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New Beginnings :
About Infidelity Grief & Trauma

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 Fablegirl (original poster member #56784) posted at 9:45 PM on Sunday, May 1st, 2022

I am working on an essay about my experience with infidelity with the goal of helping others through a profoundly destablizing experience. When I was going through the worst of my own experience I became very frustrated by the scarcity of resources to help me beyond this forum; meaning that most of what was written about infidelity seemed geared to reconciliation. In my own case --and certainly that of many others on this forum -- that wasn't even an option. My ex denied the affair and gaslighted me even as he was dating someone else and living under the same roof. I became unhinged and found my way back to sanity but recovery looks a lot different than I expected. A few revelations:

It never really goes away, we carry it with us, always and it just become less interesting to engage with over time.

Grief is not chronological. It's more like a jack rabbit. I can feel fine for a few days and then a trigger moment can send me into knee-buckling grief.

My best healing came from re-storying what happened, creating a new self.

Anyone else have any surprising truths to share?

posts: 236   ·   registered: Jan. 9th, 2017   ·   location: Mid Atlantic
id 8733056
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leafields ( member #63517) posted at 10:38 PM on Sunday, May 1st, 2022

For me, it was practicing meditation and mindfulness on a regular basis to help my ruminating thoughts. Pre-A, I thought affirmations were a little silly. Post-A, I did some daily for 6 months or so, and it helped with my self-esteem issues. That, and listening to Chaos and channeling my inner BASGU.

BW M 34years, Dday 1: March 2018, Dday 2: August 2019, D final 2/25/21

posts: 1238   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2018   ·   location: Washington State
id 8733062
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Bingo ( member #72835) posted at 7:30 PM on Monday, May 9th, 2022

Two years from the divorce, what has helped me is just trying to accept the triggers. Like you, I can be fine and then all of a sudden, a thought will cross my mind from seemingly out of nowhere. What the hell...

When that happens, I sit with it for a moment, say outloud "Well, that was a helluva trigger, but I'll be ready for it next time...maybe".

I do have days where the infidelity seems to be on my mind a lot. I don't know why, it just does. I just tell myself it's just the trauma of it all...."it doesn't mean that you don't enjoy your life now, you dumb broad!"

I have really made an effort not to rely on other people to help me with my loneliness. I have purposely spent so much alone just so I can get used to it and I have learned to embrace and celebrate myself only.

I have a mantra now. If someone doesn't enhance my solitude, I will continue doing things alone. That includes going out to dinner, going to the beach, shopping, playing golf...whatever it is that other people seem to enjoy doing with others. I have found that doing things by myself can be so enjoyable. Because I really like me now....other people, not so much! The more time I spend by myself, the less tolerant I am becoming towards other people.

That may be a bad thing....not convinced right now, though!

posts: 135   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2020   ·   location: Indiana
id 8734398
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 Fablegirl (original poster member #56784) posted at 10:22 PM on Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

I know what you mean about the trauma and triggers. I do believe that infidelity grief is not chronological or monochromatic; it's more like a jackrabbit that zigzags across our lives.

posts: 236   ·   registered: Jan. 9th, 2017   ·   location: Mid Atlantic
id 8734755
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courageous ( member #34477) posted at 5:22 AM on Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

I recently heard on a radio show, one of the nursing moms on the show talked about weening and how it messes with your hormones to the point of suicidal thoughts.

My d day was around 6-7 months after giving birth. And 3 months after getting my tubes tied. I was primarily nursing but after that day I had to supplement/ween because I wasn’t able to keep food down for days. I lost 60 lbs that year from the affair. I went to doctors to get std tested and put on 2 antidepressants at the highest doses. I had never heard about the hormonal effects of weening. To add those 2 events together…. No wonder it was so hard. Knowing this now a little weight has been lifted.

