After an affair, your life doesn't belong to you anymore. For over a year, I couldn't control my own thoughts.
The turmoil in my head was viciously repetitive but savagely random. With this blog, I began to exorcise the demons holding my head hostage.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hysterical Bonding

Had my face-off with Jaymie.  Felt vindicated.  Sort of.  MY MAN told her she meant nothing to him.  Sort of.  I told her, she was a pathetic loser.  Sort of.  Nothing is concrete or definitive in my new reality.  The only thing that was as clear as my new best friend, Ketel One vodka, was my deep seeded need to reclaim my husband as my own and hence, life as I knew it pre-DDay.

Richard was my life line, my emotional flotation device.  He threw me overboard, yet I still depended on him to be my savior.

Richard spent the first night out of the house with Jaymie, the second and third night in a tiny motel near our home.  On the fourth day, after 6 hours of emergency counseling, he made it back into the house.  Banished to the guest room, he could not have been more elated.  He never wanted to leave our home, but to his credit, he never argued with me about it.  Part of that may have been due to the fact he thought I might kill him in his sleep. (For those of you that take things too literally, please disregard the last remark.  It's called dark humor.)

When I acquiesced and agreed to let him back in our home, I told him it was for our kids.  I didn't want them to worry. I wanted to get back to normal as soon as possible for them.  Mostly true.
Completely true...I missed him so much!  Our king size bed felt like an immense cavern.  I can't remember ever feeling so alone, so lonely, so needing the man I had loved for over half of my life.
Starting to tear up as I type.  That is a very raw memory.

He hadn't been home long.  One night, after hours talking and drinking in the dark, we parted to retire in our separate bedrooms.  Sleep doesn't come easy.  The excuse for my next move was:  maybe I'll sleep better if he's in the bed with me.  I ventured into the guest room and asked him to please come back to our bed.  Didn't have to ask him twice.  Within minutes of feeling his warmth next to me,  I asked if I could lay in "my spot".  That's what we call it when I rest my head on his chest, under his arm.  His arm flew up, I crawled over.  With my ear to his chest, the beating of his heart penetrated my protective layer of self preservation.  I gave in to pure primal need.

I gotta draw the line with sharing all the passionate details of what happened next.  Suffice it to say, it may have been the best sex we have had EVER!  Well, I shouldn't speak for him, but it was the best I ever had.  No holds barred!  Inhibitions be damned!   It was like having sex with a stranger, but better because I knew every inch of him and he sure as hell knew me.

After, I was exhausted, utterly confused and mortified!  We laughed about it.  Humor can be a huge relief during uncomfortable moments, but the relief didn't last long.  My brain went into over-drive.  What did I just do?  Did he do that with her?  When did he learn that new thing? Was she better than me?  I'm losing my mind.  I cried myself to sleep in "my spot."
Woke up the next day and did it again.  I think we hid in the bathroom while the kids got ready for school.

Told Dr. K about the sexual marathon.  It wasn't love-making.  It was way too fast and furious.  When we talked about it, we giggled like hormonal teenagers.  Dr. K didn't have much to say.  She almost seemed as surprised by this behavior as I was.  That didn't make me feel better about it.  I felt dirty and shameful, but that didn't stop me from initiating another round of copulation again the next night.   I couldn't get enough of him.  So much sex!  All kinds of sex!  AND, even better, the hugging, the holding and deeper kisses than we had shared for years.

I'm finding it hard to describe how this addition to the coaster made me feel.  In one breath, I was putty, completely engulfed by my love for this man.  Then my brain would switch gears in a heartbeat and I haven't the skills to write well enough to explain the depth of my sorrow.  Crap.  Sorrow....such an inadequate word!  It was so much more than that.  I wanted to be with him.  I wanted to prove I was the only woman he loved.  (Who I was trying to prove it to is a question for another post!) Even while we were being more intimate than I could imagine, my mind imagined him being with her.

It was a year later that I found the Healing Heart.  Until then,  I thought the whole crazed sex component of this ride meant I was weak.  I was ignoring my true state of mind. Denial was comfortable and so much easier than my reality.  My first day reading the HH message boards, I came upon a post by someone brave enough to ask this question, "Is it normal to have tons of sex after you catch your spouse cheating?"  That woman is my hero!  There were many welcoming, compassionate, understanding responses.  Most of them told of the newest term in my vocabulary, Hysterical Bonding.

