When I previously wrote about this, the target audience was that of the betrayed Partner in the relationship, but also for the Betrayer to realize that their Partner is now properly equipped and on to them. Because of their Partner’s actions and behaviors, they question everything they know about themselves; their bodies, their sexuality, their own actions, and behaviors. It never really occurs to them that your actions and behaviors aren’t, and never were, about them. “What did I do wrong?”, “Am I not pretty enough?” and “Am I just not any good at pleasing my Partner?” and many more are all things that go through their mind.
So, are you good enough? Like my previous answer to your Partner, No! And also, before you collapse into a state of total despair, depression, and helplessness, perhaps you too should read on and figure out why , for I don’t want to be the one to have delivered the bad news without telling you why it is actually good news either.
Is your Partner not treating you right? Why not? What is their problem? “I take her out to dinner”, “I open the door for her”, and “I buy her flowers, chocolates, and cards” all the time. The least she could do is show me a little gratitude; appreciation, for all of the things that I do for her. She could show me some respect; some love too. And you would be correct. There’s only one problem. I recall an extremely popular sitcom a few decades ago. The father, talking with the young man interested in dating his daughter, was quite distraught and upset over how the young man showed contempt and a complete lack of respect for her parents, and by extension, her too. In the midst of the conversation, the father tells the young man this in so many words:
“Son, let me tell you from where I stand how you presented yourself, and my perception of how your introduction unfolded. What’s your favorite meal? Steak? Great, so what kind of steak? Ribeye? So how do you like that cooked? Medium Rare? So what do you like to go with your steak? Baked potato? What do you want on your baked potato? Butter? How about some sour cream? Chives? Bacon bits? Cheese? How about some sautéed mushrooms? Asparagus perhaps? A salad? You’ve got all of this delicious food, your favorite foods, all lined up together for this wonderful meal. So I take this juicy steak, this big delicious baked potato, with all of the trimmings, and I serve it up to you on a garbage can lid. Son, that’s what you did. You served yourself up on a garbage can lid.”
So what is the point? On the surface, you are a great human being. Handsome, likable, fit, witty, intelligent, thoughtful, kind, romantic, are just to name a few of the descriptions used to define you. That’s what everyone sees in you from the outside that made you such an attractive potential partner in a relationship in the first place. The thing is, for every one of your attractive qualities, there is an equal number of inferior ones. Beneath it all is this monster that is trying to come out from beneath the skin, like Mr. Hyde inside of Dr. Jekyll, to get out so to speak and rear its ugly head. It takes at least tenfold the number of good deeds to make up for any one bad one. And depending on the degree and depth of the bad one, it may take many more. It’s like a bushel of apples, with one apple, rotten to the core, in the mix. It’s not long before the bad apple spoils the entire bunch. The outside world, those who know you the least, have a very different, compartmentalized, and unrealistic, view of you than those closest to, and know you, the most. It is this when people are often perplexed to learn things about you that just didn’t make any sense.
Your Partner isn’t treating you right. Your partner is treating you in a manner in which you feel that you shouldn’t be treated. You feel threatened. You’ve been doing all the right things. You’ve been taking her out to dinner. You’ve been opening the door for her and pulling out her chair for her. You’ve been buying her flowers, chocolates, and cards. You don’t deserve to be treated like this. You deserve much better. It’s just not fair. But life rarely is, and as I have told so many others, “if you want fair, I’ll buy you a ticket, and you can go to the fair”. You are entitled to be treated the same way that you treat her. Think about that for a moment why don’t you. Does this sound familiar?
“Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.”
The irony is, this is precisely what she is doing. Interestingly enough, all of her actions and behaviors? They are almost unanimously always reactions to your actions. She is reacting to your actions and behaviors. Your positive actions yield positive reactions, and conversely, your negative actions yield negative reactions.