I struggled with very dark thoughts, with not being able to sleep. Since THAT day I have felt fractured/ broken. It’s been 10 years and I’m started to mend. I’m still on antidepressants and I have ptsd.

Our marriage counselor kept saying I was angry because I’m sleep deprived and that if I just got more sleep it would be so much better. And her idea of addressing the MOW was too try to get me to acknowledge that ex wh could love us both at the same time. I told her love is not like that. If you love someone you don’t stab them in the back.

There needs to be more training with
1- doctors- more support for new moms. If I knew the domino effect that was happening I might have done some things differently.

2- Marriage counselors- must get trained in affair counseling as a requirement. It was ridiculous how hard it was to find one. We didn’t and I think that made things worse.

Sorry for rambling….. the grief, anger, and other things come and go like riding a roller coaster. You have some really good days, some medium bad days and then the bad days that you just get slammed with out of nowhere.

Me: BW (40ish) Him: ExWH EA/PA with MOW coworker(also married). He ended up marrying his mistress.

posts: 871   ·   registered: Jan. 9th, 2012   ·   location: Texas
id 8735805
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crazyblindsided ( member #35215) posted at 6:39 PM on Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

If someone doesn't enhance my solitude, I will continue doing things alone.

Amen to that! Love it!

fBS/fWS(me):49 Mad-hattered after DD1
XWS:51 Serial Cheater, Diagnosed NPD
Was Married 19 yrs
DD(19) DS(16)
DD1 (2008) COW, DD2 (2012) MOW, False R (2014) Same MOW. DD3 (2019) Webcam girl

posts: 8290   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2012   ·   location: California
id 8735885
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 Fablegirl (original poster member #56784) posted at 2:37 PM on Friday, May 20th, 2022

Crazyblindsided what you wrote is so heart-breaking and true. I don't think that enough therapists are trained in infidelity PTSD. That you went through such a rupture of your primary relationship at a time when you were at your most vulnerable as a nursing mom should have been immediately acknowledged and treated by a clinician. I am glad that a weight as been lifted now that you have some sound data points about the hormones of weaning and your betrayal... but that is a powerful trauma and I just want to acknowledge your pain. I am deeply sorry you had to live through that.

posts: 236   ·   registered: Jan. 9th, 2017   ·   location: Mid Atlantic
id 8736205
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josiep ( member #58593) posted at 11:54 AM on Thursday, June 9th, 2022

Oh my word, this struck me like a lightening bolt. I hear you, I get it, I've had the same thoughts and I also have this desire to find a way to help others. And to warn them.

I sometimes wish there was a forum for old-timers. Others can read it, of course but I'm not sure they will. I've been on S.I. for a little over 5 yrs. now and every time I've broached a serious topic, in the same vein as what you did here, there's not a lot of response and what there is comes mostly from old-timers and it's only natural that old-timers aren't on here as often as they once were and so these threads are easy to get lost in the shuffle. But if there was a dedicated forum, they'd see these type of posts when they do check in. But I think people who are in the worst stages after their DDay aren't ready to hear that the healing is such a meandering, zigzagging road. And they especially aren't ready to hear that they might never truly be over their trauma.

I believe that some people are more traumatized by infidelity than others. Maybe we're more sensitive or maybe we're more naive, I don't know. In my case, it totally did me in and took away everything good I ever believed about my life, my friends, my values, my family. Early on, when I whined to my counselor that I couldn't seem to get all my stuff taken care of at home, like keeping up my checkbook, doing dishes, etc., her solution for me was to make a list. Obviously, she didn't come close to getting it. But the thing that was bad about that was I didn't get what was going on and I needed someone to tell me that it was normal to be upside down with my life skills, that I'd endured a trauma. So not only was I beating myself up over the trauma of a spouse of 45 yrs. dissolving our marriage before I had a clue, I was beating myself up for dirty dishes and lousy bookkeeping. And as a former auditor, the bookkeeping thing really, really bugged me and yet I couldn't fix it, I just couldn't concentrate enough to do it. But that's not what I got and it is a real shame there aren't more resources for those who are affected by infidelity.

