If you are near the beginning of this journey, my heart really goes out to you. I clearly remember how lost in sorrow—and in life--I felt back then. I remember being disappointed when I woke up each morning for several weeks. My hope had been that I could die while I slept! That’s pretty bad considering I was earning my living by helping other women find healing, until my own life imploded. Looking back, I still don’t know how I survived the devastation in nearly every area of my life. Well, that’s not exactly true; I know it had to be my Higher Power that got me through it, along with my family. And a little tool I had been using to help other women heal. I think of it as the Triple-A Approach. Boiled down to three bare bones, the following words don’t carry much meaning:
Triple-A Approach Tool
So allow me to add meaning by expanding on them:
1. We must acknowledge what is going on in our life.
2. We accept what is going on in our life.
3. We must adapt to our new reality.
Until we accept that this is truly a part of our story, we aren’t on the journey. We’re stuck, choosing to remain blind to the truth because we don’t like it. Somehow hoping that if we ignore it, it might go away. Yesterday a group member said, “I saw red flags, but I chose to paint them all green.” Do you have your own can of green paint? Until we acknowledge what our gut is screaming, our thoughts will remain a tangle of confusion and fear. My hope is that if you haven’t yet acknowledged your intuition’s message, this article will help you find the courage to open that door.
Acknowledgement Requires Embracing Change
Change is painful, especially when we didn’t invite it. We prefer the familiar, the known; we give it value – even if it hurts – because it’s what we know.
We avoid change when we ignore what our gut is telling us. We deny what we know in our bones. We block experiences; we ignore intuition; we pass by insight; we avoid transformation. We hold on, afraid to change a pattern even when we know we are in pain.
Change throws us into a period of transition. We feel conflict, pain, tension, fear, confusion. Our feelings signal that change is trying to happen. Don’t avoid it or withdraw. Don’t turn to busyness or denial. Lean into the feelings; make space for them. Work with the necessary changes. Take the risk. It’s all part of facing, accepting, and moving slowly toward the healing that needs to happen inside you. 1
Embracing Change Requires Acceptance
One of the first tasks in our healing journey involves facing and accepting our new reality. For those who have felt this betrayal, facing reality means coming to a place where we are willing to accept that this really has happened in our most intimate relationship. Until we face this reality and accept it, we usually stay mired in a mix of reeling emotions that trap us in circular thinking and anxiety, and we can’t begin to heal. Have you reached that place of acceptance, the willingness that says, “This is my reality, whether I like it or not? It is what it is. Now what can I do about it?” 2
Those seven words, What can I do about it? open the door to the third A: Adapting.
And the door of adaptation hinges on our point of view. Our perspective. And how we choose to see what’s happened. And choosing how we will look at what’s happened hinges on our attitude. Ugh.
I remember when I hated the title of a book on my bookshelf. That title? Healing Is A Choice. But that was before life launched me onto this journey, the same journey you are now on. But today I understand that the words, healing is the choice, weren’t meant to tell me to change my attitude and get over it. But rather to show me how a change in perspective could help position me to heal.
Digging through our loss and reaching the treasure beneath it requires courage. Lots of it. The courage to acknowledge and accept that this is a part of our story, and the courage to adapt to it. And courage requires bravery.
Recently senator Patrick Leahy commented that, “Bravery is contagious.” Isn’t it though? And that’s one reason support groups help us heal. The “power of the group process” awakens our braver selves. And those group members who are ahead of us on this journey say things that ignite courage in us.
So if you haven’t yet used the Triple-A tool, I invite you to take my hand and start the process. If you do, I promise that one day in the not-too-distant-future, you will realize how much you’ve healed and grown.
(A tool that has really helped me is here: The Tool of Attitude)
1 Marsha Means, MA, Journey to Healing and Joy: A Workbook for Partners of Sexual Addicts. P. 12.
2 Ibid. P. 11.