The Weight of Failure

I’ve never been comfortable with failure. I was the child that sat in the front row, center desk in school if seats weren’t assigned. I learned very early that not only do teachers tend to favor those students, but it is literally the best seat to learn from in a classroom. I also recall this feeling of failure or separation within me if I was seated in the back of the room.  It was hard to be a part of the discussion and I no longer felt included. I believed I could control my successes and limit my failures if I made all the right choices.

I was never taught to plan for failure. Relationships are not very different from everything else we engage in life. Yet, in business we understand that getting fired or a failed business plan can lead to success. One of the most famous stories of failure turned success is Steve Jobs. We herald Steve Jobs and view Apple dumping him as a catalyst for what we now use to define success. Steve Jobs may have never reached his full potential if he hadn’t been betrayed, devastated, and faced with failure – reassess and rebuild. Steve Jobs is quoted saying that what separates successful entrepreneurs from the rest is perseverance.

steve-jobs-brick-quote

Very few of our failures are fatal. Yet, post D-day I felt as though I might collapse. I felt as though the weight of my husband’s affair might slowly suffocate me and there was a piece of my soul that was suddenly stolen. There is an emptiness within us that accompanies failure. I’ve spoken about this emptiness many times throughout the blog. There was a time I believed I could solve why I felt this way or maybe with time whatever was broken would heal, or maybe even regenerate like a starfish. My therapist told me three years ago that I should mourn the loss of this unnamed feeling/sense/being and acknowledge that it is gone.

Gone but not fatal.

Failure is a part of my story. But I keep going. I’ve picked up the pieces, reassessed, and rebuilt my life. My marriage is not the same as it was when we first fell in love. It’s different. Not every betrayed spouse can forgive and stay with the partner that cheated but we can all heal ourselves. The healing part of my story is what has defined this journey.

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16 thoughts on “The Weight of Failure

  1. I’ve never been comfortable with failure either. In fact, I’ve succeeded at many things I’ve set my mind to. I think what makes failure most uncomfortable for me is my unrealistic sense of control. If I have control and I work hard enough at it, it cannot fail. This mentality was applied to relationships, business, etc. and has served me well in many aspects of my life; I earned a doctorate, was building a successful career, and was planning a family with my husband. When I found out about my husband’s affair 6 months ago, the reality of how little control we have over some things came crashing down on me.

    My life went from white to black. How I saw the world, relationships, and myself changed drastically. I never saw the affair coming. We had fun together, he was attentive to me, treated me with respect, was engaged in future life plans like children and home buying. In my mind, everything was great. I truly believed we were (and appeared to be from the outside) a really solid couple. Since then, what I’ve come to realize is that what I couldn’t control is how my husband felt about himself. No matter how hard I tried to make sure we had everything we needed and all plans were in place, I couldn’t control how much confidence he had or his sense of inferiority. I couldn’t control his ability to communicate his feelings or needs, and I couldn’t control his investment in our life and being a partner. This doesn’t mean that my behaviors or feelings didn’t contribute to these things, it just took time to realize that no matter what I did, I couldn’t change their existence. Once I let go of that control, the possibility of failure doesn’t feel as uncomfortable.

    My husband and I are still trying to pick up the pieces of our marriage, so being more comfortable with failure has not given me an excuse to give up. However, I feel very similar in that in that I fear the weight of his affair might slowly suffocate me. If over time I do start to feel like my breaths are getting even shorter I hope I’m able to accept and view that failure from a new perspective; one of hope, one of healing, and one of strength.

    Thanks for posting, reading your blog has helped me through some pretty dark moments.

  2. I have been reading your blog for some time now, definitely motivated by your positive outlook and commitment to your marriage. D-day was 3 years ago, after 5 children and 21 years of marriage, actually Father’s Day that year. I guess since Father’s Day is such a big trigger I always fall into such a funk during this time. It makes trying to heal and realizing what our relationship has lost so hard. He’s a great father and husband, if you can get past the fact that he was willing to devastate 6 people to please himself. We have been to counseling but I still struggle with what is lost. I look at other happy couples and always wonder, did he cheat on her? Why me? Why all of you? Just harder today and I wonder if it will always be like this. Your blog helps so much. So keeping the faith, moving forward and just letting the healing happen. Thank you

