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Betrayed Spouse 101

Sailing the Sea of Stress

Y ou can't sleep. You can't eat. Your thoughts are obsessive. You cry at the drop of a hat. You feel empty, used up. Stress can eat up your energy and your life until you feel like there's nothing left. It is a reaction to a life-changing event, and you need to grieve and heal. Here's a little of what you're probably experiencing:

Disbelief: You expect to wake up any minute from this nightmare. It can't be true. You don't believe it.

Shock: You are numb and dazed. Your emotions are frozen. You go through the motions, like a robot.

Crying: Deep emotions suddenly well up, seeking release as loud sobbing and crying. Give yourself time for tears. They can help.

Physical Symptoms: You may sleep or eat too little or too much. You may have physical aches, pains, numbness, or weakness. Check with a doctor to rule out other causes. Usually the symptoms fade gradually.

Denial: You know the fact of the affair, but you forget. You expect your loved one to telephone or walk in the door. Or you work harder at making everything seem 'normal'.

Why: "Why did he/she do this?" You don't expect an answer, but you need to ask repeatedly. The question itself is a cry of pain.

Repeating: Over and over again, you tell the same story, think the same thoughts. Repeating helps you to absorb the painful reality.

Self-Control: You control your emotions to fulfill your responsibilities or to rest from the pain. Self-control can shape and give rhythm to your grieving, but constant rigid self-control can block healing.

Reality: "It really happened." You feel you're getting worse. Actually, reality has just hit, and support from friends and family may be diminishing.

Confusion: You can't think. You forget in mid-sentence. You are disorganized and impatient.

Idealizing: You remember only good memories, as if your time with your loved one was perfect. You long to live in the past, before the affair came along and 'messed it up'.

Frustration: Your past fulfillments are gone. You haven't found new ones yet. You feel you're not coping with grief "right."

Bitterness: Feelings of resentment and hatred toward your spouse and their paramour are natural, and should be worked through and let go of. Habitual bitterness can drain energy and block healing.

Waiting: The struggle is over, but your zest has not returned. You are in limbo, exhausted, uncertain. Life seems flat.

Triggers: Particular days, places, and activities can bring back the pain as intensely as ever.

So what are the next stages, after you work through all the grief and pain and stress?

Hope: You believe you will get better. The good days out balance the bad. Sometimes you can work effectively, enjoy activities, and really care for others.

Commitment: You know you have a choice. Life won't be the same, but you decide to actively begin building a new life for yourself.

Seeking: You take initiative, renewing your involvement with former friends and activities, and exploring new involvements.

Peace: You feel able to accept the affair and its repurcussions, and face your own future.

Life Opens Up: Life has value and meaning again. You can enjoy, appreciate, and anticipate events. You are willing to let the rest of your life be all it can be.