Melissa Davis describes her husband’s affair as harder to process and deal with emotionally then the death of her close friend and sister. She continually asked herself, What did I do wrong? Was I not good enough? She questioned everything.
Melissa talks about what she calls the “Waterfall Effect’ – which is everyone coming out of the woodwork to confess their knowledge of the infidelity.
And her ability to trust again, how sticking to her morals saw her sack her lawyer and how having an ugly cry made her feel so much lighter.
Learn the lessons she shares to prevent you living in pain any longer than necessary and how there is help available.
Interview with Melissa Davis After the affair
Tanya: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome back to the divorce Angel podcast. This is episode 21 and I’m really excited to have you with me today. I have a special guest. Now this special guest has got so much value to add to the audience that I’m actually going to break it down over two podcasts. This first podcast is pretty much her journey and the lessons that she’s learnt and then next week, we’ll talk more about her business and the offering that she puts out to the market and it could possibly help you if you’re struggling with your spouse having had an affair on you.
So this guest name is Melissa Davis. Now, Melissa has three beautiful children. She obviously is now divorced and she struggled with it for a period of time. And because of that she learn a whole lot of lessons and she could see other people that were struggling with the same thing that she was struggling with but could not find [00:01:00] any informational content out there to help her for her specific needs and was it a price point or something that was affordable for the normal person like you didn’t need to be a millionaire to go and have hours and hours of counseling and therapy.
So with the help of some other specialists in this area, Melissa’s put together a program and she sells it at a really reasonable price point and not just that, for every one that she sells, she offers another one to someone who can ill afford it and needs help and support. She’s got a real social conscience, she’s a wonderful person, very knowledgeable, and I’m very grateful to have her on my podcast.
So this week, as I said, we’re going to look at her own personal journey and then next week, we’ll go more into her business which is called After the Affair. [00:02:00] Maybe if this is what you’re dealing with or struggling with, you could look at her content, see what she’s got and it could possibly help you. All right, so let’s get into it.
Welcome to the Divorce Angel Podcast and thank you for joining us. Get ready to uncover the strategies everyone can Implement for successful separation and divorce. This will save you valuable time, money, and emotions while learning the secrets to your happily ever after. And now, you’re host, my wife, Tanya Somerton.
Tanya: I’m so lucky because today we have with us Melissa Davis. Melissa has an amazing business called After the Affair. We caught up over a common client that we were both working with who suggested that we should have a chat. We have been talking for the last few weeks. Melissa is amazing. So welcome Melissa to the divorce Angel podcast.
Melissa: Thank you so much for having me today.
Tanya: So [00:03:00] you have started this absolutely amazing business and we really want to get into that because I think there’s a great need for, not only my clients– And I have such a massive listenership over in America. So for them to be able to learn more about what you do is great.
I know from my research on you and stalking you on Instagram that you actually helped a lot of people all over the world, not just America.
Melissa: Yeah, you know, my biggest fan base is actually over where you are, in Australia.
Tanya: How strange is that?
Melissa: I know it’s crazy.
Tanya: So let’s start at the start. So tell us a little bit about yourself.
Melissa: Yeah, so for me, I have three daughters and I haven’t– My career has been starting and selling businesses. About 7 years ago, my ex-husband, I found out had been cheating on me with people who I believed were friends. [00:04:00] For me, this rocked my world. I had, at the time, a newborn baby and three-year-old and I had quit work for a while to be at home. So I was really dependent on him and our relationship and our family and completely blindsided by that. So that trauma and that path that those events put me on changed everything for me my whole future.
Tanya: Wow. So once he found out about the affair, what happened? How long did it take for you to get the strength to understand what your future look like?
Melissa: You know, I like to tell people– It’s funny because I help people heal from Affairs now and I do that because I did everything wrong. It took me years and years [00:05:00] and years. Maybe I would say about three years until I really started coming out of that trauma Cloud almost and it was truly because I didn’t know what to do and I was too embarrassed to get help. Then I was a single mother and too poor to get help. And so I just stayed stuck a long time.
Tanya: So the two of you stayed together it in your marriage for, are you saying three years after you found out about the affair?
Melissa: No, because we had a little baby and I had all these dreams. We get married and we expect to have our grandchildren, spend the night together and all these goals just have floating around so we did try to work it out for a year and it did not work out. But for me that pain and panic attacks and [00:06:00] fear and triggers and just this intense place of trauma, I just stayed there for a long time.
Tanya: The person that he had the affair with, is that over or it is that– Does he still see that person?
