Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum


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Why won’t s/he just get over it?!

Chump Lady addresses the narrative from the cheater. Why won’t my betrayed spouse just get over it?

Until the person you trust with your life shatters your heart and your world, you haven’t a clue.

About the PTSD. The dealing with the health fallout. About losing yourself. About the traumatic, nightly nightmares. About the loss of your world as you know it. About the battle with self harm and suicidal ideation. Home. Job. Friends. Peace. Joy. Security. Safety.

Your ability to trust anyone ever again.

Gone.

The reality is, the cheater thinks they made a booboo.

And now everything is okay again.

Right?

“I had no idea my wife cared so much about our lousy marriage! It means nothing to me and I thought I could just fuck strange and brag to her about it and she’d go back to cooking for me, raising our kids, and washing my shit stained underwear. But she isn’t functioning correctly now! I don’t want to have to get another wife appliance, how do I fix this one?”

That’s not how it works, dude.

Your spouse is now affected by your choices, your actions, your sharing of STIs, forever.

Forever.

Yes. Forever.

We do so much work on ourselves. We heal a bit.

But the effects are permanent.

I was told last week by one of our mutual friends – who nonetheless does see Roger for who he is. Does understand that he is a cheater and a liar – that she is so impressed by what I am building. How far I have come. Her: you have a better life now, Paula. You’ve shaped your own destiny. You have surrounded yourself with empowering, supportive, interesting, fun, educated friends. The (name of small hometown) detritus. You’ve shed that. All those small town entitled bores, you don’t have to deal with them anymore! Yay! Roger’s friends are still in the same mindset. He still operates the same way he always did. You, on the other hand, have completely reinvented yourself, keeping the parts of you that are unique and admirable, and shedding all the crap that came with being “someone’s wife. Someone’s small town mother.”

Yeah. I think I mostly have.

But it doesn’t mean I am healed.

Or am “over it.”

Because you never really recover fully. You just learn to live around the pain and reconfigure your life to cope.


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Move on

If you have never been cheated on, or even if you have, and never really loved the cheater, you have no idea how traumatising and painful recovery is.

I have had multiple people suggest that I must have done something wrong for my beloved partner of over thirty years, the father of my three adult children, to cheat on me.

After all, he’s such a great guy! I must be the problem.

I got:

Well, maybe if you’d been any good in bed? Or fucked him more (both of these from the woman married to his best mate. Second wife. Cheated on her first husband. Apparently they have very little sex, as compared to us who were about 5-6 times a week, for over thirty years!)

and

Oh, you just weren’t the right person for him.

and

he cheated with his ex (cheating) girlfriend? Oh then, they were meant to be, and you just got in the way.

Yeah. Cool stories all around about how I just wasn’t good enough.

Yeah, people and their deep loving feelings are disposable. If you were in love, but they just got sick of you, that makes cheating to leave okay. If you are honest and working to deal with a previous round of cheating, and it was taking time (shock! Horror!) to process it all, learn, grow, rebuild trust, well … yeah, it is just fine that they chose someone else to cheat with. It was fine that he had at least two years, secretly on the online dating apps.
FML.

Recovery is long. It is hard. And the trauma is forever.

Much like a brain injury, it never goes away.

A long term infidelity recoveree sent a lovely letter to Chump Lady about the whole get over it/move on trope.


The thing it, if this has never happened to you, it COULD NEVER happen to you, right?

“That thinking used to drive me nuts and wound my soul until I figured out the subtext of the discussion is really this:
You: This bad thing happened.
Them: That could never happen to me.
You: Uh, well, yeah it could.
Them: Meep (brain explodes).”

As one commenter put it, it doesn’t matter “how long” it has been. That trauma is embodied in us. We carry it everywhere, and mostly – after some time has passed – it behaves.

But, when it is triggered, it is terrifying. Just receiving a message from Roger made me sweat, my hair stood on end, goosebumps, my heart raced, etc. It took me twelve hours or so to calm down enough to even open it. His presence near me (thankfully, that hasn’t happened for years now) fucks me up. He can’t understand what the effects of his cheating, his lies, his giving me diseases that I am still dealing with, are. Why can’t I just “get over it?” After all, I have a new partner, a new life, everything is rosy!

It doesn’t work like that.

“What I can’t get behind is the “it’s been 20 years; why can’t she move on like me?” perspective. 20 years, 2 years… doesn’t matter. No one is required to “move on.”

