can it be over now
July 13, 2016 3:15 PM   Subscribe

How did it take you to fully recover from a significant betrayal by someone(s) you trusted?

About 13 months ago, I discovered my husband was having an affair with one of my closest friends. It was devastating to me, and I continue to have trouble coming to terms with it. I'm on antidepressants and in therapy, but I still feel so, so sad almost every day. My therapist suggested it might be helpful for me to seek out stories of other people who've endured similar betrayals and what their recovery was like, to help me feel less alone in this long, arduous grieving process.

To add to the grief, the discovery of this affair effectively destroyed my entire (and only) circle of friends. These mutual friends all eventually decided to stay friends with both me AND "the other woman". But I have found I can no longer be comfortable around these mutual friends, because they have no qualms with talking about their continuing friendship with "the other woman" in front of me. I have specifically asked them to stop, but they basically said they can't deal with the drama of this request and will not stop. A few months ago, I went traveling for a week together with some of these mutual friends. When I got home, I had nightmares about the affair for 2 weeks because I had to listen to them talk about her every day.

So many things I used to love now feel "ruined" by constant, intrusive, agonizing memories and thoughts about the affair. I love doing yoga, but for a while she and him were doing yoga alone together nearly every day (and that's definitely not all they were doing). My husband never once did yoga with me despite the many, many, many times I asked him to. So now every time I do yoga, that is what I think about.

Last year we went on a weekend beach trip with her, and my husband completely ignored me for basically the entire trip. She sat around in her bikini and they blatantly flirted with each other in front of me. Now anytime anyone even mentions a beach, or mentions the name of the town where this happened (which is a very popular beach destination in my region), I want to cry.

I love riding my bicycle, but I also went on a lot of bike rides with him and her last summer. One time, on a bike trail that is VERY near my home, we all rode together, but eventually they sped up and left me behind to the point I couldn't see them anymore, and I was physically unable to catch up with them. They didn't care. So now that's what I think about when I ride my bike, even now.

I still compare myself to her constantly. She's prettier than me (by conventional standards). She's taller. She makes more money. She's better at almost everything than I am. People like her more. I haven't spoken to her in about a year, but I still think about these things and how ugly I am in comparison to her.

I just don't know how to move past these things. I've become an alcoholic and I get drunk almost every day because that's one of the few times I feel happy. I have no friends and no one who understands how painful this is. I guess I am just looking for reassurance that other people have been through similar permanently life-changing betrayals and that I'm not an idiot or a freak for still being sad about what is now old hat.
posted by a strong female character to Human Relations (59 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
just a quick response- you're seeing all these ways that you think she's better than you but don't forget the very important way in which you're better than her- you didn't sleep with a close friend's husband. it speaks volumes about her character that she'd consider that okay.
posted by noloveforned at 3:23 PM on July 13, 2016 [180 favorites]

Your posting history tells me you are just 30 years old? Gosh YES you can leave this behind.

I want you to work towards not drinking. I want you to take up yoga and go back to hiking. I want you to go for a walk in a park or go to a yoga class every single day, or both if you have time.

You're going to need to build new memories + heal from the trauma. You do this by doing things, not by drinking. You'll get there.

Also, immediately drop these "friends." They are toxic assholes, launch those friendships into the sun and don't look back. Better off alone then with those spineless shitstirrers. WTF is with your therapist for not going there and telling you how awful they are for your wellbeing?? Geez.

Ultimately, you will look for a new job and move, ultimately. This is the start of a whole new adventure and the best thing that ever happened, but one step at a time. OK?

For now, just get out there and cultivate practices like walking, hiking, yoga, and meditation. Read some good books. Drink less, think about drinking less, let the drinking go.

And those "friends." WTF.

You can do this! (Yes, I know from experience this formula works)
posted by jbenben at 3:33 PM on July 13, 2016 [66 favorites]

I'm so sorry you're going through this. When it happened to me, I felt as though I was in an emotional coma. The pain was excruciating and I didn't think I would recover.

It's now been 5 years since his affair and blatant betrayal. It's been 3.5 years since we split up. I've only really been ok for the last 6 months. So it took me a lot of time to process all the grief and anger and fear.

I was also drinking heavily for about 2-3 years because I couldn't get through the day otherwise. I couldn't stop thinking about them together or how different he was with her.

Keep pushing through, because the other side has been so much better and fulfilling. The deep sadness was partially because I compromised so much of myself for him, only for him to turn around and treat me like garbage.

I didn't initially want to leave. I'm so glad it eventually spiralled into an end. I've now met new people who value the same things I do - including treating others with compassion and empathy.

I finally discovered who I could be.

I wish you peace and courage.
posted by A hidden well at 3:36 PM on July 13, 2016 [17 favorites]

Can you move? Is there any other place you can go for a while to process this away from the memories and your unsympathetic "friends." I hope this doesn't sound patronizing, because you are the one who is right in this situation. You are the one who did the right thing, and you should not be punished by these toxic jerks in your life.

At some point, I expect, most of those memories will hurt less, and you will be able to deal with them. It will take as long as it takes, and you should not feel bad about yourself for not feeling OK with this horrible thing. You can be as angry or sad as you want to be, for as long as you want to be, and no one can tell you that you are wrong.

And, by the way, anyone who would say "they can't deal with the drama of this request and will not stop" talking about ANY painful thing around you is an asshole, I don't know any other way to say that.

You are stronger than this situation, and it does not define you. It will get better.
posted by Ecgtheow at 3:37 PM on July 13, 2016 [21 favorites]

It's not clear to me if your husband is still seeing this woman. If so, that's completely unacceptable and you should tell him you won't stand for it. If not, and it's just the friends, clearly these people are not actually your friends and you should not hang out with them. In general, you should stop making this about how awful you are and start making it about how awful your husband's behavior is. You know it's not just unattractive women who get cheated on, right? This isn't about you and your looks; you could be [insert name of woman you consider the most beautiful in the world], and if your husband felt like cheating he would. Please go easier on yourself and harder on everyone else in this picture. You will be fine eventually, but the sooner you extricate yourself from this mess the sooner it will happen.

For what it's worth, I have been betrayed myself, and I didn't start getting over it until I was divorced and no longer had to interact with anyone involved.
posted by languagehat at 3:38 PM on July 13, 2016 [16 favorites]

Unless you're strongly tied to your geographic area, consider moving. Getting away from all the memories of them, bad and good, as well as the friends will do you a world of good. (No, it's not "right" that you should be the one that has to leave, but it sounds like it would help.) Getting away from the area where my ex and I dated for 10 years and knew each other for several more on top of that was very good for me.
posted by Candleman at 3:39 PM on July 13, 2016 [15 favorites]

You are NOT an idiot OR a freak. Not only is this still fairly new in relative terms, but also I have found that everything that *could* remind me of the betrayal *did* do it, until it was patterned into my head so that every time I passed a restaurant we went to I would start crying, even though it happened every day and it never came up as a surprise.

One thing is to reprogram how you see the places and activities that remind you of The Betrayal. I know it feels like you have no friends, but you do. You may be embarrassed to reach out to them or you may not be able to think of them in the midst of your grief but they are there. If you can't think of anyone, join a community group that does the things you want and don't do them alone. Go to a beach with friends over and over until you have lots of different memories of the beach. Go bicycling with friends on that same path (and others) until you have lots of new post-Betrayal memories of it. Then when your mind goes to the last time you were left behind by those two horrible people, re-direct it to your new memories.

