Friday, September 20, 2019

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do

If I had a nickel for every time I said, aloud or to myself, "I can't do this any more", I'd be eyeball deep in nickels. It was my phrase of surrender. Of defeat. It was about exhaustion. And fear. Yeah, mostly about fear. Cause the weeks and months and, yes, years after D-Day often felt like holding on by my fingernails while I dangled over a canyon. My two options seemed to be to keep holding on or letting my body split apart on rocks. It felt inconceivable that there was a third option: To heal. To restore myself and my marriage. To reclaim my life.
So many of you seem to know that intuitively. You know that, yes this is a horrible painful experience but it will not determine the rest of your life. And I envy you that ability to understand your own strength. 
Like most lessons in my life, I've had to learn the hard way that I am stronger than I realize, that I'm more resilient. And yes, there are many of you here also that are like me. 
The ones who "can't do this any more."

1. Rest

I know that fear. That if you stop treading water for even one second that you'll certainly drown. That if you stop fighting for more information, that if you stop watching his every move, that if you just...stop, that it will all come crashing down. It's not true, of course. But it feels true. 
But here's what's really true. You cannot stop him if he's going to continue to cheat. You cannot force him to answer questions he doesn't want to ask. You cannot save your marriage if he isn't interested in saving it too. But you can save yourself. And that starts with feeling the incredible pain you're in and sitting with it. Rest.  

2. Accept the unknowingness

Ugh. I hate that this is part of it. Unknowingness is jet-black terror for me. Not knowing why he did this. Not knowing if he's still doing it. Not knowing if he will do it again. Not knowing if my marriage will survive. It all felt so unfair. Just yesterday, I knew. I knew my husband would never do this to me. I knew I'd married the right guy. But...see my point? What I thought I knew was wrong. Cause here's the thing: There are some things we can know and there are many many more things we can't. That we never will. And the better able we become at accepting that, the happier we will be. I'm not suggesting you become a fatalist about your marriage, that you accept that he just might cheat at any moment. But I am suggesting that there are things that we will never know about another person. And here's something else – there are things we may never know about ourselves, unless we're faced with certain situations. Unless we know ourselves deeply, though few of us ever do.
So...we face the unknowingness. We determine what we can and cannot know and we determine what we need to know and what we can release. 

3. Stay small...and keep your world small

Remove anything that isn't absolutely necessary. Build that "no" muscle. Cull the toxic people from your life. Get rid of social media if it's making you miserable. Turn off TV shows if they're triggering. The day will come for expansion again. But it's not now.

4. Gather your tribe

There is no shame in seeking help, in telling your story, in gathering those who can hold you while you weep. In fact, one of the surprising gifts in this horrible thing that happened is the incredible people I've come to know. Many I know only from their pseudonym on this site, or their Twitter handle. But you are friends. You are my tribe. I watch you gather around others' pain, even when you're feeling it yourself. And it affirms what any of this – life, to sound grand – is about. Loving each other through the storms. 

5. Search your heart...

  • What do I want? A therapist can help you with this. It's a big question. Most of us want this to have not happened. But since time-travel isn't an option, what does your future look like? What do you have control over and what must you accept that you don't?
  • Have I had enough? You have not "wasted" time if you tried to reconcile and changed your mind. You have not "wasted" time if your marriage is over. Letting go can be a brave act of self-love. 
  • Are my actions moving me toward what I want? I know the pain is intense. And the temptation to numb that pain is huge. To pour a third glass of wine, to buy another outfit that only briefly distracts us, to flirt with that new guy at work. But if healing is our goal, then consider that our actions need to move us toward it. Self-care. Radical kindness. Healthy habits. And yeah, probably therapy. 
6. Rise
It might seem inconceivable that you'll arrive at a point where the thought of his infidelity isn't a stab to your heart. But rising is about having learned to trust yourself, having learned to love yourself, having learned just how strong and incredible you are. Rising is your destiny. 

43 comments:

  1. I felt like you wrote this for me today. I said this same statement not less that two hours ago "I don't know what to do..."

