Twenty-five years ago I experienced the greatest betrayal of my life. I discovered that my husband was having an affair with a woman he worked with. I had begun to suspect that something was going on between the two of them for months. Yet because I could not fathom the thought of cheating on my husband, I naively could not acknowledge the truth of their relationship while it unfolded before me.
After I shared some concerns I’d been having with a long-time friend who worked with my husband, he filled me in on the depths of what had been going on. Deep down I had known it, but I chose not to acknowledge the truth.
I was so upset that the only action I could imagine was to confront my husband when he arrived home from work that evening. He denied the truth and at the same time said “I’m not meant for marriage”. Then he walked out on me.
Betrayal Pain Turns to Anger
For weeks I felt tremendous pain in response to this betrayal. It was a personal devastation that gutted what I envisioned my future life to entail. Over the course of weeks, the pain turned into anger when he started coming after me in a legal battle. While he came to the relationship with debt, the great majority of our assets originated from me.
I became livid over the understanding that the man who was leaving me for another woman was also seeking to receive compensation for assets he did not contribute to.
Moving Beyond the Anger
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I did not want my anger to destroy my outlook on life or my sense of hope for a loving relationship in the future. So, I made a pact with myself that, while I would never forget what my ex had done, that I would forgive his actions as a way to free myself from holding on to anger.
The way I got to this was the realization that on a deeper level, I felt sorry for him. Lacking a moral compass, he was a man completely lost, moving from relationship to relationship in search for someone or something to fill his empty soul.
A few months later my soon-to-be ex reached out to tell me he wanted to settle our court case. The woman he was having the affair with had an opportunity to transfer from New England to my native San Francisco and he wanted to be free to join her. I was happy to put the legal process behind me, yet I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that it bothered me that the two of them would be residing in my home town.
We finalized our divorce and we moved on.
A Cordial Ending
A year later I moved back to San Francisco myself. My ex reached out to me a few times afterwards over the course of a few years while we were both in California. Thanks to the place of forgiveness I had come to during the heat of our divorce, I was able to engage with him from a place of peace.
I think this has been one of the greatest lessons of my life. I’ve had conflict with relationships far less significant that I’m still working on towards finding peace.