No One Understands

Almost every day I talk to someone who is struggling with infidelity in some way and is trying to make sense out of it. A unifying statement I usually say to them or even hear from them is the fact that “No one can relate and no one seems to understand the pain I’m living with.”

I agree about every time, yet follow it up with a caveat that they need to be surrounded by a fellow hurting and grieving community. The nature of infidelity is shame based and is almost never overcome without community support. Without such, they will feel they are off on an island and no one can relate and no one can empathize, and no one can understand what they have to process what seems like each hour of each day. It’s not about commiserating together, rather it’s about normalizing things and being able to help each other grieve and move forward in healing. While there are other well-meaning groups out there, if they are not infidelity-specific in nature, I’m willing to bet you they just will not cater towards the specificity that healing from infidelity requires.

From the reminders to the triggers to the entrance of new information, infidelity makes every attempt to erode away every foundation in our lives. From theological, to marital, to trust of any and all kinds, to our general vulnerability as caring human beings, infidelity is a cancer that seeks to incinerate every fabric of our normalcy.

Here are a few reasons why no one understands:

  1. If they haven’t gone through it, they don’t get it and can’t relate. (That doesn’t mean they won’t try but usually to no avail) They can’t understand the reminders. They can’t understand the triggers. They can’t relate to the intense shame you or your spouse feels as they haven’t had to feel the embarrassment of wanting to hide due to having an affair or being the spouse of one whose cheated.
  2. Everyone says what they will do if their spouse cheats, until it actually happens. Usually there is a history together (sometimes decades), kids are now in the mix, incomes and quality of life are jeopardized and quite frankly, it’s just not easy to walk away.
  3. Infidelity is a very shame-based tragedy and inherently isolates its victims. If you’re a betrayed, you typically feel embarrassed and ashamed of what has happened. If you’re the unfaithful, you want to stick your head in the sand as you’re embarrassed of being the one who has broken your vows and cheated. You don’t usually feel like running into a crowded room to find healing and hope as most will not disclose their affair(s) for fear of shame or embarrassment. Finding a supportive community who will be open about their poor choices or their betrayal is a precious commodity.

When Samantha and I found expert help and a supportive community to gleam from, we immediately took a deep breath. We went from feeling like outcasts to normal people who were hurting and needed support and fellowship. Yes, Rick was life-saving, but also finding other men and women who were hurting and looking for community anchored us the way Rick wasn’t able to. We felt like we learned so much and finally fit in with a new group of people. There were older couples and younger couples, wealthier and poorer and some even worse than us. We felt like we found a new home and began to process information far quicker than we ever did locked in battle on a couch in a therapist’s office for hours. When we found Rick and his community, for once we felt like we were on the right road to recovery.

I’d encourage you to take a big step of faith and reach out for community. Not just anywhere, but a specific support group that can help you heal and find a new normal.  

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