At first, you don’t think you could ever survive infidelity. When you first learn about betrayal, your entire world order is rocked and your trust barometer gets severely messed up. You may find yourself incredibly present to the here and now – changing the locks on the doors, throwing their stuff into a dumpster. But you may also find fear creeping into every aspect of your life. You may not recognize yourself amidst the jitteriness and the innate, almost primal need, to be on guard. The weird thing is, you may logically understand that you can survive the infidelity.
You just might not realize how deep the lies cut until the feelings overwhelm.
Friends, those you like and trust, may have seemingly glib responses like, “Just dump them already.” Or your friends may rush to your defense and smoother you with their over-protectiveness. (Which is thoroughly needed in the moment of discovery!) This sort of in-the-moment reaction helps you feel as if you’re not so alone.
Usually, however, those who love you simply don’t understand why the pain cuts so deep.
Your family may suggest you “get over it” and I bet, you want to scream. But adding guilt to hurt to shame to confusion doesn’t help. It will instead, make you want to pull in when you may have to face a divorce or a trial. It may also feel as if your wounds show. Infidelity is utterly embarrassing.
Surviving infidelity takes a strong mind and a solid heart.
The hard part is, a broken heart isn’t solid. While a mind twisted from pain can’t think clearly, and friends and family really don’t get what it feels like to be hurt by the person who made you soar with love. Infidelity is the kind of pain that puts you on your knees.
The problem for you may now be, whom and what do you trust?
How can you talk to someone about the betrayal when they’re full of their own opinions and advice? They may know your lover, your boyfriend or your spouse. When that occurs, you’ll be unsure of whom to confide in and question just how much your children’s teachers know. Lonely, aching, you don’t know where to turn.
It’s your heart to mend after all.
Your marriage and your relationship. Who are the friends to tell you what to do? It’d be great if you could turn back time and just pretend yesterday didn’t occur. Or last week, last month or last year. Your marriage would still be fantastic if “they hadn’t taken that job” or “sold that business” or if you’d “just had had a little more sex in your relationship.” Or they hadn’t lied to you for your entire relationship. Life would be perfect. But life isn’t perfect and we don’t get to turn back time or change our past, unfortunately.
It is tough to survive infidelity by thinking your way toward healing.
You can’t think your way toward feeling better. This is a feeling life. There are two options that I know of – it’s your choice – go deeper inside than you’ve ever experienced or become bigger than you’ve ever had been before.
1) I suggest you find strength from deep within-deeper than the love they had for you or the agreements you made with them. Possibly deeper than agreements you’ve made to anyone really. In fact, you’ve probably never made such a deep commitment to yourself before now. It’s an inner core strength that’s always been there just for you.
2) And find strength from something way bigger than you and where you are in your life right now. In order to rise above the pain and hurt, to come out the other side of this kind of betrayal, you may have to go bigger than you’ve ever imagined believing. I’m talking about things like hope, faith, God even.
Imagine being able to trust yourself completely.
What would it be like to have a man or a woman fall so deeply in love with you that you trusted them enough to let them in? While you also knew when it was time to let them go? Without pain. Free from becoming someone whom you didn’t want to become?
How about being so in tune with your own needs – your gut – that you know whom to trust even before they do. You can tell. You just know. That would be amazing wouldn’t it?
That’s what survival offers. That’s what getting healed is all about. No more pain. No more fear. Total confidence, love, intimacy, and trust. Bliss really. And you can do it.
That’s the kind of healing required to overcome betrayal.
Unfortunately, that kind of thinking doesn’t come from the level of thinking where you are today. This normal, everyday level got you into trouble, to begin with. You can’t stay here and survive. When you decide to go bigger or you go deeper, you find strength and hope outside the way you normally perceive the world. You make the decision to grow through this pain, not hide. In fact, you make a pact with yourself, above and beyond the lover who hurt you.
You are the one who is doing the healing to survive infidelity. Not them.
This is more your soul’s journey than your head’s, really. No amount of logic (from those dear friends) truly helps. Know that you’ll survive infidelity in your marriage or in your relationship if you choose to stay together or not.
Caveat: your partner also has to make the same sort of commitment. (If you’re in a couple and they want to stay together.) Unfortunately, you can’t do their work for them. The couples who survive infidelity choose to work on themselves individually and then work on their relationship together. Agreements need rewriting. Their hearts, time to mend. And new thoughts and perspective added to the mix.
That broken heart, the buckled knee are the keys to your healing and surviving. In their own way, they’re broken, unguarded, and vulnerable. They’ve been cracked wide open and your knees, unable to hold you up on their own. This is the moment to ask for help. To reach out to someone you trust.
Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach. Laura’s a writer, public speaker and the founder of The Better Divorce and doingDivorce™ School – online coaching programs for those ready to shed the pain of breakups. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com.