Four.

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Today is May 17, 2019. Four years since D-day. Four years since my world was shattered. Four years since the day I became irrevocably changed. Four years since life, as I knew it, was over.

And four long, difficult, heart-breaking years of grueling recovery and healing.

And it’s not enough.

I don’t know where I am on my journey. I don’t know where my road is leading. All I know is that there are horrible memories that still overshadow the good memories. That balance has not been restored. I know, also, that it is hard, hard work to make those good memories that used to come so effortlessly. But, I still try.

Maybe in another four years, or eight…or twelve, the memories will shift and the bad will fade and be less painful. Maybe the good memories will be overwhelming and wonderful and crush the bad from my recollection. Maybe rain isn’t wet. 😏

I came across a numerology chart the other day which describes the characteristics of numbers, and while I don’t subscribe to numerology or really even understand it, I thought the associated description of the number four was interesting and perhaps apropos to my current state:

Those who walk a life path with the number four have an almost unbreakable spirit and astounding capabilities of self-control. 4 reminds us that equality of all sides created the strongest structures. It’s energy is that of stability.

Hmmm…Can’t really count on all of that.

What I can count on is myself. What I know for certainty is that I will keep working on healing. I will keep doing the best I can with what I have. And I will keep looking for more. More happiness, more contentment, more gratitude, more grace.

I think I’m getting there. Slowly.

Leigh ❤️

Before and After

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Today is the last day of April. Which means that tomorrow begins the month of May. In seventeen days, it will be four years since d-day. How I wish I could erase that day from my memory! EMDR has not done it’s job where that memory lives in my brain. It is still as painful and vivid as it was when it happened. There are few things in my life that are sharp and clear as my memory of that day. Every word, every action, every feeling is embedded within me. The clarity with which discovery of Will’s profound betrayal provided me was no less than earth-shattering. I felt it in every. single. fiber. of my body. I still feel it as acutely now as I did then.

So, has anything changed? It has been nearly four years. Why does that day, that moment, those emotions still feel raw and fresh? Will I ever be able to erase them completely? No. Not ever.

The difference is that I can now experience them and absorb it all as part of me. That day changed me. It changed who I thought I was. It changed who I thought Will was. It changed everything. How I thought, how I felt, how I reacted to events, how I approached relationships, how I expressed myself, how I saw the world. Everything.

And sometimes, I miss the old me. That girl was perpetually optimistic (on the surface.) She felt loved by Will, her kids, her friends (at least, what she thought was love.) She was content with life, even though it was really hard at times (although she didn’t understand WHY things were SO hard.) She was fulfilled with a life of family and church and home (Will was not foremost because he was so distant…she accepted his excuses that he was busy with work and was grateful he worked so hard.) She was happy (but, given what she knew about happiness, this was SO misguided.)

I am clearly not that person anymore. I am optimistic still…but it is measured and not the blind unrealistic hope that I used to have. It is more rational and less…desperate. I am beginning to feel love again..from Will and my children and a few very carefully vetted friends. I have a few old friends that I know love me. They know about Will and love and support me the same as they always have. Contentment is nowhere to be seen at this point. I don’t know that I will find a level of contentment for a very long time. I am still less trusting of people in general and of Will in particular. I cannot be content without trust. That will take way more time than just four years. I am not completely fulfilled yet, but I am getting there. My family is still my everything even if they don’t love me as fully as they once did. That does not diminish my love for them. Will has become more present and more a part of my everyday so that has definitely been more fulfilling.

But, happy? That is a difficult one. The old me was not truly happy. I was happy with what I *thought* was my life. It was mostly a delusion. It was so full of gaslighting and lies that it was no life at all. At least, not a real life. Now, life is real and difficult and exciting and boring and joyful and frustrating and funny and absurd and maddening and fun! It’s become such a mix of experience and emotion that there is no one word that can describe it. It is still hard and sometimes overwhelmingly sad. There is still regret and anger and grief over the past. But there is also a lot of hope. And clarity of what truly is and is not “Life.”

