The name of the blog
"It was never just an affair" needs to be in quotations, because it was something my ex-husband said to me early on in the break-up. I guess he thought it might make me feel better to know it wasn't just a fling per say, it was real love? It didn't make me feel better. Him ending the affair and being willing to work on the marriage would have made me feel better.
Saturday, 2 August 2014
Indifference is the opposite of hatred
Today I do not have to struggle.
This mantra, from Louise Hay, popped up in my Facebook feed the other morning, and it was just what I needed to read. And repeat to myself, over and over.
All I had done the day prior was struggle. I struggled within my current love relationship; I struggled with myself; I struggled with my friendships, but most of all I struggled with my past. It was the apex where those met that I fell apart as my insecurities and anger overwhelmed me.
I have returned recently from a great four night girls trip to Vegas. The glorious parts of the trip were the time at the pool/beach, the spa time, the fun with my girlfriends, the laughter, and the holiday in general.
The less than fabulous aspect of the trip was the constant rehashing of the past, and the way my ex kept sneaking into the conversation.
Certainly I hold some responsibility for his daily appearance in conversation during that trip. Although I said on a few occasions I didn’t want to talk about him, I encouraged my friend to talk about her own frustrations or experiences within their friendship, foolishly thinking I could pretend it was anyone, and no one specific, she was talking about.
At the time, when I felt anger or frustration, I thought I had voiced it appropriately and then let it go. I certainly had all my escape mechanisms, both healthy and unhealthy, available to me to blunt my negative feelings. I was drinking and gambling, the negative self-medicators, but I also had the sun, spa, and friends with me to soothe me, the positive self-medicators.
Once I was home and alone though, holy hell did my mind go to war on me. And before I knew it, I was wallowing in a pit of negativity, feeling sorry for myself, feeling unlovable, terrified of what my future held and how I was going to screw up my current relationship.
What happened? My single greatest trigger was present when listening and talking to my friend about my ex: unfairness. Nothing gets my goat faster than my perception of something being unfair. And good grief, from my side of the conversation, my ex was selling our mutual friend a story of woe that was quite unfair to me. And I let it bother me, no doubt about that.
So I resorted to the behaviours I know well and am comfortable with: retreat, withdraw, emotionally shut down, and fight the urge to run away and delete everyone I know off of Facebook. Or at least everyone from my past that has any connection to him.
These sorts of behaviours have got to be challenged and corrected by me as they are dubbed one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse in relationships by Dr. John Gottman. You can read more about stonewalling and the other three killers of intimacy at http://relationshipresourcecenter.com/articles-concerning-relationships/relationship-articles/the-four-horsemen-of-the-apocalypse/.
Directly quoted from the website http://ezinearticles.com:
Dr. John Gottman of University of Washington, one of the foremost marriage researchers, claims he can predict with 90 percent accuracy if a couple will divorce. In his storied "love lab," Gottman studies how couples interact, particularly how they communicate with each other in heated moments. After 30 years of research, he has pinpointed four behaviours that seem to invariably spell disaster in any marriage. He ominously refers to them as "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."
On that bad day of beating myself up and withdrawing, another girlfriend took me out and compassionately challenged me and reminded me of all I have to be grateful for. She validated the pain of finding out things I don’t need or want to know about my ex-husbands life. Both she, and my current boyfriend, were incredibly supportive and critical in helping me through those negative feelings and a couple of bad days.
No sooner had I worked through that issue and calmed myself down and made peace with the reminder of the losses I had suffered, did I get a nasty email from my ex that threw me for a loop and set off a fresh round of fear and indignation about his unfair and callous behaviour.
My struggles escalated quickly from anger, resentment, and grief into full blown rage; I was no longer struggling but had reverted back to being in a low grade panic attack for hours, similarly symptomatic of those first weeks after the disclosure.
I was having to utilize every coping technique I have been taught in the last two years to combat the feelings of sickness, panic, fear, and rage. I breathed deeply, did a cardio class, went for a walk in nature, reached out and talked to multiple friends about my feelings, and positively self-talked all day. At the end of the day I did a relaxation exercise and meditated before bed. And all those things did eventually calm me down but it took most of the day to get back to a place where I felt I would be okay regardless of what actions my ex decides to take.