But where would those helpful people come from? Well, in order to truly get it, we sort of need to have gone through it or at least been really close to someone who went through it, and as much as I'd like to really make a difference in this world for those people, I'm just not reliable enough because like a previous post, I can have a few good days and then something will bring me to my knees and I'm just "gone" for a few days - I don't think about anyone or anything, I turn into a vegetable and just sit here until it finally passes.

You nailed it so well when you wrote: "Grief is not chronological. It's more like a jack rabbit. I can feel fine for a few days and then a trigger moment can send me into knee-buckling grief." I had this happen recently. May 27 would have been our 50th Anniversary. I decided I wasn't going to let it bother me so I went back to where I used to live to visit friends for the weekend. I ended up bailing on them and coming home but not telling my daughter I was home cuz I didn't want anyone near me or talking to me or anything at all. I was so angry and upset and then hating myself for still letting it get to me even 5 yrs. after the fact.

And I can't even remember where I was going with all this cuz I did originally have something I wanted to share but I've lost it in the muddle of what was once my wonderful, sharp, organized capable brain. :)

[This message edited by josiep at 12:04 PM, Thursday, June 9th]

BW, 70 YO; M 45 yrs., T 49 yrs.
DDay#1, 1982; DDay#2, May, 2017. Divorced.

posts: 3117   ·   registered: May. 5th, 2017
id 8739295
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josiep ( member #58593) posted at 12:07 PM on Thursday, June 9th, 2022

Never mind. I was rambling all over the place and decided to start a new topic so I don't threadjack. Sorry, should've gotten my thoughts in order first.

Oh, that makes me laugh. laugh

[This message edited by josiep at 12:32 PM, Thursday, June 9th]

BW, 70 YO; M 45 yrs., T 49 yrs.
DDay#1, 1982; DDay#2, May, 2017. Divorced.

posts: 3117   ·   registered: May. 5th, 2017
id 8739298
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3starsinthedark ( new member #78664) posted at 11:03 AM on Sunday, June 19th, 2022

Thank you for so much for this post. I didn’t get anywhere near the right help in the early stages. I didn’t find SI until 6 months after DD.

In my desperation I sought an MC very quickly, who supposedly specialised in affairs. She immediately focused on my WH and his childhood trauma. She told me I was too child focused and didn’t meet his needs. But at the same time said he was not given enough love and attention as a child duh
she also spent time asking my husband what things he loved about the other woman and how she made him feel whilst I am crying in the corner. She then asked what things he loved about me - needless to say his response about me was not very flattering- talk about triangulation. I can never unhear those things and how she seemed to validate his affair and make him the victim. She was a bit like Esther Perel. Talking about how he was trying to fill his childhood wound and that the OW was just too irresistible to resist. Comparing her to his mother???? Admittedly she was older and very controlling. But really - I am just dumbfounded when I think of how this so called professional behaved.

As a consequence my husband blames all of his poor behaviour on his childhood and I am always feeling inadequate compared to the OW. I was made to feel guilty about putting my childrens needs above his? I was so traumatised by this therapist I actually felt suicidal because I felt responsible for the whole mess and helpless. When I discussed my concerns with my WH - his response was well you picked her!!!

I wish I had just gone straight to IC. I know my response was consistent with so many - PTSD and this required specialist trauma counselling.it took me over a year to find someone. I also suspect my husband has a personality disorder poss NPD or BPD - his IC has suggested he is might be on the Autistic Spectrum. He definitely has no empathy. I just wish I had someone in the RL not just here as nobody really gets why I just can’t get over it!

posts: 19   ·   registered: Apr. 17th, 2021
id 8740889
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Tortured ( member #52141) posted at 10:42 PM on Sunday, June 19th, 2022

Old timer here…. As DDay was 2015.

