In the holiday spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d list some things I’m thankful for on the other side of infidelity. Please add your own in the comments, and have a wonderful holiday!
1. No more manufactured chaos. I am thankful every day I don’t live with some harebrained “crisis” my (now ex-husband) cheater created. To wit — his rages about his bad days at work, his rages about wet towels, his rages about the proper way to make stewed tomatoes, ad infinitum. Or his financial excesses, the high drama around his double life scheduling (shit! We have theater tickets?), his easily bruised ego. And finally — no more horrific discoveries (cell phone bills, secret phones, an email from the OW, etc.)
2. Good friends. I am thankful for all the angels in my life. I’ve been very blessed with great friends. In those dark days, a lot of what fueled me forward was their love. How they still saw the “old me” or believed in my best self. To Yoma, the archangel, who frigging bankrolled my divorce until my settlement came, to Caroline who watched my son and my dog when I had to work late and without whom single mothering would have been impossible, to Maureen who showed up after DDay to help back his crap up and stayed with me. There are many others — and I will always feel such love and gratitude to them.
3. Perspective. In a weird way, I’m thankful for the sucker punch to my life that was infidelity. I would have never met my husband if we both hadn’t have been cheated on in our former marriages. I would never have experienced so many blessings, of living in different places, of the friends I made there, and the work I did, if I hadn’t have followed along on that freakish journey. I learned that often from the very worst things in life, come the best things. That doesn’t make the bad things NOT bad — I think of it more as a catalyst. Like Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz — the tornado comes and plops you down in a new technicolor world you have to make sense of . Yeah, there’s witches and flying monkeys, but it’s also a lot more colorful than Kansas, and you make some great new friends.
4. A resilient kid. I’m thankful for my son. For being such a good kid. For loving with an open heart. For accepting that his mother took him on a journey that was fucked up at times. For having to reinvent himself after each move and make new friends. I’m thankful he’s healthy and happy and doing well in school. I’m super blessed — he’s a wonderful kid. I can’t really write cogently about my kid, except to get gooey. So, I’ll spare you.
5. Tenacity. I learned after infidelity that I’m made of some pretty tough stuff. That I can field marshall my way out of some of life’s worst crap. I would prefer that the Universe not test me again for awhile (after infidelity, I’ve also survived a friend’s suicide, a hurricane flood, multiple custody trials, and the Tigers not winning the World Series). But I also have a newfound confidence that I can face most anything.
6. A great relationship. This has been the greatest blessing of all. I am grateful for my husband. For a good marriage to a good person. Sometimes I wish I’d met him when I was 18 and I could just short circuit the intervening years, but I don’t know if I would have the wisdom to appreciate him like I do now. (Oh, to be young and ungrateful! I’d take that, but I don’t think the Universe is going to give me the last 28 years back.) Not that it takes a lot of “wisdom” to appreciate my husband. Anyone can intuit pretty quick that he’s a gem. I’m sure a lot of you out there can relate to this — or will soon — if you’ve been in a bad relationship, and then you get a GOOD relationship? It’s a revelation. THIS IS HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE? REALLY?!
When I try to describe it, I often think of this poem by Sigfried Sassoon, one of the great World War I poets. He wrote it just after the war ended, so I’ll end with it. It’s called “Everyone Sang” — and Happy Thankgiving!
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on–on–and out of sight.
Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away … O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.