I don’t consider myself an expert on infidelity and I have no doubt I still have LOTS to learn, but I am now almost one year post D-Day and these are some things that I wish I had known at the start of my journey as a BS. I thought it may be helpful to some "newbies". There are clearly a LOT of things I wish I had known, so I will post this in two (maybe three?) parts.
*The roller-coaster. I think other than the original betrayal that started all of this, the roller-coaster has been the single most devastating thing I have experienced in the months since D-Day. I wish I had known beforehand that my feelings would veer wildly from one extreme to another and that those feelings would be so deep. I wish I had known that it was NORMAL to one day feel that I love my husband and that reconciliation was going to be easy and the next to feel that I hated my husband and wanted a divorce. The problem with the roller-coaster is that the feelings are so REAL, you trust them, you believe them, you put your faith in them and the next thing you are feeling the exact opposite and that feels real and true… Confusion reigns! You begin to doubt your own judgment, you eventually start to doubt your sanity! It makes you feel so much more insecure when you can’t even trust your OWN feelings, let alone anyone else’s. Brutal!
*Hysterical bonding. Ohmysoul, I wish I had known about and understood hysterical bonding before I was in the thick of it. How utterly crazy I felt to be literally lusting after this man who had betrayed me, hurt me so badly and broken our marriage vows! It made not an ounce of sense, but there I was, unable to be in the same room with him without wanting to rip his clothes off and make passionate love to him, right there on the carpet/table/desk…. Good grief! What was happening to me? I truly thought I was losing it! And the relief I felt when I realised I was not alone, that other BS had been through this craziness too…!
*Mind movies - Wow! For a while there it felt like the "sound-track to my life" was one long porn movie starring fWH and OW (who I have never even met and didn't know what she looked like.) Eeeeuw! It was horrible. It was like rubbing salt in the wound. And I am ashamed to admit that occasionally it was quite erotic! I felt like such a sicko!
*Time – that four-letter word! I wish I had fully comprehended at the outset that recovery from infidelity takes TIME. There are no short-cuts, no quick-fixes. At about 4 to 5 weeks from D-Day I thought that fWH and I were “different” we were “special” we were on the Fast-track To Accelerated Healing… Miraculously (or so I thought!) I was able to forgive him, just like that, and move past this, yay me! (hysterical laughter) That lasted for about a week at most… THEN the poop really hit the fan! Lessons learned? There is no Fast-track To Accelerated Healing. This thing takes on average 2-5 years to heal from. And it turns out fWH and I are very average! Bummer!
*Pain pain go away – Early on my only focus was making the pain go away. I had no idea that pain like this was possible. I had experience with pain… I watched my mother die of anorexia, I lost my only sibling in a car accident… and yet none of that had prepared me for pain like this. This was on a scale all of its own. It was excruciating, unbearable. It’s weird the coping mechanisms we use to try to ease our pain. My first reaction was to deny the severity of what fWH had done - if what he did to me wasn’t that bad, then it won’t hurt so much, right? Wrong. Next I decided to take the blame for what was happening to me. Then I blamed OW, made her the focus of my anger. Then I made excuses for my husband. Then I decided that if I could forgive him, that would ease my pain, so I “forgave him”… Then I converted my pain to rage... None of this stuff works. It’s delaying tactics, born of desperation. Ultimately we have to face what has happened to us head-on. We have to face the pain. I read here on SI: You can’t heal what you won’t feel! So true! The answer, I have learned, is to just keep plodding through it. Keep moving forward, one step at a time. When you have a day that is less painful than the day before, be grateful for it, and just keep moving forward, one step at a time. Trust that time will make it better.
*Hasty decisions. I so wish I had taken onboard the advice of those wise souls on SI who said “Don’t make any decisions for at least 6 months to a year.” I made the decision to file for divorce a couple of months after D-Day. I called the divorce off 3 days before it was finalised. I could have saved myself, my daughters and fWH a lot of grief if I had waited until my emotions had settled before making any decisions. It is SO hard to wait-and-see when your emotions are incredibly intense and you want to DO SOMETHING…. But waiting is the right thing to do. Living in limbo for a time (sometimes a long time!) is completely normal… I’m still in limbo to be honest.
*The stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I never knew that these also applied to dealing with infidelity. Once I read about it, I still never quite understood HOW these stages would apply to my situation. I also didn’t realise that it is not a linear progression. As it turns out, I have bounced between all these stages in no particular order again and again (well except for acceptance, haven’t quite got there yet!)
Just a quick look at how I have experienced the stages of grief:
Denial: “if I pretend it never happened I can still be happy”, “my husband would never do something as bad as THAT”, “there must be a really good reason why he did that”, “it’s all the OW’s fault, not my husband’s” “my husband is the perfect WS, he is doing ALL the right things” “we are special, we are going to heal from this in record time” “we had the perfect marriage before infidelity”
Anger: No explanation required, anger has been my primary emotion for many, many months!
Bargaining: I never understood this one and thought that perhaps I had skipped it, but now I get it. In my case bargaining has been an on-going search for a “magic pill” – that ONE thing that is going to make this all better. I have harboured the secret belief that there is SOMETHING that I need to read, or understand, or find, or change… that is going to make this ugly mess go away. I’ve also felt on some level that if I can just make fWH “get it”, or if I can only persuade him to DO some particular thing, then it will all be better. It is slowly dawning on me that that is NOT how this works. There IS no magic pill, miracle book, quick-fix…. My husband’s infidelity is not going to magically go away, the slate is never going to be wiped completely clean. We have to learn to live with this. It will ALWAYS be a part of our history.
Depression: The sadness that comes with infidelity is something I could never have comprehended until I felt it. Also, the realisation that the infidelity will always be a part of our story, that’s depressing.
Acceptance: That elusive acceptance that all BS long for. I believe it will come to me in time!
*Telling people. I so badly wish that my husband and I had sat down and properly discussed who we were going to tell, before going out there and spreading the word. I felt strongly (still do) that our closest family and friends needed to know the truth. The trouble is that I didn’t communicate this properly, I gave my husband the impression that I was comfortable for everyone to know… The result is that in a moment of insanity he went and told the proprietor of our local coffee shop (WTF?) and various people in his cycling group… This has caused a great deal of unnecessary awkwardness that could have been avoided with some proper communication.
To be continued....