Toxic Independence | Ep #135

In a world that celebrates independence, it can seem like “weakness” to build relationships that require vulnerability. With “cancel culture” being rampant, it goes against the messages of the day, especially after infidelity, to fully lean in to building something that will last the test of time.

In this episode I go over two common ways we relate with each other in relationships, and one that is less practiced but will get you far more traction.

You will be able to identity where you are in your own relationship, and hear some tips on things that will push you in a healthy way.

To learn more from me, be sure to join my email list at: https://andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/

To learn more about working with me, go to: https://andreagiles.com/get-your-life-back/

Follow me on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/theinfidelitycoach/
 

Episode Transcript

I’m Andrea Giles and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast,
episode number 135, Toxic Independence.

Hello and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouses’ betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more for you 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.

Hello everybody. So happy to be here today recording this for you. I hope
that you have enjoyed the last few episodes where I have had some amazing
guests come on. We had Lauren talking about her journey and her marriage
with infidelity. We had Sarah come on and talk about people pleasing. This
week, it’s just me. I’m back, just me. And I’m going to be talking to you
about something that has been on my mind, that I’ve been formulating and
thinking about and it’s time to get this out and turn it into an episode,
and I hope that it’s helpful for you today. Before we dive in, I first of
all want to say thank you so much for the people who have recently gone in
and left reviews on my podcast. It always is so fun for me to see, just to
know that there are people all over that are listening and that are
benefiting from it, that it’s helping. It’s such a joy for me to read
those.

Also, when people go look and try to find a podcast regarding infidelity,
it helps so much with credibility for them to go. First of all, the more
reviews, the algorithm picks it up, moves it to the top so that they see it
quicker. And then reading the reviews gives so much credibility to the
podcast so people are more inclined to listen. So if you have not yet left
a review and have thought about it or if you have benefited from this
podcast, I would appreciate it so much. This is a free thing that I do and
it does help me in return for people to leave a podcast review. So thank
you for that. One more quick thing, the doors to my program are open. You
can go join anytime, Get Your Life Back After Infidelity.

Probably the best way to learn about me and my work if you are new around
here, is to go watch my free webinar. I am doing a live webinar every week
right now for the month of February. You can go register in the show notes
to this. You can go register over on my website, andreagiles.com. And you
can get on that, watch it, and I do share some of the details about my
program and bonuses that I’m doing. So go check that out. Doors are open.
The results that I’m seeing are just so amazing. So many people, just a
couple of weeks in, feeling deep shifts, deep desire to really heal and to
have the best for themselves. It’s so inspiring to see. Anyway, I’d love
you to be in there with me.

Okay, now getting into the episode today. So part of what inspired this
episode now, it’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while, but
my daughter and my husband had a car ride together and they came home and
told me about a conversation that they had in the car. And then we
continued that conversation with me included. And what it was about was,
there’s this band that my daughters, I have twin daughters that are 14, that
they both are crazy about. They love this. In fact, I took them to their
first concert this last December to this band and they love them.

And one of the players in the band, I think it’s the drummer, recently came
under big fire for comments made five years ago that were not real great.
There were things that sounded a little bit inappropriate. I think there
was something that sounded a little bit racist or biased, things like that.
I don’t even know exactly what the comments were, but the conversation was,
our daughter said, “I think he’s going to be canceled. I think that the
band might break up because of this.” And so we talked about that and I
said, “What do you think about that?”

And she said, “I think people should have an opportunity to show that they
are different, that they’ve changed, that they’ve grown. That that person
that said those things five years ago is not who they are now.” And I agree
with her. I agree. I think that there needs to be accountability, 100%. But
we live in a culture where we do cancel people. This cancel culture where
people can just be destroyed, people who have high influence, people who
are doing really good things can be completely canceled if there are things
in their past that get dug up or if they make a mistake or an error, if
they say something inappropriate, if they do something that others don’t
like. And I myself am not a fan of this because we all do this. We all do
stupid things, we all say stupid things, we all have grown from who we were
at 18, at 25.

