Sometimes things happen that can make us feel bad, leave us reeling and bruised, and scared to take another step forward. So what’s the difference between being a victim of these circumstances, and deciding to re-write the story, and become the hero instead?
I have a few friends who experienced infidelity in their marriage, men and women. However, it’s the men who are more hurt by this, who struggle with the fact that their wives chose to be intimate with other men. “My wife cheated on me”. “My wife cheated on me, repeatedly”. “I saw her”, “I knew”, “She cheated with my friend”. All horrible, painful situations that undermine a marriage. But the cheating, is that something she did to you? Or is it a symptom of a failed marriage, and a sign of her shortcomings, not yours?
I was married for 16 years; we were together for longer than than that. The last few years were incredibly difficult for me, beginning with when my husband was arrested at work (on completey bogus charges) when I was pregnant with our younger child, and our older daughter was barely over a year old. My husband then lost his job, there was a legal battle, and he barely talked to me about any of it. Our younger daughter was born, we sold our home, and moved to a state I’d never been, buying our new house while driving across state lines with all of our most important things – the two babies and our labrador – in the back of our Highlander. My husband and I never recovered from that. We both tried hard, but the wounds were deep, and eventually, I needed to leave. I was so lonely, and disillusioned, and sad…and I needed to start over. And, I was faced with a choice: how did I want to view my failed marriage?
More recently, I was in love with a man who became abusive. He hurt me emotionally, and to a lesser extent physically, and at the end, he did both in front of my children. I beat myself up over this, and then I talked to my children, and asked them what they remembered: that I told him no. That I told him he was wrong. That I told him I was tired of his insults, and trying to make me feel bad about myself. And, that I told him that I love myself, and that I was better than all of the crap he was dishing out, and that I was leaving. And, that we packed up our stuff and left. That’s what my girls remember, my saying “no more”, and taking them away. And so, I began to re-write that story. I am not a victim, and never have been; I am a strong woman, who pushed back against a bully, and left. “Mom, you’re a bad-ass”, they said.
Each of has the ability to write our own story. My marriage ended, because we both deserve so much more than what we had. My husband and I had all good intentions, but just didn’t have what it took to make it over a really hard time. I made the choice to leave, and doing that, as painful as it was, set us both free. He is now in a loving relationship with somebody who is truly his partner, and me…well, not yet, but it’s coming.
So that’s the thing. Shit happens. It happens to us, around us, it derails plans and can create havoc. But we are the authors of our own stories, and how we choose to respond, is entirely up to us.