I actually found myself Suddenly Single in the same marriage twice.
The first time my husband and I had been married for 12-years and he was run over by a truck on his Vespa. He had suffered a traumatic brain injury. Going forward it became clear my husband didn’t remember anything about our marriage.
I was very lonely for quite some time trying to fix him. About a year after his accident he began an affair with a coworker who did not know him before his accident.
I was diagnosed with an STD and they noticed I had a large bump on my neck and it turned out they thought I had thyroid cancer and my husband left that night to go to where his girlfriend lived because he couldn’t deal with me.
This went on for months before I discovered the affair. I packed my bags and booked a first-class trip to Paris. I told my husband he needed to sit in our house and think about what he did and he needed to come to Paris if he wanted to find me.
While he was having the affair I was writing a book and so I funneled a lot of my rage and energy into that book and now when I go back and read it I can see that I was working out emotions I didn’t know I was having on the page.
Maybe the reason I can talk about it the way I do now is because I wrote a memoir.
My marriage completely blew up and had to be rebuilt.
After my husband came to Paris we did a lot of talking. Eventually, it came out that it was a long-term relationship and he had been taking her on business trips with him around the world. Once we got to the truth of the matter we were able to begin addressing the why of the matter.
While I was in Paris I was not doing well and had a complete breakdown and had to see a therapist.
My husband’s affair was public and I was completely humiliated so I isolated myself from all my friends and family. It was good and bad because my husband and I were able to completely focus on her family. It was bad because I was completely alone and had no one to support me. I spiraled into even deeper depression and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety.
As our marriage was going off the rails I was falling apart. My husband had to step into the role I had stepped into after his accident of trying to keep everything together. It was interesting because our roles were completely reversed.
I had to accept the fact that the person who caused me the most hurt I’d ever felt in my life was the one who could also help fix me. I had to fix myself but I had to have enough trust in him that he could help repair our marriage. That was incredibly difficult.
I hadn’t given up on him when he was sick and pushing me away and he wasn’t willing to give up on me when I was sick and I was pushing him away.
I never thought I would be someone that got involved with a married man and I didn’t set out or realize I was involved with a married man. I always thought that if I found out I was doing something wrong I would take the moral high ground and I absolutely did not do the right thing.
I learned that I’m not always right, I don’t always have the best moral compass. People make mistakes. I was mad at myself for a long time. I didn’t show myself the grace that I showed my husband or that I show my friends when they make mistakes.
It wasn’t until I was able to be okay with the mistakes I’d made that I was able to fully forgive my husband for the mistakes that he had made. I was mad at him but I think I was more mad at myself because I thought that his accident had been my fault. That if I hadn’t been so selfish and had just got off the phone and driven him to work instead of making him ride his scooter he never would have had his accident.
When you let shame and self-blame into your life it will eat you alive. It permeates everything that you do.
The most negative thing I did was I started drinking heavily. I had never been a drinker. I was mixing drugs with champagne and I would just pass out. I started cutting myself which was never something I’d done before. I was never someone who self-harmed. It was a way for me to deal with my emotions by hurting myself in so many different ways.
It took me a long time with a lot of therapy and a lot of support from my friends and family. It took me coming forth almost like an alcoholic and saying I needed help and support. It was scary but the number of people who came out and were so supportive was stunning.
Letting go of the sense that I had to be perfect in front of people was one of the greatest things I did for myself. I just let myself be authentic and real. That led to people being supportive.
I think most of all my husband and I needed people around us. We needed people who supported taking a stab at our marriage.
So often you only hear the stories from the people whose spouses have cheated that have decided they aren’t going to stay with their spouse. I think we view strong women as those who will pack up and leave and kick a cheating husband to the curb. I think there are many different forms of strength. I don’t think you’re only strong if you get rid of your spouse. I think living through my husband’s infidelity was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.
How do you cheat on someone and still claim that you love them? That didn’t make any sense to me. I think strength comes in many forms. I think as a society we tend to think of a woman who stays as being weak or staying for financial reasons or because of the kids, but not because that’s what she’s choosing to do. I chose to stay and I chose to fight for my marriage. I’m happy that I did.
I honestly believe we are happier now than before his accident and we were pretty happy before his accident.