Monday, October 21, 2019

How to Life Your Own Life, Even When You Don't Want To

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. ~Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

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. 


  1. This post speaks to me! I feel like I had to go through that process of feeling pity for myself. Once I came through on the other end though I found that it made my husband want to be with me more and inspired him. He has told me many times that he never told me and almost made up a fake story to leave me since he thought we could never end up together if I knew what he did. He knew he took our marriage to the brink. He was so aware. It has not been easy for us individually or as a couple but I continue to focus on what I want and need. I am so different than before. Some of it still makes me sad since I still struggle to trust others. I think he is right too he gained freedom on dday where I took on his burden and it has saddled me somewhat. But I keep working through this. I will say my kids inspire me too. They know nothing of what happened but we talk about persevering daily, that you can only control your actions etc. I feel like they are indirectly benefiting from the lessons I have learned through my husband's betrayal.

    4 1/2 years ago I never thought I would be able to laugh with my husband about what he did. We do not laugh about it as if it was trivial or funny but we both think if others only knew. I am able to do that easier since I really think people would be floored. For him it hits a little closer to home since that is one of his biggest challenges feeling like a fraud to our kids and his family most of all. But even for him he focuses on what he can control. He cannot change his past decisions but can only be his best version today forward. Again not all perfect but we really do inspire each other and are closer than ever. I would never have wished this upon us or anyone else but there is no way we would be this close without this experience.

  2. Our community is currently watching a local sheriff that had an affair with a female assistant and she cried rape and assault when said sheriff tried to end the affair and fire said assistant. Triggered the hell out of my h and me two years ago when the story first aired but they settled the rape and assault charge, and he’s now on trial for abuse of power and misconduct in office. That said, it’s still very difficult for my h to hear that defense of ‘it was only an affair’ as if that’s not really a big deal. Truth for my h was it is a very big deal and it’s not okay. I’m not as triggered for what ever reason but I’m guessing it’s still his guilt that he’s as guilty as that sheriff...strange how infidelity can strike any and all parts of society. I see his wife dutifully standing by her man, and I feel her pain as she watches her h try to pick up the pieces of his career and their lives...I agree Hopeful 30, we wouldn’t be as close as we are now but we both wish it had not been because of this choice that he made so long ago...

    1. Update
      He was found guilty of misconduct by a public officer but not misconduct of the office. He lost his job and credibility and for me the worst part was he lost the respect of his children and wife...She spoke at his sentencing and I could see her experience that same heart crushing pain each of us have experienced. She spoke to the fact that he was not the man she married but because of her faith, she has forgiven him and is watching him becoming the man she remembers...I admire this woman because she has had to be on public display and she has had to listen to testimony from the ow...that’s been a recurring nightmare for me as I was once going to have to face my h’s ow because she asked for a jury trial after my h filed harassment charges because she wouldn’t leave us alone...this sheriff will spend a year in h is sentenced to a life time knowing he was that kind of man...a liar and a cheater...

  3. Hopeful 30, I agree with you. I would never be living the life I have now if my husband had not blown up the life we had. We are close and he is very attentive most of the time. I see that he is still pretty damn selfish and that is definitely a result of his upbringing but we are living life to the fullest. I'm no longer "ga-ga" over him like I was for 35 years. I see him as a very flawed man who is doing his best to live out the rest of his life with integrity. That's good enough for me at the moment.

    1. Beach Girl, That is one thing I have come to believe is at the center of my husband's betrayal. His selfishness that was created/fostered as a kid. I think that more than anything with a little bit of entitlement was what did it. My husband still struggles with his selfish personality. And he is naturally defensive and thinks everything is about him. He has changed a lot but I can see that at the core of who he is.

      I can never look at him the same. I can respect that he put in the work and could have taken the easy way out. I did not really think he had that in him on dday. I try to focus on that instead of what I thought he was.

    2. Hopeful 30, I agree 100%. I never thought he would pull it together and there are times when I still question my sanity for choosing to stay but he continues to state, "I had a total life reset and I'm never going back." I believe that too but you really cannot change that core person. They can choose to live differently and they must in order to live this life they now have. The selfishness makes me absolutely mad at times. The conversations I have with him in my head would shock him. I just keep my eye on what I want and I get my way. This year when we drove south to our winter home there was no "Oh that is too expensive a hotel to spend the night" like last year. The second night last year when I was searching for a room and it came down to a $100 difference in the room costs, he made the mistake of saying, "I'm not spending that much for one night to which I flared and triggered and responded, "Well you spent twice that much for an hour with a whore at a hotel and now you tell me I'm not worth that for a night?" Ummmm, you can only imagine how that conversation went from there. This year when we were traveling and looking, he said,"Find a place you feel safe and book it. I don't care what it costs." Progress



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