I didn't have the level of betrayal you did, but it took me 12 months before I was capable of dating, and it took 6 months of dating before I was ready for another relationship. My sister is permanently scarred by her long-term boyfriend impregnating her best friend (and the friend named her baby HOPE which got past none of us), and yet she is now happily married and completely past that trauma, and after many years is able to socialize with her ex (in a group and only rarely).

And really, please, I know the temptation but don't don't don't even begin to "compare" yourself with her. Handsome is as handsome does. You and I understand that sleeping with a friend's ex is out of line, how much more is that true for the husband of an ex? That's just ugh. But if you're tempted, just say to yourself "Awww, isn't it sweet that she wants my sloppy seconds."
posted by janey47 at 3:47 PM on July 13, 2016 [8 favorites]

I suppose I had a kind of similar thing many many years ago. I met my very first boyfriend, who turned out to be an emotionally abusive, gaslighting asshole, when I was 20. I'd never really had any male attention before that, no dates, no boyfriends, etc. He and I were together on and off for about 3 years. During the time we were together, he was occasionally cheating on me, which I knew and put up with because of my own shortcomings in the bedroom (which he pointed out ad nauseam). I lost touch with many friends because he told me they didn't really care about me, no one liked me, I was a terrible person. You get the drift. Finally one day when he was away at college, I hung out with a mutual guy friend and met a dude who I kissed. Things blew up and it turned out terrible boyfriend had somehow got ahold of my password and had been checking my email all along, maybe the whole time we were together, I have no idea (these are the early 2000s, before texting was a thing and young people communicated via email). He saw the email from the new guy, private conversations I'd had with other friends, found out embarrassing things about me that I'd tried to keep from him. I was crushed.

I went on to jump right into a relationship with the guy I'd kissed. I imagine no one would ever suggest something like this to you, but it helped me TREMENDOUSLY to reframe to myself what a relationship could be like. That relationship was brief and not super healthy (new guy was very mentally ill), but the new guy was honest with me and as nice as he could be under the circumstances. After a few months we split up, but in those few months I'd experienced a relationship with a decent human being, and I was forever grateful to that new guy for his help. He committed suicide a few years back but has always had a special place in my heart for "saving me" from my first boyfriend.
posted by jabes at 3:47 PM on July 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm about 9 months into a betrayal by a very close friend, though nothing anywhere near as big as what you've experienced. I'm only just now getting over it.

Something that has really helped: I'm a part of a women's growth group that has monthly assignments, and this month's was to do a daily prayer/affirmation/plea to the universe/(substitute whatever you believe in) for yourself + for a friend + for an enemy. I have been using this bad friend as my enemy in this scenario, praying for her to get over the weaknesses/issues that led her to behave in the way that hurt me. It has actually helped me tremendously. I don't think it's the full-on solution in every scenario, but maybe it'll help you a bit?
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:47 PM on July 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

you know what's secretly great about this situation is that you are getting an opportunity to drop your disloyal "friends" in the most efficient way possible, and spend a lot of quality time with yourself healing and creating new associations/memories in a new place, on your own.

this is a chance to move to a new community, find new work, make new friends, create a new life without any of these assholes in it. if your friends can't be bothered to not discuss the other woman in front of you, they don't deserve to have you in their lives, because they are a bunch of inconsiderate jackasses

time always helps. but in the meantime try to think of it as an opportunity to move on. 30 is still plenty young. imagine exploring a new city and all the memories and associations of your first year there have NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OF THESE JERKS.

be kind to yourself, try to drink less, go to therapy, write to yourself about it ( and rest assured that your self-worth has nothing to do with your shitty, backstabbing friend at all, even if you're having a hard time believing that now.

don't go on trips with these "friends," instead go to a workout class (not yoga!) or go on a hike or check yourself into a nice hotel alone for a night and take a fuckin' bubble bath. you can do whatever you want, because these people are so not worth having in your life if they're handling this situation the way you describe 13 months later. so it's ok to stop putting your energy into those friendships and start putting energy into moving on physically (to another place) and socially even if you don't feel like you can yet mentally.

also, on a final note, i think your reaction is warranted and you are not an idiot or a freak for still feeling sad and upset about this. in your shoes, i think i would feel the same way.
posted by zdravo at 4:02 PM on July 13, 2016 [13 favorites]

Your so-called friends are all A number 1 assholes. You are better off without them.

It took me twenty years to get over something really terrible involving broken trust and someone close to me. It helped that I moved elsewhere as soon as I was able to arrange it and mostly stayed away from where bad things had happened. That allowed me to make new memories and new associations and not keep running into certain people.
posted by Spanish Ash at 4:12 PM on July 13, 2016 [10 favorites]

Whew yeah nthing drop these "friends." You can and will find better!

I went through something similar – my first relationship lasted eight years. He'd long been emotionally abusive, would occasionally make noises about me being unworthy of him and such. Then he started calling me names based on my physical appearance, wondering aloud why he was with such a boring woman, until eventually one day he slapped me, in a supermarket, in front of other people, because I wanted to buy ketchup. Well, I didn't break up with him there; I thought I should talk to him so he had a chance to understand and improve (yeah, omg, this is how abuse wears you down). I finally left him after he wondered aloud for the fajillionth time why he was with such a boring woman.

Turns out he'd been cheating on me. I lost all our friends, in large part because he told them I was the cheater. When he had a healthy baby with her six months later, most of the friends did the math and skedaddled from him. But the damage had been done. Not a single one of them had even asked me what had happened, because, like your friends, they "didn't want the drama." Real friends don't see the complexities of relationships as "drama", especially when they know who you are. They take the time to listen and understand. They don't make you haul all the shit alone.

Also nthing that the other woman is not better than you. There's rarely such a thing, and I only say "rarely" to make the necessary exception for shameless egotists. You are not a shameless egotist, I dare say. You are human, and compassionate. This woman who was your close friend, and your husband, chose to do something they knew was wrong. That's on them. Not on you.

It will get better in time, and with distance. Physically separate from these people ASAP. It will hurt like the dickens at first – been there, done that – but it is absolutely necessary for perspective and healing. I promise you the healing will come. In time you will grow and change as a person; you'll still be who you are, but greater, wiser, and with the knowledge and distance to see this in an entirely different light.

In my case, as I mentioned, I didn't know my ex had been cheating on me at first. I also thought I had lost those friends and my ex-family-not-quite-in-law forever, when they had been very, very close. Interestingly, my ex-MIL chose to keep in touch because she suspected something was amiss. Of all the dozens of people involved, she alone did not believe what her own son had told her about me. Because she knew the both of us. Boy let me tell you, the perspective we have both gained twelve years on... We now have a friendship based on who we are; my ex/her son is no longer a part of it. (For reasons entirely related to his choices; I never meddled. She merely informed me matter-of-factly, about once a year. The latest, for instance, was "I haven't seen my granddaughter in two years now, they won't tell me where they've moved.")

It's normal to hurt. It's normal to grieve, weep, yell, feel nothing at all, feel too much at once. In time it will get better. Especially with distance from these people. I was entirely alone in a foreign country when this all went down. Lost our apartment, furniture, even our cat (who I eventually recovered a year later). It was a nightmare, but... I still remember the sheer relief I felt. Knowing I was no longer tied to a man who'd never had the courage to be an upstanding person with me.

I too was finally able to discover who I really was. You'll notice her peeking out rather quickly, actually. I was surprised at sides of myself I thought I'd lost, returning so soon. Years later, I can see that I had lost a part of my soul, living with someone fundamentally dishonest and irresponsible. But I got it back, and it has flourished. It needed fresh air and clean water to live again, so to speak. Give yourself that to start. Do take care.
posted by fraula at 4:23 PM on July 13, 2016 [36 favorites]

Drop your friends, drop your husband (he should be avoiding her like she has scabies if he wants your marriage to work, and you shouldn't need to request that. Instead it sounds like he's still "running round after her but not technically having sex so you can't complain"? Fuck that. Dump him and let him have her, it sounds like they deserve each other).

