Moving on from the Pain of Infidelity. ~ Amy Chan

Via on Oct 10, 2012

This time last year, I was in Paris with the man I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with.

I remember praying, saying thank you to the universe, for the relationship and love I had in my life. I trusted my partner and loved him with every ounce of my heart and soul. He was the one, so I thought.

That is, until a week after our trip, a boys night out turned into him making a series of destructive decisions that would ultimately break everything we had into pieces—including my heart. He cheated on me with a previous coworker of mine, and upon coming home at four AM, lied to me and blamed me for being paranoid.

What happened in the next 48 hours after was a blur of lies, and a painful slow discovery that the person I admired and adored, was not the person I thought I knew.

I had purposely not written about what  happened in my breakup because I felt I needed some time to heal and process the situation before publishing, and because I didn’t want my story to come from spite or revenge. Also, it has taken me a lot of courage to share this personal experience because I felt a lot of shame in what happened.

As much as I can say I’m a confident and strong woman, you can bet I doubted my own self-worth, and asked myself what was so wrong with me for the man who supposedly loved me to throw it all away for an hour with someone who “meant nothing” to him? I was embarrassed, hurt and my self-esteem was damaged.

Pain

Everyone makes mistakes, and often. It is not our mistakes that define us, but what we do afterward. I hoped in my heart, he would redeem himself. That he would be accountable for his actions, work for my forgiveness and try whatever he could to make things right. I hung on to faith that he would step up to be the man I thought he was.

But he didn’t. And maybe that’s the most disappointing part of it all.

At that time, I was living with him, I had lost my job two months prior and had no income. My health deteriorated, I stopped eating and lost over 15 pounds in a matter of weeks. I experienced my first panic attack. Without going into detail, I learned that during that period of depression, my immune system was weakened, resulting in some serious, potential long-term health issues. I was in such an ultimate low, I was not rational, nor could I see the end to the suffering. My thoughts were destructive.

It felt like everything had fallen down at once.

Regardless of the support from friends and family, I felt terribly alone. To have your trust breached and your heart so wounded feels like there is a dark cloud of misery that follows you everywhere you go. It’s with you no matter how you try to distract yourself. Even in sleep you cannot escape—pain haunts you in the form of nightmares. You feel trapped because there is nothing you can say or do to make it go away.

During this time, I reached out to him for help. In his own pain, he didn’t now how to handle me. So instead of responding with compassion and care, he’d ignore me. I felt like an inconvenient bother (and plain crazy).

I watched the man that I loved, that I shared deep secrets and sacred moments with, in a blink of an eye, treat me like I was nothing. It was as if one day, I was the world to him, and the next moment, I was irrelevant.

Reflecting a Year Later

I’ve worked hard to pick myself up, turn my pain into inspiration to be stronger, smarter and wiser. But a year later, I still have moments where sadness, confusion and anger creep up on me and I break down in tears. These tears go way beyond my experience of betrayal—they stem from the little girl inside, whose deepest insecurity is not being good enough. That little girl who never seemed to be able to get love and approval from her father, comes out and wonders if she will ever be worthy of love from a man.

Perhaps he just wasn’t capable of showing me care the way I expected. Perhaps I was such an emotional wreck at the time that he felt any efforts would be futile. Perhaps he had lost all hope, and cutting me off was the only way he knew how to deal with the situation. Perhaps I just lived in denial during our relationship, and lived in a fantasy I created in my own head.

I don’t want to paint him as a bad person—sure, he is someone who did something bad, but I know deep in my heart, his intention was not to hurt me. What happened came from a very unhealthy place of disconnection, and I have to take accountability for the fact that I attracted him into my life in the first place. After all, you attract people of a similar emotional health level.

Trying to Understand

I don’t know what he felt, what he thought or how he handled his pain and shame. I was one of the few people he let in his life, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him either. I’m sure there are some deep-rooted issues of his own which caused him to make the decisions he did. As much as I am the one who was betrayed, there is a different sort of pain he had to deal with—guilt. I’m not sure what is worse. But it’s likely both are pretty awful to experience.

Feeling betrayed is a dark place that can control your thoughts and behavior. In the process of dealing with the pain, I dehumanized him. I lost compassion and forgot that his actions came from a place of his own darkness. I dismissed that he was trying his best to cope as he knew how. All the great memories, the times we laughed, the special moments, they have become a blur in the bitterness. And that is such a shame, because just because the ending was bad, it doesn’t dilute the incredible moments we once shared.  To look back only to see a bad ending is unfortunate and a disservice to myself.

