When I saw this image, my heart froze. Maybe the artist intended it to show a “redecorating” but that isn’t what I saw at all. My heart stopped beating for a minute and the ache in my chest I have come to label grief is still so very heavy when I see the image. While I have spent a very long time feeling this grief over my marriage, today it is simply grieving the word forever. Every couple who gets married thinks it will be forever, despite the statistics. Every couples knows they will be the one that lasts forever. Love songs with that title abound as do greeting cards and poetry on love. A common theme is forever.
For the survivor of betrayal trauma though, that word has been stripped of it’s power and the hope that the word forever conjures up for most people, was stolen from her. The relationship status of the betrayal survivor is irrelevant. If her partner commits fully to recovery, she knows there are no guarantees. She no longer has the ability to look at love and say the word forever, even if her marriage is restored. Even if her marriage becomes better than it was before the betrayal happened, the word forever is just missing from her vocabulary now. She knows, first hand, forever isn’t a guarantee. Recovery isn’t a guarantee. Love isn’t a guarantee, no matter how strong it is.
If her marriage fails and she musters up the courage to love again, it will be a more mature love and that is a beautiful thing. It will not be a love she can attach the word forever to though. Because she knows first hand that you can share a life and even a family with someone and never really know them. She knows the evil someone who claims to love you is capable of. The sad reality is that no amount of healing will undo that piece of damage.
For the woman who gets the restored marriage, the woman who moves on with a new love, and the woman who gives up on love entirely, forever no longer exists. One word being stripped from your world isn’t that big of a deal, unless that word packs as much meaning as the word forever. That piece of innocence is just gone forever. Stolen by the man she loved, all for a few moments of fake pleasure. Not only did that word lose it’s meaning, it wasn’t even over something worthwhile. We lost the word forever to porn. A fake portrait of intimacy, portrayed by drugged up human trafficking victims that is nothing more than an emasculator of men and a destroyer of marriages.
Many people label us betrayed wives as jaded, bitter and angry women. To some extent they are absolutely correct. We can be jaded, are often bitter and anger is usually our BFF for a good long time. There is a reason though. We lost the innocence we once had, the one that believed in forever. We attend support groups and hear the stories of other women, just like us, so deeply hurt, mourning their own innocence, often while the betrayer berates her about her trauma responses and is still actively betraying her and society blames us for his sin. So yeah, we are angry.
My forever was taken from me. Not my forever with my ex-husband, although that was taken as well. The word forever in general and that just isn’t fair. I still know Love wins but my definition of the word Love and how love winning looks is aletered now because it is missing the word forever.
Because the forever was violently ripped from our vocabulary.