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.
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?
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.
- Feeling Stuck, Page 22 (PAGE FULL)
- Sex and intimacy after betrayal
- Share Your Story: Finding Out, Part 5 (4 is full!!...
- Finding Out, Part 5 (Please post here. Part 4 is f...
- Stupid S#*t Cheaters Say
- Separating/Divorcing Page 9
- Finding Out, Part 6
- Books for the Betrayed
- Separating and Divorcing, Page 10
- Feeling Stuck, Part 23
- MORE Stupid S#*t Cheaters Say
- Share Your Story Part 6 (Part 5 is full)
- Sex & Intimacy After Betrayal Part 2 (Part 1 is full)