We all, thank goodness, have the opportunity to grow. And this does not
take into account any of that. It’s like, “This is who you are, you said
this thing, so you are X, Y and Z.” And then we cut people out. And the
reason why this just sparked this desire in me to go ahead and record this
episode that’s been on my mind is because we do this to each other. We live
in a time that’s all about independence, looking out for number one, if
it’s not working for you, cut it out, cut it out, cut it out. And on the one
hand, I am very grateful for the progress that we have made. I’m grateful
that we can leave toxic situations. I’m grateful that there are so many
more opportunities than there used to be for us to grow and to have
independence and to be independent. That a woman can get divorced, in most
places, not all places yet. There are still lots of places that are really
difficult for a woman to get divorced. I’m so grateful that I was able to
when I did.

But part of the problem here though is that what often happens is if we see
something that we don’t like, something that is offensive, something that
is hurtful, we can go from one extreme to another so quickly. That black
and white thinking. How many of you have had the experience where you maybe
had somebody that you really looked up to, like a school teacher or a
coach, somebody that was really influential and maybe you saw them in a
human moment where you saw that they are human and that they had flaws and
that feeling you have of, oh wow, okay. I remember this with somebody that
I just thought she walked on water. It was a leader in my environment and
she’s an amazing person. But I remember when I saw some things, I was like,
“Huh, I never would’ve guessed.”

It’s so easy to swing the pendulum to judgment, people are all good or all
bad, and we either have a relationship with them or not at all. So right
now, I’m going to switch gears a little bit and just talk a little bit more
about what this looks like in marriage, in relationships, where infidelity
is there, which is why you are listening to this podcast. First of all, many
of us, myself included, many of you listening, have been, maybe for a lot
of your life, in a codependent type model where there’s a lot of
dependency. Where there’s a lot of dependency on the other person and what
they’re doing to determine our own mood, our own happiness. If they’re
okay, I’m okay. Waiting on bated breath, on if that person is going to
figure it out and get themselves together so that we can stay.

This is post-infidelity. Watching their every move, very dependent on if
this person is doing the things, getting the help and reading the books and
listening to the podcast. And if they’re not, then we feel desperate.
Coming from that model, very dependent on what they do. Lots of ups and
downs. It’s not a real stable or true sense of self. There’s a lot of
getting information of who we are from this other person rather than really
knowing who we are. There’s a low level of differentiation, which means
we’re very entwined, very wrapped up in each other. That we can’t handle if
somebody else is unhappy with us, if our partner is unhappy with us because
we don’t have a strong enough sense of who we are. And it rocks us so much.

And there’s not a lot of truth telling here. There’s not a lot of really
letting somebody see you. There’s not a lot of knowing the other person.
What this looks like is often looking to this other person to validate how
we want to be seen. So part of the reason why infidelity can be so painful
is because if we are coming from this codependent model where we are getting
information about who we think we are based on their actions, and then they
cheat and then they violate the trust and have an affair or whatever the
infidelity is. And if we are getting our information of who we are based on
what they’re reflecting back to us, this is a perfect storm. This is a
recipe for disaster of what we make it mean about us. Because there’s not
this solid sense of this is who I am and this person is separate from me
and made this decision.

So from this codependent place, it is very traumatic. It is a huge blow to
our own image that is shaky at best already. And again, in this place,
there’s not a lot of vulnerability. There’s not a lot of transparency. It
may look like you get along great. You might look like you’re good friends,
very polite to each other, living very nice little lives of you do your
thing, you do mine. But we don’t really talk about the deeper things. Or it
might be a little bumpy too. It might be the kind of model where one person
brings a lot of anxiety and tenseness to the relationship and the other
person is on pins and needles from day to day, wondering what kind of mood
that person’s going to be in when they get home. And that person that’s
waiting, their mood shifts based on the mood of the person that’s coming
home.

