Nothing can describe the trauma so many men and women go through when they find their partner has cheated on them the first time and when they discover it has happened again the shattering blow can be unbearable – being hit by a truck some describe it.
Why is this?
Often the hope for a happy marriage and relationship goes completely. That with the feeling like a fool and self-bashing gets more intense or the anger and resentment feels explosive.
In my experience working with over 7000 couples where an affair has taken place people can tend to forgive a cheating mistake and the lies if it was the first time. Often a person can put it down to stressful times, a rocky patch or justify it in their head saying it is out of character and that they made a mistake. Recovery is easier when the cheater gives a heartfelt apology, seems genuinely remorseful and takes action to rebuild trust. Second chances are often given and the couple move forward with some support to take their relationship to an even stronger place.
Some are able to move on after the initial painful first three months, when they actively work on releasing resentment and their anger. Those I support to release are able to also let go of the hurt and fear of being cheated on again. Fear and anxiety can be very difficult to put out of someones mind after being cheated on, however retraining the thoughts into more positive can be done.
But when a person finds out their partner has cheated again for the second time. Letting go becomes so much harder. It’s the same when someone has asked their partner for the full truth after finding out about one cheating incident and are promised that’s everything, told no there’s nothing else you don’t know and they find out more.
Finding out cheating and the lying has happened multiple times is unbearable for most people at first.
Many say they feel broken, like their heart, mind and full body has been severed into thousands of little pieces. They can’t sleep properly, think clearly or stomach anything. Small tasks seem so big and sadly others have panic attacks. The mind hangs on every thing they have seen, every word their partner has said, questions everything, the thoughts take over and people often don’t recognise themselves any more.
Some experience a numbness, feel nothing. They find it hard to understand themselves, why don’t I care or feel anything towards them. Our psyche has a numb defense mechanism which gets triggered for some to kick in. Many I help feel like an observer of their own life, they are there but not really there, I feel like a ghost” one lady described it to me.
For some the shattering is so overwhelming in the first few days to weeks that they don’t want to get out of bed, to carry on, to exist. Some think life isn’t worth living. This is natural and normal. It passes by itself although talking to someone can really benefit many people during this dark time. If the darkness stays then it’s important to reach out for help from a specialist.
The next phase after the shock and shattering are strong feelings of hurt, anger, confusion and self-doubt.
It’s the internal questioning that drains the life out of you, you know this but your mind does not stop asking you these questions and you feel exhausted…
How can someone live a double life?
How did he not think of us and our children when doing it?
How could she do this to me?
How long has it REALLY been going on?
Why when we have a great sex life?
Did they ever love me or is the whole relationship a lie?
How could they be so two faced?
How come they can sleep at night and I can’t?
How can they cheat when the thought of me cheating on them makes me feel sick???
How could they do it at that time, when I was going through such a hard time myself?
There are so many questions I could fill this whole podcast with them…
Most people for their own sanity focus on putting a full timeline together, on where they were that day and what was happening. They may go through financial bank and credit card statements, phone records, trawl through social media accounts, whats app messages, emails, pockets, work bags, photos taken and locations their partner has visited to put the pieces of the puzzle together.