Recovering from an Affair 10/13

“When to sell or get rid of things, such as a house, car or bed?”

Remember, the title of this series is Recovering from an Affair, and frankly it is a hard thing to do. It is much easier to just walk away, vilify one another and go on with one’s life. So, if we want to stay together, it will require vast amounts of work. And one of the hardest things to do is to somehow deal with the objects, locations and assorted reminders of the transgression that cause pain, and are still in your face.

She looked at me and said, “But it was my bed and my best friend. I can’t stand the thought of even going into my own bedroom. I was robbed of one of my favorite sanctuaries where I could read, sleep, and withdraw. It’s the bed where our babies were conceived and I want to buy a new one. As a matter of fact, I want to sell the house and move a hundred miles away.”

Her avoider husband Stan butted in and said in a typical dismissive tone, “It’s just a bed! The affair is over and on top of that we can’t afford a new one. Heck… this one is only six months old.”

I looked at him, realizing that as an avoider, and his right brain is very under developed in the empathy department. Due to his own developmental injuries, he was very limited in his ability to see and feel what others are experiencing. So, I had them participate in an exercise that quite frankly felt like a small Lego block being added to a hundred story skyscraper project.

Over the next hour, I asked her to explore the following questions about his history of which I had a few clues from his intake form. She was reluctant at first, still upset by her own emotional dysfunction. But within a few minutes she reluctantly cooperated with me and began to inquire.

What was it like to be the middle child in a family of five boys? “I was quiet, and I was missed a lot. One day my family accidently left me at home, thinking I was in the back seat.”
Who got all of the attention? “The two babies and my older brother who was the angry one.”
Was there any bullying, un-protected teasing, abuse or neglect that took place? “All kinds, my mom was overwhelmed and my dad worked all the time, I tried to stay to myself a lot… it was the safest.”
So if the babies were getting the attention and your older brother was angry, did he ever take anything away from you? He shot me a look … like “How the %#*& did you know?”

I guess I got lucky that day (really it was answered prayer) for as the story unfolded, tears came to everyone’s eyes. With bunk beds and cash in short supply, he used to keep his prized baseball glove tucked safely under his mattress by the wall. One day, his older brother took it without his permission and went to the park, only to somehow lose it by the end of the day.

When it was time for him to go little league practice, it was no where to be found and as Stan yelled at his older brother and got punched in the stomach. He lay on the floor, unable to breathe… and as he moved from panic to tears, he silently vowed to never be victimized again. With a few more questions, we were able to connect the dots that his porn addiction was born as a way of making himself feel good, and his occasional stealing as an adolescent was rationalized by the thought, “I deserve it.”

Eventually, as I continued to firmly insist that we recall and relive some of the painful experiences from his own child hood, his empathy for the lost middle child began to grow… and guess what? His empathy for his wife’s losses began to register as well. With increasing compassion, his eyes began to open and he was able to see her through a new lens.

Eventually, they did move houses and attempted a fresh start in a new community.

Their bedroom even included a new bed.

Thanks for listening,

Love and Blessings,

Milan & Kay