Is Normal Overrated?

I feel a shift in me. The shift is both within me and in the world around me. Things have changed and once again I need to adjust and adapt or I’ll be left behind. I don’t think I struggle with change but I do think I have difficulty accepting that sometimes I just don’t have a say in what happens next.

Part of the shift is falling back into normalcy. I’m very uncomfortable with normal right now. Some days I feel the same way I did the month before I discovered my husband’s affair. I feel like something is wrong and I can’t put my finger on it. My guess is there is some form of PTSD attached to how I feel right now. So I can blame the PTSD for the doubts that creep into my mind when my husband gets caught up at work and comes home two hours late. When he comes home late there is always a legitimate reason but yet I can’t help but wonder if he’s lying. I can’t help but question my trust in him.

So the doubts creep in and there are moments I’m not sure I can trust myself. So I start to wonder, is this how I’ll feel for the rest of my life? Will I always struggle to trust my husband completely? Will I always wonder if he’s cheating? Why is it so hard to be normal again?

Kites rise highest against the windThe second part of the shift I feel in my life is in reflection of the friendships I’ve created in the past two years. New girlfriends, new work friends. Most of these new friends have unknowingly been my shelter from the storm. During the past two years I’ve detached myself from my closest friends and family. I’ve disengaged from my life because being in my life was breaking me down. So I found new friends. These new friends wouldn’t notice any changes because they didn’t know the pre-affair me.  They wouldn’t point out my silence when I couldn’t find words to speak. They wouldn’t bring up the past in stories late at night when we’ve all had too much to drink. I made new friends. I made friends that I felt I could create a future with because my past needed to be forgotten.

I never let go of my closest friendships but there was a shift. I stepped back. I let go. I tried to hide my pain and suffering from the people I love most. I lied. I avoided contact. I wore a smile when I was crying inside. Most of my closest friends don’t live near me so it was easy to hide the truth. My best friend had a baby during this time and her life changed dramatically. For the first time in her life she didn’t have as much time for me as she had in the past. She sensed my pain but she knew not to push for the truth. Most people sensed I was going through something but no one asked. No one called when I stopped calling them. Things just changed without much commentary.

Now things are shifting back and I’m uncomfortable with normal. I want nothing more than to feel content with my life and relationships. I don’t want to doubt, worry or question. I need to figure out that next step along my journey.

Normal

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Questions I Asked After Discovering My Husband’s Affair

A few weeks ago I wrote a post and mentioned some questions I found right after discovering my husband’s affair. I was searching for answers. I was completely unprepared for what happened to me and I wanted someone to just tell me what to do next. The truth is no one could ever tell me how to navigate my life or make decisions about my marriage but I just wanted to hand my life over to someone else. I wanted to escape my life.

I’ve mentioned this before but the first question I asked my husband when I discovered his affair was:

Did you cheat on me because you wanted our relationship to end?

Truth Healing After My Husband's AffairThe reason I asked that question was because I needed to understand if he had already decided that our marriage was over. The media, Hollywood and everything we are ever taught teaches us that people have affairs to escape their marriages and begin new relationships. I find it interesting that now I’ve lived through an affair I see that affairs are generally not about the betraying spouse wanting out of the marriage. My husband never considered leaving our marriage while he was cheating. When I discovered the affair he had the opportunity to leave. I didn’t beg him to stay. I didn’t ask him to take care of me. He chose me and he chose to work on our marriage and himself. 

Some of my readers asked me to post the questions. I don’t know if I can find them all but while I was cleaning my bedroom today I found a notebook that I used after D-Day. It’s a little funny that I took notes on articles and books that I read since there wasn’t going to be an exam or a test on this crap. I guess I wanted to make sure I was paying attention. Here is what I wrote:

Gain Control

What are my emotions really telling me? 

What needs to change and what can I do to take those necessary steps? You cannot change what has happened to you but you do need to take responsibility for how you are handling the situation. 

Should I trust my feelings?

How can I tell if my partner is right for me?

Free yourself from the betrayal, the blame game, live in the present and move forward with positive thoughts. 