I think that possibly the best way to describe myself before d-day was that I was existing. I was existing in a life that I had convinced myself was optimistic, content, happy. Now, even with all the trauma, the loss, the betrayals, the illness, the ups and downs…all of it…I feel like I am living. I am living my life with a full awareness of who I am, who I am becoming, and who I want to be. I am no longer who I was (or who I thought I was) and I am okay with that even if I miss that naive girl sometimes. I am much wiser and stronger now and able to withstand the things that come my way. I am clear-eyed and compassionate. I am tougher than I ever thought I could be and my heart is healing.

I am a walking, living, breathing  “before and after” ad for betrayed spouses. 😂

I can live with that.

Leigh ❤️

Erase, Adjust, and Carry On.

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So, I took a few days to run away recover from Will’s horrible treatment of me. It has been a wise decision. I took the whole day yesterday to treat myself to an all-day spa treatment…mani/pedi, massage, facial, lunch. I have NEVER done that before. Never.   I had one slight tinge of guilt for such an extravagant expense…but soon realized that the cost was about the same as one massage parlor visit by Will in the past..so, really, it’s all about perspective. Anyway, I am currently at a resort hotel locally where comfort and indulgence is a priority. And, I have to say, I am having such a lovely, peaceful, reflective time. I need to do this more often…regardless of Will and his issues. This is healthy and so, SO good for my soul! I have treated myself to wonderful food, downtime, and an abundance of time to read, sketch, and hike. Things that I don’t do enough. And while sketching, I realized a profound concept…the eraser!

I am very much an amateur artist. I sketch things that inspire me now and then. I am not very good, but I enjoy it as a sort of therapy.  Sketching, for me, is a time to reflect, relax and it provides a good outlet for my sometimes inhibitive side to be released. As I was surfing the internet yesterday (for what, I honestly don’t remember 🙄) I came across a beautiful site of southern Italy and amazing photos of the stunning fields of sunflowers that are so prevalent in that region. When Will and I traveled through Tuscany many years ago, I was impressed by these same fields and bought a beautiful hand-painted plate of a single, perfect size flower which still graces our dining room wall. One photo I came across as I surfed particularly struck me and I decided to sketch it. As I began my new drawing, I sketched, I erased, I considered my perspective, I re-drew, I erased and I re-sketched, until I had something that pleased my eye and my sense of proportion and balance. And then…the epiphany! I erased! I obliterated the ugly, the disproportionate, the “oops” that regularly occurs when I sketch. And I made it better. I re-evaluated and took stock of the picture as a whole and I adjusted. To make the end result as close to perfect as was humanly possible. It is a constant process. Sketch, evaluate, erase, re-draw, assess…and then carry-on to the next phase.

You already know where I am going with this analogy, but for me, this was such an enlightenment! Why, if I can expend so much thought and time into a trivial endeavor like a simple sketch, can I not take the same care and considered reflection when it comes to my marriage? Yes, I get that it is a much more emotional and personal issue, but it should be basic precept for something that I have spent over forty years working on. (Even if Will has not been much of an active participant in this same project called marriage 😏.)  This is less about Will and more about me and my mindset. I have spent weeks, even months, on an intricate project like a drawing, a needlepoint piece, a refinish item or a sewing endeavor. True that these are material things and are not of an everlasting or eternal nature, but during the process of creating, they require focus and attention and a certain amount of dedication to complete. Why then, in creating a solid marriage or relationship, something that should last a lifetime and beyond, would I not employ an equal or, indeed, a greater effort to ensure success? Arghhh!!! Why has it taken me this freaking long to figure this out?!?!

*SIGH!”

