One of the biggest heartaches for an injured spouse is the haunting images of their spouse’s lover, playing like a horror-movie in their head.
For victims of cheating, there are many reactions to this onslaught of images:
- Loss of sleep
- Lack of appetite
- Inability to focus on tasks
- Struggle to save the marriage
Living the Nightmare of Post-Affair Images
First, I want to assure you that eventually, the power these images hold over your mind will fade. The horror movie in your head will end, and you will move forward.
However, while you’re in the midst of this raw imagery—the nearer you are to having learned of your spouse’s cheating, the fresher it is—you are in unimaginable pain. You don’t even have to know specific details of your spouse’s affair to create the script. Many victims fill in all the blanks themselves, in heart-rending detail.
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You may not know anything beyond the fact that your spouse cheated, and maybe some vague details such as the location where it occurred and when. But that won’t necessarily stop you from having images that include:
- A picture of the other person as being perfectly attractive, funny, charming, etc.
- Your spouse and their lover locked in an embrace—and more intimate scenarios.
- Your spouse gazing at the other person in a way they’ve never looked at you.
- The other person being treated better and valued more than your spouse has ever treated or valued you.
These images are truly haunting, clinging to your mind as they begin taking over your days, infiltrating your dreams at night, and generally making you miserable.
What you picture is probably a good representation of all the emotions you’re also going through, including fear, distrust, and feelings of betrayal. The images and the emotions begin a damaging cycle of feeding into one another, leaving you feeling absolutely drained.
This is the rollercoaster of emotions so many victims of an affair are talking about. Ultimately, this can derail any efforts or strides you’ve attempted to make to survive the affair and save your marriage. You’re simply too drained.
Stop the Emotional Drain of Haunting Images
As the cycle of recurring images and negative emotions drain you, you begin to feel more vulnerable and find the images even more difficult to escape. The further down you go, the longer it takes to climb back out.
From wherever you’re starting from today, it’s going to take a big push on your part to stop the cycle. But remember: it’s your mind, and you have the power to manage what goes on there. The following steps will help you regain that power over your own mind, while eliminating the power of those haunting images:
Step 1: Put the Images on the Clock
To begin to take back the power of your own mind, set a time during the day when you can sit down and let the images come to you. This might not work every time, but if an image begins to come up at a time outside of the set schedule, remind yourself that it’s not time for haunting images yet.
What this will do is help you begin to manage when you allow something into your mind, and what is allowed there. It’s a subtle shift, but can be very empowering. Think of it as standing up to a bully.
Step 2: At the Designated Time, Invite the Images In
If you have to, think of yourself opening a door and saying “Come on in” to those images. Let the images troop in wearing whatever form they want. You are only temporarily tolerating these unwanted guests, and at the end of the designated time, you can push them back out the door. But not before you’ve had some fun at their expense.
Step 3: Rewind the Image
Take one of the images, and pretend it’s on a movie reel. Start at the end, and imagine the whole scene running backwards. By playing with the structure of the image, it may help you to feel better—because the image can be manipulated in the way that you want. It will show you that this image has no solid foundation—it’s subject to the whim of your mind and what you choose to do with it.
Again, it will take time to diffuse the power of these haunting images, which will in turn help your battered emotions to heal.
My best wishes for you as you work to stop the emotional drain of haunting affair images.
Are you struggling with haunting affair images right now?
How has this affected your life and getting through each day?
Is the affair recent and raw, or has some time elapsed? How has the time made a difference in the power of the images?
Have these haunting images affected your ability to save your marriage?
Please share your thoughts and experiences on this painful topic by leaving a comment below.
Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,