Thursday, January 2, 2014

Collateral Damage

When a spouse is betrayed, the loss is astounding. There is loss in every corner of your life. The list is endless. It includes:

Your self-esteem.

Your life as you knew it.

Your spouse as you knew it.

Your faith - in your God, humanity, EVERYTHING.

Your patience.

Your innocence. (Trust me, as goodie-goodie as I was for 34 years, I became a righteous monster and did horrific things that could have put me in jail.)

But in addition to these "big" and obvious things, you lose so much more.

Like the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you look at pictures of your kids when they were babies. Now you look at them and it just makes you sad.

And the lightheartedness you felt when you were in a public setting with your family. Now you look around in paranoia and wonder if people can see the stain of adultery that hovers over your head. Or you question whether that father over there playing with his kid is really as great as he seems, or is he sleeping with his secretary?

You'll also find that all the things you once loved doing may become a source of pain. For example, I love trail running. I've been a runner - and marathoner - for 16 years. Since the discovery of my husband's affair, I find that I can't keep my mind from going to the "dark side" on every run. Every time I lace my shoes and head out the door, I'm taking the risk of coming home angry. So I've lost one of my most favorite things in the world, thanks to my husband's stupid choices.

That favorite movie you used to curl up on the couch with your husband and watch over and over? You'll find now it triggers anger or discomfort. If it's a romance movie, you'll hate it because it's about an exciting and new relationship. Or it's about an affair, and you never even picked up on it until now. That one's out! You won't ever be able to watch it with your husband again. You'll have to throw it away.

Or that band you and your husband love? Now listening to them will just remind you of the "old days" and it will make you cry. Or it will make your mind race and think crazy things like, "Did she like this band, too? Did you listen to them while you screwed?"

Tonight I was reminded of all of this collateral damage while my son was practicing his guitar. He is playing a song in an upcoming show that is on an album that we were really into while the affair was just starting to heat up. In fact, at the time, the album was in our car CD player for weeks. I haven't been able to listen to it since D-Day, because it reminds me of a time when I was over the moon for my husband and he was completely absent emotionally.

Anyways, tonight my son asked if I could play the album so he could practice. Rather than playing just the one song, I let the entire CD finish. Wow, I can't believe how it affected me emotionally. It brought me right back to that time; I was reminded of the happiness and obliviousness I was feeling then, but with the bitter aftertaste of disgust and disappointment.

It made me wonder: When he hears these songs now, does it remind him of that exciting time in his life? Does it remind him of HER? Did he let that CD play on the car stereo on his drive over to her house? Does song X bring back that exhilaration he felt on his way over there? Hence, the CD is ruined.

What about all the popular songs from that time? The songs on the radio? Music conjures up memories like nothing else. Surely there are some songs that remind him of her, since they were going at it for a year.

Just add it all to the list of collateral damage. I'm still taking inventory and adding new things each day. There are a few things I feel that I have reclaimed (like my house, for example), but some things are just forever gone.

And with continued loss, you have continued grieving.


  1. YES! Thanks for sharing, I could have written this myself. One of my favourite songs - I can't listen to anymore... One of my favourite movies - can't bear to watch it (Love Actually) the list goes on and on... The saddest loss for me has been the loss of myself as I knew me. That laughing, funny, carefree version of me is, I am afraid, gone for good. And then there is all the other stuff... the loss of sexual confidence, the loss of self-esteem...

  2. Gill,

    That is the very movie I'm referring to in this post!! It was also one of our favorites. I actually gave it away this Christmas, knowing it will be a long time before I ever want to watch it again.

    You're dead on with the loss of your old self. It's like you don't have that freedom to be carefree anymore - like you're always looking over your shoulder. Or you're holding back because you can no longer give yourself fully.

    I hope your journey is becoming less and less painful. I personally am having a difficult time getting back to "real life" now that the holidays were over. They were a nice distraction for a while.

    Hang in there, Gill!

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  4. Thanks for sharing it. It helps a lot to know that I am not alone. It is exactly the way I'm feeling. I really love my husband, he has changed a lot in a positiv way but it doesn't matter I will always carry this sadness inside of me. I hate this new "normal". I just would like to feel in piece again and stop thinking about it the whole day.


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