Here’s one for us all: how to tell a new story about the REALLY HARD things?

That is, how on earth do we find a new framework, a new jumping-off point, a new reframing of a narrative in our life that is just… unjustifiable, inexcusable?

In my case, husband lied to me and cheated on me for years.YEARS. He was gaslighting me  for years. YEARS. Do you know how crazy-making, soul-shredding that is?! It’s huge. I can’t look back at anything cordial, funny or nice that happened with him and wonder if that was just his way of making nice after he had been having sex with someone else. All that time that I spent caring for the kids, solo, so isolated, and struggling while he was ostensibly “working” – ?


Added to that, his family.

I have had a difficult time absorbing the fact that my husband’s entire Vietnamese family turned their backs on me and my children. I mean, it’s just mind-blowing to me. I remember what I felt at the time to be love and kindness and wonder what – if any? – of it was real.

Added to that, they welcomed his new girlfriend with open arms only weeks after I asked him to leave our home that he had been living in with her. I repeat: MY HUSBAND had his girlfriend (the one that I found out about and left him over) living in MY HOUSE up there on the Lost Coast. When I found out about it and asked them to leave, they went to HIS FAMILY, who welcomed her. This was less than two months after I left him.

That to me is just…  I can’t even. I can’t wrap any part of my head or heart around their actions.

There is another thing that is impossible for me: the death of my brother.

4 guys walked up to Dana and his son while they were on Dana’s farm. They had guns. They were there to take whatever material means Dana had on him at the time. They told Dana and his son to get down – Dana tried reaching for the gun and they shot him.

How on earth can I tell a new story about this?!

I mean, HOW do I tell a new story about things that break my heart?

It’s one thing to be reframing my apps and look at my car accident differently, but, my brother’s DEATH? My husband’s lying and cheating? His family’s betrayal? Jesus!

I can’t. But I did try.

I kind of, sort of, tentatively tried, and within a half-step of a mental surge, I fell flat.

I can’t. I absolutely can NOT reframe this story, I can’t understand why my husband  did what he did or make excuses for his actions. I can’t understand how his Grandma and his Auntie – both of whom I truly love – could possible turn their backs on me and the kids and welcome his girlfriend in my stead.

And Dana.

I mean, I can’t even write about that, let alone talk about reasons to understand any of it.

It has slowly dawned on me that telling a new story does not always mean that it needs to reframed or understood.

It also does not mean that it needs to be told.

Sometimes, I think, telling a new story means silence.

There can be no justification for the unjustifiable

I can’t justify these things. And it’s not my job to.

These are threads of older stories that I place where they are. I will not attempt to re-weave them into something more pleasing to me. They end in actions that are inexcusable, unjustifiable, unfathomable to me and so I won’t try to make sense of them.

I just let them be.

I pivot from them, setting my feet squarely upon my own path, and look where I am going right here, right now, in this moment, which is where time has any real meaning.

There may be a point in the future in which the why’s and how’s might become clear, and I might understand  the actions of my husband, his family and the killers of my brother. But unless and until that is revealed to me, I think that I will tell these stories best by not trying to understand them.

Silence is sometimes the best answer – Dalai Lama

Silence isn’t inherentaly comfortable for me. Sitting still and letting silence be what is heard isn’t easy for me. I like understanding, I like reasons. I like to talk and dissect things out.

But silence can speak when words can’t. God doesn’t speak through noise – the voice of the Spirit and of the Universe is small, still, quiet. Connection in any of that cannot happen unless I am silent and the noise subsides and I let that little incessant talker in my head shut up.

In that stillness and quiet, the silence leads to peace, and in that peace, there is connection. I don’t know yet, but perhaps that will be my new story. I’m still listening.

How to Tell a New Story About the REALLY HARD Things, that are absolutely inexcusable, inexplicable, and that you cannot wrap your mind or heart around | wellness | healing | grief | how to heal from divorce | divorce wellness | when your husband cheats |

Nomadic photo-junkie, cat-lover, peasant-handed mom of 3. Life is never dull.


