Life keeps moving. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Five years ago, the life I thought I had was shattered by the discovery of my husband’s affair. His affair flattened me, it buried me, and it changed me.
I am not the same person I was five years ago, nor can I return to the person I was before my D-Day. I’ve accepted that last part even though I am still nostalgic for the old me that trusted, believed, and loved without fear. I’ve learned more about myself and grown into a stronger woman in the past five years. Here are some truths I’ve learned along this journey.
Five years later so much has changed in my life. We sent our oldest child off to college this fall and our younger two boys are in high school. We live busy lives and our children are becoming increasingly independent. It’s bittersweet to see your children become adults. In the same moment I am feeling love and pride, I am also feeling sad and alone. Love is not always brilliant. Sometimes love means letting go. Sometimes love means change. Relationships exist as waves. We need to learn how to ride them if we want them to grow, expand, and succeed. Sometimes we must simply ride the waves with the people we love, regardless of where they go. Because ultimately, none of these waves last.
There have been many days over the past five years where I felt lost and alone. It’s normal to have these days but I’ve learned it’s important not to fall down into rabbit holes. Being the victim of an affair can make you obsessive compulsive — or at least that has been my experience. I can find myself hyper-focused on an idea, a moment in history, or words that once meant nothing but now have meaning. I’ve learned to push away pain that serves no purpose but I still have moments that creep up on me and doubts that surface. There are days I question every decision I’ve made. I still have days where I crave to touch what is lost. Every so often I have a day that I’ve lost my capacity to trust. Those days are hard because I feel most alone and I am afraid that I’ll never get past it. I wish I could stop myself from feeling or thinking this way.
Five years later I can’t remember what life was like before D-Day. I think I know how it was but I question my memories all the time. Was I really as happy as I say I was? Or did I have plenty of lost and alone days then too? I don’t know. I’ve adjusted to life post-D-Day and all the permanent self-doubt that his affair introduced into my life. Sometimes I held my story so close it became airtight and began to suffocate. I have learned to take a step back and let the air in. I must learn to live with my past before I can live in the present.
Being vulnerable is tough. After my D-Day I built a wall around my heart. It felt like my heart retracted and a steel wall was erected around it. I’ve opened my heart again and it’s scary. I have found that I am more accepting of my own flaws, weaknesses, and to ask for what I need. I have found that when I am genuinely vulnerable that is when I feel most connected. I am gaining strength, love, and courage as I am learning to embrace and expose my vulnerabilities.
Resiliency and acceptance is key to moving forward. Affairs break marriages. regardless of whether the couple decides to work it out and stay together, the marriage is forever changed. Five years ago, it felt as though my marriage had become a broken promised land. Letting go of what I believed defined my marriage was hard. And I don’t know that I am always moving forward but I must keep going.
Knowing that you can heal allows you to be open to the power of resiliency. I’ve faced my failures, setbacks, and pain with confidence and courage (and sometimes fear and tears too). This journey is hard but it’s not impossible. Affairs don’t have to be a dead end for marriages. It is okay to decide to stay or go. Love is not perfect. It is not always kind, but love can heal.