As one not to mince words, and tell it like it is, let’s just cut to the chase. Often times, when our relationship is running on autopilot, or more appropriately running on empty, we find ourselves just going through the motions as if we were living a robotic existence. We go about our lives, doing the same thing over and over again, day after day, not really understanding, not really knowing why, like we’re defining the definition of “insanity” only in real-time, expecting a different result. Yet the result stays the same because nothing ever really changes. Yes, you are the Terminator in the relationship because you are systematically destroying it without really knowing, understanding, or realizing why. It’s out of your control.
All along, throughout the duration of your relationship you’ve been sending out mixed signals; mixed messages. One signal, the words that come out of your mouth, do not match the other signal, the actions that you produce. They are consistently persistently in conflict with one another. I will get to why this occurs, but for the moment, just accept this to be a true reality for you. What you are telling them just isn’t adding up to what you are doing. All of the things you’ve said just doesn’t balance the equation with all of the subtle events in your life. If you don’t see it now, you will.
In the parallel twin to this article, My Partner Betrayed Me: “Am I Enough?” (Part I), I presented a list to the one person you love more, above, and beyond everyone else; your Partner. I showed them how to recognize the WARNING SIGNS, the tell/tale/tail signs, and how to take the individual pieces and put the puzzle together. It’s not a coincidence anymore and they know it. It all makes sense to them now, and it will to you too soon enough.
Now that your Partner has been properly trained and equipped to keep score, a list if you will, it may be a good idea for you to keep one of your own. It will come in quite handy in much the same way a journal does for monitoring your recovery progress. You should know and understand by now the ramifications of your actions and behaviors. What you probably don’t know yet is the consequences you will bear. The evidence supports and suggests what it does. Please don’t waste valuable time trying to defend the indefensible. Instead, utilize this time to plan, build, and execute a recovery plan; a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) plan. The reason for a SMART plan is that it meets all the requirements for objectivity, so success is easily measured by the results.
Seemingly, we look at other people in our lives, other couples, and wonder “how did they manage to hit the jackpot in their relationship(s) while we struggle so much with our own?” Well, the short answer is that each of us has our own life story, our history, that forever alters the trajectory of our destiny. Whether you were subject to any kind of abuse in your early childhood, inappropriate sexual contact by a family member, neighbor, or someone else who is in a position of power, supervision, and authority over you, any of these life-changing events forever alter your perception of reality as the events were permanently etched into your brain. It’s not fair, and in fact, it is incredibly unfair. We learn, however, that “we accept the things we cannot change”, and process it so that we can heal from it so that we can move forward and past it. An interesting phenomenon of it all is that at whatever age the life-altering event(s) occurred, we tend to get emotionally stuck there.
As you face this reality, like your Partner is experiencing in their own betrayal trauma, you too feel abandoned, betrayed, embarrassed, guilty, ashamed, unworthy and so many other negative adjectives that you use to define yourself. “I’m damaged goods” you may think because of the sexual molestation you so humiliatingly endured as a child. It is incredibly unfortunate, and it occurs far more often than statistics will ever reveal because this is shrouded in so much guilt, shame, and embarrassment, it is simply something the victim will take to their grave. They will protect this secret, this skeleton in their closet, at all cost no matter what. Any thought of revealing the betrayal, the trauma, the pain, is simply out of the question, totally off the table, and not subject to any discussion. This is the self-preservation.
Deep down inside of us, we carry this ball and chain around in our own circle of life. Unfortunately, all of those lives we touch, we tend to in some way manage to attach the chain to them as well. It’s not our intention, but that is what happens. Because we never really managed to cope and deal with our history, we create a history that mimics our own with all of those we love around us. We are following the script of our movie out of our book to the letter. But not only is the movie and the script a lie. So too is the book that spawned it.
As you ponder these events that occurred in your life, you have to remember this. It is not your fault. What happened to you, you had no control over. Even if you manage to convince yourself that you didn’t try to stop it, that you could have tried to stop it, as a child, you were in little power, authority, and position to do so. You’ve been subjected to life-altering events by the adults in the room, in your life, not who should know better but do know better. To paraphrase Dr. Phil, “Never involve (burden) children in adult issues and never include them with situations that they cannot control” As such, from the child’s perspective, with the understanding that we are no longer a child, it was that very situation, those very issues, and all of the circumstances surrounding it, that we had no control over. We are not to blame. And like your Partner, none of it has anything to do with you. You are not, nor were you ever, responsible for another person’s actions and behavior. You’re only responsibility is to you and of yourself.
