I am Donna, and life has taught me that you can do anything when you try. My story is not the easiest to share, but the lessons in the end make it worth narrating.
I am a divorced mother of 6 children. When we got married in 1983, I never, ever thought that we would be going through a divorce 25 years later in 2008. I thought it was supposed to be “Until Death Do Us Part”. We built a beautiful house together and raised our 6 children there, making wonderful memories over the years. Then we started a business together that eventually became very successful. I worked for my husband doing the bookkeeping and office management duties. He traveled out of state for the company every other week, and little did I know that he was living a double life and having an affair with his secretary. He, of course, denied that anything was going on and even tried to make me think that I was just imagining it and even said that I was losing my mind. Eventually he admitted that something was going on between them, but that I “had to share him with her because he had enough love for both of us, and that half a husband is better than no husband”. The only reason that I’m bringing up these personal things is so that others can try to imagine the type of extreme stress and pain that I was going through at the time. If anyone has experienced the pain of being cheated on, especially in a long term relationship when you thought that everything was going fine, then you can relate to what I was going through. I can compare that type of extreme emotional pain to the extreme physical pain of childbirth, except that it went on and on for years.
Of course, right away I wondered what did I do wrong and what could I have done better. I had no answers. All of the stress and pain and agony was so intense that I almost felt paralyzed. So, I decided to seek help and went to different Counselors and Psychologists for advice. I first went to a priest who turned out to be a crazy liberal, telling me that in the olden days in the Old Testament, it was OK for a man to have a wife and a mistress, so I should just get used to it. Needless to say, his advice was worthless. But I continued on seeing both Christian counselors and non-Christian counselors, and male therapists and female therapists. No one was giving me any good advice. They were all just giving me their opinions of the situation and no one was helping me at all. Most of them said to just go on some anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications and that everything would get better. I was trying to get stronger and not make my body and mind get weaker, so I never went on any medications at all.
Then one day, I sat down and thought of a way to accept this unwanted situation. I was thinking about how all around me there are so many people going through stress and hardships and unwanted situations of many different kinds. No one gets to choose what bad thing happens to them….unfortunately, things just happen. So, I decided to pretend that I was allowed to choose. I got a piece of paper and a pen and I wrote down about 10 different bad things that could possibly happen to me or my family and friends. These things ranged from illnesses and diseases like cancer and tumors to accidents and even death. It was so horrible to list these bad things happening to my children & family & friends and it made me feel so, so bad. But on this same list, the last item on the list was “Husband having an affair with his secretary”. So then I pretended that I was allowed to pick something on the list that was going to happen to me or my family. Can you guess which one I chose? Yes, I picked “Husband having an affair with his secretary”. I could no longer be upset with the situation since I picked it myself over all of the other items on the list.
So, suddenly I started to appreciate everything else around me. I appreciated my good health and the good health of my 6 children and other family members and friends. I started to realize that I could not control what my husband was doing or saying to me, but I could control how I reacted to what was happening. I am sharing my story so that other people, women or men, who are going through what I went through or anything similar, could find a way to accept an unwanted situation and then to move on. We cannot control other people and what they say or do, but when we try, we can control how we react to other people’s words and actions. I just want to tell people to never give up, because “You Can Do Anything When You Try.”