Before we got married, we talked about infidelity. For the ex, it was a dealbreaker. No gray area. If I did it, he was done, we were done. It was over. No question or conversation. I was less black and white about it. I understood that there are various types of affairs. I didn't want to experience any of them but, to me, a drunk one night stand was less awful than him telling someone else all his hopes, dreams and frustrations. A lay was more palatable to me than a new best friend or wife stand in. It got more gray with each child. With each year that our lives and the lives of our families and friends became more intertwined. Plus, as a child of divorce, my god, I did not want that for our children.
Then it happened. Changes in behavior. Deleted texts. Hidden calls and emails and conversations. A friendship where I saw the writing on the wall and warned him. A relationship where even seeking help with a marriage counselor could not stop the nuclear fallout. I had ended friendships before. Ones that made him uncomfortable. I expected the same. That was not gray. You sacrifice for your partner. You respect them. You meet them where they are. Black and white. In or out.
The irony was that when it all happened - ok, fine, when I found out the third time and I saw declarations of love, promises of romantic dates and changed loyalties - we both shifted. I went to the black and white of my worth and the worth of my children. Of promises made and kept. And suddenly he was espousing the brilliance of the shades of gray. Of mistakes. And misunderstandings. And apologies. And the millionth chance. On his knees, crying, begging for me to walk through the gray with him.
I was on my knees, too. Crying. But only on the inside. Because I had 3 lives in my hands. 3 hearts and souls that looked to me. Who needed me to continue to be their north and their foundation and their protector that would bend in the storm but not break. I did break. I did. But not in front of them.
Maybe I am still in the gray about infidelity. Not really in a place to make a final call about that. Ok, not exactly true. The mistress part of the infidelity? Totally made a final call about that. But maybe I am in the gray because once I started speaking my truth, women I have known forever have shared with me theirs. Some stayed. Some left. There is no right choice. There is only your choice. But what is not gray any longer is my worth. It took longer than I would like to admit to get there. But I got there. Through hell and high water. But my worth? Not a shade of gray to be found. That is black and white.