There are five stages of grief. And let’s be honest, an affair throws you into grief. Even if you manage to save your marriage, you still have to mourn the loss of what was.
DENIAL: I’ll be honest here, I don’t know if I will ever really not be in denial of a some sort. It still doesn’t seem possible. The facts all say it happened, but even my mind is confused by this one. But, I do know that it happened, despite my utter confusion to this day.
ANGER: It took me a very, very long time to feel anger regarding the affair. And even after the anger part kicked in, it was sporadic. I think Bobbie even mentioned once my lack of anger. I have never once thought I reacted normally to any of this. However, I do still feel anger every once in a great while. For the most part though, I never really went there.
BARGAINING: I never once bargained with him. All of my bargaining was with myself. Don’t do anything. If he wants to leave, he does it, not you. Put your kids first and think about what their life would be like if he was with her. Think about dual holidays and shared weekends. Think. This one was tough. I mean, we all know everything inside of us wants to flee….I didn’t. It was the best decision I could have ever made.
DEPRESSION: I admit I’m having a hard time escaping the depression part. I mean, it’s not serious depression. It doesn’t dwell. It comes and goes. But, it’s there and I know it’s there. My husband knows it’s there too. It is just one of those things that is working itself out. If there’s one thing I would tell anyone else going through this…..don’t rush it. This takes time, like years amount of time. It’s fading. It’s all good.
ACCEPTANCE: If there’s any other piece of advice I would give someone going through an affair, it’s this-you have to learn to accept things you might not want to accept. And you have to accept them one hundred percent. There’s a reason why this is the last step. If you ever hope to have healing, you have to take it all on head on. You have to accept that an affair happened to you and, if you stay with your spouse, you have to accept them, mistakes and all.
It all seems so simple laid out in steps like this. But, it is not simple. It’s a hard, lengthy process that you will inevitably fail at many times. And that’s the other thing you have to accept, that the first time and probably many subsequent times later, you will fail at the whole healing process. You have to accept that your mind will be working in overtime, causing you to miss out on other life events, and many, many times it will not work out. And then one day it will. One day things will be better.
You may have to accept that good is good enough. That the speed of play is fast enough. That eventually will be soon enough.
And you have to accept your vulnerability. It’s hard and scary to be vulnerable. And after an affair, revealing what is in your heart is extremely daunting. It’s that feeling that stops me from the one last thing I would hope to accomplish. But, I also know how liberating and freeing it is to reveal what is in your heart. This is still a work in progress for me.
Almost everything will be okay in time, but not everything. You might even put up a good fight and still lose. You might hold onto to something so tight until you realize there’s no choice but to just let it go. And it will still be okay. Acceptance is quiet and calm. And I’ve accepted so many things and let go of so many things. And the last thing for me to accept or let go is Bobbie. If I’m honest, I will say that this has been my biggest challenge for reasons most people would never understand.
Honestly, I don’t think everything needs to be understood though. Maybe some things we shouldn’t even try to understand. Maybe, just maybe, the things we think we need to understand the most are just things that need our acceptance without the understanding part at all.