This post contains more of ‘my truth’ about my relationship with my ex, recovering alone from infidelity and why it is not just plausible – it is possible.

Recovering Alone from Infidelity

By Sarah P.

“The truth will set you free, but not until it’s had its way with you.” –David Foster Wallace

This piece is about recovering alone from infidelity and why it is not just plausible – it is possible. This post also contains more of ‘my truth’ about my relationship with my ex as I continue to sort through the wreckage of what used to be a predisposition toward trusting those closest to me.

I have found that having continuing insight and realizing more ‘truths’ about the situation continues me on the path toward emotional freedom. I struggle daily with trust and this is not fair to my husband. It is something I am continually working on.

When you discover infidelity, your life is upended. Sometimes you don’t reconcile or sometimes even after reconciliation, something happens that causes the wayward spouse to throw in the towel. As a betrayed spouse, you are no longer sure that your marriage could ever recover since your spouse is not helping. I have been there with my ex.

The good news is, you can be the only one on the path to recovery – indeed the only one interested in recovering – and still affect change in your marriage. You can affect change in you and that is a powerful thing because that change in you has a ripple effect that touches everything and everyone around you. But, even if you don’t choose to stay in your marriage or if your spouse refuses to give you any answers, you can recover alone.

Changing you can affect everything.



Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask

After going through an affair, you have probably realized that there was not a whole lot you could have done to change the outcome if your spouse was set on cheating. Some of you may have spouses who don’t want to attend therapy, who don’t want to talk about it, or, heaven forbid, who may even want to walk away. This is a scenario where we must talk brass tacks and where you must save yourself and change your own behavior.

But, first I wanted to talk about an epiphany I had the other day. I was watching a video blog where the fellow giving the talk brought out something new about narcissists. He said that a true narcissist will selectively withhold valuable information to cause his or her victim to reach an erroneous conclusion. They do this in order be the puppet master in their relationships.

The Narcissistic Tactics of Wayward Spouses

Often betrayed spouses remark that a wayward spouse either out right lies to them or selectively tells information that will intentionally lead a betrayed spouse to a false conclusion. Both wayward spouses and narcissists do this to control the situations around them.

Many readers have remarked before that a spouse in the affair fog appears to also be a narcissist. That is, he or she behaves in ways that are common to narcissists. Even after the affair fog has passed, sometimes a betrayed spouse will notice that the wayward spouse still fiercely guards information. When this occurs, I believe it is with the intention of continuing to control the situation. Unfortunately, this can also affect recovery because the betrayed spouse can sense that the wayward spouse continues to guard information that would be valuable to the betrayed spouse.

Indeed, the wayward spouse often knows that telling the whole truth as well as telling every detail will take away his or her power. The wayward spouse knows this might cause the betrayed spouse to leave permanently because of the acts that the wayward spouse divulges.

The Unrepentant and Their Rage

Some wayward spouses only regret that they got caught, but they don’t genuinely regret the harm they caused. This is especially true of a wayward spouse still in the affair fog. This is why they can become white-hot with anger toward the betrayed spouse. They are angry that they got caught and they are angry that they are now answerable to somebody for their actions.

They are angry about what they perceived as fun coming to an end or at least being harder to hide. Most of all, they are angry that the proverbial cake and its platter was taken from them. Some can never be angry at themselves for hurting their family, but only angry at themselves for not being more careful in their deception. This is where narcissism and the affair fog overlap.




Why Your Change Can Affect Your Spouse

In the science community, there is a concept called homeostasis, which has been generally applied to biological mechanisms. Wikipedia defines it as “the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.” For example, the human body is able to maintain a temperature around 98.6 no matter what the external temperature of the surrounding environment. Of course, this does not include extreme circumstances such as when a person is locked outside in 30 degree below zero weather without a coat and boots. The body would not be able to maintain a temperature required for life for very long.

The therapy community also uses the concept of homeostasis. In traditional therapy, if an issue arises, the issue is pinned on the one family member who is problematic. In family systems therapy, whatever issue emerges is interpreted as a sign that a family system is out of balance.

Homeostasis is likened to being ‘neutral’ and the state where a family is behaving in a way where it is ‘business as usual.’ Now, business as usual for a family does not mean interactions are healthy. A family usually struggles when one person changes his or her behavior.

Dan Smith notes:

“In recent years, the view of the family as a “system” has become an increasingly popular and important theoretical framework for counselors and family therapy professionals. By definition, a family system functions because it is a unit, and every family member plays a critical, if not unique, role in the system. As such, it is not possible that one member of the system can change without causing a ripple effect of change throughout the family system.

In stark contrast to the systems view, families have been traditionally seen as a group of more or less independent agents linked by their membership in the family, and any given member’s behavior was not necessarily related to the behavior of any other member. With such a restricted view of the family, it is entirely likely that a parent might state, “I have two children; my daughter is terrific, but my son is always in trouble. Since I raised them both the same way, there must be something dreadfully wrong with my son.”

Challenging Family Roles and Homeostasis

Within the systems view, the above statement would be interpreted quite differently. Each member of the family plays a specific role; the son is literally assigned his negative role, and the daughter assumes her role with equal determination. Upon closer examination of this family, several factors could be operating that have created and sustain the system… A key feature of the systems view of families is the concept of “homeostasis,” which is defined as a kind of inertia, which actually works against change in the system.” (1)

Seen in this light, business as usual or homeostasis is not necessarily a positive thing. In family systems therapy, when one person is acting out it would indicate that there is a problem within the family and when one person steps out of his or her role in the family, it affects everyone. Some families choose to take a look at the family system and each person’s contributing behavior while others do not. Some choose divorce, thinking that their problems will not follow them if they enter a new family.

But there is an issue with this, as Dan Smith points out:

“Many families under stress elect divorce as the means of distancing themselves from the problems caused by a dysfunctional system. While this is certainly a popular remedy for seemingly irreconcilable problems, unless the divorcing parties resolve their own contributions to the failed relationship, there is strong likelihood that old and destructive behaviors will re-emerge in subsequent relationships. It has long been said that you can divorce your spouse, but you can never divorce yourself; unresolved dysfunctional behavior patterns are easily transferred to new relationships. We tend to take our familiar role in one system and seek to repeat that role in other systems we enter.” (1)


In fact in most cases, it’s changes made by just one of the partners that brings about marital change.


How Does This Apply to Infidelity?

I felt it was important to provide a very brief background on the concept of homeostasis before I jump in to how this concept might apply to infidelity. The concept of homeostasis demonstrates how the change in one person can affect the entire family system and family dynamic. Without providing this context up front, I felt that it would be more difficult to connect the dots. The concept of homeostasis also applies to the idea that one person’s change can change a marriage. So is solo affair recovery possible? What is the likelihood of it working if only one person wants to be healthy?

