Five years ago, in January of 2013, although it was the end of the month, the other woman called me on the phone. I was talking to my sister at the time when she beeped in. I didn’t debate about whether or not to take the call. I am not one to pull back or fear confrontation. I honestly had no idea what she planned to say to me. I suppose it wasn’t what she did say to me. I remember the night I discovered that my husband had cheated on me. I could hear my heart pounding out of my chest and was sure that if anyone were close by they would hear it as well. My youngest kids were 7 my oldest was 16. It’s a phenomenal thing how many thoughts your mind can fit into 10 seconds worth of time. It’s amazing that you do not hear your heart beat, even when you’re sitting in a room alone, except when you’re finding out that your husband had an affair.
The further away the event of her calling me that day gets, the less I remember. Although there are some things I will never forget from that conversation. That conversation would be the catalyst for the end, although probably not the way she thought it would end. There’s little doubt she believed I would end my relationship with my husband based on the content of her end of the conversation. The most remarkable thing was that I did not hear my heartbeat in the room that day despite the fact I was alone and she was being fairly graphic about having sex with my husband on sheets he purchased for her. I was completely calm. My heart rate never changed. Even when she 3-wayed my husband into the call, I was calm. I simply hung up the phone and called him back and he headed home.
I have spent the last five years working on dealing with the affair, working on my relationship with my husband, working on keeping my children as dent free from the whole mess I could. I don’t think most people realize the domino effect of the “after” part. Nor do I think they realize all of the steps that must be taken to truly heal and overcome the unthinkable. I know that I didn’t. I believed that my marriage was foolproof and honestly had never even thought about an affair or cheating or even anything in that realm of possibility. All along I believed the grass was green when it was really blue. And when you have believed that grass is green your entire life, even when you now know it’s blue, you still think it’s green.
About a year or so after their affair ended (it did not end cold turkey, but actually took a few months) we found out that the OW, Bobbie, had been sleeping with other people while she was also sleeping with my husband. This information did not shock me. It was something I knew, but really couldn’t find proof. Suddenly I had very definitive proof. My husband on the other hand was shocked. It’s funny how if you google affairs it’s nearly identically the same for all of them. These predators make their victims believe they have “changed” for them and that the love they have shown them is the reason for that huge change in their lives. Bobbie absolutely made my husband feel like she had changed for him and that nobody had ever loved her like he had. When they say love is blind, they are not lying. Having worked with her for 10 years or so he knew that she slept around. Everybody knew that she slept around. But she manipulated him into believing what she wanted him to believe.
After this knowledge, the real healing began….for both of us. And that is the hard part, the part most couples skip…healing needs to happen for both, not just the perceived victim in the relationship. My husband was also a victim. Recognizing that both of us needed to heal was likely the most important part of the equation, and it required an insurmountable amount of patience. I could have been mad at him and denied that he too had been hurt in this whole thing, but that would have been selfish. Two people do not go through an extra-marital affair and only one of them is hurt. Men are just less likely to admit that they are hurt as well. And women are less likely to care even if they believe that they are hurt, by believing they brought it on themselves. And it’s true, my husband brought this whole thing on himself. He’s guilty. But, he was also hurt, whether I liked that fact or not. If you touch a stove, even when you know it’s hot, and get burned, you still are hurt, even if you were the one dumb enough to touch the stove. You still need to heal that burn.
My husband and I spent probably over a year or more working on ourselves primarily. We scheduled “talk time”. But, 95% of every single day, with few exceptions, we went about our daily routine and acted completely normal for our children. We did not talk outside of our scheduled times at first at all. And then eventually it was only if one of us absolutely needed to do so. Now, it’s whenever, although we’ve pretty much talked it all out these days.
Then we worked on us together. We said her name. We talked about his relationship with her. We talked about what led him there and what he felt. We said her name a lot. We talked about her a lot. We talked about me and my feelings and how I felt about him and her and them. We cried and laughed and probably cried some more. But, we mostly discovered that we were just fine and probably always had been. My husband didn’t have an affair because he didn’t love me. It was so much more complicated and also so much more simple than that. Bobbie did make him believe that he wasn’t happy, and he believed that for a while. And maybe all women who have affairs with married men do that. Bobbie was proficient at projecting her feelings onto other people, and not just my husband. That is just part of her personality. And she took little things he said and preyed on those facts to make herself look more pleasing to him. These are all things he realizes now, but in the midst of it, he was blinded. And that could happen to any of us. I felt I couldn’t fault him for having a very human experience that could befall any of us at any time. We have all been deceived by someone before.
I can honestly say that things are better than ever in my relationship with my husband. We went through something really bad that could have ended badly for us. But we persevered. We beat the dragon. Right before Christmas we were talking about the time he bought her and me flowers at the same time. I had found out that he sent flowers to someone, and he actually cried telling me they were for me and I was ruining the surprise. They actually were for her and he ended up having to send me flowers as well. Yes, we can laugh about this now! But, what he said was this “I wasn’t myself then. I don’t know who I was”. That is healing. That is moving forward. That is love pushing itself back through all the holes it left and filling them up to the brim once again.
Happy New Year to you all! I wish you strength, peace, and the perseverance to overcome your own dragons!