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The Other Woman


Clients tell me that the feelings associated with their partners having an affair are difficult to cope with. They feel betrayed, disempowered, angry , sad, rejected, abandoned, unimportant,  unloved and their sense of self left tarnished. Is there a way back from this? To some extent it depends on the circumstances and what form that "other woman" takes.

Partners may have an affair with alcohol, other drugs, sport, "the boys/girls" work or indeed another person.

To replace the intimate relationship with anything else always causes a problem. The lack of trust causes people to do things they would not ordinarily do such as check their partners phone, their personal effects, their story about  where they have been, with whom etc,

Do couples have other relationships when they have an existing meaningful and loving relationship? Only by arrangement. The rest of the time it is a real sign of other unresolved issues.

Couples who have experienced one partner who have had a single or multiple concurrent intimate relationship require support, understanding and a willingness to undertake therapy to enable them to look at all the issues that brought them to that point. Saying sorry is important but is certainly not the whole story.

Sometimes it becomes clear to both or either partner that the only option is to separate, sometimes healing and change takes place and they can continue in a new and renegotiated relationship.

Emotional Constipation

Have you got constipation? No not that one, the emotional one, although they may be very similar. Many people bury their past, deep within themselves with the thought that if it is buried deep enough then it won't be seen by anyone and/or they themselves won't be affected by those thoughts and feelings. This a vain hope on their part as it doesn't matter how deep the issues are buried the chance of poisoning their system is very real. If physical constipation gets too severe and after other therapeutic interventions have failed, then surgery may be required. This of course would not and could not happen with emotional constipation however, the therapeutic intervention may be made more difficult and more painful than otherwise might be the case.

The reasons for this added difficulty are many however, the significant challenge lays with the fact that over the years the person will have become affected by the unresolved issues. The initial issue will still exist unaddressed together with the effect that it has had on their way of thinking, feeling, being and the way in which they have built their every day relationships.

Without a sense of the past it is very difficult to make sense of the present and future.

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Identity Colonization

The indigenous peoples of the world are disempowered by the invasions of the past by other nations. Then to add to their plight they have been told to assimilate into western societies. Some of these have been more successful than others. The implications of this assimilation are a power shift, often with a loss of their lands,family, heritage, history, culture, language and themselves. Displaced people, given new identities, may become so damaged that survival is all they can hope for and for some that is an expectation too high. 
There are similarities between this scenario and that of Adoptees.These sons and daughters have been taken, often against the wishes of their mothers. A deal has been done between agencies and adopters, moving them to cultures new and their true identity colonized.

Adoptees around the world have an, often termed, 'false identity' relating to that given through the adoption process not being able to access information and know who they really are. This has been further complicated in the case of the peoples of the American "First Nations". Some were adopted out to white society not knowing or have evidence of their origins. Some are therefore stuck in the middle identifying with neither society.

For those of us who know our full history, whether we have had a positive upbringing or not, have an advantage over people who have not had that right. Our background often throws up issues for us later in life however a recent Australian survey of adoptees records that almost 90% of those adoptees questioned, had experienced depression, anxiety or both, at some point in their lives.

Where we come from adds shape to our understanding of who we are.

Adopted people had to be assimilated into a new family culture or social grouping or where their original culture was changed for a different one complete with new name and revised history.
The effect of this type of colonization has produced many who are depressed, anxious and feel in a state of despair and disempowerment.

The common thought is that adoption creates grief through unresolved loss. This is undoubtedly true in part, but there are other aspects that are as problematic as well however the loss is not just about the loss of their original Mother, if that is not traumatic enough, but also the loss of their original identity which has been removed and erased from their material, documented and emotional history.

Therapy is required by many but not easily accessed. We are able to offer this but, it does not appear that some of the larger counselling organisations really get the issues.Asking the right questions of providers is important so that you get the help you need.



Blocked Filters

One of the major blocks to a new and continuing relationship is that of baggage from the past. These unresolved issues from one or both of the couple can create a wall that affects all aspects of communication, times of intimacy, understanding, sharing and a open sense of giving.

What sort of thing are we talking about here? These blocks may be about past relationships, upbringing or any other experience that still holds us back from our lives being really fulfilling.

We may not, for example, have addressed a rocky childhood where abuse of some sort has taken place either against us or someone else in the family. Out of that trust of people may be an issue and an anxiety about certain ways we are treated by people close to us.This alone would create barriers in any relationships we had in the future. These types of traumas left unattended to will not go away by themselves and any partner is not with you as your therapist and therefore need to be resolved before these issues start to affect your relationships.

