Tag Archives | infidelity

“Love Warrior,” a Memoir of Us All

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Glennon Doyle Melton’s clean yet clever writing style shows up fully dressed in her recent New York Times bestseller, “Love Warrior.” In it, she walks us through the journey of her return to self through her relationship with her husband, Craig.

I won’t spoil it for you, but I can tell you that this book is for you

– if you have ever felt abandoned by life, love, your body or self.

– if you’ve anesthetized or run away from pain through drugs, sex, perfection, disconnection.

– if you feel so deeply or care so much that you are prone to soaring heights and searing pain.

And if the term, “brutiful,” (coined by Glennon) perfectly describes life to you, then her life-telling style will resonate. Even if you don’t feel you have time or energy to read, because you are trudging through more “brutal” than “beautiful” these days, “Love Warrior” will nourish and heal as you consume.

And it will be delicious.

It will be so nourishing and delicious that you will have to periodically put it down to gasp for air, to savor the punch of flavors it brings out of you, to nosh on the robust chunks of “A-ha!” and “Gadzooks!” throughout.

Chef Glennon knows soul food.

Those of you who have loved or been frustrated by someone who’s struggled with any of the above will be able to see the warrior within yourself, as well. You will recognize your own frailties and be called to greater heights of compassion, as you peek behind the veil of your exasperator’s heart.

You get to see how an incidental heartbreaker, played here by Glennon’s husband, Craig, can also be a beautifully flawed human being, a hero-in-training. Through Glennon and Craig’s relationship, you learn how concentric our stories of victory can be with those who have hurt us by their own struggles.
“Love Warrior” is for the soul-searchers, survivors, internal-strugglers, and seekers of truth and healing.

That all said, “Love Warrior,” may not be for you if

– you’re looking for specific “how-to” instructions;

– you feel uncomfortable with people sharing intimate details of their lives; or

– you have no interest in anything non-technical or non-clinical.

If you enjoy food for thought by Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Karen Salmansohn, and the like, Glennon’s ability to serve the complexities of life in palatable bites will hit the spot.

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State of Affairs: Does Cheating Affect Friendships?

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(Photo Credit: Awottawa)

“My affair should NOT affect you!”

That was my former friend’s words of “conviction” (she was convinced in their validity, and I felt convicted by them) when we spoke recently. I confronted her about rumors that she was slandering me to squash inquiries on our +25-year friendship’s mysterious end. The meeting turned out to be the moot point I foresaw when I ended the relationship 6 months ago, with that statement perfectly representing why.

Such a statement sterilizes “facts” in a realm that is not sterile. It misleads the believer into self-righteousness as a way to dismiss accountability and feelings of guilt. Worse, it is brutal, burying any rights to emotions that the speaker/believer deems unacceptable, a right that they do not actually have.

For those who feel that their involvement in an affair is a private matter between themselves and their lovers, they are partially correct. Their spouses also have the right to know, but the nature of affairs, ironically, takes away this right. But if cheaters think that knowledge of their affairs should not affect those around them, they are sorely wrong. And if they think that witnesses who have survived one of their affairs are responsible for being unaffected for subsequent ones, they are delusional.

*          *          *

We were in our twenties when my former BFF had her first affair. I was alongside her as a good friend should be, supporting her emotionally, and without judgment, for the several years it took place.

Decades later, as she slipped into another one, I again took my dutiful place to help her through it. The first affair didn’t affect me. This one did, for both obvious and unexpected reasons:
– It was not her first time.
– We were no longer fresh out of undergrad.
– We were in our forties, with children, life experience, and firmer footing in our values and beliefs.
– I knew her husband 20 years longer than I did when she had her first affair – he was basically family.

This time, I felt a terrible guilt. I felt like an accomplice, because I knew better. And I knew that she knew better. This was a very painful place for me to be in.

If you cannot walk away from cheating on your spouse, and you have a friend that you trust to speak to about this, a few things to consider before you do:

CHEATER’S CONFIDANT CHECKLIST

1. Get to know your potential Confidant Friend. That is, take inventory of their values and life experiences, and know them in relation to your own. Regardless of what you both may be feeling at the moment, these factors can predict how your affair may affect them.

(DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Your dependable friend will most likely step up to whatever you ask of them; it is up to you to minimize damage from the get-go by gauging how much of your affair that they may be able to handle. Remember: They can not un-know anything.)

