What do you do when everything that you held dear to is ripped away from you?
In an instant, I felt the world around me fall away. The world I had loved and created and the person who stood at the very centre of that world, gone. I was violently yanked back to the starting line at a point in my life where all my dreams were coming true. In a single moment, that vivid, secure world we had created together turned to darkness.
In those early days I couldn’t barely get out of bed. I was lifeless, stunned and falling deeper and deeper into a dark pit of hurt, abandonment and desperation.
I didn’t see a way forward, I didn’t see a way out of that pit and I definitely didn’t imagine how I would even begin to rebuild my life again. I felt I had already lived a life. I had been with my husband since I was a teenager and it felt like we had shared so many of our dreams, and traversed life’s paths together as a team. I didn’t want to start again. Starting again meant going on and making a life without my him. It would be as if all of that vibrant life, the love and memories shared were nothing but a dream.
Did I want to go on again at all?
I had nights where I didn’t care if I woke up the next day. My family and God upheld me, their love a powerful mirror reflecting back at me the goodness I still had in my life. My husband may have disposed of me and replaced me like I was old news, but to my family, I was irreplaceable, precious and deeply loved. I felt God’s grip on me tighter than ever before, letting me know that to him too, I was irreplaceable, precious and deeply loved.
In the dark of night, I decided that I must survive for them. That drive wouldn’t become‘for me,’ until much later on. I would lay in my bed, stare out to the unknown and whisper to myself, ‘Where do I even begin?’
At the start, all I had to do was get through the initial blow (easy right?). This time felt like a tornado of grief, betrayal and pain. It swirled around me for months and all I could do is cling onto God and my family as I lay at the centre of it. I would experience moments of the darkest despair I had ever known but amongst everything were also, sudden moments of clarity which were like brief pauses in the hurling winds around me. It was in those moments I glimpsed a spirit within me that I didn’t even know I had. I told myself not only would I survive this blow, but that one day I would rebuild and ultimately, thrive.
This is when it became, for me.
I believe that there is a crucial point in a person’s life when they have two choices that they are presented with, to reboot or to rebuild.
Imagine your life was a computer and this awful thing that happened in your life had given you no choice but to force quit. You shut down. You want life to resume as it was, you’re desperate to get it back up and running, you fear the loss and change. You hit the power button and try to restart it immediately.
For a while, I was obsessed with rebooting my life. I was desperate to go back to the way things were. If I could have turned back time and not found the message from the other woman, I would have. I clung on to hope that we could pick up where we left off. This is an innate, inbuilt need we have within us. As humans, we resist these life altering changes, we fear the ending of important relationships and stages in our lives, we desperately hold on and attempt to reboot, hoping things can remain as they were.
Sometimes I would imagine my reboot. I would be back in my warm and cosy home, cuddled up to my husband. However, after a while, as I looked deeper at that image in my mind, everything just looked tainted. I looked different, pained and tired. He looked disingenuous, shady and alien from the man I had known. Everything appeared the same but so different, skewed. The trust was gone, the loyalty broken and the relationship changed forever.
I completely understand that many couples reconcile after adultery, we are all individuals with our own unique circumstances. But for me, I saw no peace in the picture of the rebooted future I was looking at and after all I had gone through, that was what I now craved, peace. I realised that the relationship as I knew it was now over, the security and trust gone. I came to see that I no longer wanted this familiar but distorted version of our relationship back, not at the expense of my peace.
This gave me one other option, to rebuild.
Now imagine that you are a brick house and this awful thing in your life has torn through your structure and reduced you to rubble. Now, this is going to be far more difficult for you than a simple reboot. A reboot would be instant, a simple press of a button. This will require a complete rebuild. This is a whole new house we are talking about here, so it is going to require a lot from you; time, planning, strength, endurance and patience.
It can feel hard to know where to even begin.
Let’s think about this. Let’s go into the planning phase of the build. This is the point were we stock take, analyse and reimagine. What are our requirements?
When everything is torn down, who says we have to rebuild the same house? What if there are things about the old house that were unhealthy and unstable. What if only now do we truly see that those old weaknesses in the structure led to the ultimate destruction of the house? Now we have the knowledge of that, we can make modifications and changes to reinforce our new house to be stronger than ever. This could mean losing certain negative aspects of it and equally, introducing new positives to make it more of what you need it to be.
Maybe the best thing to do is to literally start from scratch and reimagine from a blank canvas, to totally remodel that house to become the way you had originally dreamed it would be. Now is your time.
We need to set the foundations. This is the level to which all of the structure will rest upon. It needs to be healthy, strong, convicted, unmovable. For me, God forms this foundation with me, as His strength, is my strength.
Setting good foundations is about determining your value. When you understand your true value, so much else aligns. When you are strong in your self worth, the building you will create will be astonishing. You will also come to a place of knowing what you will NOT accept in your future life; you will not be disrespected, you will not be used, you will not be mistreated or controlled. This conviction will keep you in good standing for a successful rebuild.
Now, for sourcing the materials. We want materials that are built to last. There may quick, easy options out there but we are willing to wait for quality. We get one crack at getting this right. We could rush this and build with the scraps we find but there is no deadline. Bring materials into your building (your life) that help boost its healthy structure, not weaken it again.
We have our materials, the foundations are laid and we have a plan. This is when it can begin to feel overwhelming, this is a whole house, am I capable? Do you know what you have to do now? Lay the first brick.
This is a brick of hope.
Then add the next brick, of peace.
Now another brick of positivity.
Add a layer of self kindness.
And then another brick of dreams.
Keep going. You will get tired and weary, that reboot may look more appealing now but stay the course. You will have days you give up, you don’t want to carry on. You will have times where you tear bricks away but then you replace them . You keep building.
One day you will lay the final brick.
You will step back and see the truly beautiful, awe inspiring house that you have built, full of your heart, your sweat and tears and you will see the cement of healing that runs through each and every brick within its structure.
It will be stronger than ever before, it will have new potential and new life will ring out in its walls again.
Reboot or rebuild? I’m up to my elbows in cement!