People who have been sick, people who are unemployed, people who have lost their sense of confidence, or people who have made a lot of money, suddenly the other way around. People who suddenly feel like they deserve something because in a way, when you allow yourself this experience is because you feel you deserve it. You justify it to yourself. You come up with good explanations for why you of all people can do this.
I think the big distinction for me is to figure out what betrayals take place because the relationship had disintegrated in some way, or degraded
I need to understand what you were thinking about me while this was going on. Did you even think about me? Did you think what this would do to me or to our kids if we have kids. Did you feel guilty about it? Were you tortured in any way or did I disappear from your screen and you were so grandiose that I didn’t exist anymore? Did you want me to find out? Are you relieved that it’s come out? Do you actually want to come back, and are you coming back just because it’s convenient to you or are you choosing me again? I think the most important future in the trust is not only that you won’t do it again, but that you really are choosing to be with me again, and that you’re not just here because it suits you or because I make the money, or because we have a family.
ESTHER PEREL: Because it’s comfortable. And not that you’re here while you’re thinking about the person there. That goes hand in hand with something else. I think that’s probably the most important thing about hurt and the breach of trust is I come to you and I say to you, “I’m really sorry.” That we know from any trauma that it’s the wrongdoer coming to acknowledge what they’ve done. If the perpetuator isn’t able to acknowledge it, and I’m not calling these “perpetuators,” but we know in the the experience that when you hurt someone, nothing helps you more than the person who hurt you to say to you, “I have remorse and I feel guilty for hurting you,” even if they don’t feel guilt about the experience of the affair itself.
Maybe you think that the affair was one of the greatest things that you have experienced in a long time. Or you’ve been a mother and a wife for the last seven years and you haven’t had a minute to think about yourself and you felt like you had completely died inside, and for the first time, you reconnect with your own sexuality and your aliveness and you remember that you’re more than just a mother and just a wife, for example. You may think, “This was really important to me,” but nevertheless, what it meant to you and what it does to your partner are two different things. So my acknowledging that remorse and that guilt is ascension.
ESTHER PEREL: First step. And that is very different from feeling shame. Because when I feel shame and I feel so bad about myself, I can’t believe I did this. There’s more self-involvement. It’s more about me.
What I really want to trust is that you love me and you want to be with me
ESTHER PEREL: I feel so bad about myself that I can’t feel bad for what I did to you, right? So I have no empathy. I still [inaudible] empathy. It’s like you need to be able to feel bad for making the other person feel bad, and that means that you can’t feel so bad about you because then it’s all about you. Big difference between shame and guilt. Guilt is a relational responsibility. Guilt is an accountability to the other. That’s Black Sites dating the first one. And the second thing is that I’ve been become the vigilante of the relationship meaning that I, for a while, while you are asking me the same questions again and again because you’re trying to figure this out, because your whole reality has just been shattered. I am able to tell you “It’s okay, I am here, just keep asking. I’ll answer you.” I’m not going to say, “Come on, enough already. Haven’t we gone over this? Let’s move on, let’s move on. It’s over, don’t you see?” No, I cannot rush you. I have to give you the space to make sense, to be in your pain, to hurt, to get angry, to push me, to pull me until we slowly settle. And there is a period like that of that acute crisis that you just can’t push, you have to go through it. Because it is in the nature of the beast.