For the first time in my 25 years of talking publicly about my own experience in dealing with my husband's affairs so long ago... in June, 2005, I was no longer speaking alone. I was joined by four of our BAN Coordinators in presenting a Workshop at the SmartMarriages Conference in Dallas. (See Beyond Affairs Network - BAN.)
I was SO proud of this group, first for simply speaking publicly; then at how incredibly articulate, poised, and effective each of them was in their individual remarksand in responding to questions afterwards. They showed the "real face" of "real people" who had learned a lot from their experience and were using it to help others through BAN. They were absolutely WONDERFUL!
I had urged them to "speak from the heart" rather than giving a formal kind of presentation. Boy, did they succeed! Even I (who already loved and respected them) was impressed with how powerful they were in making so many thoughtful, important points. While I had made it clear that they could reveal as little or as much about themselves as they wished (and I introduced them only by their first names), I was again impressed that each of them introduced themselves with their full name and the location of their BAN group.
While the number of workshop participants was small, all who attended were enthusiastic in their responses and asked lots of relevant questions, demonstrating their interest in helping spread the word about BAN. There is no question that the commitment of these four Coordinators to speaking like this will help broaden the availability of BAN and help many more people in dealing with the same issues they have personally faced.
The primary purpose of the workshop was to appeal to professionals for their support and involvement in promoting the work of BAN.
Here is an excerpt from the Handout we used at the workshop:
Invitation to Professionals
This is an appeal to all professionals (counselors, course leaders, therapists, pastors, social workers, etc.,) for your involvement and support in furthering the work of the BAN Support Groups in providing a special kind of support for those struggling to recover from the devastation of a spouse's affair.
BAN is not a substitute for professional help. But even with good counseling, support groups can play an important part in healing.
We hope you will refer some of your clients to a BAN group in your community if one already existsor (if there is no group in your area) that you will sponsor, mentor, or support one of your clients in becoming a BAN Coordinator to establish a local support group.
One of the most powerful benefits of support groups is their ability to break through the sense of isolation that many people feel who are dealing with a spouse's affair. You see other people at different stages of recovery and can get a perspective that isn't possible when dealing with it alone. And more importantly, you can get the support you need to get on top of your life and feel like a whole person again.
Breaking the Code of Secrecy
The single most powerful support for affairs is the secrecy that surrounds them, and the single most powerful force for breaking that secrecy is having more open, honest discussion of the reality of the devastation felt by the people who suffer in silence. In fact, "keeping the secret" serves to create a sense of isolation that further compounds the pain. If it's seen as "too awful to talk about it," it often feels "too awful to get over."
Here's an excerpt from my Article on Breaking the Code of Secrecy:
"For many years I've struggled with the dilemma of how to help people recover from a spouse's affair while maintaining so much SECRECY about their experience. While I have scrupulously protected the privacy and confidentiality of all who have contacted me for help, I have nevertheless recognized that much of the difficulty in recovering is precisely due to the secrecy with which we all cooperate in maintainingwhat I have called the Code of Secrecy."
As indicated above, I have always protected the privacy of the countless people who have turned to me for help during the past 25 years. But it is with great pride that I see some brave souls being willing to step up and "go public" with their experiencein order to inform and educate others about the reality of affairs.
To read more about BAN: