by Morgan W.
Being cheated on was the best thing that ever happened to me. After seven years of marriage and two kids, my relationship was struck by the breathtakingly violent force of infidelity. The affair had been going on for more than a year. I had a four year old and a one year old at home. I cried and vomited. I laid on the floor and I wanted to die. I hated myself and my spouse. Weeks later, when I surfaced for air, I looked at our lives and I decided to stay.
I took stock of the aftermath. There were huge piles of anger and the trust was shattered to pieces. Everything we had built together lay demolished at my feet. I don’t know why I didn’t give up. It would have been easier, certainly, but I found someone inside myself who was more willful and fierce than I could have imagined. A woman I hadn't met until then. So, fragment by fragment, I rebuilt. It was much more difficult than building the relationship the first time, but I was determined. I had been tested and I wasn’t about to fail. Almost everyone in my life told me to leave, save for a few women who had, themselves, stayed. So, although I sat in the courthouse parking lot more than a few times, I never did file for divorce, and the continued success of my marriage is one of my greatest accomplishments to date. We went on to have another baby and I became a serious distance runner. In the years after the affair, I discovered I could do absolutely anything.
Every day post-election pretty much feels like the weeks following my discovery of the affair. The blanket of depression is occasionally thrown aside by a surge of rage-empowerment and I finally get off the couch. Then I read about another Cabinet appointment or something Kellyanne Conway said and I slink back into the familiar covering. Which feeling will win out? Depends on my frame of mind when you ask, I guess. I’m committed to my marriage and I'm in it for life. I like to think of my country the same way. What it’s done to my family hurts like hell, though.
It’s estimated that up to 60 percent of marriages will be affected by infidelity. It can happen to anyone. It can happen if you are attractive, successful, a perfect Pinterest mother who does whatever it is that you’re supposed to do with shaving cream this week. It can happen if your husband is the president of the United States. As much as I tried to insulate myself from it during the campaign, I saw the memes and heard the derogatory attacks based on Bill’s philandering. If Hillary couldn't keep her husband satisfied, she couldn't handle America. Monica got the job done when Hillary couldn't. Bill chose other women over Hillary and the country should too. More puns on the word "blow" than I care to recount.
Aside from the misogyny and tastelessness of these attacks, I believe the opposite is true. Marital strife has only strengthened Hillary and made the Clinton marriage a force to be reckoned with. Every couple should feel they can take on the world together, but few literally do. People spend a lot of time speculating on why she stayed. It doesn't really matter to me if she loves him or if she's holding him hostage for the rest of his life, Gone Girl-style, or a bit of both. I would guess that everything that has happened in their marriage, has, like all successful marriages, made both of them better and stronger. I like to imagine that he has paid a personal price for his mistakes higher than impeachment or even being the subject of a Beyoncé album, but that’s my own revenge fantasy. Ultimately, we know very little about Hillary’s marriage, or any marriage besides one we’ve actually been in. What we do know for certain is that Hillary is strong as hell, which we see in her post-affair evolution. She rose like a phoenix from the ashes of a fire, witnessed by basically the whole world with access to television, many of whom were merrily roasting marshmallows around it. She thrust herself into the public eye again and again, doggedly pursuing her political career. The story of Hillary as a wife and as a person isn’t about being a victim or an “enabler,” which is also a popular way to deride her for staying. It’s about the might of commitment, perseverance, and unwavering ambition. It’s about turning powerlessness into dominating inner strength. Sure, maybe she already knew she could shatter every glass ceiling she came up against. Maybe she never once doubted she could take on the world. Or maybe, like me and so many other dedicated women I know, she's driven to accomplish the things she has in part because he cheated, and she stayed.
Around 62 million people voted for Donald Trump in last year’s election, stunning so many of us. I often ask myself how Hillary soldiers on, especially now. Somehow she won the votes and still lost, but doesn't seem to have wavered. Does she ever cry like I do or has she figured out a way to harness the power of political victimization the same way she channeled her personal hurt? More importantly, do I have that woman inside me still? I desperately want to take for myself just a tiny piece of her badassery for this resistance. As DGB staff, I try to do all the good I can every day. Like so many other women right now, I want this to be when I rise up and fight like never before. As the saying goes: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. But what about a woman scorned by her country? How much fury and strength will she find inside herself then? And I'm not talking about Hillary. I'm talking about me.