. We still have the issue of him working with the OW that continues to slow down some of my healing, but I will not let it continue to drown me. We still have to get to a better place of communication in general in our relationship - not just how to talk about the affair, but how to just TALK and share - period, but it's so much better than it used to be. And for that I am thankful.

    Thanks for this post, Elle! Hugs to all today!

    1. Jules, I found at a certain point it did become more about him, me and our marriage even beyond the affairs. I think for him he felt like focusing on the affairs was it. But for me I have really emphasized to him my focus is on what type of marriage I want. My husband has heard me but I really had to lay it on the line that my expectations now are way higher than they were in our 20+ years of marriage and I need and want more whether it is with our without him. No more setting aside or not really considering what I need. This has been a shift and taken time. You sound like you are in a great place even with the work place situation. Good for you!!!

    2. Jules,
      Give yourself a break sometimes. I'm glad you're focusing on you and your healing. Leave him to focus on his own healing. We don't always need to talk about everything right now. Perhaps write things down. See if problems resolve a bit on their own. With time, we can sometimes just accept that there will always be differences and that's okay.
      But, in the meantime, you sound tired. Rest.

    3. Hopeful 30 - thank you so much for your response. I'm trying...hard...to just be and just heal.

      Elle - how is it that we have never met, and will never meet and I have only posted a handful of times, really - and yet you can move me to tears in a second AND make me feel SEEN? I am tired. So very tired. Less tired than I was a few weeks ago, but yes, I am just so very, very tired. Honestly I think us not talking and just living these past few weeks after my good session with the counselor have really helped. Thank you for hearing me, for seeing me, for knowing me. You are a gift....this site is a gift...but your words, your heart, your gift of words...is priceless.

  6. My dday was 20 months ago, I wish I would have found this site right after finding out. I had no hope at all. I remember the first 3 months having a fog brain doing some stupid things,I was living with so much pain and yes I didn't want to wake up in the morning the pain was unbearable. I remember giving my husband my bottle of ambien I was afraid I would do something stupid.

    Today I can say I have seen the light again. There is hope, you have to do some hard work and feel that pain, live with it and be so kind to yourself and put yourself first! My husband and I got into therapy 1 week after dday the first therapist we met with was horrible so we found another. I can honestly say she saved our marriage she helped me see the broken man my husband became. She taught my husband how to help me heal instead of turning away. I can honestly say I'm happy with my life and my marriage. I still feel sadness at times and I still have triggers but now I talk to my husband instead of keeping that inside.

    There is hope and one day you will see the light again. Love yourself!

    1. Hiking Girl, That's awesome. I'm so glad to hear. Your therapist sounds wonderful. And that's exactly what we try to do here: help you heal by "being so kind to yourself." Crazy how hard that is sometimes, isn't it?
      And I'm glad your husband is able to support you and not turn away. That's crucial in rebuilding a marriage.
      Thanks for sharing where you are.

  7. This is such a well-written moving post! It is so compelling my heart poured for the grief-stricken woman of your past. Yet so captivating is the inspiring message that I am awestruck at the hope it shares. My goodness Elle, you hit the nail on the head and drive that sucker home!
    I didn’t know whether to laugh till I tinkled at the ‘hysterical bonding’from the other post or to squall my eyes out at finally being able to experience a light-bulb moment. I have berated myself for being openly blind to madder than hell for how I continued to sleep with my husband with condoms for 5 years. Deep down I knew there was more to the story than his refusal to get help so he could come home in a healthy way for our kids. It seems as if I have been a freaking prime-pick Jerry Springer show candidate living like a walking zombie with a broken record stuck on my ass blaring some sad country song on replay 5yrs!
    After WE decided that I would have a tubulization so HE could not have any more babies, this ass gets the OW pregnant! While they were bumping uglies making a baby, I REALLY needed him more than I ever have while my father was dying. My husband was so emotionally unavailable other than the pretending he did long enough to sneak in my bed if the kids were visiting friends. This made me feel as if I were a piece of side ass. I fought like hell to stay upbeat, but I have been devastated over my dad, overworked at a high stakes job I drive almost 2 hours to, drastically underpaid, run ragged finishing college degrees, down to plum disgusted with myself when I found out about the years of lies and the baby he made in the same month my father was loosing his battle. Though I could care less getting another year older, the sheer coincidence of their baby being born right at my birthday to be given a name that rhymes with my youngest son's by the twisted mother who decided this pissed me off.
    Thus, I understand the ‘WTF' was I thinking. It was a morning mantra for the last 6 months. The nights were when the weight of it all came crashing down. Before bed I have been a ball of nerves wishing to heaven none of this would have ever gotten this far, wishing I could turn back time to figure where I went wrong so he would not have ventured towards the alcohol, wishing I would have left when our boys were little after his first abrupt affairs, wishing so much for some other beautiful fairy tale ending between us, something so different that the pain had become unbearable. Tonight is one of the first few nights in a long time that I have not cried myself to sleep.
    So, when you laid open how gripping the depression was, so much so that you kept on surviving just for your kids, it struck my heart like a lightning bolt I recognized all to well. As you stated it may sound melodramatic, but I know that I know how deep that pain goes. I am so sorry you suffered like this Elle, but I am so very thankful to find this community of wonderful women like you who are willing to be selfless vessels of hope. Your stories give me strength to keep looking for that beautiful new beginning for my kids, and for me.

