Smashing the lock on the box of bad feelings inside me

My husband was on vacation the last week and a half. He went to go visit with a group of our friends that were all mutual friends with my ex affair partner and us. This is the first time either of us have seen them since we decided to tell them what had happened. We ultimately decided to tell our friends about my affair just to prevent us both pain and discomfort in talking to them. Had we not, we would have probably eventually let those wonderful friendships fade and drift. In the first six painful months after my husband’s discovery of the affair, we told nobody what was happening to us on the advice of our counselor. I’m so grateful for that advice, but it meant every time one of this group of friends would call, they’d say- “we understand, but we don’t have to talk about what’s happening between you two. We can just talk about fun stuff.” And then they’d proceed to share all the updates of my ex affair partner’s life and doings. We eventually stopped answering the phone. (fyi, all of these parties now live in other states, at least a day’s drive away.) At six months post-discovery, we told them just the very basic info: that me and this other person had an affair. Not all of our friends immediately offered their support. Some were incredibly supportive right away. Others didn’t know what to say. One of them was dating the ex affair partner while the affair was going on. Even she and I have been able to reconcile, and eventually all of those bridges were mended.

Years ago, back when we met this group of friends, my husband developed a very flirtatious physical relationship with one of them. He’s always been very flirty and forward, and I’ve never liked it. I would tell him flat out that it hurt me to see him hanging all over other women and making sexual innuendos, but he’d just tell me again and again why I had nothing to worry about and shouldn’t feel that way. Obviously that behavior contributed to putting me in the place I was in when I crossed the line with the ex affair partner. Seeing my husband’s pictures from the trip just now was hard. There were numerous pictures of him and the old female friend, with the two of them draped all over each other.
That said, there were probably an equal number of photos of him hanging all over our other friends too, males and females. He’s just a really physically affectionate guy. But when I saw the photos, I felt myself connecting to the old taproot of pain. I felt myself remembering that sick satisfaction I’d get when he’d ignore me, or mistreat me, and I had the ex affair partner to lean back on. I didn’t fail and try to contact the ex affair partner. But I definitely saw the connection there. It’s good to know why you do things, sometimes… I think just seeing that gave me courage to say something to my husband when he returned. Trust me, it’s not easy to question your husband about a hug in a photo when you have recently slept with another man. It’s a huge testament to my husband that he was able to hear me out and alleviate my concerns. The motto here is: get it all out in the open. Stuffing feelings into a tiny box inside your soul is a recipe for disaster.

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