The Aftermath of Adultery

Finding out that the person you love and have committed to, has been unfaithful, can be one of, if not the most devastating experience one can have. The disbelief, the shock, the wrenching feeling in the pit of your gut – nothing can truly describe it; but it is a feeling that we all share when we do find out.

I don’t believe that any of us go into a relationship expecting the other person to unfaithful, even if their past indicates the high possibility of it happening. We still hold on to the hope that our relationship will be different from the previous relationships we were both in; and of course there is that underlying hope and expectation that we can change the other person. Yet, when the unfaithfulness is revealed or discovered, it is truly a crippling feeling. It shatters our every hope and trust; it destroys our self-esteem in a single blow; and we are brought to our knees in pain and disbelief. Not to even mention the anguish of the public humiliation and the thought of the end of the relationship.

There are also so many questions that plague us almost instantaneously.

  • Why did you do this?
  • How could you have done to me, something that I’d never do to you?
  • How could you do this to me…period?!
  • How is he/she?
  • Why him/her?
  • How was I not good enough?
  • Who else knows?
  • What did I do wrong?
  • What did I do to cause this?
  • What happens now?

The way in which we find out only affects how we receive the news and thereafter how we feel, in small ways. If the other person in the relationship tells you of their adultery, it helps to preserve a semblance, even if a false one, of dignity. There is the feeling that your entire social circle does not know, and thereby makes reconciliation a bit easier.

If, however, we find out from a third party or witness it on our own, somehow the betrayal seems to be deeper, at least at first. It makes reconciliation more difficult because we then feel judged since ‘everyone knows’. Regardless of how we find out that we have been betrayed, our world really does come crashing down around us and the hole in which we immediately find ourselves, seems so deep that ever getting out is impossible.

The overwhelming feeling of anguish and betrayal causes us to react in various ways. I am almost assured that there is only an extremely small percentage of people who actually handle this revelation with true grace and dignity. The worst in us is uncovered and unleashed. The mistakes we make after hearing or seeing the worst thing possible in a relationship, become as overwhelming as the feelings themselves. The reasons why we handle things in the most unbecoming ways, are obvious. We are suddenly dealing with a situation that we never anticipated, expected or hoped for; so it is an impossible one to handle.

We have all been there, regardless of which side of the adultery we fell on. It hurts everyone involved and destroys parts of us that can probably never be repaired. However, for those of us who have survived it, or watched someone survive it, we know a thing or two that we so wished we knew before. We know now, in retrospect, what we should and should not have done, and most of us feel an inherent need to warn others of these potential ‘mistakes’, in the hope that someone, anyone, can just not go through what we did in the aftermath of such a disaster.

Being a woman, it is only honest to share what I know to be true from our perspective. I’m not bashing our men in any way, I really cannot, should not and will not speak for them and their experiences. Even other women may not agree with me in what I share, but that’s the joy of this being my blog – I can pretty much write my opinions at all times, regardless of potential approval or disapproval. These ‘blunders’ that we make are forgivable, for the most part, but avoidable if we try our best to keep our heads on. An impossible task at the time, I know.

