"Is there something else going on?" I asked, "Like what?" he replied. That was the night before I found out. He had the opportunity to tell me then, but he bottled it.
Finding out about my husband's affair felt like I had been side-swiped by a bus. The books call it D-DAY or discovery day. I seriously didn't know what hit me. I knew something was up which is why I had asked him that question the night before, but everything else was completely normal. He'd been home less than 24 hours (see back story for more details) we had been to our kids' parent consultations, I had been busy making my son's birthday cake, life was carrying on as usual, but things just felt off. I had been struggling in the weeks leading up to his return. I felt alone. Not lonely, but alone. Like I was losing him, but I didn't know why. There was a lot of other stuff going on with my family, which was making things difficult, but I never in a million years would have guessed the reason. Not my husband, no. Never. He'd never do anything like that. It never even entered my head.
The day after he bottled it my sister and her family were over from France and staying with us. My other sister was visiting from London with hers. I had made a huge lunch we had in the garden, we went out with all the kids and dogs in the afternoon to a local country park. While we were there, we passed by friends who shook my husband's hand and welcomed him back, genuinely interested in how he was and happy to see him. The weather was unusually warm for October and there were six kids, six adults and two dogs. We had a huge game of "tag" and football, we walked the dogs, laughed, hung out, took selfies. It was fab. So much fun. We returned to our house, had fish and chips for tea and then toasted giant marshmallows in the garden, playing a mass game of "Play Your Cards Right" with giant playing cards I had bought especially for this weekend. It was an awesome, picture perfect, social media enviable family day. Earlier in the day, I had confided in my sisters that I thought something was off, so they had made an extra special effort to talk to my husband, make him feel connected and home again, as we all knew how difficult it was living apart.
Much later on, one sister had left, kids were in bed and I was left clearing up in the kitchen. The music was on in the garden, the fire pit was still glowing away, house was full with two families. My daughter had collided with my nephew on the trampoline earlier, and her wobbly tooth was knocked out. With all the kids and craziness going on I was quite determined not to forget, so I went upstairs to put a pound under her pillow. As I went into her room, I was surprised to see my husband on the bottom bunk, asleep in bed with my son. I thought he was still in the garden burning stuff, listening to music. I thought to myself "Shit! Everything's still outside!" So off I went to sort it all out. First thing I did was pick up the speaker off the fence as it was still on pretty loud, playing Spotify from his phone, which had been left on top of it.
Now, I'd like to point out. I don't check my husband's phone. Throughout our marriage, I may have done a handful of times. We have each other's passwords and pin numbers, there's never been any secrets, there's never been any need to hide anything. Going through his phone is not something I do very often or have ever needed to do. But that night I did.
It started very intensely right from that moment as the uncontrollable physical reactions, I have come to be very familiar with over the last year, took over my body instantly. My hands started to violently shake. I couldn't breathe. I felt sick. There was something stuck in my throat. My eyes went blurry. My chest was tight and heavy like a fist was gripping and twisting it. Everything seemed to slow down. The shock is so unreal, it's very difficult to explain. Like you're in slow motion, underwater, about to wake up and realise it's not true, but you don't. I ran for my sister. I showed her what I had found. She started taking pictures of the messages. I told her I had to deal with this right now, she told me it was going to be ok and she would be there no matter what. She then rushed her husband off the sofa in a semi-conscious state and pushed him up the stairs. I could hear his bewildered response and their urgent scuffling into the attic bedroom, as I walked into my daughter's room where my kids were sleeping. I calmly said "I think you need to come and tell me who ***** is." He got up and followed me downstairs.
After that, the next few hours are quite a blur. I can't really remember all that was said, but I'll tell you what I do remember. There was no shouting or screaming. No arguing. Don't ask me why, there just wasn't. You expect the cliched response I guess, kicking off, throwing stuff, screaming blue murder. That just wasn't my initial reaction. I remember just being totally shocked. Like it wasn't really happening. Like I was going to wake up any second. I couldn't really comprehend what I was hearing. It took what seemed like ages to process what was happening. My mind was racing desperately trying to catch up. I spoke to him pretty much every day, completely normally, until the last couple of weeks where things felt off. He had videoed with the kids as normal, we had opened our son's birthday presents together, on a call, just a few days earlier. As I listened, he said it had been going on for 5 weeks. 5 weeks?? What?? Maybe the last couple of weeks I could take, as things had been weird, but 5 weeks? 5 WEEKS???
