Starting Over

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As a real estate and small business attorney, I have always been drawn to the processes that emerge during real estate and business deals. Emotions run high at the hope of future opportunity in the early stages. As particulars are investigated, uncertainties become clearer and some risks become calculable. There is always a gap between what is known and what can only be projected. Ultimately, the constraints of resources and time merge to force a decision. It is in that moment that instincts prevail and the process becomes poetic. It is also in that moment that the uneasy feelings of uncertainty rise and the warm sense of hope and safety take a back seat. Much like standing on the edge of a cliff and looking over, the greater the stakes, the greater the "pucker factor." Lately, I find myself in that spot in my marriage.

I am a little over 20 months out from D-day. My wife and I have committed ourselves to tons of work through various resources. She is leading her 4th Hope for Healing Class, I've completed a couple of my own classes, we attended EMS Weekend, as well as countless hours of individual therapy for me, her, and our children.

Early on, I grasped onto the promise of an opportunity for a "better marriage." Somewhere in the process I allowed myself to interpret that idea as hope for transformation in a way that erased the pain of the infidelity and reversed the clock back to a place in my marriage where the hurts from being betrayed no longer clouded my views of my wife and marriage. Now, I see that was really fantasy. A better marriage is not one that "feels" better. If I have learned anything, it is that feelings are fickle and unreliable. They can indicate all kinds of things both real and imagined. They can enhance a moment or crush a spirit. They can entice, and they can lie.

I accept that I am forever changed by this process; vulnerability and trust are not as easy. I still trigger at times and experience that empty panic that my perspective of security may not be real. I carry shame for being here, trying to find a way to make this work. However, these times are becoming much more infrequent, and my perspective on His truth shines through this darkness, when I give it space to.

I understand what has happened to me, I believe my wife when she tells me she is also disgusted by the person she had become during her affairs and has no desire to be that person again. My individual work has allowed me to see my codependence and begin to carry a confidence defined by how God sees me, instead of the world around me. I am comfortable that I am capable of experiencing a good life whether I stay married or not.

I have worked through forgiveness, am continuing the journey of acceptance, and have reached a point where I've realized how sitting on the fence not only holds me back, but others around me who I hold dear. My daughters need stability from their parents. My grandchild needs me engaged. My work has a chance to prosper again if I return my focus to it. And my wife and I need to be grounded in what we believe.

Immediately following discovery, I chose to love my wife by providing whatever resources I could to assist her in healing individually. Over time she fully submerged herself in the process. Obviously, we are both still broken people in a fallen world. That will never change. What has changed is our perspective of who we are, what we want to be, and how better to pursue those intentions. I am willing to take the leap of faith needed to trust my understanding that this shared perspective is true and reliable, but it is not without effort. I am willing to once again take a risk on her and see what a life in marriage, after so much work by us both, may be like. It will truly be unique, and certainly more authentic, than what we previously had. So . . . I guess what I am trying to say is "I'm in. . . I'm staying."

Those words are hard to write. This doesn't necessarily feel "good," but it feels right. I am still deeply disappointed to be here. I want to admire and respect my wife as I once did, but my eyes are now open to just how self-absorbed and hurtful she can be. I fight the shame of being betrayed, but I realize this fight will likely follow me regardless of my future path.

Early on I fantasized this moment would be filled with celebration, perhaps new vows and another honeymoon. Now that it is here, I can only describe it as somber and sobering. It is an authentic perspective on just how fragile the things we should value most in this world really are. The old marriage was one I took for granted and often used to fill in my weak spots. I now see this marriage as an opportunity to grow, to come closer to His will for my life. I hope my wife will continue to share in a commitment to the same intentions and that we both use this experience as a catalyst to wisdom, authenticity, and a greater purpose in our life. In that regard, I do hope for a "better" marriage. I sense she will join me in this commitment but. . . nothing is certain. . .

Is this as good as it gets or is it simply where we are now? Regardless of my future path, there will be times of joy and pain, support and hurt. My hope is that my marriage now will be one valued and respected for its fragility. That we both seek to guard against the influence of friends and family who have proven toxic in the past. That we seek to understand each other instead of being understood. That we never forget that love is our individual choice. It is one of the few things in our lives we truly have control over. I'm sure it will "feel" great at times, just as I'm sure it will not as well. In the end, perhaps this will be a union of two broken people. That journey through infidelity is but one of the many tools that brought us slowly into His path. Perhaps our transformation through this process may even serve as some small witness for a few bystanders of just how incredibly God can use pain for His good.

I have come to a point where I want to see what is on the other side of the door but cannot do so unless I open it. A true marriage, one worthy of desiring, requires commitment from both parties. There is no way to safely experience this goal from the sidelines. She has not only told me, but shown me repeatedly she wants to humble herself to do whatever she can to never be that person again and to help me heal. Occasionally, she has asked what recommitment would mean to me if I chose that path. It has been hard to answer as it was simply something I never thought I'd contemplate – it simply shouldn't be a part of marriage. But for us it is and we have to make the most of the hand we have been dealt.

