Monday, November 19, 2018

Betrayal Trauma: When Infidelity Damn Near Destroys You

It's becoming increasingly clear that refreshing Twitter every five minutes and logging on to the New York Times home page to read the latest assault on good sense, decency and human rights is not good for my health, emotional or physical. I'm agitated. I'm unproductive. I'm miserable. 
Which is why a weekend spent in my reading chair, phone and iPad tucked in their charging station, slowly reading through the pile of magazines that has accumulated, was just what the (metaphorical) doctor ordered.
I was reading September's issue of O, The Oprah Magazine when I came across a story about post-traumatic stress disorder related to infidelity.
There's a term, though it's not in wide usage: Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder, which sounds almost too quaint for what actually happens. "Stress" barely scratches the surface.
Because the key for understanding just why we're so shattered by infidelity is in the word trauma. Betrayal is trauma.
Trauma, according to Oxford Dictionary (which, incidentally, declared "toxic" its official word of 2018, edging out gaslighting and thereby giving official status to betrayed wives everywhere), means "emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may lead to long-term neurosis."
Shock. Injury. Neurosis.
That's more like it.
It took me a long time to come across any reference to what I was experiencing as trauma. It may have been my therapist who first mentioned it, though I too often discount what she says because I think she's too easy on me. After all, I hadn't been dodging IEDs in Afghanistan. I hadn't experienced a brutal rape. 
But when I read about betrayal trauma, when I saw the words written across a page, the idea came with an authority that didn't allow me to dismiss it. Because I had been dismissing my pain. I was sure that other women going through infidelity weren't as shattered as I was. They were out in skinny jeans and stiletto heels slashing his tires, or gathering around a bottle of chardonnay with other betrayeds and plotting comical revenge, or at a spa transforming themselves into a woman so desirable, he would experience such profound regret for what he'd done and lost.
Cause that's the thing with infidelity. The only role models I really had were my mother, who'd descending into a decade of alcoholism and prescription pill addiction (not a path I wanted to take) and the women I saw in movies or country music songs or books. Those women didn't seem traumatized, they seemed motivated
Which is why it was such a relief to have a word for how I was feeling. 
Shock. Injury. Neurosis.
"We see symptoms of shock, negativity, and emotional arousal – as you might see in somebody coming home from war – manifesting in committed relationships," says Kevin Skinner, a licensed marriage and family therapist who's quoted in the story. 
I spent my days fighting off panic attacks.
I routinely considered veering my bike into traffic
I felt like a caged animal, trapped by circumstance.
The mind movies made me crazy. 
I couldn't stand being away from my husband. I couldn't stand him close.
I spent countless hours poring over VISA bills and receipts, rifling through his drawers, looking for...what exactly? I already knew he cheated. I knew with whom. But trauma drives us to neurosis. To hyper-vigilance
If you're not reacting your news of your partner's infidelity the way women in movies or songs or books are – if, instead, you're reacting the way I did, with tears, with vacant eyes, with panic and terror – you're experiencing trauma and you need support.
There is nothing wrong with you. It is not a sign of weakness. Rather it is a sign that you are  human and that you have experienced a shock that has completely destabilized you.
Betrayal is trauma. There it is. In print.
The truth. 


  1. Having the affair happen under my nose was bad enough because we all worked together but, for me the thing that caused the most trauma was when I found out that the OW was planning her wedding to my h and that they were going to have a baby and be together forever and ever. Those were her words but she said that he is the one that said it. To me those words were something a little girls would say and not a man but I still got sucked into believing the lies she told. The affair only lasted 10 days at the most but, she had been planning this for months before the affair ever happened. I realize now that she was just bat shit crazy. My h at the time had not been diagnosed with having a bipolar hypersexual episode, the Dr missed diagnosed him then and had prescribed the wrong medication. When I told him what she had told me he had said that she had been planning that and he was just trying to concentrate on his job, being bipolar he couldn't sleep, so he would just answer with uh-huh. After he got out of the hospital for trying to end his life she wouldn't give up. I had blocked her phone number and she got a calling card to get past it. Of course she told me he was the one calling her but I had the phone records and knew it wasn't true. So when he wasn't answering her phone calls she reverted to emails. Finally he had to threaten her with legal action to get rid of her. The trauma this all caused was unbelievable. She seems to have moved on very quickly and went running back to her fiance that she had left just weeks before the affair started. He dumped her after I wrote him an email and told him what was really going on. She ended up moving in with her mother. Just recently I noticed she was on Pinterest pinning baby shower things in pink. I know she was sending me a message of what is going on in her life now. I try not to look at her Facebook or her Pinterest because it just makes me hurt more, some days I just can't help myself.

    1. Cathy,
      Wow. I suspect there is a TON of trauma from everything you've experienced, including your husband's suicide attempt, his diagnosis and the relentless badgering from this woman.
      You need to detox from her -- do NOT look at her social media stuff. She's clearly unhinged and you're getting a fictional accounting of her life, not an accurate representation. It's not worth the pain and gives you absolutely no useful information.
      And I really hope you're getting support/counselling for everything you've gone through. And please, give yourself a HUGE hug for the fact that you're still standing after all this. You are a warrior.

