An Old Trigger: Fear from an Old Infidelity Trauma Leaks into a Present-Day Situation
by Nancy Privett, MA, EFTCert-I, BBSH
This article assumes you have a basic understanding of the EFT protocol. For more information on EFT, go to www.emofree.com
Lara was a forty-year-old woman who had been divorced five years previously because her husband had been having an affair. She had learned and used EFT on herself for the trauma of her breakup, and felt like she had cleared all the negativity. She was now in a new relationship with someone she admired and respected and everything seemed to be going very well until one day she received an email from her boyfriend. It was a forwarded email and her boyfriend had sent it to several people. The content of the email itself was innocuous, but after reading it, Lara began to read the list of addresses of the other people to whom her boyfriend had sent the email. She was calmly reading through the names of the addressees, all of whom she could identify, when she suddenly had a very strong physical and emotional reaction as she came upon the name of a woman she didn’t know.
Suddenly, Lara’s stomach was churning, she felt like she was going to throw up, she was having a hard time breathing, and she was “scared out of her mind.” She wanted to immediately call her boyfriend and scream at him and demand that he tell her who this strange woman was. Her mind began to feed her very negative information about this unknown woman – that she was someone who was “after” her boyfriend, that her boyfriend was interested in this woman, that they probably emailed all the time, that they definitely were calling each other several times a week, and so on. Thankfully, Lara recognized that she was having quite a severe reaction that was way too strong for what was happening. She called me to get calmer before she confronted her boyfriend.
By the time of our session, Lara had more and more thoughts that her relationship, which she had thought was going so well, was going to end, and that her boyfriend had been lying to her and cheating on her all along.
“It’s not making sense,” she said. “We have talked about his previous relationships, and we have even confided our relationship fears to each other and talked them through. One part of me knows that there is a reasonable explanation. But every time I think of that name in the list of email addresses, I feel my whole chest closing up, and all my initial physical symptoms return – the nausea, the trouble breathing, and the feeling that I just got knocked off my feet. I used EFT for the original infidelity with my ex-husband, and I tapped so much, on so many things, that I am pretty sure I covered everything, so I just don’t understand why I am reacting so strongly.”
I had the sense that there was some aspect of the infidelity that Lara had experienced that she had missed tapping on, but I wanted that to come out organically from the session.
Because Lara was still having some of her breathing and nausea symptoms, I suggested that she begin tapping on those physical symptoms, beginning with the following setup affirmations and tapping a full round for each.
Even though I am having trouble breathing every time I think of that email address, I completely and deeply love and accept myself.
Even though I feel nauseous when I remember seeing that name – Melanie!--, I completely and deeply love and accept myself.
At that point, Lara said she was aware of a sensation of fear “running through her body,” so we tapped on that. Because we were dealing with fear, I also included the 9-gamut in between each round of tapping.
Even though I can feel the fear racing around my body,…
Even though I can feel the fear tightening my chest….
Even though it feels like the fear is tying me in knots…
Even though I am so scared I am going to lose him,…
Even though I can’t believe this is happening again,…
Even though I don’t really know who this woman is and I am making up stories about her…
Even though these stories running through my head don’t feel good…
After tapping on these statements, Lara’s body began to relax, her nausea went away and she felt like she could breathe fully.
Because Lara had been triggered by finding an email address, I wanted to include the word “email” in her tapping. So she tapped another round, beginning with the set-up affirmation:
Even though I don’t know who this email woman is, and it scares me,…
She then tapped the points using the reminder phrase “this email woman.”
At the end of that round, Lara had an insight. She said that as she repeated the word “email” in the tapping statement, she had a memory of something that happened in the days before she had found out for sure that her former husband was cheating on her. She had been feeling like something just wasn’t right in the relationship, and had confronted her husband about whether he was cheating, but he emphatically denied it. However, Lara’s instinct told her that he was lying, so she began secretly checking his email and his cell phone call list. She would usually wait until her husband was in the shower to do this, and she said that it felt absolutely awful to be sneaking around and having to investigate to confirm her suspicions. Her suspicions were confirmed by what she found, both in her husband’s emails and his cell phone call list. For her, that was the “beginning of the end.”
Lara realized that, although she had tapped with EFT on almost every other aspect of the infidelity, she had never done any tapping on how awful it felt to have to search for incriminating emails and phone numbers. She also realized that, when she had been investigating, she usually felt sick to her stomach and very fearful of what she would find.
Lara began tapping complete rounds, beginning with the following setup affirmations:
Even though I had to check his emails and his phone messages, because he wasn’t telling me the truth…
Even though I felt like a sneak waiting for him to get into the shower so I could check the computer emails….
Even though I was afraid of what I would find….
Even though I had to sneak into his car to check his cell phone messages….
Even though I was asking myself what kind of life I was living as I had to sneak around to check up on my husband….
Even though I felt sick to my stomach each time I accessed his email account….
Even though all that sneaking around made me feel like a fool….
Even though I knew that finding evidence would mean the end of my marriage, and that really scared me….
At the end of these rounds of tapping, Lara discovered that, underneath her fear, she still had a lot of anger about what she had to do to find out the truth of what was going on. She could feel the anger in her teeth and jaws, so she began tapping:
Even though I am furious that I had to lower myself to that level to find out the truth of what was going on in my relationship….
Even though I am enraged that he was so deceitful….
Even though I have this raging tension in my teeth and jaws and I just want to scream at my ex and call him every name in the book…
Even though I feel like his behavior demeaned me in yet another way, and that infuriates me….
Lara tapped on the last two statements several times each. By the end of these full rounds of tapping, her teeth and jaws felt clear, and she said, “No wonder I just wanted to call my boyfriend up and blast him for that email. Thank goodness that I didn’t.”
Even though most of the charge about her boyfriend’s email was gone – Lara said it was only about a “1” on the 0 to 10 scale, she determined that she did need to ask her boyfriend about the email, and explain her immediate reaction and what she had discovered. She felt centered and able to do this in a calm way, without “making him bad” before the conversation even started. Lara and her boyfriend discussed everything and they had a good conversation. It turned out that the email woman, Melanie, was her boyfriend’s cousin, whom Lara met a few weeks later at a family party.
Although, to an outsider, it might have been very clear that Lara’s very strong reaction was getting triggered by an old event, sometimes when we are experiencing fearful reactions, we don’t see clearly enough to understand exactly what is happening. Lara had tapped so consistently and successfully on so many aspects of her husband’s infidelity that she had assumed she was “done with it.” She used the present-day experience to get even healthier with respect to the old trauma. In this way, she later said, having that big reaction to the email actually was a useful event that helped her tie up some loose ends she hadn’t known existed.