When will my past affair stop haunting me? Sometimes the memories just pop up and I feel so dirty. I sometimes find myself caught up in a memory that is like reliving it, then I snap out of it. It is truly horrible. How long does this last? Is there an end? It is so hard. I love my husband more now than I EVER did and this tears me up. Thanks for listening and please pray.
ANSWER: My response falls into the “bad news / good news” category.
The bad news is that everything associated with your affair is in your memory banks. Therefore, when a trigger occurs – even one you are not consciously aware of – your conscious mind summons a memory associated with that trigger. Triggers can be anything your mind associates with your affair. It might be a song, a fragrance, a place, a phrase, a mannerism, or any number of things. (By the way, smells trigger memories more vividly than anything else.) This kind of thing happens with all vivid memories inside your mind, good and bad. In the same way that the fragrance of a pumpkin pie might bring memories of childhood visits to grandma, a song might bring the memory of a specific time or event with a former affair partner. This is part of being human that we cannot change about ourselves.
The good news is that those memories do not mean anything about your love for your husband. Neither do they mean or that you wish to go back to the affair. They are simply memories that come when the right triggers occur. Why do you find yourself reliving it in your mind? That happens because you were emotionally invested in the affair. You relive it because at the time it fulfilled something within you. You feel dirty about reliving it because you now accept that it was wrong.
As time passes, the memories will occur less often. Also, with the passing of time, those memories will become less vivid (though there may be occasional vivid flashes if the right trigger occurs.) Therefore, do NOT let them get you down. When it happens, say to yourself, “Yes, that happened. That’s how I was at the time. That is not as I am today. I’ll focus on who and what I am now.” Then go on with your day without guilt or doubt. Do the same thing if your affair partner shows up in a dream. Acknowledge it. Then dismiss it.
To get past your affair memories haunting you and the guilt you feel, accept that you no longer have anything to feel guilty about. You have overcome your adultery and put your marriage back together. Your guilt has been forgiven in every way possible. These memories indicate nothing bad about you or what you truly desire; they happen because you are human, not because you are doing anything wrong. Cut them short when they happen rather than letting your mind relive them. Concentrate on NOW, not THEN, and you will do fine