My partner left me. My world feels like it's spinning out of control. She denies having an affair, but I have found evidence that she's texting another woman A LOT. We have two children. My world feels so out of control. She's a liar and a cheat and I still love her. Is this normal? I don't even know what to do.
Affairs are like being in a car wreck.
You don't see them coming. You think you are going safely along, and then out of the blue your car is side-swiped and you feel like you can't breathe, you feel like not just your body, but your whole life and all that it stands for and everything you know to be true is spinning out of control and you wonder, will this car ever stop spinning? And if it does, will I survive the impact? And when it does stop spinning you look around and find that you are still alive. Bruised. In pain, but still alive.
Then you start eying the one who hit you, feeling at first concern that they are okay. Fearing how scared they must be, how disoriented and worried they must be. And when you realize they are okay you think, "What the hell were you thinking? How could you be so reckless? Don't you realize there's a kid in this car? This could have been devastating. Where is your compassion? How can you stand there like this is not a big deal?"
And the reckless driver thinks to herself, "Thank God they are okay" and starts planning for how to get the car fixed, calling insurance, and taking care of business. She sees that you can walk, talk, work and function, and so she carries on, seemingly without notice that the pain is not in your skin and bones, it's in your heart and soul. It is tempting to breakdown - to show her how disabled you are, to give her reason to feel bad, reason to believe she's done something terrible. And you may even do that for a while, until you realize, in order to show her how miserable she's made me I am the one who has to keep being miserable and I no longer choose that. Then you decide, "I want more for myself."
All of the correspondence is about the decisions necessary for cleaning up the accident. There's no longer talk about who's responsible. There's no longer a focus on how scary that must have been, or how much that must have hurt, or how you may be affected by that now, even this far out from the accident. There's no mention of whether or not you have nightmares, and how well you can sleep. There's only talk of expenses, of liability, of division of responsibility, and custody of the kids - who gets what.
Eventually, while sitting in your pain you start wondering, "Did I see that light change and just sped through it?" (i.e. was I a little responsible for this accident too?) Or "Was my light green and she didn't stop at her red light?" (Or is she fully responsible?) And you obsess, and you look for more information, data to prove it, you dig around in the police records (phone calls, work pay stubs, old cards, etc...) and you are looking for the exact moment that it all went wrong. The exact moment that your life as you knew it stopped to function as you had expected it always would.
Sometimes you find the evidence. Nothing has been the same since then. And she denies bits and pieces, lying to protect what is new and shinny and feels good - lying to protect you from the pain of her indiscretion, because, she says, "She still loves you, but it's different now." She fears that the truth will bring you both more pain. This keeps her from accepting full responsibility. And you wonder, "Who is this woman?" How can she do this to me?
And the cycle continues for a few months until you are exhausted from the search. Until you grow too weary to dig up new information, or catch her in another lie. Your choices narrow now, and all that's left is to find the courage to see your responsibility and focus on the ways that you can change so that you can reduce the risks of this happening again, while recognizing that ultimately in love no one is ever in control. Ever.
Most people in your shoes need to experience: 1) the unfaithful partner's acceptance of responsibility for her actions; 2) an understanding of why she behaved this way; 3) and explanation for how she could possibly hurt you and behave as if it's okay to do so; 4) to see remorse - an indication that she feels regret about hurting you, and 5) reassurance that your life and love with her was real - that it mattered and was never as in-disposable as she seems to be treating it right now.
Friends and family may struggle to support you because they fear that if a couple like you can fall apart, then how safe are they in their relationship? Family tires of your upset - can't bear to see your pain, so they distance. Friends don't want to pick sides, and yet often they do. You feel alone, abandoned, scared, and more than anything, just unlovable and afraid that you will never find a partner to love and who loves you. And if you do, you worry whether or not it's safe to open your heart to them, to risk the pain again.
You have one task right now and it is simple. Get up every morning and do your best to make it through the day, taking care of yourself and your children - eat, sleep, work, take care of business, and relax. Keep it simple right now.
When you string together enough of these days you can begin to have better weeks, then better months, and soon you'll have a better life. One little moment at a time. The car wreck may haunt you for years, whether you reunite or not. Because in love, and on the road,we are only as safe as those around us.
Forgive yourself for not noticing sooner.
Forgive yourself for not doing something different, doing something better, doing something more.
Forgive yourself for feeling weak, and vulnerable, and needy and scared.
Forgive yourself for being human.
And before you know it, you'll find that one day you will also find it in you to forgive her.