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Recasting tainted memories?

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Thessalian posted 2/11/2014 20:18 PM

The most important thing to me in my life has been collecting memories, awesome experiences and great stories. It's why I like to travel so much. I know everyone enjoys collecting memories, but it's a particular joy of mine. Every time I do something new, travel somewhere new, experience something fun and fascinating, I take that memory and I place it happily in a little display case in my mind. This is where I have derived most of the essential happiness in my life.

In the almost 8 years that we've been together, my WH and I collected so, so many memories together. I treasured them, and this is where I derived a large portion of my sense of accomplishment. A month ago, when I finally got the whole truth and found out that WH had been either cheating, covering up cheating, or lying the entire time we'd been together, including before our wedding, every one of those memories, the most cherished pieces of my "experience collection", feels ruined.

Our wedding
Our honeymoon
Dozens of trips
Standing next to him at parties
Christmases and holidays
Fun times I had by myself when it turns out he was at home cheating

That's pretty much my entire 20's. I have made good headway in getting conquering quite a few of the negative emotions involved in this, but I can't even think about anything in my "display case" without sobbing, to telling myself I'll just have to write off those memories and start again. I know that's insane and silly, but that's how I feel.

I can't bear it, and I'm trying to work on myself. I feel partially like I'm doing this to myself with this kind of absolutist thinking but I haven't been able to stop. How can I recast these things in my mind? I feel like if I could just find a new way to think about these things, a realistic way that included the joy I felt then, I'd do much better.

I know logically that I was happy then, that I had fun then, that I enjoyed that, that I still did all those things and saw all those things and went all those places, that the memories still "count", but my pain responds, "Yeah, half the fun was doing that with the one you love, confident in the fact that he loved you as much as you loved him, and feeling safe because you were with the one person who treasured you. But he was actively lying to you during all of those times and was emotionally absent while you, like a naive idiot, dragged him through the wide world. You were experiencing one thing, he was experiencing another."

So the memories hurt. Is there a better way to think about this? Has anyone been able to re-cast all that in a better way, for their own peace of mind?

[This message edited by Thessalian at 8:21 PM, February 11th (Tuesday)]

AFrayedKnot posted 2/11/2014 21:55 PM

My fWS's first PA was 10 months to our relationship and there were 3 others that lasted right up to (and a little after) dday.

I know exactly how you feel. My fWS and I were just talking about this same thing earlier today. I feel like there were what I thought were good times but they were not real. If we both knew the whole truth at the time, they would not have been good times. The good times were only good because of lies.

I'm sorry I am not much help on this subject besides understanding how you feel.

I'm a collector of memories too. I had to put those old memories away in a box and start my collection over with new untainted memories and I've become ok with that.

If you find a way to resurrect the old ones please let me know.

Harriet posted 2/12/2014 01:06 AM

I found out my exWH was cheating before and after our marriage as well - 20 years of deceit.

But all of my experiences were real for me! I used to feel cheated. I couldn't think back to all of our travels and adventures without feeling like they were fake. But then I read a post that gave me back those memories - they were all real to me. Who cares what they were to him anymore. I felt immense love and joy in that tiny ancient home we stayed at in the Swiss Alps, with the thunder storms and lightning. I experienced the beauty of a sunset deep in the Sierras, and he can't diminish it. The surprise picnic of strawberries, chocolate and wine in Hamburg was delightful...I don't know what it was to him, but it was genuine to me.

You will get there, too. You were genuine with your life, and you lived it with trust and love. He should be the one with the tarnished memories - he was all hat and no cattle. Hollow.

Harriet posted 2/12/2014 01:08 AM

I will see if I can find that post and bump it up...searching...

Harriet posted 2/12/2014 01:25 AM

Divorce/Separation: My Life Was Not a Lie

susan1989 posted 2/12/2014 01:48 AM

Hi - I can completely relate. If somebody has the answer, I'd like to hear it. I look back at the vacation photos I have from the last three years, and he was cheating on me with one person or another during every single trip. It makes me not even want to look at the family photos and portraits we have together.

Thessalian posted 2/12/2014 02:20 AM

all hat and no cattle.

Hahah, that's fabulous.

Thank you, I'll read that post.

HurtsButImOK posted 2/12/2014 03:14 AM

Sorry, probably not much help as I was never in R.

For me I have either had to strip him out of memories or else re-have those first experiences that for me are tainted. At least this time that I am making memories that are real and authentic.

Maybe you can re-do some trips to help build a positive.

[This message edited by HurtsButImOK at 3:16 AM, February 12th (Wednesday)]

Stillheart posted 2/12/2014 08:22 AM

We are over five years out and I understand how you feel. I have mixed emotions when looking at pics from the past (wedding photos, vacations with kids etc) Both sad and happy. Sometimes just indifference. I still struggle with accepting loss of what I thought the marriage was and what it is now. Again, Time and hard work has helped.

norabird posted 2/12/2014 08:40 AM

Time will help. When I first found out I felt like nothing in my relationship--none of the good moments or special experiences--had any real meaning. When I met with two girlfriends who had been through breakups over a similar reason for support and told them how I felt, I was totally disbelieving when they talked about being able to retain and appreciate the good times at face value for the happiness they felt during those moments. It seemed impossible to me to salvage any kind of pleasure in those memories. But I've been getting there slowly. I didn't have the sheer volume of trips as my relationship was shorter than yours, and I know that right now those memories are legitimately a painful loss from the infidelity, a kind of casualty. But I believe that with distance you will be able to appreciate your authenticity and happiness during those memories. Right now, it feels like he's robbed you of that. But no one can. They belong to you and you can still be proud of where you have gone and what you've seen and experienced. Mourn the change in meaning now, mourn the innocence you had then and have now lost, mourn the man you thought was with you, and you'll find, eventually, that when the intense grief subsides you can still appreciate who you were then and where you went and what you did. Your part of that life really was authentic, as you say. It wasn't a lie, or a fantasy. It was your truth and no one else can invalidate it for you permanently, even if right now it only brings pain to look back.

Wishing you so many new experiences and trips to come.

devasted30 posted 2/12/2014 08:45 AM

I understand exactly how you feel. I'm right there with you. If you ever find a solution, please post it. Another thing wrecked by their selfishness. In my head, I know it shouldn't matter, but IT DOES!

OnAnIsland posted 2/12/2014 11:02 AM

But all of my experiences were real for me! I used to feel cheated. I couldn't think back to all of our travels and adventures without feeling like they were fake. ...

You will get there, too. You were genuine with your life, and you lived it with trust and love.

What Harriet said. And time. I said countless times to my WH during the past 2 years- you can't take my happy. you can't take my life, my memories of friends and family, etc. you can't have them. I was genuine and authentic and present- even if he wasn't.

Take care.

somanyyears posted 2/12/2014 11:25 AM

.. ..right there with ya!!!

..I just don't look at old photos anymore.. it's too difficult.

..have to work on creating new memories I guess!



tearingaway posted 2/12/2014 11:45 AM

I totally understand the feelings with this issue. I have nothing useful to contribute to the discussion or strategies to employ to help deal with tainted memories, but I completely get it.

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