Pieces of Me

Pain-Released-with-Massage-IntegrationI took a step out of my weepy mind this past weekend. I wanted to enjoy my long weekend with my family and not dwell on the stack of affair cards I’ve been dealt. I find it’s hard to set my mind completely free from the affair. So, now that the weekend is over I decided to do some soul searching. For my own good, because my goal is to truly release the pain I’ve been carrying with me post D-Day.

As I begin to peel away the layers of my life I see a recurring element or trait in myself. I feel personally affected by my friends and family member’s life choices. For example, my freshman year in college my childhood best friend almost flunked out because she started drinking and doing recreational drugs. She kept this from me until the summer after our freshman year and when she told me I was devastated. I felt like her decision to smoke pot had an impact on my life and self-worth. I felt like our friendship was in question because I would never have made the same decisions. But what did this have to do with me? Nothing, she was young, curious and a tad irresponsible. Fast forward my life to the first time my son found himself in trouble at school. I felt like I had been scolded and shamed by the teacher when she told me what he did. I cried on the phone with the school principal explaining my son’s actions. I was personally wounded by his mistake. And I’m not even a helicopter parent! But I feel so invested in my children that their successes and failures seem like a direct measurement of me as their mother.

The more invested I become in the people I love; the more pieces of my identity are intrinsically sacrificed. I am self-confident and secure; yet, I believed that love meant investing pieces of me into those I love. When I fell in love with my husband I recognized that our morals and values were in line with each other. We agree on religion, politics, family matters and child-rearing. All our similarities made it easy for me to invest pieces of my identity within him. All those pieces of me were safe because we shared so much in common.

That is, I was safe until he cheated. In many ways I viewed us as one person in the world. You have to admit, that most couples are viewed as one person. You can’t mention the wife without at least thinking of the husband too. Lucy and Ricky. Brad and Angelina. You get my point. I felt like loving someone meant you take that person into account when making decisions in your life. How could he separate himself from me so easily? His affair directly impacted my identity. It also made me question my identity. How could he choose to cheat on me and have an affair if we were so similar? Who was he if he could do this? He lied to me for a year. He preferred lying over trusting me with the truth.

I am now a wife who has been cheated on. I now have a husband who can never say he was faithful to me throughout our entire marriage. I cannot take away the accuracy of these statements but I can lessen their impact on me.  I didn’t share in his decision to have an affair. As other wives have said, if I had been involved in the decision I would have said: “No, let’s not do this!” I wasn’t included in his decision (which was, admittedly, a bad one) because I am not him. Just like when my son fails his math test because he didn’t study. The consequences belong to the individual. His decision to have an affair does not change my morals and values, and they should not change my identity without my permission.

Now, I understand that I need to reclaim the pieces of myself I invested in all my friends and family members. I was giving away my identity bit by bit. Believing that everyone I love would protect me. No one can protect me like I can.

In fact, maybe, some of the reasons my husband’s ego became bruised and damaged were because I gave him the part of me that loved him and expected him to nurture that piece. I wasn’t investing as much as I should have into my love for him because I assumed he knew how I felt. After all, I gave that piece to him. I entrusted him with that part of me but I never even told him. I realize that I can love him without sacrificing me.

I am beginning a new path now. A path back to myself. I want to nurture my soul and heal my spirit. I know that the power within me is stronger than ever before.

inner peace

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32 thoughts on “Pieces of Me

  1. You have wonderful insight. It really is about ourselves and knowing who we are. Life is to short to be anything but happy. The only way I have learned to find happiness is to know what makes me happy and to stay out of my head as much as possible. We all need to check in and take a look at ourselves, but being in our heads much longer than that can lead to those stupid pity party that nobody comes too. What fun is it to have a party and nobody comes….

