"You go on by doing the best you can. You go on by being generous. You go on by being true. You go on by offering comfort to others who can't go on. You go on by allowing the unbearable days to pass and allowing the pleasure in other days."
~Cheryl Strayed, from "The Obliterated Place" in Tiny Beautiful Things
The first person I called was my mother. I don't remember the words I used to tell her I'd just found out my husband was having an affair. But I do remember asking her how to go on. How to go on when I'd just found out the person I'd built my life with was a liar. How to go on when my entire world felt shattered. How to go on when I couldn't imagine getting through the next five minutes, let alone the next week, or month, or year, or lifetime.
So many of you arrive here, on the shores of the Betrayed Wives Club with that same question: How to go on. So many of us are surprised by the depth of our pain. We might have imagined anger. We might have anticipated hurt. But this existential agony? This inability to imagine a future for ourselves free of pain? How does one prepare for that?
We cling to the experts who tell us that it takes anywhere from three to five years to heal from betrayal. We remind ourselves of the stages of grief. We look to those ahead of us who promise us that healing will come. But still...how? How to go on?
Strayed's advice is wise. "You go on by doing the best you can." Some days that "best" might be pulling the covers over your head. It might be sitting in your car sobbing after work. But other days...other days it might be noticing that the birds have returned outside your window. It might be laughing at something your child said and realizing that you had a split second where you weren't consumed with fear of what's next.
"You go on by being generous. You go on by being true." We can let betrayal make us bitter. It's all too easy to allow our anger to consume us and color the whole world black. But anger is hurt and fear wearing false armor. Anger needs your attention, absolutely. But we go on by acknowledging the hurt and fear we feel...and then being our better selves. Being generous with ourselves and those around us. Being true to ourselves and those around us.
"You go on by offering comfort to others who can't go on." This site, this "club" of me-too warriors of betrayal, has given me so much. Every day I'm struck by the kindness of all of you, the compassion with which you respond to each others' pain. By extending that hand to another, we strengthen ourselves too. By comforting each other, we heal ourselves.
"You go on by allowing the unbearable days to pass and allowing the pleasure in other days." Feelings are not facts. None of us will feel this pain forever if we take the steps to heal. We can endure the pain, knowing that it will pass.
How to go on? We go on by trusting in our ability to get through this. We go on by knowing that we don't deserve this but that many of us face pain in our lives we don't deserve. We go on because the alternative is to not go on and that's a permanent response to temporary pain.
We go on because life is beautiful and exquisite and pain is part of that. And pain can be forged into healing that contributes to our wisdom and our compassion and our own beauty.
We go on.