Infidelity Wants to Chew You Up and Spit You Out

Yesterday I was listening to a Ted Talk by Debra Jarvis, a female chaplain to those who are both terminally ill with cancer and those who are going through chemotherapy. It was as uplifting as it could be considering the topic. A cancer survivor herself, she had several wonderful things to say. She made a statement after losing one of her breasts and going through her own excruciating story which I found to be so true for all types of recovery. She charged her listeners to ”claim your experience and not let it claim you.”

Yes, I can hear you already….how the hell do you claim your experience when you’ve just had your heart, life, and reality for the last several years ripped out right from under you? How do you claim your experience when all you’ve ever known to be stable or true has been blown away?

Before you hit ‘post’ on that comment or ‘send’ on that email, here’s what I’m proposing. It may hurt but it’s true, and I know it from personal experience.

We don’t have to let our experiences, even something like infidelity, claim us. Yes, it changes our lives forever. It changed mine and I’m still living in a new life, due to my choices. I love my new life. I truly do. Last night at a church service, I wept as I thought about how the disclosure of the affair actually rescued me from where I was heading. Samantha wept too and talked about how thankful she is for our family and for me. Yes, thankful for ME. Can you imagine that? Even after all I caused years ago.

You can claim how this experience will affect you. It doesn’t have to be the end of your life or the end of your joy. It may be an enormous change to your life and it may be a complete transformation to what life looks like, but you are not a slave to it. You do not have to let it claim your life, or chew you up and spit you out. You can survive it on the way to choosing how you will now define yourself

For example, just yesterday I was talking to a woman who has been through discovery of a 10 year affair of her husband including numerous affair partners all over their state and even in other countries. She’s devastated. With two kids under 16 and more than enough financially challenging situations to go around, she’s showing more courage than I probably would have if I was her.  Does she feel like she’s dealing with PTSD? Absolutely. Does she struggle to not claw his eyes out every single hour of every single day? For sure. But, is she pursuing help and healing and not letting her anger claim her? Without a doubt. She’s not making any decisions yet. She bawled her eyes out as she said, “This doesn’t have to be the end of me. The end of the old me maybe, but maybe it’s the start of a new me and a new life God has for me….maybe my husband will find that new life too.”

As Emmerson Eggerich so aptly put it in Love and Respect, “Our response is our responsibility.” 

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