Move somewhere else and start again.These people are literally driving you to drink. You're 30, you have your whole life ahead of you away from these assholes.
posted by tinkletown at 4:31 PM on July 13, 2016 [22 favorites]

I'm suffering from betrayal too. My ex-husband decided to start dating a woman who was younger than I'd been when he and I first started dating — after almost 20 years of marriage. We'd been through everything together -- law school, med school, so much more. We had a ten year old daughter, a beautiful home, a great life in every way. We had everything we'd worked so hard together to build and achieve. We were happy. We loved each other. We were best friends. Until ...

He is a doctor, and slept with a nurse who'd already broken up one or two other marriages in the hospital where they worked. He knew she was a serial home wrecker, and he still let her wreck our home. She young and novel, for the moment anyway. That'll pass, by definition. (They've already broken up at least once, and I've heard he's cheating on her now ... surprise, surprise.)

He cheated openly, leaving our marital bed to go spend the night with her -- and telling me about it. Refusing to move out. Shouting at me, shouting at our daughter, hitting me in front of her, and yes, actually knocking me out in front of her, twice. Shouting at our daughter after he moved out that, "It's been three weeks. Why are you still upset?" The damage he was willing to inflict on his own daughter told me everything I needed to know about him: the decent, hard working, loving man I'd been married to was gone, and a cruel, selfish, liar had taken his place. And that's the man the other woman got.

And what has he got? A woman with no compunction, no morals. A woman with whom he has no past, no child, no ties. A woman who'll accept a man like him, and who will no doubt throw him over when it suits her, if he hasn't already tossed her aside for someone even newer, even younger. (My daughter and I got a puppy after he left, to bring some joy into our home, and he asked if he could please borrow the puppy to walk on the local college campus, because "28 is starting to look too old.") Fatuous bastard.

Here's what my daughter and I did:

- We make a conscious decision to drop our standards while we recovered. She didn't practice violin or cello, we let her be late for school every so often, we ate mac and cheese from a box whenever we felt like it. We did this explicitly and planned to end it, and end it we did, after six months, and then we went back to our old standards. This gave us a sense of control, like we weren't slipping into chaos, because the chaos was something we chose. It worked.

You can do this too. Give yourself a specific time period for letting things go, and know damn well that you're in control and you can pick things back up. You are in control, you know, just not all the time.

- We traveled. We spent a lot of time away, getting to know each other and ourselves.

You can do this too, even if it's locally. You can see places you've never seen, try things you've never tried. I find deep solace when I'm on the water, so I kayak and sail whenever I get a chance. I volunteer for water events. What helps you? If it's yoga and you just can't do that anymore, try ballet. Break out of your routine, and if possible just leave. Lots of advice upthread to do that, and it's good. Go away whenever you can, and when you can't, lose yourself in a novel, or a movie, or a TV series. Just skip the love stories. Fuck those.

- I spent a lot of time writing, meditating, reading. Going inside my head was scary, because all the awful feelings were rattling around in there, but I had to do it. I gave myself permission to feel like shit because, well, that's a normal reaction when your beloved husband turns on you, abuses you, lies, cheats, and leaves. I mean, who wouldn't feel like shit after that? I also let myself hate them both with a fiery passion, and to know that their existence in this universe is one defined by how passionately someone hates them -- for my ex, it's the woman who would have loved him until death. For her, it's a complete stranger who she screwed over without even knowing her.

Obviously you can do all of this too. You'll hear a lot about forgiveness. I never understood it. Fuck forgiveness. They will both live with my disdain and contempt forever. (Or so it feels right now.) Maybe I'll some day be ready to hear that advice, but right now, not a chance. Your milage may vary on this one.

Your comparisons are hurting you, so remember that they're both truly awful people. He promised to love you and have your back for the rest of your life. The bastard. Aren't you glad he didn't leave you at a more important time, like when you were breastfeeding your third child and had two toddlers at home? Or when you had a major illness and really needed someone to care for you? Or when you'd just lost someone important to you and needed comfort?

There are so many ways this could have been worse. I met a woman at a party whose husband left her after 55 years of marriage, told her he wanted to date again. (She told me that it was weird for her the time she had sex after that, but that her current lover was much better. Yeah, she's like 80 and still getting laid.) Your ex could have kept seeing her on the side and refused to end things with her and refused to move out. He could have gotten addicted to drugs and brought home hepatitis or AIDS, and crime and violence. He could have done so many worse things. What did he do? He showed his true colors while you're still totally capable of starting over. You really dodged a bullet with this guy. I feel the same way myself, even though I'm almost 50 and a single mother. Without him, I am so much better off. Yes, it was better when he was a good husband, but that good husband is either long dead or was always a myth. I'll never know, and it doesn't matter.

You'll make new friends, and you'll be a better friend because you've got empathy and compassion. You'll have another loving relationship, and again, you'll be a better partner for this. You'll probably always carry this hurt, like a scar, but it will fade, it will give you character, it will eventually become a pale ridge on your arm that you finger idly in moments of distraction or reflection, and it will give you perspective.

You're on the moral high ground. It's lonely up there, but the view is spectacular.
posted by Capri at 4:31 PM on July 13, 2016 [129 favorites]

Do you have any friends from your earlier life, before he was part of it? Are you on good terms with your own family? If you do, reach out to as many of them as you can. Go for a visit, get out of town.

Are you 30, as someone above asked? What you're going through now is incredibly painful and unfair, but you can leave it behind you if you want. If you can move, I would. Why not? If your friends in your current town are worthless, and it sounds like they are, then you've got nothing to lose. (Find a good job elsewhere first of course.)

Memories of your shitty ex and his shitty new gf don't need to come with you (I know this is so much easier to say than do.) If it makes you feel better: both of them are with terrible people now. They're each other's punishment. Don't let them take up rent-free space in your head (unless it's to write a best-selling memoir of course!)
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:39 PM on July 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

One important... pattern?... across the gathered responses is that some people appear to assume that you have divorced your husband, and others assume you have not.

Woe to me to weigh in on your marital status, but if you haven't divorced your husband (and he isn't being absolute fucking saint, and even still), man, what an active, overwhelming trauma trigger hanging over your head. I would find it so, so hard to make baby steps at reclaiming my life and these activities and spaces for myself, if I still had to go home to the man who betrayed me, implicitly reminding me day in and day out of this horrid betrayal.
posted by Keter at 4:48 PM on July 13, 2016 [13 favorites]

My therapist suggested it might be helpful for me to seek out stories of other people who've endured similar betrayals and what their recovery was like, to help me feel less alone in this long, arduous grieving process.

Chump Lady.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:12 PM on July 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

Upon re-reading, I see that it doesn't say that you did actually separate from him. If that's true, my advice remains the same, other than adding, "and divorce him." You've obviously tried to work things out and it's destroying you, so the relationship has to go. Even if he's legitimately trying to make things work now, he's the one that poisoned the well - you've done more than you owe him and now it's time to protect yourself before you do serious damage with the alcohol.

Again, assuming you've not divorced him, it does change one aspect of things:

To add to the grief, the discovery of this affair effectively destroyed my entire (and only) circle of friends. These mutual friends all eventually decided to stay friends with both me AND "the other woman".

