When that moment comes that infidelity is revealed, it is one of the most devastating experiences one can endure.
“Unfaithful” by Shriver & Shriver (2009) is a book that tells a story of a Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust, came to America and got married. Years later, her husband cheated and left her. She described his unfaithfulness as, “the most painful experience of my life.”
Surviving infidelity is not for the weak of heart. Thriving in the face of infidelity is a mark of courage.
I’ve, like many, been cheated on. When the unfaithfulness was revealed, I felt as though I’d swallowed ice water. The blood pounded in my ears. I was crushed and had no idea how I would survive this blow, let alone thrive through it.
The pain and betrayal left me whirling. It took me some time to get my feet beneath me again. Slowly, I began to rebuild my life. Like the sun peeking through on a dark day, I began to feel my spirit rise.
Some of the lessons I learned in that process may help those of you who are in the painful throes of infidelity:
I learned how to stand on my own again. Scared and alone, with the responsibility of two young lives fully dependent on me, I learned how not only to do my best but whatever was necessary.
I learned that my self-image is not contingent upon another but rather comes from within. I was able to separate his infidelity from my image. I realized that it reflected something about him, not about me.
I learned how to take responsibility for my part in the marriage failing. I learned the ways in which I contributed to the demise and was able to shift my behavior to avoid making the same choices again.
I learned how to deeply trust my intuition. When the truth was revealed, I recognized that I had already known but hadn’t followed my hunch. Now, I know that when I know something, even without proof, to trust it.
I learned that despite being betrayed in the most painful of ways, I could trust again. I realized that trust is a choice we make and that I could choose to hold every person accountable for their choices or I could let the responsibility lie where it ought to—on the shoulders of those who chose to take this path.
I learned how to cultivate happiness and bliss on my own. I learned how mastering my thoughts helped me to master my feelings, which then helped me to choose my actions.
In short, I became the woman I was always meant to be when I was stripped bare of all of the illusions, stories, and counterfeit dreams I’d unwittingly bought into. When it all fell apart, I was left with nothing but my grit and unwavering devotion to creating a life of contentment.
When people ask me if I harbor negative feelings due to this experience, I can easily answer “no.”
In fact, I am grateful for it because the infidelity offered me a way out of an untenable situation, and without it, I may never have left.
Indeed, I am grateful for the cheating because it set me free.
When I realize that the bliss I’ve experienced may not have happened without that choice, I feel waves of gratitude wash over me.
I’m glad for the cheating.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
Author: Lisa Vallejos
Image: Gabriel Nunes/Unsplash
Editor: Sara Kärpänen