Can My Broken Heart Love Again?
I have worked with hundreds of broken-hearted individuals. They are either going through the death of their spouse, or they are facing divorce due to infidelity.
The death of a spouse is hard enough to heal and move forward with your life. The death of a marriage, knowing your spouse is still alive is a completely different beast.
If you're like me, you have lived through the ugliness of infidelity. You were most likely made to feel ugly, unwanted, undesirable, and unlovable. You have experienced that gut wrenching feeling that you were being lied to and deeply deceived and your heart hurt unlike anything you've ever experienced. You spent much of your time alone and in tears, trying to find the other half of your heart. If you were like me, you prayed and tried to bargain with God to please make this nightmare go away. The familiar question of "why' and the "what have I done" and "how can I keep our marriage together" questions consumed your every waking hour.
I've written on this before, and I am saddened and shocked at the amount of people who contact me and express how they related with each and every word about the hurt, fear, and trauma that infidelity caused them. Some were angry and bitter, still believing that "time will heal all wounds" and some were still trying to figure out what "stage of grief" they were in so that could anticipate the next stage and feel as if that was going to get them closer to their healing.
Let me be the first to tell you that I did that too. I believed that with each "stage of grief" I could get through, it would either show me that my marriage was worth saving or that I just needed to kick the dirt on the casket of memories and finalize the enormous hurt my heart had been through and pick of the pieces of myself and start rebuilding. What I discovered has been what I call eyebrow raising.
I am a very spiritual person and I completely believe in the power of prayer. God has certainly shown me that His ways are higher than mine and that I should not lean into my own understanding. I spent much time near the water, whether it was a pool, lake or ocean, talking and walking with the Lord asking Him to "Search my Heart." He did just that and He began to show and teach me what He had found there, deep inside.
He began to reveal to me much unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, low self-esteem, and a great amount of fear. He led me to Al-Anon, Women's Prayer Groups, and a variety of church ministries that all contributed to the truth about healing my heart. We started with the unforgiveness. They was the hardest part to look at for me. It was filthy, full of hatred, and we found no love within it. Unforgiveness was making me sick - my heart was sick and severely infected. My heart was hard in fear of being hurt like that again. I had placed a wall around my heart in order to be safe and assured that nobody would ever hurt me like that again as long as I lived.
My self-esteem was at an all time low. I mean, I had done what I thought my spouse wanted me to do ... I lost about 25 pounds, and was back in my size three's, I was working out everyday, and yet I still felt so ugly. Like he didn't notice that I was trying to look good in his eyes again. I mean let's face the cold hard facts here - I was trying to compete with his twenty-two year old girlfriend at the age of forty-two. I know, good luck with that one! I would have need plastic surgery to get the type of body I had at twenty-two years old.
Nothing was making me feel better and my heart was still broken. I then began to notice a family pattern. My father had cheated on my mother, and all three of my sisters had been through infidelity as well. What had we done to deserve this? Snap! Don't be a victim about it. So I continued to dig a little deeper as I looked at the family patterns. We were raised by a woman who had a heart of gold, good morals and values, and a firm faith. She was a bit hard headed about things, but we would chalk her stubbornness up to the family gene pool. We were all a lot like her - stubborn. Growing up not seeing how respect meant love to a man. We were all quite self dependent and hard working women. Work became an outlet to me throughout much of my marriage. A way to escape. Some people use ways to escape their pain through alcohol, drugs, sex, exercise, and either over eating or starving themselves. This is what is known in grief recovery as a STERB. A Short Term Emotional Relief Behavior. Emphasis on the "short term relief" part.
I thought my stubborn genes were paying off as I was determined to find the answers to all this pain my heart was now consumed. I kept digging for answers that never seemed to come when it came to the heart-breaking choices my spouse had made. I had finally reached a place where being the victim of someone else's choices had taken their toll on my heart and my mind. My spirit was in desperate need of being filled and my walks with God became the medicine I so needed at the time. I soaked my spouse in prayer and asked God to bless him in all of his ways. I exchanged so much of my own resentments and bitterness. I learned to repent of my ways and was able to find safety in stillness. This wasn't my battle to fight - it was my spouses battle.
I began to go into observation mode. I respected the choices he was making right, wrong or indifferent. I moved all of my "reactor buttons" and learned the value of not taking things personal. I tried so hard to be impeccable with the words I spoke. I still knew deep inside that the trust that had taken thirty-three years to build was gone. I knew that without trust, my constant fear of going through this again would most likely be the end of us, so why put myself through that again. This was not the first affair after all - and the past attempts to rebuild has only gotten back to this. I filed for divorce and began a new journey.
I have begun to see that even after being divorced for nearly four years, I am still very guarded with my heart. I know deep inside, that the choices my ex-husband made cannot be the cause of me guarding my heart from being hurt again. As I write, I am looking at the most beautiful set of eyes of any man I have ever known. A photograph that sits in front of my computer of a strong, hard-working, handsome, loving and caring man. A man that I so yearn to hand my entire heart to but only find myself handing over pieces of it to him. I ask myself, "What has he ever done to you to not give your whole heart?" He has done nothing wrong, nor has ever given me any reason to hide behind the shattered pieces that someone else caused.
After seeking my own grief recovery, I found myself in a pit. I took the time that I had wasted and began to apply the steps of recovery. I wanted to be whole and happy again, I got not just one certification in grief, I was blessed to obtain two certifications. Certificates on the wall mean nothing unless you work your butt off to see if they actually work. I've done t