My identity

It’s no secret that I am not a religious person. My spirituality comes from within. My strength comes from knowing I am a good person. It’s also no secret that I listen to Top 40 music. I have a huge playlist on my iTunes that crosses every genre, but I never remember to set up a play list before I leave the house. So, I inevitably just turn on the car radio to a local top 40’s station and that’s that. One thing about pop music stations, they play the same songs over and over. I’m usually not in the car long enough to care. Sometimes I hear a song I really like and add it to my own music, but often it’s all just background noise.

Recently, however, a song has played over and over on my trips around town and I find the lyrics incredibly sad. I don’t think the songwriter’s intent was to make people sad. I think the intent was to lift people up. Since I’m not a religious person, I don’t often turn outside myself for answers to my own feelings of emptiness, loneliness or sadness. Good, bad, or otherwise, I was nurtured to be this way. The song, You Say by Lauren Daigle, is talking about feelings so foreign to who I am, who I was, for 50 years. FIFTY YEARS PEOPLE!!! Even typing that makes me feel SO OLD. But I was NEVER that girl who needed exterior validation to make her feel worthy, or loved, or important, or anything really. Not from any god or any man.

I have never had a higher power. In my adult life, I have never really been dependent on anyone. I’m not necessarily saying this is a good thing. It just is. When I met Blue Eyes, I wasn’t even looking for a relationship. I was casually dating. I was 20 years old. I never believed he was better than me or held any power over me. I did not look to him for my worth, my value, my esteem, ever. I consciously evaluated our relationship, and then our engagement. Was I making the right choice, because this partnership was for life. My parents were divorced, and that was never going to happen to me. I had some doubts, but I worked it all through, for me, by me, with my needs in mind. I couldn’t imagine entering into a marriage with the thought that I could get out if I wanted. I chose Blue Eyes for life.

Blue Eyes and I lived a long distance relationship a couple times and it was difficult. There were options for me, for both of us. We chose our partnership after five years of dating and engagement. Our relationship wasn’t a fling. I wasn’t dependent on him, not even financially even though he comes from money and I do not. He was my chosen life partner. So, when in 2014, a woman called my phone and explained to me how she had been having an affair with my husband for eight years (she said 10), I was devastated. I was 50 years old. I had been with Blue Eyes, happily, for 30 years. The whole ordeal brought me to my knees, shaking, trembling, gasping for air. Who in fact was I? Was I that young woman my husband met in college, strong minded, strong willed, totally independent, or was I really someone who was afraid to be alone. Was I now afraid to live without my husband.

I am intimately aware of those feelings, now, that I struggled with then, the ones that knocked me flat for days, weeks, months. The ones that sucked me into a vortex of never ending pain and sadness, those feelings were betrayal trauma. Where I had been strong before, I was weak. Where I had felt safe and secure, I now felt scared, vulnerable, and alone.

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low
Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know

I had to navigate the trauma in order to get me back. When I found out about my husband’s secret life, even though he wasn’t trying to replace me, his sexual acting out wasn’t about me at all, it still surely felt like it was. Like a dagger to the heart it hurt, and it felt like everything that was happening was somehow my fault. What had I done to deserve this kind of abuse. What was wrong with me?

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And you say I am held when I am falling short
And when I don’t belong, oh You say I am Yours
And I believe (I)
Oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe

I have never been comfortable relying on others for my strength or my self worth. That’s why I find the song sad. For me, my inner strength cannot be reliant on anyone or anything. What happens if I rely on god (I’m not good at relying on intangibles) and then on a particular day I convince myself he’s not listening or he doesn’t care about me anymore, or he doesn’t even exist. I would be crushed, devastated. Likewise, I know that I can love Blue Eyes with everything that I am, but if our partnership ends, I will not end with it. I will still be the me I always was. The me I was before I even met him.

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity

I do like to sing along with this song, but it hurts my heart. It hurts to sing the words… “in you I find my identity.” It just feels so, so wrong.

25 thoughts on “My identity

  1. Pingback: Two stepping | try not to cry on my rainbow

  2. I really think turning 50 is a huge milestone and time of self reflection. I look back on the 30+ years with wh and see it thru a whole different lens, yes due to his cheating but also because I feel wiser. I cry over songs, commercials, toddlers because to me everything is fleeting. Just like I won’t have little babies of my own again, I also will never feel “love” again the way I did for years with wh. It’s just gone. The specialness is gone. I’ll never have those feelings again for him or anyone else. I’m an artist, I’m all feeling, so it’s a huge loss for me, I loved loving him, I loved him since I met him at 18. So it’s a real void. It’s been almost 5 years since my world blew up and it feels odd still. I can barely remember what my unconditional love for him felt like, there’s before and after and nothing will be the same. Ironically,while I sometimes think “this is not where I thought I’d be in my life”, wh feeling the same things led him into his affair. A big giant pity party for what he didn’t have and felt he deserved. So he found himself a “prize” as a reward for a life that didn’t give him what he should have had.

