What worked for me was getting control of my ego and putting the injury in context. I am not the first person who ever got cheated on. It happens every day to people from all walks of life. I am not somehow above the fray. I was not guaranteed by God, or karma, or the universe to never encounter betrayal. I am not more worthy of love and devotion than anyone else who has ever experienced infidelity. I am not so scintillating, intellectually or sexually, as to cause a whole separate person to never look away. I am not anyone else's chief priority, regardless of what words we've spoken or what promises we've made. You get the gist. I'm not a planet and I don't have satellites whose existence are dedicated to orbiting me. I am a separate individual and my spouse is his own autonomous person. I don't own him.
Yeah, I know that sounds a bit harsh in ways. Intimate betrayal IS a legitimate wound. It's not in our imaginations or some figment of narcissistic self-involvement. There are myriad reasons for the effects it has on us, to include our innate reflex to fear abandonment and all of the social programming we've had since birth. And yet, it's been my experience that ego is a part of it, because when it's all boiled down, this is just another aspect of understanding that the cheating is on the cheater and it's not about us.
We give this message to other BS's all the time... "it wasn't your fault", "cheating is about the cheater", "you can't cause other people to abandon their values", etc. But when you REALLY start hearing that message, you have to start acknowledging the separateness of your spouse. We say, "we can't control anyone but ourselves", and the truth is... we really can't. Each and every one of them had choices and they used those choices to indulge THEMSELVES. If the cheating isn't about us, it's not about us. Our spouse is a person and not a commodity. We don't own any aspect of them. Their fidelity is theirs to give or withhold based on their own internal criteria.
This is not to excuse a cheater's disloyalty. They made promises to us. The fact that they broke them speaks volumes about their values. These are people whose word was demonstrably NOT their bond; dishonest, disloyal, self-centered, and even disordered in some cases. We do have an absolute right to be hurt by their actions, but we also need to recognize that part of the injury is to our own ego, that when we finish the question, "HOW could s/he do that?", the unspoken object of the sentence is "to ME". "How could he do that to ME??" It's the size of the "ME" that ends up being at issue. For several years after my fWH's betrayal, my "ME" was in giant letters with an exquisitely painful, fancy font. That's the very nature of pain, isn't it? It's personal and sometimes all-encompassing. It forces us into a state of self-involvement so that we must deal with it and with the threat it presents to our future well-being.
When you think about it, intimate betrayal oftentimes invokes feelings of existential threat, but why should that be? In most cases in this modern age, we are safe from physical harm, social or financial ruination. This isn't the old days where the loss of a spouse meant we could no longer feed or care for our fifteen children.
Our existence isn't usually the thing under threat, and yet, it FEELS that way. We question everything we knew; love, God, human relationships, responsibility, even sanity, and this is NORMAL. It's proper functioning for human minds and human bodies, a character trait of our humanity to form these bonds and experience predictable emotions when those bonds are broken.
Here's the thing though, at a certain point, we need context. I will hate and despise every OW who ever involved herself with my husband or my marriage. If they simultaneously burst into flames, I'd never miss a moment's peace over it. I AM a demonstrably better human being in terms of my current morality, intellect, loyalty, etc. That said, I am not of greater human value than anyone else in the eyes of God or man's law. I often see, as I have in this post, utter revulsion from some BH's at the aspect of another man's semen. But do you think yours is somehow more pleasing? Is is less sticky or less odorous? Isn't the truth that the only thing special about your semen is that it's yours?? If your mind has created some Jackson Pollock painting of another guy's semen spewed out all over your home or your spouse, is it gross because it's semen, or because it's another guy's semen?? I've heard this complaint so often that a WW had oral and then kissed her husband or kissed her kids' cheeks. One hopes that she brushed her teeth first, but how is this different than if you were the guy she'd had oral with? Do you expect that she should never kiss you, or her child, or her mother again because she had once had semen in her mouth?
There's an ick factor to someone else's bodily fluids, I get it. Women feel no differently about that sort of thing as you when it comes to other females'.. erm.. leavings. Believe me, I get it. Part of what helped me immensely at the time was the thought that every cell of my fWH's skin that had been touched by another would slough off until nothing that had come into proximity with an OW remained. But in context, their skin, bodily fluids, and functions are no different than our own or what ours might be under the same circumstances. We like to think that we're not interchangeable and we're not. But when we set apart the possible differences in our microbiomes (the parasitic flora and fauna of our bodies), are we not all of equal value when it comes to the basics of humanity??
In the first few years there was no way I was going to be able to apply a larger context to what had happened to me, but as time passed, it became easier to step back and look at as a matter of scope. My fWH is his own person and his choices were not about me. His moral failures were not about me. And even though I am still filled with revulsion at the thought of the OW, the reality is that they are not, as a matter of biological science, more or less human than me. That's not a big sacrifice really, recognizing another HUMAN animal for what it is without emotionally quantifying it as somehow more or somehow less. I'm not needing to take the high road to do that. It's basic science. All I have to do is step back and acknowledge it.
It takes time to fully heal from the injuries we've sustained, but I do believe there comes a point where we have to push ourselves over those last few barriers. We can't have it both ways, can we? to hold onto our grievances and still achieve our goals? What I found when I really put my grievances under the microscope was that I wasn't actually letting the cheating be about the cheater. I was still making it about me.
We're not in JFO or General right now. We're in the Reconciliation forum. We recognize that we are here BY CHOICE, because we've found enough reason to believe our spouse can still become the partner we deserve. No cheater is owed that. We've made that choice for ourselves and with our own free will, we've selected our goals. We are no longer victims, we're volunteers. We've made our "stay or go" choice, which is never to say that it can't be unmade, but it is to say that like anything else worth having, it requires effort on our part. We have conferred upon our formerly errant spouse a new opportunity and for our part, the end game is to clean the slate, is it not? If it's not, what the hell are we wasting our time for? It's the grievance or the future. We can't have both. We have to find a way to let one or the other go, which is an easy choice if our cheater isn't worthy of our effort. Our very presence here though assumes that s/he is.
Anyway, that's what helped me. I needed to take a more Buddhist view of suffering, which naturally led me to question what part my own ego had in it. I found that it was quite a bit more than I had first considered and that when I applied a more global context, it was easier to let some of my injuries go. Your mileage may vary of course.