Your husband isn’t the only one who might seem like a stranger in the wake of learning about his infidelity. You’ll have moments in which you won’t recognize yourself (or sometimes your neighbor…or your kids. But that’s another post.). Being betrayed changes who you are. And most of us kinda like(d) that person. We were fun and funny. We were kind and compassionate. We were, for the most part, good wives, good friends, good moms…good people.
But farewell fairy tale life! I present the Seven Dwarfs of Betrayal: Weepy, Angry, Bitchy, Fearful, Jumpy, Clingy and Nuts
Weepy: You’re probably crying. A lot. Your muddled mind may be incredulous at the sheer volume of tears. Weepy will eventually depart, often making room for…
Angry: I consider myself a card-carrying pacifist. But the rage I felt in the wake of learning about my husband’s affair was so strong that I felt capable of homicide – something that inflicted maximum pain with a blunt instrument. Rather than risk life in an orange jumper (I’m a “summer” – orange is so NOT my color), I channeled my rage into running. I could run far and fast, fuelled by my anger, until I was exhausted. Forget steroids. I learned that serious athletes just need more emotional pain in their lives.
Whatever outlet you find, ensure that it’s healthy. Channeling your anger through Chardonnay isn’t the best bet. Nor is furiously attacking a tub of Ben and Jerry’s.
The problem with Angry, say the sisters, is that it’s all too easy to get comfortable with her. To let her take up permanent residence in your brain. There’s safety. A feeling of invincibility that keeps you from moving forward.
Keep in mind that anger, as the experts say, is a secondary emotion. Which means that behind it is usually another of the dwarfs – usually Weepy or Fearful.
Bitchy: I loved this dwarf so much that I kept her around for a bit longer than was healthy. Bitchy is a close cousin of Angry – the city sophisticate to Angry’s backwoods redneck. Bitchy can be empowering. She can help you tap into that part of you that always thought self-care was selfish. Bitchy can dial herself take-out, book a pedicure, and order a $7,000 Birkin bag (on HIS credit card) all before breakfast. It can sometimes be a good thing to get in touch with your inner Bitchy. However, Bitchy can be deceiving. Like Angry, she helps you hide enormous pain and fear. Send her packing and discover the feeling beneath. (But make sure she’s close enough to pull out when necessary…such as when your spouse suggests it’s time to “get over it”.)
Fearful: It makes sense to feel scared. Your foundation, on which you’ve likely built your family and your life, has been seriously damaged, if not destroyed. It takes time to sift through the rubble and determine whether it can be rebuilt…or whether to salvage what you can, pack up and start over somewhere else. But that decision can wait for now. The sisters recommend you give yourself a year before making any major decisions. That’s not to allow your spouse more time to cheat. (Indeed, if he’s still cheating, please PLEASE show him the door.) In fact, it’s time for you to establish some very clear boundaries about what you will and will NOT tolerate. The time is to give you the chance to work through your swirling emotions until you get clearer about what you really want.
Jumpy: Infidelity has been referred to as a “life-quake” and just as earthquake survivors are pretty damn jumpy in the weeks and months following, so are we lifequake survivors. And when there’s a minor tremor – you find out another detail, or God forbid, another affair – it retraumatizes us.
I found myself so startled by everything from the mail falling through the slot to the dog barking, that when my friend Marilyn suggested I was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, it suddenly made sense.
Some of us get over it more quickly than others. Recognizing it and being easy on myself helped me evict this dwarf quickly. Be patient with yourself. It will take time to feel safe again.
Clingy: This dwarf moved into quickly and stealthily – and before I knew it, I was performing sex acts worthy of a contortionist on a round-the-clock basis. I held my husband’s hand non-stop, couldn’t get enough of him. I hadn’t heard of hysterical bonding and was baffled by why I was offering up my body to the man who had just shattered my soul.
Clingy is a surprisingly common visitor in the early days following discovery of a spouse’s betrayal. Some attribute it to a primal need to lay claim to what we feel to be ours. Others suggest it’s a healthy way to reconnect.
All I know is that, once the clothes were back on and the chandelier stopped shaking, I was left in pieces. And putting myself back together took more than a roll in the hay.
Nuts: Betrayal is crazy-making. There’s simply no way around it. Even those who manage to hide this dwarf in the closet can still hear her pounding on their brain at 3 a.m. That’s when Nuts will wake you up with a great idea of how to expose the Other Woman on Facebook.
Nuts will insist that another drink is a splendid idea and that everyone you’ve ever met, including your new boss, really does want to hear about your bastard of an ex and how his new girlfriend spent her kid’s support money on breast implants.
Nuts is…well…nuts. Don’t listen to a word she says.
To read more, visit Elle at www.betrayedwivesclub.blogspot.com
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