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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I've started going to church

It's a surprising development, considering my skepticism. But more than anything else, this has been a spiritual journey for me. Who woulda thought? Certainly not me.

One of the things I've realized through all the reading I've been doing (mostly Buddhism) and through participating in the S-Anon 12 step program is that spirituality has been missing from my life. I've always had to have every answer, to be completely self sufficient. My ability to figure out things, to anticipate and solve problems has been one of my most successful tools for survival. Even now, there is a part of me that has fingers on the buttons that will hermetically seal me off in a Bat-Mobile of self sufficiency.

But now I also see another possibility.

A few days ago I was exploring my resistance to forgiving Husband. I realized that the obstacle was my fear of being hurt again, and that I was resisting my powerlessness in this area.

Refusing to forgive, holding on to just a tiny bit of the past, feels like a safeguard against being vulnerable. Holding onto the distrust is my way of reminding myself not to let betrayal happen again. (There's that resistance to powerlessness!)

I realized that what there is to surrender, what I'm being given the opportunity to wake up to, is that whether or not I'm hurt or betrayed again is beyond my control, and in fact quite likely to happen again. Not something I really want to surrender to, but there it is.

I thought about what would happen if I were betrayed so deeply again, if I ever again felt such deep and raw pain. What would happen if the world as I know it proves profoundly false, lets me down, doesn't meet my expectations / fantasies once again?

The answer that came was that I'd have to face that unbearable pain and surreal disorientation. And that I'd have only myself and the community I've created to support me to help me get through it.

That answer surprised me.

I've never felt community before, let alone thought about getting support from any kind of community. Mostly I've seen myself as very isolated and alone, with the few bright exceptions of 3 or 4 very close friends. I'm the one who helps others, not the recipient of help.

What I've come to realize is that community is there if I open up to it. I've learned that I don't have to have the answers. I don't have to always be the one holding it all together, handling everything when others can't. I can be human, I can be lost, I can be wrong and fallible without becoming unforgivable, I can have messy, even irrational feelings. And when those things happen, there can be a community of people there to hold me, nurture me, hear me, comfort me, and lift me up.

I don't have to do it alone.

As an only child of very young parents, I think I learned a lot about self-sufficiency. And growing up in a family where "bad" feelings were immediately squelched out with love or the withholding of love, where anger was frosty and tight lipped and a lot of communication was indirect, I learned how to deal with things internally instead of reaching out. But now that I'm an adult can I see other options. And acknowledging a power other than myself, a god of my understanding, even if I don't have a clear definition for what that is, seems to turn out better for me than trying to hold it all together alone.

Surrendering to the unknown, embracing the impermanence of life, facing that moment by moment without taking refuge in my intellect, cynicism and skepticism...that is a spiritual experience.


RockiBottom said...

I have been struggling with this very thing myself. I've always been a bit skeptical. now though, I read how people are getting through so many things I am dealing with all with the help of religion and their faith. I have been trying to decide for months whether or not to go to church.

FI0NA said...

You are so smart there is so much good stuff in here. I totally identify with that odd feeling of disorientation that what happened in your marriage gave you. Me too.