A fate worse than death

I lost my mother last year. Her death was the most significant death I have experienced thus far. Sure, I’d lost my grandparents, but your grandparents are two generations removed from you, and let’s face it, we expect them to die at some point. Our parents’ death presents a new challenge for us as children. For the first time, we start to see our own mortality, and we are ‘next in line’. My mother’s death was hard. It is still hard. I miss her often, and sometimes find myself talking to her as I work through something. I’ll be making a recipe, for example, and find myself saying out loud to myself: “Ok mom, if I don’t have any eggs…I would substitute it with…..?”, or ” Mom, I wonder whether you would like this?”. She never answers, of course, and so far there have been no signs that she is ‘around’, but I keep waiting for one.

My mother’s death, has been one of the most difficult emotional challenges I’ve had to face. Trying to rectify all of the feelings pent up over 30+ years, trying to sort out all of your feelings, make amends, make apologies, live with the apologies you will never be able to receive. Not to mention the fallout that comes from a family shattered by the absence of the one person who held it all together. My mother was the cook, the holiday planner, the birthday rememberer, the gift-buyer for my children, the one who would watch TV, hear about a new toy, game or gadget for kids, and write it in her little journal to remind herself at the next gift-giving opportunity that she wanted to do that for her grandkids (if she didn’t lose the journal, or forget where she’d written it down, or that she’d written it at all). My dad relied on my mother to be his appointment-maker, his personal secretary, his gauge of social correctness, his social convenor, his organizer, his….everything. When family members were on the “outs” she would place herself in the middle, trying to make peace, and then creating social situations to bring them together. I swear, before my brother had children of his own, the only relationship I had with him, was through my mother and the events she would create for us. Without her, I am left to create them, and maintain a relationship with those who remain. She was, without a doubt, the glue that held us together. Without her, I face losing everyone else unless I step into her place and be the glue that once again holds the pieces together.

I think the loss of anyone is significant. But, the loss of a parent ranks as one of the most stressful and painful milestones an adult child will face. Inasmuch as I love my mother, and miss her, and her death has affected me, I can say, without hesitation that my husband’s affair was more painful. In fact, I would do my mother’s death over and over again before I would EVER want to face the pain and devastation my husband’s affair has brought into my life. My father is now aging also, and I honestly believe that he could have died along with my mother — in fact my entire family could have been wiped out, and it wouldn’t have held a candle to the loss that came from the discovery of his affair. Many times I wished I had died. Losing my life, ending my existence was often considered as a less painful state than living through the pain, the humiliation and the trauma of that experience. I contemplated death a lot during that first year. At one point, I took a handful of pills, intended for pain conditions, and hoped that I’d fall asleep, or get sick, or never be the same. I wanted something to erase me, or at least the memory of the event. In those times, even the thought that I would be leaving my children didn’t matter. I reasoned that they would be “better off” with no mother, than with a depressed shell of a woman, always angry, always on edge, permanently stressed out, tired, exhausted from the emotional gymnastics dealing with the affair required. I wound up with what resulted in a horrendous hangover. Flu-like feelings, nausea, severe fatigue from the pain meds…but no death, no hospital, no do-over. I don’t even recall my husband being upset with me about it. In fact we never really talked about my “failed” attempt. I guess in his mind, it wasn’t anything that would have successfully killed me, but it doesn’t change my intent at the time. It is a pain I can’t describe. I never contemplated ending my life when my mother’s ended, and I won’t when my father’s will end. It just, isn’t. the. same.

Fellow blogger Samantha Baker recently commented on a blog post, indicating that she’d written a blog on this very topic, so I wanted to link to it here.

Her point is a very valid one. You expect people you love to die. You don’t expect them to deceive and betray you. The very people you count on to love you, look after you, and care for you, you don’t expect to turn on you, actively seek out ways to indulge in activities that cause you harm, or sneak around behind your back, humiliating you for their own pleasure and benefit. When we lose a loved one, it is final. They aren’t coming back. We grieve it, we move forward, we put it behind us. With an affair, the process doesn’t have an end-point. We are always left wondering if it will happen again, we attend therapy sessions where we pick apart, analyze and re-hash the details of the affair, the pain, the marriage, the trust and the loss. When someone dies, although it is painful, you are never left wondering if they will die again, and you will experience this again. With an affair, that simply isn’t so. It is not embedded as a constant fear in your mind, akin to now have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The triggers and fears remain, long after disclosure. When my husband used to be late coming home, my first thought was that he was in an accident, and I feared for his safety. Now, I wonder if he is sleeping with someone else. My husband purchased a device to track his whereabouts, and sometimes it is inaccurate. This morning, for example, it emailed me to tell me he had left the zone around our home that I had demarcated as “home”. I should have received an email within 30 minutes telling me he had entered the zone called “work”. I didn’t get that email until 11:30, four hours after he’d left. My first thought: he was in a hotel with someone, made up the meeting he was supposedly in, and has just now arrived at work. It plagues you forever, and never goes away. The trust, as you knew it, is now gone. Perhaps it should be. That blind trust was naive. It was fantasy. I now live in reality.

