It’s been 34 days since I found out my husband had been cheating on me since last May. It’s really quite incredible how much can occur in a mere 34 days. And it’s even more amazing how much one can process and grow after experiencing trauma.
I learned that I am capable of emotions I didn’t even think were real. I’ve learned that I am capable of choosing how to digest life. I’ve learned that I can have completely different answers to the same questions, depending on the day, and sometimes the hour, and fully believe that each answer is accurate, though they may be polar opposites. I’ve learned that I can be forgiving in a situation I once judged the heck out of and I’ve learned that PTSD can come in moments as simple as receiving an email notification.
I’ve been uplifted by my community, showered with generosity at levels that have made me cry, been hugged and supported more times than a person should need in just 34 days. I have felt genuine and beautiful love from people who were complete strangers 6 months ago and caring, sweet concern and love from people I’ve known since childhood. My immediate family has rallied behind me, showing me unconditional love by just being there to listen.
I broke my hand and have felt no physical pain, yet experienced emotional pain that cut through my soul. I’ve laughed wonderfully one minute, then ugly cried the next minute. I went from wishing my (ex) husband were dead to hugging him and crying with him, and trying to be empathetic with him about his pain.
All in 34 days.
The 27 or so hours that occurred between this last Thursday night and Friday night were some of the most difficult yet. The mindset I’d chosen after coming back from North Carolina this last Monday has treated me well. I liked the space I was entering. I felt mentally and emotionally strong.
And then something happened that triggered my (ex) husband, something that caused an interesting array of feelings to suddenly appear.
You see, in order to do what he did to me, his head space was such that he didn’t love me anymore. Because no one who actually adores their partner would ever do something like that, over and over again, for almost a year. He didn’t even care about me.
Or so he thought. He realized, late Thursday night, early Friday morning, that he does care about me deeply. He may still love me. And has been consumed with self-hatred, regret, and shame since. He’s finally feeling a fraction of the hurt I feel. He’s discovered empathy.
This has been so hard for me.
You don’t stop loving your husband immediately when something like this happens. Perhaps some people do, but I sure didn’t. He’s a good person, he has a great heart, and he’s the father of my child. So, I had to shut down that love. I had to turn it off. It’s not that I’ve fallen out of love, it’s that I had to bury the love in order to maintain a semblance of sanity.
I also stopped focusing on the pain of the betrayal. I buried the person he was to me. His role as husband was officially dead. Instead, I chose to consciously see him as the person he is to me – still the father of my child and someone who has all the potential to be a great friend. By changing his definition, by choosing to focus my thoughts differently, is how I’ve been able to gracefully move forward. My newly constructed mindset is still quite fluid, though. I’m still grieving, and some days, living through those day to day moments is still a struggle. I am very much still in survivor mode. I’m just here for the journey, riding the wave until the seas calm.
And then the full realization of not only his actions, but his feelings he’d buried so deep, come boiling to the surface, exploding out in such an emotional burst, that it took us both by surprise.
How do I process that?! This doesn’t fit in my nice little mindset frame that I built.
So, yesterday I tried handling it by working out until I was stupid (does anyone else turn dumb after intense workouts?? Is that a thing? Seriously, inquiring minds want to know…), because feeling physical pain and exhaustion is far easier to comprehend than emotional pain and exhaustion. And today I worked out again, pushing my body to its limits, causing me to feel that euphoric high that occurs when you crush a goal.
And you know what? I’m processing it all much better today.
Add that to the list of things I’ve learned in the last 34 days: having a healthy outlet to turn to when the emotions just get too much is life saving. Without exercise, without the community at my gym, I don’t know where I’d be. Having a healthy response (exercising) to wild emotions helps keep me from *accidentally* breaking my bones. I know, a shocking concept, right? *eyeroll*
After my last workout of the day today, my head felt less foggy, my emotions less erratic. My mindset has changed a bit – again – focusing now on the hope that through this pain and trauma, both of us will become better people. We can’t change the past, the choices that were already made, but we can surely focus on becoming better humans. We can both choose to move forward with grace.
David Crosby wrote about pain that was beautiful, really. He said, essentially, that “your pain is changing you.” There is no doubt that this pain is changing the both of us.
This chapter of my life is a full on storm filled with blinding pain and, therefore, an abundance of opportunities to show grace and compassion. I feel that I am a completely different person today than I was 35 days ago. At first I was sad when the old me died, as she was very good to me. Now, in just this short period of time, I’m finding I love the new me even more. Already.
Imagine what 68 days from now will look like. A full year. I don’t know why I’m on this path but there is a purpose to it. Nothing happens to us by accident.
So I, as best as I can, now embrace the trauma. I am grateful for the pain. Without the last 34 days, I would’ve never been who I am now becoming.
We all live through storms, some of our storms are more like a Cat 5 hurricane, some just a quick thunderstorm passing by. One is not greater than the other, all storms come with moments to embrace the ugly and hurt and turn it into something beautiful.
We just have to frame our mindset to see the beauty, rather than the pain. While I fully acknowledge that this isn’t possible all the time, I’ve learned that mindset is everything. We paint our world with our thoughts…and then have to live in that world. Why not make it full of rainbows and butterflies?
So, as you navigate your storms, both present and future, choose your thoughts wisely. As will I.
And always remember, we are all stronger than we think. We all have the ability to overcome.
My strength, currently, comes from reflecting on how much has happened, how much I’ve changed in just 34 days. It gives me hope for the next day, as that is all I can focus on right now. This storm has already lessened in its intensity and I know I’ve already grown exponentially.
I have hope for tomorrow again.
And it’s only been 34 days.