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Life After Death

My heart is broken.  The lack of surprise doesn’t ease the pain; it makes it worse.   I don’t want to raise our children alone. I wish that I had married someone else. I feel stuck and worn out like a cliché. I have become one of those women who stays because of the children.  I don’t want to have to deal with the day-to-day parenting by myself. I don’t want to have to explain to them what is happening. I don ‘t want to explain to anyone else either.  I can’t even explain it to myself.  I feel like a coward.  I feel foolish and weak.  But, I’m pushing forward, onward. I’m  hoping that this is just another growing pain.  I’m fighting to not go insane.

These were the words that I typed a couple of days ago as I was reeling from finding out that my husband had betrayed my trust and loyalty—Again.  He broke our marital vow of fidelity. Though this particular incident was not as severe as the previous violations, all the same feelings and emotions from which I was still healing came rushing back like a flood.  I felt anger, embarrassment, sadness, hurt, frustration, hatred, disappointment, heart-break and whatever else you feel whenever someone who you have committed your life to for better and for worse is showing you their worst.  To add salt to my gaping wound, several of my closest girlfriends witnessed as my husband came home looking guilty as sin.  So of course, all eyes were on me.

I consider myself a strong woman, raised and surrounded by strong women.  But, I found myself feeling vulnerable and weak because though I had sworn to myself and everyone else in my close circle that I would leave my husband if he cheated, I didn’t before and I’m still not ready to do so now.  Before I was married and even some time afterwards, I harshly judged women in my situation.  I called them stupid for staying with cheating men. But, I know that I’m not stupid; I’m a fool in love.  Is there a difference?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I can raise my children as a co-parent; I can be alone; I can be happy without him but I don’t want to do any of that.  I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to live my life without him—not yet. We’ve been married for 12 of our almost 15 years together.  A lot of good and a lot of bad has happened.  But I can’t honestly say that the bad is outweighing the good. I’m not ready to give up on what we’ve built together.  He’s far from perfect but, overall he is a good husband and a good man. Yes, I know that it sounds like I’m making the typical excuses, well guess what??  I’m learning that I can’t allow what others think and say about my marriage to determine the outcome.  God has the final say.

Over the past few years I’ve had some very humbling experiences that have taught me some hard lessons.  Lessons that I’m still learning and re-learning. One of the lessons that I’m embracing comes from a Biblical passage that says that there is life and death in the tongue.  Meaning that the words we speak, can either give life or death to what we’re talking about. During a recent conversation with my best friend, I was trying to explain to her why I was once again choosing to stay in my marriage. I found myself not able to give her an explanation that would satisfy her.  All I could tell her for certain is that I’m not ready to leave; I want to keep trying.  I need to keep trying because I’m not a quitter and I believe that you haven’t failed until you’ve stopped trying.   She reminded me that for the past few months, I’ve been bitchin’ and complaining about the stress of managing our financial issues, raising our children, my dead-end job and my anxious desire to fulfill my dream of being an on-air radio host. On top of all of that and then some, my husband suffered a serious health issue last month and he is not able to work or drive.  So, his latest fuck up has extremely poor timing.

In the past, I could depend on my bff for boundless encouragement to keep my family together no matter what I was tripping about but, this time around she wasn’t giving me what I had come to depend on her for.  At first, I was irritated with her for not co-signing my commitment. But, after our conversation, something that my mother used to tell me popped into my head,  “Loose lips sink ships.” All the negative comments about my marriage that I had said to her and my other girlfriends were coming back to haunt me and slap me in the face—HARD! Comments like, “I wish I had married for money” and  “I’m sick of this,” were my tongue speaking death over my marriage.  I’m a sarcastic realist, my negative nature often rears its ugly head. I struggle to see the positive in situations. I’m realizing that my negative attitude has stunted change and growth in my marriage.  I know that this is why I was desperately trying to “sell” my explanations to my friend.

I thanked my friend for giving me a reality check. I learned a long time ago that if you tell folks your intimate business they will remember it and remind you of it when they see fit. I had fallen back into an old and damaging habit of highlighting the negative while dismissing the positive. I’m known for not taking bullshit from anyone, so it’s taking a tremendous amount of pride and determination for me to keep my head up during this tumultuous time. I’m still conflicted and confused.  I pray that I don’t regret my decision to stay in my marriage.

Some of us look at couples and we think that their love is so wonderful and great, we gush over them and wish them well, until we find out the not so great behind the scenes details. Details that we judge as unacceptable and inexcusable. I had gotten used to having my marriage admired by others, not wanting them to know the ugliness hidden within our beautiful relationship. Well, the jig is up; the facade is cracked.  Am I delaying the inevitable demise of my marriage?  Is there a rainbow after this horrible storm? I don’t know. And because I don’t know definite answers to those questions, I am choosing to once again bear down and as Iyanla Vanzant says, “Do my work.” I’m inspired by seasoned married couples who have survived and thrived after the trauma of infidelity. I believe and hope that we will survive and thrive as well.

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