    Thank you for this...it has helped me today.

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    1. I'm glad it helped. Sometimes it makes a big difference just to know we're not alone.

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  2. Thanks Elle, for another helpful post. Accepting is where I'm at - accepting what I know has happened and yes, accepting the unknowingness. I know I will never know all the story. My husband, a man of few words at the best of times, has told me the bare minimum. Unfortunately, that leaves my very vivid imagination to make some probably incorrect assumptions with the sketchy details I've been given. That's where your advice to find a good therapist is so important. I met with a new therapist today and I feel he is a really good fit for my particular story. For example, he suggested some dfferent ways I might look at interpreting details of the affair. I'm feeling more hopeful than I have in quite awhile.

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    1. Jenna,
      Yay you. And yay for your therapist. So much of our healing can rely on our ability to reframe what happened to us. To feel more empowered. No, we can't change what happened. But we can change how we deal with what happened.

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  3. 4 plus years out i dont think ive reached that rising point just yet. I sure have picked myself up off that damn bathoom floor! Ive come far from where i was but know i have much further to go ...id consider myself at a state of levitating. Strong enough to be living again thriving even some days and others still feeling the fear or seeking reassurance or overanalyzing. The betrayal no longer burns like a fresh wound its not even a sucker punch that causes a temporary loss of air its a dulled type ache of an old injury a wtf smh moment or reminder like if youve overworked your muscles and yes its still in that damn rearview mirror. In time pain turns to memory ...Each day i show up Elle .. alot of changes in life right now personal.. financial.. professionally and while change is hard it can be much needed. I still navigate my relationship as we continue to try and heal ... grow even and ive learned self care again and the ability to say no or choose more selectively and ive been exposed to an amazing tribe of woman by being dealt the worse pain ive ever known. A diamond in the rough BWC ...my saving grace when your right i surely thought id drown. Thanks for being my life raft to tread water in the deepest coldest sea. Wounded not broke.

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    1. Wounded, my heart goes out for you. Maybe your a five year healing type like me. That last year for me was personal growth working on the stuff like over-analyzing, questioning, doubting, etc... You are showing up for you and that shouts out alot. Keeping going.

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    2. It took me a full five years to really see that this was behind me. To feel that I was thriving...and that has continued to be the case. Life hasn't been all sunshine and ponies but I learned so much through this that has helped me deal with other crises.

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  4. "I can't do this any more." I am so tired of the "new" me, what I have become since D-day. What a waste of time and energy it is to watch his every move, to look at his phone, to second guess and wonder about EVERYTHING.

    I have been lurking here the past few months and am finally ready to reach out. I am thankful that I found this blog and all of the amazing women that have been willing to share what they are going through.

    August would have been a celebration of our 30 year anniversary, but it was just a milestone that passed with so much heartbreak. I suspected in May, confirmed in June. He had been having an emotional affair with our neighbor for at least 6 months, shortly after it started it became physical. He claims that they only slept together once. Does it matter, once or the whole time? I am numb at this point. I don't know if we can stay together. At times I am hopeful, but then I don't know if I want to. We are working to get the house up for sale - she lives across the street. This is no longer a home. I told him I am leaving it with or without him, but I cannot continue living here.

    We started therapy, both together and separately. He has done all the "right things"; cutting her off, throwing out her gifts, etc. But, it all feels a little too late. I just don't know, but I do know that I can't do THIS any more.

    Accepting the unknowingness is something that I need to do, but it is terrifying. Thank you for this post, Elle. It is very timely and what I needed to hear.

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    1. I can relate to your comments.
      I'm going through a similar situation. He says there was no sexual relationship but I have my own doubts about that.
      Hang in there. One way or another we will get through this.

