The room was spinning. We were both quiet. He didn’t know what else to say and I didn’t know how else to react. I was in the freeze stage of the fight, flight or freeze reactions.
After a few long minutes of silence, I replied “Okay, I’ve got to go.” I grabbed my purse and returned back to work after what was the worst lunch break, I’ve ever had.
I got married at a young age. Though it was my decision, it was beautifully wrapped in cultural influences, expectations, family obligations and this unsolicited need to fulfill, what I thought was, a void in my life. We were one and a half years into our blissful marriage until that fateful day I came home from work to see my husband during my one-hour lunch break. I guess that day the guilt was weighing so heavily on him, that he decided to finally tell me he had slept with someone else just days before.
You see infidelity is a bad thing. Now infidelity when you’re a 27-year-old women, married into a very traditional family with values and a community that’s closer than the Jonas brothers, that is gut wrenchingly devastating. I didn’t think of myself. I didn’t process how this made me feel and how it affected my heart and soul. I immediately thought of my parents, his parents, our friends, our community. And that was the first day of a very long 3-year journey I had to walk alone.
I went from a confident, bubbly, outgoing individual to a quiet, confused, embarrassed, and broken person who was angry all the time. No amount of research on the internet on “What to do When a Partner Cheats” would help shake off the depression, anxiety, and the suicidal thoughts I began to have at that time.
I was confused and I didn’t know what to do. The first few days I was angry but didn’t talk about it. I didn’t talk to him; I didn’t talk to anyone. “Stay strong, this feeling will go away” I would repeat to myself every night before bed. You see at that time, I thought I would show my strength if I brushed it off and dusted it under the carpet. If I was the “bigger” person who would forgive and forget then I was a strong individual with great will power and a big heart. But then eventually after a while being “strong” was becoming very painful. I wasn’t forgiving, and I definitely was not forgetting.
“You Need this More”
“I’ll see you in one-hour, good luck,” he said to me, as he parked the car. “Are you sure you don’t want to join me; I really think we should be doing this together,” I asked him for what felt like the one hundredth time that week. “No, I’m not the one with the problem, you need this more than I do,” he replied. I opened the car door and walked into the therapist’s office. A year since the declaration of his infidelity, sleepless nights and the internal struggles, I finally decided I needed to speak to someone. He had convinced me that I had the issue. It had been a year and I was unable to get passed the problem. I was unable to return back to a blissful state of marriage and we were still nothing more than just two decent friends living together. I should be the one who understood that I brought out the aftermath of anger in him. Our broken marriage was the reason he began turning to drinking and that my depression and mood swings are what makes him yell and scream at me. He had me convinced that I needed to figure out how to “shake it off”.
Over the next several months of consistent therapy, I was able to unpack the situation and look at it from a birds’ eye view. I was equipped to understand how to step back and really dissect what was internally and externally holding me back from healing. I was broken. My self-love, confidence and most importantly, my self-worth, were shattered.
It took about a year of counselling, a GP’s diagnosis on moderate depression and anxiety, a prescription for anti-depressants and a whole lot of researching before I realised that the problem was beyond me. My husband had created a very unhealthy environment for me to heal. Since his honest verbal vomit, he had really not contributed to building a road to recovery. I couldn’t do it myself. It took three years for me to realize that. In those moments was when I realised he was right. I did need this more. I did need to go through this to understand my strength and my weakness. You see for me, once the trust died, it never rebirthed. Things were stagnant, triggers were still surrounding me, habits didn’t change, the relationship was not strong enough. I did forgive him eventually. I just could never forget. I could never forget what he did, I could never forget how it broke me, and I unquestionably could never forget how I walked that journey unsupported in an attempt to heal a marriage of two, completely alone.
You see through all this, today, I couldn’t be happier. In hindsight now, I’m so glad I went to therapy myself. Walking alone meant I learned to love myself before anyone else. My trust in myself was restored, my habits changed, and things started to move in directions I never imagined. When I finally told my family, there was no question that my decision was written in stone and that I had done everything in my power to help save this bridge from falling. But in that time, I had forgotten that the bridge had been hanging low for quite some time and I knew how to swim all along.
“You’ve done it. You got through it, and now you can finally move on.” My lawyer said these words looking at my tear-filled eyes. After four and a half years of a marriage full of uncertainty and pain, two years of fighting for independence, confidence and getting myself back on my feet, I signed those divorce papers and finally felt like I could breathe again.
Looking Back at My Lessons Learned
What I learned from all this is that there is no shame in taking time to truly understand where the struggles are. You have to educate yourself and then be patient enough to allow your mind, heart and soul to heal the way it needs to. Think of yourself before anyone else, because no one is truly walking that path with you. Get help, build your own support system, build your own support routine. Most of all, I learned to share my story and to not be ashamed of my experiences. No matter where you are in your story or what it looks like, it means something. Your pain is important because it’s yours and it’s real.
We all deserve to show the world the whole spectrum of our being, the light and the dark and everything in-between. Moreover, it’s possible that my story can help other people stay positive in their journeys. Every story has an impact. Ultimately, that’s what will free me from that weight that I carried around alone, so silently for far too long.
NM (@nerp.world): In a time where most women’s world is in the right place, NM found herself picking up scattered parts of her life attempting to put it back as whole. At age 30, NM was at the intersect of cultural influences and family obligations, all while battling an inner conflict of self-worth and freedom from pain. Thankful for her mental health struggles, she is now on a mission to share her story and help others grow through the same battles. NM encourages open dialogue on mental health experiences in hopes to eradicate the stigma on mental health through words of affirmation and storytelling on her Instagram page – https://www.instagram.com/nerp.world/. Concurrent to her passions, NM works fulltime and enjoys her evenings binge watching her favourite Netflix shows. NM is once again an outgoing, bubbly individual who lives a life of compassion and finds beauty in every situation.