I have updated the first volume of the Coaching Archives E-Book, Left Behind: Dealing with Midlife Crisis & Infidelity When You Don’t Want a Divorce. It is now available for purchase in the store.
This post is a response to a few of the comments received from Part 2 of my series The Midlife Journey: Understanding, Accepting & Embracing the Outcome.
The original series referenced the book Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser. In it the author spoke briefly of her affair and the end of her marriage.
I don’t believe it’s impossible to avoid the urge to have an affair or any of the other harmful behaviors MLCers regularly take part in.
I don’t believe it’s impossible either. But impossible says nothing about the degree of difficulty or probability. It’s also not impossible for an alcoholic to refrain from drinking, but it’s hard—really really hard. I think there are situations where saying no to infidelity is a lot easier than other situations and I think the degree of difficulty may change when an affair is ongoing.
It doesn’t really matter to me that Sweetheart could have said no because he didn’t. I could focus on what he didn’t do that he should have done, but what a waste of my energy. Deal with reality.
Then there’s that whole part about making promises and taking vows and raising kids etc. that MLCers seem to forget about because of their “urges.”
Me too. I have problems as well with “urges” that need to be scratched!
You are using the word urge in a different way than I use it. I don’t use it as an itch to be scratched or as a boys will be boys sort of excuse for dismissing behavior. Those are excuses people use for hurting people. The urge to abandon is not fully conscious. They are leaving and they know they are leaving, and yet often they haven’t a clue why. It’s sort of like a few of the Knowings I had that basically told me to GO HOME NOW. My body suddenly went into panic—physiological panic—while my mind was not in panic and I knew that I was supposed to be home—usually because Sweetheart was there and I would get to see him. It was like an urge—I was sitting in church and had an urge, something pulling me away and it was not from within. It wasn’t about a need of my own, that is not what I mean by urge to abandon. It’s more like the Shadow—Monster and other forces—pulling the MLCer away.
Overpowering magnetic-like force. This may be an addiction such as hand-washing in obsessive compulsive disorder or it may be a more chronologically isolated compulsion connected to a call to action from the soul or the Shadow or some other unexplained source—such as God. The MLC urge to abandon emanates from the Shadow.
But it may not even matter whether the urge is an itch to scratch, the pull of the Shadow or both. Of course we have problems with it. Sweetheart didn’t just leave me once, he left 8 times for a woman who had been crazy enough to fake a pregnancy the first time. Seriously what kind of person goes back to that? And yet he did. I can spin myself silly and talk in circles insisting that what he did was wrong and he shouldn’t have done it and to he!! with his urges. But that gets me nowhere. The truth is that he went and did what he shouldn’t have done; the urges won out during his MLC.
Elizabeth Lesser is not trying to defend her actions when she uses the word urge. I personally feel that she is trying to convey to us—the readers—the overpowering nature of the force she felt.
“I followed him because something inside of me sensed an urgency I had never known before. I felt I would die unless I went with him into a dark and beckoning sea.” (Broken Open p. 118)
I read no excuses in her words and I think that is because I saw the same things she is describing—I saw and felt those same words, but my position was as an observer. But I don’t usually get accused of making excuses when I explain with those words and yet she does. She’s the one who felt them in her own body and by describing her state of mind and feelings she is giving you guys—the betrayed spouses—an insight into what is going on inside the husband or wife for whom you are Standing. She can help you see inside—just a tiny bit. She may not be telling you anything knew, but she can be confirming what I have said or maybe what you have sensed.