All at once, sitting at my computer a year after DDay and only a few days after I started this blog, I learned more about what I was dealing with than I had in hours of therapy.  Hysterical Bonding was normal!  In turn, that meant I was normal!  I was just taking back what was mine!  It was a turf war and I was not gonna lose! Without even realizing it, I was trying to be better than Jaymie.  Make certain Richard felt things with me that she could never make him feel.
There were so many more posts on HH that spoke directly to all of the pain, confusion and anger that I had experienced since DDay.  I read the message boards for hours.

I don't want to jump too far ahead.  There is so much more to tell.  The first year of my journey to healing still had many twists and turns for me to endure.  But, I'm glad this post took me to a place to talk more about hope and healing.  I want to stress that healing is possible.  No matter how demoralized and hopeless you feel, regardless of the darkness, if you don't give up, you may find a light, sometimes where you least expect it, to guide you back out of your emotional abyss.

27 comments:

Cracker Scraps said...

Thanks for this Shawn. You just told my story for me. You write so well. Thank You.

shawn, the wife said...

You're more than welcome. Thanks for the compliment. I try to write like I speak, from the gut with a limited filter!
Thanks for reading. I started this blog for me, then I found the Healing Heart support group and I dared to hope this blog could also help others dealing with infidelity. The Healing Heart helped me begin to heal just by letting me know I wasn't alone. There are so many others that know this pain, many that have survived it and now help the rest of us that are struggling to find our way.

Anonymous said...

I'm not in this situation, so it's not like I can speak with any authority, but my father betrayed my mother when I was young. I won't go into the details here, but I will say that my dad's affair marked the slow, agonizing, 12-year decline of my parents' marriage and made for a pretty horrible family life for my sister and myself. In some ways, we still bear the scars of his selfishness, narcissism, and cruelty. My mother never spoke of it when I was still young, but when I was an adult myself and able to ask some questions, she made a comment once that it was her opinion that as soon as a hurt wife let her cheating husband back into her bed, her husband breathed that "Oh, okay. It'll be fine now. Sure glad I dodged that bullet" sigh of relief. In retrospect, do you think this was case with your husband? Did he feel like he'd cleared the biggest hurdle because you were willing to sleep with him again?

I know these are extremely personal questions (and maybe not even applicable to your circumstances because my father was and still is an complete and utter ass) so if you're not comfortable answering, I do understand. But all of these years later, I'm still trying to understand why my dad did some of the things he did and where his head was at and how he could give himself permission in the first place to do such a horrible thing to my mother and his children. I'm not exaggerating when I say it has literally been years and I still have trust issues with men because of him.

shawn, the wife said...

Anonymous: There is no such thing as too personal a question around here. I put it all out there.
As far as the sex giving Richard a pass...I don't think Richard has exhaled with relief yet! We have great days, good days, marginal days and down right shitty days....but doesn't everyone?
Regarding your Dad...There are many keys needed to unlock the door to healing from betrayal. I would say the main one that applies to you is this....Was your father remorseful? After DDay, did he strive to earn forgiveness? Did he work to help your mother heal? I'd ask him. People make mistakes. Give him a chance to earn your forgiveness, too.
As far as your trust issues, please try not to judge others by your father. I get it. You're jaded. Me, too. I may never trust anyone totally again. But, I refuse to live my life being a suspicious shrew. I'd hate myself! There's a middle road. Trust, but verify. Eyes AND heart open.
Good luck with your dad.
Hope & Hugs,
Shawn

Anonymous said...

Shawn, thank you so much for your reply. I appreciate it very much.

