I always tell my kids that if they need help determining what’s the right thing to do when faced with making a difficult choice, the right thing to do is almost always ‘the hard thing.’ When weighing your choices, the right one is the one that you want to run away from. It’s the choice that the secret agent squirrel in your head says ‘anything but that.’
One day, as I sat thinking about the end of my marriage, I wondered, what was the right thing? Staying in the marriage or ending the marriage?
During the reconciliation period, my TFC*-STBXH would listen to me express my pain and grief at his choices — up to a point, and then we would blow up, yelling that he ‘COULD ONLY TAKE SO MUCH!’ Looking back, I realized that he had to leave. Staying would mean him truly facing his shame and guilt every day. Way too hard! Especially if you are a TFC*. His life would be so much easier with his also-cheating Schmoopie. When he looked in her eyes, he would see approval and acceptance. He didn’t have to do any work, make any amends, come to any painful self-truths or make any changes at all. She loved him and accepted him ‘AS IS!”
The harder thing for him to do was to stay and rebuild himself and his life. He didn’t choose her over me so much as he chose the easy path over the hard path.
I had held on to the marriage fiercely because I believed that marriages were worth sacrifice and the hard work of self-awareness and self-growth. Accepting that my marriage had failed was the hardest thing in the world for me. It seemed like I was being force marched through my own death.
The hard thing for me? To leave the marriage. To opt-out. To let go. To be accountable for losing my marriage and my identity; rebuilding myself and my life.
The hard thing for him? To do the work to rebuild himself and the marriage.
Realizing that it was wrong for him to leave but at the same time wrong for me to stay helped me move forward. The walk to acceptance became less of a death march.
Now I tell myself, don’t be a TFC*, do the hard thing — it’s the right thing! And now, every time I think of STBXH, I will picture him with a little chipmunk head.
*Readers’ Choice: Terrified Forest Creature or Total Fucking Cheater