Triggers (again)

My husband and I were at Target last weekend doing some holiday shopping. It was late in the evening and we had just gotten in line to pay. My husband pulled his phone out of his pocket and saw he had two new text messages. It’s a new phone and he didn’t transfer his contacts properly so both text messages were from unidentified numbers. I glanced over to watch him open both messages. The first one said:

Thank you for making Thanksgiving special. I love you. ❤

My heart immediately swelled and sunk like an anchor in my chest. I stared at the number and found my voice in time to ask:

Who’s that text from?

It was from his sister but before I realized it was her cellphone number I panicked. As we waited in line I thought about my reaction. I trust my husband. I am as positive as I can be that he’s not screwing around behind my back. But there I was, over two years since D-Day triggered by a text message. The triggers are different now than they used to be. Immediately after D-Day a trigger would send me into an emotional downward spiral. Once I was spiraling my thoughts would become daggers, stabbing me repeatedly until I was emotionally numb.

It’s different now. Now, it’s just a sinking feeling in my heart. The fear that this feeling will never completely go away. Fear that in spite of the affair losing its significance in my day-to-day thoughts, there is still an element of distrust that creeps in and has the power to steal my breath and stop my heart. After that, there is only one thought left:

Is this the rest of my life?

There is an episode of Sex and the City I recently saw that is all about triggers and the loss of security. Once Samantha decides to take Richard back after discovering he’s been cheating on her, they go away with the rest of the girls to Atlantic City. One night Richard cancels on tickets to boxing match because he needs to work. Samantha’s immediate fear is that he is cheating on her up in their hotel room and she races to the room in an attempt to catch him in the act. When she storms in the room she finds him sitting on the couch, laptop open – working. It’s in that moment she realizes that she can’t live her life second-guessing Richard’s every move. She breaks up with him to save her sanity and because she knows the trust they once shared is gone. I think Samantha’s reaction is common: leave the relationship because the triggers will never go away.

I see things differently. I know that breathless, heart stopping moment is fleeting. Triggers don’t have to be life defining. I can understand why betrayed spouses sometimes end their marriages/relationships because of that feeling and fear that you will never regain that security you had before the affair. I get it. But I believe my anxiety will continue to subside with time. I also recognize that the closeness and bond I share with my husband is something special. The way we fit together emotionally, mentally and physically is unparalleled and I don’t think I’ll ever share a connection like this with anyone else. So I carry on. I’m confronting my triggers. Mostly I continue to have faith that someday I will let go of all these insecurities.

this too shall pass


30 thoughts on “Triggers (again)

  1. You both scare me and give me hope. I can’t imagine still suffering from these horrible triggers two years from now (we’re six months from D-day) yet you give me hope that they won’t be as bad. Thanks for your honesty.

    • There’s no timeline. It’s different for everyone. I will share with you that I felt it inside my body the day I truly forgave my husband, it was the other day. I felt free. I cried because I felt like this huge weight in my heart was lifted. It happen in such a casual way. There wasn’t anything special going on. It was a normal day. He handed me a mug of coffee and kissed me on the lips. That moment i realized that I was over it. The tiggers don’t happen as often. They have pretty much gone away. So keep hope alive. There’s hope. Don’t let his mistake define you. I feel free but the trust isn’t fully there. It’s starting to come together. There’s no timeline it just happens. Don’t give up hope and don’t let his mistake define you. I was so grateful for that piece of advice and I swore I would pass it along.

  2. UGH, reading this my heart dropped because I too experience this at the moments when he is late from work, or out longer then he should be. Sometimes giving up seems the easy way, however I am stuck with the thought of ….”what if I do stay and did work out?”. Pressing forward trying to mend.

    • I so get your fears. I wasn’t sure if staying was the right thing. Despite the horrific tiggers. The feeling of confusion. I trusted my gut. And stayed. I’m glad I did. Don’t give up. It’s worth it when you feel the freedom of not having the weight of the affair on your shoulders. Work on your marriage and on yourself. Like I said before don’t let the affair consume you. You did nothing wrong. Too many of us think it’s our fault and we will never be happy or over it. But it does work out and someday your fears will go away. I promise you they will.