No, he was not remorseful. According to him, the affair wasn't "really" his fault. But nothing was ever his fault. That's the kind of man he was. He asked my mom to go to counseling with him rather than leave him, which she agreed to, but when they went for their first session, he told the counselor they were there because they were "in a rut" and needed some advice on how to spice things up again. He never even mentioned the affair. I asked my mom why she didn't out him to the counselor and she said for two reasons. She wanted to see how sincere he was about healing their marriage (not sincere at all) and because at that point she believed there was still hope for them and calling him out as a liar seemed like a step backwards, not forwards. I think she went to two more sessions with him, both times he still didn't mention the affair, and then she stopped because she knew it wasn't going to get them anywhere if he wasn't going to tell the truth. Then followed 12 years of a miserable marriage and very likely serial cheating, until my mother finally said "Enough" and divorced him.

Those years have left scars, but strangely enough not on my mother. At least not the same way. She has no bitterness or hatred in her heart for him. Her daughters, on the other hand, carry around this unspoken fear that one day the other shoe is going to drop. Even though we've married men who have little in common with our father. I try not to think about him most of them time because it calls up too much ugliness for me. Maybe I'd feel differently if he at least pretended to be sorry instead of acting so entitled and remorseless and took some responsibility rather than blame everyone and their dog for his bad choices.

But thanks for your words of encouragement and for sharing your thoughts with me. I hope your great days will always outnumber your not-so-great ones and things continue to get better for you. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank You!!!

H dropped bomb in May that he had been seeing a 23 yr old prostitute for 4 + years and was now in love with her, and in love with me too. Endless amounts of drama occurred with H cake-eating and going back and forth. After six weeks of hell, we reconciled for seven weeks and the sex was amazing. I had no idea why and had not expected it. It was twice a day for seven weeks! Thanks to the midlifeclubforum.com, I was directed to the term "hysterical bonding." I wasn't sure I even wanted to learn about it, thinking it was a bad thing. Now I understand what was happening and I feel better about it. Bad news is Whore recently contacted him needed to be rescued and he went running back to her in a moment of weakness. Too bad for him, I had set my boundary and followed through with kicking him out in the midst of our "supposed" reconciliation. I did it right at the time I was feeling most powerful, knowing I had already in essence won him back. Within a day of me kicking him out (Love Karma :) whore dumped him too and went back with her ex. Now he is alone, calling and texting me, but won't come back (and I won't let him) until he is certain he will not hurt me again and is in control of himself and his irrational obsession with her. He also decided to start working on his alcohol problem. I am feeling confident because our excellent make-up was recent and I know he is left with a lot of loving feelings toward me. Now I just enjoy my own freedom and wait to see how long it takes for him to ask to come back...Can't wait for another round of "hysterical bonding."

shawn thewife said...

Hi, Anonymous: I have read some of the midlife crisis forum. Lots of very wise people post there! I just found it a bit too over-whelming. Too much info. A little hard to navigate. That's why I like the Healing Heart & After the Betrayal. The links are on my blog homepage. Check them out. WONDERFUL supportive resources.
HB is fantastic and miserable at the same time. Totally befuddling. I craved it. I feared it. Sometimes I loathed myself after it. Now that I know how normal HB is after Dday, I don't hate myself for it anymore, but it still boggles my brain.
I am so glad you have set boundaries! I love that you sent him packing when he scurried back to OW! Without boundaries, your life will remain in turmoil. You deserve better. Be strong.
Check out the forums I mentioned above and come here anytime. We know how hard this is and we wanna help.
Hope & Hugs, Shawn

Anonymous said...

Ugh...I'm so sorry you're going through this. Is all this blog stuff helping you though? I've read several entries...and to me, it just seems that you're stuck on it all. I know you have to face your demons, but you've been at this for 2 years...it's almost like you're obsessed. Can't be good.

shawn thewife said...

Anonymous: I wondered for a while if writing it all down was gonna be therapeutic or salt in the wounds. So many people that have traveled the Road to Happy before me said writing can be a huge release. They knew what they were talking about.

This blog has done more for me than I can say. I write it down, analyze it and let it go. When I write, it feels like turning on a faucet. When I'm done, I shut it off.

Plus, I have met so many wonderful people here. The understanding, compassion and support overwhelm me. Such a blessing.

So, not to worry! It's all good...most of the time.
Hope & Hugs, Shawn

IGaveItMyAll said...

