Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Okay...I'm just putting this info out there: I was contacted by a producer looking for wives who want answers about their husbands'...ummm...extracurriculars. If you're interested in being paired with a private investigator, contact Dana at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles. ~ C. JoyBell C.
At first, when we realize the pain has dulled, that pleasure, even slivers of it, have returned to our days, we rejoice. This, we figure, is what all those people were talking about. A new marriage. A better one. A partner whose awareness that he almost lost it all has invigorated his dedication, his determination to deserve the second chance we're offering.
But then we settle into a new normal. No longer the high highs or the devastating lows, life has regained its equilibrium. Our husband has shown himself worthy again of trust. We're often grateful for things that, perhaps, we weren't before.
The longer we go, however, without the drama and the intensity of D-Day and its aftermath, the more space there is for doubt to creep in.
He's 20 minutes late coming home for picking up pizza. Where was he really? He quickly puts down his phone when we enter the room. He shuts his laptop. The waitress at a restaurant seems to give him a look.
Or maybe he gets annoyed at us for moving some papers of his that he now can't find. Or frustrated that we forgot to fill the car up with gas.
Wait a minute, we think. He cheated on us! How dare he make me feel bad for, well, anything. He owes me bliss!!
And, frankly, yes, yes he does. But you ain't gonna get it. None of us is. The universe doesn't operate that way. Bliss comes in moments, not lifetimes.
The problem is that many of us think that, if we do the incredibly hard work of rebuilding our marriage, of giving him a second chance, of facing down our friends and family who think we're crazy for sticking it out, that we'll be rewarded with a better-than-ever marriage. Many betrayed wives have sites that essentially promise that an affair has actually made their marriage better. And while I'm on board with the possibility that rebuilding a marriage is just as viable an option post-infidelity as leaving the marriage, we have to be careful that we don't gloss over just how difficult marriage – any marriage! – is. To expect that marriage, post-betrayal, is going to be sunshine and roses is to set all of us up for disappointment.
And disappointment can feel crushing after all we've been through. Disappointment can feel like a dagger after so many indignities.
Preparing for it, though, can help us through its inevitable appearance.
I don't mean disappointment because he lied. Or disappointment because he went out with his buddies on your birthday. Or disappointment that he can't keep his temper in check. There are valid reasons to call him out for being disrespectful and dishonest and giving you reason to reconsider your choice to stay.
No, I'm referring to the routine disappointments of life. He forgets to ask how your day was. He doesn't bother to compliment you on your haircut or the great meal you cooked. He makes it clear that he'd rather stick needles in his eyes than go to your mothers for dinner.
Routine disappointments that deserve to be noted and your hurt shared...but are hardly deal-breakers.
Disappointments that all of us are guilty of because we get tired. We get grumpy. We take those we love for granted now and again.
Disappointments that we need to let go because they're part of the ebb and flow of life. Because we're human.
A big part of healing from betrayal is learning what we need to let go, what weight we need to put down. It can be tricky. And it can be helpful to have friends, either in real life or virtual, that you can trust to help you with this. Should I have lambasted him when he was 10 minutes late because of a train? Or am I over-reacting? Is it reasonable for him to have dinner with his new female work colleague because they're on a project together or should he have said 'no'?
There are going to be bumps and missteps. You're going to over-react to some things and, sometimes, under-react to legitimate red flags. You're going to have to figure some of this out as you go along.
But the more you can begin to let go, the more you can put down some of the weight you've been carrying, the more quickly you can move into a future that will have its share of downs, but also plenty of ups. Ups that you'll be better able to appreciate because you'll be present for them.
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Friday, May 8, 2015
I'm severely pissed off these days.
At my husband. At my 12-year-old daughter. At my thousand-year-old cat. At the government. The list goes on.
I'm sick – sick to death, I tell you! – of feeling disrespected and unappreciated. I cook, I clean, I pick up cat feces that always miss the litter box by just enough. Does anyone thank me? Appreciate me? Treat me with the kindness and compassion I deserve??
And that, of course, is the problem.
No-one can take advantage of you without your permission, my mother often reminded me as I lamented yet another situation from which I couldn't seem to extricate myself.
Of course, like generations of daughters before and yet-to-come, I shrugged it off. After all, what the hell did my mother know?
Turns out, quite a lot. And given her own experience with betrayal, I should definitely have listened a bit more closely to her advice.
If anyone knew boundaries, it was my mother.
Me? Not so much.
But boundaries aren't just for keeping ourselves from volunteering too often at the school bake sale. They're an integral part of healing from betrayal. They're an integral part of living a healthy life.
They are, in fact, like a rulebook for how to live our lives. They remind us that we matter...even when other aren't treating us like we do. Make that especially when others aren't treating us like we do.
Wendy Strgar, whom I've cited on this site before, notes in this blog post that "boundaries are the truest measure of how we love ourselves."
And I haven't been loving myself too well these days (or, come to think of it, ever).
Maybe you haven't been either.
Instead, my boundaries are like Silly String. They're hang in threads...and no-one takes them seriously.
The result, of course, is that I do a whole lot of stuff for everyone else and very little for myself. Which (see above) makes me really pissed off.
Well, I'm tired of feeling pissed off.
So I'm spending some time figuring out where my boundaries are. No easy task. In some cases, they don't exist so I'm creating them. Based on nothing more than a feeling in my gut that advises me whether or not what I'm about to do or say "yes" to makes me feel yucky (that's a technical term).
