It is interesting to me, the cyclical nature of this life. I never really struggled with cycles too much in my life, previous to the cheating, not really. I have PCOS and as such, have never menstruated much at all, six times in my whole almost-48 years on the planet. So, even that very organic and taken-for-granted cycle of life that most women (and probably most of their partners) experience was never a part of my life. Since D-day, which will be SEVEN years ago next month, I cycle. I cycle through periods of strength and despair, and back to periods of strength and coping. I know that even in the very depths of despair, I am strong, even if I don’t actually FEEL strong in that moment. I have always taken my strength as a given, not really for granted, but recognised that I possessed it, and that there are many positives, but also a few weird negatives (eg; not very forgiving…..) in its possession.
This long after the initial devastation of discovery, I honestly thought I would have metabolised everything, and had it reasonably neatly packaged away “somewhere” in my past. I guess I knew I would never forget, but I sure did think that it would be like every other thing that has happened to me in the past, “dealt with.” Whatever that is ;-). It isn’t. I still cycle through these stages, as I was told by the first psychologist I saw for about a year or so, about seven or eight months post D-day, “you are suffering from complicated grief, Paula. And it isn’t an easy thing to resolve. It means you will continue to cycle through those recognised ‘stages’ of grief, until they are resolved, and sometimes they never are sufficiently to move past them.” I accept this. But it doesn’t make life a heck of a lot easier knowing this, and dealing with it. The second psychologist I saw (about a year after finishing with the first) gave me my first tool that made any real impact on how I was trying to deal with my pain, in ACT. I finally had something that seemed to give me agency about the pain I was experiencing. It hasn’t stopped it, or made a huge dent in how I feel, but I do understand things better than ever, and it helped that he admitted that he was dealing with something that he regularly pulled the ACT toolbox out to help him work through, and that he hadn’t found a ‘cure’ or way out entirely either, and didn’t expect that he could now, rather just a way of learning to live with and cope with the emotional detritus when it got too much (he was a youth and violence specialist, and I found him very relatable.)
So, lately I have been cycling through the difficult periods again, I am not surprised. I am trying to play catch up after taking two and a half weeks off to holiday in South America (which BTW was fabulous, and Roger and I went together and had a great time – we always do. He has been my best friend for almost 28 years, we ‘enjoy’ each other and laugh at the same things, wanted to see the same things, do the same things, experience the lived culture as much as you are able on a fleeting visit and are actually a tourist, etc – oh, except for the fifteen months when he was fucking “our friend” – that wasn’t so damn friendly!) We stayed with the exchange student daughter we hosted last year’s family for a part of the trip, and that was so wonderful, so we did get off the tourist path somewhat. Yay!
Oh – I forgot a shout out to tempted – YES – we did go to Salta. Was different to my expectations, real contrasts in economic outcomes, etc…
So, of course I am a little stressed, but I am managing that stress, ticking items off the To Do List methodically. It is just the frustration at this knowledge that it will never really be any better. The decision to live without him isn’t a panacea to the pain I will forever feel about his choices, and the messages I am constantly trying to defend my psyche from. Two weeks after we returned, he asked me if I had enjoyed the trip! I was a little nonplussed. “Um, yeah, of course I did, it was a privilege and a pleasure to be able to do that, and it was nice to do it with you.” He paused for a minute, “it didn’t really seem like you enjoyed it much.” WTF? I sat with that for a moment, and then replied, “well, I have tried to explain this many times to you, gently and as kindly as I can manage. I don’t ENJOY anything the way I once did. All of the glitter and gloss that edged my previous life has gone. I like stuff, I enjoy doing things, but I NEVER LOVE any of it. There is no unadulterated pleasure, joy, anymore. Life is bland and not full of colour and wonderment for me. It isn’t a direct criticism of anything about you, merely a fact of the impact of the aftermath of being betrayed for me. I wish I could change it, I HATE that I don’t feel any great heights anymore, I know it is the reason I have lost my ability to orgasm and enjoy anything sexual. It permeates and steals all the flavour from life. I seem to be no longer able to live the FUCK out of life!”
I do feel like a human pressure cooker at times, I temper my temper. I have strategies in place and practice mindfulness in order to function, but there is also a need to not punish Roger forever for making shit choices. I don’t talk a lot about my feelings to him anymore, that just isn’t fair when you make the choice to live separately. It is interesting when we do, though, because you know what? There are no answers. There is no end to the journey of healing from infidelity, like many other things. However, many of the “other things” I have needed to deal with in my life have been able to be catalogued and shelved for long periods of time, and I felt I was pretty healthy in my processing of them. This is like no other, it refuses to be shelved, no matter how many ways I have catalogued, re-catalogued, examined, re-examined. Pressure cookers do need to let off steam, and for this blog, and the mostly anonymous spaces of the online world, I will be forever grateful. It is where the shit goes, and you will have noticed that it is used as the rubbish receptacle for my pain less and less. I think it is a measure of progress. But progress it not victory, not absolute, it never will be. I did realise about two years into this journey, that healing will never be complete, it will never all be bundled away into a neat little package of “this is what happened to me, but my life is better now.” That will not be a path that is available to me. I have another path to travel.
For the friends I have made through this world, one especially, who helps ground me almost daily, listens, shares her own steaming moments, and her triumphs, and never judges, but always provides comfort in her wisdom, I am eternally grateful.
That purged, I am back to my essay! Have a great day all.