You've Been Cheated On: Now Stop Lying To Yourself
For me, the process of accepting that this was actually happening to me and to my marriage was a slow one. When you've never really considered something a possibility and suddenly it's a reality, it takes awhile to come to terms with life as you thought you knew it and life as it is now. It's a lot like walking along in a perfectly blue skied day and suddenly being caught up in a tornado, only to be quickly spit out in front of your own house, but it no longer looks like your house. Everything is in disarray. Everything looks different. The sky is blue again, the world is moving on, but you are standing in your front lawn assessing the damage that you don't even remember happening. Do you rebuild? Do you cut your losses? Those are the obvious questions, but the truth is, that you can barely even think about answering those questions, because all you can think about is how it happened. Dazed, confused and heartbroken, you sit down on the front lawn and become obsessed with figuring out how you got there. This was my experience with the whirlwind of infidelity. During my six years of figuratively sitting on the front lawn, obsessed with finding out how and why, I decided to rebuild the house, decided the house would never be the same, cut my losses and then started the cycle over again. During that time, I told myself a great many lies, but in hindsight, there were a few that really did a number on me. It's my guess that if you are dealing with a spouse or partner's infidelity that you are probably telling yourself one, if not all of these lies. These are the lies I wish I had never told myself, but I'm here to tell you that all it takes is a pivot of your thoughts to start to change the whole trajectory of your life, your confidence and your happiness.
1- YOU NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING
Dear, sweet baby Jesus, this is the lie of all lies we tell ourselves. Our minds race with scenarios and we think things like, "Wait, was he with her when he didn't answer my call?" We think that if we knew the answers to those questions that we would feel better. "Did you have sex with her in our house, in our bed?" That's a favorite because then....what? The affair is worse now because the betrayal happened in the bed you sleep in? Listen...I 100% get that the idea of another woman sharing your bed with your husband is absolutely horrifying and awful, but the thing is, whether they had sex in your bed, her bed or in the back of a Chuck E Cheese, it's still an affair. The difference is that now it just hurts more. For me, it was the cell phone records. While my husband had been visiting his brother in California, there was a night where he didn't text me. I was worried and text him several times, but no response. The next day I received an apology and a reason as to why he wasn't able to respond. A couple of months later, after finding out about this relationship and then looking at our phone records, I saw that he had found the time and battery life to text her what I assumed was a romantic goodnight message while I lay in bed worrying. I will never forget that feeling. It was like the earth gave way and I started to sink. When I was a kid, after watching Indiana Jones, I was terrified of quick sand. It turned out, this was my quick sand. We think we want to know everything, but it's like quick sand to our hearts and will swallow us whole. The reality is that you want the details because you are, deep down, hoping that there is something so horrifying that it makes leaving easier, but no matter the details, the reality remains the same and you remain hurt. Please believe me when I tell you that knowing everything doesn't make it easier and that it won't change the reality of the decisions you have to make or the truth that you have to own. The details just bring more pain and more pain helps no one.
2-THEY NEVER LOVED YOU
This lie is one that I have Johnny Depp and my husband's mistress to thank for being something I even considered. There is a Johnny Depp quote that she loved to remind me of that says, "If you love two people at the same time, choose the second. Because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn't have fallen for the second." I do love looking at Johnny Depp, but this quote haunted me. Could that be true? First of all, maybe don't stake your marriage on the ramblings of a celebrity. Second, NO! It's absolute rubbish! We are human beings and our capacity for love is infinite. The idea that a person is incapable of loving you while also falling in lust or even in love with someone else is absurd. So often we look at ourselves..."did they stop loving me, was I not enough", that we don't stop to think, maybe it wasn't about me.
3-WE WILL FEEL BETTER IF THE "OTHER PERSON" IS GONE
This one is something that I felt often, but I can tell you that when she was gone it didn't really change much. I still had to deal with feelings of betrayal, the respect that was lost and the nagging issue of, will I ever be able to trust again. Removing the "person" from the equation didn't fix that. I knew I would always wonder if there was another "person", and that wasn't fair to either of us. Remember that the affair has less to do with the actual person they had the affair with and more to do with why they had the affair. The odds are that that "person" was in the right place at the right time.
4-THEY HAVE SOMETHING YOU ARE MISSING
This is a tricky one, because it's not a total lie. I remember being at the lake and watching "her" play volleyball with as much enthusiasm as I had, well...not playing volleyball, in fact, doing anything but playing volleyball. Feeling inadequate and desperately wanting to save my marriage, I bitterly said I would play, convincing myself that I was a badass, volleyball-loving woman who could do anything she set her mind to. The thing is, my mind wasn't really set to enjoying volleyball, it was set to being the things that I "lacked". I even commented to him that night that she was all of the things I wasn't. She was blonde with nice big boobs, loved playing sports, working out and was from a small farming town. My hair color was ever-changing between black, purple, pink, blue and basically any color, but blonde. I was a proud A cup, played no sports, and grew up in a city of about 500,000. He actually agreed with me that she was, in fact, all of the things I wasn't. I remember seeing a disconcerting look on his face when I pointed it out, like he had never really thought about that before. The truth is that she did have qualities that I didn't, but what I failed to see at the time was that, in no way did that diminish my worth or value. The fact that he was intrigued and even desired something that he didn't have, didn't mean that what I had to offer wasn't enough. We are all different. You can compare yourself to anyone on this earth and find differences and things they have that you are missing, but comparing yourself to anyone is good for no one. Again, it isn't about what's missing in you, but what your spouse/partner felt like was missing in themselves, which is not your job to fix. And might I add that you should never be expected to compromise who you are to meet the needs of another.
5-YOU HAVE TO LEAVE THEM
This is a doozy. I can't tell you how many people said to me over the course of those six years, "You're either the strongest woman I know or the dumbest woman I know." The thing is...I was neither. I was just a woman processing her own reality as it played out, constantly wavering between the urge to stay, fight and fix, and the reality that things may never be how they ought to be. The truth is that there is no timeline and there is no right answer. The only person that can decide, change their mind, and decide some more is you. There will be a lot of well-intentioned people offering you advice, but anyone that makes you feel guilty or ashamed is not your friend. This is your journey and it's not anyone else's place to tell you that you are wrong in your journey. Take your time and never, ever feel ashamed or guilty. It's not about being dumb or strong, but about doing what's best for you when you know what that is and feeling sure enough to take a step in one direction or another, no matter how long it takes.
6- YOU'RE ALONE
When scouring the internet for women in situations similar to mine I felt very alone. I was desperate to find someone that I could identify with. It's so easy to feel isolated and alone. Often times because we isolate ourselves from loved ones at the risk of feeling unnecessarily ashamed. The reality is that you are not alone. There are people, like me, that have experienced, lived, and, in fact, thrived in spite of all of the pain. There are people in your life that will not shame you or pity you but in fact love and support you no matter what decisions you make if you'll just give them the chance to do so.
Infidelity is painful and the process of moving forward is personal, but the first step to moving forward is to stop the lies. We expect our spouses and partners not to lie to us. It's time that we stop lying to ourselves. Fyodor Dostoevsky once said, "Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others, and having no respect, he ceases to love." You deserve the truth....make sure you are giving it to yourself.