    2. This all happened 3 years ago and there is much more to the story of what they, the OW and her friends did to me. My h had to go to therapy for trying to end his life and his therapist told him that if I couldn't get past this that he should divorce me. He left therapy after she said that to him. For me after that I didn't trust therapist but I did talk to Laura from ICN. I just seemed to get through it on my own. I did a lot of walking and listening to audio books and talking with my h. I'm in a better place now. I did rant on here over and over again about how I thought she had put drugs in my h coffee. She tried to blame me again for that so I'm pretty sure she did something to his drinks. But now I see her as a woman who is desperate to have a baby and to be married. I actually feel sorry for her and I think that is why I look at her social media pages. To see if she has really moved on. We moved across the country to get a way from her so I am lucky that way that we don't have to see her. But I do know that she bought a car that was just like the one I had at that time. And that she had to have the same exact cake that I made my h for Father's day for some family event she had at that time. All in all it was the most horrible experience my h and I have ever experienced.

    3. Wow, Cathy. Yes, you have been through hell. And you're incredibly strong to have made it to where you are now. I hope you continue to be kind and gentle with yourself. And please, stay off her social media. It's like drinking poison.

  2. This is truth. I look around I wonder how many other women I see on the streets in those skinny jeans are really emotional zombies in skinny jeans.

    It's ok - no, it's necessary - to feel all of the trauma. The Shock, Injury and Neurosis is all what needs to be processed to get to the end goal of Acceptance, Healing and Happiness.

    I hate this trauma Elle, and there are days I wonder if I can be patient enough and if I can shut my ego up for one damn minute from calling me stupid and weak. He is doing everything right from going to SAA meetings, being transparent, asking how I'm doing emotionally and mentally, allowing himself to be vulnerable and emotionally intimate with me.

    TODAY, he is every single thing I have ever wanted. That is hard to always remember with this literal pain in my chest.

    Yes, I understand these women were just maggots feeding on a lifeless soul, but he told them and believed at the time that he loved them. He was in relationship with some of them for years. How do I get over that?

    1. Spouse,
      I don't think you do "get over that". But I do think, as you move further from the betrayal and see the changes in him, you come to realize that any "relationship" he had with them was the product of two incredibly sick people. He wasn't capable of "relationship" in a way that you wanted/needed, or in any normal healthy way. It was the way an alcoholic is in relationship with booze. They can't imagine a life without it even as it's killing them. Caroline Knapp wrote a book about her addiction that she called "a love story".
      Spouse, you focus on who he is today. This brave man who's faced down his shame and his self-loathing to become someone who's working hard to deserve your love.
      And you work hard to shut up your own critic. Stupid and weak? Absolute lies. You have shown incredible strength and resilience and ferocity. You have risen when you could've stayed down. You are extending compassion to a broken man. That's incredible. Not all are capable of keeping their hearts so open.
      My husband cheated on me for more than a decade. He cheated with his work assistant over four years. He wasn't in "relationship" with her in any way that I would EVER want to be in relationship with someone. As you so perfectly put it, they were both maggots feeding on the other's lifeless soul. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

  3. It really was a difficult time and I felt exactly how you did Elle. All I knew was what I saw in the media, movies, tv, books etc. None of that matched how I felt. Personally at first I actually had an odd ah ha feeling/moment since with the news of the affairs I realized he was the problem and I was the normal one. I knew things were off but with his gaslighting it was always blamed on me when things came up. As time went on and reality sunk in that was when this all came out. I think also like your post says I felt like I was not allowed to feel trauma, I was not at war, suffering from cancer or other things I feel like society says are traumatic.

    Also I honestly felt like even thought it sounds crazy to me my husband being in mental health did not agree with the trauma narrative. My gut tells me it is since he is the one to blame for this trauma. He also sees the betrayal as his issues and that he is to blame. I am not really a victim but an innocent bystander... not sure if that is exactly it but sort of how I felt our discussions going.

    At times I am still hit and affected very deeply over 3 1/2 years later. I try to express in words how it feels so he can understand. It is very odd since he is the happiest he has ever been. That is great but he is hit hard when I am not happy or struggling. I try to explain to him I am less resilient. Things hit me hard and I detach and isolate in order to protect myself.

    Thank you for validating my experiences and feelings.

    1. Hopeful 30,
      "Less resilient". Nope. You are incredibly resilient. You are healing from an injury that he can barely imagine. You are healing from an injury that HE inflicted. That's wonderful that he's happier than he's ever been. It's a common thing for these guys, when they finally come clean and realize that their worst fears (they'd lose their marriage) doesn't happen and they're no longer lying and sneaking around, wow, life is great. Yay for them.
      But us? We're the ones reeling from the shock. We're the ones traumatized by a bomb going off in our lives that we never expected.
      So please, give yourself huge credit for your resilience and your compassion.

  4. In one particularly traumatic conversation my now ex-partner referred to me as "collateral damage". He was at a war with himself and every one around him was injured even the OW.

    1. Silver Princess,
      Yes, I can see how that phrase rattles. But I often use it here, too. I think a lot of these guys, in order to justify what they're doing, convince themselves that "nobody" is really getting hurt. It's certainly not their intention to hurt us. Not unlike a drunk who gets behind the wheel of the car. He just wants to get home. When he finds himself looking down at the body of someone he just ran over, well, that's "collateral damage". He didn't intend it.
      Of course, to us, damage hurts like hell, no matter whether it's intended or not. And it's hard to convince us that "nobody" would get hurt is an acceptable defence for behaviour that is, inherently, sneaky and dishonest.
      So yeah, we might say it on this site. But these guys better do some serious reckoning with the damage they caused and not minimize it in any way.

