Moving On

I’ve been meaning to write here lately, but as I’ve noticed happens with the blogs I follow written by fellow betrayed, when things are going well the blog stays quiet. Suffice it to say, life is going really well for me right now. So well that when a reader left a comment on an older post of mine, and I went back to see what she was referencing, I almost felt like I was reading about some one else’s life.

I’m not “over the affair” but I am over it — if that makes sense. I’ll always feel pain, anger, anxiety, fear, disappointment, and an utter heartache when I think back to my life immediately post affair. I was not prepared for how difficult it was going to be to find out that my husband cheated on me. I’m convinced that you can’t be prepared for that kind of betrayal. Nothing would make that feel anything less than devastating. The discovery split my life — and if that sounds like hyperbole, let me assure that it is not. I mentally block my life into three segments now: before the affair, during the affair, and after the affair. My memories from the affair years have all shifted — movies I saw, books I read, trips we took — they’re all tainted with the knowledge of how hard my husband was working to deceive me.

For the most part, life is so much better now. I don’t spend all day, everyday thinking about the affair. Him together with her. About all the lies and effort that went into hiding the affair from me for three and a half years. There are certain hot spots that I still can’t let myself think about for too long without spiraling — the length of the affair, the fact that it went on during my pregnancy, that I worked with both of them during the entire fucking thing, and, of course, the person with whom he cheated. That awful, awful woman.

I have to purposefully control my mind and stop it from going down the rabbit hole. It’s not that I am choosing to ignore any of this pain; I don’t.

I’ve thought about ALL OF IT.

AD NAUSEAUM.

I’ve felt the pain to the point that my vision blurs and my stomach knots. I’ve faced it, but at some point I realized that I had to decide whether I was going to walk away from it or let it swallow me alive — those really felt like the only two choices I had.

And so I walked.

There are still moments when I look at my husband and think, “You fucking idiot.” He had no idea (no fucking idea!) how lucky he was. How good he had it. I still blame that partly on his parents, people who continue to perpetuate the golden boy attitude that I believe contributed to their son giving into an affair with the justification of selfish whims rather than systematically and thoughtfully making decisions for his life.

He’s grown up a lot over the last two years. You’d think having a fast paced career, marriage and a child would do that for a man, but no, not for this one — what made this idiot grow up was being caught doing one of the absolute worse things you can do to another human being.

It’s funny — being caught in the affair made both of us realize how much we loved the other. For him, it became how can I keep her/fix this but for me it was how can I manage how much I love him so that I can minimize this pain? He’s had to do a lot of work to prove to me he’s trusthworthy and not a complete asshole. Though, he owns the fact that he was in fact a complete asshole during the affair.

There are things that I clung to in the early days after discovering the affair that I’m amazed have fallen by the wayside as I’ve gotten further away from it. I don’t compulsively check his email/facebook/texts like I used to. I mean, it used to be a guarantee that I’d look multiple times a day; logging in remotely when he was at work, running checks on his internet history. Any and everything I could do to prove to myself that he was being honest. That he wasn’t contacting her. That she wasn’t contacting him. Speaking of her — I no longer keep tabs on her, beyond knowing via mutual friends/work colleauges that she does remain at our old work place. I hope that she leaves that job/company, that the last link between us is severed and that by leaving I will no longer have to hear, even in the most anecdotal sense, where she is or what she is up to.

I am incredibly grateful to have discovered that somewhere along the line I stopped spending my waking hours with the affair constantly on my mind. What a relief this has been! It still will pop in from time to time, whether triggered by something I see or hear, and still sometimes for no aparent reason at all. Unfortunately, I still do have the occasional affair themed nightmare, suggesting to me that my subconscious has not yet reached full relief, but this is still massive progress from where I was two years ago.

Probably most importantly is my comfort in planning for the future. When I first discovered the affair, I was uncomfortable booking flights more than a few months in advance, unsure of whether we’d be together or separated by the time the departure date came along. Now? WE ARE TRYING TO HAVE ANOTHER BABY. I honestly could not have imagined that even a year ago. Actually, I wouldn’t have been able to picture it three years ago — even before I found out, while the affair was going on, when I knew that there was something wrong with my husband, even if I didn’t know what.

A new baby means I see the rest of my life with him. It means I think he is a worthy parent. A partner. That I am choosing to link myself, my family, to him for the rest of my life. Doesn’t that say it all? The affair is in the past. Our family is the future.

I couldn’t have pictured this life two years ago. But here I am. At this point, I’m not sure how often I will post moving forward. The story of the affair feels over — he cheated, I found out, we decided to try to reconcile, I cried/screamed/raged, he cried/apologized/was shamed, we kept going, we fought some more, we fell in love.

We fell in love.

Eyes open. Knowing exactly how bad things can get in that whole for better for worse vow that has run through my mind over and over again since I discovered my husband’s affair.