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    2. Beyond Frazzled, I'm so sorry that the OW lives that close to you. I'm sure it makes it even harder. The OW with my H lived across town and that was hard enough. It is normal to be suspicious because he cannot be trusted. You established a boundary which is amazing about your home. I said I don't know for a year and half. Then I doubted myself every day for awhile. Sometimes the best decision is no decision at the moment. I stayed then I would go, in my mind one day to the next. The whole shit sandwich you were served is terrifying. I felt like you, we moved and I unwhored my house belongings. I think if we stayed in the whore house we would have been divorced. You are doing all the right things even if they feel wrong. A big bear hug to you with a cyber shoulder.

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    3. "I said I don't know for a year and half. Then I doubted myself every day for awhile. Sometimes the best decision is no decision at the moment. I stayed then I would go, in my mind one day to the next."

      OMG ... yes ... yes ... YES ... a 1000 times YES!

      The scariest thing my therapist has said to me was something along the lines of "what would happen if you just allowed your head to say - I'm staying - and see how that feels for more than a few days."

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    4. Thank you, Anonymous. I know we will get through this, but it sucks. If your H's relationship was sexual or emotional, it was still betrayal. I am sorry for what you are going through.

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    5. LLP, Thank you for your words, hug, and shoulder. It is so needed right now. It took him a minute, but eventually agreed that this can no longer be a home to us. Now I have to decide whether we move together or separately, and there I go, teetering between both decisions. I know that this has paralyzed my efforts in preparing the house for sale. It has taken longer than it should have. I am now determined to move forward, but still cannot figure out the next step.

      Kimberly, I am stuck in the realm of "no decision". Regarding the question that your therapist proposed... it feels way too comfortable. I could easily fall back into the way it was before. And the problem with that is that I thought things were good, so I am still not comfortable with going back to that. I know that we need to find a NEW way of being if we are to move forward together. I just can't seem to get to that.

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    6. beyond frazzled, I am so sorry you find yourself here but we are here for you. One thing that was hard for me to let go of was looking at the past and worrying about the future. Part of this recovery was a process. And I had to learn to go with it. I am 4 1/2 years out from dday. I think you are right too no matter what they did it is all betrayal and it is all horrible and a violation of your promises made to each other. Give yourself time and don't feel like you have to make any decision now. Just focus on today and what you need. It is great you are both in therapy individually and together.

      For me I really spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted. I did make the commitment to give it my best effort no matter what my husband did. That way at least I knew I would be true to myself and I learned early on that I can only control myself not him. I worked with my therapist at setting boundaries and expectations. This was critical and has evolved and took a lot of work. But by setting boundaries and expectations it made it possible to move forward. And it was almost as if the answers to all my doubts were revealed. And the big thing for me was did his actions match his words. This has been a long process and a roller coaster. At times things seemed great but all of a sudden it felt too much like pre dday, too normal. Give yourself time and reach out to share, talk or ask questions. We are here for you.

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    7. Beyond frazzled,
      I struggled with trying to make a once-and-for-all decision about staying or going. For so long, in fact, that 3.5 years later (still in the marriage) I STILL have not decided, and it's the perfect answer for me. There is no once-and-for-all decision moment for me but rather a decision every day to look at what I have and decide for that one day. I'm still here because we're close again. There's love and compassion for each other. My needs are considered. I enjoy him. I have no evidence that he's being dishonest. If I wake up one day and see something or someone else, I may choose to leave. I want to take the pressure off to "figure out what you need to do". You can live a wonderful and happy existence with your eyes open and never know for sure what you need to decide. I still take it day by day. It's a whole new way to live, but I'm living my best plan B! (I hate the new phrase 'living my best life' so I altered it for my situation.)

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    8. Hopeful 30, Thank you for your kind words. It seems the repeated response to my post is that I don't have to decide anything right now. That is freeing and helpful in a way, yet I want to know what is next. I know that I can't know. I am trying to accept it. Working on my boundaries... thing is, I thought that I had those in place. Am I weak for not acting on them? Is giving him a chance telling him that I wont follow through if it happens again? ... and here I go again. UGH!

      ann, Thank you for your response and reassurance. Day to day is where I am and probably need to be for a while (a long while from the sound of it). I feel like we are communicating better, he is doing more for me and for himself (taking that off of me, not that he had a choice). But, I agree with you - we are not living our best life. That is crap! There is no way that their choice is what was needed to get us here. They could have handled that better. So your plan B statement is resonating with me. Here we are, living our best plan B.

