Gratitude can seem like a superpower in the wake of a discovered affair. It can feel like a superpower that is not only unattainable, but undesirable. When your morning begins with tears and pain it can be difficult to see any silver linings or good in your life. But there is goodness buried deep in the pain, there are smiles that emerge when you least expect them, and there is laughter that can fill your heart with joy even in the bleakest and darkest moments on your journey.
My family has a tradition of going around our Thanksgiving table and each person sharing what they are thankful for in their lives. My first Thanksgiving after D-Day my chest tightened and my throat tensed as the tradition of sharing gratitude began at our Thanksgiving table. I can’t recall all the thoughts that went through my head but I know I held back tears and I felt more resentment than gratitude. I resented my husband for cheating on me and I resented my family members around the table that were easily sharing their happiness. My pain was trapped inside me while my mother-in-law smiled looking over her family. There was also a part of me that wondered if this was my last Thanksgiving Day celebration with my husband’s family.
During our darkest hours where can we find happiness this Thanksgiving?
It is important to remember not to compare yourself or your life to the people that surround you. It’s hard to see people happy and, seemingly, on top of the world when you feel like your life is at its lowest point. Stop looking at your life through the lens of other people and focus more on the moments that surround you right now. I have found that even in my darkest times if I focus on the present I can find perfect moments surrounding me. Even when I felt like I might be swallowed up by the pain of my husband’s affair – I could still feel love and I could still choose hope over fear.
Sometimes you need to press the reset button on life just like we do on our phones when they are malfunctioning. There is no shame in getting away from everything and clearing your mind. Following my D-Day I began practicing yoga on a regular basis. It was my place to get away from everything that was causing me pain and (try) to empty the thoughts in my brain for an hour. I found my yoga mat became an oasis for me – a place for me to grow stronger and heal my wounds. That doesn’t mean my practice is perfect because there are times I’ve laid in savasana and wept. But I left those emotions on my mat – in my safe space. Yoga is a practice that tested my strength, my ability to flex and flow through movement, and forgive myself when my body would not do what it could do yesterday. I urge everyone to find a place where they can focus on their inner being, away from everything that has caused you pain, and begin to bring the happiness and light back into your life.
Remember that fate is not in control of your life. I asked my husband hundreds of times: Why? Why did he cheat? Why did he do this to me? There is really no good answer to these questions. There is no answer that would satisfy or heal my pain quicker or easier. My desire for the facts and tangible answers did not heal me faster. I think the most impactful choice I made was to take control of my life – be the one to make decisions for me and not allow external factors to influence my happiness. I choose to be happy with my life every day. It took time to get to a place where I could accept this is part of my life story, but I know that I am stronger now.
I can’t remember what I said I was thankful for that first year after D-Day.
Reflecting back upon that day I think it may have been easier to name my blessings because in darkness the light shines much brighter. My children would be the brightest light of all. Through everything that has happened in the last five years, my children have been a beacon of light. In my worst, darkest, and the most difficult days of my life they kept me moving, going, smiling, and caring. I had to love even as my heart felt like it was contracting. My children were my key source of happiness and they remain my primary source to this day.
I am thankful for everyone that has read this blog throughout my journey because you have made me stronger and let me know in my darkest moments that I was not alone.
I wish you happiness today. I hope you find a peace and joy.