I can't always feel it. I've become something of an expert at sending that little gut feeling to her room where she's completely silent. And so I'm learning to invite her back out and to offer up her advice.
When I listen, it's usually something like this:
"Why are you picking up your son's backpack when you've told him REPEATEDLY to do it himself. Instead, let him know that if he doesn't put them away himself, it'll be tossed in a bin in the garage. And that's where he can find his homework next time he's looking for it."
Wow. My gut is a bitch you don't want to mess with.
And while I don't want to be a bitch, I do want to be respected. Which is, sometimes, the same thing.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
"When you've been through an unexpected change, the old you dies and a new one is born. And therefore you must allow yourself to be a baby. Get emotional and moral support any way you can. Give yourself a limited time each day (at least an hour) to do nothing but focus on this adjustment. And don't make big decisions until you've got your legs under you. You don't even know who the new you will grow up to be, so postpone large commitments, giving yourself time and love. Everything else will take care of itself."
~Martha Beck, author and O Magazine columnist
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
I remember so vividly a day in early spring when my whole reality gave out on me. Although it was before I had heard any Buddhist teachings, it was what some would call a genuine spiritual experience. It happened when my husband told me he was having an affair.
We lived in northern New Mexico. I was standing in front of our adobe house drinking a cup of tea. I heard the car drive up and the door bang shut. Then he walked around the corner, and without warning he told me that he was having an affair and he wanted a divorce.
I remember the sky and how huge it was. I remember the sound of the river and the steam rising up from my tea. There was no time, no thought, there was nothing - just the light and a profound, limitless stillness. Then I regrouped and picked up a stone and threw it at him.
When anyone asks how I got involved in Buddhism, I always say it was because I was so angry with my husband. The truth is that he saved my life. When that marriage fell apart, I tried hard - very, very hard - to go back to some kind of comfort, some kind of security, some kind of familiar resting place. Fortunately for me, I could never pull it off.
Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. . . . To stay with that shakiness - to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge - that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic - this is the spiritual path.
~Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
~Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
It begs disbelief that the moment of our deepest pain can become the moment of our deepest transformation. How in the world can something that makes it hard to breathe, that makes it hard to see, that slams into our consciousness obliterating everything else possibly lead us to a greater joy, a greater compassion, a greater understanding?
Call me a cynic but though I desperately wanted to believe that, I thought it was a bunch of woo-woo nonsense. Maybe other people, those who burned incense and danced under a full moon, might fall for that "out of suffering comes transformation" hokey, but not me. Pain was pain. Suffering sucked. And people who inflicted it deserved to die in the most excruciating way possible. Besides, I had a book due, three young children who required me to feed them and tuck them into bed, and a mother on her deathbed. I hardly had time for transformation. I barely had time to make breakfast.
I wasn't successful in holding myself together, though I tried mightily. I fell apart routinely. Being a total control freak, I sorta managed to schedule my falling apart. It happened at night after kids were asleep. Or it happened on the weekends when my husband (the rat-bastard responsible for my falling apart) was around to ensure my children weren't juggling knives while I sobbed on my bathroom floor into the warm body of my devoted dog. But it happened. Often. Sometimes it happened in the grocery store.
I can't pinpoint the exact moment when, into those cracks in my heart, compassion crept in. I know I felt it when my husband fully confessed (D-Day #2), curling into a fetal ball on the floor, expecting nothing from me beyond a swift kick in his ass and the promise that he'd hear from my lawyer. But then compassion took a back seat to rage for a few months at least.
Still...it would surface. After a few months of taking my rage on the road, pounding the pavement with my sneakers and fantasizing of the ways in which I'd humiliate and destroy the OW, I began to feel something different for her. Pity. Sadness. A recognition that she was injured and unable to heal herself. My disgust with her likely paled in comparison to her disgust with herself, though she hid it behind bravado and armour.
And then I noticed that I was able to feel compassion even for myself, something I'd never allowed. If I'd messed up in the past, I beat myself up. I stewed in shame, though I'd never realized it. I knew no other way but to hide the "real" me behind a polished-to-perfection exterior.
Stripped of all that – it's hard to feel perfect wearing a filthy bathrobe and convinced that my husband cheated because there was something wrong with ME – I saw myself differently. Not as flawed but as injured. A wounded warrior in a terrycloth robe and slippers. Someone who'd always hid her pain. Whose desire to be seen was only outstripped by her fear of it.
I tried something new. Compassion toward myself. I gave myself kudos for getting up each day. I patted myself on the back for not murdering my husband. I congratulated myself for having kept my children alive when I didn't even want to be alive.
Where before I kept a running critique of all the ways in which I was "less": not a good enough cook, kids don't behave well enough (bad mother!), not thin enough, house messy...the list was endless.
Transformation, I've discovered, isn't a bolt of lightning from the sky. It wasn't magic.
For me, transformation was showing up each day, slowly opening my heart to the possibility that I could handle this. That I was worth fighting for. Not someone else fighting for me but ME fighting for me. That I was enough, just as I was. That I had always been.
And within that transformation, there were many many gifts. Much suffering too. But that, it seems, is where transformation takes root.
I still don't burn incense and though I won't dance under the moon I always admire it. It reminds me that we're each so small. Small but enough, guided toward a deeper understanding that none of us escapes this life without pain. And that pain itself can transform.