Editors note: Advice from author is not first person as this did not happen to her. There is an old saying that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. There is, of course, much truth to that. Many people would prefer to not find out something that a friend said about them behind their back or how a boss was close to firing them or that their ex cheated on them while they were married.
All of those scenarios lead to feelings such as insecurity, painand even heartbreak. We could have a lengthy debate about whether it is better to know or stay in the dark. But, sometimes, we simply don’t have a choice:
We find out even after the divorce that the ex cheated.
So, what do you do if you find out that your former spouse cheated on you while you were married, and you never knew until now?
The first thing I recommend that you do is to react as if no one is watching. Let yourself have a truly authentic reaction. Do you want to cry? Scream? Punch the wall? Burn your wedding album? Do whatever it is that you need to do and want to do (within reason, of course — don’t let the flames from that album get loose!).
The only thing I suggest about having this initial reaction is that it only involves you. Don’t call your ex. Don’t email. Don’t text. Not right now. For now, just deal with it on your own at first. It’s better to let your true emotions flow freely before doing, saying or typing anything that you may later regret.
Now, that you have allowed yourself to experience that instinctual reaction, let’s look at how you are feeling before we look at how you can handle this news.
Finding out your ex cheated, you may be feeling like all you knew was a lie.
Maybe your divorce was consensual. Perhaps the two of you simply grew apart and made a mature yet difficult decision to live your lives separately. You cried, you mourned the loss and yet, you knew it was the right decision. But, now you are knocked off your feet to learn of this betrayal. Who was your spouse all of those years? Did anything mean what you thought it meant? Were you completely unaware and now are left feeling clueless?
While all of those questions may be swarming around your head, you may feel as if the concept of who you are is falling apart. Everything you thought you were as a spouse, as a partner, you may now be questioning. Plus, everything that you thought and believed your partner was to you may now be in question, as well.
On top of all of the current self-torture you may be putting yourself through, you may be wondering if others knew of your partner’s indiscretions. Were you the only one who didn’t know? You may feel stupid on top of feeling betrayed. All of this emotion is just pouring over you, and there is nothing you can do about it because you weren’t the one who cheated. This happened to you. But, is that really true? Are you powerless?
The truth is you are not powerless. You are not stupid. You are not a victim.
You are simply doing the best you can and living your life in the most authentic way. You certainly are not powerless, and you don’t have to accept feeling angry, betrayed and devastated. As a matter of fact, confronting your ex will likely not even bring you any comfort. The truth is: The comfort that you will find is within you.
Before I expand on that, I want to acknowledge the fact that you may feel a burning need to confront your ex. That’s okay. Maybe it will be cathartic for you to tell your former partner that you know the truth — the truth that confirms for you that you were not right together.
That is a fact that you can hang your hat on with confidence: Your ex cheated. You weren’t valued and sacred. Your connection was not what you thought it was. So, now, luckily, you are free. You are free and able to find a new connection one day — one that will not include lies and betrayals.
Now that you got that off your chest, it is time to focus on you. You have a choice right now: You can either feel like a victim and wallow in your anger and sadness or you can feel empowered, knowing that you are on the path toward honesty, integrity and connection. You are exactly where you should be! You should not be with that ex of yours who did not honor you. You should be free to find the committed connection that you deserve.
If you choose to hang on to the resentment, you are only hurting yourself. Your anger toward your ex will not do anything to further you on your path. All it will do is cause headaches, stomachaches and sleepless nights. Do not choose the anger. Instead, let go. Let go of the past. Let go of what you thought your marriage was. Let go of looking back and wishing you did things differently.
Commit instead to being okay where you are right now. Breathe into the reality that you are an individual who is responsible for your own feelings. No one else can control that and make you feel anger, insecurity, worthlessness, sadness or pain. Let all of that go and move forward with confidence.
Choose to focus on what is good in your life today. Commit to letting go of the anger. Celebrate the reality that is now in front of you: You are free.
Amy Lee Kite is an author, blogger, poet and editor. She received her master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism and has had numerous articles published over the years. Amy has always turned to writing to work through anything that is happening in her life, including her parents’ divorce and her own divorce. She has published three children’s books on tough topics, including “Divorce: What About Me?” Her most recent book, “Goodbye, Gus” is about the loss of a pet. Her books are available on her website and on Amazon. To learn more about Amy, visit her website: www.amyleekite.com; follow her poetry and writing on her Instagram account: @amyleewrites and follow her on Facebook.
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