So, How Do You Get Through This?
The biggest question I get asked when people first contact me is how can I recover, how can I get rid of this pain, will it ever go away, will I ever get over it? Those kind of questions. They are so difficult to respond to helpfully and I remember that desperation for an answer so well. I trawled the Internet, devoured books, went to the Doctors, spoke to my friends looking for something, anything to tell me what to do, how to ease the nightmare. I would have done anything, literally A N Y T H I N G to make it go away.
The truth, from my perspective (and remember this is only my perspective) is that you can't make it go away and there is no definitive answer to those questions, regardless of how desperate you are to find one. I am so sorry to say that, but I'm not going to sugarcoat any of this. It is fucking shit whatever way you look at it and the pain is simply immeasurable. It fucking hurts and it hurts on so many different levels. There's the betrayal, the disrespect, the disregard, the disbelief, the anger just for starters. Then you've got to get used to this now being in your life, part of your story whether you like it or not. You've got to face the humiliation, the embarrassment and shame. Feeling like an idiot, a worthless, insignificant idiot. Then there's the internal conflict leave or stay, forgive or not, and the overwhelming, overpowering emotions that you have to battle day in and day out. It is exhausting and never ending. No wonder we are all desperately looking for an answer, a way out, someone to just give you that key to feeling better and making sense of this unreal, but oh so very real, situation you have been thrown into because of other people's actions.
There are different ways to cope with it. Be angry and rant and rave, scream and shout, become bitter and resentful. Get revenge on him or her, throw yourself into plotting and planning the pain you are going to inflict on those who hurt you. You can engulf yourself into distraction, stay busy, don't give yourself time to think. You can drink, shop, take drugs and numb the pain, or even wish yourself to go to sleep and never wake up. The amount of times I have wished I could simply give up and just not feel anymore. I have a deep understanding for someone choosing any of these. I totally get why people take drink or drugs if there is something in your life you cannot get out of your mind, body and soul. Even a slight reprieve would be welcomed with open arms and not really any questions, to be honest. You have a magic pill? OMG, I'll take two.
I'm not saying any of these are right or wrong, but I'm not sure any of them will get you to fruition, well maybe not in one piece. They are options that your mind believes will give you some sort of satisfaction and closure. Some of them may well do that, but I'm not sure for how long because they are heavily reliant on an "outside-in" strategy. External factors to heal the inside ones. This is a very unstable method. You cannot rely on external forces to bring you what you need. They may provide a small inkling of closure, but they also may not and, because they are external, you are not in control of which group they fall into. Things don't always work out the way you play them out in your head. They have the potential for being very temporary and/or making things a whole lot worse.
The ones that work more long term are more "inside-out" approaches. The catch? If I am going by my own experiences, this option is a really long journey, that you edge along like a tight rope, terrified and unsteady, feeling totally out of your depths, trying not to fall off into oblivion. You've never tightrope walked in your life before, but you've been pushed out on a wire at the top of the Empire State Building for your rookie tightrope walking try out. So of course, it's impossible to avoid falling. You do fall and you fall fast, hard and often, but you have no other choice, but to get back up and try again. So, what I've learnt is that it's about how to hang in there until you have been able to process what has happened to you from the inside-out. Until you can walk a few more steps than last time, before you lose your balance. Until you can learn how to wobble and not actually fall this time, regain your balance and take another step. During this time, again in my humble opinion there are two essential things:
1) You have to be kind to yourself
2) Make friends with your emotions, even the painful ones.
Then bit by bit, little by little keep putting one foot in front of the other and edging along that tightrope, even if that means taking three steps backwards and falling off every few days, or even every few hours in the beginning. Learn to respect how you feel moment to moment. All feelings are valid in that moment, but not all feelings have to be responded to or actioned, in that moment, just acknowledged. For example, there has been a point every single day, without fail, that I have felt so bad I have wanted to leave my husband. There has been a point every single day, without fail, that I have felt it was simply too much, that he took it too far, that I simply can't or won't ever get over it. Every. Single. Day. I think I've said it before, that pain is like Ground Hog Day. But, here's the thing.......
