About Last Night : I’ve been cheated on and I can’t seem to reclaim my joy in life 26-08-17

September 2, 2017

Q. My lover of five years cheated on me. I suspected something at the time but they swore I was mistaken. I thought I was being possessive and paranoid. Then a friend spotted them kissing in a club, and the truth came out. I was gutted. Eighteen months on, I can’t stop thinking about it, getting enraged and sad, and generally obsessing. This is made worse by the fact that they’re on the fringes of my social set, so I often see them, although we never speak. I can’t seem to reclaim my joy in life.

A. Few things are more devastating than being betrayed by a person you love and trust. You can be left questioning everything you believed about the relationship, and doubting yourself, and your lovability. It can be extremely difficult to escape your negative thoughts, and to move on.

Actress Lily Tomlin, once said: “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past”.

Psychologist Dr Elisha Goldstein agrees. The author of The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life says, “When we refuse to forgive, it’s as if we’re holding onto the past and saying, ‘see past, I’m not going to let you have the pleasure of me letting go of you.’ Meanwhile, the past is the past, it’s not happening right now in the present moment – or is it? We keep the past alive by holding tightly to it, so perhaps it is occurring in this present moment. Now, I’m not suggesting we forget the past for the past is our teacher – however, I am suggesting that we loosen our grip on it a bit.”

Goldstein asks you to visualise the person against whom you are holding a grudge. Now, observe what emotions are present – fury, resentment, grief? Draw your attention to your body. Can you notice tension or a heavy feeling? Examine your thoughts. Are they hateful and spiteful? This is what lives in you as a result of holding tight to past hurts. The big question is, who is suffering? It certainly is not your ex-lover.

 The Vietnamese poet and philosopher Thich Nhat Hanh wrote: “When there is a mature relationship between people, there is always compassion and forgiveness.”

This does not condone or excuse the wrong that has been done. Rather, as Golstein explains, it is meant to: “… help cultivate understanding and compassion in order for the ones who are suffering to come to terms with the way things are, and slowly let go of allowing the atrocity of the past to still be occurring in this present moment. We can begin to forgive even though we will never forget.”

So, the act of forgiveness releases and heals YOU, not your ex.

This truth applies on the personal level, and in intractable historical situations globally – in the Middle-East, Northern Ireland, on the Korean peninsular, and the Indian subcontinent.

Forgiveness is the only way that offers hope for a peaceful future. Goldstein understands this is a process that can take time.

“… if the act is fresh, you may need some distance from it before even considering engaging in this work. Even when it is the right time, it may take time and practice as the tides of anger and hate will bring you back to holding the grudge. May the understanding of this bring a sense of patience and wisdom through this process.”

Do you have a close friend, or family member, who would be willing to listen to you? Being given permission to tell the entire story, without being interrupted, comforted, or offered suggestions can be the first step to healing. By getting it all out of your head and into the world, you can feel cleansed, and might be able to get some distance, perspective, and insights.

If you do not have a trusted confidante, it can be useful to talk to a professional counsellor. In fact, an objective outsider can be even better than a friend because you can be unconstrained by fears about what they will think of you.

Email your questions to abtlastnight@gmail.com

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One thought on “About Last Night : I’ve been cheated on and I can’t seem to reclaim my joy in life 26-08-17

  • What an open hearted response. In my later years (I’m 64 now) I have been looking back on my life and thinking about lovers I have betrayed in a range of ways, and who betrayed me. For a long time I felt guilty and ashamed of my behaviour, as well as feeling that I deserved to be betrayed when the shoe was on the other foot. I had to learn to take responsibility for my former behaviour and also to forgive myself (not justify – that’s another matter altogether), a process which took a long time. This may be an opportunity to deepen your own understanding of yourself painful as this might be, and perhaps your former lover will eventually reach a point of taking responsibility for her actions as well, I hope so.
    I’m sorry you have been placed in this situation and I hope Maureen’s wise advice is helpful. I wish you well in this matter.

    Comment from: Indigo Byrd

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