Just about 20 months ago I received trauma therapy in Los Angeles. The particular psychotherapist I visited specializes in working with developmental, relational, and shock trauma. From her website, “she is a specialist in the Sex Addiction-Induced Trauma Model and she is trained to work with the addict, the spouse, and the couple. She is also a Certified Clinical Partner Specialist and guides her clients to drop into the interior realms, emotional capacities, and psychobiological functioning to round out a wholistic treatment approach. She is a Somatic Experience Practitioner and certified in EMDR. She is certified using the Neuro Affective Relational Model, Touch Work, Embodied Mind, Mindful Body, and Attachment-Focused EMDR. She specializes in stress, anxiety, and depression, mind/body connection, developmental shock, relational trauma, sex addiction and partners of sex addicts.”
I traveled to Los Angeles to see her in bulks of time, three separate trips, approximately 25 hours total. I briefly documented my first two visits with her here Day One: How did I get here? and here Day Two: Can we fix this mess?. Those two posts don’t really talk much about the actual therapy, and it was so early on in my journey that I was no where near being able to “get” much of what the therapist was giving me. What I realize now, more than a year and a half later, was she was trying to give me my life back. She was trying to help me understand that my life, my happiness, my security, my resilience, my fortitude, my power, does not lie in what my husband is, or does, or in our marriage. Betrayal induced trauma is a bitch. The collective “we” of faithful spouses understand this concept acutely. We feel the anguish deep in our bones. The heartbreak of knowing the person who would never hurt us, has done so, rocks us to our core. I know these feelings. I begrudgingly share them with you as someone who never deserved to be treated with such disrespect and abuse.
BUT. There came a time where the lightbulb went on. The trauma started to give way to healing. The reality set in. He did do those awful things I defined as my nightmare. He did them. Alone. He made the decision to cheat and lie. No one coerced him. Society didn’t give him a pass. I didn’t give him a pass. NO ONE gave him a pass, and, he knew it was wrong. The entire time, he knew it was wrong. The nightmare was real, and yet, here I am, surviving. I was a person before I met my husband. A young, vibrant, loving, love-able, nurturing, kind, compassionate, caring, healthy, strong female. During my marriage I was all those things and more… wife, mother, daughter, friend, sister, aunt… I took all those roles on willingly, gladly, stealthily. I do think one of the things that was lost a bit along the way, however, was me taking care of me. I took me for granted. I had depleted my reservoir of self, so when my husband’s secret life was revealed, I was devastated. I had counted on him, depended on him. He was, after all, my life partner, the one who would never break my heart. He was my rock. I was living a false reality. Post d-day, it was time to take back some of what I was giving away. To realize the only way to be truly healthy is to be kind, gentle, loving, and nurturing to myself. Being kind to myself is not mutually exclusive to being kind to others, but it was crucial to healing from the pain. All those lessons taught me by the trauma therapist all those months before began to take hold. She certainly knew what she was talking about, I was just not ready to listen. When I put my husband and my marriage aside and started fighting for myself, that is when I began to heal.
We are fucking worth fighting for. Family, friends, the press, the media, hollywood, all those people and things that theoretically mean something to us… they don’t. Unless they are building us up, reminding us how worthy we are as people to have happiness, honesty, kindness, joy, love… bliss in our lives. Unless they are validating who we are and what we want for ourselves, their thoughts and concerns and criticisms mean nothing. All the societal naysayers, all the blamers, all the rationalizers and minimizers, they must be summarily, and effectively eliminated from our thoughts. Feelings of self worth and self esteem must win out over loneliness, guilt, shame, despair and self-defeating behaviors. Stay or go, we can do this, we can believe in ourselves and believe we are bigger and better than the pain of betrayal.
PostScript: This post was inspired by two betrayed spouse bloggers whom I call friends. They are kind, funny, delightful, loving, insightful, beautiful inside and out, and they know who they are.