  5. Trauma. This is exactly how I feel. My children's godmother, who is a therapist, knew about the affair and hid it from me. She was the one and only person I chose to confide to during the time the affair was happening. I had no clue what was going on, was completely confused and lost. I needed help and I leaned on her. When it all came out, that he lied and she covered for him...I couldn't process. Still can't.

    I shared how her betrayal has made the trauma worse, if that is even possible. She doesn't get her it is "mistakes were made, but not by me". She is initiating contact with my kids even though I explicitly told her not to. Texting my husband like she did nothing wrong even though he is not responding. And coming to Thanksgiving, like nothing happened. No one else in the family knows, so I have to muddle through somehow. I don't know how to make it through and show my kids that even when you can't breathe, because you are having a panic attack, you have to find the strength to stand up to cowards and bullies.

    When does it get better?

    1. anon, this is terrible. That godparent person has shit for boundaries and was no friend to you. Hiding it from you, especially while you were confiding in her, makes her complicit in my mind. I can completely understand you feeling an enormous amount of betrayal. Her "..but not b y me." comment is singularly uninsightful. How did she know? How the fuck is she coming to Thanksgiving!? why does this bitch come before your needs for safety? Talk over strategy with your husband before tomorrow. Give yourself permission to leave early if being around this person is too much or just being there is too much. You are allowed to put your needs ahead of everything else, and that includes family and what they will think. You can tell them you've been sick and may need to cut out early.
      Block her number on your kids' phones. Your husband can block her too and make it clear that you, as a family, need space from her brand of "support". This is OK to ask your H to do.
      In the meantime, focus on you. Get sleep, move your body, be with people who can support you. Try to eat healthy and do please stay away from alcohol. it won't help right now.
      Much love anon. Tomorrow, while you are at that Thanksgiving dinner, picture me standing right behind you all day. Picture all of us here, standing with you. You've got an incredible army of women on your side.

    2. Anon,
      I am absolutely FURIOUS on your behalf. This woman is NOT your friend. She has ZERO understanding of boundaries and ZERO compassion. How can she possibly minimize her role in this? How can she possibly think it's okay to violate your stated request that she not have contact with your children?
      And I am 100% with StillStanding1 (above). I want you to put yourself first. Your emotional safety is the single most important thing this Thanksgiving, because it will affect everything else, including your children. You are going to model to everyone what clear healthy boundaries look like. To start, she is NOT welcome at your Thanksgiving. You don't need drama or a big scene. Simply tell her that she is not welcome and that you will be in touch if the time comes when you can be her friend. If there's no way around this, then excuse yourself to go for a walk, to sit in the bathroom and watch funny videos, to "get a headache" and leave early. You do NOT owe anybody anything, except yourself. You owe yourself kindness and respect.
      And then create a Thanksgiving that serves YOU. Does it need to be simple? (A restaurant, perhaps? Take-out?). Does it need to be traditional -- can you delegate?
      Yes, talk to your husband and put together a plan that prioritizes YOU. Please, please please do this for yourself.
      And yes, as SS1 says, we are right behind you, rooting for you every step of the way. You are going to show your kids what self-respect and self-care looks like. And they are going to absorb it by osmosis.
      Because this Thanksgiving you are going to be grateful for your children and for this new awakening in which you begin to excise unhealthy people from your life.

    3. Thank you, Elle and SS1. I have a plan, like you said, to do to the bathroom or for a walk...I told my kids to not worry about me, that I can handle it...thank you for that mental image of you two standing behind me during this. I so badly need someone to have my back. Thank you.

    4. Anon, I too am so upset for you. I agree with the other comments and find it horrible what she did and how she has acted since. She is no friend to you or your family and being a therapist it makes it even worse. I get it though my husband is in the mental health field and he still did everything he did...

      I also agree that it is critical to create a plan with your husband. For me it helps so much when I know we are on the same page, have talked it through and know what each of us is doing depending on the scenario. I also find it good bonding for us. Through all of this crap we are coming together and supporting each other and our marriage. It really has bonded us. I find every time he feels uneasy about the same things I do.

      Not sure if Thanksgiving is at your house or not but if it is at your house tell her she is not invited. If it is not at your house can you create a new family tradition? I know it is hard when no one else knows but at a certain point you have to do what is best for you and your immediate family. Just ideas and remember you and your husband are a team. She is on the outside and has no right to act the way she has and say what she has to you.

    5. Well, picture us standing behind you with our fists clenched because I'd like to pop that woman right in her nose. I'm not prone to violence but, well...

