The Why Trap (And How to Get Out)
There are so many traps post-divorce that can grab hold and keep you stuck –
And the why trap that charges that you will be able to move on as soon as you understand why it all happened.
The why trap looks for the reasoning behind your ex’s actions. It seeks to discover a greater purpose for the pain. The why trap attempts to mitigate blinding emotion with the application of rational thought and deliberate thinking. It convinces you that understanding will lead to peace and prompts determined, often frantic, searching for “the truth.”
But it’s a trap for a reason.
The why trap is a sneaky snare. It lures you in with promises of information that will lend sense to the nonsensical. It helps to take you out of the state of overwhelming emotion as you focus on facts rather than feelings. The problem is that there is often no defined end and trying to answer why leads through an endless serpentine labyrinth. And holds you prisoner of your past.
I fell into this trap within the first few days. Since he left me with no information, I obsessively gathered all of the evidence I could, uncovering the planned trip to Uganda, the stolen funds and maxed credit and eventually, the bigamy. It did answer some questions. After all, I could see why he was too cowardly to face me. Can you picture it?
Lisa, we need to talk. You know how I said we were on track financially for what we planned? Well, I sort of spent all of that and more on another life. It was an accident. Oh, and you know how just last night I told you how much I loved you and how I was looking forward to the rest of our lives together? Well, I changed my mind. In fact, I just got married to this awesome girl. Would you like the registry information? We really need a mosquito net since we’re going to Uganda in a couple weeks. Why do you look upset?
Yeah, not exactly. So, the early sleuthing uncovered some answers, but it didn’t provide any peace. So I switched gears towards trying to understand why he would do these things. That’s when I devoured books and websites about personality disorders and entertained the labels of sociopath and narcissist. Here’s my full description of the results of that search.
And it did help some. Even though I decided to ultimately leave him labelless, I gained understanding of the fact that I had been gaslighted and I realized that he had some major issues.
But all that reading and research started to hold me back. I realized I was expending more energy on trying to understand him then on trying to understand and heal myself. And, as I always caution, whatever you nurture, grows.
If I wanted to heal and move forward, that was where I needed to focus.
So I did.
I still don’t know why it all happened. And I doubt I ever will.
But you don’t need to know why to walk away.
If you are having trouble with the why trap, here are some ideas to help you get out without having to gnaw off your leg:
Enter your search with intention. Decide what you want to discover and make a pact that once you find that information, you stop.
Set a limit – a timer, a number of books or a number of website searches.
Journal. Often we hold understanding within us and writing helps to release it.
When you feel the urge to dig deeper, try exercising first. Often, the need for information is really just restless and anxious energy.
Complete the sentence, “Once I know …, I will feel…” You may be surprised at how little knowledge really impacts emotion.
If your ex was particularly bad, do you really want to understand them? Maybe not understanding says something good about you.
Pray or meditate to find acceptance. There is much in this world we do not understand. And it’s okay to not always have all of the answers.
Maybe it didn’t happen for a reason, but it happened. Now you can create the reason. You can decide how you want this to fit within your bigger story. Create your own why.