2. If you’re going to dish the dirt, be prepared to take the soap. If you trust this person with your affair, it must be because they’ve proven to be a true friend. Chances are, they are in this dismal place because they don’t want you to go through it alone; they truly care and want the best for you. Take their advice when they give it.

DO NOT TELL THEM ABOUT YOUR AFFAIR if you are going to continue to do the exact same thing for an indefinite length of time. They are human, also. They want to be there to help you, but if you are not taking any opportunities to get out of the affair, getting counseling to save your marriage, or taking steps to get separated or divorced (if you insist on continuing the affair), chances are, they will feel like an enabler and eventually disengage.

3. Be kind to your Confidant Friend. Maintaining your dark secret is a heavy burden on them. The stronger their moral code (see #1), the heavier this burden will be. They are going to get stressed over your affair, particularly if they are also close to your spouse and children. They may feel immense guilt for your spouse for sticking around and immense guilt for you if they walked away. They may suffer sleepless nights, loss of appetite, sudden crying and depression. Be prepared to find reserve of patience for your friend: Being your confidant, they will have no one to turn to about their distress, and is most likely overturning their own principles to be there for you.

4. DO NOT, on any level, judge, dismiss, or otherwise be condescending towards your Confidant Friend. They are not judging you on your huge issue, and they take this life crisis seriously, so they may feel obliged to be there at your beck and call (and you will exercise this exhaustively). Meanwhile, they may also have to deal with their own life issues, and will feel unable to commiserate with you while you’re going through your crisis. They are essentially handling both the burden of your secret as well as their own burdens, alone.

If they have the courage to share something with you (and overcoming the guilt of asking from you takes a bit of courage for them), listen and offer support. If you cannot be there for them, let them know you are overwhelmed. Don’t be quick to change the subject and get back to talking about your affair with them or tell them all possible flaws in their hopes or dreams, should any come up. They have stretched themselves too thin for you to receive such little effort from you in return.

IF YOUR FRIENDSHIP ENDS, it is highly likely due to your affair, in which case–

1. DO NOT throw your ex-friend (and ex-confidant) under the bus to save your life. It can have quite the opposite effect. Your former friend and confidant may have had to walk away to salvage whatever is left of your relationship, and they may have had to end it in a way that may not be suitable to you. Remember, they stood by you through things that were highly unsuitable for them, and for an extended amount of time. It is unlikely that you will be put in a position to return the favor quid pro quo, so dig deep and offer compassion in its stead.

People will most likely be shocked that your friendship with this person ended so suddenly, and they will ask you why. You can be assured that it was, in great part, due to your affair, but you may give inquirers a benign, neutralizing reason, or simply say you don’t know, end of story. Do not perpetuate ugly rumors against your former friend to conveniently explain away the ending. If and when they find out, your ex-friend may understandably assume that you were diverting the affair (the one they endured for as long as they could out of love for you) at their expense. That is beyond betrayal, and grounds for open season on clarification by your ex-confidant; this is not the person to whom you want to do dirty.

2. DO NOT, under any circumstances, tell them that your affair should not affect them. This will add grievous insult to injury as described above.

FINAL CHEATER NOTES

Although the consequences can be very bad, having an affair does not make one a horrible person (depending on the circumstances). Good people make terrible mistakes sometimes. But one cannot involve another person into one’s own wayward path without getting them dirty. It is the cheater’s choice to get dirty; their confidant friend is merely alongside them in this unsavory journey as an act of love and sacrifice, to keep their lost friend safe while trying to lead them home.

If you bring a Confidant Friend along, be very, very kind. Unlike you, they are not getting any pleasure out of this journey to offset the grit. If they must exit the friendship, also be very kind – there is a good chance that they are already grieving.

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Life Crop #1: Gratitude (Always in Season)

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(Picture Credit: Gabriella Fabbri)

Do you know of anybody who has so much to be grateful for, yet is not truly happy?  In varying degrees, we may have our areas of discontent; this helps us strive and grow.  But I’m talking about the kind of person who, if they could hear their discontent from the outside looking in, would see how disconnected they were from Gratitude – the warm-fuzzy part of peace and joy.

I had a friend, we’ll call him “Don,” who strove and was exalted by coworkers and peers for his seeming perfection.  Don was always well-groomed, had an adoring wife and beautiful children, a finely decorated home in a friendly, closely-knit neighborhood, many admiring friends, and even the picket fence.  He was intelligent, popular, and looked good for his age.  His wife supported all his endeavors, kids did well in the myriad of activities they were involved in, the family ate out often and went on numerous vacations yearly, and he and his wife had a good social network as couples.  But Don was unhappy, deep inside.  His marriage was good, but not “perfect”—his wife was simple and not on cue with his emotions.  He had had 2 years-long affairs, chasing this “last perfect brick,” and eventually sought counseling to deal with his issues.

