Sometimes we go through things in our life and we feel as though we are the only one who must feel the way we do. I like to research and read articles and blogs that others have written about whatever topic I want to know more about. Something I have heard a lot about recently and have read about are the lingering affects of infidelity. To throw a curve ball in there, let’s talk about alcoholism and infidelity. Is it different than someone without an addiction problem? I cannot answer that because I really don’t have an answer. I am the wife of a recovering alcoholic and have dealt with infidelity so I can talk about what happens years later.
From everything I have read, I have normal reactions like others do. At times you can feel crazy and be really hard on yourself. I have come to understand that no matter what I am feeling, the emotions are real for me for whatever reason and it is up to me to explore why, because when I do that I get to grow and learn about what is really going on. Sometimes all these years later there are things that trigger me about the infidelity and I find when I ignore it the emotions intensify. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does it can be strong and I have to talk about it. Other wise it eats away at my soul. That isn’t always accepted openly by my husband which makes this part so much harder to heal from. I understand completely that it isn’t something that the person who betrayed wants to talk about because it is also something that they have worked through and healed from. However, I do believe it is different because here is the tough part to write about, this is what it does to someone, or a least what it did to me and how I felt when I found out………..
I heard the term once used “emotional murder” and that is really a good way to describe an infidelity because isn’t that what has happened? Many people have no idea that anything is wrong in their relationships. They go along believing that everything is fine or they question the other spouse because they may instinctually feel something isn’t right only to be told “everything is fine” or they are crazy! That happened with me. Then one day they are hit with this painful reality that they never saw coming and the worst part is they have no idea why it has happened. In the beginning it knocks the life out of you, it brought me to my knees gasping for air because you are crying so deeply from a place you never knew existed. You never wanted it to be real so you go into denial. I read in an article that it is just like loosing someone you love, it is that painful. I know you go through your racing mind thinking so many questions you need answered but don’t want answered. You go through so many emotions, your numb, angry, sad, depressed, suicidal, you loose weight, you scream, cry, it is hard to function and form thoughts, it takes all you have to get out of bed every day.
I didn’t know then what it felt like to loose someone but I have since lost someone very close to me who I love so much and I can tell you it absolutely is that painful. Really if you look at it, didn’t a part of you die in that moment when you found out about your spouses infidelity? You need details and it makes you physically sick but it is all normal and part of the healing. You may have nightmares about it and just have these images running through your mind. It will take everything you have at first to keep your feet on the ground. I am telling you all this as dark as it sounds because I want you to know everything you feel, whether you are a man or a woman is absolutely NORMAL and it is how you heal. No matter what you decide to do, to work things out with your spouse or leave you will SLOWLY begin to feel better. For me it was like someone ripped out my heart, stabbed me a number of times stuck it back in my body burnt these images in my mind and left me to think about it day in and day out. I did think about taking a handful of pills because it was so painful, it felt too painful to bare. I didn’t want to really die though, I didn’t want to stop living, I wanted the pain to stop and I needed to know why my husband didn’t love me enough to not do this to me. I needed to know the question that constantly went through my mind. “Why wasn’t I enough”? I stood by him through years and years of drinking and abusive behaviors only to be slapped in the face with this when he got sober………..my thoughts were “What the Fuck”, how could this happen in sobriety?
I can tell you this, when someone decides to get sober it isn’t about just putting down the bottle, pill, powder, syringe, whatever the drug of choice is, it is about cleaning out your emotional house from the inside out. All you have to change is everything. When someone you love and are spending your life with goes outside your marriage with another person on a physical or emotional level you have destroyed your wedding vows. You have killed the life you shared. For those that have been unfaithful if you still don’t get what happens to another person let me be clear, part of us has died! We can and do recover but I am here to share some of the things I have learned over the past 5 years that have been helpful and what is damaging.
You must be 100% completely open to questions, talks, keeping electronics open as to not hide anything from your spouse. If you are rebuilding your marriage, it must be this way for the rest of your life! Not just in the now. I really want to drive this point to those who have betrayed their spouses……….we do NOT bring anything up to shame you, punish you, hurt you, embarrass you. We are simply trying to reach out to you when we are triggered and something has set us off and the best way for you to deal with this is openness, compassion, empathy, and love. Know that this is most uncomfortable and painful for us and if we could never ever think about it again we would do it, but we don’t control our emotions or what triggers us. What we look for even years later in those moments is reassurance, safety, kindness, but most of all an understanding from our perspective, for our emotions.
We all have an imagination, put yourself in your spouses shoes look at the pain in their eyes in that moment and feel what they feel. Love them through it. No matter how hard it is for you take yourself out of it and know these are the consequences from your actions. Put your spouse before yourself. Don’t be nasty or cruel, they aren’t trying to hurt you by sharing something so upsetting they are looking for assurance and to hear from you that it isn’t the way we feel, that we are Ok, that these feelings are normal from time to time and that you are there for us. You really have no right to get angry or be mean in anyway because you are suppose to protect your spouse. No one is crucifying you, we need to continue to heal and in that moment we are reaching for you, looking to you to be there for us because we need that assurance. Sometimes it can feel as those it is happening again and it brings up all those feelings. I can tell you this with absolute certainty.
