Monday, January 29, 2018

I Want to Hear You Erupting

We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains. That’s what I want – to hear you erupting. … If we don’t tell our truth, who will? ~Ursula K Le Guin 

It almost seems as though Mother Earth is emitting a primal scream right now, doesn't it? As if so many oppressed peoples, not to mention a planet that's been stripped for parts, are well and truly done with stifling themselves. It's as though the pain we warrior-wives have tended in the shadows is being expressed by all. #MeToo indeed.
Of course, a large part of the current eruption is because too many have been silenced for too long. Too few have made the table large enough to welcome all, choosing instead to protect their own privileged place.
And so we have volcanoes. Voices who are saying "enough". Who are screaming #MeToo. And, wonder of wonders, we're all (well, most of us) are listening. Or beginning to listen. 
What about you? 
Are you erupting? And if you are (and I hope you are!), who's listening? Because though it's crucial to finally tell your truth – your rage and your pain, which are often twisted up together – there can be no reconciliation without someone to bear witness to it. We need acknowledgement of the pain that's been caused. We require genuine remorse and a willingness to do better. If your partner is unwilling to give you that, why then, may I ask, are you giving him access to your precious heart?
I spent part of a sleepless night recently thinking about forgiveness. I wondered, if my husband were to ask me flat out if I've forgiven him, how I would answer.
And I realized that I would answer "no". 
I haven't forgiven him.
I have accepted what he did and I have given up any (futile) hope of undoing the past. I have appreciated all the work he has done to deserve the second chance he was given. I have respected the man he's become and the hard road he walked to get there. And I am able even to love the broken man he was.
But forgiven him for what he did? What does that even mean?
I am a volcano. 
Betrayal was my eruption and I continue to erupt. Betrayal taught me that the only way to live an honest life with a big secret was to offer my experience as truth, to embrace my changed maps, to climb new mountains. 
"If we don't tell our truth, who will?" asks the incredible Ursula Le Guin.
I tell my truth in many different ways. I tell my truth when I no longer accept anything but honesty and respect from those in my life. I tell my truth when I choose curiosity over fear. I tell my truth when I take a deep breath and open my heart instead of my mouth. 
I don't always succeed. In fact, I often fail. But admitting my failures is also telling my truth. 
Who will tell your truth, if not you? Whose map can you change by offering up your experience as truth? Whose eruption can you precipitate by affirming their story, by encouraging them to own their truth?
We are volcanoes. 
We must erupt.


  1. I love this! I spend a lot of time, actually, feeling tortured about the secretiveness of this situation. I've always hated secrets... been an open book. But now that I'm in territory where this information can harm others and where people's misplaced judgement can cause me further harm, I understand that the details of my ordeal are best kept to myself. What I've discovered are all the ways I can share my story in a way that does good for others and avoids harm. The anonymous gift I give through my marriage counselor to a betrayed spouse on my d day anniversary each year, the way I can sit with my friends struggling with loss (any loss) and listen whole-heartedly and even offer a few nuggets of wisdom, the way I teach my son about the importance of self care.... there are many ways I can get the important parts of my story out there. I don't have to give details to convey the lessons. I even found ways to answer the dreaded question, "you look so great! What diet are you on??" That I can live with without feeling like I need to take a shower ("I had some major personal stress that made it hard to eat, then I learned to take care of myself through that. I eat things that make me feel good and I exercise to take care of me because I realized no one else was going to.") I spend time looking for ways to get my story out without having to give details. Recently I gave a coworker who was struggling a "self care box". A Brenne Brown book, some tea, bubble bath... you get the idea. My card talked about radical self care. I have a story of resilience to tell, so I try to tell it in ways that help others. I can imagine a time when some details might help someone, so I'm ready to do that when the time is right. Part of me would still love to just sit with my sister or BFF and just spill it out all over the place, but I'm not sure I would benefit in the long run, and I think the details would distract from the actual story here... the one that paints me not as the victim, but the heroine. The one that paints my H not as a monster, but a hard-working, vulnerable human. Some stories take more than words to retell. I try to errupt with that stuff every chance I get.

