Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Trusting Yourself

Just trust yourself,
then you will know how to live. ~Goethe

A month or so after D-Day #1, a friend, one of the few who knew of my husband's affair, gave me a bracelet with that quote inscribed in it.
I've rarely gone a day since without that silver bangle – and those words – circling my wrist.

How many times have I reminded myself, when conflicted, to simply trust myself.
And how often have I wished that I had been able to do that all along.

The thing is, most of us know what's good for us. We might struggle with the path...but we know the destination. How often, though, do we forget that? How often do we rely on others to make those decisions for us because what if...? What if we're wrong?

Just trust yourself.
That's not always easy to do. Especially if you've thought yourself wrong so often before.
Especially if you've been told, over and over, that you couldn't possibly know what's best. What's right.

I hadn't trusted myself. When my instincts were telling me that my husband, the one I thought absolutely couldn't – wouldn't! – cheat on me, was involved with another woman, I convinced myself that my instincts were wrong. When I felt that familiar panic each time he announced he would be home "late" because he had "work", I would talk myself out of it. When I finally knew, in spite of wanting desperately to not know, and confronted my husband, I ended up accepting his assurance that "nothing was going on."
At least until I couldn't anymore.

Finally, after the screaming in my head became too loud to ignore, I trusted myself. And when my husband again denied. And insisted I was wrong. And begged me to believe him, I did not. I trusted myself.

And I will never betray myself again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


This is how you get unstuck, Stuck. You reach. Not so you can walk away from the daughter you loved, but so you can live the life that is yours—the one that includes the sad loss of your daughter, but is not arrested by it. The one that eventually leads you to a place in which you not only grieve her, but also feel lucky to have had the privilege of loving her. That place of true healing is a fierce place. It’s a giant place. It’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light. And you have to work really, really, really fucking hard to get there, but you can do it, honey. You’re a woman who can travel that far. I know it. Your ability to get there is evident to me in every word of your bright shining grief star of a letter.

This is an excerpt from a letter from a woman struggling to get past the death of her young daughter. And though that's a pain I hope I never have to experience, the pain of betrayal can also leave us "stuck."
I felt that way for at least a couple of years after D-Day...maybe longer. I felt stripped of choice. I hadn't been the one who cheated...and yet I was stuck dealing with the consequences. If I left, I felt that I was tearing apart a family. If I stayed, I felt like a fraud, pretending to be a wife to a man I couldn't respect.
And so I stayed in that spot, resenting it – and my husband – with every pore of my being. 
It's only in hindsight that I can see that the advice columnist – Sugar – is absolutely right. That place of "stuck" isn't really stuck at all. It's where the healing takes place. It's a dark place where you wrestle with the demons and, if you fight hard enough and long enough, triumph over them. You reach for healing and if it feels elusive, you reach a little further. 
So that when you emerge from that place – and you will emerge eventually though never as soon as you think you should – you'll come out a different person. You'll have integrated the pain into the fabric of your being. But not just the pain, the healing too. You'll never again experience the world in quite the same way. If you're truly triumphed over the demons, you'll emerge more compassionate. You'll live your life with an honesty and integrity that, perhaps, you didn't always. You won't have the time or energy for bullshit anymore or for people who aren't honest with you. You won't feel anger towards those who create such drama so much as dismissal.
You'll smell the roses a bit more deeply, hug those you love a bit more thoroughly and love a lot more gratefully. You'll know that life can deliver pain for sure, but you'll also know that it can deliver such exquisite joy that you'll feel privileged to be alive. You'll know that those moments are what make life worth the struggle. And you'll know what to do if you ever feel stuck again. Fight like hell and reach...trusting that those of us who've also been there will pull you out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Do you want to tell your story??

I received this submission. I'm not involved in any way and don't know the producers. However, if you're interested in sharing your story with a television audience (and I wish we could ALL tell our stories without fear, shame, guilt, blah blah blah) then here's the info:

The company that brings you, A Baby Story, Whose Wedding is it Anyway,
Mystery Diagnosis… is now seeking Couples Willing to Share Their Stories
for a groundbreaking new show.

Coming soon to a major cable network, this new television series will
explore the psychology of infidelity. This is NOT a talk show; it is a
documentary series and will take an impartial approach to the content.

The show will use first person narrative and psychological input to educate
the viewers on the deep internal issues both parties deal with leading up to
an affair and after the revelation. 