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    9. Ann: "Live Your Best Plan B" is my new favourite saying.

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    10. Beyond Frazzled. I too thought I had boundaries but as my therapist said my husband lived his life in a different way. Since I wanted to work on it and try to move forward with my therapist we set extremely detailed boundaries. I felt like I was being the mom but my therapist kept reminding me this is the only way I can even consider feeling safe. And without feeling safe I will never trust him even one bit.

      My boundaries were really specific, call me on the way to work, on the way home, during lunch, no time alone with females except with advance notice/plan, if his scheduled changes at all he must notify me. Access to all passwords and accounts (except work since he is a mental health professional...). If he wants to do anything at all he asks in person. He must provide where, when, who and all details at that time. If plans change he has to call not text me. The responsibility is on him to communicate his every move. I also set expectations of what I needed him to do in our relationship, as an individual and as a father. This also was very detailed. I would say in the past he focused only on work and used that as his excuse. He is the breadwinner by a long shot and highly successful but no longer does that give him a pass.

      My husband had two sporadic affairs over ten years. It was odd since he would go over a year without talking to the ow if not longer. So things would seem normal during those phases, then when contact happened he would detach. We always talked about it and he blamed work. His career is highly stressful so it all made sense. I did also ask him about attention or contact with ow. He always looked me in the face and said "no never, nothing like that ever happens". I know I asked him at least three times.

      It took me a full calendar year just to process what he did and the pain. Once I started to feel better it hit him. I figured since he made these decisions he was okay with it. I was so wrong. It has taken him way longer.

      I took on the saying "talk less, listen more". By doing this he has opened up so much. He has transformed himself. No one knows what he did but many people have noticed how he has changed especially his friends. And he is happier than ever and more fulfilled. He is also even more successful at work.

      I would suggest reading The Atlantic article "Masters of Love" by John Gottman. My husband brought it home from work and it made a huge impact on both of us. He still refers to it and honestly since it was a magazine article he read it. He has not been able to read any books on affairs. Granted he knows about it all due to his education, training and career.

      This all takes time but for me I decided I wanted to be in control which meant me laying down those boundaries and expectations.

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    11. beyond frazzled, I'm so sorry for the pain you're in. But, as you've clearly noticed, there's an army of incredible women here who know your pain and are ready to listen, comfort and guide you forward. You will get through this. It is still raw for you. Keep doing what you're doing -- prioritize your healing. And reach out when you need us.

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    12. Hopeful 30, I appreciate you sharing how you created new boundaries and how you put them in place. This is tremendously helpful. I can't help but wonder if my boundaries were too vague before, but I know he knew better. The detailed way you have set them up leave no doubt of what is expected.

      I have taken down the article that you recommended and look forward to reading it and sharing it with my h. He has been open to reading the few articles that I have shared and they have really opened his eyes to what I am going through. He fully underestimated the level of pain and trauma that he caused before reading them.

      I have begun reading the book that Chinook recommends in comments below - When it all Breaks Bad. So far it has some helpful insight.

      Elle, Thank you for your comments. I already feel the care and kindness of the fearless warriors here.

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  5. I just found out that my husband started an affair with a gal at work. Devastated right now ��. I just found your blog at the right time.

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    1. I am so sorry. We are all here for you. When I first found this site I dug in and read through all of the posts and comments. For me this site has been a life saver. Having the feeling and others say "me too" has been comforting and supportive.

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    2. Anonymous, I'm so, so sorry that you are going through this. How can we help you?

      If you are open to a reading suggestion, the very first thing I would read, in addition to Elle's book and her many amazing posts on this blog (Hopeful30 is right: they're incredible), is this book by licensed therapist (and betrayed wife) Michelle D. Mays, who really, thoroughly understands betrayal trauma: http://partnerhope.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/PHWhenItAllBreaksBad_Fnl.pdf.