Give me the choice, and I choose death. I would much rather experience the death of a loved one. At least they didn’t intend to die. At least they didn’t die with the selfish intention to cause me harm and suffering. Death isn’t selfish, it isn’t gratifying. Their death is anticipated, and we spend our time with them knowing that one day…it will be around the corner. I never, when signing my marriage certificate ever considered that I was signing up for this. It wasn’t on my radar. I was unprepared. It has caused an unimaginable pain and void in my life.

The other difference worth mentioning is that when one mentions that someone has died, people rally for support. People ask how they can help. People feel sympathy. No one turns around and blames you for the death. No one tells you that they died because you weren’t enough. No one asks you to look at how you contributed. Someone’s death isn’t an embarrassment to you personally and doesn’t bring you shame. Unlike a death, we suffer in silence. We try to keep it quiet. We feel shame for our husband’s affair because of society’s unfair assumption that it happened as a result of a shortcoming in US when really it was a shortcoming in him. We weather the storm, telling few, crying quietly when we can steal a private moment, or screaming uncontrollably when we feel safe to express how we feel. Its just easier to grieve a death.

Since my husband subscribes to this blog, and will read this entry, he should probably know:

You do this to me again, and you will be staring at the back of my head as I walk away with our children. There will be no hesitation, and there will be no tears. Having gone through the pain that I have suffered from your actions, if you were to put me through this again, you wouldn’t be worth shedding a tear for, and I would be gone. Im not doing this again. There are no second chances. Case closed. Just so we are clear. I’m just sayin’.



  1. Better Off says:

    You are right. Death isn’t a choice but an affair is. I think your husband is a lucky man that you didn’t leave after the affair. I wish you luck and hope that you will be able to heal and rebuild your marriage. I will keep you in my prayers.

  2. I could have written the very same words. They are words that no one understands unless they have been through it themselves. I’m glad we are able to share this way.

    Wishing grace and peace in your life-

  3. dotcablogger says:

    You sound like you’re having a relapse with your feelings (fear, mistrust, suspicion of being cheated on again) that came as reaction from the affair right now :-/. So I know that relapses do happen, and have been thinking about you and how you can maybe focus on not what you fear, but instead think of where you are right now.

    I hope you don’t backslide. I know that a relapse does happen with either feelings or habits. I experience issues, so know what feelings can cause and how a relapse can sometimes happen without full awareness that it is happening. So this is looking like one right now. I hope you could maybe refocus on other things of this present moment like on the elapse of time (or the time you’ve achieved as your recovery after the affair), and on the progress you have so far achieved.


    • dotcablogger says:

      Great metaphor of death and of how it has no intention in its cause of pain during when it happens, which is unlike the pain that’s caused by an affair.

      But suicide or murder is a different metaphor, and it is caused by human intention :-/.

      I guess what I am saying is that the affair is corrosive and eats away at your feelings and trust (and sometimes you get STDs from it …or the mistress has a baby from it!), but even death can be corrosive to your heart when it is human caused.

      I’m probably trying to help you not focus on your past reaction of anger that you had towards your husband’s affair, and even not focus on your fear of being cheated on again that you started having because of your husband’s affair.

      You were for a while not writing here on your blog and so looking like you had made a significant stretch of recovery with your own feelings about your husband’s affair. And when you did write, you were starting to post inspirational quotes and links :).

      So I hope you make another step of recovery, and get back on track of not being chewed up with those feelings of yours that you had as your first response to your husband’s affair. So I hope these feelings from then, don’t haunt you now.


      • I was referring mostly to death not caused by intention. Not suicide and murder. Death as natural death.

        I just posted an inspirational quote the other day. I do them when I don’t have much to say and still want to connect. I have one on the burner for tomorrow also that is scheduled to publish. Enjoy!

      • dotcablogger says:

        But I want to say sorry if I had written anything that you might instead read as inflammatory. That wasn’t my intention.