    I was the reward the whole time. The pot of gold, the golden ticket, the golden egg. Right there, next to him, supporting him for years, his only cheerleader. And when the one person in the world who should recognize that, does not, how do you get over that pain? I was so easily replaced by a woman who didn’t know him and was willing to take what wasn’t hers – not wh but the lifestyle she had no part of building. That he couldn’t see that by bringing her into his life, they were both hurting me, is what scares me the most. If I saw someone obliquely trying to hurt my family, it’s scorched earth time. But he saw it as a positive thing in his life. A reward.

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      • I took a lot for granted. What I thought were givens, loyalty, honesty, fidelity, apparently weren’t. It sort of changes everything really. I just have to go forward, evaluating only what happens from now. I would remain too sad, I think, if I continued to lament everything I had, or thought I had. My love was real, His was messed up. From the first lie, it was wrong. We’ll see how it goes.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lemondrop1966, I love lemon drops too. You have truly described what I’ve been unable to articulate out loud in a meaningful way. When my husband disclosed his cheating history to me, something just died inside. We had been married 36 years at that point and he started with an affair back in 1981 when we had our first child. He had always been viewing porn and masturbating although I did not know it at the time. The love and adoration I felt for him all those years just evaporated. It was as if I had fallen in love with a ghost, a stranger. Hard to explain. We are still together and he seems to be madly in love with me and hell bent on making everything in my life perfect and carefree. What he doesn’t realize is that the person who thought she that wonderful man and wonderful marriage all those years is simply gone. In her space is someone still shell shocked after D-day in June 2015. I can sometimes remember what my unconditional love felt like and now it just seems childish and immature. He was a thoughtless, selfish and self-centered ass all along and I made excuses for so much of his behavior but I didn’t recognize me as making those excuses until all this happened in June 2015. His prostitutes and strip clubs and jerk off joints and porn just truly hit me like a ton of bricks. How could this man do this and I never had a suspicion? How could I possibly had chosen this handsome and wonderful man with a dark side that rivaled the devil? I was so trusting of him and his high moral ground on everything. He is still that man but now he acknowledges his dark side and works daily to keep it at bay. I, on the other hand, am doing my best to focus on having the best life I can have and he can continue to share it as long as he never takes a step back. My heartbreak, my rules. Thanks for posting. I was kind of hoping you had a blog but I couldn’t find it. I do not.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This post! Almost every word of it…me.

    So, when my “life partner” DID try, then succeed in replacing me…the falling apart bit has been mystifying! I believed in myself. I believed in him. But I didn’t realise, until he left me for yet another woman that my identity had been somewhat changed by being entwined with him for 30 years. It felt like I had lost me, betrayed myself.

    I’m rebuilding the kick arse, yet soft, kind woman I always knew I was.

    But, the dents will always be there, incorporated into the new design xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think the current trauma brings up all kinds of past traumas and they bombard our reality in a way that causes us to lose sight of who and what we are, if only temporarily. I know that happened to me. Yeah, we’re a little dented, but a few dents won’t keep us down. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I love this song. I am a Christian..but it is not my entire identity. I am also a woman, a mother, a wife, a business woman, a grandma, a friend….etc, etc. My relationship with God is a large part of who I am…not because I need something other than my own self to validate my worth or confirm my existence. No more than is my relationship with Will or my family or my friends. It is just a part of who I am. My spirituality also comes from within, as it does with any other Christian or person of faith. Belief is a very personal and sacred thing. To Lauren Daigle, she explains her faith simply in this song. There is nothing but joy in her words…the knowledge that no matter what, God does not betray us. He does not lie. He does not denigrate, cheat, trick or in any other way abuse us. We cannot say that about anyone else in our lives. God is sure. People of faith understand that without God, the purpose of life seems superficial or, sadly, pointless. That is why this song is so beautiful and joyful. For me, I know that without God in my life and the sure knowledge of His existence and promise of blessings beyond compare, I would have left Will in the pursuit of the easier way out. I would have followed my desire only and spent a life seeking love and validation elsewhere. I would be as selfish and self-centered as an addict. Because I know that God lives, I also know that he loves me and wants me to grow and change. I don’t rely on God as an external force. I rely on His spirit within me as a force which sustains and strengthens me to be my very best self. For me, that requires a level of grace and forgiveness and understanding that I was incapable of prior to discovery of Will’s addiction. Because of my faith, I understand and have compassion far greater than I would have ever obtained. I have so many friends in different stages of recovery, of trauma, of trials and who have gone through situations much more difficult than mine…yet they react largely based on how their faith is manifested in their lives. The notion that faith or religion is a crutch for weak people (so often noted by atheists of agnostics) could not be farther from the truth. I have witnessed, time and again, how God changes lives. He lifts souls up. He does not prop them up. That is why the 12 step program is so very successful. I have seen people in addiction who “work the steps” but refuse to acknowledge a higher power. And then have seen them repeatedly lapse and relapse. Or struggle for healing and understanding and thus extending their suffering. Then, the miracle of their acceptance of God and the nearly unbelievable success of those same people finally getting and staying sober and continue beyond all hope in recovery. For some, a denial that God is essential for true happiness and recovery works for them and that is fine. But, in addiction recovery, it is the rare person who can completely heal without the understanding that God is truly in control. I know that you, sweet Kat, are so very strong without faith, but so very many of us are comforted and strengthened by our absolute faith in God. We are betrayed spouses, we are devoted wives and mothers, we are believers, we are sisters, we are believers. This is our identity. Much love. ❤️

