Friday, July 24, 2015

What does healing look like?

"I had that feeling you get—there is no word for this feeling—when you are simultaneously happy and sad and angry and grateful and accepting and appalled and every other possible emotion, all smashed together and amplified. 
Why is there no word for this feeling?
Perhaps because the word is healing and we don’t want to believe that. We want to believe healing is purer and more perfect, like a baby on its birthday. Like we’re holding it in our hands. Like we’ll be better people than we’d been before. Like we have to be.
It is on that feeling that I have survived. And it will be your salvation too, my dear. When you reach the place that you recognize entirely that you will thrive not in spite of your losses and sorrows, but because of them. That you would not have chosen the things that happened in your life, but you are grateful for them. That you have the two empty bowls eternally in your hands, but you also have the capacity to fill them." ~comment from Betrayed Wives Club member

Healing. We talk so much about it on this site. Those of us further along on this journey leave our popcorn trail for those coming behind us to guide them to healing. We assure them that, even on days when they feel utterly hopeless, healing is somehow magically taking place within. That as long as they're not actively holding on to pain, healing will occur. That time will work its magic, though they can hasten it by taking care of themselves, by establishing clear boundaries, by finding support and compassion.
When you're mired in pain, however, healing can seem about as real as Oz. Believing in it can feel like being asked to drink the Kool-Aid. Like many who first arrive here, hearts shattered, I couldn't imagine a day when I wouldn't be in agony, when the mention of a certain name, the make of a certain car wouldn't leave me fighting tears. Healing, I thought, didn't apply to betrayal. It didn't apply to me.
Which is why I loved the comment (above) left on this site. It perfectly describes healing. Not some place of bliss and beauty ("like a baby on its birthday") but instead emotions laid bare, feelings raw but with our hearts still open.
That's what healing has meant for me. Like an alcoholic who will never refer to herself as recovered but always as recovering, I am healing from infidelity.
I would never have chosen this, nor would I wish it on anyone. But it has been my particular fate to have experienced it and it has changed me, I believe, for the better. Like my Betrayed Wives Club sister has so beautifully articulated, I realize that it is not in spite of but because of my sorrows that my life is richer. That I love more deeply. That I am able to stop sometimes and smile at the beauty I have in my life, all the more precious because, for a while, I lost sight of it.
Your healing might look different than mine. But all healing shares one thing in common: Gratitude. When we can feel thankful not for the pain necessarily but for the wisdom and compassion it engendered, we can recognize the healing within ourselves.



37 comments:

  1. I take so much from your posts Elle, I'm not the best at articulating how I feel but you seem to write them for me. My life post d day is rich with love, meaning, compassion and gratitude. I see myself as strong, I'm grateful for all the hard times the sad times and breaking down times as these times made me rebuild who I am. I like the person I am today, I considers myself a bloody good wife and an even better mother to my children. Although they havn't witnessed what turmoil I've endured over the years they have seen me come out the other side as a more mature, content woman and mother. I'm so lucky to have found this site Elle, god was def looking out for me and guided me here. ThAnking you all for some solid advice and support. Lots a love xx.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sam A. So glad you found us too.

      Delete
  2. Elle, thank you ... this one brought tears to my eyes ... because I believe. I believe that everything happens for the greater good. A long and happy life is not a life free of tragedy or pain ... it's a life filled with healing and resilience. It's not what happened in your life, it's how you handled it. Good MUST come from this. And it has. And it will continue to. Tears. Smiling. Gratitude.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes Elle that is exactly how it feels to heal. One day I decided to let go of bitterness and anger allowing hope and joy in. It was something I mentally decided. Once my brain had recovered enough from the trauma I could move in that direction. It took some time though.... Over a year for my brain to balance itself out again, but it happened, and I allowed my heart to start healing too. Love you girls. It's a rough road for sure, but it's a ride you are glad you make it through. Stay strong. - Ann from Texas

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ann from Texas,
      Yes, it does take time. And I think it can feel incredibly insulting when it's suggested to us that our suffering might be "good" for us. Feels like a slap in the face when we're drowning in it.
      The lessons with in the pain are something that reveal themselves with time and an open heart. It's when we close ourselves off, fearful of more pain, that our experience becomes a source of bitterness alone. I know people like that. They're hard and tough on the outside but their strength feels incredibly fragile. Like it might shatter.

