2/10/1993 was the day we exchanged vows committing our relationship of 3 years to “til death do us part”. Beyond Betrayal; 28 Years, Lies-Deceit-Infidelity tells the whole story.
So here we are 30 years married and just over 4 years into recovery, celebrating a milestone that I never thought we’d see after our 2018 separation.
The journey has been hellish at times, it’s also been joyful and passionate. The landscape has been laden with trip wires in the form of betrayal triggers and default unhealthy behavioural traits—our recovery journey, particularly in the early stages felt like a literal minefield.
So what does it look like as we’re approaching our 30th anniversary? The simple answer is mostly amazing but not without issue. Our promise has always been to share our personal journey openly and vulnerably in the hope that doing so will validate the recovery path for others.
Dave and I are currently in Europe, we were last here together 30 years ago, thus far we’ve visited Vienna, Zagreb, Grabovac, Split, Hvar, Korcula, Dubrovnik, Athens, Milos, Mykonos and by the time I hit publish on this post we’ll be raising a glass and toasting our 30th in Santorini ❤️ sounds awesome? Yes it is…
AND now for a dose of our reality amidst the dream holiday…
The second week into our vacation, we were sharing a meal as Dave expressed his gratitude and thankfulness of where we were at relationally, especially approaching our anniversary, he’d been reflecting on what it’s taken to get to this place, and this is good right? I’m also appreciative— however my thoughts on this particular day had me reflecting on what my life might have looked like had I walked out on that fateful day in 1994, the day that I discovered he had been unfaithful, the day he pleaded and begged me not to leave. So, I vulnerably expressed my thoughts out loud and shared my truth in that moment—I was actually feeling ripped off and wondered what a 30 year marriage would have been like to someone of integrity, an honest and safe man, one who never had A secret sexual basement
I shared that I felt he had controlled me by deceiving me and withholding information that I deserved and had the right to know, and I lamented over the losses. (After 4 years of recovery work we finally had a full disclosure and polygraph in July this year. A lot of new information came out, it’s been a brutal couple of months and we’re going to talk through this process in a video recoding to share)
Well, our conversation was all going fine, Dave validated my feelings briefly before stating that he felt ripped off too. Right then I thought my eyeballs were going to combust. 😤
We’ve spent ample time in recovery acknowledging Dave’s losses and grief also, it’s valid and it’s real but seriously, this was not your moment Dude!
I brought it to his attention that he had turned this around to make it about him. And my response was something like, “and the difference is, you made those choices, you were in control of your choices, I didn’t have a choice”
Dave then went on to defend his stance, he may as well have had a shovel in each hand because the hole he was digging for himself just got bigger! I couldn’t get the Euros out of my wallet quick enough to make my escape. (cash only restaurant and I had the 💵)
I took off back to our room, showered and went to bed. Dave had his space and thinking time but I was still too dysregulated to respond to his repair attempts, this took another day and walking 23k steps through Plitvice National Park.
The repair began with Dave taking accountability for not holding an empathic space long enough to hear my heart, he then offered to be open to listening more if I needed. Interestingly enough I didn’t need to vent anything else, it was his defensiveness that created the rupture and his gentle turning towards me that repaired it.
The Gottmans describe the masters of relationship as being one’s who learn how to make good repairs, we’ve had plenty of practice and are getting better at this process.
The reason I share this story is to normalize the ups and downs of recovery, it’s not perfect, it won’t be perfect, but it’s good enough. Our good enough looks like 60% of having what we want and 40% of having what we can live with.
Anniversaries are cause for celebration, reflection and also commiseration post betrayal. Often these dates invoke a scrambled mess of thoughts and feelings that deserve to be acknowledged, we allow space for them and choose what we’re going to focus on.
Healing is not a fairytale or pretending that the past never happened, it’s integrating it all and accepting that these parts make up the story of us.
“When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.”
The seasons change yet what remains is our commitment to ourselves and each other.
Thanks for sharing the journey 🥂 there’s a reel on our Facebook page if you want to take a peek at our travels 😉
Noni & Dave xxx