"How to accept the fact that my husband cheated during pregnancy; my mom advises me to 'let it go'?"

"How to accept the fact that my husband cheated during pregnancy; my mom advises me to 'let it go'?"

On the Bridge, I Almost Committed Suicide

In one's life journey, there are always a few bumps that leave scars carved by fate. I'm no exception.

In the past, whenever I faced difficulties, I chose to ignore them and pretend everything was fine. I told myself emotions were suppressed and I could continue a "normal" life.

What I didn't know was, that emotions don't just disappear. They accumulate until the foundation collapses.

On that most desperate night, standing on the bridge, surrounded by endless traffic behind yet facing the pitch dark river ahead, I so wanted to leap, to end the pain with my flesh.

Just as I lifted my foot, it suddenly dawned on me -

If not even death scares me, why not give myself another chance at life?

I gave myself that chance with a psychotherapy session. 

01 When My Child Called "Mama", I Knew I Couldn't Die

Let me start from the first session.

Sitting across from me was the therapist, long hair draped over her shoulders, professional yet serene. I was very nervous, stuttering even when answering basic questions.

Yet her gentle tone and assuring gaze felt like a warm spring breeze, helping me open my heart.

I started pouring out the distress buried for so long…

The chaos had already started since getting engaged.

As a post-80s only child under the one-child policy and education reform, I lacked guidance on how to love myself, love others, or be loved.

My parents did love me growing up.

Yet when it came time for marriage, my mom named a shocking dowry of over 100,000 RMB from my husband's family.

It was just after 2000 then.

Her words - "You didn't make money in college when you should have, now you gotta earn back some money for me" - made me feel like an object.

The married life afterward pulled me into another abyss.

Every day, relatives and neighbors gossiped -

"When will you have kids?"

"Can you not have babies?"

My mother-in-law also prodded whenever she could -

"Go see a fertility doctor if you can't have kids!"

I couldn't take it anymore and wanted to escape. But my family all said -

"Be a good wife and daughter-in-law to please the in-laws."

Later, I went off birth control and started treatments to get pregnant finally.

Little did I know the nightmare was only beginning.

What came before was just an appetizer.

My husband progressed from aloof, to cheating during pregnancy, to completely absent for "startup" reasons.

Leaving me and the baby alone.

I didn't know who to tell.

My mom only said I "deserved this." Being married far away also left me isolated, a friendship desert island.

Countless nights, I told myself again and again, endure a bit longer, wait until the baby grows older.

But the pain didn't stop haunting me.

One day, I gathered the courage to share my grievance with my dad. My mom snatched the phone and advised me -

"Men always come back home after playing around. Look at your aunt Mei, she even raises her husband's love child yet keeps the money and family together…"

I couldn't hear the rest with countless fiery arrows piercing my heart.

In the days after, my emotions remained stuck in a quagmire.

Finally losing reason, I left a suicide note without ID or contacts and walked into the night.

Yet standing on that busy bridge staring at the flowing river, my son's tender voice calling "Mama" suddenly echoed in my mind.

Only then did I realize I wasn't alone.

After recounting my story, choking back tears, I asked the therapist -

"Can you help me? Make me better?"

She looked straight at me and said - "I can."

 

02 The "Little Girl" Longing to be Seen Has Never Shed a Tear for Herself

In the following sessions, the therapist rhythmically guided me down memory lane -

"What feelings bother you the most now? When have you felt similar?"

At first, I resisted. Feelings locked away for so long became shackles, chaining my hopes for freedom and self-actualization, and weighing me down.

They also became defenses over the years, preventing me from free-falling in utter voids without anchors.

The therapist didn't push me to continue. Instead, she accepted all of me.

In sessions after, I relaxed more and more because she employed a special technique.

She had me find the most comfortable posture in the room, close my eyes, and listen to the music she played.

When my mind went nearly blank, she guided me to reminisce back to childhood and uncover the stories behind those emotions bit by bit.

"What does that inner child look like?" she gently asked.

"Docile, timid. She's very scared."

Therapist: "Your inner child seems frozen at certain times, that's why she's so timid. If you bring her to the present and let her feel your understanding of her pain, she'll feel very safe."

"But if I bring her out, no one looks after her. She'll be heartbroken…" I suddenly felt like crying.

"What exactly does she need?"

"She needs to be loved, played with, told she did nothing wrong."

Therapist: "Can your adult self give her all that?"

Me: "I can…I held her hand, stroked her hair, told her I'm here with her, she's amazing, she needn't apologize."

Tears flowed again. Those were tears the little girl shed.

It was through revisiting my deepest emotions that I realized - I had always pursued perfection to earn my parents' approval and teachers' praise.

That's why I had been so tough all these years, bearing everything myself - renovations, electrical rewiring, raising my child, working without compromising.

I constantly sacrificed myself for others' sake, sought perfection in all matters, to minimize conflicts, and gain validation, even if I was scared. I even felt guilty eating an ice cream cone secretly.

All this way, I never faced my true self.

One-third into life, I suddenly found my real self hidden away in some corner, untraceable.

The truths suppressed in my subconscious finally surfaced into consciousness -

My parents and likely my entire family held patriarchal beliefs deep down.

Why else would they have called me "son" all through childhood? It was always "Son, time to eat" or "son, come home."

And my mother often used my cousin as a shining example to whip me -

"Look how pretty she is, why don't you make yourself presentable like a girl?"

"She rides her bike to school, yet your dad has to pick you up!"

Having to depend on others yet still a child, I could only give up play and joy to become the perfectly well-behaved daughter my parents wanted.

Yet the older I grew, the more I feared communicating with family, which only brought suffocation.

The therapist guided me again - "It must've been very difficult all these years. You did great. The little girl is safe now. So as an adult, what will you do?"

"Now I want to respect my inner voice and firmly tell my parents what life I want. I want independence. I can perfectly well raise my child alone and live out my world."

Speaking out "what I want," in that instant I could finally breathe freely. Someone finally saw my hardships, grievances, and heartaches.

I finally saw them too.

In finding myself this way, all those shameful, guilty, angry, aggrieved, remorseful, hopeless emotions and thoughts I had suppressed were received by the therapist without any judgment - only helpful insights, compassionate understanding, and deep empathy.

3. I'm Starting to Love Myself and This World

The change occurred naturally.

I started allowing myself makeup and dressing up, wearing skirts and jewelry.

I allowed myself moments of fragility, tears, and emotionality.

My attitude to my mom also quietly changed. I used to want to protest when her call flashed on my phone.

Now I can proactively text her "I'm well, take care of yourself."

While I still can't agree with many of her beliefs, instead of angry rebuttals like before, I patiently listen as if to someone else's story.

Through therapy, I felt I was slowly reconciling with my mom and myself.

"Love yourself well!" - the therapist left me with these final words that touched me deeply in our last session.

I used to only allow myself to love others, never telling the little girl living in my heart "I love you" out loud or hugging myself saying "You did great."

With my newfound "ability to love myself", I could bravely take that step to divorce and truly start life's next chapter.

Thankfully I proactively sought therapy. Only under the therapist's professional techniques could I peel back layer by layer from surface emotions down to innermost ones to locate the root causes of my troubles.

Therapy taught me acceptance, self-reflection, and starting to believe "I'm worthy."

Looking back now, I feel blessed to have walked into that counseling room for my rebirth.

Lastly, I'd also like to tell anyone still repressing their pain - therapy is no mirror of evil. There is no need to fear facing it.

On the contrary, therapists bring the most professional expertise and warmest attitude to every visitor.

 

I hope you can also come to believe in yourself again like me and find your way of coexisting with this world.

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