The Stranger: Part One

A tidal wave of huge proportions today. Back in therapy after a 3 month hiatus, new ground to cover. Sometimes the depth seems never ending. I find I’m at a good place, only to sink deeper than desired. Yet I feel closer. This is how growth and insight are gained, is it not? I keep wondering what that place of resolution feels like. I have further to go until I know for certain.

I am a complete stranger to my kids. More horrific than that, at one point some time ago, they saw me as a loving mother, wife to their dad. This stranger, me, they are fearful of. I must begin to understand their fear. It won’t take long. There are particular benchmarks that clearly define new insights. Today was one of those.

They have heard things about me, stories, I don’t know. They have images of me, bi-polar, pathological, very sick and distorted views. Perhaps they see me as person who is sexually addicted. They know of my affairs. They know of them, only because I was threatened. And I have accepted my part in all of the bad decisions I made. In order to reach my girls, I must accept the brutal reality that they no longer see me as their mother. I have not accepted that I am a stranger to my kids. Until today.

As I work through therapy this time, the yearning to understand myself heightens as does my resolute. I am not solely responsible for the demise of my marriage. This is not why my girls are angry with me. They understand all marriages have their challenges. I believe they accept that. They are (rightly so) angry that I chose to have affairs. In their minds, their mother, one whom they loved, looked up to, trusted and believed in, ripped apart their lives, irreperably damaged their being. They know very little about the intimate relationship between their parents (nor should they). The see their father as the victim, mom, sick and demented.

Where to go from here?

Therapy continues. I will work on pressing through the shame which I am healing from. There is a great void, a disconnect I feel about my past. Cognitively, I understand my behavior. Emotionally, I am detached. Is this because I can no longer look at the kind of person I was? Have I not endured enough of my own pain in order to feel what the kids feel? How much longer does the estrangement continue without my having a voice, the opportunity to share myself? I now fully recognize where all of their anger stems from – that I betrayed my husband and my family, without a care about the consequences. In essence, there is some truth to this. Making the decision to seek solace and acceptance from another outside of my marriage, I did not think about consequences, period. How could I have been so detached from the two people I love so in this world?

I know my past behavior is just that – past. No longer that same person, each and every decision I make, consequences are considered above anything else. Try as I might, this includes my decisions to reach my children. Now I stand back, further than before. With the help and support from my own therapist as well as my kids’ therapist, I remain steadfast, working through all the pain necessary towards reunification.

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Two Separate Types of Pain

It is unbearable. The pain in which I feel today hard to describe. Important I do.

There is still a long way to go.
There is still so much to learn.
There is still much to accept.
There is still so much pain.

For those in an affair, I ask you to please think about why you have made the decision to seek solace outside your marriage. The question is not to pass judgement, it is to make one stop and think about why one chooses particular behaviors and decisions in the first place.

Next to think about are your children. For those in an affair, have you thought of how your children would react if they found out? Had I known the true, deeply entrenched pain caused by my decisions and actions, no way in hell would I had made the decisions I made in the past. Why did I NOT think of my kids? I always thought of my kids. Like it or not, truth is, affairs are ALL about thy self. Tough to face. Honesty is a bitch.

There are two separate kinds of pain:

The pain I have caused my children.
The pain in which I felt when married – reasons I sought an affair to begin with.

Again, there is still a long way to go.

Yes, I have grown, learned, gained insight. The pain though, it’s devastating. I now realize that I still feel much of the pain from my marriage, not able to let go of that pain as I need to. I do not place blame on my ex for my infidelity; rather, I haven’t completely let go of the hurt felt by his uncaring nature. And though he did care (I truly believe he did) I needed more compassion than he was able to give.

This, in conjunction with the pain I have caused my children, destroying my entire family is far more devastating than I initially felt. It is no wonder why my kids feel as they do.

Another painful awakening once again, yet necessary to feel….completely genuinely feel and deal with – head-on.

Love Thru Transition

Divorce, death, estrangement, life: welcome to it.

Like a gigantic physical wound, the levels of pain, at one time, excruciatingly intolerable, slowly transitions, the pain, still deeply entrenched though subsides more deliberately over time. I have come to this – my own conclusion: there is no conclusion, there is evolution. All done in our own time, I am beyond grateful for this time.

Aside from the continual Hallmark metaphors reeling in my mind of late (sarcasm IS a big component of me, ya know) love, REAL GENUINE LOVE becomes me. Like a satisfying chunky peanut butter sandwich smothered with apricot preserves, what comfort us is ours and we own those moments.  It’s taken a lifetime (well, MY lifetime of 50+ years thus far) to feel in tune with myself.  It’s also taken tremendous loss, pain, crisis and monumental introspection. There are no short cuts. 

I’ve written my girls, sent days ago, the letters written as authentically as their mom now lives and I am comforted by love. My heart is healing.  Always loving my daughters, the love I feel today, not quite explainable this moment…as I told them – fierce and readily unconditional. It is how my mom loved me. LOVE – always there, never whole, pieces missing, unsettled peacefulness, I now understand the complexities. Motherhood  – THE most empowering kind of love, how could estrangement happen when that love is so fierce? I love my children so much, why would I not protect them from harm and pain of the choices I made? For if loving then as I do, would I have not gone to whatever length to have made better decisions? Make the sound decision to simply divorce their dad in lieu of affairs? Did I not think these decisions would affect their hearts, the core of who they are and wish to become? These questions, so pervasive, harrowing, unanswerable, I choose to let go, for they no longer serve any purpose.  Self-punishment runneth over. It is never too late to learn from mistakes, gain new insight, make necessary changes and  carry on – a better person. 

LOVE – how I wish I wish I had fallen in love with myself as a younger woman, a younger mom. Loving oneself treads deeper than that: it must include a sense of self, the yearning to always learn when to accept who we are, to experience gratitude to evolve. I am on a new path, a renewal to give back, whatever that entails. My heart is open to love others as I love myself.

While I still struggle with feelings of shame, sorrow, loss, the fear of transition dissipates. Feelings of unworthiness, more prevalent than ever recognized before my divorce, I am shedding old cognitive patterns, appreciating the goodness of my true self. It is not narcissistic to love oneself. It is humane.