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Afraid to dream

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FeelingSoMuch posted 3/26/2013 17:52 PM

My wife cheated for nine months with a co-worker, including at our home. I found out, she didn't end it. Now she says it's over and neither one of us knows what to do. So we're staying together for now, going to therapy, to keep things from getting worse before deciding whether to stay together or split up. It's been about a month. I keep seeing images of the two of them together in my head. It takes effort to focus at work. I'm terrified of going to sleep. I'm up to three extra-strength sleeping pills and one doctor-prescribed tranquilizer. Before the pills, I stayed awake all night haunted by images of the two of them. I don't know what to do to sleep without pills. I did the alcohol thing a couple of nights, but that seemed too self-destructive and I stopped. The pills knock me out and I haven't had a dream in a month. But the moment I start to wake up, I have to jump out of bed and start doing anything to distract myself. D-day: Feb. 20, 2013.

Bigger posted 3/26/2013 18:07 PM

Hi and welcome to the best club nobody wants to join.
I’m going to bombard you with some questions:
Why did it end?
Is the OM married?
Does his spouse know about the affair?
What is their work-relationship, do they still work together?
Do you guys have kids?
How long married?

The answer to the above will help posters guide you along.

5454real posted 3/26/2013 18:27 PM

Sorry to meet you glad you're here. Bigger is right, a little direction would help.

From our end though, please find the healing library located in the upper left corner in the yellow box. There is some fantastic reading available to you that may help put a little stability back in your life. It's a great way to get started.

The sleep issue, unfortunately, it's gonna be a while for that to return to normal. I tried it without the prescription for a while and averaged about 2-3 hours sleep and usually woke up to seeing the two of them together.(For the first month or so, I would vomit upon awakening). Those visions are called mind movies and they will lessen over time.

Make sure you eat and drink as normally as possible. If eating isn't working, try some of the fortified drinks. Ensure works well. The infidelity diet is pretty effective. I lost 36 lbs.

You've seen the doctor for sleep, but I'm going to beg you to get tested for STD's. Her also. Doesn't matter if she claims they used protection(they didn't) some STD's are still transferrable. Does she really believe she was his only one? No unprotected sex til the results are back, and then retest at 6 months and a year.

Got a question to add. Do you have complete unfettered access to her electronics with passwords?


Fallenfeathers posted 3/26/2013 18:35 PM

I had the same thing. I found out that my WH cheated about 3 months ago. I would have vivid dreams of them together. Even when I didn't sleep I could still see it. I still see them in my dreams though. It isn't as much but it's still less of it therefore it's more manageable. I think time will only help you. One thing that helped was keeping myself busy. When i had those fears of not wanting to fall asleep i would read something funny or watch a comedy show before bed. Again, time will help lessen it. It's a painful situation we are dealt with but it's only going to strengthen ourselves.

purplejacket4 posted 3/26/2013 18:41 PM

If you haven't actually SEEN your doctor please doI. Sometimes other drugs besides just sleepers can be helpful, especially during the initial stress reaction.

Dr. PJ4

[This message edited by purplejacket4 at 6:42 PM, March 26th (Tuesday)]

FeelingSoMuch posted 3/27/2013 07:00 AM

Thank you all for the support. It ended because I found a card the OM gave my wife. He had a live-in girlfriend of two years. She now also knows about the affair. Yes, wife and OM still work together. She's afraid of ruining her career if people find out. She has a good job that is public. No kids, married for five years, together for 12.

Tred posted 3/27/2013 08:06 AM

First, it's still pretty raw to you right now. You are just over a month out - it's pretty normal to be traumatized. I'm 16 months out and still have nightmares, trouble sleeping, and mind movies. The conventional wisdom is it takes 2-5 years (not weeks, or months) to heal from an affair, assuming no new hurts. And it's a rollercoaster ride of emotions that you can't get off even if you want to, even with the help of medication. Every one is unique in how they process trauma, so don't let my experience taint you, but from what I can tell my story isn't unusual. See your doctor, let the doctor know about the infidelity, the mind movies, the nightmares.