      She also has a workbook that you can use: http://partnerhope.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/PHCrisisRiskAssessmentBetrayedPartner1-19.pdf.

      And I recommend her blog: https://partnerhope.com/blog/

      You are going to be okay, Anonymous. It's going to be so hard, but you're going to be okay.

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    3. I'm so sorry, Anonymous. Glad that others also reached out to you. It is devastating. So much more painful that I ever imagined it could be. But please know, if you don't already, he didn't cheat because there's anything wrong with you. He cheated because there's something wrong with him. Affairs are about distraction and fantasy, they are where opportunity meets moral failure. I'm glad he's doing the "right" things -- shows that he recognizes he's majorly screwed up.
      Keep posting. And trust that you will get through this.

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  6. My husband died March 30...to that point he was the love of my life, still is, to a point. Sadly because I had to go into all his computers for the accountants, I discovered he had been totally addicted to very hard core porn for years and in the last few years had started seeing prostitutes regularly. I can't even ask him why. I am left feeling so betrayed, insignificant and useless, with no way to ask or have questions answered.
    'I can't do this anymore'comes to my lips daily.

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    1. Lizzybug - I am so sorry that you had to find that stuff. I can only imagine the shock added to the already deep layers of grief you felt over his death.

      This pales in comparison - but after my mom died I found e-mails between her and an Aunt who lives out of state that she told her what a bad mother I was. How she was raising my son. How she was disappointed in my choices. The first 2 were 1000% untrue. They were all hurtful. And the worst part was I couldn't confront her about it and ask why! It was a few years later that I broached the topic with my Aunt who lives close by. I knew she knew better as she saw us on a regular basis - she knew what kind of mother I was and that I was a struggling single mom. She validated the hurt that my mom had caused and offered that perhaps my mom needed the validation of her own shortcomings to feel better about herself as a mother.

      I suppose my point is to find a community that can hold your pain - which you have! - this place is a place of healing for all betrayed. Find a place to start rebuilding yourself - I resisted therapy for so long ... and it took several tries to find the right one - but finally I have that place to be seen and guided to a better me.

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    2. Lizzybug,
      I am so so sorry for what you're going through. Pain on top of pain. Your husband's porn addiction and using prostitutes was like a double life for him. It had NOTHING to do with you. Don't imagine that offers much comfort, but it's important that you know it.
      As you work through all this grief -- loss of him but also loss of who you thought he was -- be gentle with yourself. Take it step by step. You will get through this though it's hard to believe when you're in shock. Keep reaching out. As Kimberly so beautifully put it, you're among a community that can hold your pain.
      And...Kimberly? I'm so sorry you read those horrible messages. So glad that both you and your aunt were able to see that they were untrue and the product of someone with her own shortcomings to acknowledge.

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    3. Dear Lizzybug,
      I could have been in the exact same position if my h had died. Situation the same but h alive and I found out. Explanation seems to be h is a very wounded man from events in his childhood, it has nothing to do with me. He is seeking therapy and is trying hard to get well. IT still is difficult but I know he loves me and has only now,after 39years of marriage opened up about these childhood abuses. So sad that you wont get to know your husbands reasons, but it was likely a reaction to his pain and nothing to do with you.
      I hope this helps.

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  7. I'm thinking I've spent way to much time in Step 5. I've been a fence rider ... not committed to either side. I think it's safer that way - if I don't commit to staying then it won't hurt if he has another affair. If I keep telling myself that he'll have another affair then I don't have to get close enough to feel the hurt that I've stuffed deep, deep inside.

    I think I need to go back to Step 1. Maybe it's time to just rest again.

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    1. Kimberly,
      It can be such a difficult step to open yourself up to vulnerability again. But I doubt you're really protecting yourself -- I suspect you'd still be devastated to discover another affair whether or not you think you're on the fence or not. So, ultimately, you're only getting the way of potential healing or happiness.
      Live life with your heart open -- which means incredible discomfort at first. But slowly you begin to trust in yourself and know that, if someone hurts you again, you'll survive it. And it reflects them, not you.

