I have a few friends who are in the trenches right now. Experiencing betrayal on the most intimate level and the emotional roller coasters are really rough. While it’s hard to watch your friends be in the depths of despair and wrought with trauma, I also know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, though they’ve got to be ready to receive that message so rather than be a cheerleader, I choose to support and love from a distance and remember that this is why I started this blog.
One of my friends is already climbing the mountain out of despair and has found her big girl panties and is killing it. Absolutely KILLING IT! The other is just beginning the fight of whether to stay or go. It’s an agonizing feeling trying to decide what to do when you need to decide if the marriage is over yet or not. Sometimes we wind up doing CPR on a marriage that is clearly DOA but we just can’t let go of the idea of……us.
I remember when I finally chose me….made the decision that I was the only one who could save myself and my ex husband was pulling me down on his sinking ship so I had to chose myself over what I thought our marriage was going to be. I remember how badly it hurt, it was like half my skin, muscle, tendons and ligaments were being peeled away and I was helpless to stop the pulling. I had to let myself be raw and half a person for a little while. It was agony. Absolute agony.
Of course now that I’m almost four years away from that pain and agony I can look back on it and see it for the teaching experience it was – because honestly we don’t learn the important lessons from the easy stuff, it’s the really hard crap that teaches us the life lessons that matter most.
I remember walking around like a zombie for the first year. I threw myself into work and was recognized as employee of the year that year because all I wanted to do was not be home, alone with my pain. So I stayed as busy as I could. That’s what I do when life throws intense amounts of crap at me and I’m stressed to the point of being FUBAR (f’d up beyond all recognition) I throw myself into work and am the Energizer Bunny. I remember that year being fueled by Pinot Grigio and an anti anxiety medication to sleep. It was agony.
Slowly it began to ease up and I began to smile once in a while. I still had that gaping hole where half of me used to be, but I remember the day I woke up and realized I’d gone a full day without thinking about my ex husband and I knew I was beginning to rebuild that missing part of myself….with me. I was healing. Grief isn’t linear of course, so there were setbacks along the way, an anniversary, a milestone with our kids, a birthday where it was just me doing the heavy lifting because he’d already skipped town and had ghosted his kids. What kind of a man does that? I mean, really.
So I want to look at my sisters who are suffering and hold them gently – metaphorically of course because – social distancing, and assure them it will be okay. The decision to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you try to save someone else is a hard one. Sometimes you have to choose yourself over the one you’ve been carrying all these years. It’s incredibly hard to make that choice but once you do there can’t be any looking back. It’s got to be for good, especially if there has been extreme betrayal. CPR can’t save a DOA relationship. Know when to call time of death.
What it comes down to is we have no control over anyone but ourselves. We can’t force change on anyone but ourselves. We have to do the work on ourselves and hope the person were in love with has the desire and drive to do the work on themselves as well.
When we have committed to a relationship or marriage and there is the ultimate betrayal…sometimes more than once, there is a choice to stay and fight or give up on your dreams, your vows, your responsibility to your family and what you thought would be. It’s honestly like chewing off your own arm. You know you’re going to be utterly helpless and it feels hopeless for a time. There is hope though, my friends. There is always hope.
You will find your strength again, you will regain your Mojo. You will learn to greet the day with a smile and excitement for the future. You will heal and you will someday realize you’ve gone days without thinking about your ex, your marriage and how it ended, or how it became something else.
I can talk about my ex husband, see photos of him, memories can pop up on Facebook that of neglected to delete and it doesn’t hurt. It feels like another lifetime ago and that woman who was married to him is a woman I don’t recognize anymore. I am better, stronger, wiser than she was. I have a thicker skin and a sharper tongue now, taking zero crap and setting healthy boundaries in my love life and friendships. I discovered what I’m worth and won’t settle for less ever again.
To the women I’ve watched writhing in agony and heart break, I have your back. I will listen, I won’t tell you it’s all going to be ok (but it will) and will sit quietly with you in silence while you cry, cuss like a sailor or sleep the sleep of the depressed, drunk or as one of the women accurately described, completely paralyzed.
You will be ok. You will survive. You will find those fresh big girl panties and you will pull those knickers on and kick butt, take names and be an even more awesome version of yourself. You will shake off the dust of the past and throw your shoulders back, hold your head high and put on a fresh coat of fire engine red lipstick and walk out into the new world with a new found self respect and self love. Don’t you doubt for a second what I say is true.
You will get better. The hurt will fade. The memories won’t sting as much. You will desire to find love again. You. Will. Survive.