When I think of all that Don has and look at my bare-essentials life, and how, as long as my family is well, happy, and together, I am satiated, I feel immensely fortunate to be able to connect with Gratitude.  Don’t get me wrong – Don has acknowledged that he has a lot and is fortunate, and he would say he was grateful for all he had, but he intellectualized Gratitude – he understood that it made sense for him to be grateful, but he could not truly connect with it in his heart, where it is housed.  This doesn’t mean that he was an ingrate, but that he was missing the point of it.

Gratitude says, “I am happy because of what Is.”  It stops and revels in the glow of that joy.  It feels full and asks for nothing more.   It gives meaning to everything good, and goodness to all in its path.

I have started sharing 1 thing I’m grateful for daily on my personal Facebook page for this month, and I revel in that subject of gratitude of the day.  I don’t think of any pressing concerns that “must be resolved before I can be happy” – Gratitude dissolves any such “musts”.

Granted, there are times that may require a call for action, particularly if there’s certain life or death involved, but most of the time in life, we have all we need to be grateful, where your soul feels the joy and celebrates the truth of the present.  It disregards woes of the past or fears of the future. It asserts, “I am happy now because of what Is.”

When I was growing up, as my father worked hard every day, slowly building up his construction business, we moved often from one low-income home to another.  There was one house in particular that I and my brothers refer to as “The Shack.”  It was a pink, dilapidated shoe-box, built of what appeared to be wood slats.  It was as if there was no insulation in that house as we walked around bundled up in the winter, and could see our breath, and the only heat came from an old, black, metal wood-burning stove in the middle of the living room.  The floors slanted along the back length of the house, and there were what seemed like hundreds of large roaches that would scatter whenever we flicked on the light switch in the bathroom or kitchen at night.   Soon after we moved from it, we learned that it was a condemned building which was immediately torn down.

I was maybe 12 or so when we lived in The Shack, and my brothers and I were happy.  We played in the creek and woods, where we were wild and free, and came home to love, where we were warm and safe.  We lived the unconscious stream of Gratitude – reveling in all the good things we had, and not in what we didn’t.

Between my friend, Don, and myself, our upbringings were quite opposite from each other’s.  I cannot speak for him and what was not filled in childhood that may have affected his ability to fully connect with Gratitude amidst all his life’s treasures, but from my teenage years until not too long ago (20 years time), I’ve lived what many may consider an emotionally and spiritually taxing life myself.  I could justify feeling too angry, bitter, entitled, whatever the excuse, to be grateful.

Gratitude is not just a choice, a chore – you can’t just say, “I am grateful,” and not stop to truly listen, see, understand its beauty.  It would be like a spouse saying, “Sure, I love my wife,” but not taking the time to spend with her, look at her, listen to her, and see her and celebrate the person she is.

Gratitude requires full attention for true connection; only then can you reap the benefits that can salve many wounds and fill hollow spaces.

I started this blogging venture in big part due to Gratitude.  And I am so grateful.  I am here speaking to you about this and many things that I hope will help heal your heart and sharpen your senses, and I am so grateful for it all.

But how to be grateful when something is tugging your heart?

What is tugging your heart?

Is it the past?  If so, be present in the truth of today: You are no longer there where the pain happened.  Rejoice! You made it! You didn’t think you would, but you did! What victory! What a blessing!

If it’s anything else, use this formula:

“I am grateful that I am catching this now, AND* I will [course of action].”   

*(Gratitude does not have space for “but.”   To say, “I am grateful for x, but…” is like saying, “I love you, but…”  – the first point immediately withers.  Gratitude is independent joy.)

And be grateful for your ability to process a solution, or find help, or even have friends or family to talk to.  Be grateful that you can read and research, that you can learn and reach out via so many avenues nowadays.  Be grateful if you are healthy, and grateful if you are able to receive medical attention if you are not healthy, and grateful that you have a mind that is well enough to crave growth and learning – this is part of honoring yourself, those you love, the world – be grateful for these desires and connections.

Nothing can replace being connected to Gratitude for true peace and happiness.  It is not required to be alive, but to feel alive…and worthy –  Gratitude senses an ultimate source of goodness in the world, whether or not one is conscious or acknowledging of such a belief.  Thank God for it.

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