Some people, a lot of people actually, will never really get what it feels like to be betrayed by the person they love most. And truthfully, I am glad they never will have to feel that gut wrenching pain. It does not feel good, in any way. It is devastating. It changes us forever.
So that being said, why oh why oh why do people who have never lived that kind of agony feel the need to write about it or judge people who have lived through it? I can honestly say that before discovery I never thought much about infidelity. I mean of course it was everywhere, in the media, on television, in movies, distant friends dealt with it, also my parents way way way back when, I was about five years old, but it wasn’t a part of my adult life, until it was. As mentioned before, I never thought it couldn’t happen to me… I just never thought about it. And, I did not say to anyone anywhere ever, “oh, come on, it’s not THAT bad.” Or this, “well, she must not have been a very good wife if he had to go looking elsewhere.” Or this, “oh, come on, she had to have known he was cheating.” Or this, “there is no way a spouse cheating is as traumatic as say, the death of a loved one, or rape.” Or after a betrayed spouse behaved somewhat erratically, I would never have said this, “there is no way a woman would act that way JUST because her husband cheated on her… she must be crazy.”No one ever asked me my opinion, but if they had, I would not have said any of those things because I have seen a lot (namely my mother being cheated on and left for the other woman who has, by the way, been my step mother for 45+ years) and I know what a trap it is to judge others without living their pain.
I also never could have imagined in my worst nightmares that I would spend hours upon hours doing nothing but crying and going over and over in my head all the bad acts my husband participated in with other women. I could not have possibly believed that I would ever be afraid to leave my house for fear of being physically assaulted by another human being. I never could have imagined that I would be tormented by constant daymares (mind movies) or nightmares about a wickedly unstable woman stealing my children or stabbing me in the stomach. I could not have envisioned myself having a panic attack at the basketball arena just because there were so many people heading towards me and I thought one of them could be her, and she might hurt me. I never ever thought I would look at my husband and see a monster. And for sure I could not have ever pictured myself self harming, and at the worst moment of my life, grabbing a shard of broken pottery, slicing my arm wide open and watching, mesmerized as the blood poured out. Sixteen stitches later, sitting in the psych section of a hospital emergency room, I could not have imagined the “before” me even still existed because what was left of me was so broken and distraught and in such agony that the only way out seemed to be an empty world in my mind… a world of nothingness, where no one existed, not even me.
The reason I know some people will never get how I, and thousands of others, feel about the trauma of betrayal is because they write about it. They write their opinions and judgments (many times men writing about betrayed women) of betrayed spouses often times acknowledging they have not lived through this ordeal, and yet, they question the validity of behavior and feelings associated with it. Now, there are many others, much more eloquent and talented than I, some right here on WordPress, who research and write on the subject of how “society” views infidelity and the betrayed wife. This post is not meant to be academic or enlightening. This is just me venting…
I was contemplating reading the book The Girl on the Train. It had been recommended by someone, I can’t remember who, and also not recommended by someone else. I don’t often fall to the whim of reading a book just because it is popular or on bestseller lists, but this one intrigued me and I like a good mystery. One of my favorite things to do is read negative reviews. I do this on Yelp and other restaurant review sites as well. For books I often go to Amazon or Goodreads. I want to know other people’s worst of the worst, it helps me better decide whether I will be able to tolerate a potentially negative situation. I never did read any of those Fifty Shades of Grey books because after reading THE most AMAZING review of the book (in the negative 1-star section on Amazon) by a retired college professor, I decided there was no way the book could be anywhere near as entertaining as that one review was. Plus it did not sound like my cup of tea, even though many women in my age group had recommended it to me, which scares me a little. Anyway, I am pretty good at weeding out the rubbish in the review world. So, these less than stellar