My husband was leading a double life. How I fell apart, then found strength.

A few weeks after giving birth to my first baby, I was wracked with ache to the point that I could scarcely move.

Swinging my legs, one after another, out of bed took nearly all my willpower. This ache had nothing to do with the physical stress of childbirth or the sews still holding my swollen private area together.

This pain came from a place so deep within me that I could not identify where the ache objective and I began . We were intertwined. It was all-consuming.

It felt as if half of my DNA had been rent out of my body and I was left with a hang half-strand.

Until that moment, I hadn’t realized that my husband had become a part of me . Now, in his absence, I felt an emptiness where he had been. I knew I would never be whole again.

In Wired to Make: Unraveling the Mystery of the Creative Mind, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman and writer Carolyn Gregoire explore what happens in the aftermath of a traumatic event 😛 TAGEND

The more we are shaken, the more we must let go of our former egoes and hypothesis, and begin again from the ground up. … Rebuilding can be an incredibly challenging process . … It can be grueling, excruciating, and exhausting. But it can open the door to a new life .

I know that door.

I found out my husband was leading a double life almost immediately after I gave birth to my daughter.

There was another girlfriend, and a secret credit card. Then other women started to come forward .

I was suddenly on my own with a newborn baby. I grieved him, and the future I thought we would have together, like a death.

Photo from me, used in conjunction with permission.

While these have been without a doubt the most difficult months of my life, t here was also something unbelievably freeing in being ripped to shreds and then rebuilding myself piece by piece .

I told my therapist that everything seemed somehow clearer. I feel like the human interactions I do have are very genuine now. I used to build various kinds of superficial small talk a lot, and I dont do that anymore. I cant actually explain it. I just feel like I find people now.

She told him that these moments of lucidity are create possible precisely because you no longer have room for a lot of the crap you used to expend so much time thinking about. You are stripped clean.

Youve always possessed this power. Maybe you only never knew how to access it.

Before experiencing trauma, I cared very much what people thought of me, from close family and friends to strangers . I had trouble making decisions because I wanted to please everyone. Even navigating a grocery store could be stressful all those strangers silently observing and judging me.

Then, for months, I was trapped in my own body, forced to sit in the ache. Let me be clear. When I tell sit in the pain I mean not running into someone elses limbs , not getting sloshed every night, and not concealing behind run.

Being trapped in my body meant that I couldnt run from the darkness or try to do whatever it took to feel good again.

We humen naturally try to avoid impressions of discomfort especially today, when instant gratification is simply a click away on social media or a swipe away on an online dating app, when endorphins can be produced and manipulated simply by picking up an iPhone. People are even less likely to be still. To simply feel.

But as I sat in my ache, I slowly started to trust my own intuition . I became grounded in a very clear sense of ego.

When you begin to truly trust and like yourself, you tap into an immense sum of power.

Photo by me, used with permission.

Youve always possessed this power. Maybe you only never knew how to access it. You find a power within yourself thats like an anchor, freeing you from a lot of lifes insecurities that seemed so important before.

Dr. Sharon Dekel tells, Post-traumatic growth can be defined as a workable coping mechanism, a style of making and detecting entailing involved in the building of a more positive self-image and the perception of personal strength.”

The other side of pain is not comfort, or health, or well-being. It is truth.

When this truth comes pouring in, you begin to see all the grimy layers of protection lift away, and you discover that your journey has just begun. You begin to let the illumination in and, whats more, you begin to seek out the lighting.

One morning I woke up and had a sudden realization. The gues entered my intellect like a lightning bolt:

You were always whole to begin with.

So as much as I sometimes want to shriek and fury at my ex-husband, I also want to thank him. I want to thank him for forcing me to become the person I was always meant to be, for showing me that I am a fighter and that I will never give up.

But most importantly, I thank him for allowing me to become this person before my daughter ever knew anyone else .

You can read more about Jen’s journey in her memoir “A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal.”

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