Wikipedia defines denial as "a defense mechanism, postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence". I could have written that descriptor, myself. Word for word. Because I know all about denial. Or rather, I knew all about denial. It was the sole reason that I was able to stay in my marriage for as long as did, even though I knew in my heart that it was already over.
Looking back now, I realize that my denial was a conscious decision. A choice. At the time when it was the greatest, I wasn't ready to take actual steps towards ending my marriage. It certainly didn't hurt that D was actually quite quick on his feet when I confronted or questioned him. This is not to say that he provided me with believable explanations for his actions, but he at least still had enough composure to conjure up something. An excuse. A story (no matter how far fetched it may have been). That, truthfully, all that I was looking for. Anything would suffice, really.
He hadn't come home because he had fallen asleep out at his little cabin. He had been working so hard that he was literally too exhausted to make the 25 minute trek home. He was running four hours behind because he had locked his keys in his truck (yet again). He was with that girl at the mall because she was his friend and she had helped him pick out a new pair of sunglasses. He was angry that I wanted to look through his text messages because it meant that I didn't trust him. If I didn't trust him, how could we possibly have a solid marriage, let alone a family?
In hindsight all of these "explanations" and excuses seem absolutely ridiculous. However, for me, at that time, they served a purpose. They allowed me to stay in a marriage that I knew in my heart was over. They allowed me to put up with behavior that I didn't agree with. And they allowed me to stay with someone who had, and was continuing to commit betrayal.
If there is one thing that I regret the most about my life, it was this period of time when I proceeded to ignore everything that was happening, literally in front of my nose. Looking back upon that point in my life causes me to be ashamed of myself and my actions (or lack thereof). I keenly remember the emotional space that I was in, and it was not one that I am proud of. I had resigned myself to putting up with anything and everything that D did, or didn't do, in hopes of salvaging my marriage and keeping my family intact.
While my efforts to hold my marriage together were successful, at least for the time being, it all came at a cost. While I succeeded in salvaging what was left of our relationship, at least in the meantime, I lost myself in the process. I had become "that woman". The one who turns the other cheek to her loved ones indiscretions. The one who blindly believes the lies that she is told, because she is too afraid to look at the facts and face up to the truth. The one who ignores the whispers and rumors about what her husband has really doing during all of those nights that he claimed to be working late. I had turned into a shell of who I once was. A fragile person who no longer possessed her own mind, much less a backbone. Someone whom I had vowed to never become for anyone, especially a man. And I hated myself for it.
This was all much too steep of a price to pay. Especially when I realized that, while getting a divorce was my greatest fear, it turned out to be the a blessing in disguise. In making the decision to end my marriage, I was also making the decision to take back control of my life and my dignity. Now, when I reflect upon the woman that I was just a few short years ago, I do not recognize her. That weak and broken person no longer exists. She has been replaced by someone who is strong, confident, and self-assured. And someone who will never allow herself to be treated in that way again. Someone who has learned from everything that she has been through. And someone who will never be in denial again.