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Things I’m Thankful for After Infidelity

In the holiday spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d list some things I’m thankful for on the other side of infidelity. Please add your own in the comments, and have a wonderful holiday! 

1. No more manufactured chaos. I am thankful every day I don’t live with some harebrained “crisis” my (now ex-husband) cheater created. To wit — his rages about his bad days at work, his rages about wet towels, his rages about the proper way to make stewed tomatoes, ad infinitum. Or his financial excesses, the high drama around his double life scheduling (shit! We have theater tickets?), his easily bruised ego. And finally — no more horrific discoveries (cell phone bills, secret phones, an email from the OW, etc.)

2. Good friends. I am thankful for all the angels in my life. I’ve been very blessed with great friends. In those dark days, a lot of what fueled me forward was their love. How they still saw the “old me” or believed in my best self. To Yoma, the archangel, who frigging bankrolled my divorce until my settlement came, to Caroline who watched my son and my dog when I had to work late and without whom single mothering would have been impossible, to Maureen who showed up after DDay to help back his crap up and stayed with me. There are many others — and I will always feel such love and gratitude to them.

3. Perspective. In a weird way, I’m thankful for the sucker punch to my life that was infidelity. I would have never met my husband if we both hadn’t have been cheated on in our former marriages. I would never have experienced so many blessings, of living in different places, of the friends I made there, and the work I did, if I hadn’t have followed along on that freakish journey. I learned that often from the very worst things in life, come the best things. That doesn’t make the bad things NOT bad — I think of it more as a catalyst. Like Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz — the tornado comes and plops you down in a new technicolor world you have to make sense of . Yeah, there’s witches and flying monkeys, but it’s also a lot more colorful than Kansas, and you make some great new friends.

4. A resilient kid. I’m thankful for my son. For being such a good kid. For loving with an open heart. For accepting that his mother took him on a journey that was fucked up at times. For having to reinvent himself after each move and make new friends. I’m thankful he’s healthy and happy and doing well in school. I’m super blessed — he’s a wonderful kid. I can’t really write cogently about my kid, except to get gooey. So, I’ll spare you.

5. Tenacity. I learned after infidelity that I’m made of some pretty tough stuff. That I can field marshall my way out of some of life’s worst crap. I would prefer that the Universe not test me again for awhile (after infidelity, I’ve also survived a friend’s suicide, a hurricane flood, multiple custody trials, and the Tigers not winning the World Series). But I also have a newfound confidence that I can face most anything.

6. A great relationship. This has been the greatest blessing of all. I am grateful for my husband. For a good marriage to a good person. Sometimes I wish I’d met him when I was 18 and I could just short circuit the intervening years, but I don’t know if I would have the wisdom to appreciate him like I do now. (Oh, to be young and ungrateful! I’d take that, but I don’t think the Universe is going to give me the last 28 years back.) Not that it takes a lot of “wisdom” to appreciate my husband. Anyone can intuit pretty quick that he’s a gem.  I’m sure a lot of you out there can relate to this — or will soon — if you’ve been in a bad relationship, and then you get a GOOD relationship? It’s a revelation. THIS IS HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE? REALLY?!

When I try to describe it, I often think of this poem by Sigfried Sassoon, one of the great World War I poets. He wrote it just after the war ended, so I’ll end with it. It’s called “Everyone Sang” — and Happy Thankgiving!

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on–on–and out of sight.

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away … O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

 

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  • Great post, CL. I’m still going through the divorce process but am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Just a dim light that flickers but it’s there. I too have loads to be grateful for, first of all peace.

    I no longer have to question my own feelings or my sanity when faced with stuff that just doesn’t make sense. My kids are amazing. I have fabulous friends, both old and new, and I’ve weeded out some dry wood in that area. Which is a mixed something but you know what I mean.

    My career is sllllooooowwwwllllyy coming back together after lying dormant for so many years and I have some great opportunities in front of me.

    And I’m living my life my way, with my choices, and doing the things that I want to do.

    I feel free.

  • Your new husband is a very lucky man. You deserve every bit of goodness that’s come into your live–and much more. Espeically for all you do for the people around you.

    High on my list of things to be thankful for? Chump Lady, of course!

  • Happy Thanksgiving, CL. I’m grateful for many of the things you listed, though I still have a ways to go in my life (including that relationship… maybe some day). I’m also grateful for you and for people like you in my life who helped me to understand that although I have my own issues to work on, the A was not my fault, and that it was not only okay that the A was a dealbreaker for me but that I also shouldn’t have to put up with the way that my STBX treated me. My life is far better today than it has been in a long time, and I know that I wouldn’t be here without the support of those I love IRL and those who have helped online.

    • My friends have been amazing! And, out of all this pain, a new friend – a serious kindred spirit on so many levels – Jasmine, if what I get out of all this is you, then I am a lucky lucky girl and it was worth it. Welcome to the circle of compulsive crafters – I’m so thankful you’re here! And thank you CL – this was a wilderness I could not have navigated without you.

  • Still in the thick of it here, just gave STBXH the divorce papers last week. But I am super thankful for my wonderful parents, who have been by my side since D-Day last December, and who have allowed my children and me to move into their home while we put back the pieces.

    Grateful to wonderful IRL friends who remind me there are still essentially GOOD people in the world, not just shiny facades.

