You, Me and Empathy

At times, it’s almost impossible to believe that we will get better, and be our old selves.

There are days when ‘two steps forward, and one step back’ becomes ‘one step forwards, and ten steps back’.

Those are the days when you give in to despair.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t recover from the trauma.

You hate your partner for what they’ve done to you.

You’re frustrated with yourself for it seems you can’t move on.

Those are the awful days we all battle with.

And that’s why it means so much when others share their struggles. And talk about their journey. What it’s been like for them.

It’s like they’re holding up a mirror where we see not just them … but we also see ourselves, and we see our life, as well.

It encourages us to think: “You, and I … We’re both the same. You have felt what I have felt, and you’ve struggled, just like me … And look at how changed. Look at where you are today!

So if you have survived, then perhaps I can as well.

And if you can thrive, then perhaps I can as well.”

That powerful realization renews our sense of hope.

It helps renew our strength.

It renews our will to fight.

One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through. And it will be someone’ else’s survival guide.”

Into the Wild

The book and movie Into the Wild tell the story of Chris McCandless, a young man who dropped out of society, wandered the land, and finally died while living alone in Alaska.

Chris had every apparent advantage. A wealthy upbringing. An intact family. An education at top-notch schools. And yet, one day, he walked away from it all.

What was behind such a turn of events? Why did he turn his back on his life?

Chris (who changed his name to Alex Supertramp) uncovered a dark secret about his family. This changed him forever, and it knocked his life off course.   

After finishing high school, Alex went on a road trip where he learned that his dad had been a bigamist. This long-held family secret turned his whole world upside down, and he couldn’t quite recover from the devastating news.

His sense of trust was shattered. He was shaken to the core. He thought all love was suspect, and that closeness just brought pain.

Hence, he set out on a journey. Restless. Broken. Seeking solace. And trying to find peace in the rugged empty wilds.

How This Applies to Us

Discovering those close to us have led a secret life, and have cruelly deceived us, has profound, lasting effects. It tears up our life’s narrative. It fills our heart with pain. It leaves our mind fragmented; our identity in shreds.

 A story that made sense, and an unquestioned history, seem like a house of cards. It’s nothing more than a mirage.    

The ending of the novel and the movie break your heart. Chris can’t survive alone, and so eventually he starves.

There’s a lesson and a warning here if you’ve been traumatized, or had to deal with secrets that have blown your world apart. It is:

We all need other people when dark secrets are revealed, when trauma overwhelms us, and destabilizes us.

We feel so isolated, and so cut off from the world. We don’t know who to turn to. Who on earth would understand?

But there are those who’ll listen. Who will help us bear the pain. They’ll be there in the darkness, in the long and endless night.

Support makes all the difference. Please don’t carry this alone. Reach out, and share your story. There are people here who care.

It Isn’t Over ‘Till It’s Over


“Inhale. Exhale. Prevail.”

Yes. You can do it.

For inside you there’s a warrior.

You may be weak and weary, but there’s still that will to fight.

Life’s dealt you some tough blows. Blows that it’s very hard to cope with.

It’s left you bruised and broken; but you aren’t beaten yet.

You inhale very slowly.

Hold your breath.

Then exhale slowly.

You take another breath.

Now you are rising to your feet.

You feel as if you’re swaying.

You’re unsteady –

But you’re standing.

You know you’re going to make it

For you won’t accept defeat.

Betrayal Trauma: Living with the Scars

Trauma affects the entire human organism … After trauma the world is experienced with a different nervous system”.

There’s a lot of pressure when you learn about betrayal, to work hard on your healing, and to move on with your life.

But you’re not the same person, and the scars don’t disappear.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think that progress can be made. But trauma leaves an imprint on our body, mind and brain. It changes our neurology and physiology.

In “The Body Keeps the Score” Bessel van der Kolk describes some changes that occur when a person’s traumatized, and is later diagnosed with PTSD. Some of these changes include the following:

1. In a person unaffected by PTSD, the hormone cortisol sends out an “all safe” signal after a threat or danger has passed. This doesn’t happen with PTSD sufferers. This is because the latter’s stress hormones do not return to base level after the threat or danger has passed. Instead, the person continues to experience severe anxiety. They remain agitated, they cannot relax, they remain on guard, and they tend to react disproportionately to minor or neutral stimuli.

2. A person with PTSD is primed to react to anything that might signal danger, many months and years after experiencing the trauma. This is true, even when the person has told their story, and has worked on their healing with a therapist. For as Bessel van der Kolk states:

Trauma results in a fundamental reorganization of the way the mind and brain mange perceptions. (As a consequence of trauma, the person) remains hypervigilant, prepared to be wounded at any time.”

3. In ordinary everyday life, both the right and left sides of the brain work together. However, trauma temporarily deactivates the left side of the brain. This means that whenever the traumatized person is triggered, the left brain blacks out, and simply ceases to function.

