Four years ago Kelsey didn’t own a bike. She was good at athletics. She loved a heap of sports. But being a cyclist was far from her mind.
In fact, four years ago she was out of job. So, she took anything to escape poverty. She was working spraying weeds in some ditches in Alberta. Yet, Kelsey believed she was destined for more. She dared to believe she could achieve some lofty goal.
Kelsey started to train, and to get back in shape. She ran in her lunch breaks to build up her strength. After work, in the evenings, she went to the gym. And then she decided to take a huge brave step.
She chose to sign up for RBC Training Ground, a program that’s designed to scout potential talent out.
And today, Kelsey Mitchell’s an Olympic medallist. She won the gold medal in the track cycling race. It took her four short years (and some commitment, of course). Her whole life’s turned around. She’s a woman to watch!
When life falls apart, and depression hits us hard, it is hard to believe in what seems improbable.
But our life is not over.
There is still cause for hope.
There are good things to come.
Can you hold onto this?
Will you dare to believe you can still have a good life.
This is not how it ends.
I believe it for you.
“Hope is not pretending that troubles don’t exist. It is the hope that they won’t last forever. That hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome. That we will be led out of the darkness, and into the sunshine.”
Proving a negative is really difficult. And especially if he has deceived you before, and you had no idea he was cheating on you.
So how do you know if he’s gas lighting you today? Here are some things you should watch out for:
1. He starts to do unpredictable, and unexpected, things. We usually have a pretty good idea of what is normal for our partner and spouse. We know their different patterns. We know their changing moods. We know the way they act, and their likes and dislikes. This means that even a small change could sound a warning bell for us – and especially if the changes start to mount up over time.
For example, changes in how often he’s away from the home. Changes in the effort he puts into his appearance. Changes in the way he seems to use his phone today (perhaps he’s changed his password, and deletes all messages.)
However, many partners are experienced at keeping up an act, and are great at making sure you don’t know what they are doing.
Note: One in five men has a secret email account they use to hide correspondence from their partner.
2. He’s over-complimentary about your appearance, sense of humour, work achievements and so on. This can happen if he’s trying to throw you off the scent, and it also makes sense if you stop and think about it. If he’s making you look great in the eyes of other people, and it stroking your ego so you feel loved and secure then it’s likely you’ll will be blind to the fact that he is cheating.
Also, if praising you is very out of character for him, then it could be a sign that you need to stay alert. However, there is always the chance that it is genuine as well. Who knows!
3. He appears to be more distant, and less interested in you. You might start to notice that he’s pulling away more, and appears to be more distant from the family in general. You might be getting the sense he doesn’t care about you. This could point to his interest being focused somewhere else. This includes a lack of interest in sex and intimacy.
However, if he’s avoidant anyway, and has generally been poor at being sensitive, caring, understanding, and empathic, you might be hard pressed to notice any change, or difference.
4. He seems to pick more fights with you. This can be driven by feelings of guilt. But sometimes straying partners are more argumentative, sensitive, ill-tempered, and quick to take offense as a ploy to create distance, and throw you off the scent. Why? It gives him an excuse to disengage, and go elsewhere.
5. He hangs out with friends who have cheated on their partner. Often, we choose friends who have similar values, or will validate our actions and the choices we have made. Of course, we can’t control our friends but it can be an indication of how he regards cheating, or pornography.
Note: Research has shown that nearly 80% of men who cheat have a close friend who cheated.
6. You feel unsettled and uneasy. Often, we getting a feeling in our gut when there’s something going on. And a woman’s intuition often senses when he’s lying. He may have covered his tracks well but if your instinct says “watch out” then listen to your instinct – as most often it is right. Take disconcerting feelings and suspicions seriously. You owe it to yourself to check out sinister feelings.
“So many people are hanging on by the thinnest of threads. Treat people with kindness. You could be that thread.”
On the day she learned about her husband’s affair, Sajna told no-one. She told no-one at all. In fact, Sajna kept the secret to herself for several weeks.
And for those weeks she would awaken in a state of shock at night. The pain was unbelievable. It cut her like a knife. She simply couldn’t process what had happened to her life.
And in the day, she paced the streets with wet tears running down her cheeks. Her world – an utter mess. She didn’t recognize herself.
She also felt alone for no-one knew her life had changed. She couldn’t share the pain for who would understand, or care?