You can't choose to forgive your husband and expect your friends to be cool with him but cast her out. That would be going far and asking people to accept your judgement, which is colored by your feelings for your husband, on who they can and can't be friends with.
posted by Candleman at 5:15 PM on July 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

You can't choose to forgive your husband and expect your friends to be cool with him but cast her out. That would be going far and asking people to accept your judgement, which is colored by your feelings for your husband, on who they can and can't be friends with.

Maybe you can't expect mutual friends to "choose sides" (depends on the type of misbehavior, I'd think), but you can expect them to have the basic tact and decency not to discuss your husband's mistress right in front of you. Especially after you ask them not to.

OP, I know it doesn't feel like it, but you dodged a bullet finding out what an ass your husband and your social circle are while you're still so young.
posted by praemunire at 5:33 PM on July 13, 2016 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: To answer some questions, I am still married, a fact I didn't mention because I'm pretty ashamed to admit it here after literally everyone advised me to get divorced. To my knowledge, he's had zero contact with her in about a year. But our relationship is super fucked up, honestly. I don't want to get divorced because it scares me and seems so final and isolating... the total upending of my life and loss of financial security is terrifying to me. Doesn't seem worth it.

"The other woman" is also married and our mutual friends are also friends with her husband. I don't really blame them for trying to stay friends with everyone, because I think they did it mostly for the betrayed spouses, but it still hurts.
posted by a strong female character at 5:46 PM on July 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

I haven't suffered from the same type of betrayal that you have. But I have felt betrayed and I'm not entirely over it yet.

This was not my husband so my home wasn't tainted. But somethings were, such as places we'd go to eat and movie theatres we both liked, etc. I mourned awhile and then decided that I couldn't let my hurt feelings ruin activities I loved. So I slowly started going to these places on my own to reclaim them and make them mine. And it totally worked!

I also joined several women's-only meetups doing things I enjoy (like seeing movies and riding bikes) so I could meet new friends. Friends, not potential lovers or partners. It's been really great to figure out what I like and to do what I want because it suits me and only me.

It's too soon for you to be at this point. But keep working and you will get to this point. As others have said, please stop drinking if you can. Alcohol tends to be disproportionately dangerous to women. Please try to find a healthier way of coping with your distress. The booze will simply add bodily insult to your heart's injury.

Finally, I know from personal experience how hard it can be to love oneself. But trust me, you are lovable and it is worth the effort to learn to love yourself. Take care!
posted by Bella Donna at 5:53 PM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

You're right that it is final and terrifying. You're wrong that it has to be isolating or a financial catastrophe...

We know staying in this situation and making excuses for other people's incredibly horrible behavior isn't helping. I think you can make the right moves when you are ready.

Thank you for the update. That took courage, so I know you have it in you.
posted by jbenben at 6:05 PM on July 13, 2016 [31 favorites]

I've noticed that all your anger (at least in how your wrote your post) is directed at the other woman. What about your husband, who betrayed you worse than she did because he's your husband? Aren't you angry at him? I would think that his very presence would be triggering.

I've been betrayed too, not nearly as badly as you, by someone who lied to me about important things. I had to remove myself from his social circle for my own good, and believe me, they were not worth sticking around for, as they abetted the betrayal. Even then it took a couple of years to (mostly) get over it.
posted by the_blizz at 6:12 PM on July 13, 2016 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I trust you to know your situation but...don't you think that the drinking and continual sense of betrayal could be significantly linked to still being married to this guy?

I have been through significant, though different, betrayals. For me it really has been about reclaiming possibility through joy and wonder -- not the holiday card kind, but the kind that for me comes from things like...canoeing through mist. Eating perfect figs. Playing with kittens. I do not know how you can do this with someone at your side against whom you must guard your heart.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:12 PM on July 13, 2016 [33 favorites]

I'm so sorry that happened to you.

You may already know about this, but is a support community for people who have been affected by infidelity. Most of the participants are people who have been betrayed, but there are some cheaters there too. Lots of stories and lots PF perspectives from people who have been through this. Your story is devastating and many, many people there will relate.

Another resource that might help is Steven Stosny's excellent book Living And Loving After Betrayal. It's about any kind of betrayal, however infidelity is a prime example. Lots of good, concrete things to do to crawl out of the hole you're in.

Best of luck. That's so, so hard.
posted by Sublimity at 6:40 PM on July 13, 2016

Best answer: Your life has already been upended horribly. I cannot argue with the loss of financial security there, but otherwise, your life's already been ruined and trashed so horribly that you drink just to survive it and force yourself to stay in it. He broke your life and smashed it into itty bitty bits. Now you know everywhere he betrayed you and your friends aren't your friends. Your life's already been upended horribly, the only thing that hasn't changed is that you're technically still married and living with him. Why not just change that one too?

This is why a lot of us are saying to get the hell out. Divorce him, move away from these shitty people so you don't see the hill he ditched you on and everything else that reminds you of THEM. You shouldn't have to suck it up and forgive these people for being assholes, and you can't go back to "like nothing ever happened." So it's time to end it for good. You need to get out of this toxic situation in order to start healing. Even if he's been 100% faithful to you since then and was 100% over her (I don't know how likely any of that is), you sound so shattered by the whole thing that maybe there really isn't any coming back from that for you. Maybe there shouldn't be. If you can't naturally get past that, then...don't, just end the relationship already. If he and she are that kind of jerks, would you really want them around?
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:57 PM on July 13, 2016 [24 favorites]

Just a small thing, but I've found swimming laps to have a similar meditative effect to yoga, for peace of mind.

I suspect most of your troubles have little to actually do with the other woman (to whom you were never married) and everything to do with remaining in a marriage with your husband - someone who not only betrayed you, but also gaslighted you to protect his secret. For a while after a horrible breakup, I would get near or fully blackout drunk every time I was around my ex (mutual group of friends issue like yours). It was a way to escape from my pain, because standing there sober in his presence hurt like hell. It didn't work.

Divorce this piece of crap and move to a new apartment (or better yet a new town). Dump any friends who don't even have the courtesy or discretion not to discuss this other woman around you. Cultivate friends who are willing to make room for your (deserved!) feelings, that's what friends do.

Take care of yourself. You are the only you you have. You can find another partner, another town, another job, another house, other friends, but you can't find another you.
posted by sallybrown at 7:03 PM on July 13, 2016 [15 favorites]

I've been on the receiving end of this sort of betrayal - right now, your relationship is poison, and you're standing up to your neck in it, hoping you'll develop a tolerance for it. You won't. The only way you're going to stop being sick is if you get away from the poison. You may not think there's anyplace else to stand, but that's just the poison talking.

Step one is to let go of what's making you ill. When you've taken step one, the other steps become a little more obvious. I'm really sorry this is happening to you - be as good to yourself as you can.
posted by Mooski at 7:06 PM on July 13, 2016 [8 favorites]

Best answer: You have nothing to be ashamed of! Divorce is really scary. But I agree with the above posters that your drinking is probably about being with this guy who you can't trust, more than about something that could be firmly labeled as "past."

I'm not trying to harangue you, but just... look, if this were a situation where he just had a one night stand or you guys had been going through a rough patch and he had something on the side for comfort, I wouldn't say this... But this guy... after what he did to you, do you really want to stay and build your life with him and have children with him? That will yoke you to him forever and ever? Even if you do decide to divorce him someday? Or even if he does this to you again? When you're much older?

30 is so very young. Anecdote: my husband and his first wife got divorced when he was 30 with no kids. It hurt terribly: he didn't think he'd survive. Fast forward a few years and he doesn't ever think about her anymore.

