‘Rage rushed through me. Her profile picture was a photo of her with MY husband, faces smashed together side by side, smiling ear to ear. Can you imagine? That was MY HUSBAND.’

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“I was 25 years old and completely consumed by misery, anger, and pain. This wasn’t the first time I felt pain from his actions, but it was the first time the pain was caused by his infidelity.

I was lying face down in a puddle of tears that accumulated over several hours, eyes swollen, and desperation filled the room. For the last few months, I had spent many weekends like this. The rest of the time I spent trying to stay awake and attentive enough in grad school working toward my degree to become a nurse practitioner. I think going to class and working in the hospital is the only thing that kept me sane during this time. Aside from that, I spent my free time analyzing everything, pondering conversations we had, looking for the missing pieces and any gaps in his story. I spent time searching the cell phone bill, looking for odd numbers and long duration conversations. I called many of those numbers. I looked up private detectives. I started planning a ‘surprise trip’ out to Texas where he had been working for a temporary job, thinking I could catch him in action. My suspicion of his affair was no secret. I asked him. I told him something was up. I begged for the truth. There was no truth coming from his mouth. In fact, we started fighting so much, he suggested we take ‘a few weeks off’ from communicating to ‘cool the air.’ What a slap in the face.

But one weekend it all changed. I was on my living room floor crying and screaming out loud to please show me the evidence because I couldn’t live in this hell anymore. Except no one was there. I was alone in our little apartment. I was talking to the universe, god, a higher power… I didn’t care who or what it was. I was desperate and begging for answers.

I knew he was cheating on me.

Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life

All the signs were there and I could feel it in every cell in my body. Since he was living in another state it was a lot harder to really prove anything. When it’s not in front of your face, when you can’t actually see it, you question if you’ve just created it in your mind. But when you know, you know.

Still, I needed evidence. I searched until I found myself feeling like a complete lunatic. I couldn’t find concrete evidence. He was a great manipulator. He covered his tracks fairly well and told me I was crazy for feeling the way I felt (it’s called ‘Gaslighting’).

Until that Saturday morning, I picked myself up from the floor I had been stuck on for hours, paralyzed by emotional pain, and decided it was the day I would get an answer. I had already searched the cell phone records several times and got a partial name from a voicemail greeting. I called a number that he had been contacting quite often. The voicemail greeting was a woman. When I asked him who this was, he crafted a story about it being his male coworker who just got a divorce but was using his ex- wife’s phone and hadn’t changed the greeting. It doesn’t take a genius to know that’s bullsh*t. But, I still couldn’t prove he was cheating. I had googled that phone number but didn’t find anything… until this Saturday. I decided to search the number again online. I dug through different websites, one leading me to another, until I found her full name. At least, I had hoped it was accurate, but I wasn’t sure.

I grabbed my laptop, opened up Facebook and typed it in…

Rage rushed through me, but at the same time I was numb. There it was. The proof I begged for. Her profile picture was a photo of her with my husband, faces smashed together side by side, smiling ear to ear.

Can you imagine seeing that? That was MY HUSBAND. The man that was supposed to be my forever. It was all a lie. FINALLY, I got the truth.

I immediately grabbed my phone and called her. Previously when I called this number, she didn’t pick up, perhaps because I blocked my number in case I actually WAS crazy and my husband had been telling the truth. This time I didn’t block my number and she picked up after two rings. I was shaking, sweating, and wasn’t even sure what I was going to say.

‘Who are you? Why are you talking to my husband so much?’ She responded with, ‘Who is your husband?’ I told her his name. Her response baffled me. She said, ‘Oh… wow… I KNEW he had to be married.’ As if she had been questioning it all along and she was quite proud of herself for being right. Then she started questioning me, asking if I was really his wife. She had seen my name and number on his phone and was told I was the ‘crazy ex-girlfriend.’ Another jab in the stomach. I couldn’t believe this woman thought I might be lying. If she only knew the hell I had been living in and how this one conversation was changing my entire life.

I sent her photos of our wedding pictures hanging on our wall. I sent her a photo of his clothes hanging in our closet. I wanted to make sure she knew who I was and what she had done. I also wanted to make sure there was no way he could create another story for her about me.

After I got off the phone with her, I called him right away. He didn’t know I just spoke to his mistress. He didn’t know I uncovered the truth. He answered, ‘Hey baby.’ I responded with, ‘I’m divorcing you. It’s over.’

3 days later I met the divorce attorney and then filed for divorce.

After about a month, I broke the lease and moved out of our apartment. I packed it all up myself as he remained in Texas with his mistress. I even packed his stuff and left it in the garage for him to come collect. I didn’t want his help. I didn’t want to see his face. He left me with no money. The bills became my responsibility. It’s funny how that works.