    1. Ann you are so right on with everything you said. I have told no one and I think the major thing is people will automatically say poor "insert my name" and turn me into the victim. And yes my husband would be the monster. He is convinced his entire family would disown him. Who knows I still think he is the coveted one but he thinks otherwise when it comes to me. I was happy I went to a therapist and felt that was best for me. It helped me gain strength. My worry with friends was I would tell them and they are honestly not equipped to handle this beyond being a nice/good friend. And most likely based on conversations we have had they do not understand infidelity.

      I too feel that I help others by my participation in conversation, listening, giving advice. And with my kids in a major way. I think what I have learned through this process applies to friends, teachers, coaches and life in general.

      My husband was really adamant that I should go back to school for my masters degree to be a therapist which was a nice thought. However I did not want to invest that amount of time away from my kids.

      I do feel like how I live my life every day and those interactions with others is how I share it with everyone around me.

  2. OH Elle! In November I had posted in "books for the betrayed" section a book i read called "why can't you apologize?"
    it was a ground breaker for me. I felt "off" that I knew I could not forgive. But it did not HURT me, they say forgiveness sets you free. Well i feel free already. It does not mean I hate him, it does not mean that i hold past behaviour over his head, I just, like you, accept that I can't change it, I can't change that it happened. I just had to accept that it DID. I knew that forcing a forgiveness would be so false. So I didnt. This book backed me up.

  3. Thank you Elle. For putting it out there, because I feel the same way. If my husband were to ask me if I have forgiven him, the answer would be no. A resounding capital letter bold-faced NO. And I don't see it happening. EVER. All the books all the time spent in therapy all the blogs all the sleepless nights telling myself that I have to start the Forgiveness process, but in my heart I know I will never forgive him. Never. He broke me. He threw away everything I gave to us, for what? Forgiveness is a far-off place for me, and one I may never know. He said to me recently I wish you were happy, and I said back I am happy just sometimes I'm anxious and worried and scared. And he said no you are anxious and worried and scared, and every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of you being happy. He said I should try to be that happy person all the time. I reminded him that he broke that happy person, and that the happiness she knew was a big fat lie anyway. I erupted in that moment, screaming at him you want to see me happy then why why did you hurt me so bad? He did the one thing I always asked him never to do the one thing I knew in my own heart I couldn't get over. Makes me feel like a human to see those words from you Elle because it makes me think maybe there's still hope for me. Maybe I won't be stuck in this halfway existence of just walking through my life making sure everybody else is okay, but carrying this big secret that has become my burden alone to bear. I haven't forgiven him, it's only been a little over a year, but we're still here. Some days I think I'm crazy and I ask myself why didn't pack up my crap and leave the moment I found out that he done this to me. Whatever it was that allowed me to give him the second chance whatever it was in me that saw hope for us yet, it keeps me going through another day on this lonely path. Here's to erupting every once in a while..... just letting it all out.

  4. Anonymous
    I once went to my family doctor and told him that I was going crazy. That’s the strangest word for what I was living through so many years ago. That said he patiently explained that the truly ‘crazy ‘ individual never knows that they are... the mind doesn’t allow that medically speaking, however, symptoms of underlying illness can and do make us feel crazy. I was 33 years old and my thyroid gland decided that it would just stop working. He drew blood that day and then I left town to attend a family member that needed extra care for the weekend plus a day from an illness. When I returned to town, my doctor had to see me immediately because he was afraid I would have a stroke before I could go on medicine... but that’s what taught me the difference between being crazy and feelings of being crazy. Betrayal reminded me of those feelings for a time but, I’m finally finding myself and I realized that yep that shit made me feel crazy! I’m erupting too, but this time in a good way! Oh and about that forgiveness, I don’t have to worry about forgiveness to him or her because he still can’t forgive himself and I feel sure she doesn’t think she needs to be forgiven. And for the first time in a long time, I’m okay with that! Hugs! Thanks Elle!

