What to do first. What you need to know. (Repost)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2008
What to do first. What you need to know. (Repost)
5
Thu, 12-05-2013 - 6:12am

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 and realize that it wasn't some nightmare--this was my real life. I had no tools, and I was doing most things wrong. Wise people on these boards reached out to me and shared their hard won knowledge. There are significant problems with the way these boards have been functioning recently 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 when I first came here. Just so you know, I am so sorry this is happening to you, but you need to know, you didn't cause this, you can't control your spouse, and you can't cure them either. This is not your fault and the only thing you can do is help yourself. This advice is for you and your family. May you find the peace and the resolution you seek as you take the following steps. 

FOOD

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 foods and fast foods. You are about to make difficult decisions that will have lasting implications on 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 go buy a bag of baby carrots and other freash veggies, force one into my mouth and chew. Do this for yourself and for your family. 

ALCOHOL

Time to be sober. As the saying goes, “Feelings buried alive never die.” Some things just have to be done the hard way. We have a grieving process to go through right now, we have big decisions to make, and possibly children to stand up for. All this at a time, when we are at our very worst, this is not the time to check out. At this time and place, alcohol is not our friend. Reject it. Now is the time to be our best selves and do this clean, sober, healty, and with all our wits about us. You will find some hard won self-esteem in the coming weeks and days as you do this. 

BODY

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 the difference in the way I felt about my body, my mind, and my self-esteem. I went from like 15 pushups to leveling off at about 70 after some months. 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 noticed also. 

SHRINK

The issues that got us and our spouses here are obviously well above our pay grade or we would not be here. 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 today. 

READ

I sell books for a living, I knew there would be someone out there who had delt with this before. So, I ordered the top ten books listed on Amazon about affairs and had them sent overnight and then I began reading. Honestly, most of these were crap and I just tossed them. 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 puzzel 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." 

LEAGAL

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, or 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. 

POST

Venting to these boards was an important aspect of my grieving after D-Day. I found that listening to people here, venting and sharing my 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. 

180 LIST

The 180 is a list of dos and don'ts that will assist you to help your spouse find their way out of the fog they are in. It is also provides a healthy way to prepare yourself for the transition that is about to come into your life. The farther away from 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 did. The two of us would have progressed along much faster. There are many things we don't unserstand until long after they happened. The 180 is a gift from those that went 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 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, and if she hadn't, I was learning that it was going to be ok either way. 

WHO'S FAULT?

As soon as I found out about the other men, my wife immediately began blaming me for her affairs. Later, her father also 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 this, maybe your spouse will follow, but that is also on them, not you. Don't take the blaim 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, she pointed at dishes, laundry and the TV in our bedroom. I 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 symbol that I was willing to fight for my marriage by fixing me. 

As you begin doing the above list of basic things, you will put yourself on a very positive life trajectory. As one who has been there, who has suffered just as you are now, my heart goes out to you. There is much more to learn, but this is our best advice to start with. Chin up, dust yourself off, you have worth, and you can do this. 

--Tom 

Thomas

We have five kids. Our D-Day was in August, 2008.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2008

Well done, Thomas.  Hope I can type, I had some hand surgery yesterday and have a hummer of a bandage all around my hand and wrist.  You are so right, you have to take care of you through all this stuff.  My DH and I talk totally openly about everything now and he agrees 100% that his second D-day set me down a road to serious depression, the timing is just dead on.  Finding info showing contact he kept swearing never happened threw me even further down the rabbit hole and to this day I'm still fighting to get healthy again.  And serious depression takes a toll on your overall health, as well, it's a circle you just walk around in with a catch-22 at every turn.  DH and I are in a weird place, with him now having the strong feelings and me feeling like we're roommates.  Incredible how long it takes to get your head on straight again.  You wonder if it will ever happen.  But you just have to keep on doing whatever you have to do to get sane again.  Great post, Thomas. 

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2010

Trying to bump this up to the top.  Thomas gave some very, very good advice that is so important when you first find out about the A and during whatever course you take, be it divorce or rebuilding.

Avatar for pater_familia
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2008

The boards just don't work like they use to. All comments just slide down. I wish we had a CL just for BS and could help mentor and police the list better. Ugh. 

Sending good vibes Gwtwfanaliveagain

Tom

Thomas

We have five kids. Our D-Day was in August, 2008.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2010

I know! I miss Solazzo. She was such a great lady with such great advice and insight, not unlike yourself.  I always loved reading your posts and the heartfelt advice and honesty in them.  Plus, you put faith back in me, and I'm sure many other women, that there are good men out there. We tend to think of women as being the only BS's but that's certainly not the case.  I know how much I respected you and appreciated your advice when I was going through so much hurt all those years ago.  Hope all is well with you and I'm sending those good vibes back at ya! :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2007

Bump to top of list for newbies.

Nothing has any meaning save the meaning I give it.