Dear Patti: One night a year ago my husband of 30 years announced he’d fallen in love with another woman and was moving out. I later found out he was having an affair with a female coworker half his age. At first I was in shock, but I really believed that after the initial excitement of being with someone younger, he’d realize they had nothing in common and their affair would end. For the past year we’ve been meeting monthly to have coffee or a drink together, and I’ve been waiting for him to come home.
Two days ago, he said he didn’t want to hurt me but that he wanted me to know he had filed for divorce. The shock and pain poured over me, because I finally realized John would never be coming back. He feels friendship, sorrow and pity but he doesn’t see me as someone he wants anymore.
How could I have been so naïve and foolish as to believe he’d leave an exciting younger woman for me? I feel so frumpy, old and washed up right now. I’d never hurt myself, but I wonder if I’ll ever want to really live again. The idea of starting over seems too big a task to tackle. – Maggie
Dear Maggie: You’ve been using denial to defend against the painful truth that John isn’t coming back. The chance for you to start a new life began when you refused to deny the reality any longer that your marriage is over. Feeling as if you’ve hit rock-bottom is sometimes what it takes to start rebuilding a completely new self. While the grief, pain, and even rage might seem unbearable at first, they will eventually subside if you allow those feelings to wash over again and again. People who are unable to heal are those who refuse to face their loss and suppress their negative emotions through activities such as drinking, drugs and overworking. More
Why go in search of a solution?
What brings us to the Dharma? It's nice to think it's a Noble Quest, some search for Truth, or the altruistic desire to save all living beings. But it is often suffering that spurs the search. Siddhartha would not have left his luxurious palaces if it were not for suffering and the realization that all existence is beset by this wide ranging problem called dukkha in ancient India. So one needn't let the initial motive deter one. Make as much progress as possible, learning and meditating, being kind to others and spreading the message that there really exists a "complete end to suffering" (nirvana). Wisdom Quarterly could always use help. For soon someone else will come along and distract us all over again. Or we'll resort to drinking and drug use. (What do you think that prescription was?) Or we'll sink into misery unutterable and make everyone around us miserable. It has been this way for countless lives.