Once we absorb, comprehend, and realize this, it frees us to move on to processing how we feel about it. First, it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge the very existence of the trauma we experienced. It happened. Nothing can change that. But that’s also history. It may have changed the trajectory of your life, but now you must realize, as an adult, you have much more control over your destiny from this day forward. Your perpetrator no longer has that control over you. Any animosity you may have toward them, the resentment that you hold, is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It rots your soul from within. You need to figure out a way to forgive them, not because they deserve it, but because you do.
Yes, you are “damaged goods” but that’s actually a good thing because otherwise, you’d have to compete with all of those who aren’t which I submit to you, are the exception, rather than the rule. You’re in good company when you are “damaged goods”. Your failures serve as lessons to teach you how to triumph. Your story is what makes you so very special and unique. Your survival is what stands out in a crowd and makes you even more so. If you have ever heard of the expression “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”, the incredible strength you have demonstrated up to now is phenomenal. You are much stronger than you think. You are smarter than you think. You are much more resilient than you think.
Your pursuit of happiness isn’t contingent upon someone else. Nobody can make you unhappy unless let them. Nobody can make you feel embarrassment, guilt, or shame unless you want them to. Nobody can make you feel inferior unless you allow them to. Don’t! All of these things reside within you. You control how you feel, process, and react to it. You control the outcome of your own destiny. You are the author of your own story. The first chapters are all history. You are now immersed in the middle of your story. The beauty is, as the author, you get to determine, create, and write the end of your story.
It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of you. Those who judge you really shouldn’t be casting stones from the proverbial glass houses in which they live.
“Anybody else’s opinion of you is none of your business.”
I know it is most difficult, but ignore them. All of your actions and behaviors up to this point are behind you. Besides, what they think about you says little about you, but speaks volumes about them. None of it is about you. It is all about them in much the same way your actions of betrayal of your Partner are not about them, but about you. You, and you alone, decide how you are going to respond and react to their actions and vice versa. You have your own set of internal issues and insecurities that you, and you alone, must acknowledge, embrace, and endure that are yours to resolve.
In the movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan so wisely tells Edmond’s siblings “What’s done is done. There is no need to speak to Edmond about what is past.” We’d all be well advised to embrace that wisdom. All the things that led you up to this point are in the past. There is nothing you can do about it and to quote John Coffey in The Green Mile, you “can’t take it back.” In most instances, natural consequences are enough such that any imposed consequences wouldn’t be any better or worse than those already inflicted upon themselves, and thus counterproductive.
Like your Partner, you will never be enough. And you will always be enough. The fact is, you’ll never be perfect. But neither will anyone else, so that sort of kind of makes it a level playing field. Always strive for progress; not perfection. Anyone who is looking for perfection is setting themselves up for a life of disappointment. It is the fundamental difference between fantasy and reality you don’t even want to try to compete with. But know this about yourself. You, in the process of reconciling all that you have done with that which you will do going forward, all of your self-esteem, self-confidence, and most importantly, self-worth will rise like a phoenix out of the ashes as you evolve into the new and wonderful you. Reality will replace fantasy, fulfillment will replace unfulfillment, and worthiness will replace unworthiness. You are the real deal. You always were and always will be. You were always good enough. You are good enough. And you always will be good enough.
As for that good news? Embrace your imperfections too. That’s what makes you the unique person you always were, are, and always will be as well. That’s what makes you so very special as well. You are beautiful in body, mind, and spirit just as your Partner. Remember that. Nobody else can ever take that away from you unless you let them. This, and the parallel twin to this article, My Partner Betrayed Me: “Am I Enough?” (Part I), heavily support one another, and so too should you and your Partner.