Rick Reynolds, LCSW, says this about solo change:

“In fact in most cases, it’s changes made by just one of the partners that brings about marital change. Marriages don’t change bilaterally they change unilaterally. It takes both husband and wife covertly colluding to continue the same relational patterns to keep the marriage the same. If only one person changes the relational dance the other partner has no choice but to adapt in response to that change. For example, if one partner withdraws and stops engaging their mate they effectively change the dance of the marriage. If one party chooses to adopt healthier response patterns or to eliminate destructive response patterns the marital dance has to change. The person going solo in recovery from infidelity isn’t powerless; rather they’re the only one willing to make a difference.

Going it alone isn’t about trying to control or manipulate one’s mate into change; rather it’s about taking responsibility for their own behavior and choosing to alter their own response patterns to ones, which promote health. Attempts at changing one’s mate have little if any effectiveness in improving marriage. However, the person going it alone can certainly explore how to grow into the person they want to be and how to alter their responses to promote health regardless of their mate’s behavior. It’s those positive changes made by the person who is working on their personal recovery that challenge their mate’s perspective and begin to create new hope that things could be different.” (2) 

Impact of Personal Change on Relationship Dynamics

The principle is that all relationships have a kind of status quo that is kept and everyone does their conscious or unconscious part to keep the status quo. Once someone within the dynamic changes, it unsettles everyone and others either resist or also have to change. If you have a spouse who is open to changing, a change in you can help this process along. If your spouse is not open to change, a change in you will still force your spouse to take some kind of action, even if it is in the form of resistance. 

See also  Being Vulnerable Again after You Have Been Betrayed

In my case, my change did not bring my ex back, but that was not the goal for me. My goal was to recover from the trauma of infidelity. Because of the situation, I had to do it solo.



My Story 

I wanted to back up a bit and talk about my own experience with an affair. Doug had mentioned in an email that I could feel free to add more details about it if I wished. I realized today that I should do it because of an awareness that clicked for me. 

I came to the realization that though the other woman was the catalyst for him, he had issues in his own family of origin that pre-disposed him to straying. It came back to the issue with his mom. 

I was reading a blog about covert incest between parents and children: father’s who use their daughters as emotional replacements and mothers who use their sons for emotional replacements.  The blog described a list of specific behaviors that occur when this happens.

The blogger’s descriptions fit the narrative of my ex’s relationship with his mom, or at least what I knew from the times I met her or how she interacted with him via email or phone. I had not realized it before because his mom presented the image that she and her husband were happily married. But, the blog post triggered a ton of memories of things he told me as well as the way she interacted with him.

A Little More Background… 

To give some more background: he was adopted and the adoption was done in such a way where there wasn’t paperwork. He was adopted after his parents were 50 years old and an only child. His mom was definitely a narcissist, in retrospect, and I remember him telling me she had multiple marriages before she met his college professor father. He said their marriage had been rocky due to what his father said were her ‘personality problems’ and his father had threatened with divorce several times. 

His mom liked to project her issues on to whatever girlfriend he brought home of whom he brought home she always said, “You need to watch out for her, she is going to have multiple husbands!” I had never encountered narcissists or other personality disorders before, or if I did, I did not know it. I also never encountered mother/son enmeshment. 

His mom was set on controlling his life. He had to call her several times a day from work and kind of talked to her in this babying tone and told her he loved her. (His male coworkers laughed behind his back.) She bought clothes for him, had him strip down to his boxers, and made him try them on in front of her. I was present on a couple of occasions when she did this. She bought furniture for our house as a present for him, not for us. 

Navigating Family Dynamics and Social Status

Though she never treated me badly, she did always deal with me in passive aggressive ways. She always talked about how important it was to have ‘social grace.’ One time I bought her a new, limited edition Junior League cookbook because he told me she would love it—and she pretended to love it. Apparently she didn’t because she gave me an antiquated Miss Manners book about note writing after that. 

I tried to be the perfect guest when we visited them. I always brought gifts, helped with dinner and dishes, and said ‘please and thank you’ more than anything else. Never did I bring up controversial topics and kept ‘polite’ conversation. I was partially raised by a grandmother whose parents were from the Victorian era and I was taught very strict manners. My peers always thought my manners to be over the top, but apparently they were not good enough for my ex’s mom. 

Family Tensions and Social Expectations

There was always something that kind of hung in the air between us. Tried as I did, she would not let me get close. But, his mom’s sister let me get close, as did my ex’s father, and as did the rest of his mom’s extended family. His mom’s sister and I were very similar and got on fantastically.

His mom was very much into social status and that is all she ever spoke about. My social status was not high enough. Like him, both of our fathers were college professors with PhD’s and successful academics. But, she would say to him, “Why not look for the daughter of a senator or the daughter of a corporate CEO?” Even though she herself was married to a college professor, the daughter of a college professor was “low class.” Did she grow up wealthy? No, her sister told me that during the great depression they would chew on old gum they found in the road. There was definitely a mommy issue and I genuinely did not see it at the time. 

Our relationship began like something out of a romance novel, although we were great friends for an extended period of time before there was chemistry. He and I were by all accounts well suited for each other. Our mutual friends thought we were the perfect couple and literally “made for one another.” I thought so too and he brought out feelings in me that I had never felt in prior relationships. Not even close.


The Beginning of the End 

I think the beginning of the end started 6 months before he broke up. I did not know this at the time, but this is what I have been able to piece together. Friends told me he met the OW at a networking event for those in our field. (Friends told me he had started sleeping with her almost immediately after they met and that was approximately 6 months before the end.)

Around that time (6 months before he broke up) we went to Europe together for a couple of weeks. He acted very uncharacteristically during that trip. It was supposed to be the height of romance because we were attending someone’s wedding. We were planning an extended trip to Corsica and other islands. He was planning on showing me all of his old haunts in Europe and I was planning on showing him mine. The most important part was that I was desperately in love. What could be better? 

Signs of Trouble

He started drinking a lot on the plane ride over and continued his drinking binge while we stayed at the family home of the couple who was soon to be married. Odd points of silence seemed to infect the whole trip. I kept asking him what was the matter and he said everything was fine. Normally, we could talk until all hours of the night and we had been great friends before our relationship had become romantic. He was acting distant even though we were supposed to be having a blast. 

He instigated a fight on the plane ride back from Europe. But, we returned home and continued plans for our future. Sometimes he was moody, but mostly he wasn’t. He often played tennis with his friend Paul every Monday and Wednesday since I worked. I am pretty sure Paul covered for him and that he was with the OW. 