You don't need to decide today, but maybe promise yourself that you'll consider the question in a month, two months, three months. Knowing you can decide to get out of this might help you feel stronger.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:26 PM on July 13, 2016 [11 favorites]

You don't mention this here, but what is he doing to make things better? Is he actively working on your marriage? Is he in therapy? Is he showing you he loves you on a daily basis? If he isn't doing these things, then it makes so much sense that the grieving process is even more arduous and painful than it would be already.I'm sorry.
posted by twill at 7:36 PM on July 13, 2016 [11 favorites]

Best answer: My therapist suggested it might be helpful for me to seek out stories of other people who've endured similar betrayals and what their recovery was like, to help me feel less alone in this long, arduous grieving process.

You want to read Heartburn, by Nora Ephron. Although it's technically fiction, it's a very, very thinly veiled account of the end of her marriage to Carl Bernstein after his affair. It's also laugh-out-loud funny and hopeful and satisfying.

I'm so sorry this happened to you. You will get through this.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:28 PM on July 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

Can I suggest reading the book "Learning to Drive" - the book, not the movie. It's a book of short stories about Katha Pollit's failed relationships - which sounds like a downer, but is rather therapeutic. One story in particular was about a cheater in her life, I think it might make you feel better about your own situation.

In fact, in the past when I've had relationship issues, books like that, as well as cheesy movies (hello, First Wives Club!) have helped me a lot. Would you consider trading alcohol for Ben & Jerry's and cheesy movies for at least one night a week?
posted by Toddles at 10:34 PM on July 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yep, I would divorce him and move away, build a new life in a new place with amazing friends who never knew you from this nightmare. Find a place with incredible beaches or mountains or both. Go for long walks, get a dog, meditate, learn to dance, leave it all behind. It's hard to move on when you have to wake up to him everyday, your friends keep talking about her and according to your last post, she's trying to get a job at your place of work. (WTF?!)

You won't believe how freeing it is to just walk away and create a new life. You can be and meet whoever you want now and you'll never be reminded of any of this ever again. Given your friendships and the so called man who is your husband, do you really have a reason to stick around?!
posted by Jubey at 11:35 PM on July 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Just a quick thought that might cheer you up: Jay Z cheated on Beyonce. BEYONCE. This is not about what you look like. You look fine. You can do this. I'm thinking of you.
posted by athirstforsalt at 11:49 PM on July 13, 2016 [27 favorites]

Best answer: This woman may be good looking but she's completely unprincipled. And heartless. No class. No decency. No civility.

Your husband is worse.

Unless he is willing to join you in your new life -- far, far away from the one he completely trashed -- unless he is willing to join you and join with you in totally and completely rebuilding from the ground up, you've got to wave him goodbye. And we're not talking here about a new coat of paint and cleaning the carpets, we're talking about re-building together a life knocked to bits by the earthquake of his devising.

But before you do that, you're going to have to ask yourself if maybe it wouldn't be better for you to live in a life that has never been completely quaked apart by unprincipled selfishness on his part.

That bit of them riding away from you on their bikes has got me so goddamn angry -- they really are pieces of shit. How careless. How thoughtless. How goddamn heartless can they be?

He won't practice yoga with you but he's all about it with her? They're flirting at the beach and ignoring you? These ppl have no class. None.

They are lucky that I am not your brother.

Except that I am. We're all in this thing together. We're family. Let me be the brother who is telling you just exactly what time it is: You are decent. You are good. You are getting into trouble behind drinking and hurts. You are mired. And your struggling against it is getting you deeper into it.

I do not think that you are going to begin to heal until you split the blankets. The infection cannot begin to heal until you dislodge the poisoned spear he plunged into your heart.

If he had even the tiniest bit of class he'd move out while you sell and settle the house -- this is all on him.

But if he won't leave, you leave. Somehow. However you can, as soon as you can. Please -- get out of there.

We're all with you. We all of us need and very much want all the strong female characters that we can have in this life.

I know it's hard -- we're nothing but words on a bright screen and you're over there walking through fire. But I gotta tell you -- behind the words on your screen are ppl who truly do want the best for you. We really do. Hard as we can be, we're with you.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:47 AM on July 14, 2016 [35 favorites]

I've been through a betrayal that ended a 5 year relationship (living together for 4 of those years, I thought madly in love). This sounds silly (and maybe selfish etc. when you read the next sentence) but after the discovery of the betrayal then the subsequent break up I never, ever realised how much it could hurt. I'd lost my father and I thought the grief of a relationship ending couldn't come anywhere near close to a death. In a sense (and I'm ashamed of admitting this) it was just as hard for me to get through, though. The "what ifs" and "maybe we can make this work"s and the irregular reward schedule are a total headfuck. I lost all joy in things for at least 6 months. Everyday was a struggle to get to work, get home, and take the most basic care of myself. At 6 months I moved to a very different part of the world and things started to improve from there. I moved back and saw him 1.5 years later and went home, cried, got sick that afternoon and spent the next few days in bed with a bad cold. It really seemed like the sickness happened from the stress of just seeing him. I moved away again and things kept getting better, it took a long time though.

I wanted to stay with him and he was the one that broke up with me. I don't think I would have had the strength to leave him (at least not for years until I got even more unhappy as I no doubt would have). Now I am SO glad the relationship ended- if he hadn't have broken up with me and I could go back in time (convoluted hypothetical, sorry!) I'd tell myself "LEAVE!!!". I'm so much happier, more grounded, less lonely, and have formed so many more meaningful connections with wonderful other people now than I ever would have with him.

This sucks and I'm so sorry for what you're going through. You're not an idiot or a freak. It's fucking hard, but your work at getting better will pay off.
posted by hotcoroner at 3:21 AM on July 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

You need new friends, and a new husband. Or at least, you need to ditch this one. You will never forgive him, and the relationship you had (or thought you had before this happened) is gone for good. Your friends pretend they are taking the moral high ground by refusing to take sides but they are actually very weak and taking the path that creates the least bother for them, without any regard for your feelings.

Once you have created a vacancy by getting these losers out of your life, new people will come flooding in. Then go and create some new memories with these new people. Do yoga with them, ride your bike and visit the beach, and make new associations. But I'm afraid it will be very hard to move on until you physically extricate yourself from this toxic social circle.
posted by intensitymultiply at 4:06 AM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ohh my heart is breaking for you. What a fuckhead group of people you have to deal with.

Man..I'd be looking elsewhere for company, be it a knitting or book club or dog shelter or something (and i'm shit at knitting, too).

you are a gem as you are. Don't let the shitbags make you believe otherwise.

Have you tried taking a break from him? Like spending a few weeks in different states (is this type of thing possible?) to get some breathing room to think in? Can you see yourself with him in 3..or 5 years? Do you want to be with him?

My ex (together for 4 yrs) cheated on me, and it sucked. big time. He was talking about getting engaged just days before too. bleh. and the fucker ruined bon iver for me.

That being said, today find myself stoked that he (i) pulled the trigger on our relationship. Like at the risk of sounding hella corny, it forced me to move into a new chapter in my life, which was sorely needed. And looking back, its not like it was the most amazeballs relationship either. Your SO is supposed to make you feel like wonder woman, not the swamp thing. Anyway, at the time though, it felt like the world was ending. Binge watched b-horror movies for weeks, was shitting rivers and went for torturous runs into the forest, which gradually started getting less torture-y until i found myself stopping to look at a little bird, or wade knee deep into a patch of blueberries. And, slowly, things started getting their color back. But to heal i moved to another apartment, then another city, changed my phone number, blocked him on everything and told our mutual friends to tell him zip (he went a bit stalkey after we broke up) about me or my whereabouts.

