Surviving infidelity and the emotional pain it causes is one of the most challenging things you’ll ever get through. Cheating causes a tsunami of painful emotions. Even the cheater isn’t immune to the emotional turmoil.
But the cheater’s turmoil can’t even begin to compare to the pain that you, as the victim of cheating, experiences. A spouse’s infidelity unleashes raw waves of emotion, creating ongoing internal devastation.
It can be tempting to want to sidestep these emotions, tamp them down, ignore them. But it’s not a healthy option if you’re interested in surviving infidelity.
In this blog, I want to share with you 3 options for processing those emotions in a way that is healthy—and that moves you forward so you can survive infidelity and salvage the pieces of your marriage.
Broadsided by Infidelity
If your spouse cheated on you, you’ve no doubt been reeling with the emotional backlash since the revelation. And if you were the one who cheated—you have your own emotional issues to work through.
But today’s blog is for the victims of the affair. As a victim, you didn’t have a say in the decision, you weren’t consulted, you were lied to and deceived into believing everything was going along as normal. Nothing prepared you for this, and that’s what makes it even more challenging.
When you are slammed with the news of your spouse’s cheating, it spins your world around. You may have had your suspicions, but until you unequivocally know the truth that your spouse had an affair, there’s really nothing to prepare you for what comes next.
Negative emotions take over. You as the victim feel as if you’ve lost control. The rug has been pulled out from under you—and you can’t seem to gain your feet. A daily cocktail of emotions is what you’re served, made up of anger, feelings of betrayal, pain, jealousy, intense shame, and uncertainty about the future, and who you are in that future—and whether your marriage will even survive into the future.
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Reeling from these waves of pain, it is tempting to want to escape and hide yourself away from them, anything to avoid that pull down into the emotional abyss. You may have had moments where you feel yourself internally closing a door on them, and telling yourself “I’m fine. It’s no big deal. I’ll make it through.”
The only way to truly make it through, in a meaningful way that allows you to reclaim your sense of self while healing these deep wounds, is to work through each and every one of those painful emotions in your quest of surviving infidelity and moving on.
Let’s look at 3 options from which to choose to get you started in confronting this internal demon of emotional pain so you can begin healing.
Emotion Healing Option 1: Breath
When we’re under pressure and feeling stressed, our breathing changes: it tends to become more shallow.
As an affair victim, you are experiencing immense stress. Your emotional pain leaves you feeling exhausted, mentally and physically. A simple method to help revitalize you and ease some of that pressure is to take the time to focus on your breath, breathing in deeply and slowly exhaling. Control the breath, focusing on feeling it move down into your stomach, and then exhaling in a controlled manner.
Some people report that when they first try this very simple exercise, it can leave them feeling lightheaded. But deep, controlled breaths are healthy, so it shows that you are physically existing in an unhealthy, anxious state when it feels odd to breathe this way.
Emotion Healing Option 2: Positive Distraction
A positive distraction is one in which you give yourself a break from the emotions you’re experiencing. A negative distraction would be something such as obsessively scrubbing floors to avoid the emotion.
A positive distraction differs in that you aren’t running and hiding from anything—you’re just taking a time-out to do an activity you enjoy and that keeps your attention for a bit. It provides a way to move through the hurdle of that negative emotion.
Emotion Healing Option 3: Self-Nurture
Keep up with taking care of yourself. Many affair victims are so distraught, they find they don’t have an appetite and therefore don’t eat properly, or care about their personal appearance or feel motivated to exercise.
But when you are in emotional distress, it is all the more reason to take care of yourself. Your body needs nurturing now, more than ever. It will be a welcome salve to the raw wounds you are recovering from.
My best wishes for you as you heal from the emotional pain of infidelity.
How have you processed the emotional aftermath of the affair?
Have you neglected your own needs, such as engaging in the activities you enjoy and taking care of yourself?
What steps have you taken to process the emotional pain of infidelity?
Please share your thoughts and experiences regarding this critical issue of trust.
Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,