  • Unless it is a very special friend or relative who loves you to the end of the earth and is loyal beyond a shadow of a doubt, no one actually cares about your happiness or your misfortune. Do not let Facebook, Instagram and other social media ‘likes’, or thousands of smiling faces or admiration for your beauty, success or happiness, ever make you think that people will not apologetically laugh behind your back. This is the ugly truth of the human condition. We laugh at celebrities, therefore, you and I and everyone else, are just as easy to laugh at. Your business is yours, not the world’s. So as best as you can at the time, refrain from instantaneously telling anyone and everyone of your unfortunate experience of adultery. Think long and hard before you decide with whom this delicate but heavily judged information should be shared.
  • We have all been there. At some point in time or another, we all felt loved and respected enough to fall into a false sense of security, and believe that it couldn’t happen to us. Adultery is inevitable, depending on with whom you decide to share your life. Some people are inherently prone to disloyalty or are attracted to it along the way. Either way, it is not your fault, neither are you responsible for the actions of others. Their actions are theirs to own. You are only responsible for yours. But at the end of the day, none of us are too good or beyond disloyalty. We have all been there. It’s a learning experience. Never give in to the haughtiness that you are better than that or that it can’t happen to you. You are just lying to yourself and setting yourself up for a harder fall from a higher height.
  • The support that you think you get and the accolades you feel you deserve at your darkest hour, come from people who are willing to feel for you and feel for your current experience. The problem with sharing every intimate detail with others about your betrayal, is that when you decide to forgive and forget and reconcile, they don’t. They don’t forgive him for what he has put you through and they won’t support you in the way you need them to, just because you have decided to forgive. Therefore, please refer to point #1.
  • Grace and poise cannot simply be learnt by modelling or dancing. These are skills that are developed through time and experience. The joy of youth is that repercussions are not the priority when actions are decided upon. However, the frame of mind in which we make certain decisions, tends to change and pass, but our actions are already done, and we are judged by them. They cannot be taken back, just because you don’t feel that way anymore, or because you have decided to now handle things differently. Reacting with grace to a horrific realisation is difficult for us, the older ones. We understand, way better than our younger sisters, how we would feel in the morning, after a disgraceful display, and we are still learning how to get it right. Learn from us, take our blind advice even. But whatever you do, please refrain from making yourself look foolish, in an attempt to make the perpetrator look foolish. Because then we simply end up with two fools instead of just one. When we say that ‘this too shall pass’, we mean it. Most times, ‘stop and stfu’ are your best bet, especially if there is even a remote chance of forgiveness and reconciliation. Don’t make a permanent mistake over a temporary feeling.
  • Do not contact ‘the other woman’. This is a big one – a hard one from which to refrain but an extremely important lesson in the making. Remind yourself that the misdirected anger at her is only going to make her see you as foolish, insecure and juvenile, after she already had no respect for you to start with. Do not waste your time or energy on her. She cannot help you. She cannot give you closure. She cannot undo her actions. She may be the enemy, but one that must not be attacked. Misdirecting your anger towards her is simply going to give her more ammunition to use when she tells all her friends about you and what you did when you found out. Let her be and let karma take its course. Remind yourself that you were not in a relationship with her. You were in a relationship with him. Therefore, he is the one who owed you respect. He is the one who owed you loyalty. He is the one who owed you honesty. Not her. She really doesn’t matter because if he was unfaithful, it means it would have been with someone else, if not with her. She is not the reason he was unfaithful; he is. Therefore, do not contact ‘the other woman’.
  • No one can ever tell you whether or not you should reconcile with him after disloyalty has occurred. That is and always will be your and his decision. Never feel guilted into not hearing him out or into not reconciling. That is a very personal decision that cannot and should not be judged by anyone. That having been said, there are some extremely important, yet difficult factors that must be considered before certain decisions are finalised. Before deciding to reconcile, you must accept that if he has been unfaithful before this, the likelihood of him doing it again is very high. While people can and do change, you must ask yourself exactly how many chances must you give before you start feeling like a fool. If you decide to still reconcile, that’s on you, because you know how this adultery feels; you know how the last one felt; but you are willing to possibly go through this again. Remember what continues is what is allowed to continue. You already sent the message after the first reconciliation, that adultery is forgivable; he is forgivable. Therefore, the message he may receive is that he will be forgiven again. He is not wrong to have received that message, whether it was the message offered or not.
  • Never ever believe that you will not get over or get through this. That is the feeling that overwhelms you at the time, but it is a false sense of self-inflicted hurt. You will survive this. You believe that you are too old or too worn or too damaged to start over. This is utter nonsense. Unfortunately, the pity party of which you are the guest of honour, prevents you from realising this. It is never too late to make a better decision for yourself. It won’t be easy – that cannot be sugar-coated. There will some impossible days ahead if you decide to cut ties for good. These impossible days may even make you doubt if you made the correct decision; or if you should go back and try again. But these days pass, as do those feelings of desperation. Blind faith becomes your best friend. I say ‘blind’ because you don’t know what lies ahead for you and you go forward, away from your comfort zone, with no guarantees. However, that blind faith is worth it. The self-respect you feel and the dignity and grace that you enjoy, cannot be qualified by anything or anyone. There is a future for you – not right away, maybe even not for a long time, but that’s ok. You will be happy and healthy and complete again. You must believe us. We all came through the dark and lonely tunnel into the light; with some cuts and bruises, but all limbs intact. This too shall pass.
  • In your response to adultery, never believe that all men are dogs; they really aren’t. It may seem so at the time, but it is an unfair and irrational mentality to believe that because some…or many men are dishonest, that all will be. In time, you will learn to trust again and have faith in people. It takes time and conscious effort. We never want to be painted with a broad brush as a gender. We don’t want to be compared to the women who have hurt us. Therefore, why should we compare all men to the one that betrayed us? That behaviour is on him. He did it. The world of wonderful men out there didn’t. Take time to yourself’ hate men for a while, if you must; but you can dust yourself off and eventually believe that men and even other women aren’t as bad as the ones who just hurt you.

