My daughter has been conducting experiments (she calls them experience) at home lately. My last post was about a challenge to myself. An experiment. I challenged myself to focus on the positive in life. Focus on what is good instead of what is bad. Focus on the fact that my husband appears to be back to the man I fell in love with and isn’t the selfish ass that had an affair. Focus on what my daughter did on her own instead of what I had to harass her to do. The list goes on.
I did pretty good, until I didn’t. I scrapbook and need to develop some pictures. I was looking at our library on our computer and came across some photos that brought more questions. This is always what I’m afraid of. Stumbling across more details. More details that prove he’s still lying to me. I panicked. My heart started to beat out of my chest. I got shaky. My wound was ripped wide open again. A gaping hole. Bleeding out. Again. I got sucked in to the darkness. I fell down the black hole. The one good thing I did was call my therapist. She was able to squeeze in a phone call with me that day. And, man, did it help!
She asked some great thought provoking questions. She also stated (as did my other therapist) that in all likelihood, he has lied and/or is still lying about details – or at the very least omitting some. And there are more details that he doesn’t remember. For those of us not engaging in an affair, we think how could you NOT remember? You risked everything to have this relationship and you don’t remember? We feel that if they don’t even remember the details, how meaningful was this relationship that you destroyed me for? Obviously not very meaningful. Which is bittersweet. It wasn’t meaningful enough to remember the details. That brings a little bit of comfort. But then – wait – you betrayed me and destroyed me – for something that wasn’t even meaningful enough to remember! Its a no win situation. Its a trap. And I only hurt myself by picking apart the details. I know he lied. I know he cheated. I know he had sex with another woman while married to me. So how does knowing every little detail help me heal? They don’t. I torture myself with the details. It creates more triggers. But wondering sucks too. Again, a no win situation. I know all this. The question isn’t about his affair anymore. The question is, how do I move on? How do I let go of the pain? How do I stop the turmoil in my head?
I’ve come to accept that the little details aren’t that significant. I once read that details are simply facts. Facts are neutral. Its our personal interpretation of those facts that add meaning. For example, I found a photo that he took on the highway for the exit to Lodi, OH, she lives in Lodi, CA. My interpretation is that he saw that, took the pic, sent it to her with a note that he misses her, wished he was in Lodi, CA so he could see her, etc, etc, etc. He could have simply taken the photo and never sent it to her (although I find that highly unlikely). He could have sent it to her with no emotions attached. Could have been a “Huh, who knew there was more than one Lodi?”. Again, the details are neutral. What hurts is that he thought of her enough to take the fucking picture. That’s the real truth of why this picture bothers me. It doesn’t prove that their affair was more involved than he’s admitted. It doesn’t mean anything other than he thought of her when he saw the sign. I’m sure he sees other things that make him think of all kinds of people he knows. But that fact doesn’t stop the pain.
My husband thinks I am looking for a reason to leave. I already have a reason to leave. Him cheating is reason enough. Him lying and betraying me is reason enough. I’m looking for validation that staying was the right choice. That I’m not being played for a fool. That I’m not risking my heart again by choosing to stay with him. My therapist always reminds me that his choices aren’t my burden to carry. They are his. If I chose to forgive and reconcile, and he fucks it up – that’s on him. Not me. He knows I’m not giving another chance. I will walk away. I know what I bring to the table – and I’m not afraid to eat alone. I am not afraid of being on my own. In fact, sometimes I think walking away would be easier. But at the moment, it isn’t what I want. My choice has been and still is to stay. Commit. I have hope that we can have the marriage we’ve both always wanted. I have moments where I think we’re wasting our time. But I have more moments where I think we can do this.
I know that rough days still lie ahead. However, I can see progress. We are much more open than we’ve ever been. We’re communicating. He’s spending time at home with me, our daughter – and my dad. Yes, my dad is still with us (since January). My mom is coming on Thursday. They will both be here until the end of April. He’s not once complained about my dad being here. In fact, he’s spent a ton of time with my dad. More than I have. He’s gone out of his way to include my dad. We are doing things, small things, but they are building a new foundation. One we can continue to build on. We are voicing our appreciation for each other more. We are recognizing things more. We are being vulnerable more. We are both still scared. Who wouldn’t? I’m scared that he is still lying. He’s scared that I’m not capable of moving on from this and we’ll revert back to old ways.
Here’s the reality. I’ve made the decision to stay. I’ve made the decision to commit. I’ve made the decision to heal. And not just stay and commit. I don’t want our old marriage back. I want something new. Something better. Something more fulfilling. In order to truly accomplish that, I have to focus on today. I have to move on from the past. I have to focus on my goals. I have to focus on what I want for my future. I have to focus on self care. I have to focus on my confidence. I have to look at what I’m doing (ruminating, allowing my fears to control me, etc) and ask myself how its helping me. I have to trust myself enough to know that if he hurts me again, I will be just fine. I have to practice living in the moment. I have to allow myself to feel the pain, express it but I can’t live there. I have to use the tools I’ve learned to stop myself from being sucked in. I have to remind myself that his actions don’t define my worth. His choices were about him. Not what I am lacking. It takes time, practice and confidence. But most of all – its takes making the choice.
From the few people that I’ve read about that have thrived after an affair, they have one commonality. They view the affair as a catalyst for change. They don’t sugar coat how difficult re-building a marriage after such a devastating betrayal is. But they do have a focus on their end goal. Begin with the end in mind. How are my actions helping me achieve my goal? Sometimes I have to suck up my pride and admit I’m wrong or make myself vulnerable. Sometimes I have to suck up the unfairness of the whole situation. But, in order to build the marriage we’ve both always wanted – and are still sticking around for – we both have work to do. We both have to put in the effort. As much as I think its more fair – I can’t put all the work on him. It just doesn’t work that way. Not for us to have the marriage we want. Not for me to heal the way I want. I have to do the work too. Whether I’m in pain or not. Whether I’m angry or not.
So I guess my experiment of positive thinking wasn’t a bust. I was tested. I stumbled a bit. But I recovered and am trying once again to focus on the positive. The best part is, if I fail today – I can always start again tomorrow.