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    • Hi Leighkay. I am agnostic, so god is not sure, to me. God is not an issue in my life at all, actually. I am not going to even begin to debate faith. There is absolutely no debate in the fact that we each feel what we feel, in our hearts. I do like the song, but I, personally, do not find joy in the words. I find them painful, as I wrote. That’s the power of music. Regardless of what the writer intended (and many artists don’t even talk about inspiration for their songs because they want their listeners to have their own feelings), I feel what I feel.

      I am not a person of faith, but absolutely do not find life pointless. I embrace it, and cherish it. It is possible. I am not a woman of faith, and yet, I stayed with my husband and I still don’t like to judge which path is “easier.” I also do not believe for one second that leaving my spouse is selfish or self-centered, even though I stayed. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I have never said, nor do I believe (as an agnostic) that faith is a crutch for weak people. Faith is faith.

      My husband’s 12 step group is non-faith based. God is not everyone’s higher power. It works without God being a higher power. In my opinion, people change their own lives, but that is purely my opinion. Whatever it takes for people to believe in themselves and be good people, do good things. I do not judge and I did not write this post about my feelings in order to be judged and yet I feel it, in your words. Maybe you felt judged based on my feelings? That wasn’t my intent at all. I was merely talking about me.

      So far Blue Eyes is doing pretty well in recovery without believing God is in control of his life, and he has surrounded himself with like-minded friends because it makes sense. I am a bit confused by your last bit… “We are betrayed spouses, we are devoted wives and mothers, we are believers, we are sisters, we are believers. This is our identity.” It feels a bit like ganging up. I am merely talking about me and how I feel. I know there are lots of women like me, and lots of women like you. We live in a world filled with beautiful, spiritual women of all beliefs.

      Also, I am not devoid of experience with Christians. I was baptized Episcopalian at 7 years old. I spent every other Sunday at the LDS church for over 10 years. I met and married a Jewish man, and I converted and raised my kids Jewish. So I am also familiar with the Jewish faith. All of that experience as well as everything else that has happened in my life brings me to who I am today, regardless of religion or faith, I am a whole, loving, understanding, and compassionate person.

      Regarding the song, it does and probably always will bring up in me emotions that were born out of betrayal trauma. Music is powerful. Thank you for commenting. xo

      Liked by 2 people

      • Proselytizing is as old as history.

        Recently, a tragedy happened at the beach where I go all summer (day trips!) A young boy drowned. A massive search went on til sundown, and resumed the next morning. His body washed up on the beach the morning after the third night missing. The day he was found I went to the beach in the afternoon, and when I was getting into my car at dusk a woman parked next to me. We chatted a bit about the boy and I learned quickly that she is a “Christian” who has been “in recovery” for 39 years. She made some comment about God and this boy and that he is with God now. I made the mistake of saying “I am Jewish and we don’t believe that”. Boy did I regret it; I should have kept my mouth shut. I then tried to escape but before I could get into my car she asked if she could “pray for me”. Whatever. She put her hands on my shoulders and said some bullshit about hoping I will find strength in Jesus. She might as well have been saying she wished I found a winning lottery ticket on the ground. This is as old as time, and it is offensive but I have learned to laugh at it.

        I am Jewish and a Shabbat observer, and I also observe all the holidays, for reasons not necessary to get into here. But I am agnostic AT BEST. You, Kat, joined the club of the “damned” when you converted. It is ridiculous, but it is what it is. I am going to southern Spain in a few weeks and will be visiting the microscopic remnants of the Sephardim who were expelled in 1492 for the simple fact of being Jewish.

