Questions of a Betrayed Spouse I'm not the one who cheated,why do I feel so ashamed? Am I going crazy? Why is this so hard for me? Is healing actually possible? Is forgiveness what I think it is? What's normal when it comes to sex? As I began to wrap my head around the betrayal in my marriage, I was bombarded with questions like these. Recovery was long and hard—the hardest work I've ever done in my life. But one of the things I'm most grateful for is that we didn't waste any time or energy trying to get help from people who really don't understand betrayal. The team at Affair Recovery was compassionate and caring because they'd been in our shoes. They knew how to help us because they'd helped thousands of couples and individuals walking this recovery road. When I found out about my partner's secret life, his secret became my secret. He didn't want anyone to know about that part of his life and I didn't want anyone to know about it either. It felt like his betrayal reflected poorly on me. Surely something must be wrong with me if my husband had to go outside our marriage to meet his sexual needs. I wasn't enough for him - I wasn't enough period. Shame loves a secret and I carried that secret for many years. Back in the day of dial up internet and 900 numbers, I confronted my husband about some charges on our phone bill. He totally denied having made those calls. He was indignant and I felt stupid. I called the phone company and told them no one in our house made those calls. I felt even more stupid. I wondered what was true and what was a lie. I wondered if I was going crazy. When we started what has become the EMS Online program, it seemed like everyone else was getting better faster than me. I was certain I was the biggest basket case in the bunch. One day I shouted, "Why is this so hard for me?!" I've learned since then that my childhood played a part in how I processed what was happening in my life. Who knew that previous traumas could be triggered by the present? Or that such a thing as complex, compound trauma existed. Our brains are strange and amazing and everything's connected. I had a breakthrough one day in group when a woman who was unfaithful talked about her struggle in recovery. My heart ached for her even though she was the unfaithful one. I felt empathy for her and somehow, some way, empathy for her translated into empathy for my husband. For the first time, I saw the pain and difficulty of the work my husband was doing as the unfaithful spouse. Later, he wept as I shared my losses with the group. Empathy was a gift to us both. Forgiveness felt risky. It felt like if I chose to forgive I was saying I was okay with what happened and I was not okay. I believed forgiveness was the same as reconciliation – it's not. I thought forgiveness meant going back to the way things there. When I heard Rick say that forgiveness was letting go of having a better past, I moved one step closer to being willing to forgive. There wasn't a lot of affection in our home during recovery. It's hard enough for a sex addict and a traumatized spouse to co-exist in the same small space. Sex was scary. I wasn't sure I'd ever feel safe enough to be that vulnerable again. If you've struggled with any of these thoughts or questions, I encourage you to attend Hope Rising 2019. This year's conference will address new and challenging topics like: Forgiveness Shame and Worthiness Sexuality after Betrayal Empathy The Impact of Cumulative Trauma in Recovery Gaslighting Reclaiming our Identity If you attended last year's conference, know that this year is a completely different program. If you are a betrayed spouse, we can't wait to meet you and encourage you. If you are an unfaithful spouse, please encourage your partner to attend whether in-person or by live stream. Your questions are not too much. You CAN heal. We can help. Register TODAY for Hope Rising 2019 in Austin. Or Tune in to the confidential live stream.