A question I get asked regularly is about letting go – how to let go of the pain and hurt of infidelity.
In this episode, I will cover things we hold on to, why we hold onto them, and how to let them go. You’ll learn how your brain is trying to protect you from future harm and what to do to quiet it down.
Infidelity can be trauma-inducing, and the more you understand the ways this shows up for you, the easier it will be to heal.
Interested in joining the August group of Know in 90? Come talk to me here.
I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast,
Episode number 94, Letting Go.
Hello and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive, and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more freedom than the life you’re currently
living but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Before I jump into this next week’s episode all about letting go, I want to
mention that my next group of Know in 90, the doors are open right now. I
am currently filling that group. I am right mid-launch for that group. It’s
starting in August, 3rd week of August, and it’s going to be amazing,
amazing. This last group has been so fun and just the things that I’ve seen
them grow into, and step into, and confront, and deal with, and move
forward from, and the decisions that they’re making, is nothing short of
inspiring. It’s been amazing. If you are interested, if you want more
information, go to my website.
Right now there are spots open to come have a one-on-one conversation with
me. They’re just short 20 to 30-minute talks where we’ll see if it’s a good
fit for you. But I don’t want you to miss it if this is something that you
are interested in. You can also get on my waitlist, which is going to be
linked in the show notes where you’ll find out more there as well. But if
you’re interested in this next round, it is currently filling up. So go
over to my website, andreagiles.com, and you can go ahead and book a call
with me there. I’ll also link in my show notes the link to my calendar
where you could book with me there straight from the show notes. All right?
On to the episode.
Hello, everybody. I got back from Utah earlier this week I want to say.
Like Monday? Yes, Monday. While I was there, I got to witness the birth of
my brand new granddaughter. It was amazing. Amazing. So cool to be a
witness to such an amazing thing. Can I just say that women are freaking
awesome? Like seriously, the things that we do, right, to carry on life. It
was a really good time. I got to spend time individually with a lot of my
adult children. It was really good. Now I’m back home, and I wrote this
outline, the outline for this podcast that I’m about to record, sitting on
my back porch. It is so beautiful in Montana right now.
It’s so lovely. Good temperatures, not too humid. It’s just beautiful. I
live right on the Missouri River. It’s in my backyard, and so I get to
watch the river just flow by, which as I was preparing this episode felt
very fitting for what I’m talking about today. Today, I’m talking about
letting go. What do I mean by letting go? I get emails and messages through
social media all the time asking me how to move forward. How do I stop
rehashing the details? How do I look at him and not be disgusted? How do I
put one foot in front of the other? How do I really let go and move forward
with my life?
First of all, I want to just acknowledge to you that this is hard. Okay?
It’s hard work. Unless you felt nothing for your spouse and don’t care
about them at all, or if you were looking for a way out and this gave you
an easy exit, infidelity can be mighty painful. Some say it’s one of the
most painful things that we can experience. It can be so disorienting, a
very deep wound. And the more meaning we attach to it, the more painful.
For example, if we make it mean that the love that we thought we had is
just not real and never has been, that’s really painful because we’re
negating all of the good times too, so we don’t even have those to hold
If we think that if we would be better looking or whatever, better in bed,
whatever the things are, then this wouldn’t have happened, we can add so
much pain to our story by looking in the mirror and loathing ourselves and
thinking that we should be better. Okay. Those are just some examples of
how we attach meaning and make it more painful. But even without all of
that, the work here that we’re talking about is not for wimps. Okay? This
is a podcast you never wanted to have to listen to. Right? Never a search
you wanted to go searching for. But I will say I’m really glad you’re here,
and I want you to know that you will come out of this stronger and better
for it. It is not going to get the best of you.
All right. Let’s dive in. First we’re going to look today at some ways that
we hold onto things, and then we’re going to talk about why we may be
holding on. Lastly, I’m going to cover how to actually let go and move
forward. First of all, what are some of the ways we hold on? One is by
replaying every detail. This is probably the one I see most. It can feel
involuntary, but often we make room for it. We imagine the scene or the
scenes. We go by places you know they were, and imagine them there, and
feel the pain of it, of imagining them there. We do this for a couple of
reasons. One big one is because our brains are trying desperately to make
sense of what happened. There is this person we care about, and love, and
viewed in one way, and suddenly they look very different.
We can’t reconcile it. There’s this dissonance in our brain, so we replay
things in our mind again and again to try to put pieces together in a tidy
box where it will all make sense. Where we can see why it happened and
settle our brains down to know that because we understand it all it’s never
going to happen again. That’s one reason we do this. Another reason why is
because it very well could be a PTSD response called re-experiencing. I’m
going to share with you some specific symptoms of re-experiencing from the
place of PTSD. This comes from an article by a doctor named Matthew Tull.
