I find myself picking up my daughter from school and asking her two things. 1. How was your day? 2. What did you learn? I’m usually met with 1. fine 2. nothing. Sounds familiar.
I will never be the same woman I was before finding out my husband had an affair. I’ve changed. In most ways its good change – growth. In other ways the changes are maybe not so good, but I think at this point they are necessary.
My experience with the abusive ex changed me. I vowed to never be a victim again. I tried to maintain control of myself and everyone around me. If I could control everything, then nothing could hurt me. I put up a shield and let nobody in. Nobody saw the real me – hurting and screaming on the inside. I put on a brave front because I thought that’s what I had to do. Because of the loss of self esteem and worth from being abused, I didn’t think I deserved anything good. I didn’t fight for myself. I stopped loving myself. And then I lost myself completely. My defense mechanism was to shut down. I lived in that shut down state for a long time. Sure, I had times of happiness and pure joy. But deep underneath there was always fear. There were times the shield started to retract. But as soon as someone got too close or I felt like I was going to lose it all, the shields went up.
How my parents handled it affected me greatly too. We never spoke about him or what happened. Nobody beat him up. Nobody defended my honor. I didn’t realize until recently how much that meant to me. I said already I didn’t fight for myself. The fact that my parents didn’t fight for me contributed to how worthless I felt. They are my tribe. They were supposed to protect me! I know they did what they thought was best for me. I know that had my dad gone after him and ended up in jail it wouldn’t have helped. I know all that. But as a child, I wanted something. The message I received was that I wasn’t worth it. So I never fought for myself and what I wanted. I carried that with me for over two decades. I did not believe in my own worth and thus accepted treatment that I shouldn’t have.
The lesson for me is to cut that shit out. Be confident and self assured again. Remember my worth. I needed to learn that I can’t control everything. Hell, I can’t control ANYTHING but myself. I’ve learned that people will let me down. People will hurt me. People will disappoint me. But I am strong and will survive. Everything I’ve ever needed was within me. I am enough. I also learned that my husband isn’t exactly who I thought he was, or at least he wasn’t for a period of time. I learned my husband is capable of the most horrific betrayal. I learned how selfish he can be. I learned what a skilled liar he can be. I learned how broken he was. But I also learned he is capable of growth. I learned how much he’s loved me and how I couldn’t see it due to our poor communication skills and differing love languages. I’ve learned that we are capable of a deeper connection than we’ve ever had. We are capable of a greater love than we’ve ever had.
I know that in order to have the future I want, I need to move forward. At some point I have to stop questioning everything. At some point I have to let this pain go. And not even for him. Not even for us. But for me. I deserve to not live with a ghost. I deserve to be at peace. I deserve to appreciate and fully experience each day. Life is way too short to be unhappy. Life is also way too long to be unhappy. I have learned (and now believe) a healthier reality about myself. I am learning better ways to cope. I am learning to speak up for myself. I am learning to be more direct and less passive aggressive.
I am learning to live in the moment more. To enjoy today for what it has to offer. To be mindful and present. I am learning to stop looking in the rear view mirror. What yesterday has given or taken is already gone. All I have is this moment. I know that hanging on to anger and resentment and pain is hurting me more than anyone else.
I also know that a little more than a year in from d-day is pretty early still. I’m giving myself permission to feel what I feel when I feel it. I know that this roller coaster is far from over. The thought is exhausting. But time will pass. Its my choice to be happy and work towards growth and building something better. Or its my choice to be resentful and get nowhere. From day one I’ve chosen to rise above. I’ve chosen to build something better. To grow, whether or not I’m in this marriage. Its not easy . Its a choice every single day. I have to opt out of anger . I have to replace the thoughts of who he was then with who he is now (and who I’ve known him to be for so many years). Its so damn difficult to do when you’re still in pain. When the wound is not yet healed. I know that time does not heal all wounds. It’s what you do that brings true healing.