Feeling Stunned

The beginning stages of recovery after what we call “D Day” (discovery day) are touchy at best.  The shock and awe of it all is more than you can fathom unless you’re in the middle of it now, or have passed through its borders. 

When Samantha and I went through it, it was nothing less than a whirlwind where our entire lives were turned upside down.  While not everyone experiences that sort of public upheaval financially or emotionally, it in no way discounts the overwhelming disarray that the first few days, weeks or months carry.   

What are we going to do?  What about the kids?  Is there any hope?   Why don’t they get it?  Is it really over?  Each question carries with it a 10,000 word essay of possibilities, but it’s far too early to make a decision. 

It’s like a prize fighter who, when caught the right way with a punch to the head or mouth, becomes immediately stunned.  They are awake, but not awake.  Functioning, but not coherent.  Their whole world is circling around them, but they can’t seem to differentiate which limb should move in which direction to stay upright.  Some will stay on the ropes, some will stumble forward, and some will fall flat on their face. 

Whatever their response, looking to the unfaithful at this time for any form of solace or direction will prove more than frustrating and will most likely be dangerous.  If not careful, they will fall face first on top of you, pinning you under their own failure and confusion.  In many ways though, the betrayed can be completely knocked into an entirely different hemisphere of confusion. 

It’s at this time that many betrayed spouses look to the stunned unfaithful spouse for direction, guidance, empathy or leadership.  Quite honestly, usually they can’t and they won’t.   The unfaithful is stunned by the ramifications of their choices or the complete chaos that is ensuing around them and in them.  To look to them at this moment to lead recovery efforts, or share intimate thoughts which will give credence to the affair, or concrete definition to the new state of the relationship , will only leave one confused, further betrayed and hopeless. 

One of the best things a spouse or couple can do is find a next step which is proven, reliable and specific to infidelity.  It would be wonderful for the unfaithful to take the reins and lead but they usually are far too unhealthy and stunned to lead on their own.  Do you really want the person whose been living a double life and whose been lying and justifying their affair to themselves and to you to be the person who is in charge of recovery and what next steps you take?  I would hope not. 

This is not the time to allow them to make all the decisions.   The betrayed usually will find brokenness, humility and true grief in the heart of the unfaithful, once the unfaithful has received proper care from an expert and has fully realized the depth and breadth of their actions.  Then, if true grief over their choices is not unfolding even incrementally, the expert will provide alternative strategy to determine what the next season of personal recovery needs to look like.  That may be a pulling away due to the unfaithful not being safe, or it may be a new season of dedicated exercises and care.  Any good expert will tell you, if there is not some form of grief or awareness of their impact upon you, the betrayed, space may be needed. 

This stunned feeling is not an excuse to wallow in pity.  It’s also not an excuse to sojourn here and there, not taking responsibility for their lives and choices, only further perpetuating the pain they have excelled at inflicting.  Sadly, the betrayed usually has to be the one to provide initial consequences and choices of recovery.  However, when the right care is provided, healing no longer appears so illusionary, and recovery and restoration seem obtainable at last.  

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