I finished my master's degree on Saturday. I've been working on it part-time since 2006 while working a full time job. In fact, I decided to start it partially because I needed to have something else besides my ex affair partner to think about all the time. (obviously there are other professional reasons as well.) I am extremely proud of finishing my thesis and graduating. In 2007 and 2008 when my husband found out about the affair and my life was falling apart, I thought about quitting school many times. I persisted.
So when I graduated on Saturday, it was a big deal. It was a big deal to me professionally, but also personally... it just felt like the last big "to do" list item in the process of healing from the last year and a half.
So you can imagine how upset I was when my husband didn't even get me a card.
In the past, the old me would have sat on that disappointment, letting it fester and grow into resentment. The old me would have tried to convince herself that she shouldn't be so upset about something so petty as a card, meanwhile burying the hurt and letting it magnify. But the new me decided to try something different.
At the end of the day, after my husband accompanied me to the ceremony, and we went out for dinner, I said something. I said I was hurt he didn't think to get me a card. At first he was very defensive. "But I came with you today!" Then he gave me one of those fake apologies. You know the kind. "I'm sorry that you are so upset (unwritten post-script being: about something so ridiculously petty, ie. I'm sorry you overreacted.") I told him I wasn't upset, I was hurt. And that his behavior was why I was hurt.
And you know what?
Then he got it. He told me he was so sorry and ashamed. He apologized sincerely several times. And then, something happened in me. I felt OK about it. I didn't feel like I needed to email my girlfriends to bitch about it, or ask someone else (in the past it would have been the ex affair partner) for affirmation that I had a right to feel hurt. I decided on my own that I had a right to feel hurt. And I told the one person that could make a difference. And it helped.