It is our darkest days that we learn the most from…….

by susiesheartpathblog on August 23, 2011

DAILY LOVE TIP – Tuesday August 23, 2011


Hello Special Ones

Today we have the privilege of reading a very special piece that has been written by one of our Imago  Couples Workshop Graduates, Catriona Lightfoot.

In my experience people learn from and are inspired by other people's stories and so I have asked a few people to be guest writers on the blog from time to time and today the  very wonderful Catriona tells a vignette of her story. Those of you who know Catriona will recognize her to be a woman of amazing passion and dedication to all that she takes on....

The topic she shares about is the devastating impact of an affair on a marriage. We have the dangerous statistic of approx 60% of men and 40% of women have an affair in western countries!!! Did you know that♥  Can you imagine the programmes that governments would be organizing and supporting if there was a statistic of 60% of men having prostate cancer or heart attacks or dealing with most other issues and yet with a statistic like this there is relatively little organized to educate people how to affair-proof and divorce-proof their marriages let alone how to heal from an affair and go on to create an extraordinary marriage/relationship. Unbelievable!!

 For me this is also preposterous and a very dangerous state of affairs that not only affects the couple but thousands of children who are innocent in all this. The other statistic people need to know is that only 5% of relationships that start in an affair are successful!......There are many myths and wrong beliefs people have about infidelity and recovery from an affair - including counsellors and other professionals people turn to by the way!!....... and this is all stuff I feel strongly about and I'll share more another time....

Hi Susie,
I think this loses something in the condensing but I think it will provide some idea of how bad a marriage can get..........

Nearly 3 years ago I walked into my lounge room to hear my husband tell me “I had an affair with X and R is my son”. My brain was telling me to compute this information but my body was already reacting in a huge a guttural roar that came from a place I had never accessed before and my arms were grabbing the bookcase against the wall and throwing it across the lounge room. “NOOOOOO!!!!”.  And then I left my body. 

The next few days I recall was like watching a scene in Neighbours. It was not my life I was living – I was watching someone else’s life play out. Affairs did not happen in my marriage and a child involved. I was living a plot from Neighbours. This was not real. I was in deep shock that in reality was to last many months.......

How do you make a decision to stay in a marriage♥ Every bone in your body is saying run run run as fast as you can, but the inertia of heart-break and devastation makes running impossible and in a way buys the time needed to really evaluate the situation – what is important and how to take the next step to move.

Just looking at Brett would make my stomach lurch so that he could nearly make me  physically ill. He repulsed me and I wanted to be as far away from him as possible. But there was a warning system going off in my brain saying don’t do anything you will regret – even in my devastation I understood that I was making a life changing decision and needed to do this carefully and clearly – there was too much at risk. 

I had grown up in chaos and had made a conscious and real commitment to each of my 3 babies that would not be their reality. This heavily influenced my decision to stay. I needed to be sure that it was really broken beyond repair before I would subject them to what I believed would be another form of chaos in their little lives. Instead I forced myself to see the man I loved when I looked at him – not the man I felt had just taken a machete to my heart and soul. I put my feelings aside and tried to get beneath them to what was best for me and my family. Not having a clue what that was I bought some books!! 

Over the next few months I bought books and trawled the internet for hope and guidance.  I found many books written by therapists who had successfully recovered couples in my situation and a couple of books actually written by survivors that provided hope but found it hard to find professional help. We went to one together who had no idea what she was doing and I went to one by myself who was Ok but I found individual counseling was too limiting when dealing with the issues between a couple – it makes no sense of the bigger issues.

I didn’t want our marriage to go back to how it was before the affair – I wanted it to be the best ever and recognized we both need to change to make this happen. But the books alone  were not enough. Brett wouldn’t read them and I was struggling on my own. I knew he was still lying to me and my inability to get him to make the changes required to rebuild our marriage was sending me into a deep depression.

The darkest day was on our wedding anniversary, 8 months after he had told me about the affair. I got up crying and pretty much continued crying while going through my  depression fighting techniques of continuing with a routine and real life, by the time I had left the gym mid morning I was formulating a plan. The plan was not concrete but was  something along the lines of drive to Noosa National Park find a secluded beach and walk into the water and just keep walking until the rip dragged me away and I would find peace.

I parked the car in the surf club car park to ensure that someone would find it and let Brett know so he wouldn’t have to wonder for too long and I took my journal and set off on my walk. The plan was all very well until I started to think about my children and what would happen to them. My peace would become their misery. I couldn’t do that to them. It is our darkest days that we learn the most from and my journal from that day is full of the realization that this is bigger than the affair and I needed to find someone to help me sort that out. 

And then as often happens, help came in the most unexpected way. A few weeks later we attended a workshop weekend for couples on affairs run by a couple who had recovered their own marriage and were now teaching the world. Very American and very scary but by this stage I was up for trying anything – I saw it as a sign. My trip to the Noosa National Park I believe had made Brett realize this was not all just going to go away and he agreed to go. I pegged a lot of hope on this weekend changing Brett’s attitude to his continual lying to me. I had read their book (he hadn’t) and knew that they believed in openness and honesty as the foundation for marriage and for rebuilding a marriage after an affair. It was also the weekend we were first introduced to Susie and Shelton and the Imago Dialogue and saw a glimpse of what a truly connected conversation may be able to uncover. That weekend changed our life forever.

