When Infidelity strikes then your life becomes a life full of questions:
Why: Why did they do it? Why did they not tell me? Why did they lie? Why are they still lying to me? Why don’t they understand the pain I am in? Why, why. why why…..Why did I do it? Why did I lie? Why did I risk everything I have? Why didn’t I think? Why are they still bringing it up? Why are they still crying? Why are we still talking about this? Why won’t it just go away?
How: How could they do this to me? How could they do this us, our family? How could they sleep with another person? How could they have been attracted to her/him? How long was the affair going on for? How could I have not seen it? How long will this pain go on for? How long before I get back to normal? In fact How Long? Could have a section all of it’s own. Followed by the How Will’s: How will I ever live with the knowledge of this? How will I live without them? How many times did they meet? How many times did they have sex? How many times did they call each other? How, how, how, how, how….How could I have done it to her/him? How could I have thought that I was better there? How could I have lied to them so many times? How could I not think about my family? How could I have done that, when I loved my wife/husband so much?
What: What were they thinking? What were they doing when we were out with them? What did they talk about? What were they unhappy with? What if they contact them again? what if they are still lying to me? What if I cannot move on? What if they do it again? What, what, what, what ……What was I thinking? What can I do to make it better? What can I do to stop them crying?
Will: Will they come back? Will they stop? Will they be sorry? Will it be alright? Will it get better? Will the pain go away? Will a day come when I stop thinking about it? will, will, will, will, will ………..Will I be able to go back? Will they have me back? Will they forgive me? Will I be able to make it better? Will we recover?
How? Where? Why? What? Do? When? Are ……..
The questions just go on and on.
From the betrayed’s point of view we question ourselves about what we really saw, what we really knew, struggle to admit that we have in fact lied to ourselves. That is a hard one, because in most cases: Yes, we have.
We ask ourselves if we ever really knew this person at all. Was it all just crap, just an illusion that we did not see through? Was our life together just one big lie? God knows, whilst Danny was gone for those twenty one days I imagined that he was in fact gay, that he had illegitimate children, that he was having an affair with a man at work. Even now I rarely look at our wedding photos, even though I know that in fact what we had at that moment in time was real. Because what happened destroyed it all and I could not believe that it was real for a long time; so once we made new memories I looked at those instead. In fact when I look at our wedding photos I feel pity for the woman standing there, because I know the heartbreak and pain that is going to come her way.
Then we move on to the ‘should I stay? Or should I go?’ questions. Or if the betrayer has already left we ask ‘could we have them back? Would we want them back? Did I really mean so little to them? Am I worthless? I came out fighting, but not everyone can.
If they return there is the interrogation stage: trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense (not then anyway, for some it never does). We ask them the same questions over and over again; and it doesn’t matter what answer they give us we don’t believe them. Eventually Danny told me what he thought I wanted to hear, and I still didn’t believe him. It was only when I found myself and got stronger that I realised that I just didn’t care anymore: what had happened had happened and all the answers in the world were not going to change it. you can read about them here and here
I am going to share with you now the questions that were the most important to me; they were the questions that I asked myself often. As you know I kept a journal, and that got me and us to where we are today. But when you write a journal it is different to even writing a blog, because you do not have to even consider in the back of your mind what your reader will think: because the reader is you; and if you lie in your journal, or cut a corner, the only person that you are lying to is you. Here are the questions that I asked myself that helped me get to where I am today:
Have I lied to myself: Yes.
When I look back I had a gut feeling for a long time that something was going on. I ALWAYS look back to the night that Danny brought me home from their house and then went back there; the night that I walked around the house talking to the dog and calling Danny a cunt. You can read the post here
Really I was calling myself it: because deep inside I knew that I was not confronting the reality of what was in front of my nose.
Have I admitted that to myself now? Yes. By doing that I knew that the anger that I felt was actually fifty per cent directed at me; and by recognising that I used it as a tool to find myself again and NEVER lied to myself again.
Did I listen to Danny in the past: when he tried to tell me that he never thought he would keep me?
No. I thought that loved him thereby he must feel secure and if he didn’t it was his problem.
Have I learnt from that? Yes.
I have learnt that just because I am a confident person not everyone is. I have also learnt that some people who are not confident turn on the confident people and set out to destroy them; and over the time I have learnt (even since moving here to France ) to spot those people and steer away or confront them as is neccessary.
Should I have listened to Danny then: Yes.
Do I really need to know how many times they had sex? No.
Is knowing how many times they had sex, kissed, met, talked about me going to make any difference to my decision making? No. Danny had sex, kissed, met with someone else, lived with someone else, and talked about me with someone else. Knowing how many times was not going to make any difference to my decision.
The way Danny behaved when he came back was the only thing that was going to affect my decision. (That and my ego if I had let it!) I think that we get caught up in the semantics because we have been lied to before and now we have to know EVERYTHING! How will we ever know everything? All I need to really know was that he did it, & why he did it (and to be honest I never really found out why, even today Danny still wonders that himself!) I needed to know he was sorry and showing it and then decide if I could stay.
What am I going to achieve?