  3. Your reaction is normal. I understand it all too well. After years of not snooping through my hubby emails, history etc this past week after a horrific fight I snooped. I felt so angry at myself because I thought I was over that. Trust it’s an easy word to spell but so difficult in real life after finding out the man you married cheated. I wish I could offer you wisdom or reassurance. The only thing I can say I is that you love your husband. And you are both working hard to make your marriage work. You give us hope. I love my husband. It took a long time to forgive him but I did have a trigger this past week. They no longer happen as often as they use too. They have lessen. My Xanax bottle is full. I no longer need it I made the choice to stay married and Xanax was my BFF. As time went on he proved to me that he made a mistake and paid for it. Do I trust him like I use too….nope…but it’s slowly coming. One piece of advice that was given to me and I pass it to you now is to focus on you. Do things that you want to do. Make a list. I did it my therapist wanted me to do it, I wrote things like read my vogue magazine, watch old movies etc…it’s a good way to not let his affair be the center of your life. But I think you are so strong. You give us all hope and slowly things will get better. My marriage is different I like it. It’s a strong marriage that takes work but we do it, but when I began to listen to my therapist I realized that I couldn’t and wouldn’t let his mistake defined me. So I’m going to do things on my list for me. I’ve fought a war. I won, so tonight I’m going to sit and read. Then write my second blog post (if this damn writers block goes away) watch mildred pierce. Because I refuse to let his mistake defined me. No way. I’m going to still work on my marriage. Be happy. But I’m also going to enjoy my life. The little things I stop doing after finding out he cheated. It’s time to focus on me. My therapist is right. I wish you luck and know that you are not alone.

  4. I feel bad for you. I know exactly how you feel. My husband cheated on me, and I forgave him. Seemed like he really was trying to be a better husband & was very attentive & seemed sorry for what he had done. A little over two years later, he cheated again. He agreed to go to counseling but cancelled before we were to go to our third appointment. I too felt we had something special & was willing to forgive once again, but I felt we needed professional help. He didn’t want to “own” his actions or deal with what was truly making him unhappy. He suffers from depression & has had an alcohol problem that has progressively got worse over the years. Our 3 daughters, our friends, neighbors & community acquaintances saw that we had something special. We didn’t fight & enjoyed spending a lot of time together (we own a business & run it together) — we were each other’s best friend. Because of all that, I saw the good in or marriage & wanted to make things work. Well, the OW already left her husband so I never had a chance. All this has changed our whole family & he doesn’t seem to care. Our daughters are devastated! I have mourned the loss of or marriage for 2 years and just now I am ready to get on with a divorce. I need to move on — I have no choice. Ladies, I hope your marriages all work out. I totally understand the triggers that will take you back to a feeling of doubt. That mistrust will always be there because of the betrayal. It’s a sick feeling. Just remember: you deserve to be loved & honored by your husband. Part of being honored is being able to trust & believe everything he tells you. God bless you all!!

  5. I hate how his affair has changed me in ways I don’t like. I want to feel myself again. I project my anger onto our daughter which is so completely wrong. I can count on one finger how many times I used the “f” word before six months ago. Now it’s my favorite word. No more. Today I’ve promised myself he actions will no longer define mine. I can’t control him but I can control me. I will not let my husband’s affair turn me into the bitch I’ve become. I’m better than that.

  6. This is so exactly how I feel. It’s been a year and a half and this post still fits me to a tee. There are those triggers that just make your heart drop still. I like you have wondered if this was my life but I live day to day and live with the motto that we are still here and it will not define us or our love!

  7. I have known that feeling. It is almost 10 myths since d-day but over a year since things started falling apart. As we approached the holiday season, I was becoming more anxious about triggers from last year. Last fri, my 18 yr old son was seriously injured in a car accident and the doctors were not sure he would survive surgery. Talk about changing my perspective. Suddenly d-day became the second worse day of my life. I was so grateful to have my husband to go thru this with. Life is short and I am not all that interested in the affair anymore. Our son is in rehab and will be fine but we r even stronger and more secure, and the past seems like a long time ago.

  8. It has only been about 3 months since my d-day, I thought things were going pretty well given the circumstances, but Saturday I had a meltdown. I felt like I was all the way back to day one. My husband is doing absolutely everything right on his end. I loved my husband, had an enormous amount of respect for him, I was proud to say I was his wife. He was so good to me…except he wasn’t. the affair has shattered and destroyed who I thought he was, who I thought we were. See, my husband had “non-emotional” affairs with random women he friended through work. he would meet up with them randomly for blow-jobs. I can’t help but not think less of him. This isn’t helping our healing, but I am disgusted by his behavior and honestly have lost a ton of respect for him. How can I learn to love and trust him again with such disgusting behavior entering my mind. These meetings lasted about 3 years, when those women got sick of him, he started looking for more sleezy women to take care of this for him. He says he was nothing but happy in our marriage, happy with me, our life, our three kids. Everything is perfect, so I think Why? Why? The only answer he has for why is he fell into temptation? I can not understand this as I don’t know how he lived with himself and looked me in the face after meeting up with these women. or sexting with them. I am afraid that I will never be able to forgive him. Some days I think I can and some days I am disgusted by this new man that is sharing my bed. I feel like he died on our d-day. This is a different man who I need to try and get over the hurt and love again? Im sorry for the rambling, I am just feeling such excruciating pain as I know many of the readers here are. I want to tell him these things, but trying to figure out a nice way to say you disgust me…not sure there is an easy way to say that to someone even some one who has shattered your heart.

