18 months today. It’s been a year and a half since D-day. I’ve thought about this day for the past few weeks. Where should I be? How should I be? With whom should I be? It didn’t strike fear or dread in my heart to think about it, but it made me feel like I should be changed and different somehow. I wrote some of this to my online coach James earlier today, and thought I’d share it with you, too.
Here it is. April 17, 2012 – 18 months out. It has been just another day. I did not struggle through it. In fact, it was a good day. My husband was loving and sweet and all went smoothly at home. He called me at 10am to make sure I was ok and handling the day alright. He really is sweet when he steps out of the affair fog, and when he is not feeling guilty and cornered and shamed. This side of him is showing up more and more often these days. It’s not all the time, but when he is like this, he seems like someone I hadn’t seen in a long, long time. I have missed him.
Even when I sit and ponder on the fact that this is the day 18 months ago when my life fell apart, I don’t feel that sickening pain. Some sadness and loneliness, yes. But it’s no longer a trigger that brings gut-wrenching pain. That’s a big change. I really am different now.
Now when I think about D-day, what comes to mind is that on that day my husband had to come clean and start on the road toward honesty and reality. That is actually a good thing. He broke away from his sin on that day. He struggled with guilt and shame, and the truth was heartbreakingly slow in coming out for months after that, but on that day he did the right thing and broke off contact with her. Maybe I should celebrate.
It was a long, slow process to get close to this place. I would not be here if God had not given me a huge lift when I finally went back to church on Easter, after turning my back on God in the aftermath of D-day. Yes, God has lifted me up. I see now that He prepared me before D-day and He held me afterwards. He put the right people in my life to be His hands and heart in caring for me. And all for this weak, insignificant little blob named DJ.
The last time I wrote about the timeline was at the 15 month mark. I talked about how bad the first year had been, and that at 15 months we were not in pain all the time anymore, but we were still not connecting well. There had been short periods of emotional intimacy and connection, but one or both of us always pulled back. For me it was out of fear and pain. For him, I can’t say for sure, but it seems it was part shame and guilt, and part working through the feelings he thought he had for her.
And here we are today. Not feeling emotional pain today does NOT mean that I am over it. There are still triggers that will lay me flat in two seconds. I feel ages older than I did prior to D-day – older, jaded, cynical. My blogging friend Fighter and Survivor wrote about this recently in a post called “Life’s Fairy Tales.” I commented that I felt the same way she did. I no longer look at a couple getting married and get misty-eyed over sweet love. I wonder if one of them is among the supposed 50+percent who cheat. I wonder if their marriage will survive. I no longer look at old couples and smile at the beauty of a long marriage. Instead I wonder what emotional hardships they have survived and what scars they still carry. Has pain and betrayal clouded my vision, or have I opened my eyes to the truth?
But at least I am not in emotional pain all the time anymore. I am generally ok these days. I feel happy sometimes. My baby granddaughter lights up my world! But there is still a dark heaviness, almost like a presence, in the background all the time. Sometimes it comes to the foreground and I feel it as that x-ray apron, a heavy weight upon my chest and shoulders. Much of the time, though, it is something dark just inside my realm of awareness – there in the background – not an excruciating, deep pain, but an ever-present shadow.
I no longer cry in the shower every day. I did for a long, long time. I still cry sometimes, but it’s not a daily part of my shower routine anymore. Another hallelujah.
Oh, and another biggie — most triggers are not so powerful anymore -gosh, they used to keep me in constant turmoil. But now most of them will pinch my insides for just a little while and then I can brush them off. I haven’t had a full-blown flashback in a while. I can’t even remember how long. That’s a really good thing. Flashbacks are scary.
But as I said, there are still some triggers that will swallow me up and then spit me out onto the ground. Hearing “their song”, for example, is still huge. Looking at the emails – which I don’t do often for this very reason – is another one. Him going on business trips still does it, and he is going on one this Saturday. I’ll try to remain strong.
Now physical pain has replaced much of the emotional pain. This morning I could not get out of bed by myself. My husband brought me my meds and I stayed in bed for an extra hour until they took effect. Then I got up with his help and took a hot shower to get moving. I went to work, but it was a rough day. Going up and down the stairs was too difficult, and my room is on the second floor. Once I got there, I stayed in my room most of the day and sent students up and down for me. They are a big help.
So at 18 months, I am not all better yet. But I am better enough emotionally to start thinking that maybe, just maybe, life can be good again one day. As my blogging friends have reminded me, I have come a long way.