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30 years together, 2 years after the end

0376 posted 1/22/2018 11:13 AM

This is my first post here. I sought out a forum to tell my story hoping this will help me. Even after 2 years I still wake up often reliving memories of my breakup after 30 years together. I donít want to burden friends and family as they have listened to all of it for long enough. So Iíve decided to cry on your shoulders instead. Thank you all for that. 🙂
I am now 61 years old. At age 59, in September my then 2nd husband, (had been together almost 30 years) told me he had been having a ďthingĒ with the OW. Thatís what he called the A. ďA thingĒ. She was a COW. They both worked at a long term nursing facility. The same facility that my mother resided in. He didnít want a divorce, but couldnít work on the marriage until he got his health issue resolved. That was how he put it to me. He needed a cardiac catheter ablation. Had been dealing with tachycardia since he was a teenager. So I thought we were working on our marriage. Oh, and I found out later the reason he told me of the A was the OW boyfriend had threatened to tell me.
I spent the next 5 months keeping this information to myself. Dumb, I know that now. I didnít want our families to know of his infidelity. The OW was always around when I visited Mom. In January of the next year when FWH had supposedly gone hunting I got a phone call from a stranger ( OW boyfriend) who told me FWH was right then with OW. That day was Dday for me. FWH didnít want divorce but would not give up the OW. He wanted us to live in the house having that understanding. WTF? FWH refused to move out per my request. I was emotionally struggling so moved out after a couple of weeks. I realize for my sanity that was best, but that meant leaving my home of over 20 years. House we had built together, place where my children spent most of their childhood (they are from my 1st marriage ). That has been the hardest. Losing my home with all those memories made in it. I know, could have stayed and fought it out, but I just didnít have the strength. My ďflightĒ response took over. So I ran to the town 40 miles away where my son and his wife live. Got a nice apartment. Which has turned out to be a very good move.
In the following months I had to worry about seeing FWH and OW every time I visited Mom. 4 months after I moved out FWH moved OW and her 3 daughters into our house. That stung!
I filed for divorce hoping for closure. It was final in August. Funny, didnít really bring any closure.
February 1 is my 2 year anniversary of moving out of my home with FWH. Wish I could erase all the memories of us together. They only bring pain, sorrow, depression, and still questions. Even the good memories!
I did counseling, took antidepressants. Even started dating a very nice man. Took me at least a year to feel anything at all. And I do have some great days. Itís those not so good days that make me feel like Iíll never really move on.
Couple of months ago FWH & OW sold the house and moved out of state. That was a huge relief for me not having to worry about running into them anymore.
Itís hard living alone, easier now then at first. But still hard sometimes.
Iíve left a lot out but this is already way too long.

smokenfire posted 1/22/2018 12:59 PM

Welcome, thank you for sharing :D

Leaving a long term marriage is tough, if for no other reason your lives are so enmeshed. I left after twenty five years. it was super toxic, I still mourned, but have successfully learned to relive my life as a happy healthy person.

It took honestly about a year of really intense work on me. I did not have funds for counseling, so I learned as much as I could about the whole process on the internet (think blogs, videos, etc.). There's a ton of information out there that is mad useful.

A quick thing that will make a huge difference for you is to retrain your brain. Your brain literally has pathways for memory related to this man. I don't know what that is called, but it's true. When you find he pops up in your head - you have two choices, continue on that path to misery or retrain your brain. Cut the thought off and remind yourself with a mantra - it has to be something that you make up that will work for you. Mine was something like, NOPE this is my new heart, new life. I am going to be happy. In the beginning it's tough, it happens a million times a day, but as you keep up with this process, you'll find it happening less and less until it eventually doesn't happen at all.

HOpe this helps.

Rae145 posted 1/22/2018 16:52 PM

I had to move and leave my home too. I was married 32 yrs. Its hard thank goodness for time! I am on anxiety and depression meds. They, staying busy, going to counseling have helped me a lot. Your ex is not a good person.
It did sting when the new woman moved in to my old house. But the thing that stung the most was her outgifting me at christmas and birthdays for my baby grandson. I have some resentment with my daughter about that bc this woman is not the g mother.
It hurts bc we didnt think we would end up single. It gets easier and i wouldnt want that pos back but somedays (i posted earlier today about this) he invades my thoughts. But i am so much better after 2 years. I was a mess the first year.
You can cry on my shoulder anytime you want to!

0376 posted 1/22/2018 18:24 PM

Thank you for the info. Iíll come up with a mantra and use it. Iím tired of being a victim. I want him out of my thoughts!
Guess I am lucky heís in another state.

0376 posted 1/22/2018 18:32 PM

To RAE145,
Thank you for sharing with me.
It really helps to talk to someone who knows how it feels. Iím sorry you have to share a grandchild with the OW. That must really suck! Just remember your grandchild will realize itís the time spent with them, not the presents!

Newlease posted 1/23/2018 11:04 AM

We were married just shy of 24 years. We had a lot of marital debt so we sold the house and paid off the debt. It was hard to leave the home where we raised our sons, but it was also the place where I spent the hellish first months after Dday 2.

OW left XWH after 6 months, so none of us were subjected to her. XWH has been off the rails a few times since then and it only mattered to me because of how it affected our sons. He now seems to be on an even keel with a girlfriend of several years.

It's been 13 years since the D, I am in a new relationship and living with my SO. The first 3 or 4 years were tough, but I am now able to be around XWH at family gatherings and holidays without any ill will or bad feelings. Life has truly moved on.

