"...everyone has an inner teacher whose authority in his or her life far exceeds my own."
~Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life
So many of you come to this site for answers. Can I get past this? Will he cheat again? Am I a fool for giving him a second chance? How can I stop thinking about the Other Woman? When will I be healed? Why do I want sex with my unfaithful husband? The list goes on. And on.
But I believe that behind the many specific questions is this one: How do I survive this pain?
And though I have plenty of advice to offer, as do a few of my wonderful guest bloggers, the deepest truth is something only you know.
The "how" is personal.
For some of us, the "how" is working to rebuild our marriage.
For others, the "how" is separating to sort things out.
For some, the "how" is by walking away from the marriage.
And within those options, there's plenty of variety around "how".
I confess I feel as if I've been letting some of our newcomers down. I've been busy lately and my responses are, I think, perfunctory. I trot out my usual bromides: I'm so sorry you're here. Please know that his cheating isn't about you but about his own demons. Yes, you can get past this no matter what he does or doesn't do. No it's not going to be quick. And, always, be gentle with yourself. You're walking a tough road and it serves nobody to beat yourself up.
And while I stand behind every word I say, I wish I had the time to let each of you that I read your words and wish that this was easier for each of us. I want each of you to know that you have found a place where you are welcome and valued and heard.
But what I wish each of us knew from the beginning is that you already know what's right for you. You are your own teacher. This is why it's so important for you to learn to pay attention to what's inside your own heart and mind. You'll no doubt find yourself responding, physically, to some of the comments on this site. Yes! Those are MY feelings, you might think. One woman's approach to her husband's refusal to answer her questions might help you clarify your own thoughts around that. Another's suggestion about how she stopped obsessing about the Other Woman might seem like something you could try.
But you must know that there isn't a one-size-fits-all response to surviving infidelity. Rather by giving ourselves the attention we need, we can begin to cultivate that inner teacher in a way that, perhaps, we haven't.
What's more, it puts the rest of us in the position that we should all and always be: That of compassionate witnesses to your pain. Cheerleaders to your healing.
I don't have all the answers, nor does anyone else. Whether you should stay or go or sit and think about it for a month or a year is a choice for you to make based on what feels like the next right step for you and your family. None of us has to live with your choice. You do.
And if your teacher needs coaxing out, begin by paying attention to where that wisdom shows up in your body. Your gut? Your head? Your hands? What happens physically when you imagine making certain choices? Notice.
And then acknowledge that wisdom. You've had it all along.