I think there was a part of me that holds onto my pain in fear of being vulnerable again. It is not like one day I will decide, “Ok, I’ll be vulnerable now.” In fact, I still struggle with this, but when I look at where I am now to where I was 3 months ago, 1 year ago, two years ago, I do see progressive improvement, slow progressive improvement, but it is there. And, yes, there are/were most certainly times within that period where I sunk down below that improvement for periods of time (those periods seem to be more spread out and less long though as time progresses). But, there is more to it than just a fear of being vulnerable.
I know I think, “We are better than we were ever before, but at what costs to me?” Seeing Mindless understand those costs to me is helpful. One of his exercises, in our first year of reconciliation, was to write out 40 of the costs of his infidelity to me and then read them aloud to our AR group. This was very helpful to see him face that, acknowledge it and show he really “gets it.” Was that enough? No.
He has done everything possible to provide recompense for those costs, but there are some things that just cannot be recompensed. I do struggle with not wanting to feel that my actions are actually rewarding Mindless for being a shit head. But, how many years can I think that way? If I want to stay in our marriage, then we have to be equal partners, talking openly and honestly as friends and lovers, with boundaries and natural consequences in place. He has given me measures of safety, he is present with me in my pain, he is working on fixing what is broken within himself and I am working on fixing what is broken within myself. I am working on allowing myself to acknowledge his hard work and who he is now, to allow myself to love and acknowledge him as the person he is now. But, to do that I have to allow myself to be vulnerable. It is a work in progress. Is there more? What about trust?
I don’t have to fully trust Mindless. In fact, blind-faith in another human being seems rather ridiculous now that I think about it. Humans are fallible, not omnipotent beings. Mindless is working on giving me safety. I trust him more than I did upon d-day, it is building. But, it will never be the blind-faith of before, it just won’t. Instead I am working on learning to trust in myself and my instincts. It is easy to see how my blind-faith, rose-colored glasses so easily got in the way of my instincts pre d-day. Those glasses are gone, but I replaced them with gray-colored glasses. Only, I no longer want to wear gray-colored glasses, no matter how safe they make me feel. Instead, I want to see life in its reality and I am learning to trust in my ability to do so.
One thing I really notice is that Mindless wants to fix it for me, take away the pain. His instinct is to fix, not to nurture. I love that he wants to fix it, make it all better. But, he can’t. He can provide safety and be a loving, safe partner in the present and future. But, he cannot change the past, which is really the only thing that would take away the pain. Still, he surely can be there with me as I experience and work through the pain. He can be loving, supportive, communicative, and nurturing simply because he loves me, not because he is trying to please, nor because he expects something in return. Not everything is about a tit-for-tat (ha!) exchange anymore, and that is huge! He has come so far on this issue.
We’ve both come along way since d-day, in fact, since our life before d-day too. Though there is always further we can go, half the battle is wanting and working to continue that journey, and getting rid of the rose and gray-colored glasses that impede our vision along the way.