Affair Recovery and My First Experience With a Therapist

affair recoveryRecovering from an affair is a long and painful experience with many ups and downs.  Most betrayed spouses want the pain and memories to go away and often we put a time limit on how long our affair recovery should take.

I know that in my situation, it has been two years since our D-day and I had hoped by now that I would be completely over the pain and the memories of Doug’s emotional affair.

I believed that since our marriage was on the right track and our relationship is better than it has been in a long time, all the baggage I have carried due to the betrayal of the affair should be gone.  I have learned that this is a difficult expectation and that I have a long way to go before I am completely healed.

Throughout the past year I have experienced many days when I am happy and the affair is but a distant memory, and then I have days when I feel like it happened yesterday, when the sadness spirals out of control and I begin to feel insecure and afraid.

I have days when I desperately want to feel desired and loved by Doug, and days when my self esteem is at an all time low. When I have these days I seriously begin to think about what I need to do to move on.

I feel I have done everything I can possibly do.  I have read more books than I can count. I exercise and take care of myself. I communicate my feelings well. I try to be the perfect wife. Unfortunately, at times it still does not seem to be enough to get me out of this dark place.

These days are usually followed by the same thoughts.  I think about running away and trying to escape the pain.   I know that wouldn’t accomplish anything as I would still be taking my pain with me.  Another thought is to call the doctor and ask for medicine to mask the pain.  My last thought is to consider talking to a good therapist.

After my last episode, which was a little too intense and lasted longer than it should have, I decided it might help to seek counseling.  I felt that by doing this it may take some of the pressure off of Doug and it may be helpful to get a different perceptive of how I am doing.

Monday night was my first session and because this is all so new to me I was very nervous. Thankfully my therapist made me feel very comfortable and secure.  He wanted to know what brought me there and what I wanted to accomplish from our sessions.

I told him our history and why I was there, and after about 30 minutes into our session he told me how amazed he was at how well I am actually doing following such a betrayal. He told me that it takes a very long time to recover from an affair and that I am well beyond what takes many people years to accomplish.

Those words made me feel wonderful because I really wasn’t sure how I was doing. I know in Doug’s eyes he would have liked for me to forget everything two years ago, so I really didn’t know how to gauge my emotions and feelings.

My therapist also asked me to think about if I went to sleep at night and one miracle occurred, what would I want that miracle to be. I told him I wanted to wake up every morning and not think about the emotional affair and the pain it caused. I want to forget about the affair.  So we decided that our goal would be to help me forget about the pain of the affair.

We discussed that when I fight those thoughts, I actually make them stronger and my feelings begin to spiral out of control.  So we discussed how to accept those feelings and the affair, and when I have those thoughts I need to take a few minutes and begin a mind exercise that he demonstrated for me.

He told me to begin breathing in and out and to focus on my breathing and my surroundings, and to tell myself that the affair happened and that I accept that I cannot change it. He recommended I spend a few minutes doing this exercise, and then I need to let it go and try not to think about it.  If the thought reappears, then I do the exercise again. I imagine that eventually I will learn to control my thoughts and stop allowing the affair to consume my head.  I am curious to see if this works.

My therapist also was amazed that I was not employed in the mental health field, or have been through years of therapy.  He said I must be an awesome teacher because I am so aware of my feelings and have the ability to express them so clearly.  I also seem in tune to the feelings of others and have a great knowledge about relationships.

He commented on how well Doug and I have progressed in our relationship and how we have overcome the devastation caused by our faltering marriage and the emotional affair.

He really couldn’t recommend any other advice in addition to what we were already doing.  That made me feel really good and confident that our marriage was on the right track.

I asked him if it is really possible to save a marriage after infidelity and he said positively yes.  He went on to say that so many couples give up too early because it is so difficult to do. It takes so much work and determination that even though many couples still have love in their hearts, the task is so overwhelming that they give up.

He commended me on how hard we have worked to save our marriage and said that Doug is one lucky man to have a wife that decided to stay in the marriage and has worked so hard to make it what it is today.

I decided to continue my sessions.  Honestly I imagine that the therapist and I can learn from each other.  I know that I have as much to offer him as he can offer me!

