I resonate with the feelings of another betrayed wife who bravely pulled the curtain back on what infidelity and sex addiction really look like within the privacy of a marriage. She writes, "Sometimes I feel like I am sleepwalking. I don't recognize my life now. I feel like it must surely belong to someone else. It is a good life in many, many ways, but it does not feel comfortable in that I don't feel like it belongs to me. It's like wearing someone else's clothes--the feel, the smell, the look is all wrong. I don't know how to explain it."
Life post-betrayal is full of paradox. While I am grateful to be living in truth and authenticity, free of pedophilia, and am deliriously happy with my new marriage, I am homesick. I'm homesick for the familiar life that I no longer have. My ex-husband's arrest on child pornography charges brought a tidal wave of change into my life, all at once. I was anticipating some changes because six weeks prior to his arrest we had decided to divorce. But his arrest dramatically changed those plans. I did not know it then, but I was entering a period of imposed change.
According to Dr. Patricia Wiklund, imposed change results from a life-changing event that you couldn't predict, didn't cause, don't want and can't avoid (Wiklund, Patricia, Lesson One of e-course for women of child molesters). Change that we anticipate and plan for is exciting but all change carries with it stress and loss. Imposed change, on the other hand, is not planned for and does not result from a personal choice--another or circumstances beyond our control imposes it upon us. Here is some of what I recorded in my journal five months after my life exploded:
"I guess I'm also realizing how much of my old life was cut off and thrown away. I smashed a 25th wedding anniversary photo of us, threw away my wedding bouquet and our anniversary album. These parts of my life have been consigned to the trash heap--so many years. So many years. So much of who I am and what I have lived for is now in the trash. Where do I go from here? How do I redeem this?"And
"Life as I knew it ended five months ago. Life as I anticipated it ended. My budding career--my hopes and dreams--all died five months ago. I don't know what or who I am or should or will be. I am in a place I never wanted to be in--literally and figuratively. A dusty, congested, barren place that I now call "home." Maybe I enjoy seeing the barren hillsides surrounding this new home because they symbolize my internal world--barren, without life, future or hope. I don't know--just know that I am waiting. Waiting to see who I will become when I grow up--hoping I get to grow up before life's hourglass runs out of sand."
There were many layers to the grief I experienced when I wrote those entries and even today as I
write these words. Loss has marched through my life in so many different forms during the past few years but of all the varied types of loss, that of imposed change is the hardest to contend with. No one asked me if I wanted my door broken down or if I wanted my life displayed on the evening news for all to see. I wasn't consulted about any of these changes; they just came.
So today, I honor the grief that has come yet again. I allow it to wash over me and acknowledge that I feel like an alien in my own life--an undocumented, non-resident in a world that is no longer familiar to me. And I vow to take this grief and make meaning of it by sharing the journey with others who similarly grieve. It is time to tell the truth about pedophilia, sex addiction, infidelity and betrayal. It is time to reclaim that which we have lost as a consequence of imposed change--ourselves. It is time to own our story and to tell it with vulnerability, courage, and determination.
It is only when we dare to show up and allow our stories to be heard and ourselves to be seen that real societal change begins because it begins in us. This is how we change a climate that sanitizes and minimizes the pain of sexual betrayal and loss. We stand up and say "ENOUGH ALREADY!"