  3. I thank you for all your blogs they have helped me enormously. It was three years Tuesday since my d day and although I look at my husband sometimes and think nah he wouldn’t do that to me but he did! I do think we’re happier now than before and I still haven’t worked out why that is but life is good for the most part thank you again x

  4. Dear all,
    three years of shock, bargaining, anger, trying to understand.
    Break through download for me from goasksuzie, about anger. Cleared up so much for me. I see all three of us differently now. Peace at last.
    I don’t think I failed, it was their choice. I did try. Just too many factors lined up at once.
    I didn’t lose anything, what we had was real but didn’t evolve for him., or life changes overwhelmed him. So what we did have is permanent, what I thought I had never existed, so couldn’t lose it. He had demons of his own., also weakness, selfishness, opportunity, coercion, and major stupidity about consequences.
    The latter was the sad part that led me to try to help us battle through.
    We may be better than ever; or I may simply be wiser and stronger than ever. I’m still not sure after three years.
    It’s been so hard, thank you for this blog and everyone’s responses.

  5. Hello, all —
    I find it ironic the title of your post is, “The weight of failure.” Prior to D-day, I was a size 6. Today I am a size 12-14. Ironic, too, is that my relationship with my husband is better than ever. He has worked hard to develop into a man I respect and admire — which, truthfully, I didn’t so much before D-Day. He’s grown and matured and blossomed. I now have the husband I’d previously wished he would be.
    Unfortunately, I, too, have blossomed — almost 25 lbs worth of blossoming. It is so ironic that his affair has made him a better man, father, grandfather and husband — but it’s made me fat and insecure and neurotic.
    It’s ironic that he now loves me the way I used to love him — daily he tells me how much he loves me and our marriage. But I’m not the same. I love him and our marriage and our “new” life. Yet, I still grieve that it took an affair to wake him up and appreciate what we had all along.
    Today, I went through my closet and finally threw away all my size 6 clothing. I literally have 10 bags to donate to goodwill stores. I know it’ll take me years, if ever, to get back to a size 6. Maybe I’m not supposed to be a 6. Maybe I’m supposed to appreciate and accept being a size 12. I just want to stop hating what I see in the mirror.

    • Hiya, don’t despair! Losing weight is easy, even fun, once you think about being good to yourself by eating generally less and only what is good for you. Flip the switch! 25 lbs is not that much…..I have found Scarsdale, tailored to likes, is the safest and fastest. 2lbs. Per week, some weeks nothing, first week up to 7lbs. Trick is not to cheat even once till there….and it stays off, too. Get a health check first, test thyroid. Then get some ( not many!) nice new clothes for now, and go…… All the best.x

  6. Hi, I’ve been following your blog and have only commented one other time before now. It’s been almost 4 years since d-day for me. I have thought about my husband’s betrale every day since. It has changed me into a version of me that I don’t even recognize some times. My husband had an affair with his high school girlfriend that he just happened to run into at a gas station while getting gas one day. It lasted for two years. I have chosen to stay in our marriage and try to overcome this. We have 4 daughters and almost 21 years of marriage now. The humiliatin has been one of the most challenging aspects of his affair for me. I don’t look at myself as a failure but more of how stupid can I have been not to see what was happening. I never saw it coming and if you ask any one of the very few people that know about it, they would say that they never would have thought in a million years that he would have had an affair. I look at him and I think I love this man so much and then the very next thought is “oh ya, he betrayed me and hurt me so much.” I cannot even put into words. Sometimes I wonder if the day will come that I don’t think about his affair. I hate this version of me now. I hate that this is my life now. I never asked for this. I guess I want to say that I appreciate your optimism. I keep my happy face on the best I can and hope that tomorrow will be better. Thank you for your blog. I truly believe that one cannot possibly understand what “we” are going through unless they have literally been in our shoes. It is comforting to know that I am normal and not crazy. That I’m not in this boat alone.

