MIA husband and questions about his therapist
In summary, my husband of 20 years in Dec came to me and said he was stressed and unhappy and we negotiated a plan for improving our relationship and living style. But over the Christmas period his stress just got worse. I began asking gentle questions about all kinds of strange things: his stress and his sessions with his therapist. And got very basic, avoidant answers. I didn’t push it because I was frightened of unpacking something serious. I kinda lived with the delusion that we are on a plan and getting better. Come early Feb, end of dinner, let’s go for a walk – and dropped into the mundane conversation was “I’ve decided to end the relationship. I’ve got things to do that you won’t agree with and I’m not going to talk with you about it.” I started asking all kinds of questions and he just became very angry and disrespectful – like a cork had been pulled and all his bottled up hate and pain came pouring out. Gave very little info, except it was revealed that an affair was underway last dec when we made that plan, and there numerous other things he admited lying to me about, but mostly kept repeating “I’m standing firm. the decision stands. I’m not talking to you” I twigged and said “Oh you’ve been coached” and he confirmed that the therapist had done that. The tortured conversation was something like he just stands there and eventually I will run out of energy and it will be over and he can go. And I haven’t heard from him since. He ignores any form of contact. so I am seeking your thoughts – and probably encouragement:
- I feel anger and injustice – I have no recourse, no reasons, no opportunity to repair. Also I feel resentment towards the therapist – what therapist coaches a client to NOT offer the spouse an improvement period? Is he lying to the therapist too?
- The no contact thing – I now know that’s a thing – but how long for? I think he is using it to avoid and detach rather than heal.
- What do I do? everything I read says love yourself, forgive yourself, let go, detach, but I have resentment and broken trust and a story created that husband is a liar and therapist is incompetent and unethical. Since husband is ignoring me, I feel like contacting the therapist.
I meditate every day, (I use Tara Brach and Pema Chodron), I have a therapist, I have friends – but no family. Meditation works in the moment – but I dream about it in my sleep, and have this racing, ruminating head that is trying to create a story that I know is not the truth and is so negative I do not want it to be the truth. I can see that I am shooting myself with the 2nd arrow. But everything I try seems too simplistic and ineffectual. I am so confused I wonder if typing this out is just a projection? Do I seek resolution and contact the therapist? or does that just prolong the pain?
I can certainly understand why you feel abandoned, betrayed, frustrated, lonely and confused. This is a really strong situation with a very large confluence of energies. It is, I have to imagine, deeply shocking to see a marriage of 20 years end so quickly with no recourse. I was simply stunned when it happened to me after 3 years.
And then there are all the stories, judgements, doubts and perhaps shame that pile in like a barrage of second arrows after the first round of the wounding darts of the circumstances themselves. “I question what is it about me that sent/sends the message that this is OK to do to me? My thoughts question my identity – my ability to love myself or others, my ability to commit to myself and others.” If I were you, I’d try to give those as little energy as possible, but hold them as compassionately as you can as Bhakti suggests while they pass through. If at all possible, let them come and pass like clouds. Try not to take a ride on them. If you do get caught by them, which may be inevitable, just hold yourself through the storm. Or seek help. Try not to feed or believe them. They may have a strong sense of authority, but try not to take the bait. They will pass. At some point some kind of clarity or insight might reveal itself. You’ll know it in your bones if it does.
Essentially right now, it is as if an explosion has happened. I wouldn’t try to figure anything out per se. Just give your system time and healing energies to let the energy of the blast and its shock waves pass through. I’d get one on one support from a therapist or coach if possible to navigate the turbulence itself, not to explore the “Why’s” of the situation..
In the Grief Recovery Handbook they define grief as the response that happens when a familiar pattern is discontinued. This can go all the way from “No more Taco Tuesday – Oh No!” to divorce or the death of a loved one. You are on such a powerful ride now, and I feel so deeply for you. I’m glad you are reaching out here and I’m grateful to see that our contributions have felt helpful. Please feel free to continue getting support here in addition to whatever you may be able to find in your area. This is a process. We’ll be here. Love, Bruce
how are you, I wonder? You’ve written about what happened, but not much about how you actually are. Are you taking time to ask yourself how you’re feeling? How does you body feel? How are you breathing? Do you feel tight? Or are you able to relax in your body?
What you have gone through and are still going through must be terribly painful. Please acknowledge that. Give yourself credit for the immense work you’re having to do just living through that.
I would suggest that the steps you can take depend on how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling very tight, breathing shallow, unable to relax, then for the time being just work with your body and your breath. You don’t actually have to resolve anything in this very moment. Many of Tara’s meditations are fantastic for that.
