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: 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. 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. 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. 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! 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.