And we moved on.

It sounds simplistic, written out like that. Omitting the details, the gnashing of teeth, the wailing, the depression, and the most fervent anger I’ve ever felt in my entire life. And it is simplistic. That doesn’t begin to tell the true story of what happened, to me (to us!), but it’s further proof of my own mind healing that I can frame our story in that way. That I can utter the words we moved on without a hint of sarcasm.

Affairs fucking suck. I will stand by that statement for the remainder of my life. It’s the truth. I hope I never have to be so intimately aware of that truth ever, ever again. But I do know it’s the truth. Affairs fucking suck. But what’s more important it what you do after. After you discover you’ve been cheated on. Or after you cheat. Or after you sleep with a married/committed partner. It’s what you do next that matters, that determines whether you fucked up or lack character.

Don’t be an asshole.

Thief of Joy

 

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I will not forget, this Christmas season, that comparison in the their of joy.

I will remember that, just like me, everyone has a secret. A challenge that they deal with in private. When my very heart hurts as I look at other couples and wonder why some men can stay faithful while mine didn’t, I will stop myself.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

If someone else has something, that doesn’t negate what I have. My value doesn’t go up or down based on someone around me. Just like my life may appear perfect to some, IT IS NOT.

No one’s life is perfect, and even if it was that doesn’t have any affect on mine.

Concentrate on me. My progress and happiness exist without outside influence. Unless I choose otherwise. Unless I choose to compare. Unless I choose to make assumptions about lives that I don’t fully know.

Christmas is hard for me. The holiday season, in general is different now. But I can focus on the present, the future, or the past. How is my energy best used?

Closing out 2016 is important to me, because from where I’m sitting 2017 looks so full of promise! And so I focus on now. I daydream about the future. When memories of the past bring that familiar feeling of pain and disappointment, I will remember that everyone, EVERY ONE, has challenges to overcome. The affair is mine for the moment.

 

2 Years of Blogging

WordPress just notified me that I have been blogging here at lifepostaffair for 2 years.

2 years.

When I think back to my life two years ago, I can still get that feeling of unease and fear. A tightening of my throat and a unsettling in my gut. My world had been shifted — the ground beneath my feet no longer solid. The person I loved and planned a life with was no longer to be trusted. His betrayal affected every facet of my life. Discovering his affair and ultimately deciding to pursue reconciliation has meant examining who I am, what it is a I want.

It’s also meant an opportunity to course correct.

Two years later. We’re planning to try to have a second baby in 2017. A future I could not have comprehended two years ago. How could I ever reach a place of forgiveness and trust to allow me to have another child with a man who had hurt me so terribly?

This reconciliation has required so much change from him. He’s done so well. The justified anger that consumed me for the first year of our reconciliation eventually gave way to something more — not necessarily an understanding as to why he did what he did (I don’t know that I’ll ever understand) but a recognition that although he did this terrible thing, he wasn’t only a cheater.

Anger still makes up a part of my life. I’ll never be okay with the affair. I’ll never accept it. But I have moved on from it. It’s not the first thing I think about when I wake, or the last thing on my mind as I fall asleep. Occasionally my dreams reveal that, at least subconsciously, the affair is still on my mind. But it doesn’t haunt me the way it used — it’s there, but it’s no longer the only thing there.

Recovery is real. Reconciliation is possible. My marriage remains difficult and rewarding and exhausting and loving. While nothing is the same as it was before the affair, it’s still familiar, in a way that allows me to think fondly on memories without first having to calculate whether or not said memory occurred during the tainted years.

For me, that’s major MAJOR progress.

Powerless

I feel so frustrated — why does every little insecurity or moment of self consciousness bring me back to the feelings of betrayal, fear and pain that I felt in the immediate swell of devastation when I discovered the affair?

I got my hair cut. Its shorter than I wanted and my thoughts immediately go to, “Husband likes long hair. He’s told me he doesn’t like my hair short. Is this too short? Is he going to like it? Will he still think I’m pretty?”

What. The. Fuck.

It’s a haircut. A dumb haircut. I went from hair that rested just above my bra strap to hair that hits at that all too trendy at the moment clavicle length. For heavens sake. This should not be a big deal. It most certainly should not make me question my husband’s love.

It is so fucking annoying. I am annoying myself. Honestly. I am rolling my eyes at myself beacause those insecurities are not me. I’m not the most confident woman in the world, but COME ON. And my husband hasn’t done anything to make me feel less than (I mean anything lately; obviously he was an asshole cheater for a ridiculously long time).

I’ve done the work on coming out of the worst moments of the trauma. I’ve made the effort to see love and change when I look at my husband instead of deceit and betrayal. I’ve made forgiveness something palpable and real in my life and relationship.

I’VE DONE ALL OF THESE THINGS.

