“Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.”
~ Arthur Miller
You are in a relationship or are dating someone and feel confident (or mostly confident) that all is well.
Sure, you encounter challenges, but every relationship has them, right?
One day, you find something out that you can’t ‘un-know’.
You feel like you have just been sucker punched in the gut and your body shakes in confirmation. You’ve been betrayed.
Your world has shifted in an unexpected direction.
What do you do now?
Your partner has betrayed you in some way; sexually, emotionally, or financially.
Suddenly, you have pieces of your life strewn all over the place.
Nothing is the same. It can’t be.
You can’t change the new awareness that you have.
And, now, you have to deal with it.
There are two challenges that make it difficult to heal from betrayal:
1. You continue to hold the other person responsible for your pain.
2. You don’t take responsibility for your part in your pain.
I have worked with hundreds of clients who have been betrayed in one way or another.
I have helped them identify the root of the pain, the reason for the betrayal and how they can move through and prosper from betrayal.
Because of this, I am certain of several things and will share them with you.
If you are still in pain from the betrayal, some of this might be hard to read let alone difficult to accept.
The nature of my work, as a therapist, isn’t to make people comfortable with their pain.
I am there to help clients lean into the sharpest points of their pain, face it, deal with it, and find the purpose within it so that they can grow.
Here’s what I know about betrayal.
- You summoned that experience into your life for your growth.
Hear me out. I am 100% certain that there have been other experiences in your life that have felt like and looked like betrayal. They may have existed in smaller, less painful ways, or perhaps they are an actual pattern in your life. Nonetheless, they have occurred. Over time, you have ignored them and their significance. Life has turned up the volume on this tune and it’s time that you pay attention. It’s time for you to finally learn from this.
- You ignored the red flags from the beginning.
Whether you are in a relationship that is fairly new or one that has lasted decades, either way, you chose to look the other way when something didn’t seem right.
In new relationships, we tend to ignore red flags because some of them aren’t all that red.
Some are kind of orange red or even pinkish red, but they don’t seem RED RED! (And, if you are totally honest with yourself, you DON’T want them to be RED RED or you would have to deal with it and that might mean something you don’t want it to mean!)
You very much wanted to be in a relationship; to belong to someone, to love someone and to be loved by someone. You didn’t want to be single anymore. You wanted to be married, have kids, the house and the white picket fence.
You had an end goal and because of that, you chose to turn the other cheek.
In a longer lasting relationship, you have chosen to look the other way because you wanted to maintain what you had; the image, the status, the stability, the standard of living to which you had become accustomed, keeping the family together, not being a ‘divorcee’ and all of the other perks. You made sacrifices for a larger goal.
The problem with that is your “sacrifice” has been or is now causing you significant pain and you can’t ignore it any longer. (Cue the volume “up” button.)
- You regarded your participation in the betrayal as involuntary.
When you entered your relationship you did so by choice. You made an adult decision to enter this union. Therefore, your participation in every part of it was consensual. (Again, hear me out!) Let me explain.
Even if you didn’t give express permission for the betrayal to happen, you have given permission for other things to occur that lead up to the final event; either through practicing “ignorance” towards other details (light red, medium red or red red flags) or through overt permissiveness; you nourished the toxic growth.
- You are NOT responsible for what the other person has done.
Just because you have pleaded ignorance or buried your head in the proverbial sand doesn’t mean that you must take responsibility for someone elses actions. NO WAY! Each of you is an adult and makes your own choices; regardless if they are healthy or destructive.
What I am emphasizing here is to separate your stuff from your partner’s. For whatever reason, the person who has betrayed you has their own sh*t to deal with, which caused them to be deceptive and dishonest with themselves and you.
- You must take full responsibility for your pain. It belongs to no one else.
This is perhaps the most humbling part of the process of healing from betrayal; accepting that we have played a part in causing ourselves pain. In addition, it is important for you to understand that you are also responsible for how long your pain persists. Once you realize that, then you can begin to make the changes that you need to make to eradicate this life pattern.
- Identify what you ignored and why.
It’s time to look at what the signs were that existed from the beginning of the relationship or at the point in the relationship when you became suspicious. Perhaps your partner is evasive, charming, or passive aggressive on a regular basis. Maybe he/she always has an answer for everything and turns your concerns around on you, causing you to question your gut instinct. Maybe they tell you things you want to hear but don’t match their words with their actions. Whatever the pattern is in them, admit that it exists and has a point of origin.
Next, look at “WHY” you ignored and accepted the things that you did that led up to this. (The most troublesome part of healing.) Why did you chose to look the other way. Did you want certainty, safety and security? Did you need social acceptance? Did you need to feel significant/important? Do you have the belief that you aren’t strong enough to deal with challenges and changes and resigned yourself to accept the “bottom of the barrel” treatment? Understand the need you had that drove you to make these decisions and respect it. It has a positive intention. Think about how you can meet this need in a healthy way other than denial and self-sacrifice.
- Renew the commitment to yourself.
Because the pain that you experience from betrayal comes down to you, it’s time you issued yourself the same kind of “hall pass” that you gave the person who betrayed you.
It’s time for you to offer yourself love, compassion, and caring. It’s time that you treated yourself with respect and value. It’s time to let yourself know that from this point on, that you will NEVER blow off “flags”, even if the color isn’t exactly red. This doesn’t mean that you file divorce papers or break up with your mate because something happens that causes discomfort.
This new commitment means that you will honor what you notice and you will watch for a pattern of behavior. Notice how you feel and why it bothers you. Once you reach a point where you notice a pattern, commit to yourself that you will not let it fester into a full blown problem and address it when it becomes more than discomfort.
Betrayal stings and hurts. But it’s the kind of hurt that can either wake you up to a new way of living or it can debilitate you.
How you choose to use it is up to you.
My hope is that you use this wake up call to your benefit and step up to yourself.
Because there is one single common denominator in your life that determines the quality of your life.
You do the math.
***P.S. If you have been or are in the midst of a betrayal experience and want to heal,
I CAN HELP!!! Call me at 404-558-3971 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org