Wow…I don’t know about you all but I am being rocked with the almost daily news about another powerful man being accused of sexually inappropriate (or illegal) behavior. What began with Harvey Weinstein has created an avalanche of accusations and truth telling and it seems like the veil is finally lifting on what most of us women have known (experienced) behind closed doors for centuries.
It’s about time, right?!
It is great that so many brave women finally feel safe enough to come forward and name their accusers. But it’s also heartbreaking. The Louis C.K. accusations were by far the most upsetting (aka triggering) for me because of my own story and I had to put myself in a social media time-out for a few days.Didn’t Louis always seem like a good guy? He came across as being so open and honest about his humanity and always seemed to be so supportive of women. I LOVE the show Better Things. But after the accusations and his subsequent confession, I had to wrestle with whether or not I could still watch it. Luckily, he was cut out from any future financial gain so I was able to get comfortable with watching it again. Mostly.I know I’m not alone in wrestling with what to do now that we know the truth about him and one of the most poignant responses was from a longtime friend of his – Sarah Silverman. The essence of her monologue response was that she was still processing the information but she also asked the question, “Can you love someone who does bad things?”When I heard Ms. Silverman ask that question, I shivered and sighed because I know just how she feels. If you, too, have had your life wrecked by betrayal or sex addiction, then you probably know the answer to Ms. Silverman’s question.
Yes. The answer to that question is unequivocally yes.
Just because a partner has broken our heart and betrayed our trust doesn’t mean we stop loving them. I’m not sure that we ever stop loving them. And when we combine our love for them with our collective history it can make it unbearably hard to find the clarity and certainty about whether or not it’s time for us to leave.
Then Matt Lauer was fired and his co-host spoke with tears in her eyes about trying to reconcile the man who was her friend and colleague with the man who had done such terrible things. To Savanah Guthrie I say, “Girl, I feel you.”
What do you with such horrific information? This is one of the many reasons that denial exists and its power should never be underestimated. Our brains simply cannot process the truth. After I found out the truth about my ex, I felt like my brain had been cleaved in two.
In one hand, there was the half of my brain that held my memories and our love and the life we had together. It held our wedding vows and our history and the child we had created. It held that he was a good father and that he and I would grow old together.
But in the other hand, there was the half that held his lies and his betrayal and his double life. It held the shock and the trauma and the pain of finding out what had been going on behind my back for years.
Which was true? Did he love me? Was he the man I fell in love, married and had a child with? Or was he the man who did bad things? Again, the answer is unequivocally yes.
In order to get to that answer you must become willing to surrender the black and white, dualistic mentality that you are used to. You must open you heart and make space to hold that both realities are true. Many of the great wisdom traditions refer to this as “non-dual” thinking.
For months I tried to put the two halves of my brain back together again and I just about made myself crazy. Peace and certainty only came when I stopped trying and, instead, learned to hold both halves as truth. This does not come easy. I had A LOT of help from what I called my “choir of angels,” which include a coach, two therapists, two yoga teachers and some really great friends.
Was my ex the worst thing that ever happened to me? Yes. Was he also the man that a part of me will always love? YES.
Let’s be clear though…I am not suggesting that because you still love someone it means that you have to stay or that you have to condone their actions or that it is okay to be in denial about who they are and what they did. It certainly doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your right to be safe. This concept was so hard for me to grasp – especially as empath. But let’s save what I call the “empathetic bypass” for next time.
Until then, take it easy on yourself. You can do hard things.But that doesn’t mean that you have to.