Taking Time to Build New Memories

After learning about my husband’s emotional affair, some long standing routines were very difficult to return to…and I’m finally figuring it out. Yay! for me! Yay! for us!

"Experiencing and coping with loss is an unintended consequence of infidelity, even with the couples who have committed to repair their relationship.  Life just doesn't fit together the way it did before the affair discovery." ~ Mona T.

I’m excited to write this post! I had an epiphany yesterday! Who doesn’t love a good ol’ fashioned AH-HA MOMENT! Love those moments when pieces of a super confusing puzzle come together in an instant!

Puzzle Piece #1: Husband and I have put a down payment on a hard-side camper. It’s so exciting! We went to an RV convention with the intent to find and take note of the exact model we want to purchase. Looking at the different features and models available, talking about how we could use it, and yes BUYING ONE was so invigorating to our relationship. All of our senses were alive with anticipation of building new memories and all the different ways we can use our camper. We’ve always wanted to do this, but haven’t really had the financial opportunity until now.

Puzzle Piece #2: Going to church has been just awfully difficult for me. Going to church leaves me sad and very depressed for the entire day. I had been successfully able to avoid going to church for many months. I’m not a “go every Sunday” kind of gal, but we’ve certainly been a “go lots of Sunday mornings” kind of family. We’ve built friendships and a small community that feels like home.

So why am I having such a hard time showing up? Why have I been working quite diligently at avoiding this part of our lives?

Puzzle Piece #3: My psychologist has encouraged me to practice specific self-care when I’m feeling overly sad, or overly depressed.

  1. Journal about it
  2. Take time alone to talk to myself
  3. Figure out the root cause of sadness
  4. Show myself love and compassion
  5. Reach out to people, ask for their prayer, share how I’m feeling, take a step forward

It wasn’t until I’ve practiced all of these steps, all of them over time, that I was able to get to the root cause of the sadness I feel when I try to resume this part of our lives — our church family. Our church is our family and community. However, in the past year everything has changed. It represents real, tangible, painful loss.

Loss 1: We both lost our connection to volunteering. Being helpful is meaningful to our family. We are doers. We were active and connected, but recovering from the pain of infidelity has disconnected us. Husband wasn’t able to continue his area of interest/volunteering because he was hospitalized for five weeks. In the time that he was away, his responsibilities were transitioned to others. While I didn’t have specific roles to fill, I helped in a wide variety of spontaneous ways. I wasn’t able to even help myself, much less be conscious of ways I could help others.

Loss 2: We both lost our small group connection. For about two years we participated in sharing life with a set of about five couples. We shared hosting with another couple, enjoying time in our home as well as their home. We talked life. Our challenges. Our triumphs. It was a meaningful part of our lives that plain old went away. We couldn’t host anymore. The other couple couldn’t host anymore. Completely unrelated to our relationship issues, the small group support was over.

Loss 3: We lost our identity. This part is harder to write about. Our identity used to be somewhat normal. We were seen as down to earth, decent, and dependable. Our identity changed to “that couple” that’s going through crisis. My husband definitely felt he was welcomed differently when he came back. I’m still amazed he was able to do it. He walked in those doors and owned who he was — but still, this was a different identity for him. I wondered what he has said about me to other people. It’s been no secret that he spent some time blaming me for his mental health breakdown and unfaithfulness. I’ve seen in writing what horrible things he’s had to say about me. Why should I care what other people think about me?? This used to be part of my identity — living my truth, without worrying about what other people thought about my shortcomings. Now, suddenly I care about what’s been spoken about me.

So what’s the answer?

Back to the three puzzle pieces. Using the steps my psychologist gave me to process the root cause of being so energized by the idea of camping, and the root cause of being so deflated by the idea of a simple church service. We’re working to build new traditions, routines, and connections through pursuit of camping. It’s giving us new things to talk about, and an opportunity to form a plan that has nothing to do with infidelity recovery. The ah-ha moment was I can be just as invigorated with my church community if I focus my thoughts and efforts on building new routines, new connections, and new memories. I’m action oriented, so here’s a short list of what I’ve come up with overnight.

  1. Sit on the other side of the church to get to know a different group of people
  2. Connect with a different small home group of couples
  3. Find new ways that we can help as a couple, once we’re back to some regular and dependable attendance
  4. Talk with each other about how we’re feeling with this part of our lives
  5. Make new routines around before and after service.

We can do it!

Root cause wins again…now that I know why this part of my life is making me sad, I can identify solutions that make sense. I couldn’t be happier that we’ve got something easy and actionable we can try out to fix this. We’re going to be able to build this back into our relationship and lives in a positive way, with positive experiences and routines and new positive memories waiting for us on the other side.

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