  5. Thank you Elle. Once again, fabulous.

    Funny, Kimberly asked me on the other post if I’ve written a letter of forgiveness to my husband, as my ex did for me. It certainly got me to thinking. I have told my husband I forgave him, yet truthfully I’ve accepted what he did. I can’t think of the name of the book ... I believe it is “How Can I Forgive You?” It was recommend by my IC. Excellent book. While I was reading it my husband saw the title and said, “you don’t have to forgive me.” It was said with sincerity, yet I also believe out of shame ... ie, “I don’t deserve to be forgiven.”
    I believe that acceptance is a type of forgiveness. Frankly, it’s been a few years; I may revisit the book.
    Many of you may recall, I told lots of people of our affair (hmm, first time I ever referential it as ‘our affair’) as did my husband. I do believe it helped us both to heal ... the hardest part in telling my friends and family was their subsequent reaction to my husband. Human dynamics fascinate me: my mother? almost immediate acceptance/forgiveness; one of my sisters? my husband and her will never have the same relationship again ... other family members and friends ... everything between that. Something that has always struck me, as a former cheater myself and then being cheated on .., the same family member or friend that would hold me as I cry when I cheated, would rip my husband’s heart out when I was cheated upon. Yes, erupt - whatever that means for you.
    Ann, I loved what you said here. Once the hot, burning lava has erupted, destroying everything in its path, it slows, cools and continues in warmth and love. That is what I felt from you Ann. That too is what I try to do. Learn and grow through love. And be the light; we can and must share our light. Love and hugs ladies.

  6. Hi ladies I’m erupting right now!! Bloody hell just when I was feeling on an even keel I get a right hook right in the face.

    Just to recap to those who don’t know my story 4.5 years ago was my 1st d day, d day 2 18 months ago with the same ow, we’ve been living Separately pretty much since then but still married and no real conversations about divorce although this was where I was working towards eventually but having lost my mum 3 months ago i hadn’t much head space to deal with anything else.

    So yesterday I opened his bank statement that comes to my house not sure why, has he could have them sent to his own place. So anyway I never ever ever check his mail can’t be assed to be honest all that snooping has never been my thing I’ve never needed to as I always seem to find out when he’s being unfaithful. So anyway something told me to open this statement (god i guess) much to my surprise I see he had bought something from a perfume shop on 22nd sept 2017 then out for a fancy meal on 23rd sept. Well 2 add 2 makes 4 right?? I just knew it was her the ow .. after looking through some details I found out her birthday was in September my mind is made up its def her no way is this coincidence and I’m not even gonna ask him this time.. so the worse thing that I can’t accept is that this was 4 weeks to the day my mum died and this inhumane piece of dog shit has done this to me again for a 3rd time. But can I tell you I didn’t have that pain in my chest didn’t even cry I just thought this is what I needed to push me on with the proceedings of a divorce. After sleeping on things I woke up and was really angry and I called him to tell him what I knew, didn’t give him a chance for anything just told him divorce was on the cards and wished him a painful death. I guess I’m not that shocked as I kinda guessed he would have been in contact just didn’t have the evidence to back it up. I honestly can’t fathom
    How this man can do this again but he has and I seriously need to cut ties once and for all. No more casual sex no conversation nothing just good old silent treatment that’s all he deserves. I’m looking to the future concentrating on what’s to come this year, I’m starting a masters in psychology in sept and hopefully meeting up with you guys on our retreat too : ) .. lots to look forward to and keep me busy.. what a waster this guy is, he’s really shown his true colours at just how damaged he is. Good luck to them both I hope they are extremely happy together, they are so alike it’s uncanny.. thank you ladies in advance I know you’ll be as shocked and disappointed as I am .. but this is life xxx

    1. Sam A
      I’m so sorry that he did this to you again! That just shows what a truly messed up man he is! Incapable of living with the truth! He should have divorced you instead of dragging your heart through the mud over and over again! That’s so wrong! Sending hugs and I hope to get to the retreat as well but only time will tell...

    2. Sam A,
      I’m sorry for this recent discovery. It just sucks.
      It sounds like your focus is in the right place. Getting your Masters is amazing! I’m proud for you!
      Sending lots of love and support your way!

    3. Thanks Theresa and dandelion .. your right it does ‘suck’ big time. But not in the way it did before. Weirdly I’m kinda ok eating, sleeping as normal it maybe the calm before the storm so I’m getting my armour on ready for the fight ahead.. I’ll let you know how I get on ladies .. thank you xx

    4. My Dear Sam A
      I feel for you as I know what it's like getting kicked in the guts, time and time again.
      He has some serious issues, giving up on you, this wonderful compassionate person, his wife, mother of his children for an easy low life bitch.
      I'm angry for you and I am erupting for you.
      I know you've got it in you to deal with this.
      Sending much love and hugs
      Gabby xo

    5. Thank you gabby, great to know I have you guys behind me . X

    6. Sam--I am so so sorry you have to continually go through this. I admire your fortitude and I get it. They throw us some bones and we lap them up. I'm happy to hear that this news has given you the impetus you needed to move on without him as much as I know that hurts. I think what hurts the most is that we are also giving up on hope and faith. We are told if we have hope and faith things will work out. And well sometimes, heck most times, they sadly don't. I hope life has much bigger and better things in store for you. Big hugs.

