D-Day: When Anniversaries Attack

Today is the 13th anniversary of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack upon our nation’s soil. From moving pictures all over social media, to commemorative speeches and ceremonies, it’s a huge reminder of what happened 13 years ago. For those of us old enough to remember that day, we’ll truly never forget where we were, what we felt and what the nation experienced.

Anniversaries are tough. The first year anniversary of D-Day of an affair is probably one of the toughest anniversaries to get through. Our first year anniversary we were doing very well. So well, in fact, that I rented us a suite at the Four Seasons downtown and we had a pretty wonderful time. I tried to do the best I could to help distract from the agony of the huge reminder August 26th is for both Samantha and me. The attempt to distract Samantha didn’t work, but she said I did receive points for trying.

Part of the reason anniversaries are so tough is that it brings back all the memories, all the hard times, all the pain, and all the raw agony of the event itself. It all becomes fresh all over again. The fact that you even have an anniversary date of the horror of betrayal at all is a huge reminder. Betrayed spouses express the feeling of being stuck all over again. They talk of how the memories they thought they had a handle on come rushing back with a vengeance. The visual reminders flood their memories and their thoughts.

That’s what anniversaries do.

But it gets better.

“Does it really?” you’re probably asking. I promise you it does.

For us, it’s been nine years and I have to remind Samantha that it’s the anniversary date of our D-Day. She truly doesn’t remember anymore. Sure she knows it’s in August and yes, she knows it was about this time, but the emotions and surrounding flood of reminders no longer flood her the way they did. One year when I knew she was keenly aware of it, I used Google Maps to get pictures of every house we lived in over the last 19 years of our marriage. It took some creativity to get actual pictures, but I was able to do it. On each picture of the house, I wrote “I loved you here.” Then on the next one I wrote “I loved you more here…” and so on and so on. It was one of the best ways to counter the anniversary’s attack and she absolutely loved it.

If you’re an unfaithful spouse, I know it’s a reminder for you as well. It brings everything full circle. The life you now live. The new normal for your marriage. The shame of what an idiot you may have been or the confusion of what you originally felt seems like a new friend that’s come to stay with you again for a few days.

Here are a few helpful tips that help Samantha and I during anniversaries:

  1. The new emotions and reminders will subside again. Remind yourself you’re not going backwards. It’s the anniversary of a huge trauma and by nature, the emotions come back with some significant punch. Don’t worry. You’re better than you were then. You’re stronger than you were then. You’re doing better and moving past it. It’s merely an anniversary and these kind of anniversaries attack.
  2. Don’t give it the airtime it wants. Do not let yourself sink back to what you used to think, used to feel, used to want, used to believe. You’re healthier now. Don’t allow yourself to dwell on it all day and all night and convince yourself that you’re not any better.
  3. Use some aggressive self-talk and/or prayer. As you read the statements above, say them out loud, to yourself. Say them in a prayer if that helps. But you have to declare these things out loud. You have to be aggressive about them. You’ll need to stand up for yourself against the emotions and the reminders of it all. Don’t go quietly. If you lie down to the ‘temporary emotion’ of it all you’ll slip backwards. The farther backwards you go, the harder it is to regain the momentum you’ve worked so hard to gather. Do not allow its subtle voice to become a friend. It’s not a friend. It’s an attack. It’s a strange voice.
  4. Find a new way to celebrate it. If the finances are there, consider replacing the D-Day Anniversary with a new commemorative celebration. A night out? A nice hotel, massages, dinner, you name it.  A nice drive up the coast or through the valley?  As all of you know, you’ll have to be extremely sensitive to the reminders and memories your betrayed spouse has. It will need to be something new, something fresh, something out of the box, something strategic. You can do it, but it will require discretion, strategy and probably prayer!
  5. Most importantly, don’t give up. Fight back against the reminders. Whether it’s been one year or six years and even if you’re still stuck. Refuse to surrender to depression or hopelessness. Stand up for yourself and your future. Call a friend. Have a drink (but not too many). Listen to your favorite music as loud as you can in the car. Find a way to break free, your future probably depends upon it. 
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August 26th is our d-day our