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More from Chase please

I am very pleased to see that you guys are creating more content from the perspective of the betrayed male. There is so little out there for us, but it seems that we are one of the largest demographics when it comes to infidelity. Thank you for this.

I understand that

That sentiment was certainly a motivator for me to blog. We are out here, I just do not think generally speaking we post, blog or share as frequently. While many parts of this journey are similar regardless of gender, there are certainly parts that deviate because of it. I am glad you can relate.

Chase

Chase, I need help. I don’t

Chase, I need help. I don’t know where to start with Affair Recovery. I commented on your brilliant blog. You write so eloquently. Where do I start?

I find this brutally honest.

I find this brutally honest. It’s encouraging yet depressing. I want, as I’m sure others that have been betrayed and stayed to renew their marriage, hope that one day it all will go away. I guess that’s not realistic. My hope is that my pain will one day help someone else learn to breathe again. Thank you for sharing Chase.

Thank you

Thank you for this post. I have seen my story in your experience. You just found right words to discribe what it is like to be broken and try to put all the pieces together again. It sucks but this is our lifes now and we have to deal with it. You are doing great. I'll pray for you.

Thanks Chase

Yeah bud I hear ya. I'm not quite out as far as you two but I've had the same reaction. Visualized some magic land after healing where marriage is totally kick ass and better than we could have imagined. I'm coming to the realization that I have no idea what it's going to look like. I'm learning to be ok with that. Letting go of the dream for a new life that you never wanted and dont (can't) understand yet has to be a ginormous leap of faith. Thank you for what you wrote. I admire your courage and feel like you've helped me move forward today... still dont know where but I'm getting there.

Well said

This is great Chase. Thank-you!

My circumstances are a little different: I am not as far out from D-day and my wife tried for a couple months, but after d-day #2 chose not to continue with our recovery.

I hear myself in your words about believing that a better marriage meant that the pain would be gone and that I, she, and us would be better after. I thought a better us meant a happier us. And I too tied my happiness to staying with my her. I imagined that recovery progressed in a straight line. None of that is the case.

However, thanks to Harboring Hope, and the people here at affairrecovery, I can see that I can be happy without my wife in my life. I still love her, but I have a more honest and authentic view of her. I am not happier. I can see that I will recover from her affair - but it won't be like it was, ever.

This is Amazing and sad all

This is Amazing and sad all at the same time. But oh so vauable. I think I will post it on my MFL small group wall. It would be a very nice addition in MFL matterial as ithink expectations for that majical pony at the end of the rainbow run high. Keeping expectations grounded is important.

We are a few months ahead of

We are a few months ahead of you, but as I was reading this, it brought a lot of thoughts and feelings which had been rumbling around in me, into focus and perspective. Especially the part about the fantasy. Made me have a little more understanding about how easily it was for my formerly unfaithful husband to live in his fantasy for a while.
I very much appreciate you taking the time and energy to write this blog especially for those of us, such as myself who do not have that gift of writing our thoughts or expressing our feelings in such a concise manner.
Thank you for your honesty and transparency!
Voly

I always appreciate comments

Just because I've decided to stay definitely doesn't mean the struggles, reminders, and triggers have all faded away. This has changed me in some good and some not so good ways. I am more authentic but now have to fight skepticism harder. Who knows what tomorrow brings but I am thankful I am where I am today, and not still living the days early in recovery. It really does get better and healing really does occur - healing just isn't an eraser to all pain. Thank you for posting all your feed back.

