Crystal and I have been writing this blog for two solid years. Yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at old blog posts to freshen them up and see how we have grown. Emotion washed over me as I read some of the things I had written after I had been cheated on with another woman while I was pregnant with my son. Being a victim of infidelity affected me so much more than I ever thought.
Victim of Infidelity
Back then, I was simply surviving. The person in a relationship who cheats could not fathom how it turns their partner’s world upside down. In my situation I was not only hurt, but had been on maternity leave from work receiving short term disability benefits only bringing in 65% of my income (but less because prior to giving birth I was making overtime every week at work, so only 65% of my base pay.) My brand new breast feeding baby was suddenly ripped from his mother several hours on the weekends so he could spend time with his father per our custody agreement. Luckily at that time, the court recognized he was being breast fed and actually accommodated. It wasn’t fair, it was beyond my control that suddenly my partner wanted to be with someone else and because of that my child could not be with me all the time.
Suddenly I had to make one income work raising my kids. I had to find additional babysitters, alter my work schedule, and hire attorneys for custody and child support, because he decided to sleep with someone else. I was going to have to eventually go on first dates again. I was defeated, by a narcissistic man who told me with his words and actions I was not good enough for him.
Healing took so long because I was so hurt for such a long time. Hindsight being 20/20 and “things happening for a reason” and all that, I realized with time I was extremely lucky he was unfaithful and turned my world on it’s head. When a window is closed, a door opens every time, and as someone wise in my life often says, things in this world always come around. Even at one year anniversary post infidelity I was making progress in healing.
I had to go through the stages of grief and loss. Denial was easy, there was no denying that I had been rejected and dismissed. Here I was, a strong woman, great career, but my self worth was in the basement. Nonetheless, no denying I had been rejected. Anger came next but after a long adjustment period. I had to get settled into the life I had suddenly been thrown into before I had time for anger.
The Main Source of Frustration
Eventually, I came to the realization that my main source of anger at was the custody situation for my son. Eventually after the breast feeding subsided when he was about two years old, we went to a one night a week schedule, then the standard one night a week and every other weekend. My little boy couldn’t be with his mom or both parents, but had to be passed back and forth, because of a decision one party made. The infidelity hurt, but made me realize that the type of person who would do that was not someone I should have ever gotten involved with.
Life does go on. Three years out, I am stronger, better at organization, able to manipulate any schedule and multitask like an expert. I am level headed and have learned that life is too short to get angry about stupid things. It takes an awful lot to ruffle my feathers. I am slow to trust and take most statements made by others with a grain of salt. Guilty until proven innocent unless I trust and care for you.
How to survive after being the victim of infidelity.
1. Don’t let the ex steal your happiness.
They already broke your heart, and although it may be difficult, don’t focus on what they are doing. If he moved on, forget him. Something will always happen to make you think, “damn, I am so happy he is not in my life anymore.” Focus on you. Did you love something or have a hobby that got away from you during the relationship? Was there a friend he hated that you stopped communicating with because it was requested? Rekindle old friendships and keep yourself busy.
“I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.” -Coco Chanel
2. Forgive on your own terms.
You do not HAVE to forgive right away. Yes, forgiveness is important in life, but that jerk just turned your life upside down. Screw him. You have a right to be angry, but not forever.
3. Do not tell the kids.
They do not need to get involved in adult issues. It is so unfair to them. Let the kids be kids and one day, they will either hear about what happened from a drunk family member at Thanksgiving or come to the conclusion on their own. Children do not be involved and know the details. Do not talk badly about the ex in front of the kids. It’s not right.
4. Rediscover yourself.
Like I mentioned earlier, get a hobby, reconnect with old friends, spend time with children, go to the spa, go on a vacation, rediscover your spark. Do things that make you happy. Anything you enjoyed before the relationship began, do it again. Take up an old hobby. Begin working out again. It is time to take control of your future again.
5. Do not isolate.
Talk to people, talk to a therapist, talk to someone you trust. There’s no way to get through this alone. But, do not take to social media with your problems. Please. For everyone’s sake.
6. Do not waste your energy on hate.
It is OK to be angry, and loathe the cheater for a while, but hatred is counterproductive. It holds you back from being able to move forward. And please, whatever you do, please do not do anything illegal. NO man is worth going to jail over. No taking your Louisville Slugger to both headlights, okay?
7. Feeling afraid is normal.
Fear of the unknown. What will you do in the big mean world alone? You will pick yourself up by the bootstraps and get your life back on track. That is what you HAVE to do, especially if there are children involved. Put on a brave face and get out there. The world did not stop spinning. Your world may have encountered a hiccup, but you will be fine. Your heart is still beating, your are breathing, your health is intact. Don’t let a deadbeat cheater bring you down.
8. Don’t ask the other person “why.
They did it because they’re an asshole. It wasn’t you, it was something innately wrong with them that caused them to cheat on the person who trusted them with their heart. Shame in the cheater, and may karma be a bigger bitch than you can ever be.
9. Set a long term goal.
Did you always want to take up yoga, go back to school, or write a book? This is YOUR time! Immerse yourself into a project and make it amazing. You will have something to take pride in. Invest in a good planner to help you meet your goals.
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
10. Quit stalking social media.
Block him, all friends who might try to cause drama, and anyone else who may carry tales. You do not need test drama, you are an adult, and you need to move on with your life. Do just that. Don’t look up his new love interest on Facebook, don’t try to see who her friends and look them up in Instagram. Be classy. He will eventually do the same thing to her. Have pity and stop watching from afar.
11. Although it may be hard…Get back into the dating scene.
Only once your heart has healed a little. Another person doesn’t want a date crying at the dinner table, and won’t want a potential suitor talking a out nothing except their ex who did them wrong during a date. You are going to be surprised at how many divorcees and singles out in the dating scene are the victim of infidelity. Dating again might just be therapeutic (although scary!) Ever read The Missing Piece Meets the Big O? Great book for those beginning to date again.
When I was healing, I did a little bit of all these things. You have to occupy your mind and body, and be strong for yourself, especially for the kids if you have them. Three years have passed since this all happened to me. The only reason I am writing about it now is that the original post receives so much traffic, so obviously people are still Googling things such as “my ex cheated on me” or “how can I get over my ex?”
Never be ashamed of being a victim of infidelity. It happens. Some people are either so narcissistic, selfish, or simply just have such insecurities or serious character flaws that they have to reach out and seek attention from someone else. When I mentioned before that being a victim of infidelity affected me so much more than I ever thought, I really meant it. Before, I was meek. When it was time to go to court for custody I was scared to death, but since then I have found my voice, and I am not afraid now to confront those who try to screw me over in any way. This has taught me to be bold and tell people what I want. You teach people how to treat you, and now I teach others that I deserve to be treated with respect.
Just as J.K. Rowling is famously quoted, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I built my life.” Check out Crystal’s post on things she learned from her first marriage for further comfort.
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