    1. StillWeRise, I'm so glad you found us too. You have been through so so much. It's amazing and a testament to your strength and the love you have for your beautiful boys.
      But now it's time for you. I know you've got a lot of changes right now and it sounds as though you're moving forward (college degrees? Awesome!). Just keep going. Rest when you need to. Be radically kind to yourself. Stop the nasty self-talk about what coulda, shoulda, woulda happened.
      And trust that you are enough. Have always been enough.

  8. I'm not sure I would have survived without this community. 10 mos post Dday I am sure about myself. I am still not sure about my marriage. H is doing what a BH should do to repair the damage. But I still worry he did too much damage. I don't know when I will know the right direction to go with my heart as far as this marriage is concerned. But I am finally happy with myself again. Thank you Elle and friends!

    1. oops it should have said CH (not BH lol)

  9. This post came on a particularly poignant day for me. I am roughly 7 weeks out. And after the first 48 hours, where I could barely function (we were on an international vacation and my husband literally had to help me stand up and walk), if have only dealt with the sadness at intervals. I immediately jumped to "what can I do to fix me" (not for him, but for me). I was at a therapists within a week. MY husband is gone right now, and the last few days, I have felt the emotions really fighting to get out. And I know I cannot keep dealing with them in small doses, I have to feel it. And I think I am so afraid to feel that pain, because I cannot imagine it not ever being there. So thank you for this post. I have plans to listen to some Sam Smith, take a bath and likely have a sob fest tonight once my children are asleep. I know I have to deal with the pain to get through it. It is just terrifying to think of facing it head on.

    1. Anonymous,
      Like you, I scheduled my sob tests. Kids in bed (sob). Kids off to school (sob).
      It's key to just feel the pain. It doesn't last forever. You will run out of tears, at least temporarily.
      It's almost impossible to imagine a day when you don't feel a rock in your gut...but the days comes. I promise.

  10. Anon 9/13, I think I am just a week less dealing with the revelation that shocked my world. I am unsure but think you are describing what we probably all go through: so many emotions at one time at one second that you don't know which one to listen to. They are all valid. Every feeling of hurt and anger and jealousy and sadness. I still don't know if I have got them all out. I haven't cried in awhile - we have been going to counseling since week 1 and I finally made it a week without crying! - and yet he insecurities and doubt and hurt and shock seem to come out in one way or another. Simply put- this fucking sucks. There is no way around it. I am not one for drama. I am not one who embraces internal or external struggle. When I have a conflict with someone, I address it. I have always been like that. So in this situation, I need to address it with my husband......but actually, not so much. I have needed to address it with myself. I am seriously here. The silent voices that tell me "you can do this, you can face this" have overridden much in these past few weeks. It still fucking sucks. Like is this really my life, our life, did this really happen? Yes, yes yes, yes. I didn't realize it then but I drove myself to acceptance because I couldn't deal with feeling like a zombie. I knew I wanted to stay with him and I knew I could/would/did forgive him. But wow. So much loss and grief and sacrifice there. And yet without sticking around, I knew I wouldn't see the end. I want to see the end. I don't know if you do. And that's okay. I hope your bath and Sam Smith and your tears bring clarity, if even for a few minutes. You deserve it all. This has nothing to do with you even though you have been shoved into a corner and asked to deal with this horrortruth. Thinking of you and hoping for peace.

    1. "This sucks" pretty much sums it up. There's no going around, under or over. You gotta go through.
      And you can do this. You can face this. The day will come when this is a bad memory. And when that day comes, you'll undoubtedly be able to point to the strength you had, the dignity you showed. And you'll, with work, be able to note how proud you are of yourself, how much self-respect you showed yourself, how much clearer you are about boundaries.
      For now, breathe. And trust that you will be just fine.

  11. Hello all! Stumbled onto this blog as I was browsing through the net trying to distract myself from the thoughts of my husband's sexcapades. I am a gay guy, hope I am welcome here.

    1. ian_101,
      You are absolutely welcome here though sorry you needed to find us. There's a ton of amazing (mostly but not all) women on this site who know the pain of being cheated on and are full of wisdom and support and compassion. If/when you're ready, share your story.

  12. Ian_101
    We have a saying on this blog, betrayal is betrayal and it doesn't matter what sex we are the hurt feels the same! Welcome to the club not one of wanted to join including the beautiful lady that created this place. Each of us has a story and every story matters. We give each other love, support, and advice for how we are making progress down our paths. We try not to be judgmental but we understand that we each have to take the right step for our own path to peace and love. I'm sorry you have had to find us but glad you did because I for one can tell you that without a doubt, my marriage could have ended the first few months post dday because his ow was a bit unstable and dealing with her caused us both a world of extra pain. Please feel free to share your story when you are ready and stand ready for some amazing stories of the ups and downs we all have in common. Sending hugs for your fresh pain!

    1. Thanks Theresa for rolling out the welcome mat. You're such an incredible gift to this site.



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