I agree that resources weren’t what I needed but by far the hardest part was there were not good psychologists trained to understand the WS.

We changed joint counsellors multiple times and it was terrible. I had one that was all about radical forgiveness and the longest/last one basically said that if I just backed down then WS would be more inclined to talk to me. And yet told me WS was a pathological liar. I felt like a rape victim that was getting told that I wore a short skirt and I shouldn’t do that. My ex sat like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. In the end the doctors at the hospital diagnosed me the night terrors from the severe trauma after a sleep study. The PTSD has taken years to recover from.

My individual psychologist was far better and actually had to convince me to pay attention to how awful my WS really was … he worked in hospitals with people with personality disorders so probably had a much better understanding of covert narcissism.

For something impacting so many person I feel this is widely misunderstood. Education is needed across a wide sector, from children (how to treat someone / spot red flags), to the courts to spot what is abuse and most importantly to the cousellors who many of us turn too.

I got more "counselling" from reading SI. I just wished I’d found it earlier.

Tortured
Me: BS
Him: WH (serial)
Three kids
DD: Nov 2015 (and so much trickle truth that I would be listing a month a DDays)
Sep: Dec 2016

posts: 166   ·   registered: Mar. 6th, 2016
id 8740986
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 12:44 PM on Monday, June 20th, 2022

The sad part is that grief and trauma responses are so different.

We’ve seen a post or two recently about people having serious issues 20 years after the affair / day/ etc.

It’s like something stirs the pot and there is an explosion 💥 of thoughts and the trauma and pain resurface.

There are so many reasons this occurs - it can be from some who never had their questions answered to others who know the full truth about the affair(s).

I think for me — it’s not the affair but being kicked to the curb that gives me more issues. While I accept it and deal with it rather easily, my reaction is to over-plan everything.

I hate to tell people in JFO that healing is 2-5 years. But it’s so true — yet feels so long and such a hard process. In the old days (lol) when a guy cheated on me I just walked away. I moved on quickly.

However it’s not the same as with infidelity in a marriage for some reason. Can’t explain it though.

And getting bad MCs just adds salt to the wound. Luckily I had a great therapist who totally understood it. He never once blamed me for the affair.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12307   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8741033
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EllieKMAS ( member #68900) posted at 12:25 AM on Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

I hate to tell people in JFO that healing is 2-5 years. But it’s so true — yet feels so long and such a hard process.

I remember hearing that in JFO in November of 2018 when I first landed on SI and being so PISSSSSSED about it laugh

I think the most surprising thing for me has been that my healing took paths that I never intended and has led me to a completely different life than I ever envisioned for myself. In the best way possible.

As torn up as I was right after dday and as hard as I fought to save my M, I honestly thought that divorce was the worst thing that could happen. Spoiler alert - it SO isn't. I am freer, and more at peace, and happier, and more authentic now than I have ever been in my life. My credit score has gone up over TWO HUNDRED points (amazing how easy budgeting and living within my means is when I am not lugging around a 40 yo toddler!). My home is peaceful and calm and predictable. My life is peaceful and calm and predictable. The people in my life love me honestly and are actually dependable. I don't cry myself to sleep anymore. I don't feel crazy. I don't spend more time worrying about someone else's happiness than my own.

I never wanted to get divorced - being a child of divorce it was never an option for me. But man am I so glad I did.

"No, it's you mothafucka, here's a list of reasons why." – Iliza Schlesinger

"The love that you lost isn't worth what it cost and in time you'll be glad that it's gone." – Linkin Park

posts: 3516   ·   registered: Nov. 22nd, 2018   ·   location: CO
id 8741134
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morningglory ( member #80236) posted at 10:24 AM on Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

I didn't find that 2 - 5 years was required. Maybe if you stay with the cheater, but not if you get out and go no-contact.

posts: 454   ·   registered: Apr. 15th, 2022
id 8741185
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crazyblindsided ( member #35215) posted at 9:42 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

I didn't find that 2 - 5 years was required. Maybe if you stay with the cheater, but not if you get out and go no-contact.

