Since I started to share our story I also started to follow many other blogs where people share their heartbreaking stories, both the betrayed and the betrayers. You can see them and click on them on this blog.
One of the first blogs I followed was Walking The Journey. Her latest post has encouraged me to write the next two posts. It is something I have always wanted to write about but I know that, for some, they will find it hard to read. But I do think I need to say it. This one is about Danny, the next one will be about me.
As those who follow this blog know I shared our story to help people who had been blindsided by infidelity know they were not alone. I felt so alone when it happened to me I didn’t believe anyone’s story was as bad as mine. I was selfish, in the way grief tends to make you at times.
So I shared our story to give people hope. Because we did survive.
But let me be clear, I also knew that not everyone will recover, will survive, will ‘make it better.’
Trust me when I say there were times when we were hanging on by our fingernails, or even just the fingernail of our little fingers.
When Danny stood in that bar, days after he came back, acting so full of himself, chatting up the barmaids. When I caught site of myself in that mirror in the toilets, and said to that woman in the mirror ‘I don’t think I can do this ‘ That was, and still is, a moment in my life etched in my mind, and it was originally going to be the title to my book.
Every time I got in that fucking car, where that Demon was waiting for me. When sixteen months later it all came back, the lid came off the box, and out flew that raging banshee of pain, and rage, and hurt, and disbelief.
So how am I still here. How are we still here? Should everybody stay?
I don’t live others lives, I try and avoid telling them what to do. To quote ‘Jack’s Broken Heart’ nobody knows every little nuance of a relationship.’ But I do know what kept me here and I do know what would have made me leave. For those that have betrayed, that I know read this blog, you may find this useful, you may not, but I can tell you: Danny was so sorry for what he had done. But that was not and never was going to be enough. Sorry is not enough
Danny was contrite. After he came back he had reflected back to him the damage he had done: from all he had lost in the three weeks he had been away, from Ethan’s anger, from the damage done to relationships within the family and from all my pain, that he was a weak man, who had always run away from difficult things in life. Had always become defensive, had always justified what he had done, had always become self-destructive, and quite simply, had acted like an arsehole. He didn’t like what he saw: around him was total devastation to others lives, but ultimately to his; he realised he had thrown away some of the best things he had in life: us, me, Ethan, our life together, and the chances were he was unlikely to get any of that back.
As all that started to sink in Danny for the first time in his life realised that he didn’t want to be that man anymore. He wanted to change and stop fucking up his own life, and everyone else’s around him. The only way to do that was to stay with the strong, now independent woman, the one who didn’t need him anymore, face every fear that always made him run away, and be a different person.
So he answered all of my questions as honestly as he could at that moment in time. Let me explain: In the July after we got back together he lied about whether they had actually had ‘full sex.’ But by the October he told me the truth. Because by the October he had grown and changed as a person and even though he knew it was likely that when he finally told me I would tell him to leave he told me anyway. I did give him my rings back that night, I did tell him to fuck off, and I did lay in bed and consider (for the billionth time) whether I really wanted to stay. But the point is he had grown as a person and he faced his fears. He told me the truth.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. Where infidelity is concerned fear is the main determinant for all of us, the betrayed and those who have betrayed. Fighting that is a constant battle not an overnight thing. As the person who was betrayed I had to learn patience and accept that.
Danny put up with Ethan calling him a fucking cunt for over five months, and only challenged it then because my brother in law told him to. He felt he deserved that disrespect. In fact he felt he had earned that disrespect and he understood why it was happening. Over the years he had to work hard to earn back his son’s respect, and he did.
Danny showed his vulnerability. He cried to songs, he cried with us, he cried when he was part of Ethan’s eighteenth birthday party. He knew that by being vulnerable there was a high possibility he was going to be in a world of pain if I left, but he showed it just the same. And I fell in love with him all over again for doing that.
He understood when I asked him where he had been, asked to look at his phone. He was never defensive when I asked, he never ever said ‘Oh God, we’re not bringing this up again are we?’ He did say ‘I don’t know what you want me to say to you because when I tell you the truth you don’t believe me so I just tell you what I think you want me to say.’ That was an eye opener for me, he had a point!
If I went quiet, silent, he would ask me what I was thinking. It took years for him to get to the point where he now insists we talk about what is on our mind. But in the initial years he learned to ask me, even though he was afraid of the answer.
He was occasionally defensive but trust me when I say he was told his fortune when he was because I was never going to put up with an ounce of crap again. I still don’t, but now I don’t have to.
Yes, he did all the small things: wrote me notes, did the housework, sang songs to me, looked at me in such a way as others noticed and commented. But he changed because he wanted to; and that’s the crux for me, and that’s why I stayed.
He was contrite. If he hadn’t been I would not have stayed.
There are two parts to this blog, this one about what Danny did that kept me here. The next one will be about what would have driven me away, because, trust me, there were so many things that would have.
Making This Better the book is now available including the journal entries for the first 5 years of our recovery & the whole 21 days of ‘The War’. Available internationally in paperback and ebook at Amazon and Barnes & Noble also available at Xlibris and Apple Books for iPad and Waterstones Bookstores for click & collect