Sitting there waiting with the napkin cover-up they leave and the bottoms off talk, after they’ve asked if I have any questions. I fold my pants up neat with my shoes tucked up under the chair and hurry and hop on the table. It’s a warm room that’s so cold. 

I have a duck picture to look at along with all of the instruments there, kind of mulling through my head what’s going to do exactly what. 

Sitting there, time drags on and on until I hear the little knock followed by my name being called as the doctor comes in with the nurse I just made small talk with because it’s awkward. I can’t stand the awkward silence, so it’s either I anxiously giggle or I chat, so I chat. And it’s about anything other than what’s going on now because this is scary, and I’m trying so hard not to be angry for being here again.  

You see, I got HPV from my ex-husband. He was my one and only since high school, and I just wasn’t all he wanted after we were married

RELATED: My Husband Had An Affair; I Had STD Testing

I saw these things on posters at the doctor’s office during yearly routine visits and don’t think much of it. It was when I got a concerned call about my lab results that my world stopped. While trying to comprehend exactly what the nurse on the phone was trying to tell me, I made another appointment. They assure me this is so very common.

I feel dirty. How did this happen? I’m not the town bicycle. Then comes the anger. And it is so hard not to feel that anger burning inside. 

Marriage vows didn’t mean anything to the person I held the vows for. Nothing mattered when it came to me. Not my feelings, my mental health.

Affairs affect the whole familychildren too. Affairs are so very personal, and now it’s my health that’s been compromised. All for two people being selfish and irresponsible. It affected everything. 

So here I am now on this table, getting pieces cut out and looked at, all while making small talk staring at the lights up above and that dumb duck picture. 

The doctor explains what they found and plans are made for the worst case—where we go from here. 

The effects of a toxic relationship I thought wasn’t that bad but keeps getting worse. I thought when the divorce was final, everything was done. But that is far from the absolute truth. 

RELATED: If You Think It Can’t Happen to Your Marriage, You’re Wrong

Besides dealing with this scary event that’s now been plaguing me for the past year, it’s never-ending. It’s a nickel and dime deal paying to fix every other thing that your now ex was responsible for on top of the nonexistent attempt to co-parent with you. But the person who is responsible for all this mess has moved on, still doesn’t care, nor has to be held accountable for all the damage they did. 

I thought the damage wasn’t that bad at first. I was wrong. 

The other reality is now I have issues to work through I didn’t know I had. There’s abandonment, trust, co-dependency, anxiety, and unlearning everything you thought you knew about relationships since clearly I do not want to go through the train wreck I was lucky to get away from. 

I know now this will always all be a part of mewho I am. There’s no eraser or anything else that makes it all disappear. 

The only thing that makes any of it better is taking care of the hurt and damaged parts the best I can. I just have to learn how to live with it all and to learn how to thrive with it there in its own space. Learn how to appreciate the bad with the good because life is so much better now, and the good parts are beyond amazing. 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Ashley Travous

Ashley is a 39-year-old mother of five, starting life over again after 18 years of marriage. 

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