reviews of The Girl on the Train basically compared it to Gone Girl and said it didn’t hold up. Well, I disliked, very much, the book Gone Girl. And I have boycotted the author because she flat out lied in interviews saying she had added an alternate ending to the movie, so it wouldn’t end like the book. I despised the ending in the book, but she did not in fact change it for the onscreen version. Honestly, I felt like the author just gave up about 3/4 of the way through the book and decided to rush and leave it all sort of half assed with the most absurd ending she could imagine. Of course this is just my opinion… I know a number of people who liked the book and the ending. Anyway, I wasn’t going to go to the Gone Girl movie, but I decided if she really was going to change up that awful ending, I would give it a go because some of my favorite actors were in it. I did not go see it right away, but it seemed like some vast Internet conspiracy that the ending was kept very hush hush. So, as previously stated, she lied (and the Neil Patrick Harris death scene still haunts me) and I have decided I no longer care what she writes. Um, okay, moving right along…
Back to The Girl on The Train. Many of the negative reviews centered on the weak characters in the book. Weak in both the way they were written, and also in the way they behaved. This intrigued me. I wanted to see how these women behaved (because the character-bashing was all about the women) that so infuriated these reviewers, mostly men. I decided to read it, despite the negative reviews (which were minimal compared to the positive ones). In the end, I found the book to be mediocre. I guess I would give it a 3/5. It was a super easy and quick read. I had purchased the book on my iPad and zoomed through it over a weekend. I kept going back to it mainly because I wanted to see if I was correct regarding who the real villain was. Yep, totally correct. It was all pretty predictable in my mind, and a bit convoluted, but I will say after reading numerous stories about addicts (and knowing some), and betrayed wives (and being one), and the other women (blech), I found the characters in that book to be totally believable. People really do act like the characters in that book. They really do. I love (sarcasm) the holier than thou attitude of some of these commenters acting like they are all so high and mighty and would never behave like the characters in the book and don’t know anyone that ever would behave like the characters in the book. As I like to say, trauma is a bitch I never wanted to meet, and she knocked me on my ass and I behaved in ways I never could have imagined. So yeah, people do act “crazy” after being lied to, gaslighted, and abused, and it is called betrayal-induced trauma.
This past Sunday, Blue Eyes and I watched the final episode (which ran in two hour increments over three consecutive Sundays here in the US) of a British mini-series that aired in the UK back in 2015 called “Doctor Foster” and which was renamed “Doctor Foster: A Woman Scorned” in the US. I had seen a couple commercials for the show and Blue Eyes wanted to watch it with me. We had no idea what we were in for. The show is about a cheating husband and a betrayed wife, mostly about what transpires after the wife confirms her husband is in fact a cheater. Apparently it was written by a man, which I find rather astonishing. He seems to have a pretty firm grasp on what it feels like to be a woman scorned. The episodes included infidelity-induced trauma, a ton of collusion by “friends” and co-workers (mostly female, by the way), a much younger mistress who becomes pregnant, a lot of sleuthing by the betrayed wife, and a revenge plot. The main character happens to be a medical doctor and she does do some very unethical acts in her traumatized state, and in pursuit of the truth and also in trying to figure out her new reality and decide what she needs to do for her future. It was an interesting story, I thought. The actors did a fine job, especially the lead actress. I did want to know how it turned out and we watched all three two-hour episodes. It wasn’t brilliant, but it was watchable and to me, believable. I was a bit shocked that Blue Eyes wanted to watch it and that he stayed present and commented on the characters, the storyline, etc… All in all, I thought it was enlightened, which some of the critics did not. I do think a medical doctor would jeopardize her career in order to find out to what extent she had been betrayed by her husband and her friends and her co-workers. I don’t think it was convoluted at all. The show portrayed basic human character flaws, the deep level of dysfunction many of us have running through our lives, and the sick and weak behavior of those who collude in order for heinous acts of betrayal and infidelity to occur.
