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Days, weeks, and months went by, but these feelings… the feelings of mistrust, betrayal, depression, stress, and fear, and still having to hold it all together while being a “good” mother, seemed impossible. The marriage was fine, everything was good. There were no hang ups, major fights, or even un-attraction issues, and yet it still happened. It happened, and even though life continued on, there was this standstill. No movement forward nor backward. Nothing but the betrayal, the affair – it was the existence of the marriage: The Affair. Life still moved forward, mothering had to be done, so just keep it together, right?
It was every day since the affair that everyday life still continued. Bills had to be paid, the children needed to have their meals, stories, and bath time. When talking with friends, you still had to have a smile on your face. “Everything’s great with us.” It became the most used phrase that came so easily as the persistent lie.
How can you share or even admit this profound struggle in such a way that leads to not being judged or condemned?
No one would ever understand, no one really wants to know anyway, it’s not like they can help. Right? It’s a burden you face alone – since it’s your fault… right?
The overwhelming feelings of being alone in this silent cycle of dread and despair were too much to bear. Yet, keep it together. Don’t let the kids see mommy sad. Just keep it together a little longer.
Another smile, another day. Keep it together, everything is fine, take care of the kids and maybe, just maybe, silently, this will all go away. As husband and wife, it’s not like getting along is hard. You can still show affection and still go through the motions of everyday activities, but it’s not long before the bitterness feels like an angora sweater in the dead of winter. Your only warming, soft comfort that somehow, is conveniently the perfect size to calm the chills of hopelessness. So you wrap yourself up a little bit tighter.
It’s a good day. Some time has passed and now, there’s really no reason to talk about it. Who wants details anyway? Less talk, perhaps there will be forward momentum. No talking, don’t mention it, just focus on work, preparing the meals, playing with the kids. Just… just don’t talk about it.
Nope. That didn’t work.
Another day filled with what ifs. What if the affair didn’t happen? What if this other person never came into our lives? What if you were better at…
“We’re doing great, the kids are growing up so fast!”
Coping with the loneliness of the consistent and reliable lies told over and over again almost felt as if things were okay. Almost.
A couple of times, the baby heard all of the regrets, felt all the tears on top of his head as he dozed on momma’s chest, and listened to her ragged breathing from crying so much. Such sadness, yet peace within the sleeping infant. There were those few precious moments where loneliness escaped like a bandit thief. Having something stolen from you never felt so refreshing! Finally! Letting go and letting it out, even for just a few moments, you didn’t have to keep it together. It felt so true for once.
It’s hard, that’s no lie, but love was stronger than the hurt. Forgiveness washed away the dirt and smell of the other person. Time passed so that it was one day closer to what hope had in mind. Hope came crashing through the door like a murderous tornado – tearing through the flimsiest walls in order to wreak havoc upon the destruction that the affair caused on our marriage. It killed many who lingered there: depression, hurt, anger, bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness.
It was hope.
Hope that he still loved me and wanted me as his wife. Hope that he would stop seeing me with the other man every time we made love again. Hope that even though I violated our marriage vows, he wanted to love us through the healing. Hope that we would one day stop lying to our friends.
11 years later – we’re beyond hope.
We kept it… together – by staying together.
Just keep hoping… together.
Here are some tips on keeping it together in the midst of an emotional rollercoaster of an affair or even if you are feeling like you may be losing a loved one on an emotional level.
- Find someone to open up to. A trusted person like a sister or brother who will just listen. Try to avoid someone you are physically attracted to.
- Decide you want to stay in the marriage. If you are still contemplating leaving the relationship as an option – it’s just a continuous cycle of deception that it will work (for yourself). Set up the intention for a successful outcome.
- Nourish yourself. The rollercoaster of emotions will have you grabbing anything and everything in site. Try to lead with logical, healthy food instead of letting your emotions dictate your future health.
- Continue to have sex. Believe it or not, that physical reconnection heals these wounds faster than if you were to “withhold” from your partner. It does nobody any good to go around, under, or over the main cause of your pain. Go through it lovingly together.
- Pray, meditate, or find quiet time. Whatever your beliefs, it’s pertinent you continue or start some form of reaching a higher power or an inner peace. Stress is no joke during this trial of life.
- Smile and say “I love you” everyday. Even if you don’t want to, think of it as more of a need to. If you can honestly look at yourself in the mirror and admit you love your partner – then it’s true. Loving them is not the issue (otherwise you wouldn’t be hurting so bad right now), you just don’t like
themtheir actions (or your own).
- Forgive. Forgiving does not mean forgetting or saying the offense was accepted. On the contrary, forgiveness is for you. For you, to let go of the hurt, pain, and shame. Forgiving — to move yourself forward.
Photo credits: Andi