      Delete
  4. Healing is a road. We are on it and always must remember that...we are on the healing road just by virtue of waking up the morning after D-day. Some of us will drive crazily down the road...pulling off at a rest stop to breathe, backing up every now and then, pulling off to fix something. Rarely is it a Sunday ride down the road. My ride has been white knuckle two hands on the wheel in a drenching rain storm of tears ride but then I get a little Sunshine and I make it a few more miles before it pours again. But we keep on driving...for me and my beliefs I have to sometimes crawl in the backseat and let God drive for a spell. I like to think we women are a caravan some are leading some are struggling BUT no matter how it looks or feels if you are still breathing you're on the healing road. Just buckle in the road may be bumpy and long but we will make it to healing town no matter how long it takes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Atti I love your version of healing I'm sure many are driving that road with you. Xx

      Delete
    2. Atti,
      Beautiful!! I have a car like that. God must be really busy because he drives my car quite a bit these days. Kinda like God says, "I got this - I'll take over for now."

      Delete
    3. Atti,
      I am new to this site. My D-day was June 28th. What you wrote here is the first time in all the reading that I have done that I have felt like "finally , this is exactly how I feel!"
      Some days I feel more like I'm stuck on a one way road full of detours, and end up hopelessly lost. Other days I can see way down at the end of the road, if I squint my eyes really hard, that the sun is shining.
      I just wish that I'd stop falling into the potholes!
      Thank you for a wonderful analogy, and making the sun shine for me this morning

      Delete
  5. My road's a little bumpy right now…my h is away on a boy vacation to satisfy something on his father's bucket list which was planned a long time ago. My mom is coming to visit me while he is away ... And although it is all good… I can certainly feel my anxiety level is up. And with that I feel angry. Angry because a time like this should be a happy time, he with his family, me with mine .... Yet I feel the anxiety of ... is he going to text? ... is he going to call?… I feel like a teenager and I hate it. He only left yesterday and he has texted and called numerous times ... Yet he was alone for that part of the trip. I know once he is surrounded by the boys and having fun I won't hear from him nearly as much. He will be gone a little over two weeks ... this is day one ... Clover, i'm thinking of you… You did so well with your husband's business trip. By the way, we never heard back, how are you? I went away recently with my own family, again for my elderly mother's bucket list. I was only gone five days, but I felt h and I's relationship slip a bit in that time. We have gotten much closer and were doing very well when he left this time… Let's just hope when he gets back we can keep the momentum going. My mom will be here when he gets back from his trip. He was so fearful of speaking to her after the A was revealed. It took months, but he finally garnished the courage to call her ... They spoke by phone and at the end of the conversation, she told him, "I am very disappointed in you, but I still love you." His response… "I'm very disappointed in me too."
    OK ladies… My increased anxiety is going to keep me on this blog a lot in the next couple weeks. Here's to healing :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hang in there, Melissa! It's great that you will have your mom there with you while he's gone. Hopefully you can focus on enjoying your time with her.