I remember one time he came home and he smelled like a woman’s perfume. The thought that he was cheating did not even cross my mind since everything seemed fine. There were no outward signs of the affair and maybe since I was working so much, I did not notice them. 

A Chilling Premonition and an Uneasy Return

There was one event that tipped me off to the idea that something was amiss. I had been sent to software training in San Francisco with several other co-workers. On the night of September 10th, 2001, coworkers and I sat on the water looking at the SF Bay and had cocktails and tapas. I remember looking at the lights on the water and being flooded with this feeling that I was no longer safe. As I looked out on the water my thought was, “Something is coming.” I was woken up early the next morning, September 11th, 2001, by a call to my hotel room from my mom. She told me to turn on the TV because our country was under attack. 

The training was cancelled. Flights home were cancelled. Trains were delayed. One male coworker found a Jeep Wrangler that was left at a rental car company. He asked if we wanted to make the 20-hour drive home—take it or leave it. Another female coworker and I loaded the car with our male coworker and decided to drive straight through. The rest wanted to wait on the trains. 

I called my fiancé and let him know we were driving straight through. He got really angry at me and asked why I was coming home early. He thought I should stay in SF even though training was cancelled indefinitely. I arrived at 4am in the morning and found him in our bed pouting, but he would not talk about what was wrong. Still, he made a physical move on me and seemed back to normal after we were done.



Life Went on as Usual

He got me another custom ring for Christmas and had picked out the emeralds and diamonds. When I opened it, he said in a resentful tone, “I hope it makes you happy.” His mom turned as white as a ghost and left the room. I felt like I was living in the twilight zone. 

A week later, I came home late and he was in tears. He said he had met his mom for dinner and she told him, “I will die an unhappy old woman if you marry her.” I wanted to talk to him about it but he wouldn’t say more. He just cried and said he would handle it. I felt awful and asked how I could make it up to her, but he wouldn’t discuss it further. At the time, I believed his mom said that, but in retrospect I believed he had probably been out to dinner with the OW and the OW had said that. His mom lived three hours away. 

The Breakup Announcement

After that, everything was back to normal again for a little while. But, soon enough, my life was to change. 

During a day in mid-January, I had gotten home early and prepared dinner. He walked in the door, poured himself a glass of wine, and stood by the fireplace. A nice fire was going, a steak and all of the trimmings were waiting on the dining room table, and without emotion he looked at me and said, “we are never getting married.” 

At first I thought I had misunderstood and I was puzzled. Then he repeated it, “we are never getting married and you are moving out.” 

I said, “I don’t understand, can we talk about this?” 

“No, gather your things. You are moving out.” 

“I don’t understand—so we are breaking up and you want me to move out?” 

“Gather your things…” 

“What did I do? Can you tell me why this happened?” 

He grew angry, “I said you need to move out!” 

“Can we talk about this?” 

He threw something against the wall and said, “Don’t you get it? We will never be together and you need to leave!” 

See also  Why Can't I Remember Things After the Affair?

A Sudden Shift in Behavior

I don’t have any memory of what happened after that. I remember waking up panicking in the morning. He had already left for work. I talked to some female friends at work (and none of us had heard about the OW yet) and they were also blindsided by his actions. They could not understand what had happened since he had appeared happy and talked positively about me to everyone. They were certain that if any relationship would last, it was ours. 

By the time he got home, I had understood that he was breaking up and even though I didn’t know why, I needed to keep a clear head. 

My name was the first name on the title of the house. So, when he got home, I said the following: “I understand that you don’t want to stay together, but I don’t think it is fair that I should leave since you are the one breaking up.” 

My statement was met with more raging on his part. He couldn’t see my point of view and would not give me even the smallest hint as to what went on. 

I asked him to officially move into the guest room. I told him not to touch me because that would make it harder than it already was. This was his decision and so he needed to own it. 

The next night, I calmly asked again why he was breaking up. His mantra was, “I guess I never loved you.” That was that, and he wouldn’t say anything else. 

Contrasts in Character: Before and After

Each day, we went to work as usual and each night I packed some of my things while proposing that he move out and that I find a roommate. Each time I said that, he flew into a fit of rage. He would give me the smallest indication of what was happening or why. I also sometimes asked if there was another woman and he would say, “What? I am not that kind of guy! Why would you say that?!” 

To put this in perspective, prior to this, he was not a heavy drinker, did not fly into rages, and did not throw things. To put it more into perspective, I will tell you a story about how he used to be. 

Our company was giving training and he chose to take Dale Carnegie training in the evenings. He asked me to attend his graduation because he would be giving a speech. His speech, in front of 200 people, was about how much I meant to him and how the training made him realize what the most important thing was to him—that was a future with me and a relationship with me. He blushed like a happy schoolboy when he gave the speech and my heart melted. Afterwards, he told me he had wanted me to have a romantic surprise and he wanted me to hear him profess his love in front of all of those strangers. 



The Final Decision

One night, I stopped asking for reasons but I asked if his decision was final. He said it was and that there was no discussing that either. Because of that I reiterated that there was to be no more physical contact ever again because I needed to start getting over the loss. I was beside myself with grief and I knew if he continued to hold me, kiss me, or touch me it would destroy me. I know the power of physical touch and how I cannot be involved with someone physically without also having overwhelming emotions. Therefore, he had to understand that the end was the end of everything. 

I asked him if he wanted the rings back. I asked whether he wanted the genuine black Tahitian pearl necklace back, and he said no. I then asked if he wished to reclaim the 30-carat emerald necklace he had bought me as a romantic surprise during our travels in Southeast Asia; again, his answer was no. Despite his responses, I returned all the items to him anyway. However, he brought them back the next day, suggesting I sell them if I didn’t want to keep them. I didn’t do that either. 

Relocation Dilemma and Emotional Fallout

My parents told me to give up, to pack all of my things, and to move home. Moving home meant giving up a 10 minute commute to work and trading for a 1.5 hour commute each way. Plus, I worked in an industry where 60-hour weeks were the norm. 

I looked for apartments and roommates and short notice and wasn’t finding anything remotely close to work. The area we lived in was high-demand because it was close to a corporate complex that contained many large companies. 

So, I continued to pack my things, but it was a process that was stretched out over a couple of weeks. After all, I was still working full time and putting in those 60-hour weeks. 

During those last days, neither of us spoke and lived as if the other wasn’t there at all. I turned completely cold toward him since he wouldn’t talk it through or give me anything that I could understand. I no longer knew him and did not understand why I was living with a virtual stranger. 

A Crushing Revelation and Escalation

One day I came home and there was an article out on the coffee table. The sub-heading said something to the effect of it was easier for a woman to die in a plane crash than to get married and to have children after the age of 30. I was coming up on my 30th birthday and he knew my dream was to get married and to have a family. When he got home and saw me looking at the article he simply said: “That’s you. You will die in a plane crash before you have a chance at getting married and having kids.” 

