Monday, April 27, 2015
Outgrowing your pain
What we forget when we're in agony, however, is that what we're experiencing is a normal response to emotional trauma. We're having feelings...and feelings are not facts.
What I mean by that is that feelings are transient. And yet, while nobody expects to feel happy every day of their lives, we often accept that we might feel misery every day of our lives. We skew toward negative emotions, far more convinced of their truth that that of positive emotions.
I was convinced that, post D-Day, I would never again experience even a minute of joy. I imagined myself donning a mask for the rest of my life, one that hid my genuine and relentless distress. Joy? That was for people who'd never been cheated on.
And yet...here I am. Able to experience that wide range of emotions that make up the human experience, including joy. Including peace. Including hope.
What changed? Well...not much. And everything.
To paraphrase Carl Jung, the greatest problems in life are generally not solved, but outgrown.
Sure my husband and I have devoted a great deal of time and energy to rebuilding our relationship. Sure I've spent countless hours on this site, reading your stories and sharing your pain, commiserating with you and virtually holding your hand in shared agony. But despite all that work, I haven't really "solved" anything. And, with due respect to Jung, I haven't outgrown it so much as grown into it.
I've incorporated the excruciating experience of betrayal into my larger life. Where I once thought it was the defining experience of my life, I can now see that it's one of the defining experiences of my life. No more important than becoming a mother. No more important that burying my mother. No bigger a part of me than my role as wife, as daughter, as friend, as mother, aunt, sister, writer, blogger.
That day will come for all of you. You can hasten it by doing your work, which includes keeping your heart soft even as it wants to harden against future pain. You can beckon it by taking good and gentle care of yourself.
But, I promise, the day will come when you are not simply a "betrayed wife" but someone who has survived betrayal. Someone who has outgrown that pain and grown from it. Wiser, stronger, more compassionate. Better able to appreciate the joy, having wondered if you would ever feel it again. But knowing that joy, like misery, doesn't last forever.