There is a saying that goes something like: Out of darkness, magnificence grows. Sometimes I hold onto that thought like it’s my eternal flame, the source of my hope and the promise for the future. Lately, I realize more than ever how vulnerable I am. Immediately after D-Day I erected a wall around me—every part of me was protected in some way by this wall. But it also kept people I love out. Maybe the wall went up because there is only so much pain I could manage. Maybe it’s just my own defense mechanism. Regardless, the wall is crumbling and I feel exposed… vulnerable… scared. I also realize there are lessons I never expected to learn through this chapter in my life.
1. Make peace with your past so it won’t mess up your present.
The last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about life before and after the affair. I realize that it’s almost as though I need to discard everything that happened during the affair in our relationship. My husband was not himself at that time and I was avoiding dealing with the changes I saw in him. If I think too much about the “during” part of the affair I will just end up in a cycle of pain.
I feel like the hardest thing is letting go of the marriage we had before the affair. Maybe it’s me being nostalgic but I loved that feeling I used to have deep within me. That feeling I keep trying to define. Sometimes I feel like it characterized our marriage and my love for him. I know that’s not true—that’s the pain speaking. Hindsight tells me that if this “feeling” was so special we would have protected it more. Perhaps it’s still there it’s just buried underneath the scar tissue.
Mourning the end of our pre-affair marriage has taken more time than I expected. I think I had thought I already had finished this stage. Yet here I am still trudging through it all. My therapist says it’s because my life is naturally busy with three kids and a full-time job. She says I haven’t had time to mourn yet but I am in it now. I’ll trust her on this one.
2. People you love and respect may disappoint you. Good people can fail.
Even the people that love you the most can break promises, inflict pain upon you and hurt you. Sometimes it’s hard to separate my own expectations of myself from the people I love. Sometimes good people do bad things. Sometimes good-intentions turn into the regret. Hate the action, not the person. Although, I am okay with hating Bat-Shit.
3. Stop thinking too much, it’s alright not to know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it.
I spent months trying to understand how and why my husband cheated. I spent months asking questions and finding answers. My thirst to know everything was not easily quenched because there always seemed to be one more question lurking. The truth is I will never be able to justify what he did because it was wrong.
Sometimes it’s hard to avoid filling my head with thoughts about the affair. Every so often a light clicks on and I realize something new. But mostly, I hate spending time thinking about my husband’s affair.
Accepting that there are things I may never understand or answers I may never know is difficult. It goes against my own nature to not figure out the answers. I can rationally understand how it happened but emotionally? No, I don’t think I ever will.
4. No one is in charge of your happiness, except you.
I invested my happiness in my husband and family. I was happy with my life but that happiness was wrapped up in them and the life we created. Who was in charge of my happiness? How was I pursuing my own happiness? I am the wife, the mother, the person who says: ‘when the kids are grown I’ll have time for that.’ You know my type. I put everyone else first. I take care of everyone else. I wanted my kids and husband to be happy even if it robbed me of my own happiness. I think this is also the reason it took me so long to figure out what was going on. I blamed myself when my husband was acting strangely. I could see there was something wrong within him but instead of asking him what was wrong, I stepped away. By the time I suspected anything was going on it was too late.
5. Good marriages can suffer colossal failure and it doesn’t it’s over.
I thought love (TRUE LOVE) was like an electric fence—it kept the intruders out and protected our valuable relationship. I was naïve. I was wrong. The only thing that can protect a relationship is honesty, communication, humility and courage.
For the most part, I love my life. While I’ve accepted the affair happened , I still haven’t forgiven my husband completely. I believe he has to forgive himself first before I will be able to forgive him. I am not sure when we will get to that point of resolution.
Sometimes my husband asks me if I have to convince myself to stay in our marriage. The answer is no, I have never had to talk myself into staying. I am here because I love him and feel he truly is remorseful and regrets his actions. I stay because I believe it’s possible to rebuild our marriage into something better than before (and that was a pretty f-ing amazing marriage). I stay because when I fall into bed each night, his arms wrap around me tightly and I’ve never felt anything better than that. I stay because we built this family of five. We promised these kids we would do this and I am not giving up because he did something stupid, really freaking stupid. I stay because I imagine someday I will be old and grey with my husband (older and greyer) by my side looking at our grandchildren and great-grandchildren in amazement. I stay because we do have a good marriage. I stay because my husband enhances my happiness. I stay because I believe in love and forgiveness.