I’ve been married for 19 years. Two weeks after the wedding, I found out that my new husband had been cheating on me for three months prior to the wedding.
I was absolutely devastated and my whole world suddenly crumbled. Although I had been through other ordeals & traumas throughout my life before & since, including major depression & anxiety, that was (and is) the main trauma that I have suffered. It has resulted in PTSD & OCD and it has reawakened the depression & anxiety.
The best I could describe it is as a profound state of grief, because it had essentially been a multi-layered death. The death of the person I was (or thought I was), the death of the person I thought I married and death of the life I thought I was going to have. But also it was the death of any children I was planning on having and would never have.
I am still dealing with it. Like with all healing journeys, I have learned a lot along the way. One of the biggest lessons was about forgiveness (it is true that, as they always say, forgiveness is an essential part of the process. But what they don’t always tell you is that forgiveness is as much, if not more, for ourselves as it for the other person. Forgiveness for the choices we made, choices we did not make, actions we took or did not take. There is a lot of guilt that goes along with it.
One of the choices I made was to stay with my husband and go through therapy. I still don’t know if this was the right choice or not. But I do know that our journeys are unique to each person. And we cannot judge or council anyone on how or when they should heal (or what choices or actions to make or take). We each have to go within and discover that for ourselves.
But that does not mean we have to heal alone. I believe that, when we have the courage to share our story & journey, we can help others on their own journey of healing.
One of the things I learned in couples therapy was that we are instinctively drawn to partners who trigger our childhood trauma. For my husband it was being molested by a priest when he was a child. For me it was abandonment issues from being kidnapped by my father in an attempt to use me as leverage to avoid a divorce my mother had been threatening. He took me back to our homeland and then left me at an orphanage when he had to go look for work. I had no idea if or when he was ever going to come get me or if I’d ever see my mother or brothers again . . . In therapy I learned that, when we learn to see the wounded child in our partners and understand why they react the way they do and why they do the things they do, we can begin to heal not just ourselves, but our partner’s inner child, as well. It is a process & a journey.
Marriage is hard work. But it is a work of love and it is a journey of two souls. None of us is meant to stay the same person throughout our lives. If we did we would stagnate. We grow through adversity & challenges . . . Similarly, a marriage also evolves & grows. And, if/when we can manage to weather the storms and mutually heal our inner children, marriage can also be a journey of healing & transformation.
Courage is in the heart and love is the best healer.