  6. I was very dependent on my husband. I was passive and had not taken control of my life. When I did take control, it just wasn’t worth the fight with my husband. For example, my H said, I supported you when you went back to school at one point to try accounting. I said, yes, and what did you do to help me? Nothing. I fell asleep in class. It just wasn’t worth the fight. My grow-up family was abusive. This was just an added extra on top of the betrayal.
    Like everyone else how did I feel? Helpless and full of fear. I relived the discovery horror over and over. I avoided any reminders of my H cheating. I numbed myself because I was so overwhelmed. I crawled into an emotional cocoon. I was on high alert all the time for everything. Sleeping was a wish. I could not stop thinking about how unfair it was. I became preoccupied with the injustice of it. Then came the rages, blind rage and I don’t want to say violence because he I never physically hurt him in a permanent way. Just temporary stuff like throwing all the books off the shelf at him. I did a lot of throwing stuff.
    Then out came the slut in me. Show you the real me. See I can be sexy too. Look at what you are missing buddy. I wore the tight jeans and high heels. I spent so much money on my looks that I neglected because “we don’t have the money”. Now I know it is the pick me game. It was sad attempt to regain my dignity and sense of self-worth. It was external attempt. I had to work on the internal part through 3 years of therapy, that is the extra part on top of the betrayal. My therapist called me stubborn, I told her that was good trait. Ruminating was my new life, my PTISD life. I was very good at ruminating and got better at with time. This was longest phase of PTISD for me. This is the healing phase. I had to LEARN how to get to softer emotions. Become less reactive. Rage turned into sadness. I required justice. I lived for justice but I had to turn this into some kind of peace or I was fixing to lose my mind and any kind of life. My therapist was excellent at PTISD or I would be in looney town. She worked with me endlessly. Unlike Elle, I felt like she picked on me and told her so. I blogged on this site every day. Healing takes time. I learned to hate that concept. Sometimes I hate to hear the truth. My therapist said over time (go to hell ok?) this would seem like a bad event, a tragic event like my house burning down. I didn’t believe her. I didn’t believe Elle. You don’t heal PTISD quickly, it does takes time, it takes fighting for yourself every day. It takes a lot of courage and acknowledging many painful truths about yourself. It is so worth it. Honestly, the betrayal hurt but the betrayal of myself really hurt me the most. No longer betraying yourself is a damn strong no longer PTISD women. You become a tiger who earned every stripe and that affair is just one part of it.

    1. As usual, LLP, your words sum it up beautifully. "A tiger who earned every stripe and that affair is just one part of it."
      Being on the sidelines as you've shared your healing here has been incredible for all of us, I think. We've struggled as you've struggled. We've gained insight as you've gained insight, because you're so good at outlining where it's come from.
      I know how much trauma you have had to wade through and it's enough that it would have brought many of us down. But you have not relented and here you are.
      Yes, it does take time. And it takes incredible strength and resilience and a refusal to settle for anything less than your full open-hearted self. Brava to you, LLP, for lighting the way for so many others.

    2. LLP - I might have snorted when you said you never physically hurt him in a permanent way. :) Oh how I wish I could sit with you and hear your story from start to finish.

      I'm on cloud 9 today. Today is 17 months since DDay ... and today ... today ... OMG TODAY I found a therapist who gets it! She's a survivor of being married to a sex addict (I'll be honest - WH has NOT been diagnosed ... but I've long suspected). AND We are meeting with her next week. I told her that it's time for me. AND I shared this site with her in hopes that this site can help someone else. She does weekend intensives ... she is setting up another betrayed spouse support group ...

      I know it's time. It's been no secret to anyone that's been on this site that I've been in denial about getting started in therapy for MONTHS! And you've all gently encouraged me. I finally feel like I'm ready ...

    3. Good news Kimberly. I hope this therapist is what you need. Let us know how it goes.
      Gabby xo

  7. gang, I don't know where I am lately. News of my ex now dating someone (not that he wasn't doing hook ups) but actually interested in someone and that he is finally getting clear of the OW has me reeling. So many niggly reminders, ghosts of trauma and reactions coming up. Im walking around sad and tearful. Trying not to fight it. In some ways, coming up on three years dday anniv, I have entered my own plain of lethal flatness, that I thought was reserved for those who stay and try to work things out. I'm so mixed feelings. Knowing he hasn't changed and yet still wondering why, now that he is no longer in her toils, he isn't looking at me or why he didnt try harder a year ago when he said he wanted too reconcile. And why did I choose so, so badly for myself? Why am I here? And feeling more old, less pretty, less everything right now. I know some of it is depression seasonal stuff, but some is the legacy of this trauma. Not feeling like I think I should in my dating situation but knowing its mostly me right now. I'm withdrawn and hurting. My god am I hurting right now. Its the same rejection all over again and I'm flailing a little (but with enough wisdom now to not make any hasty decisions and not do any damage to myself or others). I'm just so tired of being here at this stage. I want him away from me. I want well meaning neighbors to stop giving me a heads up. I want to stop being angry that my ex is putting more effort into some woman he just met than he did into trying to make things right with me. Fuck him and his bullshit. And while we are at it screw my WW2 PTSD, codependent alcoholic mother too. And his self centered codependent mother. And the person who molested him. and everyone else who has ruined a life, or turned a blind eye to a life being ruined. Fuck all those people.

