The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear
I've been thinking a lot
lately about stories. Mostly because, together with a friend, I'm editing a
collection of essays about cheating that we hope will be published in an
anthology. We've got some great writers and some incredible true stories – all by
smart women who, at some point in their lives, were betrayed by their partners.
But what's striking about each essay is that each writer has ultimately settled on a story about what happened. And she's had the choice to cast herself as either victim or victor, which of course would affect the trajectory of her life.
In all cases, these women were cheated on. And how they responded to that – whether by staying, by leaving, or by clinging until there was not other way than to leave or be left – has made them who they are. And who they are is strong, wise, compassionate, honest.
These women aren't "broken". Their hearts have healed. They've gone on to love other men or they've learned to love their broken man better. And what's more, many of them are, if not grateful for what happened, at least not bitter. They haven't lived lives of regret.
And this is good news for all of us, I think, but especially for those of us who are just finding out about a partner's betrayal. Those few days and weeks and months are excruciating and it's hard if not impossible to believe that the day will come when you'll look back at this as an incredibly difficult part of your life. But not your whole life.
And your ability to see it as a part depends on the story you tell yourself – the story you ultimately settle on. Your story.
And in your story you can either see yourself as a victim who was powerless over her partner's impact. Or as a victor – someone who faced unimaginable pain with as much grace, strength and self-respect as she could muster. Someone who, though maybe not immediately, would overcome this challenge and continue to live a full life – with joy as well as pain.
None of us are exempt from pain in our lives. And though a partner's betrayal is up there with the worst of it, we are up to the task of overcoming it.
Just ask the women who wrote their stories and are able to look back through time and recognize their own triumph.