  2. that. was. amazing!

    ive been pondering a similar sort of thing, recently wrote a bit of a messy mess (lol) about it… ive read back on it a few times thinking… what does this mean? lol. i love the way you phrased it “a path to myself”.

    in one of the many many books or websites ive read about affairs, there have been so many of these that i can only say ‘somewhere’… the author talks about a woman who ran from therapist to therapist trying to find an answer… and the answer was, the thing she was looking for was herself. thats what i feel like.

    but then ive also read many times that as women we define ourselves by our relationships, by our connections, we become intimately fused with them and with our environments (for eg our homes) we internalise other peoples stuff as it if were our own… But what are you meant to do with this? is it something you can deprogram? isnt it what makes us able to be the mums and caretakers were supposed to be?

    the closest thing i found that might put me in the right direction is the hoffman process. i bought the book but i gave it to mr bla. i think that was wrong. i really need it back.

    http://www.hoffmaninstitute.org/
    have a look. anyway.and see if u like what its telling you. i hope you find you soon. me seems to be on holiday! (oh i wish!)

    • My husband is doing the Hoffman process at the end of June. I’m pretty sure he’ll blog about it. You should check it out:

      whyhaveanaffair.wordpress.com

    • I totally feel like one of those women you described that has spent my life defining myself by the connections to the relationships in my life. Luckily, I have surrounded myself with good people who haven’t exploited me. But I wasn’t taking care of myself like I should have either. I have spent my life caring for the well-being of others.
      I read about the Hoffman Institute from another blogger and it sounds like an intriguing process. I am interested in checking out more. Thanks for the link!

    • You will… I am just so tired of letting the affair hurt me. I have to make a conscious effort in my head to walk away from the painful thoughts. I’ve spent so many months letting it hurt me. I want to believe that if I didn’t make this choice then why am I the one in agony? Yes, what he did damaged our marriage but we are still in love. And if the love can survive then I have to believe that I can too.

  3. I dealt and still deal with it in very similar ways. It has beenn almost a year and a half and I look at each passing day as a step forward, away from my pain.
    Upon learning of the affair, I broke to peices and stayed stagnant for six months. Time stopped. I look back now and realize that all I have is time to recover. I have developed a new sense of security, a new sense of how and what I need to do for me now.
    You are right. You didn’t have the affair like I didn’t either, and I feel strongly that it should not be my burden to carry. Of course I carry the scars, and that pain and betrayal is something I will never forget. I can only hope that time heals, and we know that all things shall pass.
    Its amazing how someone can turn your life upside down and that everything you are together can be shredded in an instant. I thought I lost it all. In the midst of the affair, I learned to pick up my sword and fight, because my children and my life is all I have, and I would rather lay down and die before handing it over to some woman who has never invested the time into it like I have.
    It is your life and you do have rights to it. I think reinventing yourself is very necessary when you feel as if you’ve lived a lie. Make your own truths and live. I am slowly coming into this realization that I will not let that bitch rob me of anymore of what is rightfully mine. If I do, she wins. And I cannot let her do that to me.

    • Well said… I agree with you. In the pain and disbelief that he would cheat/lie/decive me it has been easy to stop and stand still. It’s almost like watching your life from outside yourself. You assess every detail and question every move you make. But here I am and I want happiness from myself. I want to stand tall and look at my life and be proud. Yes, I wish I could have made this discovery some other way but that’s not how life played out for me. Honestly, I don’t think I would have seen this truth any other way.

  4. I think you are doing some important work here. Sixteen months out since learning of my husband’s affair and I am finally coming to terms with the fact that I cannot change him or his past choices. I think I have literally fought this truth because I see myself so intertwined in his life. I see (wrongly) his affair as a direct rejection of me, rather than a lost man acting on his own in a very misguided way. I think it is easier to embrace a very black and white understanding of his behavior. Indeed, infidelity is quite complicated. Suzanne Lachmann’s articles have been most helpful in redirecting my hopeless thinking. This is her latest http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/me-we/201305/why-feeling-bad-feels-so-good and I think it speaks to what you are expressing most recently in your blog. Thank you for your willingness to bear your soul with the rest of us. I know it has helped me.