When you handle these moments with love and understanding from another’s perspective you create a deeper bond and a deeper trust that we have in you knowing and reiterating that what we have known all along, we really are safe, we can trust you, we just had a moment where the devil plays with your mind. These feelings do pass, but it passes much easier with love rather than hate. The same goes the other way too though. IF you are cruel, call names, are not open, think of only yourself and don’t comfort your spouse and find some understanding in how they are feeling then shame on you! You help create that pain to linger and you have showed us that we can’t trust you to care for us. If you are in recovery then you absolutely know better! There are so many tools for you to use to be that person that you need to be for your spouse in that hard moment for them. Don’t let them go through it alone! When you do that all you show is that you can’t be trusted and you really aren’t there for your spouse. Making amends is part of recovery as well as the words “Don’t cause harm to another person” should be remembered more times than not.
I don’t know if being a recovering alcoholic/addict even matters as far as behavior goes. Like if someone with an addiction acts differently than someone who doesn’t, but that is neither here nor there to me. What I do know though is if you are in recovery and you are behaving in the same ways you were when you were drinking or using then you are clearly not embracing your recovery program and you aren’t working it in the way you are suppose too and you know that. That isn’t a judgment it is a fact! I can tell you that I see when my husband isn’t living in recovery because of his behaviors in the way he reacts to certain things. If you go back to a time when you were able to talk openly and be that person that you spouse needs and you were working your recovery faithfully then you will be able to see where you are falling short IF you are honest with yourself. I know people can feel it too. The way YOU behave is NOT someone else’s fault. We are all responsible for ourselves and how we CHOOSE to react to things happening around us. Here is an analogy……..If you claim to be an actively religious person serving God and others and I see you driving like a maniac and flipping people off, well your kind of missing the point there. See where I am going with this? There are people that can be in recovery and actively go to meetings but are not actively practicing living a recovered life. You can’t expect your life to be different if you are behaving in the same ways no matter how much sobriety you have.
I love my husband dearly. He is the most important person in my life. I have been committed and devoted to our relationship from day one 17 1/2 years ago. That doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes or say things that may be hurtful. The difference is I don’t set out to intentionally say things or do things that I know will cause pain. When you do things purposefully that cause pain for another person that is called being malicious, you are conscience of what you are doing yet continue to do it anyway. The way to change things around is to think of your self LESS, that is called humility. It is OK to put another’s feelings above your own especially when you know they are hurting a great deal and you have had a part in it. You can heal and rebuild your marriage after infidelity. It takes a lot of time and patience and commitment of openness between you both. Know that it is also normal to have triggers years later and you will react emotionally to them and that is OK, continue to be open with one another, because if that stops you cause more damage.
We are human, it is a deep wound that we have forgiven but it still flares up sometimes, that is all normal. It is easy for people to walk away from things but it takes strong people who are dedicated to making it better to stay. The grass is only green where you care for it and there are different stages of your marriage. Talk about everything openly and be able to receive whatever the other person talks about, sex, money, family, Etc. The only way we grow together is respecting we are different and what one has no emotions too the other may feel deeply about. Embrace your differences and try to understand, at least make an effort to want to understand. This person is the person you want to spend forever with, why hurt them? Why criticize them? Cherish them, love them, love all they bring to your life. Be the person you want your spouse to be for you. Fall in love often, surprise them, do nice things for one another. It isn’t about keeping score. If one person initiates love making all that should matter is the intimacy itself. I understand the need to feel wanted but we all go through different stages in life of low and high libidos and changes of life. Open communication helps you feel closer. A husband and wife should be able to talk about anything and everything hard and easy.
It is always a good time to do the right thing. It is best to always be honest. When you are kind and compassionate especially to our loved ones it gives us an opportunity to form a deeper bond with them and regain trust we have lost in behaving badly. There is never a time or an excuse for being cruel to another human being and if you are behaving that way to your own spouse that is definitely not something to be proud of and you need to make right, right now! I have learned that at anytime when we least expect it we can loose those we love. To never have an opportunity to make things right or say those words you wanted to but didn’t thinking you’ll have another chance, don’t wait you may not get that chance. If we can all remember to stop before we speak. Think about what we are about to say before we say them. If you look in the mirror and say “you fucking asshole, you are so fucked up” and you actually see yourself talking that way to yourself think about how that makes someone you love feel. None of us are perfect but we can all do better, we can all be better. We must be more open, and compassionate because this life we live and those who love us are a gift, but God will need them back one day remember that and live life being kind and loving!
Wishing you Peace & Serenity, Harmony