  1. For me, telling a new story about the really hard things isn’t something I can force, it’s something that happens over time as I get new knowledge. For example, one of the times I was raped led me on a long hard blind path but at the end of it I met the love of my life who I’ve been together with for almost ten years. It was too hard for me to think about the rape in the languages that I already knew, so I learned a new one with new words that didn’t hurt as much as the languages I knew already because the words were still just dictionary definitions without experiences attached yet, and I used that language to talk to myself about what happened and process it. But along the way of learning the language I met lots of online friends from countries where that language was spoken and chatted with them for language practice about music and life and stuff and one of them introduced me to my love. We never would have met. And my love is a survivor too, we needed to have some hard stuff in common to bind us together.

    It doesn’t make what happened okay. There’s no justification, no letting him off the hook for what he did to me. It was still wrong. I still have PTSD and not just from that incident but from countless other things. But I met my love.

    It’s like the story of the night watchman from The Seven Valleys (the valley of knowledge) — you aren’t supposed to run towards the watchman who is hounding you and embrace him and thank him for the tests — that just leads to the watchman’s jail cell not to your beloved’s garden. You are supposed to run away from the danger the watchman presents to take care of yourself and find safety, but sometimes while you’re running you get to a different place, a place you wouldn’t have found without the watchman chasing you.

    Would you have left your husband if you hadn’t found out about his cheating? He was abusive and hurt you and the children very badly (it must have hurt them to see him treat you so cruelly). You needed an impetus to leave him. There is no excuse for cheating and no excuse for breaking your bones and no excuse for all the things he did that you asked yourself if it was bad enough to be upset about and tried to tell yourself well maybe it’s nothing maybe I’m just being too sensitive. It was awful and unjustifiable and unforgivable. But you left and you are building a new life now and it is hard, every moment of it is hard.

    If you don’t find any reason to thank the watchman yet, don’t beat yourself up, you aren’t failing, you aren’t doing anything wrong, it is just not yet the time, you haven’t got to a point in your life where you can say “well, without that terrible thing, i would not have this” — quite possibly because you don’t have it yet. Maybe right now the only story you have is “maybe this will lead me somewhere but right now I don’t know where it will lead and I don’t know if it will lead anywhere good and it hurts and I don’t know how I am going to make it through, but perhaps I will.” Sometimes that’s all there is for a long time. I want to say “it’s okay” but what I mean by that is that you’re not failing or doing something wrong and that you shouldn’t beat yourself up. Nothing about the REALLY HARD THINGS is okay. It’s not okay that they happened. It’s not okay that you should have to face them alone. But you’re okay.

    • Oh, thank you for this. I love being reminded of the Seven Valleys.

      Yes, I was on the way out to leaving my husband just because of the abuse – and yes, it hurt my kids to see him treating me badly – it hurt them to be treated badly as well. I think I chose to write about the cheating in this post because that’s the area that has a surprisingly long reach for me. I wasn’t expecting to still feel the repercussions of this (almost a year later), and to have such a hard time turning my feelings around.

      I think it’s impossible to fail at any of this because it’s all in a forward direction towards God and learning. And I don’t know what the reasons are – so I don’t want to do what happened all the time growing up, Baha’i – make up the reasons for things I don’t actually know about. I think there is a real tendency to that in Baha’i communities, right? “Oh, this and this happened because… this and that” – and it’s understandable because we want to KNOW WHY THIS HARD THING HAPPENED. But I’m not sure it’s ours to know, at least until the reasons because so crystal-clear-apparent (like in the case of you and your love). I just want to let it lie and resist the temptation to explain it all out and make MY sense of it when I don’t really know what the DIVINE sense was.
      (does that make sense?!! *smile*) xoxo love you

      • Yeah, it makes sense. I don’t even want to say “it happened so that I could meet my love.” I don’t know if that framing is helpful. I think instead it’s more helpful for me to think “well i got something good out of it anyway” or “well i wouldn’t have got here without that and I don’t want to give up what I have now.”