Communication within a relationship needs constant attention without other issues causing other misunderstandings. The straw in a glass of water comes to mind where if you look at it from one angle the straw looks bent but we know it cannot possibly be so in reality. Problems can affect our perceptions. This even though we are sure we have been clear in what we have said to our partner they still do not understand or perhaps 'take it the wrong way'. We are talking to our partner through their filter which may need to be cleared of their problematic residue.

If both filters are blocked then the free flow of information and emotions will really affect these communications. I hear clients  say things like, "He/She doesn't understand me" or "I tell Him/Her but they don't listen" or " "I am never heard by my partner" or "They seem distant and lost in their own world". There are may things that people say illuminate what is going on for them and why.

If this rings any bells for you in your relationship, I would suggest that you see a Counsellor in order to unblock your filter.



Gone missing in your own life?

Many of us may have grown up holding the message that if we do things for ourselves we were being selfish. Maybe we misheard, or not, as the case may be. How ever that message came into our consciousness it is misplaced. Doing things solely for ourselves maybe seen as selfish.

Self care is essential if we are to be healthy individuals and a healthy well adjusted society. Giving to others becomes an impossible task once our personal resources are used up. Relationships become a barren desert and unbalanced underachieving in our goals for happiness and stability.

The lack of time needed for self care is often given as a reason not to do anything for the self. It is amazing how the same people are able to find time for others who appear to have a higher priority in their lives.

Some people have an overwhelming need to please others. There are many reasons for this motivation often being a result of a type of parenting. Many of those others are takers which some might assume makes a balance. This not the case as balance might only be achieved if there was an equality of giving and taking by both parties.

So, where are we in our lives, our relationships, our families? Where and how do our needs get met in these circumstances. Unsurprisingly many people feel lost and alone in these circumstances.Their lives are lived through others. Others are in control and often also dictate how people should think and feel. "If she's happy, I'm happy" or, "Whenever he is down in the dumps, I feel that as well, I can't help it."

What do we mean then about self care. It is doing something for ourselves and only for ourselves on a daily basis. Some people go for a walk or a swim or read or meditate or watch a movie or listen to music all without disturbance from others. In a family this time would need to be clearly set out so that you are not disturbed.

Some people feel guilty and have the voice of their parent telling them that they are being selfish. This where a Counsellor would be able to help you to achieve your right to self care.



Manage the Disconnect

The grief experienced by people when they become disconnected is understandably profound.
Disconnected from what; others and themselves and the sense of being lost is difficult to manage. One of the most common situations is the loss of someone close when they die. Other situations might be through the death of a relationship or the subsequent separation or the loss of their identity through adoption.

Many Clients tell me that they have lost themselves in their relationship and no longer know who they are. This may cause feelings of confusion, guilt, inadequacy, anger, grief and low self esteem.

It takes a lot of work by some people to get to a point of acceptance of themselves and their situation and this where personal and professional support is so important.

Talking things over with friends can be invaluable in these situations as can support groups.

The questions we might ask are around our life priorities. This isn't about financial/material goals but more about how we value ourselves. After losing an important person in our lives it is easy to value ourselves less, do less for ourselves and try to bury ourselves in others.

Without seeing ourselves as the most important person in our world, others will suffer the consequences.

In order to manage the disconnect the 1st port of call is gaining a sense of self and start on the road to self empowerment.


Self Validation & A Magic Pudding

A "Magic Pudding" is one that replenishes itself no matter how much is eaten.

One of the most prevalent issues for people is that giving to others is expected and if you give to yourself you are being selfish. This is an impossible position to be in as our inner resources reduce each time we give and do not receive. I am not saying that when we do something for others we should expect something in return. What I am saying is that the opportunity needs to be created in order to build our reserves on a regular basis.

Many of my clients have difficulties in doing things for themselves because they believe that they are undeserving of this. This has a number of complexities to this behaviour but some of it may be based in either being told to effectively feel guilty if you do something for yourself from upbringing or relationships or that they have no time for this to happen as their life priorities.
Not only are we all worthy of this activity but also it is vital that this occurs for our well being. People who work with people have to be particularly careful on this score as it contributes to 'burn out'.
It doesn't have to cost much or indeed anything at all in financial terms just a willingness to do this at least once every day. So, what sort of things am I talking about? Think about what gives you pleasure. It could be a walk of having a coffee before work and some space to 'smell the roses'. It could be some uninterrupted time where you do not have to justify what you do or not do, to anyone.It could be having a time of being pampered in a health spa. It could be anything that is wholly and solely about and for you. 
We are not like the Magic Pudding that automatically replenishes itself, we need to work hard in order to do this, preferably with the total support of those around us. Hopefully then it will become just something we do and second nature to our lives.