You should see the look on their faces when I congratulate someone who has discovered their spouse’s affair. It’s a new category of look, one that is perched between shock and disgust. My good wishes are sincere, for the discovery of infidelity is a tremendous opportunity clothed in mourning attire. Living in the dark, in a relationship constructed with lies, is a life sacrificed. Condolences ought to be reserved for one whose entire life has been hijacked by deceit. But by discovering infidelity you have the opportunity to set yourself free. And that is worthy of applause.
When I discovered my husband’s affair I was distraught, devastated and blown apart by his betrayal. He was supposed to have my back, emotionally and physically. Instead, he hid behind his back a double life. Like a magician, he concealed a five-year relationship in plain sight, leaving me to feel worse than a fool. I cared for our two children, one just an infant, while he was falling in love with someone else and telling me he loved me, and that he was blessed to have me in his life.
Under the moon
And then, a pocket call blew the lid off his jar full of lies. I had finally discovered just how much he loved me. I then sat in a deep meditative state under the virtuous light of a full moon, which was pretty fascinating, because at the time I didn’t meditate. I didn’t think I knew how. I guess people turn to meditation for all sorts of reasons, including spontaneously in an effort to survive after witnessing their world vaporise.
At least that’s what I did
There, in the dark, began my metamorphosis from an uptight, nothing is ever right, I’m not worthy, judgmental, over-taxed, overwhelmed woman to a woman filled with gratitude and love for all, even my former spouse. I pulled myself out of the past and back from the future and began the process of retraining myself to live in the present moment. Because I didn’t have a choice, my world had just vanished. I was panic-stricken. My past was a lie. My future was shot. The only place I felt I could breathe was in the present moment. However, I wasn’t enlightened, I was afraid.
The trauma of discovering infidelity broke me apart. Then, the moon blew me open. When I looked at the scattered pieces of me, I had the opportunity to reclaim those that felt useful and set free those that no longer fit. Over the next three years I rebuilt myself. This was not a piece by piece experience. Sometimes the walls would fall again, or the foundation would get shaken. Sometimes I would pull the pieces apart to start anew. But I became accustomed to the process and was adept at reconfiguring the pieces of me so they fit better together.
Figuring out who I am
Each time I reconstructed or reconfigured I did so not out of fear but out of great curiosity. Who is this person I am to become? I took to the mountains, spending time in meditation to answer the question. And what I discovered was that my ego was the part of me that kept me stuck—in fear, filled with angst. I was unsure, always. It was my ego that needed to know who I was. It required me to answer—am I a wife? A mother? A writer? A failure? A success?
I am none of those things.
I am light. I am life. I am gratitude. I am love. I am presence. I am peace. I am a reflection. I am whole.
Mother, woman, wife, writer… those are positions I hold with gratitude, grace and reverence.
Addressing my ego
After many months of looking at my ego, coming to understand its role in my life, I sat it down and sent it on holiday. Sure, it tries to check in every now and then but I let it know all is well and send it away. Instead of seeing life through the eyes of my ego, I now live from my centre, my heart. I live from my soul.
It is from this place that I am able to express gratitude to my former spouse for being the catalyst that jettisoned me out of unconscious living and into presence. He has played a crucial role in my life. With him I became a wife, a mother, and then, through the experience of infidelity and divorce, I transformed my entire being.
The discovery of his affair was as near to a near-death experience as one can get, and the process of healing after was akin to a rebirth. Without having experienced it, or something like it, I feel safe saying that I would have lived a half-hearted life. And, upon my death, condolences would have been appropriate. Not now.
Now I celebrate each day. And when I feel myself wanting to judge or complain or be taken by fear, I come to the present moment, to my heart. I join hands with my soul, feeling secure and knowing that I am right here, right now, exactly where I am supposed to be. I feel the unconditional love that surrounds this gorgeous planet. And I nurture my vibrational energy so I exude that love. I have no idea what the future holds, which is fine. It is in the now that I must reside.
It is in the now that I hear the applause of the universe for living a life of presence.
Before the pocket call, I was eating cheese steaks and complaining about politics and hated my body and struggled under the weight of the world. I was always on the go with not enough time and never enough sleep. There was a constant ball of angst in my centre, as if at any moment tragedy could strike so I best be wary and on guard.
Gratitude for my husband’s affair
Do I hate my former spouse? No way. He played his role perfectly. I am eternally grateful. I know who I am now. I forgive his human actions because I know deep in my soul that his choice to have an affair fulfilled my need to be shaken to my core so that I could come alive.
This appreciation doesn’t mean I want to flip through our wedding album together, which I threw out, or reminisce about our brazen move across the country [the one that put him within an hour’s flight of his mistress]. Although I have laughed about the irony of that one… I do empathise with the burden he now carries. One day he’ll need to look into the wide eyes of our children and face their questions about his choice to break our marriage vows.
I accept that this was the journey he needed to take and I was the one who would walk beside him until the time when his actions would part our union.
I thank him because his affair, which to the world-at-large makes him a bad person, made me a more present and loving person, a more integrated being.
If you told me that I’d one day I’d be grateful for the experience of infidelity and divorce, I would have been shocked by your suggestion. Yet, that’s exactly how it played out.
This was first published in the May 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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