This weekend marked an anniversary for me. It was three years to the day since I discovered the trail of emails that was to lead me to the truth about my ‘soul mate’ of ten years. Three years since my entire world shattered round me, leaving me lost and alone to deal with the ugly, frightening truth.
I remember so clearly the evening I found the black and white proof that my marriage was nothing but a sham. Reading one email after another, I remember literally holding my throat and gasping for air. Pushing down my nearly overwhelming desire to be sick, and doing my best to control the shaking in my legs while my heart pumped in my mouth.
I got through those first few days on pure adrenalin. I would not – could not – give in. I knew I had to stay strong and fight – both for myself and for my son. At that time I had absolutely no comprehension about the magnitude of the war that I was facing. I knew, of course, that my heart was broken and that life would never be the same again – but I did not understand just how far “hell and back” really was, nor how perilous the terrain. And in many ways I’m grateful for that.
Surviving The Aftermath
In many ways I’m thankful that I fell back on what surely is the most basic of all instincts – that of survival. I thank my lucky stars that I learned to focus on keeping myself together rather than contemplating the enormous emotional, financial, professional and spiritual carnage that had been steadily eroding my life while I blindly carried on giving love and support. Nurturing the very person who was cold-bloodedly using our “relationship” to fuel his own sordid existence – at my expense.
It has been one heck of a battle. Not with him because, as you know, I have neither seen nor spoken with him since the night I discovered the truth. Thank goodness he’d been in another country while I was sat at home in France. As soon as he knew he’d been rumbled, he quite literally disappeared. No explanation. No question. No contact. No nothing. Gone. No, my battle has not been with him as such… the battle has been with the world in general – and myself in particular.
Over the three years since that night, I’ve had to pull myself literally out of the pit of ruin and damnation. I’d been told I would lose my home, leaving my son and I on the streets with nothing but a pile of debts. I’d also been told that it would take years of expensive court battles to secure a divorce. On top of that, I also had to deal with the on-going insinuations from professionals that I must be “missing something up top” in order to let myself get in to such a ridiculously dangerous and hopeless situation “But madam” sneered a credit controller from the mortgage company, who just a few days before my discovery were about to sign an order to repossess the property “surely you must have realised something was wrong? We wrote you numerous letters telling you about the situation….”
“Yes!” I wanted to scream “and I never saw any of them because they were being hidden from me!” But, of course, I realised that any kind of response like that would merely provide further ‘evidence’ that I had lost the plot. So instead I learned how to remain calm, focused, and unwavering in explaining that no, I hadn’t understood what was going on. That yes, now I was in full possession of the facts and was keen to clear up the mess. That I’d like to understand what I could do, and that yes, I could absolutely promise that any agreed payment terms would be upheld – despite the existing bad payment records (and despite having no idea how in the world I was going to be able keep my promise).
It was excruciating. So many of the seemingly tiny steps of progress would involve a ridiculously huge amount of personal control and calm – when all I really felt like doing was crying out and collapsing in a heap.
I remember the silent howls that raged inside as I bit my lips and took yet another deep breath “Why can’t you see? When is somebody going to support me? What is stopping you from realising the truth and helping me?”
But of course I couldn’t do that. Instead I used the hurt and anger to propel me forwards. Gritting my teeth and giving myself countless pep talks, I slowly came to realise that… in actual fact…. I didn’t need other people to understand or sympathise with my situation. Well, not in the way I had originally thought I did, in any case.
Acknowledging The Small Steps
No, as I built my self-support muscles I found that I could deal better with each new piece of information. Every time I achieved the smallest of achievements, I would pat myself on the back, or say something out loud to myself until the phrase “well done Mel” gradually settled itself as a regular in my verbal library! The more I did that, the more confidant I became that I would be able to come through – despite the vast array of information and so-called expert advise that kept insisting to the contrary.
My thoughts (and self-questions) gradually changed form. Gone was “why can’t you see the truth!” to be replaced by “I know what happened, that’s what is important. And it doesn’t matter whether or not you can understand – I don’t judge you either way”. Equally, thoughts of “I just can’t go on” were slowly substituted with “Bring it on – you’re messing with the wrong woman here!” But rather than being simply the war-cry of adrenalin-fuelled defiance from the first few days and weeks, it slowly became a solid declaration of the fact about who I really was. Who I had become, and (most importantly) who I always had been.
And as more battles presented themselves, I started to enjoy the continual cycle of personal growth while I slowly woke up to the truth that actually, I can do this. I am already enough. I always have been. I realised that I no longer needed validation from anyone else – because here I was, finally standing strong and proud by myself and for myself. Stepping up, speaking up and forging ahead became my spiritual and emotional work-out, and through the process I have become fit, strong and confident.
It hasn’t been easy. And I’m now facing some physical fall-out (no results from the biopsy as yet, but I’m feeling confident I can deal with the verdict, whatever it is) which, quite honestly, doesn’t surprise me when I step back and consider the full picture. I think it’s safe to say I’ve made it – I’ve passed go and collected £200 to boot. It’s been one heck of a journey and it’s no wonder that my body is now protesting – or perhaps just cleansing old patterns? No matter. I’m confident that this is another opportunity to learn more and live with more joy.
Would I choose to do it all again….? Never in a million years. And I while the prize is one I shall cherish forever, I would never wish my journey on anyone else. Ever.
What I will happily share, though, are all the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Because I do believe it’s possible for people to learn from the experiences of others…. My challenge is simply how to get the messages across in ways that are meaningful, useful and relevant. Hhhhmmmmmmm….. now that keeps me thinking 🙂