So, I moved with my dog Toby in with my brother and his girlfriend. I was so thankful I had a place to stay and it was close to campus so I could easily get to class and to the hospital I was doing my clinicals at. I stayed there for about 4 months until I found my own place and became a little more emotionally stable.

Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life

I was totally lost, didn’t know who I was, or what I was going to do with my life. My entire adult life was spent as his wife. I had no sense of who I was, as just me. I remember sitting on my bed in my new little bedroom in my brother’s apartment and I decided to make a list of all the things I wanted to do, but hadn’t had the chance to do yet. This is how I began my journey of self-discovery.

I started running and decided to train for a half marathon, something I had never done before. I found joy, confidence, and a sense of accomplishment through this. I started working out at a brand new fitness studio. I found myself falling in love with fitness and all that came with it. My body and mind changed the more I showed up. I was finally doing things for me, taking care of myself, exploring different things, learning about myself. These are the things I never had time for as I was constantly cleaning up the chaos and instability he created. You don’t get time for this when you’re searching for the truth, or trying to figure out where the ‘missing’ money went, and how the hell you’re going to pay your bills. I ran my half marathon, I went scuba diving – and I even jumped out of a plane. I was reclaiming myself.

Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life
Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life
Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life

I never questioned my decision to divorce him. I never considered staying to work it out. I had spent the last 5 out of 6 years of our marriage trying to work things out; reckless behavior, impulsive spending, draining bank accounts, stealing money, repossessed cars in the middle of the night, lying, drug addiction, drug rehab, going to Alanon and AA meetings with him, supporting him in his recovery. But, an affair, was never something I was willing to work out. I was so done.

Thinking he couldn’t possibly hurt me anymore, he decided to tell me a few days before our divorce hearing through text that he also had an affair with our neighbor, with whom I had hung out with while he was away having another affair. I didn’t need more confirmation that he didn’t deserve another second of my time, but damn did that certainly confirm my decision a thousand times over. My life had been pure chaos with him, and I had dreams of a life that was no way in hell possible with him present. I deserved more. And with my decision to leave, I demanded more. More from life.

Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life

It’s been a long road. I wish I could tell you life was grand after that. You may think this story is quite disturbing, and it is, but what’s more disturbing is how something like this impacts you for the rest of your life; The aftermath. This is the part you don’t hear about. It’s been 8 years since my divorce, and I’ll be honest, I still struggle from time to time with trust, being vulnerable, and allowing myself to stay open. I do it, don’t get me wrong, but if anyone tries to tell you they’ve healed and changed their life and everything is good in just a short time, I’m not sure they’ve done the work. It’s hard. Very hard. Fitness, therapy, family, and friends helped make it possible for me, and continue to do so. Healing takes time, consistent work, and patience with yourself.

Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life

Life is completely different now. I am happy. I am in a healthy relationship, with myself and my partner. My partner has been extremely patient with me. From day one, he was open, understanding, and willing to work with me as I learned to trust him. I could write another article, probably even an entire book on this part of the healing process and what it’s like to open yourself up to someone after going through what I did. Perhaps I’ll write a part 2.

Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life

My life really is a dream now. I completed that degree I was working on and crossed off probably everything on that list I had created that day in my bedroom. Fitness is now my lifestyle and I consider it my lifesaver. I travel. I have hobbies. I live abroad. I’m always learning and growing. I’ve learned how to forgive, trust, and ALWAYS listen to my intuition. I’ve learned to truly trust another man with my heart. I’ve discovered the things that light me up, that fuel my soul and what I’m most passionate about. I started my own coaching business that allows me to support and help other women through many of life’s challenges so that they too can live their dream life.

Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life
Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life

His affair was the best and worst thing that ever happened to me. It was the ticket to my freedom, though it didn’t feel like freedom at the time. I am now free.

Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life
Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life

If you’re going through this right now, I want you to know – you deserve more, and yes, please believe me when I say there is so much more to life after this! You must do the work to heal. It will not heal on its own. If you’ve done this to someone, I beg you, please heal yourself so that you stop hurting other people. And if you haven’t done this but have considered cheating, I ask you to remember my words. Remember that this one simple action can completely alter someone’s entire life. It’s not worth it. A relationship should be a place where you feel 100% safe, respected, and loved. If you don’t feel all 3, I ask you to reconsider your decision. Love yourself. Grow. Heal. Love others. Be happy. Discover your best life.”

Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life
Crystal Mckenzie/@her.undiscovered.life

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Crystal Mckenzie. You can follow her journey on her Instagram and her website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories of overcoming infidelity:

‘I found YEARS of mail in his trunk. My husband was living a double life and had another daughter! He abandoned us in a Target parking lot and changed the locks to our home.’

‘The text was simple: ‘Later 2nite.’ He was my husband. She was my great friend. All he could muster was, ‘At least I come home to the family.’

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