I started crying and asked again, “Would you please tell me what I did to deserve this? What did I do to you? Please tell me!” 

He simply walked away. 

The next day, I went out with friends to movies and dinner and stayed out late. He called demanding to know where I was and left angry voicemails. I did not answer his calls. I got home late and he was awake. He said: “Were you out with a guy?” I told him that I was out with friends but that it should no longer concern him. (And I was out with friends, no dating for me.) 

After that, I tried to pretend like he didn’t exist because seeing him and not knowing why he was doing everything was too painful. Those last three days, we did not do anything together or even talk for that matter. I was living in a state of constant panic and grief and felt like it would be easier to be dead. I felt like any chance at a happy life had been taken from me. 

A Violent Confrontation and Aftermath

The night before I was to move out, he flew into a rage because I had been ignoring him. He grabbed my hands and shoved me against the wall. He said, “You are not allowed to ignore me because I am not a stranger to you! You are not even acknowledging what we had!” 

I told him to let me go and that this was his decision and that he needed to live with it. Then, I asked him one last time to tell me why he was breaking up and why he cared if I ignored him. He wouldn’t answer and continued to yell about how badly I was treating him. I told him he had no right to me, no claim on me, and that he needed to leave me alone. 

I started crying and he held me against the wall, raging in my face, and saying all kinds of irrational things. Then, I protested and tried to break free, but I was not able to break free. I was sad and frightened and I wanted him to go away and leave me be. 

But, he just kept yelling over and over, “you are not allowed to treat me like I was nothing to you!” 

He was about 7 inches taller than myself and muscular. He could dead lift quite a lot of weight. At the time, I had a BMI that hovered around 19 and was easily overpowered. 

Staring at Mr Hyde

I truly hesitate to tell the rest of the story because of what happened next. There were only two of us and there were no witnesses. I hesitate to make accusations that cannot be backed up. What he did was so out of character for him. I felt like I had been engaged to the kind Dr. Jekyll, but now I was face-to-face with Mr. Hyde. And Mr. Hyde was furious, cruel, and violent. I no longer recognized this person to whom I had been engaged just about two weeks prior. So, I will allow you to fill in the details. If you come up with a truly horrid scenario, then you are probably right. 

Afterwards, he immediately left the house and drove away while I was left crying on the floor. I ran to the bathtub and turned on the shower. I called my parents to come and get me immediately because I couldn’t cope with what had happened. My mom found me in the bathtub, bruised and crying my eyes out. I told her that, no, I did not want to call the police. I wanted to die. But, I couldn’t do that and so I just wanted to go home to my room at their house and crawl into bed. Friends went and collected my furniture and things the next day. I did not leave the bed for a week. I couldn’t eat or drink water because I would choke each time I tried. 

During our relationship, this side of him had never come out.



There was Another Woman 

About a week after I had moved out, mutual work friends sheepishly came forward and told me about the other woman.

They pieced together as much as they could for me. One woman told me she was there the first time he met the OW at a networking event. The OW spotted him across the room and inquired about the tall, lean, handsome stranger with thick black hair and a broad smile. My work friend replied, “He’s engaged to Sarah, they own a house together, and are deeply in love.” The OW dismissed this, stating it only made her more determined. She loved a challenge and had firmly set her sights on him.

Someone told me she lured him to dinner with the promise of talking about a job at a different company that would be a large promotion for him, both in status and in money. His mom was always on his case about achieving higher status than he already had. Obviously, that dinner went well for her because that was the beginning of the end for us, although I did not know it at the time. I can also imagine that his relationship with his mom was a contributor. She felt I was beneath him and kept making it known. 

The Fallout and New Realities

My work friends also told me that my ex and the other woman were showing up at events days after I moved out and the OW was referring to him as her fiancé. She had also moved in to our house. She was introducing him as if they were an old couple and was even taking on some of my mannerisms. In the world of narcissism blogs, the OW would be called a “skin suit” since she has assumed everything that used to be mine. 

See also  How I Managed to Restore Trust in Myself

The biggest blow came when he emailed me and said I needed to pay for my half of the mortgage. My work friend said that since the OW had moved in, he assumed that they wanted me to pay for her. He always pretended as if he was single and couldn’t locate a roommate. He was acting out a new low and adding insult to injury.

They were not playing nice.  I was still devastated, and so I hired an attorney. He was no longer allowed to contact me at work. I approached HR and made sure our projects did not overlap. I often heard from work friends about his relationship with the OW. About 5 months after our break up, the OW had gone psycho on him and he told people he regretted everything and he broke up with her for a short time. He tried to approach me, but I ignored him. He pretended like he did not do anything wrong and did not know other people were telling me the truth. His excuse was that he just got “spooked” by commitment and that he was innocent. He pretended like he only wanted to be my friend again. I refused to deal with a liar. 

Endings and New Beginnings

The house was placed on the market and he insisted on listing it with a realtor whose husband could possibly get him a promotion. I tried to fight him on that but gave up, as I wanted as little communication as possible. I was forcing myself to move on because I knew going back to him would be the end of me. Plus, in my mind there was nothing to go back to because of how he had handled the break-up. 

He showed me that he was capable of violence when the going got tough and I have always been of the mind that if someone is able to physically rage at me during tough times, there was more where that comes from and so it was always a deal breaker for me. The way that the break-up was done was also a deal-breaker for me. Things were said and acts were committed that could not be taken back. It was simply too much for me to ever forgive. One of my friends said it was a good thing we weren’t married and remarked that it would be all the more terrible if we were 15 years and three kids in and then he decided to pull all of the crap that he did. I agreed. Going back was never an option. 

I have so much more to say about this, but the rest is irrelevant to this article.



Recovering Alone from Infidelity

I had to recover on my own and piece together his infidelity from second-hand information. He never admitted that he had been sleeping with the other woman. This affair had been going on for six months before we broke up. And he broke up because she gave an ultimatum and wanted to move in. She won and I lost.

My sources were trustworthy people and I did not doubt them. I could see how utterly disturbed they were when they told me about what they saw. They also reported that the other woman was a truly frightening person. She was very manipulative and cutthroat to everyone she met. She had taken other people down at work when they didn’t agree with her.

I am still in contact with a former female coworker who has seen them at various networking events. She said that the person I knew is gone and has been gone for some time. The once cheerful, charming man I knew has transformed into a morose, fearful, insecure individual. Since our breakup, he has been fired from several jobs. She mentioned that whenever she sees him, his wife—the other woman—clings to him and dominates every conversation.  My friend has reported that the whole relationship is very plainly emotionally abusive to him. But, that was the choice he made. I will never know why he made that choice since he will probably never tell me. That was the choice he made, that was whom he married, and that is his life.

