The Cycle of Anger, Hate, and Forgiveness After the Affair

Recently I’ve experienced these surges of anger that take hold of my emotions. It’s almost like a visceral hatred rises out of nowhere and fills my brain. I was sitting on the couch saying good-bye to my husband as he left for work and as I watched him walk out the front door I was angry. But not just angry, I was vexed with idea of him having sex with Bat Shit. As I stared at my husband I was internally infuriated, but on the outside smiling and wishing him a good day at work. He closed the door and it took everything inside of me to breathe out the hatred and let go of the past. Two weeks later, that same feeling swelled inside me as I watched my husband getting ready to go to a meeting.

During the first two years of this blog I regularly received comments from women (some OWs) that pointed out that my anger was misdirected. I was seething with anger for Bat Shit and there was a huge part of me that wanted to prove that she was a horrible woman and my husband was a pawn in her game. While I think that my mindset during that time was essential in order to move forward and continue to care about my husband, I know Bat Shit is not part of my marriage. Her intentions and actions have nothing to do with my husband’s decision to cheat on me.

9cd52600be780831485a865c418005a5

Is it possible that all of those emotions just caught up to me or is this just a normal part of forgiveness?

During the first few years it felt like it was up to me to forgive my husband. He apologized, showed his love for me, and met me more than halfway. He did everything I needed. He answered every question I asked. He was opening up and bringing me back into his world. I was falling apart and trying to find my balance in a world that seemed more foreign than I ever imagined. Loneliness took over after D-Day and I still have to remind myself not to completely disengage from the world. It’s easier to be sad when you are alone and sometimes I have just wanted to feel the pain.

I just read a quote that said:

Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself.

A few years ago, I might have pinned that quote on my Pinterest board and agreed. Forgiveness has been largely about me needing to make peace within myself and not continuing to fault my husband for his actions. It meant letting go of my hurt. But what if forgiving my husband for his actions is superficial serenity? Obviously, my anger means that I haven’t dealt with something.

cd04430dcf9befa46df1f3dad0d4727bBoth times I was able to let go of the anger and fill my mind with loving thoughts of my husband. I had to tell myself that I am happy with our life together. I focused on our future and thought about how much I love not just our life but the way he loves me. Maybe angry emotions are normal post-affair but I am not comfortable with them. Even in the beginning, I was uncomfortable hating or being angry at my husband. Is it possible I buried all these emotions so deep that they are now just surfacing? I know anger is a response to my problems. I just need to figure out where those problems are arising from and why am I still angry about the affair? I thought I was over that part.

Advertisements

Still a work in progress at (almost) fourteen months.

1growOne of the things I hate most about healing from my husband’s betrayal is my desire for this period of time to pass quickly. The first moment I read the average woman takes about two years to heal from an affair I began to look forward to September 2014. I would pray: Just get me there and I’ll be okay. As I went through the first year I began to think I had the system beat—I was going to conquer this well before the two year mark. It was like I believed that I was in an AP course and I could accelerate the healing process. Now, a little more than a year later and I realize that I can’t rush anything.

I hate wishing time would pass while my kids are young and my days with them are limited. I feel bad when I just want to lock myself in my bedroom and ignore the world around me. I wonder how many hours… days have been lost crying, feeling sad and lonely. I’ve missed opportunities to spend precious time with my children because of this damn affair. I believe I could have been a better mother to my children over the last year or so if my husband didn’t betray me. He obviously would have been a better father if he hadn’t cheated on us. We have amazing kids and they deserve amazing parents. Things have gotten better in the last few months but I’m not always happy. I’m committed to not letting this affair suck any more of my life away.

I hate the time period in my life that my husband cheated on me. The other night my husband mentioned that a certain band was his favorite in 2012. I told him to never mention the word favorite and the year 2012 in a sentence again. I hate that year and time and wish to have no memories of it. It’s funny how even if there is a good memory from the time he was cheating it has now become painful. Mostly, I look back at that time and remember only the bad moments between us. As much as we had a great marriage before the affair, my husband changed when he was cheating and became a stranger to me and my kids. His behavior wasn’t normal and I let him get away with being an asshole. I didn’t hold him accountable because I didn’t understand what was going on. Maybe it’s good that things were off during his affair—it shows he was affected by what he was doing and not in a good way. But still, don’t bring up the time period he was cheating on me because my mood will instantly turn sour.

I also hate that I’ve distanced myself from my friends in the last year. I needed to deal with some of what happened on a personal level and I didn’t want every friend and family member in my life involved and worried about me/him/us. I have never doubted my decision to keep things private but I doubt I have been a good friend. I am beginning to invest more time in my friendships again. I am realizing that sometimes friends do need room to grow and revitalize their spirit and it has no reflection on the relationship when you need space.

