It’s been over a year and a half and recovery is still a word that I would use to explain where I am most of the time when it comes to my marriage. We are still on this healing journey.
Recovery I have come to believe is a journey that we will travel until our last breath, no matter what the trauma or struggle. When you begin to recover, you will always be recovering. While it seems to have a negative connotation I find it a peaceful place to be. Like I’ve said in earlier posts, trauma may have left a scar, but you are still living, breathing, moving forward. The scar will always be there. Some days it may be the first thing you see, other days it may slip your mind it’s there, still others it may cause a quick glance and then you will move right on. One tragedy can leave you with multiple scars too. I have a few scars from my husbands affair.
One scar that seems hard to not look at every day is:
The scar of broken trust. A painful, gut wrenching scar. It was brought on by the one person whom I have been the most vulnerable with all my heart on this earth.
It’s a big scar too. It’s from a wound that hit a vital, major artery to my marriage and even the condition of my heart to live healthy again.
Wanting to trust again, believing one can trust again, I knew even as I surveyed the rubble after the tornado of truth hit I had a desire to offer trust again. I knew I wanted a life where I could trust and have it honored and validated as the right thing to do. But how?
We trust with vulnerability. We trust at times without even second guessing the depth of trust we actually give minute to minute. It’s such a pivotal aspect of our every day lives and yet at times we don’t even know we are offering it. I take trust for granted with so many things in my life and yet I also find it so hard to offer it in other aspects. Each night as I fall asleep I trust the sun will come up tomorrow. I don’t fall asleep anxious or scared it won’t. I don’t shudder with every breath that there won’t be air to draw in. I don’t second guess the trust I have in stop lights as I drive, or road signs offering direction. I trust without question water will run from my sink when I turn it on. That there will be food at my local grocery store. All these are great examples of how trust is (dare I say) easy. But why wouldn’t it be easy. None of those involve putting your heart at risk. We were created to be relational people. Humans with feelings and emotions and reactions. When you add the element of a relationship to other people and all the emotional aspects and the trust required with those, it changes the whole game. So why wouldn’t a break in that trust also be a game changer?
When trust is broken in a relationship it’s a huge foundational crack. Its a break that leaves a cavernous gap between you and the other person. Relationships from friendships, to siblings, to parent and child, and especially spouse to spouse can’t survive very long without trust. I am going to say when it is betrayal of trust from your spouse it’s the worst possible kind. To me at least it was. I have never, nor will I ever allow someone into such personal, private vulnerable places of my heart as my spouse other than my God and creator. To me our spouse is our most scared relationship next to God. In fact I believe marriage is an earthly reflection, our best attempt to mimic our relationship with God. (—another blog for another time—).
I think that is what hurt the most from my husbands choices, the affair, and everything else that slammed into my life like a freight train. I trusted him like NO one else in this world and he betrayed that and did so out of pure selfishness. During the first few days I was so fearful I would never be able to trust or reach a level of vulnerability again with him. But trust can be rebuilt. Trust can be regained. Trust can be reaffirmed. Trust can grow again….from where? How? Why even bother?…..because of
Beginning to trust again grew first and foremost from the respect I have for my God and my faith. While I may not like all this life gives me and all God allows to happen, I can’t change the past. Everything we face has a reason, or explanation. The how and why isn’t really the point here. The point is God is right here with me through all of it. He may be allowing something to happen, or not stopping something from happening but He NEVER desires for me to live in fear, pain, or even to live without trust. He is not the cause of my husband’s choices. God is not the reason my trust was broken. God wants us to live and love and one day join Him in paradise. To get there and make the arrival such a glorious thing He gave us free will and that free will, gives us choices. To live as a Christian woman and stay true to all that comes from believing in John 3:16 I have chosen to respect that our free will leaves us open to making poor choices. Those choices lead to consequences. Being in relationship with others puts us in line with the dominoes as they fall when bad choices are made and pain is caused.
From that foundation of faith and respect I began to heal. Day after day, and sometimes minute by minute it was purposeful. To trust my husband again meant I needed to trust my God above and beyond any human relationship I have. What God and I have is even more than my marital relationship and husband. Yes what happened hurt, still hurts, and will always carry some hurt but my hope and trust can’t come from anything other than my faith and my God. Everything else is a blessing added on to what I will have eternally. Yes, my marriage was and still is important. We needed to fix, heal, begin to move forward. I wanted to be married and to THIS man. Before I could do that I needed to regain focus on who really was giving me everything I need in this life. For me, that began with respecting God and knowing He was bigger than even this hurt and struggle.
Once I found that defining level of respect I began to try and gain respect back for my husband. At first it was reminding myself of aspects of who he was outside of all this trauma. There were still things I respected about who he was as a person beyond this situation. Despite the pain and anger I was feeling, he was still there. Behind the poor choices he was still there. Aspects of him that I respected never changed even while he was making poor choices. So I clung to those as first. Then it trickled into listing even the tiniest of actions as we began to pick up the pieces. Some days it was a huge list, others I clung to the smallest amount my grief would let through. But time would allow the items to grow and become more apparent. The more respect I had for what he was doing, how he was doing things, and why he was doing things gradually began to open the vault of trust. His actions and reactions as we moved forward let respect for him to continue to grow. We have had set backs and moments where I have to review the list and not erase what is already back on it. But that is what makes this a healing journey.
He was doing the work. Being where he said he’d be. Showing me through his actions he was still here. Working on him, us, and allowing me to work on me. He was also showing me respect. He was respecting my pain. He was respecting my need to heal. He let me ask the tough questions. He was letting me cry. He was respecting the triggers and what those conjured us in me.
With regained and reinforced respect back in view after being tossed amongst the rubble of this storm it began to breath life back into trusting him. It hurts him I still have moments of doubt and lack of trust. It hurts me that I have them too. I remind myself that even in the “perfect” marriage there is hurt. We will not get this right all the time. He will hurt me again. I will hurt him again. Even today when I questioned my trust in him, with determined purpose I recounted the things I respect about him and the things I respect about what he is doing. That lead into ways he’s proven how and where I have been able to trust him over the past year and a half. My respect for him is allowing trust to grow. I see when he feels trusted his vault of trust opens up more to me too. I pray one day my trust will be so complete in him that I barely look at the scar anymore. I desperately want it be like that. One day trusting will be in all the glory God calls it to be. Until then behind my choice to trust more every day is a will to just keep growing and working and learning and allowing respect to build that trust.
I pray no matter where you are on the road to trusting again you find respect not only for those who have hurt you but yourself and God.