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A Year Later: The Aftermath of my Husband’s Affair

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Eryn shared with us her heartbreak in The death of a dream: my personal hell after discovering my husband’s affair. One year later, she shares her journey with us. 

He sits across from me at the local coffee shop. It is full of college students staring intently at their laptops and real grownups having real conversations. He is smirking as he tells me I look old and tired. He tells me everyone in town hates me. He tells me he is planning to adopt his new girlfriend’s son and have his vasectomy reversed so they can have even more kids.

He accuses me of cheating on him.

I am crying because that’s what I do. I cry. I am emotional about everything, especially when attacked and especially because I came here to talk about something that makes me more emotional than anything else: my children.

My ski posse. Keeping me sane and fit all winter long.

My ski posse. Keeping me sane and fit all winter long.

In the past year, my eyes have been wet more than they have been dry. Filing for divorce felt like a concession to failure. In the past, I have faced failure with the inevitable tears and a few days of crushing defeat. Then, I have picked myself up off the floor and figured out the ‘what next’ part of the equation. This time, there was no moment of brushing myself off and moving on. I just stayed on the floor, immobile and flattened.

Over the past year, I have experienced incredible triumphs. I took my kids to Mexico. I bought a house. I was promoted at work. I alleviated the panic attacks and worked through depression. I dated other men.

First Christmas as a family of three

First Christmas as a family of three

But none of this relieves the dull ache in my heart that seems to be a permanent fixture. I loved my ex-husband- deeply and passionately, so much so that I accepted his cheating and lies and manipulation because I wanted to be with him. And I wanted him to want to be with me.

Unfortunately, he hated himself so much that he lashed out at the very people who tried to save him- his family, my family, all of our friends and ultimately, me. We cannot save others. We can only save ourselves and I had and have to choose self-preservation. I did not and do not deserve the abuse. As it is, the messages he sent- that I never cared enough about him, that I didn’t do enough for him, that I was the one who let the marriage fail, that I am lousy at sex- these messages live on in my brain, no matter how hard I smash them with my imaginary rock.

Spring Break in Mexico

Spring Break in Mexico

A year after I filed for divorce, we do not talk. This is my choice. My brain and my heart need to heal. Healing is impossible when the abuse is ongoing. At events for the children, I pretend he is not there, choosing only to interact with the kids. When we pass the children off to the other person, I do not look at him or speak to him directly. He is no longer allowed to send me text messages and I do not answer his calls, preferring instead to send the call to voicemail. If it is important, he will leave a message.

His co-workers and acquaintances tell me the outlandish things he says- blaming me for his cheating, accusing me of cheating, pretending to be Dad of the Year- and I shake my head. It is hard to believe that I loved this man so fiercely once. I wonder who else in our lives can turn on us or whether he has a brain tumor. I worry that he is not mentally stable enough to care for the children. I gulp down the very real concern that he is not providing an emotionally stable home for my kids and is instead perpetuating the same patterns that led him down this path.

My very own house

My very own house

I had a fantasy that he would show up at my front door, say something outlandish like, “Pack your bags. We’re going away together and we’re going to make this right,” much like the Knight in Shining Armor. He would have given up all of his girlfriends and all of his lies and instead appear as an authentic version of himself, ready to accept his defeats and his victories. My Knight would be willing to take a chance on love- and on me.

The Knight in Shining Armor isn’t real and never was. And most likely, never will be. This has been the hardest part of my divorce to accept. I was willing to give all to save my marriage and no one was willing to give all for me. The likelihood that someone will take a leap of faith for me appears slim and I can’t wait around for that anyway.

The truth is that I occasionally still wish the Knight in Shining Armor would appear at my door and yes, sometimes I wish it would be Brian. It is difficult to love someone for so long, only to have it taken away and thrown back in your face laced with hatred and disgust. Love is not easy to throw away. I miss him. I miss our family. I miss everything we had that was good about us.

In the end, I respect and love myself more. I deserve so much more- a man who will love me as fiercely as I love him, who will accept my faults and celebrate my strengths, who will embrace me with no reservations. And as I stare at this man, my ex-husband, through my tears in the bustling coffee shop, I know. The man I loved is gone. He has been replaced by another man- one whose heart is so full of hatred and malice that he is no longer recognizable.

And for the millionth time this year, I think, goodbye, sweet man that I loved. Goodbye.

On the Whole Enchilada in Moab

On the Whole Enchilada in Moab

Eryn Barker lives, works and plays in the Gunnison Valley. You can read her writing on her blog, Gunny Girl, or find her on Twitter,Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson November 16, 2015

    Eryn,
    What an inspiration you are. I’ve followed you on social media and though I know it’s been a difficult year, look at all you’ve accomplished. I wish you much love and happiness!

  • comment avatar Karen November 16, 2015

    Try this: If you say, ‘I hate the other woman,’ ask yourself, ‘Why does she have that power over me? How am I like her? What am I getting from all this misery?’ I struggled with these questions, but when I finally answered them I felt as if a huge load was off my shoulders. I had so much trouble seeing how we might be similar, but light bulbs went on for me when I figured it out. For example, she is destructive, but so am I because I am hurting myself by being sad.

  • comment avatar Natalie November 16, 2015

    I discovered my husbands second affair 10 months ago. We have been married just under 20 years. We have two amazing teenagers who have never seen their parents fighting because we really hadn’t. We always got along flawlessly. His job unfortunately sends him away every week for 4 to 5 days at a time. Hotels , women always traveling with him, you get the picture. The first affair was three months in 6 years ago and the last was a year long. We have been attending counseling but I feel like it goes no where. I am told that I need to determine if I can forgive or end it. At this point I want it to work but nothing feels special anymore. I believe that I do suffer from PTSD and don’t know how to move forward. The pictures of them in my mind overwhelm me no matter how busy or how hard I try to refocus. I would love any help, I believe that I owe this to the beautiful family that we love and created.

  • comment avatar Susan November 16, 2015

    Hello, I know exactly how you must feel, my husband of 26 years cheated 3 months ago while I’m currently recovering from breast cancer and still going through chemotherapy. One shock after the other.The shame that he could do this at all and even more baffeling while I’m sick. I don’t know why I’m so ashamed I didn’t have the affair? I guess its to admit failure and all your hope and trust is gone.Somehow I will get through this, thanks for listening.

  • comment avatar Gretchen November 18, 2015

    Thank you for sharing. While I was not divorced due to cheating – I do feel many of the same feelings you do. Congratulations on an amazing year of you, of self discovery and of sharing.

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