    • Chris,

      Just tell him, “you disgust me.” I said those exact words to my husband, more than once. You must be honest with him so he can fully understand how deep the pain goes.

      I understand your pain. I look at my husband with new eyes as well. It’s been just over six months since our D-day. Give it time. I can’t believe I’m saying this but believe it or not it does get a little better with time.

      Good luck. Stay strong.

  9. Chris, I hear your pain. Triggers don’t just go away, there is always something in the back of your head that wispers WHY?
    I too look at my husband and think how could he have looked at me day after day fully being aware what he was doing while I was at work trying to support our family. I am disgusted and totally ashamed. I have triggers constantly after a year of knowing the truth, I can’t do anything, go shopping and seeing women that look like her set me off, watching movies, his phone rings, he is late home from work, he is in his shed late at night and seeing her, drives me crazy. I can’t even lay beside him and have thoughts in what he did with the OW.The pain isn’t as bad, I don’t cry everyday, don’t have a raging temper or am nasty but for those stupid triggers, they just never want to leave me and still leaves me questioning WHY, when apparently I was such an ideal wife.

  10. Guess the affair isn’t as much in the past as I thought. Had a dream last night that OK showed up in the emergency waiting room after my son’s accident and he went to her because he needed her. And all our friends and family supported him. Just a dumb dream, but my 2 worst nightmares rolled into one. I need to concentrate on my blessings and my faith that he really does love me.

  11. You were the first blog I found on here and so far my favorite. I am so glad to see people come so far from such a terrible time. I hope that my marriage will make it to this point someday as well.

  12. I came across your blog about 7 days after I found out about “it”. At the time I wasn’t sure what my next move would be. We have been married almost 11yrs with two children. When I found out about “it” I felt like my world crashed down around me. A part of me wanted to leave him and give up on everything we have built. Another part wanted me to stay and somehow, someway worked through this. The thought of me staying with him and getting through this made me feel weak and vulnerable. I didn’t feel normal, I always thought that if a husband cheated the wife should leave. I couldn’t understand how I could even think about forgiving him. That’s when I started searching for something to make me feel normal, to explain this crazy feeling of wanting to forgive. Then I came across your blog…it was like a sence of peace came over me. I was normal and not alone! And wives do stay with there husbands after affairs. It’s ok to work things out. I have been wanting to post on here for a while. We are 5 1/2 months past “it”. I just wanted to say thank you! Thank you for putting your life out there so woman like me can feel normal and not alone. Sorry for rambling…God Bless!

    • I am glad my story, my thoughts have found meaning for you. Navigating this journey was something I wasn’t prepared for but I’m finding my way. I’ve realized that I’m not alone and that has made the difference. Thank you.

  13. The triggers are bad right now. My husband started his affair right before Christmas last year. Really?!!! He could have picked a better time. I’m six plus months past D-day and even though we’re working through his betrayal the next few months will be tough. Wish I could go into a coma until June. How could someone who says he loves me so much cause incredible pain? There are times I hate him. There are times I just want to leave. There are times I want to scream. There are times I want to just curl up and cry. There are times I want him to hurt as much as I hurt. Will we get through this? Absolutely. Will it be painful? For sure. This blog helps keep me sane. Thanks for being there.

  14. It’s been 2 1/2 months for me since D day. Like you, I found out via his email. Like so many of you I adored my husband. We have been married 38 years. We married as kids. That is what we did back then. He has been my world and I never thought I would be going through this in my 50’s Especially after this amount of time. He is my best friend and this has been very difficult. Everything Leah just said about the triggers, hating him, crying etc. I am still going through. Yesterday I found a picture that his ow sent him when their friendship started. It was of her naked, and it was from three years ago. Needless to say I had a really bad day yesterday. He swears their friendship had only been physical for about 10 months. Because of the emails I have found I do believe him. I just can’t understand how he could get this picture from her and not know it was trouble. He says he’s not worldly. He is also not stupid. She is married. Unhappy in her relationship and from all I have learned he just fell into it. We were also having some problems. I had lost my business due to the times. I had to find work again and was away more then I wanted to be trying to pay the bills my business cost. It was a difficult time and we were both lonely. I have come to realize that is what it was all about for him. She is in some ways like me in my beliefs etc, even physically. Except, I would NEVER have an affair with a married man. I was not me for a couple of years, I was to depressed losing something I worked so hard at and didn’t she he was hurting too. She needed someone to help her and used him. I try and remember this. I have my head on straight now, he saw I was coming back and in November he and she mutually ended it. I found out two days after. He has done everything right. He holds me when I cry, answers my 10,000.00 questions. Waits for the storm to pass when I am out of control. I do think we will make it. I can already see some light. I no longer cry all day every day. Some days I don’t cry at all. I have lost
    almost 20 lbs. and he is always trying to find ways to make me eat. I look at life so differently now. I am trying to find my humor. Not easy.
    I wanted to thank you all. This blog has helped me in so many ways. I have not told anyone of the affair with the exception of my children who are grown. For me this blog is like having a bunch of girl friends
    to cry with. I wish you all strength and love. We can’t change the past nor can we let it define us. Sorry for babbling.

