Infidelity creates many losses. Grieving the many casualties of being betrayed, including the loss of innocence, consumes our lives for much longer than we could ever have expected. Facing the trauma of infidelity grief is a journey we take, even though we never asked to be on that journey. Initially, the journey through grief after being cheated on is one of survival. It is particularly true when navigating the complex emotions of infidelity grief, as explored in this post on infidelity grief; surviving the trauma of betrayal and the loss of innocence.
Grieve the many losses infidelity causes
The other day my partner and I were pondering human knowledge and how we acquired it. Evolution, neanderthals, and The Prometheus Theory were all discussed. We wondered at the big jump in human history where we suddenly got smarter. Or did we?
Knowledge of the Infidelity Began the Grieving
Our conversation got me thinking about Adam and Eve in the Bible and their eating from the tree of good and evil knowledge. It seemed to me that discovering my husband's affair was like that experience of 'eating from the tree of knowledge'.
Suddenly I have this knowledge, and there is no going backward from this knowledge. My partner ate the forbidden fruit, and now I know the evil consequences of it.
Just like Adam and Eve, who left their innocent life in paradise, never to return, I also left my innocence behind. Now I know that my husband cheated, and I can never return from knowing this; my previous life and marriage are gone and can never return. Being cheated on is a harsh reality, with many losses to grieve.
Knowledge of the betrayal brought suffering
This knowledge initially changed everything in the environment for my partner and me. With our relational innocence lost, we no longer wanted to walk about the garden naked with each other. We tried to hide our true selves, me from a fear of abandonment and him from his shame. Each of us blamed the other for our pain; even though he was wrong to blame me.
In a way previously hidden from us, suffering came with the knowledge of the betrayal. The grief was something we wouldn't have comprehended before the infidelity, and it forced us both into a whole new way of existing. How could we survive the trauma and loss of innocence betrayal inflicted on our relationship?
I Had to Learn a New Way of Living After Infidelity
Without my permission, we now had to take a whole new journey in our lives to survive the infidelity. And we had to get a lot smarter all of a sudden too. We became hungry for a new form of knowledge to endure and relieve this pain we now live with. I had to learn about things that I never wanted to know or ever wanted to face. INFIDELITY! And we also learned that knowledge alone wouldn't get us through this pain of betrayal trauma.
Knowledge is needful, but it takes more than just knowledge to move out of infidelity pain. Try as we might, we can't think our way out of betrayal pain. We must 'live' ourselves through the stages of grief that infidelity causes. We needed to learn practical applications to create new ways of being. It takes knowledge and action to grieve the losses infidelity causes. Together, knowledge and action built our healed life and our new way of showing up in this world after infidelity.
We can't think our way out of infidelity pain!
Grieving our losses after infidelity is a process that first starts with understanding our injuries. We can never heal if we sweep what happened under the rug. A valuable part of grieving infidelity is turning to self-care by using words to describe our emotional experience, communicate our pain, and understand what happened.
We feel validated when we share our grief and can focus on our healing. But it takes exposing ourselves and being vulnerable to grieve this way. That vulnerability extended beyond the two of us; we also needed others who understood our pain to talk with.
Initially, discussing our grief with others felt daunting, but it was also incredibly validating. When we shared our experiences with others who understood, we were able to see that we were not alone in our pain. This sense of validation was a powerful motivator for us to continue to work through our grief and eventually finding a sense of closure over why my husband cheated.
Vulnerability is a necessary component of the healing process. While it can be difficult to share our pain with others, doing so allows us to process and work through the emotions that come with infidelity grief. When we are able to acknowledge and express our feelings, we can begin to move towards a place of healing and growth.
Life is very different after infidelity; we have to learn a whole new way of being
As my husband and I confronted and grieved all the impacts infidelity had on us, we also realized that we needed to plan to survive it. Seeing the cost and having a deeper understanding of what happened opened our eyes to the need for healing ourselves. Embarking on the healing work meant we needed apply the new knowledge we gained. How did we set new boundaries, prioritize self-care, and manage our triggers in ways that wouldn't destroy us and those around us? We needed a whole new way of existing to survive infidelity and it took hard work.
Grieving Infidelity Changes Us
Grieving infidelity is not about patching ourselves up but about creating real change. The infidelity pain and the unwelcome casting out from our previous life and marriage made a need for us to be different from before. It highlighted the need to live our new life differently, too. There is no going back to that old way of being. Change is always challenging, and being forced to change against our will is extremely difficult, especially when we are frightened of what lies ahead. Change becomes another thing we grieve after infidelity. We change as we grieve the many losses infidelity caused.
Grieving Infidelity Losses Takes Knowledge and Effort
Grieving our losses doesn't happen on its own or without effort. Self-care supports us to be deliberate in releasing the pain and stress after being cheated on. It involves making time to process the grief and apply effort in taking actionable steps towards healing. Having support alongside us as we grieved infidelity made that healing journey much better. We can learned from others while we grieved our losses.
"Self-knowledge avails us nothing," if we don't change.
Sadly, change is difficult to achieve, especially when we are traumatized and grieving. We know we need to change intellectually, yet we can still behave the same. When we cling to the past or use previous ways of being, we stop ourselves from accepting our new life; one of being a betrayed wife. We need to change and adapt to survive this new life; a life we never asked for.
The only way to change is to do things differently. That is a substantial human struggle because real change is hard, and we are creatures of habit. Real change requires energy, commitment, and action - and supportive people to help us move forward and do it. We can get support from counselors, coaches, mentors, good friends, support groups, etc. They can support and help us with information, guidance, and encouragement to face our losses and create real change.
Our future life is worth the effort it takes to change, and we deserve to move on from the losses of infidelity to live fulfilling lives despite it being different from what we expected. Surviving the trauma and loss of innocence after betrayal means change,
We control our grief options, and we must live with our choices
In short, grieving and recovering from the losses infidelity caused is our choice to change. Self-care support us to make the best choices for ourselves. We control our options, and we must live with our choices. Our healing depends on getting the knowledge to heal and then applying it. We must be prepared to change if we want to move forward into a meaningful and fulfilling life. Our partners do not control our healing; however, their actions dictate whether 'the relationship' heals, and that's a whole other blog post…
Learn more about investing in your healing and finding support by booking a free call with me. Please read below about how I became the Betrayed Wife, or check out the Self Care After Infidelity course. These are all ways that will support you as you grieve the losses of infidelity and change after being cheated on.
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