Now, I understand you're not advocating that cheaters go up to their spouses and say "Baby, I know I ripped your heart out, but I need you to focus on my pain for a moment." I understand that's not what you're advocating. But by writing your articles and starting multiple threads here now, you are doggedly trying to elevate this perspective in the hierarchy of what is important while ignoring the fact that there is potentially direct, negative consequences. To whit, most wayward spouses need help to STOP putting themselves first. And unfortunately, your advice, well-intentioned as it may be, just gives people on the fence a reason to think that maybe they're not so bad for putting themselves first YET AGAIN i.e. "Look baby, other people on the Internet think I should take care of myself first because really that's going to be good for you!" CUT TO: bewildered, hurt look on a betrayed spouses face.
And once again, I'll reiterate -- YOUR SITUATION IS DIFFERENT. Not only in how it played out but where you are in the process. You cheated. You've been forgiven, now you can deal with the hurt on your side in a healthy, safe space. That's great for you. Unfortunately, most people here, myself included, are still at step one of that trifecta. Our spouses cheated. There is no forgiveness yet. There can be no focus on healing for the perpetrator. Not yet. You're giving advice on how to stay hydrated during a marathon when most cheaters are still trying to figure out their Couch-to-5k training plan.
And that is why you're getting such a pushback. You're not qualified to instruct, and you're talking about the wrong parts of the process (at least for most people here). Can you not see that?
Very well. I do see what you're saying about being hydrated during a marathon when most are only just getting on the treadmill. Perhaps too much focus on the wayward spouse might make him think he (or she) has permission to put their wants
above their spouse's needs
, and that's a problem. I have tried to address this tastefully, without saying to the wayward spouse, "You can't have healing yet" because the wayward spouse probably is
hurt to some degree or another by their action, even if that hurt really only amounts to longing for their AP. Would it make my words softer for the betrayed if I wrote an article, for them, too? I really see no need for that as so many authors have stepped in on their behalf and offered them much better help than I can provide.
Aaaaand I'm done. Are you a troll? Really Ella? It's really that hard for you to comprehend how someone who did the most hurtful thing possible short of maiming a person's child (and that's not hyperbole, talk to any betrayed spouse, they will tell you that this pain is far beyond the death of a parent, the loss of a coveted job, etc). Is it really hard for you to understand how someone who has been subjected to that level of pain and humilation at the hands of their spouse might not really want to hear how tough it is FOR YOU?
How they might, just maybe, not have the bandwidth to deal with yet ANOTHER one of a cheater's self-inflicted problems? Your husband must be a saint. Or, as I'm starting to wonder, maybe you just can't see beyond the end of your own nose. Which ... sounds like a cheater to me.
If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck ... Ella, are you a duck?
No, no, you misunderstand me. I'm sorry; I should have been clearer. Let me try again.
I do very much understand how betrayed spouses are, in the first months, unable to look at their wayward spouses with empathy. That even seeing their face brings back gut-wrenching panic, nausea, terror, and grief. But as you said, it was different for me.
When I first went into hospital, it was very much "all about me" from the get-go. My weeping mother, hugging me and telling me, "Don't come out before you're better." At first I was more than willing to call a spade a spade, albeit in a very selfish way. I had an affair, and I'm moving out to be with my lover. Let me go so I can be with him. My husband will be better off divorced.
But as I started to talk to these doctors about why I was starving myself, changing my hairstyle, and having constant panic attacks, they immediately rushed in with sympathy and compassion. "Don't you understand that he did this to you? He's not your lover, he's your
abuser. We're here to help you.
" They all had a battered woman narrative, and to them I fit that role.
The doctors helped me see who my OM really was. When people came home and accused me- correctly
- of cheating on my husband- I still literally broke down into inconsolable wailing, even months later. The shame I felt was almost unbearable. It would be another two years, nearly, before I could even begin
to confront that shame, let alone face up to the consequences of my actions and try to make amends.
My experience of being a victim of abuse and a wayward spouse made me wonder how much these other wayward spouses must suffer because no one cared for them in the same way that a small legion of doctors and psychologists cared for me. True, they were never abused, but they too must hurt. They too must feel assailed by guilt and shame and self-loathing, perhaps even more than me because they never had parts of their affair that were non-consensual. So, as there was no literature for them that didn't further fan the fires of their shame, I wrote my own.
Of course I can see how it might hurt the betrayed spouse to have to see someone having sympathy for their abusers. But I also remember the massive outpouring of support and help I got for my own affair, and feel pangs of sympathy that no such help is offered to other wayward spouses.