I believe it. I didn't stop ruminating or really moving on until I left. My xWS was the source of my pain and triggering.

fBS/fWS(me):49 Mad-hattered after DD1
XWS:51 Serial Cheater, Diagnosed NPD
Was Married 19 yrs
DD(19) DS(16)
DD1 (2008) COW, DD2 (2012) MOW, False R (2014) Same MOW. DD3 (2019) Webcam girl

posts: 8290   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2012   ·   location: California
id 8741420
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MeOh ( member #53195) posted at 4:15 AM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

I haven’t been to this forum in a long time, but it saved my life when I was going through it. There was so much great advice on ways to work through the grief and pain.

There were a few great things I learned.

1."The problems in your marriage are both of yours, but the decision to cheat is 100% theirs." - I spent a lot of time thinking about what I could learn from it and became more aware of things about myself I wanted to work on. It’s an important journey and I feel much healthier as a person for having done it.

2. Disco Zombie Snails - I don’t know if that post is still here, but the outlook it gave me helps to this day. The gist of it is that your ws looks like they always did, but they are no longer that person. It allowed me to get over the cognitive dissonance of how the person I loved the most could do it to me.

I still love the guy I married, but my daughter’s father is a different person walking around in a skin suit that looks like my ex. I get to enjoy the happy memories instead of having to throw them away.

3. I learned that forgiving him didn’t mean permission. I didn’t need to be ok with his choices or how they affect me. It just means that I’m not walking around angry and devastated all the time. I didn’t even have to tell him I forgave him because I did it for me, not for him.

Something made me think about this forum today. I’m so grateful to have made the progress I’ve made and I wanted to come back and see if my experiences can help anyone still in the trenches.

Choose hope over fear!

posts: 818   ·   registered: May. 12th, 2016   ·   location: CA
id 8743616
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Notaboringwife ( member #74302) posted at 1:53 PM on Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

I also wish there was a forum for old timers!

I believe that one learns so much more from folks who have gone through similar experiences in life. Therapy may help, but the experiences of others are priceless. Bring on a forum for old timers I say! smile

I realize how embedded and meshed are the marriage problems with the infidelity trauma and betrayal for spouses. I fell into the trap of thinking that once I heal from the infidelity, my life will be better. Well, no. The reality is that now I face the marriage issues of which there are many. Surprise!

In a way, it is a new beginning for me. That’s how I look at the state of my life today. An eye opener for me was when I accepted that my husband is quite able and capable of lying, of gaslighting, of using the silent treatment, and of heavy alcohol abuse "with anyone". This is part of his character makeup.

Another eye opener for me was the realization that I am quite capable of being a manipulator myself. Ouch!

I gave my husband a second chance, and he is proving to fess up to his cheating, the abandonment and everything about his infidelity, etc. etc. The takeaway from his infidelity is that I worked on my self-awareness, and I worked on my well-being. It is my priority even today.

I gave us a second chance and another surprise for me, I’m uncertain of where I want to go in this "new" marriage.

More surprises, I feel ambiguous. Like all my resolved work of healing sapped my energy, my motivation and there is very little left in the tank to face marriage issues.

The SI site helps to open up the mind to different possibilities and ways of thinking. All across the board topics. It is beyond helpful.

I have yet to find another site or even a therapist with such a diversity of insights.