I admit, however, that this is likely a particular trigger for me. My cheater is a big fan of using “I’ve moved on” as a shield to deflect all criticism. Two months after he left me and the kids for the last time and moved into AP’s house, he was quite early on preaching the gospel about how much more enlightened he was than me because I’d still burst into tears whenever I saw him and he would gently roll his eyes and ask me why we all just didn’t “move on like he can.” Two years later and he was much the same: “Everybody should be like me and move on. The past is the past. (Stop thinking about my many affairs.)”

My last D Day is now over ten years behind me and I’m still working on me. I was in survival mode for a long time raising kids on my own and racking up that single mom debt and going on and off antidepressants. Anytime I see him my stomach twists and I feel nauseous. Theres a lot of PTSD going on. Thankfully my interactions with him are minimal. Getting to where I am now took a lot of work.

But I can almost hear him or other well-meaning bystanders intone “It’s been ten years. You should be over it by now. Move on.” To them I say, “Listen, if this man had stabbed me or physically assaulted me I would be uncomfortable around him ten years later or even forever. This is not all that different.”

Sometimes we just don’t want to be around someone who caused us great pain and the amount of time between that event and now (ten years, twenty years) is an illusion. I’m not a big fan of the “Argh, it’s been [period of time], get over it already just like me” defense because my XH was using that line straight out of the post-affair discovery gate. I side-eye anyone these days who says that moving on means being okay with your abuser being physically around you just because a certain number of years have passed.”

THIS!!! This is my experience. I get very upset and emotional about him.

Still.

It still hurts so much. I still feel “not good enough.” And he can still make me feel like I am not coping. Or being as cool as him, because “he’s over it.”

So, I prefer no contact. This was the man I LOVED SO VERY, VERY MUCH!

And he just loves someone else. It’s the most enormous shit sandwich, and you just have to find a way to cope. To live. To carry on.

Those who have never experienced this kind of loss just have no way of getting it, and telling US to get OVER it, is like throwing fuel on the fire. MORE not good enoughs.

I even thought my friend, who so tragically lost her young son, would start to understand the kind of loss I have been dealing with, but she hasn’t. Death is truly terrible, a permanent and exceptionally painful loss. However, losing someone you love very deeply, TO SOMEONE ELSE is next level. If her son had written her off, never speaking with her, loving another family instead, I can’t imagine she would react any differently to how I have. It is still a deep scar.

Different, but every bit as painful.

I always said, I chose Rog. As my life partner. I worked really, really hard at being a good partner, putting everything into our life together. We had such a good life. Such a lovely connection. We were such a great match. We were gonna get back to “just us” much sooner than many of our friends, because we met young. Had children before 30, etc.

I love my kids to bits, but they were the people who arrived. I didn’t “choose” them as such. And they were always expected to leave home, flourish elsewhere.

Roger wasn’t supposed to ever leave. He certainly wasn’t supposed to love someone else!

So yeah. You move on.

But it isn’t wrapped up in pretty packaging, with feathers, rhinestones and ribbons. It’s a painfully reconstructed new life.

That can still be very easily dented by the cheater who broke your heart.


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Lingering

I found some old photos of BG, with his first love.

The one who cheated.

The one I have been a little nervous about, as in, how can he ever love me when he had this gorgeous, sexy creature who managed to steal his heart?

But I looked at her and all the fake is there. In one picture, he is absolutely beaming with joy at the camera (clean shaven, so weird, I love it, but I also love his glorious beard) holding his mate’s newborn daughter, and Chrissy is sitting awkwardly beside him, gazing at him. And all the fake is obvious. Fake tits, fake tan, overplucked eyebrows, overbleached, broken hair…

And I realised I had put her on this pedestal. The only woman he ever loved, this beautiful, petite woman who got his heart in his mid-late 40s.

And then I read the post below. And it is the story of mine and several betrayed wives I know. You get happier. You find yourself after years or self doubt and pick me dancing, wondering why your cheater won’t love and be faithful to you. But – and I emphasise this, you NEVER “get over it.” It’s trauma. And becomes embedded in you.

Today is the 5 year “anniversary” of D-day for me. Gosh I was so naïve and trusting of my ex husband. We had been married for 25 years. I have gained so much in the last 5 years. Mostly I gained back myself and I know I can do hard things and navigate life on my own. He has lost so much, mainly the respect of his daughters. Not sure he even realizes how little respect they have for him and he blames me–he says I brainwashed them (they are 23 and 26). Anyway, those of you in the trenches, you will probably never “get over” it, but you will find happiness!!