27 Sep Recovering from Betrayal: Reclaim Your Life by Kris Winslow, LMFT
While betrayal is a word that conveys a lot of drama, it can really just be a violation of trust in a relationship. People may betray willingly or unwillingly. One of the trends that I have noticed in the couples that I counsel is that either member of a couple may not always aware of the unspoken rules of their partner. This leads to a perceived betrayal by a partner due to lack of communication about the parameters of their relationship. There are other couple who have had much discussion about rules in a relationship, who have even drawn up contracts, but the rules of the relationship are so complicated that neither party is really sure is a betrayal has occurred or not. Then there are the more straightforward betrayals of lying, stealing, and “cheating”.
People who have been betrayed go through a grieving process, just as those who have experienced any type of loss. If you have been betrayed, then you need to make space for yourself be able to grieve. You may experience anger, denial, depression as well as a variety of other emotions that have been linked to the grieving process. It is important to acknowledge these emotions and seek out help with processing them as needed. This is not a time to stuff feelings down because you may feel more comfortable dealing with them later or not at all.
At some point during the grieving process, you will have to start making decisions about your intentions for your relationship. Do you want it to continue? Are you done? Are you really overwhelmed and not sure of the answer to either of these questions? This is a time when a lot of people seek out couples’ therapy. It is also a time where you need to surround yourself with positive support. While it may temporarily feel good for
you to surround yourself with people who are willing to be negative with you about your partner, it is not really productive.
Resist the urge to wound your partner just because you have been wounded. While saying things that are hurtful may feel good in the moment, saying these things usually make you feel worse later. Especially if your intention is to continue with the relationship. Even in the heat of anger, take a beat before you speak or act in order to protect yourself from doing things you may regret.
Take care of yourself. Emotional healing is just as taxing as physical healing. Use whatever positive coping skills you have to help you in this regard. If you need help figuring out what these may be, ask for that help. Make your needs clear to your partner as well. If you need space to heal, time to heal, or just some time away, claim it. There is not just one way to get through these things, so listen to your instincts as your body’s way of telling you what you need. If you feel like you have lost your voice during the course of your relationship, this is the time to reclaim it.