I’m the betrayed spouse. And, sometimes it is hard to go home. I believe it is important, even if only for my own benefit, to describe this phenomenon I experience from time to time.
My home is MY HOME. I love my home. It isn’t perfect, and it is a mess. It is a constant labor of love. I value comfort over pretty. I value function over style. I create art and cook and rest and pet puppy dogs in my home. I garden and weed and pick bouquets of flowers. I love my home.
My husband is MY HUSBAND. I love my husband. He isn’t perfect, and he can be a mess (as can we all). I value his comfort and his love for me. He does love me. He works on home projects with me, and rests with me, cooks for me, and pets our puppy dogs with me, in OUR home. I love my husband.
My space is MY SPACE. Sometimes I need space to be melancholy. I need space to be sad and grieve without having to share. I need the safety of space because I don’t have the oomph to battle defensiveness or prove I’m absolutely correct to feel what I feel. I need to wander a store mindlessly, looking at home furnishings, office supplies, the newest promises on wrinkle cream bottles, and decide on the right chocolate for today. Sometimes I just need (not want, need) space.
I’m not feeling sorry for myself. It could do that, but this isn’t that.
I’m not angry. It is okay to be angry, but this isn’t that, either.
I’m not looking for attention. This isn’t my way of manipulating my husband into asking me what is wrong.
This is just what I need to recover, and this is the very best description I can pull together about why sometimes it is hard to go home.
Infidelity is a kidnapper. It sneaks up and taps me on the shoulder when I least expect it. When I turn to face it, it latches on to my heart and my mind and my body. It takes me somewhere I really don’t want to go. It takes me into a fog that leads me into a dark forest. I have to walk through it to get to the other side. I just do.
I don’t plan on these days happening. I plan diligently to avoid them, and I work my plan hard. I see a psychologist weekly. He gives me homework that I do. I watch videos. I read books. I journal. I pray. I talk to my support system. I read articles. I pray some more. I make fun plans. I do fun things. I PLAN to be happy and joyful and walking on sunbeams, and I WORK my plan, and I still feel the tap on my shoulder.
I used to try to shake off the tap. I found it doesn’t work. It just makes the tap louder and more frequent. I have tried faking it to make it. That for sure doesn’t work. It just adds a little bit of hopelessness into the fog. I have spent many an evening smiling and conversing, just trying to appear normal. I have spent many an evening appearing engaged and interested, just trying to mask what’s underneath my skin. Neither have ever worked to shake off the tap. Instead it elongates the tap. It becomes my despair.
I need to space to be alone with my thoughts. When I’m alone with my thoughts, I’m free to grieve without fear of hurting my husband’s feelings or making him feel shame. When I’m alone with my thoughts, I can think. I can think through what has happened, and allow myself to FEEL the grief. I have to grieve. I’ve lost so much. I’ve suffered so much. I continue to suffer.
I need some solitude to process. When I can sit and ponder without interruption, I’m able to coach myself in the midst of the darkest and foggiest forest to see a little beam of light peeking through. I can see a little bit of hope. I can slowly walk out of the fog, into a meadow, and run my hands across the grains of wheat, and listen to songs of peace carried to me by the wind. I can set a painful experience behind me until the tap comes again.
Sometimes I just need to sit at my keyboard and blog out an article on a topic that’s been on my mind. Sometimes I find myself on a park bench, driving a different route, or sitting in my car. I can wander through a boring store for hours, and it helps me. I don’t buy what I look at. I cycle through objects on each shelf as I cycle through melancholy and shame and grief. I’m never angry in these blue spells. They are rarely brought on by “right now” behaviors in my husband. They are all tied back to those early discoveries of infidelity, and all that unfolded in those first few months.
I wish to death there was a way to say plainly, “I need space to grieve today. You’re doing a fantastic job rebuilding trust with me. You’ve done nothing wrong today. Or yesterday. I love you. I know you love me. I just am grieving today and I don’t know why. I need the time. I’ll be gone for a bit, and I’ll check in periodically. ” (Okay that was fairly plain, but it hurts my husband’s heart to hear this. I don’t want to hurt his heart.)
I wish to death there was a way to say plainly, “I am super sad today. I’m here at home, and I’m sad, and I need a hug. I need ONLY a hug. Not question upon question, trying to try to lovingly sleuth what is on my mind out into the open. Just a hug. A sincere, and gentle hug that means, “I get you. I support your grieving. I’m here if you want to talk, and I’ll be okay if you don’t want to talk.”
It’s a year later plus a few months since D-Day, and I’m still grieving.
And sometimes, dear friend, it’s hard to go home.