    1. SS1,
      Absolutely. Fuck all those people. Be angry because you've got a whole lot to be angry about. You've had so much to move through and there he is, blithely moving on, with apparently no regard for the devastation he's left in his wake.
      I think those of us (cough, prone to self-improvement can get in our own way. I think sometimes we need to just sit and stew in our misery. To be furious at the world for not delivering what we wanted. To hate everyone who's ever been happy. To hate the idiots and the busybodies and the cheaters and the jerks.
      Cause you won't feel like that forever. Even if it FEELS like forever, it's likely just a few weeks. Maybe a month. Or two. And while you're stewing, magical things are still taking place where you don't see or feel them. There's some sort of incubation occurring. This is what I'm telling myself as I wonder if my career is well and truly over because I haven't had a good idea in what seems like a LONG time. I realized just this morning that every other time in my life when I've felt stuck, when I've felt lost and frustrated and left behind, something interesting has followed. New ideas I hadn't thought of, new opportunities have appeared.
      The key is to not force yourself into a place or a stance or a state of being that isn't authentically you at the moment. The key is to feel your feelings right now and trust that they're temporary as ALL feelings are. That the more you resist them, the more they'll hang around trying to get your attention.
      I don't know what your anger/frustration/misery is trying to teach you right now but I know it's something. Maybe it's about expectations. Maybe it's about letting yourself feel vulnerable and small sometimes without feeling swallowed by that. Maybe it's about examining the stuff you're telling yourself right now about what's happening.
      Whatever it is, you'll figure it out. But not now. Now is for feeling it. For not forcing yourself into contortions just because you're supposed to be stronger, more healed, happier, whatever than you are.
      I'm supposed to be a New York Times bestselling writer right now. Life seems to have different plans for me.
      So I sit. And I wait. And I feel the stuff I hate feeling -- like a loser. Like I'm never going to write anything worthwhile ever again. Like I'm old and washed up. It's old stuff for me. I feel 14 years old again. Unwanted. Unimportant.
      But let's be patient with ourselves. Let's be sad and lonely and kinda miserable for a bit. And let's see if there's something in this that just might take us somewhere else, when we're ready for it.

    2. Hi SS1
      I think for those of us who have had our husbands cheat and then leave us by separation/divorce to hook up with the original skank or another new one, that pain and the unjustness of it all is a whole lot of new emotional crap we have to deal with. I'm not sure when it will go away. Even if as you have, other guys interested in you SS1, it still aches.
      We've been forced into a life we didn't want and had no say in, and we've been doing our best to navigate the newness of it all. We are allowed to be shitty and rage in disbelief at how our ex has gone about his life.
      We were the ones they asked to marry and have kids with, yet receive so little respect and thought, whilst they're putting all their energies into wooing some new skank.
      I had to deal with my husband leaving me the second time for another new skank and then moving in together and my kids being around her. It absolutely kills me. But SS1. My kids have told me that whilst they are there at their place, skank doesn't talk much and goes to her room a lot, and ex and skank have had a few fights/ disagreements. So HE hasn't changed. All he's done is got someone who idolises him to the point he can control her. And she is no better than me - doesn't even compare. My kids can't believe he scaled down! I still don't want him to be happy. I so get you when you say that. Those self doubts creep in when we are exhausted, stressed and when we have a trigger.
      Just remember SS1, like you have said to others. Picture us all behind you. We have your back on this. You have a ton of support here from cyber sisters who love you.
      Elle. At least you are writing and doing what you enjoy. I love reading what you have to say. I'm sure there is a novel in there about to burst out.
      Question in general.
      How do you get motivated? I have a few business ideas, but I'm procrastinating as I don't feel confident enough to start them. I just am so tired having to deal with life - work, kids, the stress of finances. I just can't seem to move past this. I have had moments too of WTF am I here for? To be treated so appallingly by ex and his parents, to be just doing the same thing day in day out - all seem to be sheep following work, house, kids, sleep repeat....and to top it all off, I have just found a lump in my breast! Don't know what it is, so I shouldn't worry too much until I find out, but of course this is now giving me new anxiety. Yep. Fuck it all!
      Gabby xo

    3. Gabby, how do you get motivated? One. Pretend like you are. Pretend like you give zero shits if the business idea fails. because if it does, are you not just back at the beginning again? That's OK, you'll have learned something. Write a plan. Talk to other women who do their own businesses. What is the smallest viable version of what you want to do? I so wish we lived remotely nearby, this is so my thing! I'm happy to connect offline if you want to talk through your idea.
      I think building a business of your own, might be just what you need Gabby, to build your confidence, to show you that life isn't just the drudgery, to get you excited about your own future and a new life on your wn two feet.
      And oh my goodness I hope and pray the lump comes to nothing, but how scary. Please do have that seen to right away. Time is everything. And my mom once had a similar thing and they were benign, just dense tissue, which can be very common. let's hope that's the worst of it for you.

  8. SS1 So sorry you are hurting and I understand why, I really do. Much of this is seasonal because seasonal is directed, surrounded and all about families and couples. It is a couples world. You sound like you need to forward, sideways just not backward. What you are doing, just isn't working for you. You still have one mind in the marriage - why didn't he love me? and one mind in the single world. If withdrawing helps, then that is ok. Tell neighbors - could care less don't mention him again or I'm leaving. You sound like you are surrounded by fuck-ups. Your upset because he didn't try with you. I would be too. You can divorce on paper but it is much harder than that. He is going to actually be interested in someone - for awhile. He doesn't have the courage or strength to stick with anything. You didn't lose much. He has not worked on himself at all so he is still the shit ass he always was. Honestly, have you thought about moving somewhere else. You seem to be drowning a day at time where you are. Love to you. I look up to you in so many ways.

