Stages of Recovery Three, Four and Five
Continuing on from our previous post today we are covering stages of recovery three, four and five of the seven stages. For stage one and two check out the previous post. When you consider how you can move past an affair it’s important to know what’s coming for you. You’re going to go through a roller coaster of emotions and things that you don’t expect. I was completely at sea when I found out about my husbands affair, I had no idea what I needed to do to try and recovery myself and our marriage but I devoured help and I’ve learnt a lot. I’m a mental health nurse, I work with people who have experienced trauma and so have a very good understanding of the stages of recovery. Here we lay out the third, fourth and fifth stages of recovery from betrayal.
Stage Three: What The Fuck Am I Going To Do?
So stage three is all about decision time. My advice is not to make decisions too early on but what decisions you do make should have boundaries attached to them. I wrote about my exit plan last week and this is the time to start thinking about those kinds of things. The scenarios.
Don’t hold yourself to things and don’t make plans that you can’t follow through on. I felt strongly after Dday one that if he contacted her again inappropriately that I would walk, but he did, in fact the affair started again within 24 hours, and I’m still here. Why? Because I fully underestimated limerance and what I was actually willing to walk away from and when.
Don’t tell your partner your boundaries unless you fully feel that you will follow through. I couldn’t follow through and it destroyed my self worth. You’ll need to decide if you’re willing to try, which I don’t think you’d be here if you weren’t.
So what things do you need to think about:
What your boundaries are – does it have to be no contact with the affair partner (recommended), or if that’s not possible (like in our case) then what will contact have to be? What are the financial boundaries right now? Home boundaries? Where will you both sleep? What are your physical boundaries? Are you going to tell the kids or not? How will you do that? What about work? Gym use? Nights out?
What decisions do you need to avoid completely:
Whether you stay or go.
I know that it may seem obvious to everyone on the outside that this is a decision you make early on, but it’s not. You don’t make a decision about that for a long time, most advice is six to twelve months before you can really decide on that, and the unfaithful spouses decisions and actions are going to be the biggest steering part of this. You need to feel safe enough to be in that relationship and that takes time.
In the complete devastation of discovery you can’t make these decisions. You’re simply not able to make them because you’re in pain, confusion, your world is not what you thought it was. You can’t be skipping ahead through the stages of recovery.
Stage Four: I Think We May Be Able To Get Through This
Stages of recovery are not linear, remember this when you’re beating yourself up for not being where you think you should be cause that’s bullshit. You are where you are and you’re surviving just fine. No one gets to judge you.
Recovery Stage four is all about hope.
Hope is a really wonderful thing, when you feel it you know that things are improving. I’ve felt hope repeatedly only to slide backwards later on but it’s all ok, like I said it’s not linear. You’ll go backwards and forwards through the stages of recovery so it’ll be a welcome resting place for you.
Hope is when you can see a future together. A happier future and a happier time ahead of you. It takes a level of faith in your partner which can be difficult to have sometimes so don’t worry too much if you’re not holding that hope all the time. Sometimes your unfaithful partner needs to hold it for you, carry it for a while whilst you work through whatever bump you’re experiencing. It’s ok for them to do that.
I loved this video from affair recovery about when you know it’s time to give up hope. For me, counter intuitive as it seems, it gave me so much hope. I never wanted to give up hope, I came close a few times but it was always there in the background that we could fix it. I always had this strong knowledge that we were and are good together. That we always will be and I wasn’t willing to let that go. Hope is an incredibly strong thing. Think about it, it’s probably got you through all the hardest parts of your life. Hope for better, hope for happiness, hope for change.
Stage Five: OK. This is Life Now.
So this is an interesting one. I rushed to this stage in the first few weeks after dday. Desperate for normality, I wanted to be at the finishing line, everything fixed asap. I ignored every warning sign going that this wasn’t the case. That things weren’t right and when I realised that he was still seeing her three weeks after dday my world fell apart again.
In the Stages of Recovery Stage Five is attempted normality.
Attempted normality is that because it’s pretty far from actual normality.
When an affair comes to light lots of things that we hold true are shattered alongside our trust in our spouse, the world which was once safe becomes unsafe, what we thought was the plan for us is shifted, and our self worth is damaged. So your normal is changed. It will feel like a rest from the constant roller coaster you’ve been experiencing up until now and that is good. Enjoy it. Things might feel normal but that nagging “not normal” will be there in the back of your mind, things will trigger you, you will flood, and you’ll probably have moments when you bounce back to the beginning, but you’ll recover and get back to this point quicker.
You’re an Iceberg during this stage
Small on top, LOTS under the surface. You’ll probably argue over small things. It’ll feel a slog all the time. This will be because you’re attempting normality, suppressing your feelings to try and give some stability to your relationship and that can only last so long. Things still bubble away under the surface regardless of what’s going on on the face of it. Small things will trigger things off again and you’ll be working through points, maybe repeatedly. It’s easy to fall in to obsessive behaviour around the affair, fixating on bits and bobs.
We definitely went through this stage for months. It was painful but necessary to dig out those things, he learnt all the things that triggered a response in me, I learnt how to communicate things better. It was very difficult though.