But – a woman on her street would always smile when she walked by. She’d often stop and talk. Exchange some simple pleasantries. They talked about the kids … the weather … normal, mundane stuff. A neighbour who was kind; someone who held an outstretched hand
That gentle kindness showed that Sajna mattered, after all. That someone noticed her. That someone valued who she was.
We never really know the good we do by being kind.
But, it can be profound.
Kindness can change a person’s life.
“Kindness (Noun): Someone who brings warmth and value to somebody with no expectation in return.”
“The most beautiful people I have ever met are the ones who always see life in full colour. They are the ones who have been through hell and back and still stop to savour the parts of life that many seldom pay attention to … These are the people I admire most because, no matter how much they have suffered, they will always find a reason to make the best of this imperfect world.” – Karen Baquiran
Often those who have suffered the most have the most beautiful character.
They know what matters, and they know what is fluff.
They are also understanding and compassionate.
They are deep – not superficial – and they live in the now.
And they know how fragile our relationships can be.
So they appreciate and savour all the gifts this moment gives.
And they always see the beauty, and they search to find the good.
“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.“– C.S. Lewis
In this post we will briefly answer a question that was asked by one of our clients. Here is today’s question:
“I recently learned that my husband had been unfaithful to me. When it came to light, he was totally repentant and remorseful about the whole thing. He says it is over. It is in the past. It is something that will never happen again. The problem is, I can’t forgive him, and just move on. No matter how much he wants me to do that. I want to believe him, but how can I believe him? There are days when I look at him and think to myself: “I will never, ever trust a word you say again.”
I’m constantly triggered and have panic attacks. I also find myself going over and over everything he said, and everything that happened. How can you forgive when you’re dealing with all this?”
It sounds like you have been through a lot, and may currently be dealing with PTSD. I would also say it is understandable that you feel it’s very hard to forgive right now.
Here are a few of my thoughts on this …
1. The fact that you are triggered, and you keep remembering things, and the fact that it is so hard to let go of what has happened, are signs that you have started to look out for yourself.
These are healthy signs of appropriate self-protection. It’s absolutely right that you listen to concerns and make sure your safety and protection come first. This leads me to point no2.
2. Through these instinctive reactions, your subconscious mind is saying: “You need to be more careful, and you need to stay alert. You could be badly hurt again if you forgive, and just move on. You need to pay attention. You don’t want to be naive.”
If he was willing to betray you and deceive you in the past, of course he could betray you and deceive you again. Words count for nothing in this kind of situation. To trust, you’re going to need substantial evidence.
3. This resistance to forgive is an act of pure self-love For your subconscious mind and core self are telling you:
“I care about what happens, and I’m looking out for you. I am watching to make sure that no-one ever hurts or harms you. I’ll always be there for you. I won’t abandon you.”
These 3 points indicate your mind is trying to protect you. And by rushing to forgive we do ourselves a great disservice.
For now, forget forgiveness. You are processing a trauma.
I was shocked and traumatized by the news I received. For a while I couldn’t function. I could barely survive. But I held on hard to hope – for without it: “What’s the point?” And there had to be a point, or you give into despair.
When I look back on the time, I can see the steps I took that helped me to stay strong, and which helped me find this hope. And perhaps there’s something here that will work for you, too:
1. Keep doing the same normal, routine things you’ve always done. You’ll have zero energy, and often doing the next thing will feel like an achievement. An impossible task. However, if you can still meet with a friend for a short walk once a week, or buy some groceries, or go and wash your car, there will be some things in life that still feels predictable. And “the same old” really matters when you’ve been traumatized.
2. Don’t hide yourself away; don’t isolate yourself. Yes, you need to be quite careful about whoyou spend time with. Also, you must be careful about who you sharestuff with. Not everyone trustworthy, or will be there for you. Still, we need to be with people, even if we wear a mask. There is something to be gained just being in the world.
3. Do something that’s meaningful to you. That’s meaningful to you, and not to anybody else. Not because you feel you ought to, or because it’s meant to help. You do it just because it makes youfeel a little better. Because it’s a distraction, and it’s what you need right now.
4. Lookback to see where things have worked out in the past for you. Right now, you’re going to feel as if the whole of life’s gone wrong. Like everything a failure, and has been a waste of time. But that isn’t true. There have been times when things worked out. Try hard to find those times. Try really to seek them out. You need find exceptions to inspire you to go on.
