Should I Stay or Should I Go? "Should I stay or should I go? If I go, there will be trouble. If I stay, it will be double . . ." ~The Clash I am a child of schoolhouse rock, a product of the age in which skate parks were invented, parachute pants were high fashion, and most of the girls I wanted to date had big hair and blue eye shadow. Lucky for me I made one of those beauties my wife. Rebellion for her in our southern catholic high school (yes, I see the irony . . . especially considering we were both protestant) was wearing too many rings which violated dress code. Wow - how did things escalate so wildly into the destructive behaviors of late? With a wife willing to try to save the marriage, the biggest question post d-day quickly became: should I stay, or should I go? I'm thankful that early in my journey I was told I was not healthy enough to make such a life altering decision. My mind was telling me to forgive and forget, find a way to put this behind me quickly, and just get out of the pain. However, the true healing journey wasn't going to be that simple. After enduring six months of trickle truths, continued lies and cover-ups, and ultimately a polygraph, I finally arrived at ground zero. At that point, I began to comprehend the enormity of what I was truly dealing with but still tried to balance the investment of 22 years of marriage. Fortunately, I decided not to decide for at least another year. I have taken the last 18 months day by day and now believe there just might be a glimmer of light up ahead. My emotional life is stabilizing and my personal journey is showing significant signs of peace and growth. I accept that my old marriage is dead. In fact, thanks to all the work I have done in recovery I now see it for what it was. Frankly there is not much left about it to desire. My prior understanding was simply an inflated illusion and I find much more comfort in my new walk of authenticity. My wife has transformed in ways I never thought possible. The empathy and love she shows me now is a consistent flow of compassion. Her own self-awareness and desire to find out who God made her to be is nothing short of inspiring. Her talents as a teacher have transpired into an effective and empathetic guide for wayward women through regular leadership in Hope for Healing course work. I still love her no doubt. In fact, my choice to love her now is made when there is every reasonable excuse not to. Yet, I still hesitate when I contemplate if I should stay married. Why is that? My individual journey has been one of education and awareness on my own codependent dysfunction. I needed validation from my marriage that caused me to rely on it in unhealthy ways. As I begin to see this personal weakness clearly, it leaves me feeling like I'm sitting on the edge of a huge cliff looking down at the abyss I just climbed out of. While I feel accomplished at the mountain I have climbed, I also feel tired which causes me to wonder if I'm willing to risk having to climb it all over again. I have learned that recovery can be fickle. And I reserve the right to dispute even my own blog in the future as my mind often changes as my perspective grows. But in this moment, I think my question is: can she really change that drastically on a permanent basis? I have never been one to shy away from a challenge. At times this has resulted in remarkable achievement. I was the first in my family to complete college, and this translated into an academic scholarship to law school where I graduated with honors. In my 30s I needed to lose some weight; five years later I ran a full Ironman Triathlon after completing my 4th marathon. The list of large and small personal accomplishments was long, but I continued to find myself empty and feeling unworthy. Only now am I able to see that the flaw in all this was the constant search for something worldly to define me -- the greatest of which was my marriage. By giving my marriage this power, I gave my wife the power to destroy me. So how do I accept that I can only control myself? That I only have the power to implement healthy boundaries when I lean back into a relationship that caused me so much pain and destruction? I am still looking for an answer that satisfies me. But maybe I have some unconquered fear clouding the fact that this question is more about self-reflection. Perhaps the question of whether she can change is hindered by my personal doubt of wondering if anyone can change so drastically. Without accepting the idea that someone is possible of change, how can I believe it is possible in me? It seems that in losing the trust I had in her, I let go of the trust I had in my own instincts and my own ability to risk . . . to love. Regardless of what path I follow in my marriage, trouble is sure to come around again. No doubt, pain will rear its ugly head in some form; this I know is certain. But what has this recovery process transformed me into? When another loss or transgression comes around will I be in a higher place of comprehension and self-awareness? Will she? And will we be stronger facing it together? Stay tuned . . .