Monday, July 31, 2017
To My Betrayed Soul-Warriors
I know how exhausted you are. I know how your mind races from panic to fury to confusion. I know how you wish you could just go back to bed only to find that, when it's time to go to bed, you dread the silence and the darkness and loneliness. How, you wonder, am I going to make it til morning? And then, in the morning, how am I going to make it til bedtime?
I know because that was my life too.
In one horrible phone call, my suspicions were confirmed. And nothing was ever going to be the same.
I had three young children. I had work deadlines. I had volunteer commitments. I had a life. A life shattered by the discovery that my husband, the guy I thought would always have my back, had been cheating behind it. Had been endangering my physical health. Had been damaging my emotional and psychological health. Had threatened the stability of our entire family.
What the hell are we supposed to do with that information, right?
I could have kicked him out, which is what every made-for-TV drama would have told me to do. I could have looked the other way, convinced myself of something along the lines of "men will be men". What I did was fall apart, at least some of the time. I managed to pull it together for my children and their friends and teachers. I managed to put on a mask for trips to the grocery store and the occasional get-together with friends. For months, I was publicly fine while privately a mess.
My husband was the same. Though he had a messy work situation to deal with, thanks to his idiotic choice to cheat with his assistant, for the most part the mess was dealt with privately. And he had clients and meetings and something of an escape from me for eight hours a day.
I had enough work to distract me briefly but not so much that I didn't have time to simply sob or stare blankly at a computer, wondering what the hell I was going to do.
My mother, literally, saved me. Each day, we would talk and she would remind me, as often as I needed it, that I was strong enough, brave enough. I was enough. This was his failure, not mine.
I believed her enough.
And then, six months after D-Day #1 when I learned of the affair came D-Day #2 when I learned of all the others. And, three weeks after that, my mother, who guarded my heart, died suddenly.
I don't know how I made it through, only that I did. I held on to every word of wisdom and strength my mother had armed me with. I surrounded myself with the very few friends who knew what I was dealing with and who were fierce in their love for me.
I smiled for the camera and the interviewers and the crowds as I promoted my latest book. I tucked a bottle of anti-anxiety pills my doctor had prescribed for me into my bag, as I was increasingly panicked at the idea of showing up and pretending to be together and successful. I rarely took them. Having them was enough.
And I followed so many of the rules I espouse here. I was gentle with myself. I took care of myself. I learned to set boundaries to keep myself safe. I gave myself all the time I needed to figure out my next right step. When I fell apart – and I did – I picked myself up and forgave myself. I didn't know these rules on D-Day #1. I figured them out as I navigated my pain.
And you will too, my betrayed soul-warriors. If you believe in this truth: You are enough. Have always been. This is his failure, not yours.
And each morning that you awake to face the same demons that challenged you the night before, know this: I see how brave you are.