August 26th is our d-day our I should say was the one year anniversary for us. It ment nothing to me other then to mention to my wife the next day that I wanted to talk about how things have changed over this past year and what she thinks was good or bad. I did not flood or a thing like that at all. We still have much to work on but triggers are not and have not been for a long time. At one time I thought I could forget the date just wipe it from my mind but that is not likely to happen this soon. I even thought about making it a date night but some how that just did not seem to be wise either so I settled instead as thinking of it as a review day a day in the year to look back and gage how we have been able to improve our marriage. The date to me is the start of my quest to love my wife unconditionally and grow our marriage better then it ever was. It is just a date and we can choise to make of it what we want. And I choise to not let the bad decisions of my wife change what we really could and will be.

I make a point to be gone..

I make a point to be gone...If at all possible...on our d - day. I've been able to be out of town so far..but i do have the reminder and anger during the entire month leading up to that date. Sunday will be one month until our 3rd year post and I already find myself drifting into painful spots.
3 years ago she was sleeping with him right now. It's a painful time for me. She just acts as if nothings wrong. I know it's an act, as she likes to pretend as if everything is fine.
Even writing about it makes me upset.


Your words are EXACTLY what I feel

My first Dday is Christmas

Not sure how to deal with it when it's a major holiday. We can't do something different, especially with aging parents and new grandkids. This will be the second anniversary coming up. I couldn't even spend it with my spouse last year because of the triggers. I am dreading the holidays this year,don't want to decorate, don't want to do anything but go to church on Christmas Eve. Don't know how to handle it...yet.

My D-day is Christmas too. I

My D-day is Christmas too. I too struggle with how to make it through. Not only is it the day I found out, it’s the day I lost my mom. It’s been hard for years and I don’t know what to do to get through it. I can’t change anything up as we have kids. I’m dreading it so bad!

some ideas...

hi there.   well, for starters, the good thing is you know it's coming.  so you can prepare for it.  i would try and start some new traditions.  something to get out of the house.  we try and go to IHOP on christmas eve as that used to be a trigger for samantha.  we also do things like volunteering to serve the homeless or what not.  a few keys that we found to be helpful:

1. new traditions or new ways to celebrate

2. expect it to be tough, but find ways to NOT just stay home and do the same thing and don't allow yourself to sit and sulk.

3. having said that, schedule a time to grieve.  maybe say to yourself, later tonight, at 9pm when the kids are in bed or what not, i'll find a safe place by myself to cry and get it all out.  but not till then.  that way during the day you can say, 'nope, not now, later i will do this.'  

4. this isn't practical always, but some christmas's we had a decent amount of money so we went overboard a bit for distractions and meals and what not.  then sometimes, it was very very tight and we simply made due in ways that were more cost effective, but we planned around it and didn't allow either one of us to be paralyzed.  

i hope this helps in some ways for you.


My d-day is Christmas too!

I find I'm stressing out about Christmas coming up, this year is our two year anniversary. How do you deal with the anniversary?

bad to worse

when I flood, my husband berates me, tells me I have anger problems, that I am unforgiving and unwilling to change what is bad about me. And he spent $80 K on strippers and prostitutes, but I am bad for flooding. it is the most awful trauma to flood in the first place and then he makes it even worse. He has bad dreams that I flirt with another guy or go on a date with him. My nightmares of him grinding on strippers are real.

Minny T I hope you are well

Minny T I hope you are well now. Your comment is four years old but I don’t see that it was ever responded to. That sounds completely awful, and I can completely relate to the dismissive and defensive nature of that response—and the fresh pain it generates. So I pray that you are at least a little happier and more at peace one way or another.

I would also love to hear a reply to Minnie T’s comment. Recovery is so far from rainbows and butterflies, and “keep yourself busy”, “make new memories”, “schedule your grief”, and silence (the worst reply of all to someone who has been ignored in favor of another) does not cut it.

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-D, Texas