Help! What Was Real?

affair recovery - survivors blog - christine - what was real

Last blog I posed a thought life challenge I've heard many betrayed express. Was my life 'real'? I don't know what to believe. What was real and what wasn't? To say that my life had not been what I thought it was would be quite an understatement. Real in every way to me, yet I was in fact controlled via the withholding of vital information to believe I was safe and in the gentle care of a loving, faithful spouse.

I won't pretend to say my thoughts on this are true for anyone but myself, but you may find threads of similarity with my feelings.

Life history matters. Our days are the only commodity we have. I view the time I spend as precious and irreplaceable. I chose to spend the majority of my adult life with the man I promised a lifetime. I chose to invest in his dreams, his ability to reach for them, his happiness. It is truly my life calling to uphold and add to the lives of others, especially those I love.

My dream was not about making money, gaining prestige, climbing the corporate ladder or receiving kudos. My dream was to have a family of my own and contribute to their happiness. And that is what I did.

Regardless of my husband's broken choices to maintain a secret double life, I lived my passion, my calling. I bore the children, made the baby food, bought the educational toys, played with babies in the kiddie pool, advocated for my kids when their disabilities required a voice, relocated to support my husband's career dreams, decorated the birthday cakes, bought the gifts, manicured the yard, fought to win the teaching job, ran the in-home business to earn funds for family travel, planned and dreamed the vacations, sewed the Halloween costumes, sang in the church choir, served shoulder to shoulder with my family at the local homeless shelter. ---ME.

I lived my dream.

Of course, I hoped those I served and worked beside would use my support, my gift of time and talent, to better themselves and the world. What is vitally important for me to remember–and for YOU, is that we have no control over how others will use our gifts. We can only offer them.

By 'only', I do not mean to in any way diminish the value of the innumerable hours I spent in the service of others. It was, and is, the most intimate and precious gift one person can offer another. Our time is a precious, nonrenewable commodity. That said, unless it is given without strings, the giver is doomed to resentment and anger should their gift be used in a way in which they do not agree.

I experienced the joy over all those years of family building. I lived the life of a giving wife and mother. I offered the gift of my time and talents. What my family choses to do with my offering is totally up to them.

I loved. I love. And I won't stop loving although my gift of love was misused.

That said I won't knowingly be used either. I will choose to share my time and talents with those who display they need and appreciate my gifts. In my case that looks like the elderly woman I take on errands, the dogs I feed, walk, bathe and groom, the garden I prune, plant, water, maintain. That looks like you, the reader, who might benefit from reading about someone like you who is struggling to recover from betrayal -- and put the pieces of a shattered heart and life back into full loving functionality. I will never stop looking to give, to love.

We have loved. We are the glue of the world, the fertilizer for the good. We are the soul of a broken and hurting world. Without we givers, we lovers of humanity and life, our humanness would recede back into the primordial ooze from which we evolved.

We are the light of the world, each of us, each small candle's flame illuminating the path for others. 'A thousand points of light', as former president George H.W. Bush called those who are the cogs in the machinery for progress and positive change.

Keep on shining.

For now, for today. For every day. I pray. I give. I hope. I love.

Add New Comment:


Thank you. This was so

Thank you. This was so needful to hear. I’ve looked back and could only see a wasteland, and it has caused me great anguish. My spouse will never understand the damage his choices have caused to my psyche, my memories, myself.

Great article

That was a great article. It comes at a time when the sadness is overwhelming . Sometimes it feels like it was all for nothing but you have given me a new perspective of how to see it. Thank you

Thank you so much for this ..

Thank you so much for this ... my passion is to help and love those in need but after being betrayed my flame burnt out. It has been six months but I refuse to let that flame stay unlit. With the grace of God showing me how to get back up ... slowly I’m beginning to shine again! Thank you for the encouragement and reminder that we need to keep shining for others!

" I refuse to let that flame

" I refuse to let that flame stay unlit."


