You just found out. Two minutes ago you didn’t know the truth about your marriage. It was only two minutes ago. Two minutes ago life made sense. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but it made sense.
Five minutes ago. It was only five minutes ago you could look at him. Five minutes ago you could look in his eyes and recognize the person there. Five minutes ago, you weren’t sitting in a car with a stranger.
Ten minutes ago your lunch wasn’t threatening to make a reappearance. Ten minutes ago you were trying to figure out what to make for dinner.
Time yawns and stretches like a child woken unwillingly. It races, and then it drags its feet.
Here’s the thing — you’re at a tipping point.
Tipping points are terrifying. Tipping points mean change is on the way, whether you like it or not.
Change can be awful, true, but it can also be transformative and glorious. Even when it isn’t change of your choosing.
I know that NOW. I sure as hell didn’t know it in the car.
In the days and weeks afterward, sometimes I would quite literally forget to breathe. I wouldn’t realize that I’d been holding my breath until I was suddenly gasping for air.
Sleep was impossible, even though I was achingly tired. I had no appetite, really. I perpetually had a headache. I felt as though my entire body was bruised — as though I’d been in an accident. I was cold. All the time. I found myself hurting myself frequently. I’ve always been a bit of a klutz, but during that awful time I frequently burned or cut myself when I was cooking, I sprained my ankle so severely that even now, four years later, it bothers me from time to time. A painful little souvenir.
I kept thinking back to my fortieth birthday, just a month before, when my life seemed intact and safe. When my husband stood up in front of family and friends and proclaimed how lucky he was to have me. And then threw me away, like so much rubbish. I found myself keeping track of time that way. There is a before you know, and an after. From the outside they look remarkably similar, but as we all know, the outside seldom bears any resemblance to the truth.
I have a few friends who are in varying stages of similar situations. They’ve discovered infidelity, they’re fighting for their marriages or they’re separated. They’re struggling. I listen to them talk, and my throat clenches in grief when I hear the pain and confusion and anger in their voices.
I remember saying to my best friend over and over, day after day, I can’t BELIEVE this is my life.
Here is what I say to my friends, and to any of you who are in the weeds right now. This is NOT your life. This is your life RIGHT NOW. And it sucks. Mightily. I know. I remember.
You will come out the other side of it. You will. Maybe your marriage will survive, maybe it won’t. But YOU will. You are going to learn so much about yourself. You have reserves of strength you never thought possible.
You will be happy, and you will be healthy. You will love again. Maybe you’ll fall back in love with your husband, maybe you will move forward and find someone new to share your life with. You will feel the sun on your face again.
If you had told me four years ago that I would be as happy, and positive, and in love as I am today, I’d have laughed in your face. I did, in fact.
But I’m here. And I am.
Hang on, sweet friends. Both hands.
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