So this is called the codependent model. Codependent, very dependent on the
other person. And I will just say, this was very much how I lived in my
first marriage. This is how I felt, just waiting for the shoe to drop,
waiting to see what mood he was in, things like that. Now after infidelity,
often what happens is the pendulum swings the complete opposite way. This
is where cancel culture comes in. This is where people go to extremes.
Instead of knowing the situation, instead of looking deeper for, okay,
let’s break this down and look at what actually happened and why. Canceling
them out, blocking them out, labels, statements about who this person is,
all or nothing.

I see my clients do this. I see my clients go from a codependent model and
then the infidelity occurred and they swing over to, they’re bad, they’re a
rotten person. And our society backs that up. You go on any infidelity page
on Facebook or Reddit or any of these places and there’s no tolerance,
there’s no understanding, there’s no coming together to understand each
other. And while we don’t have to lower our standard, for some people
infidelity is a deal breaker, and I get that and I understand that and I
respect that. But I respect it when it’s coming from a place that has been
thought out, that’s not just going with the social pressure that they might
feel. When it’s really the truest thing for them. Often what happens is the
person who was cheated on feels such a huge lack of control. “Everything
that I tried to do bit me in the butt, backfired and I need some sense of
control.”

And so they’ll often swing over to this other side, which is the
independent model. “I don’t need him. He can go do whatever he wants. He’s
going to do what he wants. I can be fine.” Sometimes this happens after my
clients learn to start to manage their thoughts, learning that they can
actually control what they think, that they have options about what they
think. And backing up a little bit, that codependent model is very
unconscious. It’s under the surface. It’s not real thought out. It’s going
very much off of our primal fears of being abandoned, of being left out,
things like that. It’s very fear-based. This independent side looks
different. It looks to some like it’s healthy. “Look, I’m controlling my
thoughts. I am managing my feelings. I’m thinking about what I think. I
don’t need to let him affect me at all. He can go do what he’s going to do,
I’m fine.”

And in this space, we often put up walls that are a mile high. “Don’t come
near me. I don’t want to hear any of it. Nothing you say is going to matter
or mean anything. It’s completely unacceptable. I have no tolerance for
what you did and I have no tolerance for you. You are bad. Stay away from
me.” This can feel really good. It can feel like we are setting boundaries.
This is a deception though. When we are in this independent state of
swinging the pendulum over or trying to get some control or trying to feel
in control, and usually it’s not actual, real boundaries. It’s an attempt to
keep safe and to feel something different than out of control. Boundaries
come from a place of self-sufficiency and self-love and self-care. This is
different. This is, I don’t want to deal with this emotion, so I’m going to
block it by putting my walls up really high.

I see people staying in this place for years. And we live in a culture that
praises it. It’s very dangerous. We praise independent women. I like to
think of myself as an independent woman. I love that I can take care of
myself. I love that I don’t need money from anyone else. I love that I can
take care of my emotions, all of those things. But there has to be another
third piece here to really create the kind of relationship that I’m going to
lead us into here. But back to the culture we’re in. Very much, me, me, my
truth. If your truth doesn’t agree with mine, I’m going to cut you out. Mine
matters most. But the problem is that if we stay in this independent place,
there’s no point in being in relationship with others. There is no room for
anyone else. There’s no room. And the other one, it’s very overcrowded. In
this other independent space, it’s very separate, removed from other
people, high walls.

I actually know somebody. I know her pretty well, I’ve known her for years.
Who was in a marriage, there was infidelity, there was a lot of abuse,
meanness. And she ended up getting divorced. And it’s been many years now
and the pattern that I have seen is that the words she says are that she
wants to get remarried, but she stays in this highly independent, really
making her identity. This is who I am, I don’t need anybody. It only will
work for me if you do it my way. And what I’ve seen happen many times is
driving people away because there is no room for them there. There’s no
room. There’s no room for somebody else’s opinion, somebody else’s desires.
It’s more like if you can make your life fit into mine, then we can do
something together. And so far, I’ve seen several relationships fall apart
because she is still staying stuck in that independent place.

