Four years ago today I was 2 days out from discovering my husband had been having an affair, had taken his wedding ring off and was expected by his affair partner to come home, declare his undying love for her and end our marriage.
I felt like an atomic bomb had gone off in my life. I couldn't eat or sleep. I felt like my whole marriage rested on what clothes I chose to wear that day and whether I managed to hold myself together or not. I was confused, scared, angry, hurt, bewildered, incensed and a hundred other words I don't have time to list. I'll never forget the sense of shock and confusion that moment brought upon me. It's so difficult to describe. My mind was racing, racing, racing. Eyes wide and startled. Heart beating so fast, yet my breathing had stopped. Searching desperately for a scrap of information in my vast amount of brain cells that would make sense of what was happening. Something, ANYthing that could help me find my balance again as I felt like I was spinning uncontrollably through space with no sense of direction at all. I didn't realise what that sense of understanding would actually bring. With that desperate search, I didn't have any awareness of what hell I was unleashing onto myself when I found it.
And it is hell. Absolute, intensely horrific hell. Still, to this day, I simply can't find words strong enough to describe properly how I felt after finding out about my husband's affair and the years of readjustment, recovery and restoration that have followed. I am still amazed at the ignorance people have around the destruction and devastation they are imposing on so many people's lives in pursuit of their own gratification. Dressed up and justified by declarations of deserving to be happy.
I whole heartedly agree 100% that we all deserve to be happy in our lives. Absolutely. I will never argue with that. We only have one shot at this life, so yes, make the most of it. Be happy, don't settle, don't waste it. Live life to the fullest. However, you can do that without hurting others and walking all over other people. You can pursue happiness without destroying others and their lives. You can be true to yourself and your own life's happiness by following personal values and honouring integrity. Leaving relationships that aren't working is never easy. People get hurt. It's a sad, unfortunate part of life, but it can be done respectfully and with compassion by simply choosing to do the right thing. Sounds so simple doesn't it? Just do the right thing.
Just do the right thing.
Affairs don't "just happen". They start in stages. Small, intentional choices that are played off, lied about and justified dishonestly. Choices that the instigators know are gently, but knowingly and purposely crossing the line of inappropriate, but again either hidden or dishonestly justified. These choices then increase in number and size. Awareness is there from the start. The people involved know what they're doing. They know they're orchestrating reasons and excuses to meet, spend time together, message or talk. Whether they admit it openly or not, or even to themselves in private, they know. They absolutely know what they're doing. They know it's not ok. They know it's not doing the right thing.
But they blame shift, deflect, justify and defend to suit their own pursuits. They continue to make those choices and indulge their own needs and prioritise themselves over and above anyone and everyone else. Because once the serotonin and endorphins start releasing it just feels too good. When the giddy butterflies are felt, brought on by the illicit excitement, and the giant holes in self worth are being filled by fantasy, love bombing and improper compliments, it's mistaken for genuine emotions and often love. Within a matter of weeks, even days, soul mates are finally found and love is declared, without even questioning the complete ridiculousness of what's happening and the people who are going to get hurt. People that don't deserve to be hurt. People that don't deserve to be treated with such disregard and disrespect. People who are trying their best at life, just the same as every body else. People who also deserve to have happiness in life.
Four years later none of this has changed for me. My view on how disgusting and disappointing people behave is still the same. My exasperation and frustration at how those same people behave when their cruel, contemptible and childish conduct has been busted is still as exasperating and frustrating. The ridiculously unnecessariness of the whole sorry story and the hugely disproportionate level of pain caused, is just as heavy, if not heavier, now, as it was four years ago. I wish I could tell you differently, but I have been utterly open and honest throughout this blog and I'm not going to stop that now.
I'm not going to bullshit you with a peppy, uplifting, motivational speech about thriving through trauma and living my best life, and if I can do it, you can too. If I can do it, you can also do it, but it's fucking hard work and something I really wouldn't want to do again. Yes there's an opportunity to recreate your relationship and grow together with a new understanding and awareness of each other, but let's be real, that's only going to happen if you both enter into some form of therapy, healing or recovery course together. That's only going to happen if you're both ready and open to look at yourself and what happened to you both in a very reflective, humble and honest way, and the harsh reality is there's two of you in this with totally different jobs to do and neither of you can control what the other one does, thinks or feels about the journey ahead. The only person you can take responsibility for is yourself. Your recovery and healing is down to you and this shit changes you.
I am absolutely different. Something changed in me that day four years ago. My belief in people was shattered. My security was ripped from under my feet. I am beginning to accept I won't get that completely, comfortable and relaxed feeling back in my relationship. My husband's affair has not left me and I don't think it ever will. It never completely leaves my consciousness, ever. It's always there, even when I'm happy and content pottering through my day. Singing to the radio, decorating my house, laughing with my colleagues or kids, walking my dogs and feeling so lucky to live where I do. It's always, always there in some thought, feeling or sense. Like a haunting. A constant lingering memento of the day I didn't matter to the person I should have mattered to the most. That shit simply doesn't go away.
However, I am ok. I have managed to get from d-day to ok.
I wouldn't say my husband and I are more open and honest now than we've ever been or that our relationship has been redefined and reestablished better than it was before, like I read in some of the affair information out there, but we have learnt from this experience. How could you not?
We are ok. We have managed to get from d-day to ok.
My marriage is intact and doing well. My kids are happy and growing into high school like normal teenagers. I really enjoy my job and have great potential there. Life is finally settling for us all. No more house moves on the horizon has meant I can finally put all my energies into creating the home I've always wanted and it's coming together slowly. With it, a gradual sense of contentment that has been missing in my life for more years than I want to think about. I have painstakingly managed to put my life back together bit by bit and I am ok. I have created a sense of purpose for my pain, which is the reason I started writing in the first place. I didn't want all this pain to be for nothing, and I have achieved that. By sharing my story openly and unapologetically honestly I have forged amazing new friendships and created a community of safety and understanding for the inevitable wives that follow me. I wish, oh how I wish, I could write a blog or record a podcast that could stop this behaviour once and for all, but sadly the most I can do is stand at the door with compassion and love to those who enter behind me and I will continue to do so for as long as it feels right. I will also continue to speak out about this disgraceful behaviour and warn people of its devastating aftermath. Maybe one person may think twice before embarking on the biggest mistake of their life.
Most of all I am going to keep putting one foot in front of the other and stay true to myself. My integrity is definitely still intact and I intend to keep it that way. Let's see what another year will bring.