Facing the Pain of Infidelity

facing the pain of infidelity“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” – Kenji Miyazawa

The pain of being betrayed by your spouse is a strong feeling that can be difficult to process.  Why? Because the trauma of the betrayal creates within us many emotions, such as fear, confusion, shame, guilt, anger, and resentment.

These feelings are conveniently mixed in with our love for the very person who betrayed us – hence the difficulty in processing the betrayal.

There comes a time in our recovery and healing process however, where we may be faced with the decision to choose to remain angry, bitter, or resentful and assume the posture of a victim.  Or instead, choose to embrace the pain of the betrayal, while attempting to understand it and work through it to heal.

I would love to be able to say that I chose the second option. But I didn’t. At least not at first.

Since I had never experienced such pain as the betrayal inflicted, I didn’t really know how to process it. I didn’t know how to deal with it on the surface, much less from an emotional standpoint. So instead, I not-so-skillfully combined the tactics of repression, self-doubt, avoidance, resentment and confusion to muddle through.

Many in the psychological and holistic community, when talking about dealing with pain and other difficult emotions, tell you that you must acknowledge the feeling, accept it as real and then use its power to learn from and help you move forward.

That’s all fine and dandy but facing the pain of infidelity is no easy task. So instead we tend to either wallow in the pain or try to avoid it altogether.

As hard as it may seem, there is value in emotional pain. The pain can help us to slow down and take our time to really understand it. That understanding can eventually lead us toward healing.

I wanted to share an excerpt from a comment a reader once made describing his efforts to face and embrace his pain.

Rather than fight my own mind for control, sometimes I have found it better to just sit quietly with my feelings and embrace them, rather than argue with myself/wrestle/deny/ruminate/hope someone invents a time machine for a do-over. Who’s in charge here, anyway?!

Sometimes my feelings would seem irrational to an outsider who had never gone through this, or even to me. Sometimes my self-justification kicks in. Sometimes my sadness wells up. Sometimes anger towards her and frustration at being impotent to change the past.  Sometimes…(fill in the blank).

In other words, it’s OK to not feel OK! Thoughts lead to feelings. Feelings should be fleeting things, intangible, changing and adaptable. It’s when we get “stuck” in gear that the real trouble starts. At least for me.

So instead of grinding my gears, I try my best to acknowledge that not only are my feelings NORMAL, it would be ABNORMAL for me not to have them. A feather still moves beneath my nose, as I am alive….

So (when I can) I accept them, EMBRACE them as a sign of my normality/humanity.

So as you move through the process of healing from the pain of infidelity, remember you have a choice.  When you’re ready – and only when you’re ready – don’t be afraid to utilize the experience and information that your pain and emotions provide. What you’re feeling is normal and it’s more than OK to have those feelings. But instead of just muddling through them, allow them to provide you with insights and clarity as to who you are and what you want and need.

 

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6 Responses to Facing the Pain of Infidelity

  1. Shifting Impressions August 29, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    Good post…..I so agree that one has to go through the pain rather than avoiding it. This has been and still is the most painful experience of my life. The pain is like being hit by a wave but after a wave hits I remind myself that I am still standing. The hard thing for me is to not let myself wallow. At times I feel as though I can’t breath….but then I remind myself that just like a wave it will pass.

    Part of the difficulty is one never knows when one of those waves of pain will hit and the duration and magnitude of it. It has been nine months since D-day and I think my husband Is just starting to somewhat grasp the impact of his betrayal, at least I think he is.

    The waves of pain are a daily part of my life but I refuse to let them define me………at least that’s what I am attempting.

    I believe it’s just as important for the CS to get in touch with their pain as well……very slow going in our case.

    • tabs August 30, 2014 at 1:00 am #

      SI,

      It’s been 3½ years for me and I still think about the OW… every day. I know that if my husband ever cheats again, I will have the strength to leave the marriage and never look back. I believe my husband knows this too. I do wish there were days I wouldn’t think about the OW, but I have yet to experience it.

      As for the CS getting in touch with their pain, it is a very slow process.

      • Shifting Impressions August 30, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

        tabs
        I don’t think I could go through this again either…..once is more than enough.

        It all takes so long doesn’t it. Just the fact that my husband is starting to let himself feel and think about it all makes me much more hopeful. My fear was that he would just pack it away and not deal with what caused the EA in the first place. But I expect this to take quite some time…….

      • allayfig222 August 31, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

        Tabs, I am at the same point in my recovery (3 years) and having the same problem. I think about his emotional affair every day and am hit by wave after wave of memories daily. I know it is an obsession and wish I could stop wallowing in the pain, but I was blindsided after 36 years of marriage!
        My H claims to remember little of what was said or written during their 18 month telephone/text/email affair and claims to have no idea why he did it or what he got out of the time they spent communicating behind my back. He also claims not to miss the time they spent talking (although he continued for 7 weeks after DDay). Nobody seems to have any idea how to stop me from being hit by daily triggers, short of heavy duty medication. I am at a loss!

        • tabs September 2, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

          SI & Allay,

          I think you may have just put into words what I’ve been pondering for the past years. I worry that my H has no intention of letting himself think about what he’s done.He no longer remembers the dirty details. I’m especially worried that his intentional “brain washing” will allow him to forget just how much pain and anguish I endured. So SI, like you, I wallow in in pain of what happened and what may happen again.

  2. Lost33years September 2, 2014 at 12:12 am #

    3years the 19th of last month was the first of many many double triple DDays . I am finally being heard not just listened to. My h has played every single excuse from the things cheaters say to what they do. I just sent my h a very long text I wrote while up sick Friday. I told him the questions I asked repeatedly his answers constantly changed this made me feel he was manipulating me with half truths and still lying. My text was full of why and how did you change so much to become the man who abused me and invited prostitutes whores and lowlifes to abuse me ? How did you not see how everything you chose to be hurt me? What made you want to become so much less of my best friend my husband my lover my partner all the same questions that he keeps changing the answers to .I am not in this 100% any more.

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