A year and three months ago, I thought I literally might die of a broken heart. Frozen and debilitated, flooding 24/7, unable to sleep for more than an hour at a time, and constant on-the-floor-sobbing, I just didn’t think I could make it through the shattering impact of my husband’s infidelity.
The first six months or so I was plagued by constant invading thoughts and questions and fears and grief. “Constant”, meaning five minutes could not go by without an invading thought. In particular, walking to my car from the office (about a 10 minute walk), and the commute home (about a 45 minute drive), were filled with to the brim with all manner of unpleasant emotions. When walking to my car I often became angry, and the long commute only intensified my anger. Or sometimes I cried on my walk, which continued on the drive. Every song on the radio seemed to have a “cheating” reference or reminder. Torture. Many times I’d arrive to the parking garage in the morning and found myself unable to leave my car and go to work. I’d sit white-knuckled, fearful, feeling shamed and humiliated, and feeling heartbreak. Every TV show or movie seemed to have infidelity plot lines. (Seriously, script writers, please write about something else!!)
I’m doing much better these days.
My invading thoughts don’t pack the punch they used to pack. They are fleeting thoughts. Small reminders. I’m able to set these thoughts aside and carry on most of the time. I made it here! It was hard work, but I made it to this better spot. Yes, I do still have times of sadness and grieving, but I spend much less time in these modes.
What Helped Me
Counseling: I was blessed with an amazing psychologist who has been able to take me from a blubbering pile of fear, anger, grief, and poor decision making… to this place. Cannot stress enough that getting a skilled and compassionate psychologist was the number one, hands down, best gift I’ve ever given myself.
Support Team: With my psychologist’s push, I opened up to five safe girlfriends about what was going on, and asked them to be a part of my support team. These gals are amazing and have absolutely kept my confidence, never given me bad advice, never turned me away, and listened to every word and sob. Amazing.
Blogs: It helped me to find blogs by people who were in the same boat. It helped me to learn their initial response and trauma was like mine. It helped me to feel less alone. I could read that I felt the way they felt. I experienced the same flooding they had experienced.
My Own Blog: This outlet has helped me process through different stages of my infidelity trauma. It has helped me feel useful and in a small way connected to others. I have a record I can refer back to, that will show me just how hard I’ve worked to overcome this awful situation.
Medication: I added a psychiatrist to the support team, who changed my ineffective depression medication I was on to something more appropriate. I even learned there are “as needed anxiety rescue meds” that you only use when you are in a “fight or flight” state of mind. I was given a low-dose, but highly effective “as needed” sleeping med. This combination helped me be in a better mental state to process, do counseling homework, make decisions about my marriage, and be productive at work.
CrossFit: I joined a CrossFit gym at the same time I started seeing a psychologist. These people are always so happy to see me. I felt included and a sense of belonging right from the start. It gave me something to look forward to. I received warmth, encouragement, cheers, and newfound physical strength.
Bible Reading: Not sure why I was compelled to read about the life of David over and over again, but it is a very dramatic set of pages. I probably read his story between 10-15 times in a six month stretch. I tried to veer off to other chapters, but I just couldn’t concentrate on anything else in the Bible except David’s story. It definitely was successful to take my mind off myself for a few minutes at a time.
It Does Get Better
Just know the horrible roller coaster ride from hell you are on does eventually slow it’s speed, won’t climb so high and won’t fall so steeply. You will survive this. Your relationship may not survive this, but you are not your relationship. You are you. Take comfort in knowing it takes much time to process and grieve and heal. You don’t have the pressure of hurrying through this — it won’t likely work anyway to rush your journey along. YOU WILL get to better days.
Friendly reminder I’m not a medical professional, trained counselor, or even someone who has years of therapy under her belt. We’re not all the same or have the same needs. I have more processing and healing to do, but while I work through this I’m enjoying better days. I can laugh again. I can have fun. I can rise above it all.
Dear friend, please be encouraged. You will laugh again someday, too.