For all the talk show episodes and magazine articles, literature and studies that you can find on the topic of affairs, (and I’m here to tell you there is a butt load of information available) you would think that charting the course of affair recovery would be a bit more predictable and easy to follow.
After all the waves of shock, denial, total despair, and all out anger.. there usually occurs a period that then oscillates unpredictably between raw emotion and a newly found numbness. This phase can seem to last forever but eventually a more neutral state begins to take form and you begin to realize you have made it through the worst of it. It’s also easy at this point to fool yourself into thinking you made it completely. Through the fires of hell and out the other side. Survived it, and it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Sunny skies above, smooth road ahead…..
I have no idea where this stage comes from or what it’s purpose is because it’s wildly deceptive in its nature. Maybe it’s meant to infuse hope just when you think you’ve been crushed beyond recognition. A ray of light to grasp on to. A chance to remember what normal feels like again. But somehow I’ve made it this far, inevitably gets misconstrued into I SURVIVED IT ALL! Which is usually followed by the rude awakening of, HELLO!!…….you’ve still got a hell of a lot of work to do!
The good news is that over time it gets easier to recognize whether you are simply grasping at any sign of healing as proof you are cured or whether you are really healing which is progress. It also gets easier to deal with those times when you have to turn around and trudge back up the road of muck and misery and face whatever crap tripped you up along the way. Eventually you begin to learn that if you don’t, you are going to find yourself here at the crossroad time and time again. Maybe this time next week, maybe next year, maybe 5 years down the road. We can only fool ourselves for so long before reality starts to manifest itself in whatever nasty nagging ways it has to, to get our attention.
So this is where I am. I’ve landed at, skipped to, danced around and made a dead heat for the cross roads a half dozen times or so. Each time I’ve made it to the crest of the recovery hill and looked out across the lay of the land ahead, I’ve allowed myself that big sigh, that bright hope, that false security that making it to the crossroad was as good as being home free. That survival was mine!
Each time I failed to recognize a crossroad by nature is a choice in direction. This way? That way? Straight ahead? It seems I was never satisfied with seeing progress as progress. I wanted to be at the end destination!! I didn’t want to face a decision about what direction to go next or whether I had enough information to even make that decision. So, I let myself imagine the crossroad was really just a sunny picnic spot. A good place to park and get out. After all, hadn’t I deserved some relief having gone through all the pain thus far?
So I parked and got out. I stretched and it felt pretty good. I took a deep breath and though it felt strange it was pleasant to really breath again. I took a walk around and I didn’t meet any bears or tigers. Well now, that’s a good sign. Right? This must be a safe place. Before long it was easy to forget I was just pulled over for lunch. Before long it was easy to imagine that all was normal with the world again. Oh sure, it was never going to be the same. But, I mean….. what the hell? No bears, no tigers, no lions, clean air in my lungs, room to move. Could be worse! This is probably about as good as healing gets right? And that was that!! I was healed and recovered.
Until I wasn’t……….
In reality I was only reaching the crossroads and ignoring the hard work of making decisions about what I need and where I want to go. But let’s not get too focused on the set back. Set backs are temporary. They are reminders that our work is not done. They are not roadblocks or dead ends along our journey even if for some moments in time they feel that way. It is time to pack up the picnic, brush myself up and get back into the car. The journey is still ahead of me and the destination is what ever I will make it be.
Happy Travels my fellow affair recovery readers. If you accept the bumps and navigate between ditches and trust in the confidence of your instincts, there IS happiness on the journey. Take special care to notice it. It will help lead you to your destination. A New Year ahead, A new day today, a new evolving me each minute. Though I am often stuck in the mud, needing towed out, I am learning….slowly….that the journey is all mine and the real challenge to this recovery is not in the hope that everything will become wonderful and all the pain will be gone forever. No the real challenge is in becoming who I want to be. It’s not about traveling the well worn road that is expected of me. Sometimes it’s about choosing the road less traveled. The road that feels right. The road that calls to me even if it’s not shown on any map. It is not about making myself fit into the world, it’s not about making the world conform to my expectations. It’s about letting myself live and feel and dream and refusing to let anyone or anything take that away from me.