Beautiful You

she picked up the broken pieces of her life

The quality of your relationships will determine the quality of your life.”

If your life has been blown apart by betrayal, then you’ll know for a fact that this quote is true. You’ve been hit with a sledge hammer by the person you loved most. Now your world lies in tatters, and you’re living in a daze.

And, of course, this relationship is massively important. It would be foolish to downplay its significance. But even more important than your partner or spouse, is the relationship you have with yourself at this time. This is the relationship you need to focus on.

For example, betrayal rips to shreds our self-image and self-worth so it’s easy to lose touch with the person we once were.

But, inside you’re the same woman. You’re still smart and beautiful. You can integrate the fragments, and reconnect with her.

And, honestly, it’s crucial, that you do this for yourself.

How do You do That?

Working through the following questions can help you with this process.

  1. How has betrayal changed the way you see yourself?
  2. What do you say about yourself – because of this?
  3. How do you feel about yourself right now?
  4. How do you think other people see you?
  5. What did you think your future would be like?
  6. What do you believe about your future today?
  7. How would your best friend describe you as a person?
  8. What have you accomplished or achieved in your life? What do you like most about yourself?
  9. If you could wave a magic wand, and be completely healed, how would you be acting? What would your life look like?
  10. Close your eyes for a minute. Try to picture this life. Stay with the image. Let it come into sharp focus. How are you feeling as you picture this strong woman, a woman who is happy and confident again?

Instead of saying: ‘I’m damaged, I’m broken, I have trust issues’ say: ‘I’m healing, I’m rediscovering myself, I’m starting over.’ Positive self-talk.”

Quote of the Day

forgive yourself

This is why it came as such a shock:

He was hiding secrets from you.

Little secrets you never knew.

Little secrets that grew and grew.

Little secrets that became big lies.

A web of deception that took over his life.

The Knock on Effect of COVID-19

you have no idea how easy it is

I normally write for the spouses and partners of those who struggle with a sex addiction. However, I wanted to highlight a post that was shared this morning by Joshua Shea recoveringpornaddict.com  It’s very realistic and practical.

Usually, an addiction first takes hold when we’re bored, at a loose end, when we’re feeling a bit down, or when we’re anxious about things. Hence, we’re looking for distractions that will help us pass the time … maybe lift our mood a bit … and take the edge off feeling blah.

So, with continents of people stuck at home and out of work, away from their routine, and cut off from all their friends, it is likely that more people will use pornography. I think we must accept that this will likely be the case. And it means a lot more people will become addicted, too.

Also, this doesn’t bode so well for people fighting the addiction. They’re in their homes alone, with powerful triggers everywhere. This is going to make the struggle very difficult for them.

Perhaps there’s little we can do. This situation is unique. But we need to be aware of the real dangers that exist. If you’re partner’s been addicted maybe talk this through with them. It’s much better to be honest and face this thing head on. It could make all the difference to your relationship.

Lest we Forget

the axe forgets

Remember when you fell in love? Remember how it felt? It all was so exciting when you turned that crisp first page.

Remember how you dreamed of how your future would unfold. The life you’d build together, adding chapters through the years.

Remember all the fun times – and banal times – you went through. The photographs you added; all those family memories.

Remember, then, what happened. How your life forever changed. The news that pierced your heart and left your world in broken shards.

Remember the confusion, the deep anguish, and the shock. The fairy tale was over, and the future was a fog.

But …

Remember how you worked to redesign your shattered life. To start again, recover, and get stronger over time.

You cleaned up all the carnage, dealt with triggers and landmines. You processed your emotions, and you gave love one more chance.

And, yes, your life is better and you’re at a different stage. You look like you’ve recovered – but it’s hard to trust again.

We wish we could forget things. Pull the thorns out of our hearts. Erase the deep betrayals. Start afresh. Expunge the past.

But memory won’t allow that. Self-protection over-rides. We may believe they’re different, and will never stray again.

Yet, still there is a wince, a hesitation, or a sigh. Our mind says: “Look, forget it”, but our instinct warns: “Watch out!

Perhaps the day will come when we are now completely free. When memories won’t affect us, and there’s no anxiety. I’d love if that could happen, and the armour could come off.

But maybe it’s a pipe dream, and we’ll always be on guard.

That Never Happened

the worst part of

Primo Levi was a chemist, and Italian Jew, who was sent to Auschwitz – yet survived the Holocaust. He eventually was able to return to his home town where he thought that he’d be greeted with concern and sympathy. Indeed, when he arrived back in Turin after the war came to an end, the people gathered round him, and they stared and shook their heads. They asked him what had happened? What on earth had he been through? He looked emancipated. He was weak, and close to death.

Yet, when Levi shared the facts about the horrors he had seen, the terror of the death camps, and the inhumanity, the people turned their backs and, one by one, they walked away.

Why? The truth was too distressing. They just couldn’t take it in. They simply couldn’t process and accept what they had heard.

So, Levi now was left to bear the trauma all alone. He felt lost and forsaken for his suffering was extreme. Yet, no one there would listen; no one seemed to really care. It was like it hadn’t happened – like the truth was just a dream.