    • To thegoodwifeandmotherof4girls, You are certainly not crazy! If you are, then so am I. Your story sounds so much like mine. And what you put into words about how you’re feeling could have been me talking. Nobody can possibly understand what we’re feeling unless they’ve been through it. Before we got married 25 years ago we had to go to pre-marital counseling. We both said that if the other cheated, that would be the end of our marriage. I never thought in a million years I would stay with a cheater! But I have and am trying to make things work. Some days are good and other days I think, how selfish could he have been to not think for a minute about my feelings or our two daughters feelings! In 30 seconds I can go from being calm and rational to wanting to slap him in the face again. My husband’s “emotional affair” lasted 9 years with the neighbor lady. He still swears there was no sex, but at this point it really doesn’t matter if there was or not. He lied and cheated with thousands of texts and phone calls. I too think, how could I have been so stupid?! And I still search his phone records, emails, etc. I wonder if the day will come when I feel I can stop the surveillance!

  7. Im a new reader finding peace amongst the posts and comments, so thank you all for that. DDay for me was Nov 2012. We are trying to work through and while,some days it feels like we are finally there, the next I am so angry. Failure… Interesting concept because society has tended to excuse the bad behaviour by saying he felt misunderstood, ignored, the romance was gone, etc…therefore implying the failure is on the part of the spouse who did not cheat, Almost like we deserved it for not putting their needs before our own or the kids. In fact that was the exact excuse my former best friend screamed at me as I confronted her about sleeping with my husband. I remember after the initial shock wore off that mind numbing, breath stealing, stomach tearing, brain exploding, urge to vomit and throw something at the same time kind of shock, my next thought was that it was my fault for not trying hard enough to be enough. That lead to an utter sense of failure for me and the question of why wasn’t I enough? What’s wrong with me? It shadowed me for the better part of a year, until one day looking at myself in the mirror, I realized I no longer recognized myself. His cheating didn’t just hurt me, humiliate me and anger me, it stole me from me, changed me into someone I did not want to be and someone I would not want to live with. The really ironic thing is I had been a supportive and loving albeit a bit distant due to life with 5 kids and 2 dogs wife, however, the affair actually changed me into that person, the one he used to excuse his utter lack of respect for the vows we took and the life we had built. With that realization came thensuddenly crystal clear truth…
    It was not my fault
    I did not deserve it
    He had choices, he made the wrong ones.
    He FAILED!
    Problem is that cheating is like playing horseshoes with hand grenades, everything in its path gets destroyed once it explodes except ,the one who threw it.

  8. This blog has been a God send to me as well as EVERYONE’s comments, thank you. I want to say that if may feel like failure, but really we are all triumphant in that most of us here chose to work on our marriages and that is commendable. Divorce to me is easy and I imagine would feel more like failure. Marriage is hard work, commitment, resilience, dedication. Love is all that matters in the end. Without love there is nothing. Stay strong ladies xo.

  9. This post made me both sad and happy, which ironically seems to be exactly what I feel about everything these days since finding out about the affair. This was different though because, much like all of your posts, it touched a place in my soul that nothing else seems to be able to do in my “normal” life. People try to help and say things that they think will energize me to start “moving forward.” and though I appreciate the intent, most of these attempts either frustrate me or become muffled by the darkness that lives inside of me now – the one who screams in my head “you cannot understand this so please stop trying to fix me!” Reading this post I felt true happiness for the fact that you are feeling this way – that you haven’t lost all of yourself to this and that you are rebuilding your life now. But immediately after the joy I feel for you follows a sad and hollow ache in the pit of my stomach that reminds me that I can’t even imagine what hope feels like anymore – let alone the thought of thriving. I am barely surviving since D-day and I certainly can relate to what you say about a piece of your soul being taken. The problem is that I entwined myself so deeply around my belief in and value of what it means to be husband and wife, best friends, and monogamous lovers that I felt as though not only have I lost a husband but I also feel as though I’ve lost the belief in everything that I’ve ever valued and stood for. I came from a broken and abusive family and had a very rough progression through life. My husband stood by me as I was sent to serve in combat and also through the loss of our first son who was stillborn. The birth of my children was like an awakening – pure enlightenment! I knew, for the first time what life was all about – family. I thought that this was a shared value and that we would embrace this together, through changes and pain and happiness. I thought that this value – this dream, was the only thing that no one could take away from us. I was used to going without everything else – but this new found sense of knowing what I stood for seemed like nothing else mattered and that together we could take on the worlds. I accepted that marriage is not always easy and goes through ups and downs – I didn’t expect it to be like the Disney fairy tales we were fed as children – I knew it was so much more than that and this made every challenge we faced feel like something that we could conquer and learn from – grow from. I will admit that, while my husband claimed to hold this same value, his words didn’t always match his action and so when things got really tough or when our backs were to the wall – I sometimes stood alone for family – I would stand against anything – social norms, my employer, extended family, policy – anything that demanded that I sacrifice our family – my husband, myself or our kids – I would fight for what mattered most – family….always. My husband would say he wanted to but often backed down to any sense of confrontation or pressure. Still…I believed him when he said that he was trying to be a stronger person – more dedicated to his beliefs and values – not just empty words. I believed him and so I believed us and I believed anything was possible.

