Thursday, February 3, 2011

Moment-by-Moment Survival Guide for the Heartbroken

So often I hear of betrayed women feeling "stuck". They don't want to leave their marriages, at least not yet. But they just can't seem to move past their pain. And though I wish there was an easy fix for such "stuck-ness", I know of none. I do, however, know of a not-so-easy fix. At least it wasn't easy for me.
It's a matter of focusing on the "now".
It's perhaps no coincidence that, perusing the bookshelves for something – anything – that would help me cope with my maelstrom of pain, I picked up a little book called The Power of Now, by a guy named Eckhart Tolle. (This was in his pre-Oprah days and I'd never heard of him.)
I began reading through my tears. And though it's not a simple read, I managed to discern this: Pain comes from focussing on the past. And anxiety comes from focussing on the future.
Yet we live in the present. All we ever have is this precise moment.
Consider that so much of the pain surrounding betrayal is about focusing on what happened (the mind movies imagining the two of them together, the reading and re-reading of text messages and e-mails, the triggers that transport us back to the moment when we first discovered or that remind us of what was happening one week/month/year ago) or on what might happen (he could do it again, I could wind up destitute and alone, they could be laughing at me from their yacht...). In both cases, however, you're not focusing on the now. Right now, for example, you're reading this post. Whether or not he is or is not still having an affair isn't the point. You, right now, are okay.
That's not to say you're not hurting. Probably a lot.
But you're alive. You're breathing and functional and able to read. So, for all intents and purposes, you're okay. Stay focussed on that simple truth.
You are okay. I am okay.
And guess what? What happened is over. All the hand-wringing and finger-pointing in the world is not going to undo what's already occurred. And about what might happen? Well, you likely have a lot less control over that than you realize. You can control yourself. And that's about it. The rest, you have to take on faith.
It's not easy. Certainly not for a reform(ing) control freak like I. To give up the long-held notion that I can magically control those around me was tough. But the evidence that I couldn't – for all my best intents – was all around me.
I had "now". So I held on tight.


  1. I can't seem to access the get answers gadget. Is there a special way to enter?
    -- Janice

  2. Rats! Nope -- doesn't seem to be working and there seem to be plenty of other bloggers with the same problem. I'll see if I can get it going...but if not, will take it down and figure out something else.


  3. I'd like to thank you for writing this blog. It seems like whenever I need that "hug" or "your going to be o.k." I read one of your blogs and it seems to fit what I'm feeling that day.
    At this moment I am struggling with living in the moment. I know that is what I need to do but doing so is hard and I think I'm having a hard time because I'm holding on to the pain afraid of letting myself get hurt again or to be truly happy. Logically I know this is preventing me from being happy. I'm 17 months in from D day- some days are great and others are torture (self inflicted) but I know overall I'm in a better place. Sounds crazy..

  4. Not crazy at all...quite normal, in fact.
    And living in the "now" didn't (still doesn't!!) come easy for me...but it does get easier the more I practice it. I'll often have to consciously "bring myself back". I force myself to take a breath and remind myself that – in this moment – I'm okay. I've always tended to be a catastrophizer – if my kids are five minutes late coming home from school, I wonder if they've been abducted, murdered, hit by a car... I'm so much better now at taking that breath...and trusting.
    Keep doing what you're doing. Each day brings you a bit closer to peace.
    And thanks for your kind words. They mean a lot to me.

  5. Elle and all the others, I had a cathartic moment yesterday and I would so recommend it to everyone!!! I went to Lord and Taylor and literally shopped til I dropped. My wallet has lost weight but the sales are fantastic and guess what, for three glorious hours I didn't think of the elephant in the room. It was bliss. I hope I don't develop a shopping addiction!!! LOL!
    I also think he is coming out of the fog. I got a really perfect message from him yesterday really giving me hope. He wants me to erase the emails that I forwarded to myself on DDay ... I told him I would when I feel that we are at least half way to re-establishing trust. Meanwhile they are my insurance policy. I am sure he knows that... Those emails would guarantee me everything in a God forbid, divorce.
    Your blog is phenomenal. Don't stop writing ever. You are like the voice and heart of millions and your words are a piece of my recovery. Thank you!!!

  6. Janice,

    That's great. So glad you found a reprieve from the oppressive "affair" thoughts. Shows you that it's possible. And that "window" will continue to open wider, letting in more fresh air.
    And thanks also for your kind words. Made my day even more than a new outfit and great new pair of shoes would have! :)

  7. Thank you for this post. I just bought "The Power of Now" this weekend, and after reading a couple of chapters, wondered if there was anything out there about the book in regards to infidelity--did a google search today and found this post. And, it's not even an old post! Sometimes it's hard to believe that some things are just coincidences.

    I am 9 weeks past D-day, just wishing to find the exit ramp from this emotional rollercoaster, but realizing I'll be here for awhile. When I saw the book this weekend, it practically leapt from the shelf into my hands.

    Again, thanks. I'll be checking back to your blog frequently.

  8. Yeah, I know it sounds a bit flakey but I, too, don't really believe in "coincidences." Like you, the book practically jumped into my hands. As fate would have it, I was working on a book of my own and my editor was the same guy who edited The Power of Now. So I had the chance to talk to the editor about it and the thrust of the book...from someone who knew the book and its author intimately. Felt like a total privilege.
    Life is indeed strange...but frequently offers up what we need, just when we need it. We need to be open to those gifts.



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