Deadening the Pain

The older I get, the more life throws at me and the older my kids get, the more I understand that life is filled with pain.  Some is intense and at the top of the scale like infidelity, shame, moral failure and the destruction our choices create.  Other pain can be smaller like the pain of rejection from a child, or a failed business deal, or the inability to provide the way you’d like to for your family. 

I like to deaden my pain.  I really do.  One of my favorite books I’ve read in the last 10 years is Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb.  I highly recommend it.  Take for example a quote of his: 

“People who find some way to deaden their pain never discover their desire for God in all its fullness.  They rather live for relief and become addicts to whatever provides it.  Inconsolable pain, the kind that drives away every vestige of happiness and renders us incapable of fully enjoying any pleasure, can be healed by discovering a capacity for a different kind of joy.  That is the function of pain, to carry us into the inner recesses of our being that wants God.  We need to let our soul-pain do its work by experiencing it fully…..alternatively if we do not, we become servants to whatever makes us feel better. “

I’d like to hone in on the fact that we must allow our pain to do its work, deep within us.  Maybe it’s the pain of our own choices and the sobering reality that we have permanently scarred our spouse and anyone else caught in the crosshairs due to our choices.  Perhaps it’s the fact that you’re a betrayed spouse, in more pain than you’ve ever experienced and wonder if there is any relief at all. 

For the unfaithful we attempt to deaden our pain by the following: 

  1. We push the betrayed to get over it and stop talking about it as we don’t want to relive it.  We want to deaden the pain and deaden the hurt and shame we feel about our own choices and if you’ll stop talking about it, we’ll stop feeling the pain and hurt.  We don’t know how to process it anyway. 
  2. We get angry and try to bully anyone and everyone that gets in our way.  People become speedbumps and we will bully you to get what we want.  We’re hurt and we’re in pain.  Our anger and in some cases rage, is a cathartic release to distract us from the hurt and confusion we feel.
  3. We go back to the old behavior as it, in a very dark way, frees us from the fight to push against the darkness in us and in life.  If we just cave and retreat, at least we don’t need to fight anymore and we can just seemingly relax.

If you’re a betrayed, here are some ways the betrayed may try and deaden their pain:

  1. You attack your spouse, shaming them, and belittling them as it feels better.  You feel a release (temporarily) by attacking them and making yourself feel like the better person and remind them of their failures and colossal mistakes, as often as you need to in an attempt to feel better.
  2. You pull back from them.  You inform your spouse they need to ‘go fix themselves’ and you will not be doing any work and you didn’t ask for this and you didn’t ask for this pain.  So you inform them you’ll be doing your own thing, till they get healthy and fix themselves. 
  3. You minimize what has happened, maybe pretend it’s not nearly as bad as it was, and try to lessen the severity of it all. 

With the amount of traffic and input I receive from the betrayed spouses here, I’d love it if you would share how you, a betrayed spouse, try and deaden your pain.  It will probably help the multitudes of other betrayed spouses who are trying to heal.

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Comments

Wow what a great topic, were

Wow what a great topic, were should I begin I would say that after my discovery of my wife's affairs for the most part I have been on a path of living through it to learn and grow. Now I say for the most part but the spikes you get every now and then is another story. Like to day I was installing bushings into a swayed for a car I am working on well it slipped and instead of driving it in I hit my thumb that set me off screaming whi h before my discovery of my wife I would have dropped the hammer shaken my hand made sure everything worked and gone back k to work but what I did instead was loose control which just tells me that I have buried some of the pain. It may be similar to minimizing but it have done that also but I think it is different I think there have been times I just bury the pain probably to be able to stay in control at some point. I have I guess done the pull back at times also I have not taken the offensive though I have been real good to not do that for fear of what that could cause but then again th ere was one night I got triggered , seeing my wife in the arms of another man just started me off and it simmered all the way home, now to be honest it was a friend who's girl friend was not far away and they were just saying goodbye as most of this group does so there was no real problem it just triggered me well by the time I got home I let her have it even throw in slamming the car door in for good measure. That was the one and only time that happen to me, scared the he'll out of me I calmed down and with in 20 minutes we were fine. It was about 5 months and was .my last trigger I had. So the thing I would add to your list is burying the pain. But I ha e tried to grow through all of this.
David

This is an interesting post,

This is an interesting post, Samuel. I'm afraid that what I have to say is not going to help anyone heal, (and you can take it off the blog if you want) but this is how it has been for me, since you asked for input. I have found that nothing has deadened the pain. I have attacked, shamed, and called him names fit for a cheater. It didn't help and I was ashamed of myself afterward. I have withdrawn into myself and detached from him as much as possible to protect my heart. It didn't help either. I have educated myself on affairs, reading countless books, websites, blogs, articles. Doing that did not help, except that I now know more about affairs than I ever wanted to know. I have joined support groups, talked with people at my church, joined betrayed groups online to no avail. I have seen therapists, who have advised me to 'Just stop thinking about it and let's learn to communicate better". Uh-uh. I have prescription tranquilizers that are supposed to relax me enough to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. They don't work. I still don't sleep for longer than a couple of hours and when I do, I often have nightmares. I have kept regular journals and prayer journals and taken online bible studies to try and reach a place of understanding, compassion, and peace. I have prayed for countless hours.... and still don't have peace. Nothing has been able to touch the pain that I am feeling . It has been 2 years since first discovery, 7 months since the second REAL discovery, and 2 weeks since a new bit of information was thrown at me by the AP-- which my spouse confirmed was true. The only way I can describe the pain is "mind, heart and soul rape". I am exhausted emotionally and it has taken a toll on my health. And my spouse tells me that it is my fault that I can't just let it go, change my thinking, trust him, and get better. He thinks it is because I don't want to. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I WANT to forgive, find peace, move on, and stop hurting so badly, and in spite of handing it over to God daily, it just doesn't come and the pain persists. Even on days when I am able to find some joy, it is short-lived. I have not been capable of finding a place of acceptance and being able to blend my idea of who I thought he was with the knowledge of who he really is and what he is capable of doing. I have not been able to stop the intrusive thoughts by “thinking of something else”. Have you ever tried to NOT think of a pink elephant when someone tells you not to think of a pink elephant??? Impossible. I recite my favorite Bible verse over and over when the thoughts come, and then they come again when I stop. I can't recite it all 24/7! I know that God knows what He is doing and that this is supposed to make me stronger, so I am holding on to that faith that all this pain has a real purpose and in time I will know the purpose. But for now, I am --- after all this time and all the efforts --- still in a well of pain that is so deep, I can’t even see the daylight at the top. I am sorry that I sound so negative. Pain that shatters you to your core will do that to you. If there are any other things I can try to get rid of the pain, I am open to suggestions!

