Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Is Intuition Your SuperPower?
In hindsight, I see that I knew that something wasn't right. I had asked a friend if I should be concerned about the amount of time my husband was spending with his work assistant (with whom I later learned he was having an affair). I was uncomfortable with the dinners they had when they worked late. But, I reasoned, he told me about this stuff so he didn't seem to be hiding anything. Innocent then, right?
But the whole truth of what was going on came out six months later, on a second "D-day". And I can honestly say that I never ever had a clue that the cheating had been going on, well, since Day 1. For our entire relationship.
So, my "intuition"? Not so reliable.
But maybe my expectations for what "intuition" would tell me were unrealistic. After all, I think that any decent intuition should have told me that there were other women in his life. However, looking back, my intuition was telling me plenty – just not that. But I just wasn't listening. Or rather, I was talking myself out of trusting my intuition because it meant rocking the boat. And I was a longtime calmer of waters. Boat rocking was something I avoided.
A lot of us feel stupid in the wake of betrayal because we should have "known". What kind of idiot doesn't know her husband is cheating, right? Our culture implies that women who don't "stop" it are somehow agreeing to it, as if, rather than actually being ignorant of what's really going on, we're feigning ignorance. It's a longtime defence of plenty of Other Women, who believe that the wife is somehow complicit in the cheating. That she's okay with it as long as he doesn't leave because she doesn't want to "lose her lifestyle". Yep, OW have actually written to me to tell this drivel.
And so a lot of us wonder if our intuition is broken. How come we didn't know? What's wrong with us?
Nothing. Nothing is wrong with us and, likely, nothing is wrong with our intuition. Intuition isn't an inner psychic. It's more a warning system that something just isn't right. Problem is, so many of us have been over-riding this warning system that we barely notice when it goes off. A friend cancels on us for the billionth time? Oh well, she's busy. We might feel a twinge of resentment but we swallow it. We'll just reschedule. A family member volunteers us for something we don't want to do? Oh well, it's no biggie. We can manage. Our husband seems detached? He's just stressed about work.
It takes practice to notice that early warning system. And the warning isn't necessarily that we're being cheated on – at least not in the sense of a sexual betrayal. The warning is more that we're being cheated out of something. Cheated out of our agency. Cheated out of clear boundaries. Cheated out of respect.
Often, we're cheating ourselves out of our voice. We stay silent, swallowing our fury, our disappointment, our resentment. That niggling sense that something isn't quite right? We're just over-reacting, being silly. Those around us are often too happy to confirm this for us because, god forbid, we should begin to act in our own best interests instead of everyone else's. And so they tell us that others mean well, that we're being too sensitive.
And our intuition becomes harder to notice.
But it's not too late to start paying attention. The other night I was in the kitchen facing a sink full of dishes. The inner monologue began: Nobody ever helps me. They're watching TV while I'm in here doing all the work. Blah blah I'm a long-suffering martyr blah. It's a familiar script for me. I can recite it by heart.
This night, however, I tried to pay attention. Maybe not intuition so much as my still small voice. And it was telling me to respect myself, to notice my boundaries, to pay attention to this resentment because it was telling me something important about my relationships – that they didn't feel fair.
And in that time that I stopped and noticed, I also realized that nobody was forcing me into the kitchen. I was welcome to sit on the sofa and watch TV. The dishes wouldn't get done, at least not by me, but they didn't care.
And so I found my voice.
"I'm going to read," I said. "Would someone do these dishes before bed?"
My husband and daughter agreed easily. Sure they would.
And with that, I left the kitchen.
Intuition isn't much more than that. Paying attention to our bodies, our minds, our hearts. Noticing when something just doesn't sit right with us. And we might need lots of practice to really sit with that discomfort and figure out where it's coming from. Our intuition isn't some private investigator, able to present evidence of wrongdoing, necessarily. But, when I think back, the night came when I did somehow just "know" that my husband was cheating on me. That the dinners and the late nights and the "work" was more than a new team dedicated to building a business.
I've let myself off the hook for not "knowing" sooner. I'm not sure what difference it really would have made. But I have tried to learn from the way in which I dismissed my own concerns, the way I bought his excuses that never did quite sound convincing. The way I chose to believe what I wanted to rather than notice that the knot in my stomach never quite went away.
I notice now more than I did. I'm still working on it. Intuition might not quite be my superpower, but it is powerful. And I'm revealing its power more all the time.