“Discomfort is a wise teacher.” Carolyn Myss
My client, who I’ll refer to here as Stella, had been married for 18 years when she found out that her husband had been involved in an online emotional affair with an ex-girlfriend for at least three years.
Sounds like a betrayal, right?
Yes, it was. But he wasn’t the only one doing some betraying…
Stella couldn’t remember the last time she felt good about her marriage.
They argued a lot and nothing ever seemed to get resolved.
Every time she tried to talk to her husband about the problems in their marriage and about how unhappy she was, he told her, “This is your problem to fix, not mine.”
Their lives became increasingly disconnected, living as roommates that passed one another in front of the coffee pot each morning.
She felt abandoned. She felt unimportant. And she felt ashamed…
Because she knew she was lying.
Stella had been lying and betraying herself for a long, long time.
She had been telling herself that she was happy enough in the marriage to stay…
She had been telling herself it probably was her problem to fix, so she hung in there trying to make it better…
She had been telling herself that she could endure it – at least for another few years – so that her daughters wouldn’t have to endure a divorce.
The truth was she wasn’t happy.
The truth was she had tried everything she knew to try to improve the relationship, including taking all the blame and responsibility for its brokenness.
The truth was that she could not keep doing this; it had become too painful.
Stella shared with me, “It was just easier to lie to myself, because then I didn’t have to give up my dreams, my family, my security…”
I will argue that when we betray ourselves – by not telling ourselves the truth – it’s just as bad, if not worse, than a betrayal within the marriage. Here’s why:
A betrayal within a marriage is episodic; it’s an event that can be stopped and healed.
Whereas, when we betray ourselves, we tend to do it over the course of years or even decades. It becomes a way of being that chips away at our souls. And the damage that it does can last a lifetime.
We need to pay attention to those whispers within us.
We need to listen to the inner turmoil when it starts to become loud.
We need to tell ourselves the truth…even when the truth isn’t the answer we want.
We can only heal when the truth is present. And it has to begin within each of us first.