Wonderful post... I totally relate

Tears flowed as you expressed something that I have struggled with. I am five years past D-day. My husband revealed the "first card" of a FULL deck on our 27th weddiing anniversary. The first revelation was that he had been in an affair for 6 years. I had to grieve the loss of a 27 year marriage that I thought I had - and I couldn't even figure out when it died! I was shocked beyond belief. Five years later, I still am not sure where we are. We are still together, we are better (in fact much better than 5 years ago). But I still wait for the next horrible shoe to drop. There are still signs of "Jeckel & Hyde" that I used to blow off as my own imagination. I still love and I still give... but I am still broken, and I will probably always be guarded. Thank you!

Hi Robyn,

Hi Robyn,
I am glad you have improved in your relationship and outlook. If you have not taken EMSO, I highly, highly encourage it, especially for someone such as yourself who still feels unsure, 'when is the other shoe going to drop' anxious. Jeckel and Hyde is scary. I believe EMSO would help both of you dig deeper into healing and transparency. It is very reassuring to hear other couples share their hearts and struggles. It can be a balm and a heart opener.

Long term affair

Thank you for sharing your story as it comforts me after a 13 year affair during the 28 year marriage and the absolute blind sided it was. I’m discouraged that you are five years post d day as I’m almost three. I’m always wondering anything better would be wonderful. What a horrible long journey

It is a horrible long journey

It is a horrible long journey, Kristine. I am 31/2 years out from d-day, not five, which have seemed very long indeed. Thank you for reading and keep taking it one day at a time.

Thank you

Love when you have a change of glasses - sight clears - hurt is exchanged for truth. Not that the hurt goes away, but the terrible lies, like "I do not matter - all that I do does not matter" is replaced by "I do matter, what I have done in the past does matter, my love is worth more than the way one person has chosen to treat it." I too have spent my life giving to others. I did this because I always felt incredibly secure and loved in my closest relationship. Thirty seven years of marriage and I thought I was living out my mantra - "Love God with all my heart - Love my husband well - Raise good kids that loved God and contributed back to society". But standing outside a bedroom door listening to a woman have an orgasm. A woman that I had encouraged my husband to befriend during the death of her mother (long story, but the woman is a relative and I thought was safe) rocked my world. I can no longer give to others, I cancelled volunteer organizations and events. Cancelled lunches and small groups that I was a part of. Have been avoiding friends that I cannot bear to reveal the heartache I am going through with. Part of this 10 month process was discovering that all the times I thought I shared out of a deep sense of security in fact fueled my broken husband's belief that he was not a priority in my life. He could not see all the times I devoted to him, planning and executing special events just for the two of us, doing things that he loved - not something that I enjoyed but what he liked - to make his day, etc. etc. He chose to only see and categorize service project like building an orphanage in Mexico, preparing dinners for sick friends, collecting toys for 7 villages to ship to Mexico at Christmas time as "rejection of him", "my not needing him", "my replacing him in my heart". He did not realize that I was only able to give, do and be that person because I felt so loved, cherished and supported. I did all of these things with his approval and with his blessing. But he is a silent man and did not tell me his true feelings.
Your article on "was it real" really hit home. Yes, it is real. The orphanage that has a secret safe room for one young girl because her mother would collect her back and sell her on the weekends for sex - for that girl my service is still real. For friends that I am unable to even go to lunch with because I cannot share right now, the time I helped coordinate/plan their child's weddings, and the bride cried because it was so beautiful and she felt so special - for that friend what I did was real. My life has mattered to others, maybe not to the one person on this earth that I had hoped it mattered to, but to so many more - it mattered. I have to let go of the one and see the many. Your article helped me change my focus....releasing the broken one and beginning to remember the many. Is the hurt still there, yes. But the total devastation of "I don't matter-what I do does not matter" no longer holds such power.

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your heart ShanMck. You have opened mine a bit more too.

"The terrible lies, like "I do not matter - all that I do does not matter" is replaced by "I do matter, what I have done in the past does matter, my love is worth more than the way one person has chosen to treat it." --Bravo and such a blessing.

" all the times I thought I shared out of a deep sense of security in fact fueled my broken husband's belief that he was not a priority in my life." --I relate deeply to this. It is similar to my husbands distorted thinking.

