Did I Choose Wrong?

This year has been full of doubts, flip-flopping, and wondering if I made the right decision. In one moment I am happy, confident, and blazing forward. In the next moment I am hesitant, untrusting, and overwhelmed with fear. Luckily, the latter moments are not in the majority. But the mere fact that they exist bothers me. All the books and articles say it takes two years to heal from infidelity as a betrayed spouse. But what does it truly mean to be healed?

To love is to be intensely vulnerable. To choose love means we also choose to know the loss of love. We are raised to believe that love is the antidote to loneliness, and all the emotions that accompany being alone: sadness, rejection, misery, and heartbreak. We live in a world that equates love with hope. But the truth is that choosing to love another person is the equivalent of asking them to hold a glass egg forever – at some point it will be dropped. And heartbreak is, well, heartbreaking. I believed with all my heart that my marriage was unique, our love was pure and unbreakable. The heartbreak I felt, and sometimes I still feel, was as if I lost something essential to my existence. Sometimes I still yearn to touch what I lost; to grasp it in my hands, pull it tight into my chest, close my eyes, and cherish it one last time.

Recently a friend of mine posted this quote on Facebook:

838479b21a7042d0e5f8efa8b395c547

Heartbreak is heart breaking. It is painful and it is paralyzing. But we cannot let it define our future. Love can break us into a million pieces but it can also fill all the dark places that we never thought could be filled. Love, at it’s finest, feels as though I finally fit into myself. I clearly see myself, feel myself entirely, and my confidence exudes from my being when I give and receive love. Betrayal made me doubt all of that.

Somewhere along the path of healing I asked myself, repeatedly, did I choose the wrong man to marry? What if the answer is that we all choose wrong. It’s impossible to expect I knew at 23 years old what my needs would be at 35 or 46 or 52. I chose my husband because he offered familiarity, a compliment to me. I chose him because I never felt love in the way he gave it to me. I needed him and he needed me back. For better or worse.

Is it ever possible to know if we married the right person?

Every time I begin to fall into the doubts that still linger in the shadows of my mind I remember that love does not mean perfection. Love is having hope that as we break we will recover. Love is having the courage to believe that heartbreak does not mean devastation. Loving is risky business but somehow it’s the most desirable dream we share.

Sometimes I feel as if I am stuck in a Chinese finger trap – the more I pull, the more I am stuck in the same place. I just need to push, redefine the things I cherish, and move forward.

 

 

Surviving Infidelity

There are stories that hijack our lives. They freeze our thoughts and capture our minds, taking hold of our emotional and physical state. My husband’s affair hijacked my life. I chose my username on WordPress, thiswillnotdrefineus, thoughtfully because I rejected my husband’s actions. My disappointment was fueled by rejection, loss, and pain. I had to believe his affair could be cleaned up like spilled milk. I wished I could get to a point where I forgot the affair ever happened.

His affair has been over for three and a half years and I have not forgotten it. It’s not a gushing wound anymore but the affair redefined our marriage. It changed me, him, and us. How could it have not?

The moment I fell in love with my husband my life was hijacked. It was permanently set on a course I had not planned but I embraced it. Most of us would be fools to reject love. We watch movies and cry for lost love and wistfully champion the story that captures our inner longing to be loved. We all want to be loved – and we want to believe in the moment of falling in love.

My love story is my favorite. In the wake of my d-day I began a long road of questioning if my love story was ever real and if I made the right choices. I spent most my life believing that finding love may be a struggle; getting the guy to commit may be difficult; but once you both fall in love and promise for better or worse – the rest is “happily ever after.” I thought that once we promised each other forever it would be smooth sailing.

So here I am. Post affair. I am long past the two year point where therapists claim it becomes easier or that healing is more complete. Yes, I am better. It’s easier and I would consider myself healed. But the thing is, “healed” doesn’t mean the pain is erased or that I even understand how I feel all the time.

I read in Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong that for forgiveness to occur something must die, you must face the pain, and simply hurt. I agree.

Recently someone asked me if I had gotten past the affair – you two are solid now, right? Yes, we are solid but let me clarify. I now understand not only the strength of my love for my husband but my limits too. I know our marriage is different. We have changed and it’s really freaking uncomfortable to change. Most of us resist change, especially in our most treasured and intimate relationships. My husband and I, we are changed. There will always be the knowledge of this affair between us. There will alway be an awkward silence when a friend brings up their opinion on infidelity, or we watch a movie and the main character discovers her husband’s affair. There will always be the squeeze of my hand on his knee to say: I love you in spite of this.

Infidelity is not black and white to those of us that have survived it. On a daily basis it can be more than 50 shades of gray. The point is we are surviving infidelity.

Thanksgiving

This blog is supposed to be about healing. Not dwelling on the past. I cannot change the past but I can learn and create a better future. Since yesterday was Thanksgiving, I gave a lot of thought to what I am thankful for in this shitty situation.

1. My husband chose me.

2. I chose my husband.

3. He has been remorseful and willing to do anything to fix and heal our marriage. We’ve been going to therapy, reading books, talking (talking and more talking). 

4. He’s been open and honest but never in a hurtful manner.

5. I know this is petty… but he says sex with her was a 3 (if based on me being a 10). He says he never even wanted to sleep with her but felt sorry for her. He said he didn’t like the taste of her when he went down on her. 

6. He was never attracted to her.

7. He said her personality was boring and “average”. 

8. He realizes now that she was NEVER his friend. Her claims to care about him were fake and if his self-esteem hadn’t been in the dumps–he wouldn’t have believed her or felt sorry for her.

9. He never thinks about her and didn’t care when I told him he could never see or speak to her again.

10. He says he never woke up and wanted to tell her something or see her. 

11. He says his heart never jumped or fluttered at the sight of her.

12. He says she brought stress, pain and only regret to his life.

13. He acknowledges this is the worst mistake he never thought or intended to make. 

14. Our therapist says she’s never seen a man more remorseful than my husband.

15. Our therapist says she’s never seen a couple with more of a base for true love than us.

16. He tells me he wants me to feel safe and loved.

17. He doesn’t expect me to trust him yet.

18. He wants to earn my trust.

19. I still love him despite his mistakes.

20. I realize that if I lost him I would never be as ful-filled as I am with him.

21. I realized that I wasn’t making time for my marriage. I just expected that if we were happy things were fine. Now I know that if there is a little bug in your ear–there is one in his too.

22. This is fixable. I really believe we can overcome his infidelity. Which shocks the hell out of me.

23. Forgiveness is possible.

24. Love can overcome (almost) anything.

25. Scars may be a reminder of a tragedy, but they diminish over time and heal. 

I could write a million more things. I love my kids and family incredibly. But this time in my life is devoted to me growing and strenthening the bonds of my marriage.