Chutes and Ladders A good friend of mine, and fellow betrayed husband (yes, we met at an EMS weekend), coined it best when he said, "This isn't highs and lows; it's chutes and ladders." All of us on this journey have experienced the hope generated by progress. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the bottom falls out and in the moment all hope seems lost. Which way is up? I am now 16 months out from my first D-Day, 9 months from my last, and if there is one word that can describe the spot I seem to circle when the chutes open underneath me, it's "disorienting". I understand what happened. My wife is doing the hard work of self-discovery: linking childhood abuses to her adulterous behavior, showing empathy and remorse, leading classes, and attending volumes of counseling. I have grown from someone who was convinced that I had never met a shrink who didn't need one, to the guy craving his next individual session. However, even amongst all this work and progress, I often circle back to an empty feeling. How could I have been so wrong about who she was? The day before my first D-day I would've sworn there was absolutely no way on earth she would have ever been unfaithful at any time in our 23+year relationship. But she was deep in her 4th affair . . . Despite having committed myself to my own healing journey, there have been many personal slips along the way. I have turned to old habits of rage, excessive slips with alcohol, intentionally isolating myself, and trying to ignore my reality. In each case, the emptiness just lingers. When I'm in the hole of darkness, it is hard to remember what it felt like not to be, even if that was only a few hours ago. Funny thing is, when I'm not in it, I often do not stop to enjoy the peace of contentment. The more I grow in my own journey of self-discovery, the more I begin to see my situation from a higher level - the forest for the trees. I have learned that when I can only see the trunks of the trees and only focus on an unanswerable question or two, then I am in a space that is simply irrational. I am only passing through this space and, in time, it will end as it always has. As elementary as the words are, it has taken me this long to truly comprehend that every feeling has a beginning, middle, and end. If the feeling is dark, then I have hope that the end of the darkness draws closer with each second. If it is good, then an awareness that I should enjoy and experience it helps extend the peace. I am told the pros call this "mindfulness". In layman's verbage, I'd say it's simply getting my head out of my rear. Regardless of how sophisticated you would like to be in your interpretation, I think we can all benefit by regular reminders to have a little grace on yourself and do what you can to stay in this moment and out of the past. For me, these efforts at self-care have reignited an old passion with bird hunting and all things hunting dogs. Dare I say I have even discovered that some simple childhood pleasures like peanut butter and junk food shouldn't be ignored. Yes, even at 47 years old, puppies and ice cream can work wonders. Find your way out of the hole, make the effort to realize what works for you, and make it routine. Although the specific resource may be personal, the need for it is universal in this journey we have been thrown into. My hope is that each time I climb out of the hole, a little dirt falls back in it, and next time it will not be as deep. Each time I climb out I am reminded again that God's grace in my life is overwhelming. Even this dark betrayal didn't destroy my thriving law practice, beautiful children, and a wife willing to face her demons. I am still uncertain how this will end for me, but perhaps that is the greatest lesson I can take from all this: the ability to accept I do not have to know tomorrow, as He's got me today.