There are no easy answers for recovering from betrayal. It’s not the kind of thing you get over easily. But I’d like to offer you a few suggestions that might be of help at this difficult time.
1. Try to achieve some degree of detachment. One way of doing this is to try to take yourself out of the picture (temporarily) and to view yourself, and what has happened, as a compassionate and caring ‘outsider’.
2. Admit to yourself there’s a hole in your heart, and allow yourself to grieve over all the different losses. The intense and painful feelings will likely ebb and flow. Allow them to surface. Don’t suppress your emotions. Also, you can’t speed up this process. In the end it will backfire. Instead, you need to experience, and work through, all the feelings.
3. Don’t keep it to yourself. You need support at this time. Maybe try to find someone who’s survived the same betrayal, and who knows what it is like, and is further down the road. We need to feel understood, and to have our story witnessed.
4. Fight off any tendency to blame yourself. It’s natural to think we must have played a part. But it usually has nothing to do with us at all. And that is the truth – even though it’s hard to see when we’ve just been triggered, and our feelings are intense. Keep repeating to yourself that this isn’t about me. And focus on the good things that others say about you. These are the real facts. Hold on to these truths.
5. Once the shock has diminished (or has worn off a little) try to think about a plan for your recovery. This is best worked through with a counsellor. Here, it is important to remember that time is not a healer. You will need to be both active and deliberate in your healing.
6. Be alert to the danger of idealizing the past, or of completely demonizing the person who’s betrayed you. It’s easy to deceive ourselves, and wrongly start believing that everything was magical before we learned the truth. At the same time, it is common to believe that everything must have been a total lie or some kind of fantasy. Usually, the truth will lie between these two extremes.
7. Try to work towards creating a new tomorrow that is better than today (and maybe better than the past). It doesn’t help for us to fixate on what could or should have been. The past is history now, and we’re on a different page. Please don’t let this bad experience destroy the rest of life.