There was this piece of me—a young, vulnerable, desperate piece of me—who begged for someone to finally just tell me who the hell I was supposed to be, or do, or what my life was supposed to be about. Every time life intensified, waves of hysteria would swell from deep within me, the fear that I’d get it wrong… that I couldn’t trust myself to know what was true for me. I felt terrified that, without external guidance, my life would be wasted.
But then I started to explore what one of my early teachers called “the spirituality of the self”. I studied the way I reacted to the world around me, the way I allowed certain relationships, circumstances, and experiences to affect me. I learned I was powerful, far more powerful than I’d ever imagined, and that I could change reality by changing the way I was showing up in the world. In time, I released what no longer served me and made space for my truth to become my life. The artist, the lover, the priestess, the mother, the healer, the dancer, the writer . . . one discovery at a time, I hosted a reunion of the pieces of my soul.
This transformation was possible because of the supports I cultivated for myself along the way. My blog is an extension of my journals. I use it to share the lessons I’ve learned, powerful resources, and inspiring stories of my clients’ transformations. Dig in and find the information and inspiration you need today and keep coming back when you need another dose! If you can’t find what you’re looking for, email me your question and I’ll see what I can find for you.
I’ve had affairs. 2 of them. They went on for a long time. I feel really bad about them. I needed to connect. I needed a connection without baggage or resentment. I have no excuse. I do feel bad about them. Except when I don’t feel bad about it. For a while, those moments were the only moments when I felt remotely ok about anything. Is there any way that an affair can be considered self-care?
Dear Unruly Woman,
We typically think of self-care as soul-nourishing, sanity-cultivating, inner-peace-supporting activities like eating healthy food, taking hot baths, meditating, or a having a night out with the girls. These kinds of activities leave us feeling rested, restored, and more ready to face whatever lies ahead. Self-care is important. It keeps a little bit of distance between us and the ledge. It helps us be at our best while we maneuver the realities of every day life.
Self-care makes us feel better and when we are in crisis — trust me, you are in crisis if you’re in a committed monogamous relationship and are having an affair — self-care becomes even more vital. So at the time that you’re most in need, you’re choosing to fill that hole with behavior that will likely dig your hole a big bit deeper.
When you are feeling so out of alignment that a lover’s embrace is the only place you find relief, you have a problem. Let’s just say that it is not so much “self-care” as an alarm system that is going off, loudly, over and over. Beep Beep Beep. Houston, we have a problem!
Are there elements of your affair that make you feel better? Yes, the stone cold truth is that taking a lover is a damn fine way to feel better. But it comes with epic consequences and you’d be hard-pressed to find me a situation where it was actually the best solution.
How easy it is to escape into those “moments” and ignore the reality of your life? Well, I can tell you that it’s too damn easy. And we must be conscientious about the choices we make at these tender times. We all know that in a period of darkness, an affair can bring back the light. But it’s like illuminating a warehouse with a box of matches — each one is way to short, they only let you see the tiny space right before you, and eventually you’re probably going to burn it down.
Yes, an affair absolutely can be — in theory, at least — part of a self-care plan. But what’s it going to cost you?
Do you have to lie to your partner to hook up with your lover? Is the affair creating more conflict at home? Are you telling your suspicious partner that he or she is out of their mind (because that’s a great way to earn my wrath) instead of admitting that things are not okay at home?
Are you talking to your lover when it’s your partner you really ache to be connected to? Is this person taking up sacred time you could be using to be honest with your partner about how you feel, and what you need and desire? Would you be more well served to use this time to respectfully leave the committed relationship that no longer feels true for you?
Ask yourself how an affair truly affects you. Does being with your lover make you not want to go back to your real life? Does that fling feel so good that you’re pulling away from work, family, and home? Do you leave your lover’s arms feeling further from your truth? If so, then an affair may not be worth the cost, even in the name of self-care.
Self-care efforts need to leave us feeling more aligned with the truth of who we are, not less. Let us say YES when the benefits give us more it costs us. Give yourself TRUE support — not half-assed, backfiring, make-it-worse-than-it-was-to-start-with bullshittery. You deserve better. In fact, you deserve the best.
So is a lover really what’s needed in these powerful moments? If yes, fine, do that. But if not, get yourself the support you really need to live your truth and stop fucking around.
Love and truth to you,
Christy, The Unruly Woman
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Image: Bogdan Suditu via Flickr