Coping with Betrayal Trauma

1.  If you have experienced betrayal trauma, please be very patient and gentle with yourself. You need to practice self-compassion and good self-care. And you may need to withdraw from normal life for a while. Remember, it’s OK not to be OK.

2. Your PTSD symptoms and triggered reactions are symptoms of unhealed emotional memories. They do not mean that you’re crazy or you’re losing your mind. In fact, they’re normal responses to experiencing a trauma. Almost every betrayed woman experiences these symptoms. Your body and your mind are taking care of you. They are trying to protect you from being harmed again.

3. This does not – and should never – define who you are. Repeat that statement again to yourself.   

4. What your spouse or partner did has nothing to do with how lovable, attractive and desirable you are. It has nothing to do with you at all. Repeat that last sentence again to yourself.   

5. Although it feels like you’ve been hit or run over by a truck, and at times it’s very hard to make it through the day or night, believe you will recover. Don’t let this destroy your life.

6. You need to tell your story. All that pain needs to be witnessed. Don’t allow what has happened to become a festering a secret. However, be wise in your choice of confidant or counsellor as not everyone is going to understand or care. And not everyone is going to be there for you.

7. It takes time to heal. It is a long and painful process. There are no short-cuts. You need to feel all the emotions, and to grieve for all the losses (and there are so many losses).

8. The day will come when you feel more like who you were. That relaxed and carefree woman who had all those hopes and dreams. Yes, it’s true that this experience will leave some marks and scars. But one day you’ll reconnect with your true authentic self. That beautiful core self. The real woman who is you.

Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen


Trauma overwhelms listeners as much as speakers … and talking about painful events doesn’t necessarily establish community – often quite the contrary. Families and organizations may reject members who air their dirty laundry; friends and family can lose patience with people who get stuck in their grief or hurt. This is one reason why trauma victims often withdraw and why their stories become rote narratives, edited in a form least likely to provoke rejection.”

Is this, perhaps, something you relate to as well?

Chelsea had always been a very private person. She was open, warm and friendly in most social situations. But no-one really knew what was happening in her life. To outward appearances, it looked like things were fine. 

Then, out of the blue, Chelsea’s world was blown apart – when she learned that her husband had a hidden secret life. Dating apps, pornography, webcams, and so on.

Who do you talk to when you learn something like that?

If truth be told …. It wasn’t easy. But occasionally she tried. She’d introduce the subject in a vague, non-threatening way, and try to share a little of what things had been like.

But on the whole, it was disastrous. It only made things worse. Her close friends shut her down. It made them feel uncomfortable. They didn’t want to hear this. No, they didn’t want to know.

Apart from one young mother she had met at the school gate. Her husband had walked out on her, and left her with two kids. They weren’t really close, but they would always wave and chat.  Sometimes they’d grab a coffee. Half an hour. No more than that. And it was comforting to know that someone understood.

She didn’t have to say much. Words can be superfluous. But kindness is a language that communicates so much.

The lies and the betrayal had left Chelsea traumatized. Her life had changed forever. It was ordinary no more. The grief was overwhelming. Way too much to bear alone. She often felt so desperate. How she’d love to be consoled.

Most people cannot handle pain. It feels too threatening. It leaves them feeling vulnerable. They have to look away.

This mother knew what it was like.

That lifeline was enough.

It helped Chelsea to heal. It got her through the toughest times.

The validation she received helped her to face the day.

This woman was a gift. Her presence transformed Chelsea’s life.         

Quote of the Day

“Become intimate with your fears. Listen to them. Sit cross-legged. Give them your undivided attention. Offer them comfort. Offer them rest.”

– Nayyirah Waheed


Our fears don’t go away.

We can’t just push them down inside.

Pretending they’re not there is never going to work for long.

They always re-emerge.

They keep resurfacing again.

They follow us around

They won’t be silenced or snuffed out.


So why not turn and face them.

Let them speak up.

Say their piece.

Remember: They’re just worries.

Red alerts.

Anxieties.

They’re trying to protect you.

They don’t want you to be harmed

So let them know they matter.

Listen.

Take them seriously.


And as you start to do this, you’ll experience a peace.

Their message may be valid and the danger might be real.

But now that you have faced them, you’re not fighting with yourself.

You’re in this thing together.

And together you are strong.

I Love Me

How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.”

When we have experienced rejection or betrayal it changes the way we see, and feel about, ourselves. We can pick up the message that there’s something wrong with us. That we’re less than other people. That we’re seriously flawed.

But all of these are lies, and we need to love ourselves.

So how do we learn to love ourselves?  

1. Our mindset affects the way we see ourselves, how we interact with others, and how we live our lives. It affects our expectations around how others will treat us, and whether that’s appropriate, and what we should accept. This is an area we often need to challenge, and especially if we suffer from low self-esteem.

Some questions to ask yourself here include: Do I expect others to treat the same as/ better than/ or worse than they treat others? Why is that the case? What do I deserve when it comes to being loved? What will I put up with, and why?

2. Pay attention to how you treat yourself.

For example, do you tend to be self-critical and harsh towards yourself? Are you good at noticing and taking care of your physical, mental and emotional needs? How do you do that? How well do you do that? Do you make time to do the things you want and like to do? If not, why not? 

3. We need to show self-understanding and develop self-compassion.

It can be helpful to take the time to write down our life story, and trace how our experiences have shaped who we’ve become.

4. We need to give ourselves permission to design our own life, and to say what we want, and then to go after that.

Of course, our plans can be destroyed by the people in our lives, and it’s hard to recover when we’ve been traumatized. But our life still our own. We still have some agency. And we still get a say in what’s going to happen next.

5. Perhaps you’ve heard it said thar each of us is the average of the five people we spend the most time with. With this in mind, think about who you spend your time with. Are these people who like, love and value you? Are they people who can see your potential, and who encourage you to live your best life? If not, it might be time to make some changes here and surround yourself with people who will love and treat you well.

The Truth of Who You Are


Sometimes I wake up and have to remind myself:

‘There is nothing wrong with me.

I have patterns to unlearn.

New behaviours to embody,

And wounds to heal.

But there is nothing wrong with the core of me, and who I am.

I am unlearning generations of harm

and remembering, Love,

It takes time.’”  

Is this a message for you today?

You are not flawed.

You are not inadequate.

You have been fed lies, and been made to feel this way.

Please believe me when I tell you: This isn’t who you are.

You are beautiful, resourceful, resilient, strong, empathic, gifted and lovely through and through.

These are the facts.

Let this sink into your soul.

This is the truth of who you are.

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.”

Making Number Two – or Number Ten – Number One

I am exhausted with trying to be stronger than I feel.”

Ever felt that way?

What do you do when you have to fight on, to put on a brave face, and pretend to the world that you’re happy and strong, and that life is going well?

We can do that for a while. We can smile, and act the part.

But eventually we crash. Our supply gets all used up.

So if you’re feeling this way now, pay attention to the signs.

Tell yourself you’re too worn out.  Way too tired to wear a mask.

Then withdraw for a while, and invest in yourself.

 It’s OK to feel weak, and to care for yourself.

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.