Have you ever felt like two different people live inside your body? Or should i say inside your mind? Coping with and surviving infidelity within your relationship (as BAD as it feels, you do survive) gives me the feeling of living in quick sand -Not really two different people, more like two voices living in your head? Each has its own agenda, one tells you “throw in the towel, just go down with the quiksand, you’ll never be able to trust him again”. As the other voice screams right back “fight girl! you gotta get outta that quiksand, its all gonna be good”. I see myself screaming back at both of them to “shut the fuck up”! I’m jolted awake up from this agonizing dream. -Hoping maybe it was ALL just a dream. But alas, only the quiksand was in the dream, the infidelity and screaming voices are oh so very real.
Back and forth my voices go , in unison with my emotions. Heck in one day I can bounce back and forth several times. Back and forth, back and forth. Sometimes my emotions can flip so quickly, I find it a bit scary. Please don’t take these comments TOO LITERALLY – Although I think I am better at not allowing my emotions from showing outwardly. No more wearing my heart on my sleeve. I don’t want anyone thinking i’m going crazy. That certainly is NOT happening! I am no where near crazy – although our narcissistic spouses would like you to believe that about us. It simply is not true! I’ve known that for a while, the not being crazy thing. Even though I have these voices screaming at me, to do something, my continued pain is occurring (most likely) because I’ve been ignoring both of them. The pain isn’t from not listening it’s more from an awareness that has comes to grow inside of me, as ever increasing (mostly circumstantial, but just too many to discount) evidence that speaks of the (potential) severity of my husbands disordered personality and the escapades of his “other life”.
Yet our relationship “feels” like we continue to grow closer each week. We spend a great deal of time together, doing garden work, attending a baseball game, over to friends for a BBQ, watching TV, shopping and yes having sex too. (Not as much as I would like or has HOT as it used to be, but it’s ok for now).
I mean, am I letting my automatic memeory responses take over in every situation? Because of the trauma in discovering infidelity, sexual addiction and years of emotional abuse by my husband and family of origin do I automatically always think the worst in any situation that could cause doubt about him? Am I giving equal attention to the positive things that he does in our relationship? Why would I primarily focus on the negative? The answer is because of our brains and how it creates memory. Memory files in our brain store information from our life’s experiences. In the article EMOTIONAL MEMORY MANAGEMENT written by Dr. Joseph M. Carver Ph.d., Pyschologist (drjoecarver.com/clients/49355/File/Emotional%20Memory.html). I’ve learned about how memories are made, stored and retrieved and why current experiences can be affected by past emotional memory. Let me try to explain…
..as we go thru life, our experiences, our interactions, daily activities are processed by our brains. From these experiences a file is made in our memory. As we encounter certain situations our brain takes (whatever is going on with you) that information and seeks to find compatible memory information that matches it. When it finds the closest match possible that file is opened and our responses become much like what they have been before – positive or negative. Sometimes this can be a good thing other times not so much. If you’ve handled a situation poorly in the past and a similar experience occurs we are wired to respond from our memories and will most likely react in the same manner as before. So does this mean we are doomed to always have the same response, getting stuck and unable to change our reactions.
No, not at all. But it will take a conscious effort to make these adjustments to our emotional memory. Some things just happen automatically in our brain, mundane regular things like turning on a light switch doesn’t really have a memory file it’s automatic. But get shocked turning on the switch and and emotional response has been added and will form a memory file. Next time you go to switch on the light you will pause and remember the shock, then hesitate flipping the switch. Most daily memories that don’t have a strong good or bad emotional response are faded out. It is the activities with emotional response (positive or negative) that create memory files.
Our brain chooses which file to open and when generally the one with the most emotion attached to it, two files cannot be open at the same time. In other words you can’t be happy and sad at the same time. Usually negative emotional responses can be very strong and can override positive ones. Thus we respond with negative emotions to current situations. No wonder a comment or statement by your cheating spouse (or song or anything related to his infidelity) can “trigger” negative reactions in each of us. The way to change the current file is to “water down” the negative emotions by adding something silly to it each time it occurs. Something as simple as a silly name added can begin to alter your response. You must make a conscious effort to do this. This is also the way addictions are addressed when trying to make changes in addictive behavior. This is my very simple interpretation of Dr. Carvers’ article. Check it out I found it fascinating. If you can’t get through the entire article (I love all the science behind things) skim it and be sure to read the summary at the end.
It helped me understand why I have these voices (memory files) screaming at me. My brain is trying to make sense of the continuously unfolding events, discoveries and gained knowledge about the personality disorder my husband has, and the way it has/continues to effect me. I see now why people get “stuck” unable to move forward in any direction because of this. No wonder I continue to struggle (alone, as husband doesn’t openly acknowledge or accept or want to address our situation) to make any lasting positive changes for us. That’s probably why those voices keep screaming at me. I know the time is coming for me to make some decisions about where my life is headed. Coming up on one year since D-day and the bigger picture continues to become clearer, and it’s NOT a pretty picture!
I’ll leave you with a quote I like:
“If your husband is not willing to help at all (in dealing with your feelings about his infidelity), then you must understand that you cannot trust him with your heart”.
I’m not sure where I read this so I’m unable to give credit where credit is due. I added what is in parenthesis for understanding purposes. Be strong my friends!