I got this request for guidance a few weeks ago from a healthcare worker, and I wanted to share my response with you, my closest readers. I’m privileged that “Kimberly” shared her story and sought advise. This is sad, but symptomatic of how dark these times can be for some.
Q: My husband and I have been married for 2 years and in a relationship for about 3. He is a dentist so when the pandemic closures happened they shut down our practice for about 4 months. We are a small independent business. Hoping to help the family, I took a nurse travel contract in a distant location to make enough money/keep our credit strong. Fearing he would have to “chapter” (sic) and we would lose the house, he talked me into a “financial divorce” to protect the house. Long story short, here we are only two months later, and he says he isn’t in love with me anymore and doesn’t know if I should come home. Obviously I am taking this very hard and I lashed out with a string of insults, obscenities and completely lost my dignity. I know he is hurting, though he says he’s not. My question is – do I drop everything and run home and try to fix this or do I let him cool off? I’m very much confused and hurt, feel betrayed and tricked. Meanwhile I also feel like I’ve been kicked out of my life while trying to do what I thought was a brave thing and he would be proud of me?
A: Dear “Kimberly,”
First you did nothing that I, or most others, wouldn’t do under the same traumatic pressure. Your reaction – lashing out with insults and obscenities – although outside of your usual dignified composure, is a 100% normal human trauma response. I call this “being beside yourself,” because you were flooded with stress hormones, and you literally were not centered in the neurobiology of yourself. Your wise mind and loving heart were forced offline. And that’s what trauma does. You live in a human body with a normal nervous system and a beating heart. Your husband, the person who bonded with you and promised to be your partner and always have your back, betrayed you. It sounds like it came as a complete shock. When you expected his appreciation for the sacrifice you were making, he delivered the opposite – rejection and abandonment.
The human psyche isn’t designed to tolerate information like that and maintain calm composure. Our brains are designed to warn us of danger and our nervous systems are designed to react quickly – over-riding our abilities to plan rationally. When threatened, we all spring into action. You experienced sudden rejection and abandonment, which registered as the greatest danger! You were triggered into a fight or flight response. Your behavior aligns perfectly with that fighting reaction.
Should you drop everything and run home to fix this? Your husband sounds like someone who is very disconnected right now from the person you once made a commitment with. I understand that it feels necessary to you, in your wounded state, to repair the relationship. But you need to focus on healing yourself now.
The stress of these times has caused many people to lose their center – the rational wise and loving part of themselves. Yet, someone who could betray his partner the way your husband did has been living outside of his truth. What part of him would do this? We all have parts of ourselves that perform in the world to help us achieve our goals and help us grow up. We often fall in love with the performing parts of our partners. yet under stress we all regress, and often the weak or wounded parts of us start to run our lives.
You and your husband, like all of us, have genuine selves – the heart, soul or essence of your psyche. But that self can get very lost, buried and neglected. Our true self will grow weak from lack of nurture in a world, or with a mindset, that does not value the spiritual – the wise loving potential of wholeness within each person. It’s my belief that when our genuine selves aren’t nurtured and developed, we lose our way. We don’t know who we really are. And we live out of the fragmented wounded parts of us that are fearful and striving and – yes, can even be heartless.
Who is your husband really? Our performing parts can be very pleasing and caretaking of others. Performing parts can be socially acceptable and seem very strong. But performance is a forced energy, and it will evaporate. It isn’t coming from true power.. True power is found in character that’s been built with the deeper qualities of hope in the face of hardship, and love that is sacrificial instead of selfish.
In times of crisis like we are in right now in 2020, the center of a person doesn’t hold if the deeper centered nature has been neglected. Instead, the performing parts will force us into chaos. I believe that’s what’s happened to your husband. And the chaos of your situation is a microcosm of the larger social milieu.
So while I don’t usually give directive advice, in your case, I will. My sense is – no, don’t rush home to try to fix this. Find your way home to yourself. Your true home is in your own good genuine soul. Don’t let your broken heart fragment you further by seeking connection with someone who has demonstrated his own fragmentation. This is not about you, and there’s nothing you can do.
“Kimberly,” it’s time for you to heal. Find a supportive therapist, get into a good group, reach out to the kindest, most loving and gracious people you know. You need to get healthy reflection from safe people who can show you the truth – that you are precious, valuable and worthy of love, just as you are. You belong here in this world, and there is more for you to do. Use your energy instead to heal now, and to build a beautiful future rooted in wisdom and love.
My best wishes for your journey.
NOW – Here’s the question I get most often, and I’m finally answering it.
Q: How Can I (or we) get in to work with you?
A: If you’ve ever tried to connect with me or another therapist to become a client and have not been able to get it, I feel for you. It’s so rough to work up the courage get reach out for help only to be turned away.
So many in my profession have been running full caseloads steadily for months. Recognizing that this pattern isn’t going to end anytime soon, I started developing an exciting opportunity in September. My clients often request, “do you have a video, course or book I could use to review and practice this?” when I show them my foundational principles for mind-body connections that help them feel calm and create changes. https://jennyteg.com/the-now-calm-method/
Now I’m finally closing in on an actual course creation that is like no other! Leveraging adult learning theory, I can actually create an experience course that reinforces the practices that bring about mind-body shifts very quickly. This sets the stage in your own neurobiology for your personal growth and healing goals – whether this is reducing stress, healthier relationship communication/connection, recovery of some sort or launching you into your desired future. Here’s a link with description. https://jennyteg.com/the-now-calm-method/.
If you’d like to join my BETA group starting in Feb., 2021, you’ll get 50% off. If you’d like to be contacted to learn more, sign up here.
Please forward this post to anyone you know who’d be interested or find help here.