July 28, 2017
By Vicki Tidwell Palmer
Partners, it is so easy to become weary.
When you’re dealing with betrayal trauma and addiction, progress, recovery, and healing rarely happen as quickly and as smoothly as you’d like.
Waiting for your spouse to establish sobriety, find a therapist, engage in 12-step work, or prepare a formal therapeutic disclosure can feel like it will never end.
And the waiting can severely test your patience.
Waiting for information—or for the trust-building actions that will help you and your relationship heal and move forward—is the most difficult and painful time for partners. But it doesn’t last forever.
If you’re in a waiting pattern, here are 6 ways to make the waiting a little easier:
Be Gentle with You
This one may seem obvious, but it’s #1 for a reason. Too many partners berate themselves with negative self-talk like, “How could I not have known?” or “Why am I still with him/her?”
If you’re asking yourself these questions, I encourage you to replace these questions with, “No wonder I’m feeling awful. I’ve been deceived and betrayed. What would help me feel better right now, that is in my control?”
Partners and addicts alike often get recovery fatigue. Thinking—and talking—about recovery, therapy, sobriety, or the past can consume your life, if you let it.
If you and your spouse have a 24/7 focus on addiction, create space and time to engage in recovery-free activities and conversations. Reflect on how you spent your time and what you enjoyed talking about pre-discovery, and work toward incorporating those back into your present life. Maybe even have some fun!
If I Weren’t in This Situation, I Would . . .
This question will help you identify areas of interest, projects, or goals that you may be able to begin or make progress on, even in your current situation.
For example, you may have been on your way to learning a new skill, changing jobs, or taking up a new hobby pre-discovery but you understandably put it on hold. While you may not yet be ready to charge full steam ahead, what parts can you do?
If you have the energy, do some research, take some baby steps, and dream. All these activities will bring you closer to your original goal.
Accepting Waiting and the Unknown as Part of Life
Although you’re in an unusually painful waiting period, the truth is that waiting and being in a place of not-knowing are simply a reality of life.
Life is a never-ending cycle of wanting what we don’t yet have, or getting what we wanted and realizing that reaching a goal—while gratifying—isn’t a final destination or the ultimate fulfillment.
If you’re committed to your own healing and growth, you will have many periods of waiting. Learning to flow with them—rather than being in perpetual, frustrating resistance—is a valuable life skill, regardless of the situation.
Make a Procrastination List
Now is a good time to make a list of everything you’ve been procrastinating about. Is there anything you’ve been neglecting or avoiding? Perhaps a new healthy habit, a hobby you were engaged in but dropped, a new business idea, or project that would bring some passion, enthusiasm, or even joy to you.
Taking care of anything you’ve been putting off will give you an instant confidence boost, and momentum for even more progress.
Remember, You are Free
As a survivor of betrayal trauma, it’s so easy to think of yourself as trapped and powerlessness.
Unless you’re in a situation of severe domestic abuse* with no access to resources, family, friends, or the independence to go where you want to go and to do what you want to do, you are free to leave your relationship.
For a variety of very good reasons, you probably don’t want to leave. So when you’re feeling discouraged, hopeless, and powerless remind yourself that you have options—including leaving.
Focusing on your freedom to choose nurtures an empowered mindset, so important for your survival, healing, and growth.
*The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-787-3225)