In just a few hours — 10:48 pm CST to be exact — the winter solstice will occur. The winter solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year.
Thinking about this time of year and the solstice, I’m reminded of the expression:
It’s always darkest just before the dawn.
This is so true for partners of sex addicts (and survivors of infidelity) who make the courageous choice to stay in their current relationship to see whether it can be saved.
In my post the honesty problem in early recovery, I describe the intense pain and seemingly unbearable bind most partners experience in the early stages of discovery and disclosure. I call this stage “tolerating the intolerable.” This is the difficult time post-discovery and before there is any tangible evidence of progress or recovery on the part of the addict.
Tolerating the intolerable is when you can’t yet trust the addict or his (or her) word, yet you don’t want — for a variety of good reasons — to leave the relationship.
Being in relationship with someone you can’t trust, whose words you don’t (and shouldn’t) believe, while processing all the new, devastating information you’ve received feels like being between a rock and a hard place. It’s excruciating.
The good news is that it doesn’t last forever.
Have you ever taken a walk in the dead of winter and gotten an up-close look at a tree that — although its branches looked completely bare at a distance — had buds forming on the limbs? I don’t know about you, but every time I have this experience I feel joy and hope. It reminds me that things are not always as they appear — in a good way.
There are so many times in life where it seems like nothing’s happening, things are bleak, or everything is going wrong. Yet that’s only part of the picture.
I invite you to take hope from this annual and unending cycle in nature when the bare tree limb is actually full of life. Although your current situation (and relationship) may seem hopeless or lifeless, there is always a dawn after the dark.
Whether you choose to stay or go, this season is just that — a season. It’s temporary and it shall pass.
As you endure this season of darkness, remember that waiting is not a passive activity. Right now, think of 3 things you can do for your own self-care. Reach out before the day is over to a trusted, supportive friend. Remind yourself daily, hourly, and minute-by-minute that your worth and value aren’t determined by what anyone else does — or doesn’t do.
This winter solstice — the longest night of the year — marks the beginning of longer days that, slowly and surely, will be filled more light.
And so will yours.
© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2015)
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