When you are hurting because the man you’re with doesn’t seem to care about you, doesn’t treat you well, is cheating on you, has walked away from you…
The pain is UNBEARABLE.
You’re committed to him.
This is supposed to be your dream come true.
Instead, he’s treating you in a way that isn’t loving at all.
Compounding the pain is shame.
What would people think if they found out what was really going on in your relationship?
Would they act shocked? Pretend to be sympathetic? Would they gossip about you behind your back and say nasty things about how it’s no wonder he acted that way?
Maybe it’s better if you don’t tell anyone what’s happening.
Maybe you should just act like it’s fine and make do.
Maybe things will change. Maybe time will fix things. Maybe he’ll wake up one day and realize he’s losing you.
Your Fault or His Fault?
So many emails and comments I get from women are about the same thing:
The pain of being with someone, or wanting someone, who isn’t loving you like you love them.
Instead of putting the responsibility for that where it belongs—on HIM—they take it on themselves.
THEY feel shame for being in this situation.
Like it’s their “fault” he’s treating them like this.
Have you ever thought that way?
You were in a relationship that wasn’t going well.
He was the one treating you badly. He was the one who wasn’t acting loving. He was the one who cheated on you or broke up with you.
You felt like it was because of YOU.
You should have done something different.
You didn’t do enough.
If you’d been more attractive, or paid him more attention, or knew how to keep a man, he’d still be with you.
That’s pain ‘n’ shame.
Pain ‘n’ Shame
Any time you’re hurting from something that’s happening in your love life and you feel ashamed—ashamed that it’s happening to you, ashamed that it hurts you so much, ashamed that you might have caused it—that’s pain ‘n’ shame.
Pain ‘n’ shame makes us feel small.
It cuts us off from self-compassion.
It puts us in a vulnerable position from which it’s difficult to negotiate.
When you’re trapped in pain and shame, you defer to him. HE is the one whose love you can’t afford to lose. HE is the catch who’ll instantly get another girlfriend if he leaves. You’re the one who probably won’t find anyone if your relationship fails. Your love for him is a millstone around your neck, not the kind of precious gift reserved for kings.
Pain ‘n’ shame prevents you from standing in your strength. You don’t feel like you can risk calling him out, or telling him it needs to change, or being the first to walk away.
You find yourself keeping your pain a secret, withdrawing from your friends, working to please him even harder.
But none of it works. You still feel terrible, and he’s still the same.
Luckily, there’s an antidote.
Take Care of Yourself First
When someone is shaming you, they don’t want you to see your strengths. They want you to feel ashamed.
So they dismiss or ignore the areas where you’re strong, and they make a huge deal about the one area you feel weak.
Let’s say that you discovered your husband was cheating on you.
He says that he’s a man. What’s he expected to do? His young and gorgeous secretary versus his old and frumpy wife? Come on!
You know that you’re no longer young. Your body isn’t what it used to be. You no longer turn men’s heads.
So what do you do?
You think, “Well, he’s right. He’s cheating because he’s stuck with me, and I’m old and frumpy. Of course he’s going to leave me for her.”
You go right into pain ‘n’ shame.
When pain ‘n’ shame strikes, that’s the VERY FIRST thing you need to take care of.
You need to deal with your own pain and your own shame before arguing with your husband, trying to find ways to make him stay, or trying to save your marriage.
Because ANYTHING you do when you’re in the grip of pain and shame will backfire. It will not work for you or improve the situation.
But how do you take care of your pain and your shame?
Pain to Pride and Shame to Strength
Brené Brown says that the best way to deal with shame is to “talk to yourself like you talk to someone you love,” “reach out to someone you trust,” and “tell your story.”
Do all those things.
Don’t talk to yourself like he talks to you. If he’s not being loving towards you, he doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
Reach out to someone you trust and tell them what’s going on. You would be amazed at how many women you know who’ll understand.
Convert that pain to pride and that shame to strength.
If you feel ashamed of the way he’s treating you, ask yourself what strengths of yours he is trying to divert attention away from.
Is he making it as if your loyalty, your love, your dedication to the relationship, your bravery in trying to talk things out, have no value?
People can easily shame us when they make us forget our strengths.
Let your pain fuel you.
Don’t let it convince you that he’s got all the power and you’re at the mercy of whatever he decides to do.
Your pain is trying to give you the energy to shake things up.
It’s a wake-up call that this situation no longer serves you.
It’s a sign that you’ve hit your limit. You’ve taken all the responsibility for long enough.
It may also be a sign that there’s no longer love here.
Love is the dynamic between you. It exists in the energy you create when you’re combined.
You can love him, and you can try to make him love you, but that doesn’t mean that the two of you can create love together.
Where there’s love in your relationship, the pain feels different. It’s bearable. It’s something you work through together.
But the bad kind of pain makes you feel incredibly alone. It makes you doubt yourself. It makes you scared for the future.
That pain is an alarm bell, telling you that something has to change. You can’t keep going on like this.
Use that pain to dig deep and remember who you are and remind yourself that you don’t let people do this to you.
No relationship is worth your pride.
Keep reading: 3 Ways to Know Your Worth