I agree that swimming is amazing for settling your mind. saunas too. Also, things that smell good (basil, freesia, lavender, cedar), and things that are wild (forests, water, storms) ....and man im SO pissed off about him ruining yoga for you – the fucker! is there a place where you haven't done yoga? like a little park, the kitchen, or waking up really fucking early, so its your uninterrupted, still, quiet time? I remember trying to get back into a yoga routine and would just start crying on the mat (even just sitting there for any length of time would end up busting out bawling). I dunno what it was, like different asanas were releasing a different memory. It was def pretty frustrating & miserable for a long time, but again, gradually it started getting better (like i could actually do more than a five minute routine) was pretty cool, like my body wasn't storing all the bad stuff as tight anymore.

And wouldn't go too hard on yourself, if you want to spend an entire day reading horrible womens magazines eating BLTs i won't judge you. Could totes go Eckhart Tolle on you and and..he was saying that every moment you live through, has the power of changing the future. The now, thats always yours to do with as you want. I dont know if any of this helps, i hope it does. Stay strong

Big big big hugs to you. Keep your head up.
posted by speakeasy at 4:12 AM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Rg. realized i didn't actually answer your original question.

It took about a good 6 months to a year to kind of shed the feeling of ffffuuuck this and men suck and i am such a stupid, ugly beastie failure etc etc. And it took a whole new human male person to help those feelings get punted over to the Congo and beyond. He's been ridiculously patient, kind and loving, and though there are/were some lousy days/thoughts, they are nowhere near as bad as they were. Its difficult to see, believe or feel it while you're in the thick of it, but things do change, things do get better.
posted by speakeasy at 4:33 AM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't want to get divorced because it scares me and seems so final and isolating... the total upending of my life and loss of financial security is terrifying to me. Doesn't seem worth it.

It's worth it. I got divorced after 17 years of marriage when I was 40 AND I had three kids. My life is infinitely and indescribably better without that clown of an ex.

THAT'S how you get better with it; that's how you get through it. You leave him.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:38 AM on July 14, 2016 [20 favorites]

Best answer: I totally sympathize and empathize with you and for what it's worth I am very admiring of the fact that you still continue to do the things you love to do, that you went on a trip, that you do yoga, and in general you are indeed a strong female character.

Not everybody could have handled what you went through even to the extent that you are handling it now. What I think is worth exploring is why you allowed to your husband to treat you that way when you were together. it's time to avoid people in your life that will treat you that way. This man completely ignored and defaced your feelings while you are together. And now your friends seem to be ignoring your feelings. I think it's time you took a trip by yourself or did something by yourself completely different to where you've been before, or what you've done before and focus on meditating, reading lovely books, taking a writing course or something else that is all your own. And having higher standards for yourself for how people treat you.

After this you will come out stronger more beautiful and more wonderful than before. Other humans will disappoint you in small and big ways but you can learn to be in your own corner.
posted by rhythm_queen at 6:45 AM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: can it be over now

To answer some questions, I am still married

You know you can't resolve #1 until you do something about #2.
The wound wont heal because the knife is still in it.

When I was a kid there was this massive family betrayal that I couldn't process, the concepts were too mature for me. But my father explained it to me thusly "I know you think X is a good person, we all thought that, and this is confusing but do you remember Darth Vader? He was Anakin Skywalker once, but once he turned bad he destroyed the good man he once was and became Darth Vader. Darth Vader blew up Alderan"

To this day that funny little moment still helps me process even the deepest betrayals. That people change in big terrifying ways and that's not a thing I can control. It's also a bit funny and when I'm broken I can use something a bit funny.
posted by French Fry at 6:50 AM on July 14, 2016 [11 favorites]

Best answer: My ex-husband betrayed me in a different way but at the time I thought he absolutely destroyed my life and it was over. He did in a way, but it was temporary. I am 31 now and I'm with the most incredible person I've ever met. If I think about what life would have been like if I stayed and never met my boyfriend, it makes my heart sink.
You deserve an amazing life and right now your life is making you utterly depressed. The only way to change that is to put yourself first and get out of there. The only person we can rely on to do what's best for us, is ourselves.
Before you leave, it seems too terrifying and like the financial implications will be devastating. It's just not true though. The relief you will feel will be much more powerful than the logistics you have to figure out. It's not that scary once you do the really hard part...the actual leaving.
Figure out who you can actually rely on and turn to them. Get help starting over. You will need people around you. Dump your husband and those friends. You'll make new ones, you'll meet a man who will fill your life with magic.
I will be honest, I'm still not over it. I still hate my husband for what he did. And I haven't seen him for 4 years. There's no way you can do this while with him, while he continues to disrespect you with his behavior. But I don't bring my bitterness and anger into my relationship. My boyfriend is not him. Not everyone is a piece of shit.

I love my life now, I left, I gave myself a chance at happiness and you can too.
posted by shesbenevolent at 7:10 AM on July 14, 2016 [11 favorites]

We're all with you. We all of us need and very much want all the strong female characters that we can have in this life.

Quoted for TRUTH!

We're here for you!!
posted by Dressed to Kill at 8:33 AM on July 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: > This sounds silly (and maybe selfish etc. when you read the next sentence) but after the discovery of the betrayal then the subsequent break up I never, ever realised how much it could hurt. I'd lost my father and I thought the grief of a relationship ending couldn't come anywhere near close to a death. In a sense (and I'm ashamed of admitting this) it was just as hard for me to get through, though.

It's not silly, and there's no reason to be ashamed of admitting it. I found my divorce as hard as losing my mother (which had happened, unexpectedly, a few years earlier); both events have left a similar sore spot in my memory. Divorce is terrible. But! It's not nearly as bad as living the rest of your life the way you are now, drinking too much and hating yourself. Please, a strong female character, follow the lead of your username and take the leap, even though you're afraid, even though you know it's going to hurt and will take time to get over. It will be worth it in the end.
posted by languagehat at 8:42 AM on July 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

First, if you really want to stay with him, it can be done. I'm proof of that.

I, too, have had a betrayal...and I'm still with my husband. We are happy now and rock our marriage is better than it's ever My betrayal crushed and destroyed my world. I found an email to my husband's ex wife from him saying that when both she and I wanted him, he picked her. He picked her, but she had moved on with her life and it had just taken too long to figure out getting rid of me. This email was sent to her 5 months before we married. (We married in May 2014 but we've been close friends for 23 years.) After that, I found out the whole 2 ½ years we dated, he was also seeing her (and fucking her) and telling her they were getting back together. Up to that point, our relationship was built on honesty...ha! Here is how I handled mine:

First, I left him. But the "losing my financial security" and "my home" were real to me, along with the fact that I had history with him that dated back 21 years. So, I went back to live with this stranger. Not the man I fell in love with. The man I fell in love with doesn't exist. I decided that if we were going to make it work, I had to get to know this stranger I was being forced to live with. He looked just like the man I loved with all of my heart...but he wasn't him. We went through some really rough times over the next year. I turned to drinking as well...I tried to end my life and was put in intensive outpatient therapy for DBT. (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) It was during these 5 weeks that I learned my self worth. I also learned that I can't control what has happened in the past or what's going to happen in the future. I can only control right now...and right now, he loves me and we're good. Will he cheat again? I hope not, and I don't really think he will...but today, he's mine. Today, we have a good marriage. Today is all anyone has. You can spend it living in the past or worrying about the future or you can chose to live for today. I chose today. I choose today, everyday. When those feelings come up because something triggered it (i.e. yoga & biking for was different activities for me...but I had the same connection to them.) I mentally put the thought on a train and let it go by. I replace it with a different thought. I figured if I was REALLY going to work on my marriage, I had to do this. I had to forgive him. It took tons of private counseling for each of us as well as marriage counseling. I had to stop snooping in his email and pretend to trust him (because I'm not sure I'll ever trust him 100% again). My actions were slowly killing me and I couldn't see it. When it all happened, my mother told me that I should go home and play good wife for the next 2 years and then rip his world out from under him. I'm not that kind of person though. I quit drinking and really worked to put my marriage back together...with his 100% participation. If either of us didn't give 100%, this wouldn't work. We still have our moments and I still get hit with those memories out of nowhere sometimes...but I put them on the train and let them go by. It's work...but to's worth It may not work out long term...but it's working today and that's all I can control.