Navigating Recovery and Rebuilding Self-Trust

I have been left with trust and abandonment issues that I continue to work through. It’s hard to describe in words how painful the experience was, but suffice to say that the experience changed me forever.

So, I am one of the cases where I had to recover from my ex’s affair completely alone. My ex was the kind of person who would do anything NOT to admit the affair to me because it would have shattered the image he had of himself. In his mind, he was perfect and everyone else had the problem. If he would have owned up to the affair and told me the truth, he knew that I would have called him on the fact and challenged him. After all, he was the man who “hated affairs and believed in marrying well once.”

What Did This Experience Mean to Me?

It meant that not only did I have to recover on my own, I also had to sift through what was real and what was not. I had to rely on some version of the truth from the people who knew about the affair. I had to rely on their perceptions and their stories. But, I still wanted to look at myself to figure out what on earth I did to deserve such treatment.

I will say unequivocally that was the darkest time in my life because I seemingly lost everything and the alleged love of my life pretended like I was the problem, not him. He wanted to play a mind game instead of owning up to what happened. Goodness knows why he wanted to hurt me with the comments he made. I was always supportive of him and his biggest cheerleader.

I will not lie to you and say that I got back to the place I was before this happened. The fact of the matter is that the experience changed me as a person and those changes will always remain with me.

Moving Beyond the Trauma

However, while the trauma of my ex’s affair will always stay with me, I don’t want to stay stuck. It’s been good to arrive at a place where I remember and acknowledge it every so often, but it doesn’t consume my every thought and it stopped consuming my every thought years ago.

But yet, it is still here because it has shaped who I have become. There was no way to get back to who I was before because the experience itself changed everything I thought was true about relationships. I will never see love or relationships the same way I that did prior to the experience. I’ve lived events that blasted my prior views into the stratosphere, never to be seen again. I am a different person because of the affair.

But affairs are not the only events that can change people. They are merely one of many traumatic events that change people. For a while, I thought my goal was to get back to who I was before. But, then I saw going back to what I was would not solve the problem and it would be denying what I learned from my life experience with infidelity. There was no need to go backward, but instead to move forward.

Recovery and Reflection

The thing I fight against though is separating triggers and residual pain from events in the here and now. That is part of what recovery looks like. So,  recovering from infidelity alone is possible if for whatever reason you lose your spouse for good.  But it’s also totally plausible and achievable to recover from infidelity alone even if your spouse does not want to help. It involves you changing yourself and this change has to cause some kind of effect in your marriage.  

No matter what, you will always remember the affair. Is that such a bad thing?

It’s not a failing on your part to realize you will never forget about the affair. Don’t allow someone to tell you that you are not making progress because you remember and think about the affair. It is impossible to forget something that was so traumatic that shaped you.

Eternal Lessons from a Spotless Mind

The only way to forget an affair would be if there were a system through which memories could be selectively wiped. This very topic was explored in the movie Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. In the movie, the characters whose relationship ended in tragedy went to get their memory of each other wiped. They did this so that they would not have to experience the pain of the break up. And you know what happened? After the memory wipe, the characters still found each other due to an employee of the memory wiping company releasing records.

The film features a separate story arc about a female employee at the memory wiping company. She had her memory erased after having an affair with the company’s founder. This occurred once the founder’s wife discovered the affair. She chose to erase her memories voluntarily, enabling her to remain at the company without recollection of the events.

At the end of the movie, the original characters with the doomed relationship meet again. They decide to try again even though they are doomed to repeat their failures since they were never willing to learn from them. That’s when the movie ends. We can assume that in trying again, they fail again and have many more memory wipes. Maybe they somehow change as people after each memory wipe but it is doubtful. Since their personalities never grow and they choose to go backwards, the implication is that nothing will change.

The Paradox of Memory and Growth

This is why it is okay and even healthy not to forget. There is a paradox in the idea that even though you don’t forget, both forgiveness and building trust are still within reach. That is, if your wayward spouse wants to earn your trust again. That depends on your spouse and his or her actions.

The point is trauma helps us learn the lessons that shape us and make us better people, that is if we are willing to grow. Is trauma positive? No way. Trauma just is and we can either let it overcome us and ruin our lives or we can use it to make us better people. So, it would do no good to forget the very thing that helped us grow. Thus, the goal should never be to forget the affair, but rather to move past it and grow.

I will leave with you these parting words by author, Rayya Elias, who has a terminal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer:

The truth has legs; it always stands. When everything else in the room has blown up or dissolved away, the only thing left standing will always be the truth. Since that’s where you’re gonna end up anyway, you might as well just start there.”



Smith, H. Dan. EdD, MFT.  Understanding the Family ss a System. From

Reynolds, Rick. Healing from Infidelity: Going it alone. From



    25 replies to "Save Yourself: You Can Recover From Infidelity Even If Your Partner Is Not an Active Participant"

    • Hopeful

      We only know really what we experience and I can imagine it being different having to go through this not working with your spouse who betrayed you. For me I think it was an integral part of the process. I have focused on me and my recovery a lot. I am typically an introverted person so this is normal for me. I do not seek help and support from others.

      In my case my husband has been right by my side. We have discussed this and I think it has helped our relationship and minimize some of my resentment. He has had to endure time in the trenches working at this with me. And he should have to do this if he wants our marriage to continue. But as my therapist has told me this is not always the case. He has said many times even when men stay they are not committed and an active participant. It has not all been perfect but working through this together has brought us closer and he especially has a new level of appreciation of how strong I am.

    • Marionsnous

      Nice message, you said it all !
      It’s so important to take care of yourself when you face emotional drama …
      Sure their is a new life after a break-up !

    • TheFirstWife

      I see some similarities with us. My MIL despised me. But she had no bearing on his affair as she passed away many years ago.

      My H became verbally abusive during his affair – completely unlike himself.

      He was planning on leaving (it was a secret but I picked up on it).

      It’s so funny that prior boyfriends cheated and I just moved on and recognized it for what it was. Their stupidity and lack of morals.

      I just never thought that my H would cheat. I thought I knew him. I thought he was better than that.

      That was an awful experience but think about the bullet you dodged. Your life could have unraveled in the same way but maybe you would have been a mom. Maybe he would mistreat your children. Maybe he has acted the same way with his wife – abusive, rages, etc.

      I look back at some of my choices and realize the lesson I learned from it and walked away from a disaster. I see some of my former boyfriends and think how lucky I did not marry them !!

      Self recovery is hard. But I think the realization and test you experience Can make a huge difference in your life.

      You know you would never go and date or marry the same type of guy again that’s for sure.