The next day was still an angry and tearful day, but it got better over the next five days to the point I continue writing this blog. I have reassured myself that once again, it is my expectations of fairness that have created the space for my mind to take over and wreak emotional havoc in my life. I cannot control what my ex will do, I can only control my reactions to him.
This last bout with him has reinforced my suspicions that he has more than moved on, he is heartless when it comes to my emotional well-being. It is alarming to me now how silly I was continuing to trust a man to keep his word when he has done nothing but lie to me for years. That is for me to own.
Another huge lesson in all of this is a message my mother continually drummed into my head growing up: never rely on a man to support you. I made the mistake of expecting my ex to financially support me and I allowed him to persuade me to thrown away my career. I made the mistake of allowing myself to believe in the safety of a marriage and making choices and decisions that made me dependant and vulnerable. And now that is being used against me.
It is tragic to me that when people inevitably change, it will not always be for the better. Inexplicably, some of us, as adults, seem to go backwards rather than upwards and onwards.
The takeaway lesson from this is to regain my financial independence sooner rather than later. To free myself from my ex completely and cut all tethers to him, as money is really the only thing left between us.
In the meantime, as I work on the financial aspect of my life, I also need to address the root of my anger (fear for my future and the unfairness of how he has treated me), my stonewalling reactions, how my choices have left me vulnerable, and how I can get back to a place of release.
I had been doing so well living a life that didn’t include him in my thoughts. A few conversations about him, finding out some information I didn’t want or need, and one email from him later, and he was dominating my life again and puppeteering my emotions. Which I allowed, thankfully only for a week. I have now regained equilibrium, and have made a few decisions along the way:
1) I did not answer his last email and engage him in a fight; I simply forwarded the email to my lawyer and asked them to deal with his financial threats. He will not hear me and it will only cause me more grief to engage him.
2) I have decided that if he contacts me again, I will tell him to obtain a lawyer and have his lawyer speak to my lawyer; I am no longer willing to accept any communication from him. My peace is my priority.
3) I have accepted that he might make good on his financial threats, and I cannot control his actions, only my emotional reaction to his actions. I will be safe regardless.
4) I have stepped up my efforts to find a job and reduce my living expenses. I have a long-term plan to be financially independent of him.
5) I have re-focused my efforts on moving forward on my path doing the things that truly make me happy, such as travelling and writing.
6) I have assured myself that I will not starve or be homeless; his actions may alter the course or time-frame of my plans, but he cannot destroy my life and my future plans without me allowing him to.
In the middle of this horrible emotional week I had, I vented to my adult son for the first time about his Dad. It wasn’t intentional per se, we had plans already in place to see each other and I was a wreck having only gotten the nasty email a few hours earlier. I couldn’t hide my tears and anger from him, no matter how hard I tried. A few days later my son told me he had texted his Dad and told him off. I cannot tell you how good that made me feel. It might be childish, immature, and putting my son in the middle of something he need not be in the middle of, but it was the first time in 13 months I felt stood up for by someone.
The problem with having mature responsible friends who take the high road as I try to, is that no one has lashed out at my ex for what he has done, or held him accountable in any way that I know of, until now. I wonder if his son disowning him for his treatment of his mother will give my ex any pause to the reality of his behaviour? Sadly, I doubt it given his response to our sons anger was “there are two sides to every story”. My son challenged M’s victim stance by responding with “there would be no story if you hadn’t cheated”. My son, at 23 and having never married, has more emotional intelligence than my ex.
A few minutes after I finished writing this piece I realized what the Universe was up to: the money was my last challenge, my last hurdle to clear. It was the only fear I had left in terms of the break-up. I am now having to face my last fear, and when I come out the other side, the letting go will be over. I believe I will have moved through and on and he will hold no presence or power in my life at all. I will be on my way to indifference, and thus, freedom.