You write “everything I read says love yourself, forgive yourself, let go, detach, but I have resentment and broken trust”, and it appears to me that you’re trying to let go of the resentment and the hurt, possibly even to push it away. But the first step, I am deeply convinced, is to allow the resentment. Allow the pain: as much of it as you can hold right now. If it gets too much, don’t go into it any further, but comfort yourself, feeling your body, maybe doing yoga, maybe just caressing your own body, and breathe. Don’t judge the resentment! Don’t judge the pain! Don’t judge the vulnerability! Love your resenting self. Love your hurting self. Love your vulnerable self. Maybe there’s shame. Love your ashamed self. Maybe there is doubt. Love your doubting self.
There is probably not much you can or should do regarding your husband. I, like Bruce, believe that the way forward is to turn within. But don’t push it. First make sure you’re calm enough, you feel safe enough, you feel loved. When you do, this pain might be the key to a wonderful journey within.
All the best, much love,
I am glad our words are helping a little. I feel a deep respect for what you are doing. You’re coping, and that takes a lot of courage.
I want to write a fe words about what your organism is going through after the shock that you’ve had. It might help you understand what is going on inside yourself, which in turn might help you accept the process.
Please understand that the resentment and fear that you are experiencing is not an expression of weakness. In fact, it is an expression of the tremendous strength, of the resources that your organism has mobilised.
Your organism does not just interpret what happened to you as vexing. An important part of you considered it *life threatening*. This is a part that is beyond the reach of your conscious, rational mind, so you cannot reason with it. From an evolutionary point of view it makes sense: being left alone, being left behind actually was life threatening some 1000 years ago, and even more recently.
Your organism is reacting accordingly: it immediately prepared to fight for your life, or to run for your life. But of course there is no-one to fight, and there is nothing to run away from. So your mind is desperately seeking to identify the enemy, to figure out whose fault this is. It does during the day, when you can – with tremendous effort – control it, and it does during the night, so you have nightmares. That is a normal, natural reaction that we cannot force to stop. But it can, in time, pass.
One of the problems with this is that instead of feeling compassionate for ourselves, we think we’re weak, and we are ashamed. So instead of allowing the process of recovery to unfold, we repress it – when what we really need is to give ourselves credit for surviving the turmoil.
So what to do? Well, provide your organism with as much of a sense of security as you can, so it can recover. So it knows your life is not threatened.
Your organism has activated these defence strategies, and that involves a whole lot of body chemistry. So in a way it needs to come down of these self-produced chemicals, and that is uncomfortable, like coming down from drugs. But know that you can survive it, and you will be better.
The more conscious you stay in the process, the better your organism will be able to recover. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just return your attention back to the here and now, feeling your body, maybe looking around you: what can you see? And listening: how many different sounds can you identify? Are there any smells in the air? Does any part of your body feel comfortable? Focus on that which deepens a sense of comfort. And in time you will find the strength to just witness the painful inner processes, the comedown. But, again, don’t force it. Don’t strain. Focus on creating safety.
When my first wife left me, it was sudden and complete. Non – negotiable. Just done. It was an incredible and terrible gift. 2 months later I was at Spirit Rock on a 5 day meditation retreat. Being so raw and undefended, the practice struck like a thunderbolt. Then I went through a brutal process of discovery. All my patterns came to the surface. I had wonderful support, and my pain deeply motivated me on a journey that has culminated, as of now, in offering AskLove to the world. I found that happiness, as Sylvia Boorstein says, is an inside job. And an ongoing one. It’s a process of amazing exploration that can take you beyond the boundaries of any limitations.
Being left and possibly deceived is a very painful and seering time, but it is also pregnant with potential. Actually, for me it was solid gold. As Pema says it is the “gift of pain”. I’d lean into it, but only when I wasn’t depleted. My personal sense would be to let your partner go, and not explore externally, but rather internally. I’m not sure if the therapist could even say anything. I’d get the best help I could. I’d do my best to feel everything that arises directly and clearly without inflating or pushing away. I’d be super kind to myself, but not indulgent. I’d try to eat well and healthfully. I’d get rest. I’d take time for myself. I’d go on a retreat when I felt balanced enough and plumb the depths that have been stirred.
This is a remarkable time. I’d get the most from it. Embrace it. I’d feel the pain and be really honest with it. As Shenzin Young says, this is like a very uncomfortable deep tissue massage that life is giving you, but leads toward health, wholeness and transformation. I deeply hope it will and hope you will feel welcome to continue to ask questions and to be supported by the community as this process unfolds. We care and wish for your well-being and happiness. Blessings friend.
thank you both for your considered answers. I feel appreciation that strangers spent time on me and my issues.
so I read and I believe there is nothing I can do. I feel abandoned and had my trust betrayed and there is no recourse. I carry frustration. My belief is that I am unheard, unacknowledged, excluded from my own relationship. I question what is it about me that sent/sends the message that this is OK to do to me? My thoughts question my identity – my ability to love myself or others, my ability to commit to myself and others. I feel alone and lonely. and confusion.
