Who among us has not witnessed the all too familiar scene at the grocery store check-out line of the parent trying to control the hysterical child who is screaming and crying for the now forbidden candy or toy that has been strategically displayed in his sight? In the child’s defense, millions of dollars have gone into the research that proves the marketing genius of this tactic in soliciting the exact desire he is experiencing. (In some circles, that is called entrapment!)
On more than one occasion, I’ve heard an exasperated parent utter words along the lines of, “Stop crying before I give you something to cry about!” My throbbing head is thinking, “I’m pretty sure little Johnny has that covered. What we don’t need here is a more worthy cause for waterworks!” Don’t get me wrong. I am not necessarily in favor of indulging the child at this point nor opposed to healthy discipline. But perhaps a better choice of words is in order.
Unfortunately, many of us grew up hearing messages that led us to believe that we have certain feelings and emotions that are not valid and we are wrong to express them. If you have been wounded by your spouse’s sexual addiction, you have something to cry about, even if he tells you it is “just” porn or “it’s not like an affair.”
Trying to suppress or deny that grief is not healthy. Unprocessed grief can lead to anger, irritability, obsessing, behavioral overreaction, depression, and illness, just to name a few of the harmful effects. Give yourself permission to grieve. Shed those tears for the loss of the marriage you had imagined and the husband you thought you knew. William Shakespeare said, “To weep is to make less the depth of grief.”
There is a therapeutic value to those tears shed in grief. Dr. William H. Frey, a biochemist and tear expert, explains that reflex tears, such as result from an eye irritant, are 98% water, but that emotional tears contain stress hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress, and that shedding those tears not only rids the body of those toxins, it also stimulates the production of endorphins.
Precious lady, know you are not alone in your grief. In Psalm 56:8, King David wrote to the Lord, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Your heavenly Father not only sees your tears, he will comfort you in your pain (Matthew 5:4). So, go ahead and have a good cry. It does not mean you are weak or unspiritual. It is a part of healthy self-care and a necessary component to processing your pain so you can move forward in your recovery.
Action Step: Schedule a time to grieve this week. Set a timer for 30-60 minutes, make a list of losses you’ve endured because of your spouse’s addiction and allow yourself to experience those painful feelings. Conclude that time by listing three things you have left for which you can give thanks.