In the first paragraph of his review of the television series, Mike Hale of the NY Times calls the program “luridly melodramatic.” Well, Mike, this is television we are dealing with here, remember? I did not, however, find the story particularly sensational, over sexualized, over dramatized, or histrionic, especially considering the programming we are seeing now on television in the US, especially the premium channels. I thought the series was pretty realistic. Particularly in lines like the one spoken by the young pregnant mistress as she is leaving her parents’ house with her married lover, about why do all older women become so bitchy. This she is saying about a woman who (is NOT old, by the way) has been cheated on, and lied to repeatedly. A woman who committed her life to one man, the father of her own child, just to be disrespected, gaslighted, and ignored. Little Miss will get her comeuppance, at least in my version of the rest of the story, ha. There are also the lines spoken by the older alcoholic ex-doctor partner of hers, when he says/implies? that her pain cannot possibly be anything near what he felt when his life partner passed away. Well, some of us know how difficult it is to live now, in the reality that our own life partner has betrayed us in the most horrifying of ways, by stealing from us, stealing our memories, our life plan, and replacing it with something less than what we had hoped or even what we think we can live with. Death from natural causes is a progression of a life led. Being lied to repeatedly and betrayed should not be. Mike from the NY Times also lets us know that, “It’s all very hard to take seriously but not that hard to enjoy–the show and the cast are admirably committed to the craziness they’re perpetrating.” So, one man’s “craziness” is another woman’s trauma, and is not so much crazy, as scary, heart wrenching, and life altering. This mini-series is not as “far-fetched” as Mike might think in his obviously sheltered, non-betrayed world. There is another review done, this time by a British man on Forbes.com in which the reviewer makes fun of the entire program as well as making fun of English decorating, “As Americans, you might not be entirely familiar with the unhinged decor decisions that can happen in the English provinces,” he says. Neil Midgley uses words like “potboiling” “bonkers” “jealousy” “borderline insane” “hellish fury” “borderline lush.” All of them written about the main character, of course, the betrayed wife.
There are other lovely reviews, like the one in The Guardian, written by a woman, with the comment, “It’s a brilliant and gripping portrait of a marriage slowly being poisoned.” Obviously, she gets it. Some people do, many do not.
As I muddle through this post-betrayal life of mine, I seem to be drawn like a moth to flame to stories of infidelity. I compare and contrast the stories with mine and others I know. I read, I watch television and movies with infidelity as a theme. To be honest, it is somewhat difficult to find anything to watch these days that doesn’t cover infidelity in one form or another. I prefer to know about it first, versus being blindsided, but the topic no longer disturbs me. I am particularly fond of the Showtime series, The Affair, which explores the emotional and psychological effects of everyone involved when two married people have an affair. There is cheating, lying, divorce, trauma, cutting, the loss of a child, and a crime, a mystery winding in and out of the storyline, waiting to be solved. I find the show quite intriguing. The husband is played by Dominic West and boy do I love to hate him. When I first started watching, I was about a year out from discovery. The sex scenes between the cheaters were a little rough back then, but now, sex scenes of that type don’t bother me. I often wonder if I am healing, or if I am just becoming numb. Maybe healing is becoming numb.
I know people will continue writing about infidelity, and most likely I will continue reading and watching. I know cheating is insidious and as old as time. I guess I just wish people who did not understand the destruction that this kind of lying, gaslighting, and betraying leaves in its wake, those who do not understand the trauma, the life altering consequences of broken and selfish behavior, would just keep their opinions to themselves. I know it’s never going to happen, but I keep wishing…
15 thoughts on “Some people will never get it”
What people are not really getting is that it is all a lineage of betrayal. In order for that person to betray the one he loved , he at one time had to be betrayed by someone he loved deeply. This is the anchor that was set in.
In my case it was my mother who abandoned me at 1.5 years old and another woman who I portrayed as my mother leaving me when I was three(Just the tip of the iceberg). So the wounds of the perpetrator go deep as well. Not to say this is an excuse.
If tools to counter act this behavior are not taught at an early age then the pattern is carried into life until tools are provided. The most important tool in an adult addict is tough love and the willingness to leave if the addict “will not” change. I do not say “can not” because it is really a matter of choice. The choice to live in truth or in a lie.
Addicted for 61 years…. now reformed…or should I say; Transformed.
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Thank you Robert, for reading and commenting. I know the wounds of the perpetrator go deep. I understand how my husband became an addict and I know his story intimately. Even I could see he was suffering before he could. I just never knew he was an addict medicating his wounds with lust. My husband is 29 months sober and living in a new reality. Those of us who love him dearly are very proud of him. Staying on the recovery path is difficult. I admire your transformation as well. You are correct, he has always had the choice of living in truth or lies. He chose lies for years, now he is learning how to tell the truth and realizing people still love him. They don’t turn away. He is not a bad person. What I am writing about here, however, is how “society” views the spouse and the trauma that ensues once we find out the person we have devoted our lives to, the person we thought would never hurt or betray us, does. Somehow it becomes the victim’s fault. We must have done something wrong, we must not have been a good spouse, and now we are just blowing things out of proportion. Finding out your spouse is a cheater is horrifying enough, but finding out they have been lying and cheating for years, self medicating in the most hurtful of ways, and they are in fact addicts, well, it is just frankly traumatizing.