    His year long affair that I discovered 3 months ago…it stole everything. He did not only break loyalty to me as a husband but also as a best friend and even as a respectable person. He not only slept with this woman in my home while my children slept in their beds, but he became so emotionally attached to this OW that she swore to her that he would leave me and that she was his true soul mate. He slandered me up and down to her – daily – and I read every single email where he described everything that is me as horrible – monstrous- disgusting. The things he told me that he loved about me became long emails to her about how who I was made him cringe. It was as though he had hated me forever. I was 100% sure that he loved and cherished me – and me alone. I knew…nothing…about anything. I cannot trust myself anymore. The OW broke it off with him and now he claims that all of the emails were lies to get attention and that he loves me with all of his heart. I am still here with him but I am simply frozen in place – I have turned off. I have never been this…whatever this is – this thing that is here but not present. The only feelings I know now are short glimpses of sadness, emptiness, anger and extreme guilt that now I cannot be the mother to my children that they deserve.

    Although I know what I value will always be what I value – my sense of hope and all of my energy…my motivation…my belief in standing and working for what I believe life is all about – it all instantly withered and blew away with the cold biting wind that engulfed my frozen heart. I cannot feel it anymore – I cannot feel it and though I can remember what it felt like – it’s as though I’m standing outside of my memories watching a stranger – a stranger so happy and full of belief despite the cruel hand life had dealt. I’ve known about failure, loss and pain for most of my life – but I always found and truly believed in the tiny beautiful pieces of good that sparkled below the ugly mess of fear that is humanity. I can see any of it now – nothing sparkles except for my children – but even that is muffled by a fear that they may have to one day face this feeling – numb and alone – empty and lost.

    I cannot see or even conceive what you describe and what you feel now but I know that you know this feeling too and so I am glad for you. But I cannot say I look forward to when time comes for me – because I cannot even process that concept right now.

