Wonder what it’s like to stay in a marriage after infidelity disclosure?
Two and a half years post-disclosure, and this is a small glimpse of the toll it’s taken and how it is (according to the ‘gospel of M.H.’).
It’s been 872 days since disclosure, and for about 400 of those days I’ve remained in neutral gear- just coasting. I’ve shed tears roughly 800 days of the last 872, and grown exponentially in the field of empathy for others.
I’ve also hid in my corner of the world for most of that time. Thinking that the fog would suddenly lift, and one day I would wake and automatically be healed from the pain. But it doesn’t work that way.
Like Elijah in the cave, I have had moments that I not only questioned the reasoning and value of my existence, I felt such despair that I wished for God to take me out. Yes, I had moments that I longed for death. During the initial phase of post-disclosure, a recurrent theme lingered in my head. “At least when I die I won’t feel this pain anymore.” That is not being melodramatic, nor figurative.
When life began to settle post-disclosure, and I moved from denial to acceptance, an ominous feeling shadowed my existence. This is by my own allowance. Granted, I did not cause the scars the prostitute inflicted onto my heart; I did however allow bitterness and apathy to replace my softness. I chose this, but could find no way to escape. Despite prayer after prayer, depression had taken a firm grip on my spirit.
A couple of weeks ago I had made a video journal, (enjoying one of my pity parties), crying and asking God why He doesn’t see fit to put me out of my misery (triggered by the J-Lo halftime show), when I decided to flip open my bible and read wherever I landed. That’s where Elijah came in.
I had landed on a story of a kindred spirit! 1 Kings 19:4. Elijah had asked God to take his life while he hid in a cave from Jezebel. (If you are unfamiliar with Elijah know he was a very righteous man of God – a prophet- probably one of the most honorable and righteous to ever exist).
Coincidence? Skeptics might say so, but I choose to believe it was a message crafted for me. In re-reading Elijah’s wish for death my guilt of pondering death lessened, and that mustard seed of faith was brought back into focus. Maybe, just maybe, if such a man of God can have a moment of questioning his existence and life, then maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself for doing the same.
It had been a vicious cycle of depression- guilt for being depressed – guilt and shame induced depression – anger for feeling guilty and depressed – hopelessness – then temporarily okay. Rinse, cycle, repeat.
But Elijah was granted not only grace for his human emotion of self-pity, he was given the means to move forward. He’d had a moment of insecurity. He was just a man – and I am just a woman, after all.
This is the hard part. I must step out of the cave I’ve made my comfort cocoon for almost 2 years.
I had let this event become such a headline for my life story, that I forgot all of the other important aspects and value I brought to the table as a woman, mother, friend, nurse, and child of God.
The “triggers” are different, and impact differently as time progresses, but they do lessen.
My biggest piece of advice to another that has uncovered infidelity – that I cannot stress enough is this: Do not isolate yourself. Whether you decide to stay married after infidelity, separate, or divorce – seek counseling. If you are going to stay married and your partner refuses to seek at least an intensive counseling weekend, I would make that a dealbreaker. And if you have to move forward alone, seek counseling for yourself. The belief that you can “wing it” will gradually smother your soul as you uncover that you cannot “wing it” at all. It’s unlikely you will progress in a healthy way if you go it alone.
Know that it requires work and it can be done, but time itself will not change you. Doing things, moving forward, is what will begin to change your life.
Author and speaker Barbara Sher talks about isolation being a killer. I have found this to be particularly true after infidelity.
If you have not seen her Ted Talk, I highly recommend it.
She also once referenced that whatever it is that we are put on this earth to do- whether it be write, create music, share a story, etc. that it is none of our business what happens with it, it is only our job to do it.
That’s what brought me here – sharing another small piece of my story and testimony.
I’m not looking for followers, recognition, or validation with my posts. Someone, somewhere, may just need to know that another human has experienced the same kind of trauma and pain and muddled through it.
Here’s someone making it – still within the confines of my marriage. Some days I want to quit, some days he wants to quit. The effort is immense on the bad days, but we are one couple still here and working on it.
Here’s to day 872- and another attempt at stepping toward the exit of my cave, hoping I eventually reach that light again.