Monday, March 6, 2017
The loneliness of the betrayed wife
It does an effective job of silencing us, of isolating us from exactly the support we need most. In that moment when we need an army around us, assuring us that we did nothing to deserve this, reminding us of our strength, and supporting us as we heal, instead we retreat.
We have good reasons, of course.
My husband's career depended, to some extent, on being trustworthy. While I recognized the hypocrisy of an industry rife with alpha males with mistresses putting on this public face of honesty and integrity, I nonetheless knew that an unemployed husband (or ex-husband if that was the route I took) would damage our whole family. So even as those around him worked to quietly remove his assistant with whom he was cheating from the office – an expensive maneuver – I kept silent.
I kept silent because his family would, likely, have either disowned him or humiliated him, neither option a good one. I recognized pretty quickly that their long-held judgement about others was a big part of why we were in this mess.
I kept silent because, for years, I had listened to the whispers about others. The knowing glances about a guy who was cheating on his wife. The snide remarks about why.
I kept silent because I live in the same culture as you all do – where I can't purchase bread at the grocery store without walking a gauntlet of magazine covers boldly proclaiming "BETRAYED" over some miserable celebrity's face. Infidelity as entertainment. Betrayal as gossip.
We pay a price for that silence. Aching loneliness. Paralyzing isolation. A lack of perspective. A toxic stew of self-recrimination, shame, fear, loathing.
We need to tell our stories.
We need community.
We need our soul warriors, our sisters. We are fighting at a level that others can't see, not for our marriages or our families but for ourselves.
We need witnesses to our pain.
We need midwives for our rebirth.
Loneliness stops here.
It stops the minute you Google "my bastard husband cheated on me and I'm dying here..." and up popps Betrayed Wives Club, "your kickass survival site".
It stops the minute you begin reading words that sound as though they formed in your own heart. Words about profound sadness, about anger, about fear and confusion and a hurt so deep we believe it will never go away.
It stops the minute you realize that you are not alone. Not at all.
There is an army of soul warriors – souldiers, if you will – fighting the same invisible fight that you are.
Betrayal is lonely business. But it doesn't have to be.
Somewhere we can find the courage to post our story. Somehow we can begin discerning which among our real-life friends can deliver the required compassion we need to help us heal. We can read how others have re-discovered a strength and a wisdom they never knew they had. We read their evolution, whether they stay or go, into women not afraid to value themselves, to be heard, to take up space.
We can pick up the phone and make an appointment with a counsellor. And make an appointment with a different counsellor if the first one says something stupid like "you need to learn to forgive him and stop dwelling in the past".
Betrayal is lonely when isolate ourselves.
Reach out for support.
Ask for help.
We are soul warriors and you are among us.
Not alone at all.