Life After Five Years

Life After Five Years

It’s been five years.

Really, it’s been five years, four months, two weeks and 1 day since the finely crafted lies of our marriage began to seep out until they were full blown rivers of filth.

But here I am. Whole. Healthy. With more love for myself than I ever dreamed possible, or knew I needed. More in love with the perpetrator of my pain than ever.  More confident of his ability to feel and to love and that it’s all directed at me. More able to receive love without apology or manipulation, and to love with grace and abandon.

Beautiful women of betrayal…it can be so. I am living and breathing proof that there is life ABUNDANT after betrayal for you. That there is the potential for something that is so much more than what your marriage looked like prior to finding out you were living with a cheater. It doesn’t matter if that betrayal came in the form of an on-screen lover, a chatting intimate, a sex partner or any other form.

First reality is – YOU CAN HEAL AND BE WHOLE. With or without his partnership in the process. If he won’t join you? Move on and move forward. Move to become all that you are created to be which I can almost promise you is way more than you’ve been able to see up til now.

Second reality is – YOUR MARRIAGE CAN BE AMAZING. But here are some caveats:

  • Your marriage will be totally new. There is nothing…NOTHING about my marriage that looks anything like it used to. Not the way we hear or speak or make decisions. Not the way we go to bed or spend money. Not even the way we eat. Or how we see, talk to and interact with our kids. It is new because we are new. Don’t be afraid of new. Think of a bad cut you’ve had and the festering and nastiness of its healing. But then think of the precious, blemish free skin that appeared after the last scab fell off. There may be a scar, but there is beauty and simplicity and clarity.
  • You cannot achieve this kind of marriage without both of you being totally in. No holds barred. No chains not willing to be seen and broken – yours or his. No secrets, no lies. There has to be full disclosure, a grieving process, new pathways forged. Your cheater must be all in. You must be all in.

There were days, weeks, even months that I wanted to quit. I wanted the pain to go away, I wanted to go back to life before cheating. There were hours of frozen fear and moments of rage. There were tears…oh, so many tears…and then anger that I had tears. There was denial of everything I’d ever believed about me. About him. About God.

But there was a steadfast promise that I made to myself: do the next right thing. Maybe it was just breathe. That was the next right thing. Or stay in bed for the day. Yup, there were days that was the next right thing. Journal all my deepest hurts and then force him to sit and listen to what I’d written. That was the next right thing. Go to the therapist. Just going…that was the next right thing. I took the big decision – “staying married” – off the table. I couldn’t think about that one way or the other. I just focused on the next right thing. And then those things began to string together to more and more and more right things in my own life. Since my spouse was open to discovering the path that’d gotten him to this place, he was also learning to practice the next right thing that was opening into a journey.

We had support. Therapists. Support group for betrayeds. (He went to support groups for cheaters). Online support through blogging. I wasn’t concerned about our marriage. I was concerned about surviving.

One day, I realized I cared about thriving. It came in gently, without fanfare. I realized I wanted more. More for ME. I’d learned so much. I was able to feel again, see colors on the trees and hear the birds singing. I craved it and almost felt like it was all something I’d never quite experienced before. My brain woke up from the deep, destructive patterns I’d lived in since childhood. And there was this man, this man who looked like the same guy that had brought so much pain, yet he talked differently. He moved differently and looked at me differently.

So now, the next right thing was paying attention to the possible. A Marriage intensive. Marriage coaching. Learning new ways to address old things. Two stripped bare, crazy-honest people that had a history, a jaded history, stepping into the next right thing. But now, doing it together.

Here we are after these five years, four months, two weeks and one day waking up every morning with more love for each other than when we’d closed our eyes. There isn’t a crevice of his being that isn’t open to me now, and no look can cross his eyes without me knowing the story behind it. He leans in to my moments of questioning or triggers, he embraces my inquiry into his soul. He caused the most incredible pain I’d ever experienced, and he works every day to love me with all of his being so that I can become unblemished. Ya’ll. It is so much more than any marriage I ever knew of or saw before. It is intimate, real, connected, passionate. And trusting.

I just wanted to share that it’s possible. Your complete, utter personal healing. To love and be loved fully. To live again.

All my love,

Susan

 

16 thoughts on “Life After Five Years

  1. It’s been seven months and two weeks for me and I really needed to hear this. Thank you for showing me that I’m not crazy for wanting to stay married to my husband despite his short-comings. We’re beginning to see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

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    1. Sweet Jeanine. I’m so glad you are here. You aren’t crazy. This reality is crazy and we are working hard to find equilibrium in the midst of crazy. But you aren’t crazy. Not for who you’ve been and who you are now. Find the present, press into it. And that light? Keep your eyes on it. I hope you stay in touch. Big hugs – xo

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    1. It’s amazing how growth comes out of conflict. How we grow? Can be utterly different. And sometimes we don’t even have the energy for growth – only salving the deep wounds. I hope you are doing well. Thank you so much for reading and responding. Big hugs!

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        1. It’s so true that loss creates a depth of ability to feel. I’m thankful he chose this path too – and there is no way our marriage would have survived if he’d chosen to go a different direction. I’m holding you in my heart. xo

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  2. So nice to hear your words of wisdom. I read your post to my husband for some much needed motivation. It is such a struggle for me still and it has been over 4 years. Trying to open up but still, I hold myself back. I am not sure how to get over this hurdle. I know he can feel my reluctance to truly move forward.
    Today is our 31st anniversary. I hate the day and all it represents to me now. All I see are the lies from the past. I know I should look at what the good is now but it is still peppered with such disappointment and disgust.
    Anyway, thank you for your words of hope and encouragement.

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    1. TBML…I understand. That moving to trust thing, complete and utter trust, is unfathomable and overwhelming. The crazy thing about trust is that it is built in the small moments (according to all the trust researchers…Shanti Feldham, John Gottman, Brene Brown). For me, HUSBAND’s willingness and ability to choose extraordinary honesty made an enormous difference. He offered me, without being prompted or required, windows into his thought processes…his triggers…and we were able to join together to battle the bad. Let me know if you are stuck – I really believe that you have the capacity for an outrageously abundant love/connection if, together, you can overcome the barriers. Big huge hugs to you both. xo

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