If you’ve experienced a trauma, then this likely resonates. Of course, it’s not the death camps but it’s like a mini death. Yet, often we’re abandoned by the people who should help. They can’t deal with what’s happened, so they turn and walk away. This leaves us isolated. We’re abandoned in our grief. We try to act like normal – for the topic is taboo.

But … You can’t ignore a trauma for it eats away at you. The pain remains inside you; it wreaks havoc with your life.

Levi found his own solution – for he started noting down the fragments he remembered from the years in the death camps. He wrote things on old tickets, on discarded bit and scraps. In time, these were collated and they formed a manuscript: his first published book, If this is a Man.

I’m pretty sure this process helped preserve his sanity. We need our anguish witnessed and acknowledged in some way. We need to tell our story. All that pain must be released. For Levi, this was freeing.

Has your story been heard, too?

Perhaps It Isn’t Over Until It’s Over

do not give your past the power

In Thinking, Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman explains how our view of our life, and our close relationships, is determined by something called the Peak End Rule.

That is, the way we end up feeling about people, and our life, is not some kind of average of the moments we have lived, or the times that we have shared, or experienced with them.

You know … the most memorable vacations, then the boring humdrum times, securing that fab job, falling deeply in love, the birth of all our kids, losing someone we had loved … or, perhaps, separating if we learn we’ve been betrayed.

If we add all these together, you have an average life. Right?

Wrong.

It seems our overall rating of how our life has been, and the way we rate our partner and the years we’ve spent with them – is not simply an average of these moments and these years.

And, no, the good times and the bad times don’t cancel themselves out.

In summary, The Peak-End Rule reveals that final ratings will be based on an average of just two distinct experiences. These are:

  1. The worst or the most positive experience we’ve had, and
  2. The intensity of pain, or the pleasure we feel at the end of an event, or a relationship.

You see this principle at work all the time in sports.

For example, where a game is turned around when a player scores a goal – and we thought all hope had gone, and the team were going to lose. But now we’re super happy and the game’s a huge success.

You can see this principle at work in your own life, too.

For example, cast your mind back thorough the years and review the time you’ve spent with your partner or your spouse (or with someone else you’ve loved).

Do you look back on those years and then balance out events? Or did something major happen so other memories are erased, or are deleted, or rewritten in light of this event?

But maybe there’s good news …

Because our life is one long story, we may still all have the chance to take hold of the pen and decide what happens next. We could script a better ending, one that’s meaningful and good. This is not the final chapter. You still have time to write.

If Love Hurts, Let It Go

this is your decision

If love hurts, let it go.” You must have heard that statement a million times, or more.

And maybe they are right; but maybe they are wrong, as well.

It’s a major life decision, and a highly complex one. So take some time to process what you really want, and need.

And if he’s lied to you before, then you might reasonably think his words cannot be trusted, and it’s better if you go.

But love is complicated; and the roots can go down deep. And sometimes we decide that what we want most is to stay – despite the fact it’s scary, for the future is unclear.

So why might a partner decide to stay?

1. Most of us are shocked when we first learn about our spouse because we felt we had a great relationship with them. We were genuinely happy, and enjoyed their company. And if it wasn’t for this news, then we would never choose to go.

Something to ask yourself here is: If your spouse or partner changed, and all this stuff was in the past, and they were now trustworthy, and they never strayed again – would you actually still want to be with them?

How would you feel if they permanently changed, but they were now with someone else as you had gone your separate ways? 

2. Sometimes a straying partner compartmentalizes life, and they genuinely love us, despite the things they do. For example, it’s been shown that an addiction – including sex addiction – is a common way of coping with anxiety and stress. Also, it can offer some relief when we are feeling bored with life, or when we feel a failure, or we have low self-esteem. Here, sex is a distraction. It is just a fantasy. It isn’t about love. To them, ‘this isn’t their real life’. But when the truth comes out, and they cannot deny the facts, the shame is overwhelming, and they don’t want you to leave.

Something to ask yourself here is: If your partner recognizes they have underlying needs, and they’ve developed an addiction to distract themselves from these …  and their willing to get counselling and address these different needs, can you believe they’ll do that? Do you really think they’ll change?     

3. Your partner may never have attached properly. We form attachments to our parents in the first few years of life, and that bond becomes a template for attaching to our spouse. So, if your partner was avoidant and has learned to put up walls, was uncomfortable with closeness, and with being vulnerable, then sex for him may not have been relational at all. Instead, it’s likely he engaged in something known as ‘sealed off sex’ – where sex is a release, and is detached from genuine love.

Something to ask yourself here is: If your partner recognizes he was not attached to you (because of things that happened with his parents, as a child) … but now he longs for closeness and to form a healthy bond, do you believe he’s able to be vulnerable and real?

4. You have built a life together. You have memories you have shared. You may have raised a family. Your whole past is intertwined. And though betrayal’s awful, and the pain’s unbearable, perhaps your life together is defined by more than this.

Something to consider when you’re thinking about this is: It’s hard to come to terms with what your partner’s done to you. Betrayal’s a deep wound. The pain and scars are slow to heal.

Yet – it’s one part of your story; there are other chapters, too. Yes, you could walk away now – or rewrite how things will end.

It must be your decision. You will know what’s best for you. There’s no one right solution. You’re completely free to choose.