Melissa: Yeah, that that affair’s over. There were actually a lot of different people. I don’t even think I know of everyone. That was kind of the cruel thing about it. I found out about my best friend being involved and then I was told that was it, and then a couple days later someone else contacts me and someone else and even about two years ago, I had someone else contact me. I’m like, “I am not your priest do not confess to me. I don’t need to know this.” but it’s just– I call that the waterfall effect. Just being drowned by information you thought you knew everything and surprised, you didn’t. Start over.
Tanya: Is that the issue [00:07:00] when your partner has an affair on you? That, like, obviously not only did your person that you trusted the most and that you had children with but then he had an affair with someone that you also thought had your back and was your friend and I think we spoke about this last week when we had a chat about the fact that as humans, we meet these people, we fall in love, and we think that they are going to do everything to protect us. So every time we make a decision after that, we second-guess our ability to make the right choices.
Melissa: Oh, yes, and when friends are involved or even just acquaintances, I think that– Well, for me, I isolated myself so completely from everybody. I didn’t think I could trust my family, I didn’t think I could trust my close friend. I remember my– he’s my best friend now and she walked with me through all of this and I asked her very seriously many times like, “Were you involved with him? [00:08:00] and she wasn’t offended by it. She understood where I was coming from and she just stayed with me and it was very—Yes, I felt like a stupid idiot. I felt like a fool. I use that word a lot. I had been fooled. I had been fooled by many people and and I thought that my picker– I called it my picker. I thought my picker was broken. I couldn’t pick people in my life who were good or trustworthy.
Tanya: How has it changed? How you make decisions today?
Melissa: I don’t know that it has today. I think that– Well, that’s not true. It has. In the beginning, in like the first, I’d say four or five years, if you want to call that the beginning, I was very cautious, very aware of the possibility of things happening again. Valuing honesty has always been important to me, and now it’s [00:09:00] not just important, it’s like a deepest need for me. So when somebody is telling me like, they do a white liar or a little half-truth, it just strikes me so much stronger now. I also– over the time, once I started to actually heal which, again, took me forever to get there, I realized a lot of things and one thing I learned, and didn’t just hear it and observe it, I actually learned for myself that I only control myself and that’s a very freeing thing to learn.
When someone has an affair and you try to work it out, you’ve so much fear. If they run to go grab groceries, you’re like “Are they with her? Where are they? Are they really here? Are they doing this? Why is it taking so long?” and you just question everything and you want to try to control that because you’re afraid. Once you start to learn [00:10:00] that you can’t control them, all you can do is control yourself and your responses and your choices, it’s just– It’s this beautiful, freeing lesson, but it’s very hard to learn.
Tanya: It’s actually key because it’s something– I suppose there’s a fine line between what you’re talking about there being fear and also the jealousy, isn’t it? Because you sort of sitting there and, not that you jealous, but it could come across as being jealous. Like if you came home to try and rebuild and every time they go out somewhere and you’re second-guessing yourself and you’re putting more pressure on the relationship by then asking, “Where have you been? Why did you take so long?” And because you want to protect yourself, you probably then also go into checking phones and messages and all that just to make sure that you are making the right decisions in [00:11:00] trying to protect your future. Is that right?
Melissa: Yeah. Trying to– After the affair, about half of our members are trying to work it out and the other half are not when they start with us and then that changes as time goes on but trying to work that out is very, very hard. Leaving is also hard, but trying to work it out is hard because it requires your partner that cheated on you. They have to be fully committed and have a lot of compassion for you. So if you are, where you say you would seem jealous, if you have a partner, that’s truly sorry and truly wants to work it out, they will see that they’ve just hurt you and they’ve put you in this place of constant reassurance and constant fear. So the right partner that’s willing to be [00:12:00] very patient for years, patient and very compassionate and willing to answer those questions– One of our members, her husband he just– I mean when I heard this I was like, “That’s it. That’s what you have to do.”
When he goes somewhere, he knows what’s going on in her mind and he knows that he caused it and so instead of belittling her or being frustrated with her that she still upset, what he does is he opens his phone and does a video chat with her all the time when he goes somewhere so that she can actually see that he is where he said he was and she knows that she can call him anytime and see where he is or he’ll have his co-workers that are there with him say, “Oh, yeah, he’s right here.” and they know why and so he– That’s like showing– That’s going above and beyond and really I’d say that’s where they need to be. Really okay with that and that’s where you won’t be [00:13:00] perceived as jealous. You’d just be understood as hurting.
Tanya: I remember when I was going through my relationship breakup with my ex-husband. He was making the wrong choices. He was trying to project some of what he was feeling onto me. As you said trust is one of the most important things that you can have in a successful relationship. Everything’s got to be built on trust, doesn’t it?
