2023, The Year Of Acceptance.
It's been a whole year since my betrayed wife bestie and I started the I Am The Wife podcast. It's given me an opportunity to look back over the year. How has 2022 been for me?
It was 2018 when things in my life started to take a downward turn. By the end of that year my life was in bits. Like a bulldozer smashed straight through the middle without a care in the world the devastation it left behind. 2019 was a complete right off. I don't have much memory of that year. It was fucking shit and may as well not existed. I struggled through each day as best I could. 2020 was difficult for everyone dealing with Covid, but for me, it gave me a chance to relax with my family and just coast for a while. However, towards the end of that year, I moved into a new phase of exhaustion, anger and grief when I moved back to the UK. In 2021, I managed to start putting the pieces of my life back together. I got a job, a car and some independence. Later on in the year, I got another job which really helped me to feel like myself again and we started work on our house. Then came 2022 and the decision to release the podcast.
At the start of the year, when we began the podcast it was still very hard talking about certain aspects of my husband's affair. I questioned what I was doing and why. Was I just deliberately picking a scab and not letting it heal? Re-opening the wound and poking it with my finger until it bled. Was I still angry and unable to let it go? Did I want my husband to permanently suffer and squirm for what he had done? Was talking about what happened to me keeping me stuck in the pain on purpose? Surely at some point, I've just got to move on, right?
These were questions both P and I talked about a lot, in our private conversations. What were our intentions? How did we feel about sharing our stories? And more importantly, were we ok? We decided that none of it was permanent and if one of us felt it wasn't right for us we would just stop. We weren't committed to or reliant on the podcast in any way. We were fully in control and trusted each other completely to honour each other's well-being. So we kept going. I wasn't sure of my intentions, except for helping others. It didn't feel like I was doing it for the wrong reasons. Maybe a few years ago, it would have been a lot more ranty and aggressive, but it didn't feel that way or I don't think we would have done it. Being completely honest, I have never done any of my writing or speaking through anger or resentment either to my husband or the affair partner. When it has gone dark or angry, which inevitably it does at times, it gets deleted as it doesn't feel right.
In the beginning I was still yo-yoing up and down between feeling positive and hopeful to being triggered and feeling angry and let down. The catastrophal ripple affect of what happened four years ago still radiating out through my daily life. *Sigh* Still tedious, still tiring, still fucking annoying. However, as the year has gone on I think I've been moving much more into the acceptance phase of this journey and I've realised acceptance is different to forgiveness. I think I was putting too much pressure on myself to get over things and let them go. Be ok with something I was never going to be ok with. What was causing a lot of the meltdowns was pushing myself to feel "normal", then crashing because I couldn't keep up the charade. Acceptance means being ok with how I actually feel, rather than how I think I should be feeling. I'm not sure if that makes sense?
I'll try to explain. Recently I accepted that I don't trust people anymore. And that includes everyone, not just my husband. My ability to trust people, I have accepted, has been permanently broken. Once I accepted that, it made it ok to be that way, rather than pushing myself to think I have to repair it and trust everyone again. That just made me feel bad. Like I was failing at healing. I don't trust, plain and simple and that's ok. I'm not paranoid or on edge every day, I'm happy to still be married, it's just the way it is. It's not my job to trust unconditionally, it's my husband's job to act trustworthy, and as for other people, unless they have an intrinsic value and regard for integrity, well, they are capable of anything - something I absolutely need to accept. No one owes me anything, unless they have that internal barometer for themselves. That's been a hard one to come to terms with, and still is, because my barometer doesn't lean that way. I needed to accept that this way of being is the exception and not the rule. If I'm honest, it still baffles me and definitely saddens me that people find kindness and respect so difficult.
I've also recently accepted that I don't think my husband is going anywhere and I have no control over that anyway, accept to make myself happy in my life. Again a tough one, as when that fear kicks in, it is very, very real. However, I can't make him stay. I can't rely on the fact we are married or made vows - that's been proven to me already. Choosing to stay is, again, his job, his responsibility. He is in charge of his choices, his happiness and his life, just as I am mine. I have to make sure I am happy in myself, in my job, in my life and let the rest take its course. If I am happy and content, I think my husband will be.
