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The Infidelity Car Crash; The Carnage of Infidelity

Photo by Dominika Kwiatkowska on Pexels.com

*Content warning; this is a creative writing piece describing how the first 18 months of recovery felt for me, I’ve used some strong imagery that may be an emotional trigger for others who are on a similar journey. Please proceed with caution.


You’re cruising down a long straight stretch of country road in this car called marriage. 

A familiar road, one you’ve both driven down a thousand times.

Sitting comfortably on 110kmph it’s a smooth open road, there’s no speed limit. 

Singing along to your favourite Spotify playlist, he’s humming in tune with the music.

Something catches his eye he becomes distracted, glancing sideward for a little too long his eyes fix on an object in his peripheral.

By the time he diverts his attention back to where it should be it’s too late. 

Over correcting, the marriage car slams into a tree.

There’s screeching of brakes, your song turns into a scream then a deathly thud, carnage is strewn across the road and into a paddock.

The marriage car is a mangled mess, your bodies lay motionless, barely a pulse. 

Plumes of smoke and dust billow from the wreckage.

Blood is pouring out of gaping wounds, you’ve been pierced by debris.

He’s not bleeding but he’s hurt, badly hurt.

Emergency services arrive and once you’ve been freed from the wreckage you’re both rushed into the ED.

Your condition is critical lapsing in and out of consciousness, suffering substantial injury you’re placed on life support in ICU. 

He’s ok but in a lot of pain, suffering concussion and a broken wrist. His body badly bruised, he’ll recover.

He watches you fighting for life, tubes helping you breathe, buzzers, monitors, Drs & Nurses fussing. 

You’ve lost a lot of blood they’ve stitched the wounds and you’ve stopped hemorrhaging for now.

No one is sure if you’ll make it through.

Sitting beside you, he’s wracked with guilt. 

He did this, if only he kept his eyes on the road, if only he didn’t get distracted, if only….

You wouldn’t be in this mess you wouldn’t be so broken.

Three to six months you’re in this state. 

It’s touch and go. 

He’s still there watching you, wishing he could fix it, wishing he could change the past, wishing he didn’t make such a bad decision, wishing he didn’t look sideways.

He can’t fix or change anything, he can just sit and be there hoping and praying you’ll recover. 

Surprisingly the marriage car is not a complete write off as first thought, it’s gone in for assessment, maybe it can be repaired?

After 6 months of critical care you’re moved to a ward. In the crash you received two broken legs, fractured ribs, punctured lung and broken ankles, crushed pelvis and both eye sockets were broken, your jaw was dislocated.

You were a mess, the recovery road is long, but you’ll make it, we think.

He’s been doing Physio to help himself heal and he’s been there with you.

He still beats himself up that he caused this, but he’s determined to help you heal too.

While you’re in the ward you’re beginning to sit up, you still need help showering and the Physio’s are helping you get out of bed each day. Plasters are off, you’re out of traction. You’ve kind of been wired back together with pins, it feels weird but at least you’re beginning to get sensation back.

For the next twelve months, you undergo intensive physiotherapy and as an outpatient, you’ll continue daily at home.

He picked you up from hospital in the remodelled marriage car.

You were really frightened to get in. Everything flashes before you. 

What if it happens again? 

What if it’s not safe? 

The kids are in the car this time. 

They want you to get in, they want to bring you home. 

Dads been fixing things around the house to make it safe for you too, it looks completely different, way better than before.

He opens the passenger side door for you, you tentatively hop in, he’s in the drivers’ seat.

As he cautiously pulls out of the hospital park, he tells you the panel beaters and mechanics worked hard repairing the mess.

They replaced every damaged component and it’s got a brand-new engine. 

There are even new leather seats. 

It’s a miracle they could make anything of it. 

He thinks the marriage car might even be better than before, you’re not so certain…

He’s still doing Physio, he wishes he could help you with yours, but he can’t, and you can’t help him with his. 

The best thing you can both do is your own work and encourage each other to keep going.

Some days you feel stronger than others.

Some days you get flashbacks of the crash and just want the world to swallow you up.

Some days you just want to die, some days you want to blame him, he did this to you, he caused you to feel so broken. 

You look at him and see the remorse in his face, you see pain and you see love.

You can do this.

After about 18 months you’re walking unaided, slowly and tentatively but look how far you’ve come. 

You run into an old acquaintance they’d heard you’d had a bit of an accident. 

They tell you you’re looking great, you thank them for being kind. 

Although the physical scars are all but healed the internal injuries have still got a way to go. You’re getting there, heading in the right direction, still doing what the Drs have said.

He’s still there too, he’s supported you when you’ve needed, encouraged you.

He’s also invested in assertive driving courses to make certain nothing like this will happen again.

He’s not taking his eyes off the road again.

Blind spot detectors and lane departure warning sensors have been installed.

You’re beginning to think that the marriage car is better than ever and you’re both committed to maintaining it, taking turns in booking services, keeping fuel in the tank and making sure it has regular tune-ups. 

You both want the marriage car to last a lifetime, with care, it will.

Infidelity hurts, really hurts. It’s not just the betrayal or betrayals that pierce you to the core, it’s all of the behaviours which accompany betrayal. The undermining, gaslighting, lies, secrets, sneaking around, deception, losses; an endless list of loss and grief.

There really are no winners in an affair fog, a delusional state of momentary fun, games and selfishness, deceit is a heavy burden to carry.

Beware the lure of greener pastures.

There are mountains to climb and valleys to sit in, no matter which road you take to recovery.

God Bless,

Noni & Dave xxx

Hey Affair Partner

I’m not even sure which one I’m writing to at this stage, there’s been a few, so I’m going to start with the ones who knew that the person they became involved with had a partner and a family.

If I’m being honest you’re the ones I hold least respect for, you see you knew about us but you didn’t care, your selfish desires were at the forefront of your mind and satisfying your immediate wants to fill vacuous spaces within seemed all that mattered—not once giving a moments thought to the destruction and fallout infidelity has on others, (including the cheater believe it or not). How long does the buzz last for I wonder? Surely there must be a rebound effect, is it worth the pain? I can almost imagine how good it must have felt for you though, the intoxication from being the object of affection/attention—enjoying the adrenaline rush of pursuit and conquer—all the while without one skerrick of reality or responsibility, simply relishing in affair fantasyland.

It truly must be amazing, you must have felt so important and special—momentarily.

You most probably felt like you cared about my cheater and this was reciprocal, heck you might have even felt like it was true love. Perhaps you thought that you really understood him whilst I just didn’t. You we’re always “there” for him—did you assume that I wasn’t? And of course the illicit sex you were having was wild and amazing compared to married sex that’s boring and mundane (another assumption)—but I know, you really “got” each-other didn’t you. Sound familiar?

Did you ever stop to wonder what this was all based on?

I L L U S I O N

None of it was real yet you thought you had some magical connection, maybe in some disassociated way you thought you were just having fun. The harsh reality is that all you had was an illusion—built on deceit, neediness, entitlement, avoidance, insecurity and delusion. Smoke and Mirrors honey…plus truckloads of denial!

