One of the fun parts of keeping a journal is you can look back and reflect, sure, but you can also look back and laugh. When I was in the death throes of my marriage, counseling that I thought was to save our marriage after my husband’s latest affair and he thought was the way to get out of our marriage, I journaled a lot. Now, years later, with two active voracious readers underfoot in elementary school, I thought I better check out these journals in case my kids open them.
Boy! If flames could have leapt from the pages my fingers would be charred nubs. Holy Bananas, Batman, I sounded like the Joker, the Riddler and the Penguin. Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight, you bleeping, bleeping cheating mother bleeping bleep? So I grabbed a mug of hot chocolate to stave off the winter chill and began reading. It was no easy task, having the handwriting of a serial killer, but I was comforted knowing no one else but me and an FBI analyst could read this.
Up we go with hope on this page. Down we go to despair on the next. Round and round I went on the emotional rollercoaster of feelings that sometimes changed by the paragraph. So what was real? What was the truth in all of my writing? Some of it? All of it? None of it?
What I came to realize when I finished one hateful-hopeful-raw deal-real pain essay was it was all real at the time, real at the recounting, real at the rereading but ever changing. I laughed out loud at the things I wrote because I felt them at the time and I enjoy my own take on things. One such occasion was my rant about truth.
My ex-husband said that I encouraged his affair and practically begged him to have his affairs. That was his truth. I thought it to be a big fat excuse-filled justification. Twenty rant filled pages later, I came to the conclusion that he was a total jerk. Not a whole lot of growth there, but years later I could look back at this and see that there was his truth, my truth, the therapist’s truth — and all those truths were colored by my feelings at the time.
The feelings taught me what was wrong, but they didn’t light the pathway for the truth. I felt angry because I didn’t agree with his truth. I felt ashamed because of his actions. I felt sorry for him because he made such poor choices. I felt satisfied because she dumped him. All of these different feelings surrounding the same thing.
I think feelings are great indicators of something – something wrong, something unfair, something painful and something good. They help us identify our own truth and most of the time, that’s enough. When our heads don’t get it, our hearts chime in. My head will never understand how I could will my husband to have an affair. But years later, my heart understood.
I may not have held up a sign that said, “Go for it, honey!”, but the disgust, distrust and zero attraction I had for my husband at that time probably did. He had stomped out any flame in our marriage by choice. Everything was so off track that I couldn’t see how it would ever be put back together after the trust had been broken so many times. I was going through the motions of married life. I was so disappointed in him. I had given up on us and on our family because it was just too painful and too much effort to try to mend it again. If it could even be mended. My feelings led me in the direction of making the best choice for me – filing for divorce and moving on.
So, as crazy as it sounds, there is some truth to be found in his reasoning for seeking satisfaction and esteem outside the marriage. Not that I would have made the same choices, but we all do things to get our needs met – some good, some not so good. His wife no longer respected him, so he went to find some unsatisfied neighbor wife who would.
When you experience an affair, especially in a small-town or a tightly knit community, there are many people willing to share with you what they know. Your feelings will be all over the map for a while, but eventually you will settle into a peace knowing that all things unfold as they should.
You find your truth and clarify it as you learn more. Feelings are great flashlights to lead you out of the darkness, but they are not the path. They light up the path you need to walk. If we were to follow our path of our feelings, there would be a lot of chopped off private parts!
Bouncing with Style is all about learning and clarifying our truth as we go. Looking back sometimes helps us move forward, but at the end of the day, our truths are our truths. Let your feelings light the way, walk down your path to recovery and become your own truth. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what other people think. Your reality, your truth is yours.