Trust-> Rebuild

Actions speak louder than words. Feeling safe becomes paramount. 
“I’m committed to you. You are safe.” You need to feel valued. 

Forgiveness

You are not pardoning the betrayers actions, forgiveness is an emotional release. You are not condoning. You do not need to accept the behavior.

Forgiveness is not a reconciliation. Forgiveness is about lessening our emotional burdens and healing the pain of your heart.

People harm us from weaknesses that compel them to act. 

Forgiveness is inner healing not behavioral change.

We are responsible for what we do with our hurt. 

Courage Healing After My Husband's AffairBetrayer -> Solely responsible for their deception. Holding onto guilt is a choice. Self-forgiveness doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility for words or actions, but it releases you from self-contempt. With self-forgiveness brings compassion and understanding of who you are and why you acted the way you did. Reclaim what you must value in yourself. 

What is required for us to stay the course?

That’s all I wrote. I can tell you that after I asked my husband the first question about his affair we spent two hours sitting on a grassy hill near our house. I cried, I yelled, I felt hatred, anger and pain. I don’t really remember the questions I asked on that grassy hill but I do remember my husband kept saying Bat Shit was his friend and things spiraled out of control. I remember questioning if I would ever be able to forgive him. I wasn’t sure if an affair was something I could get over. He was terrified that I was going to leave him. I didn’t make any immediate decisions because I didn’t want to disrupt our children’s lives. I felt strongly this was our issue as a couple and we would only involve the kids if there was no other choice.

The questions I asked my husband continued from these notes for months. Almost the entire first year was spent asking everything and anything I could about my husband’s affair. He answered everything. I asked some pretty crazy questions too. I found that if something was bothering me or stuck in my head it was always best to just ask my husband. Usually, whatever was paralyzing my thoughts was much worse than the truth. I found that in asking questions that were so intimate and difficult my husband and I became closer. We started talking about topics that couples don’t generally discuss openly. Sex, emotional insecurities… everything. Looking back now I realize I wasn’t just asking my husband the tough questions, I was asking myself too, 

Strength Healing After My Husband's Affair

 

Infidelity Trax | I Wanna Get Better | The Bleachers

I heard this song a few months ago. I asked my husband to find the song and put it on my iPod. Little did I know he put the song on his own iPod too. He says this is his song now. He wants to get better.

Hey, I hear the voice of a preacher from the back room
Calling my name and I follow just to find you
I trace the faith to a broken down television and put on the weather
And I’ve trained myself to give up on the past ’cause
I frozen time between hearses and caskets
Lost control when I panicked at the acid test

I wanna get better

While my friends were getting high and chasing girls down parkway lines
I was losing my mind ’cause the love, the love, the love, the love, the love
That I gave wasted on a nice face
In a blaze of fear I put a helmet on a helmet
Counting seconds through the night and got carried away
So now I’m standing on the overpass screaming at the cars,

Hey, I wanna get better!

I didn’t know I was lonely ’til I saw your face
I wanna get better, better, better, better,
I wanna get better
I didn’t know I was broken ’til I wanted to change
I wanna get better, better, better, better,
I wanna get better

I go up to my room and there’s girls on the ceiling
Cut out their pictures and I chase that feeling
Of an eighteen year old who didn’t know what loss was

Now I’m a stranger

And I miss the days of a life still permanent
Mourn the years before I got carried away
So now I’m staring at the interstate screaming at myself,

Hey, I wanna get better!

I didn’t know I was lonely ’til I saw your face
I wanna get better, better, better, better,
I wanna get better
I didn’t know I was broken ’til I wanted to change
I wanna get better, better, better, better,
I wanna get better

Better, ’cause I’m sleeping in the back of a taxi
I’m screaming from my bedroom window
Even if its gonna kill me

Woke up this morning early before my family
From this dream where she was trying to show me
How a life can move from the darkness
She said to get better

So I put a bullet where I shoulda put a helmet
And I crash my car ’cause I wanna get carried away
That’s why I’m standing on the overpass screaming at myself

Hey, I wanna get better!