I hate that I still attach pain to the affair. I have this fear that I will never fully recover from this pain. There is a song on my iPod with the lyrics: Bullets don’t make dents // they make holes. I think that lyric just about sums up what an affair does to a betrayed spouse. It leaves a hole somewhere. I am skeptical that it ever heals completely. I remain hopeful but the doubt lingers.

I don’t hate everything about the last fourteen months. I’ve learned to speak even in great fear. I rediscovered a relationship with my husband that is richer, deeper and more loving than the one we had when we first married. I am not afraid to tell him anything now. I am not afraid to tell him what I need from him. I am not offended if he tells me he needs more from me either. In the past I would feel criticized if he said he needed more affection or time with me. Now I realize he’s telling me because he wants me not because I’m not good enough. I’ve let my husband inside the most sacred and private parts of my being this past year. I have entrusted him with my heart and life again. I am not afraid to be vulnerable anymore. In fact, I’ve learned there is a certain strength that comes from vulnerability. Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand in a marriage. I wish someone had told me this fourteen years ago.

I realize now how I will help my children have better marriages. I can’t promise my children won’t fail, after all they are human. But I can teach them how to be good men, good husbands. I can teach them how to be honest and trust their spouse with their fears and dreams, the good and the bad. I can’t go back in time and change the course of my marriage but I can put what I learned into action.

This post may be a bit all over the place but that’s a reflection of where I am right now on this journey. A bit scattered but forever hopeful.

Peace of Mind After the Affair

Live in joy, in peace, even among those who hate.

-Buddha

A few months ago I gave my husband a gift of fortunes. Every week or so he picks one out and places it out on my bedside table. The other day I noticed he had chosen a new “fortune” and the quote from Buddha (above) was resting there for me to read. I am not sure how he picked it or if he knew this was the comfort I needed. Sometimes, the significance of a small gesture cannot be measured.

Much of my healing from my husband’s infidelity is dealing with hate. I felt so much hate for what happened, for my husband’s actions, for his AP and her egocentric agenda. I think I spent the first forty-eight hours after my discovery screaming that I hated my husband. I would drive in my car alone and scream at the top of my lungs while tears ran down my cheeks. It was my first reaction but it didn’t last long. In our first couple’s counseling session I told our therapist that I hated what my husband did but I did not hate him. My husband hated himself at that time and couldn’t understand how or why I did not hate him. The hate shifted through the year and then dwindled, although I knew an element of hate for Bat Shit had lingered inside me.

Betrayal breeds hate. Even a year later, there is so much that I have made peace with but I haven’t been able to abandon my hatred of Bat Shit. Possibly because I haven’t been able to get closure with her—really give her a piece of my mind. I have so many imaginary conversations in my mind where I tell Bat Shit everything stored up in my brain. In reality, I know speaking to her would be a waste of my breath but I often forget that she doesn’t have the same set of emotions or the conscience of a healthy-minded human. Also, I am just not a mean person. As much as I think there would be some satisfaction in being able to hurt Bat Shit with my words, I am choosing to walk away with my head held high. I won’t lower myself to her level.

The hatred I first felt was born from my pain. Just like a wound that scabs over, my pain has been healing and the scab is barely visible now. Sometimes I forget the wound is even there. Instead of reopening the wound I need to move forward.  I need to accept that there is hatred in the world and choose not to be brought down by it. I will protect myself and my children from the hatred.

I realize that I was blissfully unaware of the hatred that existed around me before the affair. I could only see what was in my life. I couldn’t imagine that anyone would ever disrupt my joy or happiness. I forgot that evil exists in this world. I forgot that wolves often dress in sheep’s clothing. I forgot that my husband exists separately from me. He can succeed or fail of his own accord. As the U2 lyric states: We are one but we are not the same. Each of us possess the power to f*!$ up. It’s up to those who love us to determine if they can forgive, heal and move on if we do screw up.

I’ve entered into that moving on stage. Part of moving on for me will be accepting my hatred of Bat Shit but not allowing that hatred to penetrate the rest of my life. About ten years ago I had to let go of a friend because she was mean (for lack of a better word). She used to put me down to make herself feel better. For years I allowed her to say nasty things to me because I felt bad for her. She was the type of friend you were never sure what you were going to do that might piss her off. My point is, there was hatred that exuded from this friend and whether I saw it or not, it was having a negative effect on me. Our friendship ended silently. There was no fight, no discussion. Nothing happened, it just ended and we went our separate ways. It was a relief when things ended because she had been slowly stealing from my happiness. I look at Bat Shit very similarly. My husband said he was relieved when I found out about the affair. Bat Shit was a predator of his (and our) happiness. I get it now. There are just some people out there in the world that have the power to suck the life out of you. I have been allowing Bat Shit to prey on my happiness by preserving this hatred. I am cutting the cord. I am releasing my hatred and anger and sending it back to her. I am not going to Google her name or care about what she is doing. I am done caring and wasting my energy on her. She has no power over me now.