He says, “Symptoms of re-experiencing include, frequently having upsetting
thoughts or memories about a traumatic event. Having recurrent nightmares.
Being physically responsive to reminders of the traumatic event. For
example, feeling a surge in your heart rate, or starting to sweat. Having
very strong feelings of distress when reminded of the traumatic event.
Having the sensation that the traumatic event is happening all over again,
sometimes called a flashback. People with PTSD commonly have thoughts like
these or experiences like that. They may wonder, ‘How could I have kept it
from happening?’ And some may have more flashbacks than re-experiencing
things. But re-experiencing can also include consciously recalling your
traumatic experience to somebody else.”
So it’s not just in your own mind, sometimes re-experiencing means saying
it over and over or even a few times to somebody else. Okay? All right. So
with trauma, trauma becomes trauma when it is something that happens that
we cannot process in the moment. We simply can’t. We’re too flooded. Our
brain is too flooded, and so some of the reasons why you may be having
these things come back up might be because they are begging you to process
them. Okay? Later in the podcast I’m going to talk about that. Another
thing we often do in holding onto things is, reminding our brains often
about the infidelity itself.
Not necessarily all the sordid details, but of the infidelity. We can be
enjoying ourselves, even with our spouse, and suddenly remember that this
person hurt us. Our brain may point out how they are not safe, how they’re
untrustworthy, and this can kill a happy moment in no time flat. The mood
can change. Everything can shift instantly. Like, “Wait a minute. Why am I
laughing with this person? Why am I enjoying this with this person? They
did this thing.” Why do we do this? Because it pretends to keep us safe. If
we replay it or think about it often, it’s like keeping up a fence of sorts
or a gate. We don’t want to let them get too close or enjoy them too much
because we may get hurt again.
Gate closed. Gate closed. We might open the gate temporarily and then
remember, “Oh my gosh. This person like crushed me. This person betrayed
me. Shut that gate.” Or they might enjoy us too much and think that all is
forgotten, and all is well, and we’re just moving on, and that’s over and
done. That can feel very threatening. The problem with this is that we end
up hurting ourselves far more than we are hurting them. Okay, so as I’m
giving you my example here, I want you to think about a time where you were
upset about something and because you stayed upset about it you took away
from yourself what could have been a really good sweet time with somebody
or even with yourself. Okay.
A while back, my husband and I were on a road trip alone for the first time
in ages. On this trip, he right away turned on this book on tape that he
was listening to. I didn’t know anything about the plot line. It was like
mid-book. I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know what was going on,
and he just was enjoying listening to his book. I’m like, “Okay. Maybe he’s
going to tell me what’s going on. Maybe he’ll turn it off and talk to me.”
Rather than speaking up and being like, “Hey. What’s going on in this
book,” or, “Hey. Can we listen to something we both want to listen to,” I
got madder, and madder, and madder, and had this whole narrative about how
he just doesn’t care, blah, blah, blah. Okay. I do this stuff too guys. I
do. Okay? I have to practice the same stuff.
So finally I talked to him about it and said, “Hey. I was really hoping
that we could spend time together. I was really hoping that we could talk
to each other and not just tune each other out.” There was some deeper
understanding, but there was plenty of time wasted where I was just getting
fuming mad. Right? So I ended up hurting me far more than hurting him or
making him uncomfortable. Right? Not that I want to do that, but you get my
point, hopefully. Another thing that we may be holding onto that’s
preventing us from letting go is the need to punish. We may feel like they
need to be reminded every day how much they hurt us and that it ain’t over
yet. That just because time has passed by, just because we’ve talked about
it some, doesn’t mean that it’s over.
We may think that we need to remind them often to make sure it doesn’t
happen again, to make sure that they learn their lesson, but does this
work? Does this work? Let’s break it down. Okay. Let’s say that we feel
compelled to give a daily reminder of what happened. We are thinking that
they need to know how bad they hurt us so they don’t do it again. We may
feel adamant, maybe a little vengeful. What are we doing when we feel
adamant or vengeful? We’re throwing in little barbs. We’re making direct or
indirect references. We’re asking questions that we’ve already asked 50
times. We’re mentioning the affair partner. We’re making sure that they see
us cry or hurting. We may make little subtle threats about divorce. We may
make sure that they know that we don’t trust them.
