How to heal from Trauma of Betrayal-and what you can do

In this article, we’ll talk about the connection between mindfulness and coping with betrayal trauma and an offer of help. Mindfulness is the ability to remain in the present moment. It is sitting with how you feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Rather than labelling or judging your thoughts as they come, mindfulness is about being in a state of curiosity. There is a connection between mindfulness and self-compassion. When your loved one struggles with and issues of their own, it may be difficult for them to show or feel empathy for you. As a result, it may cause you to question your relationship with them, which can magnify your trauma. 

You may fear that focusing on your difficult emotions will give your negative emotions a kind of power and strength over you. However, it generally has the opposite effect. By acknowledging your negative emotions and feelings, you also permit them to rest. If you are in betrayal trauma, trusting anyone–including yourself–may be difficult. This lack of trust can disconnect you to only from others, but also from your authentic self. As a result of this disconnect, it can increase the body’s trauma response. Mindfulness is the practice of remaining in harmony with yourself. Likewise, it can cultivate a genuine connection within and can generate self-compassion.

 We all have been betrayed at one time or another. Albeit it a friend, loved one or at the workplace.

 I have been betrayed and the very same day a very good friend of mine died very unexpectedly. She was much younger than me and was expected to survive cancer she was battling. One minute she was here, the next gone. So, as I write dear reader, my emotions are raw with grief. Life is full of twists and turns and is downright not fair at times! When you put your trust in someone, then that trust is betrayed. How can you cope with it? How do you react? Is vengeance an option- or something else?

This is certainly not the first time I have been betrayed; it will not be the last. I could fill a substantial book to tell you the stories of all the betrayals I have suffered over these past 60 plus years. But one thing I have learnt is that the hurt is ways the same. The disbelief is still there. Self-doubt and guilt are present. A few tips about How to handle such a traumatic experience is this is blog post subject for today. If you have been betrayed, feel alone, and not sure how to handle it, please keep reading.

Betrayal Trauma- signs and symptoms

First, let’s look at what betrayal trauma actually is. In the same way, your physical body sustains trauma after an accident resulting in a broken leg etc, your personality, your psyche, your spirit sustains trauma that will be seen physical through the emotions and body. Betrayal trauma is defined as a trauma perpetrated by someone or an organisation, with whom the victim is close to and reliant upon for friendship, work, support, or survival. The concept originally introduced by American Scholar Jennifer Freyd in 1994, who developed betrayal trauma theory (BTT). This theory addresses situations when people or institutions on which a person relies for protection, resources, and survival violate the trust or well-being of that person. But how do we handle it when it happens? 

Well, what we do not do, is that we don’t throw the person who betrayed us under the bus- that is tit for tat- rather the focus and aim is – if at all possible, to repair the relationship, to communicate with all parties concerned. However, this is not always possible when people refuse to talk about it. Often, people sweep stuff under the carpet choosing not to deal with it. If the broken fences are unrepairable, the relationship should not be preserved at the expense of the victim. 

It is common for the loved one who has been betrayed to dissociate traumatic experiences from their conscious awareness to preserve the relationship. They just continue on as if nothing has happened. They bury it deep inside their heart and will not address it in any way. The shock of the betrayal and the helplessness it brings causes the person to react this way quite automatically. The person who has hurt them may have no idea how their words or actions have caused trauma to the other. 

So if both parties are willing, communication is key, often a mediator – like a counsellor, can be helpful. 

There are cases of course, where the person who has betrayed you knows very well the gravity of what they have done. They understand how the betrayal will affect the other. They know how it will play out, and usually, it is to their advantage. 

Decide

The thing you need to ask yourself, –Do I want to continue this relationship/job/etc with such a person/organisation? If you do, without intentional reconciliation, you run a very high risk of being hurt again.

Reconcile if you wish to when the betrayal has been unintentional, just careless, selfish, and reckless. Such a relationship can be repaired through mutual consent with honest, heartfelt sharing. However, not so much for the person who has deliberately, knowingly betrayed you, because they will refuse to be honest with you and their tactic will be accusatory. 

