I had an affair, had trauma from my husband because of it and I don’t know how to be, how can I heal

I had an affair (woman) and married (man) to my highs school sweetheart. He now knows and punished me/trauma. I am scared angry forgiving myself /him
Asked by Pickle

Hi Pickle.  Thanks for your meaningful and heartfelt question.  


Healing following any rupture of trust is a difficult task.  It seems that in this situation there are at least two areas of trust to consider, including the trust you have with and for yourself and the trust you have for your husband.  Trauma of any sort can intrinsically change the trust relationship we have in both of these areas.  In the time I have to write to you, I'll explain a little about this relationship, between trust and trauma, and also touch on the topic of healing.


Because you didn't specify in your question what kind of trauma you experienced, I'll try to talk generically about trauma that can be caused by emotional abuse, psychological abuse, sexual violence, and physical abuse.  Trauma can leave us with many lasting effects, including nightmares, flashbacks of the event(s), hypervigilance (being on edge and extremely aware of our surroundings), avoidance of things that remind us of the trauma, feelings of sadness, feelings of numbness or being out of reality, and problems establishing trust.  If you're experiencing any of these symptoms as a result of your trauma, remember that this is a normal reaction.  As the science of psychiatry and psychology progress, we're finding out that trauma can actually change us physiologically. People who respond to trauma in these ways are not crazy and are actually experiencing normal reactions to extremely scary situations.


If you were previously a very trusting and open person, this experience might be particularly stressful.  And because your affair was the triggering event in this reupture of trust, you might be blaming yourself.  You mention experiencing fear and anger as predominant emotions, which makes sense.  Trauma itself is scary, and on top of this you might be experiencing fear that things will never go back to normal, that you'll have another affair, or that you'll never feel comfortable in your relationship again.  You might be fearful that your husband will react in a similar way next time there's an upsetting situation.  And experiencing anger also makes sense in this situation.  You might be angry at yourself for having the affair, and angry at your husband for hurting you.  


I think it's wonderful that you're able to identify these emotions, and I think it's a positive indicator of your ability to heal.  And there are different types of healing that need to happen.  You have healing to do as an individual, and perhaps this includes addressing your trauma symptoms and learning to use self-compassion wisely.  It sounds like there's also healing for you and your husband to pursue as a couple.  Perhaps this means learning to communicate in a healthy way, or learning how to support each other.  Either way, pursuing individual therapy or therapy as a couple would probably help you to address these issues and to start the healing journey.  But whether or not you seek therapy, it is possible to heal.  


My best wishes.