I want to heal my heart so bad. This pain that is always there, constantly sending me reminders of my sadness, is getting old. This year, I will work to fill my heart with peace and joy.
Everyone struggles in this life and we all have the scars on our hearts to prove it.
I personally have experienced several traumatic events that I have, more or less, overcome with the help of counseling. Throughout the years, however, I have realized that the pain from those traumas lingers in my cells and, to this day, affect my day to day life and all the decisions I still make. In my experience, indeed, time does heal. Deep traumas, however, can take a long, long time to do so. Getting help and support from a professional counselor or therapist can be key to making sure the healing process moves along and that these traumas and pain do not affect us negatively for too long.
A significant situation occurred in my life when I was 8 years old. There had been an infidelity in my parent’s marriage. My Dad cheated on my Mom. Over time, he fell in love with this other woman and eventually confessed his betrayal and told my Mom he was leaving her. He did not want to go to marriage counseling. I remember sitting on the top of the stairs with my older sister listening to their conversation and hearing my Mom beg and cry. At 8 years old, I did not have the ability to truly understand what was happening or why. I just knew my Mom was devastated and it broke my heart. I was also shocked, as my sister and I had talked only a few days prior about how our Mom and Dad, who had been married for 17 years, would never get a divorce. Looking back, now, I realize he made the decision to leave not just his wife, but me and my sister as well.
Back then, in 1983, I don’t know if mental health care was a thing. Even though she tried to pretend she was okay, I remember seeing my Mom sitting at the dining table for weeks and weeks afterward crying into a dish towel. My hugs were the only help I could offer, and she reassured me she and we would be okay. But I recall she didn’t really have anyone she could talk to. The fear, hurt, embarrassment and shame must have been overwhelming.
My Mom is an incredibly strong woman and over the years she took care of herself and taught me and my sister how to be strong and, most importantly, independent women. She recovered from the initial trauma of the infidelity and betrayal, survived the divorce, built herself a career, and provided a wonderful and loving home. I never saw her go to counseling for herself however, and to this day, nearly 35 years later, it is painfully obvious she still carries that pain and anger and it has affected her life so profoundly and that breaks my heart all over again.
Fortunately, mental health care and counseling for spouses, partner and adult children affected by betrayal, infidelity and divorce is now widely available. I have worked with a compassionate therapist who has helped me process this event in my life, guided me in steps I can take to continue to heal my heart, and prevent this situation affect my future negatively any more.
Here at Novus Family Counseling and Recovery Center, our treatment team of expertly trained marriage and family therapists are able to help couples and individuals struggling with similar situations every day. I have seen some couples come to counseling and decide to move forward separately. I have seen many more couples participate in relationship counseling and successfully work through the challenges that brought them in to move toward happier and healthier relationships and grow even stronger as a couple. I have also seen many spouses and partners whose lives have been affected by infidelity, betrayal and even sexual addiction receive the care and support they need to recover and heal. One way that I have helped to heal my heart is by taking steps to help others who have gone through similar situations heal theirs.
Individual counseling is available with Dr. Barbara Christian and Dr. Kristen Parker in our office in Long Beach, California. Dr. Barbara also runs a group for spouses and partners called “Mending a Shattered Heart.” If you are in Southern California, near Orange County or Los Angeles county, please visit www.novusmindfullife.com or all our office for more information at 562-431-5100. Help is available and you are not alone.