My mind went into overdrive, like a computer, busily running through the last 5 weeks in a couple of seconds, like the Matrix, downloading 100 million bytes per second. 5 weeks ago I had only left where he lived, myself, a week before. The kids had just gone back to school. We were sending him photos of player of the week at cricket and talking in the morning before school. I was calling him on my way home from the school run as our son had got upset one morning out of the blue. The following week my daughter had hurt her ankle in the park and I was asking his advice about gymnastics. I was buying dinghies for both the kids, sending him links, watching Ebay bids with him, talking about home insurance, credit card payments, rugby tournaments and what to do for our son's birthday coming up. The kids and I had gone to a wedding and really missed him, called him that weekend, sent him photos of the amazing sweetie table. He'd asked me about buying a moped and sent me pictures of a quarter he was moving in to..........
........what do you mean 5 FUCKING WEEKS??
Then the reality hit. Like the bus, BANG! I stepped out and DID NOT see it coming.
WTF! OMFG, this was fucking real. I had an instant awareness what I was up against and I just broke. I suddenly felt like I was in a fight for my life. Totally unprepared, against an enemy I knew nothing about. The best way I can describe it is like feeling you are suddenly in no man's land on a battle field, naked. Looking around like a petrified rabbit wondering how the fuck you ended up there. Then realising it was your husband that dropped you in it, who is watching from the side lines with an enemy made up of a person and emotions completely unknown to you. How the fuck did this happen, where the fuck am I, how did I get here, why are you doing this? You. You. The one person on this planet here to look after me. Why are you doing this? Blindsided, sucker punched, bushwhacked are all in the thesaurus, but they are words that simply don't cut it.
I remember lying on the sofa crying saying over and over again "why didn't I just come, why didn't I say yes, I should've said yes." Not blaming myself, before anyone shouts out, but desperately wanting to turn back the clock and prevent all this from happening. I think the first half an hour after the discovery was spent going over and over scenarios that I wished I could do over, so I could avoid this very moment. Make it so it wasn't happening. That very moment that was so horrifically happening "to" me without my consent. That had smashed into me at high speed, knocking me senseless. I couldn't think straight. I couldn't think fast enough. Come on brain, hurry the fuck up! What's happening? That moment was so surreal, so not happening, so shocking, so unbelievable, so.....I don't even have the words to do it justice.
"But we had a plan." I kept saying, and we did. We had devised a plan in the summer. Neither of us were very happy with the set up, so while visiting him over the summer I wanted to find a solution. We had discussed this a great deal and come up with a plan for the next few months. A plan we agreed on. A plan that worked. A plan I could stick out if I had to. A plan we came home and told our friends about in the garden, together, with arms around each other, excited. Turns out he wasn't actually that happy with the plan. Turns out he says he wasn't that happy in the marriage. Turns out he said, he'd been feeling this quite some time. Turns out he had NEVER ONCE TOLD ME!
More rabbit in headlights, more shock, more disbelief, more WTF, more what's happening, more sucker punching. I DIDN'T HAVE A FUCKING CLUE ABOUT ANY OF IT.
"How am I supposed to do anything about it, if you don't tell me???"
Then all of a sudden, the download completed, the Matrix clicked into gear, my brain started catching up, huffing and puffing from the chase, but it was there and everything started to make sense. The one word text message responses, the cut off calls, the "I'm just in a meeting, can I call you later", the feeling of distance, the mysterious "friend" who's house he was round when videoing with my daughter once. I had been walking into situations, he had set up, for weeks. Getting cross about his distance and lack of support for me and voicing those frustrations. We had had a situation just the night before where I had got annoyed. When the penny dropped, the tears stopped and I realised what had been happening. "I see it all now. I walked straight into that one last night, didn't I?" I said to him. OMG, it all made so much sense. Eyes wide, big exhale. I had been lead into becoming the caricature of myself he had created in his head to justify what he was doing. The evil, moaning, shitty wife. Fuck! I am fucked!
That's when the out of body experience happened. The little I knew about affairs was the heightened sense of infatuation involved and the poisonous affair fog. The suffocating blur and intoxicating level of emotions which takes over and I knew I couldn't compete with, so I wasn't going to try. I wasn't going to beg. Force him to choose. I wasn't going to manipulate or use underhand tactics like guilt tripping him over the kids and I absolutely was not going to kick off, throw him out and make his job easy. This was his doing. If he was going to leave, he could decide. He would have to make that decision himself. There's no way I was going to do his dirty work for him. He had to face this, just as much as I was.
I said to him straight up "Why are you here? Why did you even come home? I can't compete with that level of emotion. We've been together 12 years. That intensity is long gone for us. I am so far down in the ditch, it's unreal. I can't compete with that." Biiiigggg exhale. I surrendered completely in that moment. I felt it physically as I left my body. I was totally engulfed by that awareness. Right there floating, with a voice in my head telling me this was absolutely happening and I had to let go. So I did.
Read Reacting on D-Day