I didn’t know I was lonely ’til I saw your face
I wanna get better, better, better, better,
I wanna get better
I didn’t know I was broken ’til I wanted to change
I wanna get better, better, better, better,
I wanna get better

 

Infidelity Trax | Connect Me | Christopher Norman

I don’t know if this is necessary an infidelity track but there is something about this song that I relate to. The feeling of wanting to “stop living inside my head, chasing words that were never said.”

room alight with sparks
running up the wall / more static left to discharge
diffusing it quietly
i know how it feels to be
stuck living inside your head
chasing words that were never said

[chorus]
baby I can feel the voltage running through my skin
come on and tap into the current i’m generating
down through every node
my circuits overload with all this energy

heart racing / without a sound
every wall around you coming down
take a look at me / plug it in and see
how it works when you connect me

none of your transmissions getting free
you’re out of time / no charge left in your battery
all of this resistance in your way
with no power you’ll decay
don’t you know I’m calling you all the time?
nothing but noise to hear on your line

[chorus]

Infidelity Trax | Katy Perry | Roar

My new battle song to start 2014.

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

You held me down, but I got up (hey!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready ’cause I had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, the fire
Dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar!

Now I’m floating like a butterfly
Stinging like a bee I earned my stripes
I went from zero, to my own hero

You held me down, but I got up (hey!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, the fire
Dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar!

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar!

Roar, roar, roar, roar, roar!

I got the eye of the tiger, the fire
Dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar!

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar!

A Day Without a Thought of the Affair (Please)

I can’t seem to find the right words to express where I am right now on this journey. I feel like I am in this very strange place where I am content, happy and connected with myself and my husband but yet I am disappointed that thoughts about the affair continue to enter my mind on a daily basis. Maybe I am being overzealous by thinking that I could get through a day without a thought creeping into my mind but that is what I want.

Let me hit the rewind button for a second. My husband and I went on a romantic getaway around the one year mark. To pack up and get away from all the stresses of everyday life (plus the affair crap) was wonderful. I am not sure if it was being alone together; the timing of our vacation or where we went but it was perfect. The only moments where thoughts of the affair drifted into my mind’s eye were mostly questioning why it took an affair to push us to take the vacation of our dreams. But those thoughts were fleeting and minimal.

Within twenty-four hours of returning home I had thoughts of the affair invade my mind and I became frustrated and angry that these thoughts persisted. Those words sound worse than they actually are. When I say “invade my mind” I intend that to mean I have about five minutes each day where I am triggered to think about either the betrayal or Bat Shit. It angers me because I have such a feeling of happiness and contentment in my life yet I cannot stop my mind from wandering to the affair at random moments during the day. Is this my new normal or can I overcome this phase?

Two nights ago I knew I needed to tell my husband this was bothering me. I knew he needed to know just how far I’ve come but also what I am struggling with right now. I unexpectedly wept as I told him because I feel like as much as I just want to be over this phase, I also understand there is value in my struggle. It just strikes me that I feel more connected now than ever to my husband but there is still ghosts from the affair lingering around.

My husband’s response to my emotional frustration was to both comfort me and tell me he wants to help me heal and move forward. He said he feels like I’ve helped him figure out what happened, how he fell into the infidelity trap and why he couldn’t find the courage or voice to leave Bat Shit until I discovered the affair. Now he wants to figure out how to help me get to the next phase of our healing.

I hope to hear from other women out there that have conquered these mind triggers. When I have thoughts in my mind they don’t necessarily hurt me anymore either. I would like to be free from these thoughts. I am not sure how many pages in my story have been written since D-Day but I am certain a new chapter has begun. I keep looking forward and I know now that if this is the worst of it right now, I will be okay.

peace

Taking Control of My Emotional Memory

stones

Some days are diamonds, some days are stones.

