The demise of a marriage, or any other long-term relationship for that matter, is always a catastrophe for those involved. But when this stems from adultery, and its ensuing betrayal, this leaves horrific scars for the innocent party, scars which could take years and years to heal, if ever. We speak to Sharon* about her experience, the death of her relationship and how she finally not only overcame the pain of dealing with her loved one’s treachery but managed to put an end to toxic choices…
“After more than six years together, my idol turned out to have feet of clay. I won’t go into the sordid details of how I found out, because even now rehashing the whole thing makes me feel nauseous… But anyway, I packed his stuff in a couple of suitcases, resisted dozens of morbid thoughts of revenge, drew my chin up and bid the scumbag goodbye. In my much tidier flat, I wandered listlessly around the echoing rooms and finally went to bed reeling from what I can now say was shock.
“That very first morning as I lay in my strangely cold bed, I knew that I had to get up and face the world; I had been in love with a fantasy of my own creation and was now left with a huge six year old gap in my life, the pain of which felt insurmountable at the time. But this was not the first relationship that had gone awry, and somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that I had to turn my life around, including my sometimes-naïve outlook on relationships. In a moment of clarity in my still befuddled mind, a wicked plan was forming… It was no longer just about ‘moving on’ – I had ‘moved on’ too many times, only to land right in the middle of another disaster waiting to happen. No, this time around I was too savvy for that; I had to give my whole life an extreme makeover and upgrade! Upgrade! Upgrade!
“With my new ‘no wallowing’ policy in place I embarked on my new lifestyle with fervour, starting out (as girls are usually wont) with my wardrobe. The time when as a young girl I could do ‘scruffy’ and still look smashing, was long gone. No, I needed to evolve fully, once and for all into the woman I had become and that needed to start right then. Several shopping trips later and with a credit card bill simply bursting at the seams it seemed I was no closer to my epiphany than when I had embarked on this life changing endeavour. But, being the eternal optimist, I just knew that if I managed to tweak other areas of my life, everything would just turn out hunky-dory, including my errant love life.
“And so, it went on for months on end; refurbishing my flat until it looked like something out of a catalogue, changed my diet, from a sultry brunette I morphed into an icy platinum blonde, started dancing lessons and on and on and on. Somewhere along the line, I realised that while I was searching for the abstract, something to fill the painful void lingering from my last relationship, I had taken control of my life and was functioning as never before. I no longer was on the constant lookout for ‘The One’ and my choices were no longer based on what ‘he’ would think; I had the freedom for the first time ever to not be responsible for another’s happiness and God, it felt so, so liberating! While this flurry of activities can be interpreted as denial, I was actually the happiest I had ever been, even if the realisation that you can never hide from the past and all the hurt, finally hit. But for the first time in my life, I could do as I well damn pleased without having to answer to or be more attractive/livelier/sexier/more exciting to anyone.
“In this life it’s inevitable that we’ll suffer betrayal at some point or other; what makes the difference is how we handle it. Letting resentment get the better of us is like carrying a dead weight for the rest of our life… In the end it’ll overpower and destroy us beyond the point of no return. Bolster your spirit instead and spend time and energy on yourself; it’s the standard prescription for heartbreak. So, I guess in my quest for an epiphany to sort out my love life, I had come across my true partner, myself, my real self and believe you me after the lowlifes that had cluttered my life so far, it was quite a refreshing encounter!”
Sharon’s* foolproof guide to healing…
1. Take out the trash
De-clutter your life of your ex. You won’t be able to move on if every room in your house contains poignant reminders of your now less-than-zero significant other. Throw out the photos (or untag them off Facebook), presents and mementoes; if you have to start over, start with a clean slate.
2. Be kind to yourself
Pondering how it all went wrong, is definitely not the way forward and while in these instances anyone would clamour for closure, accept that this was one of life’s wicked jokes and get on with it. With your emotions all over the place, now is not the time to apportion blame or conduct a detailed post-mortem of your relationship.
3. Go crazy!
No, not by slashing his clothes or demolishing his car, but by relishing your new found freedom; go on a holiday, do things you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t because you were tied in a relationship. So, if you’ve always wondered what bungee jumping could be like, now’s the time to go for it!
Yes, we all know how lonely it can get after a nasty break-up and just how much you miss sex but throwing yourself into another relationship when you’re still reeling from the previous one is simply a disaster waiting to happen. Give yourself time to heal instead before launching yourself on the dating scene again.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the interviewee