Tanya: So tell me about after you then obviously found out that he had had an affair, you went through the divorce process. So the divorce process over in America is very different to here in Australia. Here in Australia. We have what’s known as no fault. So if either party wants to get divorced no one– You don’t sit there and say someone’s gambled or someone’s had an affair or whatever the [00:14:00] case may be and person gets a greater proportion of the asset split, but over there in America, you do have fault divorces, don’t you?
Melissa: You do. For me you could be at fault, but everything’s still divided equally.
Melissa: It actually changes from state to state and I’m in North Carolina and that’s how it is. Everything’s 50/50 here.
Tanya: So it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got children and you’re the primary care of the kids? Everything is still just divided 50/50?
Melissa: Yeah. So you take all of your assets, house, car, accounts, debt and basically add it all up and divide out the values. Where the kids land is child support going forward. So you take into account, at least in North Carolina, you take into account how much each person makes and then [00:15:00] how much time each person has the kids. It’s basically just a set worksheet and that’s the case for many of the state’s over in the US as far as going forward for the future than someone have to pay child support. But even if the at-fault person had the kids the most and– It doesn’t matter who’s at fault with child support basically.
Tanya: When you went through the divorce process, looking back, is there something that you would tell the listeners that you have learnt from that experience and that maybe you wouldn’t have done in hindsight?
Melissa: Absolutely. How much time do we have today? There’s so many things. When I very first started, probably a week after I found out about the affairs, I went and saw this lawyer and her advice to me was so [00:16:00] cutthroat that– And I was so raw and so newly in shock that I couldn’t handle it. So some of her advice was stuff like, she told me to get a bank account in a different bank and empty out our savings account and put all the money in there. She told me if I didn’t, he would. It was mostly money-related. That was the one that really stands out to me. But all of the things that she told me to do that were so Cutthroat, later on I realized I should have listened to her. She knew what she was talking about. He did pull out all the money and all the things that she predicted happened.
The things that I would do differently– I had two lawyers that I ended up hiring. My first one was obviously all about charging me for every single little thing and robbed me blind. I’ve spent [00:17:00] so much money on lawyers and it’s such a waste. It just robbed my children in both households of security, right? So for me, I would definitely try so hard to find lawyers– Here, you still have to both have different– your own lawyer, but there are lawyers that work together and work only through mediation. I think that would be really beneficial especially if you have children. I think staying away from court just helps the relationship overall, and the better our relationship is, the better it is for the kids. I say that to you because I’ve did it all wrong, guys. We went to court. I don’t know how many times we’ve gone to court. Five or six so many times we’ve gone to court and every time it’s so damaging and still if we are in the same room, we never [00:18:00] fight in front of children or argue, but we’re just very businesslike or just talk to the kids. So going to court is a terrible, terrible experience. I mean how many things can I tell you?
I think that just not knowing what to do– I had two lawyers in the first one I told you is robbing me blind and actually asked me to do things that I just morally knew were very wrong. He asked me to do one thing and finally I was like, “I can’t. You’re gone.” I know my ex’s lawyers have done and accused and made up the craziest stuff just for the sake of drama or being really emotionally charged and I think all of that is just so damaging and so ridiculous.
I think that divorce is really painful all by itself and then the lawyers get involved, and the court systems get involved, and the layers get [00:19:00] richer and we get more wrinkles. Right.
Tanya: Yeah, right. I think too that’s primarily why my business or my purpose in life is to try and help people understand that because ,like we’ve spoken about before, for every action there is a reaction and sometimes the lawyers just want us to cause a fight because the greater or the bigger the fight and the more emotionally charged we are, the more money they make. So that’s why it’s so important for us. That’s why we do a divorce roadmap with a lot of our clients because when it’s getting to that stage, they are getting really emotional and they want to go down a different track. It’s like. “Come on. Let’s go back to the strategy document. Let’s have a look at what you originally said you wanted and what you’re trying to achieve. Let’s not make this bigger than it needs to be because that money, [00:20:00] you need that money for your future. You need to set yourself up for success. Put your energy into something that you know is going to benefit your life not something that’s going to adversely affect, as you said, your own finances your future relationship with your ex-partner because unless you’ve got kids you’re going to always be part of each other’s life.”
Melissa: Yeah. If I had a plan with somebody who knew what to expect or what I was going to go through, that would have been so valuable, especially when I got those like your-heart-falls-to your-stomach letters from my ex’s lawyers. Because it was so– You cannot help but just go crazy and it’s so gut-wrenching and you cannot stay focused. So if you’ve had that to bring you back and have that [00:21:00] focus, that would have been a lifesaver to me. Can we go back in time?