We are currently looking for individuals who have dealt with a complex
instance of infidelity and would be interested in retelling their story on our
show. It's important to us that the couples are well past the initial hurt and
would be able to discuss their situation and resolution so others can learn
from it. If you are interested in hearing more about the project or have any
feedback please contact me at infidelity.casting@gmail.com and I’d love to
discuss everything in more detail. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Rift that Keeps On Giving

My husband likes to think that the rather painful episode of infidelity in our lives, also known as "Are you f&^#$%g kidding me?" is "over". As in, "aren't you over that?" And "besides what happened, what have I ever done wrong?"
And while I would love nothing more than for it to be "over", I'm increasingly recognizing that I'm not sure it ever will be.
The thing with infidelity – ie. a "trust violation" – is that it completely alters your world view. Irrevocably. So though you might be "over" the event – for example, you know longer cry in grocery stores or at the site of a certain late model Jeep Liberty – you're nonetheless never really over it.
Case in point:
My husband and I are currently suffering through the longest renovation project in history. I've been a pretty good sport about it, in light of the fact that I thought our house, except for the leaking roof, was just fine. But he wanted his dream house, blah blah blah. And so, here we all are, ousted from our bedrooms, sleeping on couches, breathing in drywall dust and basically living in what feels like a falling-down frat house.
I finally cracked, just like our plaster ceilings and pretty much everything else in our home, on Saturday. I had asked my husband to print off something I needed for a work project. He forgot. He remembered to do the reno stuff that day...but not the thing I had asked.
Roughly eight months of reno-resentment, together with the slowly receding resentment of his decade-long sex addiction, combined to create a nuclear-level explosion of anger.
He, as usual, was surprised when I pointed that it never, EVER seems as if my needs matter.
Though I didn't actually see his eyes roll, I could sense them.
And then, "when are you going to get over that?"
And I knew exactly what he meant.
When are we going to be able to live in a world in which those horrible years of emotional abandonment and physical disinterest no longer color everything that happens now? When am I going to be, quite simply, "over" it.
The short answer?
Not because I hang on to the pain. God knows, I've done everything I can possibly think of to move myself out that horrible dark place.
I've forgiven him in that I've come to a place of understanding how he was able to commit such marriage-killing acts and not actually think of them as such. I'm worked hard to try and understand that he used sex as self-medication.
But that doesn't mean that I can erase it from my memory. And whether or not he intended to hurt me doesn't mean a thing when the end result is pain. If you step on my toe accidentally, my toe doesn't hurt any less.
I'm trying. As he is.
But infidelity does indeed seem to the be the rift that keeps on giving...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Welcome to Crazy Town!

"You're acting jealous!"
"She's just a friend who's going through a rough time."
"You're being ridiculous. I hate it when you act like this."
"If you believe I'm cheating, I might as well just go ahead and do it!"

Welcome to Crazy Town! Like a sign that notes population (there's a lot of us living there!), the above "slogans" are generally an indication that you've landed in Crazy Town. The problem with Crazy Town isn't that we so much arrive there all of a sudden, it's that we slip into it from a back route. We discover ourselves there after months or years of simply not consulting our internal GPS, the one that knows where we should be going...and therefore recognizes when we take a wrong turn. That voice that says, "please turn around and head left" or "I wouldn't recommend this route". It's the voice that gets drowned out by his voice, assuring us he'd "never do that." Or accusing us of cheating ourselves, based only on the fact that we're accusing him. Or it's the voice that sounds deceptively like our own, making excuses or assuming blame.
However, we get there, Crazy Town will only make you crazier the longer you stay there, until up is down, black is white, and everything that's ever gone wrong in his life is your fault.
The good news about Crazy Town is that it's possible to leave.
It starts with challenging the rules of the place.
Rules such as, "he wouldn't cheat if I was prettier/smarter/sexier/thinner/younger/insert-ridiculous-adjective-here". Rules such as "if I stop nagging/complaining/crying/accusing, he'll come back to me". Crazy rules that have little basis in truth, but pack plenty of emotional punch.
It often starts with a simple question (thanks to Byron Katie for this nugget of wisdom): Is it true?
We too often assume to know what another is thinking. Or why they're doing what they do. Or accept blame for something that, upon closer examination, can't possibly be our responsibility.
Is it true?:
Am I truly unlovable?
Am I to blame for someone else's lies and deception?
Is it my responsibility to keep someone faithful? Is it even possible to control another's choices?
Must I accept that men are programmed to cheat?
No, no, no, no and no.
And a funny thing happens when you start challenging these long-held (or sometimes short-held but deeply felt) beliefs, you start to recognize them as ridiculous. Not right away. But slowly, with increasing scrutiny, these "rules" start to sound like what they are: bullshit crazy talk.
No-one deserves to be lied to and deceived.
No-one deserves to have their own needs dismissed.
No-one deserves to be betrayed by the very person who promised not to.
And no-one deserves to be told they're crazy, unhinged, jealous, ridiculous, a nag, etc. by the very person whose actions are making them feel that way.
It's time to pack your bags and leave Crazy Town. With a simple passport consisting of three words – Is it true – you can begin to de-program yourself from your paralyzing beliefs.
And get the hell outta town.


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