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Finding others


I posted about it a few weeks back, but I wanted to reiterate the importance of finding supportive others as you are going through this.  Well intentioned friends and family are one thing, but nothing can replace or compare with the support of others who have been through a trauma like this.

It is akin to me trying to relate to, understand, and provide support to someone who has lived through a house fire.  I’ve never experienced that.  I can imagine the pain and the turmoil, but the trauma of having seen what they saw, felt how they felt???  I wouldn’t have a clue, or come close.  The support does pale in comparison.

You don’t get judgment, or someone who plays ‘devil’s advocate’, or who offers empty advice.  You get someone who nods knowingly, smiles compassionately, and listens patiently, not in a rush for you to finish.  It is invaluable.

I had the wonderful opportunity this weekend to meet for the first time with an in-person support group.  I’ve never attended a support group for anything, so I wasn’t sure what format it would take.  All I knew was what I’d seen on TV: “Hi my name is Susan, and I am an alcoholic….”.  Needless to say, we didn’t all stand up and tell our stories, prefaced by our first names.  We sat around a warm table at a local bakery and listened to one another talk about familiar circumstances, understood feelings and fears.  We talked about seemingly innocuous things which act as triggers for us, bringing us back to D day and the affair.  For some of us it was music, for others it was locations, and for others something altogether different.  We all had different stories, but all shared a similar outcome.  We’d been cheated on.  We’d been lied to, betrayed, and taken for granted, so that our spouses could reclaim the wild fun of their youth with someone “new”.   We all had different reasons for coming to that table, but together we all shared the same reality and could completely relate to the pain each of us were feeling.

Some of us, sitting around that table, had known for years.  Others were as fresh as three months ago.  Some were in the process of initiating divorce proceedings, while others were reclaiming their marriages, and trying to make it work.  We shared tidbits of our lives with one another, and opened each other up to new ideas, new reading materials, etc.  What I gained was a new circle of people with whom I can relate.  It was invaluable.  I was finally able to put actual faces to my situation.  Instead of reading case stories in a book, I sat next to REAL people, with REAL jobs, and REAL lives, telling their stories.  It was lovely to share the morning with them.  I find myself looking forward to the next one, even though it is a month away.  In fact, I started my own chapter of this network closer to my home, and I am hopeful that it will be of help to others as well.  Holding it on the off-weekends, I will be able to attend both, and to find the support I enjoy.

I really wish I’d found a support group like this one when I was first in the thick of this mess.  I longed so much for understanding, and had to seek it out from friends, and through therapy.  That is not to say that either of those are inadequate, but I think where my friends are concerned, they would have preferred me unload elsewhere, even though none of them would admit it.  You know how you can just tell when someone is tired of talking with you?  How you can tell when someone wants to get off the phone?  Well so too can you tell when someone has exhausted their interest in your story.  Try as they might to hide it, and to feign interest, I am sure they would have preferred to talk about ANYTHING else after a while.  I am sure it just became old for them.

I am really excited to attend the seminar next weekend, and so thankful to my dear friend and my father for tag-teaming in providing me the much needed childcare so that I could be away these 2 days.

If you are interested in finding a support group near you, go to http://www.beyondaffairs.com to find a BAN (Beyond Affairs Network) Support Group in your area.

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Comments

  1. I am so happy you went and it is making you feel better!! I think in the beginning when you first find out, there is so much on your plate that we don’t even think support groups. I just e- mailed my local support group today, hoping to hear back soon!! We need all the support we can get!!. And I was thinking of starting a chapter too, so cool helping others and yourself it’s a win win. Keep up the good work, I really like this blog and it is really helping me a lot 👍👍

    • It was really therapeutic! I actually find helping others feeds me, and if I can make that difference to someone, as weird as it sounds, my struggle won’t have been limited to my growth alone.

      • I think helping other people is key to putting our lives back together. Our husbands sound so much alike, all they want is for us to feel better. All mine does is give me unlimited support to get better, shows so much remorse that sometimes I actually feel bad???? We are doing good but I still feel like I have so much further to go, this is most defiantly the hardest journey of my life!! Keep your positive attitude, that’s what I’m trying to do.