What does this create? What it creates is keeping the pain in the front of
your mind at all times. Can you see that? When you’re doing those things it
is like not giving any room to experiencing anything else but the pain. We
are hurting ourselves way more than we’re hurting them. We’re keeping it
right in front of our eyes and bringing up all of those painful feelings in
an attempt to protect us. But ultimately it’s actually doing the opposite.
It’s hurting us. Okay, so what do we do with this? As with all things, it
is a choice. As with all things, it requires growth. It requires
expansiveness in both mind and body, both cognitively shifting thought and
the ability to hold more in your body.
First, let’s talk about the cognitive side. Thought patterns are really a
big deal here. If you are in a frame of mind that people are generally
untrustworthy, or that he is just untrustworthy, or that others are just
out to get you, no matter what happens, you will use your mind to find
holes. Especially when you throw in past events. You could probably always
find some past slight or hurt to go along with what is in front of you, and
it will give you more evidence of how wrong the situation is. So when you
can notice this and shift your thinking to an openness of what is actually
right in front of you, other emotions can come in. Curiosity, openness,
love, kindness, et cetera. This takes me to the second part of this, which
That’s kind of a buzzword right now, and I’m learning more about it myself.
But what it really means is being present with what is right now. Not
clouding the present moment with past pains. Not getting too far ahead of
ourselves. Sitting with what is, and letting yourself expand in that. Okay?
It is hard to put into words something that is felt, but I want you to
experience this. I know what it feels like in my body when I’m being
mindful. It feels expansive. It feels open. It feels like love. It feels
like peace. It feels like I’m bigger than just myself. Several years ago I
worked with a coach who worked with me around some health issues.
One of the things that she had me practice was pretending like there was a
bubble around me all the time. She had me look, kind of close my eyes and
look at myself, and see what color that bubble was. For me it’s yellow.
When I meditate, when I become mindful, when I practice being still, I can
see that around me, and I can see it glowing, and I can see it expanding.
And when I can do that, I don’t have as much need to prove anything, to be
right about anything. I can just kind of let things be or bring up things
as needed without having the huge emotional burst that often can come when
we are not letting go of things. Like when we’re bringing it all with us.
So for you, I recommend going and practicing this. There’s so much good
stuff out there. There are books. There are YouTube videos. There are apps.
I happen to have a couple apps. One of them is called The Tapping Solution.
Tapping is a way of practicing mindfulness and shifting patterns. I
recommend yoga. You can search for different kinds of yoga. One that’s
really good is Restorative Yoga. I recommend a podcast called Insight
Timer. It’s wonderful. You can find meditations on just about anything in
that. I suggest that you practice this. The pieces need to go together. One
more thing I want to say about this is that I highly, highly recommend also
finding a practitioner that deals with the body side of things.
As a life coach, I deal more with the cognitive side of things. There are
good, good practitioners that work with the body. There are people called
energy workers. There are therapists that do something called EMDR. There
is different somatic kinds of therapy. They are wonderful, and they can
really help release our bodies need to hold onto things that are no longer
serving us. So if you are constantly shrouded with intrusive thoughts, if
you can’t seem to let go, it might just mean that you need a little extra
help with this. You might just need a little extra help to help you release
some of the things that your body and brain are saying are really, really
important to hold onto. Go get some help.
Okay. Lastly, letting go is a conscious act of faith. It is done very
intentionally. It’s an act of faith because it means that you are trusting
that whatever happens you will land on solid ground. You are trusting the
process and the natural progression of things. This is no small feat and
takes tremendous courage, but it is worth it. Notice, my friends, where you
feel peace and do more of that. One of the books that I opened up daily
when I was going through divorce almost 10 years ago, is a book called The
Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie. It’s a one-paragraph-a-day kind
of book, so it’s super fast and easy. You just literally open it up to the
day and read it.
But it’s packed with a lot of wisdom that can just help you be really
intentional with how you’re going to let go. Here’s one snippet from it.
Okay? She says this, “Today I will let things happen without worrying about
the significance of each event. I will trust that this will bring about my
growth faster than running around with a microscope. I will trust my
lessons to reveal themselves in their own time.” Isn’t that beautiful? I
love it. Notice what you are holding onto and ask, “Is this really helping
me move forward? Is it keeping me stuck or pulling me backward?” Either
it’s nudging you forward, or it’s keeping you stuck, or pulling you back.
It’s one of those things. Okay?
That’s what I have for you today. Practice letting go. Loosen your grip.
Just loosen it just a little bit. You’re going to be okay. You’re still
safe. You know why? Because you always have you. You always have you. All
right. Thank you, friends. Have a wonderful day. I’ll see you next time.
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. Again,
it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.