    • The first time I wrote to someone’s blog it was like a huge emotional and mental release. I needed someone to hear me.
      The first few months are extremely difficult. It’s a roller coaster of emotions and uncertainty. It sounds like your husband is trying to do whatever it takes to fix what he has broken. Keep going. Keep communicating, talking through the pain, listening, crying, hopefully there are good times too. You will get through this.

  15. I decided to look up some of the darkness that still haunts me from time to time on the Internet, I’m really glad I did I have now discovered there referred to as triggers even discovering that these dark little moments are recognised by so many because for some strange reason that helps. Also reading other people’s story’s and experiences has been settling to my soul I’m by no means at the depths of despair as it’s coming up three years since my but the demons do still return from time to time. I think the awful pain I suffered immediately after I discovered my wife was having an affair might have subsided more easily if I had looked this stuff up earlier, ah well you live n learn and I know we’re to turn now, I am not alone in this.

    • My therapist told me to acknowledge a trigger when it strikes me and then distract my brain. It takes about 15-20 seconds for a thought (trigger) to awaken the emotional memory in your brain. So if you acknowledge and then move on you will train yourself not to feel the pain when a thought about the affair comes to mind. It takes time though to retrain your brain/mind… It took me almost nine more months after my therapist taught me this method. You aren’t alone. There are so many others that know and understand what you are going through.

    • Steve, triggers stalk all of us. How we handle them is the key. We can give them life, letting them suck is into despair, pain and anguish, or we can shut them down and suck the life out of them instead of letting them suck the life out of us. It has taken me quite awhile to learn to shut down triggers, not that at time one won’t overwhelm me.

      I really, really, REALLY recommend the affair recovery web site. There is a link posted on this blog. My husband and I are just finishing the EMS Online course. It’s a marriage and relationship saver. It also teaches how to cope with triggers, including triggers your wife may be having. It never occurred to me that my husband may have triggers of his own after his affair but he does.

      It doesn’t matter that you are three years past D-day. Triggers will follow us all for the rest of our lives. Good luck to you. You are not alone.


  16. Sometimes the triggers actually make you think you are crazy. We are just at the 3 month stage. I was actually doing pretty well. We decided to buy a new mattress. For some reason I went from there to hotel rooms which is where he used to meet her. The last two days I feel like I did when I first found out. I started reading from this blog late last night. All of your stories and words have helped me move past the black hole. Today I can at least think. But sometimes especially in the night, when my mind races I wonder, is this worth it? My husband is doing everything he can. Little gifts, flowers, text, taking his beatings, holding me when I cry, but sometimes like now, I wonder if I ever really knew him. I am taking your word for it that it gets better. That is one of the things that keeps pushing me on.
    Thank you.

    • I remember being three months post-D-Day. It’s a roller coaster. It’s painful and the triggers come at unexpected moments. I recall being at my son’s Boy Scout ceremony and having to stand up and leave the event. I stood outside and sobbed on the church steps (alone) for ten minutes. Then I cleaned myself up and marched back in. I remember being in the middle of a great day with my husband and falling into the black hole. The sleepless nights can be haunting, questions and thoughts running circles through your mind. I used to go online and read or write when I couldn’t sleep. I would turn on the tv to distract my mind. Anything. It gets better. I promise you will survive. You will get through this. I can’t tell you if you should stay or go. Take care of yourself. Tell your husband what you need but also go after what you want yourself. You will know what to do at some point along this journey. There will be days that just suck but don’t make a life-changing decision on those days.

      • Thank you so much. I really do love my husband. We have been through so much together. And just fit. He has always been my best friend. He cry’s with me because of the hurt it caused. Most of the time I know I want to stay. Its in the dark hole I think I need to go. Today I woke up thinking the past is the past, I can’t change that. Sometimes people do lose their way and I feel more positive. Maybe we both needed a little wake up call. Thirty Eight years is a long time together and people get lazy. If nothing else this has taught me to value what I still do have. The love he still shows me every day. Your advice to not make a decision while in the hole is wise and your blog is a blessing. You have learned so much and are so gracious to share.

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