In just 27 days on Thursday, December 21 (at 10:28 CST to be exact), the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth will experience the longest night—and shortest day—of the year, also known as the Winter Solstice.
The darkest day of the year perfectly describes the internal, and often invisible, experience of survivors of betrayal trauma after the discovery of infidelity.
When your days are at their darkest, you wonder if you will make it through. You wonder if things will ever get better, if your spouse will change, or if your triggers will ever go away.
One of the darkest times for betrayed partners is the period between the discovery of infidelity and when you see meaningful progress in your unfaithful spouse—a season I refer to as tolerating the intolerable.
If you’re reeling from the impact of infidelity, here are four anchors to ground you during dark times:
Everything is Impermanent
One of the most important things to remember when you’re going through a dark, bleak time is that everything—including good times—is impermanent. A sad, painful time is like a season. It arrives, stays for a time, and then leaves.
Of the many heart-breaking realities of suicide is that the person who made the desperate and irrevocable decision to take their life lost the ability to stay focused on the reality that their painful situation would eventually change.
Other People’s Choices are Not a Reflection on Your Worth or Value
Understanding this one concept is crucial for all betrayed partners.
Whether it’s comparing yourself to an affair partner, pornography, an imagined “perfect partner,” or your own self-objectification, partners struggle to know on a deep level that their unfaithful spouse’s choices were 100% about him (or her). Your worth, value, and beauty are not dependent on or determined by what others do or say.
You are Free
Unless you are being held against your will*, you are free to choose whether to stay in—or leave your relationship. Often, the choice to leave is as courageous as the choice to stay.
You may be in a vulnerable situation emotionally, physically, or financially but you are free. Reminding yourself regularly that you are free and that you have options will help you maintain a solution-focused and empowered mindset. If you’re struggling to identify options talk to a trusted friend, mentor, therapist, or sponsor.
Engage in Activities That Light You Up
In dark times it’s especially helpful to be reminded of what lights you up.
Your list can include simple things like having a pet companion sit in your lap, listening to your favorite music, volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about, or creating anything that expresses your authentic self. As soon as you finish reading this article, sit down and right at least 20 things that light you up, and do at least one every day.
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
Do you have questions about Formal Therapeutic Disclosure or “FTD”? FTD is a mutual, planned, and professionally facilitated event that provides a foundation to begin the process of repairing and rebuilding trust in relationships impacted by serial infidelity or addiction.
Please join me for a live, online presentation*:
*(The presentation has passed. Click the link above to get the replay.)
- The role of FTD in healing relationships impacted by chronic infidelity and sex addiction
- What you need to know before your FTD session
- What you have a right to ask for in a FTD
- What to expect on the day of FTD
- Self-care tips for before, during, and after your FTD session
- The role of polygraph in the FTD process
After the presentation, there will be a Q&A Session where you can ask me any questions you have about the FTD process.
Get the replay for FTD Basics for Betrayed Partners here.
*If you are in a situation of domestic violence, contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-787-3225)
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© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2017)
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