Infidelity: Now What? Ease the Pain of Heartache with These 7 Self-Care Practices!

Infidelity hurts. There’s no sugar coating it, an infidelity is a betrayal and while partner’s can betray one another a variety of times and in a variety of ways throughout their relationship, there is something about the betrayal of infidelity, whether emotional or physical, that strikes a chord that is a bit more piercing than any other form of betrayal.

This blog is not about who is right or who is wrong. There is no blame here and no labels. When infidelity occurs, it is usually indicative of hurts and wounds experienced by both partner’s during the course of their relationship. While there is no justification for cheating, there are drivers to that behavior. This blog is about what you can do and how to take care of yourself, when you first learn about the infidelity. The focus is on self-compassion throughout the process.

As a human being, I have been impacted by infidelity. I have felt my heart stop and then race uncontrollably. I have felt numbness, fear, and insecurity. I have felt the disappointment and the anger.

If you are experiencing an infidelity, I know it is hard, and if your heart is hurting, I am sorry you have to feel that kind of pain. I recognize finding out your partner has cheated brings up different thoughts and feelings for people. We are all so unique and our views about relationships, cheating, and ourselves vary. Although, there are differences in perspectives, most people will agree that infidelity hurts.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist, who has now worked with hundreds of couples, and individuals impacted by infidelity, I have held space for people in the midst of the trauma, in the middle of confusion, and have helped them ground themselves after experiencing days, and sometimes weeks of deep sadness, anxiety, and denial. Their coping skills vary from seeking out support to maladaptive behaviors that can be harmful to them or others.

Breaches hurt, especially when they are made by the people we love and trust the most. That initial shock can be the most difficult time in your process. Whether you are the person who stepped outside of the relationship or the partner who recently learned that the person they trusted has been unfaithful, infidelity hurts all those involved. Most partners do not set out to “cheat,” and what this indiscretion can mean for the relationship may still be undetermined. It is true that some couples come out of this shake up stronger than ever, however, there are times when that is not the case.

One truth is that infidelity changes things. It changes the people involved and it changes the couple dynamic. It can be the catalyst to growth and expansion, whether it be together or apart.

I have heard a lot of perspectives around whether a couple should stay together after an infidelity or part ways. Common questions I receive are:

Can the relationship be saved?

What does it say about me if I stay?

What does it say about me if I go?

These are heavy hitter questions. They are the questions we hope to never have to ask ourselves. For many, infidelity is their greatest fear.

The question I have for clients when they come into my office after learning about the infidelity is…

Question: What does it say about you if you give yourself the time, space, validation, and energy you need to figure this out?

Answer: This is a person that is not reactive, that gives themselves permission to not rush their process, and will hopefully come to a decision that they believe is best!

You get to give yourself the time you need to heal. No one else gets to tell you what to do or how to do it.

When you learn about a betrayal, it can be traumatizing and trauma takes time to process.

You get to allow all your feelings to be felt and acquire tools to learn how to sit with and validate uncomfortable feelings so you can move away from guilt, blame, and shame and get to non-judgment, validation, and acceptance.

Judgment is never helpful, whether it is judgment about your partner, yourself, or your feelings. It is not the time for judgment, it is a time in which high doses of self-compassion get to be taken throughout each day, because you truly need your love and attention as you move through this time.

You may feel overwhelmed. You may feel numb. You may feel angry. You may feel all or none of the above and I am here to tell you that your feelings are valid and you get to feel how you feel! The initial shock is tough and people handle it differently due to a bunch of different reasons ranging from how you were raised, to the current state of your relationship, to whether or not there are children involved.

No two relationships are the same, and the reasons why people decide to cheat vary, so there is not going to be a quick, fast, absolute, or “right” decision to make in terms of your next steps.

The one move that can be most helpful is to seek support. Yes, I am a therapist and I do believe in the therapeutic process wholeheartedly. I am also a person who has experienced infidelity and will share that no one should have to go through that alone. Seek support. Whether it is a friend you trust, a family member, a religious/spiritual group, or a licensed professional. If you are struggling, confused, feel isolated, anxious, and/or it is impacting your job, other relationships in your life, and the way that you are taking care of yourself, I encourage finding someone to support you.