So yesterday was exactly 6 months from DDay. My wife cheated with a co-worker. When I found out she wasn't remorseful. As a matter of fact at the time she had her mind made up that they were going to be together. SO I sent her packing (best decision I EVER made)It took about 3 weeks for him to realize that he couldn't handle the emotional rollercoaster, kids and being the person that destroyed a family. He dumped her. I set my boundaries on what I would accept and expected to even begin working on our marriage again. She met all my requirements and we have been actually healing together through this for the past 4.5 months. It has been tough. She is really remorseful (To the point she cries thinking about how she hurt me. The other day she said she doesn't even know who she was during that time...An Evil Bitch hahaha) I just found out about the term Hysterical Bonding. We had a crazy month of this. It has been great. I loved the sex every night. It was like we were dating again. So my W is about to start her period and hadn't been feeling sexual for the past week. I got really insecure and irritated. For me that was something always lacking in our marriage. Now I have it back and now I want to keep it that way. Is that normal?? I am very honest with her and through the process. We have been looking at both of our needs and are both trying to meet them. So I couldn't shake this feeling I wanted to be intimate with her and having her deny me hurt. I talked to her about how I was feeling. What it means to me to have sex with her especially after what we have been going through. I told her that it boosts my confidence and make me feel loved. She does show me love other ways but for some reason physical touch has always been the way I fell love the most. It is what really helps me feel connected with her. She sent me a text telling me how much she loves me, appreciates me and is attracted to me. Last night she came home and we had amazing sex. So I feel like I am going through cycles of hysterical bonding. Parts of me question. Is this real? Are we really this connected again? How long will this last? Is it going to fade because I don't want it to? Is she going to fuck up again and go back to that coward if things get hard? You know all the unknowns. I am enjoying the now and I guess I should live in that. But I really like how connected we are and hope to never lose that. Do you know what I mean???

shawn thewife said...

I gave it my all: Yes! We all know exactly what you mean!
6 Months is a wicked anti-versary. At 6 months post DDay, many betrayed spouses feel like they should be "over it" or "getting back to normal". Not so much.
Hysterical bonding probably won't last. It shouldn't. It's not real life...hence the term Hysterical. At some point, you want to find a place that's comfortable, safe and satisfying for both of you. There are so many ways to show love to each other, even show passion besides the constant sex. Not that it isn't fun...but it is exhausting!
Hold her hand, hug her a lot, sit close to each other while you watch TV...whatever...find a happy medium and you'll be happier for it.
Might she leave if things get tough? Who the hell knows? None of us get any guarantees. All we can do is set up boundaries with consequences and communicate our needs clearly.
I sure hope you're in MC. It makes recovery from infidelity so much easier. Your wife should be in IC, too. She needs to learn why she cheated. That will lessen the odds of her ever doing it again.
You don't have to go through this alone. All of us get it and we want to help.
Also, please check out the support sites listed at the bottom of my blog. The Healing Heart saved my marriage.
Hope & Hugs, Shawn

I Gave It My All said...

Hey Shawn,

Thanks for your reply. Since I posted I sat down and talked to my wife about how I was feeling. How when she pulls away and isn't in the mood I get worried that she will pull further away and we will drift apart. She reassured me how horribly sorry she is for what she did. She told me she isn't going anywhere ever. That however long it takes she is going to be there for me to help heal the damage she caused. She told me "I don't expect you to just get over it but however long it takes I am here for you" That was nice to hear. We have been in MC since the day she asked to come back and I let her back in my life. She also is doing IC. She has learned a lot about herself from that. Some stuff she shares some she keeps to herself. We were going to MC every week but it started getting exhausting to me so we go every 3 weeks together and the other weeks she goes by herself. It has helped a lot. I am finally getting past the visuals of them together THANK GOD!!! Those hurt like hell. We have pretty open communication at home now. We talk about it about once a week or if triggers come up. She said she gets anxious too and that sometimes she gets overwhelmed with guilt and remorse. So we have had to help each other kind of heal from this. I am going to check out Healing Heart now. I really do appreciate your response. This is shit I never thought I would have to go through. Hardest thing I have ever done. It would have been easier to just walk away lol. So far it has been totally worth sticking it out.

How have things been with you lately???

shawn thewife said...

