If you are ready to take your life back, start here.
By Sarah Cline
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of room to breathe, let alone grieve, after something traumatic as your entire world being shattered by a decision made by someone else.
Even worse, there seems to be this misconception that it’s your fault when someone has cheated on you. You repeatedly play in your mind the thousands of things you could have done differently to prevent it.
Although, when reality sets in, you submit to the fear of judgment and criticism. Leaving your soul empty, lifeless, and alone.
No one can prepare you for the massive damage and destruction that an affair is going to take on your life. Whether you perceive it as one small “mistake” or years of betrayal, the magnitude of heartache and shame has no bounds.
It has been just months before my wedding day. I was about to hop in the shower until my phone rang. It was my fiancé. The sound of his voice on the other end of the line immediately sent chills through my spine. What is wrong?
He asked me to come over because we needed to talk in person. When I arrived there, he led me to his bedroom to sit down next to him on the bed.
My body trembled at what was going to come next. He blurted out in a rage, “I CHEATED SARAH!”
He followed it with a confession that it was not just a one-time mistake, but he had been with multiple women over our entire four-year relationship.
I loved this man with every fiber of my being. I loved the life I thought we had, one that was now encased by a glass house.
As much as I knew it was wrong to stay, a piece of me believed him when he fell to his knees, groveling and pleading for me to accept his promise that it would never happen again. He was honest and came to me with the truth. That had to be worth something, right? So, I stayed and didn’t tell a soul.
Within the first year of our marriage, he returned from a bachelor party and sat down on the bed. He told me that he was unfaithful again.
This time, the shame swelled up even heavier inside me. Although I trusted him, I wasn’t surprised that I was here again. Again, he fell to his knees, groveling and pleading for me to accept his promise that it would never happen again.
I don’t know why, but I caved. Our life was flawless from the outside looking in and a part of me now believed I didn’t deserve any better.
So, three years of lies and betrayal continued until I finally found the courage to leave him. When I left, I thought that I would be free with a better life, but instead I fell into a vicious cycle of chaos and self-destruction in the following years.
No one tells you that going through a divorce is the next biggest loss to losing a family member. No one tells you that the buried years of anger and shame would still rise back to the surface, taking hold of you like a tidal wave.
It wasn’t until I hit the lowest point in my life that I finally learned that there were consequences for my decisions. I decided I couldn’t live that way any longer.
The only way I would survive was if I saved myself. There wasn’t a magic potion I could drink or an escape that would set me free. I had to put in the work every single day.
Most people spend a lot of time sitting around hoping for change. I’ve learned that change isn’t going to come until you take the first step.
If you are ready to take your life back, start here.
Take the first step.
I learned that it wasn’t about what was done to me. I was here because of my decisions, including what I allowed to enter my life.
Now is the time to make a conscious decision. From this day forward, you will only look back to see your progress. One of the greatest blessings in life is that you are not defined by your past, but you are prepared by it.
Surround yourself with positive influences.
You have control over what you allow into your life. Surround yourself with people who motivate, inspire and lift you up. Remove the people who drag you down.
It doesn’t matter how long someone has been in your life when you are choosing to live for yourself. A relationship is a privilege, not a right. Use the internet in your favor. Follow sites, pages, and people who breathe inspiration into your daily routines.
It was incredibly important for me to forgive those who had wronged me, but it was even more important for me to forgive myself.
It was crucial for me to let go of the pressure to be perfect and remind myself that I am human. I deserve a break.
I pledged to myself that I wasn’t going to let my past haunt me anymore. I was confident that everything that I did now and going forward were the only things that mattered to me.
You are not alone in this life.
I spent a decade of my life handcuffed by shame because I felt like I was alone. I felt like there was no one I could talk to because no one would understand.
I had been severely ashamed and embarrassed for my years of decisions and the circumstances I created for myself. I thought telling others would bring more judgment and criticism into my life.
When I refused to allow myself to live in that space anymore, I learned that there were so many other people who wanted to support and help me through my journey.
I share my story, so anyone facing hard or traumatic times can know that there is still hope. There is always hope!
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.