Today I want to talk to you about how to break free from the feeling of shame that comes from being betrayed and victimized by infidelity.
Infidelity shame really isn't talked about a whole lot, is it?
Instead of acknowledging the shame we feel, we quietly carry it around like an ugly, unwanted stranger.
It's just something those who have been victimized tend to do.
Rape victims, child abuse victims, domestic violence victims and infidelity victims all deal with painful victimization by carrying around painful shame.
Consequently, there is a tendency to become paralyzed by it.
Shame is the keeper of dark secrets.
We tend to keep the secret of infidelity tucked away with our shame - never letting the truth out to feel the light of day - never allowing our experience to feel the fresh air so we can gain a new perspective.
Well, today I'm shining a big light on infidelity shame because the number one way to release shame is to acknowledge it and talk about it.
Once exposed, shame can no longer hurt you or keep you down.
You will find freedom in exposing the shame in your heart.
Recently I was thinking a lot about the deep shame I use to feel over my ex-husband's behavior.
And truth be known, I remember how ashamed I felt of him as a person.
And how ashamed I felt for even being in that situation.
I don't know if you've ever felt that way, but if you have, what I'm saying is probably something you can relate to.
Looking back on everything, I realize his actions tainted my whole world - including how I felt about who I was as a woman.
What he was doing felt like a dark, shameful reflection on me.
As I took on some of the blame for what happened, and kept his secrets, my self-worth spiraled down and shame filled my whole being.
That's what happens when you carry around a secret.
I didn't want anyone to know because I didn't feel I could trust anyone with the details of what was going on in my marriage. And I felt like what he was doing was a reflection on me.
I believed people would automatically judge me:
- "Why don't you divorce him?"
- "Why are you putting up with that?"
- "You need to get to church and pray?"
- "You need to be a better wife to him?"
- "You need to put the spark back in your love life?"
And then there was my own self-judgements that I lived with day in and day out:
- "Why wasn't I worthy enough for him to stop?"
- "How am I failing as a wife?"
- "What did I do to deserve this?"
- "Why am I not good enough?"
- "How can I get him to stop this?"
Over the years, I've come to a major realization:
"Shame should be reserved for the things we choose to do, not the circumstances that life puts on us."
There is freedom in knowing we are only responsible for our own choices and actions.
No more. No less.
I realize there is social stigma attached to being the victim of infidelity. This can be an additional source of personal infidelity shame.
I know you can not share what's happening in your relationship with everybody. In fact, there are many people who are probably not safe enough for you to share something so important, or so painful with.
Choose who you confide in very carefully.
I was reminded of infidelity stigma when I recently shared that I won an award for my infidelity blog on my personal Facebook page.
Not one person congratulated me.
How interesting is that?
Let's contrast this with a similar experience I had.
Something you probably don't know about me is that I use to own a destination wedding flower company.
I won the "Brides Choice Award" several years in a row for my designs and business.
I was congratulated for those achievements by friends and family who were very impressed and let me know how proud they were.
And yet, there was not a single recognition for the award I received for this infidelity blog.
This is exactly why I feel so passionate about writing this blog and supporting you through the darkness, the stigma, the shame, and the pain of infidelity.
I know you can not always rely on others to support you in the way you deserve to be.
That's what makes this blog such an important contribution to the infidelity recovery world.
And so I keep writing.
I feel really good about writing this blog because I know it matters.
Hope and Healing . . .
Roberta Wands, M.A.