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I have learned ALOT about relationships. Marriage. Trust. Affairs. Betrayal. Pain. Devastation. Hopelessness. I’ve learned more than I’ve ever wanted to know. I’ve learned in a way I never wanted to. However, everything I’ve learned has allowed me to grow. I’ve changed. I’ve taken this disgusting experience and am doing my best to learn the lessons. And there are plenty. I needed to learn these lessons. Something in my marriage – and life- needed to change. I wish the lessons came another way. But they didn’t.

I’ve learned alot about myself. About my strengths. My worth. My value. I’ve learned to accept myself. Love myself.

I’m a believer that everything happens for a reason. Even if the reason never makes sense. Or it hurts. I try and take my pain and have it count for something.

Anyone who has read my blog for awhile knows I had an abortion when I was 15. Now, I still can’t figure out the lesson from having an abusive boyfriend at all, let alone so young. I do believe that me getting pregnant was the only way out. I had to involve my parents at that point. I hid the bruises and emotional abuse well. But I couldn’t hide a pregnancy. I truly believe that he would have sucked me down with him had I not gotten pregnant. He would have continued to beat me. Who knows what kind of injuries he would have caused. My experience with him was traumatic. Painful. Life altering. I was young and didn’t get the help I needed. I paid for it for a LONG time. He broke me down and made me feel worthless. I felt like a disgusting person. A monster. Who kills their own baby? That person surely doesn’t deserve love. After that, I expected anyone who loved me to hurt me and let me down. After all, he said he loved me. He attempted suicide more than once when I tried to break up with him. As I young, damaged girl I mistook that for love. My parents love me (and I know they do) but they let me down. They didn’t fight for me. They had suspicions that he was abusive but never confronted me about it. It was too uncomfortable for them so they just ignored it. I would have denied it, but at least I’d see that they did something. I  know that the abortion was for the best, but I wasn’t really given a choice. Most of all, I wasn’t given the help I so desperately needed. Both for the abuse and the abortion. I am not angry or resentful towards him or my parents. I don’t even really think about it much at all anymore. Its a piece of my history. I wish it didn’t happen. I wish things would have played out differently. But I can’t change one bit of it. All I can do is learn, grow and move on.

After that, I vowed I’d never be a victim again. So I didn’t let anyone in. I put up a wall that nobody could get through. I loved from a distance. I was so afraid of being hurt. I was afraid of intimacy. I avoided it. I tried to control every aspect of my life. I kept my emotions in check. I didn’t let them out. So much so that my husband (who I’ve been with for 22 years) had no idea I felt SO much. He truly thought I didn’t give a shit about anything, including him. I didn’t share the information about my abortion with him until two years ago. He asked me many times why I hold back. Why I don’t let him in. I will give him credit. He tried. He tried hard. For many years. Then he couldn’t do it anymore and gave up. And while it hurts me, I can’t say I blame him. We all have a breaking point. And he reached his. He did everything he could think of. Despite my vow to never be a victim again, I was. By allowing the past to dictate my present, I was a victim.

I’ve learned that his affair was about life long rejection on his part. I’ve learned that him feeling accepted isn’t my responsibility. Any more than my happiness or self worth is his responsibility. Yes, we can both take action and make each other feel those things. But ultimately we are responsible for our own mental health. We aren’t here to validate each other. How I feel about myself isn’t dictated by how he or anyone treats me.

My husband’s affair hurts like HELL. The image of his AP flashes across my mind and I think about her touching him. Kissing him. Fucking him. Did he kiss her the way he kisses me? Run his fingers through her hair like he does mine? Its torture. I think about him going to her with his problems. Telling her about me. Our marriage. Shit she had NO BUSINESS knowing. I think about the support he gave her. The compliments he gave her. The lies he told. The secret life he led. How he was involved with someone else while married to me. How he would shift between being nice to me and including me in his life to being an asshole and abandoning me and our daughter. I’ve re-lived every moment of the time he was involved with her and wondered if he was being an asshole because they had a disagreement. Or was she not fulfilling his need of being accepted at that time? Was he nice to me because things with her were going really well? Its a living hell. A hell that will NEVER make sense to me. I will never be able to fully grasp it. Because I didn’t chose to have an affair. Thankfully, these thoughts are less and less invasive. They are less frequent than they used to be. I don’t get stuck in them as much anymore. But they are there. They rear their ugly heads from time to time.

I know now what NOT being a victim looks like. Feels like. Its not saying there is no pain. Its saying, there is a shit ton of pain. But I’m still living. I’m not going to allow this pain to shut me down. Being a victim only hurts me. It keeps love out. It keeps the possibility of happiness out. I told myself early on, I would not be resentful. Angry. Bitter. That his actions would not define me or confine me. I know several women that were cheated on that have never recovered. They have never found happiness again. I make no judgement on anyone else and how they deal with their pain. However, I want more for myself. For my family. I want happiness. And while I have decided to stay with my husband – he isn’t where I’m going to find happiness. Its within me. If I’m not happy – he will never be able to make me happy. Yes, he can do things that make me happy in the relationship and make me want to stay. If he continues to cheat or just be an asshole, I have the choice to leave. But whether or not we are together – I’m in charge of my happiness. I’m in control of how I let his actions (and others) affect me. My therapist and I talk alot about choices. Just as his choice was to have an affair (wrong choice for sure), how I react and live my life from here on out is my choice. We’ve talked about people that never move past the pain (whether its affair, broken trust, childhood issues with parents, abuse, etc). I’m not minimizing anyone’s pain here (because believe me I know pain) but it really does come down to a choice. Every day. Sometimes more than once. Its a choice that you will not allow pain, or another person’s actions control you. It takes time. Practice. Patience.

We’ve all heard the saying “time heals all wounds”. Its a farse. Time alone doesn’t heal wounds. Its what you do with that time that heals the wounds.