      After the initial shock and pain, you can look back and realize he did not win anything. He allowed himself to be manipulated by a female and he was too stupid to see what his future would be like w/ her. He continues to suffer b/c even if he wanted to leave – he can’t or won’t.

      Do you think that is enjoying all life has to offer?

      • Sarah P.

        Hi TFW,
        Thanks for the message. That’s interesting that you had trouble with your MIL too. (I have trouble with my current MIL as well.) Do you think your MIL was jealous of your relationship with your H?

        As for my ex, I have heard he is miserable. But, that is the price people sometimes have to pay for treating others in ways that are inhumane.

        • TheFirstWife

          I heard from other in laws that was the reason. He was the favorite son and she was just jealous.

          She hated me, dismissed our kids and died not having spoken to her son for many years. She chose to go down a path and never try to reverse course and make amends.

          How sad. She had no other grandchildren and missed out on some great times.

          • Sarah P.

            Hi TFW,
            I am sorry to hear that your mother-in-law acted that way. She had an enmeshed relationship with her son if she was jealous of you. She really did miss out on great times.

    • TryingHard

      Oh my. What an awful experience and yes u could fill in the blanks.

      Do you believe your ex was a sociopath? Do you believe that maybe he met his sociopathic soulmate? Also it sounds like he found a younger available person just like Mommy. He was doomed from the beginning.

      It’s funny because my therapist thinks my h had an affair with someone like his mother. It like they are drawn to Narcs and sociopaths when they come from parents who are.

      Of course I wasn’t good enough in my MILs eyes. During our adoration after DDay and he told her I heard she was elated. I’ve never asked specifically what she said. I can only imagine. She too us only concerned about her social status. As if that’s anything in this two horse town we live in!!!

      I’ve never understood people like these MILs. But they are jealous nasty people. Jealousy being operative word. Your exs mother was very jealous of you. Also she needed her son to elevate her. She is/was a fucked up person.

      Did your ex and ow have children? Is his mother still alive ? Have you seen him since you married?

      His love bombing and discard is classic narcissistic sociopathic behavior.

      I totally agree. One can forgive and learn to trust but NEVER forget. Who said, “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it”? I dont want to forget the affair and I sure as hell don’t want my husband to forget it either. One never gets over trauma lime this. You only get through it

      • Sarah P.

        Hi TryingHard,
        Thanks for your comments 🙂

        As for your MIL that is humorous (in a dark humor sort of way) that she acts the way she does. She is like my ex’s mom and also like my current husband’s mom. I do think many men marry someone like their moms. Except in my husband’s case he said he spent several years looking for the woman who was the polar opposite of his mom. That was because his first wife, who left him, was just like his mom. He decided he had to look for the polar opposite if he wanted a good marriage. Fourteen years later (with me) and he still says he is happy. On the other hand, being happy doesn’t mean anything because studies show that a large portion of men who have affairs rate their marriage as ‘happy to very happy.’ Go figure! I am not naive and know a lot of people are bound to stumble, given the ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances.

        So, questions about my ex:

        Yes, he is still married, but I don’t know if his mom is still alive. I saw an obituary for his dad in 2012. There was something interesting when we dated. His dad kind of talked slow and moved slow and I asked my ex if his dad had the beginning of Parkinson’s disease. My ex wrote it off as ridiculous but I couldn’t shake the intuition. I saw that his dad died after a 7 year battle with Parkinson’s.

        My ex did have children with his wife. When he first married her, he had a blog of his writing that he started to post when we were together. I always supported his writing and tried to help him get published. Anyhow, I found this poem on his blog, about 3 years after we broke up, and it was about us. He mentioned some very specific things and talked about mourning the road not taken. I went back to find the blog a couple of weeks later and it had been taken down. It has been down ever since then. All of his social media accounts are gone, except for one LinkedIn account. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt she does not support his growth and instead tries to stop it.

        As for the sociopath theory, I know for sure my ex’s wife is a sociopath. I have heard through the grapevine what she is like from women who are very good judges of character. My ex’s wife got a prize in him. I think she is probably about 5 years older than him and would have been 37 when they got married. I have seen photos of her and she is very unattractive. Seeing her, I can imagine that he was out of her league under normal circumstances. I think he was the best she was ever going to get and so she hung on for dear life. He was tall, handsome, lean and muscular, smart, trilingual, well traveled, a great chef, and had a great job. He was a catch in any woman’s book and I am still surprised she was able to snag him. My best friend and I talk about it because my best friend is in her mid-40’s and still single. My best friend asks what ‘secret’ these women know that the rest of us don’t know in terms of snagging a high-quality guy for marriage. The only thing going for my ex’s wife was that she had a great job– the same job I had. But, she is vicious and unattractive. Then there is my best friend who is kind, who owns her own business, who is gorgeous, and has a whole list of great qualities. She has struggled to find someone nice. So she always wonders what ‘secret’ these women know in terms of snagging a high quality guy. I would like to know too since I was never good at playing the dating game. Also, my ex had a long-term relationship with a woman in France before he and I met. He ended their relationship because of the distance even though she wanted to move to the US. I saw photos of her and she looked like a blond beauty queen. Just beautiful. I never understood why he didn’t marry her since he said she was nice and bent over backwards to accommodate him.

        I am not sure my ex is a sociopath. More along the lines of extreme narcissist. We did volunteer work together at a center where we taught disabled kids to ride horses. We got nothing in return (except for maybe bragging rights) and he liked to brag about it. He genuinely liked animals and children and was good with animals and kids. True sociopaths tend to hate animals. People who feel neutral about animals are not sociopaths though. It’s people who truly hate animals and laugh when animals are harmed.

        The last time I saw him was when we had sold the house. It sold 1.5 years after we broke up. Yes, I had just gotten married to my husband and he and I eloped for Valentine’s Day. I brought my mom with me to the house sale signing because I knew my ex would try to corner me in the elevator or corner me alone. He had tried to pull that at work several times already. Anyhow, we lost money on the house because this happened during a small slump in our local market and he wanted rid of the house even though I offered to rent it out. We were signing papers and he looked at my ring and said, “I heard you married a doctor. Congratulations!” He smiled, but I saw the shock in his eyes. I saw that he realized he had been fooled and the shock of reality was like being doused in ice water. By the way, I did not marry my husband to get back at my ex. That would have been stupid. My husband and I clicked from the moment we met and he and I both had the feeling on our first date that we were destined to be married. We didn’t talk about that until much later though. I do have a feeling with my husband unlike what I have had in other relationships.

    • Barbara

      No, he thinks I should forget it, never bring it up like it never happened. He does not realize that not one day goes by that something does not trigger the painful feelings that he was attracted to another women and all of the lies he told. “Just get over” it he says……’s not that easy.