Tanya: Well, I actually did a podcast on this about, I think about eight weeks ago, and it was called– I’ll link it in the show notes, but it was about the strike of a pen. The interesting thing is, the more and more I’m in this industry, lawyers talk completely different to how you and I talk. They have this language that they are able to read between the lines. So when you get a letter from your husband’s lawyer, that later is actually going to your lawyer not actually to you.
Tanya: But where the client is reading it, they are just so overwhelmed with not only the words on the paper and can’t believe what is written. There’s actually an unwritten conversation going on between the two lawyers in their reading because they can’t actually come out and accuse someone of something so [00:22:00] they’re putting words in there that when you’re reading it, “Is this for real?” but your lawyer, if they really are good at what they do, they know damn well what the other side is getting at and that’s something that I tell my clients about. Just take the letter with a grain of salt. I can read it and think that it’s very positive, but then the client might read it and go, “Oh my God, this is just dreadful.” but it’s actually a positive letter.
So yeah, it’s interesting. So I’m glad you sort of said that because it is part of what is really important. So if you are listening and you are in the legal process and you get a letter just, take a deep breath, stand back, come back and read it again, don’t get too emotional about it because it might not even say what you think it’s saying.
Melissa: Or if it does it might not matter. It’s just theatrics craziness.
Tanya: Exactly. [00:23:00]
Tanya: Exactly. So let’s talk about the healing process then. So how did you go through that? What were you main drivers? What were things that you think made such a difference to you?
Melissa: So I laugh because here’s what I did in the beginning, and what I see so many other men and women doing as well, I just shoved my feelings down and I told myself I was doing it because I had babies to take care of. But as I stand back, I know that that’s a lie. I always shove my feelings down. I ignore it. I don’t want to feel bad. I just want– I chose to binge-watch TV or just check out any way I could get away from it and not face what I was [00:24:00] going through is what I did. I just stayed busy, ignored it completely. What happened to me is I was getting headaches, I was having trouble sleeping, I had back pain, and I would just be in the kitchen cutting up vegetables and all of a sudden, years later, just fall on the floor and be hysterically crying. That’s not who I am, that’s not how I like function or operate and I just– It was like those feelings that I tried to push down, they were coming out. They were like, “I will be heard.” and so they came out in my physical body and then they would just burst out. What happened for me is years after I found out, I had an all of a sudden fit of crying and I realized I just cried. I just sat there and cried [00:25:00] and I realized when I was done I felt tired but I felt a little bit better.
So this sounds really funny but this is just me. So you guys bear with me. I had shoved my feelings down for so long I could not force myself to grieve. I couldn’t force myself to cry but I had realized I needed to because it was coming for me. So here’s what I did. There’s a couple of movies that always makes me cry. So I put on PS. I love you. Have you ever seen this?
Melissa: So for me, it’s a sappy movie and I will cry the whole time. So I put it on, I cried ugly cry, sobbed the whole time and then I cried all night long and I was exhausted to the next day but I felt lighter and so I decided to do it again, only this time I started the movie around lunch time so I [00:26:00] wasn’t so tired the next day I could sleep. But I basically forced myself to grieve. Then I started reaching out and seeing other people that are going through the same thing on different types of Internet groups. I had honestly thought that I was the only person on Earth that was going through this because in my world, that was that was true nobody else was going through this. So I started to slowly see things that I needed to do and I still did a ton of stuff wrong. Still was afraid to face things and just went out the wrong way, but for me, it was I knew it was coming for me and I also didn’t want to stay stuck like I had felt and in so much pain for so long.
Tanya: It sounds like for you, you prolonged it. So without knowing it, you thought you were doing the right thing [00:27:00] by ignoring it and just going on and supporting the children and just existing by the sounds of it. So you then decided, “If I don’t do something about it, I’m just not going to be able to repair.”
Melissa: Yeah, I just– I finally realized I definitely extended it. I extended it for so long. Anyone that has gone through an affair, they know– I mean, it’s that– To me, I’ve lost best friends to death, I’ve lost my sister and the pain of losing somebody in death is this is so much different and I can say that that pain is is almost easier to face. In an affair, it’s like you’re mourning a death of a relationship, but you also have two mourn or struggle with the questions of, “What did I do wrong? Why am I not enough?” like you question everything [00:28:00] about yourself.
So staying in that for longer than you need is just torture. It’s cruel. So that’s really my passion. When I had started seeing that not only there were other people out there going through this but there were thousands and thousands of people out there that were doing the same dumb stuff that I was doing and they were struggling in the pain for years like I was and it is not necessary.
Tanya: Okay. So I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview so far. As you can see Melissa’s got so much value to add. Next week, we’re going to talk more about her wonderful business and what she does to help people, and I hope you can join me then. So thanks for listening today, and I hope you have the most amazing week and I’ll talk to you again. Thursday. Bye for [00:29:00] now.
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