My life needs to be focused on all that is good and brings me joy. This is where I will find peace. (Again.)

Buddha-quote-peace-comes-from-within-

Thoughts from a betrayed wife six months post d-day

ImageI’ve started a few posts over the last few weeks but none were published. None of them finished. Most of them barely started. So if I can’t finish them why not let you know where I am on this journey?

1. I went to a Infidelity Support Group meeting a few weeks ago. I cried the entire car ride to the meeting. Listening to music that was depressing and sad (most of it is after infidelity, right?). I got there and walked through the door seeing a man and a woman who seemed to know each other. In the end there were only four of us there–two rookies (me and another woman) and the veteran betrayed spouses. We shared our stories with each other and I walked away feeling okay. I don’t really feel like I need to go back. Not unless something stirs and I need some companionship for this journey. Maybe it was the group of people or maybe it was just not something I need right now.

Image2. Six Months. We are a little over six months past our D-Day now. It’s bittersweet. I guess in some ways I am glad that I’ve survived because in the beginning the pain was so raw I thought I might be swallowed up into it. I am eating, sleeping and pretty much a functional person in society (at least for appearances sake). Reaching a milestone like six months, one year, two years is like a reaching that illusive pot of gold. You believe it’s there and you keep seeking it at the end of each storm and rainbow, but you just aren’t sure it’s real. That’s how I feel. I am not sure everything is real yet. The cloud is still surrounding me and there is certainly a fog that covers my brain. We made it here though and at this point I can honestly say I have more good days than bad by far. I can go for a stretch of 7-10 days before the pain begins to swell and fill me with doubt again.

The good news is, I recover much quicker now. The great news is that my husband pushed through his feelings of failure the other night. He knew he disappointed me, that I was having a trigger day and he tried to help but didn’t completely follow through. I told him I was upset and why. I expected him to sink into himself and let his hatred consume him. But he overcame it all and was there for me in my pain. It meant the world to me.

Image3. On our six month anniversary of our D-Day we got bad news from a friend. A good friend of ours found out he has cancer. He has two young children and the prognosis is not very good for him. The news shook me and my husband to our core. Immediately, you think of how you would feel in the same situation–how would I cope, fight, go on with my everyday life? Then I thought, what if I found out right now the same news about my husband… how would I care for him and heal from his infidelity at the same time? Would it make me put aside the pain from the betrayal or would it foster resentment? I’d like to say that for me, it would make me push beyond this pain and recognize how fragile life is. But yet again, would it make me angry to think he wasted over a year of our lives when life is so temporary and precious?

4. 

Stay by Rihanna makes me think about this healing process… It seems to be on the radio every time my kids are in the car and tune into the local Pop station. The line that gets me every time is:

Ooh the reason I hold on
Ooh cause I need this hole gone
Funny you’re the broken one but I’m the only one who needed saving
Cause when you never see the light it’s hard to know which one of us is caving

Infidelity Trax // B-Sides // Christina Perri “Jar of Hearts”

I’ve been reading the blogs I follow today and I couldn’t finish the post I intended to write. I read stories of heart-break, broken dreams, pain and so many women finding an inner strength they never knew was within them. The pain can be paralyzing but you can release it and you will breathe again.

This song is for you.

No, I can’t take one more step towards you
‘Cause all that’s waiting is regret
Don’t you know I’m not your ghost anymore
You lost the love I loved the most

I learned to live half alive
And now you want me one more time

And who do you think you are?
Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Who do you think you are?

I hear you’re asking all around
If I am anywhere to be found
But I have grown too strong
To ever fall back in your arms

And I’ve learned to live half alive
And now you want me one more time

And who do you think you are?
Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Who do you think you are?

And it took so long just to feel alright
Remember how to put back the light in my eyes
I wish I had missed the first time that we kissed
‘Cause you broke all your promises
And now you’re back
You don’t get to get me back

And who do you think you are?
Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Don’t come back at all

And who do you think you are?
Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
Tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
Don’t come back for me
Don’t come back at all

Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are?

