The moment that defined 2019

Every year I am asked to write about my most impactful moment. My contribution for 2019 is very personal…

Esther Jacobs – the NO EXCUSES LADY: speaker, author, book writing coach, digital nomad

I feel the ground sink under my feet as I read the WhatsApp messages. I have no reason to distrust him. I just happened to walk past his phone on my way to the bathroom; the screen wasn’t locked and something caught my attention, I was literally sucked into it. “There must be a logical explanation for this, this woman must be a good friend,” I try to reassure myself as I scroll through their messages. Only when I find the messages about the hotel bookings, do I have to accept the unimaginable.

He’s having an affair.

This man with whom for the first time in my life I felt at home, with whom I felt a sense of belonging. We were building a future together; traveling together, doing business together, experiencing life together. This man, with whom I shared everything.
Or so I thought.

My world is falling apart.

How could he do this?
How could I have missed it?

My thoughts are working overtime. My body goes into shock. The fight or flight reflex takes over.
All I know is that I have to leave. Leave this hotel room, leave Jordan, leave this man, leave this relationship…

I am in shock for months, completely traumatized. I can’t stop thinking and analyzing what happened. I can’t eat, sleep, or relax. This can’t be true! I still don’t understand it at all.

Conversations with him don’t make anything any clearer. Yes, I get that he had trouble adjusting to my nomadic lifestyle, that his behavior was immature and that he has to work on himself.

He is adamant that he wants to continue the relationship and he does everything he can to be close to me; he goes into therapy, he gives me room to express my emotions, to be angry, to ask questions.
Bit by bit, the truth emerges, but no matter what he says or does, it doesn’t change the situation for me. I feel thoroughly betrayed. By him and – strangely enough – also by my intuition.

How could he do this?
How could I have missed it?

Throughout my life, I have learned to hide my emotions. I have become a master at it. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s the only survival strategy I know. I decide that this trauma is the moment that I am going to do things differently. I MUST. This is too big to suppress. I hire three different coaches that help me to get to the root of my emotions, understand my patterns and process the trauma instead of hiding it away.

The rest of the year is dedicated to asking questions, searching, reflection, anger and sadness, personal growth, a journey of discovery; it’s an emotional roller coaster.

Every time I want to break all contact with him and get on with my life, I strongly feel that it’s not right; “It is not finished yet”.
Perhaps I have more to learn from what happened, with him as a trigger.
Perhaps we can both grow from this and move on together, with a deepening of the relationship.
I don’t know.

Can I accept what happened? No.
I want the fairy tale back! But my prince turned out to be a frog …

I wish I could think and act like I always have; “It’s one way or another…”. But this situation is not that simple.
Deep inside, I know that what we had together is still there. The connection, the feeling of familiarity, the seamlessness of living, working and traveling together. Perhaps it has even grown through all the personal development that we have both been working on over the past 8 months.
But what he did is still also there. Every day. It’s huge. I can’t let it go. How can I ever live with this? Can I understand? Can I forget? (Can I forgive? … absolutely no way, even writing the word is a struggle…) Withdraw? Process? Learn from it?

I can’t be with him anymore, but it doesn’t feel good to live without him either.
No-man’s land.
It all takes so much energy.

One day it will become clear. Until then, I will give it time. That’s all I have to give at the moment.

Hopefully, 2020 will hold the answer.
One day, if I can ever bring myself to kiss him again, maybe my frog will turn back into a prince?

Esther Jacobs (1970) is also known as the ‘No Excuses Lady’. As a modern anthropologist, motivational speaker, writer and journalist, she always looks for surprising perspectives and creative solutions. She has no fixed place of residence. This year she has traveled and lived in Buenos Aires, France, Curaçao, Miami, Austria, Jordan, Greece, Mallorca, Croatia, Spain, Italy, Amsterdam, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and India.