Nobody's going to do your life for you. You have to do it yourself, whether you're rich or poor, out of money or raking it in, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice. And you have to do it no matter what is true. No matter what is hard. No matter what unjust, sad, sucky things befall you. Self-pity is a dead-end road. You make the choice to drive down it. It's up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out.
Nobody's going to do your life for you. Those words would have reduced me to a sobbing mess on the floor in the wake of D-Day if I'd read them back then. And if I wasn't already a sobbing mess on the floor. I desperately wanted somebody to do my life for me. I was done. Done! I hadn't the energy for anything any more. I hadn't the will. I wanted out. Except that my mother had attempted suicide when I was a kid and it devastated me. Except that I had three young kids and there was no way I was going to do that to them. So what choice did I have but to idle on that dead-end road. Full of self-pity. Woe is me.
Woe was me. And why not? I had plenty to be woeful about. The man I had trusted with my heart, my body, my family had betrayed that trust. The man I thought adored me had risked my safety, my sanity without giving me any say in the matter. I was paralyzed with indecision. Stay or go? I couldn't muster the strength to get out of bed. How was I to make a choice that could change my – and my children's – entire lives?
So I stayed put. Reminded my husband every chance I got that he had "ruined" me. That I would never be happy again.
And I wasn't. I wasn't happy for a very long time. Months. Years. I had moments in there that made me think happy might be possible. But they were fleeting. Nonetheless I clung to those moments like they might save me.
And I think they did.
Cause, at some point, I got tired of idling on that dead-end road of self-pity. At some point, I realized that I could stay there, growing more bitter by the day, or I could move. Maybe not too far at first...but something.
And then, a bunch of somethings.
I ran. I read. I saw a therapist even when I didn't always like what she said (she refused to let me abdicate any responsibility for my own life. She might have said, in so many words, "nobody is going to do your life for you". I hated her for that. And then I loved her for that.)
Slowly, so very very slowly, I turned around. I began to drive out.
Maybe it's a choice you need to make right now too. Maybe, like me, you're idling on that dead-end road. Stuck in the muck of self-pity. And who could blame you? Not me. That's for sure.
But even though I don't blame you, I want better for you. I bet you want better for you too.
Which means, you're gonna have to abandon self-pity for agency. You're going to have to accept that "nobody is going to live your life for you", no matter how badly we wish someone would.
The good news is also that nobody is going to live your life for you. You get to do it. You get to make the choices that energize you, that invite respect into our life, that keep you safe, emotionally and physically. You don't get to live his life. He has to do that. He can't abdicate that responsibility, to do the hard work of becoming a better man (or maybe he can abdicate, which is your cue to keep driving on down that road to a divorce lawyer).
I didn't think I could do it. I never imagined I could get to a place where my husband's betrayal was a part of our lives, not the whole of it, and not even the worst of it.
But here I am. Living my own life. And so grateful for every second of it.
My deepest wish for you is that you get there too.