Friday, November 22, 2013
I thought it might be time to tell the full story of November 2009, the month that changed my everything forever. I've never talked much about the details, but I have enough distance from it now to know that it's a soap-opera-worthy story. When I recounted that month to my counselor, whom I've only been seeing for a short time, her mouth dropped open further and further.
My husband told me he had had an affair… with a college-aged girl. I wanted to save the marriage. He changed his mind about whether to stay or go on an hourly basis. We celebrated his birthday anyway. Then he packed up and left me while I was at work. Oh and did I mention my sister was also getting married… in another state? I was the maid of honor. And my parents didn't know what was going on until the week of the wedding. And the day before we left for the wedding, he decided he wanted to come home and try again.
Yeah, that's the short version.
This week, I sat down and started purging my clearest memories onto the screen. I thought I'd get it all out for my own catharsis, then maybe try to polish it for the public. Only a few minutes in, I had to look at my journal entries from that time to refresh my memory. Usually, that exercise is pretty painful. But this time, what I noticed most was how clear and strong I sounded. Reading my own words was like witnessing my own rebirth. It showed me I could stand to take a few lessons from my past self.
Sometimes I forget what it was like to realize, for the very first time, that I had a divine right to stand up for myself. Don't get me wrong – I was a complete mess at the time. I couldn't eat and I was fending off panic attacks. But at the same time, there was a peace and strength I'd never experienced, and I knew it was from God. Even in the darkest moments, I felt like a blinding beam of light was radiating out of me, a light that wasn't from me. I felt like Galadriel, blazing beautiful and terrible. That sounds crazy, but I can't describe it any other way.
All my life, I'd let people take advantage of me, in the name of considering others more important than myself. Even those who should have been looking out for my best interests took me up on that offer. All my marriage, I'd put my husband first, swallowing my own hurts. Submitting and then submitting some more. Wondering why all my submitting wasn't paying back love like the marriage books promised it would. But now something holy had been breached, and I was more certain than I'd ever been of anything that God was not okay with it. Any of it. He was angry about what was happening to His daughter, and He was letting me know that I didn't have to lay myself down on those train tracks anymore. I could draw a line – between myself and my husband, my family, the universe. I could have my own back. I could say, No more. Never again. This far and no further. I still took my husband back, but I took him back as a woman who knew her own worth, who would not be disregarded or pushed aside. That's probably why, six months later, he decided he didn't want to stay married after all.
The other thing that stood out in my memory, in my journal entries, was how well my friends loved me during that time. To this day, I feel a special bond with the friends I invited into my worst mess. They were amazing – spending the night with me, bringing me food, sending me flowers and buying me shoes. Praying hard. Gathering intel. Threatening lives. (They were kidding. I think.) They were the hands and feet of God to me.
I remembered all this. Then I closed the computer and went to bed, not feeling sad, but peaceful and thankful. Thankful for my loved ones, who were there when I needed them most, even if we don't talk every day now. Thankful to be me, to be whole. Thankful for God's love and protection.
It's been four years, and it occurred to me that four years is like high school. I was a "freshman" when it happened, and now I'm a "senior." Maybe someday I will tell my whole story. Maybe even in a book. But right now, I'm ready to graduate.