Discovering that my husband was cheating became a defining moment in my life. Everything changed from that second forward, especially in me. On reflection, his infidelity revealed much about how I was showing up in life.
While I will never go back to being the person I was before his affair, I recognize that I had functioned out of guilt, shame, and obligation within my old marriage. Please note that how I showed up did not cause my husband to cheat. His infidelity had nothing to do with me - it was all on him.
In this post, I want to share what infidelity revealed - my personal growth and how I used the worst thing in my life to become my best self.
Infidelity revealed that I acted from guilt, shame, and obligation.
I don't know about you, but shame and guilt were how the adults in my life controlled me as a child. To belong, I had to look like or be a 'good girl.' To avoid rejection and not be seen as wrong, bad, or selfish, I needed to act in a certain way within my family, at school, and in the social circles my parents put me in.
Infidelity revealed how I was programmed from girlhood to be a people-pleaser.
After being so well conditioned by the obligation to do things for others or act in a certain way to get their love and approval, I carried this into my adult life and marriage. Only it never worked, and I never felt fully loved or approved of. But because it was my programming, I continued to show up this way until my husband's infidelity revealed its flaws.
Seeking love and approval always felt precarious and unsafe to me. Yet motivated by my desire to be loved and my need for connection, I kept doing more or acting more to gain the security that I belonged and was wanted. Being considered by others as selfish was deeply shaming to me and carried the threat of rejection; being wrong felt like abandonment. My fears compelled me to behave and act around others in ways that were not authentically me. Because I denied my needs, I entered my marriage pre-programmed for failure.
Infidelity revealed how I was compelled by fear to behave certain ways
On the flip side, I unconsciously manipulated others inside my head through my thoughts of shame and guilt. While I usually didn't say how I felt, my inner dialogue overflowed into my attitudes and actions toward them. Instead of telling them what they could do to please me or how I wanted to please them, I implied it by my actions and way of being with them. Sadly, I didn't even know until I started my self-care journey that I was doing this.
My inner critic always undermined me with stories about how I needed to do more for others, look or act a certain way, or that I didn't measure up. To appease myself, I often did things for others without first asking if they wanted it done. I left them with my self-imposed expectation that they should appreciate it and should even love me more for doing it.
Again, I wasn't aware I was doing this until I began healing from my husband's infidelity through self-care. I was only aware of how I felt used by others or the compulsion to do things to gain their approval and acceptance. Now I see that I was seeking love because I didn't feel loved; I was frightened they didn't love me, that perhaps I was even flawed and unlovable. Meanwhile, I was ignoring my needs because my programming told me I should.
Infidelity revealed that I was seeking love because I didn't feel loved
How often do you preemptively do things for others to gain their approval or to buy their love? By turning to self-care to heal from my husband's betrayal, I have discovered much more about myself than I expected. The healing journey I found myself on after his infidelity has revealed my need for self-compassion and self-love. And it has become the unburdening of so much more than just his infidelity!
Self-care pointed me to heal ALL of me and value myself enough to do it for myself mindfully! The more I surrender to self-care, the more heavy burdens I find I am unnecessarily carrying that I can release from my life. As awful as it was to get cheated on, infidelity has revealed all my wounds and past conditionings that need healing.
Infidelity revealed my unchallenged past conditioning.
My childhood conditioning locked me in a behavior pattern that was not serving me or anyone around me. I was carrying a mountain of fear that made me deeply unhappy. As a result, that unhappiness oozed into every relationship I had, especially my marriage.
Yet this is not why my husband cheated. He had his own wounds that needed healing. How I showed up did not cause him to be an adulterer, as he had many other choices he could have made. He cheated, not me!
Ultimately, the pain of his actions helped me see myself more clearly. It revealed that I used who I was or what I did to extract and manipulate other people, especially my husband, to feel love for myself. How heavy is that to discover about oneself? What a weight to carry! What a weight to dump on others!
Infidelity revealed my inner motivations and past conditioning so that I could heal them. The worst thing in my life could become a springboard for the most healing.
His infidelity revealed my use of guilt, shame, and obligation, which were all fear-based tactics to get the love I needed. Instead of continuing to project my fear onto others, I learned to challenge my deep motivations for why I felt the way I felt. Seeing my true self liberated me to heal years of fear-based habits that didn't serve me or those around me. Undoubtedly, it's inconsistent with self-care to live from a fear or stress base. Infidelity revealed that I want to live in a healthier place, not a fearful broken place.
Infidelity revealed that anything we do from guilt, shame, or obligation steals our peace, healing, and love.
As we enter the Holiday season, or whatever the time of the year, as we celebrate life, family, and friends, let's check our motivation for why we do what we do. What is the basis for the events we host or attend, the gifts we share, and the actions we give? Significantly, let's know we are doing it because it brings us joy, not stress; it's a gift, not a burden!
How will you show up this holiday season? Will you extract love from others or overflow your self-love into the lives of others?
Infidelity revealed that we can free ourselves from burdens we don't have to carry.
The Holidays can be the occasion to choose to heal our past hurts and free ourselves from burdens we should never have been holding onto. Love yourself by unwrapping your heart and looking inside at what you still carry. Maybe you collected stones, boulders, or even mountains.
In truth, infidelity can feel like a mountain. Yet our heavy loads get revealed, one stone at a time, as we turn to self-care and unpack our lives after infidelity. In essence, we can lighten our loads and make our life journey more manageable as we use self-care to heal from our husbands' choice to cheat.
Let's first gift ourselves, then our partners, children, family, and friends freedom from our past conditioning by embracing self-care and unloading any fear-based habits we may have collected over our lives. We can put down the burdens we don't want to carry as we continue our healing journeys; it's our choice.
Infidelity revealed that a mountain is to be climbed, not carried.
Infidelity felt like a mountain I could never conquer. However difficult, I ascended that mountain took in the view, strengthened myself, and descended stronger from the experience.
Let the mountains in your life be a lesson and a teacher so you are richer from experience. As a result, infidelity can be the motivation to reveal all the parts of yourself you want to get healed. Not because you got cheated on but because you are precious and love yourself enough to recover from whatever life puts in front of you.
Infidelity reveals that our heavy or burdensome past conditioning, disappointments, and fears can be the mountains we conquer, not carry!
Not all of our healing centers around infidelity because we are not what our partners or husbands choose to do. But our husbands' infidelity does bring us to a place of knowing we need to heal. Hence, it can be our catalyst to reveal, unload, and heal all our previous burdens too!
All in all, we can either carry our past burdens or create habits that help us walk more calmly on this unexpected healing journey from infidelity. If you want support on your healing journey after infidelity, please reach out. You don't have to take this journey alone! You see, the mountain didn't crush me; self-care taught me how to conquer it!