Have you Experienced Betrayal Trauma?

you are stronger

There are a number of factors which contribute to being able to recover from a crisis or a trauma. If you’ve experienced a betrayal, maybe read through this list, and see if there are things that can help you here:

1. First … we need to break through the denial and admit to ourselves that we’re dealing with a crisis, and we’ve been traumatized. This is a prerequisite for seeking help.

2. Next … we need to ‘get’ that our recovery comes down to us ourselves. Friends might empathize, and may try to show they care. But, really, we’re the ones who will have to do the work. We have to deal with all the triggers, with the pain, the loss of trust, the roller coaster of emotions and the dark and desperate thoughts. I know it isn’t fair – and we didn’t choose this road.

3. “Building a fence”. By that, we mean being able to decide what is OK in our lives (what doesn’t have to change – for not everything must change) … and things that need attention, and need attention now.

Examples of the former might include: having a career we are proud of; having interests and achievements we feel good about; and having good relationships with our children and friends.

Examples of the latter might include figuring out the extent of our partner’s addiction; determining how long he has been deceiving and lying to us; determining whether he really is serious about getting help; deciding what changes will need to occur for us to stay in the relationship, and for us to feel safe in the relationship.

4. Getting appropriate support from others. This might include finding our own counsellor or therapist; getting help from a couple’s or sex-addiction therapist; finding out as much as we can about betrayal trauma; joining a 12-step or some other kind of support group; and sharing what has happened with select family or friends.

5. Finding other people who can act as role models for coping and recovering from betrayal trauma. For most individuals it’s a lonely, unknown road. Thus, finding others who have trodden this same road too can give a sense of hope when we fear there is no hope. Also, they can act as an example, and share what worked for them.

It should be noted that role models can be real life people we have met or known. Alternatively, they can be people we know about, or simply people whose books we’ve read. For example, they could be people who write about challenging and complex topics such as learning to trust again, or being willing and able to forgive.

6. Having a strong ego. Ego strength refers to that core essence of the self, to that part of us which knows we will survive, no matter what! It includes having a sense of meaning and purpose; having the ability to accept, tolerate and manage intense emotions; being able to judge reality correctly; and being able to make wise and informed decisions (which are in our best interests).

7. Being able to identify the times when we have coped – and the ways that we have coped, with a crisis in the past. This helps us connect us with our self, and with our strengths.

8. Having the ability / being willing to tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity. There are no guarantees, and the future is unknown. Reality has changed… And the past is different too. This is a very scary place for us to be. Being willing to be patient, and ‘to wait and see’ removes a lot of pressure when our stress levels are high.

9. Working on being flexible rather than rigid. What do we mean by that? One of the main reasons that we feel so shocked and scared is – it’s not what we expected, or the way things ought to be. For example, we don’t expect our partner to have a secret life. We don’t expect them to lie or hide important stuff from us. However, if we will face the truth and facts – the facts we don’t want to accept – it’s easier to heal, and to rebuild our broken lives.

10. Having firmly established core values. This means clearly defining what we will and won’t accept. It means communicating where we’re going to draw the line, and how we will establish healthy boundaries. This is part of self-respect and is central to self-care.

Quote of the Day

sometimes you need

Feeling weak and tired is normal. Feeling that you can’t go on is normal. Feeling that you haven’t got what it takes to make it through the day, or make it through the night, is absolutely normal when you’ve been betrayed.

For this moment, choose to take the pressure off yourself. Give your mind a break. Stop struggling for now.

Just believe us when we say, “This is not the end. You’re going to making through. You’ll find yourself again.”

Hang on to our hope when you’ve lost sight of your own.

Ode to Romeo and Juliet

be careful who you make memories with those things

Romeo and Juliet were love-struck individuals whose hostile, feuding families tried to keep the two apart. Yet, as everybody knows, their love still ultimately triumphed – although it ended badly, and it cost them both their lives.

And ever since that happened, Romeo and Juliet have been used as examples of passionate, true love. They’ve become the stuff of movies; they are acted out on stage; and everyone’s familiar with their story and their names.

