As many of you know, I facilitate divorce recovery support groups for both men and woman in my local town in Barrie Ontario. But another part of my business is to coach and mentor the betrayed woman who is losing her marriage due to infidelity. I know this is a very specific niche, and I’ve chosen to work with these women because it’s this group that I can work with most effectively. Not only have I had several years of experience facilitating divorce support groups and been through 3 different coach training programs, but the biggest thing that I bring to the table for these women is that I have been the betrayed woman myself. My 22 year marriage ended due to infidelity and I know firsthand what a difficult journey it is to heal from this devastating and often traumatic event. I am in a place now where I am happy, thriving, more compassionate and more aware of my own potential than I have ever been in my life. I have clarity and resilience like I’ve never had before and I want to show others how they can get there too.
So where am I going with this blog post you might ask? Well here’s the thing, I’m beginning to have a real love/hate relationship with social media sites as I can see a lot of good that can come from our new modern way of connecting with each other but I also see devastation being caused by these sites as well. Let me explain.
I like to hang out in various Facebook groups where my ideal client hangs out. The groups I tend to frequent are infidelity and divorce support groups where people join so they can connect and get support from others who are going through similar circumstances. Social media sites are wonderful for connecting me to the people that I want to serve and I do get quite a few clients from engaging with these groups, and I love it for that. But on the downside what I’m noticing more and more is how social media sites, our smart phones and other devices are wreaking havoc on the suspicious and betrayed men and women. Some are using these tools to create even more damage to what is already a destructive end to their marriages. The suspicious spouse who no longer can trust their partner is downloading apps to track their partners whereabouts, making fake Facebook profiles so they can join private facebook groups and spy on their spouse. In one group there was a lady who had found out that her husband had a profile on a dating site and she then asked members of the FB group if they would help her out and reply to her husbands dating profile and arrange to meet him so she could be hiding nearby and take photos of his adultery behaviours to use in court. I was flabbergasted when I read this.
I am continually overwhelmed at the devastation that is caused by infidelity in a marriage and even more so by the added destruction that comes with the age of social media. I have seen some women become quite literally obsessed with using these tools to create even more carnage in their lives. I do feel for them and understand the rage and fury that comes with a cheating spouse, but in this instance technology sucks and is making what is a bad situation even worse in my mind.
Is today’s modern world technology something that you have a love/hate relationship with? Feel free to share what comes up for you. I would love to know your thoughts and comments.
Sometimes we get caught up in our thinking and make up stories about where our life is going and what it might look like now that we are single and making a life of our own.
The simple fact is things aren’t always what they seem. We create drama (stories) that blind us from what the true facts are.
An example of stories (fiction) that we tell ourselves are things like:
I’m never going to be able to provide a fulfilling life for myself
I can’t afford to live on my own
I won’t have enough money to survive on my own
I won’t be able to cope with everything that needs to be done without my partner
I can’t afford to take a vacation, etc etc.
I’m going to end up living on the street
This is all fiction!!! We don’t know that any of this is true. The only real fact is:
That your marriage has ended!
You need to be able to separate the fact from the fictional stories that we tell ourselves.
Here are some examples of the differences between fact and fiction:
“My husband left me” (fact) vs “My husband left me because I am unworthy of love” (fiction)
“My husband emptied out our bank account” (fact) vs “My husband had deceived me and has ruined my life forever” (fiction)
“My child is having nightmares” (fact) vs “My child has been deeply damaged for life because of our separation” (fiction)
Distinguishing the facts from fiction can really help us to realise that not everything we tell ourselves is true.
Make a list of what the facts are for you without the stories attached to it and you will become aware how much is really true and what we’ve made up.
Here’s a sample of facts:
I have to find a new place to live
I will have to get a job or new training
I don’t have to cook for my husband anymore
I have time to do the things that I want to do now
I will have to live within a stricter budget
Can you see the difference? Listing the facts helps to make us realize that Yes! My marriage is over, but my life isn’t over. And yes, we will have to make some changes, but when reviewing your list you can see that you can actually handle them and that you don’t need to attach any stories to the facts. Once we’ve done this exercise it should be easier to accept what has happened and we can move forward without the drama.
