Though we believe this is a life long journey, please don’t think we are saying the pain and trauma will continue to overtake the whole of your existence for the rest of your life. In time, you will once again be able to see and feel all the colors of life (admittedly, TL still struggles with this, but is working toward it).
What we are saying is that we are driving together on a road we have never before been upon. It is important to appreciate and experience the highs, lows and in-between of our life journey. Still, we must also not forget to pay attention to the road we are upon, both as individuals and as a couple, to ensure we don’t veer off course.
TL: Though I’ve found this betrayal in many ways far more traumatic, I liken it to the death of my father many years ago. When he died I was overwhelmed with sadness and pain. That pain overtook the whole of my being for a good couple years. But, with each passing year the intensity lessened, the time spent in pain lessened and I was once again able to experience all of the other emotions and feelings available in life – good, bad and in-between. The memory of my Dad and the pain of his loss will always be a part of me, always be a part of the fabric of my life, just not the entirety of it. I believe it will be the same with this pain. Our experiences, including this pain, are fundamental to the design of our road map going forward, but we are still the ones driving the car. The moment we think the roadmap is perfect, the GPS knows all, that we are so confident in its accuracy that we go on “auto-pilot,” this is when the journey can easily and unexpectedly turn unsafe. It is not enough to have a roadmap, we must stay aware of our surroundings and adjust our course along the way.
MC: I learned that loving properly is a lot like physical fitness, sobriety, smoking cessation, mental agility, or even dental hygiene. It’s never “done.”
I used to regularly think about self-pity, jealousy, insecurity, and my anger at God, myself, and others for what I considered unfair about life. Now I remind myself daily not to think like that. I now regularly remind myself to count my blessings, take responsibility for my happiness, empathize with my wife, and remember that I chose to love her. As much as I am attracted to her and I admire her, I didn’t “fall in love with her.” I chose her, and I chose to love her.
The practical lesson in this, for me, is that when asked, “What have you done to ensure you will not reoffend,” the answer is: “I’ve chosen a healthier path, and everyday I make little adjustments to be sure I never veer off course.” I am driving the right car, on the right road, in the right direction. But, I can’t afford to fall asleep at the wheel.