  10. My D day was September 20th of this year. I feel so many similarities with your blog as I too have three children and was in what I thought was a very solid marriage. My husband on the outside seems so very intelligent, confident, and super aggressive in his abilities. He had no problem betraying our marriage of 23 years with a 20 year old girl from his restaurant, 35 years his Junior. What began as a fantasy in his head 2 years ago slowly became reality as she noticed his favoritism towards her and started calling him personally for advice. After about a week of phone calls/texts he himself suggested a private email through which they correspond so that her husband and myself would not see these inappropriate exchanges . Their affair lasted 6 months when I one evening when I found a long text on his phone that he had forgotten to delete. It has destroyed my world and 37 Days Later I cannot even imagine ever not thinking about everything that’s happened. The details and the emails and texts just roll around in my head constantly, day and night. He would supposedly tell her how amazing and beautiful and what a wonderful wife I was and how much he loved me, all while setting up secret rendezvous at hotels and empty homes. When he caught on to the fact that she asked for $300 after each time he told her he didn’t have any more money available and then she withheld the sex. But she continued the compliments and talking about her problems just so that he could give her smaller amounts of money every week. They sent hundreds and hundreds of texts to each other each week numerous phone calls throughout the day and secret emails in the evening. The amount of time that he invested in this person was astounding to me as my husband is very active and involved in the community and various different organizations, church, as well as helping me to take our children to their various activities in the evenings and with their studies. I have always trusted him fully and completely and he has always been so blunt and obvious to the point where I could never tell him a secret. He could never keep one. But in this particular instance he decrypted photos, backed up files on his computer , set up secret email accounts, deleted everything immediately, and covered his tracks for over 6 months without me so much as suspecting a thing. He would even speak to her on significant special days such as our 24 year anniversary getaway, my birthday after I had sex with him for 3 hours, and even while we were away on a cruise to Bermuda and had coverage for only 2 days he found a way to make contact with her each of those days! I just knew that we were becoming more physically intimate and I wasn’t feeling a change in our connection. I felt so empty inside and would ask him just for a text during the day telling me he missed me or was thinking about me or that he loved me and he would not be able to do that telling me he was too busy at work. Of course he was too busy sending her the 50 texts today and phone calls and emails and saw that all of her problems while he was working. He would hole up in the bathroom for half an hour at a time and that’s when he was checking texts and emails and I would wonder why he would hide out in the bathroom. I thought it was just his way of avoiding the kids and responsibilities like he always has. I felt so incredibly stupid and ashamed that I could not protect my family from any of this . My husband tells me over and over how sorry he is and how he wants to fix this and be a better man but he has not ever shed one tear for me throughout this whole ordeal. In fact I have never seen him shed a tear and over 24 years of marriage, not even through the birth of our children, at funerals of loved ones, or traumatic events that we’ve experienced together. I believe a big reason he was able to do this is because he himself is so numb inside and disconnected and apathetic. The excitement of having this side interest was so alluring to him that he risked losing his family his reputation his business -everything. He said he would try to convince her that it was a bad idea to have sex, but he did it anyway, and then he tried to convince her that they needed to break it off months later, but he continued anyway. He would have continued for as long as she let him if I hadn’t found out . She played him for money and he was only more than happy to go along and be her hero. Now I am left broken, numb, unable to function, and ashamed to go out into the world and let everyone know that I am the wife of a cheater. I ache when I see couples together, knowing that those wives have the security knowing that their husbands are faithful to them. I love my husband but it feels impossible that I will ever regain any of the person that I once was. My joy, my enthusiasm, my trust is gone. I have been acting like a secret detective this past month and I hate myself for it for not being able to stop. I hate him for stripping away my faith.
    When I read your blog and 4 years later you tell us that you still feel hurt and still remember it, feels so defeating to even try to recover. I feel like what is the point-I do not want to go back to my marriage the way it was before the affair as it wasn’t even that good. We were both playing our own traditional roles the way he wanted. I always wanted an emotional connection and thought he was incapable of one, but was shocked to discover just how he emotional he was able to be for her, and how many beautiful and eloquent professions of love and affection as he was able to bestow on her day after day after day whole making excuses that he couldn’t for me. My trigger will always be Mother’s Day as he brought me beautiful flowers and a lovely card telling me what an amazing wife and mother I was before cheating on me 2 Days Later for the first time. Then a few months later I found out he gave her a gift for her birthday and of course my birthday being a week after hers I received nothing but a card. I never received any gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, as I would feel selfish to ask for something for myself. My husband allows me to purchase whatever clothing and items that I need and I am very frugal when doing so. I have been the invisible wife my entire marriage. After all of this I found out he removed his wedding ring over 2 years ago intentionally, and when I questioned him about it once he said it was because he was doing too much physical labor with his hands and it hurt his fingers. He was afraid he was going to rip a finger off. He has since put his ring back on. When his girlfriend question him about weather his wife checked up on him or ask why is not wearing a ring he told her that I just didn’t care. Can you believe it?? He also sent me a letter right after having cheated on me twice accusing me of having feelings for another man, and telling me how sexually incompatible we were and how he wants to talk dirty in our relationship and I don’t do enough of that for him!! After being destroyed with all that I tried to help him and become more physical thinking he had Asperger’s and didn’t know how to behave correctly in relationships. Apparently he knew how to behave just fine and getting what he wanted. He would play a victim to her and act all sad and vulnerable so that she could feed his ego and give him lots of attention. Seems to be quite the sociopath. He could not see me, I have been invisible for so long -why should I go back? I know my children love him and they don’t deserve to grow up in a divorced home but having to settle for this pain and unhappiness is unbearable.

  11. Did anyone have any luck with hypnosis after infidelity? I would like to wipe out as many memories and triggers as I can as soon as possible.

    Thank you!

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