It’s affair season now, 6 years ago I was making horrific, callous decisions and I have been thinking about similar things to your post lately.
By the end of year one, I had made progress in therapy that allowed me to understand the whys and how’s of what I did. While I still swam in an ocean of shame, I had made enough space for him and his experience. I knew the shame was unproductive and I could sit with it. I was in a place I could start being an effective rebuilder.
By the end of year two I had made progress on the things about me that supported my how’s and whys. I worked on learning boundaries, but was still terribly burned out and needed to make some lifestyle changes. My marriage seemed better but I didn’t realize he was in the midst of his own affair by that point and that’s why things seemed better.
By this point I’d learned to make personal care a priority and was trying new things with a vision of creating a life I didn’t want to escape from.
Reaching year three, I discovered his affair. And my shame spiral was horrific. I couldn’t find my anger. But that year I think I came to terms with my attachment style and started seeing my codependencies. This was a seed that bloomed later into knowing people will come and go but I will always have my own back.
I made my requirements for him on my staying but leaned towards divorce for a good year after discovery. Not just because he cheated but because I lost hope reconciliation was possible. I had the mentality that I had soiled the marriage past the point of no return.
However, as he worked on himself in therapy, and things started to connect with him we did reach some mutual understandings. And I went through an intense anger phase. Looking back it was the first opportunity i felt safe enough to feel it and express it.
By the end of that phase, our marriage was at ground zero. We had burnt it to the ground, and the only thing we could do is start imagining what, if anything could be built in its place.
As we started year 4, we made the unconventional decision that I walk away from an extremely lucrative job and join him on the road traveling. I had concerns, most people following me here at the time had concerns. We sold everything, and went for it. In the back of my mind liquidating our assets would make divorce easier if the trip didn’t work out. He had the affair in our house so either way we needed to start fresh. And I wasn’t focused at all on my career anyway so that was compounding my feelings of worthlessness.
That year I began to heal my burn out. Being alone together traveling added both tension and relief at first. And slowly we began to rebuild our connection. I considered us reconciled by the year end.
And this past year, I can see:
- I clearly love myself and protect the things important to me, he does the same. No one sacrifices but we both give generously. We are back to truly making love, and are able to focus on each other.
-We go out and do the things we love, spending time out in nature has become a need rather than a hobby. It’s where I have developed peace of mind and it’s my reset.
-I used to feel so alone with him emotionally. He is opening up about things I have never guessed or heard him say in all our years together. We laugh, we are affectionate, we have fun, we value our relationship in a way we never have.
-personally I feel I am flourishing. I’ve started a new career where I can be creative, I have gained better coping mechanisms, and have peace of mind. I have stopped overthinking, worrying, know who I am and what I am worth. I take responsibility for my own happiness and I avoid passive aggressive behaviors. I don’t back down as easily or overly people please. I don’t self abandon and six years ago I had no idea what that meant or how it applied to me.
-the biggest change is I am very clear on things I want and don’t want. I don’t just go along, my passivity was a major factor in what brought me here. I don’t make a stance just to make a stance but I stay connected with myself and listen to myself, this was largely absent
-I now make efforts in all my relationships that wasn’t there before, and there are marked improvements in all of them.
With all that said, I think by somewhere in year two, I had become a better person/partner and became self aware. But I am light years different now, even though it felt like dramatic change back then. I know this will always be in the fabric of our marriage, but not all in bad ways. Like you, I sure wish I could have found a different way to flourish.
[This message edited by hikingout at 7:29 AM, Tuesday, May 30th]