There is an “I” in Healing by Dr. Barbara Swinney
Everything I thought I would say, I didn’t. I anxiously waited to meet with my counselor to discuss the demise of my marriage. I had my tears on ready and my anger set to trigger; just waiting to let her eavesdrop on the conversation in my head; the inner banter about how I found out that my husband was living a double life for years and within thirty days of our divorce, he was engaged. How was I supposed to help my girls navigate this dysfunction? The pain and agony of realizing that the last twenty years of my life was an illusion, of sorts, was bewildering. The man that my girls and I greeted at the door upon his return from his “business trips”, was really returning to us from his other life—one in which we didn’t exist. In this house of cards, she was the “wife”. Who does this? The depth of the deception was mind boggling and left me questioning my identity, my judgement…my intelligence. Reassuring myself, I continued to engage in my internal dialogue, “I know I’m smart; brilliant in fact. I’m a good woman. Any man would love to be my partner in life. How did I miss this? Why did I allow myself to accept so little from him?”
The counselor entered the office. We exchanged pleasantries and then it was time, time for me to let her in on my diatribe! I opened my mouth, ready to spew it all, and nothing! None of the thoughts would form into words. In the very moment that I attempted to speak, I had a stunning revelation. Almost every sentence or question I posed during my mental babbling, included the word “I” (How did “I” miss this? “I” allowed… “I” lost…). It became clear that “I” was in the middle of it all. My anger and urge to blame dissipated and I became less interested in hating my ex and more concerned about my healing. If I was going to truly live the rest of my life, I would have to take the steps necessary to mend my broken heart. I carefully and intently focused on four phases that became pivotal in my healing.
I started with taking 100% responsibility for my current reality. Nothing that happened to me was my fault, but it was certainly my responsibility. It was I who accepted less that I deserved, who ignored signs of emotional abandonment and infidelity, who didn’t hold my husband accountable, and I, who stayed way longer than morally obligated. My behavior was not aligned with what I had envisioned for my life, but I made no adjustments (other than hope and pray that he would change). In accepting responsibility, I was able to determine a path forward.
I also had to regain custody of myself. I surrendered so much power and personal control in my marriage. I lost sight of who I was as an individual, how to make decisions for myself, and simply how to run my own life. A prime example of this was blindly allowing my husband to handle all the finances. I didn’t engage in this process, so when I found myself having to manage it all, I would literally have panic attacks. With God’s grace, and some professional help, I’ve been amazed at the financial genius emerging! I had to take charge of every aspect of my life.
The most difficult phase of them all was forgiving myself and everybody involved. I had to make a decision. I could walk around for the rest of my life considering my failures as a wife and despising my ex and his girlfriend for their duplicity, or I could release all of us and grow into the greatness that had been suppressed by the toxic relationship. Through the process of forgiveness, I’ve learned to empathize and have compassion for others. Generally, people are not acting from their bad places; they’re acting from the places where they’re wounded.
Continuing to heal, I share my story to help others. I’ve found many women just like me on this path. Many of them who don’t have the emotional tools or resources to deal with the grief in a way that is productive. I often find myself sharing my story of breaking down and my moments of breaking through. Seeing themselves reflected in my situation brings them hope; seeing myself in them, gives me peace.
I’m not “over” it by any means, but being intentional in these four phases have certainly accelerated the process. I realized that only I can control how my life looks moving forward. After finding myself in the middle of a divorce, I decided that I would definitely be in the middle of my healing.
Dr. Barbara Swinney is a Certified Personal Leadership Coach with more than twenty years of experience as an educational leader and a student of personal growth and self-improvement. A member of the John Maxwell Team, she is a speaker, teacher, and writer helping others clarify their vision and align their behaviors so they can live the life they desire! barbaraswinneyinc.com
Latest posts by Dr. Barbara L. Swinney (see all)
- There is an “I” in Healing
Nothing that happened to me was my fault, but it was certainly my responsibility. - February 14, 2017
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