During the year following my D-Day triggers were expected. I hated them, but I expected them. I bought him new underwear so I didn’t have to think about Bat Shit’s hands pulling them down, touching him. I destroyed a pair of his jeans with a Leatherman because they aged to display the worn outline of the iPod Touch she gave him.
When the triggers became more sporadic I saw it as a sign of progress. I was healing and not everything reminded me of my husband’s affair. Even after a year I was still being triggered to think about Bat Shit when I wanted nothing more than to forget about her. It seemed as though I could erase every physical trace of the affair but I would never fully remove Bat Shit from my memory. Just after the one-year mark from my D-Day I wrote about how Bat Shit was still a daily passing thought. No longer was she a trigger for pain but she was a ghost haunting my mind, appearing and disappearing without warning. She was not doing damage anymore, just lingering around.
Then one day she was gone, in my mind, anymore. The mind triggers were lessening. I was replacing thoughts of her with positive, new thoughts. My mind was filled with authentic moments and memories in my life that she could not touch. People that she did not know about and she could never connect with. Bat Shit’s power over my life was gone. My life was my own again.
I haven’t been triggered in months. I recall breaking down in tears about the affair just after Christmas. I remember telling my husband I needed him to go to therapy on his own. I needed him to figure out the answer to Why and How he was able to cheat on me. And so he went. He found a therapist, made the appointments and he’s been going for three months now. My triggers seemed to diminish in direct correlation to my husband’s efforts to better self-understanding.
Then two weeks ago I was triggered. It wasn’t the affair; it wasn’t a remnant of the affair or a reminder. It was the way my teenage son treated me that pushed me over the edge. He told me that he had been lying to me for over a month about a romantic relationship in his life. The type of secret I kept from my parents at his age. But this was different to me. My son lied to me because he was afraid of my response—a response he could anticipate but did not want to hear. The same exact reason my husband chose not to tell me about his “friendship” with Bat Shit.
I was falling apart. The trigger was not about the affair this time. My son triggered me to feel how I felt in the days just after D-Day. My son assumed my reaction and made the decision to lie to me about something he’d been honest about prior to this relationship. In that moment, I felt everything had changed between us: mother and son. It wasn’t necessarily the lie that bothered me; it was the intent of the lie.
I did not anticipate being triggered back to that feeling of insignificance. Maybe it hurt more because this is the same child that held me in his arms as I cried uncontrollably on my D-Day. Maybe it hurt so deeply because I thought our relationship was different. (How did I get caught up in that notion again?) Regardless of why I was triggered, this was a reminder that the affair and its aftermath aren’t done with me yet.