This is a quick reply that I made to a guest post from Courtney on the blog Simply Solo called When He Cheats, about finding the strength to forgive. It was a fantastic post and really hit me hard emotionally. That blog post and my hastily written reply are the catalysts for my site. It made me realize how powerful words are and how great it is to feel connected with someone through similar experiences. Here it is:
“I obviously don’t know all of the details of your story, but I do know that the decision to continue on in a relationship with someone who was unfaithful is agonizing. Contrary to what some people seem to believe it is not easy or weak at all. It actually takes a lot of soul-searching and sleepless nights and second-guessing.
Just the act of being cheated on and knowing without the definitive proof (there really is some sort of instinct at play) makes you feel insane. Fully trusting someone with all of your heart while some primal part of you is screaming that something is wrong is a feeling that defies description. Then that moment when your worst fear is confirmed is devastating and full of relief at the same time. “I knew I wasn’t crazy,” “I can’t believe it,” “How dare he,” and “I am soooo angry” were all flashing through my mind along with about a hundred other things.
There is a certain amount of power and adrenaline that you feel when you can finally confront him with hard evidence. In my case I had voiced some of my concerns about his interactions with a particular person and he had denied them vehemently and made me out to be a ridiculously jealous person. He knew how to play into my own self-doubt and make me question if I was the one who had broken trust by even wondering. Sexual infidelity (and the desperate attempt at cover-up) is such a manipulative thing that twists your feelings and confidence. When I finally found out the extent of things and had proof that he could not deny it was a very emotionally charged moment for both of us.
I don’t know about you, but I had always thought cheating (and abuse) were two things I wouldn’t stand for in a relationship and that anyone who did that to me would be erased from my life, period. At first I felt self-justified and authoritative – I was taking back my sanity and putting my foot down about what I deserve as a woman. I didn’t want to hear his excuses or apologies, even if they seemed sincere.
Eventually the rage in my heart died down and the sadness and loss of all the great things about the relationship (and him) started to bring another wave of doubt. Was I really doing myself justice to throw away years of my life and my marriage without even giving it a second thought? It was not easy and it was not done overnight or without much strife and fear and crying, but I discovered that I was willing to put in the effort to try and forgive if he was willing to make some serious changes.
Ultimately we are stronger now almost exactly a year post-discovery (March 31st will forever be a painful memory). I personally learned not to accept words when the actions don’t seem to match, to trust my instinct, and that sometimes small shifts in communication and patterns of behavior can make an unbelievable difference in a relationship. Both he and I (individually and as a couple) went to therapy to deal with the underlying issues, heal, and learn how to move forward.
It is still an ongoing process, although our relationship is so much happier and more fulfilling than I would have ever thought was possible in the weeks and months after the revelation. We are both constantly working to build the trust back up and it is working. But there is a certain loss of that unquestioning, naive conviction that he would be faithful and honor, love and respect me until death. No matter how much I believe he wouldn’t hurt me again and no matter how much I see him grow and keep making the right decisions there will always be a part of me that is subconsciously shielding my heart against all of that intense pain and betrayal.”
I will give more details on what happened in my relationship and how I was (and am) feeling, but I thought it was important to give a quick snapshot. This reply started off as something quick to say “I understand” and “Thank you for talking about this.” It turned into so much more because it helped me release a lot of pent-up emotions. It will hopefully lead to something that other women can relate to and find strength from.