Decide if you want reconciliation or not. Don’t be naïve. If you do want the relationship to continue, you must count the cost of that relationship to you.

What not to do. 

Do not take vengeance. When my husband walked out the door taking everything, myself and our four small children were left homeless. It was a tsunami of betrayal indeed. The details of that story you will find in both of my books which are listed in the menu bar and on my home page.

  Why didn’t I take vengeance? Well, it was solely because of this—-

Vengeance is God’s job, not mine or yours. My job was to forgive- yes- I did say FORGIVE. You forgive yourself- you forgive the other. To forgive someone does not mean you become their doormat- on the contrary – you become in control of the situation and of yourself. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you must reconcile, because as I have already mentioned that sometimes reconciliation is not an option, but forgiveness still has its effect. 

Sometimes it is prudent to let the relationship go, and not fight for the relationship if the other person or workplace refuses to discuss the problems at hand. There are heaps of very good reasons why you must forgive and how leaving it all to God really does work. I could share with you those details but that is grist for another book or another blog post.

Warning 

Do not let hate and bitterness take hold.

Bitterness is insidious like Knotweed, it spreads underground and you don’t know it’s there. But when it does eventually come to light, it is almost impossible to get rid of – so don’t go there in the first place. Do not take it upon yourself to take vengeance, the situation may be made worse than you can imagine. If you need to talk it over with me – please do.

No bashing your head against a brick wall!

Selfhelpdaily.com very wisely points out that there’s a reason why it’s impossible to change another person. This also may be true of a situation that arises in the workplace. Each of us must recognize that the pain or discomfort we’re feeling is greater than our resistance to change. And that’s when we’re ready, willing, and able to make changes in our own lives. We have no control of what others may think of us for good or ill. We have only control over our own lives. This is difficult to get a grip with particularly when your children grow up. Anything they may say, do or experience is down to them. As parents, we are powerless to rescue them, and if we try, it may blow up in our face. 

 When a husband/wife tells you he/she is leaving because you are a ‘bad father/mother and husband/wife. Yet he leaves the children with you alone and disappeared, deserting the whole family. It makes me wonder how ‘bad’ that father/mother actually is because they did not try to take the children from him/her. We live in a selfish world, and many of our loved ones are selfishly doing us harm. We can be selfish in return, if we are, we then harm our very selves. Therefore, it is so important to handle rightly any form of betrayal and the trauma it leaves us with. The trauma is very real, so let’s not diminish it in any way. However, our reactions must be diminished. Our actions and reactions must be well thought through.

This is a huge subject, and I cannot detail all the tips on how to decide what’s best here. If you wish, we can chat about that in a counselling session. Please contact me and we can go from there.

I have a Master of Arts in counselling plus Life coaching, and have worked with many who have experienced trauma. If you feel you need help, please contact me and we can chat what is the best way forward for you. My fees are reasonable as I wish to reach out to all on any level of income stream.

 May God bless you and keep you, and may you find healing and freedom from trauma.

Regardless of where you are on your journey, I hope you will find something useful here- if so, please let me know down in the comments. 

I am in the process of writing my new book about Holistic Living, which features Mindfulness and issues around mental health. It will be published and made available to you later in the year – so keep a lookout for that!

If you struggle to make self-care a priority or do not know how to start your mindfulness journey, check out my new course, which will be available in the Summer of 2021- subscribe free to this blog to get updates on this!

Thank you for visiting me here, I hope this post was helpful? Then please like, subscribe or  leave a comment with any questions you may have!

 If feel you would like further support, please contact me. Details of How to get in touch with me is found in the top menu on my home page.

 HEAD OVER TO YOU TUBE AND CATCH UP WITH MY VIDEOS – its Free!

I look forward your visit to my next blog post!

Virtual hugs to you all!

Paula Rose Parish