Mourning, Part 1

If a person had told me that there are blessings found in grieving before I went through it a few years ago, I would have thought they were crazy.

Today’s culture tells us that blessings are found in things that are easy or fun, or in things that generally feel ‘good.’ Situations or people that cause us pain are generally seen as curses to be avoided at all cost. We are also told that when we are hurt the strong among us will ‘suck it up,’ or ‘put on our big girl panties’ and move on. The implication is that crying - or even the mere feeling of pain or sadness- is a sign that we are weak.

One thing I learned after discovering my husband Wayne’s betrayals is that I truly did have a choice. I could choose to ignore and stuff down the pain, or I could sit in it and allow myself to feel it. Since feeling pain is clearly an unpleasant experience, my natural tendency was to choose to ignore it. Had this been a healing option it would have worked well. Unfortunately ignoring the pain only added to my problem.

Looking at how physical wounds heal helps to illustrate what I am talking about. Think about last time you scraped your knee. You may have cleaned the scrape then applied a band aide. This kind of wound you can literally cover then ignore, and it will heal fine. But what if your wound was deeper? What if rather than a simple fall that produced a scraped knee you were in a car crash with multiple internal wounds? No one in their right mind would put on a few band aides then get up to ‘walk it off.’ So why do we do that with heart wounds? Sure, there are times when our heart gets a little bruised or scraped. In those moments a little emotional cleaning and band aide will cover it. But when we have been deeply wounded by the one closest to our heart we need intensive care. Putting a band aide over this kind of wound only creates a dark breeding ground for germs like bitterness and self-hate to grow. Knowing that this septic kind of living was all I had to look forward to if I did not choose to engage in emotional rehab (grieving) is what gave me the courage to rip the band aide off.

The blessing found in choosing to grieve is healing and comfort. It is a painfully long process, but well worth the effort because after we have walked it to completion we find ourselves renewed and oddly stronger than we were before the wound was inflicted.

Today I have discussed the need to grieve. In part 2, I will share some of the ways I walked it out.

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questions

I am struggling right now with letting go of the past.  How long before you could get through a week, a month without thinking about what happened?  Thinking of the details, torturing yourself with what "they" did together as a couple that took away everything from "us".  I know in my brain, that the affair is over.  It was discovered the end of September 2011.  But the affair had been a year long one so all year I've been playing catchup.  All those times I never knew - now, a year later I'm looking back and thinking "ah, yes, that was what was really going on".  I sometimes still feel so stupid, so overwhelmed that the husband I loved so much, was so deceitful.  Is it really just patience, patience, patience?  I have days where I don't even know why I stayed - I am that overwhelmed.  Please tell me it gets better.  I am tired of being suspicious, and worrying about being better able to "know" next time.  My safety net is gone. 

Any advice?

letting go

Hi Carrie, I think many people get the wrong meaning behind "letting go of the past". Our pasts will always be there. They never will change. We never can "let go of them". I think the important thing is deciding how we are going to deal with our past. A wise person told me that forgiveness is giving up the hope of ever having a better past. I grew up in a broken, poor, dysfunctional family. My "past" is pretty crappy. For many years I allowed this "past" to influence my present life. I was resentful and weak, and controlling. When I finally figured out that I had a choice today how I was going to deal with the past my life really turned around. The bad stuff is still there. It never will go away but I can choose not to let it affect me negatively anymore. I take the circumstances and learn from them I take the half empty glass and see it as half full instead. Instead of trying to "let go of the past" maybe we can choose to turn it into something positive in the present. Thank you Carrie for posting here.

Thank you

Thank you Erick... beautifully said... I love the picture of turning the past into a positive present and future.

Carrie-

Carrie, Thank you for sharing what you are going through right now. I know this is a very hard and overwhelming time. In answer to your question, yes, it does get better. But, I have learned that the period of time that you are in right now is very important. You are right when you sence that there is more to healing than just patiently waiting for time to go by until you reach the point where you no longer live in fear of "next time". I mourned deeply for a year, then it calmed down over the course of the next year. Of course, every heart mourns and heals in different ways, so your timeline will look the way your heart needs it to, which may or may not be the same as mine. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that enough time has gone by, so mourning should be over. If your heart is still hurting continue to mourn over your wounds until that deep gutteral pain is healed. Erick is right, your past won't change, but if you are able to courageously mourn the pain that is in it, a time will come when it will no longer hurt every time you are reminded of it.

thanks

it's a very lonely feeling -- and you can't share your pain with the one who betrayed you, and you're so scared of it happening again.  I need to stop looking for a sign that it is happening again - I know I can't live like that. My husband is unemployed and is very down on himself and life in general, so it's especially hard to recover from this because he can't give me "i love you's" "i need you's" -- I don't have security in my marriage - yet.  It's so hard to be patient --waiting for a return of affection, and still heal from the affair he had.

I have another question for you -- do you believe it's wise to seek out the person your husband had the affair with?  Sometimes I feel like I just want to talk to her, and see what really happened?

Thank you for your encouragement.  Sometimes I think maybe I would have healed easier and quicker had we separated for a short time.  Maybe it's harder to heal when you're not sure it's going to be put back togerther at all.

 

seeking out spouse's affair partner

Carrie,

Before seeking out your spouse's affair partner ask yourself why you would want to do this. Do you feel that this person would give you an honest picture of what had occured? Would hearing their side of the story help your heart or your relationship with your husband heal? I did not seek out my husband's partners. The women I have talked to who did choose to do this seemed to regret it because it just caused more destruction in their lives.

Also, if your husband's heart is soft to yours don't be afraid to share your pain with him. I found a lot of healing in being able to tell Wayne how I was feeling on a daily basis. In fact, sharing how I was feeling with him was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I learned to do during our recovery because it is a tool that keeps us real with eachother even today.

Thank you again for sharing your heart with us.

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