But here’s the thing …

This Romeo and Juliet: they’re just a fantasy. Their lives were penned by Shakespeare to amuse and entertain.

And this sweet and lovely couple: they were 13 or 14. Their love was young and tender. So naïve and innocent.

But if they had lived longer, and they’d led more normal lives, perhaps they would have argued, and have fought from time to time. They might have had some children, or have juggled two careers. Of course, they would have cell phones, and they’d often be online.

And maybe our young hero would have viewed pornography, or visited some chatrooms, or downloaded hookup apps. He might have left his partner, or he might have had affairs. They might have separated, and have gone their different ways.

But this is all conjecture since the couple weren’t real.

But maybe it is closer to the way things are today.

Keep Going

one day at a time

  • No matter how awful things seem right now
  • No matter how devastated you are
  • No matter how desperate and hopeless you feel
  • No matter how pointless and bleak things seem
  • No matter how empty and weak you feel
  • No matter how tired and worn out you are
  • I promise you, one day you’ll find that things have changed
  • Keep going – though it’s hard – you are stronger than you think.

Just One Thing

even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise again.jpg

Night-time was the worst. It was always the worst. Usually in the day she could put it from her mind. But when she tried to sleep all the memories returned.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to focus your mind on just one thing that will help you to hang on, and also reconnect you with your inner strength. The following questions might help with this:

1. Can you think of one occasion when you felt “it was too much”, and yet you found you coped, and you made it through the day? How did you manage to keep going at that time? How can you apply that to what’s happening right now?

2. Can you think of one key strength that is part of who you are, that gives you confidence, and persuades you “you’ll survive”? How can you ensure you keep accessing that strength?

3. Identify one boundary you know you must enforce, to take care of yourself, and protect your mental health?

4. Can you think of one small thing you could start to do today to make life easier, and reduce some of the stress?

5. Can you think of one dark thought that you need to put aside. It only makes things worse, and it leads down rabbit holes?

6. Can you call to mind one person who accepts you as you are, is always there for you, and who genuinely care?

7. What one essential truth will remain your guiding light, and keep you on the path when you feel like giving up?

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

this is the beginning

Sawubona.

This beautiful word in the Zulu language captures so much more than the word hello. Behind the greeting is the powerful message:

“I see you, and by seeing you, I bring you into being.”

And for me, this loving greeting begs the fundamental questions (questions that I think we all should ask ourselves):

“Do I see myself? Do I really see myself? What do I see when I turn my eyes on me?”

Answering those Questions

1. If you’ve been truly loved and valued – the way you should have been – then perhaps you see the beauty and the gifts that you possess. You know you are important. That you should be listened to. Your viewpoints are worth hearing. People take you seriously.

Yes, you have so much to offer. Take those opportunities. You’re bound to be successful. Doors will open up for you.

And someone’s going to love you, for you’re worthy of true love. You’re pretty and you’re funny. People want to be with you.

2. But if you’ve been abandoned, or rejected or mistreated, perhaps your view is different; it’s distorted in some way. And the petals that were opening have shut tight in self-protection. They cannot thrive and blossom in the darkness and cold air.

And there’s things that you’re ashamed of. You might think you have no value. There’s parts that you keep hidden. You’ve been criticized and judged.

And those lies are so destructive. They have killed your self-compassion. You now believe their message, and you cannot see your worth.

Who are You Really?

But you’re not that individual. You are beautiful and precious. Your value? You are priceless.  Can’t you see this for yourself?

And this woman, she is strong for she’s survived some hellish moments. She dealt with pain and heartache – but she’s fought through, and survived.

Yes, this woman is amazing. She has character and courage. She’s brave and independent. A role model for us all. And her spirit’s strong and healthy. Storms and trials don’t defeat her.

Can you see her? Really see her? For this woman, she is you.

Sawubona.

Quote of the Day

Wise words …

We need to feel our feelings in order to heal but we need to be able to cope with life as well. Respect and honour your experience, and the pain you’ve gone through. Then, breathe, ground yourself, and return to your day.

feel what you need to feel