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Affair recovery is a long drawn out process. I say this after only 6 months of the process and with the knowledge that 24 months is not unusual, and is in fact the average time required for recovery to take root and trust to begin rebuilding. But trying to look at the positives, I only have 18 months to go!

Still, I also understand these are average, generalized estimates. Every relationship and affair situation is different. After only 6 months of this turbulence I have to say that while I realize it takes time and I accept that it’s necessary to deal with each stage in order to fully heal, I’ve certainly had my fill of affair recovery! It’s at the point that I understand fully why so many women hit a wall of exhaustion and simply give up on healing or give up on fighting for something better, more respectful, than what they have experienced in their relationship. It’s at this point that a lot of women are willing to simply hang their heads and whisper “I forgive you. Can we just go back to normal?”

I understand that urge. But I can’t choose it. I can choose forgiveness as long as my partner rises to his responsibilities and chooses to do the work to repair and rebuild. But I cannot choose forgiveness and go back to the way things were. Because the way things were was broken and simply wrong and accepting it any longer would be an expression to myself that I’m not worth anything more than that. I am worth something more.

The Cross Road
Hitting this point of being exhausted by pain and anger is a cross road. It’s at this point where I have to make decisions about how my life will continue to unfold. Decisions about how I’ll continue to process this reality in my life, what I believe in, what I stand for and who I want to be. Do I proceed left or right? Which way is true north? Here, I have to evaluate my strongest desires (wishful wants) vs deepest needs (necessities that shouldn’t be compromised in a healthy life ). I need to focus back in on my values and strengths. To begin thinking about pulling myself out of the mud and into the refreshing waters of hope and faith. I have an anal propensity to try to construct “structure” and “control” in my life when things become chaotic. These past few months have made that just a little bit difficult. My emotions have been anything but predictable or well timed. I’m not ashamed to admit that.

So here I am at the cross walk. Tired of the mayhem of grief and anger yet not willing to let it go without change. Without fighting for something better. I’m not ready to accept what he has done and have real trust that he won’t repeat it. And yet, I’m not willing to give up on his intentions and cast him aside nor am I willing to go through this emotional chaos for much longer. I’ve given a lot of thought to this the past couple of weeks. What to do, how to focus, what to hold on to? I need a plan, I said to myself. Some sort of roadmap to monitor my progress. Some sort of target I’m aiming for. I won’t say that I have arrived at that plan yet, but there are a few things that I now understand more, about where I am and what I need to go forward.

I understand that it takes time

I understand that this is normal

I accept that I’ll have bad days, Even after the exceptional days come, bad days will still find me. Anger will still call and sadness will still pull at me. It’s early and this is to be expected. S’ok.

I understand that there is part of me that needs to heal in the context of my relationship, but a greater part needs to heal in relation to myself. That means I have to make a choice every day how I will allow this to affect me. Separate from our relationship progress. I must choose to grow. Make a decision to live vibrantly and passionately despite any waves of pain or fury. Guess what? It’s ok to feel the emotions, to vent loudly or grieve intensely. It’s ok to revisit those places from time to time for many, many months to come. It’s not ok to be stuck there or to let it pull me down and eat at my heart. Giving up the anger and the injury feels very much, in the beginning, like simply accepting the terrible betrayals you’ve suffered. But refusing to be stuck in the anger or the hurt is not the same as letting him/her off the hook and making life easy breezy for your wayward partner. In fact, it’s very different . It’s a statement. It says “yes, I experience moments of intense and painful emotions but make no mistake about it, I’m strong and I’m determined and I’m choosing to embrace the future. You can grow with me. Or I will grow without you. But I will not whither for you!”

The Realization
6 Months of indescribable emotional torment has been a humbling, devastating experience. It’s also served as a reminder. Believing in a higher force, a clearer purpose and a stronger me, is what it’s going to take. I have to have faith that while it might not be discernible to the naked eye, change is taking place inside of me and I control whether that change will tear me down or make me stronger.

I understand that for me personally, part of the healing will come from understanding. My anger condemns, resents and constantly rebels against his deceitfulness and his weak choices. Rightfully so! I’m justified in being angry. This anger is a powerful force that has sustained me through many a desperate hour in the past 6 months. But anger will not get me all the way through this. Eventually I must find a way to understand his actions. Understanding is not condoning, or excusing. Understanding is not a promise to stay in this relationship. Understanding is an acceptance that humans make mistakes. I need to know why he made these mistakes, and I believe HE needs to know why he made them if he is sincere in his promise that he never wants to be that person, living that life again.

I understand that my understanding may be very different than someone else’s. My “way forward” is to read as much material from as many “experts” as I can and to take from each school of thought the explanations that resonate most deeply inside of me. To try to listen to my instinct not my emotions. To be keenly aware of the social and psychological and spiritual elements involved. To hear and know the stories of other people’s pain in similar situations in order to reconfirm my own understanding and my own intentions which may differ from or parallel those I read. To explore my emotions and express them freely in a safe environment. Uncensored. To require that my partner be engaged in the recovery process. That he do his own personal work in a way that shows commitment and sincerity. To be honest myself about my intentions and determination to be better at the end of this, with our without him. I give him the choice. The choice is his to take it or refuse it. Through these various means I’ll probably get as close to truth as I will ever be able to get. The truth is that affairs are messy, and people are messy and at some point truth becomes subjective rather than absolute. Sometimes you simply have to trust your morales, your values, your beliefs and your gut and stop trying to explain truth as a logical tangible commodity.

A Good Step
This past weekend we stepped closer toward progress. My partner, on his own initiative, researched and ordered more books to read. One of them was about helping your partner heal and it duplicated a book I purchased on the same day. It was a good sign and after he read the book we were able to have a discussion. He was able to begin to recognize how his early actions in the immediate face of discovery and during disclosure, affected the way our healing process now goes. He expressed that the book also made him think about things he has done and ways he has lived his life in the sense that at the time he did not evaluate the risks or the consequences and admittedly even created his own set of justifications for his actions. Probably the most positive development is the agreement to check with me daily on how I’m doing, and what emotions I have experienced during the day that I might need/want to discuss. We’ve agree to do these as touching base rather than long drawn out discussions (keeping them at 20 or 30 minutes top. Last night took 30 seconds as I had nothing I wanted to talk about at the moment after a long day) The point is to keep it pretty simple unless it is something really pressing, but also to take the topics that arise daily and make a weekly commitment to discussing them, our progress and our path forward in more depth. I hope he’s able to follow through with this agreement. It could be what we need to create the turning point. If he reverts back to avoidance it could separate us more as I strive to move forward with my own growth and healing and he chooses to follow the old patterns. For today, this moment, I’m going to choose to believe that he will follow through. Call it what you will, I’m calling it positive thinking..