A Month of Denial


In her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross describes the five stages of grief which a person facing death encounters as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Kubler-Ross’ model of grief has been expanded over the decades to include general loss and bereavement and additional  stages of shock and testing. This more comprehensive model of grief is referred to as the Extended Grief Cycle.

In this blog, I am chronicling my own journey through an Extended Grief Cycle during the past five months.

I spent last November in an endless cycle of denial and bargaining. I was unable to believe that my lover, my one true love, with whom I’d been reunited after a separation of eighteen years, had been cheating on me with another woman for eighteen months!

Since reading, “When Your Lover is a Liar: Healing the Wounds of Deception and Betrayal,” by Susan Forward, PhD with Donna Frazier, I now understand that my denial was normal. Most women who discover an unfaithful lover will experience the same denial and think, ‘This couldn’t happen to me!”

During the first month after the discovery, I kept thinking the following in a never-ending cycle to prove to myself and to the world that his betrayal simply could not be true:

1) He had promised me time and again that our reunion was precious to him and that I was his own true love and his soul mate; therefore he could never cheat on me.

1) Our relationship was so sexually intense that there was no way that he could have been sleeping with another woman at the same time!

3) He’d admitted to other issues which he’d lied to me about but had promised that he’d never lie to me about anything else.

4) We’d been attending all his family’s events for the past two and a half years: weddings, baptism parties, Memorial Day parties, Labor Day parties, Thanksgiving, etc. with our daughter, his mother and most recently, my father! So if this was true, then he wasn’t just lying to me; he was lying to our daughter and to both our families.

5) He’d been there in the recovery room with me after my father’s emergency surgery the previous spring.

6) He’d just been up to visit me at the end of September and we’d taken our daughter apple picking.

7) I’d just been to visit him the weekend before I’d discovered his betrayal; and we’d spent a great part of the weekend in bed.

8. Right up until my discovery, we’d been on the phone  up to 2-3 hours per day for two and a half years unless I was visiting him. I thought I knew everything he did on a daily basis because he was always telling me about his day.

9) He’d told me that we didn’t need to get married again because we were soul mates.

10) He and I were planning to get a duplex to live in when I moved there after my other children graduated from high school.

11) He and I were planning to take a cruise to Bermuda for my next birthday.

12) I’d taken an entire week of vacation time from work to help him with his website and to sell his art at a sidewalk sale in August. How could  he have  let me do that if he’d been sleeping with another woman?

13) I’d fronted him the money to help start his website and buy supplies for the sidewalk sale.

14) He’d assured me that there was no way he’d ever become involved with Jane (not her real name) because she talked too much and he could never get a word in edgewise. Besides, he’d told me, she’d had her chance with him before he and I had come into contact again and she’d turned him down coldly and made it clear that they could never be anything but friends.

15) I had two and a half pounds of love notes and cards from him during the time he’d been sleeping with both of us.

16) I had hundreds of emails from him, during the time he’d been sleeping with both of us, many with sexually flirtatious messages and emoticons.

17) He was constantly telling me that he loved me.

18) He was always buying little gifts for me and doing sweet things.

19) We always walked through town holding hands. If he had another girlfriend in his hometown, then wouldn’t he have hidden his public relationship with me when I came down to visit?

20) He never would have  allowed me to continue driving six hours round trip to visit him once a month or more,  for the past 18 months, if he’d actually been sleeping with another woman. He knew how much I had to rearrange my work and home schedule in order to  schedule these  visits.

One strong component of my denial during this time was his absolute silence. I had emailed him upon my discovery and I had called him a few times, but he did not respond. So I hung in limbo, expecting some deux ex machina to drop out of the sky and rescue me. In his silence, nothing had happened, although I had the proof. Without his acknowledgment none of it could be true. How could it be true? There was some terrible mistake. And so the denial cycled round and round, keeping me up at night and greeting me first thing in the morning.

Denial. My intellect knew what my heart could not comprehend. Moving through denial was as painful as giving birth. Thirty days of contractions to open myself into an unfathomable, obscene shape in order to absorb this hideous truth.Everything I had believed in was false; all my hopes for the future, dashed. My true love had betrayed me. How could I go on, if everything I had believed was false? How could I ever trust myself or anyone else again?



2 thoughts on “A Month of Denial

  1. Pingback: Page not found « healingbetrayal

  2. Pingback: Bargaining with the Patron Saint of Lost Causes « healingbetrayal

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