      • TheFirstWife

        Sorry barbara.

        It is awful when your spouse refuses to help you heal. One of the things I have learned during this process is that it is very challenging to heal on your own.

        However it can be done.

        I know because it took my husband quite some time to realize the importance of his participation in this process. I noticed a big difference once he started to really understand what he needed to do. Not that he wasn’t trying but it wasn’t helpful for successful for the first year. He continued to lie about things that hampered any progress.

        My question to you is how are you dealing with his position? Are you stuck in a place that prevents you from healing or are you able to manage this alone.

        The reason I ask is because if you are stuck and unable to heal, there would be different suggestions as opposed to if you are healing on your own and just dealing with the frustration of his attitude.

        A good therapist or counselor could help you tremendously. I say that from experience.

        I think some of the challenges the betrayed spouse faces is having to refocus how you view your spouse now. I had a very hard time excepting that I was married to someone who turned out to be a liar, cheater, coward and realizing his egotistical behavior led to the affair.

        I think that can be very hard to adjust to and you feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under your feet. Everything you believed for so many years appears to be somewhat of a lie.

        I think if my husband had the same attitude that I needed to just get over it, I am not sure our marriage would have lasted. If I felt he wasn’t supportive, I think that would have been the last straw for me.

        I think if you can get him to open up in a non-confrontational way, you have the start of being on a path that can lead to a successful marriage. I realize when I finally broke through the wall my husband put up after the affair, that is when my recovery started to gain momentum.

        I just wonder if your husband is afraid to face his choices and actions and believes that burying his head in the sand is the best option for your marriage. Fear can make people do some terrible things and it is said he cannot see how negatively his choices to not face his actions affect you.

        I believe this is fairly common behavior for many cheating spouses, both men and women. It appears to be in the cheating 101 guide. They all do it.

        If this is the path he has chosen, I guess the question comes down to what are you going to do? Is this something you can accept and live with?

    • TryingHard

      Until the cheater figures out, gets it in his/her head, because YOU tell them that this kind of “get over it” mentality is unacceptable and a huge deal breaker, nothing will change with the cheater. Their behavior will stay the same.

      As long as you are accepting it, nothing will change. It’s almost like a game of chicken or a stare down contest. It is YOU who must demand his cooperation. It is you who sets the rules if there’s any hope for reconciliation and recovery. Your pain, your rules. Simple as that.

      So you start taking care of YOU, start making the changes YOU want to see. The cheater will either join in or they won’t. Then you have a whole other decision to make. It’s really not that hard when you start looking at the forest and not just the trees.

      Good Luck to you

      • TheFirstWife

        That is great advice. But what do you suggest for the spouse whose cheating partner refuses to engage?

        How do you help yourself get “over it”?

        I would wonder if the cheating spouse even really cared. Or if the pain was so deep and crippling the cheating spouse just could not face it.

        • TryingHard


          You have to make it a deal breaker. Even uttering the words “get over it” is reason to pack a bag. That is complete and utter disrespect, not to be tolerated. You never go back to the status quo personally or the marriage. Never. You start making the motions towards the door if they are serious enough suddenly they start talking like a parrot. When they think they can just coast and offer up just a little info to get the BS off their backs well it works for them.

          While I believe one can heal personally from betrayal and infidelity that does NOT mean the marriage/relationship can heal. For that it truly takes two. Sometimes it’s the BS that doesn’t want to engage and sometimes it’s the Cheater. Both HAVE to engage to make progress. Without that you may as well turn to your Plan B because it will definitely happen again. You will end up more miserable than ever.

          It’s not a matter of caring for your BS. It’s a matter of being a complete chicken or control freak or a denier or a narcissist or they aren’t going to do what they don’t want to do and screw everyone else attitude! The love is there. So what? LOL you know my take on “love”. Love and $2.50 gets you cup of coffee at Starbucks!!!

    • Hopeful

      I think it is hard to know without knowing exactly how he is saying and handling it. I think there is a difference between someone who is ashamed and avoidant related to the conversations that need to be had and a move on and get over it. I think seeing a therapist individually would be a good idea. Mine really helped me and was a sounding board for me. He gave me confidence and helped me decide what were my priorities. He deals with infidelity and marriages all the time. Basically he wanted to know how committed I was to staying in the marriage and then helped me work through it. I think through the therapy he helped me prioritize what I needed to process and confront my husband about. And he provided reassurance that what I was feeling and thinking was valid.

      And in my case my husband would not go to therapy so I was on my own which I treasured that time with my therapist as a major plus that it was all mine. And through this process I look back and my husband was so worried and in fix it mode for the first year after dday. He wanted me to be happy and not in pain. He made a lot of changes but as far as major reflection I did not see that until around a year after dday and I had forgiven him. Again every case is different. For us the first year was so much about me processing all of it and working through the pain. And I assumed he was fine since he made all these decisions and the affairs were over on dday. But I was so wrong he repressed and compartimentalized it all.

      • Sarah P.

        Here is a question– you said your therapist was a man. I wonder if that helped because he was able to provide a male perspective and see through whatever was going on with your husband. I do believe that men have a lot of insight into other men’s behavior, just as women can have insight into a woman’s behavior and give tips to a male family member. What kind of books does your therapist recommend? Is his practice centered around infidelity recovery and how did he get started?

        I have noticed that there is not a lot of training for therapists in regards to infidelity and they have to seek out the training and kind of piece together their own methods. My particular university doesn’t have any classes that address it (and this is in a doctorate program). I find that to be a curiosity since infidelity appears to be the largest driver in divorces. I wonder why there are not specializations in infidelity. Sure, Marriage and Family Therapy degrees will skim over it, but only amidst 30 other topics. I am surprised that MFT programs don’t offer a sub-specialization in infidelity since it is such a huge issue. I wonder if your therapist found any particular continuing education on the subject.

        • Hopeful

          Sarah, yes so true that there is not a significant amount of training in most programs related to infidelity. I know this based on my husband’s training. His specialty was not marriage or family therapy but it is part of his practice. He said it was touched in classes but never even one class focused on it. I honestly was shocked. I really probed my husband during our recovery. I felt I was more knowledgable at times from reading books than he was. He does have some great insights from his years of work and training since finishing school but not enough in my opinion.