You will all get over whatever has been dished out to you. I know this, because I have; we all have. We survived. We moved on. We lived to tell about it. The most important thing is that when you tell about it in a few years, or even in a few months, ensure that what you do now, doesn’t make you cringe at yourself down the road. Ensure that you can hold your head high in the face of this demeaning experience. Whoever you think MADE you do it, really didn’t. You did it. You lost yourself and you were disgraceful. A lack of poise and self-respect is never an appropriate response to hurt…it is simply the easiest one.

And sometimes, just taking the blind taking advice from someone who has been through it, can save you much regret, disrespect and humiliation in the months to come.

Not All Superheroes Wear Capes

You always hear that not all superheroes wear capes – some wear love, a smile, a kind word or a helping hand. I believe that we all have a little superhero in us, even if that superhero is just to rescue one person, on one day, once in their entire lifetime.

As I got older, I realised that super-heroism isn’t as uncommon as we think. It all depends on what you think a superhero actually is and what their qualities are. A superhero isn’t a perfect being. A superhero is someone who possesses qualities that are more benevolent than that which we are capable. Superheroes are people who make us feel a way that we need or like to feel. They protect. They love. They care. And they really don’t all wear capes…

Some superheroes, when they meet you, it’s under less than ideal circumstances, with much resistance against them being in your life. Sometimes they are called horrible names and discouraged from pursuing any contact. But true superheroes, strong and wilful ones, go bravely forward regardless of the repercussions. They don’t see the odds, only that the chance they are taking, might actually be worth it. These types of superheroes have resilience replacing their capes. They don’t look back and they don’t regret their decisions. They become more concerned about protecting you from anyone that opposes, disapproves or dissuades you; always there by your side, never abandoning you during the transition to acceptance or during the most trying of times. These are very special superheroes…not like the other ones who wear capes. They take a chance, because they know how absolutely perfectly things can turn out to be.

Superheroes do very strange things that the average human would not understand. For example, when you are sick, superheroes leave work without you knowing it, to take you to the Doctor, that you don’t feel that you needed to visit, to get medication that you didn’t want. Strange superheroes give you a bell at your bedside so that you could ring it if you needed anything, once it meant that you didn’t have to get out of bed.

Superheroes can make you cry, though. Have no doubt about that. On your table as you open the front door, superheroes leave things for you, like a Cosmo magazine, a pack of bobby pins, a very sexy wine glass and flowers. You don’t know how, when or why it was done. Such inexpensive gifts that are seemingly unconnected to each other, can confuse you. But superheroes have their own special way of getting things done, like leave for work, go shopping, and return home and set gifts on the table, then go to work. Not being a superhero yourself, you may need to ask about such gestures. You see, superheroes know when you are having a busy week. The wine glass is because it was big and could hold more prosecco in one shot; the magazine is so that you could sit and relax and read it when you got home from work, while you drink from the glass; the flowers were because you just love fresh flowers in the apartment; but the bobby pins? Superheroes buy bobby pins because they figure you are running out of them, because they are constantly found all over the apartment floor, so superheroes feel the need to replace them. It is only a superhero could bring these gifts together in such an incredibly mindful way to bring tears to your eyes.

Slowly, but very deliberately, superheroes stop and take notice of smaller things. They realise how much you hate cleaning and doing any form of housework. So they get it done and take it all over, almost obsessively so. It is sometimes a superhero rule – that you aren’t allowed to do housework. Why? Because they just don’t think you should have to do it. So eventually, superheroes start investing in super-mops, super-brooms, super-vacuums and super-energy to clean every two days.

Superheroes get very odd things done. For example – gas. Superheroes don’t want you to go to the gas stations to pump your own gas, so they do it for you, until you realised you haven’t put gas in your own car in close to 28 months!