I wish you the best, whatever you decide to do. I'm 44 and we don't have children together so leaving was the obvious choice, to everyone else. I can say for a fact that this strengthened us...but I had to get better first. I also made his ex my "friend". After spending some time with her, I know her allegiance is to me now...and not him. We also laid down some very strict ground'll have to do that too. You need to think of the things that you absolutely cannot live with. Be honest with yourself and him. If you decide to leave, make that decision based on today...not the past or the possible future.

Good luck and just remember, TODAY is all you are able to control.
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 8:56 AM on July 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

Oh man, this sounds so hard. My heart goes out to you.

I am someone that thinks affairs can be a way to start over, as painful as they are - but you sounds like no matter what, you need time and space to heal. Most likely, away from your spouse,and your friends. Is there any one in your community that you really trust, who can hold space and just be there for YOU? Can you find someone outside of this circle to get some perspective? You really need someone neutral, who is just for you..

Your depression and anxiety are trying to show you/teach you something, for sure -- sounds like you already know that your husband is probably still not telling the whole truth. They probably have communicated at some point this past year, also... if they were as deep in this affair as you say.

I am not someone who would ever say your husband or "the other woman" are intrinsically evil or horrible people, because most likely they just need to grow they hell up, and they got caught up in their own dysfunctional patterns that caused such a high level of betrayal here.

That's not for you to worry about, but I am quite sure they are probably in their own version of hell right now (emotionally, spiritually, etc).

You need at the very least a BREAK from all this. If getting a divorce or separating is too much, can you at least possibly get your own space, or stay with a (good) friend occasionally? I really think you need to get your energy back, these people have been seriously depleting and taking advantage of you.

Please be soft on yourselves, but also, yeah, time & space and learning to trust yourself and then learning to get your needs met with people that will actually do that.
posted by Rocket26 at 1:36 PM on July 14, 2016

I think you're asking a lot of yourself to get past a huge betrayal from your husband, your close friend and your group of friends. I can tell you that no true friends would insist on talking about a woman who had an affair with your husband in front of you. *They* should be ashamed for staying friends with her, not you for staying with your husband.

The fact that it's over a year later and you're so unhappy and it's still playing such a large role in your life, to me means something fairly big needs to change. I think you need to do something to unfreeze yourself rather than to find a way to bear it better.

You've suffered significant trauma and it sounds like it's continuing to happen. I would take that seriously and get treatment for it. Also, the reasons you say you are still married are fear-based and that's not a good reason to be in a relationship. You already have nothing, in a real sense.

I feel like you're in a toxic waste dump asking how to grow daisies. You need some serious self care and help. You don't deserve to live a life like this.

And you don't need to be ashamed for not leaving, but it seems pretty clear that you need to do that.
posted by orsonet at 2:27 PM on July 14, 2016 [8 favorites]

Something similar to this happened to me. It was easier for me, though, because I wasn't friends with the cheatee and she wasn't culpable (she had no idea for seven of the eight years he was carrying on with the two of us that he wasn't single), so there was no way for me to waste time blaming her and I could get relatively directly to the right way of looking at it.

I think you could benefit from handling it the way I (finally) handled it. I began finally to feel (and loudly express) the disdain for him that he'd spent long years earning but not getting. As soon as they can tell you might despise them, they start creeping back around, whereupon you can mention every single loathsome flaw in their characters--that you've been carefully hiding from yourself and hence them--and parade it before them and let them know exactly why they're not good enough. Nothing feels better than telling them what they have known all along and seeing their poor, weak faces fall when they note that their man disguise has fallen off for good and they're seen for the chinless lipless noisome garbage slugs they are. I don't see why you'd necessarily have to get divorced first and then begin the process of feeling that fiery, healing disdain. I agree with others posting: stop concentrating on your former friend's betrayals and start ruminating on his. Stop comparing yourself to your friend and wondering what was wrong with you that made you eligible for abuse, and instead start comparing him as he actually is to the person he allowed you to think he was. That thing you told us about the bike trip where they pedaled away and left you in the dust: you are the heroine of that scene, you know, and all the other scenes you're running over in your head. In any movie or fairy tale, he's a villain, and not the cool, interesting, Satan in Paradise Lost kind, rather the dull, weak, sniveling, completely predictable kind, and you are the heroine, who prevails in the end. It's just that you're at plotpoint two in the script, before the action turns.

Let the scales fall and begin to think of him honestly. What ghastly failure in him allowed him to perpetrate these atrocities? Exactly how disgusting IS he, anyway, to do that stuff to someone innocent who loved him? Really, really, REALLY disgusting, it turns out! The thing to really know, though, is not how gross he is but how weak. He is weak and you are strong. Don't worry if you can't yet believe this is true: think it true and in time you'll know it to be true. In fact it already is true. He has not suffered because he can't begin to because he's too pitifully weak for that. You lived through all that agony you described and who knows whatall else, and nevertheless, here you are, alive to tell the tale. Eventually I think you're going to need to get his dank ass away from you because he's vile and he's beneath you, and he's going to get boring and unpleasant to be around. But you can begin by getting all the lies he told you about who you are and who he is out of your head. Objectively, he is the one who's down, now. Stand up, you, and take over your story. I have been precisely where you are, and I did it, and you can, too. It feels as awesome as your current mindset feels terrible.
posted by Don Pepino at 5:02 PM on July 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

Since you mentioned it, I would like to suggest that the drinking is a major force in keeping you from moving forward.

Please seek treatment... Since you are drinking daily, do not try to quit completely on your own without medical support.

None of this is your fault, including the drinking. You deserve a better life. Please keep us posted.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:44 PM on July 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

Hi OP, I haven't been able to get this question out of my mind. I went back and read your post history, and back a little further to the account you had before. I have been on MeFi for a very long time. I vividly remember the pivotal question, the one about you trying to figure out how to get over your jealousy of the friendship between your husband and your friend, because you were 100% certain that nothing was going on between them. I also see the history of you asking questions that show your thoughtfulness and care about building not just a good marriage, but a great marriage; and how to do a really good job with major life responsibilities, like finances and buying a house.

In short... you've shown MeFi by your history that you are a good, honest person; a good, caring, and responsible wife; and you did not deserve this, one little bit.

I notice that you were ashamed to admit you were still with him. I notice that nothing in your original post nor in your follow up relates anything that he's done to repair this incredible wound he's made, except stop seeing her. That's necessary but in no way sufficient.

In my earlier post I recommended a book by Steven Stosny, which was really valuable to me in coming to terms with my emotionally abusive marriage. I still think that would be really helpful for you too. After reading your history, I have a couple of other reading recommendations for you, too.

