It’s been a while. Quite a long while actually. I haven’t been able to do the things I normally do as I concentrate on ridding myself of the negative thoughts and images that have floated through my mind since I found out about B’s affair. There has been a lot of canceling going on.
“He is a jerk”
“Cancel, cancel, cancel” (don’t say cancel out loud or the guys in the white coats might come for you) Just say “cancel” in your head and then look around and take in what you see:
“Oh the clouds look big a fluffy today”
“Look at that beautiful orange tomcat”
Anything that take your mind off the negativity and onto something different.
Anyway, last week I had an extreme reaction to something B said in the marriage counselors office which cause me to stand up and say that I needed to leave. NOW. We were discussing a possible move when B said, “I can move and get used to the job while you stay back at home with the kids!”
End of discussion on the part of B even though we have had this gone over this scenario before and I had said that this solution was unacceptable to me.
My heart started pounding.
My blood pressure and anxiety soared.
I felt like that walls were closing in on me and tried to flee the therapists office.
I flashed back to the time when B would not take me to China with him and I “knew” something was up when suddenly he was taking a side trip to Singapore (which I later found out was to rendezvous with our Vietnamese tour guide) I didn’t understand what was going on at that time but I knew that I felt intense confusion and pain about why B was so adamant that I could not go with him and why a discussion was not “forthcoming.”
I broke out in a sweat.
I began to itch.
The therapist looked at me as I kind of said something like:
“WHAT THE F***!!!! OH,HELL NO! YOU MADE THIS MESS AND YOU ARE NOT LEAVING ME TO CLEAN IT UP WHILE YOU GET TO TAKE IT EASY!”
I explained to both B and the therapist that this scenario was unacceptable to me. That I didn’t want to clean up B’s mess and have to deal with angry kids who would be afraid we were divorcing and couldn’t understand why we were not together as a family. I would not be alone with a child whose rage would be intense if he felt abandoned and I didn’t understand why someone who swears he wants to be with me would even consider that an option and if that was the way it was going to be then we might as well not be together.
I heard something about B thinking of the logistics in a “practical” manner while I was looking at them from the heart. And then I left.
The next week I was at my therapists office and I mentioned to her that I thought I might have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and began to relate what happened to me at the marriage counselors office.
“Of course, you have post traumatic stress disorder after what you have been through with B for the past three years. But in your case it is referred to as Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD) and there is a set of recognized symptoms that are brought on by the trauma of infidelity, ” she said.
WHO KNEW? A big sigh of relief escaped my lips…so I wasn’t going crazy after all.
According to her, often the offended partner has extreme reactions to circumstances because they are now operating from a hyper-vigilant state where nothing feels safe or real. And while it may not be as traumatizing as prolonged war or physical abuse, the experiences of the cheated on spouse often echoes the symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms of PISD include:
- Exposure to a perceived life-threatening event (end of marriage, constant lies, betrayal of trust, etc)
- Emotional numbing
- Inability to stop seeking more information about the affair or what your spouse is currently up to
- Increased anxiety
- Intense feelings of fear or helplessness
- Feelings of irritability and rage
- A re-experiencing of the event or events
- Avoiding things that remind us of the affair
- Repeated intrusive thoughts
- Anger or blaming of ones self (“If only”)
Obviously, I am no expert on the subject but since I have discovered that I have symptoms of PISD, I am learning what I can about it and how to heal from it. The one thing I do know is this it will take time.
For those of you interested in the subject you can find a good article that discusses PISD it here:
I have also started reading a book on the subject on the advice of my therapist. The title is Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder by Dennis Ortman, PhD which is available on Amazon. It has been extremely helpful so far.
So I continue on this journey. It is a trip I didn’t ask for and one I didn’t plan. Sometimes it angers me that I have been forced down this rabbit hole by the person I trusted most in the world. A husband who selfishly who pushed me into this land of self-discovery. Yes, many of the things I have learned or done have been helpful but I still wish I had been the one to decide if and when I wanted to confront the issues that I have been working on. But for now I try not to dwell on the “what if’s” and instead I attempt to embrace this new post-affair life of mine. Some days I succeed and some days I don’t but if nothing else I am teaching my children that if life throws you curve balls you keep swinging that bat until you connect even if that connection is only with one’s self.
4 thoughts on “Post Infidelity Stress Disorder”
Yes it’s definitely real, and it does take time to recover. What feels like an unbearable amount of time! But you are going to make it to the other side of this so much better than you were before. I have to believe that because otherwise…well, I just do believe it so it must be true 😀
Now, as for your cheater – it’s going to take him time, too. Time to get out of the habit of compartmentalizing his life in such a way that makes him think moving away alone without your family is actually an acceptable way to reconcile your marriage (?!?). Also time to get out of the habit of lying every time his lips move.
But – if he’s really trying to improve himself in order to be a better person, partner, and father, you’ll eventually see and feel it, and that will help your healing as well.
You’re still early in the process. Stay strong.
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Thank you so much. You always have some much needed thoughts at just the right time!
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After three years of a mental and physical affair, he tells you he wants to move without you. Not saying that PISD doesn’t exist, but I’m pretty sure that hearing him say that after what you’ve been through, made your wife BS meter go off. As long as you remember that this is his fault and let no one convince you that you share the blame you will survive this.
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