What do you do when you discover that your partner has betrayed you? Who do you tell? Who do you lean on for support, advice and a reality check? Where do you turn when you are hurt, enraged and devastated? On whom do you lean for urgent comfort with the burden of secrecy during this traumatic experience?
As you journey through this very painful time you may experience shame, humiliation, rage, devastation, resentment, contempt, guilt, anger, uncertainty and fear. You should not be alone. Isolation is a deserted path to depression. That said, what do you do with all your feelings? And, since it’s not something that goes away overnight but lives within you 24/7, what do you do with that gut-wrenching pain? To whom do you reach, if not your hurtful partner?
Having worked with a few hundred couples during the last 30 years, I have painfully witnessed that for most victims of betrayal reaching out for support can be a quandary. In fact, it is quite complicated. You need a space to process what you can and allow someone close to you hold some of your pain. But it is challenging that you, like your dishonest spouse, do not want to repeat the process of holding a secret.
When we have pain, actually too much of it, we need someone to hold a piece of it so that we are left with just the right amount in order to work through or master our emotional excess. That is what mastery is about; in fact it occurs throughout our lives starting with infancy. As a child, we typically have the opportunity to reach for an adult with issues like how to master the anxiety of leaving behind one’s bottle, diapers and bed.
So where do we go as adults? Who will hold some of our pain while we work on what we can? The concept of community, despite social media, has closed the gates some on connection. When confronted with an issue like adultery, where do you turn? In the crisis or immediate stage of discovery…