Wednesday, December 29, 2010
When the Going Gets Tough...the Tough Get a Plan
Herewith your guide to surviving tough times and tough choices.
1. Don't expect it to feel good.
Sure I blab on about how you need to trust your instincts and blah blah honestly blah, but that doesn't mean it's going to feel good. You might recognize absolutely that your husband is incapable of honesty and commitment and that you simply can't get over his betrayal, but that doesn't mean you're going to skip out the door into a glorious new life. Chances are you'll weep. You'll wail. You'll rant and rage. Your in-laws might cast you as a demon. Your friends might criticize you for "giving up (especially those who feel stuck in miserable marriages!)." Your children might accuse you of ruining their life. And you might wonder if you really do know what's best for you.
Yes. You do. The right decision isn't always the easy decision. But it's still the right one. You'll know the difference deep down. Even if you doubt it now and then.
2. It's absolutely critical that you take care of yourself.
A diet of soda and crackers isn't going to give you the strength you need to stand up to the critics (even the critics that exist only in your head).
This is a tough one because so many of us view self-care as selfish. There's a big difference. Self-care insists that your needs are as important as everyone else's. Selfish insists that your needs are more important than everyone else's. Where it gets confusing is that sometimes we need to be selfish about self-care. We need to put everyone else's needs aside (help with homework, a drive to the mall, you get the idea....) in order to give ourselves what we need (a warm bath, a run, a dip into a good novel, coffee with a supportive friend...). Now, especially now, it's time to put self-care at the top of your to-do list. Treat yourself as kindly as would a friend going through a similar tough times.
3. A network of support can prop you up when you can't do it yourself.
Get thee to a 12-step group for spouses of sex addicts, join Surviving Infidelity (which in my estimation, is the best online support group, with moderation to keep comments in check), seek out a group for betrayed wives (or start one!), post here and join and the conversation. Confide in a trustworthy friend, get a good therapist, talk it over with your dog. You can't go this road alone without making it a whole lot longer and lonelier than it needs to be. The isolation associated with a spouse's betrayal was, for me, almost worst than the initial betrayal. I felt so desperately alone in my pain. You don't need to be. It's the main reason I started this site...
4. Know that this all takes time.
Three to five years is the generally accepted timeframe for healing from a spouse's betrayal. I can't emphasize enough how long this whole damn process takes. The good news is you won't feel lousy the whole time you're healing. You will feel better incrementally, with occasional steps backward just to keep you on your toes. Then one day you'll notice you haven't cried all day. Or for a few days. You'll notice that you don't jump at loud noises. That your stomach doesn't flip at the sight of certain vehicles, or the sounds of certain songs, or on certain days of the year.
You'll never forget this. It's woven into the story of your life. But it won't BE your life. That I promise.