      • Summer, I am so glad that you have such a supportive husband. I actually think that is the key to healing.

        I mentioned this weekend, at my support group, but I firmly believe that the degree to which a couple can heal from, and maintain their marriage moving forward, is completely dependent on the degree to which the husband is able to act as healer to his betrayed spouse. I husband who denies, deflects, or indicates through his actions are gestures that he is tired of listening to his wife’s constant upset, and sadness, is not to allow the space in which to heal. I don’t think of relationship can survive that. My husband essentially laid off his cards on the table face up. He takes the one down position on a daily basis. I see the remorse that he feels, and I feel the support. I’m very confident that we will get through this. It’s just that some days are much easier than others. I’m really glad I have someone going to the same thing. In fact, there are hundreds of us. We just have to find one another. 🙂

  2. Your 100% right, I don’t think I would still be here if I was not receiving all his support, love and listening to me cry, rant & rehash whenever something is bothering me. I know he loves me and now knows what a whack job the whore is. I think one of my biggest issues is the emotional/physical relationship they had regardless of how much he loved me!!! The thought of him being with some one else weighs heavy on my heart and mind a lot!!! Also the 3 years of the affair feel so fake to me, I had no idea about the affair, yet my life went on exactly the same. Taking care of the house, 3 kids, his business(self employed), getting together with friends, vacations. Even anniversarys and birthdays……. All a big fat f’n lie!!! Who the hell to these psycho bitches think they are?? This whore really thought she had a shot after repeatedly being told she wouldn’t. Comments he has told me she said…. ” I wish we could drink wine together”, “your someone I could spend the rest of my life with” WTF you delusional bitch that is what wives do!!!

    Thanks for listening to my rant, I’m leaving you with this quote that really applies to us.

    “Any relationship that is a secret is not a relationship at all”. Author unknown

    • I completely agree with you. As much as my husband consoles me, comforts me, and listens to me, nothing erases the pain of the visual flashbacks I’ve created for myself. Sometimes I wonder if it was a huge mistake asking him for all of the details that I did so early on. I felt that I really needed to have all of the pain experience that once, so that I wouldn’t be costly re-traumatized. I thought I was protecting myself. So, I asked for all the details. I wanted to know when, how often, where, in what ways… It caused me to create a visual movie of the events I never witnessed. And who knows how accurate my movie is? For the longest time, I had visions of the two of them running down hotel core doors, giddy with excitement, palpitating with anticipation, hardly able to contain themselves in order to get the lock to open. I visualized him fumbling with the lock, trying desperately to get the hotel key to fit, so that they could just get inside and devour one another. that’s how I thought anyway. It isn’t, however, how it happened at all. My has been described it was very ho-hum. It was a lot of teenaged excitement, anticipation, or glee involved. There was no fumbling for the lock. It just was what it was. It’s amazing what our minds can create. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not triggered by other things. I can’t even fold his laundry without wondering if this was a piece of clothing she removed from his body in a moment of passion. It makes me sick. so I understand all too well the feelings you describe when you talk about feeling sick at the thought of him being physical with another person. It is probably the most disturbing thing of all, next to the lies of course.

      • Your sentiments are the same as mine, the thoughts are haunting me. I have some details but I have not asked for all of them, I want to though. I think your better off knowing and dealing with it yourself!!! My husband holds back details because he says he doesn’t want to hurt me even though I tell him it is impossible to hurt me more than I already am. I plan on asking again, I need to know so I can get on with my life and see if my heart will heal.. I sure hope so!!! The laundry thing is right on target, glad I’m not crazy??? Thanks for listening

      • You know, I really don’t know what’s worse; hearing all of the gory details, and then putting pictures to the words, or not having the details, and filling in the gaps with details which might be an accurate. Frankly, I didn’t see the use in being upset about something that I couldn’t be sure took place. I didn’t want to fabricate details that never happened because my imagination might make him far worse than they actually were.

  3. Summer says:

    I hope everything is still going good with you. I’m a little disappointed that the support group has not e-mailed me back, I have e-mailed them twice with no response??? I was really looking forward to attending. Keep up the good work, you deserve it!!

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