Written by Aafa
We have never met, but you have affected my life more than you will ever know. The affair happened. It doesn’t really matter when it took place, how long it lasted, or even why it happened anymore. The root is and always will remain the same regardless of the “why” – if it weren’t you, it would’ve been someone else. You just happened to be in the right spot at the right time. You were a siren for the glaring issues that were festering under the surface of my marriage. Unfortunately, at the time, my husband lacked the emotional maturity to deal with our issues in a healthy way. So, instead, he chose a temporary release. You were that release.
Before I continue, let me say from the start that my intent is not to reopen old wounds and that this letter is not about judgment; I’m not here to lecture you or even to make you a scapegoat. Please know that this letter comes from a place of compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. I know that you are a good person; you were deeply remorseful and you had the desire to do the right thing in the end. (Which was very brave and noble, by the way.)
Immediately after the bombshell, I had every right to be mad as hell; I fantasized about kicking your ass, strangling my husband and then setting his clothes on fire. Thoughts of getting revenge consumed my mind. I wanted to bash you and call you every derogatory name that I could possibly think of. But what would have been the prize in that battle? Had I lost control or lashed out at you (or my husband), I would’ve appeared to be the crazy one. And besides, because I didn’t freak out on you, I was able to hear your side of the story and finally unravel this nightmare that my husband created.
…If it weren’t you, it would’ve been someone else.
I wanted to hate you. I wanted to make you the enemy. But what I learned was that you weren’t the evil, scheming, heartless monster I had taken solace in believing you would be. Cloaking myself in my hatred of you was gratifying for a moment, but at the end of the day, holding resentment and bitterness toward you was only hurting me. When our hearts have been shattered, we must work through the pain in our own time and in our own way.
I wanted to blame you. Yet, although you were responsible for your actions, you weren’t responsible for my husband’s. You were involved with a married man, and I’ll never condone that, but at the same time, you didn’t make a commitment to me on my wedding day. My husband did. The blame lies squarely with him. You didn’t force him to do anything that he didn’t want to do – he made the conscious decision to do something so incredibly selfish and played with both of our hearts. And that is why my initial anger and fury turned into empathy. So from that day forward, I pledged to take the high road. And just like I had promised myself – I never threatened you, called you out of your name, and only wished you well.
Over time (and with a whole lot of therapy and reflection), my perspective towards you and the affair began to change. I came to realize that you were a naive woman who made a terrible mistake during a very vulnerable time in your life. Sadly, you short-changed yourself and made a bad decision based on lust and false information that you believed to be true. I will never fully know how my husband painted our marriage to you, the extent of the promises that were made to you, or the special moments that you shared together. All I know is, you fell for his woe-is-me story and were drawn into a web of deceit. But when it came down to it, your inner turmoil led you to have the sense and resolve to walk away. As a result, you too, experienced your very own private grief.
Once I came to terms with everything, I chose to forgive. Of course, this was not easy, but I had to commit to the decision, not the feeling. Life has moved on. I guess what I want you to know is, that for me, it’s water under the bridge. This may sound crazy, but had we encountered each other in different circumstances, we could’ve had the potential to be great friends. Most people would think I’ve lost my damn mind for making amends with you. They may even shake their heads in disbelief when they hear me say that I don’t blame you or hold any animosity toward you. (It’s not up to me, or anyone else for that matter, to judge others. But it is up to us when or if forgiveness is warranted, or needed.) I still refuse to give you any negative energy or space in my heart, because when women support each other, incredible things can happen.
I’ve accepted the fact that what happened between you and my husband happened, and although it cannot be erased, we all had something to gain from it. I’ve learned that what happened had nothing to do with me – and everything to do with him. (It was a struggle not to internalize his cheating and somehow make it my fault.) As cliché as it sounds, I am a firm believer that “everything happens for a reason”. While the affair was undeniably the most devastating time of my life and ridiculously hard for everyone involved, it turned out to be the best-worst thing that ever happened to my marriage. Quite honestly, in the grand scheme of things, you actually did us a favor. You see, you opened up an entire portal we never fully grasped before. We never would’ve imagined it at the time, but you were the game-changer that completely transformed our marriage.
This may all sound too kumbaya, but once I had some clarity and saw the affair for what it was, I actually began to feel gratitude towards you. Yes, you. As painful as it was, I must confess that I stand grateful for this experience – it gave us ALL the opportunity to self-reflect and to grow personally. Thank you for reminding me what heartache feels like, because without it I could not truly begin to appreciate the beauty of healing. Thank you for helping me to see the depth of my fear and insecurities – it took my husband’s infidelity to force me to acknowledge, examine, and work through them. It was a battle for me not to succumb to my own insecurities and believe that I wasn’t enough. But after working on myself, I was finally able to recognize that my sense of worth doesn’t come from my husband, but from standing on my own two feet. Thank you for reminding me that I am responsible for my own happiness and fulfillment, and that no one person will ever be able to complete me. That is my job. Today, I am whole again. I am myself completely. I owe much of this to you.
Shortly after the affair ended, I began to pray that God would send you a man who wholeheartedly desired you as much as you desired him. I prayed that this person would eventually become your life partner. Well, with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart, that day has finally come, and I genuinely could not be happier for you. I’ve been waiting in anticipation for you to officially begin your very own love story for quite some time now. You tying the knot has ultimately made my healing complete.
So, as you begin your very own happily ever after, may you always be reminded that marriage is a constant work in progress and that love ebbs and flows. It isn’t sexy all the time. It doesn’t necessarily come with the perfect words or the stuff of dreams. It can be messy, complicated, and imperfect, just like us, and life itself. I am beyond happy that you have found your prince, who is free to love you, and only you. I pray that your years together will be filled with love and happiness, inshAllah. Because yes, you are worthy of it.