Into the Wild

The book and movie Into the Wild tell the story of Chris McCandless, a young man who dropped out of society, wandered the land, and finally died while living alone in Alaska.

Chris had every apparent advantage. A wealthy upbringing. An intact family. An education at top-notch schools. And yet, one day, he walked away from it all.

What was behind such a turn of events? Why did he turn his back on his life?

Chris (who changed his name to Alex Supertramp) uncovered a dark secret about his family. This changed him forever, and it knocked his life off course.   

After finishing high school, Alex went on a road trip where he learned that his dad had been a bigamist. This long-held family secret turned his whole world upside down, and he couldn’t quite recover from the devastating news.

His sense of trust was shattered. He was shaken to the core. He thought all love was suspect, and that closeness just brought pain.

Hence, he set out on a journey. Restless. Broken. Seeking solace. And trying to find peace in the rugged empty wilds.

How This Applies to Us

Discovering those close to us have led a secret life, and have cruelly deceived us, has profound, lasting effects. It tears up our life’s narrative. It fills our heart with pain. It leaves our mind fragmented; our identity in shreds.

 A story that made sense, and an unquestioned history, seem like a house of cards. It’s nothing more than a mirage.    

The ending of the novel and the movie break your heart. Chris can’t survive alone, and so eventually he starves.

There’s a lesson and a warning here if you’ve been traumatized, or had to deal with secrets that have blown your world apart. It is:

We all need other people when dark secrets are revealed, when trauma overwhelms us, and destabilizes us.

We feel so isolated, and so cut off from the world. We don’t know who to turn to. Who on earth would understand?

But there are those who’ll listen. Who will help us bear the pain. They’ll be there in the darkness, in the long and endless night.

Support makes all the difference. Please don’t carry this alone. Reach out, and share your story. There are people here who care.

It Isn’t Over ‘Till It’s Over


“Inhale. Exhale. Prevail.”

Yes. You can do it.

For inside you there’s a warrior.

You may be weak and weary, but there’s still that will to fight.

Life’s dealt you some tough blows. Blows that it’s very hard to cope with.

It’s left you bruised and broken; but you aren’t beaten yet.

You inhale very slowly.

Hold your breath.

Then exhale slowly.

You take another breath.

Now you are rising to your feet.

You feel as if you’re swaying.

You’re unsteady –

But you’re standing.

You know you’re going to make it

For you won’t accept defeat.

You are not Alone


Betrayal … The details of our stories might be different but the pain we experience is the same.”

Sometimes we feel so isolated and alone.

Cut off by our pain.

Left to cope, all on our own.

But always remember you are not alone.

It is true – your experience is personal and unique.

But we get what it is like, for we understand that pain.

We have walked the road you’re on.

We have stared into the night.

We have felt the walls close in.

We have cried out in despair.

We know exactly how it feels when your future disappears.

When the past is all torn up.

And your truth become a lie …

We are here, and we care.

Please believe you’re not alone.

Don’t give up. You are strong.

We are with you on the road.

Boundaries 101


“She set her boundaries and rebuilt her life.”

What might healthy boundaries look like to you, if your partner has betrayed you in the past? Perhaps it includes some of the following:

1. Having your partner or spouse see a counsellor or therapist?

2. Requiring your partner or spouse to have an accountability partner?

3. You being the one who has administrative rights for the family computer?

4. Having all the passwords to his laptop, phone and other devices?

5. Having him remove all dating apps, and close down any accounts he has with companies like Ashley Maddison?

6. Being able to check his messages and texts anytime you want to?

7. Having access to all bank (and credit card) accounts – and going through statements together each month?

8. Having him accountable for his time so you know where he is, who he is with, and what he is doing, anytime you are apart?

9. To break all contact with (including ‘unfriend’) anyone he has previously dated/ had a relationship with?

10. For him to tell you if someone from a previous relationship ever tries to contact him again?

There are other boundaries you might want to put in place, specific to your partner, or to your relationship. Feel free to include these in the comments below.

Also, you will want to think about the way you’re going to respond if these boundaries and broken, and especially more than once.

The key thing is: you absolutely need to feel safe. Otherwise, that sense of trust can never really be rebuilt.

So don’t be hesitant to ask for what you feel you want and need. For having boundaries is crucial when you’ve been betrayed.

Boundaries are crucial. They are at the heart of every healthy relationship.”

“First, Do No Harm”


Doctors everywhere uphold the Hippocratic Oath:

Primum non nocere: “First, do no harm.”

And when you’re offering up your body into someone else’s hands, and trusting them to treat it with great tenderness and care, then “First, do no harm” makes perfect, rational sense.

For you’re making yourself vulnerable, and taking a great risk. Their actions and decisions can have life-changing effects.

Of course, doctors are just human, and they can’t fix everything.

But saying “they won’t harm us” is a crucial starting place.

How else can we feel safe, and freely trust ourselves to them?

What About Other Relationships?

Perhaps we should adhere to this in all relationships. It’s easy to do harm, and wound – quite unintentionally.  

And where this matters most is in our close relationships, especially with our spouses, or with those who share our lives.

We’re trusting them with everything – all aspects of our health, our reputation, self-esteem and, yes, our peace of mind.

This isn’t a small matter; we are taking a huge risk.

But we believe they’re safe, and they would never injure us.

The Impact of Betrayal

And that is why betrayal feels like twisting in the knife. We offered them ourselves; we offered everything we were.

How could they be so cruel; how could they trash this sacred trust?

We thought they would be faithful; that they’d love and care for us.

Primum Non Nocere

If only – like physicians – they had taken seriously the fact that we had trusted them when we had tied the knot.

If only they had cared enough to put our welfare first.