    And I am very very grateful to have found ChumpLady. After struggling for so many months on the should I reconcile/should I leave rollercoaster, she gave me the confidence and the *DUH* moments I needed to say it was not okay, and it would never be okay with me. It relieved me of the guilt of having to “try to save the marriage”, when there was really nothing there at all.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    ~Dawn

  • Cheers CL-
    I am grateful and thankful for you. Know that I have been constantly whispering “thank you” to you for that last many weeks.
    ~Paula

  • I just found your website yesterday, and what a gift! Thank you, Chump Lady!

    My friends … saved my life. If there’s anything this ruination taught me, it’s that I know in my bones who my true kindreds are. There’s nothing more precious in this life. They tucked me under their wings, fed me, sheltered me, insisted on my goodness when I felt like toxic waste. I also deepened one friendship to a best-friendship … This was a special gift, as my lifelong best friend died several years ago — that loss was excruciating.

    the most difficult and constant challenge has been the sense of amputation — of having had a vital organ torn out of my body. The one who cheated on me was the only person I ever felt truly wedded to. I simply don’t feel right, being alone now. Does that make sense? — I am a whole person and am doing as well as I can being alone … and there’s this absence, too, that I’d never felt before. Everything in me that knew the depth of a marital bond is crying out for another … even though I am also quite prepared to be alone for the rest of my life (I’m in my 50s).

    Anyone else feel a sense like this?

    • Welcome SOH!

      Per anyone else feel that sense? I’m sure a lot of folks who read here have felt that, absolutely. Losing your spouse is a terrible loss. A death is one kind of loss, infidelity is quite another — because you lose the person AND your whole concept of the person, the ideal of who you thought they were, as well as the life you envisioned the two of you having together in the future.

      It takes quite a while to re-orient yourself, but the rewards are great. Hang in there. And happy thanksgiving!

    • Dear SOH – I’m 57 today – I was not wedded but held a special place in my heart for this man forever. Like twenty years and all of that is gone as well – yes, like a vital organ has been removed – if I stop too long, I can’t breathe. So, mostly I don’t stop – as much as I know now, I still grieve – I am just so sad for what, I guess, I thought things would be.

      I did all the heavy lifting to end things, he apparently had no intention of actually talking to me about it ever, not really and I still can’t believe I feel so bad. I know its gotta get better, and some days, some hours, things are good – but, it feels like its gonna be a marathon – I hurt like I did not know I could hurt. Not at this point in my life anyway.

      Hang in there –

    • I felt that loss as well, I’m 57 , married for 24 years and never in my wildest dreams thought that the “bride of youth” would betray our marriage. Mine ran off with some guy she met online, like many seem to do these days. I’m 15 months out from the bomb drop and still feel that emptiness at times, but it gets less and less as time goes on. I put off any other relationship during the worst of it to avoid a rebound , using someone else to fill that gap.

  • I have much to be grateful for even though, like SoOverHim, it feels like an amputation-well put. There was enough good and sweet that it makes it even harder (Is that possible to even measure?) to move on.

    Like the rest of the posters, I am grateful for friends and my boss for being compassionate, encouraging and on my side.

    I’m grateful for a smart, empathic therapist who is trying to show me how great I am and for helping me to learn to make healthy choices for just me.

    I’m grateful for loving pets who follow me about the house, cuddle with me at night and one even brought me the best gift he could find-a dead rat dropped at my feet after an especially hard bout of open mouth howling and weeping. Thanks, buddy.

    I’m grateful for a cozy, remodeled home (Ex always found some way to put this off and keep me from finding out where his money was going.) and for the kindest contractor who made smart decisions for me when it all became too much.

    I’m grateful for a job that keeps me entirely absorbed for 10+ hours a day and the strength it gives me from helping others.

    And of course, a deep gratitude for the shelter Chumplady provides. Thanks for her clear-eyed wisdom.

  • I am thankful for all you wrote, CL, and also, like all the other posters, I am grateful to you for being a bit of a guru for us. You really give us a lift–a recharge, and a sense, “Yeah, I can do this–pffft!”

    It does feel like an amputation to lose the person you thought was your best friend, the person you developed yourself with. It hurts to have to come to terms with the fact that I was very alone for years, even before he began cheating.

    But if you’re new to this, I can reassure you, it does get better, and you do get stronger, and you become grateful for that strength–for a stiffer backbone. I am at once more compassionate, and also I take less crap–I’m so proud of myself for that.

    Big hugs, CL, and I agree–your husband is a lucky man.

  • Yes, Stephanie! “I am at once more compassionate, and also I take less crap–” –> I just said to a friend the other day, “I’ve become a lot more compassionate, and a lot less tolerant.” Yes to the backbone, strength, gratitude.

    There’s hard, hard work to be done after an amputation … There are phantom limbs, and phantom loves …

    • I agree with CL, they were never the loves we thought they were, which is one reason we are so hard on ourselves. I’m sure you know the inner drill; how could I have been so stupid… how could I have let him/her so close without knowing who s/he actually was… (and the big one) how can I ever trust my judgment of anything, much less people, again. I’m SO STUPID… blah blah blah. For me, if I were to admit that these “phantom loves” were always phantom, then I have to answer all those pesky questions. My ex was also verbally and physically abusive (I would add emotionally abusive, but all cheaters are emotional abusers so it seems redundant 🙂 My internal questions are pretty tough. When things get cloudy for me, when I feel those phantom pains and ask those terrible questions of myself I read this:

      http://drkentgriffiths.com/PDFs/Character_Disorder.pdf

      I then get on my knees and thank myself for being strong enough to get out alive. Do I wish I had left sooner? Of course. But the point is, I left. So did you.

  • I am grateful to you, CL, for being a strong voice helping to lead me out of this morass and, to my fellow chumpsters, for helping me to feel less lonely.

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