Friday, November 23, 2012

Life After Trauma

This is a brief bit from a blog I stumbled upon by a survivor of childhood abuse. So many of us walk the same road, trying to forgive ourselves for not knowing, for not doing better, for not being better...

...But there is also LIFE after trauma, a spacious world of possibility surrounding and surpassing moments of regression. In fact, that’s what I most wanted to put into writing today—that the very best way I’ve found to keep bad memories at bay is to invest myself in the present. Looking into my daughters’ eyes just to study their blue, to count the laugh lines ringing their irises… Folding the laundry with fingertips attuned to the interplay of threads, each filigreed whorl of cotton… Holding the bitter of coffee and the sweet of cane sugar on my tongue a few seconds longer… Pressing snooze to slide like a puzzle piece into the curve of my husband’s back, to soak in our collective warmth before the day… Turning the music loud in my earphones and feeling, with all my heart, the beauty of this unpredictable, compassion-won life I’m living.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Petraeus Affair: How we can deal with another public scandal

According to David Petraeus' ex-spokesman, the retired army general who resigned as CIA director last week after admitting to being unfaithful, “deeply regrets and knows how much pain this has caused his family.” 
And of course, those of us who have walked in his wife Holly Petraeus' shoes are undoubtedly thinking..."oh really!" I highly doubt it. He might know how much pain it's causing him, having to resign from a job in which he's routinely celebrated, even having a now-infamous biography written about him.
He might know how horrible it feels to watch a loyal and supportive powerhouse wife deal with betrayal. Though publicly she's "furious", I suspect that privately she's brought to her knees – though I doubt for long.
But I don't think he knows how much pain this has caused.
I, however, do. I not only can imagine but know the excruciating moment when those gnawing gut feelings that something's not right are confirmed and I wish I could turn back the clock and un-know it. I know the shock of discovering that not only was the other woman sleeping with my husband, I was unwittingly in collusion – offering up support and the occasional meal, inviting her into my home. Just like Holly Petraeus.
And, perhaps, just like you.
So it's tempting to read everything you can, watch the news reports, listen to radio analysis. Tempting...but are we really learning anything we need to know? 
Our view of the world is altered after betrayal. It feels unsafe. Everyone a potential enemy. Even now, close to six years past D-Day, I find myself veering into conspiracy theory territory. That nice woman I met at my kids' school? What if she's trying to be my friend to get to my husband! What if they're laughing behind my back at my idiocy? 
I no longer just assume that things are what they seem to be. 
Like the soldiers that Holly Petraeus and her husband championed, returning home to a world that will never look the same, betrayed wives have to seek out their safe place. I talk often of post-betrayal as post-trauma...and the experts back me up. Because of that, we need to protect ourselves from triggers. And learn to recognize when we're being triggered. What's happening now, no matter how much it might look like your betrayal, is Holly's. 
We know affairs happen. Reading obsessively about this one doesn't make an affair any more or less likely than it already was.
We'd do better to leave the scandal to the vultures picking over the titillating details, and get back to focussing on our own lives. And offering up our support and compassion to Holly.
Welcome, Holly, to the club.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


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