    7. Sam A just add my commiseration along with the others . So sorry you are dealing with this .Again. I'm glad that you are feeling mobilized and taking action to look after yourself. Detach from this waster and get your life back. I'm sending you the biggest bottomless bag of hugs.

    8. Thank you ss1, waster indeed! Xx

  7. Elle - my greatest lesson from all of this ... " I tell my truth when I take a deep breath and open my heart instead of my mouth."

    1. I'm with you Kimberly. Sometime all you want to do is expose all the pain and hurt someone has caused you when even the most well-intentioned just may not understand. I don't want to look back and look like a hysterical, bitter woman but erupting is all I can stand sometimes.

    2. Oh Kimberly you said it all. I think this is where I am at right now. I simply don't care to convince or argue anymore. In the end what difference does it make? I don't want to care anymore. I don't want to put that much effort into it. My pain has been my pain and I keep it safely tucked away. No one needs to validate nor negate it. Yes big deep breath. Very good.

  8. Thank you for this post. I also grapple with the forgiveness issue because like you, Elle, I feel like I'll never forgive him for his choices and each and every prostitute was a choice he made. Nobody fell on his weenie. He had to look them up, call them and follow through. Just knowing he was capable of doing that makes me sick. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have really screwed up childhoods who never made his choices but he is who he is and I am still married to him. It has been a rocky few days and I'm coming out of it now. I struggle to feel authentic at times because of this huge secret I hold but like Hopeful 30 and others it would serve no positive purpose to talk about my husband's past. That is his story to tell. He now knows very clearly how his life fell apart, one incident at a time and he is very vulnerable. He also feels horrible shame and remorse about his choices. He thinks about it every single day. He desperately wants forgiveness and I read about forgiveness all the time but I just can't get there yet. I know I can't change his past/our past and his choices have colored forever the future and I'm getting to be okay about that too. I am kinder to others, more forgiving of others and just simply trying to live my own life in the way I want. I'm trying to be kinder to myself when I fail. I've told three people but not all the details. I have one dear friend from childhood who has overcome so much and who has forgiven her sister for having an affair with her husband which resulted in a divorce and child being born. So in my friends family, she and her sister each have a child by the same unfaithful jerk except the sister is still married to him and he still cheats even though he is 70! My friend has been able to let it go and I admire her so much. I've yet to ask her how long it took or how she came to forgiveness but one of the last things she said was, "I long ago forgave her for this and I really don't care because she is now an alcoholic because he still cheats and she chooses to stay married. I went to counseling to try to save our marriage but the counselor told me that my husband believed that men were entitled to sleep with whomever they wanted to regardless of marriage. I decided then to let him go and I warned her about him but she did not listen." My husband is grateful for every day we are together and I doubt he will make those choices again but again, you never know. I just wish the pain in my chest would go away.

  9. Hi Elle--Well I've sorta kinda quit "erupting". Yes I'm in the #metoo movement having been molested as a child by a trusted family member. He's dead. And of course the subsequent "sssshhh don't talk about it, that was 20 years ago and let's not make his brother know about it or feel bad about it so you just have to" I don't want to erupt anymore. Seems no one cares but me.

    And after this many years after discovery I don't want to erupt over that either. Did that and was glad I did then, I just don't want to now.

    Elle you post was wonderful and right on because the ability to erupt is just right there, I simply lack the motivation. I love your statement about forgiveness. I feel what you feel with regards to forgiveness. I may or may not have forgiven and I'm pretty sure I don't truly know what forgiveness is anymore and heck may as well throw love in there too :)

    I'm sickened of the abuse I see played out on the national stage every single day. I'm heartbroken for the newly betrayed and sick for the sexually abused/exploited. I am SO happy others are erupting and I support them wholeheartedly.

