The Worst Pain

3 May

Today as I was making my usual rounds – checking out posts on the SI forum and reading some of my favorite blogs – I came across something that really resonated with me.  One blogger, Repairing Shattered Pieces, responded to a question she found in a forum – Is infidelity the worst thing (pain) you’ve ever experienced in your life thus far?  Her response expresses exactly how I feel.  I couldn’t figure out how to re-blog her post since she uses a different blogging platform from me.  But I really wanted to post a link to it because it is very powerful.  Here it is: Is This the Worst Pain You Have Ever Felt?  I agree with her that infidelity is the worst hurt I have ever experienced.

My last post was about the pain I still feel over the death of my grandfather (See Remembering Pa).  It is obvious that I still have a lot of sadness and a mix of other emotions regarding his death.  I feel a great sense of loss.  And even though I knew he was very sick and would probably pass away soon, the sudden fall was unexpected and traumatic.  Still, death is a part of life that we know is coming and that we prepare for, in some ways, our entire lives.  We can understand death as part of the natural cycle of life.  Death happens to everyone – no one can escape it.

On the other hand, my husband’s infidelity is something I never saw coming. I wasn’t anticipating that the person who I loved and who professed to love me more than anything or anyone else in the world would betray me.  I was under the impression that he was just as faithful and committed to the relationship as me.  It was shocking when I realized that wasn’t true.  And it is something that many people never have to experience.  I envy them.

Death hurts, we grieve, and we do carry the loss of important people with us forever.  At the same time, though, we have all of the positive memories about that person to help us through.  I have the legacy of strength, perseverance, and deep love that my grandfather exuded every day and passed on to me.  He left a void in my life when he died, but he also gave me so many more things that I will carry with me forever.  His death is painful, but it is a pain that is tinged with happiness.  When I think of my grandpa the hurt of his death tugs at me, but it is tempered with good feelings, gratefulness over the time we had, and the knowledge that he isn’t hurting anymore.

By comparison the pain of infidelity is fierce and brutal.  There are no good feelings or happiness associated with it.  In fact, it tears at the positive memories.  It distorts the good times.  It taints my whole world.  Now when I look at pictures of us taken during the time he was cheating, sneaking, lying and breaking promises I don’t see a happy, smiling couple.  I see a naïve woman who was being duped by the man next to her.  When memories come up of things we did during that time I feel sick that he could act so loving while simultaneously hurting me behind my back.  It is devastating, and the hurt doesn’t go away.

Death is world-altering.  It removes someone from your life who was very important.  But it is also final.  The loss puts a period on your relationship with that person.  It closes the chapter of your life that they were a part of.  That can be very hard, but it also offers closure.  In stark contrast, infidelity brings along its friends gaslighting, trickle truth, doubt, and uncertainty.  It is also world altering, but in a completely different way.  It adds a huge question mark to your relationship.  It brings into question all of the chapters of your life that you thought you had right.

Here’s a small example.  A few years ago I went on a cruise with my family.  While I was gone Mr. Mess told me he was going to a friend’s birthday party.  When I asked him how it went he lied to me effortlessly about what happened – saying they just hung out at the friend’s house, got drunk, and all crashed there so no one would have to drive.  I discovered the truth 2 weeks later when I got our bank statement that showed he spent over $200 at a strip club that night.  After I had already told him how strip clubs made me feel.  After he had already agreed not to go to one again.  After his 2 month affair that had ended only 7 months earlier.  I explained to him then that his lies changed my whole perception of those 2 weeks.  The ground shifted under my feet.  Every touch, kiss, and “I love you” that I remembered made me feel ill.  Because it was all based on his lies.  He stole those kisses by being deceitful.  He also destroyed the trust in him that I was just starting to build back.

Another big difference is that death is something the other person has no control over.  When someone dies it is something that happens to them.  In most cases it is not something that they choose.  I know that my grandpa’s last few months were really, really hard.  It would have been a lot easier for him to give up and accept his fate – to not choose chemo and all of the pain associated with it.  But he fought.  As much for my grandma and those who loved him as for himself.

A cheater chooses to cheat.  They make the decision to betray the one they love.  They make a conscious effort to lie, hide, and sneak.  They make promises that they have no intention of keeping.  They break vows.  And the whole time they know that it will hurt the other person.  Still, they choose to do it.  They pick their own fleeting pleasure over the feelings of the one they purport to love.  This is probably the hardest part for me to understand.  I was raised to put others first.  To love other people with my whole heart.  To make sacrifices if needed.  The “Golden Rule” is something cheaters disregard completely.  The pain they cause hurts all the more because it was intentional.

I can also share the pain of death with others and they can really understand.  Everyone has had someone they love die.  There is a grieving pattern that is well-documented and socially accepted.  There are others that you love who are in the process with you – sisters, brothers, cousins, your mother and father, and all of the family members and friends whose life the deceased has also touched.  There is support.

