There comes a time in every girl’s life when she has to choose between what her mind is telling her to do versus acting on her heart’s desire. Sometimes that is a choice between what is right and what is easy. Sometimes it’s choosing between what is going to make you look like a total idiot to the world and what will make people proud.
The following story may make you feel one way or another about me and it is important to me that you know one thing: sharing this is hard for me to do. The decisions I’ve made these past few months have been trying at the very least. This will likely be the hardest thing I ever write, but I believe it is necessary. Writing is what I do, it’s what I’ve always done. It seems logical that in order for me to truly process things and hopefully move on, I need to write them down.
So, in the interest of keeping this space one of transparency and truthfulness, I’m about to share my current journey. It is still very fresh, so you are walking this alongside me now if you’re reading, and I think that will make this cathartic. Maybe not even just for me, I hope not just for me. Maybe one of you is also travelling down a road of grief with seemingly no end. If so, this post and the series of posts to follow are shared with you in mind. My hope is to provide some comfort and maybe find a little solace myself.
It seems obvious- logic always trumps emotions. Logic is what gives us the ability to get through life mostly unscathed, mostly intact. It keeps us safe if we listen. Mostly in a physical sense, though. I believed that the logical part of our brains should be our true North for purposes of survival. Plans, stamina and resilience. A girl could definitely make it through life relying on her logical decisions. At least, that is what I believed for a very, very long time. I believed this with gusto. I believed that if I made the safe decisions, I would always come out alright in the end, mostly unharmed. I believed that if I kept my heart and my head separated, nothing could truly hurt me. Nothing would ever be too big for me to handle with a good plan, sheer will and the ability to keep moving forward.
I believed as long as I thought first and felt second or never, things would go relatively smoothly for me. The funny thing about life though, is that you can really only protect you from yourself. We don’t really have the ability to protect ourselves from the world. Not if you plan on living a somewhat full life at least. You typically need to open yourself up to get anything out of life. So for the last 27 years, I spent a lot of time telling myself: “you are strong, you guard your heart, you plan. You have stamina and you are nothing if not resilient.”.
Growing up the way I did, you had to be able to brush yourself off and move forward. That’s how you get to the good parts in life. By developing the ability to keep on a forward trajectory no matter what, I would always stay safe…I learned to do this very young. I learned to persist and I learned to trust only myself. So as I’ve aged and when things have crumbled around me at different times in my life, I could always rely on my ability to keep pushing because I knew that if I just looked straight ahead, eye on the prize, revised my plan just enough, I would eventually be okay.
The day I learned Jake was having an affair was no different.
I spent roughly two hours feeling knee-jerk reactions. I spent two hours reading and absorbing and in complete and total denial. There was just no way this was Jake. Except it was Jake. Albeit, a Jake I didn’t know, definitely not the Jake I cared for and loved like I did. The man I was introduced to that day gave me an awful chill and an urge to vomit I had never felt before in my life. He had done this and it was time to figure out what to do.
As I confronted him, the only clear, logical thought in my head was one singular sentence: “He has to go.”. Over and over that sentence repeated in my head. Pushing me to do the next task and the next one. He has to go. Get out. He has to go. Do not come back. He has to go. Shove him away from you. He’s gone. Call your dad. He’s gone. Quit crying and push forward. Plan. Get up off the ground and be resilient. Do not allow your kids to see you like this. He’s gone.
I don’t know what I was expecting to feel like after telling my best friend of almost ten years that I never wanted to see his face again, that I could never love him again. I do know I felt absolutely nothing but a physical pain square in my chest. One that radiated into my left elbow and throbbed into my hand. I remember feeling convinced my heart was breaking for real and it would stop. That he actually broke my heart that day. The entire day I squeezed that hand, tried to shake it out. It’s the one thing I remember clearly doing all day Wednesday, August 23rd 2017.
I was quiet all day. Very much in shock. Unable to cry or do much of anything. Sixteen hours I laid in my bed staring at a wall, unable to move unless the craving for a cigarette became too strong to resist. My grandmother would come in, lay down- tell me I was better off and ‘leave me be’. Truth is, Nana didn’t know what to say. No one did because we were all in total shock.
What Jake did seems like a typical thing some spouses do and people get divorced. It’s a tale as old as time. It is, but it’s not. Because Jake and I have always been bonded down to our very nerve fibers. So intertwined that we don’t just finish each others sentences, I could look at his eyes and tell you what he was thinking about. He has been my other half, the person I let share my soul with me, for ten years. Tearing that apart doesn’t break even. It breaks into stringy, gross, uneven rips and tears, and it’s painful on such a level that I don’t think there is a 1 out of 10 rating chart for it.
If you are reading this and this was done to you, I know you probably understand and for that I am grateful but I am also so very sorry. Feeling this pain is actually the one something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It doesn’t fix it to get up and walk it off, you can’t even sleep it off. It is the most intense physical manifestation of anxiety I have ever experienced, and I have a body wide tremor. It’s what I imagine it would feel like if someone stabbed you in the center of your chest with a syringe full of hot acid and you can feel it making it’s way into your bloodstream. I begged Jake to take me to be sedated. I needed to not feel it, if only for a few minutes. I needed relief.
I begged my logical mind to find a solution but I knew, each minute of those 16 hours apart from Jake, this was the time logic was going to fail me. It wasn’t going to keep me safe, help me understand what happened or help me trudge forward. This wasn’t something I would be bouncing back from, not anytime soon at least and definitely not by myself.
It was five AM the following morning, still laying in my bed wide awake, listening to my best friend Beth snore next to me, that things were finally quiet enough for me to hear my heart telling me what was right, what I had to do. It told me: no one will back you– most didn’t. this is the most alone you will ever be -it was and still feels like it sometimes. But I asked him to come home anyway. My mind was screaming no, pounding it’s fists on the insides of my brain. You stupid girl. Are you so desperate that you would put yourself in the position to be hurt again? Are you really so naive to think people change? Do you understand what he did to you? You can’t possibly.
I didn’t have an answer for myself or for the other people who were “disappointed” in me and my decision, I only knew that we are one soul and to live without that part of me for the rest of my life wasn’t going to happen without a fight. It is a decision I never in a million years thought I would have to make, but I did and I did it without regrets.
Tomorrow is 8 weeks since the day I decided I would do the scary, hard and uncertain thing in rebuilding my life with him. 8 weeks since the day I got out of bed with no plan for the first time in my life. 8 weeks since I decided to stop allowing myself to just safely exist, to make it to the end with minor bruises and scrapes. 8 long weeks of not knowing if bouncing back was something I am capable of anymore, but I will try.
This has been the first painful and nerve wracking installment of what will probably be a years long journey. I hope if this is something you are struggling with you will send me an email. You do not have to do this alone. I hope my journey can help other couples fight hard and try even when it feels like nothing is left to fight for. In the deepest part of this kind of despair it may feel like it would be easier to just stop living, I found myself believing that lie and if you are reading this, struggling with uncertainty of how you will make it through another day, you are not alone. You are loved and you are worth it. Keep pushing and always reach out, even if it is to a stranger like myself. There is a way to move forward.
Tell me below, have you experienced an affair or been the one to walk outside of your marriage? Do you have words of encouragement you could share?