By Diana Robertson
If you were in the woods and got shot with an arrow would you pick up a bow and shoot a second arrow into yourself? Probably not.
But too often when I get shot by an emotional arrow I do, indeed, shoot myself with a second arrow.
Here is how it happens: My husband comes out of the closet and says he wants a divorce. (First arrow) I tell myself that I am unlovable. (Second arrow) I should have seen this coming. (Yet another arrow) I’m stupid, ugly, undesirable, naïve, and now my life has been wasted. (Entire quiver of arrows)
As stupid as it seems to imagine physically shooting ourselves with a second arrow after being hit by a first one, one would think that we would realize how wrong it is to shoot ourselves with additional emotional arrows. But we all do it. And we often inflict much more damage to ourselves than was caused by the initial emotional arrow.
This pattern happens in other situations outside the world of the straight spouse experience, too.
First Arrow Someone else is selected for a job. Second Arrow “I’m a loser.”
First Arrow My child gets a bad grade at school. Second Arrow “I’m a terrible parent.”
First Arrow My neighbor is mean to me. Second Arrow “I must be doing something to deserve it.”
Isn’t it bad enough that we got shot once? And who taught us that it makes sense to add injury to injury? “Well look at that! I just got shot!” *sigh* “Hand me my bow, I’ve gotta shoot another arrow into myself.” Senseless as it may be, we do it way too often.
The straight spouse experience has given me many opportunities for target practice.
When my gay ex husband was reveling in his new found freedom and honesty, I was telling myself that living with me must have been really crappy for him to be that happy to get away from me. When I began to dabble in the online dating scene, and experienced being told “You aren’t the right one for me,” I added the arrow of “I am too fat—I will always be alone.” Now that my ex is in a committed relationship with another man I tell myself “Look, a lying, cheating narcissist can find love. I must really be terrible.”
Step away from the arrows! Stop the madness! Just deal with the first arrow, gently remove it, put on a bandage, and go buy some Kevlar protective clothing. I am doing a lot better, now, stopping myself from inflicting Second Arrows on myself. I sometimes have even been known to murmur to myself, “Put down the arrow, one wound is plenty.” I’m becoming almost Zen-like in my ability to observe an initial arrow and then move on with my happy life.
Someone else gets the job? If I was not the best choice, I would not have been happy in that job.
A neighbor is mean to me? That says a lot about him and nothing about me.
No follow up phone call after a first date? Next!
Gay ex husband (who always refused to go on vacations) is going on frequent vacations now with his boyfriend.
I rejoice that he will not be with me when I go to Florida in October!
The Straight Spouse Network invites the perspectives of various individuals who wish to share their unique experiences. We wish to thank Diana for sharing this observation.