My husband of 17 years had an affair and left me for someone else. Three years later, I’m still feeling bitter and vengeful. Please help me cope.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Three years ago, my husband (now ex-) had an affair and left me for someone else. We had been married for 17 years, were both in our mid-forties, and had no kids by choice.
The woman he left me for was married, has four kids, and was cheating on her husband with my ex. They met in an online game. Within a few months of starting the online affair, he started sending her money behind my back, he suddenly realized he wanted kids, and they decided they were meant to be together. He quit his job, divorced me, emptied our joint bank account, and moved across the country to take a new job and be with her, all within the space of about six months. I’ve had no contact with him ever since. None of his family or friends speak to me anymore, so I have no idea where he is or what happened to him after he left.
It astounded me that the man I’d known, loved, and lived with for 17 years was capable of doing something like this. Seventeen years! No one who knew him (or thought they did, anyway) ever would have predicted it. I’m not even sure he himself knew why he did it. His family and friends were as shocked and blindsided as I was. Some tried to talk him out of it, and one even tried to warn him that his new love interest might have been taking him for a ride, but he wouldn’t hear a word of it.
Losing him was devastating, especially under conditions like this. I loved him with all my heart. Even when there was emotional distance there was still sexual chemistry between us, up to and including the day he left, which confused me even more.
For more than a year, I was completely wrecked. I could barely even function. Sometimes I look at photos of myself from right before the divorce, and compare them to photos taken two years later, and it’s as if I aged ten years in that time.
Throughout the divorce process, he insisted that he still loved me and never set out to hurt me, but just couldn’t be with me anymore because he had to go ‘find himself’ and date other people. He even had the nerve to try to maintain a ‘friendship’ with me after this betrayal. I refused. It hurt to cut him out of my life entirely, but I had to do it, because it hurt even more to try to downgrade things to ‘friendship.’ Every contact I had with him was like the emotional version of re-opening a sucking chest wound.
Although I’ve moved on in some ways, I feel like I’ve been scarred for life by this loss, and healing is a very slow process. On the surface, I’m doing all right. I have good relationships with my two sisters. I have friends and a job, though I make very little money and I’m in debt. Except for a short fling, I haven’t dated since he left, and I’m lonely. I’ve tried online dating, and I attend night classes and various events, but haven’t met anyone I click with. (Dating in your forties is a whole different ball game than dating in your twenties, I’ve found. It’s kind of depressing).
The thing that still torments me the most, though, is that even after all this time, I’m still struggling with feelings of bitterness and vengefulness. I have not forgiven him for what he did, and to be honest I don’t even know if I’m capable of it. I can’t help but think that forgiveness is somewhat overrated.
I’ve tried therapy and all kinds of other things to work through all this, including mindfulness meditation, exercise, getting perspective by reading about people who have it worse than me, reading self-help books (the no-bullshit kind, not the fluffy saccharine kind), and writing him icy and rage-filled letters (none of which were actually sent, because I promised myself that no matter how bad it got, I would always maintain my dignity, and not behave like a crazy ex). All these things have helped to a certain extent, yet I still wonder how I could have been blindsided like this. I once prided myself on being a fairly good judge of character.
I’ve made some progress, at least. I can tell the burden is lighter than it was a year ago. Yet underneath it all, I still feel tattered and torn. I used to be confident, but now my self-image feels damaged. Although I know I’m better off without him, I miss the tenderness and love I once felt toward him. Things still feel unsettled. I know I’ll never see him again, and I won’t ever get an apology. I’m doing my best to move on with my life anyway.
But there is also a part of me, a part I’m not so proud of, that wants to see him reap what he has sown. My friends tell me that people who do things like this eventually get their comeuppance. I don’t know if I actually believe in karma, but I’m clinging to the idea anyway because it comforts me, especially when I’m struggling financially while he (as far as I know) is doing just fine. Is it really true that karma's a bitch? And if it were, would it even make any difference?
I still don’t understand what could have driven him to do something like this. Maybe I never will. But I’m tired of this dragging on and on. I want to find some kind of peace, if not resolution. How do I do this?
Personal experiences welcome. Throwaway email: blindsided.ex at gmail dot com.