Tuesday, October 8, 2019

When Fear Keeps You Furious

Understanding what drives a behavior is vital for addressing and changing that behavior. But it does not eliminate or diminish responsibility for the behavior. Cheating partners are still responsible for the pain and damage they have caused. Doing the work to understand and answer the why question is part of the responsibility-taking that must be done to heal both the self and the relationship.
~from PartnerHope

Becomingacatlady posted on the site recently about her fears around healing. The good news, she wrote, is that she's starting to have more good days than bad. That she can go hours (not yet days) without thinking about her boyfriend's infidelity. That she has begun to laugh again. 

But. But she's worried that not consistently reminding her boyfriend of the pain he caused might lead him to think it wasn't such a big deal. Without keeping the cheating front and center in the relationship, it might get forgotten altogether. And what then? 
What then?
It's a good question. 
I understand her fear. I know her fear. I felt it too. I was certain that if I wasn't berating my husband, shaming him, reminding him regularly of just what a despicable thing he'd done, of just how lucky he was that I hadn't left him, hadn't told his whole family, hadn't outed him for all to see how horrible he was.
Yeah...I was a real treat. 
But my behaviour masked my fear. 
Beneath that fury was terror. Terror that I might go through this again. 
And so I held on to it. It had a seat at our dinner table. It was ever-present in everything we did. I would not let him forget it.
But rather than keeping me safe, it kept me bitter. And small. And tight.
After a whole lot of hard work and healing (and time), I began to understand that I was outsourcing my safety to him. I was counting on him to never hurt me again rather than trusting myself to handle whatever came my way. I had given him all my power. 
And so I began to unclench. I began to release the fury. I began, incrementally, to trust myself. To build boundaries around my emotional and physical safety. To enforce those boundaries.
I didn't let him "off the hook". I didn't shrug it off. I told him how frightened I was that he might cheat again. His response? "I will never forget the pain in your eyes and I knew that I caused it. I never want to  do anything to cause it again."
He hadn't forgotten. If anything, his inner voice was harsher than anyone I'd said. His job was to learn how to shed the shame while maintaining the responsibility. To be accountable for his behaviour while allowing himself to be a better man. 
Mine was to release him, to give him the space to do that.
And my job was also to release myself. To allow healing. To trust myself
Becomingacatlady is on her way. She's already allowing herself to unclench. She's aware of her fear in a way that I wasn't.
She will be fine. We will all be fine. But part of getting there is refusing to hold our partner hostage to fear. 


  1. My h said pretty much the same thing the day after I had a major meltdown and we were both exhausted from the fight. He said I won’t ever want to see that pain in your eyes again knowing I caused it. He also said we can’t heal our relationship until you let the anger go and just work together to bring back the trust you have lost and you will see that I’m working hard to be a better man and to regain your respect... he said I know it’s going to take time but we have all the time we need as long as we work together...still working together one day at a time

    1. Good to hear, Theresa. I think the good guys do really get it. They internalize what they did and work hard to do better.

  2. "His job was to learn how to shed the shame while maintaining the responsibility. To be accountable for his behaviour while allowing himself to be a better man.
    Mine was to release him, to give him the space to do that.
    And my job was also to release myself. To allow healing. To trust myself."

    Jenna said something on another comment about how she came to realize that her WS wasn't willing to show up and make the necessary changes. It wasn't until I released him to make his path that I realized my WS isn't either.

    Which brings me to the last part - releasing myself. It's heart wrenching. It's horrendous. It's liberating! For the first time in my life I'm not vying for someone to do what I think they need to do. Instead, I'm vying for myself to do what I need.

    I know what the outcome is. It's been hard admitting it to myself. It's even harder to plan for it knowing what it is.

    But it's time to start trusting myself again. Trusting that what I'm seeing is real. Trusting that I can make the next step on my own. Trusting that I've done all that needed to be done.

    Thank you to every single one of you who have supported me on this journey. It's been a rocky one ... but it's my time to thrive.

  3. Kimberly,
    Each of us is on a very personal journey regardless of who we've told or how we process this excruciating experience. Your journey will be yours and guided by your own decisions and choices and the course is what you chart to make you the best person you can be. You will always be supported here. Safe travels my friend.

  4. Oh this is so good. If there has ever been anything I've read about forgiveness and how to apply it, it is this article. Thank you to those who wrote it. Very very good

  5. My H said the same thing after he got caught cheating 3 weeks ago. But then again he said the same as well back in 2017, when I caught him cheating with the same woman. Could I trust him again?



Related Posts with Thumbnails