Fight, Flight, or Freeze: What Is Your Infidelity Game Plan?

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Life Coach: How To Move On From A Betrayal Like Cheating
Because your brain doesn't need to (and can't) do math when being chased by a lion.

When I was very young, the man of my dreams cheated on me. I didn't see it coming; I thought we were soul mates. I learned that day I was a partner of a cheater.

When he told me, I didn't know what to do. My body immediately shut down. I froze. I couldn't take in the reality of the information because it was outside the bubble of naivety and fantasy I had surrounded myself in our relationship.

I sat there dumbfounded, unable to speak. I blocked out and pushed away the information to be able to function in my life. I went on as if nothing had happened. I had no other tools to help myself so I did what I was accustomed to doing: I stuffed my feelings in order to cope with the devastation I wouldn't allow myself to feel.

He took a job in another state for the summer, and left alone, I imploded. Unfortunately, I acted out all the hurt I didn't allow myself to feel, on myself. I began to feel the anger of the betrayal and I took it out on myself by making bad choices, and putting myself in bad situations, which further hurt me. Frankly, I scared myself at how low I could go with poor choices.

I did not know I could get help to deal with the hurt I was feeling. There was no internet to look for help. I didn't feel I could ask friends to help me because I felt too much shame that I was a partner of a cheater. I felt alone.

Back then, I was not in touch with my feelings and I didn't know how to process them. I knew the cheating hurt badly but I wasn't going to allow myself to feel the pain. Unconsciously, at 21 years old, I felt I "needed a man to be ok, and to keep a man you are expected to have sex with him." I would have argued a feminist perspective of female power with you at the time, but this is the underlying message I believed. I didn't know how to successfully navigate being a partner of a cheater.

I share all of this with you to say, I get it. I've been cheated on, too. The pain is immeasurable, the rage unscalable, the betrayal of trust seemingly un-repairable. It was a long path for me to heal, and without support, it took longer than it should have.

There is hope and a way to heal. That is why I am going to share with you and help you to understand how to successfully take care of yourself after you have been cheated on. I don't want you to have to experience the devastation for years to come, like I did. This is just one reason I am so passionate about teaching women through writing, and through free trainings for partners who have been cheated on.

Here are the Top 2 Steps to Healing After Being Cheated On.

First, I want to help you understand that when you found out you were a partner of a cheater, your body went into a state of hyperarousal (for survival) and did one of three things: fight, flight, or freeze. You may want to verbally or physical fight with someone, or run away, or freeze like I did. Each of those responses are adaptive to survival. Sometimes you may shift from one to another over time depending on the circumstance. These are all completely normal! You are normal. Your body is just trying to live through the devastation.

It is important to identify when you are in one of these three states: fight, flight, or freeze. When these states are present, your ability to talk and reason will be drastically diminished. The reasoning part of your brain will be off-line so to speak. Why? Because your brain doesn't need to do math when being chased by a lion. Your brain reacts to cheating in much the same way it would react if something was trying to eat you.

When your brain is in survival mode, the way you think, make decisions, and process new information completely changes. Have you ever said something while really angry, scared, or hurt that you later really regretted? Or did something that was out of character for you? These can all be related to being in this survival state. In fact, you sometimes won't even be able to clearly remember what happens in those moments when your body is in the survival state.

Secondly, I want you to understand that the most important thing self-care does is to re-access the reasoning part of your brain. Self-care is often the last thing you think of doing when trying to come to terms, heal, and figure out how to move forward in your relationship. It is almost impossible to repair, resolve, or end a relationship after cheating if you are in survival mode. I am going to teach you how to care for yourself after cheating has occured

5 Self-Care Behavior Catagories To Calm The Survival instinct

  1. Calm Yourself: deep breathing, focus on your pulse, focus on your breath moving in and out of your lungs
  2. Soothe Yourself: positive affirmations, guided imagery, meditation, art therapy
  3. Exercise: walking, swimming, hiking, yoga, jogging
  4. Nutrition: whole foods, 3-5 small balanced meals per day, drink water
  5. Spiritual PracticeL prayer, meditation, spiritual fellowship, connection with higher power, nature walks

As you practice self-care you may notice a pull to act in ways that may harm you like I did in my youth. Just notice them. These "old ways" are remnants from old wounds you may have from childhood or past trauma. If they get really loud and you are having a hard time not acting on them, consider asking for help from a professional counselor.

If you are ready to heal, thrive, and feel like yourself again after being a partner of a cheater, then come to my next free webinar "Surviving To Thriving" help for women after discovering your partner has cheated. Reserve your seat now.

In the webinar I will teach you an example of how to calm yourself when you are in a state of hyperarousal and help you apply it to your situation. It is my passion to help any woman who needs it, to heal after cheating. Take the first step to taking care of yourself today, and sign up for the free training.

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Article contributed by

Teresa Maples

Counselor/Therapist

Teresa Maples MS, LMHC, CSAT, CMAT

Wanting something more from your relationship?, Join my newsletter. and you will recieve free practical relationship tools helping you develop a closer more connected relationship.

 

Location: Tacoma, WA
Credentials: CMAT, CSAT, LMHC
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Infidelity / Affair Recovery, Sex Addiction
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