Some days are diamonds, some days are stones.
I am a collection of memories. My life experience and my emotional memory about those experiences form[ed] my personality. When I recall hanging upside on the monkey bars with my friends or winning my first dance competition the emotions from those memories are happy and fill me with a rush of endorphins. I remember how blessed I was to have a carefree childhood surrounded by a tightknit family and good friendships that continue today. Then there are negative experiences that can transport me back to a feeling of fear or anxiety like a flick of a switch. I remember as a teenager babysitting this little boy who was riding his bike down a hill too fast. The bike flipped over and the five year old boy was thrown onto the pavement head first and he wasn’t wearing a helmet. Immediately an egg-shaped bruise puffed out from his forehead and I panicked, sweeping him into my arms and rushing him back to the house for an ice compress. The little boy was fine but I found myself panicking about what could have happened to him for years after the accident. I would lie in bed remembering his fall and think of what could have happened and cry. It took me years to forgive myself for that incident.
As a side note, that little boy is now out of college and very successful.
The brain stores information and the emotions we attach to this information, whether we like it or not. Most betrayed wives suffer from PTSD because an affair is a highly traumatic event. I trusted my husband more than anyone in this world and he betrayed, lied and deceived me for a year. He chose these actions and while he was involved neglected to see how his relationship with another woman had anything to do with me or our marriage. It takes a very unhealthy brain to treat someone you love like this. But what about my emotional stability now that the affair is over and we are rebuilding our relationship?
Emotional memories trigger in our brains automatically. I see the letter J and I am reminded of his AP because her name begins with J and that’s how she signed all her emails to him. Last week, my husband asked what all the J’s at the end of my emails represent. I hadn’t realized until he asked that his email converted all my smiley faces to J’s. So now I was signing all my emails the same way she had signed hers to him. He never made that connection—but I did. Trigger. When he’s frustrated with a project she used to voluntarily do for him at his work (despite them not working together), I am triggered. My husband and I always refer to his AP as Bat Shit and he texted her actual name the other day in a message about finding out she was asked to resign from her job. I was happy with the news I heard but triggered that he wrote her real name. In calling her Bat Shit I am trying to disassociate her real name with an emotion. But there it is again.
I read this article earlier this week and I recommend reading it for both betrayed and wayward spouses. The psychologist notes that when your brain is triggered by a negative emotional memory you have 60-120 seconds to stop the onset of the emotional pain. Distract yourself with a positive thought, pinch your ear, move your body—do something to stop the pain from connecting to that word, thought or place. In many ways I’ve already been practicing this theory and it works. I agree whole-heartedly that it only takes a minute to sink into an emotional depression from a trigger. If I allow the stream-of-thought to continue—it will. But I told my husband last night that the thoughts are constant throughout my day. I liken it to a light switch being flicked on in my brain automatically, like a motion sensor, and I am reaching up all day long and flicking the switch back off. It’s tiring. The switch is thrown on less and less these days but it’s still happening and I hate it.
The author of this article also recommends renaming the people, time and events from your trauma with humorous names. That is why we call his AP Bat Shit. It’s both funny and accurate. I am starting to wonder if I should rename his affair. I was thinking of calling it Misery, like the Stephen King book. Maybe I should stop saying “AP” and call her “BS” (Bat Shit). The truth is I am going to meet people with Bat Shit’s real name throughout my life. What am I going to do? Hate them all? I have to admit I didn’t interview a person for a job at my company because she had the same name as BS. I told myself she wasn’t qualified enough anyhow but really, is this how I will live the rest of my life? It doesn’t seem practical. What seems more practical is to alter my emotional memory. A few months ago Green with Envy blogger, Leise posted a video about the same concept. Retell your past so that you can take control of your memories for your own emotional stability and health. It may seem silly but I’ve suffered a traumatic event in my life and I cannot allow my emotions surrounding the Misery control me forever. I need to take control.
So I am trying to move forward. There’s a quote out there on Pinterest that reads something like: “You can’t begin a new story if you keep retelling the old one.” I saw it once and forgot to pin it and now I can’t find it again. Regardless, the point is I want to move on but my brain keeps pulling me back. So I am going to focus on developing a healthy mindset and recreating my emotional memories so they benefit me and no one else.
My life is my story and it belongs to me. Some days may be stones but I will take those stones and paint them to match my story. In my story I am the heroine and I will be victorious.