“I was in my closet (my go-to place when things get hard for me), curled up in a ball, 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 physical body. One word raced through my mind, tormenting me: ‘Why?’
I had a good life. I had just given birth to my second daughter and my oldest just turned three. I loved being their mama! I was the kind of woman who gave everything for her family. I put myself in last place or just completely ignored my own needs. I cooked three meals a day, cleaned, walked the dog, set up playdates, taught ABCs, encouraged my husband, listened to Kidz Bop and enjoyed it more than the kids. I was a full-time mom and wife and I loved it. My whole day was purposeful! I really loved this precious time with my girls.
I played one year of soccer in the eighth grade so of course, I felt fully capable to coaching my three year old’s soccer team. (AKA little kids in uniforms chasing a ball around in one giant swarm.) The truth is, I had no idea what I was doing and everyone knew it! 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. My husband was out of town working. He did that for 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. It was clear he didn’t really know how to say it, he said, ‘if it were me, I would want to know.’ I was completely confused. He 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. I hung up and 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.
I got the girls home and 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 I packed, you could tell 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 I was nursing my baby. She would cry and cry, hungry. I would nurse her, but I 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. I felt so dirty, and so much shame I didn’t think I would survive. I just needed to be clean. I scrubbed myself raw, ten, twelve showers a day. I couldn’t get myself clean. I couldn’t answer ‘why?’
We returned home and as the weeks went by, I found out it wasn’t an affair with one person. It was so many people, he couldn’t even put a number on it. I 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, so 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?’ He would give excuses or try and explain himself, but there was a deeper ‘why.’ A purpose-driven ‘why.’
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 because 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.
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. I was too depressed to make a phone call, I was a single mom and broke, I was too busy, I was 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.
After years of sleepless nights and long weekends of non-stop working, I finally launched a support site called 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) but help for them. Help for the healing of their own heart. I created a solution 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 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.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melissa Davis. You can get help on her website at aftertheaffair.co and on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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