"Impact! Dead on impact. Maybe I have confused
separateness with the feeling of being dead. The tears fall like
"The pain is physically exhausting but I
am still here…"
"Lord I give up. I am not even going to
pretend to be brave because I am actually totally broken. I give
up. I don't want this anymore. I can't take this anymore. I can't
Lord. I can't Lord. I can't Lord. My heart is completely shattered."
These are the feelings of sadness expressed by
those who have been betrayed. It is the feeling of death, except
one is still alive and must continue to live. But how? When will
it ever go away? Will I ever feel happy again? It seems impossible.
And my family tells me to just 'get over it!' That hurts me even
more. My friends don't understand.
When I discovered my husband's affair, I felt
as if I had gained a new companion, a companion whom I didn't want,
who wasn't welcome, who had not been invited and who would not go
away. That companion was pain. For me it was 2 ½ years until
I felt happiness again, and I distinctly remember feeling it again,
and I remember why.
The feeling of sadness for me was caused by thinking
that I was unloved, perhaps even unlovable. Surely if I was a lovable
person, the one I loved the most would not have hurt me so deeply
with betrayal, abandonment, deceit and lies. The problem was that
what I believed about myself, about my life and about the people
around me was untrue. The truth is that I am lovable and therefore
I will always have lots of love in my life.
I wanted a guarantee. I wanted to be guaranteed
that I would never be betrayed by my husband again. He gave me his
guarantee, yet I still didn't feel guaranteed. After all, had I
not been given a guarantee the day we exchanged our wedding vows?
I thought what I needed was to throw away the old and start over
with the new. "Yes, that's what I needed," I thought to
myself, "a new relationship with my very own husband of 18
years." Yes, we should redo our wedding vows. Yet others have
redone their wedding vows and been betrayed again! Wedding vows
are no guarantee.
Then I realized that I can never be guaranteed
what all of the future choices of another individual will be. Neither
can anyone else on the planet be guaranteed that their spouse will
never have an affair. There are no such guarantees in life. I wish
it were different, but that is reality. One thing no person can
take away from another is their own right to choose. And really…would
we want to? How loved would I feel if another was forced to love
Prior to our meeting this week, I put out an
email to the Beyond Affairs Network asking other coordinators, how
they got past the sadness. Here are their responses which I shared
at our meeting:
"It was the hardest of emotions for me to overcome,
but I finally accepted the fact that it happened and that I had
no control over the actions of my spouse. I continually reminded
myself that unless I controlled my own actions, I would be bound
by my own stubbornness to remain in the anger and resentment stage.
The constant dwelling on what happened is what keeps people stuck
there. Again I had to control my own thoughts and move ahead. It's
not an easy thing to do, but it can be done especially if you choose
to stay focused."
Another wrote: "I think, hard as it is to
accept, that 'tincture of time' is the best way to get past both
the hurt and the anger. I also know that it is possible to get stuck
in either place. So what I did, instead of trying to rush the process,
was to really LET myself be sad and then to LET myself be angry
for a while. I had spent so much time and energy trying to move
on, that I found I was denying myself the right to feel what I NEEDED
to feel in order to heal. Once I acknowledged my feelings and that
I wasn't crazy for feeling them, it was much easier to let them
go. Now when negative feelings come, I can acknowledge them and
put them away much faster. But it doesn't happen overnight. It has
been nearly 3 years for me and I'm finally getting there."
Another affair survivor wrote: "For me,
the greatest skill for dealing with sadness is gratitude. Define
it. Practice it. It seems trite to say count your blessings when
you're in the midst of such pain, but there is no denying the practical
benefits of just doing. It's scriptural and I think it's psychologically
sound. This is NOT denial. It's perspective and coping until time
has had the chance to work its magic."
Then I read Peggy Vaughan's article "Moving
from Pain to Recovery", where she talks about the importance
of controlling your thoughts. What we feed grows. If we allow ourselves
to replay the pain over and over again in our minds, we don't move
forward, in fact, it can get worse with time, if time is spent nursing
and rehearsing the wound over and over again. This is where it becomes
so important in the healing process to educate ourselves and to
share with others who understand, which is the purpose of Beyond Affairs, constructive ideas and efforts to get beyond the painful
One woman shared how taking anti depressants
(only for 6 months) had helped her to cope with life at somewhat
of a normal level during the initial discovery period. Others managed
their pain, and often depression that accompanies discovering marital
infidelity, through cognitive therapy (which is learning to understand,
recognize and control your thoughts). I strongly recommend the bookThe Feeling Good Handbook for anyone really wanting help in getting passed sadness
which is bordering on depression and a complete feeling of hopelessness.
During our meeting, one individual brought to
our attention the value of a good comedy!!! What a great, but often
overlooked point! Sometimes you've just been dealing with the darn
stuff too long. You need to go out and have a good laugh. Give all
those serious, deep thinking, tragedy moments a rest. Search for
things that make you laugh. A good laugh is medicine for the soul.
Getting past the sadness, it's a choice.
We choose whether we will read books, educate ourselves, increase our
understanding, learn from others and most of all whether or not
WE will control our thoughts. Can you get past the sadness? Absolutely!
But it takes time and it is YOUR choice.