Since sharing our story I interact with many people: on the blogs that are listed on the side of this blog (of which there are many that can help you), on Facebook; and I am part of fantastic tribe on Twitter: supportive, and honest with each other. Most but not all are struggling through the pain of infidelity. I have to be honest and say that I no longer have that pain. I can look back on the woman who wrote my journal years ago and I can feel her pain today; I can read other’s stories and my heart cries with them because I know the pain they feel. I read of people in desperate need of help: anything and something that will make the pain go away and I understand their despair:
You never forget it; as I have written in my book and on this blog it is a contributing factor that defines you in the here and now; and so it should.
But….I truly believe that to move forward understanding what you want is likely to change as time goes by and you need to embrace that and not be afraid of it. Your expectations have to be realistic: you cannot go back (and I would question if you were honest in the years to come if you would realy want to); if your partner has left then you have no control as to whether you can get them back; and if you have decided to reconcile it won’t be what you had before.
I learned over the years that for me the most frightening thing of all was that things may change, I may change to such a degree that my love for Rich would go and I would walk away. I knew that by finding myself it carried a high risk of us not surviving and I was afraid of that. But I also learnt that I had no choice: I had to move forward and that meant that I had to face whatever changes came my way because I had no option. Change was here, and more change was coming and I couldn’t stop it.
So I thought that it might be helpful if I gave you an idea of the path I followed to get to where I am today.
At first I was shell shocked: My marriage had been happy, we were holding hands in the supermarket the morning of the day of the dreaded BBQ Read about Dday here.
When Rich didn’t come home after the crap had hit the fan; and then returned to just collect his stuff, took up a tenancy of a house with ‘her’, it felt as if I was floundering in a parallel universe to the life I had been living: nothing made sense.
Whilst Rich was building a life with ‘her’ I was broken but as each day went by I found myself again. My strength came back because if you my back up against a wall and I will always come out fighting: I left Rich with no money, cancelled his car insurance, bagged up all his stuff, sold his bike, started divorce proceedings, got a mortgage in place, changed the locks on the doors and lost nearly two stone in weight: all in three weeks. I have a strong personality I was not going to let it beat me. But more than anything I kept my dignity, I did not get dragged into the daytime soap opera that was going on every day: I truly started to find myself again.
At first thought I needed Rich to return just to get some equilibrium back; to bring my life back down to earth to enable me to get my strength back before deciding what to do. As my sister Beth said ‘I wanted you to have him back so that you could make up your mind and if you left it would be on your terms.’ But when Rich came back that changed and I thought that it would give me back what I had before: I thought that was what I wanted. But in just a short space of time that changed again and I didn’t actually know if I liked Rich at all, or whether I actually wanted him back, or us back. Of course as time moved on that changed again because I realised that you can’t go ‘back’, in fact ‘back’ is not in the equation where infidelity is concerned.
My ego dictated that I hear everything: know everything: so that I was in control and would not be made a fool of again; and I nearly drove myself insane trying to do it. Read here
As I started to get stronger I got promoted and earned more money (because sorry but the reality is still there irrespective of our grief), regained confidence in myself; I did truly find myself; but as I did so I became acutely aware that as a result there was a high possibility that I may leave Rich behind; and I was afraid of that.
When the tears came back time and time again, over months and over years, I decided so many times that I didn’t want this life, it was too hard: I wanted to walk away because it would make my life so much easier. But when the demon told me to leave I screamed at it so many times in the car that I lost count of how many times I told it to fuck off! Because I had changed my mind again and I didn’t want to leave Rich I didn’t want to throw away what we had.
I hit Rich, I hurled the phone at his head and one time I found myself walking away from him and hiding in someone’s front garden under their hedge! WTF! I wondered what my life had become. I did so many things to him for revenge that I made him ill, and as I changed I really wish I hadn’t done those things, and I became responsible for Rich’s mental health; we had changed again moved on to something new and I had a responsibility in this new relationship.
I howled in pain when after eighteen months of recovery it all came and bit me on the arse again, at that moment I decided to call it a day. But in the cold light of day I changed my mind again.
I put coping mechanisms into place, but a lot of the mechanisms I had used in the past were not working and it was driving me insane. Little boxes
So I had to change my coping mechanisms, in fact I had to learn to stop being so stubborn and accept where I was, it was what it was.
listened to music, and it saved my life.
I started to keep a journal, mainly because I thought that Rich was an arsehole. But I was afraid of what that journal would show me: because once you have written it down you can’t take it back: it was how you felt it was there in black and white.
But from the very beginning when I started to write things down I started to see things clearly when I re-read each entry. I could see that we were both in pain; even though I didn’t think that Rich was entitled to be at the beginning.
I could see how I was the person with the stronger personality and I could see that if I wanted to stay it was ultimately going to be down to me whether we survived or not. But more than anything I could see that I changed my mind on a daily basis and it made me realise that I had to keep trying and let life just do the driving.
I came to understand that I was never going to know everything, because I wouldn’t believe it anyway. I changed what I needed to know; and I changed my attitude as I got stronger and realised that I didn’t need to know half of what I thought I did. In fact I got to the poit where I just didn’t care: the past couldn’t hurt the person I had become. I was going to make decisions up based on the here and now and not the past. I learned that I was never going to be able to control the future, or know everything about the past it wasn’t going to happen and I had to let it go.
I learnt to look at everything not just my pain: I looked at a man crawling on the floor whilst he sobbed read here and that was my here and now: If I was going to leave I was going to leave that broken man and not the arsehole who left me months before.
I realised why the coping mechanisms that I had used before had not worked: because I had not learnt from what had happened; I had just boxed up the emotions and this time they were not going to stay in those boxes. I had to learn to accept them: Accept what happened, accept that the demon would be waiting in my car, accept that the waves of grief would come back to wash over me months and years later, accept that I could not go back, accept that I could not control everything, accept that I could not know everything and only then could I truly move forward. Even if we had not survived I know that for me to have been happy I would have had to learn acceptance or bitterness would have just chewed me up and spat me out.
I listened: To old men and barmaids, to what life was showing me and I took on board every thing it said.
I learned that people make mistakes; and can be forgiven. I learnt what forgiveness was (for me it was to just not let it influence my life anymore).
But I also learnt that self-respect is a commodity and you should never lose sight of it (not ego) self-respect. I set boundaries and I made decisions about what I wanted in my life and I accepted at times that may mean that Rich and I would not survive. LIke I said I found myself and it was up to Rich if he wanted to step up to the plate.
I saw how Rich worked hard to keep me, he was contrite, and as a result I learned that people really can make amends. I saw the new and stopped letting it be tainted all the time by the past.
So when I started on this journey I wanted Rich back, then I didn’t know if I did want him back, and then we grew and changed and I did want the man that had evolved. I started my journal because I thought he was an arsehole now I don’t!
I wanted control of everything: Now I know that I don’t feel the need for control, now I want Rich in my life and I know that if I could go back and change things I wouldn’t: I have learnt too much.
I learnt to face my fears: that we may not survive, that I may leave Rich behind, that as long as I loved myself who gave a fuck about what anyone else thought about me having Rich back!
I have myself and that is the most important thing of all; I am just lucky that in addition I have somone that I want to share myself with.
Change is a frightening thing: you have to face your fears, you have to face them head on, there is no other way.