To this day, I still haven’t figured out if there was one big lesson the universe was trying to teach me. Perhaps it was a series of lessons, from how to choose my future partner, how to recognize red flags, to determining what values I truly stand for.

I’ve replayed that day in my head hundreds of times, hoping that maybe if I could understand exactly why everything happened the way it did, that I’d be able to completely move on and feel at peace. But no matter how I analyze it, or how I put the pieces together, it doesn’t make sense. I’ll probably never figure it out, and I hope for the day when I stop  trying to.

The ego in me feels frustrated, that twelve months later, I still feel the remnants of that heartbreak. Sometimes it comes in waves so strong that I feel I have made no progress at all. And sometimes I look back and am thankful that all this happened—because I’ve grown so much from the experience. There are ups and downs, and I am proud to say that there are a lot more ups than there are downs now.  And slowly, the hope that real, authentic love does exist is starting to return.

Learning from the Experience

It’d be a lie to say that I don’t miss him. I am reminded of him often—from the food I eat, the places I visit, to some of the jokes that only he and I were in on. And behind the anger, the hurt, the betrayal, there is still love and care that remains. That love will eventually fade, just like the memories will, and one day, so will the pain.

In the midst of pain and suffering, it’s hard to see the light or how the experience fits in to the bigger picture of things. Hitting such a low was not easy—however, I feel it helped me mature. In the last year, I’ve become very clear on my values and have been attracting new opportunities and people that are aligned with those values. I’m healthier both spiritually and physically than I ever have been in my life, and there’s been a lot of positive momentum in my career and self-growth. I’ve given myself permission to be vulnerable and have allowed myself to process the plethora of emotions and old wounds that were triggered from the event. There’s been some deep childhood stuff that surfaced after being suppressed for over two decades, and ripping off the band-aid has forced me to work through them.

I remember some of the darkest moments I faced after I found out he cheated on me. I felt like I was completely broken and I wanted him to fix me. Now, I realize, I wasn’t broken. I was just bruised. And those bruises, through gentle care, eventually heal.

I look back and think about that scared little girl, sobbing as if it was the end of the world, I know now, the world was not ending, rather, it just had to hit a low in order for it to get a lot better. And it did.

If You’ve Been Cheated On

If you are reading this and have experienced or are experiencing something similar, I hope that this article gives you some peace of mind, that what you are feeling is normal. The hurt, anger, denial, thirst for revenge—those are all part of the emotional range that comes with betrayal. Have faith that things will get better and the feeling of suffering will eventually ease. However, keep in mind that if you don’t process the experience, and allow the wound to truly heal, you will only endure the same suffering in some shape or form in the future.

I hope you allow yourself to be vulnerable, break down as you need to, and get real honest with yourself so that you can grow from the experience, and in turn, become a healthier person. Because when you yourself are healthy, you will start attracting healthy people and situations in to your life. A wise friend once told me, “like attracts like”.

These struggles in our lives are opportunities for us to heal old wounds and to grow. They are catalysts that have to be triggered in order for you to overcome them. These experiences may not feel good at the time, but they are not good or bad—they are just a part of the human journey. And you have the choice to deal with them in a healthy way or not.

I hope you choose the former, because it only gets better from there. I promise.


Amy Chan
 is a marketing maven by day and a relationship columnist by night. She writes for the Huffington Post, The Vancouver Sun and has a bi-weekly “Ask Amy” column for Sun Media’s 24 Hours Newspaper. A Simon Fraser University graduate in Communications and Sociology, Amy doesn’t claim to be a relationship expert. She is however, someone who empathizes and understands human behavior and how it’s affected by popular culture. She is gifted in articulating the experiences and struggles of life in a relatable and inspiring way for her readers. To read more of her blogs, visit www.amyfabulous.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. 

 

~

Editor: Lori Lothian

 

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12 Responses to “Moving on from the Pain of Infidelity. ~ Amy Chan”

  1. Korumaze says:

    Thank you – this was perfect for me right now.

  2. butterfly says:

    I went through that same experience more than 5 years ago and I felt exactly as you are feeling right now, the pain doesn't go away in a year, but eventually goes away. And I know you are still wondering what's the good thing coming out of this situation and from my experience it will come. Today, I am married to the man of my life and I am 5 months pregnant and I couldn't be happier now. I thought once I had the guy and he failed on me but after my husband arrived to my life I feel the difference. Keep it up… it will come, just let it come.

