My husband called from Rehab the other day and left a voicemail. He talked about how he was continuing to pray for me and missed me. He talked about learning to play the song, Innocent, by Our Lady Peace, on his guitar and how it reminded him of my Dad and his Grandfather.
— Innocent – we are all victims of something. Infidelity, abuse, self-doubt, fill in the blank. —
The song did not evoke any feeling for me, but what did was my initial reaction to his statement which was, ‘You don’t know my family!’ This, of course, is not true. He has loved my family for seven years and they have loved him for seven years.
What I realized from that reaction is how firmly I have placed him in the ‘stranger’ zone in my mind. Which is the first thing every betrayed person does to keep safe. If the perpetrator is a stranger, someone that I thought I knew, some monster with no emotional bearing, than this incredible pain is more about my falling for the lie than it is about him. It’s hard enough to take the initial blow, but to actually have to understand that this person is not a stranger at all, but the person that is supposed to love you, is beyond comprehension and delivers even more anxiety-ridden, suffocating trauma.
The problem is, keeping him in the stranger zone is not going to move the grief forward. To change his status from stranger to husband, actually requires me to give him some humanness back. At a time when there is nothing to give, it is necessary to give again.
My husband comes home in less than a week and in that time I have to learn how to protect myself and to stay safe in his company. He is a person after all, not a monster that I don’t know.
Although I did not choose it, he invited another woman into our marriage. And whether or not we stay together, she will be a part of our story forever. So I have no choice but to walk into the grief.