I believe that even though I know all the things I need to be doing, that it will be beneficial to hear them from someone else — a person who can guide me through the process and help me when I fail.  I plan to keep you posted on my progress here on the blog, and more so in the Affair Recovery Group, in the hopes that relaying my experience will be helpful to all of you as well.

 

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14 Responses to Affair Recovery and My First Experience With a Therapist

  1. michael December 23, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    Doug and Linda,
    Just wanted to say thank you for this year. Its was a great gift to find your site and it has helped me a lot.
    Merry Christmas.

    • Doug December 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

      Michael, Thank you very much, and we also appreciate all of your contributions and sharing of your story and your feelings. Have a great holidays!

  2. mil December 23, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    Same from me!! Hope we can all have a good one xx

  3. blueskyabove December 23, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Linda,

    I’m so happy to hear that you decided to seek individual therapy. There is no doubt in my mind you have much valuable information to share with him. My H and I went to counseling for about 8 months after D-Day. Like you, I read everything I could get my hands on during that time. At the end of therapy I was pretty sure I personally knew more about emotional affairs than the therapist. I don’t mean to suggest the therapist wasn’t helpful, she was. The only time I felt safe was during our counseling sessions and for that I am truly grateful to her, but in retrospect I’m not sure she grasped the complexity of emotional affairs. It takes a lot more than learning to communicate for a marriage to not only survive them but to also thrive as a result of them. Plus, you also have to be blessed with a spouse who is willing to communicate. I’d say both you and Doug are blessed with such a spouse, but not everyone is.

    The breathing exercise he gave you is wonderfully helpful in controlling the “voice in the head” that at times won’t stop. If you would like to explore it further I highly recommend “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. He goes into great detail about how we are all controlled by thoughts of the past (which we can’t change) or worries about the future (which never comes), but most of us don’t live in the Now. Life is now. Life is the present moment. Everything else is a mental projection.

    Tolle guides you through the process of learning to live in the present moment. He uses the breathing exercise (among others) to help you recognize the power within you and to become consciously aware of your thoughts. Not everything you tell yourself if true. A lot of it is just made up thoughts. When you start observing and questioning your thoughts you start regaining control of your life. You then discover that you don’t have to be a prisoner of the past or afraid of what might happen in the future. That freedom is powerful for your well-being.

    “Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.” “The Power of Now”

    I went through a period where I struggled with nonacceptance of the events in my life. I knew it was merely a decision I had to make if I wanted to grow, but I couldn’t make that simple decision. And I, too, wanted to run away…just disappear…but I knew the pain would follow me and so I felt trapped. In “Stillness Speaks” he deals with suffering and nonacceptance. I still find myself resisting at times, still wanting to run away, and I’m further out from the affair than you, but it’s getting easier. Whenever those feelings seem to overtake me I listen to one of Eckhart’s CDs and within minutes I find relief and a sense of peace. It never ceases to amaze me.

    “True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment. Is suffering really necessary? Yes and no. If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you as a human being, no humility, no compassion…Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary.” Eckhart Tolle

    I truly hope that each person on this site can find peace, love and joy. I believe it is possible.

    • hurtwife December 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

      Blueskyabove- THANKS! What an awesome post..SO helpful! AND SO TRUE! I read Byron Katies “Loving what is”which also is about questioning our thoughts and chalaging them to see if they are even true, and living for now, which I and alot of us on this forum struggle with.

  4. Rushan December 24, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    Thank you for all your help this year. I am not sure that I would have come through this year if I didn’t have this blog to see that I am not alone and to see how you and all the people could say the words to describe my feelings and that there are a lot of people who also feel this way and I am not alone. I wish you all a wonder Christmas filled with peace, happiness and the love of God. May you enjoy the time with your families as I hope I am going to do with my family.

