Tuesday, April 19, 2011


This is how you get unstuck, Stuck. You reach. Not so you can walk away from the daughter you loved, but so you can live the life that is yours—the one that includes the sad loss of your daughter, but is not arrested by it. The one that eventually leads you to a place in which you not only grieve her, but also feel lucky to have had the privilege of loving her. That place of true healing is a fierce place. It’s a giant place. It’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light. And you have to work really, really, really fucking hard to get there, but you can do it, honey. You’re a woman who can travel that far. I know it. Your ability to get there is evident to me in every word of your bright shining grief star of a letter.

This is an excerpt from a letter from a woman struggling to get past the death of her young daughter. And though that's a pain I hope I never have to experience, the pain of betrayal can also leave us "stuck."
I felt that way for at least a couple of years after D-Day...maybe longer. I felt stripped of choice. I hadn't been the one who cheated...and yet I was stuck dealing with the consequences. If I left, I felt that I was tearing apart a family. If I stayed, I felt like a fraud, pretending to be a wife to a man I couldn't respect.
And so I stayed in that spot, resenting it – and my husband – with every pore of my being. 
It's only in hindsight that I can see that the advice columnist – Sugar – is absolutely right. That place of "stuck" isn't really stuck at all. It's where the healing takes place. It's a dark place where you wrestle with the demons and, if you fight hard enough and long enough, triumph over them. You reach for healing and if it feels elusive, you reach a little further. 
So that when you emerge from that place – and you will emerge eventually though never as soon as you think you should – you'll come out a different person. You'll have integrated the pain into the fabric of your being. But not just the pain, the healing too. You'll never again experience the world in quite the same way. If you're truly triumphed over the demons, you'll emerge more compassionate. You'll live your life with an honesty and integrity that, perhaps, you didn't always. You won't have the time or energy for bullshit anymore or for people who aren't honest with you. You won't feel anger towards those who create such drama so much as dismissal.
You'll smell the roses a bit more deeply, hug those you love a bit more thoroughly and love a lot more gratefully. You'll know that life can deliver pain for sure, but you'll also know that it can deliver such exquisite joy that you'll feel privileged to be alive. You'll know that those moments are what make life worth the struggle. And you'll know what to do if you ever feel stuck again. Fight like hell and reach...trusting that those of us who've also been there will pull you out.


  1. " . . . the pain of betrayal can also leave us "stuck."
    I felt that way for at least a couple of years after D-Day...maybe longer. I felt stripped of choice. I hadn't been the one who cheated...and yet I was stuck dealing with the consequences. If I left, I felt that I was tearing apart a family. If I stayed, I felt like a fraud, pretending to be a wife to a man I couldn't respect."

    Thank you for posting this today. It is exactly how I feel nine weeks out and I so hope you are right and that it means the healing is taking place. I really, really hope.

  2. Pippi,

    When I say I felt that way for a couple of years, I wouldn't say I felt that way ALL THE TIME. But I certainly did feel as though I was "stuck" in a marriage that had been blown up through no fault of my own.
    And yes, healing is taking place...though it seems to happen incrementally. The challenge, I think, is not becoming bitter. What happened to us is completely unfair. But so are many things in life that throw it upside down -- loss of a child, terminal illness, accidents, job loss... The challenge is picking ourselves up and moving forward without bringing the anger/bitterness/resentment along with us.
    You'll get there. The paradox is you need to express all that anger/bitterness/resentment in order to ensure it's exorcised...and doesn't continue to poison you as you move into healing.

  3. Thanks, Elle. Did you do anything besides journaling, blogging and therapy to help exorcise the anger/bitterness/resentment? I don't have a blog. I plan to start journaling and we are seeing a marriage therapist. Although I'm beginning to wonder if I should start seeing our therapist or someone else on my own as well. I'm open to other suggestions for exorcism if you have any. Thanks again.

  4. I definitely saw my own counsellor which was far more helpful than seeing a marriage counsellor. She made sure that I was taking care of myself, emotionally and physically, but also helped me see that my husband wasn't necessarily an evil man...just one who'd made some really poor choices. She also – and this was crucial for me – helped me see that this really REALLY had nothing to do with me. It was like that lifted the fog for me (not all at once but slowly) and I could really see the affairs and my husband more clearly and objectively by removing myself from the equation. Once you let yourself off the hook, it's far easier to also let go of the bitterness and anger. Yes, this sucks. But it makes it less...personal. Sounds weird, I know, given that the one person we trusted betrayed that trust. But more often than not, it really has nothing to do with us...and everything to do with something they're seeking (validation? recaptured youth? escape from responsibility?) outside the marriage that they should be looking for within it. Or, if that's not possible, getting out of the marriage before cheating.
    Hang in there. It will get better...whether you stay with him or not.

  5. This post resonated with me too because I've been feeling not so much stuck as marooned in sadness.
    I need to be getting on with the rest of my life but can't seem to motivate myself to take those first steps.
    I've come to the conclusion that anti-depressants are probably not right for me - treating the symptoms rather than the cause - and CBT might be a better way to go; I can't change what happened but I could change how I react to it.

    Pippi, journalling/blogging has been not only highly therapeutic for me but also a way of reaching out, and being reached out to. There are a lot of us out here, struggling with these issues.
    Like Elle says, it does get better.

  6. For me..almost 1 year out(therapy, husbands love & support)..I found myself today(almost New Year 2012). Triggering and feeling very sad and angry. Why? I have been doing so well. Today is a very bad day for me. Is this normal? Feb 13(long story),2011..HELL! My husband confessed to four affairs after church. Almost 22 years of marriage and his first affair took place 17 years ago? I was 9 months pregnant with my second child??? What the heck? God help me, my triggers hit me over the head today. Bad day. Pain? Why do they not get our pain? I need him to see my pain..endless at times. Maybe he does, but at this very moment I feel alone in this. Triggers really stink! Yes..I'm getting help, but today it feels like a battle in my head and heart. Thank you for this site. I realized I'm not alone in this journey.



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