Learning that I was betrayed by the very man who vowed to love, honor and cherish me until parted by death was devastating. It’s been seven months now since Discovery Day (A.K.A., D. Day); not one moment has passed that I have not been acutely aware of his decision to stray from our covenant. The knowledge of my husband’s infidelity is always with me, in every context of my life.
Two months ago while facilitating a group therapy session, one of my patients initiated a conversation about an affair her father had and BAM! I was catapulted back to D. Day. I couldn’t refocus after that and had to end group 15 minutes early. On another occasion, I purchased a plain white shirt (without trying it on), when I got home I noticed the “Made in Los Angeles” label and once again I was slapped by the hand of my reality…I am no longer the only woman my husband has been with since our wedding night.
Survivors of adultery say you are healed when you can recall the affair and it no longer causes deep emotional anguish. I wish I could say that I am at that point, but every remembrance of the affair still takes my breath away and threatens to sweep me off my feet. That being said, I am no longer a hostage to depression or a slave to fear. I am finally at a place in the recovery process where I am ready to unclench my fists and relinquish the toxic waste that has been weighing me down. After spending some time reflecting, I have identified six things I am letting go of post affair.
- Unforgiveness– I am choosing forgiveness because unforgiveness is too heavy a burden to bear. Forgiving the affair partner (hereinafter referred to as AP) with her smug attitude and blatant disregard for my marriage has been nearly impossible until this moment in my journey. My closest friends have nudged and pushed me towards forgiving AP since D. Day, often quoting Scripture and reminding me “You don’t have to feel forgiveness to offer it,” or “You have to forgive her, Jesus forgave you.” I already know that. I’ve preached the sermon and taught the concept in therapy sessions. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I’ve done some HARD things in my life! Yet, I am making the difficult choice to radically accept what I cannot change and no longer hold this egregious action against her. So, H.F.R. I forgive you completely and hold no offense against you. Go in peace and be blessed. May you find a man who loves you and treats you as a pearl of great value.
- Images– I read an email exchange between my husband and AP on November 2, 2015 after a hunch that something still wasn’t quiet right. I discovered that they were still in contact some seven weeks after the affair supposedly ended. The abominable images those emails conjured in my head have been hard to erase. The images are triggers and they come to me at the MOST inconvenient times. They are not emotionally healthy for me and they get in the way of being present with the man I love. When the intrusive images make their presence known, I intentionally block them and think of something more positive.
- Despair– One of the reasons betrayal hurts so much is because it is a weapon found only in the hands of someone you love. Your enemy has no such tool, for only a friend can betray. Betrayal is mutiny. It’s a violation of a trust, an inside job.
After my love betrayed me, I fell into despair. Questioning who I was and if I wanted to live. I was humiliated and embarrassed. My soul was crushed. Today, I choose peace. I cannot change or undo what happened. It has to be enough that the man I love regrets the affair and wishes every single day that he could go back in time and make a different decision.
- Demonizing the affair partner– It has been easier to forgive my husband and demonize AP instead. The brutal truth is, they were both to blame and I should not be demonizing AP. I recognize today that she was also hurt. What sane woman chooses lies and secrets to further her relationship? What sane woman would settle for crumbs in a relationship or choose not to be her man’s priority? This was a lonely woman who got caught up in the rapture of euphoria because she underestimated her value and worth.
- Ruminating on the affair– My beloved and I have been together for 20 years; we have rich history together. I am learning to focus on the future and all the exciting things that are coming our way. My oldest son and his wife are expecting their first child (my first grandbaby), my oldest daughter is getting married in 2017 and my beloved and I are planning an anniversary get away and vow renewal. Instead of ruminating on the affair, I am focusing on redemption.
- Interrogating my husband– Our time in counseling helped to flesh out the affair narrative. I am aware of the causes of the infidelity and we have repaired the breaches. For months I interrogated my husband. Demanded information and details and asked the same questions repeatedly. Mainly because he lied so many times, I felt I couldn’t trust the truth even when it was obvious. But this was not forgiveness- it was me pursing vengeance and reliving the trauma. I no longer interrogate my husband; I have given him grace and turned the page. Together, we are writing a new chapter!