The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Why I stay

I've been asking myself this question again lately, and this morning had some clarity that allowed me to remember.

I've considered starting over. Leaving always seemed like the easiest option. But I realized early on that for me, leaving would actually be turning away from pain that I know I need to face.

I had a major betrayal when I was young. My father went on a camping trip with my uncle and my uncle returned alone with a message. My father had said he was very ill and was leaving the country to get treatment and that we should not try to find him.

I don't have many memories about this time, although I was twelve and should probably recall more. So I don't know how long it all went on. But I remember that my mother began to doubt his story. I was incensed! How could she think my father would lie about something like this? How could she have such thoughts? As a loyal and loving daughter, I dismissed her doubts with disdain.

Well, as it turned out, my father had gone to a commune in northern California to try to "find himself." He'd had a very stressful year, and basically had a nervous breakdown and left.

From my mother I have learned to be understanding, forgiving, reasonable. I've learned that many points of view are valid and to be considered. That's what she showed me how to do when my father came back.

But what I never learned, never had the chance to do, was have and express my feelings of hurt, betrayal and anger at my father. I had the absolute faith of a child in a parent, made possible by the love and security my family had provided up to that point. And he had decimated that, blown it way by lying to us in a way that I'd never imagined possible.

Secretly, inside, I swore that I'd never trust men again; never, ever need a man. I'd have power over them, be desireable, but always remain detatched. And I was good at this. I even told Husband that when we started our relationship. "I want you to know that I don't NEED you."

Over the years this fear gradually slipped away. Through my relationship with husband I learned that it was okay to trust people. But I'm also an absolutist. An all or nothing kind of gal. So trust is either absolute or absent. No room for human flaws and frailty.

So that's what I think I have the opportunity to face now. That we often hurt the ones we love. But that doesn't necessarily mean we love them any less.

There is no man out there that can make me feel good about myself, or bad about myself for that matter. Another lesson I face here is to learn to be the source of those feelings for myself.

By not turning away from the pain, by being with it, feeling it, and learning to express my reaction to it, I think I can strengthen all the parts of me that were hurt before. I can teach them that they are stronger than they realize. And I can learn love and compassion for myself beyond what my absolutism has allowed before.

This is why I stay. This is the hope that keeps me on this path.

On better days I can remember this.

11 comments:

Catherine said...

Your writing out your truth helped me to understand my own truth a little better - I really like your writing, thank you very much for sharing. Cat

better days are to come said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

For me too, leaving would have been the easier path -- but the one that led away from growth. Thanks.

Scribbling-Mum said...

I've been reading you for a while...:)
SM

davka said...

you know what you're doing and where you're going. your journey is compassionate and wise. i'm glad to have your blog to read and learn from.

Kellee said...

Just so that we're all clear, leaving is NOT the easier path. Sure it may seem that way, but for me, it couldn't be farther from the truth.

I know for me, my leaving has opened the door for me. Since my ex was not in recovery, there was no way I would allow myself to be either. You see, I'm all or nothing girl as well.

So because I left, I got a life back. And my crappiest days now are better than my best days with an addict.

Also, the final straw for me deciding to leave is when the pain of staying became greater than the pain of leaving.

Just a different perspective...

woman.anonymous7 said...

Kellee- I completely get your distinction, and it's such a good point I'm going to post about it because I would never want anyone to read my post and think that I'm suggesting that staying is always the better course.

For now it's the right course for me, but each situation is different and clearly your decision to leave was the right decision for you, because it's leading you to a better, stronger place.

Thanks for your perspective!

thejunkyswife said...

That was beautifully said.

ThisJane said...

oh my...I can identify with you in a way I couldn't express myself. Again, I am so thankful to be reading this...

FI0NA said...

That part about the black and white and intolerance of human weakness....that is me

Sophie in the Moonlight said...

This

Was

GOOD.

I can't say it much clearer than that. Thank you for putting so succinctly that which I know in myself to be true. Beyond my marriage, beyond my husband, there is me, and I know that the lessons I have to learn I will either learn in this marriage, or I will be doomed to repeat the mistake with someone else, and most undoubtedly an unknown individual who will assuredly be of less quality than the Man I have picked to be my mate.

I will be back to read more.