Friday, December 28, 2012

Guest Post: Finding Joy Moment-by-Moment

This was posted by Lucy, one of our club members, as  a comment to another post. It offers such hope and wisdom to everyone here that I asked if I could reprint it as a blog post. Here it is. Drink it in and savour its grace. And be reminded that it's the seemingly tiny moments that can restore our faith and give us strength to trust in a better future. ~Elle

Elle and other wives-sisters, 
I hope you can all find joy and love in this festive season despite the pain and hurt thrust upon us. As I have discovered, joy and love come from the simplest and yet, most precious, things. A cold, clear winter morning where the sun and beauty of nature can almost make you forget, the first smile of the morning from a beautiful 4 month old daughter, the excitement on my four-year-old's face when Santa brought everything on the list! As D-Day was only just under four months ago I still feel incredibly hurt, betrayed, sad, unsure of the future and am in fact in mourning for a man I was so so sure of and a marriage I had so much hope for. My little newborn was merely three weeks old when I discovered the affair and of course the following weeks I can scarcely remember as they were a mixture of intense hurt and motherly resilience. I knew also that I didn't want to risk that special bond between a newborn and mom so I did all the "right" things...immediately booked into MC, made sure the children were fed, washed and loved as much as possible or as much as their heartbroken parents could manage. 

They were dark days. Coming up to Christmas I had decided I could sink into depression – not a hard thing to do, or I could spend a fortune on yummy party food and spend time with family – to cocoon. I chose the latter. Does it make me cured? No. Am I now magically healed of all the pain? No. But I think that if you get good days, go with them. Share them with your husband, children and family.

I can say that it has been a very emotionally fraught week. My husband was working over the holidays and my children were very ill. I think these factors made me simmer away to myself: How COULD he do that to me? To us? To our child and unborn baby? Why is he taking so long at the store – has he re-established contact with HER? Emotional cutting. If I could have checked his phone yesterday I know I wouldn't have found anything. Would I have been disappointed? Sounds strange but sometimes this road seems so damn hard that a text from HER would be just the validation to say "I've had enough, you caused this, I've tried". Sometimes it's so hard to see a way forward. Sometimes the dark thoughts envelop me: we wouldn't be trying to save our marriage if we didn't have kids; if I get sick I'm gonna make sure SHE knows it's HER fault; do we even love each other anymore?...

I'm very aware it's early days and this blog has been of invaluable help to me and for that I'm so grateful. I wish you all a Happy New Year. The first day of January always seemed to me like a wonderful blank canvas, just waiting for colour. I don't know how I will feel this New Year but it's all a process and a journey. Love to you all.


Friday, December 21, 2012

On Pajamas and Other Dilemmas

I'd always been a horrible gift-getter. For starters, my expectations were sky-high. Not for something expensive but for something thoughtful. A gift, for me, meant you "get" me, that you truly see me for who I am (or who I want you to think I am). A gift, for me, has generally been a recipe for disappointment.
One of the last gifts my mother gave me was a piece of sea glass (or lake glass, in our case) that was set in sterling silver and hung on a chain. I don't know what it was about this that prompted me to behave like a spoiled child. But I told her I didn't like it, that it represented all the garbage that washes up on our beloved beach, and would she please return it. She did. She was disappointed though she'd become a master at disguising it. I, however, knew her well.
My mother died unexpectedly a month later.
What I wouldn't give to have the piece of glass – a gift she was sure I would love – hanging from my neck. Of course, what I really want is my mother back. But I'd settle for the necklace because I can now see the love it represented. I couldn't, however, see it then.
One of our club members, Liz, just posted a comment on this post asking for help getting through this holiday season. I directed her to what I just posted...but her reference to the gift her husband gave her (pajamas, despite an agreement to not give each other gifts) got me thinking about giving and receiving...especially in the wake of betrayal.
We attach so many stories to gifts that we render the act of giving/receiving something of a Shakespearean play. There's love and betrayal, treachery and longing, life and death. All to a pair of pajamas. Or a necklace. my husband's case office chair (needless to say, THAT one went back too). We look behind the gift for what it all means. And we search our own hearts for what our receiving of the gift signifies. ("If he thinks this means he's forgiven, he's WRONG!").
What if, for this holiday, we detach ourselves from all those stories? What if we simply look at the gift for what it is? As if it was something we found along the road. ("Oh look, a pair of pajamas. And in my size!") Think how much less drama there would be around the Christmas tree or fireplace or coffee table if we gave our poor aching hearts a break from trying to figure out what this all means and should I stay? and what if he does it again? and is he really texting the office right now or HER? and on and on.
Tell yourself you can take up the fight again the next day, or the next week. Tell yourself that it's just for today that you won't feed into the stories that are compounding your suffering. That you won't compare this holiday to last. That you'll try your very very hardest (snap an elastic on your wrist each time you mentally go down this road) to not try and figure out exactly-down-to-the-second what you were doing when he was with HER.
Give yourself the gift of peace-on-hearth (okay, that was a stretch, but you know what I mean). Give yourself the breathing space to take a step back from the maelstrom in your head and heart, and accept the pajamas.
My mom hadn't betrayed me for a long time when she gave me that necklace. But I certainly had viewed her alcoholism when I was a child as a betrayal. And I'm not sure I'd completely forgiven her. Certainly my husband's betrayal, which I discovered only months before my mom gave me the necklace, dredged up a whole lot of buried pain in which I was, once again, terrified that I was going to be abandoned.
And so I rejected her gift. A gift that simply showed that she loved me, however flawed that love had been over the years.
Pajamas you say? In the words of my cherished Cheryl Strayed, just say "thank-you."

Holiday Heartbreak Survival Rule: Just Show Up

I found out about my husband's affair (D-Day #1) on December 10, 2006. When I think back on that Christmas, I remember little other than completely self-destructing. I screamed at my mother who'd come to visit, I threatened suicide, I took off in my husband's car to track down the Other Woman – with no idea what I planned to do if I found her.
I don't remember a holiday dinner, though I must have made something for my family. I don't remember my children's joy... It's all blocked by my memory of that excruciating pain. I cried, I moaned, I raged...but mostly I howled with the overwhelming suffering I felt.
If that's where you are, please know something that I didn't know then: This suffering will pass. Not today. Not tomorrow. But soon.
In the meantime, this is NOT the year to dazzle everyone with a gourmet meal, fabulous decorations or getting together with anyone who isn't 110% your cheerleader in life. This is the time to turn inward, to tend to your wound, to cocoon.
And please know something else I didn't know. I thought this was bigger than I was. I thought this sort of emotional pain was simply more than I could bear. I honestly had moments when death seemed a viable option – when I simply couldn't imagine a day when I wouldn't be crippled by the hurt.
But the human spirit, even one that's barely breathing from being trampled on, is an amazingly strong and resilient thing. We've seen that in others. People who've survived unimaginable suffering who've risen from the ashes to live and love again. They're not special, they're human. Humans who understand that all we can do is just keep showing up and trusting that we can be better. Treat ourselves better. Insist that others treat us better. One step forward...toward healing.

May your holidays offer you a measure of joy (knowing that joy feeds on itself), peace and self-love.


Related Posts with Thumbnails