Abandonment and betrayal by a long-term partner is a living hell, no matter where it originates. It’s even worse when it comes from the person sleeping next to you in the bed every night.
from my Casper The Unholy Ghost Essay Collection, 2013
There are self-help programs for nearly everything these days. There is also an abysmal lack of support for women whose husbands or partners abandoned long-term committed relationships. Here’s a look at what happens when the person you built your existing world with betrays you.
Suddenly You Feel Fear
Suddenly, your world isn’t a safe place anymore. Whereas you’ve never done so before, you now question your grasp of reality. If you could be so wrong about your soul mate, where else may you have been in the dark?
You start eyeing your friends and acquaintances with suspicion. Can you trust them? Had other people in your social sphere known what was about to happen and failed to tell you? Worse yet, were any of them involved? What about your family members? Did they know? Are you able to trust them?
Soon you become paranoid about everyone and everything. As the vortex of suspicions swirls around your head, you soon will no longer even trust yourself.
Sleep Evades You
You won’t sleep much, if at all. Occasionally, you will get so exhausted from all the crying that you finally collapse onto the bed and begin to doze.
That welcome respite won’t last long because once you enter the REM stage of sleep, images of your abandoning ex hijack your dreams. You want desperately to sleep your life away, but you will be terrified of even a cat nap.
You stay awake in mortal fear of the haunting sure to take place when you allow yourself to rest. When you wake, you will be welcomed with immediate panic attacks when your brain processes that what is happening is genuine and not just another nightmare.
Stripping The Gears In Overdrive
After abandonment and betrayal, you begin imagining all kinds of things that are not based on reality. To add insult to injury, you plunge daggers into your own heart.
You envision the affair partner being everything and you being nothing. You deem the affair partner to be somehow more attractive, better looking, or more intelligent than you. You may know objectively that these things are false, yet you cannot help but fixate on this kind of self-flagellation.
There must be a deficit in you; otherwise, why would they leave? You loop these thoughts incessantly round the clock.
Sudden betrayal sends a loud message that you are not enough. An even bigger kick in the gut is that your runaway deemed you not even worthy of notification.
Trust me when I say this; brooding on this line of thinking will take you to places you don’t want to go. You will sink to one of the lowest points of your life. Each day, a more profound feeling of hopelessness will engulf you.
Everywhere you look, you will find evidence to undergird your anguish. Soon you start to accept the lie that you’re unworthy of love. Your prior accomplishments and successes mean nothing; all you can do is compare yourself to the interloper who stole the love of your life.
Day by day, you lose your will to stand up, speak up, and reclaim your life. Without intervention, you become an emotional cripple. Eventually, you lose your will to go on and may even contemplate suicide. Finally, you seek help and are prescribed antidepressants to help pull you out of the dark.
You will feel pain and grief you never knew possible. You will wonder how a human body can produce that many tears.
You long for karma to get the SOS, serve up some swift retribution to your abandoner, and vindicate you. You may even contemplate ways to exact a pound of flesh (or at least an apology) from your torturer.
But you won’t because that would require energy — the energy you don’t have. Instead, you forego your evil machinations and opt for a less taxing endeavor — getting out of bed and showering.
You Lose Weight
Food will not interest you. You likely started vomiting when you first learned of your betrayal. Even after the dry heaves subside, you’ll live with a gnawing sick feeling in your stomach for a long time.
You may have been an otherwise competent and rational adult before any of this happened. You may even have held a professional position or have an esteemed degree. None of that matters.
Your job, family, friends — even the simplest activities of daily living — take a back seat to your pain. You remain preoccupied with one concern and one concern only: your partner’s treason.
When you get dressed and show up for work, your job performance suffers. Try as you might; you find no diversion in anything. You feel dead inside and wonder if you’ll ever feel anything besides pain, ever again.
Suspicion And Second Guessing
Destabilized, you have no accurate way of assessing reality. Is what you think that you know the whole truth? How would you know? Your ex is a liar.
You wonder what happened to the person who affirmed to cherish you above all others, and ’til death do you part’. Your paranoia circles back around for another visit. Were they lying then, too? Has your entire relationship history been a waste?
Sound Like Hell?
It is! But take it from one who’s been there and took five (5!) years to get her head out of the sand: you only lose if you give up and quit. Get up! Keep going! Taking your life back after abandonment and betrayal is the hardest thing you may ever do, but keep marching–even if it’s a slow and laborious pace.
You can walk out of your hell, but only by putting one foot in front of the other.
Abandonment, betrayal, shame, public embarrassment, bankruptcy, and homelessness doesn’t have to consume you. You CAN walk out the other side, intact and with only the smell of smoke on your clothes. But only if you keep walking.
Self-esteem doesn’t come from being pretty or having more money than the next guy or gal. Lasting self-esteem comes from being confronted with calamity and our inner demons and hanging on to make the right choices.
In this case, the right choice is to keep going — even when that choice requires swimming through a river of tears.