I was listening to Be There in Five's newest episode while walking Rex yesterday and Kate was talking about how one person's positive experiences with a person do not invalidate another person's negative ones. She was talking namely about dangerous misogynists in the business world but it got me thinking about other relationships and experiences within one relationship as well.
I've been carrying a low guilt about the way this blog makes my husband look. I started it so soon after the lowest point in our marriage, and our entire relationship, and it shows. It's been so helpful to get my thoughts out onto "paper" and I hope that it's relatable. But we've been together for six years now and, overall, I love my husband very much. I love being married. He is truly my best friend and favorite person. In our first couples' therapy session, our counselor said that one of the first steps in recovering from infidelity is leaving the old relationship behind in order to build a new one. At the time, my reaction was "YES. F*** that old thing. It's dead. It's gone. Let's move on". But as the weeks have gone on I'm realizing that one of the issues that keeps coming up for me is the grief over losing that relationship.
My marriage was not perfect. We were not connecting on a deep, intimate level. But we have always had fun. We had some of my favorite days together in Brooklyn. We trained for and competed together at Wodapalooza in Miami right before his infidelity started. We've taken trips and shared experiences that I don't want to bury as though they are dead alongside this old relationship. So as we move forward, I'm choosing the things that I want to take with me and those that I want to leave behind.
I'm leaving behind my rush to be critical and the high expectations I place upon myself, my husband, and our relationship. I'm leaving my tendency to overreact and make every negative thing about me or a direct result of some inner failing of mine. I'm leaving this inner belief that my husband should just KNOW what I need or what is wrong at any given moment. I'm sure some of these guys will try to stow away into the new relationship and pop their heads up like little Whack-a-Moles. But I'm on the lookout for them now and won't let them stay for long.
But I'm bringing our shared passion for food and a good cocktail. I'm bringing our commitment to working out and wanting to be a little bit fitter every day. I'm bringing our sense of humor and relishing in the fact that we can dissolve into laughter together even during something really hard like couples' therapy. And I'm adding in some new elements as well: communicating without fear of judgement or shame, owning what I actually want and need, and recognizing patterns that I bring into our relationship that I learned growing up.
Bringing back my favorite sage and poet, Taylor Swift, I'm moving away from the idea that "this thing was a masterpiece / 'til you tore it all up". I'm envisioning our relationship as a pool or a river that's had a bucket of paint poured in. It already had some drops and cups that had fallen in over the years. Like a recent oil spill, the paint is concentrated right now and glaringly obvious. It makes the body of water less beautiful, it's marred. But overtime it will disperse until you can't really see it at all. It will always be there but less in your face. The negative experience cannot and will not invalidate all of the positive ones. That's my hope at least.