Sometimes, I wonder, not if Will is ever going to “get it”, but whether I will ever really be in a place where clarity and simplicity of thought takes center stage in my life. Not to deter from the fact that Will behaved in an unacceptable manner…he clearly did. But, to re-focus on my own reaction and response. Which is still a work in process. As we both are. One does not survive four decades (or longer) of dysfunction without deep-set scars and ideologies of life unscathed. But, that is not to say that one does not possess the very basic utility of an “eraser.” We can (and MUST) utilize the God-given gift of the eraser (or, in other words, Christ’s atonement) to undo the ugly, the unfathomable, the hurt, the “oops” of life! Much like a pencil which sometimes takes a deviant path from what the artist intends, life can take a path which is errant and unacceptable. We can then either allow that path to obstruct and distort the whole, or use our eraser to re-evaluate, re-assess, delete the error and correct our course.

We can re-draw our future. We can erase the ugly and focus on what is next. It is not simple. It is not without shadows of regret or missteps or remnants of hurt pain or bad decisions. But it is a positive move towards a better and brighter tomorrow. Those who know me know that I am not about platitudes or Pollyanna optimism, just plain and simple facts of life. Like a project of skill, or hope, or faith, marriage and happiness is something which requires endless reassessment and readjustment. Using the eraser which we have all been given is the most powerful tool we have.

Leigh ❤️

 

Meet the New Year, Same as the Old Year…or something…

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I have been remiss in blogging for a few months and I think it is because nothing of great impact or import has occurred lately. I tend to be quiet when I have nothing thoughtful or helpful to say. I’m not good at small talk or superficial chatter. You can imagine my awkwardness at social functions. 😏

The New Year came in with Will falling asleep in the sofa watching Netflix and me falling asleep in bed reading.  Yeah…we’re definitely not the “It” couple. We did celebrate on New Year’s Day as we have for many years. We had family over and grilled steaks despite the 7 degree weather and played games. It was really lovely. Lots of love and laughter. And connection. Will has continued to be present and connects now in a way that he (and I) have never experienced. This is true with our kids and grandkids as well. It is comforting and feels like true conversion from “addict Will” to “real Will.”

But, I continue to be on my guard and trust is still an issue. I think it may always be something that will be there…this lack of complete trust. I can never go back to my pre-D-day unconditional love and trust. I honestly don’t remember what that was like. I am no longer that vulnerable or malleable. And the honest truth is that I no longer want to be. I have been told that this is not the goal of full recovery…but that doesn’t make sense to me. Why would I open my heart and mind completely to the possibility of such devastating betrayal again? I may be recovering but I’m not stupid. I prefer to protect myself now, which is something I never even considered previously. This is not to say that I don’t love and trust…just not unconditionally and enthusiastically. I am more cautious, more aware, more reserved in how I approach relationships now. With Will, my family, friends…everyone. This is what profound betrayal does to a person’s psyche. This is what it does to a person’s core being, personality, and perspective. It is unfair and I am trying to let go of the resentment towards Will because of this forced change from who I was and who I am now. It is a hard row to hoe.

There are many good things, however, and I don’t want to seem ungrateful for the blessings that recovery has revealed. One of the many things that I have realized is that I genuinely like Will. He is truly my best friend. He still makes me laugh and cry happy tears. We enjoy spending time together and doing things together. He is still attractive to me and I appreciate his intellect and tenderness. Desire is slow in returning, but I am hopeful that too will make its presence known when we are both ready. I am trying to be patient.

So…nothing too earth shattering in my life these days. I’m just learning and growing and getting through this life and it’s challenges as best I can. Doing what I can to be better at it. It is, at times,  more difficult than other times…and sometimes relatively easy. But it is a constant effort to emerge and change and evolve. To discover who I am while holding on to the essence of who I was. Anyway, as I was writing this post, I kept thinking of the old The Who song, “We Won’t Be Fooled Again.” The lyrics are fitting for me right now.

“The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that’s all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain’t changed
‘Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war
I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again, no, no”
This is how I am feeling. I have been liberated from the old life of secrets and infidelity, but history ain’t changed. I smile and grin at the change all around me in my life…because there is so much good! But then, I get on my knees and I pray (fervently!) that I don’t get fooled again.
Happy New Year’s 🥳
Leigh ❤️