I Gave It My All: So glad to hear you and your wife are in MC and that she is in IC. Sometimes, counseling can be the safest place to talk.
You and your wife have opened a wonderful line of communication for yourselves. The new communication skills Richard and I have developed amaze me. A silver lining to the dark cloud of infidelity, I guess. I try not to think what might have been had we found this place in our marriage sooner. Better late than never, right?
Keep talking. Keep listening. You may find out you can end up in a marriage that's even better, even stronger than before.
Check in anytime and give us an up date. See you on the Healing Heart!
Hope & Hugs, Shawn

shawn thewife said...

I Gave it My All: Wait!! Sorry!! You asked about me! Most days, we're good. If you read more of my blog you'll learn about a few bumps on my Road to Happy, but mostly since I started this blog....I have traveled a very long way on my journey to healing. I think my marriage will always be a work in progress and I'm OK with that. Keeps me on my matrimonial toes!!
Thanks for asking!!
Hope & Hugs, Shawn

Tina D said...

I just found your blog and it was like reading my own story. It was a year ago this month but I found out on Aug. 18th of last year. The day I thought my life had ended! But as I sit here telling you this, I am at the best place I have been in almost 10 years. We have been married for 17 years. I always thought I would be able to leave if ever cheated on but my husband is truly an amazing man and person. He had never done anything to hurt me even in the slghtest of ways in the 20+ years I have know him. So for me I went into FIX IT mode and set out to get my husband back! And I did just that! We are the closest we have every been and have found a whole new relationship out of all this!
For use our down fall was he strveled for 4 years with work and we got oftrack and lost each other somewhere. And then she came along and went ofter what was mine! He was weak and she was 25 so he let his guard down and let her in. It was fast, only 5-6 weeks total time and only 1 sexual encounter but far more than enough to kill me inside and change me and my life forever! Every word you have written about the affair and how you felt was like a mirror image of mine! You give me hope! Thank you for opening up and helping others!!!
Thank you Tina

shawn thewife said...

TinaD; I write to heal myself. This blog has ben a huge part of how I began to find my way out of Crazy Town. It pleases me more than I can say that my story offers assistance to other betrayed spouses. I guess there is something to be said about safety in numbers.

You sound like you found a quality paved Road Back to Happy, a more secure path than you had before DDay. I feel that way, too. Damn shame we had to tramp through Crazy Town to find it!
If you don't mind sharing...please let other readers know what helped you reconcile with a stronger marriage.
Hope & Hugs, Shawn

Anonymous said...

I hated myself when I learned "hysterical bonding" from the ivillage BSSG, and realized... I was trying to be better than "her"....
The things I learned about myself during this rollercoaster ride to hell, were sometimes more scary that what I was learning about him.
Formerly, Brokenonce

Anonymous said...

Interesting observations from all, and I can add my own. I had a quick affair more than ten years ago which my wife always suspected and to which I could confess to only recently. Now her sex drive is what I wished it were 20 years ago. Good thing I'm still strong and she still loves me enough to forgive and horny enough now to forget. Someday I'll rest up but right now.....yeeehaw!

shawn thewife said...

Anonymous cheater: Yeehaw today could turn to Holy Shit tomorrow. You should read the rest of the blog.

After DDay, the betrayed wife can go through a period of trying to reclaim her man. Not too long after that comes the pain and rage.
Not saying this will happen in your case. Ten years is a lot of water under the bridge, but if I were you...I'd enjoy the bonding while it lasts and start doing some serious damage control.
Good luck.
Hope & Hugs, Shawn