    • Hi Keri,
      Thanks for the link to Suzanne Lachmann’s articles. I really like how you worded your comment too: “I see myself so intertwined in his life.” I recall in the immediate aftermath of my D-Day asking my husband over and over how he didn’t consider me at all when getting wrapped up in this woman’s life. Now, I know he thought of me–but he didn’t consider the consequences and that bothered me. It’s not a reflection of his love for me that allowed him to cheat–it was a reflection of how broken he was inside. Just like you said… Thank you!

      • I have to work very hard at accepting how utterly selfish my husband’s behavior was. No, he did not consider me either when he was with her — I was separate, part of another part of his life, segmented from his work world (his was with a co-worker.) This tells me just how disconnected we were. In many ways, recovering has been about absorbing this is new information – how vastly different were our perceptions of the marriage and just how capable this man, I thought I knew, is of bifurcating his world. As he does the hard work to understand himself, even he is bewildered by how disconnected and selfish he became. If anything, this gives me some motivation to stay connected to him – more deeply than ever before.

      • I think this is a great point regarding disconnection. I look back at the year my husband was cheating and recognize now how disconnected we were from each other. We loved each other and we were (generally) happy but we weren’t connecting on the level we needed to be. That is why when I first sensed things were off I couldn’t find the courage to ask for what I needed. Even the weekend we went away together–which to him signifies the moment he knew he needed to end the affair–for me it was when I realized I had needs I wasn’t voicing to him. How could I want him to make love to me on the lakeside dock but not tell him? It’s such an easy thing for me to do now–but I was afraid to tell him what I needed for fear of rejection. And I was most afraid to tell him I felt the disconnection. Now I realize that it was vital to our marriage for me to voice my concerns, fears, needs,etc.

    • Keri, I am touched that you cited me, and will continue to write on topics that address these wrenching experiences. There is nothing more important than forming a supportive community and feeling heard and understood.

    • I think I have literally fought this truth because I see myself so intertwined in his life. I see (wrongly) his affair as a direct rejection of me, rather than a lost man acting on his own in a very misguided way

      I struggle with thisevery day. She is 12 years older than I am,so I need to get a grip.

  5. I, too, needed to hear this. Really good post and comments. Sometimes, you just start to go down that slippery path, which is what I was doing today. This post and comments really helped me to re-think the rest of today. I think I will get out in the fresh air and sunshine and enjoy a walk with my dog, who loves me unconditionally.

    • I am glad I could motivate you to do something good. I know that path you speak of and it’s such a dangerous place to find yourself. I hope you enjoyed the day… in my part of the country–it was gorgeous. 🙂

  6. For my own life, I have been cheated on, and because the relationship is no longer and I am in a new well 7 years now relationship, I struggle with issues of mistrust, and so on. I know a lot of it has to do with because I did not deal with it in my last relationship, so now I get to deal with it now….My man gives me no reason to even think he would be cheating on me, yet I find I can come up with things….It is a process, I use to be like “if he cheats on me, I will run out and cheat on him” like that is going to help….For awhile that got me through…
    The thing about pain is it makes us stronger, stronger than we would of been without the pain.
    I like being stronger, I have learned to love myself, and I know that I can do what I need to, to find happiness.
    I have found that if I turn my thoughts around, that I am able to stay out of my head and deal with stuff.
    What I mean is when you are watching your husband play with your children and you feel all warm and fuzzy and then you remember that he betrayed you, and how could he do that. I will say stuff to myself, he was a butthead, but I am stronger now, because of it. I am whole now, or things that make me feel better about the whole situation. This takes time, but I have found that this kind of work is very rewarding. If I can turn those icky feeling arouund in less than a minute, hell life is good….
    Just my two cents….

    • Sometimes I think that the warm & fuzzy feelings are the most difficult to deal with. Last week, my husband was helping my parents with some work that needed to be done and they couldn’t do it on their own. My husband was so good about getting it done and helping. I watched him and thought–he’s such a good man. Then the bad thoughts crept in and said–“but he cheated on you for a year.” I keep thinking–does his affair negate every good thing he’s ever done? No, it shouldn’t if he is working on improving himself and making himself stronger. It’s so hard to hear that voice though–it’s easier to feel the pain and hurt. Sometimes, I just have to shake myself and wake up to my life.