  5. maryanna1962 December 24, 2010 at 5:04 am #

    What a powerful and helpful posting blueskyabove, thank you. Linda, thank you for sharing your visit to the therapist, I too, am considering visiting a therapist for advice on how to deal with these “voices”. Its Christmas Eve and I’m not doing so great today but I’m trying to stay positive, I feel the bridge I have built is starting to crumble and I feel insecure, there is no reason why I should be. I’m going to read “blueskyabove”s posting again for some inspiration. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and thank you Doug and Linda for setting up this wonderful site. Take care everybody this holiday season

  6. Yuki December 24, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    I’m so glad to have found your site. It’s been just 2 months for me, and I am struggling to have any kind of normalcy in my life. The pain is so bad I often feel paralyzed by it. I started going to a therapist six weeks ago. She has told me that I need to forgive him, and once I do that, I need to move on and not talk about it anymore. She wants me to focus on the present and future and forget the past. He is here now, she says, and he wants to be with you now. So what if he was in love with someone else for six years? He drifted, and now he has come back to you.

    I am also one who likes to research everything, and I have been reading everything I can find in books and online. No other professional seems to think the same way she does. I don’t think I’m ready to say I can forget the past. Do I need a new therapist?

    • Last2know December 27, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

      Yuki, I would say you need a new therapist. Like Linda I had to feel the pain and accept and tell myself that “it did happen, My H told the ow he loved her”, that was pure hell but now 15 months later we have a better relationship than ever and he can now honestly admit how foolish his EA was and how lucky he is that I decided to stay and make it work. Nothing worth having comes easy. Your pain and your feelings will make you stronger. The forgiveness is for YOU to be able to move on, as far as forgetting well I don’t think that well ever happen. I don’t want to forget because I don’t want my marriage to ever go back to the way it was. Our inability to communicate, taking each other for granted led him astray. That didn’t give him the right to cheat but that is the difference in his personality and mine. Try you best to work on you. As you can see from Linda’s post she has already done most of the work herself, even her therapist said so. Not all therapists have the experience with our type of cases. The resources that Doug and Linda point out are good ones. Just don’t let anyone down play this for you because you and your H have to face this head on. Your H needs to feel the pain too, so don’t forgive too soon.

  7. Melvin April 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    Hi Linda;

    Was wondering if you are continuing your sessions with your therapist ? Can you provide any more feedback on how it went/is going ?

    DW came to me last night and told me she is canceling her sessions after 3 visits. Seems she is not really getting any good advice, she feels that the counselor is privately judging her and the counselor always brings up her childhood as if there is some connection. DW always leaves crying. So, I see her point. Truthfully, she has gotten more advice/help from me through this Website and through other support people in her life.

    Doug, maybe this is a future conversation post – good/bad points about your therapist.

  8. SuzieSuffers October 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    Doug, since you like many of the CS wanted the discussions to end….like 2 years ago, and per even the therapist, this will continue for sometime, even though at a lesser intensity, how are you “managing” the anger that may stir because you want it ALL over and done with…. I know that my husband says he just can’t take it and certainly isn’t convinced this is the right way to go….he just wants to move forward and forget the past. He can be compassionate at times, but most of the time he’s just fed up with it. And you two may even talk about the affair more because it’s brought up EVERY day on the blog….which must be difficult. It would certainly be a trigger for me.

    Linda how did you “convince” Doug that talking about it was the right thing to do…..and get him to work with that concept?

    • Doug October 22, 2011 at 10:05 am #

      Suzie, Certainly there are times that I get frustrated and angry when we have those discussions since I too just want it to go away. I have also learned to express my anger differently now. Instead of suppressing it, I let it out. I think that it is good to express that anger (so does Linda) at times, but I also realize that when we do talk about the affair, it’s because Linda needs to. And if that is what she needs to help her healing, then hey, I’m one less conversation closer to that goal. –Doug

      I guess I “convinced” Doug (I have never been able to convince Doug of anything, he has to figure everything out for himself) by letting him see how suppressing his anger is something that got us into this situation to begin with. I tried to let him know that it is OK for him to be frustrated, I would be too if I had to go over the same conversation over and over again. Just be honest about how you feel and why you feel that way. Communicate your frustrations rather than turn everything around on me, or stone wall or any other stupid things we used to do.

      I am sure that the new comments from the cheaters on this site have opened up many “old” conversations. I know we’ve had our share. As Doug has told me over and over, you know what is reality and fantasy, you know everything there is to know about affairs, don’t allow these comments to bring you down. It is something that I have to remind myself all the time as you will see on my post Thursday. Linda

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