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Healing Infidelity - Session Three

the Man Who Couldn't Feel Guilty

He Realizes He Can't Trust Women


Healing Infidelity - Session 2 Healing Infidelity - Session 4

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healthy healing emergence therapies P Curves


[This story is about Joe, a man who had been unfaithful but felt no guilt. What emerged was his ability to see the beauty in his "being faithful." The process involved four sessions. This session was session three.]

This session builds directly on the previous session, the integration session. In that previous session, the focus was on Joe's reactions to seeing "squinting women."

In the present session then, our focus evolved from "Joe's reactions to seeing squinting women" to an issue statement which is very similar but with the focus reversed; "I can't see my wife when she doesn't trust me."

Why am I saying the focus is reversed?

In the last session, Joe's unspoken assumption was that he could accurately see the "squinting women," including his wife. More so, because he felt bad when this happened to him, he assumed his wife was "doing something to him" in those situations

Was she?

Yes, she was. She was squinting at him. But is squinting at a person supposed to set off such big reactions?

No. Not unless being "squinted at" regresses the person back into a painful past experience.

This, in fact, is what Joe and I had discovered, that he was being regressed back into painful past experiences whenever he witnessed a woman he loved squinting at him.

Further, we were also able to identify a wounding script; [1] he falls in love with a woman, [2] this woman squints at him, and [3] his trust for her ends.

Notice whose trust ends in this script. "His" trust ends.

Now, in this third session, this idea is reversed in that in this session's issue statement, it is the woman's trust which has ended, not Joe's.

Please note also that the words in this issue statement came directly from Joe himself. This means we can infer from it that Joe is beginning to see his part in all of this, especially that he is being seen by these women as not being trustworthy. In addition, because Joe is realizing he cannot accurately see his wife (or any woman he loves) during these events, he is beginning to see how he has been making mental assumptions which wrongfully blame these women for his painful internal reactions.

What is most important to see here is that even as we begin this session, we can see that Joe is beginning to see what has been hidden behind his blame.

What has been hidden?

How his injury in and around women squinting at him has prevented him from seeing that his wife's pained expression is connected to his behavior.

Notice I said "connected" and not "caused by." Why? Because Joe never chose to be injured in a way in which he became programmed to go into shock when women squinted at him. In fact, he had never even previously recognized he had been programmed. And what exactly had been happening to him as a result of this programming? He had been responding to what is an otherwise ordinary facial expression by going into shock.

Thus, while his seeing his wife squint at him was connected to his suffering, it was never the cause of his suffering. Rather, it was simply a cue which had been causing him to regress back into a painful past life event.

Finally, let me restate these two important ideas. One, what is theoretically important to note here is the idea that past wounds and present suffering are connected in co-relationships, not in causal relationships. And two, what is important to note in this particular story is Joe's emerging ability to see his part in his suffering.

the Issue Statement [layer 3]: "I can't see my wife when she doesn't trust me."

As I've already stated, in this session, the third in a series of four, we began by developing an issue statement. The issue statement we came up with was, "I can't see my wife when she doesn't trust me."

Now compare this to the issue statement in the issue statement which guided the previous two sessions, [1] "seeing women as people."

Who does the first issue statement focus on?

Obviously, on Joe and on how he sees women.

Now notice who this second issue statement focuses on.

It focuses on his current wife and whether she trusts him or not.

Here again, we see evidence that Joe's sense of woman as people is clearly emerging. More important, though, is the idea that this emerging sense of women as people is still evident a week later with no reminders from me.

Now let's go to this session's "P" Curve and to our first scene request.

The First Scene Request: "Go to a time when a woman did not trust you."

As always, we begin the "P" Curve with a scene request derived directly from the issue statement. Thus, our first scene request was, "Go to a time when a woman did not trust you."

What did Joe see?

First know, Joe's answer to this first scene request came quickly. In this scene, he was a high school senior and was at a party. As this scene opens, he is kissing a girl on the front steps of a colonial home as his girlfriend, Joan, walks up and sees him.

What sticks in his mind?

The look on his girlfriend's face, which he describes as "her eyes became big black holes."

Notice I've written this information in the upper "left" quadrant. Why the "left" quadrant? Because the left side of the "P" Curve is for recording what the explorer "can see." Thus, I've written what Joe could see of this scene there in the upper left quadrant.

I've also written what he could not originally picture in this scene in the upper right quadrant. He couldn't picture kissing Erin, the other girl, nor having his arm around her. These details emerged.

Notice, too, that in the lower right quadrant, I've also written what Joe thought and felt during this scene. He told me he felt, "like a sleezeball, dirty."

How did I come to know Joe couldn't picture these things?

Because he told me, in words, that these things happened. However, when he told me, his eyes looked empty. Thus I asked him if he could picture what he was saying, and at first, he couldn't. Finally, then, he became able to picture these details.

Up to this point now, all we've done is that we've divided this scene into "can see" and can't see." Further, while technically, these few details did emerge, none of the deeper meaning has as of yet emerged in Joe.

What am I saying?

Simply this. That Joe at first couldn't see anything he was doing, his behavior. This is clearly evident from Joe's words in the upper left quadrant, words which simply place people in the scene. In the upper right quadrant, though, Joe discovers he had his arm around the "other girl" and was kissing her. And in the lower right quadrant, he begins to cry and says he felt "like a sleezeball."

So what is missing?

His ability to see both himself and his girlfriend in the same context. And yes, he does see both but only sequentially and not concurrently.

Is this important though?

Very important. Seeing how we do and do not connect to others is at the very heart of healing and of Emergence in general.