There are a lot of other things, such as STD testing, making sure your wife goes NC (no contact) with her AP, transparency, access to e-mail and phone whenever you want it, and read the Healing Library (link is at the top left of the page). Sorry you are here, but I'm glad you found this site. There are a lot of people who will be along to offer good advice. Just keep posting. It's a process.

Bigger posted 3/27/2013 08:08 AM


Each and every case is different and not a single poster here on SI can claim to offer the one and only correct solution for you. What we can do is base our suggestions on experience and knowledge….

I’m going to put forth some generalizations. I don’t have any firm statistics behind these but others will confirm that again and again these generalizations have proven to be right. They might not all apply to you but IMHO ignoring them would be a major mistake.

Many of us compare infidelity to an addiction. It’s quite a close comparison and it allows us to use something many of us know about or have a better way of comprehending. Keep in mind that although the comparison is useful then it is limited.

Affairs will only be dealt with if they are truly over.

This is a two part problem. The first part is the actual physical part. The second is the mental part. If you are lucky then the first part is in place right now. Unfortunately that part can only hold true for a limited amount of time.
If I refer to the addiction comparison. After d-day your wife is like an alcoholic that’s been caught doing something extremely stupid and destructive. So in the hangover next day she decides that she won’t ever drink again and when she makes that decision she is totally 100% committed. However – without resolving what makes her drink – all she has is her own determination. So next Friday evening she decides to follow the girls to a bar and only have soda. Then as the evening progresses she orders a glass of white wine, simply to hold on to. When that’s finished then a beer won’t hurt… Then all of a sudden it’s dancing on tabletops with the lampshade on her head.

So if we assume the physical part is over (and I am not happy assuming that!) then right now she and OM are totally committed to being “professional”. But what happens at the next budget meeting when they work late? Other than the fact YOU shouldn’t be happy with that then chances are the conversation will cross that line. It will probably be simple and “innocent”: “are you and gf doing OK?”, “Is your husband still angry?”; sort of like simply holding a glass of white wine doesn’t make an alcoholic drunk but it definitely makes taking the first sip more tempting.

If I stick to the addiction: In full recovery the aim is that an alcoholic COULD work in a bar if he had to without wanting or needing a drink (remember Sam from Cheers?). However that’s not something that happens in the first years of recovery. That’s WAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY down the line. In the beginning alcoholics are told to remove all alcohol from the house, spouses to abstain for a couple of months, to switch channels when booze is advertised on TV, to stay away from bars and the wine racks at the grocery store…

The same applies to infidelity. We STRONGLY recommend enforceable no contact.
There are two main reasons for this: For YOUR peace of mind and to keep her away from her “drug of choice”.

Unfortunately NC isn’t possible while they work together…

So is her career important? Is her income important? No doubt. But people tend to change jobs more often than spouses. If her income or her career is more important than her marriage… well then it’s better to know right now.

Not that she necessarily needs to leave the job but you need assurance that they don’t work together, that her time there is accountable and that they are not sharing lunch, breaks, meetings…

So what assurance do you have that it’s over? How can she assure you she isn’t meeting OM?

What’s their work relationship? Is he/she his/her supervisor? Jobs in any way connected?

MY view is that if you only have her word that the affair is over the odds are at best 4/10 that it’s still ongoing.
MY view is that IF she does not establish total NC with OM then the odds are about 6/10 the affair will start again.

Those are pretty slim odds for your marriages success…

I wonder why she had the affair. After all – the marriage isn’t yet so old, the OM is not married and a divorce would be rather “easy” (no kids, short marriage…). She could easily have left and set off on a life with OM.
Well… actually I’m not so surprised in the sense that affairs are very seldom about OM (if ever). It’s not that OM is the dream-prince she was looking for when she settled for you. There is some underlying need she has that made her decide to allow a relationship with OM to develop past that moral line. Chances are it will be because OM made her feel hot and wanted, that he told her she was sooooo smart at the office. That he stroked the right ego-spots and that it simply developed from there. No – I am not saying it’s the OM fault. Your WW was receptive where she shouldn’t have been receptive.

So what has she done to assure you she won’t have another affair?
Odds on her having another affair: Well here I do have a researched statistic. It’s been shown that a person that has had an affair is three times more likely to cheat in new affairs than a “normal” person to have the first affair.
Really let that sink in: IF you don’t deal with this issue. IF you don’t get WW to seek IC. IF you and WW don’t seek MC. IF this is simply rug-swept… You are more or less doomed to numerous d-days in the future.