      • My therapist says that a person is a sum of their parts and expiriences. She said good people can do bad things. That is what makes them human. Humans make mistakes. I try to remind my self of that when I get caught up in the bad thoughts negating something good.

  7. Just found this blog and nice to see my feelings about my husbands affairS are typical. I especially related to Sh!t that bothers me….it has been three months for two affairs and 6 for “two” potential others. Can’t go into the details again. Am wondering how much and how long to rehash the whys and hows and if this is beneficial to the moving forward? He feels awful and so do I. But do we “miss” something by not analyzing it even more or does this only make both of us feel worse longer and keep us from moving forward. I sway both ways as I quite frankly still struggling with the new reality…the real marriage so different from the one I thought I had.

    • It’s a personal choice of how much you want to know and how long you need to talk about it. During my husband’s affair I recognize that I was unable to voice my concerns to him. I held back my fears that we were disconnected. Now I know I should have said how I felt so he would have known that I wasn’t content with how things were either. I feel like we were both looking at different sides of the same penny and not realizing we needed to explain our own view.
      I struggle with the reality that my marriage was not the one I thought we had too. I always felt like my husband would have come to me before he cheated. He would have been honest and forthright about any attractions or women flirting with him. But now I think back and see that I created a defense that was difficult for him to communicate with me. I couldn’t accept hearing anything negative or challenging to what I believed. And he avoided telling me the little things because he didn’t want to hurt me. Then those little things became an affair… I hate thinking about all the things that could have been said or done to change what happened. So I hate to just turn the page and start the next chapter.

  8. Great post 🙂 I hope I someday find myself in the place you are at. I find it difficult to not take the affair very personally. I see marriage as 2 becoming one. Not that we are one identical person, but one in that we no longer live for ourselves, but put our spouse first. Clearly, when my husband cheated, he was putting himself first, and he broke our ‘oneness’. And that is what I find so hard to forgive and move past. I don’t understand how cheating spouses are able to live that compartmentalized life. I asked him the other day, if he wanted to end it ( before I found out ) why did he not just end it? He asked me, haven’t I ever done anything that I knew was wrong but did it anyway…that I felt bad about after, but still kept doing it even though it was wrong? Sure, I guess so. But to me, you can’t really compare adultery with ANYTHING else. Because when you cheat you aren’t just harming yourself, you are harming your spouse and family, as well as the AP and their spouse and family ( if applicable ). I find it hard to believe that my husband suffered much guilt over it. I know if I was sleeping with someone else it would be because my marriage is over. I would be done. I couldn’t share such intimacy with someone else and still say I loved my husband, or even look him in the face. It usually ends up in a fight when we discuss the affair, because I want explanations and reasons why, and he’s like, there is no black and white reason, no good reason, no particular thing, no explanation that will give me the ‘why’ that he cheated. I know he’s sorry. I know he feels horrible for hurting me. And I know he has worked hard at being the husband he should have been all along. But I just don’t know if it’s enough…or if it will ever be enough.

    • I hear you. I always believed that my husband would put my needs and our children before himself because he seemed to always do that. But I also remember learning at a young age that you should always put yourself first with your marriage and your children. Think of it as those oxygen masks on a plane. If you don’t put yours on first then you risk not being able to help your children put their masks on. My husband always put me first in our marriage, then the kids… and then eventually he was broken and lost. He couldn’t get his own oxygen mask on because he wasn’t taking care of himself.
      My husband also said he could recognize he f-ed up and he also wanted out prior to me discovering the affair. He just didn’t want to be the bad guy. He was putting the AP’s needs before his own because he couldn’t see how much damage he was doing. If he could see what the consequences would be then he never would have cheated. Or if he cheated in spite of that knowledge–it would mean he didn’t care about me.
      I view marriage differently now. I see that I am still an individual that has joined my life, by choice, to the man I love. But it’s hard to accept and give love if you aren’t fostering your own individual happiness.
      It’s a struggle everyday not to be upset or angry about the affair. But I am starting to believe that I never would have learned this lesson any other way. I hate it–but I think it may be true.

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