First is this amazing essay from the NYT about how people who have been betrayed can take a long time to heal--to reconstruct their own narrative, after the person closest to them has shattered it so completely. What you are going through is not "old hat". He betrayed you deeply, and for a long time, and it will take a long time to heal. Please be kind to yourself and know that you are normal.

Another recommendation is How Can I Forgive You by Janis Abrams Spring. This is a really excellent and concise book about how people can respond to betrayal. It covers the gamut: cheap forgiveness (forgiving by trying to sweep things under the rug), refusing forgive, acceptance (which is moving past in a matter of fact way), and genuine forgiveness. It is not judgmental about one being better than the other. It talks about what tends to happen in each scenario, and scenarios where the offender is still in the person's life or not. I think this would be helpful to you as a way of putting your post-discovery journey into context. It sounds like you'd like to reach acceptance or forgiveness, and are struggling in getting there--I think this book can help you figure out what's going on, and maybe what the best next steps are to get there.

The last recommendation, and you may find this difficult to take in but I really strongly suggest it, is Lundy Bancroft's writing, particularly Why Does He Do That. The author is an expert in developing and running programs for abusive men. Even if your husband has never laid a hand on you or has ever called you a cruel name, please know that the situation you described in that pivotal question--where you were so hurt and trying so hard to find a resolution, and he let you twist in the wind, and lied to you, and compared you disfavorably to his affair partner--that right there is abuse. Emotional abuse. Because you are an honest, loving, accountable, truthful person, it is probably very difficult of you to understand and accept the reality that your husband operates very differently. This book really lays it out, and also talks about the dynamics that develop when well-meaning and loving women are treated this way. As I look at your question history I strongly suspect that you will recognize very much about your husband, your self, and your marriage in this book.

I'm so sorry you're in this painful place. You won't be here forever, and I am 100% certain you can find your way to healing--and a much, much better life. Please take care of yourself.
posted by Sublimity at 6:42 AM on July 15, 2016 [13 favorites]

Oh, and also: he won't stay a lipless garbageworm in your estimation forever. It's just that in order to see clearly, it's necessary to admit the problems in his character to your perception, and dwell on them for a little while. For years you dwelt in your head with an inflatable rubber Prince Charming. You need to pop that bitch so you can see the real person you're dealing with. But once that's done, the anger and disgust will dissipate pretty quickly, and you'll feel a lovely peace. You won't go around the rest of your life full of rage and bitter bile. After you're free of the lie you can then see him clearly as a flawed person just like the rest of us and move from anger at him to pity for him. In time I guess you may be able to genuinely forgive him, even. Dunno, not there, yet, myself. But I do know I'm not angry, anymore, and I feel pretty sorry for the poor thing. It took about I'd say 9 months or so to get here. Not quite a year from "he is DESPICABLE!" to "he is pitiful." Some people just really suck at loving other people, which is sad for you for as long as you're with them, sad for them for as long as they live.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:29 AM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Like the above commenter, I went back through your history and re-read your question, and I couldn't believe how much time had passed since the "how do I stop being so jealous?" question, because I remember that one like it was yesterday! MeFi has a lot (to me) of members who do not get jealous, and I am super not one of those people. When I read that question originally, I was positive something was indeed going on, because I am very suspicious by nature. Finding out that your jealousy was the result of betrayal had to feel so awful, and continue to feel awful. I honestly cannot imagine remaining in a relationship of any kind with someone who hurt me in that manner, so it's really no wonder that you feel so bad right now.

I'll admit, when I initially read this question, I was working under the assumption that you'd left your husband, or that he had begun a public relationship with your ex-friend. The fact that you didn't want to share it is a huge indicator that you yourself believe you deserve better, don't you think? If I were you, and I read all these comments telling me to uproot my whole life, I would probably be upset and think something like, "It's easy for them to say! They don't know how impossible it is!" But the truth is the opposite. We have all been there in some way or another, and that's why we're telling you can can TOTALLY do this and it will be way more than worth it. I was in a relationship with someone for a long time, and we shared pets and a home and so much stuff and I just could NOT fathom breaking that apart, even though I hated the relationship. But I finally did it, and yeah it was expensive and it was taxing, but speaking as Future Me, I can promise you it was worth it and still would be if it had been 100x harder.

I think you need to speak with a lawyer for a free consultation first and just see what your options are with regards to the house, etc. But longer term, I think divorce and a complete change of scenery would be the best thing. It may sound scary but maybe if you think about it as a clean slate and getting to move somewhere you've always wanted to go, it will start to sound exciting. I don't think you'll ever truly heal if you're surrounded by all the people and places involved in this painful event.

You only get one life! Please please don't spend it suffering! It doesn't benefit you, or him. You deserve better, and you can have better. Please believe us all. If you want or need a friend or advice or anything please MeMail me!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 7:50 AM on July 15, 2016 [9 favorites]

One last thought. OP, you start out talking about your profound sadness. When I was finally going through my divorce, I had to take a class for people who are parents who are divorcing. The presenter talked about how people in dying marriages undergo the classic five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and then acceptance. Looking back on my experience, I absolutely see that arc... and you may well too.

In my case, I realized that the years I spent feeling really just *confused* about what was going haywire in my marriage and why it wasn't ever getting better was the denial part. I have a feeling that is what was going on in your jealousy post: the stuff about your husband and his affair partner was becoming increasingly obvious, but was so horrifically painful that you couldn't bring yourself to come to that conclusion yourself.

Right now you're swamped by that sadness, and it is so heartbreaking and so real... and also a sign that you're almost through. Almost there. Almost to the acceptance of how things really are, and then you can move forward.

Keep going. Be kind to yourself. You can make it. It will be better.
posted by Sublimity at 8:10 AM on July 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

My heart breaks for you. This is such a hard time in your life. You WILL get through it, though.

I can relate to the yoga part; I started doing spinning (indoor cycling) because of a boyfriend who introduced me to the activity. When we broke up (a low point in my life, whereas he swiftly moved on due to never having loved me at all), I'd think of him every time I went to a spinning class. But I was starting to love spinning and didn't want to give it up.... Well, I kept at it, and now, a year later, I go spinning all the time and NEVER think of him while doing it. I encourage you to keep doing yoga and reprogram yourself away from making that painful association.
posted by Guinevere at 12:17 PM on July 15, 2016

This betrayal has nothing to do with your flaws, or your personality, or how pretty you are. You can move past this by rewriting history. You learned to love this person and you can learn to unlove him, because the truth is that he's *bad*, and so is your friend, and so are your other friends for making you constantly relive these painful memories. There isn't anything positive to say about these kinds of things; You just need to recognize that anyone can be betrayed and humiliated, and that it isn't your fault-- not even a little bit. You were a victim, plain and simple, and that isn't something to be ashamed of.

Also, consider if you might have one or two friends who are more on your side about this whole ordeal. Maybe you can both ditch this toxic group together. If you can't tell I have also gone through this sort of thing, so if you want to chat about it sometime send me a message.
posted by mammal at 11:38 PM on July 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

"...consider if you might have one or two friends who are more on your side"
Right, and if you consider and find that you don't, you can make some. For a start, many people in this thread would be honored to be your friend, especially those of us who've been where you are and who admire the strength you've shown. I'd be pleased to get a memail from you, too.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:27 AM on July 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Six years and change, give or take? And then resolved solely through an implausible deus ex machina that would've seemed like the worst sort of Mary Sue-ism if I wrote it up as a novel. I'm so sorry.
posted by commander_cool at 5:57 PM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, I like to say that I have literally lived the plot of "The Room".
posted by a strong female character at 9:26 PM on August 5, 2016

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