Congratulations on your transformation. I know for my husband it has been difficult and has taken months and months, but I do believe he is much happier living in truth with the rest of us.
True, people don’t get it and those might be the lucky ones or the ones who have not found out yet…
My aunt, the oldest sister of my mother just passed away at the age of 87. She told me years ago that all she went through, the good, the bad and the ugly (she experienced WWII and hunger), the worst thing was the betrayal of her husband. That was years before I joined the club (Yes I am legit)….I know she is right….I feel about it the exact way.
Love you all who get it!
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It is such a heartbreaking club to belong to. Bless your aunt and the pain she endured. ❤
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If someone told a soldier with PTSD, or a rape victim, or a holocaust survivor, or someone who had been sexually abused, to just “get over it” or “you are being crazy” or any number of the other things people say about a betrayed partner who is slogging through the murky, dirty waters of trauma, the world would go ballistic and call them unfeeling, insensitive or just plain stupid. It is even worse when they are people or family members you are particularly close to…it truly is a secondary betrayal and the abandonment can be so devastating. I SO get this Kat..I think we all do and it is just one more thing we have to deal with when trying to survive this shitstorm. Thanks for this post. I hope some of those insensitive types read it and maybe get a small clue. *big hugs*
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Yes, it is true that the fallout from infidelity is much greater than anyone would want us to believe. Society’s dirty little secret that no one knows what to deal with, so they minimize the victim. As far as people in our own lives, many are ill-equipped to watch loved ones suffer… I have experienced in both therapy and with my parents their desire to run to the aid of the perceived underdog, the abused turned addict with all the baggage and childhood wounds. We, the betrayed, try to be strong and bend to the system, but trauma won’t let us and then we crumble and fall. It is difficult to find people there for us, to help pick us up, tend to our wounds. Sometimes when people are forced to choose, I think they can turn on the one they think is doing the forcing. We have to stay strong. I feel lucky at this point that I know people in my life get me and they get what I am going through, sort of, as much as they can I guess. I did not turn my back on BE and no one else has either. I want him to succeed and I have had to find my own inner strength in order to be strong on this path with him. I have mostly had to fight my battle on my own. The truth is, no matter how many people the addicts have backing them, they are going to have to learn to do that too. We were always better equipped. Big hugs back, Leigh! ❤
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This post almost made me cry because I finally got to the affair part of my Imperfect Harmony book and it stung.. HARD.. because it was the same dribble of what did you contribute to the relationship for an affair to happen.
And it’s so unfortunate.. this is what people read.. or are fooled by..
I was once when Charles touched her ass and I wanted to leave him.. but I worked on myself.. tried to find solutions in our relationship..
Ahh.. bunch of bonker talk..
I found the security in my marriage gone, what I worked hard for, so many days and nights of loneliness to be treated like trash.. when all the lies came out
and I’m the one who’s character was questioned??
Oh yeah to be scorned hurt and it still stings.
It doesn’t go away for me and then I know.. I know I can’t reason with stupidity when I read things like because I know they haven’t felt the pain, the grief, the loss and unfortunate for them to live in their selfish bubble of crap logic.. but who am I to try and go against it?
My heart still hurts and I think it always will.
But anyways.. hell I forgot where I was even going..
Totally get the post and I so read negative reviews first on everything!! ❤ way more than positive!!
Good to know I'm not the only one!
