From the moment I realized my husband was cheating, I began to uncover lie after lie after lie – for months after that I felt like I was drowning. I was drowning in panic, abandonment, self doubt, insecurities, exhaustion, and depression. It was awful.
Learning about the drowning effect was my first big breakthrough in therapy. This is why I want to share it with you. Every time I could finally articulate the way I was feeling and WHY was really powerful in my ability to heal and move forward. During my weekly appointment, I sat and sobbed as I told my therapist how much I missed my husband. But then, doing something most therapists shy away from, she flat out shouted at me “You don’t miss him! Look at how awful he was and still is?” – something along those lines. She pointed out something that should have been very clear to my confused and trauma impacted mind. WHAT did I miss about my ex husband? I won’t get into all of his flaws because that doesn’t help me make the point I want to make. But she was right. It was in that session that I realized – it made SO much sense – that I didn’t miss my ex husband. That wasn’t what I was feeling, it was just the only thing I could articulate at the time. Truthfully, I was relieved to be free of him…
So why was I thinking “poor me, I miss my husband?”
My therapist explained the drowning effect in this way: when we are drowning in the water, we will frantically reach for anything we can get our hands on to keep us afloat. My ex husband/what he did was the source of my hurting (my drowning). If I could get him to come back and change his mind, then my hurting would go away – I would stop drowning. So I “missed” him. I longed for him. Really though, I was longing for healing.
It was an incredible breakthrough to realize I didn’t actually miss my husband. I missed partnership, help, security, etc. But not actually the person who left me. Recognizing this helped me to stop reaching for him. He was not the life raft I wanted to keep me afloat. That’s really all I knew at that point but it was enough to take the next step forward: figuring out which life preserver I needed to cling onto.
What Are You Reaching For?
Whatever life trial is pulling you under the water – what are trying to cling onto to keep you afloat? Ask yourself if you’re reaching for the right life preserve. Maybe you are. Maybe you’ve already figured this out. Maybe you aren’t wasting your efforts by reaching for something that isn’t going to save you, like I was. But if you are – let go. Stop focusing your efforts on grasping for the wrong floating device. Take that energy and reach for something better. That could be work, life goals, fitness, traveling, art. This is who I reached for instead…
This photo means so much to me. I saw it first early on in my divorce journey. No matter the trial, no matter your reason for drowning, the Savior is standing just on the surface of the water – hell, he’ll jump in and swim to you if you ask. But he is reaching for you. You cannot sink so deep that he cannot pull you back out. I know this better than I know anything else. Reach for him and he will change you.