You deserve your time.

You deserve your care.

You deserve your self-compassion.

You deserve your self-love as expressed through your boundaries, using your voice, and taking the time you need to process how the infidelity has impacted you. You get to make the decision that is best for you at this time.

The purpose of this post is to encourage you to take a breath, to slow down, and to give yourself permission to take the time needed to figure things out. Oftentimes, people feel compelled to take an immediate action and make a decision around next steps for their relationship right away. While you do not want to prolong the process, you also do not want to rush it.

People will have their opinions, and their opinions may support you, but your opinion matters most. Again, an infidelity will be the end for some relationships and for others, it will be the catalyst for change within the relationship that supports them with creating the relationship they desire together.

If you decide to work on the relationship and the infidelity opened the door to having difficult conversations, and creating a new, more fulfilling, relationship together, I absolutely wish you the best. The fact is that for some couples, with therapy and support to help identify the drivers that led to the infidelity, solutions and interventions can be discovered to help resolve them, and couples decide to stay together and can have a stronger relationship than they did before.

There are times that with or without processing some couples decide not to stay together. Sometimes that decision is mutual, other times one partner makes the decision for both. When infidelity is involved, it is often unpredictable how a couple will proceed until they have both had time to unpack what it means for them individually and what it means for their relationship.

I would never recommend staying in an abusive relationship. If your relationship is abusive or you feel unsafe, get immediate support.

7 PRACTICAL TIPS TO SUPPORT YOU AFTER LEARNING ABOUT THE INFIDELITY:

I have worked with hundreds of clients who have gone through infidelity, while in group practice and currently in my private practice. Here are some immediate steps:

  1. Prioritize your mental health and well-being: by putting yourself first as you work through these steps.
  2. Validate your emotions: accept all of the feelings you are experiencing without judgment and allow them to flow through you.
  3. Try not to be reactive: try not to make an immediate, emotionally charged decision.
  4. Seek support: either a therapist or someone you can trust.
  5. Practice self-care: nutrition and proper sleep are vital. Practice compassionate self-talk, take care of your hygiene and if you are struggling with self-care, please refer to #4.
  6. Identify your needs: reflect, journal, and check in with yourself around what you need in this present moment.
  7. Establish boundaries: create your own emotional safety by creating boundaries.

I have created a journal that includes prompts, practices, affirmations, and exercises that pull from mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and attachment theory to better understand your feelings at this time. It was created to help individuals work through their initial shock and uncomfortable emotions, create healthy boundaries, and nurture self-love by providing information, validation, and tools that will be useful throughout their lives, long after they have processed the infidelity. I have used the tools in my own life and many of the tools have supported hundreds of clients. I am happy to be able to share them in the form of a journal. The journal is called, “Healing from Infidelity: A Guided Journal,” and is currently on sale on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Target. It is not meant to be a replacement for seeking support at this time. It can be a useful tool on your healing journey.

Sending you love and reminding you that you get to be the author of the story of your life. An infidelity does not have to define you or your relationship.

YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE AND DESERVING OF TRUTH

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Your Authentic Vision (Board) Manifested! What’s Your Unique Vision?…

It’s that time of the year again. Clients, family members, and friends…it’s that time when we reflect on the year, assess where we are, and create goals around where we would like the new year to take us! I recognize that there are no guarantees. It was just two years ago when I was supporting clients with creating goals and vision boards for what their 2020 was going to look like. How could we have imagined that we would be faced with a global pandemic that would create a paradigm shift for how we do business, think, live, and love?

We never know what the future has in store. We can however, do our best to exist in a way that is most authentic to who we are and practice gratitude everyday, even the days when it can be challenging. I believe we are all in need of healing, self-care, hope, and humanity-care. There is so much information about creating vision boards, manifesting our desires, living in abundance, etc. I am thankful that this information exists, positivity breeds positivity!

The purpose of this post is to share one way to approach creating a vision board that not only encompasses what we want to bring into our lives, it is also conducive to artistic expression & healing!