The paradox

Chase, I've read with interest your blogs as they've been posted. You've often articulated what I've felt, but hesitated to write. Betrayal swings a sword that cuts a wound like no other. For those that took their marriage vows seriously and would never have dreamed of this, it is a fog of pain that rolls in often, sometimes not lifting for days. I am 5 years out. In my case, it turned out my whole marriage was a betrayal due to sex addiction. I had no idea, truly. It started long before we met. He was a mastermind at concealing it, and the trauma that preceded it. I seriously had no idea. It shell shocked my whole reality. I had to revisit decades of memories to try to put the pieces of my life together -- what was real? What wasn't? It took me often to that place of the dark night of the soul. I too have a professional career. We also had 3 children together. It all came out at the 24 year mark and when I found out I was in complete disbelief. I thought it was some sort of sick joke. Fast forward (or more like crawl forward) five years. We have both done a ton of work over this time...intensives, counselling (individual and couple), flying across the country to trauma experts. There really was no choice. I had been completely broken and I somehow had to be put back together. I feel now that I'm put back together. I'll never be the same or see the world in the same way. How could I? I am still processing all the ways I have changed. I know this could happen to anyone. I meditate each day focusing on self-compassion and compassion for all who are walking this journey. I have seen his growth, his change, his commitment. He has done everything possible to heal, to work on himself and be the man I thought I married. And yet....that cloak of shame for staying brings a sadness that I fear will always be laying just beneath the surface. But that's where I also know my growth is. Our culture has shifted in a way that puts the burden, the scarlet letter, on the person that stays. And so many I know feel that. It can feel humiliating, it can feel discouraging. But I am learning to not care what people think. They have not walked in my shoes, and so few are willing to go to the depths of truly healing the human spirit and acknowledging not only its frailties, but it's potential in all of us as individuals. It's insanely hard! It would have been so much easier to walk away and start over. But I needed to make sense of this life shattering. I needed to follow it to the depths of pain it took me to, so that I could start to see the light of my soul shining through. I had to find the light in me. It is about standing strong, connecting to that source that is so deep, and having faith that no matter what, I'll be ok. I didn't ask for this, but it is what happened. My choice is to move forward together as well. And yet..... I have my moments of doubt. Just 2 weeks ago I showed him this video as my way of saying 'ok, let's keep moving forward'. I agree that it is a fantasy to think it's roses on the other side. Life's not just like that. Everyone, no matter who they are, will shoulder their share of suffering. But I am learning to accept that. I just can't keep holding on to that. Poet Khalil Gibran wrote: "Your joy is your sorrow unmasked". Indeed. There a music video. I think you might like it. All the best in your journey.

Thanks you

Your comments really resonate with me. I never understood shame - mine, hers, others - like I do now. I am slowly working towards the mindfulness you speak of but I am very much a work in process in that regard. This stuff is hard no doubt, harder than I ever imagined anything could be. I can't really say the work is worth it, it is just what I must do to save myself and others around me that depend on me. It is simply a choice whether I want to stay stuck, become bitter, let this diminish my ability to love vulnerably - or to restore what healthy traits I can, and replace what I can't. Thank you for taking the time to reply.

Chase

I wish it wasn't so scary

Chase - you and I are on the same timeline I believe. We just "celebrated" 20 months of this hell. I think the difference is that there has been so much trickle truth and deception that we are light years behind you in recovery.

I was, however, thinking about this very topic this weekend. Are my expectations too high for our "new marriage?" I remember reading within ours of finding out about the OW that a marriage can not only survive an affair but could become even better afterwards. That if two people were willing to start over, a new marriage could emerge and as the betrayed it's ok to ask for what it was that you wanted. I let that blindly lead me for several months.

And then I started to feel angry that not only was my WS not fully committed to our recovery he was certainly not showing signs of becoming this "new man" I had fantasies about.

Now, 20 months in, I am struggling to let go of that expectation of a new marriage. And to let go of my disappointment in how foolishly I believed it.

<gah> I'm so tired of being HurtinKC

Perspectives

I am very curious to see how I view this experience in a year, or 5, or 10, etc. As I slowly conquer the destructive voices trying to define me by this betrayal, it does become smaller in its influence in my life. The problem is with that process the value of my marriage also greatly diminishes. I guess you can't build something new until the old destruction is acknowledged as such. Feels odd sometimes to think of this as starting over even though I have known my wife for over 30 years, yet I do think that is the healthiest perspective for me now. I am definitely much quicker to call out what feels like deception when I see it - in me or her...

Chase

Response

Chase, your writing is so reflective of my feelings after 20 months. Some days I just fall into a state of exhaustion from constantly thinking about this situation. Thank you for writing with such clarity and hope.

Chase

The last time I cried this hard reading something was my mom and dad’s obituaries. It took three or four readings to see it clearly through tears. We have done nothing and D-day for me was 17 years ago. Four years ago he broke down and held D-day Part 2 to tell the whole truth about 17 years ago. The “emotional affair” was of course a full on sexual affair. About 6 weeks ago, I found Affair Recovery. I did. He’s been gently waiting for me to get over it. We’ve told no one. Well, I confided in one person (his aunt and my confidante for years) and our adult daughter accidentally found out when she saw a response text from that aunt. Will an EMS weekend help me with PTSD? I can’t think - I can’t read self-help. I can’t work. I just fake life. In my current mental state, too much...too many choices makes me shut down. I don’t know what to do. I’m losing my sanity. I wake in a panic every morning. There are screams in my head. This is not, was not - supposed to be my life.

Getting Started

Our first step in AR was an EMS weekend. I strongly recommend this experience if you are able. Since then, my wife and I both have had countless hours of individual therapy, group work, and some was specifically targeted towards the trauma - but EMS provided the starting point. This is an excellent resource and help is out there. You are not alone.

For what it is worth, I am simply a consumer of the resources myself and AR allows me to post these blogs. Being a part of this AR community is truly an extraordinary resource. I am glad you found it.

Chase

Bootcamp

There is a free bootcamp on this site as well that gives a nice framework for the first steps in healing. I forgot to mention that as well. We did that while we waited for our EMS weekend to start.

Chase

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