A Year Later: The Aftermath of my Husband’s Affair
posted by: Guest Blogger
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.