A question I had to ask myself honestly often: when I was thinking about going over phone records again, or being a bitch again, or walking away from it all. Going over the phone records was not going to make a difference to whether I stayed or went: I did go over the phone records, often, and then one day I asked myself this question: What am I going to achieve by doing this? The answer was nothing! Only I could make the decision to stay or go based on the actions of the person there with me then.
Being a bitch always led me to ask myself why I was there and what I was doing – see questions, questions, question.? In truth being a bitch never made me feel better, it made me feel powerful at times, but only so that I could regain strength on the back of making Danny pay. Over time I had to ask whether that was something that I still wanted to do, and if that was how I wanted to live my life. The answer to that was: No.
When I thought about walking away and asked myself this question the inevitable voice in my head told me I would be happier, but I had learnt early not to listen to that demon, and I would look at all the things I would lose, and all the things I would gain and I knew that I had a lot more to lose than to gain. (Because Danny was so contrite).
This is a question I still ask myself often today: Everything is cause and effect, everything we do is for a reason and everything we do has consequences. This might be a good one for people who are considering having an affair: perhaps they should ask themselves this.
Am I happy? How often do I rate my happiness in my journal? I can only speak for me when I say if I was looking back two years in and Danny was not contrite and I was not happy then this would have been a factor to whether I stayed or went. I do believe you only have one life.
What are the positives in my life? I list these often in my journal, it is so easy to just see the negatives.
Now I find myself in a position where people ask me these questions:
How long does the pain last? I asked myself numerous times. The answer is as long as you let it.
If the person who betrayed has come back is truly contrite and wants to make it work then it is up to you whether you want to workl with that or not. Perhaps you need to ask why you are there and what you are looking to achieve and then go with the answer….I did, I wanted to stay for the life we had built together, for the laughter we had with each other, for Ethan, to see if we could make it work: to make sure that if I walked away I would know that it was the right decision because I had tried. Really tried.
If the person who has betrayed is not truly contrite, are the same person, don’t seem to have learned, are putting it all back on you then if it were me I would be asking myself why I was there, what I was looking to achieve, did I love myself and was I happy. The answers to those questions would have given me the answer with regard to where my life needed to go. I wasn’t in this position but I think that the posts I write would tell you what the outcome for me would have been. Only you can decide. All I would say is don’t lie to yourself anymore. Don’t lose yourself.
When do you stop thinking about it? This will depend on when do you want to? When do you stop picking? When do YOU decide that you are sick of the crap in your life and you are leaving it behind? In all honesty I finish my book in 2012. There are no time limits, the counsellor told me six months and I held on to that like a limpet. It will depend on whether things keep coming back to bite you on the arse and so many other things beside. But what I do know is that you will stop thinking about it when you make the conscious decision not to let it dominate your life anymore. In whatever way you do it.
Should I trust them? My answer to that is that trust has to be earned; and I truly believe that takes years. In addition you have to trust yourself to listen to your gut because that ties in with whether you will allow yourself to be vulnerable again. So trust is not just about them.
I hope that you have found this blog helpful but it might help to Just keep these questions in your mind:
Why am I here?
Have I lied to myself?
Am I lying to myself?
Am I listening?
What am I going to achieve from doing that?
Do I need to know?
What am I going to do with that information?
What can I do to change things?
Am I respecting myself right now?
Have I found myself again?
What are the positives in my life?
Am I happy?
Why am I here? (Again)
Making This Better the book is now available including the journal entries for the first 5 years of our recovery & the whole 21 days of ‘The War’. Available internationally in paperback and ebook at Amazon and Barnes & Noble also available at Xlibris and Apple Books for iPad and Waterstones Bookstores for click & collect
I would love to hear your feedback.
This is a truly insightful and thought provoking post.
Thank you so much. I will be reading it again.
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Oh thank you, I am so pleased. ❤️❤️
I read through the introductory paragraphs with my head bobbing up and down in agreement. Yep… I asked that, and that, and that… . (sigh) All of those things. I have reached the point now where, mostly, the specifics are irrelevant. No answer will change what happened and I’ve pretty much filled in all of the blanks with my truth (a combination of what he presented as truth mixed with what I believe to be true). Yes, I would have additional questions if something I’ve come to trust as true were to be proven otherwise, but I don’t go hunting anymore.
It’s important to note though, that that is MY decision. If the betrayed spouse is making an effort to reconcile, I believe the cheating partner has the obligation to truthfully answer any and every question asked. Stated another way, I don’t believe that the cheating partner has any right to filter information requested or to decline to answer questions. The betrayed partner gets to decide when the Q&A period of recovery is over. I know there are partners who were the cheaters in the relationship who believe otherwise and to that I say that it’s offensively patriarchal to tell a partner who is trying to heal with you what you think they are entitled to know. Yes, you lost your right to privacy the minute you put your private parts somewhere they didn’t belong.
That said, you are spot on that making the choice to break free of the cycle of questioning and investigating is incredibly liberating and freeing. You just have to get there on your own and not because you’re forced into it.
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I could not agree more with everything you have said my friend. It is strange given what happened but over time I came to realise that the betrayed actually hold all the cards, if the can just find that liberation. Moisy ❤️❤️
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