“Betrayal trauma makes you feel like you are losing your mind. It puts you on an emotional rack and pulls you in opposite directions until you are begging for mercy. It yanks your sense of security out from under you and puts you in a state of emotional free fall. It is severely emotionally distressing, and until you have experienced it, you really can’t imagine how truly life-altering the experience can be.”
When you have experienced betrayal trauma you are living in a state of emotional devastation, something that is very hard to navigate. Its symptoms include the following:
1. Adrenalin and cortisol are surging through your body as your autonomic nervous system (ANS) prepares for “fight or flight”.
2. Your body and mind are screaming danger and threat. You feel as if you’re living on high alert.
3. For many people, when they start to calm down, the whole unpleasant cycle starts over again, and is repeated and repeated in a series of waves.
4. The fear of future betrayals, and what that could mean, keeps the internal threat response system activated, and ready to go into over-drive again. This becomes chronic, and a way of life.
5. This means you are on an emotional roller coaster where emotions rise suddenly, are extreme, overwhelming and intense, are unpredictable, and hard to control. As a consequence of this, life feels frightening, chaotic and difficult to navigate.
6. When the ANS response system is triggered, it interferes with mental functioning. This affects your ability to focus, pay attention, concentrate, apply problem-solving skills, think logically, or analyze and process almost any information. Also, your memory is affected, and you can’t remember things.
7. You feels as if you’re constantly being “rubber-banded” back into the past. Because of the intensity of this experience, it is hard to separate the past from the present; to feel grounded; and to be fully aware of, and responsive to, what is happening here-and-now.
8. When you’re living with emotional dysregulation, it is rare to experience prolonged periods peace and calm.
However, once you can identify what’s happening to you, and can start to articulate the trauma and pain, you can begin the long process of recovery. Hold on to that hope. You are starting to heal.