I’ve done all of this really hard work; things that have been painful and that I never would have chosen to write in to my life. Never. But I’ve done it. I’ve gotten through. So if I’ve done that, then I would think that its possible I can shift focus and build some confidence. Some self esteem.

Here’s the fucking ridiculous part — I have even less knowledge of how to go about that process than I did how to heal from a fucking affair.

I don’t know what I need to do to change my mindset from seeking faults to celebrating attributes. I honestly don’t. I want to figure it out though. Logically, I know that I am beautiful, smart, caring, nurturing, trustworthy and so many other qualities that I recognize in others and admire. And even though I recognize these parts of my personality, I still don’t feel like enough. Because if I was really all that great, my husband wouldn’t have cheated, right?

These ridiculous thoughts go through my head even as I scream to myself, “The affair says nothing about you, it was about his inadequacies!” And in true reporting of my stream of consciousness, my thoughts usually go to, So if it was about his failures, why am I the only one still so hurt and seeking an explanation to how the hell this happened?

Part of the answer is that I am a problem solver, a researcher by nature. Once a problem has piqued my interest, I have to understand it. The WHY means everything to me. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember.

It’s driving me crazy.

The bottom line is this: I need confidence. I need security. I want to stop feeling powerless in this life that I’ve chosen — because I could have left. I chose to stay and what happens in my own mind from that moment on is my responsibility.

I hate feeling like this.

Powerless.

Dark Day

It’s here. D Day. To many betrayed spouses, D Day means Discovery Day. For me though, that’s not what it means. D Day is the Dark Day. The day the ground beneath my feet crumbled…disintegrated…disappeared.

It’s no exaggeration that two years ago today my heart was broken. I felt it. I felt it break. Remembering that feeling brings a familiar ache to my chest. A tightness, a feeling of implosion. Largely unnecessary to explain to the readers here, because so many of you have lived it.

I’m still stunned when I look back and think of the secrets and lies that were woven in to my marriage without my awareness. Without my consent. I’m sad when I think of how disrespectful my husband was to me and to our marriage. His immaturity and selfishness still make me shudder. He was cruel. To treat me with such little regard. To not love me. To not know me.

I don’t want to linger here. Its painful and scary and if I’m not careful I’ll stay here, in this mindse, for too long. I’ll stagnate. I have to keep moving forward. I have to keep pursuing the life, marriage and family that I want. Even when I sometimes think that it would be easier if I could stop loving my husband, I can’t turn it off. I love him differently from the way I loved him two years ago, but the same goes for him — I know his love for me bares no resemblance to what he felt and displayed pre Dark Day.

So yes, today is the anniversary of the darkest day of my life.

But tomorrow? Tomorrow is the anniversary of when things began to improve.

Thoughts on the Other Woman — 2 years out

If you’ve read my blog from the beginning, or the blog of any betrayed spouse, I’m certain that you’ve read some thoughts on the “other woman.” I’ve addressed that third party in my blog, though mostly those comments and thoughts came early on in my betrayed spouse life.

Because I not only knew the other woman, but also worked with her and was suspicious of her from the get go (even voicing those concerns to my husband), I had a lot of confusion and pain to work through. A LOT. Even before I knew her role in the attempted destruction of my life and marriage, I disliked her. I found her callous and brash, unintelligent, and lazy. I also had the feeling that she lacked morals — evidenced by the behavior she showed at work as well as the stories she told about her weekends.

When I first discovered my husband’s affair, I hated her so much. I wanted bad things to happen to her — but not at the expense of my husband. So while I could have gotten her fired, I didn’t because it would have also meant getting my husband fired. That was another massive blow that I had to forgive my husband for — that I couldn’t seek retribution against her without hurting him (and by extension both my son and I). I was furious about this. I fantasized about all of the ways that I could expose her, ruin her, without doing the same to my husband. But there was no way — the truth is that to expose her I had to expose him as well. An impossibility, because I still loved him. So I had to just deal with. I wanted so much for her to hurt. For her to feel the kind of pain and stress that I was feeling, but there was nothing I could do.

Looking back now, I do think that she was hurting and embarrassed — in her way. Hurt because she was unceremoniously dumped with nothing more than a few minutes long conversation and no further opportunity for explanation or closure. Seriously, the way my husband broke things off with her was BRUTAL. He could not have chosen a worse time or place, but he did it that way because I told him that if he wanted even a glimmer of a chance at reconciliation with me, he needed to end it immediately and completely. So that’s what he did. He ended their relationship in a way that satisfied my needs and ignored hers completely. I know that hurt her. She spent the next several weeks asking him, via work email, for a chance to talk and finish their conversation — requests he blatantly ignored. I know that hurt her too. She had invested years of her life in to him, likely believing that someday he and I would divorce and they could be together in the open, and not only did that not happen but…

In one fell swoop  she was sent back to reality. He was married. He loved his wife. He fucked up, royally, but in the end he wanted me and his marriage. Just like that, she was out of his life. Removed, quickly and in a way that served him and showed her that she really and truly was at the bottom of the pecking order. That’s the place of the other woman. And that’s not me being snarky — it’s reality. The other woman in an infidelity relationship will always lose. The betrayer and the betrayed lose too, of course, but not like the other woman does.

