I took a step out of my weepy mind this past weekend. I wanted to enjoy my long weekend with my family and not dwell on the stack of affair cards I’ve been dealt. I find it’s hard to set my mind completely free from the affair. So, now that the weekend is over I decided to do some soul searching. For my own good, because my goal is to truly release the pain I’ve been carrying with me post D-Day.
As I begin to peel away the layers of my life I see a recurring element or trait in myself. I feel personally affected by my friends and family member’s life choices. For example, my freshman year in college my childhood best friend almost flunked out because she started drinking and doing recreational drugs. She kept this from me until the summer after our freshman year and when she told me I was devastated. I felt like her decision to smoke pot had an impact on my life and self-worth. I felt like our friendship was in question because I would never have made the same decisions. But what did this have to do with me? Nothing, she was young, curious and a tad irresponsible. Fast forward my life to the first time my son found himself in trouble at school. I felt like I had been scolded and shamed by the teacher when she told me what he did. I cried on the phone with the school principal explaining my son’s actions. I was personally wounded by his mistake. And I’m not even a helicopter parent! But I feel so invested in my children that their successes and failures seem like a direct measurement of me as their mother.
The more invested I become in the people I love; the more pieces of my identity are intrinsically sacrificed. I am self-confident and secure; yet, I believed that love meant investing pieces of me into those I love. When I fell in love with my husband I recognized that our morals and values were in line with each other. We agree on religion, politics, family matters and child-rearing. All our similarities made it easy for me to invest pieces of my identity within him. All those pieces of me were safe because we shared so much in common.
That is, I was safe until he cheated. In many ways I viewed us as one person in the world. You have to admit, that most couples are viewed as one person. You can’t mention the wife without at least thinking of the husband too. Lucy and Ricky. Brad and Angelina. You get my point. I felt like loving someone meant you take that person into account when making decisions in your life. How could he separate himself from me so easily? His affair directly impacted my identity. It also made me question my identity. How could he choose to cheat on me and have an affair if we were so similar? Who was he if he could do this? He lied to me for a year. He preferred lying over trusting me with the truth.
I am now a wife who has been cheated on. I now have a husband who can never say he was faithful to me throughout our entire marriage. I cannot take away the accuracy of these statements but I can lessen their impact on me. I didn’t share in his decision to have an affair. As other wives have said, if I had been involved in the decision I would have said: “No, let’s not do this!” I wasn’t included in his decision (which was, admittedly, a bad one) because I am not him. Just like when my son fails his math test because he didn’t study. The consequences belong to the individual. His decision to have an affair does not change my morals and values, and they should not change my identity without my permission.
Now, I understand that I need to reclaim the pieces of myself I invested in all my friends and family members. I was giving away my identity bit by bit. Believing that everyone I love would protect me. No one can protect me like I can.
In fact, maybe, some of the reasons my husband’s ego became bruised and damaged were because I gave him the part of me that loved him and expected him to nurture that piece. I wasn’t investing as much as I should have into my love for him because I assumed he knew how I felt. After all, I gave that piece to him. I entrusted him with that part of me but I never even told him. I realize that I can love him without sacrificing me.
I am beginning a new path now. A path back to myself. I want to nurture my soul and heal my spirit. I know that the power within me is stronger than ever before.