Superheroes love to leave notes; sometimes all over the apartment. These notes brighten your every day and your every mood. The notes also leave you dumbfounded with silence. From notes, it starts to progress. They leave you money in the notes, telling you to go shopping that day and spoil yourself. They leave hidden cash in strange places because they know that you never remember to keep cash on you, and one day, you may just need. Superheroes send you emails that contain airfare confirmations for vacations for you milestone birthday, to spend with your mom.

I didn’t realise how many small things superheroes do on a daily basis, until you are all alone in the apartment for a week, due to a business trip – like a superhero convention of some sort. It’s only then that you realise that on mornings, you never before had to see about your coffee, because it was brewed and brought to you while applying your make-up. You only then realise that you hadn’t been responsible for putting out garbage for over two years. The most embarrassing realisation is when you notice that you have stopped washing dishes, yet there were never any dishes dirty in the sink! It was almost as though a superhero used to magically make these things happen. During that week of the superhero convention, it would be a very big bother to have to re-stack the refrigerator with your own sodas, wash up the dishes after you cooked, make ice and even adjust the AC for yourself. So you start asking yourself what was really going on! Are you really that lazy? Then you realise that these things were all done for you just so that you wouldn’t have to do it for yourself.

Superheroes don’t allow you to cook on Sundays; or ever, if given the chance. The reason behind it is that you work hard all day and all week, and you shouldn’t have to slave in the kitchen when you get home, especially on a weekend. The aim of a superhero is to get you to come home after work and just take a nap or watch TV. They even prepare your side of the bed before you leave for work, in a way, that when you get home, you can just literally go under the covers. You never actually figure out how and when that happened, but yet it was always there.

Superheroes can be very supportive, which you may have never known before. They support you with your job, late hours, and bringing home your work – the paper work and the emotional work of being a teacher. They assist you in your whims and fancies, like latest hobby of making and selling organic body scrubs (selling, because there is no superhero space for you to make and keep them, just because you like to make them). They support you when for the first time in your entire seventeen year career, a student lies about you and convinces her entire form that she is being honest. The superhero gets legal counsel for you, they print all of the screen shots and posts in which your name was called on a public forum without your consent, and where your name was threatened in social media. Superheroes are great with legal guidance, not just emotional support.

Superheroes are very trusting. They trust not just you and your intentions, but they trust your judgement. They don’t doubt your dedication and commitment because they know that theirs is unwavering. They share their experiences with you – good and bad, knowing that your opinion or response is valuable. They make you feel valued in every way. They respect you, your family, your friends, your co-workers, your students, and anyone who you hold in appreciation.

Superheroes encourage you to be who you always wanted to be – the person you were meant to be, the person you like to be. They support you when you want to raid wardrobes in the house because you found out that there is a child who needed clothes for the weekend. They tell you that it’s ok to take our wedding money that the staff gives you, and contribute it to the school so that my girls benefit from it. They don’t just give the support to help a child that you know who is in dire straits, but they go do the grocery shopping for you to give to her family. They never ever say that it’s their money too, and you are just throwing it away seeing about everyone else, while we have our own commitments.

Superheroes equip you surroundings with 24/7 cameras that record everything – just so that you would be just a little bit safer. They turn an entire bedroom into a home-gym just because you don’t like going to a real gym. They get you pantry shelving systems so that you and your scrubs can be more comfortable.

One of the best things about superheroes is that they never get angry with you. They never shout at you, or curse you, or insult you. Superheroes use their superhero words to tell you if they are perturbed by something, because perturbed is as angry as they get. They don’t just not argue, but they let you win arguments that they know you lost half hour before, just so that you don’t feel like a boob. They apologise when they think they are wrong but superheroes also stand their ground when they know they must – like when it comes to you eating snacks everywhere and leaving a trail of crumbs wherever you go; or when it comes to your online shopping disease, or mall disease. They know when to reel you back into reality.

Superheroes share parts of themselves that silence you. They wear their hearts on their sleeves. They love with everything inside of them and with all of which they are capable. They are brave enough to put their feelings on the line, without shame or fear or expectation. They do nothing just to get something in return. They give and give and give to you, not just gifts and tokens and notes, but they give themselves and of themselves. They love completely because it is the only way that they truly know how to love, and it is the only way they want to be loved in return…freely and wholly.

I met a superhero a few years ago…and he made me the luckiest woman in the world when he decided that he wanted to marry me.