Saturday, January 11, 2014

Better Them Than Me

In the beginning of this journey, I remember feeling like I was the worst off in this whole scenario. My husband and "her" got to have an exciting, secret sexual affair for an entire YEAR in addition to all the love and nourishment they were getting from their home and family life. They got to feel like high schoolers again, hiding their forbidden relationship from their "parents" (AKA spouses) and feel the burn of a youthful flame. Yet who pays for their little romantic fantasyland? Me! Her husband! Our poor kids! So he gets to have this exciting new relationship for a year, and still have his wife and family - and possibly a BETTER marriage. What do I get? Pain. Humiliation. Anger. Confusion. Grief. Broken vows. And absolutely NO fun.

But am I the least fortunate? I look at it differently now. I see my husband, and how crappy his situation really is. He has to carry the shame and guilt for what he has done for the rest of his life. He will have memories of lying to me straight in the eye about sleeping with her. He will watch his kids swinging on the tire swing in the backyard, and be reminded that I could have kicked his ass out, divorced him, and fought for custody. He will have to face awkwardness and judgment from certain friends and family members who know.

He has to be extra careful now with everything he says and does. He can't get mad at me for petty things, because he knows he "doesn't have the right to" after the destruction he brought to our life. He has to go above and beyond all the time to remind me that he's trying really hard to make it up to me. He gets the blame when a "normal" marriage disagreement occurs, because it always comes back to the affair. He has to put up with my anger and rage when it rears it ugly head, because he knows he deserves it.

It must be exhausting.

And what about her? She has to look at herself in the mirror everyday only to see a pathetic home wrecker looking back at her. Her crappy choices moved them to a new state with no friends or family surrounding her. (Surely when the stress of the move comes up in their marriage, you know she gets blamed for it.) She, as a mother, has to live with what she has done to my life and the perfect world I have tried to build for my children. She had to face her husband's family, who - unlike my forgiving family - would not even look or speak to her after what she did. She had to hear her husband call her names like "whore".


And I thought I was worse off? Hey, at least I can look in the mirror every morning and be proud of who I see. My dignity is still in tact. I have friends and family who love and support me and think I'm a hero for surviving this. I can look my kids in the eyes and know that I've never made selfish choices that have jeopardized their lives as they know it. I can say I've always been a good and faithful wife.

More than ever, I can go out with friends without feeling guilty about leaving home, because I now know that it's important for me to nurture those relationships so they are available when I need them most. I can be more myself now, because this experience makes you care less about what others think. I can be more straightforward, because I'm not going to allow anyone to walk all over me.  I can do more for myself, because I need and deserve it in order to heal.

So better them than me. I'd much rather live with pain carried with dignity and pride than the burden of shame and guilt. No joyride - no matter how exciting - could be worth that price.

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