There are all types of Vision Board parties, events, experiences and workshops. There is not one type of experience that is “better” than others, just different, and finding one that you feel is a match for what you want to experience is important. The approach to a vision board experience that I explain below is the one I personally use and share with family, friends, and clients. I structured it in a way that encourages gratitude, acknowledges what gets to be released in order to make way for future goals, embraces authenticity, and then supports envisioning a clear picture of what you want to create. You can tweak this method anyway you believe would most support you. Again, there is no one way to approach the creation of YOUR VISION board. What matters most is your authentic vision!

YOUR INTENTIONAL, ARTISTIC, & AUTHENTIC VISION (Board) MANIFESTED!

What the title means: Your intentional vision manifested! It will be created artistically and it will be authentic to who you are. You will visualize yourself doing what you intend to do in all of your authenticity, and place words and images that represent your vision, on a board. The items you select for your board will represent all you are already in gratitude of as well as what you would like to create in the year ahead. The goal is for your vision board to not only be authentic, the hope is that when you look at it, it will evoke the feelings you want to feel when you achieve your goal. It will be a reminder and an inspiration to support you with staying on track. Vision board group experiences can be a lot of fun and a connecting experience. You can also create your vision board from your own home. You can make it an individual experience, or ask your loved one’s to join you. It can absolutely be a fun and connecting experience for couples to do together! Remember, you get to decide what works best for you.

Now, LET’S GET CREATIVE:

  1. The Intention: Set your intention for what you want to get out of the process of creating a vision board. Examples: “I set my intention to be open and positive,” “I set my intention to be honest with myself and embrace my authenticity,” “I set my intention to ask for what I want to receive.” etc.
  2. The Release: Reflect on the past year and identify things you would like to let go of/what you want to release. It can be thought patterns, clothing you can donate, relationships that drain you/hurt you, etc. Write down all of the things you are releasing. Close your eyes and envision yourself releasing them. When you open your eyes, read your list out loud. Examples: “I am letting go of the belief that I am not good enough,” “I release the need for external validation/approval,” “I let go of the items I barely use to give them to people in need.” “I release judgment.” Once you speak your complete list out loud, rip up the paper as small as you can and discard it. You have let it go.
  3. The Gratitude: Create a list of all the things you have gratitude for. Start your sentences with statements of gratitude. Examples: “I am filled with gratitude for the abundance that already exists in my life.” “I am grateful for my warm bed, hot water, my children, my best friend, my eyesight, my job, the Ocean, my health, the fact that I always have food to eat, being here in this moment,” etc. Close your eyes and visualize existing in what you are grateful for. The people, the items, yourself, all of it. Allow yourself to be present and sit in appreciation for what already exists. Open you eyes and read your statements out loud.
  4. The Authenticity: Who are you? When are you most joyful, most yourself? What are you doing and who are you with? When are you most inspired? Give yourself a few minutes to think about these questions. Write down, 4 sentences about who you are. Example: “I am a genuine person. I am happiest when I am swimming in the Ocean and also when I surrounded by loved one’s. I express myself most authentically through creation, especially painting. My desire is to live a life of purpose and I do it by working in a healing profession.” Write as if you were going to have to share who you are in 4 sentences with a group of people who did not know you. Who are you AUTHENTICALLY!
  5. THE CREATION: What are your goals for the year ahead? What type of life do you want to live/create? Where would you like to place most of your attention? What do you aspire to do? How do you want to show up in the World? Where will you be while achieving your goal? How will you look? Who will be around you? Sit comfortably or lay down. Close your eyes. Take at least 3 deep breathes, getting present in your body, and then the magic happens…VISUALIZE YOURSELF LIVING THE LIFE YOU ARE TRYING TO CREATE. Imagine yourself achieving your goal. Envision yourself in that moment, take a look around and watch how people respond to you, how do you feel in that moment? How does it feel to achieve that goal? What are you wearing? Are you sitting, walking, or standing? What is your facial expression? Are you smiling? Allow yourself to bask in the thoughts and feelings that come up for you once you attain what you set out to achieve with intention and authenticity. Do not rush this step. Allow yourself to experience the joy and peace that comes with attaining the goal.