So, that's what I've been trying to do this year. I got promoted and I genuinely really enjoy my job, the people I work with and my prospects there. I love the sense of purpose and security it gives me. My house is slowly transforming and with it, giving me a feeling I haven't felt in my life or marriage for a very, VERY long time. This has not been without its own level of stress and miserableness, which has been extremely difficult at times, but it will be immeasurably worth it when it's finished. I also joined a gym again recently, which I am loving. I have definitely missed this aspect of my life and have really noticed recently how much I like how it makes me feel.
I think the only thing that's missing, which again, I have to accept I probably will never receive, and that's some kind of satisfactory recompense, recourse or explanation from the affair partner. This acceptance is going to be hard to reach, I think. When I feel into it, this also comes from a place of fear. It's so difficult to describe the cocktail of vulnerability, shock and bewilderment that permeates through your body from being attacked so viciously from someone you don't even know. A cocktail that saturates your cells and whole physical and emotional existence. It's genuinely terrifying. This is why, I feel, this aspect is so difficult to let go of. Keeping half an eye out for this woman is a necessity, but a curse. I don't want her in my consciousness in the slightest, but I can't quite let her out of it completely. It's definitely a defence mechanism, backed up by her own sneaky behaviours. Not necessarily towards me, but just suspicious and weird.
For example, a person, who I suspected was my husband's affair partner, commented on one of my blogs trying to discredit me and "out" me by including my name (which up until that point had never been included). I responded by calling her out and naming her back. It was then brought to my attention that she's changed her name. So, tell me if you think this is weird too.....
Her name is Charlotte. However, everyone at the military camp where we lived knew her as Rachel (her middle name). Even my husband knew her as Rachel in the beginning, until a friend of hers came to visit, then suddenly she said her real name was Charlotte and he changed her name in his phone. Apparently, only people in her closest circle get to know her real name. Ok, not so weird, maybe, as it's not that uncommon for people to go by their middle name and not their first name. However, from what I can gather she used Rachel when she moved from the UK and even her bestest friend out there didn't know her name was actually Charlotte. Well, now she's changed her surname as well! Again, not that uncommon to go back to a maiden name possibly, (she was previously married) but to completely change from Charlotte Wright to Rachel Whomsley?? That's a totally different name/person/alias!
Or maybe that's just the name she is using to hide on social media in weird accounts that have no pictures or posts. Who knows, but it's weird, yes? Guilty conscience? Hiding from people? Why change your name and hide on social media? So people can't find you? So angry wives can't find you???? I've heard several of the stories she tells about why. I may be reading into things, making something out of nothing, but why run and hide? Who else is chasing you and why? There are more wives, it's not just me.
I've said it before, but as much as this journey has been fucking horrific and one I would NOT like to repeat, I am very content I am on this side of the fence. Integrity intact, not hiding in the shadows or looking over my shoulder, changing my identity to dodge from what I've done in my life, making up stories to cover my shitty choices. I think to fully let go of this one, I need assurance/explanation/something from her. Acceptance and acknowledgement to me of those shitty choices. Which, at this point in time, I would be open to in some way shape or form. I think as grown ups, this should be possible.
....the podcast. It has been a journey! A learning curve for both of us and a blessing. When we realised people were even listening it was a genuine surprise and a total rush! When people started messaging it was a complete shock. When people started saying thank you, sharing their own stories and finding solace and meaning in our unplanned rambles, it was humbling and unbelievably meaningful. To be able to turn my pain into something useful and purposeful, almost makes it worthwhile. I have a friend in P I don't have with any other person on the planet. She is one of the handful of people I do trust implicitly and I know how precious that really is. If our conversations are reaching and helping others to feel less alone, then I couldn't ask for more.
I don't make New Year's resolutions. I haven't done for many years. What I usually do is have a word for the year. A word that I feel encompasses where I am and where the energy of my life is heading. This year it's going to be ACCEPTANCE. I feel very deeply that I need to continue to feel an extended and more grounded level of acceptance. To let go of fear in all areas of my life and just be. Fear definitely rules a lot of my decisions and I need to stop that, so that will be my focus next year. It's going to be a challenge, as I can already feel the anxiety as I write that, but it's definitely something I need to do.
2023 is going to be the year for me. Wherever you are in your journey make it yours too. Find small things to bring you back to yourself and put your life back together one small bit at a time. Through doing that, the acceptance of your life will grow. If it enables you to accept and stay in your relationship then embrace it. If it leans towards leaving, then so be it. Embrace that too as you never know what is on its way. It's hard, as I'm experiencing myself, but let go of the fear and accept what is happening for you. It's the resistance that causes a lot of your discontent.
I'll be doing it right alongside with you. xx