"We can never protect people from anything but we can give them a safe place to heal. We can build joy in the middle of madness."
~Eve Ensler, playwright, performer, activist and founder of City of Joy
Joy in the middle of madness.
If there is anything I wish for every single woman who finds herself here, it is that: joy in the middle of madness.
Maybe that joy comes from recognition. From reading so many stories that sound like your own. From recognizing the pain that, no matter how different the circumstances of our betrayal, feels like our own. There's so much power in that recognition. In that "me too" response. We are not alone. Not at all. And if these other women can go through this pain and heal, then so we can every single one of us.
It has been a long time since I felt that sense of defeat, that conviction that nobody had ever felt so stupid, so humiliated, so powerless to stop the hurt. But I know now that the community here is more powerful than the fear that we will never ever be okay again. The community here reminds us that we will heal. We will be okay again. We will be better than okay. We will feel joy. And this community, hopefully, even gives a little taste of that joy. In the middle of madness.
Maybe the joy comes from hope. From reading others' stories in which they share that they aren't where they were any more. That they don't cry so often. That the numbness has given way to a different pain, one that they can endure because feeling something is better than feeling nothing. That they laughed the other day at something their child said. That they met with a divorce lawyer and realized they were going to be okay. That the worst was the fear, not the reality.
Maybe the joy comes from time. From realizing that, contrary to all expectations, we're surviving this. Day after day. That we're healing incrementally.
Maybe the joy comes from the liberation of finally dealing with the truth instead of so many lies. That even if it has hurt like hell to know the truth, it's still better than that am-I-crazy feeling of living with deceit.
Maybe the joy comes from a partner who is able to support us through this pain. From being able to pull closer to each other and see each other's wounds and tend to our own in a way that's gentle and compassionate.
Maybe the joy comes from finally seeing that it's time to leave and that within that painful decision, there is an opening for so much more hope and joy down the road.
Maybe the joy comes helping others. From knowing that within our own healing is a blueprint for others. That we can share what we've learned and leave it to others to take from our story what works for them and leave what doesn't.
I know not all of you can see the joy on this site, especially when you first arrive, shattered and frightened.
But I promise you it's there. I see it every day. I see it in the compassionate voices that chime in to acknowledge each others' pain. I see it in the way we hold each others' stories as sacred. I see it in the way we can laugh at Stupid S#*t Cheaters Say. In the way we cheer each other on, whether their choice in responding to betrayal is like ours or not. In the ingenious ways we help others like us, such as the woman who purchased a gift card for running shoes for her therapist to give to a betrayed client who needed help finding her feet.
We all learn through this that we cannot protect people from what happens to them. We learn we couldn't even protect ourselves. But we can give others and ourselves a safe place to heal. And we can find joy there.