          My husband suggests I see someone after dday 2 which was five months after dday 1. My husband asked if it would be helpful for him to find sims options for me. I had already researched and found two therapist. I chose to leave our town and travel some distance due to him being in the field. He knows everyone in his community and I would never go to anyone at his office. His advice was to seek out someone that was pro marriage if I wanted to continue to preserve the marriage. He wanted me to see someone who was liscenced. The male therapist was liscenced and the female was not so I chose the male therapist. His website was extensive. He focuses the bulk of his practice on marriage, couples and infidelity therapy. He made it clear once we started seeing each other he would not then be able to see us as a couple. The first two appointments were intake/information gathering for him. Really it was a checking in as to how I was and now our marriage was. He really served as a sounding board for me. I found he helped me become less emotional yet gave me confidence to discern what was a priority to bring up to my husband. He recommended the typical books. Which I had read all of them already. He has been in practice I think for 30+ years. He has had a wealth of knowledge which was helpful. And I think it was beneficial being a man. I would say he is a fatherly figure. I have a strong relationship with my father so I think that was helpful for me. He has been a great resource. If I was to attribute it to one thing it would be his years of experience and specialty.

          • Sarah P.

            Hi Hopeful,
            Your therapist sounds like a great guy and an awesome clinician. I am glad that he has been able to help you through this. How about your own dad? Did you ever talk to him about what went on?

            • Hopeful

              Yes I found a great resource with my therapist and have a great connection. I have not told anyone except my therapist. I am not sure my parents would take any of this at all. My parents are not religious at all but have a high level of morals and ethics. My dad is such an honest person he would not even know what to do. I think it would crush him. It is hard because it has led me to be more distant from him and everyone in my life. I really do not feel I can be myself with anyone except my husband. I think it has helped us grow closer, him seeing what this recovery has been like for me. I still feel really close to my kids without them knowing but that is a different relationship. They really motivate me in all I do. I want to be a good example for them. This really is the hardest thing I have had to deal with. Some days I wonder if separation would have been better/easier but I know that is no easy path. No matter what happens to us I feel like what we have done is best for now. We will see..

    • Rachel

      My MIL didn’t like me at all because her son married me. She worshiped him. Held on to him at the mother son dance at our wedding to the point of not letting go. The crowd all laughed.
      She wanted him to come back to live with her while we were married. She even said it in front of people. I never understood how a parent wouldn’t want their son to fly away from the home and start his own life.
      He now lives with mommy dearest. She probably likes me now. : )

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Rachel,
        I am seeing some kind of pattern. Many women mention details that would make me believe that there is a lot of mother/son enmeshment going on prior to an affair. I have wondered if there is a correlation. When a man is enmeshed with his mom, his mom views the wife as a type of ‘mistress’ who meets physical needs while she views herself as the true wife. This may only happen subconsciously. Anyhow, when a man has an affair in these situation, it is one more act that he commits to break emotional intimacy with his real wife and this in turn gets him closer to Mommy Dearest. Does that ring true at all?

    • TryingHard


      This grown man Mr Bigshot Cheaterpants lives with Mommy?? OMG that is sick. You are so lucky to be rid of him. Well no not actually rid of him but somewhat right?

      No I don’t get mothers line this. I was thrilled to pass the baton. Here you take care of him now!!! Unfortunately they come back as I have that right now. Ugh!! I just want NORMAL. is that really too much to ask???? My therapist said yes. Ooo she makes me so mad?

    • Shifting Impressions

      Your story is heart breaking….thank you for sharing. Do you ever wonder if you would have more closure if you would have pressed charges? If I fill in the blanks I am sure you had plenty of grounds.

      Being as young as you were and so shocked and broken, I understand why you didn’t but now that you are older would you handle that differently if that were to happen now??

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Shifting,

        Thank you for you concern– it was heartbreaking.

        As for being provided with closure if I pressed charges… no, I don’t think so. I look back now and see that he was dead set on gaslighting and messing with my mind. If I pressed charges that would have just caused him to gaslight even more and I probably would have lost it. It would have been too much.

        As for doing things differently now, of course! If I knew then what I know now, I would have kicked him out of the house immediately. If he got violent, I would have called the police and gotten a restraining order. I would have hired a PI and exposed his relationship. Then I would have hired an attorney and made sure I stayed for good and he went. I would have gotten a roommates and kept living there. I would have waited until the market rebounded to sell the house, even if I didn’t live there. I would have rented it out. But, most of all, I would have been a fierce person to deal with and he would be left wishing he never messed with me. He was able to mess with me because I was naive and meek. I didn’t ever want to rock the boat. I acquiesced to people. I gave the benefit of the doubt. And if something went wrong, I always took the blame and felt ashamed. I am a different person now too. A lot more confident, not taking the blame for everything. I recognize gas-lighting and narcissism and I stand up to bullies. He was a huge bully those last few weeks and I would have made him realize that he couldn’t bully me. The person I am now would have made sure that I was never assaulted either. Back then, I was in a state of shock, I was being bullied, he was gas-lighting me and intentionally messing with me. I assumed I had done something terribly wrong even though he never told me why. I trusted too much and believed him when he said he didn’t cheat. When he said cheat, it was more gas-lighting. It’s amazing how gas-lighting, lying, and shock can affect a victim and ensure that he or she doesn’t see clearly. He knew what he was doing and I will never forget that.

        One time a friend emailed me and sent me a link to his wedding pictures on a public site. In one of the pictures, his wife (the ow) was standing between him and her brother. He looked like he could be a twin to her brother and that gave me the CREEPS. Call me strange, but I am NOT attracted to men who look identical to my male relatives. The wedding picture looked so very incestuous to me. She looked like the cat who swallowed the canary. He did not look happy. But, that was the road he chose.

        That experience taught me a lot about how ruthless some people can be. Prior to that experience, I realize I had been sheltered. I was one of those people who perceived everyone was like me. Since I was kind, trustworthy, loyal, and would never intentionally hurt someone or mess with their mind, I assumed everyone was that way. I saw the world through that filter. It took me a long time to realize that not everyone was like me and that experience took the cake. Hard lesson but it needed to be learned.

    • Tired

      That is a horrible story Sarah. I am glad you escaped that one.

      On the topic of mothers, my husband’s mother did not want him to be with me. I am older than him and she said to him she did not approve and that we may never have children. We were younger then and didn’t think about it much. But later on it became apparent that we might not. After telling me over and over he didn’t want children and it didn’t matter, he had an emotional affair. Guess what was the first thing he said? “I want children.” Interesting indeed.

    • Nicole

      That’s why it’s so destructive. When you discover that they are “building” a new emotional foundation with someone else. They are giving supplies for what should be your foundation to another relationship. Ouch! It weakens your foundation and begins to strengthen the other one. That’s the whole reason it’s so painful. Who’s castle are they protecting and reinforcing? Why are they giving supplies away to another foundation? That’s where the hurt, anger, and loyalty is put in to question. Who are they “white knighting” and why?
      What are they doing? Why are they doing that? And what are they supposed to be doing? What is their Vow to you and your family worth? Respect is like oxygen in a relationship, so why break down or break away from the main relationship?

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