Recently I found out that the woman my husband had an affair and child with, the woman my children are now calling stepmom, would be around me more often than I’d prefer.
The first thing my friend said as advice was, “Every time you see her, hold your head high and a wear a smile on your face. Don’t let her win.”
I realized this is the most common reaction to personal conflicts. Put on a mask of invincibility and whomever can show the least amount of emotion wins.
I couldn’t help but question, “what was I winning?” What did I gain by not caring that I had been betrayed? When could I care? If I can shut it on and off like that do I really care anyway?
And then I remembered the more important question. The one I often forget to ask myself at the beginning of making a decision and the question that would save me a lot of time and energy if I did remember to do so…
What was that teaching my kids??
I encourage them to be open, wisely, about anything they’re feeling. I impress into them that they can express their emotions, without fear, and I will be there to work it out with them.
How could I teach them that, but then let them watch as I mask my own feelings as I put on a face until I’m safely hidden away at home? What would I be unintentionally making them feel about themselves? If they saw me complacent and cheerful around every one outside of our home, then distraught and pained when I was home alone with just them?
I decided that if she “wins” by knowing that I am hurt; if she gets satisfaction and feels victorious by seeing the amount of pain she’s inflicted;
Then by all means crown her a winner!
Let her put whatever it is that makes robbing another woman of her family something to be proud of, on grand display .
I’ll appropriately keep my tears, she can have the smile. I’ll embrace the reality, she can keep the mask. I’ll wear my pain healthily whenever, wherever, and however I need to until I don’t anymore. And I’ll hang it on her without shame because that’s where it belongs. Hiding it from her or about her would only mean I have put it somewhere/on someone else, and I will not allow this pain to be transferred any further. No one else needs to own this.
My family will not suffer for my pride or ego. She can keep my sorrow and my despair and my new uncertainty at whether or not bad people actually exist.
She can keep all the emotions on her; I’ll check it all at my door.
That way when I’m at home, I’ll be smiling with the people who make me do so. Our homes should not carry the weight of this world, they are graciously full of every reason we have to know we’ll eventually find peace and escape from its temptations.
My family can keep my love, the outside can keep my frustrations. My family can have my best, I’ll leave the rest with those who’ve earned it. If the cost of that is misconstrued perceptions and other peoples victories from my pain; then I’ll gladly keep paying.
My family and I will leave here with only love and understanding left within us.
The world can keep all the “winnings” they took covered in pain.