The rug was pulled from underneath me the day my husband sent me a text that was clearly meant for another woman. Everything I believed in unfolded to be completely false from that moment and throughout the year that followed. This man was my everything, or so I thought. We’d been together for over 10 years at that point and had what I thought was the perfect love story. Our marriage was good, I mean we never even fought. He was a very loving stepfather to my kids and very generous with all of us. We had a good life. Our marriage, like any other, wasn’t always roses and sunshine, but I had no idea that he was feeling at all unfulfilled. We went to counseling and he tried to apologize and say that it would never happen again until I caught him…five more times. By then, I had come to the realization that life as I knew it was over. Every one of my plans and hopes and dreams for our future went up in smoke and with that, every bit of my confidence.
I wasn’t enough for anyone in my point of view. I failed my kids by putting them in the position to have this heartbreak during their already stressful high school years. My loss was also their loss. They loved him but after what he did to me, they completely cut him out of their lives. I had left a lucrative corporate job to become a teacher a few years prior to this and with that decision, I made less than half of the money I used to make. How would I support them through this loss both mentally AND financially? I developed immeasurable anxiety, I stopped eating (because nothing would stay in anyway). I withdrew from as much of my life as I could because being in public was torture. I remember feeling like my worthlessness was written on my face and that everywhere I went people knew my secret. I felt thrown away like yesterday’s trash and I felt it in my bones. Not eating, I now realize, was perhaps how I punished myself. It helped me succumb to the weakness I felt. The utter loss of control. I lost a lot of weight and slowly, I think I was trying to die. I had contemplated suicide countless times. My father died by suicide and not too many years before this happened to me, and his was in large part also a reaction to losing his wife to an affair. Now I got it. The heartbreak. The despair. The disbelief in everything you once believed in, and now the distrust that there could ever be anything to believe in again.
My dad’s death is what saved me. Having gone through such a tragic loss, I knew I didn’t want my kids to experience that the same way. So I slept. A LOT. And the one thing I did do in public was to show up at the boot camp I worked out at. My trainer watched me basically try to disappear by not eating. She supported me every day with a reason to show up (and tailored an appropriate workout that didn’t deplete even more calories, because I was only there for a connection, not really the workout). I eventually told my closest friends what was going on and I found great support. I was so embarrassed to tell anyone, and in the end, it was the people I told who got me through it.
My advice to anyone who is “trying to disappear” is to tell someone. Anyone. And if the first person you tell doesn’t give you the support you need, tell someone else. You will find it. And that support will get you through.
I eventually started eating again (it took several months). I started teaching at a different school which helped me keep my secrets and to start fresh where nobody knew my husband or my story. I gained back some physical strength and started really pouring that into my workouts and found a new passion in fitness. I created a whole new community of friends and occupied my time with them participating in various events and activities which helped my weekends feel less lonely. My physical strength transcended into mental strength.
It took me about 2 years to go through it from beginning to end, but about a year after my lowest point, I finally felt like I had something to live for (outside of my children). Today I am newly married to a man who showed me I could believe in love again. My kids are healthy and happy. My career is thriving. Everything I thought would never be possible again is not just possible, but it’s happening. And it can for you too.
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