One year ago, I found my way to these boards, desperate for answers as I finally started doing the work to repair old betrayals. We thought we’d already gotten through it, but we’d only swept it under the rug. And I still had one big secret to tell.
(Don’t be like me, friends. That shit festers. Real healing has been hard but WORTH IT.)
This past weekend, we were out of town visiting some folks. I had a few moments of zingers: at one point, BS pointed out we were driving past a location that was closely tied to my time with AP. Another time, someone told a story about someone else who cheated on their spouse: they were really heated about it, spitting fire over what a _______ sort of person they were. If I hadn’t already known that person (the angry storyteller) had previously been unfaithful to their own spouse, I would have struggled with that a little more, but since I did know that, the tirade didn’t really bother me… I recognized it was just compartmentalization.
I wanted to check in with BS, though, so I asked him about it during our weekly meeting once we got home. He said it hadn’t even crossed his mind all weekend; he hadn’t thought of it when he pointed out the location, and he apparently missed the angry rant about cheaters. Mostly he just felt proud to have me at his side over the weekend. He felt love. He felt connected.
We are definitely in a different place these days than when I first showed up here. My fear back then had been that we’d gotten stuck and wouldn’t be able to heal any more. My fear was that I would have to choose between half a life or divorce, for forever. My fear was that if he really knew it all, if he knew who I really was, we would be over. But I was tired of living in fear… “Can you ever be truly loved if you’re not truly known?”… that question has stuck with me. (Thanks, Z.) So I have been doing the hard, and brave, things to finally fix what I broke so long ago. It’s not perfect: there are some things I still want to talk about, but can’t quite yet. (No secrets, just vulnerable things to share.) But now we are actually healing, and that feels very different from the familiar, brittle truce of rug-sweeping. It’s the difference between a peace treaty and a cease-fire.
But folks don’t seem to stick around these Pits of Despair long-term, so many people perceive affair recovery to be “fucking miserable, with a low chance of success.” Confronting the most selfish and shameful parts of yourself IS fucking miserable, but not worse than ignoring it and continuing to suffer. So I’m back to share a story of success 😊 to help balance that narrative, even if my therapist was ultimately right about healing and moving on.
In one of my first posts here, Breakfast noted I felt my life/relationship was framed entirely around my infidelity, and I needed it to grow into something with a more fulfilling and productive future focus. Valid and astute; that’s exactly what I needed. First we had to do the hard parts of healing – to give BS what he really needed – but now our focus is on “more.” We tried joining an affair recovery community as a way to move forward together, but that wasn’t the right fit for us. We also started exploring a different interest together, but there wasn’t much community related to that, so I created one… and now we have a group of ~200 people with similar interests in self-growth. That has been pretty cool, actually. Not only do we get to enjoy something fun in a setting that cultivates intimacy (time, space, the intention to be vulnerable and connect), we get to feel like we are building something new together… creating the satisfying future we want to have, and not just burdened by a past we can’t change.
I could gush about my BS forever. This is the best fucking human on the planet and I’m so grateful he is by my side. I absolutely did not deserve all the chances he gave me to get my shit together, but I’m so thankful for them. I am a better person because of him and he is a better person because of me (not “because I cheated on him,” don’t be dense. I’m more than just that, you know!). We both know we are better together, and we’ve both worked hard to better meet each other’s needs.
Yes, he has worked hard too… I felt like a paper doll “standing in” as his wife, simply there to serve a role (needs to look like a person, but doesn’t require any depth). I felt like the more he knew about the “real” me, the less he actually liked me. I felt trapped behind a bland facade, unable to risk more disapproval. He’s changed the things that created that feeling for me; today I feel seen, unconditionally accepted, admired. I feel like it’s safe to be myself and I won’t be rejected. I even feel trusted! A couple months ago, BS made me an offer: a privilege I didn’t think I would ever have again. I was surprised, but that really felt like trust. I declined it, for reasons that surprised him… for him, that reinforced that I was worthy of his trust. (His offer was genuine, not a trap; I just pointed out concerns he hadn’t considered, and which showed him that I absolutely prioritize our relationship). That was a really good moment.
So that is what healing looks like for us, 11+ years after infidelity and 6 months post- (final) D-Day. I’m sure I’ll still pop in from time to time, I just wanted to leave some resolution for those who come looking for stories later. It has been really fucking hard, y’all. Grab your courage and do it anyway, because it’s worth doing. I think even if we’d ended up splitting I would be here saying the same thing, because it was honestly killing me to “fake it” like that. I feel much more at peace with myself now – not in an “I don’t care that I hurt him” sort of way, but in an “I feel congruent with my soul now, finally” kind of way.
If you have some truth you still need to trickle, LET THIS BE YOUR SIGN. Trust me… you’ll just end up back here in ten years if you don’t! 😜
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Source:r/SupportforWaywards – One year later (lessons in healing)
Discovered on: 2023-03-21 14:04:36