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  8. I found a new podcast that I think is so well done and helpful. It's not betrayal specific, but is so informative about resilience. It's called The Happiness Lab. The second episode is brand new and has so much good information for all of us. It's comforting how our brains work to protect us and how happiness really works. I highly recommend episode 2!

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    1. Thanks ann! Appreciate the recommendation.

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  9. I want to scream a thousand f@#$s right now! We are a month and a half from DD. We have been doing so well...until today. Today, my husband calls me to tell me that a process server had stopped by work. After calling the guy back, he finds out that he is being served papers to allow a women's husband to adopt his child. A child that I did not know about who was born before we were married. He claims that there is a question of paternity and he saw the baby once before we met I thought that she didn't look like him. What the actual fuck?!?!?! He said he FORGOT about it so that's why he didn't tell me!!! THEN he has the AUDACITY to say that I am being unfair and storm off when I ask him what else he has forgotten!!! AHHHHHHH!!!! This moment is an I don't think I can do this moment. I have been so f-ing understanding (puke) and when I show anger or distrust he says I am being unfair. I want to literally scream. I did in the car today but have to restrain myself now so I don't terrify our children. ANY advice would be greatly appreciated because I feel like I am losing my mind!

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    1. My advice - breathe. This is a lot to take in on a good day, little lone within 6 weeks of finding out other untruths from your H.

      There is no "forgot" about this ... you don't "forget" that you could have fathered a child. BUT, the paternity question is a valid one.

      If you haven't, I will echo every other BWC member who will tell you to go find a place for you to work through this as an individual. Therapy is where I'm most able to work through the issues at hand.

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    2. Wow K, That's a shocker. And no, I don't believe he "forgot" though I do suspect he figured it was something that might affect your opinion of him or whether you wanted to get involved with him. Or something that, he hoped, would just disappear.
      And though I'm absolutely not absolving him of wrongdoing because he absolutely should have told you, I suspect he, too, is reeling from this. Huge shock to him too.
      Nonetheless, it sounds as though he's been doing an effective job of silencing you...which is not okay. So, when this storm has been dealt with (a paternity test is probably a good start) or even as you deal with this storm, it's important that he understands that you a absolutely need to be able to share your feelings with him, that you need to be able to trust that he can support you when you're struggling. It's utterly unfair to accuse you of being unfair when you're the injured party here.

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    3. Thank you ladies! It's always amazing to see what 24 hours can do. Elle, your suspicions were echoed by my H this morning when he apologized for storming off and explained just what you said. When we met, he was worried that his past would drive me away. I told him the same thing you said. I have to be able to share my feelings. I can't even tell you how much it means to me to have this blog as an outlet and when I was able to angry type last night, I was able to get my frustrations out in a way that was less destructive. Thank you.

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    4. K, That's what we're here for! Sounds like a really good start. And, as crazy as this might sound, it might be a chance for you two to reconnect as allies in the face of this shock. To go through it together as a team. But, and as I noted this is crucial, you have to be able to express your own pain without him getting defensive and vice versa. It's so important that you two can each acknowledge how painful this is in its own way.

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  10. I'm living every single word of this blog. My husband has cheated on me with 2 woman twice with the same one. I just recently found out about the second time. We have been married 12 years 4 kids and I have endured alcoholism, late nights out with friends. Separated 3 times. I was able to forgive and move on to a certain point the first time around, I was able to love again. But this time has been the worst. Knowing he went back to the same woman, not knowing if he ever stopped communicating with her. This was the toughest blow yet. We had just gotten back together after our 3rd separation. Promised each other everything would be different and better. All I got was accusations of cheating on him, humiliations and just to find out it was him cheating on me again! It's been 4 months since then and this time I lost all respect. I don't desire him, I don't care to fall in love again with him, everything annoys me, I want out but I don't. I lived in peace for 6 months without him and he will NOT give me my peace again. I'm afraid to let go because of the good he does offer but I'm so hurt I can't forgive.

