"I feel so stupid."
"What is wrong with me, I'm so stupid."
I've heard this dozens of times from women reeling from the latest disclosure in their relationship. And I know the feeling all too well. How could I not see he was lying? How could I not know the obvious reasons things felt off in our relationship? How could I believe his excuse for coming home late or not getting the promotion or not getting his annual raise? How could I not understand that of course he had slipped back into his addiction? How could I be so stupid?
It was three and a half years ago that my husband finally disclosed to me the fulness of his addiction to pornography -- the nearly lost jobs, the hours and hours of looking at porn when he was supposed to be doing something else, the lying about where he was and what he was doing so that he could view porn. I felt so stupid. Stupid was the ultimate shame-filled thing for me. Stupid was 'bad' in a way that nothing else could be. I would stare in the mirror in the morning, and like a horrible broken record the voice in my head would curl its lip in disgust at my reflection and say "Stupid. So stupid. How could you be so stupid?" It was the soundtrack of my despair and worthlessness. Stupid was the worst thing I could be, and every part of me was sickened by my utter stupidity.
Man, trauma sucks. And trauma lies.
It took me awhile to pull out of the shame spiral I was stuck in. It took other women to lift me up, look me in the eye and say, "You are NOT stupid. You are a wife who expected your husband to keep his promises. You were kind enough and faithful enough and you live with enough integrity that it hadn't even crossed your mind that someone would lie to their spouse like that. You were not and are not stupid."
I now know and understand that I'm not stupid. But it doesn't mean it doesn't rear it's ugly head from time to time. When I hear the word 'stupid' enter my mind I immediately throw up a HUGE stop sign and just start mentally chanting affirmations. Because there's so much shame wrapped up in feeling stupid for me, I work hard to reframe it as soon as I recognize the feeling. I am trusting. I am forgiving. I am faithful. I am loving. I am good, virtuous and wonderful things that made me susceptible to lies, manipulations or being misled -- but that is not on me, I am a dozen good things that make me that way. I am a wife who trusted her husband -- the fact I had reason not to is not on me, that was on him. I am someone who loves and gives the benefit of the doubt and sees the best in people. I trust and I love and I believe in the goodness of others. I am not stupid.
And neither are you.