One of the things that I noticed when I first became separated from my ex was all of the “First” experiences that I was faced with and boy oh boy some of those were really tough to handle in those early days.
Some examples of these were the FIRST time my children went away for the weekend to spend it with their dad. What a strange and abnormal experience that was. It felt so alien to me saying goodbye to them when their dad came to pick them up for the weekend. It was a very lonely and painful experience. Hell! I hadn’t even got anywhere near the accepting stage of my marriage ending let alone my children going off to spend a weekend away from me. The other FIRST that was very difficult for me was the first Christmas that we had without their dad being with us. Christmas to me was a very special family time and I was dreading it. I reached out to my friends to see if I could arrange Christmas day to include being with them, so that I wouldn’t feel so isolated. But unfortunately, and not surprisingly, they had other plans to spend Christmas with their own families. It was not all doom and gloom though, as I ended up planning to have that FIRST Christmas with my extended family (cousins, aunts & uncles) up in Scotland as I was living in England at the time so it wasn’t too difficult for us to get up there to visit them. It was the best decision for me at the time. We had a lovely Christmas surrounded with loving relatives and I was so grateful for that time that we spent together. It was exactly what I needed.
By the time the second Christmas time came around I was at a place where I had accepted what had happened and I was starting to move forward in my new life as a single parent and myself and my three sons had a really lovely Christmas together.
It will be a difficult time for you as you experience these new FIRST’s in your life as a single parent, but I guarantee you that your new life will get better as time goes on and I can assure you that time is a great healer and you will come to a place where you will be excited by the thought of the freedom and growth that awaits you whilst you find yourself again and venture out into your new life. The key is to be kind to yourself and learn to love who you are and reach out for support when you need it. You are a whole beautiful soul with many gifts to share with others and you will no doubt be surprised how resilient we truly are. We need to travel through the darkness to get to the light and it’s so very worthwhile when we get there.
Loneliness means different things to different people. There is a difference in my experience between being alone and feeling lonely. I spend an enormous amount of time alone, but I don’t often feel lonely.
In the early days of my separation, I was afraid of being lonely. It felt like it should be something that I desperately needed to avoid. I would try to fill up my days with things to do: like meet up with friends, go to the gym, walk my dog, make plans way in advance so that I wouldn’t need to feel lonely next week or next month. It simply was something that I did not want to feel and it was a way of avoiding and accepting this new reality of being single.
But what I discovered, was that there were hidden gems in this loneliness thing. I found when I really sat with it and allowed the loneliness feeling to be with me, giving it permission to be here rather than trying to fix it or avoid it by filling my calendar with things to do, it was quite freeing and what I believe the beginning of my journey with self-love. And yes, it was very painful. I cried a lot and sometimes lay curled up in a ball on my bed feeling sorry for myself for hours, but it was exactly what I needed to be doing – just allowing it and feeling it. I took it as an invitation to go deeper – and by doing so it helped me to heal my wounds and to accept what had happened in my life.
For me, when I allowed the feeling to be here, I was giving it space, giving it light. What eventually emerged from this was a beautiful feeling of calm and peacefulness. Like I had come through to the otherside from a darker place. This happened often, and each time the loneliness presented itself it seemed to decrease in its intensity and its frequency.
Today, five years later, I make plans to go out with my friends, take long hikes with my dog, go to yoga classes because I want to and I enjoy doing things for myself. Not like the old days where I did it to keep myself busy and to avoid the dreaded loneliness. There is something quite powerful and beautiful that happens when we just allow ourselves to feel it all.
“You cannot be lonely if you have learned to love the person you are alone with”……….Rosanna Jones
Thinking back on my growth journey since my separation, I’ve noticed that to get to this wonderful place that I’m at today in this moment, took quite a lot of baby steps. Sometimes (especially during the first year) it was often two steps forward, then one step back. By this I mean I felt as if I was really making some excellent progress with moving on from the hurtful past, feeling a little stronger on a particular day than perhaps I felt the day before. Then suddenly I would be triggered by something like hearing a song on the radio which brought up a memory, or I would notice a piece of jewelry or a book or something that my ex had bought me years ago, and of course I would be sent right back to that place in the past when we were still happy and craving to be back there again.