    Good post Elle

  10. Trying-Hard
    I'm sorry with what you had happen to you as a child. Too many of us have had things happen to us at the hands of men. I understand with you where you say no one cares but me. I hope you know, we care here.xx
    The not caring, that's how I feel to a certain extent with these cheaters and other people's reaction. But. As much as people don't want to get involved, this is a social issue as this breakdown of family values and the family unit has a huge impact on society. Welfare, mental health, housing....etc. It becomes everyone's problem when wives and children are forced out on the street with no money, in need of housing, food etc and this does affect the kids. It can be a vicious circle sometimes.
    All my friends are supportive - but NO ONE has erupted to him over what he has done. NO ONE. Except me.
    So this makes my STBX "get away" with it. He hasn't been made to be accountable or feel bad and that really pisses me off - whose got my back?
    I have erupted to him over this, but it's water off a ducks back to him.
    I can NEVER forgive him for what he did. We all have choices in life -but to deliberately go about doing things that would ultimately hurt your wife and children because you are selfish is just an act of someone really cruel. And after all the years of support I have given him!
    And even though now separated, the constant kick in the guts...Good riddance to him!
    I don't understand this "you must forgive to move forward in life". NO. NO MORE!!!! What about these cheaters must be accountable for what they did. Stop putting it all on us to fix this to smooth the waters.
    (if you detect anger in my voice - you're right).
    I support the me too movement. We all need to come together.

    So volcanoes are erupting. Instead of offering virgins to these volcano gods. Let me be the first to offer my cheating husband! :)
    Gabby xo

    1. Oh Gabby you are so kind. Thank you so much. The exposure of my childhood abuser was over 30 years ago. I think because I was abused as a child I have never been sexually harassed as an adult in my workplace. I think I may put off that "don't eff with me vibe" which is fine by me. And yes people see the repercussions of exposing the abuser and what happens to women that out these men. The woman always loses so they keep silent because they have bills to pay and children to feed. What is really horrible is the women in lower paid positions that put up with the abuse daily. There was a good piece on PBS about hotel workers (women) who are raped and sexually abused and nothing is done. It's the women we don't see that I really hurt for.

  11. Elle what a powerful post. Erupting can be St. Helena or Pompeii. It might be an eruption under the ocean. Here are ways I have erupted post betrayal. I speak up about sexual harassment. My H said, can you believe that was 15 years ago? So I told him stories of when I thought I was sexually harassed in 1976. I said physician's pulled me on their lap at the nursing station in ICU. He said yes that is. I told him every time in the OR when I tied up the surgeons gown I was expected to rub my breast on his back. He said yes that is. There are many more stories. Anyway I said back then I would have been fired. Another nurse told the lap physician to take a flying leap through a fucking donuts. She was fired. I had a little sweet son to support so I just zipped it. One of the lawyers said to me, I can't take my eyes off of your high-heels. This is in 1990's. It goes on and on. I will continue to speak up erupting how it really is. I erupt when I see a man in public being super rude to a woman. I erupt in nice ways too. I took a bunch of my senior bridge friends to the casino. They are so lonely. I erupt at times when I shouldn't too. This eruption when you burst out of that mountain of denial, false reality, you end up at the highest point able to view your surroundings. As far as forgiveness, in my little bitty mind there are degrees of forgiveness. My therapist said can you give a little forgiveness about the size of a gnat wing? I work my way up from there. In my heart I don't know if I can reach the divine forgiving level for not only the asshole of the universe but also others who have hurt me deeply. I'm sure I have some of that stay alert, get them before they get you type of stuff. The only person who I forgave in a divinely sense is my sister for something she did. Since then she wrote me a fuck off letter. So I'm granting her wish. I'm so sorry Sam A for your circumstances. I'm telling you the Karma bus is still in business. My eruptions are getting stronger as I keep self-discovery on my priority. Love to you all. These empowering post I just eat up every single word, Elle and SS1.

  12. Thank you llp, I’ll be waiting and watching for when that karma bus comes around. Crash and burn xxx

  13. A useful link on forgiveness after betrayal from the Greater Good.

    I'm still a work in progress and I really do not fully believe I need to forgive to move on but if forgiveness will take this weight off my chest then I'm going to give it a try.

  14. Thank you trying hard.. your words are so true.. much appreciated xx



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