Why “Get Over It” is Misdirected
We Wish We Could
When we’ve been betrayed, we want nothing more than for the pain to go away. We try to bargain with it, under the desperate illusion that if we can just unlock the secret code, everything will go back to the way it was. Often, we try to escape from it, looking for those brief moments of respite provided through distractions. We plead with others and ourselves to please just make the pain stop.
We see ourselves, both manic and depressed, driven half-mad with the heart-stopping realization that we’ve been trapped in an illusion, and we hate what we see. We don’t want to be that person, and yet we don’t know how to escape the pain that binds us. And so “get over it” feels like being told to simply walk away and yet we have no legs.
It Often Assumes One Bad Moment is Reflective of Every Moment
Triggers – and overreactions – are a part of healing. And by their very nature, they tend to be visible to others and attract attention. It may be that this sort of reaction is rare, yet for the person on the outside telling you that it’s time to “get over it,” they may perceive this as being your normal, everyday state.
It is Dismissive of the Magnitude of the Pain
From an outsider’s perspective, it can be easy to underestimate the impact of betrayal. They may see it as being only about the sexual relationship or think that you are better off without the cheater and that can dump them and move on as easily as you discard your trash after a picnic lunch.
Yet the reality is different. No aspect of your life has escaped unscathed. You now question everything and trust nothing. You grieve the life you thought you had and the future you imagined. You feel like you were not enough while you face the fear of being alone forever.
Healing Does Not Speak Calendar
Many times, “get over it” comes after a certain amount of time as passed, as though the calendar holds some magical healing powers. And while time does help to soften the memories and provide opportunities for healing, it is no panacea.
Time Doesn’t Mean You Forget You will never forget. Time does not erase all memories, delete all pain. It’s still there, but there is also space for you to live alongside of it.
Provide Automatic Processing Time doesn’t do the healing. You do. If all you do is wait, you’ll feel much the same, only with more wrinkles. Time simply gives you the space and opportunity to work through it.
Time Doesn’t Provide Understanding Time won’t answer the “why” question for you. It won’t reveal why life is harder for some of us than others and why bad things can happen to good people. What time does give you is some perspective that suggests that maybe understanding why isn’t really that important.
This Trauma May Bring Up Past Traumas
Perhaps this betrayal has brought up childhood wounds where you felt abandoned by a parent. Or maybe this has reminded you of other situations in your past where you received the message that you were unlovable and not enough. Perhaps grieving thus loss has reignited the pain of other losses from your pass.
Regardless of the specifics, this trauma does not exist in isolation. Much like an iceberg with most of its mass below the surface, it may appear to others that you’re reacting only to the most visible injury, meanwhile you’re wrestling with everything that’s been buried for years.
Why People Tell Us to “Get Over It”
They Have Something to Gain From Our Silence
Sadly, the one who betrayed us is often the same one telling us to drop it already, as though they can reveal this bombshell and then escape unscathed. Sometimes they’re clueless, so absorbed in their own life than they neglect to consider how their actions have impacted you. Other times, they see our pain as weakness and our cries trigger them to be cruel. Consider the motivation behind the words. Does your silence somehow benefit them?
Discomfort With Our Emotions
This can happen either with the person that betrayed us or with others in our life. The emotions that follow betrayal are often strong and ugly, and people may be uncomfortable bearing witness to those feelings. They tell us to move on because they want us to be back to normal for their sake.
They Care and Want Us to Feel Better
Not everyone who tells us to ‘get over it” has bad intentions. Sometimes, those words, although hurtful, are coming from those who see us hurting and want us to feel better. They see that we’re holding on, turning the past over and over again in our minds as though looking for the secret that will unlock peace. They see us “pain-shopping,” scrolling social media to see images of the affair partner and they hear our fixation on what has happened. They know that we would feel better if we let go, but they don’t always understand why we’re not ready to.
Because They Haven’t Lived it, They Don’t Understand
From an outsider’s perspective, it seems so simple – dump the jerk and walk away with your head held high like some character bouncing off rock bottom in a romantic comedy. Their words aren’t malicious, they’re just clueless.
When We Need to Pay Attention to “Get Over It”
If It Pisses You Off, There May be Some Truth to It
Pay attention to your reaction to those words. If you find yourself particularly enraged or defensive, it may be because they are dangerously close to some truth that you’ve been trying to avoid seeing. Often, we do hold on too long and sometimes those in our lives our trying to help us see the ways that we’re betraying ourselves.
We Hold Onto Pain Because It is All We Have Left
The innocence is gone. The trust is gone. The marriage may be gone. But we still have the pain. It is a sign that we have been wounded that can become a strange badge of honor that we wear to honor the magnitude of what was lost. We fear letting go of the pain, because we no longer know who we are without it.
Sometimes We Neglect to Live While We’re Healing
It’s so easy to tell ourselves that once we are healed, then we will fully engage with life again. Yet life happens alongside healing, two intertwining and continuous paths. Perhaps the one telling you to “get over it” is really telling you to get out of the waiting room and start living even while you’re still healing.
If You’re Wanting to Heal the Relationship, You Have to Let Go
You didn’t have a say in the affair and you have every right to have a say in how the recovery plays out. It is not your role to alleviate their guilt or to stay quiet in an attempt to keep the peace. Your emotions are valid. That being said, be mindful of your motivation when you bring up the affair. Are you looking for reassurances that it won’t happen again? Are you wanting to make them feel badly? Are you coming from a place of self-righteousness? Are you wanting the person that hurt you to be the one to heal you? These are all the relationship equivalent of a dryer being stuck in the tumble cycle – it will beat you both up, but won’t make much of anything happen.
None of what happened is fair. And if you’re committed to staying, you have to decide what you want more – to punish them or heal the relationship. You can’t have both.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is this…
You are never going to “get over it,” as though it was a minor slight that stung for a moment. This has had a profound impact on your life, leaving behind permanent marks and forever altering how you view the world.
Yet even though you are not going to get over it,
You ARE going to figure out how to live with it. You will each a point when it is no longer the first thing you think of when you awake and you no longer cry yourself to sleep. It will become part of your story rather than your entire identity.
You ARE going to heal, the incredible rawness of the aching void replaced with an echo of the pain. You will allow yourself to trust again, to love again, beginning with yourself.
You ARE going to learn from it. What has happened has opened your eyes, brought you gratitude for what you do have and showed you just how strong you are.