Stop playing the victim card!

That phrase, “Stop playing the victim card”, really gets me! I do not know how many times in the first year I heard that phrase from well-meaning individuals. As we now know I suffered from Bryans infidelity for nearly two years. Guess what? I WAS A VICTIM! Not just from his infidelity, but with infidelity comes abuse! There is almost no way that a cheating spouse can not abuse you! The lies, the gas-lighting, the anger, the cheaters own guilt, obsessive behaviors, the cold shoulder: no matter the exact type of abuse, there is abuse.

During that first year, I kept telling myself that I must be a real whiner, loser, and an all-around horrible person because of those that chose to label me with the “playing the victim card”. Well-meaning people can cause more damage and suffering than you can imagine. Some of those were in the middle and they played that middle ground perfectly. They quite honestly betrayed me too. Of course, that was not the intention, but that was the outcome. They did not know of the abuse, the suffering, the ongoing affair or they did but did not like how I chose to handle the pain. They made assumptions and in doing so caused me much pain. The low self-esteem of the betrayed is already fragile and add a label, and contempt from so called friends and the esteem drops even further.

For some, an affair is not serious. They think that affairs are just a part of life. That, well you fell off that horse, you just get a new one, saddle up and off you go. Maybe that is because they have not ever experienced the pain, maybe it is because their relationships are all surface so affairs and divorcing are no big deal, possibly it’s that they always come out of any conflict fighting and flighting running from the pain. Whatever the reason it is easy to call someone else out as a victim card player. It is much more difficult to be a true confidant and friend and simply love someone in their suffering.

It was not until I finally began going to counseling that I could see that there is a definite difference between playing a victim and being a victim. I truly was a victim. By living in the humiliation that others thought I was “playing the victim”, my self-esteem plummeted, I thought that I was not worthy, that my feelings were somehow over exaggerated. So I stuffed my feelings, I was numb, I was scared to share and release my emotions because somehow they must be wrong. Only through counseling was I able to release my emotions freely.

My wish is that we can start a conversation about infidelity and help others to see the pain and have some understanding and compassion for both the victim spouse and the betraying spouse as well. It is so easy to assume that you know what someone else is going thru but often we only know bits and pieces. And until we have lived someone else’s pain the best most of us can offer is a listening ear and a genuinely loving heart.

If you are living with an added label during this horrific time. Stop and hand that label back! Take on nothing that does not help in your healing. Protect yourself! Know you are worthy! Worthy to be heard, to be loved, to be comforted, to find joy and peace again!

Merry Christmas and other holiday festivities may not feel very cheerful!

This is such a crazy time of year. Don’t you agree? We get so wrapped up in action, from parties,  Church activities, decorating, having the perfect meals, perfect pictures, perfect gifts, and perfect lives we can kinda go momentarily insane. And these activities start at the end of October and do not stop until after Jan. 1. Then for some crazy reason, we all start to look at ourselves in the mirror and the depression and psyco-obsessive fitness and diet routines take over. Top all of this chaos off with the devastation of a cheating spouse and well it can really take its toll! Our poor self-esteem is already at negative before these crazy holidays enter into the picture. It does not even matter when you found out, somehow the holidays can take on a totally different reality, a nightmare of a reality. And we lose sight of not only the meaning, but we loose more than just the desire but truly the ability, to appropriately take care of ourselves.

During the first few years of healing from Bryan’s affair, the holidays were really difficult, honestly unbearable. The first season I had found out November 6, 2012, that Bryan was having an affair. He had promised that the affair was over and dedicated himself to our marriage and our family, or so I thought. The truth was that not only did our little family have Thanksgiving in Colorado, so did his “fake” family, just a few miles down the road. He had managed to lie again to the boys and I. He even had us believing that he had business associates at the other resort and that was his excuse to go visit and us be none the wiser. Honestly, my body did not buy it! I was violently ill the whole time he was gone. And Christmas that year was Bryan fleeing to take care of business out of town when in truth he was going to celebrate with his “fake”family. Of course, we did not know about the continued affair until it was revealed in June 2013.

The next year Bryan was at home or work, really we both were. Ironically we had moved to the very resort we had stayed at the year before at Thanksgiving. Resort work is 24/7, 365 days a year. It was our sabbatical from the real world and a way for us to begin to heal and give him distance from his affair partner, he was beginning to recognize the addiction. But the healing still did not begin for almost a year. He was still addicted to his affair. Though we had no money for him to gallivant around and impress, and see his affair partner as often as before, he still managed to  do so a few times during that first year. So even that first holiday season in Colorado was very hard but he was with us. Luckily I was so involved in work and we were all so excited to live in snow and the new environment  that it was almost like the holidays just flew by with no real meaning. Numb would be a good way to describe that year.

The second year living in Colorado was in so many ways both the hardest and yet the best. Bryan had finally broken free of his affair partner! By this time I had actually spoken to the other woman and had texted with her briefly and knew that no doubt things were over. But you still flash back the details of the previous devastation associated with each holiday. Though there was relief and joy, there also was this question about Bryan’s previous holidays, what were his thoughts and feelings, how could he keep up two lives, two families? Was he truly where he wanted to be? The relief of the affair was fabulous but it left us needing to rebuild our traditions and find the real meaning behind the holidays again.

Because of the way my body has handled the affair, even when my heart would not believe the deception, the extreme illnesses, from pneumonia, flu 3 different times, gallbladder disease, every possible cold, bladder and kidney infections, high blood pressure, my body still reacts during this season of joy. It is getting a little less noticeable but it is still there. Even this year I noticed a slight depression and cold coming on. When I choose to acknowledge the time of year and make a gratitude list and really think about how blessed I am to have come out on the other side of this enormous pain have I regained my health and happiness!

As I have often stated this journey will bring you to your knees. You have choices to make each and every day. Choices to sit in defeat or get up and conquer the devil’s schemes and nasty plans. The holiday season, unfortunately, compounds the pain and unfortunately the devil takes full advantage of that! This is the time you need to just STOP and remember exactly what it is we are celebrating. If you are on your knees cry out to Jesus, he is the only one who offers true peace and unconditional love.

This has finally become a season that I have been able to put into a different perspective because of Bryan’s affair. We have changed the way we “overdo” each and every moment. We have chosen to focus on the gifts that are given to us by a God in control and whom can offer so much more that we could ever imagine for ourselves. The peace in our hearts does not come from another human, it comes from Christ! The love of God does not leave us if we allow it, it will flow through us.

But if this is a new season for you, just breathe! Do only what is necessary. Take care of yourself. Hydrate. Eat. Exercise. As you are now more aware than ever, life is not perfect. The perfect pictures, parties, lives do not exist. No one will remember that you were not perfect for this season. If they do then that is their issue, not yours! Take care of you. Find the joy of grace that we were given in this season of Thanksgiving and wonderful gift of the birth of Christ! It’s His party, not ours anyway. I doubt he cares about our perfectly overdone holiday season. Just the way we love Him with all of our hearts in our imperfect mess!