You will have some days that feel tougher than others. You will have days when you can barely pick yourself up from bed, and other days when your ferocious attitude influences others. You are morphing into what you have yet to become.

The day you found out he strayed, it was like a punch to the stomach. You had some friends who stayed, some who left. Some family stood in the background afraid of the awkward silence. You began to take fault inward. But you will overcome all of this.

You needed to experience these feelings to embrace the journey, the next steps of becoming your best self.

You see, you can ‘t make the feelings go away; the scar will always be there. But the fresh wound will no longer be visible to the naked eye. You are going to take on the responsibility to try to find excuses for your former partner. How could you not see the signs? Why didn’t he feel comfortable enough to talk to you? But the thing is, it is not your fault. Sure the marriage fell apart, which you both contributed to, but don’t for one second take on any additional guilt.

You see, he is fighting demons even you can’t help with. He may go from bed to bed, trying to find some splendid version of himself (and a bit of you) that he is not going to find, because the problem is not you, it lies within him. And that is why both of you need to take time for yourselves and figure out who you are and what you want to be in the world.

You were betrayed by someone you thought was your partner for life, the one you laid your head on the pillows with at night, surrendering yourself, your struggles, your fears, the deepest, darkest version of yourself to another soul. But the thing is, you share children—a blended version of yourselves. And while the pain and heartache is there, to an extent, you need to mask it from your children.

You are going to try it all—to be his friend, to set boundaries—that may not work at first. You may try to cut him out and go back to being completely separate entities. That may not work, either. It is going to be an ebb and flow, but you will find something that evolves and works for you. And it will continue to evolve, because not only are the two of you continuing to grow and reach new stages in life, so are your children.

You are going to try to mask your own feelings by keeping yourself busy. You will take on additional duties at work, you will sign up for more with your children’s schools and sports teams. You are going to try to fit in more time for exercise, maybe join that spinning class you talked about, carve out more time to read, take part in activities that you always loved, but your partner may not have. This will not make the feelings go away, but it will provide you with a temporary escape while you try to find yourself again.

The thing is, people try to make excuses. The hours you worked, you were so tired tending to the children. Your sex life was starving.

These things may be true. But what you and your partner were truly missing was communication.

Sure there may have been love, but there wasn’t respect. It’s not a competition of who did more that day, who has a right to feel more tired, who contributed more money or love to the household. In fact, it is not a competition at all, but rather you notice when the other needs help and you are there to pick up the slack. You are side-by-side cheering one another on, rooting for the other to become the best version of him or herself.

Now I am a woman who was betrayed by a man, but it goes both ways. But I will be honest, the physical and mental changes it takes to grow with another, cannot be ignored. Your body will change after childbirth. Your attitude will change with new jobs. You will have a shorter fuse trying to keep everything in order for everyone. The responsibility of keeping a tidy home, working outside the home, transporting everyone where they need to be, volunteering, managing appointments, trying to remain stress-free and adventurous, the discussion of finances, getting through huge life obstacles: deaths, divorces, friendship changes . . . it is all so emotionally taxing. But the reality is, you should be able to turn to one another through all of it.

So thank you for reminding me I was not content just going through the motions of our everyday life. Thank you for forcing me to realize my worth, and setting a boundary of what I would and wouldn’t allow in my life.

I have found my voice. I have begun to find what makes my soul happy. I have flourished. And as your former partner, I hope you find the same.

Brittany Heaward

Brittany lives in Southern Maine with her two daughters. She works in higher education and enjoys spending time with family, reading, writing, New England sports, being outdoors, and home decorating. She is a blend of realism and sarcasm. It is her passion to share her life experiences in writing, in an attempt to help readers through their own personal circumstances. Her motto: Always keep smiling!