Sending strength and peace.


luv2swim posted 2/28/2018 17:52 PM

WELCOME ... and Hugs of understanding to you 0376. This infidelity dance is unexpected and destabilizing. And for many of us, it is traumatic. If you have not read it already, I suggest you google-up this article:
Understanding Relationship, Sexual, and Intimate Betrayal as Trauma (PTSD)
By Robert Weiss LCSW.

Of course, we are all different and nuanced in the way we react. So, what I found useful might be unique for me. That said, here are the tools I recall as being most helpful:

1. Peer support.
This is not your long time friends or family members, but people who know what it is to walk through the dark forest of long time marriage ending with infidelity. Basically, people like those here on SI, who have experienced the rejection/replacement thing. People who understand the phrase "De Nile is not just a river", and that "D-day" does not involve bombs or war, but it is life altering, and painful. And now, perhaps most important, people who can say "I understand. I have been there. And, life is wonderful now. Again. Finally".

Be kind to you. Treat you well, and take care of you. And remember you are just like the rest of humanity: perfectly imperfect with stuff you could probably work on. Which, btw, does apply to our exs and their affair partner or their new spouse (which may be one and same). I anticipate full healing involves kindness and compassion for these people we loved. Even if they turned out to not be the person we thought they were.

3. Self Recognition
It may be helpful to recognize infidelity is not about the actions of your (ex)spouse, or the affair partner(s), but about what YOU want in your life, and what is ok for you. For example, I am monogamous and I expect my spouse to be monogamous. I do not want to be married to someone who wants to be with someone else.

If you are experiencing the impacts of PTSD (as I was), it is very much as Smokenfire wrote, the work of brain stuff.

Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen speaks, and writes about neural pathways and the ability to "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life". Harvard-trained brain scientist and stroke experiencer, Jill Bolte Taylor talks about humans being feeling creatures who think... not thinking creatures who feel. By this, she means we are wired (via limbic system) to constantly scan our environment for safety. Basically that we are animals always asking "Am I safe?" at the primitive brain level of function. If things are good our higher cortex functions operate and we think clearly, we are calm. If the answer is "NOT safe" our limbic system is programed to go into self preservation mode. We are hyper alert, or we are frozen. We are anxious. We do not sleep well. We do not eat much. We are stuck mentally. On and on this goes as we are triggered, and have this perseverated response, re-experiencing those mucky bits and pieces, trying to find some reason, some sense of what is now an extended traumatic event. If you have some of the infidelity trauma brain stuff circling in you, the following might help.

Brainstuff 5.1
Understand and Believe. Read up, and understand you do have the ability to change this painful neural response pattern resulting from your own mix of trauma.

Brainstuff 5.2
Become a scientist of self.
Notice what is happening in you. Notice what triggers you. Notice your line of thinking, and how much time you spend thinking about your ex, or his affair partners. Notice how your thinking about him makes you feel. Notice if you are arguing with the reality of the situation. I mean, it is all over now. Do you spend a lot of time thinking things should have been different? Futile waste of time this. Are you putting yourself as the victim of his infidelity? If so, would it be more accurate to say you thought you married a man who would be monogamous ... and you were wrong?

Brainstuff 5.3
Recognizing the brain response
I think Dr Jill Bolte Taylor says the limbic system causes a 90 second bio response process resulting in the cascade of the "Unsafe" feeling state. I envision this phase as getting inline to ride the quick escalator down to hell.
As soon as I recognized the pattern starting ... what I envisioned as getting inline at the escalator ... I used some mind tools to stop. The tools that are most effective for me relate to visual processing and using what I term the "seeing mind". I believe I am switching my neuropathways from one well established route (which brings me straight down to wallow in my PTSD kind of hell), to a completely different pathway. After a few weeks using this method, my trigger moments were reduced. After a few months, I felt back to near-normal.

This is the method I used whenever I recognized I was triggered:
I would immediately look at the shapes in the environment around me, and in my mind would "draw" the outline of a shape as if I was mentally giving instruction to my hand on how to move to create the outline of what I was seeing. Obviously, things with straight lines were easier and quicker. For example, I was in a store and very suddenly I had those waves of "Not Safe" flooding in, and I started to think of my ex (maybe I was thinking about him first, and then the waves came?). Very quickly I stopped, took an deep breath in, then out, and focused upon seeing the line where the ceiling meets the wall. With my eyes I followed this line to a corner ... thinking to self I am "drawing" it all on paper ... then traveled down towards the floor, then along a shelf. I "drew" the shape outlines of items on the shelf, etc. It seemed that I needed a minute or 2 of this, and then I was ok. No escalator ride down.

Another time, I was in the tub/shower, and noticed I was thinking about ex/ow/divorce/marriage. I was starting to go into that not good place. I stopped the process by simply paying attention to the tile grout lines: "two over, 4 up, 3 over" etc. Again, I usually need to stay in my seeing mind, doing visual processing work for 1 to 2 minutes to avoid that "escalator ride". Since learning this technique I have read that playing the game Tetris, or Candy Crush (likely any visual processing focused task?) can reduce PTSD symptoms.

Even if we live to age 100, life is brief. Between now and our individual exit date, may we all know our infidelity experiences as one of "spices" on the varied and fabulous pizza of life.

hardtimesinlife posted 3/6/2018 12:26 PM

Welcome, 0376. I know you will find healing around here.

Luv2swim, excellent post. I wish I had that in the beginning.

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