Why do I stay? I don't know. My answer even to myself doesn't seem strong enough, but I'm still married, still "working" through it.
I first stayed because he begged me to. I was in shock, grief, and so much pain and the man I had loved for over 20years cried and begged. So I stayed because I had hope even in the chaos I had hope. It's been three years, I'm still here.
The fraught intensity of those first few months is gone but the pain and fear have not retreated and my husband hasn't done much work on himself to allay those fears. Not to say he doesn't make any effort. I see it. He does for me, ie: I forgot my glasses at home so he brought them to my office, this was thoughtful. I had a really extra rough day at work so he drove me in California traffic to my favorite bar for my favorite cocktail. He sends me sweet texts and funny memes, he tells me he loves me all the time and my parched heart and weary soul soak it up.
But he's always done these things, he's always tried to show me in little ways that he loves me and I have always appreciated it. However he's not showing me in the big ways, the ways that take real effort and commitment and that's what I need now, because he put a lot of effort into harming me/us and the effort to repair it needs to be at least the same amount.
So why do I stay? We have fun together, I enjoy his company, he makes me laugh and the idea of him not being there when anything happens is terrifying. Does that mean I'm a coward I'm afraid of the loss so I hang on to something too broken to fix. Am I weak? Maybe, it often feels like weakness to stay. So much of our society tells us that women who stay are weak fools. My children think so, they think my staying is a sign of weakness and they hate it, They say they want better for me, I deserve better and I need to believe in myself more.
Strong women leave, smart women leave that's what our society says. Which is weird because I've always thought of myself as a strong and smart woman and it is taking all of my strength to stay and try to heal the damage. It is so painful to face the person who destroyed you and ask them to do better knowing it's a long shot. But my strength is waning and my hope almost doesn't exist anymore. I don't know how much longer I can stay.
I stay because I love my husband, I always have and I always will. That doesn't mean I will always stay but for now it's my why.