If you really cared about the unfaithful you might have thought twice about what you were doing, you might have been curious to what was actually going on for them, perhaps even explored a little deeper into motives (yours and theirs)—rather than hoping you could build something amazing on the lust and limerence you both shared. Did you ever stop to think that someone cheating on their partner might actually be feeding you a whole lot of lies? Ahh of course, they wouldn’t lie to you because you had something special, right? Hmmmm, moving on…

And now to the affair partners I actually empathise with, you were a pawn in their game, you actually had no idea of this other persons world. You met someone charming, attractive, engaging, kind, adventurous, spiritual, generous, funny, attentive—and the list could go on. Sadly, unbeknownst to you, you were being groomed, deceived and used to fill the gaping black holes in their hearts. But hey you weren’t to know because the unfaithful are masters at coverup. So while I’m sorry for you—you also fell for the I L L U S I O N they were trying to sell—N.B. my apology doesn’t extend to those who saw and turned a blind eye to the wedding ring on their finger. If you saw the ring, chose to ignore and then continued to consume the carrot dangling in front of you then you can go straight to the first category of affair partner. No, the apology is not for you! You might have even continued the relationship because you guys were “just” friends, well, as soon as anyone adds “just” in any context it is minimising an action to suit a narrative. What is it exactly that you are getting or hoping to get out of this kind of friendship?

No, my apology is reserved for those self respecting individuals who discover that their possible love interest is actually in a relationship and then are secure enough to call out inappropriate behaviour or advances. They are courageous enough to walk away and abruptly end any emotional or romantic entanglement, they are dignified and have a strong sense of self-worth. To the ones who challenged the actions and motives of a potentially unfaithful acquaintance kudos for you, I respect you. Sadly I’ve yet to encounter too many people of this calibre but I’m 100% sure they exist.

Hey affair partners, this might be hard to hear but most of you only served the purpose of filling the void in a persons’ life. That person is someone who never learnt how to be emotionally mature, they didn’t learn how to self regulate, self soothe or engage in healthy conflict. They also never learned how to have healthy boundaries nor ask for what they needed. More than likely they are known people pleasers. They may have looked and acted with confidence and although present in adult bodies there is always an orphaned child trapped within.

Well I’ve got news for you, and it’s awesome news for betrayed spouses, once an unfaithful partner wakes up, grows up and begins the painful and confronting task of healing past wounds, affair partners are no longer needed because an unfaithful in true recovery is no longer looking for an easy fix to soothe their discomfort. They’re prepared to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to heal and they desperately want to distance themselves as far and wide from the chaos and confusion of infidelity as is possible. With time and diligence these people become the most amazing partners, parents and friends anyone could hope for.

For the ones who don’t make this monumental shift, what a shame you don’t get to experience the incredible freedom of true recovery. Also, if you’re an affair partner who lands the prize catch of an unhealed cheater, did you know that statistics show that 75% of these marriages end in divorce?

In closing here’s a public service announcement to any future affair partners for cheaters on the repeat cycle, they’re yours, take them—you are welcome—just be sure to have plenty of diapers, tissues and pacifiers on hand, you’re sure going to need them.

I wish you well,

Noni

You might also like to read Dearest Betrayed & Dear Unfaithful, or our complete memoir Beyond Betrayal, 28 Years, Lies-Deceit-Infidelity.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year ❤️‍🩹

A wounded heart often struggles to live up to expectations of the Christmas season.

If your heart is hurting, grappling to find joy in the midst of trauma, please be kind to yourself. Do what you must do but not more than need to and remember that it’s ok to say “no” to things that you know are overwhelming.

Be blessed and stay safe.

Noni & Dave xxx

Make space for grace, you are stronger than you realize! 🙏

Recovery Resources For Everyone

For anyone new on this journey, my hope is that this post gives you a starting point— steering you in the right direction to finding the support you need and also equipping you with tools for the road ahead.

I’ll begin with a brief outline of our experience…

A metaphor of what the first 18 months of recovery felt like

Our path to recovery and healing began after I called it quits on an abusive marriage. (For 25 years I didn’t even realise that this is what I was in because of the covert nature, cycles and the level of manipulation) 

There had been infidelity in 1994 and some “seemingly” minor offences that were largely swept under the rug with I’m sorry it won’t happen again kind of thing.

We didn’t have any full therapeutic disclosure (I didn’t even know such things existed when all hell broke loose in my world) Truth trickled out as I searched for answers and asked my own set of questions which by all accounts appeared to be consistent with what is recommended. (no poly though)

However, I do believe that I am as close to knowing everything as possible, I’m satisfied with the level of knowledge I have and apart from an affair child appearing I’m not sure anything else would alter the work needed to recover. Having said that, we have discussed going through the exercise of a FTD for our ongoing learning and also to help me in my practice. Dave and I both believe that exploring the materials that we’ve found together has given us a better grasp of what each of us has experienced. It is true that understanding both sides of the coin has aided our recovery. 

When things finally began to come to light in 2019, I had no idea that his compulsive acting out would be considered an addiction, and although it might be on the lower end of the scale, it still fits the category. 

Emotional affairs-tick, pornography-tick, sexual affairs-tick, a forgotten one-night stand-tick, dating site-tick, financial infidelity-tick, grooming etc… And then there’s the multi-faceted layers of Integrity Abuse Disorder.

Our “formal” counselling sessions were minimal, we attended a 2-day intensive with a social worker, Dave had some individual counselling and I saw a trauma therapist for several sessions early days. The Social Worker specialized in affair recovery and has her own lived experience, finding someone who “got it” really made a difference in not having to explain the intensity of this torture. 

Everything on this list is what we’ve discovered via the internet—these are the ones we recommend and have found to be the most beneficial to our healing. You may already be familiar with some of them so I hope there is something of use, most of the sites either have, groups, podcasts, videos, blogs, programs and some have downloadable worksheets. This list is not exhaustive and I will continue to update as I come across resources that I believe are of value in recovery and relationships.

Dave and I practice something each and every day, SELF-CARE & COMPASSION are essential for both parties regardless of the state of the marriage. The greater our window of tolerance is the better we can show up for one another and manage stressors!

Before diving into this endurance marathon, it’s worth both partners having a birds-eye view of the real impact of betrayal so I’ve written the following letters—Dearest Betrayed Dear Unfaithful

Now, read on to access some of the best resources we have in our recovery toolkit, there is so much available on each site, and a lot of it doesn’t cost a cent! 


If you are of faith bible Apps on infidelity, shame, trust, identity, pornography, lust etc—prayer.

I discovered the Affair Recovery community in January 2019 (A significant D-day occurred on Christmas Eve 2018, basically this is when Dave got well and truly busted, there was nowhere left for him to hide! You’ll have to grab our memoir for the full story)

AR literally has thousands of great short video blogs for the unfaithful and betrayed. There are paid courses you can do, Emergency Marital Seminar for couples, Hope for Healing for unfaithful (17 weeks) and Harboring Hope for betrayed (13 weeks). We highly recommend these. The free 7-day online Bootcamp (self-paced) is a wonderful starting place for anyone, either individually or as a couple.

We still sit and watch video blogs regularly out of a desire to learn more (av 10 min) and this opens up for discussion, initially, it was a daily ritual with our morning coffee and prayer. We enjoy listening, learning and sharing with others.