        We are coming to the end of Deuteronomy, as you may know the Torah is read from beginning to end every year. My words to you, as Moses said to the people before they entered the Promised Land: Chazak v’amatz: be strong and resolute! Like words to songs, there is meaning in a lot of what’s in the Torah that is not dependent on faith, at all.

        xo

        Liked by 3 people

        • Thanks, B. Although I’ve never knowingly been prayed for in that way, I’m very familiar with being pitied for my lack of faith. I don’t really care. I’ve been heavily exposed to more religions than many, and I am making educated decisions for myself only. I guess I’m still a bit blown away by the dichotomy of the Christian faith. In one respect touting so many wonderful things, values, etc…, and then on the other hand, being completely disrespectful of other people’s feelings and needs. Religion is like that, unfortunately. My post wasn’t really meant to be about religion, for me it was about how affected I am by betrayal trauma, but hey, it’s all good.

          I actually am aware that the Torah is read and studied every year from beginning to end. My older son’s Bar Mitzvah portion was the story of Moses viewing the promised land, but not entering. Falling right in the middle of High Holidays. Younger son’s was a little over a month later in the year, the portion about Noah.

          My spirituality is centered around attempting to be kind in an increasingly unkind world.

          I hope you really enjoy your trip to Spain and the history there.

          ❤️

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      • I’m sorry, my friend…no judgement from me and certainly no offense intended. I think your post resonated with me because I personally can’t imagine my life, let alone recovery, without my faith. I hold no animosity towards anyone regarding how they choose to live their lives but I do feel sad when faith is misunderstood. Regarding Daigel’s song, it feels like you misunderstand the lyrics to be one of desperation or or a lack of independence. I was only trying to explain from a
        Christian point of view that it is not at all meant to convey that message. It is a message of hope and gratitude and grace…which really is what recovery is about in a nutshell. I do not judge anyone for what they believe or don’t believe. Especially you, sweet Kat! I apologize if my response was in any way offensive. ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Leigh. I did not misunderstand the song or the lyrics. I know what she was singing about, for her. My point of the post was that betrayal trauma has changed me. My guess is if I had heard the song prior to betrayal trauma, I would have found it a beautiful song (as I do now), but really wouldn’t have contemplated what the words meant to anyone, not even me.

          Now though everything for me is mired in betrayal trauma and that song did do/does exactly what I brought up in my post. It makes me think about that very broken time post discovery where my self esteem actually hovered on the brink of disaster and I felt like I wasn’t good enough and I needed my husband’s approval or validation. It was a sick place to be and unfortunately, the song takes me there. This is not about understanding. It is about feelings.

          I appreciate you trying to convey how “Christians” feel, but I only speak for myself and my own feelings. I was “Christian” for the first 25 years of my life, however, I was never “born again.” There was never an epiphany in my life that religion would help me in any way. I spent so many years tossed between the Episcopal and LDS churches, then college years at both the on-campus Catholic services with my roommate, and then Hillel activities with my Jewish boyfriend, by my choice. I know a lot about religion. I understand faith. I also understand myself and why I am the way I am. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m fairly introspective. 😉 ! I appreciate the fact that most people of faith hear that song and feel uplifted. That is lovely. Whatever it takes to make us feel whole, is a good thing. Songs like “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, “Try” by Colbie Caillat, “Fuckin’ Perfect” by Pink, “Secrets” by Mary Lambert, “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys are a few on my inspiration playlist.

          Thanks for continuing to share. Although we are different, we are all beautiful human beings and deserve respect and kindness. xo

          Liked by 1 person

    • My 12 step program has always been about the real connection. That has meant practicing openness and vulnerability and unconditional love. The program has always been about gaining insight from the rigorous honesty of the participants. I have learned that everyone has their own path, their own program and to insist on one way or to say one way is better is a form of oppression. Many people say the program is a god program about accepting god into your life. Hell you weren’t good at managing your life give your life, your will over to a higher power. In my home meeting we always say a belief in god or a specific religion is not a prerequisite just the willingness to do the work to change. The most successful brothers with the longest history of sobriety are actually atheist in my home meeting. Several brothers have left their churches and have developed other spiritual practices and have gained long term sobriety. The brothers that have the shortest period of sobriety are the most religious it seems, but they keep on coming to meetings and they are trying to find peace. There are brothers that have no religious practice which we never see again or that float in and out. I don’t know what works or why. I am not a two stepper. I just know that I need to keep on going to meetings and keep my meditation practice and take care of myself.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Every person needs to do what they need to stay sober and continue in recovery. I think what works in the 12-step program is the basic idea that no one can do it on their own, under only human power. It is the idea that a man is inadequate to manage a force as werful as addiction without help. Whether one calls it a higher power, God, the Universe, or simply depends on other brothers, it works because of the ability to surrender the addiction to something other that one’s own desires. What that “something” is is less important than the ability to accept that every addict needs that “something” to truly recover. Congrats on your journey and keep up the good work!

        Liked by 1 person

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