By Shanty Espinosa
I knew something was different that day, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, other than to notice that Al seemed a little nervous when he left for work. He’s a pharmacist which is not necessarily a boring job, but not one that would normally give an employee the jitters, so I was caught off guard when I found out he had kissed the babysitter the night before.
My six-year-old son told me the news.
I had been at a meeting and Al had been working late, and Lauren, our usual babysitter, had come over to fix dinner and put the kids to bed. Lauren, in general, was amazing. She cut the crust off the bread, she patiently read Disney storybooks, and she tucked my little ones under the covers with a bedtime prayer.
But then my husband kissed her, and everything changed. My knight in shining armor took a dramatic tumble from the back of his steed, and horrible things happened, none of which I ever intended to live through. Not only was my heart broken, but so was the ideal I held so tightly: a happy-ever-after with the man of my dreams.
It’s been almost a year. A year of pain. A year of counseling. A year of intense and unrelenting forgiveness. Our marriage, though still intact, is fractured, and our children are wounded. But all the horrible things that happened in the past twelve months have strengthened me in ways I could never have imagined. For instance,
I no longer expect Al to meet all my needs. It was naïve of me to ever have done so. Yes, it’s his job to help me through life, and vice-versa, but it was silly to ever think I couldn’t do life without him. The day I realized he wasn’t my prince charming was the day I realized I was more than a damsel in distress.
I no longer expect my husband to be faultless. By saying this, I in NO WAY mean I overlook his transgressions, I’m just saying, I recognize that he’s human, and this helps me keep things in perspective. We no longer have unrealistic expectations for each other, and now we tend to help each other more along the way.
I recognize that what we have now is MUCH better than what we had before. I would love for this crisis to never have rocked our world. It was no fun, and it almost killed me, but the “us” after Al kissed the babysitter is in so many ways better than the “us” that existed before. Through this crisis, Al and I learned to forgive, and we learned that we must shower each other daily with grace and love.
I love my husband more than ever before. This is probably because I know him better. And he knows me better. We could have given-up when those horrible things were happening, but we didn’t. We stuck it out. We were ugly to each other, we said mean things, we did childish stuff. But now that the worst is over, there’s nothing I don’t know about Al. There’s nothing he doesn’t know about me. We’ve seen the worst … and we choose to be together anyway.
Our happy ending is better than a fairy tale. What we have now is real, and deep, and so much more meaningful than the prince who chose the beautiful princess. That fairy tale ending was always too convenient. Now we recognize that we’re nothing more than two damaged hearts who have chosen to be together through the good times and the bad, and even though we may not be blissfully happy every day … we’re living our ever after.
Shanty Espinosa is a happily married mother of four who has a passion for helping others overcome their life struggles. Even though she’s not a real person, she’s helped dozens of fictitious characters through her support group that meets down at the local coffee shop. You can read about one of the women she helped in Looking Glass Lies, the novel where Shanty came to life.
If you like what you read on Shame on Shanty, you might enjoy the book where she came to life. FOLLOW Shanty’s blog or COMMENT on this post, and be entered to win Varina Denman’s Looking Glass Lies. Winner will be drawn from blog subscribers and commenters, and announced next month. Good Luck! This month’s winner is Angie French. Congratulations, Angie!