I am not sure about you, but I didn't just cry after my husband's betrayal came out; I ugly cried. My tears came with a grimace of intense pain and utter heartbreak. When I first discovered he was cheating, I was numb and shocked, then a tidal wave of overwhelming tears flooded in. The pain of his cheating overcame every fiber of my being. I wondered when I would stop crying or if I ever could stop the tears and pain after being cheated on.
'Ugly' Crying was that moment of pure agony that overcame and gripped me when I discovered I had been cheated on.
I think of the picture called "The Scream" when I imagine how my face must have looked as I ugly cried, only worse. It was a long, silent exhale of anguish that contorted every fiber of my being. That state of suffering is what we betrayed wives experience when we discover our husbands are cheating. The unending tears and the intensity of our whole body crying. Infidelity is agony and can feel like our tears and pain will never stop. At first, it is natural after we have been cheated on to ask ourselves, "When will I stop crying?"
Why we cry after being cheated on
While it feels like our tears will never end, research says that a feeling, which is a chemical reaction within us, lasts about 90 seconds. As it washes through us, we experience it both mentally and physically. That minute and a half of contorted overwhelm, which I call 'Ugly Crying,' is a heartrending emotion. It builds, crescendos, and fades like a wave crashing on the beach. Eventually, the wave gets smaller and smaller and then stops. Our tears end; we are exhausted and done for now!
But at the height of an ugly cry, we can feel like we will drown in it. Knowing that it has a 90-second time limit each time helped me calm myself. During the early healing stages of my grief, I also suffered from panic attacks whenever grief overtook me. Those panic attacks were me thinking that I might never stop crying or never stop being in pain or even be able to breathe again. I didn't want to be in pain, and I didn't want to be crying. But the grief and anguish overwhelmed my ability to fight the tears.
Instead, I have learned to take the pain and tears in waves, and I also learned to enjoy moments when I have peace after the wave of tears and sobs have passed. That ugly cry was a profoundly painful internal reaction and was an inescapable part of my grieving process.
"Crying occurs when people have reached the limit of what can be said in words and what they are capable of managing on their own."
- Heather Christle
Crying supports our healing after being cheated on
Some theorists believe that our sobs are a way of oxygenating our bodies and triggering our parasympathetic nervous system. Our parasympathetic nervous system helps us relax and return to a calm place. Also, it has been found that the shedding of tears releases endorphins within us. Endorphins encourage us to feel better and reduce our pain. Perhaps this is why we can sometimes feel better after a good cry or even a sense of relief. Sleep can also come more easily after we have a good cry.
Did you know that the lump we get in our throats when tears threaten is not actually a lump? It's our throat muscles working hard to keep our throats open so we can breathe properly through our distress. Unfortunately, when we try to swallow, our muscles resist, and we sometimes dribble. Understanding that fact helped me accept why I dribbled so much when I cried rather than beat myself up for being so messy or thinking I was disgusting.
I am glad my body was doing its best to keep me alive and breathing, even though I was in so much pain back then. You see, I was so distressed that I sometimes even wished I wasn't alive and breathing. Yet crying, even the ugly crying, was supporting my healing after being cheated on. Perhaps it was my body showing me self-care.
We cry because the abandonment of being cheated on is agony
When I first discovered that I had been cheated on, the pain of that abandonment was overwhelming. And we can feel that the pain will never end or that the tears will never stop. But I promise that grief does have an end, and the tears do stop falling. Grieving and healing after being cheated on takes time. Surrendering to that grief can feel frightening, especially when we don't know when it will end.
Self-care is meeting our own needs, and the wound of being cheated on needs support. Were you aware of the fact that our heartbroken sobs are how we got wired to alert others that we need the support of human contact? However, we can bring compassion towards ourselves amid our pain even if a safe adult is not physically there to comfort us. We can give ourselves the support we need by holding ourselves in our own arms. I used to wrap a towel around my back and pull it tight over my back to simulate being held while I cried. Holding myself comforted my abandonment and gave me just enough support to get through the waves of pain. Remember, we cry because the abandonment we feel after being cheated on is a severe wound that needs support.
Our crying signifies that a breaking point has been reached.
Part of our self-care after being cheated on is to give ourselves the space to grieve. Tears are a normal part of human grief. They signify that we have reached a crisis point. Rather than resist crying, we can surrender to the process and use self-care to learn what we need to feel safe again. Being cheated on brings up many fears and questions about ourselves, our lives, and our relationships. Self-care is essential to paying attention to what our pain and tears show us.
Is it time to pay attention to what your tears are showing you?
Grieving infidelity could be seen as a passageway that we pass through, with many doors to open and rooms to explore. Some rooms we will often visit, while other rooms we may not yet be ready to see. It takes time to open each door and explore each room. There are many losses within each room for us to acknowledge and grieve.
Eventually, as we take the time to grieve our betrayal pain, more and more of the doors can be left open as we walk up and down this hallway. These open doors let the light shine into our passageway. Then we slowly discover it is not such a dark, scary place but a journey of memories, lost hopes, and lost dreams.
Through self-care, our losses are grieved, and we learn to accept what each room holds for us without the need for agonizing tears each time we pass by it. Healing turns the rooms from painful agony into a momentary flush of passing sadness as we move through our hallway. We don't forget the pain, but we don't remain in a constant state of distress over our losses. We learn to accept what is as we use self-care to grieve.
We cannot heal what we do not feel.
Our bodies know how to grieve; they are perfectly able to guide and support us through our pain. Tears and ugly crying are a part of grieving. Using self-care, we learn to trust that all the feelings associated with our pain are normal. Self-care supports us to see and allow our feelings of grief as healthy, positive steps forward in our healing. It may not be pretty, and we may not enjoy an ugly cry. But facing our pain, feeling our pain, and allowing our bodies and minds to process our pain is the path out of the pain. Crying heals the pain of being cheated on!
What we resist persists.
Grieving the loss of our old marriage and the dream of the union we wanted gives us space to accept what is. The truth is that we were betrayed, shattering our dreams and changing our futures forever. And that hurts so badly. Yet the truth is that we will grieve for as long as it takes for us to heal. But resisting our pain, tears, and sobs can rob us of our healing or even drag out our grief for longer. It takes courage to be vulnerable enough to allow an ugly cry. It takes accepting what is...
Self-care is planning and making space for yourself to grieve, cry, ugly cry, and be a mess. You are allowed to be messy when you suffer; grief is messy! And crying, especially ugly crying, is messy! Being messy is to be human. And being messy through crying, especially ugly crying, is a part of grieving being cheated on.
Are you struggling with 'ugly' crying after being cheated on?
Does it feel like the pain and tears will never stop, or you can never accept that you were cheated on? If you want to learn more ways to help you cope with the pain that being cheated on has caused in your life or want to talk with someone who understands the agony of betrayal, please get in touch with me here. I created this site because I care about you and want to support you through this challenging journey.
Using the same techniques that helped support myself and many other betrayed wives through this painful healing journey, I put together an 18 week course on Self Care After Infidelity. Self-care is learning habits that heal and support you through the grief of being cheated on. After betrayal, we need to recover; we want the pain to stop! You deserve to feel good again...and it is possible...even if it feels impossible right now. Find out how...
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