Grief is raw, requires vulnerability, and facing reality. None of those actions are pleasant, but it is the grieving that allows us to move forward after a devastating experience. As women walk the road of betrayal, grief is inevitable. However, in order to heal, we must face the reality of our partner’s choices and mourn the life we thought we had.
Grief in betrayal trauma is multi-faceted because we’ve not lost a loved one, we’ve lost the idea of him and the world we shared: its history, its friendships, its family, its intimacy. Our entire world has imploded and pieces lay everywhere. The losses are too great to count, much less to name.
But naming those losses is important. One way to accomplish this is to write an impact letter. (This is a part of a Full Therapeutic Disclosure, but it can also simply be a journal entry that we share just with ourselves for now.) Once we name the things we’ve lost, we can grieve them and have a better idea of how to move forward.
The paragraphs that follow are part of an Impact Letter written by a friend in the Hope Redefined community. She hoped that sharing it with you would give you some insight into the losses we are all grieving, but also give you the permission to name your own losses. As you read, may you feel seen and find validation for your story.
The grief has been so heavy these past days since learning the truth. With grief, not only feelings of deep sorrow, but feelings of anger bubble up. I want to escape to the comfort of apathy, of believing that what you did cannot touch me. But that is simply denial. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that denial has its place, but there I will not linger. I will make the choice to step into the hard places and rebuild what has been broken and take back what has been stolen. But, I’m really mad that I have to.
To learn more details about your choices is heartbreaking. That heartbreak does give way to compassion for you and what you experienced that led you to make these choices. But the heartbreak I feel for those impacted weighs heavy on my heart, too.
The next piece is complete devastation because I now know that some of my favorite things about the man I believed you to be were a lie and that makes me feel like a fool. I want to completely disappear due to shame, shame over choices I did not make. These feelings of devastation and shame are so big, I feel like they are going to swallow me whole. Will this ever get better?
I look back at our relationship and I see so many times you did not choose me. The pain is almost tangible.Your honesty did not bring me much but the affirmation of abandonment. I guess I didn’t realize how lonely I was so many times in our relationship. There is so much confusion in being chosen and not being chosen at the same time…when I think of it, it still makes my heart race.
Over and over, you asked me to choose you, while you got to choose other things. What sense does that make? And then to be lied to and told that wasn’t the reality added so much to my confusion. I had to be 100% available and you did not. There is no safety in that.
You say one thing – that you are sorry – but your actions speak a much louder truth.
So many times when I needed you, you turned again to your addiction. I needed you to be close, and you could not be there because you chose something else. You bailed and left me to handle pain and fear that we could have carried together. You chose porn. Again and again and again.
I’m not surprised why I default to apathy when life is hard now. It is expected that you chose something, anything over meeting me in pain and fear. The real question for me is why. But I don’t think you even know the answer to that. We can make our best guess but the truth is, I don’t think knowing the why would help. It might give more context but it won’t change anything really.
I think the greatest impact is actually the best impact of all. This has brought me so much closer to the Lord. You may not choose me when I want you to, but I am chosen by Him. I am fully known and loved by Him. When I look at our story, I see all the bad- remember, I am making a choice not to linger in the land of denial – but, I see a God who sees the mess too and chooses BOTH of us.
I see two amazingly beautiful and precious children that I honestly cannot imagine my life without. I see a God who knew I needed them, and so in His infinite grace gave me two gifts I didn’t think I wanted. Your human-ness magnifies His goodness and His faithfulness. He never lets go. He never doesn’t choose me. And I see that so much more now.
While the impact of what our spouses have chosen over us is devastating, grieving that loss can push us toward healing. Again, writing a letter or simply making a list of the things we’ve lost due to our spouse’s choices might be our only choice at this point in our story. But there is VALUE in that page of words. Acknowledging our losses allows God to bind up our broken hearts and tend to our wounds just as it says in Psalms 147:3. May we have the strength to take this step toward God to let him do just that.
A Fellow Hope Wrangler,