Karen's post says it all.

Karen's post says it all. Mind, heart and soul rape is accurate. I too read, read, read, everything I can get my hands on hoping that I will discover some miraculous cure. None exists. In psalms David said my sin is ever before me. Well, my husbands sin is ever before me. There is no escape. It is before me at church, home, work, everywhere. Their affair was so long and far reaching, there is no escape. I am up now at 4 am because I can't sleep. The things that gave me joy in the past are gone and seem so unimportant. You ask what helps deaden the pain? For me any relief is temporary but for now it is any type of distraction, especially those which fully occupy my thoughts. A movie at the theatre, being busy at work, away trips, and sometimes shopping. However, the relief is always temporary at best. My pain is always lessened when my husband is tender and focused on me. 8 months from d day and I know now it is not going away anytime soon.

Like you're reading my mind.

Thank you for your post. It's nice to know I am the only one that feels like there is no such thing as relief from this pain. It is crippling, debilitating. I have not found a way to deaden it for any amount of time. It consumes my thoughts 24/7. I have read posts and books, I have searched anywhere and everywhere for an answer, I have prayed my knees raw. You don't sound negative, you sound realistic and truthful. Thank you for your candidness and willingness to say what others aren't.

lookingforrelief....you're welcome...

it's gut wrenching my friend. i know. there is hope on the other side. i'd recommend a book for you called shattered dreams by larry crabb. i mention it in the blog i believe. it's exceptional and helps understand that trying to deaden the pain only makes it worse and causes more trouble. there is hope and there is new life, but that means the life we're living goes through hell and makes us want to quit. remember, pain and heartache provide a backdrop for us to learn and grow that success never provides. i know it hurts, but you can get through it and on to the other side as you take it day by day and let the pain do its work. if i can do anything else at all please let me know

Pain

After reading your article I realize my husband deadens his pain by going back to the same behavior and I deaden mine by allowing him to stay there until he's ready to repent. We have been separated 2 year but estranged in marriage many years. I'm dealing with a man who refuses to talk or communicate in any fashion. Every time the questions come up about what the future holds, if he's planning on moving on, if he wants to work at the marriage I get no response. He seems as if he misses his family but he has no fight in him. He makes no decisions. He retreats when you want to communicate or call him on disrespectful behavior. He's involved with someone from my church! How hurtful it has been. I have forgiven and shown unconditional love when ever he comes around and he even came home around the holidays (although I think the woman put him out). He said nothing about if he could come home, no request for forgiveness etc... I figured I'd give him some time. But after about 5 - 6 weeks of being home he slipped back to his old ways and I told him he was welcomed home once he was ready to be here faithfully. He left and the cycle has started all over again. It's like when we first separated in 2013. I have to dissociate from it all until he's ready to surrender.

It's All About the Pain

Thank you Samuel - a powerful post. You have peeled back all the layers to the core. It's all about deadening the pain. Karen58 you expose the soul of all of us betrayeds in such a heartfelt way, it was like I was reading my own journal. Your post needs to stay. It deadens the pain to see we are not alone in how the betrayal has affected us. Pain, so sorry for your frustration. Stand your ground and stay the course.

I am a male betrayed spouse. Without wasting much space on why, I'll just rattle off ways I try to deaden the pain. Some are productive, others not so much. Exercise, walking or lifting weights, tackling work for my job or my hobby woodworking gives me a feeling of some accomplishment and not being a total waste. Time with family or friends not talking about the affair helps with distraction, and feeling that some people do care about me. Actually visiting my mother who suffers dementia is an escape. Despite memory loss she is so excited to see me she claps and cheers, true unconditional love and a blessing. My wife and I both deaden pain some times by forgetting about it for a few hours, having dinner and drinks, showing affection and making love. As shallow and non-intimate as it may be, it works for a short time.

Mostly though I try to deaden by obsessing with ways to convince myself it's not my fault. Reading books about infidelity, listening to podcasts, reading all the same blogs, posting comments like this. All looking for validation that my spouse was unjustified, possessed, maybe evil. That after 25 years of a good marriage and building a nice family, I couldn't possibly be so undesirable that she would re-stoke an old flame. I have journalled for a few years starting with behavior changes before the affair. I wrote details of what happened and how I felt. It helps express feelings when you think nobody cares or even wants to listen. I pray, and look for any sign, any light to give some hope, even a brief glimmer.

May God help us find our own best way to cope.

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