The Infidelity Dance: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I have come to hate the infidelity dance. Over the past fourteen days, I spent ten of them feeling great, happy, positive, no tears/sadness over the affair, just forward progression. ImageThen Tuesday night–SLAM! There’s that wall again. Right in my f-ing way. I didn’t even see the wall, in fact, I drove myself right into it all on my own. My husband and I settled into our bed on Tuesday night and I had some ideas and thoughts I wanted to share with him. After reading the posts about the Hoffman Institute program on the blog Fulfilled Entrepreneur, I felt like a light bulb went off in my head. The process of healing at the Hoffman Institute begins with determining where your negative behavior patterns originate (most likely from your parents–just like you positive attributes/behaviors are learned from your parents). Here was my A-HA! moment:

My in-laws are excellent parents and it’s difficult to be critical of them. They value family as the number one priority and are close with not just their children, but their children’s spouses too. I have a special bond with my mother-in-law and most people have heard me comment that I am very lucky to have them as a second set of parents. But, if I try to be critical of behavior patterns, I find that they have criticized my husband’s jobs and career for his entire adult life. They rarely brag about him or his business(es). His successes are met with criticism and almost a disdain for his career choice. What is even more disturbing is that my husband’s career is also his passion. He is one of the fortunate people in the world that gets paid for doing a craft he enjoys and loves. So how must it feel for your parents to criticize your passion? How must it feel for them to tell you on a regular basis that you should do something else with your life? I always thought my husband ignored these comments. I expressed to him on multiple occasions that it bothered me because I love the way my husband approaches his career and business(es). I love that his business doesn’t shut me out and I can be as involved as he needs or wants me to be.

Image

But maybe he doesn’t ignore these comments and disapproval as much as I thought? What if this disapproval was magnified when my husband was unemployed for the period before his affair? What if my husband couldn’t see reality because the perceived disappointment was overwhelming?

A few scenerios may be the result of this perceived and presumed disappointment. One, the advances and attention from his affair partner was appealing and felt good for his ego. Interestingly, he never revealed to his affair partner that he was unemployed for an extended period of time  before they met. Since she did not know the truth there was no question to his success and talent. Had she known his length of unemployment and the difficulty it imposed on his family, she may have found him less attractive. All she knew is that we live in a wealthy suburb and he drove a luxary car. He didn’t want her to know what could be considered “failures” in his career. In fact, he even hid them on his LinkedIn resume. Two, he wanted to revel in the feeling of disappointment. As his wife, I never faulted him for not finding a job. I actually expressed on multiple occasions that he should hold out for a position suiting his level of experience–don’t settle for a miserable job. We weren’t broke (although we went through quite a bit of our life savings). Disappointment has been a part of his life and nothing he was doing managed to deter my confidence in him. Nothing. He was still the best at everything in my mind. But it’s possible he wanted to disappoint himself and punish himself for not meeting his own expectations. Three, another part of this equation is that I began working again and I gained a sense of independence. There was a thought in his head that I no longer needed him to save me. I could save myself. I could even decide that I wanted someone else to save me. Fear sets in and he may have realized he was comfortable in the feeling of disappointment he evoked from his parents. Afterall, even in disappointment he gained their attention. Growing up in a big family with a bunch of siblings you have to steal your parents attention somehow and if disappointment is the solution–then you found what works. Maybe his wife [me ]might respond to real disappointment. Maybe I might give him the attention I was neglecting to give him if he actually disappointed me. I know he felt neglected. He felt like he had to fight for my affection and attention and he was at the bottom of my list.

And the truth is, he was last. 

The kids came first. My best friend was a huge focus in my life. The dog was competition. I was trying to impress people at work so I could earn more money, get a promotion, and feel needed. I loved my husband but I didn’t make our marriage my number one priority. Everyone and thing else seemed to come first because I was certain that our marriage was a rock and nothing could shake it. I was content and happy. I felt our lives needed to be centered upon the children because they are only living in our home for eighteen years and after that we had the rest of our lives together. I thought about how small of a fraction those eighteen years really are in the grand scheme of things… and I wanted to focus all my energy on loving and developing amazing kids. And they are amazing–so I must be doing it right. Right?

Wrong. 

I was so certain my marriage was indestructable, unbreakable, solid. Our love is admitedly like nonother and unique. The love we share with each other was perfect, fulfilling, inspiring and true. The love we share is like a fairytale romance and in many ways his affair hasn’t changed that feeling.

So the question begs: How did I hit a wall? Why did I feel like I was moving backwards in our progress on Tuesday night?

Because my husband sees his childhood as it was–good, happy and fun-filled. He sees his parents as the amazingly wonderful people they are and he does not want to blame his mistakes and failures on them. They did not fail–he did. I am not sure if he was offended at my suggestion that his choice to enter into an affair may be rooted in the lessons he learned from his parents, but he was going to defend them and continue to blame himself for being a “bad” person.