  3. Krissy says:

    Thank you for posting this. I recently found out my husband of six years cheated on me. I am so embarrassed, it is all over the internet and now everyone calls me and says they are sorry that Jake cheated on me and saw what he did. His mistress found out he was married and posted him on some site called CheaterVille and so now, anytime you google his name, that is the first thing that people see. Now I feel like my failed marriage is exposed for the world to see. Your article has given me hope for a bright future.

    • Amy Chan says:

      Krissy, I'm sorry to hear about this aftermath you have to deal with. It must be very challenging to deal with what feels like the world judging you and your relationship. Sending you light, love and compassion.

  4. breathasfuelyoga says:

    Thank you Amy <3

  5. Tim McDonnell says:

    There is real medicine in these words. Thanks for giving voice to some of the unutterable thoughts I've been processing for a while. You've given the world a beautiful, healing gift through your transparency. What you and I think of as "faithfulness" involves so much more than just stopping short of physical intimacy with someone other than your committed partner – that ought to be entry-level – but true loyalty encompasses so many other layers, and that awareness is a gift I will carry forward with me that lifts my life above (and beyond) the experience of betrayal. Thank you for sharing this with all of us with such authentic generosity, courage and clarity.

  6. Jeff says:

    Thank you, Amy.

    A very long time ago, my wife cheated on me with my proverbial best friend. We stayed together, although I can’t say anything noble-sounding like “I forgave her.” I became an asshole instead. Drank a lot, had my own affairs, and generally refused to deal with it. We patched it up, had our family, and have had a decent life together. I still love her, more than i thought was possible, and believed that I was ok.

    But it’s been coming back again to haunt me. I recently found out that he had passed away after a long and difficult illness. The mixed emotions catch me off guard. I have burst into tears, reliving that dreadful moment of 30 plus years ago! I am beginning to work on the idea that i may have forgiven her, but never did forgive him.

    Thank you for expressing the pain so well.

    • Amy Chan says:

      Hi Jeff,

      Thank you for reading and for sharing your story. Sometimes, the only way we know how to deal with such an incredible pain and trauma is to wait it out, distract ourselves and push moving forward. However, it is possible that in that process, we never truly healed the wound. Then, sometime later in the future, a catalyst triggers that old wound, and that same physical pain comes back with just as much potency and force as if it just happened.

      I hope that with this catalyst, you allow yourself to really process that wound. Forgiveness is not an easy task, and it is even harder to forgive the self. I wish you light, love and compassion in this next chapter of your life. Sounds like you're on the right path. =)

      • Jeff says:

        Maybe it's a "guy thing," but it seems like ju

        • Jeff says:

          Maybe it's a "guy thing," but it seems like just letting it out is helpful. It was so long ago!. I feel ridiculous in a way: I'm well in to my 50s and it hits me like yesterday. The betrayal by two people I cared about put me through some hell, I guess. We're talking about someone i played ball with as a kid, learned to drink with, stood beside at our weddings. And I bottled it up and refused to deal with it. Maybe it's not that I refused to deal with it though. I had no tools for "dealing with it." Maybe none of us do the first time, and hopefully the last time it happens.

  7. dearbhla says:

    I admire for you writing this and bless you for your healing journey and dedication to love, honesty and growth. There's one thing you haven't mentioned: maybe he's just an asshole who didn't and doesn't deserve you. You're better than that.

  8. Heather Morton Heather says:

    It takes a lot fo gusts to write this out. And many people have faced the same. So, please know you are not alone, which I am sure you already understand.

    But the point in which you understand your issues with your father is a good point to take. Had there been more healing in that area 'perhaps' and perhaps is perhaps useless to say….you may have seen that this was/is not as deep for him as it was for you.
    Sometimes or rather many times our view is so clouded. We think we see and don't. We think we understand but fail. Our self-view is heavily blocked by conditioned experiences —it is indeed difficult to navigate.

    I have personally felt that women also put more emphasis on sex than men. And there are studies which prove that women actually have a hormone that men don't which causes more attraction. This explains why men can have sex and be in relationships and be out of touch with their feelings while women are not.

    It also explained to me many things and boy, I felt better!! (joke).

    Anyway, I would only end with this….practice not to recall the memories too much. Our minds are tricking us all the time…we THINK we remember it well, but over time we tend to candy-coat many things and delude ourselves.

    In the end, as well, this is the power of yoga. TO understand sat-chi-anada….truly bliss AM I.
    Difficult for sure to know you are more than these experiences and more than these hurts…but I have it to be true even in the sadness times.

    I also take solace in the Buddist wisdom of "This too shall past".

    What remains are your lessons…and your good fortune in learning them.

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