There were two other things I committed to.
The first commitment was to aim for total honesty with my spouse (to the degree that he wanted/ needed). I was so sure that we had nothing to restore that I felt there was no purpose in pretence. If things were going to get better they had to be built back up from the almost total destruction (or so it felt) of what had come before. The second commitment was to read a set of scriptures from the bible each day. My intention was to use a reading plan from a book which also set out for me morning, midday and evening prayer. The texts were set and followed the calendar year.
Once before in my life I’d thought it was all over both with my husband and with God. My reasoning for rejecting God at that stage was that if God’s requirement for me was that I should stay married then I could only think that he was a terrible God and I had no wish to follow him. As I had spent my whole life with Christian faith I decided to give him (God) a final 40 day opportunity to convince me. I began a 40 day reading plan. Days 1-6 – nothing. Day 7 – Boom. God broke in and amazed me with understanding of the situation and the possibility of a totally different perspective on my life. I was convinced.
This time it was different. I actually had complete faith in God, but none in myself or my ability to be other than who I was at that moment. I had a strong desire to seek God’s wisdom. A daily habit would keep me on that path.
And so we returned to everyday life which might just have been the hardest thing I’d ever had to do.
It was hard for so many reasons, but one that I struggled with hour by hour was how the other had taken himself into every part of my life. There wasn’t any place that I went to, any routine activity that took place outside my home, that he hadn’t been a part of at some time. Every thing I did brought reminders. I spent large parts of every day in tears. On the day that we arrived back from our trip I received a communication from his wife which laid all responsibility and blame for what had happened on me. I understood her need to believe that, but it wasn’t true. I was angry with him for lying about that and so many other things.
I went to see a counselor by myself. I wanted to see things clearly. I wanted to know what I should do. I couldn’t see how I could stay in the marriage and also be so unsure. She helped me to see that I could hold both hope and fear at the same time, and that the presence of one did not preclude the presence of the other. She talked about ‘process’. I began to realize how long and uncertain this process might be.
My readings for the early part of January were based around the words of the old celtic hymn Be thou my vision. I wrote in my journal on the 15th January,
“ The readings yesterday were about ‘Thou in me dwelling and I with thee one” and how that means just stilling ourselves with God and not doing wrong or responding from hurt or anger. Very helpful.”
They were ‘very helpful’ because I wanted to respond to so much from a place of hurt and anger. It seemed reasonable, even right to do so, but I felt like the placing of those words on my soul – be still; don’t respond from hurt or anger, acted like a brake on my escalating emotions. It was ok to just be in the mess. To be fearful and yet to still be there because I believed in hope.
So I tried to be still. I refrained from writing emails in response, or turning up on a doorstep to say my piece. I discovered that now that I had voiced all the big hurts to my husband I actually had nothing to be angry with him about on a day to day level. We spoke more kindly to each other. We had no idea if we’d still be together in a week let alone a month or a year, but we each had begun to recognise the other’s brokeness and humanity and that was a start.