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. It's only been 5 weeks since D-Day, but he's remorseful and the hysterical bonding is something I feel I need to 1) feel valued and special to him and 2) to reclaim him and take every sorrid memory of her away. I know it will take years for us to heal, we're in counseling, church pastor, reading books on healing from infidelity. But honestly, I don't want this stage to ever go away. Our entire marriage, he was a once a month guy (even with her). Now I don't even have to ask. It's been 5 weeks straight. Thanks for explaining it. Bless you on your road to healing. It sounds like your husband is doing everything right. With love, - betrayed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I just read this blog not all of it just this post and I feel so good. It's bern two years since newport man aka affair with an old douche bag. We decided to fight for our marriage. And the sex was amazing. I went through the same emotions you did. What did they do ummm am I better. I thought I was crazy I mean I just discovered my hubby was having an affair and because he didn't leave me the bitch got him fired. But we were and still are having amazing wonderful sex. Weird but not uncommon. Thank you I can't wait to read your post. I just deleted my blog I decided to move forward and the blog I write was good but I needed to get rid of it because I'm not the same woman who wrote it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this post. i experienced hysterical bonding as well and didn't know what it was. I was so confused and ashamed by having sex with him so soon after discovery. I was in so much pain,but I couldn't get enough of him. Even though he was the one who had caused me this pain, ironically I felt safest with him. In the 2nd year of his 2 year affair, I lost myself. I didn't know he was having an affair, but I felt his distance; he was withdrawing from me. I tried unsuccessfully to get him to spend more quality time with me and became a hermit, trying to ensure I was home whenever he came home. Now 10 months after D day, I still find it hard to go anywhere without him and the hysterical bonding, the constant need for sex was so confusing for me. This post helped me to understand and forgive myself for allowing it so soon after D day. Thanks. SL

Angela Hiebert said...

Wow. I'm just past the one year mark post DDay. I just came across your blog today and have been reading it from the beginning. Everyone's comments are right. You have a gift at writing.
Anyways. This post prompted me to comment because I'm sitting hear feeling like every post you've made has spoken exactly what I felt. But this one made me almost laugh. I'm holding our three month old baby. So yeah. I'd say hysterical bonding happened to us. I was so hopped up on anti anxiety pills and wine in the beginning, I must have missed a birth control pill. Or something. I too don't remember the first month very well. Well. The first two. I remember taking the pill once and scoffing at why I was even bothering as we were clearly not going to have sex again. So maybe that was the day I skipped? Or stopped? Then the hysterical bonding started. Days after. Once month later we conceived this baby. Our third. Our best mistake. We named her Verity. It means truth. I hate lies.
One year later we are in such a better place. Never thought we'd make it. Still. Some days are hard. Which is why I found your blog. I can't forget the woman that did this to our family. Hoping to see if others can't a year later. I hate her still.

Dolly Allen said...

So glad to read that it's possible to move forward. D-Day was Sept 19 - we were in a bad place in our marriage and both of us gave up on each other. 'the skank' had been after him for years behind my back - His fault, His decision but I HATE that skank and that will never change as I was never too fond of her to begin with when I met her 25 years ago. Angela, I don't know you're situation but I would have rather he cheated with a stranger rather than that bitch... Your comment was a year and a 1/2 ago - if you see this comment - have you forgotten her?

Steven West said...

Hi Shawn. I just wanted to tell you that after reading your posts here (I just discovered them) I want you to know that I really admire you and your strength. I loved what you wrote about hysterical bonding-re-claiming your territory, taking back what is rightfully yours. What a wonderful way of phrasing it. My name is Steve and I'm glad your marriage is better. My heart breaks when ever I think of how hurtful husbands can be to the ones that love them the most. Wives are truly underrated in the field of strength when it comes to the sexes. May God continue to richly bless you and all who are recovering from the tragedy of infidelity. May God continue to richly bless through you, all those who are helped by reading your blog. Thanks for being here.

shawn thewife said...

Hey, Steve:
Thanks for the kind words, but you may have misconstrued my message a bit.
I had nothing to be proud of during this point of my recovery. Basically...I was out of my brain worm riddled mind!
I wish I had never suffered through this phase, but as I learned and shared here...it is not unusual for the betrayed to want to reclaim their territory. Not unusual...but so weird!
By sharing this part of my Year after the Affair, I was kind of hoping I could steer others away from this tendency after DDay. It's a very freaky part of the Coaster from Hell and it does nothing to facilitate healing.
You are right about how hurtful cheaters are...how thoughtless...how selfish. But after betrayal, we learn how strong we truly are and how much better our lives can be. That is a blessing.
Hope & Hugs, Shawn

shawn thewife said...

Dolly: I left you a message with the other comment you shared.
Please check it out and join us on the Healing Heart.
Hope & Hugs, Shawn