But the hard work of rebuilding had only just begun.......

And rebuilding is a topic I'll share about in a future blog. Love Catriona.

ABOUT ♥CATRIONA:  Catriona's experience has an amazing positive consequence for many others in that she is very passionate and committed to making a difference in educating people on how to affair proof their marriage as well as supporting people dealing with recovering from an affair and making their relationship the best it can possibly be.

Catriona is the co-ordinator for the Beyond Affairs Network (BAN) Support Group for Brisbane, Australia. BAN is an international non-profit organization made up of local support groups for people who are dealing with the devastating impact of a spouse's affair. It is for women and men (still married or divorced) seeking support in recovering from this experience - see

Catriona is the driving force and organizer for a one-day Workshop in Brisbane on Monday 12th September which Shelton and I will be facilitating.   

ONE-DAY Workshop in BRISBANE – Monday 12th September

YES! Couples do heal from AFFAIRS and go on to create even stronger marriages/relationships!

PRE-REQUISITE: attendance at an IMAGO WORKSHOP or prior Imago Therapy

Local Brisbane co-ordinator for
International Beyond Affairs Network 
 on 0404 283 052


Todays’ Addition to my list of My ♥favourite things…..volunteers...Catriona is one and such a gift to the world in all that she does for many. There are so many others of you reading who volunteer in so many ways to make the world a better place and I am grateful to you all for what you do and give. You truly understand and live the concept of paying it forward.........

With much gratitude for Catriona's generosity in sharing her story and the healing she is creating both in telling her story and in the work she is doing. My respect and gratitude also to Brett for standing beside Catriona as she does this, LOVE, Susie.


"One of the most valuable things we can do to heal one another is listen to each other's stories" ~ Rebecca Falls

"The soul grows well when giving and receiving Love.
Love is after all, a verb, an action word, not a noun." ~Joan Borysenko


PS: Please pass this onto friends you  know who need to hear that marriages do heal after affairs and they can go onto creating an even stronger marriage/relationship if they have the TOOLS and do the work.......Also I'd appreciate you letting me know by your comments below the impact of hearing Catriona's sharing and do you want to hear more of people's stories .......Also note the italics and highlights above are mine.....

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Nicola says:

Thank you for your story Catriona and Susie for printing it and making it so eloquent and as though we too, can get to that place…..if we are prepared to walk the talk, as Susie says… doing the workshop, is just the beginning… now we have to go back to the University of LIfe. Having attended Susie & Shelton’s workshop this weekend, it is wonderful to now read a story from one of the ‘real’ people… to me it doesn’t matter where you have been or what has occurred, it is the story of your journey, that is inspiring and that you, now volunteer to help others in the unbelievable “60%” of women this happens to…. YEs I would enjoy to read more of these stories…. it is our “Imago community” that truly inspires me. Thank you again for your inspiring late night reading… BEst wishes, Nicola

Catriona Lightfoot says:

Dear Nicki I remember you and your partner at the workshop. I am so pleased to hear how well you are doing – how amazing a transformation we can achieve of ourselves and our relationships with the right tools and support – thank you for responding. I agree that having an affair cannot be supported as a strategy for change in a relationship but looking back I see the affair as the catalyst that led to a real and conscious relationship that today brings us much joy and is the foundation of our family -of our nurturing our 4 children in love and security. I always wanted to see the affair as an opportunity to change and grow – for both of us – but in the early days I just did not know how. It took the right tools and practice, making mistakes and more practice, people like Susie and Shelton and friends for support on the journey and a long process of gradual change. You and I (and many others who have been through this) have turned the affair into an opportunity to create the brand new relationship of our dreams and that provides the hope for those currently in the early days of pain and darkness. It is never too late. But I also want people – those contemplating affairs or those that think it will never happen to them – to not wait and learn the skills now. I love your term “nurture”. Nurture now peoples… xx

Nicki says:

Hi Catriona, my partner and I were also at that life changing ‘Beyond Affairs Workshop’ with you and Brett. Thank you for sharing your story and continuing the work to encourage and support others experiencing affairs in their marriage. We need more positive stories like yours out there. Meeting Susie and Shelton and discovering Imago revolutionized our relationship in ways I never thought possible. It required me to look beyond blame and shame – to confront my fears and rewrite the script of who I am. Looking back, while I cannot condone my partner’s behaviour, I can clearly see what led us to that situation and admit yes we both were responsible for letting the relationship die. Today we have created a brand new relationship which we are careful to nurture using the tools that Susie, Shelton and Imago have provided us with. I look forward to your next chapter…nicki…x

Deborah says:

