Affairs and forgiveness. Moving on with your life.
My husband cheated. Now what?
After my husband cheated I was not in a good place emotionally. It was difficult to forgive him for what he’d done because of the continually lying and going around behind my back that had happened. I could care less about the other woman or the fact that he wanted to sleep around. I was being lied to so consistently and being told that I was just being crazy and paranoid for so long. Even now, a couple years later I still have difficulty trusting my own instincts or trusting what is plainly obvious and before my eyes.
Not only has this affected me emotionally even beyond the 20 years of marriage that now feel like a complete waste of my life, it has also affected me socially and professionally.
In a very real way my husband was conditioning me to be a doormat. It was a systematic tool he used to that began even before we were married. At first it was rather innocuous. He sounded very convincing, and he was constantly correcting me for seemingly trivial reasons. If I said she was wearing a blue dress to the party, he would say no, she was wearing a red dress. If I said the lights were on then he would say they were off. If I asked him if he was seeing anyone behind my back he would tell me I was just being crazy and paranoid. I came to believe it.
Where he is concerned there will be no forgiveness or consideration. But part of moving on with my life, rebuilding my self-esteem, and establishing warm and giving relationships moving forward is letting go of the resentment I feel after so many years of my life were wasted with a man who clearly had no respect for me at all.
Immediately after the divorce
Forgiving a cheating husband was not something that I ever wanted to have to try and do. I worked with a therapist who was good at trying to get me to trust and forgive myself again. Immediately following the divorce I was alone and broken. I felt like I had no one to turn to and I felt worthless and miserable. I was still working at the grocery store but it was becoming more and more difficult to justify getting out of bed everyday. My depression and anxiety seemed to be controlling my every move. I no longer knew who I was anymore. I decided to leave my job and live off of savings and alimony. I began seeing a therapist and going to support groups.
The first thing that the therapist told me after I had explained my situation was this was not my fault. I couldn’t be sure that she really meant this or if she was just saying that to be nice and help me come to terms with all of this. It was certainly a nice thing to hear but it didn’t seem possible. Who would allow someone to do this to them if they weren’t weak, stupid, and naive? She set me up with a prescription for some medication and we talked through all the damage that kind of psychological manipulation can do to a person. I still felt resentful of myself for allowing this to happen though. I started talking to people in support groups who had gone through the same thing and it excited something within me I had forgotten was there: the desire to protect others. I told them the same thing that I had been told: this wasn’t your fault, and when I said that, I had already begun to believe it.