There is a tragic irony in the story of infidelity, or at least my story. My husband was drawn into his affair because he felt like something he and I once shared was gone. He displaced his insecurities on me, believing I was no longer attracted to him and that our diminished sex life was a symptom of my indifference. He felt like something was missing so he cheated. Paradoxically, his affair left me feeling like I lost something, something important to my definition of “us”. The irony is that he cheated to fill something he felt was lost but in reality, his affair robbed me and left a hole.
It was a year ago my therapist asked me what I would do if I never found those missing puzzle pieces as I was struggling to find a concrete explanation for my husband’s affair. I sat in silence on the couch with my husband to my left and therapist in the chair across from us. I was silent because I didn’t know the answer to her question. At the time I wanted to believe if I asked enough questions that I would figure out why my husband cheated. I wanted evidence that my decision to stay and rebuild my marriage was the right one. I wanted to believe that I could fix what was broken. I wanted definitive clarity.
Six months after that therapy session I made an appointment to go back alone. I was struggling to move forward again. We had passed the one year mark, we were now a stronger and healthier couple but I now felt like something was missing from me. His affair had stolen my sense of security in my marriage. As I sat across from my therapist she suggested I make a list or write about what I was feeling. I wrote this post. My therapist also told me that I might never be able to find that missing piece again; I needed to accept the loss. The missing puzzle piece I had been relentlessly searching for was in fact, missing from me. The question still remained: What if you never find that missing puzzle piece?
The tragic irony in my story transpired because my husband believed I was the spouse with the lack of love and affection, yet while I was faithful he abandoned our marriage and began an affair. I accept my husband’s choices but I still feel like I was stripped of something I once believed was essential in our marriage. As time moves on, the hole inside feels smaller but I sometimes wonder if it’s actually shrinking or if other people in my life are filling the gap. Is it possible this empty hole within me can no longer be filled by my husband? Or does it just take time to fill the void?
And then I remembered my favorite childhood author, Shel Silverstein, wrote about a missing piece. Sometimes it just takes a deep breath in to realize that my journey is creating me and I need to trust in the journey.