Friends and family often say to us that we “should have moved on by now”, or we should “forget about the past and get a grip”. What the hell do they know! It’s easier said than done. There is no time limit here. We all take different lengths of time to move forward. Progress is being made, and there is no reason to beat ourselves up about it no matter how long it takes to get to a good place.
As time moved on and I was getting more confident in who I am and learning to love myself more, the two step/one step began to subside. In fact there was a period where I had what seemed like a huge leap forward. I’m not sure why or how that happened, but thinking back, it probably had something to do with feeling more confident and accepting of my new situation. I also found that when I had longer gaps of NO Contact with my ex, it served me better and I would get stronger during that no contact time. Whether you are moving on in leaps and bounds or just moving with small baby steps, it’s all progress moving towards a new and rewarding life. We are much stronger than we think. We are all whole and creative beings with much more strength and resilience than we give ourselves credit for.
How are you moving on from the past? Is taking baby steps working for you or are you jumping leaps and bounds?
Reflecting back on my journey to well-being has made me realize all the tools that I used to get me to is joyful and peaceful place that I’m at now. I believe that these tools and varying support systems that I used have all contributed to my healing.
In the early days of my marriage ending I went to see a woman who introduced me to Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). The technique works by releasing blockages within the energy systems which are the source of emotional intensity and discomfort. It’s a tapping technique on our meridian system, similar to the points that acupuncturists work with. Initially I thought this is crazy, how can tapping on various parts of my body help me with this feeling of overwhelm and trauma that I was experiencing. But it worked and it was very effective, particularly when I was feeling anxious or panicky.
I also went to a psychotherapist which oddly enough didn’t really help much. I also was lucky enough to have three friends that lived nearby that just happened to be going through a marriage separation themselves and the four of us were amazingly supportive of each other. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to share with them what was coming up for me. Just having that space and someone to listen who understands was paramount for my healing process.
But the one thing that I’ve found that’s had the most impact on my progression has been SELF-LOVE. Once I was able to stop feeling like I was inadequate, unlovable and dare I say it….unworthy, (as my marriage ended with my ex having an affair) I came to know that self-love was truly the key to my healing.
We are such incredible human spirits. We need to honour ourselves and really see the beautifully whole, loving and creative souls that we are. We have so much to give and so much to be grateful for. I walk in nature every day and see the beauty all around me and I know that we are all part of this amazing world that we live in. I have learned to explore fully who I am and in the process I’ve been able to recognize the light and love that I am.
So if you are beating yourself up with negative chatter, feeling unworthy and unloved or you are afraid to face the future and move on with your life, just remember the truly beautiful soul that you are and share your gracious self with the world. The world needs to see you and hear you.
It occurred to me the other day how much courage it can take to come face to face with other people who are going through divorce. I remember the first time I was seeking out support when my own marriage ended. I felt so alone in my experience and fearful as well as embarrassed to share what was going on for me. It took a great deal of courage to show up at that first meeting.
Looking back on it now, it truly was the best thing I could have done. It didn’t take me long to realise that I was exactly where I needed to be. After listening to other people in the group I could relate to most of their stories. I wasn’t alone after all. After the first 2 or 3 sessions, I began to feel really comfortable and excited, and actually looked forward to the next group gathering. It became a real life saver for me.
Yes, it sometimes got emotional and there would be tears and painful moments, but there was also warmth, understanding and sometimes laughter. It felt really safe and comforting for me. In fact I would go as far as saying that it felt like a loving surrogate family that I was visiting each week. It was a wonderful foundation for the emotional roller coaster ride that I was travelling on at the time. I look back on that time with much thankfulness for having found the courage to enter into that building back in October 2010. I’m happy to say that my life has moved on in such rich and fulfilling ways since then.
So, if you are struggling with fearful thoughts about coming out to get the support that you need, I encourage you to take that first step. The healing and the new friendships that will come from it will serve you well.
