I recently found out that my husband of less than two years was cheating on me toward the end of our marriage. It was, on top of all the other reasons why we needed to end things, just another stab in the heart. Even before he cheated, I had decided we weren’t right for each other and had emotionally checked out in many ways, but it doesn’t make the cheating any less painful. It also doesn’t help that he cheated on me with a 20-year-old, 15 years younger than myself and 28 years younger than him. My 35 had never felt so old before in all my life.
But once the cheating part has been discovered, there comes the aftermath. The fact that you have to get up every single day of your life knowing that the person you once loved and who loved you betrayed you in ways you never thought possible as you walked down the aisle that day to say, “I do.” As I sit here, still raw with pain and emotion, here’s what the aftermath of being cheated on looks and feels like.
- Every day is emotionally exhausting. No matter what time I go to bed, I’m still exhausted the next morning. My body aches from clenching my muscles and sweating all night, and I constantly feel hungover because I’ve been crying a lot in my sleep.
- I literally fear the night. You know how there’s nothing in the world better than sleep? After you’ve been cheated on, it’s not the same. While I can turn my brain off a bit during the day while focusing on the work, I can’t turn it off at night. Instead, my brain races with thoughts about my soon-to-be ex and his new girlfriend. It’s torture.
- Eating is a struggle. I love to eat. It’s one of my favorite things in the world, but as is the case for me when I’m depressed, my body couldn’t care less about food. I try to eat just to give myself strength, but can’t keep it down. Also, my thoughts go to them laughing and eating something delicious while I’m on the couch trying to force some dry toast into my body.
- My desire for sex is just gone. I made the mistake of bringing home a guy the other night. I thought I was ready, but it was a bad idea. Instead, I cried halfway through, freaked him out, and asked him to leave. Then I showered – twice – and felt like I was the one who had cheated. As a highly sexual woman, this lack of interest in sex is totally new territory.
- Everything is really confusing. I know at one point I loved my husband to bits. I could have eaten him up with a spoon. But now, being on the other side of that feeling, I feel conflicted and numb, but also angry and sad. I feel like it was all a lie, but that maybe it wasn’t. I can’t figure out what’s up or down.
- There’s a lot of self-blame going on. As much as I know in my heart of hearts that his cheating was what his fragile male ego needed and had nothing to do with me, but I can’t help but blame myself. With that self-blame comes self-hatred and it’s hard to talk myself out of it.
- My thoughts of revenge run deep. I think if my husband had cheated with someone closer in age, I wouldn’t be struggling as much as I am. Instead, he went for someone two years older than his daughter and then, because that wasn’t enough, he let his new girlfriend send me a poem she wrote about me. Like, really?! So I did what any woman would do who’s on the brink of a meltdown: I sent him crap in the mail. I wrote about it and watched it go viral. I can tell you that all other men out there with fragile egos were not too happy, and I had to block my email. I also think that my revenge tactic, although juvenile, was appropriate.
- I feel like I’m burdening my friends. Although I have a therapist whom I love, I’m realizing that going just once a week isn’t enough. I shouldn’t have to burden my friends with all of this in between sessions, but I do. I don’t know what else to do and with it consuming my thoughts, I have no control. I have no idea what’s going on with my friends, because our conversations are so one-sided.
- I know that it’s going to be very hard to trust again. Emotions aside, what really kills me is the damage that’s been done to my ability to trust. How the hell am I supposed to go into a relationship, after this BS, and feel like I trust ever again? How am I supposed date someone without automatically assuming that they’re messing around on me every time we’re apart? I don’t know. In fact, I can’t even think far enough ahead to being in that mindset again.
- “You’ll get through this” isn’t helping. As is the case whenever anything crappy happens in one’s life, I’m getting a lot of “I’m sorry,” and “You’ll get through this,” and while I know these people are right, it doesn’t feel like it will at the moment. It feels like I’m locked in a dark room and there is no light to be had and any glimmer of it isn’t even a possibility. Basically, it sucks. The aftermath of being cheated on sucks, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy… except maybe my ex and his little poetry-writing mistress there.