Has your WW told you why she is in the marriage? Has she told you why she wants to work on the marriage?

FeelingSoMuch posted 3/27/2013 08:55 AM

The first thing we did after I found out was go to my psychologist. We went together. My wife called the co-worker she was having the affair with and told him it was over, that he should avoid her at the office and walk the other way when he sees her. He accepted. They were on speaker phone. She told me she wanted to do whatever it took to repair the nine months of damage. We then went to a walk-in clinic and were tested for STDs. We're both clean. Here's the new challenge. Since I told my wife I'm committed to trying to make the marriage work, it's like we changed places again. I went on -- and continue to beg her to work on things -- and she continues to tell me she doesn't know what she wants, that the guilt and shame are too much to bear.
We continue to go to therapy. It's costing a lot of money, but everything else seems worthless right now. We each go once a week on our own and once a week together. We found out that we weren't communicating. We were both damaged to begin with and hellbent on "making it." We worked our way up to good jobs and a nice lifestyle. We were finally at the point where we accomplished everything we wanted before having kids. That's what we were going to do next. That's when the affair started. In therapy we found out that we both needed the other for reassurance that what we were doing, that our successes were validated. We were so busy asking each other for validation that we failed to validate each other. When my wife started her great new job with terrible hours, she was alone at home for six hours, the OM came in and gave that validation. My wife tells me she hates that she did what she did. But at this stage, she keeps telling me it's my fault for not listening, not validating her. She's right, I should've done more of that, but didn't know how. My biggest need is loyalty. I don't have family, although I have good friends and a good job. As long as my wife was by my side, whatever happened or arguments we had, I still felt happy because my biggest need was being met. I finally had someone by my side. For my wife, her biggest need is validation. I missed the signs of unhappiness because I thought my need for loyalty was being met and I felt happy. Now that we know all this it's just sad. But it's not helping that my wife is taking the tremendous guilt and shame she feels and blaming me for failing her and leading her to the affair. I'm trying not to make things worse and to see if this is just a stage that will pass. I hope that eventually she'll show remorse and start to validate the pain I'm feeling right now. It's unbearable. The psychologist visits help and so does venting in this forum. Thank you for listening/reading.

wouldbewhere posted 3/27/2013 09:31 AM

Wow, Wow, Wow.
In your last post, I just thought I read that WW said that YOU were responsable for the A, because you didn't LISTEN to her!!!! That is a crock of you know what. She is rug sweeping. The only one responsable for an A, are the 2 people having it. You are only responsable for the marriage, and the things you did or didn't do in the marriage. Don't let her pass the A onto you. Marriage is a hell of a lot of work, it can be the best of things and the worst of things. It has it's ups and downs. Your WW just took the lazy way out and cheated, instead of saying, "hey hon, I'm having some trouble here." I don't mean to be mean, but you fell for it, hook line and sinker. Now she's thinking, I don't have to be responsable for the A at all. It's my husbands fault.
Read the healling library there is a lot of great information in there. Some dealing with blame shifting and rug sweeping.

Lots of Hugs
Would Be...

[This message edited by wouldbewhere at 9:33 AM, March 27th (Wednesday)]

Bigger posted 3/27/2013 10:06 AM

I saw so many positives in your post: The lack of communications. The need for validation. The emphasis on therapy… All these things are MAJOR steps in improving a marriage. All those things are very valid reasons for a marriage to fail. So I was positive. Until I read:

But at this stage, she keeps telling me it's my fault for not listening, not validating her.

No. NO. NOOOOO!!!!!!

She had the affair because she decided to have the affair. Whatever reason led her to have the affair is definitely possibly a reason to create damage in a marriage but the decision to respond by having an affair… NO.
I’m not even going to spend new words to explain this, simply cut and paste from another post on a comparable thread:

I’m a former cop and early on one of my first shifts a veteran told me to notice that no matter what the crime the perpetrator would always justify it: I had to steal that wallet to buy food, he deserved to be shot, it wasn’t rape – she wanted it… It’s the same with your wife; she justifies her affair by rewriting the past to reflect a bad marriage. Irrespective of how the marriage was. In a sense justifying an affair to a bad marriage is comparable to justifying cutting off someone’s head due to bad breath.