An inspirational story indeed – those of us who are recovering from affairs can take heart.
It is never an easy journey, but it always helps to hear enlightening stories such as Catriona’s. Her emotions mirror many of mine. My husband and I are recovering together – one step at a time – sometimes with the proverbial 1 step backwards. Stories such as Catriona’s help us to again place one foot firmly in front of the other in our bid to reclaiming our joy of life and one another.

catriona lightfoot says:

Hi Deborah – I am touched that you find my story inspirational. I really understand your experience of 1 step back – there were times too when I felt like I was treading water and my legs were going to give out!!! I really like the quote Susie posted above “Its funny how day by day nothing changes but after a while when you look back – everything is different” It really struck a chord with me as I was reading Susie today. On Friday it is 3 years since Brett told me about his affair and re-reading this blog about the early days “everything is different” but there was a long time there when it felt like nothing was changing. Now we move only forward. I have learnt that you are never alone – there is hope and support for you on your journey – you just need to reach out to find it.
xx Catriona

Welcome to our ♥heartpath blog community ♥Deborah and Big Thank Yous for opening your heart and trusting us and sharing with us – you inspire me too!
Congratulations for choosing your marriage and taking the steps to rebuilding it to be I imagine something very wonderful!
By the way, as far as I am concerned all steps are MOVE-ments. Steps backward can teach us lots and may just be informing us we need to step forward in more tiny mircro-MOVE-ments. or take a rest,……or many other things……..
One of the ♥TOOLS in our TOOLBOX we teach is when we do new behaviours or actions it is good to see them as experiments and that we learn as much from being able to achieve our goal as if we don’t – we put our ‘curiosity hat’ on and check things out ……much like Edison discovered many ways not to make the light bulb!! Giving ourselves permission to ‘fail’ makes it far safer to have a go!
Here’s to many joyous steps to deeper ♥LOVE-ing of each other for you and your husband….and we look forward to hearing much more from you (and your husband), Susie♥

Ange Hawdon says:

I am privileged to call Catriona my friend. I watched in awe as she dealt with these events in her life with such courage, love and poise. I watched as her library of books expanded and I recall her ringing me after that trip to Noosa NP and being so concerned for her (and too far way in Adelaide). I also remember the conversation after their first Imago course. She had found a way out of her misery, it would take work, but if she could learn something about herself from all this “it will all be worth it”. They have done and continue to do the work together and have rebuilt their marriage (and family) to a point where, for those of us who really know, we envy the understanding, honesty and intimacy they share. In sharing her story she shows more courage, and in sharing her knowledge of Imago she hopes to share a solution for those courageous enough to try. I’m willing to try because if I “learn something about myself from all this, it will all be worth it”. Thanks to Catriona!

Catriona Lightfoot says:

My dearest Pange – I am so blessed to have a friend like you. A friend that does not judge, criticise or advise but listen and listen and then listen some more and be there day and night – to know you were on the end of the phone whenever I needed you no matter the distance was the greatest gift you could give me. I am bursting with happiness that you are coming on the Imago journey with me xxxx

Hello Angela♥
What a delight to have you share of your friendship with Catriona – what amazing gifts you are to each other reading Catriona’s response. How wonderful that you are starting your Imago journey soon in Brisbane – and with Catriona there…… My heart feels so full that you’ve shared your experience reminding us of how important, and in fact how crucial it is, to have someone strong to fall back on when we are fragile. I so value the ♥LOVE that girl friends give to each other. Looking forward to meeting you. Susie♥

Kelly says:

I read the posts everyday (sometimes late at night or first thing in the morning) but due to my crazy schedule, never have time to comment. This story by Catorina was amazing. I agree with the first quote Susie included about reading others stories helps us to heal. Thanks for sharing. Kelly xx ps, I would love a book full of stories like Catorinas!

Hello Kelly♥,
Thanks for making the time to read knowing how busy you are…and to comment. Yes I agree having a whole book full of stories like Catriona’s would be amazing……it is somewhere on my ‘To Do list’ in the nexty 60 years!! I am so privileged in my work in that I get to hear so many inspiring and courageous stories everyday……When people are at that ‘darkest hour’ wondering whether there is even ‘a light at the end of the tunnel’ hearing others’ stories may be the very thing (and sometimes the only thing) that switches the light of HOPE on…sending LOVE and support to you for the important work you are doing right now Kelly, Susie♥

Catriona Lightfoot says:

I agree and thank you Kelly – through BAN I am in contact with a worldwide network of amazing people each with their own story and who are willing to share it for their BAN groups and others – for hope and healing. One of the struggles many betrayed spouses have is the shame that this has happened in their marriage – in the early days, like many betrayed spouses, I believed that somehow it was my fault that I had let this happen – if I was a “better” wife he would not have done what he did. This thinking is as flawed as if I believed it was my fault that the train I usually catch home from work was cancelled!! This is a common misconception reinforced in the media time and again (don’t get me started) and confirmed by my own polling!! Unfortunately it often leads to couples not seeking the help and support they need believing they can manage it on their own – treating it as a private matter. With Susie’s stats above I think silence and misconceptions are dangerous so I think more couples reaching out for support provided with things like Imago will lead to more success stories which will lead to less silence and more hope. xx

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