That feeling of wanting to leave is real, of course it is real. The pain of what my husband did is real, of course it is. It is going to make me feel like I want to leave? Of course it is. Does it mean I don't want to stay? No. Does it mean I have to leave? No. Do I have to decide now? No. Does it mean I don't love him? No. Does the feeling pass? Yes. Does that mean I won't leave? No. It just means I might not today. Does it mean I feel in a constant state of conflict and internal battles? OMG YES! Does it mean I second guess myself all the time? OMG YES! Does it result in going round and round in the same cycle over and over again? Absofuckinglutely! Does that mean I am failing or doing this wrong? Absolutely NOT! Does it mean I have to act now? No. Is this the most tedious, energy draining, soul destroying, when is this going to fucking end hole to be stuck in? Fuck yes.
That cycle of.....
....pain, collapse, destraughtness, despair and complete annihilation, recover, breathe, get back up, keep walking, feel a bit better, think you're getting somewhere, then dive again....
.....has been my life for the last two years. Sometimes it has been an hourly cycle, sometimes daily, sometimes it can be a week or if I'm really lucky a little bit longer. But it has been the constant pattern of this betrayal and it is fucking shit. Really fucking shit. There is no other way to put it.
To cope, the key here is acknowledgement. The feelings have to be acknowledged. They have to be felt, not necessarily acted upon. The feelings have to give you their message. They have a job to do. We have usually spent our life avoiding feeling bad. I don't know about you but I was not taught how to honour and respect these difficult emotions. How to genuinely and completely feel them, and allow them into my pattern of life. Yes, I experienced them, of course I did, but they were usually resented and fought against, defied and pushed out, then sworn I would never let myself feel them again, so avoided at all costs. I can't avoid these. I have had to learn how to feel, really feel and intentionally too. There is incredible, bottomless sadness. There is hulk-inducing rage. There is overwhelming despair and worthlessness, then guilt, shame and shock and disbelief (and that's just scratching the surface.)
So to go there, to these despicably difficult places, I have needed to adopt deep self care. I have had to allow myself time and space to fall apart and feel the devastation. Respect it. Dive into it. Find the glowing ember of its life source, go there intentionally. Follow it blindly down the worm hole with my hand out in front of me, reaching, really reaching through my body and down my arm, right to the end of my finger nails. With the soul purpose of touching that pulsing source of pain, intentionally putting my hand on it and allowing the excruciating vibrations to coarse through my veins, then stay there while I surrender to it, as it strokes and soothes me like a caring mother figure sitting by my bed saying "There, there. There, there."
Sounds a bit dramatic, but is the only way that I have found to get through this. It's exhausting, it's endless, it feels like I am a prisoner in this lonely hell, but it's also exhilarating, empowering and healing. The more I have allowed myself to feel, the more I have realised how much I can actually take and once felt, really felt and listened to, the feelings can be processed and do actually pass. Then as I said in my last blog, when they do, I will take it whenever I find it. I will relish those moments of clearness and clarity, no matter how fleeting. I will smile at those little bits of closure I stumble across and be grateful for them. Because, at the moment, I know the inevitable abyss is there waiting for me to return and I do return over and over again because on of the biggest problems is, there are so many layers of this position and pain to be processed. Layers and layers and layers of them. Dig through one, sweaty and exhausted only to hit another, then another and another, so sometimes it needs help, professional help.
Recently I have been struggling emotionally. On returning to the UK, I have definitely fallen off my tightrope and have been flaying about in oblivion for a few weeks. New emotions I haven't experienced yet in this journey that I have had to unravel and process. Emotions that made me call lawyers, look at housing options and get myself prepared for making that final decision, because the only time I felt any peace was when I thought about leaving. I have been consumed with anger, confusion and continual despair. So intense, it made me reach out to a counsellor to help me decide whether I do actually want to leave or I just want some peace. To avoid this blog being too long, I will write more about what I am discovering on this next phase of my journey, with the help of a counsellor, as it unfolds, but I recognised I absolutely needed help. What I'm realising about my healing and where I need to take it, I couldn't have done on my own.
If you're struggling, I encourage you to read my "Finding My Way Through...." blogs. There are five:
They're not definitive answers, but they are lessons I have learnt along the way. I'm still learning. I'm still finding my way in the dark, but as I'm learning I'm writing about my experience of these layers and how I am wading through them. How I am slowly, but surely, painfully meticulously getting through this.
Wherever you are in your journey, I am with you in spirit. I feel so much for your pain. Hang in there. I have no idea if any of this is helpful, but I'll keep writing. Just in case it is.