      • Nope, nothing you said was inappropriate or inflammatory in my opinion πŸ™‚

    • No, I’m not relapsing. In an effort to make the blog relatable to all people at all phases of their process, sometimes I have to look backwards for inspiration on what to write about. I’ve been a little sad this week, but frankly I think it is more weather related. Finding my husbands emails threw me into a tailspin last week, but we talked it through and I felt much better. Reading what he wrote in the past doesn’t negate all of the good he has done since. I just need to remember that.

      • dotcablogger says:

        Okay good. I was worried that you were having a relapse into your feelings of shock, sadness, anger, fear, mistrust, that you had as your first reaction to the affair.

        Keep up your recovery, for sure.


      • Oh no. After how far I’ve come and what I’ve learned, very little could ever put me back in that place…except another affair, and even then, I’d just walk out. There is no second time.

  4. You know exactly how I feel about this. I can’t say it any better than you have here. The decision to have an affair is intent to cause harm regardless if they never think they will get caught or not.

    Dotca, those of us who have been betrayed, we do heal to a degree and try to move on as much as we can, but we still have our triggers and set backs and difficulties. We never truly “move on” so to speak and are haunted by the trauma of infidelity. Oh how I wish we weren’t though. I wish I could just let it all go. But if I did, then it would be so easy for him to do it again to me. I can’t let my guard down again. I just can’t.

    Rescuing, much love to you in your recovery. I wish none of us had to be a part of this “club” like we do. But I am glad we have others to support us when we need it.

  5. Recovering from this is a long process. RMM. It is not for the faint of HEART ! YOU Are a LANCELOT…… You raise your sword for defending goodness. I believe you have been chosen to be a lighthouse for others to find their way out of this darkness.
    In time the pain lessens. You cope, you rebuild, you thrive. YOU WIN. Everyday I choose to LOVE , and even if at times it is painful , you continue to choose to be strong and push forward. The pain just reminds us that we are still alive ! STILL IN THE GAME . NEVER THROW in the TOWEL ! TAKE THAT YOU BITCHES !!

  6. I can relate to what you are feeling right now. I lost my mother many years ago when I was a young bride. Now, my father is in the end stages of cancer. I am surrounded by so much love and sympathy from friends, co-workers, family, and even strangers. I feel sadness, I feel grief, I feel tired, very tired right now. BUT, it is nothing like the pain I experienced when I discovered my husband’s affairs. Ours was kept quiet, or as far as we know, quiet. Of course, as our counselor told us, there are probably people who know. But I suffered alone with no one to comfort me, no one who understood and gave me a break when I wasn’t functioning well.

    I’ve lost one parent and will soon lose the other. And I can already feel the difference between this grief and the pain and agony of the affair. I’m sure I’ll shed many tears when my father dies but I highly doubt I’ll be screaming and crying out like an animal in agony, falling to my knees in a deserted park late at night.

    I am healed but I can still remember and even feel that pain if I think back. There are some things you can forgive, you may heal from, but you can never forget and those moments of betrayal and pain are some of them.

  7. Foolish Woman says:

    My father died in an accident when he was a young man. He left a widow and several young children. My mother has said, more than once, that however awful and painful that was – and it was hell – it was probably easier than being left for another woman. The big difference in her mind was that Dad didn’t want to leave us.

    Even though I regard myself as being as healed from my husband’s infidelity as I’m ever going to be, there are still those moments when my trust in him wavers. Common sense and logic tell me that what he did was aberrant, within a very specific set of circumstances, and is unlikely to be repeated. However, the hurt, damaged part of me sometimes points out that he did the unthinkable once so what’s to stop him from doing it again? An unanswered text, a later train than usual, a sudden game of golf, some distant behaviour – it doesn’t take much to set me off; I start to imagine that the whore is still in this country and that they’re off having some cosy assignation.

    Like you, RMM, I have left my husband in absolutely no doubt that I will not tolerate a repeat performance. After what the last four years has thrown at me, I now know that I could survive without him but I couldn’t live through infidelity fallout again.

  8. tentativelyhopeful says:

    “You do this to me again, and you will be staring at the back of my head as I walk away with our children. There will be no hesitation, and there will be no tears…There are no second chances. Case closed. Just so we are clear. I’m just sayin’.”

    I was just about to write something in a similar vein today, but haven’t gotten around to it. My husband reads my blog too and while I’m not far along in the process and am a new member to the “club”, I feel really strong (right now) in my resolve. I will not hesitate to leave him and file for divorce should he cheat on me again. I have verbalized it to him – maybe seeing it in print will cement my conviction so understands how serious I am.

