He may have ruined last Christmas with his infidelity, this year, though, it’s all about the joy of the season!
Christmas is fast approaching, and it will be my second since the divorce. It’s truly a case of what a difference a year makes since I am actually looking forward to the festive season rather than being the emotional time bomb that I was this time last year.
Last Christmas was going to seal my new status as a betrayed, abandoned, single mum of three, no alibis or pretense needed. It came with a sort of shame and a need for silence and solitude, and certainly no witnesses to my misery. I wasn’t really talking to my ex back then and I had no idea of what the arrangements were going to be as far as sharing the children for the holiday.
The only certainty was that the new woman was going to be part of my children’s Christmas, whether I liked it or not. And that killed.
She was being advertised to family and friends as ‘the one’, ‘an angel’ and pretty much my ex’s savior after years of abuse at my hand.
If you have experienced betrayal, you know the drill: in the betrayer’s muddled up mind, you become the villain, the baddie and their actions are mere reactions to the evils you put them through over the years.
You can almost visualize their brain cells working overtime to keep up the self-deception, fend off the conscience attacks, keep the belief alive that infidelity was the only form of defense possible after years of married hell.
Christmas came and went and yes, it was every bit as painful as I had anticipated. But in a strange kind of way, it also gave me some closure, because I knew then without a shadow of a doubt that we would never be a family again.
What is commonly known as Gaslighting, my ex was a master at it. He knew how to get me down and how to keep me down, he had years of practice after all. At times I did wonder whether I was imagining things and whether my contribution to his betrayal had been as significant as he made it out to be. Whether the hostility of his family was justified after all. It took me months of therapy to come out of this spiral of self-doubt, guilt, and psychological manipulation and see the facts for what they truly were, and with overwhelming clarity.
Infidelity really is as simple as it looks.
It is an act of selfishness, self-indulgence and, more often than not, self-destruction. After reading extensively on the subject, and speaking to people who went through it, there is truly a mental script that ALL cheaters seem to follow.
From the initial self-justification (surely, I deserve to be happy?) to the excuses to carry on (marriage was dead anyway) to the inevitable crash that exposes the rottenness behind the shiny veneer. And for my ex-husband that crash was monumental! I firmly believe that even for the most cold hearted of people, there comes a point when they are faced with the brutality of what they have done, whether they will admit it or not. It might take weeks, months or years but it will happen. The capacity for self-delusion is not infinite.
So, last Christmas was fast approaching, and I just wanted it over and done with. I, who had previously loved everything about Christmas, who had waited for it with childish anticipation, who had cried at the adverts, who had marveled at the lights and sang along to the songs…..just wanted to fast forward to January.
Christmas came and went and yes, it was every bit as painful as I had anticipated. But in a strange kind of way, it also gave me some closure, because I knew then without a shadow of a doubt that we would never be a family again. Once you see another woman sharing your children’s Christmas, and being made a fuss over by your husband’s family (and the whole thing was well documented on social media, believe me), that is truly a point of no return.
Fast forward (nearly) a year, and I couldn’t be feeling more different about Christmas, and about life in general.
Life is far from perfect, but it is my life and I am grateful for it. I was given a blank canvas and I get to decide what goes on it, and although it is a work in progress, it looks more beautiful every day. Above all, I no longer have to bend over to someone’s else’ s wishes and whims. Having said that, my ex and I are friendly at last and finally able to put the children first. It took a lot of heartache to get to this point and I hope we can maintain it.
This year, I am going to make Christmas magical for my children. And for myself. My whole family is joining us, and it will be a crowded, noisy and joyful affair. Celebrating new beginnings but also being thankful for what is already here. I have survived the worst and I am ready for the best. I am, to say it with Elton John, ‘looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid’.