03 Feb Does Emotional Trauma Follow You?
Have you ever thought that it would just be easier to leave your husband, move on and find somebody else that wouldn’t be unfaithful? Have you ever thought that, if you left your husband, you could just forget everything that happened, start over and leave it all behind? If you just nodded your head in agreement, then you are in the right place for what I wish to speak to you about today. I am going to share why simply leaving after infidelity and finding somebody else is not the answer. Then, I’ll show you where your answers really lie.
As you’re here on my site, I’m going to assume that you have experienced some form of cheating in your marriage. It probably doesn’t take much for your mind to summon everything you experienced during the exact moment your worst fears were validated. I am willing to bet that you can still vividly see images from when you found out and that your body re-experiences the awful sensations of that moment as if they were happening all over again.
My wish, of course, is not to trigger you, but to show you that leaving your marriage and simply moving on to the next relationship won’t leave your trauma behind. The process of healing after infidelity is interesting. Scientists say that there are about 100 trillion cells in the human body, and each cell holds information and even memories from your life. It is as if they contain an inventory of all the things that have happened to you. Through sensory processing, your body accepts new information and judges it according to stored memories of what happened last time you were in a similar situation.
For example, my client, Dawn, had experienced infidelity but had a true desire to make her marriage work. Her husband was willing to do anything to make things right. They both attended couples counseling. They both participated in church-led group programs. Dawn’s husband even took several polygraph tests, but she could not get past the idea that he might cheat again. She was unintentionally pushing her husband away. Despite all they had done together to rebuild, emotional instability and distrust ended their marriage in divorce.
During one of my conversations with Dawn, she admitted to me that on her first date post-divorce, she felt panic in her chest. She was sitting across the table from a new man when he looked at his phone and placed it face down on the table, just like her now ex-husband would do.
Her thoughts went wild. She wondered if he had a wife at home or was still talking to other women on the dating app where they’d met. What in all that he was sharing with her was true? At the time of our conversation, she was laughing at herself and realized the ridiculousness of her thoughts. She informed me that she realized that if she couldn’t trust her husband even after all he’d done to prove his trustworthiness to her, then she wouldn’t be able to trust anyone.
Leaving her marriage had not solved any of Dawn’s problems. Her problems just seemed to follow her everywhere she went. The emotional trauma she had experienced was still inside of her. In his book, The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk says:
We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past. It is also the imprint left by that experience on the mind, brain, and body. This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive. The present trauma results in a fundamental reorganization of the way the mind and brain manage perceptions. It changes not only how we think and what we think about, but also our very capacity to.
After Dawn recognized that leaving her marriage didn’t take away the emotional instability and lack of trust, she decided to do the work of:
1) Clearing her emotional trauma
2) Creating new muscle memory of sustainable skills within herself to regain control of her mind, brain, and body
A New Dawn
She and her ex-husband decided to give their marriage another chance by investing in a new way to connect with each other. Now that she is able to manage her perceptions and the way she thinks, here’s what Dawn has to say about doing this work.
“Hi. I joined eight weeks ago and have been diligent in doing this program every week and just finished. I cannot tell you how much this program has meant to me and what I have learned in such a short amount of time. My husband and I divorced several years ago and have been trying to reconcile our relationship. For the last year, we have been hitting a wall over and over again. We have done it all.
I realized eight weeks ago that I still could not trust him or let him love me even after everything he has done to show me he is doing his work. I constantly questioned his every move. I constantly lived in my head going over everything that I found out. My mind was like a hamster wheel, never shutting off, replaying all the things that I have seen. This has been going on since 2016 and it’s 2020. I have been living a nightmare within myself for so long. I have wasted so much money on therapy, replaying years’ worth of this horrible trauma.
And then in eight weeks, I changed all of that. This is the first time in my life, even before my marriage, that I have not lived in my head. It is the first time I have lived in the moment, being present with everyone and everything I do. I am starting to feel so much freedom with this new knowledge. Living every day puts into use the tools that I now have to make my life more enjoyable. I am so blessed to be a part of this group and beyond blessed for learning how to live a more fruitful life.”
Here’s the thing. You absolutely have the choice to leave your husband and find somebody new. You can attempt to walk away from your heart’s pain and confusion, but it just goes with you from relationship to relationship. Emotional trauma infects your mind, brain, and body. Memories of the past will be triggered, and because you haven’t processed the trauma, you will feel as though what happened then is happening now. Your fear of infidelity will be brought into any new relationship and ultimately could sabotage it. If you really want to leave all of this behind, then you have to do the three things Dawn did in order to have the relationship you want. Whether that ends up being with your husband or not, allow me to remind you what those are.
Three Transformative Steps
1. The very first thing you have to do in order to move forward in any direction is clear your emotional trauma.
2. Clearing your trauma gives you the opportunity to create new muscle memory that supports a foundation of peace and safety within your body.
3. You can then connect freely with your husband and begin to build a marriage you are both deserving of and are excited to be in.
Fair warning, this isn’t easy work and not for the faint of heart. You are not somebody you can continue to run away from. Your emotional trauma will follow you everywhere. However, you can choose to experience a life free of these chains.
Now it’s my turn to hear from you. Tell me in the comments below if you tried leaving it all behind and started a new relationship. If you did, did you notice patterns of thinking in yourself that had begun during your former marriage? I know I did until I did this work. I can’t wait to read your answers.
Subscribe to become a Beyond Breath Insider and you’ll gain instant access to an awesome training where I share the secrets to creating a marriage full of passion, intimacy, and excitement after your husband’s infidelity. You’ll also receive some exclusive content and personal updates from me that I don’t share anywhere.
In the four years before Dawn started my program, things weren’t looking too hopeful. Both she and her husband wanted to rebuild their marriage and had tried so hard to do so. Yet, as long as Dawn was conquered by emotional trauma, nothing could change. A mere eight weeks was enough for her to finally be able to reconnect with her husband in the way her heart longed to.
This can work for you too. It is not hopeless. Apply here for my group coaching program. Emotional trauma doesn’t have to be a life sentence. If you are committed and willing to do some work, you can live free of its icy hold.
It’s time to trust again.