I remember noticing something different about their interaction one day. I couldn’t tell you what was different…just that something was. Erin had brought her husband and kid over to hang out and grill and enjoy ourselves. She wanted to get in her little baby snuggles with my son while our girls did was little girls did. Little did I know that my life was going to change drastically in the next week.
“I like making you cum.” “I can’t wait until I can be with you again.” There was more to the text that I found between them, but I don’t remember what it was. I sat on the edge of the bed. Naked. With his phone in my hand. Part of me expected it…he had always been a flirt. He had cheated on his first wife with me. Why should I expect something different than what I had dealt with. A million things went through my head and it felt like my life flashed before my eyes.
I went downstairs. Still naked. Our daughter was plunked in front of the tv enjoying morning cartoons. Our son was still asleep. I was supposed to be getting ready for work. Hubby was making breakfast. I walked up to him and handed his phone with his text message to Erin all pulled up. I said something but what I don’t remember. I turned around and went back upstairs, shut the bedroom door behind me, he followed me in (out bedroom door doesn’t have a lock). I ignored him, threw my pajamas back on, grabbed my phone to call into work…”Hey it’s Bri. I’m not coming in today. Sorry.” Before walking past him and climbing back under the covers.
I’ll be honest…I have pushed a lot of that day and the next days, weeks, and months under that rug. I don’t remember what was said. I remember general ideas and things that happened, but the details escape me, but the feelings are still there.
I still can recall the feeling of my heart being ripped from my chest. In that moment, I lost my husband and my best friend…to each other.
I remember thinking back on it, that my husband had lucked out on the day that I found out.
When I confronted him, I was naked. To this day, I don’t know why I went tromping through my house with no clothes on to confront him about an affair…but I know that the reason I didn’t walk about of the house after that confrontation is because my clothes were upstairs on my bed.
The other thing that stopped me from leaving? My newly-turned-2 daughter and my 4 month-old son. Getting them both packed up and out of the house on a day that grandma and grandpa were coming over was a major feat when I was in my best form, let alone feeling like my world was collapsing around me. And the only thing I knew for sure in that moment, was that I wasn’t going to go anywhere without my children by my side.
I knew that I was never in physical danger. I knew that physically I didn’t need to try and run, I was physically safe…even if I was torn apart emotionally.
“Bri has the flu, so I’ll be inside taking care of her today.” That’s what hubby said to his parents that day. It was their day to visit the grandkids and their son while I was normally away at work. I heard him tell them…. I wanted so badly to scream from my bedroom window that he was lying…I didn’t have the flu…that their son was a piece of shit who ruined lives. I didn’t. I stayed in bed and pulled the covers over my face.
“Daddy hurt Mommy’s feelings and she’s sad right now. It’s okay that she’s crying. We love her.” I remember hearing hubby explain to our daughter why I wouldn’t get out of bed that day…why whenever someone looked at me, tears streamed down my face. I held my son a little closer…a little tighter than I had as I nursed him throughout the day and those next weeks. Even if my milk supply was taking a hit from not caring about my nutrition and self-care. At that point my self-care looked as simple as I could make it… don’t die because your children need you.
Over the course of the next seven days, I went back to work and took the family to a summer get-together with friends. People knew something was wrong. “I’m fine…just tired. Little guy is going through a no-sleep phase.” Some who didn’t know me well figured this to be a plausible reason I was struggling. Those who knew me, knew I was talking shit, but also somehow figured out that this wasn’t one of those times where you push. However, they also knew all they had to do was get me alone and ask to make me break.
“He had an affair.”
It didn’t matter what I said next. People had already made up their mind. The small handful of friends. The pastor. The marriage counselor. Once people heard those 4 short words, they stopped listening. I should leave him. I should stay. I should take his (our) kids. We should work it out. I should kick him out. I should leave him. I should…I should…I should… People had a ton of opinions on what I “should” do. Not a single person asked me what I wanted to do. No one ever asked me what I thought about it.
It was silently understood (incorrectly) that because I was crying and heartbroken that my mind was made up and I knew exactly how to deal.
The truth of the matter was that I had no idea what I was doing. The range of emotions was from every extreme high to every extreme low. I racked my brain with whether or not I was doing the right thing or if I was making the biggest mistakes of my life.
No one around me at that time asked me what I wanted. No one asked for my opinion on how I wanted/needed their help. I could barely get out of bed most days. My eyes were constantly heavy from the tears, but I was constantly putting on a smile and trying to not let others know of the hurt and pain. If I let people know the hurt and pain, then I got questions.
Rather than having those I love around me and supporting my decision, I had a group of “I know what is best for you and your marriage (even it’s a personal decision and never had to deal with anything like this myself.” I closed myself off. I hid the pain that my hubby caused me. I hid the pain that my friends caused me. I told people what they wanted to hear and I smiled so no one knew the wiser.
I began to live my life in fear. Fear that someone would find out the truth of how I felt…especially towards my friends. With time, I was feeling better about my choice to stay with my hubby…after all, he apologized (more times than I can count), he listened to what I wanted and what I needed. My friends…didn’t. They continued to chirp in my ears about some new stat they read about infidelity or resources available to women who fled a marriage. I was starting to feel ashamed by staying.
But in my mind, I knew I wanted to stay. I wasn’t going down with a fight. I had fought for him for years…and I was determined to fight regardless of what troops I had supporting my fight.
It’ll be nine years next month. I’m friendly with all of those friends. But none of them are real close anymore. It’s hard to be close to friends who look down on your marriage…but even harder when they stoke the fire when you’re not looking.
People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
It’s easy to cast our judgements on others. Even if we mean nothing but the best our intentions. In that moment for me…I didn’t want words of what I should or shouldn’t do. I didn’t want advice or excuses. All I wanted was a shoulder to cry on and to know that I was going to be loved no matter what my choices were going to be. They were MY choices to make.
I’m willing to bet that if I had people who supported me rather than judged me during that time, that I would have been better off.
It’s easy to say “I would do this or that” to whatever hard situation we face, but the truth of the matter is none of us know what we would do until we are in it and living it.
There are days where I still catch myself remembering those words. I haven’t let them go. I still have work I need to do on myself. And yes, I hope that I can have a friend or two along for the ride with me.