This Is What Emotionally Healthy Women Do When Bad Things Happen

Last fall I wrote about my dear friend, “Kali,” who helped me make the decision to postpone my surgery and make sure the whole process worked for me, not just for the doctor. She is someone I have often turned to for grounded, realistic advice. Not only is she smart, creative, cheerful, spiritual, and feminist, but she is also a marriage and family therapist. She is a great role model for what it looks like to take care of yourself and make a life you love.

Last week, she found out that her husband had been cheating on her for at least the past fourteen months. The depths of his deceit were astonishing. He’d created a new Facebook page with a fake name and gone searching for new sex partners, all the while still having sex with her, too. He’d lied to her about where he was and what he was doing. He’d been extra affectionate and loving to her (out of guilt, she nw assumes). When she confronted him, he told her he had come to realize that he wasn’t made to be monogamous; he said he was by nature polyamorous–though he hadn’t bothered to inform her of that fact. When she said that wasn’t acceptable to her, he moved out and asked for a divorce.

Not surprisingly, she is devastated. Up until a week or so ago, she thought they had a great relationship. She was thrilled with the more openly affectionate husband he’d been over the past year, as well as the extra help he was with things at home. Now she wonders who he really is. She is surprised she could have missed this–especially considering she provides therapy to women whose husbands have done similar things.

But here is what is makes Kali different. The asshole her husband moved out on Sunday morning. Less than an hour later, she made a secret group on Facebook called “My Dear Supportive Friends” and invited 35 women friends she trusted. (She’s an extrovert and has a lot of friends; my own list would be a lot shorter.) She briefly explained what happened and asked her friends to support and encourage her. They responded warmly, with great love. People posted photos and poems. They told her how much they loved her, how angry they were on her behalf, how much they could empathize with her loss. They reminded her the intensity of the pain would decrease over time, and that she would move into a new phase of her life with all her gifts and beauty.

She has posted several times a day for the past three days. She describes feeling better for a few hours, then ending up on the floor, sobbing. She cancelled her clients for a few days (I know, we would all hate for our therapists to cancel on us, but can you blame her?). This morning she posted:

Dear friends, you are my lifeline. I cherish you all. I count on your new posts and text and voice messages to get me through each day. Hour by hour, minute by minute, between dreaming and waking there’s a delicate space available. It is raw and vulnerable and open to hues of despair. Today is day 3 no partner in my bed in my kitchen, in my heart. The thing is, I’m not sure, who is it I am missing?

Think of how we tend to hide our pain, but Kali is willing to share hers. She’s not ashamed. She doesn’t pretend she is fine. She cries and goes for walks and takes time off. She asks for what she needs, and her friends give it to her with great love. She doesn’t berate herself. She knows it’s not her fault that he became a liar and a cheat. That’s on him. He texted her, complaining he was having trouble with his internet connection wherever it was he was staying. She blocked his number.

My heart aches for her. And at the same time, I admire her and continue to learn from her example. We can be like this, too.

Kali

6 thoughts on “This Is What Emotionally Healthy Women Do When Bad Things Happen

  1. Wow! I feel for her and I think she’s incredibly mature. Definitely someone to aspire to be because of how well she’s caring for herself. As someone going through a similar process but with different circumstances, I can definitely learn from what she’s doing and be more accepting of my loss. I think a huge part of me still refuses to process my loss – it doesn’t help that our separation had been so gradual that maybe I’d accepted it a long time ago… Anyway, thanks for sharing this! I hope your friend is able to find happiness again. It sounds like she knows how to take all the necessary steps!

    Also, Q, I hope you’re coping well without E and that you’re in a stable emotional state.

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  2. Thank you for sharing a reminder that it’s okay to reach out and be vulnerable! I hope you are doing well, I’ve been thinking about you and hope you are reaching out to people, especially because E is on vacation.

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  3. Wow, I love this. Thanks for sharing. Really inspired by her vulnerability and authenticity. I’ve also been thinking of you during this therapy break. xx

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  4. Sometimes it seems that someone has it all pulled together and you see them doing the right things but when all the doors closed they break. We all break and come back together. The secret is not staying in that place of brokenness for very long.

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