  9. LLP and Elle, thank you. I got a little chocked up reading your replies and feeling your support. LLP you said a couple of important things that I am hanging on to. Your observation that he doesn't have the courage or strength to stick with anything. I think that's true. When it doesn't fill that giant hole in him it must be a problem with the other person and not a giant hole in him.
    I am more and more feeling like I am ready to move on with my life away from this house, but I'm not sure I'm ready to go. And my alimony amount is contingent on me staying in the house and maintaining it and some for m of stability for our kids. Frankly the money is good and I am saving my ass off while I can. I think this limbo time is forcing me to face some things rather than run from them And this time in the house is helping me get clear that it is a lot foor me to manage on my own and that I am getting more and more serious about pulling up my roots once the house is sold being mobile. I migh tlive and ride around full time in an rv. Living a full but inexpensive life and get out of this rat race.
    And Elle, thanks for the reminders. That I won't feel like this forever.That stuff is moving even if I feel stuck. That the anger means I need to pay attention to what is behind it. And that it is probably feeling like my younger self what was tossed aside or an after thought. So I'm just going to be patient. I had a good session with my therapist and she and some of my local friends remind me that there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of inner work or introspection going on with my ex. so I'm still in the right place. And she agrees that it is normal and probably some sense of justice in me that I don't want him to be happier or even to seem happier than me, sooner than me. I have to remember that I am working hard to do something better this time and that is regardless of what he does or how he might judge. Its hard though. And I'm grumpy about it.
    But thanks my lovely friends.
    I'm surrounded by legends on here.
    PS LLP I want you to know that whenever I read one of your posts, I picture a woman with wings made of fire shaking her fist at the sky.

  10. SS1 - I have thought about you all day, I wish I knew something I could say that would make you feel better. You made the right choice for you although you don't feel like. I have felt exactly like you at my first divorce. It sucks. There is nothing worse than being lonely and being married. There is nothing worse than being lied to with a straight face. He seems like he is lark free, he think he is getting the full monty a cross between Angelina Jolie and that Adams girl. He is living a dream, you are living life authentic. I have seen it over and over. In the ED, a man is having a heart attack, he knows he is probably going to die. I have seen regret over and over on these men's faces. It is hideous. You ex is one of these type of men. They just don't wake up ever. I have seen men later in life, their children will not have anything to do with them. One time there was an old guy in the hospital, seemed very nice. When I talked to his kids, they said, he beat us frequently. No way we care about them. I suspect at one point your children will feel the same. Karma sometimes takes awhile. I can see why you are staying in the house. You can stay in the house but not all the time. You can go for retreats other places, gain perspective. Run away, avoid - it is ok. You might list the things that let the bad in. Think of boundaries that might help. For example, Neighbor, while appreciate you care about me, it is not helpful to hear about my ex's escapades, it is no longer relevant and is sometimes hurtful. Let' just be neighbors you and I. Ok, eat a bunch of turkey unless your a vegan - then eat just dressing, mash potatoes and salad. Have a pig out, do something fun, build a bonfire, rent a sling-shot (if you don't know what these are you need to), drive to a town with a Christmas parade, please so I can quit worrying about you.

  11. LLP, you have such a giant heart. Thanks for holding me in it. I want you to know and everyone to know that I am OK. I'm hurting but I am OK.
    Gabby I actually cried when you reminded me that you are all here with me. I thought, oh yeah! so we are. All here together. All of you showed up for me today. In fact, lots of love showed up for me in so many ways. So thank you everyone.
    LLP, I am going away tomorrow, for the long weekend and Thanksgiving with a really nice young man I am dating. SO I don't want you to think I am feeling trapped here in the pumpkin shell of my former life. I get away often. I also have some really incredible friends around me and get out to do a lot of volunteer work with them. Its part of the new life I am building for myself. And I sense or feel like this slow peeling off of the band aid is what is right for me. Little steps, adjusting, accepting, a few more steps etc. And I thank you for the reminder that he is still off in lala land, just a new version of it. It's hard to watch them seem to move on but really its the same behaviors in a different wrapping.
    Here's a thing that happened and I am proud because I did something different. I didn't just suck it up and swallow the pain to make everything smooth and easy. The ex emailed me this long thing about holiday plans and this and that and his sisters and timings and mentioned again the latest girl and my new guy and how do we want to handle integrating those spheres with home life and the kids and schedules and what was the plan for New Years. Just so much stuff and frankly insensitive. My first reaction was "i just don't want to deal with this shit. I am just trying to get through the weekend." So instead of lifting that boulder and trying to start a plan I wrote him back and said "I’m just trying to get through this weekend. I have no plans as yet. I’ll let you know as and when I do.
    I want as little info about your “spheres” as possible. In case it wasn’t clear when I was crying and said “this is still so hard for me” and that I wanted this as far away from me as possible, this time of year and what is happening right now is incredibly painful. I need space from you and less reminders, fewer triggers. I need to not have to navigate all these details with you right now. And I’d appreciate it if you made as little conjecture as possible about what is going on in my life. I don’t even know, so please don’t act like you have an understanding of what I need or want. I understand and appreciate the intent behind your statement and offering, but I just don’t want it right now."
    And it may not have been perfect, but I told him no. I put my needs first. And I feel pretty good about it. He came back with some things Ok and some clearly defensive. Whatever. And then later he wrote and just said he's sorry. He said "And, I'm so sorry, for everything, for both of us. Just so you know that that is still true." Wow. And I think that is the first time in all this he actually said sorry just to me or even cam close to acknowledging that he's hurt me.
    And now that all my shit is handled and I picked up my son's clothes for tomorrow from the cleaners and the cheese plate, I am breathing easier. Thanks for all the love and support and empathy. All of you here are a family to me like no other.

  12. Thank you for this post. Forgiveness is something I've been struggling with for a long time. I've been told by friends, my therapist, and everything I've read that I must forgive to move on ... and I just ... can't.

