Our blog post today touches upon a very sensitive and taboo subject which although goes mostly unspoken, is all too common in our society. Working closely with a client who allowed us to share part of her story, we felt inspired to touch on her situation and raise awareness and support for others out there in similar situations.
The concept of affairs, cheating or unfaithful acts within committed relationships carry strong judgement and isolation from society. Drawing upon our particular client who shared with us her experience of being the other women, solemnly opened our eyes to the sheer magnitude of emotion and reality that lies beneath the notion of a ‘homewrecker’ that the other women or other man, often represents.
Without detailing the events of the affair itself, here are some understandings that came from her story of being ‘the other women’:
1. Secrecy: In this situation, she expresses immense fear of judgement and labels from others. She pulled away and subsequently manifested relentless shame on herself. Now this makes sense, as often secrecy has the potential to paralyze oneself expression, installing a disempowering and hopelessness belief that makes it impossible to influence or change the situation.
2. Shame: She described how her shame grew as the secrecy lengthened. The painful, social emotion of living these secrets, where she could not talk about the person she was in love with, just like anyone wants to talk about their excitement for a relationship. Hers was different, it fell below societal and even her own self-standards. Shame needs 3 things to grow out of control in our lives, Secrecy, Silence and Judgement, she had all 3.
3. Isolation & Disconnection:Our client expressed intense fear of losing a connection to another if her secret was shared. This concept is brutally isolating. It is essentially stopping oneself from being vulnerable and having an empathetic relationship in life.
By sharing this, we hold no judgement or opinion on the conduct of relationships, but what we do hope to share is some understanding on the human emotional and psychological experience of such a complex and reoccurring life event. There are many reasons why people get involved in relationships as messy as affairs, and although we do have the space in this post to explore why one would stay in a relationship so painful and complex as this, we do know that these challenges are there, and it is not always black and white.
When reflecting on this particular client, we saw how the 3 points noted above showed up in other life experiences such as the trauma survivor or the individual with anxiety… This could be the wife, in the same boat, feeling secrecy and embarrassment from the actions of her spouse. Becoming stuck in that fear of being judged, vulnerable and labelled.
However, our client, like many others, built the courage to risk vulnerability and take the first steps towards a healing and empathetic connection, so that she could be seen and heard accurately and make the firsts steps to change.
Self compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity at the heart of compassion