There’s a third option. It’s called interdependence. I’m going to just try
to demonstrate what this would look like on a piece of paper. I want you to
visualize it. The codependent model would be two circles that are almost
overlapping. There’s not a lot of autonomy. There’s not a lot of just
really thriving, individuals who are thriving and choosing to live life
together. There’s so much overlap. What you feel is what I feel. What you
think is what I think. There’s no really knowing even who that person is.
There’s no knowing you. There’s no knowing who you really are. Not a solid
sense of self for either of you. Swinging over to the independent side.
It’s those same two circles are separate. There is no overlap. No overlap.
They’re living parallel lives. There’s no intimacy. There’s no
vulnerability. There’s no letting that person really know you because that
would feel scary and weakness to let somebody really see you.

The third option here, the interdependence. You take those two circles, you
put them closer together and there’s a little bit of overlap and there’s a
lot of open space on each side. That is what interdependence is. There is
some crossover of sharing lives, of that vulnerability, of really taking
risks and letting somebody know you. There’s also taking a risk of letting
us know ourselves, really knowing who we are, knowing all the parts about
ourselves that we hide, the parts about ourselves that we feel shame about
and shining a light on them and letting somebody else see us. There’s also
a lot of communication, collaboration. It does not mean that you both are
doing the same things or liking the same things even, but it does mean that
there’s enough space there to make room for both of you. That there’s a lot
of collaboration to find things that work for you.

Where I see this in my clients who are wanting to stay in their marriages
is rather than being in these other codependent models or the independent
models, they’re to a point where they truly, genuinely see enough good in
the other person, that there’s a strong enough desire to really make
something work. To make it work, to build something amazing together. Like
that Marriage 2.0, we’re not going back, we’re only going forward and it’s
going to be good. That’s their standard. And in this space, there’s often
getting to know your partner in a way that you never have before. Yes, you
probably never knew that they were capable of the things that they did
regarding the infidelity, but there’s also an opportunity to see other
parts of this person, to see the good, to know them, to understand them,
and for them to see you as well.

And in trying to create a relationship that genuinely works for both of
you, it requires collaboration, it requires lots of discussion, and how can
we both feel that our needs are met here? Why do I need to take care of in
myself and what can I ask you for? And then there’s a lot of independence.
There’s a lot of space here to explore yourself, to explore your own life,
your own interests. In that open space, there’s this not needing this
person to think certain things about you for you to know that it’s right for
you. This has been a huge step for me in my own development, even just in
the last years. I can look at where my thought process was when we got
married. It’ll be eight years in July. And I know that I came in with some
things that were still pretty hurt from my first marriage.

There was a lot of codependent things going on there, where I was wanting
to be the rescuer and take care of everybody. We had 10 kids living at home
and I just felt like I needed to earn my spot there. And I can hear how
ridiculous that sounds. I was here taking care of all these people and my
husband, how sad I can have so much compassion for me. And then I’ve gone
through stages where I have swung over to that independent. I can do this
myself. I am independent. I can take care of myself. I don’t need anything
from him to feel good enough. And then the sweet spot for us though has
been where we’ve both had to learn to be more transparent with where we’re
at and who we are and more vulnerable in showing that. And for me
personally, I can say that in the last year and a half or so, I’ve had some
pretty big things happening around my faith where I have been really
exploring some things that I had never really thought about before.

And it has been challenging to bring them to my husband and talk about them
because it challenges his view of things. And it has made us so much closer
to be able to hear each other, to be able to talk about things, to be able
to go, “I don’t quite understand where you’re at or what you’re thinking. I
don’t quite understand and I might not even agree, but I see you and I
trust you and I respect you.” I can’t tell you how far that has gone for me
in my trust in my husband. My trust, my ability to know that he really does
have my back and that he really does care about what is best for me while
also holding onto what’s best for him. So this interdependent place is
about transparency, vulnerability, truth telling. It’s also about
collaboration. So in those shared spaces, you’re really working together to
make a place for both of you.

