This is about you now. A single statement that I found so hard to hear at the beginning of this nightmare.
It was a sentence that I seemed to read on so many blogs, support forums and advice columns. It was something that I heard from so many loved ones and friends. I heard these words being said so many times, but to be honest, at the time, I wasn’t really listening.
In the beginning this sentence just didn’t sit well with me, in fact it really unsettled me. I was so focussed on my husband and getting him back, on dissecting what had happened and unravelling the truth of his infidelity. The idea of focusing on myself went against the grain of everything my instincts were telling me.
In my mind, this was all a huge mistake. I just needed to focus on him, not on me. It was him that held the keys to unlocking all of the questions buzzing round my head day and night. It was him who could stop this nightmare with a single word from his lips.
If I am totally honest, I didn’t really care about me anymore. I didn’t seem to matter. How could I when all I had cherished was crumbling around me? No, this felt so much bigger than me and I was powerless to it. I wasn’t eating, wasn’t sleeping, I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t function. My world was imploding.
This is about you now. What I realise now is that this sentence is possibly one of the most powerful declarations we can tell ourselves in the face of betrayal, hurt, infidelity and heartbreak.
If you are in the early stages of heartbreak and betrayal, this might seem hard to understand and hear but I need to say it again.
This is about you now.
Simply put, life needs to be about you from here on, and if you have children, it needs to be about you and them. It has taken me nearly a year to fully comprehend the importance of this, to understand its place in my healing but, I can promise you that when you come to a point of accepting that your focus must shift from your partner and instead onto yourself, it changes so much. It is essential for your wellbeing, your self-esteem, those tentative first steps towards some semblance of rebuilding.
Firstly, this might simply be putting your wellbeing first. When it feels like your world has ended, taking care of yourself can seem pointless, it can be the furthest thing from your mind.
Ultimately though, taking conscious steps to putting your wellbeing first, amongst all the confusion, shock and pain, will be the thing that gives you the physical strength to deal with all the draining emotions you are trying to navigate through. It will be the thing that gives some clarity and structure in the fog you are feeling. It will build that first fragile foundation upon which you will build your future. A future that will be built around your happiness and your new hopes.
I have also come to see that another way in which it is so important to make ‘it all about you,’ concerns how much of our ex-partner’s new world we allow ourselves to be exposed to, especially when reconcilliation is no longer an option.
Of course, when children are involved, avoidance of this can be difficult. Living in the same area, continuing to have shared friends, mixing/working in similar circles may also mean that avoiding knowing about their new life can be hard. However, trying to limit exposure to their world, especially if it contains their affair partner, can help to stem the continued pain of knowing the details of the new life they are living, the one that it feels was stolen from you.
In this case ignorance isn’t necessarily bliss but it can help protect your already shattered heart from further pain and allow it space to slowly begin to heal.
If the one you love leaves you, you can find yourself trying to stay in the loop of their life. Their new world can become your soul focus. For example, you may check their social media (or the account of their affair partner) or you may find yourself looking for clues that help you piece together what is happening in their life.
Firstly I need to say this, it is the most natural thing in the world to want do this. My husband and I had a happy marriage, a happy life (he doesn’t dispute this). So the need to seek answers when he abandoned me with no real explanation, to know what it was about her that meant he could throw us away so casually, became my soul focus. Equally my desire to not want to let go of the person I had loved so much and detach myself from what was happening in his life overwhelmed me. I have found that one of the hardest parts of this awful time has been disconnecting my life from my husband’s. It can take a great deal of time to be able to start pulling your focus away from them and onto you.
I can tell you this though, staying focused and fixing your attention on someone who has hurt you so greatly, someone who has left you for someone else so suddenly and coldly, someone who then continues to carry out new hurts, well, looking into their new world is a danger zone of continued pain.
Each time you glance into their life, as innocent as it might seem, as strong as you may feel at the time, you are glancing upon things that can potentially devastate you further. Each time you look into where they are going or what they are doing, it can fracture another part of your healing. You might be going through hell already and by peering continuously into their life you might sink deeper. You might be opening a window where all the hurt, toxicity and pain can rush back in and overwhelm you again, every time. And what will it really change about the situation?
Remember too, most people like their lives to seem wonderful, particularly on social media, so by glancing into their ‘instafabulous’ world you are never really going to get a true insight into the nuances of their relationship anyway. A relationship born out of betrayal and toxic behaviours.
Staying focused and tuned in on them ultimately also leads back to that other problem. It means you are not fully tuned into yourself, your life, your needs, your wellbeing, your healing, your rebuilding.
The first step I took to consciously focusing on myself was to start taking care of myself, physically. I started taking better care of my body. I started eating again, trying to rest, actively trying to ease the tension I felt, taking vitamins to try to stop the stress related hair loss I was experiencing as a result of the shock I had been through.
All this seems simple right? The basics even. It wasn’t simple though. It took a lot of effort to begin caring about me and my body again.
Next, I began to want to find an outlet for all the feelings I had. I needed to channel them somewhere. So, I started this blog! It gave me a real sense of purpose again and a focus. Letting my feelings find their way out of my brain helped me work through so many difficult and confusing thoughts.
Then, I started to crave distraction, so I started something new to burn up all the energy that was continuously churning through my body, I started swimming. I also tried going out a little more, to be in the world again (as difficult as that was). Little by little I slowly began letting life back in.
But while I may have been taking steps to build my life back up again, I found that each time I peeked into his life, into their life, another building block I had worked so hard to put into place got kicked away from me and I was back on my knees again.
The day I found out about the holiday my husband and his affair partner had been on felt like a horrible kick in the teeth. The day I saw on a bank statement that he had taken her to a place I had always wanted to go to but he had never been interested to take me, shook me to the core. The time I built up the nerve to look at the other woman’s social media and saw a photo with a comment that said she was the, “happiest she had ever been,” was the most visceral punch to the gut I could have been dealt.
She was the happiest she had ever been while my life had been devastated and I was in my worst despair! The night I read that statement, I lay awake shaking. I shook with hurt, anger and injustice. I felt physically ill and when the morning came something dawned on me.
I had been through so much by this point, been dealt so many blows, why had I opened that door to further hurt? What did I really expect to find? I had peeked into a toxic situation and it had been toxic for me. Was I really going to let these people have any further power over me? To break me? Was I really going to allow them to undo the work I was doing to try and live again?
I owed it to myself and those that loved me to simply not do it. To not make this about them anymore. It needed to be about me now.
It’s been a few months since I last tried to get a glimpse into what they are up to, no investigating, no social media visits, nothing. If the opportunities present to snoop, I don’t. As tempting as it is, and sometimes the temptation can be really powerful, I remind myself of that night and the promise I made to myself.
I prayed that morning for the chains to be broken that kept me hooked onto their lives and for God to help extinguish the fires of curiosity that burned so fierce in me. Fires sparked by one simple fact; I have loved my husband so much. He was my world.
Detaching myself from the one I love has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but it has been so very necessary.
In these past months, my life feels like it has turned a corner. I am starting to feel stronger, to smile again, to laugh again and in turn new things are starting to find their way into my life.
If you are in this same position and cannot begin to imagine how to shift the focus from the person you love so much and onto yourself and your life, please know, it is the most natural thing to want to stay connected to that person but, when the time is right, I pray that you too will reach that moment of knowing you need to focus on you now. You are important, you are valued, you deserve a good life.
This is about you now.