  9. exercisegrace says:

    Your words ring so true for me. I cried as I read them. I lost my mother ten years ago, and a very precious and dear father-in-law more recently. My husband’s affair trumps both of them put together to the tenth power. While those losses were profound and difficult, they were expected. I knew I would not end this life with these dear people still in it. I also have known from the time each of my four precious children have been born, that i have been training them (if I do my job right) to leave me and live their own life. My husband was supposed to be the one person who would never leave, who would always have my back, who would always make me number one (just as I would make him number one). There has never been any expectation that it would be EASY. Never thought there would be NO temptation. EXPECTED life to throw us curves, send a few hard ball across the plate. But we would always face things together. With a common love, a common belief system and a common goal. The marriage vows were exactly that. They were VOWS. They were a promise. An acknowledgement…..I WON”T RUN. No matter what. No matter how ugly. No matter the circumstances. We can fight, cry, grieve, scream, beg, bargain, cajole, threaten, and on and on. But it would always be together. He is lucky that I meant it. It’s why I am still here, and he ISN”T looking at the back of my head.
    But I agree with you. I told him I will NEVER do this again. I can assure him the kids would hate him, this has been terribly hard on them as well. And I mean that with Every. Fiber. Of. My. Being. There is not even a doubt in my mind. And you know what? If I WERE to suddenly lose my mind and cheat on HIM? I would expect the same.

  10. This is a fantastic post that tugs at the heartstrings…and all the comments included. My case is slightly different as my husband left me, left me and our four beautiful young adult children, our home, our future, our coupledom, our respect in the community; and our sharing of triumphs and tragedies. The pain I felt on his broken trust and betrayal is as you describe it…. much worse than a death. A lifetime of shared values shattered in an instant. The difference is that I no longer have to live with the pain and the possibility of betrayal. I am now alone. I have only myself to trust and rely on. While this takes immense courage, I have full control, I am in the driver’s seat. That is empowering to me.

    You show much courage in the rebuilding of your marriage. Whilst I was never given that chance, it is what I would have done, had I been given that opportunity. Best wishes and have a great weekend. πŸ™‚

    • Better Off says:

      I was in your shoes. The only difference was that my ex left and for six months I had no idea where he was. I was fighting for everything. He came back around and lied to my daughter, twisted her mind and made her choose him. The deal in our divorce was that whoever had her had the home, the dogs everything. He ripped my heart out and I never felt so empty and alone in my life. Things didn’t matter, but my daughter did. She was my last, my baby. I think she is starting to see the light and we are trying to rebuild our relationship. I think what bothers me is that I wasn’t given achoice about whether or not I wanted to rebuild our marriage. Maybe that is the problem for me- my choice was taken away.

      • Absolutely that makes it so much worse. You have no power. You have no say. You can’t even choose to make things work or feel the satisfaction of choosing to walk away from an asshole who doesn’t deserve you. You are stripped of your choices and fed a fate. I’m so sorry. I hope your daughter does come around. It’s almost like a double betrayal when she chooses him, but as a young and impressionable person, she isn’t making informed decisions, is easily manipulated, and isn’t trying to cause hurt. I hope you are able to rebuild with her and then pass on these lessons so that she can understand this situation.

      • Better Off says:

        I think she is seeing the light. He was fired from his job last spring..and so was his idiot friend that was his supervisor and his partner in crime so to speak. The slut he left me for worked with him and they for fought and broke up for three years until it was over. I wonder if his behavior at work wasn’t part of why he was fired. He was upper management and it couldn’t have possibly looked too good. I never even got the privelige of meeting the little skank just once. He wouldn’t say why he was fired but for some reason I was his first call to make to tell me. I was polite, but I certainly wasn’t his little cheerleader like I used to be. I think you are right..I was force fed this life shattering decision. I was always a very strong woman. I was a single mom for alot of years. I bought my own home, raised my children and showed them what a strong woman does. He brought me to my knees and even after five years there are still days that it just eats at me. Thank God for this blog, you and all the other womwn on here..even if we don’t want to be.

  11. I would love for my husband to read this.. I would like him to see that I am not the only one who feels this way in response to the betrayal bestowed upon me. However if he were to read it he would choose to ignore it.
    I have been watching “the walking dead” with my children. a marriage after betrayal can be likened to a “walker” a death has occurred. yet there is still life, and the marriage is carrying on in zombie fashion. Well that may be a little over dramatic. but it does feel that way at times, especially since he still talks to Her.

    • Why why why does he still talk to her!!? That’s step 1 of rebuilding trust. Step one. That’s a deal breaker for me. How do you manage? My heart breaks reading that.

