♥ DAILY LOVE TIP – Tuesday August 23, 2011
Hello Special ♥Ones
Today we have the privilege of reading a very special piece that has been written by one of our Imago Couples Workshop Graduates, ♥Catriona Lightfoot.
In my experience people learn from and are inspired by other people’s stories and so I have asked a few people to be guest writers on the blog from time to time and today the very wonderful Catriona tells a vignette of her story. Those of you who know Catriona will recognize her to be a woman of amazing passion and dedication to all that she takes on….
The topic she shares about is the devastating impact of an affair on a marriage. We have the dangerous statistic of approx 60% of men and 40% of women have an affair in western countries!!! Did you know that? Can you imagine the programmes that governments would be organizing and supporting if there was a statistic of 60% of men having prostate cancer or heart attacks or dealing with most other issues and yet with a statistic like this there is relatively little organized to educate people how to affair-proof and divorce-proof their marriages let alone how to heal from an affair and go on to create an extraordinary marriage/relationship. Unbelievable!!
For me this is also preposterous and a very dangerous state of affairs that not only affects the couple but thousands of children who are innocent in all this. The other statistic people need to know is that only 5% of relationships that start in an affair are successful!……There are many myths and wrong beliefs people have about infidelity and recovery from an affair – including counsellors and other professionals people turn to by the way!!……. and this is all stuff I feel strongly about and I’ll share more another time….
I think this loses something in the condensing but I think it will provide some idea of how bad a marriage can get……….
Nearly 3 years ago I walked into my lounge room to hear my husband tell me “I had an affair with X and R is my son”. My brain was telling me to compute this information but my body was already reacting in a huge a guttural roar that came from a place I had never accessed before and my arms were grabbing the bookcase against the wall and throwing it across the lounge room. “NOOOOOO!!!!”. And then I left my body.
The next few days I recall was like watching a scene in Neighbours. It was not my life I was living – I was watching someone else’s life play out. Affairs did not happen in my marriage and a child involved. I was living a plot from Neighbours. This was not real. I was in deep shock that in reality was to last many months…….
How do you make a decision to stay in a marriage? Every bone in your body is saying run run run as fast as you can, but the inertia of heart-break and devastation makes running impossible and in a way buys the time needed to really evaluate the situation – what is important and how to take the next step to move.
Just looking at Brett would make my stomach lurch so that he could nearly make me physically ill. He repulsed me and I wanted to be as far away from him as possible. But there was a warning system going off in my brain saying don’t do anything you will regret – even in my devastation I understood that I was making a life changing decision and needed to do this carefully and clearly – there was too much at risk.
I had grown up in chaos and had made a conscious and real commitment to each of my 3 babies that would not be their reality. This heavily influenced my decision to stay. I needed to be sure that it was really broken beyond repair before I would subject them to what I believed would be another form of chaos in their little lives. Instead I forced myself to see the man I loved when I looked at him – not the man I felt had just taken a machete to my heart and soul. I put my feelings aside and tried to get beneath them to what was best for me and my family. Not having a clue what that was I bought some books!!
Over the next few months I bought books and trawled the internet for hope and guidance. I found many books written by therapists who had successfully recovered couples in my situation and a couple of books actually written by survivors that provided hope but found it hard to find professional help. We went to one together who had no idea what she was doing and I went to one by myself who was Ok but I found individual counseling was too limiting when dealing with the issues between a couple – it makes no sense of the bigger issues.
I didn’t want our marriage to go back to how it was before the affair – I wanted it to be the best ever and recognized we both need to change to make this happen. But the books alone were not enough. Brett wouldn’t read them and I was struggling on my own. I knew he was still lying to me and my inability to get him to make the changes required to rebuild our marriage was sending me into a deep depression.
The darkest day was on our wedding anniversary, 8 months after he had told me about the affair. I got up crying and pretty much continued crying while going through my depression fighting techniques of continuing with a routine and real life, by the time I had left the gym mid morning I was formulating a plan. The plan was not concrete but was something along the lines of drive to Noosa National Park find a secluded beach and walk into the water and just keep walking until the rip dragged me away and I would find peace.
I parked the car in the surf club car park to ensure that someone would find it and let Brett know so he wouldn’t have to wonder for too long and I took my journal and set off on my walk. The plan was all very well until I started to think about my children and what would happen to them. My peace would become their misery. I couldn’t do that to them. It is our darkest days that we learn the most from and my journal from that day is full of the realization that this is bigger than the affair and I needed to find someone to help me sort that out.
And then as often happens, help came in the most unexpected way. A few weeks later we attended a workshop weekend for couples on affairs run by a couple who had recovered their own marriage and were now teaching the world. Very American and very scary but by this stage I was up for trying anything – I saw it as a sign. My trip to the Noosa National Park I believe had made Brett realize this was not all just going to go away and he agreed to go. I pegged a lot of hope on this weekend changing Brett’s attitude to his continual lying to me. I had read their book (he hadn’t) and knew that they believed in openness and honesty as the foundation for marriage and for rebuilding a marriage after an affair. It was also the weekend we were first introduced to Susie and Shelton and the Imago Dialogue and saw a glimpse of what a truly connected conversation may be able to uncover. That weekend changed our life forever.
But the hard work of rebuilding had only just begun…….
And rebuilding is a topic I’ll share about in a future blog. Love Catriona.
ABOUT ♥CATRIONA: Catriona’s experience has an amazing positive consequence for many others in that she is very passionate and committed to making a difference in educating people on how to affair proof their marriage as well as supporting people dealing with recovering from an affair and making their relationship the best it can possibly be.
Catriona is the co-ordinator for the Beyond Affairs Network (BAN) Support Group for Brisbane, Australia. BAN is an international non-profit organization made up of local support groups for people who are dealing with the devastating impact of a spouse’s affair. It is for women and men (still married or divorced) seeking support in recovering from this experience – see http://www.beyondaffairs.com/
Catriona is the driving force and organizer for a one-day Workshop in Brisbane on Monday 12th September which Shelton and I will be facilitating.
PRE-REQUISITE: attendance at an IMAGO WORKSHOP or prior Imago Therapy
FOR DETAILS CONTACT: Catriona
Local Brisbane co-ordinator for
International Beyond Affairs Network
on 0404 283 052
Todays’ Addition to my list of My ♥favourite things…..volunteers…Catriona is one and such a gift to the world in all that she does for many. There are so many others of you reading who volunteer in so many ways to make the world a better place and I am grateful to you all for what you do and give. You truly understand and live the concept of paying it forward………
With much gratitude for Catriona’s generosity in sharing her story and the healing she is creating both in telling her story and in the work she is doing. My respect and gratitude also to Brett for standing beside Catriona as she does this, LOVE♥, Susie.
“The soul grows well when giving and receiving Love.
Love is after all, a verb, an action word, not a noun.” ~Joan Borysenko
PS: Please pass this onto friends you know who need to hear that marriages do heal after affairs and they can go onto creating an even stronger marriage/relationship if they have the ♥TOOLS and do the work…….Also I’d appreciate you letting me know by your comments below the impact of hearing Catriona’s sharing and do you want to hear more of people’s stories …….Also note the italics and highlights above are mine…..