I remember when I first split with my ex how much I blamed and accused him for being such a weak character. He felt a need to get involved with someone else before he was able to find the courage to talk about how unhappy he was with me first. Needless to say I felt cheated in more ways than one. Surely, I had a right to know that he was that unhappy – after all I was his wife. I saw this as a major flaw in him and often thought “how could he be so weak”?, “ how could he not share how he felt with me, before crossing the line and getting involved with someone else”?
I realize now how unfair that was for me to even think that. Yes! Of course I was very deeply hurt when he went off with another woman. That was my way of lashing out and reacting to the pain that I was in and it was my way of retaliating. I was fucking angry, so of course I’m going to see him in this way.
Looking back on it now, I accept that I was Reacting instead of Reflecting, which is what I try to do now in every awkward or confrontational situation. We all have varying degrees of weaknesses and strengths and he probably was feeling weak and insecure at that time, but who am I to bash him (metaphorically speaking) and see it as a character flaw. I have three sons whom I love very deeply and they all have varying degrees of weaknesses and strengths and I would never even think about criticizing them for being weak. In my journey of awakening and self-awareness, I have learned to accept people for whothey are, including any weaknesses or insecurities, as we all have them. I wanted to share this revelation as I now see how important this new perspective has been in my healing process.
Seeing things from a different perspective is a wise and healing thing to do and I continue to explore that on a daily basis. It gets me out of feeling stuck in a rut and as I said, is immensely healing. Have you tried looking at things from differing perspectives?
I have just started reading a book which was recommended to me by a friend, called Managing Transitions by William Bridges. It struck me that his model for transitions is absolutely how it was for me as I desperately tried to navigate my divorce. He claims that there are three phases of transition:
An Ending: Letting go of the old role, way of being, set of beliefs
The Neutral Zone: emptiness, disorientation, and confusion
A New Beginning: New Ideas, moving forward, fresh start
This model resonated so strongly with me, and I’m sure it’s the same for many other people going through transition from one way of life to the new one that we create for ourselves.
The Ending: This was a really difficult phase. I remember feeling so much pain and loneliness and feeling terrified to be on my own. I repeated over and over to myself “how on earth was I going to be able to move through this life by myself without the support and security of my partner”? The letting go and also the acceptance of what had happened took several months for me. I had convinced myself that my ex was going to”wake-up” and realize that he’d made the biggest mistake of his life and that we will sort out everything and get back together. I was not prepared at this stage to let go of my old way of being.
The Neutral Zone: Who am I kidding? – This too was a hugely challenging phase. I was very confused and I didn’t know “how to be” without the security of my marriage. I felt empty and so very alone. I didn’t know which way to turn. I knew that I had some very big life changing decisions to make but felt stuck. I was totally disoriented and all the while trying to keep it together for the sake of my 3 children. Wow! I look back now and wonder – how did I get through it?
A New Beginning: This part of the transition phase was the first time I had felt any sense of empowerment. Finally I’d reached the stage where I took some control. I was beginning to get excited about the possibilities that lay ahead of me. I was finding myself again and now that I had no one to answer to, I could design or shape my life into anything I wanted it to be. I was able to have my very own Fresh Beginning for my new life. I will write about the amazing changes that have happened in a separate Blog soon.
Where are you in your transition? Please leave a comment, I would love to hear about it.
You may find that your relationship with family and friends is changing now that you are experiencing divorce. This could be as result of you feeling withdrawn and not making yourself accessible as often, which is completely normal given the circumstances that you are going through.
Also your friends, (especially friends that you had whilst you were still married), don’t know how to relate to you now that you are on your own. They feel uncomfortable talking to you because they can’t find the right words to say. Family members try to support you, but again don’t always GET IT!
I found the best thing for me was to get support from close friends who may have gone through divorce themselves. I was fortunate to have, (believe it or not) 3 friends that were going through separation at the same time that I was. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. You can look at this as being unfortunate that 4 relationships were coming to an end at more or less the same time, but looking back, I felt very fortunate to have these women in my life. The support that we received and gave to each other was life saving for all of us, especially in the early days of our marriages ending. Sharing stories and navigating the emotional roller coaster that we were all experiencing together was hugely supportive.
If you know someone that has been through a divorce, get in touch with them and share your own experience, you’ll be glad you did.