      Delete
    2. Melissa, here's to healing. ;) I'm going on a road trip too in a week with my little girl. I should be happy, but unfortunately my anxiety is hitting me for some reason. I keep asking God to help me through and trying to redirect my thoughts. I sometimes remember the days before knowing and how I would dive into every moment and experience it. I'm asking God to help me dive into to this moment with my daughter. You see all that's happening and that has happened on your thoughts. It occurred to me to remember what I've learned from it. Since I can only ever control myself I need to allow God to be God and control everything else. Yes everything has changed, but it doesn't mean I can't stop "living." So my little girl is really excited. Since relocating back to Texas from my "self imposed sabbatical of healing" she hasn't seen her friends. So we are driving all the way to the Florida Keys. Just her and I for 8 days experiencing life together. I've gotta pull it together and be "momma". It's hard work sometimes to try to live when letting hurts go. Stay strong. For all of us together, we are mighty. I love you girls- Ann from Texas

      Delete
    3. Melissa
      how very very hard anxiety stricken for sure! Im currently in no position to talk .. see my post under word hug .... but it seems like u can lean on ur mom ... do it ... excercise if you can ... walk sun on ur face ... long showers ... maybe a manicure or dinner out while hes away ... or 2 weeks to try and process more lay low movies in bed order pizza or ceral for breakfast cause u can. I feel for you .... i think its so cool you both do these family trip... bucket list w parents! Xo sweetie

      Ps anxiety is said it cant kill us only feels that way!!! Hope thats true.

      Overwhelmed xo

      Delete
    4. Melissa,
      That's not unlike what my parents said to my husband. My husband was terrified of seeing them post D-Day and my mother arrived at the door and when he opened it, she hugged him. My father gave him the "everyone's entitled to one mistake, only a fool makes more than one" speech (which I didn't entirely agree but, oh well). My husband was stunned. He'd been raised in a family in which nobody was allowed to screw up or they were completely shunned. One of those families in which this person doesn't talk to that person who still isn't talking to someone else. The result, from what I can see, isn't a family in which nobody screws up but instead a family with severe problems that nobody talks about.
      I'm glad your husband is disappointed in himself. If he can hold on to the belief that he doesn't have to be defined by his mistake but can, instead, redeem himself, then he's on his way toward a more honest life.

      Delete
    5. Hey Melissa, I'm here for you!

      It's tough when they go away after Dday, I don't think I will ever have the blind faith I had before this, and I've told my H that this is the price of his fling. He understands, or says he does.

      I've purposely not been on here or any other sites as I wanted to "think my own thoughts" for a while. I'm trying to decide how I feel about the future, and sometimes reading other people's pain makes me question whether hiding and becoming a hermit wouldn't save me from ever being hurt again!!

      You will spend a great deal of his time away in knots...I know I did. The solution was to keep busy busy busy. I nearly exhausted myself, but it was worth it just to stop my brain from going into meltdown.

      I feel for you - I hope it goes well xx

      Delete
    6. It has been 2.5 years since D-day. Yes it does get easier and we have a much better marriage now. My concern is if I will ever be able to trust him 100% again. If not, can I live the rest of my life like that?

      Delete
  6. This post took my breath away, it's so beautiful and true. I love that definition of healing. I feel so confused sometimes by the conflicting emotions, I'm so grateful for this second chance at a much better marriage but I would never want to go through all the trauma and pain, I wouldn't wish it on my enemy and yet I know I'm experiencing such an amazing personal growth and accessing strength I never knew I had. I'm becoming a better version of myself and our marriage is a better version of itself and those things feel like such gifts. But the cost was so high, we are still rebuilding trust and I still have shaking moments. Healing is not pure and perfect, it's rocky and bumpy and slow. I'm so grateful for this blog, I'm grateful for you strong women and I'm even at that magical place tonight where I'm able to feel gratitude for my opportunity at new life, a new marriage and crazy hard growth as I travel through this nightmare into something brighter. Sending vibes of love and solidarity to all of you who are up in pain walking through a lonely dark night. Cheers to our healing journey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rose,
      It's almost impossible to explain, isn't it? I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy...and yet, like you, I've now got a life that feels so much better for the storms we've survived.

