A strange thing can happen in the weeks and months following the discovery of a spouse's betrayal. And I'm not referring to the magical weight loss (oh, if I could bottle that, I'd be rich, rich, rich) or the fact that you can barely get out of bed in the morning, yet dread the idea of going back to bed at night.
Nope, I'm talking about the stage when pain becomes as comfy as an old sweater, so we keep putting it on, even when the weather has warmed and perhaps the sun is filtering through the clouds.
It's not uncommon. Though we would swear we're desperate for the day when happiness returns, as if we expect it to arrive via post with a big bow around it, we often unconsciously keep the doors locked against it. We become so preoccupied with our worries, our doubts, our conflicts – indeed they seem to give our lives meaning. We define ourselves by them – and any glimpse of joy can seem startling and discomforting.
It's a struggle I've had to consider carefully. Creating a site devoted to betrayed wives meant that I was identifying myself by that single aspect of my life. And though it has unquestionably altered my life in ways I'm still grasping, it isn't the whole of who I am.
It can feel that way in the short term. But staying there doesn't serve any of us well.
Ask yourself if your pain has become something of a security blanket. If you balk at the question or feel uncomfortable, it can indicate that maybe, just maybe, it's time to open yourself up to the possibility that life can offer up joy, too.
It'll come slowly, tippy toeing into your life. Perhaps in the form of a lovely spring day when, for a few minutes (seconds?) you aren't obsessing. Perhaps in the form of a good book or a beautiful garden.
Whatever form joy takes, let it in. It doesn't mean your pain isn't valid. Or that you're letting yourself down.
On the contrary, you're giving yourself permission to be all of who you are.