If only they’d been guided by the the Hippocratic Oath, and acted on the principle: “First, do no harm.”

Quote of the Day


Trust me when I say that I know how it feels to cry in the shower so that no-one can hear you.

And having to wait for everyone to fall asleep so you can fall apart.

For everything to hurt so badly that you can’t see a way out.

I know exactly how it feels.

But I also know that there is always hope and that the tide always turns.

Hang in there, and know that you are not alone.”

– Ella Hicks


Beautiful words.

Take them to heart.

Hold on to hope.

You are not alone.

Welcome Home


For every person who might reject you if you live your truth, there are ten others who will embrace you and welcome you home.”

When tough stuff happens – the really tough stuff – you can’t, and you shouldn’t have to, shoulder it alone.

You need other people.

You need to find your tribe.


But if your partner has betrayed you, or he has a sex addiction, then where can you turn for understanding and support?

Society will judge you.

You know that for a fact.

It doesn’t really matter that you’re reeling from the pain.

The world is cold and cruel when it learns you’ve been betrayed.  


So now you have to hide because you can’t cope with the shame.

The shame that’s undeserved – because it’s not your fault at all.

You truly are a victim.

But everyone will talk.

You know they will be ruthless.

They’ll tear your life apart.


But there are other people who truly understand.

They want to hear your story.

They get what you’re going through.

They know what it is like to feel unfairly stigmatized.

To feel you have a secret.

A wound you hold inside.


Betrayal’s isolating.

It takes away your voice.

Don’t let it hold you captive.

Don’t let it silence you.

It’s safe to take a risk when it’s a member of your tribe.

Lay down the shame.

You’re home now.

Relax in our embrace.

He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not

When you love someone, you protect them from pain. You don’t become the cause of it.”

You were right to want the person you loved to care for you, and protect you from harm.

That is the very essence of love.

You trust them because you think they are trustworthy.

You think they are safe.

You think you matter to them.

You think your well-being matters to them.

Your happiness.

Your emotional, mental and physical health.

You think they care about you in the same way you care about them.


Real genuine love is gentle and kind.

It is loyal.

Steadfast.

Faithful.

True.

It doesn’t injure.

It doesn’t destroy.

It doesn’t gaslight.

It doesn’t deceive.


So weep for yourself, and weep for your wounds

And weep for the trust that was trashed and betrayed.

Let the grief you express be the start of your healing.

This is the way you must love yourself.

You must deeply and tenderly love yourself.

I am who I am. Your Approval isn’t Needed

I am who I am

I am who I am. Your approval isn’t needed.

True? Yes, true!

But kind of not true as well.

Your approval isn’t needed –

But it meant something to me.

The Rich and Beautiful

There’s a reason why we flick through all those glossy magazines and linger over photos, and read the interviews.

We want the scoop on famous people who’ve succeeded in some way. The film stars, politicians, great musicians, and so on.

It’s something to aspire to – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Or, perhaps it simply highlights we’re instinctively intrigued by people who have made it, and are living out the dream.

But, of course, this also forces stark comparisons as well.

We’re not those kinds of people. They can make our life look bland.

This doesn’t really matter when we’re talking about ‘stars’. We aren’t in their league; we know we’ll never have their lives.

Bringing it Closer to Home

But when it comes to my small circle, then I want to feel I’m loved. I want to feel I matter, and that someone values me.

This is absolutely normal.

But why is that the case?

Why should I even care what other people think of me?

What the Research Shows

The research indicates it’s rooted in biology. To have a sense of self, and to believe we’re valuable, we need to have key people who communicate our worth.

It is something that is programmed – as the following quote reveals[1]:

Very early in life, parents’ responsiveness to their babies affects the development of self-confidence and self-esteem.

It takes little effort to summon a picture of a doting parent responding to a baby with loving noises, engaged chattering, focused attention, and cuddling.

Baby smiles, parent smiles back. As the infant matures, parents continue to respond and mirror what the baby is doing.

Parental mirroring through early childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood communicates acceptance, acknowledgement, and admiration.

This contributes significantly to the development of self-esteem and self-confidence.”

I would argue that this need continues throughout all of life. (Although it doesn’t matter quite as much in adult life.)

But, still, the way we notice people in those magazines might hint at a deep need that is a very human need.

The Impact of Rejection and Betrayal

These communicate a message, and a very painful one.

They say there’s something wrong with you – at least that’s how it feels.

They say that “I’ve lost interest”.

That “You’re not quite good enough.”

They say “I wanted something else, or something more than you.”

Why does this Matter?

Why? Our partner mattered to us. So, we wanted them to think that, somehow, we were special.

Good enough.

More than enough.

We wanted their approval.

And they gave it for a while.

But then they sent the message that

“You’re not quite good enough”.

[1] https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/effects-of-parental-involvement-on-self-confidence-and-self-esteem-0716134

Everything is Broken

 

dead flower

You might be wondering if you’ll ever recover because the struggle has gone on so long.

You might be thinking that you’ll never recover.

That the damage is too deep.

That the scars will never heal.

But that is not the case.

Things will gradually get better.

It’s just that we can’t see it when the darkness closes in.

The whole thing is a nightmare.

One we constantly relive.

We feel so tired and weary.

Is there no hope of relief?

 

These feelings are all normal.

It’s a roller coaster ride.

It’s utterly exhausting.

You feel so tired and drained.

But all of us go through it.  We’ve experienced that pain.

The sense of desperation.

The sorrow.

The despair.

 

But then you turn a corner, and you see a shaft of light.

A ray on the horizon.

A break in the storm clouds.

You feel a little stronger.

You feel that you can breathe.

Perhaps the wound is healing.

Perhaps you can go on.