What to do first (a repost)
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|Tue, 08-12-2014 - 3:06am|
When I came to this board, I was fresh from discovery and completely freaked out. I was hurting so bad I could barely breath. I would wake up at night and realize that the horror in my dreams wasn't some nightmare--it was my real life. I had no tools, and I was doing most things wrong. Wise people from these boards reached out to me and shared their hard-won knowledge. Since then there have been significant problems with the way these message boards have come to function, so I thought that it would be useful to pull together the lessons that I learned from my time here and repost them for those just finding us. I hope these suggestions will provide some of the healing you are looking for. They may sound over-simple, but these were the ideas that actually worked for me when I first came here.
Briefly, I want you to know that I am so sorry this is happening to you. You need to know that you did not cause this, you cannot control your spouse, and you cannot magically cure them. This is not your fault and the only thing you can do is help yourself. The following advice is for you and your family. May you find the peace and the resolution you seek as you consider the following:
Eat! Even though you don't want to.
I lost thirty lbs after discovery day and my failure to care for myself made it harder to address the issues in front of me. Avoid junk or fast foods. You are about to make difficult decisions that will have lasting implications in your life and in the lives of those you care for most. Finding a way to supply your body with healthy nutrients will make a difference as you attempt to make good choices in the days ahead. This is more important than you may understand right now. I had to finally just buy a bag of baby carrots and fresh veggies, force one into my mouth and chew. Do this for yourself and for your family.
Time to be sober. As the saying goes, “Feelings buried alive never die.” Some things just have to be done the hard way. This is one of them. Right now we have a grieving process to go through, we have big decisions to make, and possibly children to stand up for, all at a time when we are at our very worst. This is not the time to check out, but a time to accept our situation and allow ourselves to feel all the hurt this moment deserves. At this time and place, alcohol is not our friend. Reject it. Right now is a time to be our best selves. Do this clean, sober, healthy, and with all our wits about us. You will find some hard-won self-esteem in the coming days and weeks as you do this. You can do this.
Exercise! We are under enormous amounts of stress. Exercise is an important tool in managing that stress. At the very least, lie down on the bedroom floor right now and do leg lifts (front, side, and back), stomach crunches, pushups, planking. Start easy, stretch before and after, but take the time to do this. Since the hate of the OM was in my head anyway, I use to picture myself becoming a better person (than him) as I did my pushups and I would say his name in my head to force those last few reps using my hate to push myself a little farther that day.
After several weeks of this, I honestly began to feel a difference in the way I felt about my body, my mind, and my self-esteem. After some months I went from like 15 pushups to leveling off at about 70. I can't express just how much this small thing worked wonders on my self-image. I remember at some point I was getting dressed for work, I shaved, ironed my shirt, slid on my sunglasses, and walked past my spouse toward the door with my chin up, taking a moment of pride that I was caring of myself. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that she also noticed.
You need to consider that the issues that got us, and our spouses here, are well above our pay-grade. We have a great deal to learn, to understand, and grapple with. Just so you know, YOU can’t do this on your own. You can’t. This IS our rainy day! Spend the money, even if you don’t think you have it. Start looking for a therapist NOW.
I sell books for a living and it occurred to me that there would be someone out there who had dealt with this before and written about it, so I ordered the top ten books listed on Amazon about affairs and had them sent overnight and began reading. Honestly, most of them were crappola and I just tossed them into the garbage. Three books became nearly invaluable to me. In the end, I learned as much--if not more--from reading books, and from reading these boards than from the paid shrink. Having said that, all three things provided important pieces to this puzzle that assisted me in saving my marriage and my sanity.
As the poet Alexander Pope once wrote: "A little learning is a dangerous thing/ Drink deep or taste not the Pierian Spring/ There shallow droughts intoxicate the brain,/ And drinking largely sobers us again." Learning largely will make us sober, healthy, and a resource to our wandering spouse and to our children. That too is attractive.
I personally did not get a lawyer, and that may have been one of my many mistakes. Getting the facts about our rights is important in both staying with, and leaving a spouse. This was the constant advice from these boards. The reason I chose not to do this may have had something to do with my gender. Please ladies, get this help!
Venting to these boards was an important aspect of my grieving after D(iscovery)-Day. I found that listening to people here and sharing my own experiences allowed me to process important, nuanced issues. Thank you to everyone here, now, and in the past. You honestly saved my life and made a difference in my family. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
The 180 is a list of DOs and DON'Ts that will assist you in helping your spouse find their way out of the fog they are in. It provides a healthy way to work through the transition that has come into your life. The farther away from my D-day, the more I understood the wisdom of working the 180 with my spouse. I wish I had lived this list far more strictly than I had. The two of us would have progressed along much faster. There are many things in life that we don't understand until long after they happened. The 180 is a gift from those that were here before. Some aspects of it might not make a lick of sense now, but it will when you see results. At first, I smothered my spouse with attention, and she did nothing but run away from me. Almost the second I began working the 180 and preparing to live without her, she began taking steps back toward me and our family, but if she hadn't, I was learning that I would be ok either way.
As soon as I found out about the other men my wife immediately began blaming me for her affairs. Later, her father even blamed me for his daughter's affairs. Let’s get one thing perfectly straight. This isn’t YOUR fault, YOU didn’t cause this, and YOU didn’t make these people do anything. There are good ways and bad ways to deal with dysfunctions in a marriage and an affair is the worst possible choice. In the Al Anon support group established for kids with alcoholic parents, they talk about the three "Cs." You didn’t Cause this, you can’t Control this, and you can’t Cure this. All we can really do is take care of ourselves and be an example of someone who is NOW attempting good practices in our families. If you chose to do the 180 list, maybe your spouse will follow, but that is on them, NOT YOU. Don't take the blame for other's actions. We can only fix ourselves, take responsibility for our choices starting now.
When I asked my spouse what things I needed to improve on in our marriage, she pointed at dishes, laundry and the TV in our bedroom. I took action and tossed the TV and began doing all the dishes and laundry. I did not do these things because the affair was my fault. I did these as a signal that I was willing to fight for my marriage by example by fixing myself.
As you begin doing the above basic things, you will put yourself on a positive life trajectory. As one who has been there, who suffered just as you are now, my heart goes out to you. There is much more to learn, but this short list is our best advice to start with. Chin up, dust yourself off, you have great worth, and you can do this!