    In my head forgiveness means a pass. It means it's okay for him to do what he's done. It means I'm over it. It's not okay and I'm not over it. I understand why he did it - the feel good, excitement, power, attention, escaping reality (We all would like to escape reality once in a while, wouldn't we? That doesn't mean our naughty bits should end up in someone else's. But I digress...) - but I cannot, nor will I ever forgive it.

    Given that, my silver lining... My "story larger than the story that first hurt us" is that I love the person I've become due to the betrayal. I've struggled over the leave or stay decision for over a year. I'm still on the fence but I'm still here. During that time I've grown and become more independent. I've traveled to Europe, changed careers and taken more chances than ever before. I've put myself first and decided to live my best life despite his betrayal. I refused to be a victim in his mess.

    Yes, the bitterness is still there. Yes, I want to rip his head off once in a while. Yes, my breath gets caught up in my chest and I hold back tears when my thoughts float into a dark place. But I now have the independence and courage to board a plane to Europe alone, grab a table for one in a restaurant, spend the day discovering a city on my own, and go after and get the job I want. I'm not sure any of that would've happened pre-betrayal.

    So if forgiveness is " assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt, to mature and bring to fruition an identity that can put its arm, not only around the afflicted one within but also around the memories seared within us by the original blow..." then I suppose I have done just that, but for my benefit, not his.

    Thank you for all that you do, Elle. I don't comment much but I read every post. To all of the BWC sisters, during this season of giving, give to yourself. You deserve to live your best life. xo ~SRB

    1. I really reject the idea of forgiving, getting over it, and moving on. Who ever gets over it?" Those who tell us to forgive and move on have never been where we are (for me 10 years worth of emotional cheating with at least 2 women). Add to that the idea that forgiveness comes first then "moving on." I've been struggling with forgiveness for 4 years- some of it I can forgive and forgave a long time ago, and some I never will...and I'm ok with that. And he knows what is not forgivable for me. I will never get over it, though, or move on. That implies, as you said, a pass. There is no pass for the trauma caused by betrayal. It happened- I can accept that. I'm still trying to figure out how to respond to the bad days which ARE fewer, but the triggers still happen and the cycling still happens. (Like today, which is why I'm here reading through posts.)

      Get over it? Nope- not going to happen. Work through it? Yes. I'm not the same person. I had a friend who noted that my voice has changed in these 4 years- I've shifted from what happened and analyzing it to what I need and how I'm going to get it. I know that our relationship is different- I speak up and say what I need to say (admittedly not always in the best way yet) and don't let him get away with shit. Never did that before. So I'm better and stronger...for sure...but who will ever be over it?
      Even my H will never be over it- he's the one who has to live with what he did and how he behaved for those 10 years. He carries a lot of guilt and shame...and I think he should. I know that I would if I had done what he did. I don't try to punish him because it's not about him- it's about who I was and who I am now. I hope he's able to work through it and forgive himself. I don't know if he can. But he's working through it, too.

      So let's shift the language with people who want us to forgive and move on or get over it. Let's help them change their language to "working through it" to whatever is next- whether it's forgiveness or something else important to us. And let's remind people that sometimes there are elements of betrayals that truly are unforgivable- we each get to determine what is or is not forgiven.

  13. I am three years out from Dday. It took ny husband 10 months to actually tell me everything. He was a serial cheater, but the last one was by far the worst. She didn't want to let go, even though she is married herself.

    She will still try to snoop on my social media. I have to keep everything private. I work for myself and could benefit from a public sociam media presence, but because of her, I won't do it.

    The horrible pain of the first year has gone. My husband has changed. I see it, so do others. We are stronger for it. BUT

    I cannot seem to let it go completely. I think about it several times a week, and I am weary. I catch myself wondering if I would beat myseld up so much if we had divorced. I don't want a divorce, but I also don't want to feel this way for the rest of my life.

    This post touched a nerve for me, because I am annoyed at myself for not being over it. But to know that what I am going through is real and recognisable is Huge! So thanks again for writing what I needed to hear.

    1. Hi Hazel,
      I know three years feels like an eternity but at three years, I was still struggling. The pain still felt raw except that it seemed those who knew thought I should be "over it". I still had a deep ache that I felt "stuck" in this marriage, even though I had chosen to stay. I still thought about it a lot. Divorce felt like it would offer relief.
      Hazel, it sounds like you're like a lot of us -- really hard on yourself for not healing on some arbitrary timeline rather than just being patient with yourself. You've stayed with a man and given him the chance to show you he deserves this second chance. You've had to live with the toxic presence of this OW who is impacting your social media. I don't blame you for having a lot of anger around that. YOU didn't bring this poison into your life.
      So let yourself be angry about that. Let yourself have your moments of frustration and doubt. And then ask yourself, where do I want to be today? I suspect it's right where you are.

  14. 3 months ago I started a diet. It’s not a new diet but it’s new to me. It’s called betrayed. At any time in your life you can start this diet. You are living your life happy as can be and all of the sudden your husband tells you he loves you but is just not “in love” with you. This makes you so sick to your stomach that you can not eat and if you try to eat your body rejects the food immediately. You finally start to feel a bit better and you are able to eat and BAM you get hit with the news that your husband is “in love” with someone else. So again you can no long eat or keep anything down. Your stomach is so nervous that it feels like you are going to poo your pants at any moment. A few things start to go your way again so you can finally eat. Then the next thing you know is that you are learning more disturbing information yet again. It goes up and down and all around literally making you feel like you are on the biggest scariest roller coaster that ever existed.
    People have told me I look great, little do they know I’ve lost 30lbs in 3 months and it’s all due to the traumatic experience my husband forced upon me. I’ve never been a person that loses weight in stressful situations, but this has ruined me I feel no joy no love not much of anything really. BEST MOST SUCCESSFUL DIET I’VE EVER BEEN ON and all it costs you is your life as you knew it.

