The Cloth of Life

I used to read my son a bedtime story many years ago. It was called ‘The Cloth of Life’ and it was designed to teach children how their actions, and what happened to them all became woven into the fabric of what was their life’; all those deeds would be something that they carried with them throughout their lives.

So a while ago I listened to a Ted talk that reminded me of this story. It was given by a lady who was talking about bereavement and it really resonated with me; because in it she compared the loss of her husband, child and Father, in close proximity to each other, as threads of her life and explained how she would carry them with her throughout her life.

In the talk she said that she had remarried and how people would say how pleased they were that she had ‘moved on’, that she had ‘got over it’. She asked the question ‘ how do you ‘get over’ someone dying? Or ‘move on’, as if you were leaving them behind.’

She explained that she saw her late husband and the years they had spent together, with all their experiences and the children they had created, as a thread of her life; as was her late child and her late father; as threads they had become woven into the cloth of her life that she carried with her. The experiences that she had shared, the pain that she had felt on their parting, the laughter and the tears were all things that contributed to making her the person that she was: they made up her fabric of life.

It got me thinking how this applies to all things that happen to us in life: leaving houses that we love, leaving jobs, leaving friends behind, making new homes, going forward in new careers, making new friends; all of them are threads: the past and the present all woven together to create our cloth of life.

Not least in this is heartbreak; and especially where infidelity is concerned: because after infidelity there is grief: we grieve for what we have lost, we grieve because, although we may recover, what we had before is gone, we feel that immense pain.

In some ways it’s harder, because we grieve for all our memories that we now believe to be a lie, all the tainted photos that we can no longer look at. We doubt ourselves, our intuition, and I know I hated myself for lying to myself.

When I listened to this lady talk, especially where she said that people ask if she was ‘over it’, or had expected her to ‘move on’, it reminded me of how often this is expected of those who have been betrayed. In fact also of the betrayers, after all they’re not allowed to be upset, or bereft for what they threw away, because they did it to themselves right? They got what they deserved?

When in fact this huge, massive, what can be soul destroying and life destroying event, where all that went before is lost, is a thread that is woven into our lives: you cannot ‘move on’ from it, because it will always be with you, you cannot ‘get over it’ because it is not an obstacle in your way; it is part of your life. And learning to live with it and accept it is another thread (a strong one) that will hold your cloth of life together.

I know that many people’s expectations of those who have been betrayed are that some day you will ‘get over it.’ I don’t believe you do. But I do believe that only you can choose whether to weave it into your cloth of life or wear it like a sackcloth.

I learned that new memories could be made, and that as they were, over time I would be able to revisit some of the old memories with fondness again. I learned that photos are a moment captured in time, and that in actual fact the most important moment was here and now. My intuition became finely honed, and I never ever lie to myself again, because I learned that the only person I can ever truly trust is me, and I have to always respect that, another thread.

I do believe that the most painful lessons are the ones we learn the most from, if we allow ourselves to.

At the very beginning, for me, I was never going to let it beat me. For probably the first three years one of the driving forces was that I was never going to let ‘her’ beat me. But as time moved on that changed, and I realised that I had learned so much, changed so much. I had started reading philosophy and all that entailed and I knew that would not have happened if ‘The War’ had not broken out in my life. It was the hardest thing I had been through, but it did not define me; it was a contributing factor, but not all of me. In fact if I held on to the thought of ‘her’ beating me then ‘she’ would have, ‘she’ would have become a thread, and I didn’t want to weave that into my cloth.

Where ‘moving on’ is concerned: with infidelity yes I believe you do move on, you have to; but the difference for me where this grief was concerned was I could abate it by building something new with what I had, and adding new threads to my cloth: understanding, acceptance forgiveness. Where my late mum and dad were gone, and all I could take of them was their memories, and what they had taught me, still important threads never the less.

Someone told me many years ago that I should burn my ‘mad journal’ one day, releasing it and letting it go. I told them I would never do that because that journal enabled me to be the person I was, it was a thread in my cloth.

I was right because I now use it to help all the people who read this blog, and my book. The very people who message me from all over the world to say ‘thank you’, and tell me how it has helped them to know they are not alone in their madness, and that I give them hope. They don’t know it but that adds another thread for me: to encourage others, to share, to not be afraid.

I learned not to fight what had happened, it was a fight I was never going to win. I learned that this was a lesson, which would teach me so much, and would be forever with me, as all lessons should be.

So when people tell you to ‘move on’, or ‘get over it’ tell them you will never be able to do that, but you will weave it into your cloth of life, and use it to make you stronger.


Making This Better the book is now available including the journal entries for the first 5 years of our recovery & the whole 21 days of ‘The War’. Available internationally in paperback and ebook  at Amazon and Barnes & Noble also available at Xlibris and Apple Books for iPad and Waterstones Bookstores for click & collect


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