5. Remind yourself that there are no grades in life. Your life is not a score card. It is about experiences. And how you deal with everything that life has thrown at you. It’s how those things have changed you. What you learned and how you grew. It’s how you were courageous, and fought hard, and persevered. It’s how it made you human, and much more compassionate. It’s how it gave you depth, and gave you greater empathy.
6. Remember the people who matter to you. For me, it was my kids. I wanted to be strong for them. I didn’t want to burden them, or add to their heartaches. I wanted to be someone who would model “Don’t give up. For you are a survivor. Please believe ‘there’s always hope.’”
“Hope is not pretending that troubles don’t exist. It is the hope that they won’t last forever. That hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome. That we will be led out of the darkness and into the sunshine.”
“I met my husband in church when we were both in our mid 20s. We have been married for 33 years. We were both very involved in our church, and my husband regularly volunteered to build homes with Habitat for Humanity. He also had a wonderful career, rising to top management in an international company. He’s been an awesome dad to our daughter and son, and has always been deeply interested in their lives, and their various interests and activities.
However … About two years I learned my husband had been leading a double life. He was using dating apps to meet up with other women while on business – and this has been going on for many years. Ten years at a minimum.
He is getting help today and is deeply remorseful. I believe he genuinely regrets the way he’s lived. He said he always loved me and this was an addiction. I think it’s likely true, and I want to stay with him. However, this has really done a number with my brain!
In some ways nothing in my life has really changed. I could easily argue that this is just new information related to my husband, and choices he made (not me).
I’m essentially the same person.
It’s still true that he was there for me when I had a hysterectomy. It’s also true that we spent most of our free time together. All the things we did with our kids really happened. I’m still the same mother, sister, daughter, and friend. Who I was as a wife was genuine, as well.
And yet, somehow I feel as if my whole life was a lie. It was all built on sad, and I’ve lost myself.
How do I make sense of this history? Of who I thought I when so much wasn’t true? I feel as if I’ve lost my identity. Can you help me understand what’s going on in my mind?”
First, let me say how sorry I am that this has been your experience. It’s extremely traumatic to learn something like this.
As to your question … Our identity is really a conglomerate of many things. It consists of how we see and think about ourselves. It includes who we are. Where we’ve come from. What we’ve achieved. What our different experiences mean. And what these say about us as a person.
This is the story we tell ourselves.
It isn’t something we tend to be aware. It exists in the background yet it guides our lives, and the way we interact with others and the world.
Our relational identity is part of this identity. We relate to people as we think they are. So, when we learn they are someone very different, this is very hard for us to reconcile. Especially if that person is close to us. And especially if they chose to deliberately deceive us. No wonder you feel you have lost yourself.
So what can we say that might help with this? In summary:
1.There are no easy answers when it comes to grieving over something like this. Be patient with yourself. Expect to struggle.
2. It is going to take some time to start to process all the facts, and to straighten out the truth about how things really were.
3. It’s likely you will always have to live with some grief around being deceived, and never being able to have the life you wanted. The life you thought you had. The life you’ll never, ever have. This is likely to be hard to accept.
4. As you said, there are parts of your life’s narrative that are still true. Perhaps you will be able to reconnect with them. The fun holidays were still fun holidays. You were still a great mother to your two kids. Who you were with your friends, and in your faith community are all valid pieces of your history and story. These haven’t changed. These are all key parts of you. In time, you’ll find a way to string these pieces back together. And this will help you find your identity again.
1. What have you learned from this experience? What will you do differently next time?
2. What scars are you still carrying? What do you need to do to heal more fully? How can you begin that process?
3. What do you want from a new relationship? Are your hopes and expectations realistic? Are you setting the bar too low?
4. What was good in the relationship – that you can take into the next relationship?
5. Can you identify any negative patterns, or mistakes you keep repeating, in your relationships? How can you prevent this happening in the future?
6. What do you need to give yourself? Do you practice self-kindness and self-compassion? If not, how can you start doing this? What is the first thing you need to do?
7. What other nurturing relationships do you have in your life? Our partner or spouse is certainly important … but they shouldn’t be the only close relationship we have. We all need other people to build into our lives. Who really cares, and is there, for you?