    1. HM, yes its the most effective diet you never want to be on. I remember a few years before I found out about my now ex's affair, I had a friend and coworker who was going through an ugly divorce with a cheating spouse. She lost weight and "looked great" by our societies effed up standards and I had no idea at the time how much she must have been suffering. Because I had been in a struggle with my body and weight since adolescence, I remember thinking I wish I had what she had, because I had no idea that it was a result of the trauma in her life. I had no concept it was even trauma. Fast forward a few years and the pounds are flying off. I lost so much weight over the course of a few months (50 lbs in fact) that I actually started using an app to track my food to make sure I was getting enough calories and I had an ah-ha/ be careful what you wish for moment. People asked me what my secret was and I can recall telling people that they wanted no part of the diet I was on.
      The roller coaster is brutal. SO hard to keep finding your feet and getting knocked on your ass again over and over. Like being caught in some rough surf and not being able to keep your feet long enough to wade in to shire.
      HM you are still so early post dday. Go easy on yourself. You are allowed to feel all the things and despair and like you will never feel joy again. But at three years out, I can promise you this: you will be ok. If you take your time and focus on yu and your healing and keep him at as much of a distance as you can, it wll get better. There will be fletting moments of joy and then over time, days when you feel content or at least OK and then eventually times when you lose yourself in the moment and then a day wen you wake up and realize you haven't thought about "it" for a couple of days. It gets better HM. Just keep on showing up. Put one foot in front of the other. Rest when you need to.

    2. I’m not feeling good no matter what I do. I take time for me I feel like crap, I try to distract myself and I just can’t focus on anything. I did attend the meet up and am going to a few more. Some of which I never ever would have thought I would attend. Friday I’m going to a drum circle. Hope it’s good and that I don’t cry lol.
      I’m off work for a month and a half. The thought of going to work gives me so much anxiety. I try to rest and also do things I like which isn’t much these days. Just no energy at all...
      I am so thankful that I found this blog as it is helping me a lot. I go to therapy, I’ve tried quite a few different therapists but nothing happens, nothing changes, it’s good for the hour I’m in the office but then I get all confused and don’t remember things.
      I recently was trying to confide in a new friend and that turned out to be a big mistake. They couldn’t handle me being upset, I guess it’s just really that if it hasn’t happened to them they can’t show empathy. It is nice though to know who my real friends are.
      Im taking a self esteem course starting in March.
      Nothing tastes good I don’t crave anything when I start eating I’m immediately full or feel like throwing up. This makes it hard to get the exercise that everyone says I need so badly.
      I do think my husband was threatened by the new hobbies I had and knew he couldn’t keep up. But now I can’t get into those hobbies just a reminder of how happy and clueless I was. The things I’ve learned from this experience are to not ever feel happy or content because you can only lose that and to not trust anyone. These are the life lessons my jerk of a husband taught me. Thanks a**hole.

  15. Thank you for sharing your feelings. I am now 3 years and seven months post DDay. I no longer feel as I did in the first year when I would cry at the smallest trigger. However I worry that through no fault of my own, I am the way I am. I still feel traumatised and angry. My h. told the o.w that the affair was over as soon as I found out. As soon as I found out I sent her an email threatening to tell her husband that she had been opening her legs to a married man. She duly sent me a reply to say that I had her words that she will not pursue my husband. To this day they had not been in contact with each other. I know because my husband now tells me of his every move.All this said, Some people would say that I should just move on. There is the thing. I cannot as the affair lasted for 4 years and feel that the very person who I trusted, stabbed me in the back. Also because he was nasty to me at the time, I find that I cannot forgive him. He stopped taking me out then, but spent a lot of money on her. What saddened me most was during those four years, two of our children got married. We both celebrated our sixtieth birthdays. We had a new grandson. We had a lot to celebrate but he was distanced. He chose to have dinner with the o.w on his sixtieth after work as they both work together. Now because he feels less stressed, he thinks that I should be as happy as he is. He keeps telling me that he was not looking and it was happenstance. That does not make me feel better. We had been married for 32 years and never cheated on me before he met the o.w. I despised her and that makes me feel bad as I am a religious person and my prayers and exercises have helped me. I do not know whether I will ever get over it . It was a big shock for me when I found out. Never expected him to betray me. It was a big shock. Now, The dark moments can happen at anytime. I read all the emails they sent to each other and feel jealous that he could give so much love to another person.The phrase that haunts me most is that he told her that he had never loved anyone as much as he loved her. I feel very bruised about that sentence.I cannot forget that and also the fact that he was not interested in what I was doing at the time as he was so besotted with the o.w. I will often remind him that it is ironic that the very person he betrayed is now recording his blood pressure regularly as due to all the stress of leading a double life, he is now on blood pressure medication. He is ashamed and remorseful of what he did to me and want to make it up to me, but to me, the marriage is now different. He even comes to exercise classes with me. He now recognises that the o.w was cheap and a slut and regrets meeting her. Nope do not feel better. Why can I not forgive and forget? Why do the dark moments still come back? Thank you for giving me the opportunity.



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