Dealing with infidelity, however, is a very solitary process.  You are the only one dealing with the specific pain that your partner has inflicted.  Infidelity carries with it a stigma that is completely backwards and lop-sided.  Often the person who was cheated on feels embarrassed, shameful, worthless, and discarded.  They have to agonize over who to tell and how to tell them.  Whether the decision is to stay and work on things or cut that person out of your life there are always people on the other side of the fence who will criticize your decision.  People get fed up with hearing about it – they have no sympathy past a certain point.  They wonder why you don’t “just get over it,” a sentiment that is not preached at someone who just lost a loved-one.

Thankfully I have found an outlet and a good support system.  I have forums, my blog, and an online community of people who know just how difficult this is.  I also have outside support from my Mom who is the most level-headed, compassionate person I know.  I am getting through this pain.  But it is the worst thing I have ever experienced.  And it will have a lasting impression on my life.  It has shaken my whole world and shattered my perception of myself, my husband, and relationships in general.  I am slowing picking up the pieces and finding a way to get through this mess.

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15 Responses to “The Worst Pain”

  1. Wendy June 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Your words are like my own…all other pain that I have experienced thus far pales in comparison. I know if I lost my child, that would surpass this pain, but I think that is the only thing.

    I have struggled with the how questions….how could he do this to me?, etc. But I have come to an understanding that we both had a part in the downfall of our marriage. It doesn’t make the sting any less, though. He chose to have the affair and I will never understand how he could bring himself to go through with it if he really loved me. I’ve just learned to let it go….especially if I want to heal.

    • beautifulmess7 June 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

      I do know what you mean. I can also accept that I am certainly not perfect. At the same time, though, he is a sex addict. His behaviors and patterns of thought and lying pre-date me. They aren’t really about me. That was one of the hardest things for me to accept. Because it’s all about him making changes to himself and tracing those actions back to their true origin.

      We have been able to identify some stressors that made the acting out escalate. The things he did were not things he had never done before. They were his old “coping” mechanism for just about everything. Having trouble at work? Feeling like you’ve messed something up? Wanting to reward yourself? Turn to porn, chat rooms, fantasy. Anything but actually dealing with those things, talking, or being vulnerable.

      Now that I know that I can be more proactive when I know he is in a stressful situation. I can make sure he talks about the things that I see going on. I know better than to trust his happy face, his “everything is great” go-to response, and ask him about what’s really happening deeper.

      You’re right that it doesn’t change the pain, though. I still sometimes wonder how he could do that. I know now more about addiction than I ever thought I would. But it is still hard for someone (me) who doesn’t have a brain like that to ever fathom how it could really be possible. How can you reconcile that your actions would be painful for the person you love and choose to do them anyway? It is something I have to move on from with the understanding that I may never know that answer.

      • Wendy June 1, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

        I just started reading your blog not too long before I went on vacation this week, so I am catching up.

        Your situation is totally different in ways, and I know it makes it harder for you. I’ll be around more. 😉

  2. survivamama May 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    gosh, the post you quoted is so true! Especially about the “just getting over it!” I feel like I can’t really talk about my pain anymore…it’ll just bore my friends/family and they just want me to move on. Plus my hubby decided to stay (for the time being) so they think it should all just be rosey now! They sound so relieved when I say it looks like he’s recommitting to the relationship. I AM NOT RELIEVED! That doesn’t take away the betrayal, or his feelings for the ow…there’s no way to go back to that innocent love I had.

    and HELLO wild women:) We can soar above it all at times…thank god.

    • beautifulmess7 May 6, 2012 at 8:05 am #

      I’m sorry that you are going through this, too. It really is a painful mess they have put us in. Sometimes it feels like there are no right choices, no good options. But we are strong and capable, so I still have to believe there is a way through it.

  3. Kelly May 3, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    Very well said, brings me some peace today as I was thinking about how his A is “worse” than the death of my daughter at 36 weeks gestation. Thank you.

  4. recover1day May 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    You’ve done a wonderful job expressing all the ways infidelity is a shock and pain that is different from any other kind of pain. Thanks for sharing and confirming what so many of us experience! Stay strong, don’t lose site of the wild woman inside of you, nor the beauty that you are. Every day is going to get better, even if we back slide from time to time. We can and will move forward!

    • beautifulmess7 May 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

      Wow, thanks! I needed to hear that. I do have a wild woman inside who is free and soaring above all of this mess. It’s great to be reminded of that. 🙂

  5. A Dog With Fleas May 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Good for you on trying to pick up the pieces!! It is the hardest thing to get over, and takes a piece of your heart and trust that you will never have again.

    But you do have your fellow bloggers to fall back on. We are hear to listen and not judge.

    And good luck with whatever you choose to do. You can only do what is best for you and what is in your heart and not care about what other people say or feel.

    • beautifulmess7 May 3, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      I didn’t realize before when I was going through all of this without an outlet just how important it is. Thanks for understanding!

      You are so right that infidelity takes a piece of you that you can’t get back. We can move forward and try to heal, but you end up a different person.

  6. Samantha Baker May 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Brafuckingvo!

    • beautifulmess7 May 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      That made me laugh for the first time today. Thanks!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. More Random Stuff About Me « Beautiful Mess - May 7, 2012

    […] the last few years to last me a while.  This is my post to stay away from all of that.  Check out The Worst Pain or several of my other posts for more […]

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