There was a time I doubted it was possible. How could I ever – EVER! – get past what he did. I couldn't, I was sure. I resigned myself to a life half-lived, to gritting my teeth and sacrificing my own happiness so that my kids could remain in an intact home.
The truth is I felt trapped, afraid to actually take steps to end the marriage, and decided to assume the role of martyr. Blech.
In moments of candor I admitted that I believed marriage was a lifetime commitment (that's not to say I blame anyone for walking out of a marriage that kills their soul). And I desperately wanted my family to remain intact. I also, thanks to years of childhood training by alcoholic-turned-former-alcoholic parents, believed in the power of people to change. To become as wonderful as I always thought they could be. And though I'd learned the hard way that this change had to come from their desire not from my wishful thinking, old habits die hard.
I also kept working. As did my husband. On communicating. On healing. On creating true intimacy. On learning who each other really was. On accepting myself and him...just as we are.
It was hard. Exhausting. Demoralizing at times. Wonderful at others.
And, recently, I realized that I'm something I never thought I could be again. Happy.
I had thought I might achieve contentment. A sort of acceptance that life wasn't so bad. But I never expected to experience the joy I had in the "before" part of my life.
And it's not the same. I'm not sure I'll ever ride those highs again. But then again, perhaps I will. Because I'm well and truly happy. Not just content. But full of joy and hope and eager to watch the rest of my life unfold.
My marriage feels...solid. My husband is someone I'm falling in love with all over again. He's surprised me in ways that are miraculous after 15 years of marriage. He has become, as he promised me he would try, the "man you already believed I was."
To all those wondering if it's possible – wondering as I did if all those reports of a "marriage even better than before" was total Pollyanna BS – I'm happy to report it is indeed possible. Even, with a lot of hard work on both sides, probable.
I told my husband about a week ago that I really feel as if those horrible days/weeks/years following D-Day are now just part of the fabric of our life together. Not the predominant pattern, simply a part.
I'm on the other side.