Announcing new, peer-led Ex-POSA Support Groups!
Still, as much as all partners have in common, namely, being victimized by chronic betrayal and psychological manipulation, invariably, the differences in their trajectories can sometimes manifest as tension within the group. I recall in one particular POSA meeting I was chairing, there were 9 women present who wanted support or encouragement that they would survive the end of their relationships and only one woman attendee who was still hopeful about her marriage being able to survive after D-Day and the multiple slips she continued to discover. I noticed this partner was growing visibly agitated during the meeting whenever the other women shared their feelings about leaving, which ranged from heartbreak that years of his recovery efforts amounted to nothing, to fear about starting over again, to relief at the prospect of freedom from any more D-Days. After this particular meeting was over, the woman who was intent on staying married approached me privately and angrily demanded to know, "Why aren't there two types of meetings offered? I don't want to hear women talk about leaving their marriages when I'm doing all I can to find support for staying in mine!"
But partners learning from one another's shares and being there for each other no matter where they found themselves on the staying-leaving continuum was the larger goal that we at PoSARC believed meetings should serve.
But fortunately, this past summer, a young woman in Ohio area contacted us about spearheading a meeting in her area that would meet both her needs as well as those of the very underserved population of women intent on leaving their mates or those whose relationships had already ended.
When it became clear to this Ohio-based partner that she had to leave her marriage, she felt strongly that she needed support in a meeting of others facing the same gnarly issues she was facing with leaving her character-disordered husband.
Could her therapist have sent her to "regular" divorce-support groups somewhere in her town? Of course, but whatever help could have been gleaned there wouldn't have encompassed the fact that she had heavily invested emotionally and financially in her husband's "sex addiction recovery" and the therapists charged to direct it. She needed a place to safely process the grief, frustration and disappointment she felt in not just her husband, but in the way she felt her "case" was handled by the "treatment" team.
Receiving supportive understanding about treatment-induced trauma could not reasonably be expected from a "regular" divorce support groups. Also, while infidelity is one of the most common reasons people divorce, it would it be unfair to imagine that a generic divorce support group would understand the issues around losing one's prior support group friends. A woman headed for a divorce can be too painful a reminder of just how fragile infidelity-fraught relationships truly are; often partners on the way out of their marriages are invited less and less to outings enjoyed by the other women staying in their marriages. How do we help partners process this additional loss? We knew Ex-POSA Meetings could provide the structure for all these complex losses common to many partners' experiences.
Once we started listening to the ideas for the new type of meeting the Ohio ex-partner wanted to create and lead, we collaborated on generating topics that partners might benefit from discussing: co-parenting with an ex who scapegoats you, adjusting to a new identity as an Ex-POSA, processing ongoing trauma while transitioning out of relationship with the betrayer, giving oneself permission to grieve, making room for relief, adapting to normalcy after chronic chaos, learning to manage finances, surviving smear campaigns, learning how to trust again, and many other topics specifically relevant to the new challenges that permanently separating/divorce from a sexually deceptive mate may bring.
It became undeniably clear there were more than enough topics of special interest to partners getting out to warrant the inception of a specialized kind of meeting: an Ex-POSA Support Group.
The more we talked, the more eager we became to expand our support of women entering into this next phase of their lives, one fraught with uncertainty but also containing the seeds of freedom from chronic anxiety and despair. The partner who stepped forward and persevered in ensuring her meeting idea came into fruition here at PoSARC is a beautiful example of the courage in women, their tenacity to survive the unthinkable, and to do so even with young children in tow.
Utilizing the same Guidelines as the original POSA Meetings, these new Ex-POSA Meetings seek to create a safe space for women to explore and share their feelings with other women traveling along similar roads. The format and safe sharing Guidelines provide women with ongoing opportunities to offer and receive encouragement, strength, validation, courage, kindness and hugs.
If you believe you might benefit from starting up your own local Ex-POSA Meeting, take the initiative of starting small and inviting others in your area to join you. Our Ex-POSA Meeting Guidelines are here, and you may refer to the How-To-Start-an-Ex-POSA-Meeting informational page here.
We feel honored to help women find the local peer support they deserve. If there's one thing we know about women, it's that we're resilient. We are survivors. We are figuring out how to create safe havens for women and children exiting abusive relationships. These meetings and this website are intended to plant seeds. It will take time, and struggle and our joint caring, but together—and only together- we'll grow this into a remarkable resource.