        I think everyone wants certainty and wants to draw clear bright lines of causation but life is a lot more messy than that and we can really hurt people when we say “oh it must have happened for a reason” or any of the platitudes people say about God in times like this that can really damage a person’s relationship with God. We want the world to be fair and we want the world to be just — but that’s what God put us here to do, that’s what our job is, to make the world just. It’s not a law of nature that good things will happen to good people and bad things to bad people, we just tell ourselves and each other that because it’s comforting to think there is a path we can follow that will let us avoid experiencing hurt and misfortune. We want to feel safe. When someone is hurting we shouldn’t be so quick to say how wonderful it is they are being tested or that God wouldn’t give them more than they can handle or that there must be reason. Sometimes there is no reason to be had for a good long time.

        I grew up in the Bahá’í communty too and I am still a Bahá’í but I don’t go to meetings anymore. It just hurts too much dealing with people’s assumptions about what it means to be second generation Bahá’í — I didn’t have the idyllic childhood with perfect non-abusive parents that people imagine I must have had. And, also, I was getting a lot of generic advice that was bad for my situation: I was being stalked and every time I went to a meeting I would hear about how we should forgive everything and accept people where they are and if someone is attracted to us then we should bring them towards the Faith, what they’re really attracted to — and I kept trying and kept trying but what I really needed to do was change my number and move and get away, which I eventually did, but it took me longer to realise what I needed to do because I was hearing too much about patience and forbearance and forgiveness and too little about “the best beloved of all things in My sight is justice” (hidden words) and “The continuance of mankind depends upon justice and not upon forgiveness.” (Some answered questions).

        The problem isn’t with the Faith but just with humans being fallible and not knowing how to respond to hard situations. Not bad people, just good people who don’t know what to do.

        One thing that really helped me lately was this quote:

        “There is no paradise, in the estimation of the believers in the Divine Unity, more exalted than to obey God’s commandments, and there is no fire in the eyes of those who have known God and His signs, fiercer than to transgress His laws and to opress another soul, even to the extent of a mustard seed.” Selections from the Writings of the Báb

        When I read that, it helped me realise that whenever I think — or someone tells me — the Writings are telling me to accept being oppressed or to make myself quiet and small, it’s human misunderstanding getting in the way. When I think God is asking too much of me with one quote, often there is another quote that makes it clear that he wasn’t asking what I thought at all. The Writings have a lot of landmines for me because of how they were twisted by one of my abusers, so it helps to have this quote that says that “thou wert created to bear and endure” doesn’t mean “you were created to be abused.” I don’t know if you have this problem too or not, maybe it’s just me. I stayed a Bahá’í because it’s True and because it’s too beautiful to leave but it is hard for me. If it’s hard for you too, the wrongness isn’t in you, it’s in the people who twisted God’s words.

        God doesn’t want us to be oppressed. God wants us to be kind: to each other and to ourselves.

        So I think you’re right to resist the temptation to make sense of it. Maybe there will be sense later, but it will come when it does — It can hurt you to push yourself to forgiveness too soon, and God doesn’t want you to be hurt. We always push ourselves to be detached but it can hurt you to practice detachment if you have trouble with learned helplessness (I do). God doesn’t want you to be opressed. The best beloved of all things in God’s sight is justice.

        We want the world to be fair, but we don’t get a fair world by declaring it to already be fair. The really hard things are injustices. We must seek to build a world where those things don’t happen anymore.

        Be kind to yourself, you are a child of God.

        • Wow, so much wisdom in this. I love your thought processes, and they feel very familiar to me, being so similar to my own.

          “We want the world to be fair, but we don’t get a fair world by declaring it to already be fair. The really hard things are injustices. We must seek to build a world where those things don’t happen anymore.” – so much YES.

          I admire how you stick with reading the writings that were twisted by others. I mean, I admire that you continue to try to see things differently, and see past how it was laid on you.

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