-John Denver

I am a collection of memories. My life experience and my emotional memory about those experiences form[ed] my personality. When I recall hanging upside on the monkey bars with my friends or winning my first dance competition the emotions from those memories are happy and fill me with a rush of endorphins. I remember how blessed I was to have a carefree childhood surrounded by a tightknit family and good friendships that continue today. Then there are negative experiences that can transport me back to a feeling of fear or anxiety like a flick of a switch. I remember as a teenager babysitting this little boy who was riding his bike down a hill too fast. The bike flipped over and the five year old boy was thrown onto the pavement head first and he wasn’t wearing a helmet. Immediately an egg-shaped bruise puffed out from his forehead and I panicked, sweeping him into my arms and rushing him back to the house for an ice compress. The little boy was fine but I found myself panicking about what could have happened to him for years after the accident. I would lie in bed remembering his fall and think of what could have happened and cry. It took me years to forgive myself for that incident.

As a side note, that little boy is now out of college and very successful.

The brain stores information and the emotions we attach to this information, whether we like it or not. Most betrayed wives suffer from PTSD because an affair is a highly traumatic event. I trusted my husband more than anyone in this world and he betrayed, lied and deceived me for a year. He chose these actions and while he was involved neglected to see how his relationship with another woman had anything to do with me or our marriage. It takes a very unhealthy brain to treat someone you love like this. But what about my emotional stability now that the affair is over and we are rebuilding our relationship?

Emotional memories trigger in our brains automatically. I see the letter J and I am reminded of his AP because her name begins with J and that’s how she signed all her emails to him. Last week, my husband asked what all the J’s at the end of my emails represent. I hadn’t realized until he asked that his email converted all my smiley faces to J’s. So now I was signing all my emails the same way she had signed hers to him. He never made that connection—but I did. Trigger. When he’s frustrated with a project she used to voluntarily do for him at his work (despite them not working together), I am triggered. My husband and I always refer to his AP as Bat Shit and he texted her actual name the other day in a message about finding out she was asked to resign from her job. I was happy with the news I heard but triggered that he wrote her real name. In calling her Bat Shit I am trying to disassociate her real name with an emotion. But there it is again.

starting-overI read this article earlier this week and I recommend reading it for both betrayed and wayward spouses. The psychologist notes that when your brain is triggered by a negative emotional memory you have 60-120 seconds to stop the onset of the emotional pain. Distract yourself with a positive thought, pinch your ear, move your body—do something to stop the pain from connecting to that word, thought or place. In many ways I’ve already been practicing this theory and it works. I agree whole-heartedly that it only takes a minute to sink into an emotional depression from a trigger. If I allow the stream-of-thought to continue—it will. But I told my husband last night that the thoughts are constant throughout my day. I liken it to a light switch being flicked on in my brain automatically, like a motion sensor, and I am reaching up all day long and flicking the switch back off. It’s tiring. The switch is thrown on less and less these days but it’s still happening and I hate it.

The author of this article also recommends renaming the people, time and events from your trauma with humorous names. That is why we call his AP Bat Shit. It’s both funny and accurate. I am starting to wonder if I should rename his affair. I was thinking of calling it Misery, like the Stephen King book. Maybe I should stop saying “AP” and call her “BS” (Bat Shit). The truth is I am going to meet people with Bat Shit’s real name throughout my life. What am I going to do? Hate them all? I have to admit I didn’t interview a person for a job at my company because she had the same name as BS. I told myself she wasn’t qualified enough anyhow but really, is this how I will live the rest of my life? It doesn’t seem practical. What seems more practical is to alter my emotional memory. A few months ago Green with Envy blogger, Leise posted a video about the same concept. Retell your past so that you can take control of your memories for your own emotional stability and health. It may seem silly but I’ve suffered a traumatic event in my life and I cannot allow my emotions surrounding the Misery control me forever. I need to take control.

So I am trying to move forward. There’s a quote out there on Pinterest that reads something like: “You can’t begin a new story if you keep retelling the old one.” I saw it once and forgot to pin it and now I can’t find it again. Regardless, the point is I want to move on but my brain keeps pulling me back. So I am going to focus on developing a healthy mindset and recreating my emotional memories so they benefit me and no one else.

My life is my story and it belongs to me. Some days may be stones but I will take those stones and paint them to match my story. In my story I am the heroine and I will be victorious.