Beauty from the Ashes: A Story of Healing After an Affair
It is my absolute pleasure to welcome guest blogger, Melissa Davis. Melissa’s story is so inspiring for anyone who is working to heal after an affair.
Related post: Healing from Infidelity
I thought we had a good life
I was in my closet (my go-to place when things get hard for me), curled up in a ball, sobbing. Not just sobbing, it was this sound I didn’t know I could even make. I was wailing - I lost all control of my thoughts, emotions, and my physical body. One word raced through my mind, tormenting me, “Why?”
I had a good life. My oldest just turned three and I had just given birth to my second daughter. I loved being their Mama! I was the kind of woman that gave everything for her family and put myself last or just completely ignored my own needs. Cook three meals a day, clean, walk the dog, set up playdates, teach ABCs, encourage my husband, listen to Kidz Bop and enjoy it more than the kids, full-time mom and wife. I loved it, my whole day was purposeful! It was such a precious time with my girls.
I played one year of soccer in the eighth grade, so of course, I felt fully capable of coaching my three-year old’s soccer team (aka little kids in uniform chasing a ball around in one giant swarm). The truth is I had no idea what I was doing and everyone knew it!
It was raining, I was driving down the narrow downtown streets to my daughter’s soccer game. She pouted in the back because her jersey was blue and she liked pink. My newborn slept quietly. Their dad was out of town working, he did that the majority of the year.
On our way there, I got a call from my best friend’s husband. This was odd, he never called me.
He apologized for being the one to tell me and it was clear that he didn’t really know how to say it. He said, “If it were me, I would want to know.” I was completely confused and he quickly got to the point. He shared how he happened to check something on his wife’s phone and saw text messages between her and my husband.
My hands and feet got hot and sweaty. He described what he saw with just enough detail for me to get the point. My stomach seemed to fall out from under me. After hanging up, I quietly cried, just a little, behind my sunglasses. I was in shock, I felt like I was in a fishbowl looking out at the world. I could see things but they were blurry, I could hear, but it was unclear, muffled.
Thank God my step-mom came to the game that day. I gave my baby to her and stood on the field in the rain, willing myself not to throw up. I have no clue what happened at the game, I just stood there as a hoard of three-year-olds chased a ball around me.
When I got the girls home, I immediately started to pack. After a nine-hour drive, we arrived at my grandmother’s home. We were there for a week and from the mess that I packed you could tell that I was out of my mind. It was cold and we were in flip flops, no one had underwear, toothbrushes, diapers, jackets.
The worst part was that I was nursing my baby. She would cry and cry, she was hungry. I would nurse her, but just wasn’t making enough milk all of a sudden. I was too stressed to care for her basic needs, food. If this doesn’t piss a mama bear off, I don’t know what does.
All I could do that week was sob, hysterically sob and compulsively take showers. Feeling dirty and ashamed, I didn’t think I would survive. I just needed to be clean. After scrubbing myself raw, ten, twelve showers a day, I still I couldn’t get myself clean. I couldn’t answer “why?”
The truth comes out about the affair
We returned home and as the weeks went by I found out that it wasn’t an affair with one person, it was so many people he couldn’t even put a number on it. It felt like I was being held under a waterfall - I was being pounded to death by violent waters, beat against rocks. Occasionally I would make it to the surface for just enough air to keep me alive and then the current would pull me back down. I isolated myself completely. Many of my friends were involved and I couldn’t trust anyone. I was so alone.
In my darkest moments, I would open the medicine cabinet and think, “If I took all of those pills, maybe I would go to sleep and never wake up.” I was paralyzed with fear, panic attacks, flashbacks and anxiety, and never could shake that, “Why?” Yes, he would give excuses or try and explain himself, but there was a deeper “why” a sort of purpose-driven “why.”
Our marriage didn't survive
Our marriage didn’t survive. I fought hard to save our family, but ultimately I could only control myself and had to let go. Days turned into years and the anxiety and fear slowly started to leave. But that “why” didn’t leave. Nope.
I would pray and beg God to show me why this happened. There had to be a bigger reason, I couldn’t understand it. I felt such a pull to something significant, something I did not understand yet. Then it happened.
Beauty from the ashes
Several of my friends were sadly going through the same thing I faced and I was able to be there for them, to listen and cry on the phone during kidless holidays. This was it, this was my beauty from the ashes!
I got an idea and started planning and saving for years. I was going to make a way for everyone struggling with their partner’s infidelity to have access to help. You see I had a long list of excuses for not reaching out and getting help - too depressed to make a phone call, broke, too busy, afraid someone would see me going to a therapist...
Since I didn’t get help, I just stayed and sat in my misery for much longer than necessary. This is a fate I would never wish on anyone.
Helping others with After the Affair
After years of sleepless nights and long weekends of non-stop working, I finally launched After the Affair. You see, I wanted to create a straight to the point, no-nonsense, private, and affordable way for people to get help. Not help for their relationship, (there are plenty of people doing that) help for them, help for the healing of their own heart.
I created a solution that I longed for six years ago. When I think back over those years of sobbing in my closet, or spending hours getting ready to leave because I wanted to look perfect so no one knew I was dying on the inside, I see a little girl who just needed someone to tell her what to do next. I want to, scratch that, I NEED to do that for others. It’s my freakin why! After the Affair was custom designed to do just that. Bring help to everyone, right where they are, no matter their circumstances. For each subscription, we give a free subscription to someone in need. Everyone can get help, no one is turned down.
Beauty from the ashes, baby, that’s what my story is beauty from the ashes.
Related post: What's a divorce coach and do I need one?
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