Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pushing through paralysis: When the pain of betrayal seems insurmountable

Emotional pain can be crippling, especially when we're blindsided by it. It takes us out at the knees, rendering us baffled and bewildered, wondering whom we can trust and what we should do.
The short answer to the latter question is...nothing. At least not right now.
Conventional wisdom has it that betrayed wives shouldn't make any quick decisions, in large part because the part of our brains capable of sensible decisions is AWOL. We're likely to make a decision out of exhaustion. Or anger. Or thoughts of revenge. More often than not, it won't be a decision borne of clarity of mind and pureness of heart.

But what about when the thought of taking any action seems like too much?
When we experience betrayal, our minds process it as trauma. It took me long time to acknowledge this. It seemed too dramatic. Or too self-pitying. And I was determined that this was something I could handle.
Except that I couldn't.
I was having panic attacks. I felt utterly without value. I couldn't stop crying. Or couldn't feel anything. Even with my children, I felt oddly detached. As if I was watching life from the other side of a glass wall – I could see, but not participate.
A friend who worked with survivors of sex abuse suggested that my situation sounded a lot like the post-trauma response she saw in SA survivors. And once she said that, my response became clear. And with that acknowledgement came the ability to give myself a break. To stop expecting myself to bounce back from this. To give up my belief that I could just "get over it".
Most of us won't get over this without a lot of work on our parts – counselling, self-discovery and life changes.
To get us started, visit this blog post aimed at writers...but with advice that works for any of us stuck in a bad place.
It won't be easy. But it will become easier.
And the time will come when you'll be able to make a decision based on rational thought and a clear view of how you want your future to look. For now, your future is the next five minutes...or ten.

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