AR was our major go-to; learning and understanding how emotional flooding hijacks our rational brain helped us to explore ways around this. We utilized timeouts and self-regulating techniques to lessen conversation blowouts. This wasn’t always successful though—once the lid is flipped it can be difficult to reign it back in. 

We learnt the art of making a true apology and gentle start-up. 

Gottman method helped tremendously with this.  We laminated the 4 horseman of the apocalypse & their antidotes 😉 and kept it on hand for easy access.

We scheduled a weekly check-in together so that we knew there would be an opportunity to specifically update each other on how we were doing and use this time to focus on us. I guess we did this so that we could continue with our day-to-day comings and goings knowing that we intended some time to debrief, we found this form of “compartmentalization” useful to lessen rumination. 

These were our questions

Has there been any flotsam and jetsam over the past week?

Fears/insecurities/doubts?

Any niggly bits? Has there been anything that has felt like emotional disconnection/separation? 

Have we felt heard and understood? 

Have we honoured each other and spoken each other’s love language?

What do we need to improve on this week? How can we improve this week?  

How we communicated with each other became and continues to be a very strong focal point, we utilise the Imago Dialogue tools. Perspective has been very important in our healing we’ve become really curious about what’s going on for each other and really seek to understand how the other person sees things, not necessarily to agree but just to gain that binocular vision.

Values-based communication and boundaries were instrumental in learning how to show up for ourselves and each other.

Most importantly we were/are both committed to doing the work, when we blew it (and there were plenty of times we did—and still do), we cooled our heels, gave ourselves a time-out and then leaned into each other once again to continue on the path to a healthy and loving relationship. Learning how to make a good repair after the conflict is not easy but it is essential to healing well.

The bottom line in recovering from infidelity is this—no one else can do our healing for us, not our therapist, not our partners, not our friends, families, clergy or gurus. We must each do what we need to do for ourselves but we don’t need to do it alone. Healing happens in community, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support.

And the final question on everyone’s lips? “How long will it take to get over this?” Well, friends, I’m not sure getting over it is the goal, rather than getting over it I believe we can get through it and move forward with incredible purpose. Sure, we’ll never forget what has happened, I know that my own healing has allowed me to recall all that has happened, accepting a past I I can not change and dropping the struggle to do so without it having any kind of emotional hold on me. Freedom is possible.

When we are active in recovery, the intensity of the pain changes, moving beyond the pain takes perhaps 18-24months. Dealing with a sexual addiction could take 3-5 years. Everyone’s journey is unique though as is everyone’s recovery. I pray that the links below will validate your experience and illuminate the way forward no matter what stage you find yourself.

Go gently, blessings

Noni & Dave xxx

For All

Dr Doug Weiss—Game Plan App  & Heart To Heart (a lot of good stuff, some may be N/A depending on individual circumstances)

Matthias J Barker (Christian)

Andrew J Bauman  (Christian)

Christina Bell (Christina has a whole page of editable worksheets) 

Byron Katie (I would say a lean toward New Age, but she has some very good tools)

Your Sobriety Will Make Me Happy a Youtube clip that first drew my attention to Byron’s work. 

Compassion Power Steven Stosny

Daring Ventures Dr Jake Porter

Seeking Integrity Robert Weiss

Dr Omar Minwalla

Helping Couples Heal podcast Dr Minwalla Pt 1

Helping Couples Heal podcast Dr Minwalla Pt 2

Helping Couples Heal podcast Dr Minwalla Pt 3

Instagram—https://www.instagram.com/thesecurerelationship/

Groups and tools for betrayed women 

Bloom For Women

Brave One Community Dr Sheri Keffer

Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Great resource here

Helping Couples Heal

Healing and Hope After Betrayal

Women recovering from being in an abusive relationship

Confusion to Clarity Now Helena Knowlton

Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Wilderness to Wild Sarah McDugal

Patrick Weaver Ministries

Men who have been abusive

The Overwhelmed Brain Paul Collianni

Lundy Bancroft

Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Compassion Power Steven Stosny

Dr Omar Minwalla

Helping Couples Heal podcast Dr Minwalla Pt 1

Helping Couples Heal podcast Dr Minwalla Pt 2

Helping Couples Heal podcast Dr Minwalla Pt 3

Forums: USE WITH DISCRETION, they can be validating and welcoming but there may be some unhealthy elements and negativity which could undermine progress in recovery and healing, I notice a tendency amongst members to overshare and whilst there is often helpful feedback, the opinions of others are not always healthy

Support Groups for betrayed spouses

Beyond Affairs Network

APPS

The Tapping Solution App (Emotional Freedom Techniques)

Neurocycle App Dr Caroline Leaf

Calm App

Headspace App

Mindfulness App

How We Feel App

Trigger Warnings for Movies

Grounding and self-regulation techniques—Somatic therapies

Breathwork

5 Things

Bi-lateral stimulation

Evidence-Based Tapping

EMDR effective trauma therapy

READING

How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair

Intimate Deception

Not Just Friends

Why Does he Do That

Out of The Doghouse

I Hear You

Living and Loving After Betrayal

Our Memoir, co-authored, hear both sides of the story, raw & authentic

Beyond Betrayal 28 Years, Lies-Deceit-Infidelity

YouTube

Sheri Keffer

Recovery Programs & Courses

For the Betrayed

Bloom For Women

Harboring Hope

Brave One Community

Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Post Betrayal Transformation

For Couples

Healing Broken Trust

Affair Recovery EMS

Affair Recovery EMS Online

Trauma & Sexual Betrayal Dr Kevin Skinner

For the Unfaithful/Addiction/Anger/Avoidant

Hope For Healing

Be A Better Man

Compassion Power Steven Stosny

Robert Weiss

Doug Weiss

Dr Jake Porter Daring Adventures

Dr Kevin Skinner

General Support Groups for Men

Complete Men


The Moment of Impact

June Twenty-Sixth marks the 1 year anniversary of Beyond Betrayal, 28 Years; Lies-Deceit-Infidelity book launch. *(At the bottom of this post, there is a link that will give you 50% off eBooks, only available for 24 hours on 26/6/22, please share this post with anyone you think may be interested. Click here for reviews )


In the week leading up to the launch in 2021, I asked one question in a private Facebook group for women who have been impacted by their partners betrayal.

The sole purpose for asking this Q was so that I could share the reality of the moment of impact to our audience who may never have experienced or acknowledged such trauma themselves. What we see in media and movies doesn’t even come close to accurately portraying the enormity of betrayal. I hate that cheating is glamorised and there is sweet jack all which captures the ripple effect and fallout of an unfaithful partner’s self-centred destructive choices.

If you have been unfaithful, please know that it is not my intention to send anyone into a shame spiral here, shame will never be anyone’s friend in recovery. My prayer is that the eyes and ears of your heart may be opened further as you read and hear from other betrayed spouses’ experiences. My prayer is also for increased empathy to aid healing and intimacy.

These are my thoughts—familiarity can often cause us to become immune to hearing the words and voice of those closest to us. Perhaps we are so accustomed to each other’s nature and communication styles that it takes a third party expressing a message differently for the lights to come on, even if it is the same message! All of the answers below are from real people, and real situations, each feeling is valid and true for them—some of them are truly gut-wrenching and will make you weep. You might have friends or family and this is their story, perhaps reading this will help you better understand their pain.

