Just going to go ahead and put this here
I was just going to do an update, but as I’m rarely around these days and there are sadly an unending stream of new people who have joined our club, I thought a review was in order.
A lot has changed since I came here in 2016, beaten down, heart broken, hopeless and breathing solely because I have two children who needed their mother. In that first month I dropped 20 lbs, developed dark circles and ulcers. I broke out in a rash from stress. I went to the bathroom at work at least twice a day to hide and cry. I was so weak with fatigue and stress and newly emerging autoimmune reactions at one point that my doctor tested me for mono. I was certain I was going to be fired from the job I hated but definitely needed because I was about 75% sure I was going to get a divorce. There are multiple weeks I can’t even remember. All I did for hours was lay in my bed watching The Office on my laptop. I’d get to the series finale and immediately start it over. I don’t know how many times I watched that show laying on my side, my chest hollowed out from grief and tears.
Despite this. Here is what I did in that first year: 2016/17
* On DDay when I found the incriminating text messages, I walked calmly into the living room where I had left my computer and I found a custody agreement template online. I started filling it out. My husband walked into the room when I was about 2/3 of the way done and asked me what I was working on. I asked him if he had something to tell me that I should know. He tried to act like he didn’t know what I was talking about but I just quietly and calmly repeated myself once and he broke down and started telling me everything in summary. Once he was done, I told him I was working on a custody agreement and let him know I would not fight him. That if he was in love with her, he should absolutely go be with her. I would be fine. - To this day I have no idea how I did this, I just switched off and my autopilot was cool as a cucumber, calm - This frightened my husband more than any amount of yelling could have. He sent the OW a text message saying “we are done, this is over” and commenced begging for a chance to keep me.
* I did my work, I did it well enough to stay in good standing at my office. Good enough to build on later.
* Went through IC, I did EMDR, somatic experiencing, talk therapy and took medication to even myself out.
* I read everything I could get my hands on and built up my support network. I worked on myself, rebuilding my self esteem and slowly finding joy through time with the kids.
* Survived the holidays, a funeral and family tragedies all without falling completely apart
* Volunteered 80 hours at a local charity
* I watched and I learned. I gave my husband time to prove himself to me, after about 5 months of his solid rebuilding efforts, I gave him one year. One year to work on being worthy of me and then I’d reassess.
* Purchased a car in my name
* Began my own savings account
In year two: 2017/18
* I taught myself a new skill, got an internship using that skill at my company and was awarded tuition to a local program where I could improve those skills.
* I graduated from the program and moved into a permanent position at that company, full time in my new career.
* I graduated from IC and we were moved to “as needed” in MC
* Started to feel more at ease in my city again
* Worked on Non-Violent Communication (still fighting a LOT)
* Started having some bonding experiences (romantic trips, new joint hobbies, projects, deep talks)
* Began tentatively celebrating holidays with more joy
* Continued volunteering and started teaching others
* Gave my husband another year of marriage so that he could continue to work to deserve me based on the concrete changes I had seen so far.
In year three: 2018/19
* I got a new job which doubled the salary I was making the year of the affair. On Dday I was making half the money my husband did. When I got this position I bumped ahead of him in pay. For the first time I felt secure in the fact that if I needed to I could leave and I would not have to worry about affording my own place or all of the things the kids needed.
* This was a year of reclaiming, I took back many things this year and made them my own. Somethings on my own. We made a lot of new memories together.
* We both got more practiced at NVC, our fights were rarer and calmer
* Happily, willingly celebrated Valentine’s Day and our anniversary for the first time since Dday
* Began a new health plan with my doctor and started seeing big improvements in my autoimmune issues
* Started dedicating serious time to what makes me most happy, picking up old beloved hobbies, hiking, swimming, spending time with friends
* Was so busy being happy, I totally forgot to do the renewal ceremony, oops I guess that means I’ve decided to keep him for now
Year 4 was 2019/20 so of course this year was wildly different than the ones before it, as everyone’s was. I did some cool stuff this year:
* Big promotion at work, with a nice raise, working on a team I adore and doing things I am genuinely interested in
* Actually, no joke, super content and happy staying home with my husband and kids
* Completed a big home project that make our house a joy to stay in
* Spent lots of time as a family together: outdoors, playing music, swimming, playing board games and watching movies
* Found that my husband is very creative and inventive when date night locations are limited (writing me poetry, writing me songs, candle lit dinners complete with full themed playlists and fancy food, long intimate walks, late night movie marathons with popcorn and ice cream)
* We tend to have discussions rather than fights. Our discussions can be heated but they are never mean spirited, they don’t generally get loud, we don’t go up against one another. Now it is us vs the miscommunication - us vs the problem, us vs whatever is wrong
* No mind movies at all
* Minimal triggers (I think I’ve had 2 that I would call episodes in the entire year)
* We lean into each other, we talk to one another early if something is bothering us.
Today marks the beginning of Year 5. I used to think back when I first heard the whole 2-5 years to heal thing that 5 years out was an eternity but now I’m like, that’s so reasonable. Infidelity is trauma, it creates deep wounds that leave scars that are never gone.
The timeline looks different for everyone and it depends on SO MANY variables. I think I had a smoother path because I was not gaslit (I always knew exactly where he was and for how long, I just assumed they were working - oh so trusting!), I was not made to compete (she was dropped immediately), I had one Dday where everything came out, there was no broken contact, she moved hundreds of miles away shortly after Dday, there was no blame shifting - he owned it from the first minute and never said otherwise, he never claimed that he wasn’t in love with me, he told the OW in writing several times that he loved me and didn’t want to leave me during the affair that I saw, no evidence that he ever said a negative word about me or the kids, on and on. If it weren’t for the double betrayal and that it was 6 months I would say I was a best case scenario. My WH jumped into doing the sincere, hard, life altering work the moment I found out and hasn't let up yet.
4 years later I can bring up the affair anytime it comes to mind and all I get is support and love. 4 years later my husband still lives in gratitude that he got another chance with me, one he knows he did not deserve, and thanks me regularly for it. (At least once a week he will come and find me in the house and hold on to me and thank me profusely for being in his life) 4 years later and his triggers are far more numerous and deeper than mine, but we can talk about them as they come.
I can tell you that my marriage today looks normal. Actually, better than normal. I have friends who are envious of the ease my spouse and I have together, the way that we are so attuned to the moods of the other, how we are always doing kind things to help the other one, the way my husband cooks more than I ever have (and is FAR superior at it truth be told), of how close we are as a family. People often want to tell me how lucky I am, but I always correct them. I am not lucky, everything I have in my marriage today is the result of a whole lot of work, countless tears, sleepless nights, therapy and two people committed to giving it our best shot.
I am in love with my husband and I like him too. I’m proud of who he is today. I’m glad I gave him a chance and he saw it as a chance and a gift and has exceeded my expectations every single day so far.
My top tips for anyone suffering trauma from infidelity:
* NURSE method as a set of rules:
* NOURISHMENT - eat well, enough - when you can’t eat solid food do smoothies, meal replacement shakes, canned soup, whatever you can do to get good calories in. It makes a huge difference in your ability to deal with hard emotions
* UNDERSTANDING - have people you can talk to about the hard stuff, people you can be authentic with. I suggest a personal therapist to make it through this but also have at least a couple of trusted friends and of course SI is always here for you. Some of my biggest cheerleaders are from this site. Like someone’s writing style? Feel like you have things in common? DM them!
* REST - sleep is super vital, but trauma induced insomnia is real. Even if you can’t actually sleep, make sure you take time to lie down alone in a comfortable room unplugged from upsetting things or social media. Give yourself the room to recover.
* SPIRITUALITY - connect to something larger than yourself, be it religion, meditation, volunteerism or all of the above. Realizing there is more to life than what is happening in your house is so valuable.
|* EXERCISE - any movement is going to release endorphins and they will save your life. Some days all I could manage was a 15 minute slow walk around the block in my sweatpants but you know I always felt better when I moved. Find a thing you love and do it. Make it as easy for yourself as possible
* Take your time, there’s no rush. You can leave at any point, for any reason. Some days I have stayed married simply because my husband is useful to our household and that was okay
* Focus on yourself, no one can heal you
Thanks for reading this novel, if you got this far. I hope you are all staying healthy and are prioritizing your healing ❤️