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Yes! Some of the drivel out there would have us believe that somehow this is our doing and therefore we don’t have the right to be traumatized, and they somehow normalize cheating. It is all a distraction from what is really going on and that is broken people are doing broken things and not getting help for themselves and the betrayed end up with trauma and taking on the lion’s share of the healing while the betrayers just continue on as if their mistake is all in the past. I know people are going to keep writing about infidelity, making light of it, all men cheat, blah, blah, blah… I just wish they would stop. I know they won’t. Your comment makes total sense and I feel those same feelings. You indeed are not the only one reading those negative reviews… I do it with hotels too! Hugs back, NH. I hope you are having a lovely Monday! xx
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This is one of the best posts I have read in a long while. As you know, I have totally struggled with the “just get over it” discourse that surrounds this, and the thoughts that betrayed spouses will be okay. There is a good reason why the saying “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” exists. It makes you cray cray! It really does, and I know you and I know me, and we ain’t that crazy in usual circumstances! Have you ever read of how Agatha Christie reacted when she discovered her first husband cheating on her? She went missing for ten days – leaving a car, clothing, etc near a spot that could have looked like she was faking her death, etc. She wasn’t just being over-dramatic, she was in trauma mode. People DO react in extreme ways. It IS the most distressing thing that has ever happened to me, and I have survived a violent rape, grieved deaths, miscarriages, etc, and countless other disappointments in life. I have not had a family member murdered, nor lost a living child, but I can say that this has been the most distressing and life changing thing I have experienced, and I don’t ever see full “recovery” from it. Just finding a way every day to carry on with life for my kids seems to be my modus operandi.
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Hey, Paula, I know. There is no just getting over it. Everything has changed. I have not read about Agatha Christie but it makes total sense. Betrayal is devastating, so why wouldn’t we act in a devastated way. There are so many stories and yet there could be so many more, but the shame gets to women, I think. We have been sold a bill of goods. We have been told it’s not that big of a deal, just move on. “The marriage was dead.” I do think one of my misconceptions about infidelity before was that one of the partners decided the marriage was over and they were just too weak to tell the other person. They went off and found a replacement and then walked out. That is what my father did and I think I assumed it was just weakness on the part of the cheater. Everyone says, if you are done with the marriage, just leave already. BUT, one thing I have learned in this process is many of the cheaters are not done with the marriage at all. They actually don’t want their marriages to end. They are cheating for a whole host of different and broken reasons but not necessarily because they feel their “marriage” is dead. This is so much more complicated than “society” would have us believe. And, it’s not natural for people to cheat… it is broken. You are doing great at carrying on with your life, but I know how devastated you are. I understand it is not going to just get better or go away. ❤
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I always struggle with the right to comment on any of your posts. I have no idea, what you’ve been through. You have the eloquent ability to take us (almost) to your heart/soul/brain- so I feel like I’ve been on this journey with you. I do know that your time and effort and heart wrenching journal entries have led me to truly care about you and your journey with BE. It’s hard (for me) to get mad at him- but sometimes I do :).- and that may be judge mental. Maybe I should check myself on that! Thank you for your contribution to this community. You have helped me be a more cognizant woman, mother and wife.
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Oh my gosh, always feel welcome to comment here, even with a dissenting viewpoint. On this blog I get to have wonderful conversations. I love conversing with people trying to get me and Blue Eyes or trying to understand our story, especially if it helps them in any way. I have received some great advice on here (some from you!) and also felt much less alone through comments on here and also by reading other blogs. These blogs and the friendships that come from them remind me how real this all is and that we are all human. Thank you for caring about us. If you met Blue Eyes in person, you would find it even harder to get mad at him… he is like a puppy. But, he did do some pretty horrific things and he did hurt me. This is my version of events, after all, but I try to be really fair. Go ahead and judge, no need to check yourself. Blue Eyes is a big boy and he knows what he has done is wrong. He is trying very hard though to be a better person and we knew going in it would be a slow process. I believe that taking it slow (as frustrating as it is) is the only way for him to heal without crumbling under the pressure. I am also a pretty tough cookie (mmm cookies ;)). I am surviving and our relationship is thriving. Thanks, A, for being a great cheerleader to me! ❤
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You’re right. It’s never going to happen. The old “just get over it” makes me want to go postal. My own children used that phrase on me, along with “move on.” So easy to say….so hard to do.
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No, we are not going to “just get over it.” They don’t understand and as we have discussed before, I hope they never ever have to feel those feelings. We are moving forward, no thanks to the judgmental people trying to tell us how we should feel and behave. Big hugs, lady! XX
Well said! 🙂
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