Anniversaries and triggers are a painful reality following any traumatic event.
Reactions can be variable depending on timing and circumstances, reminders are pretty much unavoidable—triggers may come from out of the blue and can be damn intense, to say the least.
We, humans, are an interesting species, we need to attach meaning to almost everything, it’s foundational in the human psyche, it’s just how we are geared though sometimes we’ll assign importance to things that are not necessarily healthy or real.
If you’ve read our Memoir you may recall that on Christmas Eve 2018 I had a missed call from Dave and unbeknownst to him he left a 5-minute voicemail of him speaking with another woman. He had just left our family home that afternoon after we had been planning our Christmas Day—we were in the process of reconciling after a recent separation which had nothing to do with him being unfaithful.
I remember that moment with crystal clear clarity—it was horrendous! Every maddening thought that you could begin to imagine pulsated through my body with a ferocious force. My mind and body went into full-on fight mode, I needed to protect myself, I had to find safety…
I can’t erase Christmas Eve from the Calendar but I can decide what meaning I assign to that date. I know it’s coming up and I have the ability to choose how I will approach it.
I have the power to choose what Christmas Eve 2021 will look like for me. Am I going to focus on the horrific mental anguish I was in on 24th Dec 2018? I could if I wanted to but I also know how that will end up and how far down the rabbit hole I might go—or am I going to adjust the narrative and be thankful that this date was also the catalyst for when Dave finally had to own his choices.
What I focus on becomes way more important and significant than what I choose to let go of.
The gift Dave gave me on Christmas Day is also somewhat of a reminder. He had been to a staff shop at the company he works for and did a little Christmas shopping. When he gave me a really lovely body wash I was happy with the simple and yummy smelling shower gel. After the year that we’d had, it was a nice gesture.
It was only on full disclosure did I learn that the pocket dial on Christmas Eve, was Dave gifting this other woman something small from the staff shop also. UGH!
Since then this fresh and pleasant smelling body wash has been purchased over and over and has a regular spot in our shower recess. Most days I don’t give it a second thought, it’s just a shower gel. There are other days though when it reminds me of that dreadful pocket dial—then I have fleeting thoughts of tossing it and replacing it with something else! I don’t though because, besides loving the freshness of the scent—any replacement would just be a reminder as to why I got rid of the other one and I’m not going to be beaten by an inanimate shower gel!
The power of the mind, do our thoughts control our actions or do our actions control our thoughts—I say both can be true.
Christmas can be a really tough time after betrayal, if it is for you, I encourage you to plan ahead. Have strategies in place to help you get through what you need to.
For some couples, family is unaware of what you’re going through and it can feel like a whole lot of pretending normal—you’re dreading the facade.
For others, you’re apart and trying to navigate juggling kids and pleasantries or you might be together but really struggling to stay afloat, the intensity of anger, pain, grief is all-encompassing.
It all hurts, I’m so sorry for this pain. If you are able to, give yourselves permission to put the affair thoughts and grief on hold for a period, allow yourselves to have a break from recovery work and try your hardest to access joy even if only for a little while. Take rest and promise yourself that you will get back to it. Keep that promise—don’t put your affair recovery work on hold forever, you deserve to heal fully.
There is no magic pill to ease or hasten the process but know that however and wherever you find yourself on a betrayal journey, you’ve already survived 100% of your worst days up until now and you’re still going!
The dates will come and they will go as sure as the sun rises and sets.
There is no denying that what happened to you is excruciatingly painful and traumatic for everyone involved, please be kind to yourselves, you can get through this season no matter what it throws at you.
God’s Richest Blessings to you and yours, stay safe and stay connected.
With love and gratitude
Noni & Dave