Tempted to Rescue

She's been gone for eight months. Yesterday I was overwhelmed with the feeling of missing my wife as I drove by the store where she was working. I knew if I walked in there I would find someone who looks exactly like her. I was tempted to walk in and snatch her up in a big bear hug like a closing scene from a Hallmark movie.

In a split second I had it all worked out. I would tell myself I was done playing relational chicken. I would decide to let her win. I would give up hope for empathy and settle for charades. I would lock my pain away in a dungeon, put on a happy face, and resolve to go on like nothing happened. I could agree with her and apologize for overreacting. I could buy into the story that all the other men meant nothing to her and it was just her trauma brain acting out. I could decide to be fun to play with and feed her narrative. 

I could get back on the white horse and save the day. She could have whatever she wanted, do whatever she wanted, as long as I could hug her once in a while. I would resolve to absorb it all in exchange for small doses of consolation if she would fake enjoying holding my hand sometimes.  As an added bonus everyone could think our Cinderella wedding had overcome the trauma of betrayal. They could think love carried the day. They could all think we're on our way to another 25 years of marriage and a happy ending. We could turn it into a redemption story, encouraging everyone to stick it out in their marriages.

Then the doubts began: What if she is disgusted when I hug her? What if she gives me a look that says, "I knew you couldn't leave me." What if I can't get comfortable keeping all the secrets? What if I can't learn to suppress my emotions? What if I can't just let it go? What if I can't forgive and forget? What if this is all a trap?

About a mile down the road I came to, "This is the 'codependent crazies'!" This is me thinking that I will die if I am humiliated, stuck, or vulnerable. This is me wanting to release the tension; wanting to atone for someone else's sins. This is me wanting to make something happen. This is me wanting to rescue my wife and my own reputation because I am afraid of the unknown. This would violate the boundaries that guard the treasures of my soul. It would lead to an unmanageable life.

Steve, you are OK. God's got this, and you aren't him. You will get through this with His help.

-Steve M


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