I was the backup option. Have any of you had this experience? Have you been able to forge a healthy relationship after such a revelation?
Yep and not yet.
I am one of the BWs that catlover referred to. My WH was engaged to his MOW. She had told her BH she wanted a separation 3 months earlier. MOW and WH were planning our divorce, their life together, figuring out where they were going to live until my kids were out of high school, where they would live after that, how many weekends a month MOW could tolerate having my kids with them, their next 3 vacations and how they were going to pretend they didn't meet until 4 months after he left so the kids wouldn't know she broke up their family (she didn't want to deal with angry kids).
Upon confrontation on Dday my WH told me he was in love with WH and leaving. I threw him out. He wouldn't leave and threw MOW under the bus.
I am struggling with exactly your issue.
What we need to keep reminding ourselves is that we weren't second best to an OW. We were second best to our WH's ego. What they are in love with is a fantasy projected on to a convenient person willing to reflect back a spectacular self-image to them.
The OW could have been anyone.
My WH has decided his MOW looks like Alfred E Neuman and that he was actually bothered by "the worst boob job (he had) ever seen. She has the nastiest scars and stretch marks" and her "disgusting belly fat". Yet on Dday he claimed he lusted after her. She was hot.
In reality, what really turned him on was how she would stroke his ego and tell him how fabulous he was.
Look in Wayward. There is a thread right now (just random thoughts, BS welcome) about the wayward's desire for external validation and why getting compliments from the BS doesn't give the same strokes.
Of course, despite being able to understand this, I have yet to be able to feel like I am in love with WH. It's just gone and I do not know how to get it back. I have been told it takes time. But there must be something we/I should be doing during that time to get it back. I just don't know what it is.
I also started a thread about how ashamed I feel some times for staying with him. For crap sake, if I told the neighbors "Oh yeah WH was engaged to a woman who has been married multiple times, cheated on her spouses multiple times, passed a STD on to me, drinks to blackout on a regular basis, hates kids, but is apparently the soulmate he has waited his entire life for and I was only make do" they would think I was certifiable for not leaving him.