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A woman facing the loss of her best friend, her mother’s illness and stress from being a full time w

16 Jan
A woman facing the loss of her best friend, her mother’s illness and stress from being a full time working mother and full time student, asks about her reaction to her husband’s infidelity..
Dear Belleruth,
My recent life has been one traumatic event after another. My mother (age 52) was re-diagnosed with lymphoma, and then my best friend suffered from a brain aneurysm and passed away. While I was struggling to deal with my grief, the one person in my life who was supposed to be supportive, my husband, had an affair.

I am so hurt and angry, bitter and depressed. I sometimes get angry that I even wake up in the morning. I have a daughter whom I live and breathe for, but I am having a horrible time coping with everything, just the same.

I am a full time student with a full time job. I already have your Depression CD, aside from counseling, what can you recommend? I feel that I cannot deal with anymore heartache, and again I am doing it alone. Please Help!

Dear Dorothy,
Good grief, your stress-o-meter is over the top, that’s for sure. Just having a full time job, full time scholastic schedule and a young daughter is plenty; add to it all this worry and grief over your mom and your friend, then the feelings of betrayal fury and fear generated by your husband’s affair.. well, no wonder you are beside yourself. Who wouldn’t be?

Clearly, when the dust settles and you’re in better emotional shape, you’ll have some decisions to make about your marriage - whether or not you want to stay with this man, and if you do, what it will take to make that possible.

But I wouldn’t attempt to figure that out right now. Just know that this is something you will be dealing with in the future - knowing this can be a big help, in and of itself (that you don’t have to decide now, but that you will decide in the future, that is).

But for now, I suggest you table this issue (which is not the same as ignoring it), and focus instead on taking care of yourself for now. You need some good, nurturing self-care at this time of great stress.

If you can cut down on your classes and/or your work some, great. You’re at risk of lowering your immune functioning with continued, unmitigated stress, and being more vulnerable to illness. So try to ease up if at all possible, or as soon as it is possible.

Continue working with your therapist, acknowledging your feelings and finding ways to stay on track in spite of them. At some point, you may want to seek couples’ counseling, should you decide that you don’t want to give this guy the old heave-ho. Or you may want to use your counseling time to plan an exit strategy, figuring out ways to make yourself financially and emotionally independent of your husband. It sounds like you’re on the way to doing that anyway, with your schooling and work.

Continue using imagery, relaxation and meditation to release stress whenever you can. You may also want to use our Grief imagery to help with the loss of your friend. Mindfulness meditation is perfect for your circumstances, because it’s built to help people with suffering. But, of course, given your schedule, you may not have time to learn this for now. Breathwork would do the job in a more simple way.

Perhaps a massage or some energy work would be quite valuable for now. In times of great stress, physical relaxation, introduced from the outside by a gentle, expert set of massotherapy hands can be just the thing.

And some special, pressure-free time with your daughter would be wonderful - a special day built in to your week? Perhaps a kid movie and lunch on Saturday afternoon? Whatever you can do for yourself ... do it!

Take care. Hard to believe, but this too shall pass.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award