I can see your message Bhakti. it hangs in the air above me but it has not sunk in. I am resisting the pain. where is the line / what is the difference between accepting and feeling the pain and tipping into suffering and despair?
Bruce: your response to Bhakti is very helpful for me. It is like a role model – it guides and shows a start on how to do this. focusing on your words helped me to calm
So glad to hear it Sugar Glider. That’s the nice thing about an online community – it is there for you 24/7 once it gets up and going while therapy and workshops happen once in a while and can be expensive. BTW – We will be doing more webinars that focus specifically on using the practice of Heart Fluency whose steps are Stop, Drop & Ask. There is a chance we will do one this coming Wednesday at 5:30 PM California time which is 12:30 PM Sydney time I believe.
Using the Heart Fluency practice to discern what you need in the moment could be extremely helpful. “Should I do this or this?” “What do I needed right now?”… and then you Stop, Drop & Ask your heart and tap your deepest knowing. We all have an inner oracle. The full video from last week’s webinar is at https://youtu.be/iNcC6C4p7Yc. The whole hour was people from the audience sharing challenges and then me guiding them through Heart Fluency’s steps. It brings it all to light. There were numerous profound moments, and Savannah had an incredible breakthrough with her friend and relative right after the event. Hope this helps and I’ll keep you posted on the next webinar. Blessings and be well, Bruce
Thank you Bhakti and Bruce. The last few days have been horrible and I fear I am not coping.
Bhakti – you note that my mind continues searching in the night – and you are correct! I LONG for sleep – every night I want sleep. I can use a grounding/breathing meditation to get to sleep and then have trouble staying asleep. I dream about this and on waking it is the immediately present in my mind. and as I have been waking/sleeping throughout the night I am tired and find it hard to control. As you wrote, during the day, as it goes on, and I get things done I begin to feel more normal and calm down. Your observation as to the 24 hour cycle is happening to me.
For the first time today I tried an EFT process via a youtube video. I had always thought EFT was too vague but discovered that it takes one inside one’s body and focuses the attention on the present. The video acknowledged the emotions and feelings and then gave a message of gentleness and acceptance.
the other observation is that if I get out for a run or walk (I’ve just walked the route the last few days) by about half way around I fond that I have calmed significantly too.
But I can’t stay in meditation and walking all day long. Somewhere I have to come back into the demands of life. And that’s when it all floods over me again.
Thank you for letting me write here and engaging with me.
HI Bruce – I watched the video of the webinar and saw your experience with Savannah. It was profound for her as she achieved certainty as to her decision, whilst acknowledging her own emotional response.
When I drop in I notice a constriction in the throat, stiffness throughout the collarbone area – the pulse is throbbing in these areas, my chest/heart feels like muscular straining. There is a lot of tingling and breathing flares up the tingling. it feels heavy – like a rock. My stomach and upper intestine have anxiety butterflies and nausea. my hands are shaky and have a lot tingling. My whole body feels incredibly heavy – like it will take enormous energy to
The first thought that comes into my head is “let it all go” – what is the “it”? and how to let go?
Bhakti – thank you for reminders that this is to be expected. for your gentleness and reassurance. Your encouragement to keep moving is working – even if in the only the tiniest of ways. Having such care and compassion, even by chat board, is really needed.
I was really worried that I’d stepped too far ‘out of the box’ with my attempt to bring humor to the table. Since humor has been a saving grace in my own life, I was hoping it might be helpful to you as well. By the way, I suspect that Humor has always been a close neighbor of pain and sorrow. Sam Clemens’ take on the subject is classic:
. . .
I heartily agree with Bhakti that you are exhibiting an uncommon degree of clear-eyed observation — despite those gut-wrenching emotions that well up from time to time.
Within you dwells a Witness of events capable of such wise observation as: “I am in pain because I measured my esteem from someone else . . .” Now that, dear one, is an exceedingly keen bit of noticing. Wise words. Take ’em to heart for they can help with more skillful choices going forward.
Cultivating an honest relationship with our ‘Witness within’ is a very big step forward. We all have the capacity to simply observe events (without the enormous ego-investment that usually colors our opinions and beliefs). It does require an ability to be focused intently on the on-going present moment, leaving aside past history or future speculation — pretty simple in concept though amazingly challenging in practice. Meditation can be a great help in cultivating this skill. ‘Mindfulness’ seems to be gradually catching on in our culture, and I see that as a very good step in the right direction.
Healing from trauma is not a piece of cake for anyone. Consider the pain you’re experiencing now as a very important and an integral part of the healing process.
You’re on your way to a better day.