A woman recently asked an important (and common) question: Her husband, it seemed, withdrew when she wanted (needed!) to talk about her pain. She knew he was tired of it, recognized that he was losing patience with her. She also wondered why she wasn't "over it" yet and wondered if her need to talk about it was actually prolonging the pain. So she asked, "Should I just STFU?"
It was wonderful to see the betrayed wives that rushed to tell her, resoundingly, "no!"
It's simply not possible to heal if you silence yourself. You might be able to fake healing. You might be able to convince those around you that you're just doing jim-dandy and are completely over that unpleasant affair thing.
But the truth will live on in your body. The truth of your pain. The truth of your suffering. The truth of the deep wound that remains where trust and joy used to be. By ignoring that, by denying it, you're hurting yourself in a far deeper way than anyone else ever can. You're telling yourself that your pain doesn't count. That you don't count.
Betrayal can sometimes makes us believe that. We feel cast aside. We feel unvalued.
And yet, those of us who've read this and this and this know that's not why our husbands cheated. We know that it wasn't because of us or her, but about him.
But that doesn't make it any easier when we're desperate to share our pain with the person who caused it. When we so badly need a witness to our suffering and though it might defy logic to seek it from the person who caused it, we also know that the only way to reconciliation is to show our wound to the one who caused it and trust that his acknowledgement of it and expression of genuine regret will lead us to greater healing, alone and together.
Denying that pain, in the service of not rocking the boat, might seem wise in the short-term. After all, who wants another occasion ruined by tears. But it's a false sense of happy. It forces you to wear a mask. It forces you to pretend to be something you're not.
If we accept that our goal in reconciliation is to rebuild a marriage with the collected wisdom of our healing, then it only makes sense that we rebuild based on honesty and transparency and a mutual respect for each other's pain. Otherwise, we're rebuilding not only our marriage but our sense of who we are within it on a profound lack of self-respect. And, I would argue, a lack of respect for our spouses. Even if they won't (or can't yet) see it this way, sharing your deepest pain with him is a gift. It's a chance for him to make good. It's a chance for him to be that better man. Whether he takes the chance is up to him. It doesn't diminish you for offering it; it does diminish him for not seizing it.
Danielle Laporte puts it this way: "Our suffering does NOT want to be denied or avoided... It wants our attention.When we paint over pain ... we’re actually delaying our healing. We’re denying a critical part of our experience — the actual suffering, in which there is incredible power and agency."
So, dear BWC member, do not STFU. Never STFU. If there is to be one lesson learned from this experience, let it be this: We must be heard.