      Delete
  7. Elle,
    Just what the doctor ordered - thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes the road gets bumpy, but I am in to the end of this road no matter how many 'potholes' of doubt, anxiety, and what if pop up on the way! Melissa, I understand how you feel about h taking a 'boy trip'. My h went to play golf for four days right during the time ow was stalking us! I was safe from her as I stayed at our lake house and had grand baby time! I still struggle when he makes 'out of town trips' for work! I do know his mind is in a better place that when it was before!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think I've been driving myself nuts because all the painful stuff is still in there (not to the degree that it was in the beginning, but still there) and I feel like that means I'm failing. But you're right, I'm healing.

    I needed to read this today. Thank you.

    ~Gee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gee,
      It's not a straight trajectory. It's ups and downs and spirals and recoveries. Pay attention to the fact that thing are improving. Because if they can improve even a little bit, that means they can improve a little bit more. And then a bit more. When you have a bad day or two, just trust that you're re-processing some more of the pain and that it won't last. You'll get there, Gee.

      Delete
  10. A question that's been weighing on my mind: ladies who are further down the road of healing than I am (it's been 13 months since D-day), do you ever get to a point where, if you had to make the choice all over again, you'd still marry him? Do you have to come to that point to be successful in healing? Or is it possible to be happy and healing and still have that regret?

    I ask because there's a big part of me that says if I could go back and relive my life, I would have run like hell the other way. If I'd have known the pain he was going to bring into my life, I wouldn't have married him. Is it possible to be healing and still feel that way? Or do you have to get to the point where you think it was all worth it, and that if you had to make the choice again, you'd still choose to be with him?

    Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts.

    ~Gee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gee you have asked a great question. I'm almost 2 1/2 years out and just recently like the last 2 months have I gotten to where I don't feel like going back in time and "running". I'm so relieved you said that because I've said the exact same thing in my mind time and again, but only verbalized it to my parents and one friend. So your thoughts are actually something that makes me feel so much better inside. Do your answer is yes. You do kiss that thought goodbye eventually. One day two months ago while I was talking with my 19 year old son it hit me that I didn't want to go back to the day I met my husband and just walk the other way. Just because I was so hurt many times over didn't mean I want to give up all my precious memories for good. It's my life and the only things that define it are what I allow. Love you girls - Ann from Texas

      Delete
    2. Thanks so much, Ann! That gives me hope.

      ~Gee

      Delete
    3. Gee,
      I think it's a bit of a fool's game to try and imagine a different life. If I had walked the other way, I might have married some guy who got us in a car accident and killed our whole family, for instance. It becomes a "who knows?" what would have happened.
      If I had walked the other way, I wouldn't have my three incredible children. What would life be if we could see our futures? Not sure I want to know.

      Delete
    4. Gee, thank you for putting into words the thought Ive been longing to say out loud. We labor over hypotheticals, don't we? If I had it all to do over again, I wouldn't. We're working hard to fix this big sordid, evil mess he made, but I wouldn't choose this. Absolutely not. For whatever reason, Ive found voicing my pain aloud gives me some measure of relief. We meet with the marriage counselor tomorrow. Maybe I'll get this off my chest. It will hurt him to hear it, I'm sure, but I'm ok with that.

      Delete
    5. Gee

      I am almost 2 years out & for a long time I imagined what I would tell myself if I were Peggy sue went back in time and had the opportunity not to marry my husband. Many times I thought I shouldn't have. If I had married someone else I wouldn't have had my 2 great kids but I prob would have had other great kids. However, if I had married someone else there is no guarantee HE wouldn't have cheated. As a matter of fact the statistics say he prob would have, given the fact that 50-70% of men cheat.

      There are no guarantees. knowing the outcome of how close we are now, at this point I prob still would have married him.

      Delete
    6. I tried to post this before, and I don't think it went through. My apologies if you end up with a double post.