The other thing I want to add is that although all of these messages came from betrayed women, I know that there are just as many men out there who are reeling and hurting from their partner’s betrayal. You are not overlooked or forgotten.

During the time we had at the launch I was unable to share every response but I believe they all deserve to be heard and that’s why this post is dedicated to the brave men and women who are doing this heartbreaking journey.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE! YOU MATTER and YOU ARE ENOUGH!

THE QUESTION—“Is anyone able to give me a 1 sentence description of their betrayal experience immediately following discovery? Summing up in a few words what it felt like for you?”

“Like an Elephant was sitting on my soul. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t breathe, move or talk.”

“The ground opened up beneath me and swallowed me whole—I fell over and grabbed the carpet to hold on—when I could finally stand, I ran and hid in my closet—frozen in terror.”

“My immediate experience was the feeling that the walls were closing in on me. That I was dying and he, the one person I loved and trusted the most, was the one killing me. It felt like my heart was beating so hard and so fast that I was going to die right there in my kitchen with my babies watching.”

“Like the ground beneath me that I thought was solid, shattered like glass, and I just kept free-falling.”

“I knelt in his office and had to brace myself. I couldn’t make sense of anything I was seeing. I was spinning down a dark hole of pain and disbelief. I walked around outside of my body for days, and everywhere I looked, I only saw liars.”

“Complete heartbreak and devastation. I cried constantly for days on days. He cried too seeing what he had done to me. After a few days, I knew I had to leave and find a safe place for myself. He was the love of my life and I had given him my everything. Following was months on months of crying and sleepless nights. Just sheer torment. Especially as more and more discoveries unfolded. I told him I wished he would have just killed me instead. It was the very depths of despair and pain I had ever experienced in my life. And so incredibly exhausting. My life and my dreams were completely crushed.”

“Felt like someone took a baseball bat to my knees, I couldn’t stand, they were shaking so bad, my heart was racing up through my throat. And each D-day after felt like reliving the same nightmare but a bit worse, the shock was horrendous and the frustration beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I couldn’t sleep, could hardly eat, couldn’t see people, couldn’t get up off the floor some days. It was torture.”

“First journal entry after D-day: I was almost killed by my last husband, but this feels so much worse. My heart is under a boulder and no one will lift it off of me. My entire truth was shattered at that moment and the worst part about it is that it’s my fault. My husband: “it felt like I just ruined my entire life. I finally saw who I had become. A f****** monster.” My ex-husband basically beat the crap out of me weekly for about a year and a half. And cheated 7 times that I know of. Just to give you all some background.”

“Heartbroken and puking while trying to keep the kids alive…”

“I remember telling my sister I felt like I was drowning and that every time I managed to come up for air I was pushed under again.”

“PTSD. D-Day was 27 July 18 at 4:04 pm. I literally got back from my deployment. Same day and he confessed he was having an affair and thought he could have both of us and I would be fine with it. I punched him in the face though he wasn’t surprised by that reaction, he was upset that I told him it was either me or her. Like I was not being fair to him. To this day, he has never felt guilty about the affair, only guilty that he hurt me.”

“When he left out of the blue it was like having my Heart pulled out of my chest and pounding before me.”

“I used to say, it feels like my soul is on fire and burning up and it keeps burning and won’t stop. Like I was being tortured with the worst torture anyone could get and it never stops, it keeps going on and on and on…this picture pretty much paints the picture of what it feels like…”

“I felt the deepest darkest despair and pain arghhhhh my head and heart were frantic trying to make sense of what had been going on. He was the love of my life my saviour what was wrong with the human race in this world…. my world has been a darker place ever since. I look back at that time and I’m grateful every day that I’m surviving.”

“My hands shook as I held his cell phone, seeing his “I love you girl” & their conversation during our family time the previous day. Panic set in as I sent screenshots to my cell phone, terrified he would wake up & catch me as if I were the one doing something wrong. Careful not to step on my broken heart that lay shattered on the floor, I tiptoed back & put his cellphone back on his nightstand & whispered in his ear “I know about….” He sits up, pleading “I never stopped loving you”. I slap him several times & yell back “That’s not LOVE”. Then I drive to work, where I stand paralyzed in the parking lot & call my best friend.”

“I felt like God had forgotten me.”

“I shook, I was enraged but couldn’t speak. My heart beat through my chest wall and I was quiet. I kept telling myself over and over not to make any life-changing decisions in this moment of disbelief. All I wanted to do was rip his head off his shoulders. I felt relief because I knew something was missing in our relationship but didn’t know what. We were the perfect couple to everyone we knew, but it didn’t feel that way to me, so there was relief. I then walked to the beach (it was January in Canada) and I screamed as loud and as long as I could and then did it again. I came home and threw photos, frames, glass and all down the basement stairs where my husband had been sent. It took me days to cry the anger was so in my face, I remember asking God what else he was going to throw at me as I had been through so much. I typed out a separation agreement and made him sign it at 4 in the morning, after cleaning up the glass so he could get up the stairs. I woke up a few hours later went to town and bought all new bedding, a new bed, and started redesigning my bedroom – and yes, he paid for it.”

“I started losing my peripheral vision and it felt like my world started spinning on its axis a little bit differently. I went into shock for about a week where it felt like I couldn’t eat or sleep. I also had to be responsible for my 2 and 4-year-old daughters. They knew I was in pain. I couldn’t hide it and I knew they needed to know that I was hurting and that also no matter what I would never leave them or betray them. They didn’t know why of course. And now I am a different person and the person I was before is dead. There are some silver linings in that and also some tragedies.”

“I felt like I had been set on fire.”

“My vision narrowed as if I were in a tunnel, my heart stopped yet beat so hard at the same time, my stomach dropped yet I brought up lunch, my thoughts were racing yet I couldn’t think of anything to say.”

“I literally fell on my knees while screaming like someone very close died. I was shaking and didn’t feel my hands. I felt a deep pain in my heart.”

“Broken the first time…Shattered the next time I caught him texting her. That’s all it took.”

“I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck and as soon as I stood up, it would hit again and again.”

“I was gutted shocked and so hurt, nauseous and my chest ached so bad but then In another sense not really surprised because of past traumas and some red flags that I had ignored.”

“The panic of a free fall hits and then the weight of the devastation crushes you, heart and soul.”

“Absolutely reality fragmenting, painful, devastating. Worse than death.” 

“I can honestly say it was the worst thing that I had ever experienced. I’ve lost loved ones but they get Ill and die but not on purpose. It’s the fact it happened and didn’t need to—with death, we lose a future with someone. With betrayal, we lose our history too. I’ve had 2 miscarriages and the pain from that was horrible but this infidelity was much worse as it was inflicted on me x”

“…agree totally. I’ve lost 4 babies which was devastating and I thought would be the worst thing I’d ever go through. However, they didn’t choose to hurt me and that was the difference. Knowing that someone did something on purpose that they knew would devastate you. I would also say it was like losing the ground from beneath your feet. If the person you trusted most in the world can betray you then nothing is safe.”

“Yes, when I grabbed his phone to take to him and there was an alert. I remember looking at it and swirling in slow motion then my whole body went numb. It was cloudy out and I can still remember the colour of the cars near me, I couldn’t breathe felt like the world was spinning and I am pretty sure I floated to the baseball game and stood there for 3 games with my mind racing. It all sucks for us!!!!!”

“I felt like an atom bomb had gone off in my life! Everything I thought I knew and had was destroyed in a moment.”

“Stunned shock and disbelief. My whole world crashing down around my ears; palpitations; anger; sadness and a strong desire to run away and hide.”

“My whole body started to violently shake, I heard someone far away screaming the word NO………it was me!”

“The ground opened up and I literally felt like I was falling into a dark, swirling abyss…I could not comprehend what I was hearing from his mouth as he told me about his cheating. It was the most devastating and surreal experience of my life. 27 years of a solid, loving marriage—sliced apart and severed along with my heart. The next few days were a blur … We are just 3 years past D-day this past weekend … and the day still hit me—harder than I thought it would. We are doing so much better… but the healing journey continues…”

“I felt like I was nothing I was hurt, angry, my heart hurt, actually was painful. Couldn’t sleep, or eat, I worked all the time to try to keep my mind busy. It still hurts. Has been 25 years.”

“To me…. it was like losing everything and everyone you knew and loved all at once…. nothing seemed real or right…. like being picked up and taken away from everything that kept you grounded all at once…. nothing left normal or right……. couldn’t focus on work, that use to ground me, sleep nope, kids nope, eating nope…… nothing felt right or safe.”

“It completely broke my soul. I’ll never be the same person I was ever again. I’ll never love as pure and hard again. I’ll always doubt myself, feelings and reality. Love as I thought I knew it, never existed.”

“I knew I didn’t really want to die, but I didn’t want to live, either. It was complete cognitive dissonance.”

“My Body started going cold. Top of my head on down to my feet. Traumatic Shock…”

Cleaning Out The Wound

Dave’s a surfer, he could spend hours in a lineup waiting for his chance to pull into the perfect barrel. Over the years he’s had his fair share of reef kisses. Most parts of his body have either been grazed, scratched, pierced or cut by some form of marine matter. Sea Urchins and broken bits of coral can really cause havoc if they splinter off and become embedded under the skin.

The tiniest shard can go undetected for a while, but over time—even after the skin has sealed over and the surface looks fine—it grows increasingly painful, then as the wound festers and infection sets in, it becomes obvious that there is something going on beneath. Something is causing the angry red inflammatory response and needs to come out, we might not be able to see it initially, but we can sure feel it . The only way to fix this problem is for the fragment to come to the surface and be removed completely.

This is no different when it comes to the lies of betrayal and infidelity.

When someone who has been unfaithful is caught out—it is common for them to minimise, understate, deflect or just simply keep on lying. They might give bare details in an explanation and attempt to appease the partner who has made the discovery but it is highly uncommon for them to tell the whole truth upfront. The full truth is quite likely to be a tad more shocking, right? They’ll probably be thinking along the lines of, “If I can just get through this one, the rest will remain hidden, I won’t do it again and my significant other will never know.”

Not likely—the pieces that have been omitted will remain as hidden as that minute piece of sea urchin in Dave’s foot! It’ll fester away and there’ll always be some other reason for the distance, the tiredness, the apathy, the grumpiness, the arguments, the disconnection, or the lack of interest a betrayed partner feels. Of course this ambivalence may not be evident at first—in fact, it could be quite the opposite—but eventually there’ll be a simmering beneath the surface, a discomfort, the “walking on eggshells” feeling. We know how this unfolds, drip, drip drip The unfaithful will be gaslighting you to protect their secrets, this takes loads of energy and leaves little for an authentic loving relationship, not to mention a lack of safety.

Permanent withholding will always be a permanent deficiency in the relationship, an obstacle to the love that could have been

JOHN POWELL

Here are a few reasons the unfaithful might with-hold information.

SHAME—I am a bad person, as opposed to I have done something bad. FEAR—My partner will leave me if they know the truth, no one will love me if they know who I really am (loops back to shame). PAIN—I’ve hurt someone I love dearly and I don’t want to cause them any more pain. (BTW someone who discloses their infidelity before getting caught, may be a little more forthcoming with details and truth, yet they still may struggle with offering a full disclosure)

These are all valid reasons but trust me, they serve no purpose for a couple aiming towards reconciliation. The facts must be faced and the truth needs to be told. PERIOD!

Whether you go through this process by yourselves or engage a therapist to assist with a full therapeutic disclosure is entirely up to you but my recommendation is that you receive professional guidance in understanding what’s involved and assistance in timelines and questioning.

The betrayed needs enough detail to get a clear picture of what’s happened, how they were deceived without gory details burning more traumatic imagery than is already there and certainly no more than is absolutely necessary—remember, THERE IS NO BLEACH FOR THE BRAIN!

Often the decision is dependant on funds, history, extent of betrayal and importantly the willingness of the unfaithful partner. Polygraphs are necessary in some cases.

None of it is easy.

Dear Unfaithful, if you’re still in dispute over the necessity for your Dearest Betrayed to know the absolute truth, I have one question for you.

If you had a malignant tumour in your neck and the specialist told you that your best chance of survival was to have it completely surgically removed—would you want them to leave any behind?

If you are serious about saving your relationship and desire to thrive after infidelity, you got to give it a fighting chance—this begins with safety and truth, not trust.

Trust will come later but for now the foundation needs to be built on a solid bedrock of safety and truth!

To quote Brenè Brown, “Choose courage over comfort”.

I’m rallying for you, I know you can do this!

Noni XXX

The Secret Sexual Basement

What the heck is this you may ask?

The last three years have been quite the learning curve for us as we explore the complexities of infidelity, secrets, lies, duality, and narcissistic abusive behaviours.

It’s a learning curve that I never imagined I’d be on—in saying this—I’m thankful that both Dave and I possess a growth mindset that has worked well for us, especially in recovery.

So now as I prepare to launch Affair Recovery Counselling, I’m diving deep, not only out of personal interest but also from a clinical perspective, and I’ve come across some of the most fascinating discoveries.

One is this metaphor of the Secret Sexual Basement by Dr Omar Minwalla, it helps us to understand intimate betrayal and the trauma associated with it.

I guarantee that I’m going to fail to do justice trying to explain what the SSB is myself, but I’ll give it a shot and if you want you can listen on the Helping Couples Heal (pt 1) podcast. Even if you’re not impacted by infidelity yourself, his model is certainly enlightening for understanding betrayal trauma.

If you’ve read our story you’ll know that we had years and cycles of crazy-making behaviour. Years of me and the kids knowing that something was “off” but not being able to put a finger on it—the Secret Sexual Basement (pt 2) has made perfect sense of our experience, and with remarkable accuracy. It’s like Dr Minwalla has illuminated a brilliant spotlight on another overlooked aspect of infidelity. He has a couple of great acronyms that may become part of the DSM5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) IAD—Integrity Abuse Disorder and DCSR—Deceptive Compartmentalized Sexual-Relational Reality, he gives in-depth descriptions in the podcasts.

Here’s my abridged version of the SSB

There’s a house where the family live, Mum, Dad, kids, pets etc and in the house, normal life happens. There’s work, sport, church, celebrations, social life yadda yadda yadda, it all looks good and regular, just like everyone else in the community. No one from the outside would suspect that there is anything unusual about this family. But let’s say Dad (could be anyone but I’ll just use Dad as an example) decides he is going to build a basement that no one else is going to know about, it’s just for himself, somewhere for him to disappear to and visit when he wants—maybe it’s his own secret mancave? Not even his own family know that he’s going to build it. Anyway, in this secret place, he seeks pornography, emotional affairs, sexual acting out, prostitutes, online sexual/romantic chats etc. He’s messing with/altering the foundations of the home, this in itself becomes destabilising and traumatic. (pt 3).

At no time has he said, “Honey I’m thinking about building a special space for myself and this is what I want to use it for, what are your thoughts?”

The fact that he has done this without consulting the family is the very beginning of abuse. Why? Because once he has begun to plan this secret basement it is the beginning of deception and once he has gone down into the basement which is pretty dark, he will come up different. The family begin to sense that things are a little off, but of course, the basement world is secret and compartmentalized so they are unsure of what it is that they’re feeling. The gaslighting, manipulation, deflecting, withholding, defensiveness, minimisation and lying start—a cycle of psychological, emotional and relational abuse. Basement activities invoke feelings of deep shame and this shame sticks to the person who visits remaining with them when they go back upstairs.

It’s light and dark…

As a therapist and betrayal abuse victim, I believe that all acting out behaviours must be addressed with compassion and understanding.

Most unfaithful partners are willing to own the affairs or acting out yet are reluctant to label their actions as abusive. I get that, however we miss a vital part of recovery by overlooking the serious impact someones secret sexual basement-dwelling has on everyones’ life above floor level.

It’s not so much how often one goes down to the basement, it’s the fact that the basement even exists at all!

Makes good sense to me.

Noni XXX

P.S. Hey friend if you’re reading this and you can relate to any part, please reach out, you’re not crazy, you’re not alone, your feelings are valid and your well-being and safety is important. Denial is not a place you want stay…

The Role of Spirituality in Recovery

I’ve always believed that we humans are spiritual beings encompassed in a temporal body, a little similar to an envelope that carries a letter inside. The envelope has a purpose although it’s the letter that contains all of the really important stuff.

I’m unashamedly Christian and also unashamedly imperfect. My faith is what has sustained me throughout many of life’s storms, it hasn’t always been this way though. I literally had years where I thought I was—and very much wanted to be— completely in control. In control of circumstances, finances, relationships, decision making and the future. I was what I now know to be “psychologically inflexible.” I think that the type of control I grappled with was fear-based and most definitely reactive to external stimuli. I had no anchor to keep me grounded when the seas got rough and let’s face it, betrayal and infidelity is one mighty s’*^ storm to encounter!

Thankfully I discovered my spiritual anchor before I met Dave and that was when I began to really dig deep into my value and worth. Following what was almost our final D-Day in 2019 this revelation was my rock and Lauren Daigles’ You Say was my anthem. I would play on repeat…“Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low, remind me once again just who I am because I need to know.” More than ever I needed reminding—my identity and purpose was undergirded and solidified by who God says I am, and not by the actions of my husband or the opinions of others. The more I personally and intentionally sought solace in Jesus, the less I looked for any approval from man.

I’d really love to say that knowing Him, knowing my purpose, placing my future in His hands and trusting Him has made life easier and less painful, nope this isn’t the case. What I can say is that it allows me to make space for all that is unpleasant and uncomfortable, I can have peace, hope and joy despite what goes on around me. I can experience a range of emotions fully, I can feel to heal and drop the stuggle of needing to be attached to a certain outcome for me to be OK because I know, that “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 KJV

Whatever realm of faith you may or may not subscribe to, go deeper than just claiming a title of belonging to an organisation. Let your heart resound with a depth of spiritual connection that equips you to have peace despite every adversity, a love that is rich and fullfilling, and contentment whether you have a little or alot. Find that quiet place that is yours alone, your hiding place where you can draw strength and gather perserverance to run the race that is set out before you and gain a deep sense of belonging to a much bigger picture. Our circumstances do not define us.

Performing rituals and attending church doesn’t make me any more a Christian than working in Macdonalds would make me a hamburger. The outworkings and buildings are a part of a life of faith but they are the envelope, not the letter. Dig deep friends, seek and you shall find—you can do hard things!

An anchor won’t halt the storm but it will keep you stable until the storm passes.

Doesn’t it make sense to know how to best use an anchor before getting caught in the middle of a storm? As sure as the sun sets and rises—while ever there is breath— there will be more storms ahead.

And this too shall pass

Much Love

Noni XXX

Video by Kelly L from Pexels

Original Preface

Our harshest critic aka most constructive Beta Reader gave the feedback that this preface was “good but too long…” So although some of what you’re about to read is in our final copy, this is the entire unedited version that didn’t make the cut. I hope you can take something of value away from it.


“When I began writing in March 2019, I thought we had reached our D-day, I finally learned the full extent of my husband’s double life. However, like most who walk this harrowing road, another grenade detonated demolishing my heart only weeks in. 

Left wondering yet again, “Who the hell are you?”

A question we wondered when considering writing, do we need to wait until the end of a story before we start to write it or do we tell it from where we are at, right now…
We would like for readers to assume, at the time of writing this book, neither one of us have “arrived” anywhere.

We are both on a journey, in the process of and committed to our recovery and healing. 

Infidelity is an uncommon conversation amongst our friends most of whom are married for 20 plus years.

To our knowledge, they’ve dodged this bullet. 

Although aware of marriages ending after the discovery and fallout of an affair, when my reality imploded, the isolation experienced was staggering.

This wasn’t because I didn’t trust my friends, much of what I believed in came crashing down, preposterous. 

Their marriages were solid, was mine a counterfeit?
Who would possibly understand? 
And how could Dave, the person, claiming to love me, seem so hell-bent on destroying me? 

I wondered “Was there any hope?”

Where does a couple turn for counsel from someone who genuinely knows what this heartache is like?

Professionals without personal experience of infidelity, or at least a couple of decades specialising in affair recovery, may be ill-equipped in guiding a couple to successful reconciliation, they may also unknowingly cause incredible harm.

The extent and depth of pain, the decimation of love and marriage, is horrendous.

No one gets away unscathed.

We hope in our story you’ll find insight and understanding as to how and why we are navigating through such soul-destroying circumstances.

If someone had told the Twenty-Five-year-old me this was my cross to bear, I would have told them they were out of their minds. 

No way would I ever put up with an unfaithful partner. Their sorry butt would be kicked to the kerb. 

Who in their right mind would put up with it? 

If someone really loved me, they would never cheat!

Twenty-nine years later I’m here to tell the story of how wrong I was.

Infidelity is just one of the many injustices convinced I would never tolerate. 

We’ve included sections through the book and at the end which we’ve titled ‘Lessons from Beyond’ they’re an abbreviated list of aha’s or learnings, some which we gleaned from our own experiences and some we’ve taken from the wisdom of others. We hope you may find one or two useful nuggets in these. 

Any relationship can be a mixed bag of pleasure and pain, undoubtedly there is a myriad of reasons for this.

When two people unite in their mid to late twenties, they’ve most likely experienced at least one or more significant romantic attachments to another which will influence future relationships. The hurt and rejection experienced when discarded by a boyfriend at 16 had a disastrous effect on my sense of self-worth, governing my choices for years. 

Many choices were detrimental not only to myself but also to those around me.

We progress through life impacted by the nature or nurture of our family of origin, the environment we develop in, and our circumstances.

Behavioural patterns become entrenched. 

Like it or not, we mosey through life on autopilot not giving a second thought as to why we do things.

Results are both positive and negative. 

Although heavily influenced by the above, naturally defaulting to ingrained learnt responses, none of us is condemned to a life sentence of repeating destructive cycles. 

Our experiences didn’t make us the way we are, how we reacted to those experiences is what developed our character. 

No one else is to blame for us being who or how we are, it just is. Three people can experience the same event yet share completely different perspectives.

Every choice we make carries a consequence and while we are free to make choices, we are never free from the consequences of those choices.

We have the capacity to change and relearn new ways of relating. 

Once we feel the desire to change, take responsibility and are willing to explore options, our lives and futures can look vastly different from our past.

Although this is our story, it is not a story solely about us.
It is about enduring love, perseverance through trials and a love Dave nor I imagined possible when we met in 1990. 

We were merely two people full of imperfection and masked brokenness, bearing scars from failed relationships. 

Our journey of growth through unspeakable and unimaginable pain, to victory over adversity and into a deeper love and connection, has been worth every shattered dream and tear shed. 

We don’t expect everyone will share our views, nor understand many of the decisions we’ve made along the way. We also respectfully acknowledge that not all marriages can or will be saved. Every situation is different, we hope our story will enlighten readers to greater empathy and understanding about infidelity. 

Affairs will affect all of us in one way or another, being informed will help us to help those we love. 

Approaching infidelity empathically rather than judgmentally can radically transform relational outcomes and though I maintain this truth, words flow easier than action.

The bible says the standard we use to judge others is the standard by which we will be judged. I’ve done plenty in my life I’m less than proud of, nothing within me desires to be the yardstick for measuring moral failure.

After giving a draft copy of this to one of our dearest and closest loved ones, I asked, “Any surprises?” This is the response I received;

“My honest opinion. Knowing how strong you are as a person I think it shows real weakness. I don’t think anyone would put up with all you have and nor, should they. Also, on Dave’s side gross — I don’t have anything to say about that. Just disgusting.”

WOW…

Although taken back a little, we understand this response may be shared by others who’ve never found themselves in our shoes.

There is a story in the bible illustrating Jesus’ reaction to the scribes and Pharisees confronting him with a woman caught in adultery. 

According to law, the punishment for this crime the culprit was to be stoned. The crowd wanted Jesus to enforce the law, instead, he showed mercy.

Crouching down He slowly began writing in the sand. Historically, the name of a guilty party was drawn in the sand. 

Jesus may have written her name, he may have written the names of her accusers, he may have drawn a line separating himself and the woman from her accusers. 

Whatever he wrote was powerful enough to spare her from condemnation.

He told them anyone who was without sin could cast the first stone, let the punishment begin.

One by one they walked away. 

Perhaps the sin in our own lives is not public knowledge, perhaps it is still hidden, but I promise you none of us is without it. 

One of my favourite definitions of sin is a snippet of wisdom from Oswald Chambers, he says sin is in fact, “every act of SELF will.” 

Until we find ourselves in a situation, we can never say for certain how we will handle it. 

When we did eventually discover affair specific resources in 2019, although abundantly helpful in the quality of information, the situations and examples we read about appeared neat, orderly and sensibly presented. 

Whether written from a clinical perspective or sometime after the dust had settled, there was nothing that came close to what we were going through at the moment.

We didn’t know what it felt like to be in the throes of trauma like this and none of the books we read adequately described it.

Everything we experienced at the time appeared completely out of control.

In the midst of our trauma, there was nothing remotely neat, orderly or sensible about us.

It was messy, volatile and unlike anything, we were equipped to deal with.

I remember feeling like perhaps we might be too damaged to come back from this, maybe we’d damaged our children to the point of no return, we did so much so wrong, but then again, what is right about abuse and betrayal? 

I entertained thoughts, am I just a little bit crazy or a whole lot crazy? 

I mean how does someone like me get sucked into something like this? How? 
Dave and I learn to roll with the emotion, opinion and feedback from others, we allow our skin not our hearts to grow tougher along the way.

The decisions and choices I made were based on the amount of information I had at any one time and the attempts Dave continually made to change. Even though progress laboured unfortunately clouded by years of lies; Dave always demonstrated a willingness to grow which kept me hanging on. Regardless of the limited transparency and knowledge I had, my decisions sit well with me.

Here’s a little food for thought;

What if perceived “weakness” was in fact strength? 
Could we have an open informed dialogue about what constitutes an affair, how and why they happen? Or do we already know?

Let’s add to this the other behaviours outworking when an unfaithful partner must juggle so many secrets. 

If the primary relationship is problematic, is an affair likely to make it less so?

Is it as simple as wanting to be with someone else? 

Why wouldn’t a person just end one relationship before embarking on another?

What if we were all totally accountable for our own thoughts, words and actions?

What if this accountability was met with extended grace and not a critical spirit? 
Do we realise that we are only responsible for decisions and choices we make throughout our lives and not responsible for the actions of others?

What if the shame surrounding infidelity became a bridge to healing rather than a barrier?

Could we not only accept our imperfect humanity but embrace the condition of brokenness and have greater compassion for one another? 

Is this possible?

We all bring baggage to relationships. When we met we were no different, Dave brought with him his brokenness and I mine, I also came with an active 2-year-old boy plus my newfound commitment, love and relationship with Jesus…… 

And, yes, it has felt like a very very long road to our “happily ever after”. We are works in progress, but we’re not quitters. 

Sometimes the heart simply sees what the mind cannot…

This story cannot be written without being completely authentic regarding the source of our enduring love. If you are of faith you will understand and if not, our desire is that you will take some hope and encouragement from our journey and believe, no matter how bleak your circumstances may appear at any given time, you too will know” 

“all things truly are possible and will work together for good.”

 Matt 19:26, Romans 8:28

Noni x

If you’d like to read our story there is a free Ebook offer below. This offer is valid from 9 am AEDT 19/2/2022 and is only available for the Ebook version. (Kindle & Paperback excluded from offer)

Becoming Safe

The only mistake that will destroy you, is the one you won’t admit to.

I’m the last one to call an affair a mistake, I mean earthquakes and cyclones happen, you accidentally step in dog poo or brush your teeth with shaving cream instead of toothpaste, but no one just happens to cheat on their partner without a whole series of choices to make it happen.

As an unfaithful husband, my efforts to avoid feeling the shame of my behaviours meant that I minimised, hid, rationalised and blamed others.  The effort I poured into not seeing myself was like cement being poured into the foundation of my problem.

The process solidified within and in time I became the master of self-deception and self-loathing.

Thirty plus years of internal conflict has been exhausting and damaging for myself and those closest to me, almost destroying my life and my family.

