The Unexpected Requires a Leap of Faith

I used to believe I knew exactly what I needed to make me happy. I thought I knew what to do to create my happy ending. There was a point where I believed I was living the fairytale life. The fairytale didn’t come easy though; I worked hard to get there and believed that my efforts could never be undone. I was completely unprepared for the unexpected.

Recently, my husband and I have been sucked into watching a TV series on Netflix. We don’t watch many TV shows anymore [since D-Day] but this one drew us both in and we look forward to watching it together. Last week we were watching the season finale (about mid-series) and the episode ended with an unexpected cliffhanger. They killed off one of the main characters and we didn’t see it coming. As we began to watch the first episodes of the next season I felt unsure if I even wanted to keep watching this show anymore. For some reason the murder of this character destroyed my confidence and trust in the show. It’s just a TV show but my trust was shaken.

buddha quoteI know that sounds silly but it’s a parallel emotion to how I felt on my D-Day. I thought I knew the direction my life was headed. I believed I had made decisions to safeguard what I valued in my life. I am a pretty laid-back person too. I don’t tend to overreact to the unexpected. When my husband lost his job I didn’t freak out but instead I believed things would work themselves out the way they were meant to be. I usually take things as they come but, this, my husband having an affair, was different. His affair wasn’t just unexpected; it was something he had consciously done that threatened our marriage. In that moment of discovery I didn’t know if I could go on. At least with my TV show I can make the decision to stop watching it. But this, this was my life. I couldn’t press the stop button.

It’s not like this was the first time in my life something unexpected happened. But the beauty of self-reflection is that when I look back on my life I can see how events that could have destroyed me actually shaped me, making me stronger. These things made my life better, richer and fuller. The biggest unexpected event in my life before D-Day was finding out I was pregnant with our first child. We weren’t married and I was a senior in college. I had always done the right thing in life: straight A’s, studying at one of the best University’s in the country… essentially I was a good girl that neglected to use a condom. In that moment when I stared at the pregnancy test with my [now] husband I felt devastated, scared and shattered. I honestly didn’t know if I could go on because a pregnancy meant that everything was going to change. No matter my choice, to have the baby or end the pregnancy, it meant everything was going to be different from that point in my life. There were things I had to give up but in the end, I gained so much more. That was part of the foundation of our marriage. It was the unexpected beginning to something I believed was amazing. I still do.

The unexpected is what has shaped my life the most. Those twists and turns that I didn’t anticipate have enriched my life more than anything I ever planned. The benefit isn’t usually immediately visible when our confidence is shattered. Sometimes life requires a leap of faith. In spite of the fear of what happened we keep going. We continue to believe that life is good in spite of our situation. We continue to believe that marriage is beautiful in spite of the affair.

Sometimes life is hard and it breaks us. Sometimes we have to let life change us and take us down a road we never expected. Sometimes we have to lean into the pain; face the unexpected with courage. We are like a lotus flower that grows in the mud. We are learning to let our petals open one by one again. Our lives haven’t gone as planned but we are still beautiful.

Image

Infidelity Trax | Katy Perry | Roar

My new battle song to start 2014.

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

You held me down, but I got up (hey!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready ’cause I had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, the fire
Dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar!

Now I’m floating like a butterfly
Stinging like a bee I earned my stripes
I went from zero, to my own hero

You held me down, but I got up (hey!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, the fire
Dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar!

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar!

Roar, roar, roar, roar, roar!

I got the eye of the tiger, the fire
Dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar!

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar!

Still a work in progress at (almost) fourteen months.

1growOne of the things I hate most about healing from my husband’s betrayal is my desire for this period of time to pass quickly. The first moment I read the average woman takes about two years to heal from an affair I began to look forward to September 2014. I would pray: Just get me there and I’ll be okay. As I went through the first year I began to think I had the system beat—I was going to conquer this well before the two year mark. It was like I believed that I was in an AP course and I could accelerate the healing process. Now, a little more than a year later and I realize that I can’t rush anything.

I hate wishing time would pass while my kids are young and my days with them are limited. I feel bad when I just want to lock myself in my bedroom and ignore the world around me. I wonder how many hours… days have been lost crying, feeling sad and lonely. I’ve missed opportunities to spend precious time with my children because of this damn affair. I believe I could have been a better mother to my children over the last year or so if my husband didn’t betray me. He obviously would have been a better father if he hadn’t cheated on us. We have amazing kids and they deserve amazing parents. Things have gotten better in the last few months but I’m not always happy. I’m committed to not letting this affair suck any more of my life away.

I hate the time period in my life that my husband cheated on me. The other night my husband mentioned that a certain band was his favorite in 2012. I told him to never mention the word favorite and the year 2012 in a sentence again. I hate that year and time and wish to have no memories of it. It’s funny how even if there is a good memory from the time he was cheating it has now become painful. Mostly, I look back at that time and remember only the bad moments between us. As much as we had a great marriage before the affair, my husband changed when he was cheating and became a stranger to me and my kids. His behavior wasn’t normal and I let him get away with being an asshole. I didn’t hold him accountable because I didn’t understand what was going on. Maybe it’s good that things were off during his affair—it shows he was affected by what he was doing and not in a good way. But still, don’t bring up the time period he was cheating on me because my mood will instantly turn sour.

I also hate that I’ve distanced myself from my friends in the last year. I needed to deal with some of what happened on a personal level and I didn’t want every friend and family member in my life involved and worried about me/him/us. I have never doubted my decision to keep things private but I doubt I have been a good friend. I am beginning to invest more time in my friendships again. I am realizing that sometimes friends do need room to grow and revitalize their spirit and it has no reflection on the relationship when you need space.