Visualizations, just like positive affirmations create new neural pathways that support us with being able to view ourselves differently and stop us from engaging in self-limiting beliefs. Once we believe we can do something, it greatly increases the likelihood that we will achieve it. Self imposed limitations are what keep most people from achieving their goals.

Items needed: Heavyweight paper such as Oaktag, magazines, scissors, double sided tape or glue, pictures, quotes, paper to rip up, a notebook, and a pen. You may also include other items that you appreciate and can adhere to the heavyweight paper, such as coins, ribbons, stickers, etc.

THE EXPERIENCECome Join Me!:

I have so much gratitude for being able to facilitate and hold space for 25 people this year for an intimate Vision board experience in a modern, split level, Bohemian style loft located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC. I will be incorporating everything mentioned in this post and so much more. It will be an opportunity for 25 people to come together in an intimate setting and have an intentional, artistic, and authentic experience. Everyone in attendance will leave with their FRAMED vision board and reusable giftbag which will include wellness items and a notebook I hand painted. ALL items needed will be provided. Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on this page, or you can email: ourperfectus@gmail.com

*COVID-19 PROOF OF FULL VACCINATION REQUIRED. TEMPERATURE WILL BE TAKEN AT THE DOOR.

One of many items, a handpainted notepad!

TODAY, The Art of Being Present…

Today.

Today is the day we are in. It may be obvious. However, the reminder necessary.

Why?

The thoughts of yesterday keep us stuck. Reflecting and acknowledging how we have grown supports us. However, rumination leads to stagnation and at times self deprecation. Negative self-talk is fed by our filters. Narratives amplified by what we choose to extract. Consciously? Subconsciously? Unconsciously? Who knows? Let me think about that.

Let. Me. Think. About. THAT.

OVERTHINKING. Analyzing the steps taken on roads already traveled, hoping reflection will bring us closer to our desired destination.

Perhaps it’s closure we are seeking, believing closure exists in the rehashing of our narratives. Rehashing? Perhaps visual reenactments. Is it rooted in healing and progressing? Do you sit with it, and stay with it, get bought in to it, and stay stuck in it? Fighting to find the reframe…searching for that reframe. Where are you going? Can you look ahead and back at the same time?

Take the experience. Learn from the past. Integrate those discoveries into your present moment. This present moment. Acknowledge, don’t dwell. Notice, don’t get stuck. Thank you yesterday, I appreciate you, good-bye.

Today.

Today is the day we are in. It may be obvious. However, the reminder necessary.

How come?

Thoughts of tomorrow cloud my vision, intrusive whispers, they betray my peace, disassemble my meditation piece by piece, intrusive whispers turn to roars, once a clouded vision now a thunder storm, and I fear it will become my norm. Do I talk about it? Maybe I should…I’m torn. It feels all encompassing when anxiety takes this form. Can I exist in something different or was I born to exist in the storm? I’m catastrophizing.

Today.

Today is the day we are in. How do you feel right now? Breathe.

Take another breath.

Take one more.

Let your breath be the reminder.

This feeling is Universal.

Today.

Today is the day we are in. It may be obvious but the reminder necessary.

Today, I feel compelled to tell you. Today, I feel the desire to share. The knowingness of the obvious will not stop my reiteration, it is a necessary reminder for me. Today I write this message with urgency…I share it with you and I wrote it for humanity. We all have moments where we get to stop and breathe, consciously.

We all have moments when we look ahead and are not sure what the next steps are, either busy looking back, or creating a thunder storm in our minds that blinds us. Windshield wipers don’t work in a downpour. When we struggle to see, and we struggle to hear, when we struggle to know, there is one thing we can do. We can breathe. Today. Now. Breathe and in that mindful breath, remember your light. Remember the feeling of the sun on your face. Remember that you have that warmth within. The key is to remember that where there is dark there is light. YOU ARE THE LIGHT. My wish for you, is that you love openly & live authentically, today.

We are all living this human experience.

TODAY IS THE DAY WE ARE ALL LIVING IN, TOGETHER.

TOGETHER.

IT MAY NOT BE OBVIOUS, SO THE REMINDER IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.