Now, I want to ask you, where do you see yourself here in this pendulum
swing? Where do you see yourself? Do you see yourself over in the
codependent place? Do you see yourself swinging from that over to
independent? You might hop back and forth. Or do you feel like you’re
moving towards the interdependence? Now, many of you listening are not with
somebody who developmentally is in a space where they can create this
interdependence. Many of you are getting divorced or are really leaning
that way or maybe are already single. What I want you to know is that
developing the skills to be able to be aware enough to be in this
interdependence space will serve you no matter who you’re with. It’s the
ability to let people see you. It’s the ability to not have to be in this
super black and white space. There’s more nuance, there’s more compassion,
there’s more knowing and being known. It’s a beautiful place to be.

So no matter if you are with somebody or not, or not sure if this is
somebody you want to be with, you developing this is going to go a long way
for you. And you developing this, those of you who don’t know if they’re
with somebody who can build this, you pushing this standard forward, this
is the kind of marriage I want to have, is going to show you if you’re with
somebody who is willing to grow in that way. You’re on the same side of the
table collaborating to create a space you both can be in. One of the
dangers that I see is that often after infidelity, what my clients will want
to do is call all the shots on all the things. They will say basically, “My
way or the highway. You do it my way or not at all.”

And I understand it. I understand it because you’ve been so hurt and it may
at first be needed that there’s time where it’s all about you and what you
need to heal. The problem though is that it can turn from a consequence to
a punishment. And when it becomes punishing, no one wins. There’s no room
there for you both to have a healthy space. And really, do you want your
partner to be in this punished, you’re in trouble, you should feel shame,
space forever? What would that do for you over time? Nothing. It would make
you feel worse. You would have to carry the emotion of that, of having to
remind them that they wronged you and that they let you down, and all of
those things that you need to carry to maintain that independence.

I’m telling you that the middle ground here is where you want to be over
time, it doesn’t need to happen right away. But if you want to get out of
this punishing mode, if you really want to invite this person into the kind
of marriage that you both are just delighted to be in, we have to have the
guts. We have to have the wisdom to stop punishing and to invite and to
know and to be known.

It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable and it’s the most rewarding thing because
this is where you get to have the relationship that you’ve always wanted.
Is it a bummer that a lot of it had to come to pass because of the
infidelity, because of the crisis that forced your hand of really looking at
these things? Yeah, it would be great if it wasn’t about that. But it is and
here you are. And so if you’ve decided to stay in your marriage and you
still find yourself in this kind of punishing mode, I invite you to check
in with yourself and go, is this getting me what I want? And if it’s not,
then I invite you to look at what else could be possible instead.

All right, my beautiful friends, this is what I have for you today. Again,
like I said at the beginning of the episode, my program is now open. Doors
are open. You can join, you can get on the calls. And we coach around this
stuff all the time, where people come with their exact situation, the stuff
that they are currently dealing with and I coach on it and I give them help
specific to them. Of really looking at where they’re getting stuck, where
they’re slowing themselves down and helping them to get really crystal
clear on what it is that they’re wanting and why and helping them with their
path forward. It is powerful work. We are taking the heartache, we are
taking the pain and we’re turning it into the biggest growth of our life,
where we have so much respect for ourselves. I invite you to come and to
hop into the program. All right. Take care and I will talk to you soon.
Bye-bye.

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.

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Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.

Why was I not enough?

Does this question torment you? It did me too until I learned that the actions of my spouse had nothing to do with me, my worth, or my lovability. Click on the link below for a free guide that will teach you the 3 biggest lies about infidelity and why they are keeping you stuck.

Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.