Anger is an unbelievably powerful emotion. It has the power to shift not only the way we feel inside, but the way we see the world around us. It has the power to blur our vision of the world. Anger has the power to reshape us, if we let it.
I’m not generally an angry person. Emotional, yes, but angry? No, not so much. I find myself easily frustrated, but not angry. Not the full power of the tornado in your belly anger that gives you the power to rip down roofs and plow through oceans with your bare hands. True unadalterated anger.
When I experienced the all encompassing betrayal of my husband, when I discovered his infidelity, I felt an anger unlike anything I had felt before in my adult life. I felt a power inside my body that I wasn’t aware existed. It is only now, as I finally step back into the light after the darkest six months of my life, that I start to see my emotions for what they really are/were. When you love someone, when you marry someone, when you have a child with someone and you place all of your trust, your heart, your livelihood in their hands, anything can happen.You hand yourself over to them. You submit yourself to their whim. You give yourself to them.
For me, I threw myself head first into a relationship that I knew was going to be a challenge. I’d heard it a thousand times, the questions from friends and family. The questions that filled my ears. But how is it ever going to work? We came from different lands. We spoke different languages. We prayed to different gods. None of it mattered to me. All I could see was the love. I believed, and I still do believe that love is enough. True love. If you truly love someone you protect them. You put them first. You wrap yourself up in them and you never want to leave.
I was wrapped up in us, never wanting to leave. I was just too blind to see that he was no longer there. He had left long before, but I didn’t know. I thought that we had a future together. Discovering infidelity is like discovering that everything you thought was true, was actually a lie.
The moment you discover the truth it feels as if time stands still. For me it was about midnight. My husband was asleep on the couch. My daughter was asleep in my bed. In a bid to organise family Christmas presents I accidentally stumbled across the email that began the spiraling decent of my marriage. As my eyes darted over the words that my husband had sat and typed mere hours before to a girl I had never met, my heart began to race. As I digested what I had read my skin began to burn like fire. As I tried to swallow the lump in my throat I felt my entire world of dreams crash around my shoulders.
When I am angry, really angry, my body turns into a powerful flame. I am hot and it is best to give me space or I have the power to burn. After I put my husband back on a plane and sent him away from us, I was still a raging fire tearing up a dry hill in the middle of summer. I was still powerful and hot and crackling in the sweltering heat of my emotions. For months I was hot but with every week that passed my flame got smaller and smaller. When I saw my husband three months later in Noosa it was like someone poured fuel on my shrinking flame. His betrayal became more hurtful with his words and his ambivalence and I raged inside my body, a burning fire bursting to get out, screaming for air. In the past four months the flame inside my body has got smaller and smaller, so small in fact that now I hold it only in my hand. It is hot and it is powerful but it is manageable.
I am still hurt. But I am no longer angry. I am still shocked at how life has played out, but I am no longer controlled by it.
I am in the process of gathering the necessary paperwork to finalise my divorce. To sever the tie and break the promises that I made, my bare feet in the chocolate sand of Java, on the beach of our home village, baby in my belly. I am preparing myself with calm to do what I never thought I would, to end my marriage. My husband has already moved on with his life, his world of photo shoots and parties and never ending summers continues on without us. As if we never existed at all.
For me, life has changed. I have changed. Bo has changed. And together we build a new life, just us two. We move into our own house this weekend, and I start a new job next week. It’s as if everything has come full circle once more. The wayward traveler, the wild inside me isn’t gone, just tempered, for now. I still love my husband. I always will. I see him in my daughters eyes, I hear him in her laugh. But in our every day, he is no longer here. I don’t think of him and when he does come into my mind my body doesn’t burn with the fire of betrayal. I have learned to let that go.
Hanging on to the pain and the blame that I held on to for many weeks does me no favours. I realised a few months ago that even though I wasn’t destroyed by anger or pain, I wasn’t healing, I was suffering. Suffering from pain and exhaustion and heart ache. Suffering from choices that a man made who was careless with my heart. I was suffering. But I wasn’t suffering because of him, I was suffering because of myself. I was suffering because I hadn’t decided once and for all whether or not I was going to let him go. I hadn’t decided that I wasn’t going to believe his lies anymore. I was still hanging on, desperately clinging to any word of hope that he uttered. I was desperately clinging to the hope that he would wake up and realise what he had thrown away, and that desperation was my own, and it was making me suffer.
You don’t need to hear the lies to see the truth. When I was a child I was taught that actions speak louder than words. So I stopped talking. I stopped begging. I stopped asking for love. I just stopped and I listened, not to the words but to the actions… and I saw clearly what had been there in front of me all along. I realised that there was only one thing left for me to do.
I let it go. I changed the way I looked at the situation and I stopped initiating conversations. I walked away from the conversations that weren’t serving me and I walked away from the lies. I fielded emails from my husbands friends (wishing to educate me on how to be a better wife to my husband) with strength and compassion and truth. I listened to the lies and the hurtful words with half an ear and then I let them go. I reminded myself that not everyone needed to know the truth, that the stories he chooses to tell will follow him, they are not mine to set right.
It’s amazing how much easier it all became, now that anger no longer blinds me. Now that the desperate need to be “fixed” no longer overcomes me. The lies and the false hope still filter through from time to time, but so does the truth. Much more of the truth, because even though it isn’t what I had wanted, it is what I need to see to give me the strength to make the choices that are best for myself and for my daughter. We deserve love, even if it is just our own, untainted by lies and manipulation. We deserve a bright and joyful future without tyranny.
I still hold onto that little flame though. I don’t let it burn me anymore, but I hold on. I draw strength from it. When I stand up in the face of adversity and I look at all I must do and the challenges I must overcome and I feel beaten, I remember that flame… and I know I can do it, I know I am strong enough to stand alone. Because I have done it all before, and I will do it all again.
How do you let go of your anger? Do you think you can ever forgive betrayal? Do you think you need to?