      • he refuses to stop… and he knows all of that… just wants what he wants… (I believe he has a personality disorder) he and I have so much history and I am just not ready to give that up.
        I have told him on more than one occasion to go and live with her and see if she is what he really wants. he refuses to do that too. he wants to be with me. he says we will be together for a long time.
        maybe we will maybe we won’t. I do believe that he tells her he will leave some day. and I believe she thinks he stays so I won’t kill myself. (I did try twice) although I am no longer suicidal and he knows it, I think he doesn’t set her straight, why would he it helps him keep her hanging on. My counselor is trying to get me to do what is best for me.
        as far as me managing… I get bitchy… I get stomach aches. I am better actually when he is honest about it. which he isn’t always. but mostly I am just sad about the whole thing. I pray he will wake up soon, before he loses the one he needs the most… ME He knows that is the case or he would be gone. I know I am pathetic.

      • You are NOT pathetic. You love someone unconditionally even when they aren’t showing you love or respect. I wish you didn’t need to go through that. I don’t think I could have managed if my husband was still trying to have his cake and eat it too. Unless you put an end to that by not allowing that to be an option, what is his motivation to stop? If I could eat cake and not gain weight, I’d be all over that.

  12. letterstotheotherwoman says:

    I’ve felt this many times. Very eloquently stated. I lost my mom 3 years ago, and it hurt like hell., but once again, I expected her to die before I did, and she had been ill for a long time. We all had our chances to say good-bye. In this case, the one person in the world whom I counted on to have my back no matter what suddenly didn’t. The only thing in the world I can imagine that could be worse is the death of a child

  13. there is only ONE chance. He should take it.

  14. All I can say is Shit. Shit, shit, shit. I don’t want to do this, but I need to. Is it weird to say……. I have been in love before. I have even been married and divorced once. But for some reason, I felt a connection, like none I had ever felt with him. He was my best friend and sometimes, my only friend. I remember on the 2nd night after “D” day, I was talking to my friend from Jr. High School and I said it was crazy, it was like I lost a loved one. It was like he died. I immediately saw my life going through my mind. The rest of my life, raising my children without a father in the home, supporting and maintaining a home for all of us, with nobody there to make us feel safe and secure. My mind had automatically resorted to the assumption that there was no way in HELL I would stay with a man after “this”. No matter how much I love him, no matter how wonderful of a Father he is and no matter how much he loved me. My mind had already spoken.

    It wasn’t until a couple of days later when I hit the bottom (yeah I thought that day was the bottom, but I was wrong.) Holy shit, the bottom was waaaaaayyyyyy down there. In a dark, lonely, confusing, numbing place that I had never been. A place that I couldn’t recognize. And for the first time in my life, I was in a place that I KNEW I could not get out of on my own. At that very moment I Actually screamed hysterically for God to just take over my body and command me to move forward in his Will. I was so damaged that I didn’t even know whether I should turn my damn head left or right. DESTROYED. Yet it was also at that moment that I realized, I have options. I can make my own decisions, based on where God leads me. I don’t have to be in control, but I do have to process all that is coming my way.

    And so, the thoughts or feelings around him being dead were lifted. I realized that I couldn’t see a future anymore, because I had no idea what it would even look like. I realized that this was going to be way more difficult, than if he had died.

    I look him in the face and I just want him to hold me. Then when he does, I see flashes if him and her together. I don’t know which way I am going to be lead, I just know that I wouldn’t wish this path on my worst enemy. I wouldn’t wish this path on myself and I would rather fall asleep for a couple of months while this all “works itself out”, than go through this trauma while attempting to ensure my 4 daughters are happy and feeling secure in their living environment. Good God. I have no more words about that.

  15. I have experienced both the loss of a parent, my father and the loss of a partner, and infidelity. I can’t imagine anything more difficult than continueing to live on after Jon died. One of the ways I find the courage to stay with Jase(infidelity) and try and rebuld our relationship is I tell myself I have survived loosing the most wonderful love anyone could possibly experience, I can do this! I think it has everything to do with how close, or connected you are. Jon for lack of a better word was my soul mate. It is the most wonderul, complete love and relationship I have every had or could imagine. I doubt I would even go to my ex-husbands funeral. It’s more about the who…..

  16. For much of your post, I thought I was reading my exact story. Sames words and everything. Everyone expecting me to get over it, while the same time rallying around a close friend who had lost her husband now over a year and a half ago. It has been 10 months for me. I knew our story was just a bit different when you mentioned your children. I gave up my choice to have a child for my husband who was older and already had his own. We used protection for 15 years and for 3 of those years he used NOTHING and ended up fathering my ex-best friend’s child. I start to think we are on the road to success and then like someone else mentioned above, I feel like I’ve relapsed. I don’t know how long I can take this… Julie

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