At the same time, the right brain continues to feels the strong emotions related to the original traumatic experience.

Unfortunately, because the left brain cannot function when it’s triggered, it cannot distinguish between the past and the present. Thus, the person feels as if they’re trapped in the past, reliving emotions which are scary and intense.

Knowing the above, which is based on trauma research, can help relieve the pressure to “hurry up and heal.

We need to recognize these facts, and to practice self-compassion … Because experiencing betrayal is a life-changing event.

That is, the impact is profound, it affects our chemistry, and it’s very difficult to make a full recovery.

*Quotes are from Van der Kolk, B. (2015). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. London: Penguin Books.

Quote of the Day

Hope is not pretending that troubles don’t exist. It is the hope that they won’t last forever. That hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome. That we will be led out of darkness and into the sunshine.”

Hold onto that hope.

You can do this.

Don’t give up.

Let this be a word that is meant for you today.

Some Questions to Consider if You’ve Been Betrayed


It’s difficult to know what’s the right thing to do after you’ve learned that your partner has betrayed you. Should you try again, or should leave and walk away? Not all relationships can (or should) be saved. And deciding the right course is extremely difficult.

Really, this is a decision that only you can make. And it’s wise to take your time, and decide what’s right for you. Don’t let your friends and family influence you too much.

So, what sorts of things should you take into account? Below are some questions that might help with this decision:

1. Is your partner willing to do the work you view as being crucial for recovery (both his recovery and your recovery)?

2. Do you feel he really ‘gets’ how hurt and traumatized you are? Does it upset him to see the pain suffering he’s caused? Or does he seem detached, and unaffected by your feelings?

3. Actions count much more than words. This is absolutely crucial. What exactly is he doing to show he’s different now? What steps has he been taking to deal with the temptations?

4. Do you feel this Is this enough? What else would help to rebuild trust?

5. Do you still want him in your life? This is a really crucial question. Even if he works on changing you might feel that it’s too late. Perhaps you can’t respect him after everything he’s done.

6. Do you enjoy his company? Would you miss him if you parted?

7. Can you imagine being close and intimate again? Perhaps you cannot picture having sex with him again.

8. What are the benefits of staying in the marriage? (You have a history together; your lives are deeply intertwined; you want to stay together for the sake of the children; you want to stay together because you actually still love him, and so on.)

9. What are the benefits of leaving the marriage? (You don’t have to deal with trust related to him possibly betraying you again; it would be easier to deal with all the fall-out on your own; you don’t want to be with someone who hurt you so badly; you would rather start again with someone else, and so on.)    

10. If you look back at your life 10 years from now, what different scenarios can you envisage? Which of those is the most likely to be the real scenario? Which would you choose, and why? Do you want to take a risk, and why? Do you think it’s wise to take a risk, and why?

Other readers may be able to add some other questions that could help you decide the right pathway for you.

But whatever you decide, please be kind to yourself, and make sure that any boundaries are respected and adhered to.          

You are not Alone


Betrayal … The details of our stories might be different but the pain we experience is the same.”

Sometimes we feel so isolated and alone.

Cut off by our pain.

Left to cope, all on our own.

But always remember you are not alone.

It is true – your experience is personal and unique.

But we get what it is like, for we understand that pain.

We have walked the road you’re on.

We have stared into the night.

We have felt the walls close in.

We have cried out in despair.

We know exactly how it feels when your future disappears.

When the past is all torn up.

And your truth become a lie …

We are here, and we care.

Please believe you’re not alone.

Don’t give up. You are strong.

We are with you on the road.

The Art of Letting Go


“Let it go”.

It all sounds so easy, such a simple thing to do.  But letting go of something isn’t straightforward at all. In fact, I would say that it’s very difficult.  

For you don’t just decide, and everything is different now. I wish it was as simple as just making up your mind. But ask anyone – and they’ll say that’s not the case.

Instead there’s this huge struggle for the pain has got a grip. All the hurt and the injustice – plus the need to self-protect – have wound a twisted chord tightly round your broken heart.

In fact, it’s more like some huge chain with a padlock that is stuck. You twist and turn the key. You can try to free the lock – but it’s going to take time, and you know it will be tough.

What to do?

But really wanting to let go is an important starting place. It affirms you want to change, and to write your own life script. You don’t want the pain and trauma to dictate the rest of life.   

1. So you need to face the truth – and admit what you’ve gone through. Tell it like it really is. All the heartache. All the shame. All the horror and the shock. All the shattered, broken dreams.

2. And after doing that, you must allow yourself to feel all the horrible emotions you don’t really want to feel.  

And as you start to mourn and grieve, you will find you start to heal. For your tears will cleanse your wounds, and you’ll sense a new release.

And very slowly you will notice that you’re starting to let go.   

Do not run away from the heavy emotions. Honour the anger, give pain the space it needs to breathe. This is how we let go.”

  • Yung Pueblo