Six Year Update
Greetings members of the club no one wants to join. Today, it is CHOICE DAY for me aka the anniversary of DDay, the day I regained the information necessary for me to have full autonomy again. I used to call it "Freedom Day" but it isn’t really about freedom (though I was set free from unknowingly living a lie that day), for me the ability to have informed consent about the bodily risks I am taking on is the most crucial thing.
As always this is a day of reflection and in keeping with my own self appointed tradition, I come back to this little corner of the internet to provide a retrospective of my year.
It has been six years today since the affair came to light. In the past year a lot has happened:
My kids lost their first grandparent and my spouse lost his father. It was at the very beginning of the year and very hard.
Our house has been hit by not one but two layoffs (blessedly they were several months apart so not the crisis it may have been)
We all got covid (first timers!) and it sucked. The only person who was not hit hard with it was our youngest who clearly has the immune system of an ox.
The above shot down our planned family vacation for the year.
The good stuff:
I landed a new job that is a much better fit than the company I was laid off from. I am learning a ton and doing work I really believe in! It’s fun and challenging and it feels like leveling up.
We celebrated our 20th anniversary in style by having a weekend away in a town neither of us have stayed in before and it was a blast. We had truly the best time together.
No triggers have come my way in a very long while. The closest I got was a dear friend sharing that she had been recently cheated on and our stories are VERY similar in creepy ways. And even then it was a very mild dull ache - like an empathy pain. No tears, no intrusive thoughts, just a small oof. When recounting certain parts of my tale.
The important bit - the bit that I think is the most crucial to healing from this particular flavor of trauma is this: you can’t make anyone do something they are unwilling to do - good or bad. You can (and should) have expectations/requirements and boundaries but it is up to you to deal with what happens if your partner falls short.
The best thing I did for both of us in the beginning was to let my husband know that I could not and would not live in unending limbo but I was willing to give him a chance to win me back. So at first I gave him six months to get on the right path or fuck off. I didn’t give him a book list or check his homework. I just watched and waited. Our first few years were basically "Goodnight, Westley. Good work today, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning."
Thankfully, I haven’t had to pull that trigger. My life is better with him than without him in it. He makes me laugh and smile every single day. From the outside no one would suspect that the house had been torched to ashes based on what we have rebuilt on the site.
Healing and growing is an ongoing process and one that may never be complete. But I can say that today I am happily married I love him and I believe that he loves me as evidenced by his consistent actions these past 6 years.
Wishing you all strength and fortitude as you walk this path. No matter which direction you go, it’s a hard road to healing.
My past updates if you are in for a read :)
1st antiversary update: https://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=612040
2nd antiversary update:https://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=628644
3rd antiversary update: https://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=641187&HL=55656
4th antiversary: https://survivinginfidelity.com/forums/?tid=648864&HL=55656
5th antiversary: https://survivinginfidelity.com/topics/654776/5-years-/
7 comments posted: Monday, September 26th, 2022
Yesterday, was 5 years out and that feels like a true milestone.
I can say that I feel like I have recovered from the affair.
I no longer have intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares or mind movies about the affair.
I enjoy many forms of media that touch on the subject of infidelity without an adverse reaction (movies, tv shows, books, podcasts etc).
I no longer dwell on the events or wish things were different.
I routinely visit places that I used to go to with the OW and do activities that we did together as friends without a second thought. Those memories are mixed in with so many new experiences that they have faded almost completely. They don't cause me pain to consider.
I don't have an issue trusting new people in my life. (This was a large issue in the early years of recovery).
The affair doesn't come into my mind most weeks. In fact, often times months pass and I don't think of it. When it does come to mind, it upsets me maybe 1/10 times. It's more like a passing fact - like the fact that my beloved granny died years ago. The fact is still sad, but it doesn't make me sad the majority of the time.
On the occasions when I do feel upset and would like some support, my partner has no issue with discussing it in whatever depth I wish to do so. Our discussions are calm, centered and based in respect and understanding in care.
I consider myself in the process of healing. I have lingering physical effects from the trauma (an autoimmune disorder lying dormant was activated by the stress, per my doctors). The impacts of my condition will be life long, but I have made
Sometimes I will find myself depressed without knowing why and when I investigate I realize that it is a date from the affair. This happened this week, I literally forgot DDay. I was chugging along doing all the things, making plans, etc and out of nowhere I feel very down. When I told my husband I was really sad but I had no idea why, he was the one who reminded me what the 25th was. I bounced back to normal pretty quickly (literally the day after the depression hit, it lifted). I'm sure that body-led emotional reaction with no attachments to thought patterns is something I will address with my therapist.
We both say we are back to a happy marriage with a healthy amount of trust. I trust my husband to handle himself respectfully and with good boundaries based on the consistent actions, attitude and growth I have seen from him over the past five years. But more importantly I trust myself to uphold my own boundaries and do what is most healthy for me if he proves that trust wrong. I no longer make excuses or doubt my gut - if I have a question, I ask it. If something feels off, I address it. My husband is transparent, brings up concerns and has changed careers all in an effort to be the kind of person he wants to be (rather than the one that he was).
Our daily life is pretty normal (as normal as it can be in 2021). We both have fulfilling jobs and personal hobbies at home plus we have some fun hobbies that we do with the entire family. Our boys are both teenagers and so we have been having a lot of fun playing cooperative games and learning new skills as a group. We spend a lot of time 1:1 including date nights (planned and spontaneous) but we also just like to spend the night on the couch listening to music or watching something together.
I love my husband, without any qualifiers. There are no "but" statements silently in my mind when I say it. I'm proud of the marriage and the life we have built out of the ruins. But really I am proud of myself. I have come a long way since the person I was in 2016 even before the devastation. I am changed in many ways, some bad, some good but most ABSOLUTELY FUCKING AMAZING. I am the most authentic and least fearful version of myself and that is the best revenge.
There are links to Years 1-4 in my bio.
14 comments posted: Sunday, September 26th, 2021
Since the topic is closed, I decided to start a new one to say: as a person who grew up in Appalachia, the book reads exactly like what it is, the slightly condescending narrative of a man who never lived there but did visit his granny there for the summers. He doesn’t back up anything with data and he can’t quite back up his conjecture with lived experience because he was a visitor there, an outsider.
If you would like to read something accurate, well researched and well written that actually represents that part of the country please pick up What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte.
0 comment posted: Monday, June 28th, 2021