The emotional growth and revelation since 2019 have directed a ton of focus and energy into seeing myself as I truly am. A man whose hearts’ desire is to be accountable to that authentic person and his choices—someone determined to do the work for himself congruent with his own deep core values.  

Chipping away at all the concrete rot I’d allowed into my soul over many decades is slow and frustrating work—it’s difficult to do alone or by relying on any singular resource, counsellor, program or mentor. Clearing out the debris and rebuilding my life has required a monumentally holistic effort. The art of self-compassion and kindness is not easily accepted by those who think so poorly of themselves let alone the unconditional love, acceptance and unwavering grace Noni continues to bestow upon us.

A part of my recovery journey—which is arguably up there and an unexpected positive from my previous existence—is a weekly call that I am privileged to be on with other guys who have betrayed their partners. Each of these men are genuinely great blokes and we’ve developed friendships out of absolutely dismal circumstances.

The majority of men who are hiding secrets of lust, pornography, affairs or acting out usually have a limited social network where they can be completely understood and heaven forbid even vulnerable. Men—at the best of times—find it hard to open up so it’s kind of refreshing to have this safe space to meet void of judgement.

An interesting observation is that as the group progresses through our individual recovery, we regularly find ourselves in similar situations to each other, maybe not in regard to lapse or relapse but warning signals that a maladaptive coping mechanism might be presenting. All of us have familiar patterns of behaviour whether that be anger, entitlement, expectation, anxiety, you name it, there are many common threads that impact our intimate relationships and we get to share this during our calls with people who get it!

Without exception, each one of us still frustrates ourselves by repeating deeply ingrained reflexes, often “knowing” after the event what we did wrong. Sometimes the frustration spills into one of us saying, “I am just hopeless at this” “I can’t see how this will ever change” or ” I really felt so crap I didn’t feel like calling in this week”.  We’re all aware this could be dangerous territory because entertaining these thoughts has had dire consequences in the past. Thankfully what follows is a combination of supportive feedback and camaraderie.

Empathy “Yeah that’s really difficult and frustrating, I know how you feel.”
Accountability “What was actually going on with you at that time?”  “What is reality and what is perception?” “You are going to share these insights with your partner right?”
Encouragement –  “We can always get better, we can practice and look out for these situations and preceding thoughts.” “You’ve got this!” “It’s not easy but it’s worth it.”

We share healthy coping strategies and resources that we’ve found helpful and that work for us.

In recovery consistency and action count—not intentions.

If you know anyone who needs to hear this please share, get them to reach out, white-knuckling recovery just doesn’t cut it! Noni and I are more than happy to chat with anyone seeking support.

Cheers Dave

Who or What Do We Hang Our Hope On?

I’d love to begin with a Happy New Year blog but there’s a burden stirring within so I’m going with that!

Over the past twelve months, the world of affair recovery has seen three power couples (for the lack of a better term) sorrowfully reach a point of separation.

For those of us who have been encouraged and inspired by their stories, authenticity and commitment to overcome infidelity, these announcements weighed heavily on our hearts and we might wonder if our own relationships will make it.

Up until a couple of years ago, I’d never heard of James and Peggy Vaughan but way back in 1980 they were the first couple to ever openly share their story of overcoming infidelity on the Phil Donahue Show.

Forty-two years ago—could you imagine the mic drop after that segment!

Over the next 30 years, Peggy pioneered a way for couples, individuals and marriages to thrive and prosper despite intimate betrayal. Beyond Affairs Network was birthed following the public reaction they received and Peggy became known as an expert in the area of extramarital affairs.

Thankfully Peggy and James bravely gave voice to an unspoken and largely misunderstood human experience. Shattered marriages from all over finally found hope and a safe space to heal following the incapacitating damage of infidelity.

Brian and Anne Bercht stepped up to continue Peggy and James’ work after Peggy passed away in 2012. James and Peggy remained married for fifty-seven years until she died. Brian and Anne are thriving and continuing to support others on this journey.

For the hundreds of thousands of marriages around the globe impacted by infidelity, there is only a very small percentage of people who are prepared to go public in the hope that their stories might help others who are hurting—so when we hear of three very courageous and influential couples deciding to end their marriage, of course, we are devastated.

Ashlynn and Coby from The Betrayed, the Addicted and the Expert broke their news in May 2021 then Samuel shared that he and Samantha were parting ways not long after. Both of these announcements sent shockwaves through infidelity circles and speculation as to the reasons behind their decisions were rife in online forums.

The latest bombshell to drop has been that Lysa and Art Terkeurst have separated. After reading Lysa’s announcement yesterday, one might assume that Art has again betrayed Lysa in some form, “As many of you know, three years ago, Art and I renewed our marriage vows after a painful separation. It has crushed my heart to know that he has broken these vows.”

Here is where I want to add my two cents worth—and please note—these are just my personal thoughts…

As sad and disheartening as the break up news is, let’s take a moment to remember that there are literally thousands of couples in every country who are continuing to heal their relationships quietly.

To anyone facing these challenges, your recovery, healing and success are not reliant upon anything else apart from God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and the relationship we have with Him, ourselves and others. He is love!

Our own marriages may or may not survive after infidelity but this is never dependent on anyone else’s experience.

We know that there are truckloads of destructive covert behaviours which accompany cheating, most of them driven by a false sense of identity.

Shame, entitlement and lack of self-worth can destroy any relationship. If a couple decides to split after infidelity, it may not necessarily be directly affair related. If Lysa’s husband has cheated again after being shown so much love and compassion, my flesh wants to scream “Art you absolute MORON!” But this is neither kind nor Christlike! No matter what has gone down, he is loved.

All of the people I’ve mentioned above plus the likes of Rick Reynolds, Wayne Baker and others have shared invaluable personal insight through their books, podcasts and socials. I for one am incredibly indebted to them and our marriage is blessed (not perfect) because of the vulnerability they exhibited and the truths they shared, even when exposing their own failings and shortcomings.

Sometimes hearing the truth can be brutal, we may not agree with the sentiment or ideas, we don’t have to but I believe that each one of these Bravehearts deserves gratitude and respect.

Take from their stories anything that resonates with you and is beneficial for you and your circumstances. Don’t judge anyone’s decision to stay or go, we don’t know what it took to make that decision, I’m 100% certain it was not done lightly and please, never base your own progress or outcome on theirs.

We may share similarities but the truth is we are all unique and no one has ever fully walked in your shoes. No one knows you or your situation as you know yourself, there is only one exception—Jesus. So fill your backpack with the tools you need for the marathon—humility, compassion, kindness, love, joy, peace, and patience—strap on your boots and keep walking towards your own victory!

Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
Walk beside me… just be my friend”

― Albert Camus

For what it’s worth this much I know, regardless of any personal biases, every single person who has lived the gut-wrenching tumultuous pain of infidelity and continues on with their own healing and wholeness is a legend. I know that Ashlynn, Samuel, and in due time Lysa, will continue encouraging and inspiring people around the world to live their best lives regardless of the pain and calamity caused by infidelity.

For those of us who dare to go public in the hope of encouraging others with our testimony—please pray for us—there is plenty of opposition out there!

Peace, love, compassion and HNY!

Noni XXX

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