It has taken me quite some time to write my first post since I decided to start to write in this blog again. Trust me I have started so many posts but they seem to loop into another thing and before I know it they are not putting the message across in the way that I want to now. I will say before I go any further that these posts will help some people, they will not help others and they will anger others. I can only write about what I have learned over the years since infidelity hit our lives. In fact I should say what WE have learned, from the path that it took us down.
So why have I put a picture of one of our beloved Welsh Terriers in a blog designed to help people to move forward in their lives when infidelity has come into the equation. (Trust me I am choosing my words carefully because I know now that it is only part of an equation, it really is.) I have put this photo into my blog because she is part of the reason that I have delayed in writing again on this blog. In late July, suddenly from nowhere (sound familiar), Wiglet was diagnosed with a tumor that is terminal and will one day take her from us. It blindsided us and you can read about how it impacted on us in my other blog How we coped and started to process this massive change in our lives got me thinking how the affair all those years ago gave us the mechanisms that we needed to do this, and so I decided to write my first post about loss, and what I have learned.
The first thing that I learned was that loss and change are one and the same. When we lose something, be it a beloved member of our family, or our life as we knew it, which has happened to us again after Wiglet’s diagnosis, there is inevitable change. I howled in the first week after diagnosis. I knew from our dealings with infidelity that I couldn’t change it but that I must grieve for it. Although she was still with us the life we had before diagnosis was gone, in the blink of an eye. Yes I used my experience from my other losses to deal with it, I allowed myself the tears, I understood there was no going back, I had the cards we had been dealt with and I had to grow from them.
Infidelity taught me that we have no choice, no matter how much we fight it, no matter how we want life to ‘go back to what it was before’, it won’t because it is not possible. We have lost what we had and we cannot get that back. And I stress this because when someone discovers that their partner or spouse has had an affair, be it emotional, sexual, and all the other things in between, all we want it is for it not to have happened, all we want is for it to go away. I hear people say so often that they just want ‘back’ what they had. Whilst I understand why they feel that way in that moment, I also know that people say it years later. They are stuck on their grief spiral and refusing to accept that you can’t go back. Loss is exactly what is says: It’s gone. Accepting that is essential, but acceptance if for another blog.
I learned very quickly after the affair that I could not go back to what we had, I had I learned that what we had was not what I thought we had at all and I didn’t actually want it back. I grieved as we all do for that life we lost. I grieved for the person I was, but without even realising it I moved forward and I became stronger, and over time I realised that every loss could make me stronger, help me understand life.
When we sold our house in Kent, a house I truly loved, I grieved for that house, and all the good times we had in it, as well as the bad times during the affair. It was eight years after the affair and I wanted to have an adventure, I wanted to move to France because I knew that I could learn from that experience. The loss of the life I had before the affair had given me the confidence to not be afraid of change, to let things go to make new paths and new experiences. I would not have done that if the affair had not happened. I could not stop life moving forward, she was going on and I could either go with her or I could be dragged along with her and have no choice, and no influence on my own life. It was going to change simple as that. That is life.
As the years have passed I have realised that what happens to us is part of our map of life. I read ‘The Road Less Travelled’ and more recently ‘The Alchemist’ and no matter how painful it was to grasp I realised that the affair had happened for a reason (I know that is going to hurt some people.) But you see if RD had not had an affair I would not have moved back into my career, I would not have read the books that I have read, I would not have looked at myself and come to realise that I had been a people pleaser, and co-dependent on friends over the years and ultimately RD. I would not have realised that people can actually become co-dependent on their careers, but I did. I will write about co-dependency on another post because it is a big issue and it is difficult to grasp it’s scope. The loss from the affair gave me confidence to accept change, it gave me the understanding that change was going to happen whether I liked it or not.
Over the years I have read many books to help me get to where I am today, and I will share them with you in my future posts. Recently I have been reading a book called ‘The Grief Club’ by Melodie Beattie. It was strange because I was drawn to that book in a library I was browsing in, now I have bought it. Life told me to pick that book up just weeks before Wiglet’s diagnosis and despite the fact that I already knew that life is all about loss it still helped me immensely at that difficult time. It is called ‘The Grief Club’ because we all grieve loss throughout our lives, we are all in ‘The Club’ whether we like it or not. We grieve death, we grieve broken lives, we grieve changes in jobs, we grieve houses we leave behind even though we have chosen to leave them. We grieve the lives we had the day before when major event like infidelity occurs, or death, or illness.
I wrote a post in my other blog as I was packing up our beautiful house in France to move to Ireland. By the time we had come to the decision to move again we were not afraid of the change that it would bring. And that was because we had learned to deal with loss to such a degree that we realised that life is really all about learning to let go.
So in a nutshell here is what I have learned:
What you have lost cannot come back, not in the same format as it was before, that is lost, stop looking for it because it has been broken and destroyed, you will never find it. What RD and I have now is something we rebuilt, something new, something so very different to what we had before. You can rebuild, you can make new but it will not be what it was before. I would ask the rhetorical question: Would you want it to be? Honestly? To quote the fabulous Byron Katie ‘Is that true?’
I have lost count of how many times I now say to people ‘You can’t go back.’ I hear it said about so many things especially the old adage let’s ‘go back to normal.’ There will be change so you can neve go back,
For everything we lose a new thing will come into our life. Be it a new painful life with a new perspective that can make us stronger, to a new house, a new job, we could end up going to university or travelling or doing things we had never ever thought of doing in our lives and so on.
Where there is good there is bad, and where there is bad there is good. (The Tao te Ching) There has to be a balance, so it is inevitable that where there is loss something can and will be found. Where our old life pre-diagnosis of Wiglet was concerned we grieved it and then we found ourselves in a life where we treasure every moment, which we took for granted before, and we watched a little dog live her best life, every day. That has been a humbling lesson.
You must grieve your losses, allow yourself time to grieve and feel sad, I did this only recently I put into place all the things I have learned about loss, and letting go.
I truly believe that life is about learning to let go, and the hard lessons that are sent our way can help us with that, but only if we accept that. I know that will upset some people, but we cannot move through life without pain, and if people tell you that they have they’re either lying or narcissist’s.
If we hold on so tight to what we have it will be taken from us, it will change.
So I don’t know where you are in your journey in life, or in your recovery from infidelity whether it is with your partner or without them, I suggest that you get a piece of paper and write out what you have lost over your lifetime, and what you found as a result, without often realising. What did you learn from those losses, how did you use them to move forward? Use that, use what you have written, and what I have written to gain hope, because this too shall pass. If you let it.
Books I have read: The Grief Club Melody Beattie. The Road Less Travelled. M Scott Peck. Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life, Living The Wisdom of The Tao, Dr Wayne Dyer.
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