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What To Expect From The Aftermath: The Abyss


If D-Day was like being hit by a bus and realising what's been going on was finding myself in no-mans land, naked, like a scared rabbit, the aftermath felt like the ground opening up underneath my feet and falling into an abyss.


This situation was utterly unknown to me and I had been thrown into it completely by no choice of my own. Caught totally off guard, dealing with the aftermath of other people's secret and selfish actions. Back to those words again, blindsided, sucker-punched and bushwhacked. I'd never even imagined what this would be like, let alone actually experience it. No sooner was I standing there wondering WTF just happened, the ground opened up underneath me, cracked and crumbled away with no warning whatsoever and an emotional abyss swallowed me up.


The abyss was vast and agonising. As I fell, I couldn't see the bottom and I couldn't see where it started. There was nothing to grab hold of and nothing to give me any sense of direction or balance. It was dark and empty and I was completely alone with no idea what the fuck to do or how to get out. Every now and again I would find something to embrace, to grip to for dear life and I did grip intensely, trying to catch my breath, bewildered and dizzy, wondering how the fuck I got here, shocked and dazed, but the respite didn't last, as whatever I was gripping to disintegrated, to my horror and despair. Then I was free-falling again.


As I fell through this endless chasm, I got hit by all-consuming, completely overwhelming, totally engulfing tsunamis of emotions. Like a series of inevitable breakdowns coming at me and all I could do was watch in terror, as I couldn't get out of their way and they're impossible to out run or avoid. I felt them creeping into my consciousness as they slowly descended on me, permeating my skin, saturating my veins, seeping into my cells, into my soul and my very being. There's nothing I could do to stop them and nothing I could do about them once I was surrounded. I swear to God, I have never, ever, EVER experienced anything like it before. In the beginning they were hourly. I could feel them coming and couldn't stop them. Sometimes, if they were really bad, they would last for a couple of hours. I would convulse and sweat, be unable to breathe, scream into my pillow until my throat went sore and gag into the toilet. Shake, sob, howl, wail and whimper, then fall asleep with exhaustion, wake up and somehow get myself together for when the kids were coming home from school. This was every single day. The tsunamis would subside briefly, once again, allowing me to catch my breath, come up for some life giving gulps of air, but hit and then hit and hit and hit again. Smashing into me again and again and again and again. Disorientating me, pummelling me into submission and subduing me into utter exhaustion. I eventually found out the tsunamis have a name - emotional flooding and it lasted for five months.


In the in-between moments the floods subsided, the emotional devastation left me constantly nauseous, like I had something continually stuck in my throat, clutching at my chest and fermenting in my stomach. My moods were unpredictable and bounced about like a pinball machine, pinging from one emotional state to the next. I was distraught and exhausted all the time. I couldn't eat, couldn't stay asleep, yet couldn't stay awake, couldn't stop crying. I felt sick, had headaches, panic attacks, intrusive visions, nightmares, twitching, night sweats that were so bad I was convinced I was menopausal and my hands were permanently shaking. Wandering about with a heavy, uncomfortable "urgh" feeling grasping at my lungs every second of every day. Feeling like I was underwater, everything slow and subdued. I was confused and shaken and all this was constant. All day every day. My sense of normality smashed to smithereens. Everything I knew and believed, everything I was sure of and trusted, everything I thought was true, all of that gone. Nothing was the same or will be ever again. My husband having affair was now my story, part of my life whether I liked it or not and it was going to be there FOREVER. This churned my stomach like a washing machine. That fact was now permanently etched into my history completely and utterly against my will. This realisation was hard, really hard to comprehend. I didn't want it. I didn't ask for it. I couldn't even believe it was happening to me. The shock and bewilderment was unreal. I still find this bit hard and it's a whole year later.


Just talking to my friends on the school run felt awkward and odd. Nothing was the same. My life as I knew it, as they all saw it, was now a mask of what the truth actually was. What on earth could I talk about? What should I say if they ask how I am? Many of them would ask after my husband too as they knew he was away. I was embarrassed, humiliated and ashamed. The words "my husband had an affair" rung silently loud in my head like a shameful secret. I still remember the first time I had to say them out loud. I was at the doctors. Still in shock, I felt so humiliated. The words didn't feel like mine. Saying them out loud was so awful, so unbelievable. I felt like they belonged to someone else's life, not mine. I felt judged, distraught and very, very alone. I was being forced into an existence I didn't want to be in and I couldn't tell anyone about it.


It was absolutely horrific. I was in a constant dream like state, but awake, totally in a daze. No energy, no motivation for anything. It was such a struggle just to get up. All I wanted to do was hide away and cry and sometimes when I did cry, I felt like it was never going to stop. I would cry and cry and cry and cry. Questioning myself, questioning my life, questioning my decisions. Wanting everything to be different and feeling sick that it now never could be. Bargaining with life. Crying doing the washing up. Crying in Tesco. Crawling into bed genuinely seeking solace from hiding in the duvet. This went on for weeks, months. Trudging through mud, fucking exhausted, feeling like it's never going to go away. The same pain, over and over again like ground hog day. Trying to find my strength. Trying to find a way to fight back. Swinging through emotions like browsing trailers on Netflix. Experiencing painful tasters of each one, but never being able to settle on one for very long.


This abyss was brutal.


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