Before I became a relationship coach I was a professional athlete.
During my 10-year career as a whitewater freestyle kayaker, I was a World Medalist, North American Champ, and 4x Canadian Champ.
My fiancé (at the time) was also an accomplished athlete.
But that's not who we were when we first met. In fact we were just two excited raft guides on the Ottawa River with shared goals and an eager desire to win.
We worked hard together and pushed each other to be the best. So aside from being lovers and best friends he was also my training partner, coach, and teammate.
Then one day (after seven years), he drove a friend to the bus station and didn't come back for two days. I didn't know where he was or who he was with.
It turns out he had made out with some girl the previous night while I was visiting family, and then took off to spend the weekend with her.
When I finally discovered the truth (after finding notes, emails and other proof), I was confused, shocked, and I'll admit...highly disturbed.
But it didn't stop there.
He left to be with her, came back to me, left again and again until, after 4 months of this, I finally came to my senses and shut the door.
Now hang tight, because this isn't a man hating blog written by an insecure cougar full of jealousy and trust issues. On the contrary:
Because even though my experience was devastating, I came to realize (years later) that it was the best thing he ever could've done.
But first, let me just set the record straight:
Before I found myself, I had to completely lose myself.
I went crazy, snooping around his emails looking for answers to help me understand the situation. I was disoriented about the reality of the situation and unable to function in the most basic of ways.
Even I was embarrassed about myself, but I couldn't help it. It was simply the best I could do at the time.
And then one day I decided it had to stop. The nightmares, the endless downpour of tears, the obsessive mental torture of what they had done to me and all the horrible things I wished upon them...(ha)!
I didn't want to be miserable anymore. I didn't want to blame or hate. I wanted to forgive. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to move on and I wanted to be open to meeting the man of my dreams.
So in a state of self-loathing along with an intention to heal, I embarked on a journey of introspection...and found myself in Hawaii.
Little did I know that the next five years of my life would be a series of tumultuous break-downs followed by the most beautiful break-throughs.
Because the person who I thought I was (my image as an athlete, committed partner, leader, boss and know-it-all) was completely destroyed in the aftermath of the breakup.
I no longer knew what I was doing or who I was supposed to be.
Yet this was actually the perfect position to be in, because the question that followed (while tripping on mushrooms one magical night), was this:
I could not accept this as the basis for the rest of my life. I needed to know there was more purpose for being here.
So with an open mind and an empty cup (Avatar style), I was ready to learn anything that got my creative juices flowing again; dance, surf, playing guitar, yoga, meditation, studying the metaphysical text A Course In Miracles, service to my community, and without a doubt forming the deepest friendships one could ask for.
I healed parts of myself that went far beyond the relationship woes of my ex.
It turns out the ex story was just the scratch on the surface, a way to peel open a deep wound that was finally ready to be operated on.
All this is to say that the affair, the break-up, whatever you want to call it, was just the catalyst for a lesson far greater and more divine than I was able to consciously create on my own. And yet I realized that subconsciously it WAS my doing.
So I'd like to share a few of the lessons I learned, and invite you to incorporate them into your life as you see fit.
Because if you want to feel good again, you have to give yourself the opportunity to change your mind about what you think you see...no matter what side of the affair you're on.
A wise friend laid that one on me, and let me tell you I was pissed to hear it. But this nugget of info was exactly what I needed to chew on in order to start owning my role in the experience.
No matter how 'dirty' the deed, the only thing you'll get out of blame and attack is stuck in a void of negativity and stagnation.
I started reading The Disappearance of the Universe. It became my guide, helping me to reverse my thought pattern and understand WHY she was not the problem.
Are you the victim or attacker? No matter what the circumstance, DON'T get caught playing into either of these roles...unless of course you WANT to validate your story and remain in a state of fear and upset.
For example, our relationship felt rocky for over a year. And because we didn't know how to deal with the shift that was occurring, I withdrew while he sought solace from another woman. BOTH are forms of communication. Obviously I wanted to play the role of victim, but as time went by this perspective wasn't getting me anywhere but stuck.
Think of it this way; Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? I know this can be a tough pill to swallow, but it's the pill that will set you free.
Instead, use it as a new beginning to something better. Do the good work by having an honest conversation without defending yourself, so that you can both get the answers you need. If it brings you back together, great. If it ends the relationship and takes you on a new adventure, so be it.
The world does not need any more tortured souls. Be an example for others by learning how to move through the pain with forgiveness rather than punishment.
Time does give the gift of healing, but only if you do the work. So release the fret, regret, and guilt of an affair by learning how to forgive it.