As of yet, Joe has not connected his feelings to his girlfriends feelings in any way other than mentally. How can I be so sure? Because no beauty has emerged.

What would this beauty look like?

At the very least, Joe would feel compassion both for himself and for his girlfriend. So far, this has not happened.

The Second Scene Request: "Go to a time when you're betraying a woman."

Now we go to a second scene request. "Go to a time when you're betraying a woman."

Notice how this second scene request was built directly from what emerged in the first scene request; "Go to a time when a woman did not trust you."

What is important to see is how these two scene requests connect in that Joe has connected "not being trusted" to his "betraying someone."

What emerged on the scene of Joe's mind when I made this second scene request?

Joe recalled a scene in which he betrayed his first wife, Marla, by going on a double date during this marriage.

Here again, what Joe sees is vivid and detailed, especially the details which I've written in the right column, the things he at first could not picture but which emerged in him during the process; "the girls were trying to make me miss," being in a "sushi restaurant kissing passionately," in a hotel hallway kissing passionately," etc.

Notice too that the majority of the details which emerged in him were about the girls giving him attention; "seeing him."

Now notice the last detail I wrote in this part of the right column; "I saw Marla's face when I came home, expressionless - but sad - happy to see me but sad."

Notice too, in the lower right quadrant, what I've recorded of Joe's thoughts and feelings about this scene. Here, he states about the date, "I didn't feel that good during sex. She didn't either." Yet he says nothing about how he felt about seeing his wife's pained face.

Now take a moment to notice the ongoing treads here.

One thread is the one in which Joe sees pain in women's faces.

Unfortunately, up to this point, despite his seeing the pain in these women's faces, he has still not consciously connected their pain to his infidelity.

He also notes, however, that neither he nor the woman he was cheating with felt good during the time they spent together. And this is the second thread visible throughout this "P" Curve; Joe's not feeling good during these scenes.

The Third Scene: [note: this scene emerged spontaneously]

This next scene emerged spontaneously. What I mean by this is that Joe began to see it as a direct result of having explored the prior scene, rather than from my having made a new scene request.

I, in fact, made no further scene requests for the remainder of this session.

Please note what Joe realizes first about what he wanted from women: "I crave a woman's response to me. It's the thing I crave the most..."

Now note what he has begun to connect to his craving. He says, "but it's disappointing, not right, never comes out right. Not like it was with Marla (his first wife)."

Clearly Joe has begun to see how being unfaithful and being with the woman he's committed to do not feel the same to him. More over, he has also begun to see how disappointed he feels after being unfaithful.

The Fourth Scene: [note: this scene emerged spontaneously]

This fourth and final scene is actually the continuation of what emerged in Joe in the third scene.

In this fourth scene, Joe goes home after having been unfaithful and sees his present wife's face (upper left quadrant). And what does he see? He sees her sad and surprised.

Please note that I've circled and yellow marked this statement on the "P" Curve. This means that when Joe began to tell me about this scene, he simply "knew about" this information. Then, as we spoke more about it, he visually witnessed it and thus, felt it emerge as his personal experience.

Said in other words, when Joe first told me he saw his present wife's sad face, he told me in words which were impersonal and detached, as if he was seeing a scene from someone else's life. This detachment indicates he was in shock while he was telling me these things and so, not consciously witnessing what he was telling me.

Later, as he visually connected his infidelity and his wife's reaction to his feeling "dirty" (lower right quadrant). Finally, Joe has begun to connect his being unfaithful and the pain this causes in others to the pain it causes in himself.

So What Has Emerged in Joe So Far?

After three sessions, clearly, Joe has begun to see he ends up feeling bad whenever he is unfaithful. Twice (once for each wife) he connects his having been unfaithful to his wife looking "sad." And twice, he connects his having been unfaithful to him feeling "dirty."

Is this connection between his infidelity and his feeling "dirty" enough though?

In many therapies, the emergence of these negative feelings would be considered enough, as the discomfort which has clearly emerged in Joe would act, more or less, as a deterrent to future infidelities.

In Emergence Therapy, however, these negative feelings are not seen as enough though. Why? Because while the good in being faithful has begun to emerge (upper right quadrant: "not like it was with Marla," meaning, the sex he had when he was unfaithful was never as good as it was with his first wife.), this idea has yet to emerge in more than one incident.

This difference then; seeing the good "ideal" emerge; is one of the more important differences between Emergence and traditional therapies. Why? Because it reveals how differently Emergence Therapy defines healing; as "seeing the beauty in being faithful." This is in stark contrast to the typical sense of what would indicate Joe's having healed; that he saw how his being unfaithful was "wrong."

Thus, while Emergence practitioners and traditional therapists both see the loving behavior; "being faithful"; as a goal, Emergence practitioners also want to see this behavior motivated by more than just the person's desire to avoid suffering. They want it to be motivated from the fact that people's very natures have changed, in that they have incorporating a new ideal into their sense of being.

What, then, do we use as the proof that the person's nature has healed?

Only one thing. That beauty has emerged where there once was only blankness or pain.

Did any beauty emerge in Joe?

Yes, when he saw how sex with a partner was better than being unfaithful. This "good," while only one example, is still beauty Joe had previously not seen.

Even so, up to this point, Joe has still not generalized this "good" to a personal ideal. This did not happen until the next session, wherein Joe finally connected his inability to see the beauty in being faithful to the seemingly unconnected scene which emerged in him at the end of the first "P" Curve, the scene in which he saw "Charlie" the little green man.

How was this scene connected to Joe's infidelities? To see this, you'll have to wait until you read about the fourth and final "P" Curve.

Healing Infidelity - Session 2 Healing Infidelity - Session 4

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