Two years out, what I now want for and from the other woman is quite different from what I wanted at the beginning. I used to want revenge, pure and simple. I wanted her to feel pain and to pay for what she had done to me and to my family. Today? I just want her to get it. I want her to understand the depths of her actions so that she never, ever does this to anyone ever again. I want her to comprehend that attraction is not reason enough to do whatever you want, to whomever you want. I want that not only for her, but for the boyfriend she has been seeing for about a year now. I want her to be faithful to him, because being cheated on hurts. IT FUCKING HURTS. BADLY.

I hope that she gets it, two years out now. I hope that she has spent time thinking about her role and responsibility. That she’s fought the urge to rewrite history so that my husband is the sole villain — that she hasn’t made up stories in her mind about me or our marriage, that she can look back and acknowledge her mistakes. To own them. More than that, I hope that she is remorseful.  That she feels shame for her actions. That she vows to never again get involved with a man who is already in a relationship.

I also wish that she would offer me an apology, one that I would happily accept without the need to verbally attack her for the pain she’s put me through. One that I would simply listen to, and then thank her for offering. An apology, a real apology not peppered with buts or ifs, but one that showed me she acknowledges her role in this massively painful experience would do a world of good in my healing. In my belief that people can grow and change.

But I also understand that it is not likely to come from her. The kind of person who has the innate goodness of character to accept responsibility for his or her reprehensible behavior and then goes on to change, well that kind of person offers an apology free and clearly.  I know that, because that is who my husband is.  Once he confronted the magnitude of what he had done to me, to our marriage, to himself — he crumbled. And then he rebuilt. He doesn’t resemble the cheating asshole he once was at all anymore. That alone is something to celebrate, but then he goes beyond. Apologizing for specific instances of betrayal as well as for the fucked up-edness of it all. Standing beside me and supporting me in anyway he can to bring me past triggers, to end my self doubt. To show me that I’m not an idiot for giving him a second chance, that he is the man I thought he was — even if that is something that even he forgot for a long time.

I’ll never like her. I’ll never be okay with the thought of being around her. I’m not that healed. What I am, though, is oh so aware that this is not about her. Our reconciliation, our marriage, our lives have nothing to do with her now; just as the affair, frankly, wasn’t about her. She was a willing participant in my husband’s crisis of identity. Where she thought she was special, that she was bringing something out in him that was unique and passionate, she was really just encouraging an already selfish man that his in-the-moment-wants trumped those of everyone around him. That what felt good in a fleeting moment was as important as love, commitment, faithfulness.

He was wrong. She was wrong. The affair was wrong.

So no, the affair wasn’t about her. Our marriage reconciliation isn’t about her.

Two years out, nothing is about her. 

It’s about me. My husband. Our son. The family we’ll grow together.

And that’s a perspective that feels healthy two years out.

 

 

Nearing that “anniversary”

It’s November. At the mid point of the month I will officially reach the two year mark since discovering my husband’s affair.

As I’ve written here lately, things are going so well between my husband and I. I love him. I trust him. I know he regrets the affair with every fiber of his being. I don’t feel like either of us is the same person we were during those difficult years. The commitment and love that we feel has us preparing to start trying to have another baby, something I honestly thought would be an impossibility two years ago. 
We have come a long way in our healing. 

BUT

I still feel sadness, pain and anxiety at the memories of the affair. That kind of betrayal — I may feel it for the rest of my life. Not that I actively fear it happening again, or spend my days listless and crying — rather, the memories and awareness of all that happened hurts.

I hurt for my husband, for the idiot asshole that he was. I shudder with embarrassment for me, for not knowing that my marriage was a joke. My heart breaks at my efforts to try and bridge the distance between us and not understanding that I never could, not with a third party’s presence.  

Mostly I feel grateful that our marriage withstood this horrible time and I feel sadness, because I’m already seeing adultery begin to touch friends’ marriages. Over the last year I’ve found out about three friends who have divorced — only afterwards learning that infidelity was the crux. I’m aware that marriage can go either way in be aftermath of betrayal.

If only those considering cheating could speak to someone who’s on the other side, if they could understand the devastation and regret they will cause! My husband says the problem with that logic is that it assumes thinking — using him as an example, he never really allowed himself to consider what he waS doing. Compartmentalization was the name of the game. 

Anyways. 

Although life looks much different and happier two hears on, I still feel sadness at the two year mark. Sad that we had to go through so much pain to reach this place of happiness and compatibility. But here we are.