The learning curve for partners finding out about their mate's deceptive sexual behaviors is steep indeed.
When we stop and consider all that a partner has to learn just to survive the betrayal trauma, it's rather staggering. Then, generating all of what's necessary to move from barely surviving to finally entering more ease and well-being, however long that takes, it should be enough to invoke awe in anyone privy to that partner's experience.
As I contemplated all this today after a client's session finished here,
I thought about how far this client had come and how much grace she had acquired after learning how to survive in the hostile territory that her husband's repeated betrayals and manipulations had landed her in.
I got to thinking how fortunate I was to witness her soul-deepening process.
It hasn't been even a tiny bit easy for her; partners stories never are.
Anger, hopelessness, despair, panic, rage and other "dark" emotions can hijack our nervous systems whenever we are overwhelmed. Those who have struggled with betrayal trauma know this territory all too well.
Overwhelm can come due to a new discovery about our mates' secretive sexual behaviors, it can overtake us when we witness a natural disaster such as an earthquake, widfire or hurricane or it can be due to a political system in distress or transition, as what just happened here in the United States as well as recently in Britain.
I think it's worth taking note of, that no matter which half of the country (USA) one currently feels aligned with, that still leaves roughly half the population that is angry, feels resentful, disappointed, etc. In other words, there is a lot of activation in the environment, regardless of whether your side "won" or not, or whether you participated in voting or not.
The difficult fact is, we now live in a super-charged climate that has the ability to dysregulate our emotional systems whenever we have to interact with the outside world.
So how do we do that without insisting on isolating ourselves inside our own tribe of like-minded others?
Many of us today feel that we are witnessing the true underbelly of our country's deep misogyny, racism and bigotry. Many of us believe that we are indeed living in a good ole boy's club, much as we might have fantasized that we were actually living in a progressive melting pot.
Most importantly, many of us in the past months have felt that we are witnessing toxic masculinity at it's worst, something that every reader here has been exposed to in a most personal way- in their own relationships with men who engage in narcissistic sexual pursuits outside their primary commitments. NAMING it is an essential first step towards our healing.
Many women who have come in or written to us today are in utter despair. But it's important to remember:
We as women aren't going ANYWHERE.
If anything, we will use any divisiveness we encounter, any infringement on our rights as women, any reinforcement of the worst gender stereotypes....as steels against which we will sharpen ourselves. There is much work ahead of us.
Note that the article in link below contains sexual descriptions that may be triggering. If this is an issue for you, you may want to avoid the article.
"I have had a number of divorce cases where pornography has been at the centre. The couples still want to be together, but their sex lives have been distorted and destroyed." - Dr. Ann Olivarius
For many of us counselors, coaches, pastoral care providers, psychologists, and other treatment providers who work with men and women in relationships broken by chronic infidelity, our work requires us to learn how to help our clients navigate through the litter field of infidelity and sexual compulsion, back towards health and integrity.
As part of that, our training and on-the-job experience usually entails a peripheral learning about the netherworld of the sexual exploitation industries: pornography, stripping, prostitution, etc., since our clients have usually habituated themselves to this realm of commodified sexuality.
Today we're sharing a most enlightening article that shows how systemic the silencing of women is when they object to pornography.
As seen through a feminist lens, this sanity-restoring article can help validate our collective grief over the devastation pornography has wrought, not only in our own lives, but globally:
"Why are you triggered by porn?" he asked.
As if my hatred for the industry and the filmed violence inflicted on the bodies of women and girls is nothing more than personal pathology! As if my anger, discomfort, and sorrow at the injustice of porn and its ideological role in constructing women as subordinate sexual objects that exist for male pleasure is actually only due to some personal history of trauma....
Over the past many years, we have learned so much about what feeds chronic infidelity (and often keeps it change-resistant) from disciplines and modalities besides psychology and addictionology, though psychology has certainly been instrumental to our understanding. Still, it's not the only frame to consider, by any means.
What has interested us the most here has been adding the vectors of sociology and feminism in our quest to understand the context that infidelity behaviors occur in.
After all, behaviors don't happen in a vacuum, nor are family of origin issues and earlier traumas the only variables that impact the development and trajectory of repetitive behaviors once they form. By repetitive behaviors, we refer to the lies and manipulation tactics Betraying Partners use as much as the infidelity behaviors themselves as each reinforces the other.