I've always tried to live with this mentality: One day at a time. Unfortunately, when I implement it, I fail spectacularly. But for this particular moment in my life, that may be a good thing. Confused yet?
The pain I've experienced over the past six months has been nothing short of excruciating. I had days where I didn't get out of bed (thankfully, not many) and days when I thought the pain would never stop. I prayed for God to take it away, and sometimes, I prayed that I would just not feel anything at all. Numbness seemed a far better state of mind than the pain crushing my chest, of the way my stomach dropped to the ground at each new tidbit of information, of the searing torment of images playing over and over in my head.
But always in the back of my mind, God kept telling me, "This will get better. Give it time. Time, time, time."
So when I had those moments and those days, I tried not to live in them. I looked forward to the future, to a day where I didn't feel my world collapsing around me, didn't feel like my heart had been ripped to shreds, then taped together, then pulled apart again. And thinking about the future got me through those moments and those days and yes, sometimes those weeks.
I'm at a better place now, though most certainly not out of the woods. Time does, indeed, make a huge difference.
And through this whole experience, I've discovered that there are some things I can never enjoy again. I used to love watching the sitcom, Reba, but now I can't. Why? Because Reba's husband, Brock, cheated on her, then married his affair partner. The show centers around how Reba deals with this and unfortunately, her ex's new wife is always, always there. And the two women become close.
Nope. I can't watch it anymore. I want nothing to do with the other woman. She is not deserving of my time, my energy, or my thoughts. She is trash. Harsh? Not a bit. Decent people do not actively pursue married men. And married men do not allow themselves to be swayed. It's called being an adult. More people need to step up and and start taking their marriage vows seriously: To forsake all others as long as you both shall live. Those are not empty words you say to your spouse on your wedding day, in front of a judge or pastor, in front of family and friends. They are called vows. What is a vow? A solemn promise, pledge, or personal commitment. It's not something to treat with flippancy.
Hollywood seems to have a skewed and utterly disgusting narrative about affairs and cheating, that there must be something wrong with the faithful spouse that forces the unfaithful spouse to cheat. Nope. That is not how this works. The unfaithful spouse makes a choice. No one is putting a gun to their head to have an affair. It is a choice.
Other movies and TV shows think that it's somehow romantic to fall in love and have an affair. Romantic? No. It's destruction on a level comparable to a tsunami or a magnitude 10 earthquake. People's lives are not a game. Playing with feelings, with bonds and trust and fidelity, is not a game.
An affair wreaks devastation in so many ways. The wayward spouse threatens the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health of their partner. STDs? Mind games? Gaslighting? Lies? Manipulation? All of it and more becomes part of the injured spouse's narrative. Each one is like a knife being plunged into the heart and the back simultaneously, digging deeper and deeper. Families, friends, and most importantly, the children of this union are affected. It is indeed the ripple effect.
Affairs destroy your trust in people. It makes you second-guess everything. I look at life through a new lens now, a jaded, cynical lens. I still want to think the best of people, but that optimistic outlook has been severely curtailed. I have heard too many stories from other people whose spouses cheated on them to think that all of humanity is fundamentally good. There are evil people out there whose sole intent is to destroy other human beings. That we marry many of these people is the heartbreaking part.
But here's the important part of this entire, horrid debacle: I am stronger because of what I've went through. I have a resiliency in me, a dogged determination to persevere, that cannot be destroyed. I am a survivor. I refuse to live life as a victim, to let someone (like my ex) manipulate me, emotionally abuse me (yes, affairs are abuse!), lie to me, and treat me with disrespect. I deserve better.
Some day, I will look back at this period in my life and marvel at how I rose from the ashes and emerged stronger and more resilient than ever before.
He did not break me. He didn't have that kind of power.
I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net
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