      Thanks ladies. I know if I have to stop playing the "what if?" game with myself, it keeps me stuck. In fact, it's one of the biggest things I worked on with my counsellor. I honestly realized the one decision I could have made when I was 16 that would have changed everything (this was long before I met my husband). But you know what? Now that I've figured that out, what difference does it make? I have no way to go back and change it now. Although in a strange way, figuring out that crucial moment gave me some sense of closure about the whole thing.

      Emotions are so complex. It's weird to love him so much and at the same time regret that I ever met him.

      At any rate, this is my life now, and I feel like there is something in my marriage worth saving, I guess I just have to hold on to that. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

      ~Gee

      Delete
  11. I have to keep reminding myself that I AM healing. It's typical of me to just want to rush through the uncomfortable part. I experienced the same thing when my mom passed away and I think it took me years to really acknowledge my grief as a result of that. I just wanted the pain to stop and I focused on taking care of everyone else rather than taking care of myself. I didn't acknowledge how much her loss impacted me.
    And the pain I'm experiencing now is a lot like what I went through when my mom passed away. I told my husband just that this morning. I was trying to give him an example of what it feels like. I remember waking up the morning after my mom passed and thinking it was just a bad dream only to get snapped back into the reality that she was gone. And then a week later, I just wanted to pick up the phone and call her and it would hit me all over again that she wasn't there. And even months after, I would want to share something and the permanence of her death would hit me like a ton of bricks. My husband's infidelity is a lot like that. Our marriage will never be exactly what it was. We can't go back and undo what he did and I will have days where the reality of his affair knocks me backwards a bit. I will have to learn to accept that fact, put myself back on course, and keep moving forward. Because unlike a death, he and I do have the opportunity for a second chance at our marriage, a chance to make it better and stronger. And unlike the old me, I'm facing the pain head on. So while it hurt (sometimes more than I think I can bear) I know I'm acknowledging it and hopefully making something positive out if it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dandelion,
      My mom passed away just weeks after my second D-Day (where I found out the WHOLE story). So my grief at losing her is tied up in my grief of losing the marriage I thought I had. It's hard to me to separate the two.
      But, like you, I want to be my usual overachieving self and fast-track this whole healing stuff.
      We can't.
      And that's been a lesson I needed to learn. That you can't "think" or "earn" your way through this. You simply have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. You have to pause and sit with the pain when it arrives -- to pay attention to it and feel it. And the days also come when you can smile at some great memory but that's just as true as the loss.
      I'm sorry for the loss of your mom. Mine passed away eight years ago this month and I still miss her all the time.

      Delete
    2. Thank you, Elle. I am sorry for your loss, as well. My mom will have been gone 12 years in November. I miss her all the time!
      Realizing that healing takes time and I've got to experience the pain to get through it. It's tough work, but I'm still standing. :-)

      Delete
    3. I so feel your pain! Both of you! I did not lose my mother while this mess has been happening. I lost my sister. My first BFF! I didn't have time to grieve my loss of her when I had to deal with the loss of my marriage! They happend within a month of each other! I pulled myself up by my bootstraps to get my aged mother through the toughest loss of her life! She has lost already all of her closest relatives her siblings, her parents her spouse! But to lose a child is a pain that surpassed the pain that my spouse hit me with when I learned of this mess! So if all the pain I have seen this year, I can do this ad it was not my choosing! I can get through this too!

      Delete
  12. Good perspective hearing your struggles im having very emotional day today. Taking evetything in me to not cry at my desk at work ... no one knows . My heart aches for all your trials and its helpful to learn from all you girls.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous,
    It's really hard to get through when no one knows. I felt like I was living a lie... every single day. I told my aunt, who lives in another state, immediately, but those who saw me on a day to day basis had no clue. Fortunately, we were already in therapy and I could speak openly there. Eventually, I broke down and told a friend/co-worker.
    But this site has been an amazing outlet for me and, aside from theraoy, a great source of support. No judgement here, just people who have been down this road or are just now finding themselves on the road. Having a safe place to vent has been huge for me.
    Hoping for some relief for you. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails