I haven’t yet read the book or seen the movie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but the movie was released in the wake of my D-Day. I watched the movie trailers and would tear up thinking about how the emotions and thoughts of the characters mirrored my own at the time. How did finding myself a betrayed spouse put me in the place of teenage emotions? A coming of age novel…
But as I sit here and think about it, maybe I am coming of age. Most people think coming of age to mean that you are transitioning from childhood to adulthood. But what if I am just trying to find meaning for this affair in my life?
My life before my husband’s affair was happy… in fact, I would have gone as far to say pretty close to perfect. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t have difficulties. My husband was laid off twice in the past five years due to the economy. Despite our financial struggles during those times, we were happy together. Neither of us realized the toll these lay-offs were having on my husband’s ego. It didn’t matter how many times I asked him how being unemployed was making him feel. He didn’t know at the time what it was doing… He didn’t even realize his lay-offs had anything to do with the affair until it ended. Now he sees how the affair was all about his bruised ego. And I wonder if I could have ever produced the reflection he was looking for in the mirror. Because the reflection he wanted to see was a false-reality. He wasn’t looking for love. He wasn’t looking for passion. He wasn’t looking for happiness. At the time, he thought he was looking for friendship. But I don’t think he was really looking for frienship. I think he was trying to ignore his true emotions because in the end his relationship with her was emotionless. He admits he never cared if he saw her again even during the affair. He acknowledges some excitement when it began due to the newness of a physical relationship but he says there were no butterflies or sexual attraction. Did the affair just exist because he didn’t know what to do with the sadness, bitterness or disappointment he was feeling? His discontent with his career and accomplishments could be displaced into a dead relationship? Maybe.
Well, I digress…. I was saying I was happy before the affair. There were times before D-Day when I was happy, but there was a lot of distrust going on too. I was suspicious but I couldn’t let myself believe that he would cheat.
We were above that. Affairs happen to other people. Husbands that cheat on their wives are squeezy. Husbands that cheat on their wives are identifiable, right?
I learned my lesson. Sometimes I think that my husband even convinced himself that he was not a cheater despite his actions. We were both living in a box and I now, wonder if we were even living in the same box. The thing about boxes is that your happiness is contained… and you aren’t letting any light in or letting the darkness out. Everything just stays status quo. Luckily, we do truly love each other. I still believe we are soulmates, as cheesy and Disney fairytale as that sounds to some people. Even though everything was contained in our box the love was not going to disappear but it wasn’t healthy either. And the more we lived in our box the more we put aspects of our lives in other boxes.
For me, I put my emotional insecuritites in another box. I didn’t work on overcoming them or telling my husband my fears. I might have tiptoed around some topics but I was becoming insecure. My boxes were about to explode when they fell off the shelf on D-Day.
In the wake of D-Day I have looked inside myself. I find myself happy and sad with my life. I am happy because I recognize even more now what I am grateful for–kids, a home, family, friends. I am sad because I realize what is lost forever, the young innocent way I loved my husband will never exist again. I know this is normal and I will be okay. I am on the verge of becoming my true self. Letting in the light, growing spiritually, accepting the things I cannot change and finding courage to pursue the life I deserve.
Wisdom of my husband’s affair can sometimes feel like a double edge sword. It can feel like a cliff that I am being pushed off. It can feel raw and as if I am fully exposed. There are days I am amazed at how I can feel happy and our marriage is stronger when I am still so saddened by my husband’s actions. Understanding that I am both happy and sad is a new clarity. I can be both and be content. No box for my emotions. I no longer have a fear of allowing sadness into my relationship with my husband. Being sad does not mean that our marriage is sad. It means that we need to work together to let in more light and love. And happiness should always be shared in our marriage. True happiness will only bring mutual joy to both of us.
So I am clearing out the boxes from my emotional closet. I am helping my husband weed out his boxes too (it’s harder for men). Opening the boxes can suck. But just like any time you are doing a deep cleaning, it has to get messier before you see the results you were aiming for.