A while ago, in hypnotherapy, I did an exercise where I had Joe locked up and put away. Joe is ego. He doesn’t want me to put up with any kind of disrespect, let alone cheating. His aim is to destroy those who cross me, to give back all hurt I have received and then some. He is that feeling that comes a while after the other car cuts you off, when you’re not angry anymore but you are contemplating following that car to his/her destination to see where they live so you can slash their tires, throw a brick through their window, or maybe even terrorize them a bit. You can imagine what ideas Joe can come up with after infidelity. There are so many creative ways to make people suffer and your ego will think of at least a few of them when it is that bruised.
One thing that Joe isn’t is angry. Not outwardly, anyway. No, I always picture him as keeping his cool and inflicting suffering with a smile on his face. Besides, he’s ‘locked away’ deep in my mind, if the hypnosis was effective.
Anger is different. It doesn’t plan and plot revenge, anger just wants to hurt right now. It’s fuming over the details, it’s lashing out at people, it’s wanting to break something. There’s no goal, it’s just anger. I see Anger as a monster, looking like a bunch of garbage made into a humanoid shape. That’s the visual I had in my head all last week as I fumed and snapped and avoided.
I kept it under control as best as I could but it was persistent and powerful. It was getting to be too much. I asked my hypnotherapist if she could see me sooner because I needed help dealing with the anger monster. Thankfully, she was able to see me at the end of last week.
It started with being triggered by sorting through our photos. The thoughts began running through my head about Carol’s activities and motivations while she was cheating on me. I already have less patience for Carol as it is and it just got worse as I developed more ideas about what she did and why. So on Monday, when she raised her voice at me, sounding a bit too much like her old self, I avoided her due to a combination of not wanting to be around her and a fear of what I might say. Later, when she apologized, I refused to do the same.
On Tuesday night, Carol made a comment I didn’t like and I snapped at her then avoided her again. This time she cried a lot and eventually, though I felt cold and distant, I talked to her a bit about how I felt.
On Wednesday, I finished up my blog post, Photographs, with some details about our conversation the previous night. Then I decided to meet Carol for lunch because deep down, I knew it was a nice thing to do and that I should show her I care, even if I wasn’t really feeling it. I went back to my blog post and finished it up with the lunch meeting and some more thoughts. As soon as I hit ‘publish’, I felt a little better. Then, when I contacted HT (hypnotherapist), admitting I needed a little help, I felt even better. Just knowing that I could share my struggles, and that I had a professional on hand for the one on one work, was all I needed to take the edge off.
On Wednesday night, Carol came back from her counsellor and told me her strategies for doing better when we are having a conflict. I knew my heart was back because it was breaking for her.
“Carol, don’t put all of this on you. I didn’t exactly handle things properly. I didn’t give you a chance. I’ve been less patient and forgiving with you than ever. It’s just an uphill battle for you all the time. I need to do better too,” I said.
We had our make up sex, again something I had never experienced in a relationship ever until this year, and everything was starting to get back on track again.
I saw HT on Thursday evening. I was in a better place mentally. I told her I still had questions about the affair and she told me that they were not useful questions to dwell on. She once again explained the reasons people have affairs, including what Carol’s ‘reasons’ may have been in her own unique circumstances. I, as usual, found it impossible to wrap my head around someone continually making such a destructive decision without thinking about it or the consequences of it.
“I want her to explain her decisions as best as she can,” I said.
“But there is no logic. She was in a bad place where she made bad choices because she felt unworthy of happiness. She may not even be able to explain that to you,” HT countered.
“Well, she needs to try. When making a decision that stands to destroy all areas of your life, that’s the one time you should be weighing the consequences of your actions. I can’t just start sawing off my arm and when it’s gone, say, ‘sorry, I just didn’t think about what would happen.'”
HT saw that there was still no way I was going to be able to grasp the illogical so it was time to move on to hypnosis.
“Let’s work on calming some of that anger,” she said.
“Okay. I feel it coming up again. It’s not helpful, it’s just exhausting,” I said.
“That’s right. You can’t keep living like this. You have to learn to let go and start looking forward, not back,”
“I know, and it’s no good for my relationship if I’m going to be angry at Carol all the time. Hell, I don’t even know if I want to be with her anymore,” I said.
“Either way, you must let go of the anger. Whether you choose to be with or without her, the anger will keep you from moving forward,” HT said.
HT had me visualize going to a place where I was surrounded by white. This was where I was as my pure soul, beyond the confusion and suffering of being human. She told me to see Carol’s pure soul in front of me.
“What does she look like to you?” HT asked.
“She’s beautiful. She’s my woman,” I said with a smile.
“How do you feel about her?”
“I love her.”
“Can you see that her soul, is beyond the person she is on Earth, the person who, like everyone else, is struggling through life and making mistakes?”
“Can you see that you are beyond it, as well?”
As we continued the hypnosis, I imagined that outside of our pure area, unable to enter, was all the garbage that comes with being a human. I saw trash scattered all about. I imagined people wearing backpacks filled with heavy rocks, weighing them down as they tried to continue on their journeys. They could simply drop the whole backpack which was nothing but a burden, but they saw it as somehow necessary.
HT reiterated that we are all suffering and confused and just trying to make our way through the world. We try, we screw up. But that’s not who we really are.
“Why are we put on this Earth?” HT asked.
I thought the question was unanswerable. I opened my mouth to say I didn’t know but instead I said, “To love and experience.”
“That’s right. You are in this life to feel love and to experience. It’s about discovery, not perfection. You go through life and you mess up and make mistakes because you are human and you are experiencing.”
HT had me repeat some phrases about forgiveness of others and myself for any hurt I’ve experienced or caused to others, intentionally or accidentally.
Afterward HT warned me that, like with the other issues I’m working on, it’s going to take more than one session to really deal with the anger. I thanked her for seeing me sooner and I went on my way, feeling that the anger was much more under control for now.
I went home and told Carol about my hypnosis session and she kissed me and held me, saying that she does love me, that she knows this in her soul.
We went on to have a great Easter weekend. When we went to see Carol’s family, I thanked my in-laws for caring for me. At my parents’ house, I quietly watched Carol and my stepmom as they chatted while preparing dessert. I felt Carol was truly part of the family in that moment, forgiven and loved by my parents.
In time, maybe I can learn to forgive her.
Another thing HT has been repeating to me is that I don’t have to forgive the act. I can hate the act but still forgive Carol, the person. This was reiterated during the meeting of our souls exercise. Can I forgive her soul? It’s still too much for me to get my head around, so I’m not there yet.
Some say I’m ahead of schedule in processing the betrayal, some say I’m right on track, no one says I’m behind or I need to ‘get over it’.
I’m on track. I’m going to keep moving forward.