June 10 is a date I will never forget. It is a date that is ingrained in my mind as much as my own birthday, my anniversary, my mother’s birthday. It will live with me forever. I am accepting that fact. It is my D-Day. The day that my world fell apart. The day I fell apart.
I was under the impression (actually, I was hoping) that the two-year mark was some kind of “recovery finish line.” I’ve read a lot of blogs and books and advice columns, and most of them say that it takes about two years for the betrayed spouse to recover from an affair. Obviously, I realize that the two-year mark for recovery is something that is written about in general terms, and it comes with a disclaimer like: every person is different, some take longer or shorter time to recover, blah, blah, blah. So, as June 10 has neared, I was expecting (hoping) to be “recovered.” I was hoping to be free of the pain, released from the grips of my anger and resentment, not to still thinking about it or Her on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, to be back to my old self, to be happy again, in my marriage and in my life. Things are better than they were on June 10, 2012 — much better than those first few months after discovery. But, I am not free from the pain of what he did. I am still sometimes angry, hurt, sad, resentful, or just confused. Sometimes, I still cry, but not so much anymore.
I have noticed a change in me in the past six months or so. I’m stronger and have most of my confidence back. After the blow of learning of the affair, there were months where I thought I would never have my confidence back; frankly, I wondered if I’d ever be able to work at a full time capacity again. I am once again decisive and quick in my work and able to handle a full time load, though now I choose not to do litigation — why stress myself needlessly? I am again able to make decisions in my personal life, although sometimes I still struggle with making them. I still have some insecurities, particularly when it comes to him and me not feeling like he desires me enough or loves me enough or that I am attractive or young enough. But, for the most part, I am comfortable in my own skin again and feel good about me.
I’ve become more compassionate. I look more closely at things before making a judgment or rendering an opinion. I stick up for people when I hear others talking about them, and I remind them that we never know what motivates someone to act a certain way. I used to think that I would leave his ass if he ever cheated. But the truth is, you can’t say what you’ll do until it happens to you, and you can’t judge someone else for staying until you’ve stood in their shoes. The same goes for everything in life — you cannot judge the choices other people make — I see that more clearly now and recognize and respect other people’s choices.
I often question myself whether I still love my husband the way one should love their spouse. Of course, I love him, but it’s not the same kind of love that it used to be. How it’s different is hard to explain. Sometimes, I want to rip his face off. Sometimes, I want to have my own affair so he will know at least some of the pain that he has put on me. Sometimes, I simply want to disappear and never see or think of him again. But, those are fleeting fantasies. Most of the time, he is still the only person that I truly want to spend my time with. I still want to protect him, encourage him, take care of him, do little things to make him happy. Sometimes, I feel love for him in a way that fills me completely and even makes my eyes tear up.
But, it is not that all-encompassing, all-trusting, blind, generous and unconditional love that I used to have for him. It is now a more “cautious” love, if that makes sense. I’m still kind of working out in my own head how I feel about him because it is so different from how it was before D-day. It’s hard for me to accept that my love for him will always be different now, and I still question whether he loves me enough. I mean, if he had loved me enough, he wouldn’t have gone and given his love to someone else, would he? Why would he take so much away from me – his time, his affection, his love — and give it to someone else if he really, truly, loved me? And, I question: Is the love we have now enough? Is it enough to weather the rest of our lives together and the problems and issues down the road that we will surely have to face? I don’t know. Maybe I never knew, until he cheated, that love is an uncertainty. Maybe no one knows, and we’re all just taking a chance.
I’ve also come to realize that I actually could leave him if I wanted to, that I am strong enough now. When I initially discovered the affair and the months that came after that day, I frankly did not have the strength to do anything, let alone leave him. That’s different now. I know I can do anything, handle anything. I’ve been through hell and survived. I would be sad about divorcing him and him no longer being in my life, I would miss him terribly, and life would look very different, but I now know that I would be just fine. In fact, I might even thrive. I’ve considered leaving him many times, as recently as two days ago. Sometimes, I only stay because I love what we have built so much — I love our home, our friends, our plans for the future — and I don’t want to give those things up. Mostly, I stay because I still love him, and I believe that he loves me, and because I hope that one day we will be happy – truly happy – again.
I worry that I look at him so differently now, that it will ruin whatever hopes for a happy future we might have. I see his flaws like glaring, flashing neon signs. All things that I never really noticed before or simply didn’t give much weight: he lies, even to his friends, about things that are of no consequence, to make himself look better; he always needs to be the center of attention; he can’t handle any criticism, no matter how slight; he rarely accepts responsibility for his own role in things when they go wrong (his affair being the sole exception); he complains about everything, as if no one has ever been as tired, hurt, sick, you name it, as him; he has no understanding of the concept of delayed gratification, and never says no to himself; he doesn’t educate himself or take the initiative to learn anything new and depends on me to do and figure everything out for him and us in life. I realize just now that I have described a narcissist. Yes, he has many narcissistic traits, and I worry that I have been codependent on him for so very long that neither of us knows how or is capable of living any differently.
But, all that being said, he does love me. He shows it every day in the changes he has made in his behavior, his lifestyle, the way we communicate, the list goes on. I know that he wants to make this marriage work as much as, if not more than, I do. So…. I’m still hanging in there.