This summer has been both great and difficult. Despite the fun and excitement of vacations, bbqs, and endless sunshine, I was so happy to see August slip into September for a couple of reasons. First, it marks the homestretch. We are only four months away from hopefully getting permission to see my husband be rebaptized. Our Stake President seems to think it should all go smoothly and as scheduled as long as my husband stays clean. Second, October 1st marks the anniversary of my husband's three month relationship (one month of on line affair, two months of physical affair). I am strangely excited to get into those three months, not because I want to relive those feelings and triggers but because with the passage of october, november and december, I can finally say that the affair was "a year ago." Not days ago, not weeks ago but a year ago! That is huge for me. I am currently bracing myself for the onslaught of triggers that might come as the weather changes and we engage in traditions that we did last year while the affair was ongoing. I hope I can be strong enough to face it and win.
One area where I am not winning is in the forgiveness battle. When everything first came out, I told my husband within an hour of his confession that I could forgive him for this. Within one day I was writing a heartfelt letter to Alice (the affair partner) expressing my forgiveness and my desire to see her happy. When lost in the fog of D-day trauma, it just seemed like the right thing to do so that I could take the initial steps to move on. Now that I have almost reached the nine month mark, I realize that that "forgiveness" was not complete at all.
I have found myself doing two things. First, I LOATHE Alice. I have taken to calling her Public Enemy Number one and I am now seeing her almost daily as she takes her child to preschool in our neighborhood. She, more than anything else, represents the evil of this addiction and she is the one that has hurt me the most. Second, in my need to express my grief, I almost daily punish my husband with a laundry list of the sins that hurt me. In my tortured and crazed mind, I figure that if he is never allowed to forget the hurt he has caused and the damage that has been done, then he will never, ever be unfaithful again. How is that forgiving?
Because I have been unwilling to really and truly forgive (I am not even sure what complete forgiveness means or feels like), I have allowed my mind to find itself in the most hellish of places. The images of my husband and Alice having sex haunt my every waking moment. They send me to a place where I just want to escape the nightmare of my own brain..even if that escape means leaving this world. (don't worry, I am not suicidal...I just wonder if sometimes I might jump at the chance to spend some time in Heaven given the opportunity...wouldn't we all?) It almost feels like a mental illness. The worry, fear, anger, loathing and grief are suffocating, debilitating. (Those feelings seem to have escalated as the summer has ended and I have started seeing her more often)
This Sunday, my sweet husband pulled the Stake President aside as he was visiting our Ward and pleaded with him to give me a blessing. I was so grateful that he did. The blessing contained an endowment of "power" given to me to shake off the adversary, get control of my life and dispel the darkness that has been consuming my every waking moment. With that power I should be able to feel my Heavenly Father's love for me and His desire for me to be well and whole again. After the blessing, the Stake President sat with me for ten minutes as I sobbed about how hard this whole process was and how tired I was of fighting it. He reminded me that I needed to endure because the blessings at the end of this refining would be great. I told him that the only thing I wanted at the end of this was my eternal marriage restored. He smiled and simply said, "It is coming."
That blessing gave me some added peace. That peace allowed my Father in Heaven to remind me that in order to "endure it well, " I needed to forgive completely and that I had the power to do it. There can be no more half measures...no more holding on to the hurt. I know, it's easier said than done but for my own mental health and the health of my marriage, I have to do it.
Of course the now all too familiar questions still exist. "What if I am betrayed again?" "What if I allow myself to heal and forgive and that wound gets reopened?" "What if this addiction is stronger than the both of us?" "What if it comes back?" The truth is, those questions don't matter. I need to forgive for me...not for my husband, not for Alice, not for anyone but myself. If I get hurt again, so be it.
But what if I don't? What if my husband can hold on to this recovery? What if Christ really and truly can change a person's heart? What if this whole trial is just leading up to some wonderful blessing and a brand new life for the both of us? I have confidence that that is what the Lord wants for us. He doesn't want me to hurt. He doesn't want me to continually punish my husband by bringing up sins that are being repented of. He doesn't want me to have a meltdown every time I pass Alice in my car. Forgiveness is hard...especially when you have been hurt as badly as I have but it is necessary and healthy.
So, I will now plead daily with my Heavenly Father to help me forgive both my husband and Alice. I am going to write a real letter of forgiveness to Alice...with nine months of perspective this time. (I probably won't send it, but I need to write it) I am going to truly try to refrain from using my husband's "sin laundry list" to hurt him or make his pain equal mine. I am going to have faith that despite the hurt I have suffered, that total and complete forgiveness is really the best medicine of all. I know it will take time and I know it won't be instant...but I need it and I have been endowed with the power to do it!. Wish me luck!