FeelingSoMuch posted 3/27/2013 11:18 AM

I agree with the posts that say I should not accept fault for the affair because I failed to give enough validation. I don't accept it. But that's where my wife is at right now. The psychologist assures me it's a stage that we'll have to go through as she works on her own issues. Without therapy, she'd likely stay in this stage forever and as much as I love her I can't listen to this for much longer. But I'm being told it'll pass and that my wife will eventually accept personal responsibility and show remorse. She's not there yet and it's been very, very hard for me to hear what she's saying. I'm feeling forgotten, because everything is all about her now -- trying to figure out what led her to have an affair. I'm hoping that patience will pay off. I'm willing to stay patient as long as she doesn't do anything else outside of our marriage to hurt me again.

Ashland13 posted 3/27/2013 11:37 AM


Your Wayward Wife sounds like a twin to my WH (wayward husband). Except that he believes what he says about our marriage and is throwing out 20 years for the OW, who he has known off and on for maybe a year.

He does the same things your WW does and its awful. And I have the images both night and day as well, though 2.5 months out, they are ebbing.

I moved out of the bedroom, though I miss it and into another room of the house and it helps. I find I can't stand quiet of any kind right now and can't fall asleep without noise. I don't feel like I slept until I realize it is morning.

I lost track of the days, nights and what time it is for a long, long time. I tried the meds but they made me so scatter-brained I begged off. I could not focus to drive, cook, do homework with my daughter and just function to the little I do now. So even though the crying bouts still come, I am mind-pill free that way (thyroid pill, yes).

I think I finally found a link to the images and only discovered them getting to be less when I was able to re-detatch from WH. He pulled false reconcilliation on me at the holidays and after he stormed out again, they came back. But this time I actually had seen her picture, where before it was faceless women.

WH is also addicted to porn and dating sites, though lies profusely, telling me how "serious" his A is.

So anyway, I don't know if that will help, but I think for me, as long as I cared about the marriage-which I did, with my whole heart and soul, I was a housewife and am pregnant-I had the images.

The other part that I think may be a link is that after telling WH I cannot be near him, hear him or see him at all, it is better. For me he is dying finally and I think that helps, as he becomes not a major player in the theater that has become my life.

I still get them, but they don't bring me to my knees now. That is amazing and a real recent discovery.

The other thing I find is that even though I have some meditation skills for when they come, sometimes if I just let them come, it would go longer in between. They sneak in, don't they?

Standard advice doesn't help me a lot because my mind wanders while I do things and I have to consciously reel it in.

I can understand your desire for drink or pills, some way to block them out, but for me when my parents got divorced years ago, really I think that just helped me not cope with all of it and to this day I have not put their marriage away, but am working on it.

There was no cheating there, but my mother disappeared one day while my father was working and she appeared in England on my brother's doorstep. I was left here with my father and to this day, hear and see in my mind that broken man. Sorry for going off-topic a little, just trying to say I have a lot of empathy for what you are dealing with.

I hope it will get better for you.

FeelingSoMuch posted 3/27/2013 12:31 PM

Thank you for sharing your pain and experiences, Ashland13. My wife and I are reading the book, After the Affair. I used to think I was special -- I guess we all do -- and then I read that book and the author is dead-on about everything I'm feeling. Same with the other people posting here. I guess that makes me pretty common :-)

I'm trying to tell myself this is a process -- a long process -- and my wife and I will eventually have to decide whether to do it together or on our own. I'm not even in the 'should I forgive her?' stage yet. I would like to, but she's still stuck in the blame stage. At times, she still blames me for her affair.

IForgiveHer posted 3/28/2013 15:22 PM

I too went through the same thing. I took Melatonin becasue it is natural and not addictive like other prescription. The more work you put in right now and get on a path the quicker this will pass. Patience is a hard thing right now but it is early. It does get easier.

FeelingSoMuch posted 3/28/2013 15:28 PM

Thank you for the encouragement, IForgiveHer. It helps.

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