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  11. I've just found this blog. Looking for a way to connect and get some things off my chest with people who understand. Twenty-eight year marriage. Was told for the last 3 years that he "wasn't sure he was happy being married anymore." Basically begged him for 3 years to love me. Found out a month ago that he had been having an affair all that time. Of course now I realize I really knew. There were signs and things I questioned, but I always thought he would never do that to me. So all over the place about what I need to do. One day I think its good its finally all out in the open and now we have a shot, and the next I think I'm crazy for even considering it. I feel such pressure to do something. He filed for divorce without fessing up and left the house, but came back the next day and confessed and said if I could forgive him we would try to reconcile. Seemed truly remorseful for two days, then it felt like I was the one begging him to make things work again. We told our two adult children yesterday and the main thing my daughter said later to me that bothered her most was that she kept waiting for him to say how sorry he was. I don't know how long, or if, I should wait for him to "get it". This was so totally out of character for the husband and father we all knew for 25 years. It honestly seems like a sickness. I just don't know if he will ever get over it. No bashing please. I realize how weak this makes me sound. But I really do think people make mistakes and sometimes get trapped in them and their thinking gets twisted and its too hard harder to climb out of the mess than just keep going with it. I do know that I am much better off walking in my shoes right now than being in his. Thanks for listening!

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    1. Anonymous, I'm so sorry for what you're going through but so glad you found us.
      Everything you've written sounds familiar to so many of us. The feeling that we need to DO something. The fear that we're pathetic for considering giving him a second chance. The wondering if he deserves a second chance. The concern that he doesn't really recognize just how deeply betrayed we are. It's all the same for us.
      So...here are a few things to know:
      You are a warrior and you will discover courage you didn't know you had. There is nothing wrong with making a choice that feels right for you. And then making a different choice tomorrow if that feels right. There is not "right" way to respond to this (but try to keep yourself out of jail). YOU get to decide what to do. There's no bashing on this site and certainly no insistence that there's a one-size-fits-all response to infidelity.
      If you're considering giving him a second chance, then he needs counselling to figure out why he risked everything that mattered for someone who, ultimately, didn't. Emotionally healthy people don't blow up their lives, nor lie for three years. So...what's going on with him? He needs to figure that out. Typically, affairs are like self-medicating, a way to numb uncomfortable feelings (loss, mortality, anxiety, etc.). But it's on him to figure how just what he was doing and why. Your recognition the good people sometimes do really dumb things is absolutely true. He's not irredeemable...but he needs to do the work. It sounds too, like he's somewhat divorced from his own feelings, which makes apologizing for what he did very hard. He's likely stewing in some sort of shame cocktail, which feels HORRIBLE and which most of us do will anything to avoid. With the help of a professional, he can face that and come out a better person.
      You also need support, ideally professional support. We're a great group here with a ton of compassion and wisdom...but having a real-life therapist can be a lifesaver.
      Finally, there's lots to read it. Most of it will sound familiar.
      You'll get through this, Anonymous. I know it feels like utter hell. And a wild ride. But you'll get through this.

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    2. Any info on finding good sources of professional support would be appreciated. Trusting a stranger to help me and him through this right now is too overwhelming without knowing a little about their approach. Living in a rural area doesn't help matters much. What's the best way to approach a search?

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    3. I actually found our INCREDIBLE couples counsellor on Psychology Today's site. I Googled, including our city. You could also ask for your family doctor. And don't be afraid to call and ask for a short conversation before you commit to an appointment. Tell them what you're after and why and see how they respond. That will at least give you a glimpse into who they are and whether it might be a fit. But it can take a couple of sessions to feel comfortable, especially if you're a fairly private person. But, honestly, a good therapist can keep you afloat through this.

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  12. I feel like you wrote this for me.
    My DD was Christmas Eve. My entire world shattered.
    Thank you for writing.

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