I couldn’t communicate with him that he’s not a bad person, he did a hurtful and wrong thing. But while we were talking Tuesday night he shut down. He wallowed in his shame and guilt. He got stuck in the hatred he has for his actions but he directs it at himself. He defines himself by this one mistake–cheating on me–instead of all the amazing things he’s done for me.

He had an affair and he didn’t want or go looking for one. He slept with another woman for a year and he didn’t even want to be with her. How do you continue to have sex with a woman that you don’t want to sleep with? Most men that have affairs admit to being caught up in a false reality where there were no consequences or responsibiliites. But I am struggling to find a man that relinquished his own desires and needs for the lustings of the affair partner. If you are out there–explain to me how you can’t end the affair when you don’t want to be there in the first place? Why even pretend to be interested in the other woman when you really feel nothing more than a mild friendship, if that. Why allow her to even continue to contact you? My husband’s most famous comment post D-Day is:

My relationship with her [the AP] was built to end.

That statement drives me f-ing crazy. Why would you build and invest time in something that you wanted or expected to end? Why would you spend one speck of time with something that was dead from the start?

So my wall was hit. I spent almost all of Wednesday pissed off and angry. I recovered by Thursday and now I am feeling good again.

Image

The only thing that makes sense to me is that he is comfortable feeling like a disappointment and as long as he was with her that is exactly what he was–a disappointment.

Put your burdens down

Put your burdens down

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!

Sh!t that bothers me.

frustrationDo you know what bothers me? Is that here we are… the betrayed spouses, the wayward spouses and even a few affair partners… on WordPress and roaming the internet together. We are doing the work. Trying to figure out how our seemingly perfect marriages now include stories of betrayal, lies and secrets. Here we sit checking our in-boxes or notifications wondering which anonymous WordPress friend has written us a message of hope or words of advice.

It bothers me that sharing my experience will probably never prevent a spouse from cheating.  In the end, my words may comfort another betrayed spouse but she won’t go looking  for them until her D-Day arrives. Who looks for advice on how to prevent an affair when they are in love with their spouse and happy. Who goes looking for advice before they choose to have an affair?  Maybe I shouldn’t worry or be bothered by the man out there who is playing with fire, befriending a female co-worker and hiding it from his wife. Maybe I shouldn’t be concerned about the wife who is trusting her husband so much that she never checks  his cell phone account for usage, or his email account on occasion or stops by his office on a whim. But I do worry. If an affair could happen in my marriage, it could happen to anyone.

It bothers me that I only learned after my husband’s affair that the biggest vulnerability was believing that infidelity would never happen to us. I thought if you love one another and enjoy each other, your spouse will never stray. I thought that true love meant there would never be deception. I believed my husband would never be involved sexually with another woman because he was so physically, emotionally and intellectually attracted to me. I believed that we shared the same values and morals and that meant lies, cheating and adultery did not exist in our lives.

It bothers me that I cannot escape the incessant conversation in my head about my husband’s affair. Remember before your D-Day and you could live in each moment of your day? I remember the happiness I felt and the way I loved my husband without thought. Now my brain is running 24/7 with questions, fears, anxieties, mistrust and loathing. All qualities I now hate about myself. Even if I feel a moment of happiness, I then start to think about my new normal–being aware of happiness despite my inner pain and struggle. The roller coaster conversation in my brain is exhausting. I hate driving in the car alone and talking to myself about the aftermath of his infidelity.

It bothers me that my husband’s character is marred and our marriage is scarred. No matter how we come out of this mess, the story remains in our lives. She becomes part of our marriage–the person who challenged us to love each other and strengthen our marriage? Or the person who destroyed it? At this point, I believe we will make it through. We love each other and my husband is doing the work and trying to live an honest life, true to his beliefs and values. He is exploring his weaknesses and how he ended up in a situation he did not want to be in with this woman. But regardless of what he learns, the story remains the same.

It bothers me that I have to talk about this shit every fucking day. Seriously. If I don’t talk about my feelings and fears with my husband then they take on a life of their own. It pisses me off that this Bat-Shit Crazy woman has one second of a thought in my brain. People I hate should not take up space in my mind. Why do I continue to brainstorm ideas of how I could screw up her life? Why am I such a good person that I will never carry them out. I believe in karma and I don’t want any bad karma in my life. I am hoping that some day it will end. This affair will not define me, my husband or our marriage. But right now, it feels like a shadow I cannot escape.

I could keep going but I am exhausted just thinking about my list of frustrations.

bothers