“Keep your chin up, soldier!” said the woman from Ohio. “You will get through this. It just takes time.”
“But how much time?” I asked the stranger. I was thankful for her comment on my blog, but wasn’t buying it.
Back then, I was suffering deeply from the loss of my so-called “other woman.” Our affair had ended, and OW was determined never to see or talk to me again. Goddamn, did it hurt! I thought I would die. Life, I was convinced, was over.
That was one year ago.
Guess what? A year later, I am a living, breathing, functioning adult with high hopes for the future. The old pain is gone. Well, mostly gone. When I do think about her, it’s with a rationale mind. I have regained control of my mind and heart. My heart is no longer hers, thank God.
Here’s what it took one year to realize:
First, affairs are reciprocal, which is a fancy way of saying “it takes two to tango.” Without full and active participation from both partners, it’s over. No matter what you had or thought you had, you will never have it again. Game over. Furthermore, the person who calls off the affair has effectively sent you a message. That is, you are not as special to them as they are to you. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but true.
Second, even if you were special, at least temporarily, society rejects the fuck out of adultery. Once the affair is revealed, people come out of the woodwork to shut it down. Quash it. Destroy it. A cheating spouse who “sits on the fence” over whether to continue the affair because they still have feelings for that person becomes the target of family intervention. Husbands, wives, in-laws, friends, even church pastors implore them not to continue, reminding them of their sacred vows. With that kind of pressure, you don’t stand a chance in hell.
Additionally (and I’ve written about this before), you come to realize that the person you thought you couldn’t live without is no longer actually that person. Their brain is re-wired. They’ve cast aside those old, forbidden thoughts. The very act of returning to one’s husband (or wife) is to abandon their former self. After a year, it occurs to you that if they were standing in front of you now, you wouldn’t have a damn thing to talk about. You’re the same, but they are different.
But are you really the same person?
I’ve learned so much about myself over the past year, which feels more like ten years. People who cheat on their spouses are forced to analyze every fiber of their being. What’s wrong with me? Am I a bad person? Was I destined to commit adultery as a child? Am I oversexed? Am I morally bankrupt? Do I find pleasure in destroying lives, including my own? I have answered ‘no’ to most of these questions, but can I trust myself to be honest? And the most painful question, why did my ex-lover cast me aside? She told me I was ‘beautiful.’ Was she lying?
I hate that my ex has bipolar disorder, not only for her sake, but for mine. It makes the most important questions surrounding my affair unanswerable, no matter what anyone says. People have affairs all the time, but the bipolar factor makes mine unique. How will I ever know —truly know– if she cared about me, or if her brain was just gushing chemicals? It’s taken me a year to realize she will never supply me with those answers.
One year is how long it takes to stop beating your head against the wall trying to make sense of things. That’s how long it takes to pick up and move on, and chalk up your affair to one of life’s great mysteries.
An unsolved mystery bathed in Depakote dreams.