"I always felt incredibly secure and loved in my closest relationship." ---Me too. It did not occur to me that everyone is subject to 'stinking thinking' as 12 step calls it, given self isolation and the right set of circumstances. I was blinded by my own generosity of spirit and giving the benefit of the doubt that his and other's intentions/thinking/behaviors are good. We live and learn, sadly, sometimes through incredible pain.

I read an amazing article today on the Gottman blog titled "Running Headlong Into Heartbreak". So poignant, wise, compassionate:

How diminished our lives would be if we did not, had not risked heartbreak.

Sending love and healing to you. I am so sorry for all the ugliness you have experienced. Your life---YOU have mattered and DO matter.


The link you included in the above comment was not only perfect for my situation, it could not have some at a better time for me. It showed me how I could open my heart back up to my husband and let him help heal the "tiny cuts", one at a time. It has been 5 weeks since he has moved back home and everyday is a blessing. We work HARD everyday to heal our marriage from his affairs. But, I must say, he is doing HIS work that allows us to heal together.
Thank you again for sharing that link. Brene Brown and John Gottman have helped us immensely.

This is exactly what I needed

This is exactly what I needed to read today. I have mourned for the eight years of his affair and felt that I have lost those years, that all I’ve experienced have been lies. You made me rethink, that I am aloud to keep my reality and memories. They were true for ME. That my husband had another reality doesnt wipe off mine. I have a right to my good past.



YEs, yes, yes!!! Make all this hard won wisdom of yours a mantra of truth in your mind, your words, your heart.

Beautifully written

Thank you, this was just beautiful. It helps me reframe the “wondering if any of it was ever “real” into knowing it was real for me and I was being true to myself and loving with everything I had.

Thank you, Davis. I am so

Thank you, Davis. I am so glad your heart is a bit warmer knowing the reality of wonderful YOU :)

Help! Was it real

Thank you so much for this article. You have expressed exactly what I have been feeling over the past nineteen months since my d day. After 36 years of marriage and feeling safe and loved I discovered that my husband had lived a double life with one of his affair partners claiming that he had fathered some of her children. He has been unable to tell me when his infidelity started but assured me it hadn't been for the entire span of our marriage. In the dark depths of sadness and depression I felt that I'd been living in a lie for most of my adult life and didn't want to continue living. Hope vanished. I felt that my life had been wasted and my marriage had been the biggest mistake of my life. One day I was in a cafe with two of my four adult children. I looked across the table at my youngest daughter and son and realised that my love was profoundly powerful and worthwhile, that my love had not been a lie and my beautiful children and baby grandson are testament to that. Through a painful process of discovery I now know that the infidelity probably started ten years prior to my discovery. I've looked at photographs and read old emails over the period looking for clues of brokenness but found nothing to reveal that he was living a life of deception and lies. I finally accepted that my love for my husband had not been a lie either and that his brokenness doesn't detract from what I have created and achieved. Like you I have come to the conclusion that the love we have given as wives and mothers is the most powerful tool we have to continue to make the world a better place and we can go forward into a new life with this capacity for deep love as a foundation. I'm still figuring out how but I'm feeling and sometimes seeing glimmers of joyous hope.Thank you again for this lucid and deeply helpful article.

I am so glad you found the

I am so glad you found the article helpful. The praise, however, belongs to you for the reality of all your years of faithful love. Praise---you are able to see that!

Thank you

After D Day--I thought that my life now became worthless. All of the times that I loved and there was deceit instead--I thought negated my life. I needed to hear that my life was not negated by the choices he made.

Almost six years out and the truth of this still strengthens

Indeed your life was not in any way negated. Might I suggest that it is enhanced through your giving--the glue that held your family and all you touched together in love. I am almost six years out and have just reread this article because of your comment. When I wrote it I knew in my head that its contents were true. It continues to move the longest 18 inches--into my heart. With each passing day it becomes more real and therefore more supportive of my self esteem and worth.

What type of affair was it?

Our free Affair Analyzer provides you with insights about your unique situation and gives you a personalized plan of action.
Take the Affair Analyzer

Free Surviving Infidelity Bootcamp

Our experts designed this step-by-step guide to help you survive infidelity. Be intentional with your healing with this free 7-day bootcamp.
I would highly recommend giving this a try.
-D, Texas