Me: fBS late 60’s
Him: fWH late 60’s
DDay : March 2019
Separation: March 2019
R: June 2019

Shift your internal stance from "I’m right and you’re wrong" to "help me understand." Everything else follows from it...

posts: 318   ·   registered: Apr. 24th, 2020
id 8744342
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 3:11 PM on Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

I got really lucky with therapists in the aftermath. I hear such horror stories and I am so sorry that so many of us were forced to sit there and be tortured with the WS being made into the victim in sessions. My first IC very shortly after DDay was this tiny eccentric older blonde woman who had experience with serial cheaters and was so clearly jaded that it's funny to remember her. I laid it all out for her between sobs and she looked at me and said "Just leave. Seriously. I've dealt with these people for so many years and I'm telling you, just leave. Don't waste any more of your time. They're exhausting and will drain the life out of you. They lie, they don't stop lying, and this is who he is and always was." I was really upset because of course my situation was special blah blah blah, lol, but she was the only one I saw who was absolutely right and gave my XWH no quarter. She called everything in advance. She knew what she was talking about. I didn't even know who I was anymore at that point and it was hard to hear, but she was refreshingly honest. I will always look back on her with gratitude because it was like she vaccinated me with reality before I wound up in a MC office where he got to try and play victim. The MC therapist didn't let him get away with it exactly, but she was more sympathetic than was likely warranted.

I think it's a lot easier to heal when you don't have kids together and you can truly go no contact. That helped me so much. From the day I left, I'd say it took about a year and a half and I was mostly done with triggers and pretty healed. It does change you, though. I'm 5 years out and I don't have as much patience for people. I'm more cynical. I'm not nearly as "nice". I've never had an issue living alone, but now it's like I guard my peace and appreciate it so much more. Anything that disrupts peace in my household is not acceptable and needs to be immediately dealt with. It's hard to imagine how amazing a man would have to be for me to even consider the idea of living with anyone again. I don't want to compromise. I don't want to share. I don't want someone else's laundry. I don't want to consider someone else's opinions when making decisions about my life. I've become pretty selfish about my space. I'm happy and I don't like the idea of risking my happiness. Being relatively happy is more of a gift than I ever realized before and it's a precious thing.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 5027   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8744350
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EllieKMAS ( member #68900) posted at 8:08 PM on Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

Slight t/j..

I'm 5 years out and I don't have as much patience for people. I'm more cynical. I'm not nearly as "nice". I've never had an issue living alone, but now it's like I guard my peace and appreciate it so much more. Anything that disrupts peace in my household is not acceptable and needs to be immediately dealt with. It's hard to imagine how amazing a man would have to be for me to even consider the idea of living with anyone again. I don't want to compromise. I don't want to share. I don't want someone else's laundry. I don't want to consider someone else's opinions when making decisions about my life. I've become pretty selfish about my space. I'm happy and I don't like the idea of risking my happiness. Being relatively happy is more of a gift than I ever realized before and it's a precious thing.

Dee I just lub you!! YESSSSSSSSS to all of this. Me same!

The peace. THE PEACE. You know, my marriage wasn't "horrible". We didn't fight (until after dday but that's another story), we didn't argue, he didn't hit me or be overly angry at me. It wasn't terrible.

Except that it was.

I didn't realize until after I got out of it how much I diminished myself and how many of my needs and wants I just put away to maintain the status quo and what an enormous toll that took on me mentally and emotionally. Now that I have it back? Never ever EVER doing that to myself again. And I second Dee that it would take a pretty spectacular person to ever make me consider putting my peace to the test again.

"No, it's you mothafucka, here's a list of reasons why." – Iliza Schlesinger

"The love that you lost isn't worth what it cost and in time you'll be glad that it's gone." – Linkin Park

posts: 3516   ·   registered: Nov. 22nd, 2018   ·   location: CO
id 8744416
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 11:50 PM on Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

The peace. THE PEACE. You know, my marriage wasn't "horrible". We didn't fight (until after dday but that's another story), we didn't argue, he didn't hit me or be overly angry at me. It wasn't terrible.

It's so weird. My marriage was happy. lol. Ha ha ha. Joke was on me. But really, I was very happy until I very much wasn't. We can do happy all on our own, though. That doesn't require a partner.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 5027   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8744448
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