I hate that I still attach pain to the affair. I have this fear that I will never fully recover from this pain. There is a song on my iPod with the lyrics: Bullets don’t make dents // they make holes. I think that lyric just about sums up what an affair does to a betrayed spouse. It leaves a hole somewhere. I am skeptical that it ever heals completely. I remain hopeful but the doubt lingers.

I don’t hate everything about the last fourteen months. I’ve learned to speak even in great fear. I rediscovered a relationship with my husband that is richer, deeper and more loving than the one we had when we first married. I am not afraid to tell him anything now. I am not afraid to tell him what I need from him. I am not offended if he tells me he needs more from me either. In the past I would feel criticized if he said he needed more affection or time with me. Now I realize he’s telling me because he wants me not because I’m not good enough. I’ve let my husband inside the most sacred and private parts of my being this past year. I have entrusted him with my heart and life again. I am not afraid to be vulnerable anymore. In fact, I’ve learned there is a certain strength that comes from vulnerability. Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand in a marriage. I wish someone had told me this fourteen years ago.

I realize now how I will help my children have better marriages. I can’t promise my children won’t fail, after all they are human. But I can teach them how to be good men, good husbands. I can teach them how to be honest and trust their spouse with their fears and dreams, the good and the bad. I can’t go back in time and change the course of my marriage but I can put what I learned into action.

This post may be a bit all over the place but that’s a reflection of where I am right now on this journey. A bit scattered but forever hopeful.

Infidelity Trax | Daughter | Medicine

Pick it up, pick it all up.
And start again.
You’ve got a second chance,
you could go home.
Escape it all.
It’s just irrelevant.

It’s just medicine.
It’s just medicine.

You could still be,
what you want to,
What you said you were,
when I met you.

You’ve got a warm heart,
you’ve got a beautiful brain.
But it’s disintegrating,
from all the medicine.
from all the medicine.
from all the medicine.
Medicine.

Love and Fear

Fear & LoveThere are moments when I feel like Katniss standing on the metal circle before the [Hunger] Games begin. As if an invisible protective wall surrounds me but it does not control me. At any moment I could step off my metal circle and be blown to pieces. If I wait until the moment is right, I can step off but I still risk falling prey to my fears.

The other night I collapsed into my husband’s arms after we made love. He kissed my neck and whispered into my ear his love for me. His body relaxed as he sighed with sexual contentment, his arm increased in weight and I heard him breathe deeply and steadily until he fell asleep. I could feel his entire body embracing me, holding me tightly against his body. He holds me much closer these days. As I listened to my husband, somewhere between a deep breath and a light snore, my fears flooded into my mind.

I stepped off my metal circle and let my guard down completely when we made love. I exposed my raw needs and desires while giving myself to him completely. My invisible wall disappeared and I was standing in my version of Katniss’s Cornucopia. My hopes and dreams within my grasp, yet drowning in thoughts and  the reality of my husband’s affair too.

Why must moments of intense pleasure and happiness be followed by extreme anxiety? Evil thoughts and memories of his affair flood my mind. It’s like I am being tormented and harassed.  It’s ironic really. Following the moments I let my guard down and trust my husband I am tormented by the pain of his deception again.

I always find it amusing when an OW writes me a comment on my blog telling me I am naïve for trusting my husband after his affair. I was naïve before and during his affair. I believed that love prevented failure and disappointment. I believed that our love was so strong it created a bubble around us that was impenetrable. I am not naïve anymore. I spend every moment of my life (post D-Day) knowing that no marriage is immune from infidelity. I am more prepared now than ever before. I am armed with knowledge about my husband that no one else has—not his parents, siblings, friends and especially not his AP. I understand him on the most intimate level. That place where you fear to let even yourself inside. I not only know his failures but I also comprehend the profound depth of the damage done by his affair. He didn’t walk away unscathed and free from consequence.

The consequences are clear every day. We don’t walk around and ignore the affair or it’s aftermath. Paradoxically, when he was in the affair he believed his AP and the affair had no significance in his life. He consistently said after the affair that he believed his relationship with her would just run its course and end. I looked up what that meant because I hated the phrase: “Run its course.” According to the Free Dictionary online it means that something will continue its existence until it dies naturally, such as a disease. Yes, the affair was like a disease.

As I lay in my husband’s arms tonight, I start to wonder if this disease has a cure. In his arms I feel safe and secure. My memory has the ability to haunt me if I let it but his embrace reminds me that we have so many dreams together. As for the other night, when I was laying in bed and the nightmare began to replay in my mind… I whispered to my husband that I needed a distraction. He squeezed me and sleepily told me a story about his day until I fell asleep. Overcoming the disease of his affair is a fight we will have to conquer together. And if I am going to be Katniss, I choose to be the girl on fire. The girl that can overcome incredible hardships and survive.

MLK JR

Infidelity Trax | Pompeii | Bastille

I was left to my own devices
Many days fell away with nothing to show
And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from aboveBut if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?
And if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
You’ve been here before?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?

We were caught up and lost in all of our vices
In your pose as the dust settles around us

And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above

But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?
And if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
You’ve been here before?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?

Oh where do we begin?
The rubble or our sins?
Oh where do we begin?
The rubble or our sins?

And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above

But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?
And if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
You’ve been here before?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?

If you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing changed at all?