Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beware the "Bewares": The Difference Between "Can't" and "Don't Want To"

A while back, I wrote a post in which I insisted that "the worst was over" – meaning that finding out was the lowest point and that there was nowhere to go but up (even if you spend some time mired in the darkness first). Some readers commented that might be the case for me, but not for them, which prompted me to write this post.
Clearly, there are some of us for whom the "worst" gets worse still. Who, even as they're reeling from the discovery of another woman, find out the Other Woman is pregnant. Or that they contracted an STD. Or, in my case, that there wasn't an Other Woman...but dozens.
However, it's critical for our own healing to recognize that much of what we say we "can't" deal with is more truthfully acknowledged as something we don't want to deal with. 

Deepak Chopra (on this site here) tells us this:

In reality you can let go of any situation any time. “I can’t” really means, “I fear the emotional consequences if I do.” Your ego draws a line in the sand and insists that you will not survive the inner feelings that will arise if the line is crossed.
A powerful limitation is being self-imposed here, and at bottom it isn’t true. You will survive any emotion; indeed, whatever you consider to be too much fear, too much loss, too much humiliation, too much disapproval, too much rejection has already happened.

He's right, of course. "I can't", in my case, absolutely means, "I won't because it will hurt too much." Like someone who's been burned before, I don't even want to get close to the flames.
But I've realized lately how much that attitude is holding me back. Keeping me from taking chances because I fear the possible rejection.
Just the other morning, as my husband was getting ready to leave for work, I started to reach for him to give him a hug and a good-bye kiss. And in that split second I felt myself hesitate. Don't, whispered a voice inside. Don't let your guard down. Don't let your heart soften. 
It was, perhaps, the first time I've really noticed that voice, though, if I painstakingly mine my memory bank, it has been whispering to me a lifetime of "bewares". 
What's astonishing to me, and likely to anyone who hasn't dealt with betrayal, is that I'm almost four years from D-Day. Surely one would expect the fallout to be long over. For life to have resumed its normalcy.
And yet, that little voice is still whispering. Still trying to protect me from "worst".
I've been lamenting recently that I take little joy in life anymore. So, while I think I'm protecting myself from further pain, I'm also insulating myself to life's pleasures. 
It's time, I think, to acknowledge that those "bewares" are holding me back from a life fully lived. 

Have you managed to fight back the "bewares" and open your heart again? What did you do to ensure you didn't become hardened to life's joys? How long did it take you from D-Day? Share your story here.


  1. I guess it all comes down to trust and anyone who has been betrayed will agree that "trust" is a multi-layered, complicated issue. Do I trust my H to go to work and come home, pay the bills and run our everyday life , yes. Would I trust him to ever again work in another city Monday to Friday ,since that's when he had the affair ,no not now and maybe I will never.
    I, like you have to be careful to not deprive myself of his genuine affection since I do believe that he is remorseful and he is trying to be the best H he can be. It's hard though. He is the one who had the poor judgement, he is the one who brought all this grief and mistrust into our lives. He has battered my self-esteem and confidence. I did nothing so I am trying hard not to self-punish and part of that is being able to open up and accept his apololgy and his affection. It is a day to day struggle. But I do know that there is nothing wrong with me and that I deserve love and affection. The ball is in his court, if he ever screws up again I know what I will do.

  2. I to catch myself about to reach out and take my husbands hand whilst we are walking along, or to touch him in passing perhaps- we used to have a very loving touching relationship before I found out about what he had done. (it makes it all the more confusing for him to be the way he is but so loving at home)
    I will just stop mid movement and not do it or sometimes I will, or he will make a point of catching hold of my hand or giving my hugs and I feel resentful for the contact. I simply don't like it and don't want to do it.

    Can't and won't go had and hand with our talking too. My husband can't hear about what he has done without becoming a jerk again so I have given up trying to talk to him, which comes down to wont as it's to painful to be treated unfairly.
    We- as in I talk at the therapists and my husband stalls and don't talk much.
    I am basically keeping the peace, just to keep the family unit running along for a bit longer.
    Gaining emotional and financial independence takes time and when I think I have enough of both I wonder what my decision will be.

  3. You said: "I've been lamenting recently that I take little joy in life anymore. So, while I think I'm protecting myself from further pain, I'm also insulating myself to life's pleasures."

    I can relate! I received flowers today for no reason, except that he loves me, he said. I should be enjoying the smell of roses on a dark, dreary afternoon. Instead, I'm trying to figure out what he's done.



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