Healing Betrayal TraumaAug 22, 2023
If you’re suffering from betrayal trauma, please know there is hope! Things can and will be better!
It's normal to question whether you can ever trust or love again. While it's part of the process, it's not forever. With time and effort, you CAN heal, become healthier than ever, regain your confidence and start trusting again.
While this won't happen overnight, integrating any of the techniques below into your routine will shorten your recovery time. Start small, pick one that you can do on a regular basis, then add another when you have capacity.
Over time, you'll notice the improvement and you'll be glad you made the changes today! Now let's have a look at the best techniques to heal betrayal trauma.
Best Ways to Heal
Care For Your Body
Your physical body is highly connected with your mind in a bi-directional dance of influence. Taking care of the one aids the well-being of the other. As you care for your body, it instills the belief that you are worth fighting for... worth the investment. Here are some fundamental ways to care for your body:
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat nutrient-rich meals, especially fruits and vegetables
- Practice good sleep habits like going to bed and waking at regular times
- Exercise in a way that is kind to your body and maintainable
After laying a solid foundation of quality body care, then try going above and beyond by pampering yourself. Not only will you feel better in the moment, but you are also building on your foundation of long-term physical and mental health. Here are some options:
- Get a massage or manicure
- Take long soaking baths
- Schedule chiropractic care
- Try reflexology and aroma therapy
Mindfulness is a type of meditation where you attend to all aspects of your present reality by calmly acknowledging and accepting your thoughts, feelings and body sensations without interpretation or judgement. It's not about suppressing, ignoring and pushing back on reality, but rather it's a grace-based strategy of noticing and accepting what IS while keeping a perspective of compassion without judgement.
Grounding is a process of managing stress and strong emotions by using guided focus on the five senses. When triggered or emotionally escalated, it aids soothing, calming and reorienting to the here-and-now by distracting by focusing the mind on something concrete and real. Here are some resources provide examples of grounding:
Some forms of exercise strategically combine physical and mental awareness. Doing so dramatically aids the calming of our nervous systems and deepens our connection with our bodies. It may be wise to try each for a few weeks to see which is most helpful for you. Here are some examples:
- Martial arts
- Tai chi
- Progressive muscle relaxation
Set Healthy Boundaries
The term "boundaries" is often misunderstood and abused. In no way are they used to manipulate others. Ironically, healthy boundaries set you free from the desire to control what others do, instead focusing entirely on what you alone will do and when. They are used to create safety for your heart and embrace your powerlessness over others.
Healthy boundaries state clearly what you will and will not allow in your life, the steps you will take to restore safety for yourself and release others from your expectations to change. This can be very difficult to understand and implement well when first starting. Here are some examples of healthy boundaries:
- "I would love to talk about this with you, but I do not have capacity for emotionally charged topics after 9pm. I'd be happy to schedule a time that works well for both of us. Right now, I need sleep."
- “When you come home late without texting or calling, it makes me feel unimportant to you. This causes me lose a little more hope in our relationship. It would help me regain hope if you would call when you expect to be late.”
- "I want a relationship built on respect and honest. I have a hard time listening when you raise your voice and call me names. I'll be happy to listen when you can speak in calm, respectful ways."
- "I believe sex was designed to be an outflow of true relationship intimacy. Once we have rebuilt the foundation of true intimacy, I will likely feel more open to sexual intercourse."
It takes study and training to do boundaries right. Here are some resources to get you started:
Develop Healthy Relationships
While no relationship is perfect, there is a marked difference between safe relationships and dysfunctional ones. The way imperfections and wounds are handled is often the biggest indicator of relationship health.
In safe relationships, you feel free to be yourself. You feel comfortable addressing ways you've been hurt without fear of retaliation. Afterwards, you feel heard and understood. To learn more about this concept, consider the book Safe People.
The greater number of close relationships you have that are healthy, safe, and supportive, the better you will be able heal from betrayal trauma. If you don't have these kinds of relationships in your life, it may be time to get some professional coaching or work with a therapist.
Engage A Hobby, New or Old
Creative expression can do wonders for a person's mental and emotional health. Hobbies are a great way of doing this, especially revisiting ones from childhood.
Start by pursuing hobbies you had as a kid that were active, engaging and thoughtful. Avoid hobbies that involve screen time (tv, social media, video games, etc). Things like biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, Legos, puzzles, painting, playing an instrument, writing, etc. are all perfect ways to integrate play into your healing journey.
Eventually try exploring new hobbies that tap into your creative nature and bring a sense of joy, delight or peace to your spirit. Set aside 2-3 hours a week to try some of these activities. If you enjoy something, schedule time to do it again.
This practice can be a mixed bag. On one hand, it is a powerful way of connecting with God to receive messages of truth and grace about your value, worth and dignity. On the other hand, it can be also be used to minimize, suppress and ignore the pain of reality.
The first is a healthy form of spirituality, which invites God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to connect you with IN the mess as you embrace your reality. The second is a form of "over-spiritualization" that seeks to avoid pain by pushing away your reality.
At MRC, we support the emotionally healthy use of prayer and spirituality. By integrating faith into the healing journey, you maximize the speed and depth of recovery. While God never promised to take away your pain, He does promise to meet you in it.
As you create space through prayer to listen and receive whatever God may share with you, remember that the messages will be kind, gracious, loving, supporting and understanding. Any tone otherwise is coming from parts of yourself that need calming in order to hear the still small voice of truth.
Commit To Long-Term Health
As you integrate the practices listed above, you will begin to heal and experience new life and freedom. The good news is, this positive growth is unlimited and can continue indefinitely. While experiencing betrayal is horrible, it can often lead to good. My clients often described it as "the best worst thing ever," because it forced them to address issues in their life they had avoided until trauma struck.
Some have coined this experience as "Post-Traumatic Growth," but it can only be achieved by doing the hard work of recovery. Ideally your spouse would do their respective work parallel to you, but even if they don't, you can still commit to your own long-term health by working on your own recovery process from betrayal trauma.
Share Your Story
Humans are wired to makes sense of life in narrative. By telling your story to others, you're creating a narrative to help make sense of your life.
This kind of vulnerable sharing is best done in safe, supportive environment... often in a journal first, then later with good friends or a support group. In the act of being vulnerable, you allow others to see you as you are, pain and all. When you are graciously received and accepted by safe, supportive people, your healing is magnified and accelerated.
This is precisely why at MRC, we highly recommend betrayed spouses and addicts/unfaithful both commit to joining a healthy support/recovery group. When done well, the group environment can provide all these variables in ways that bring clarity and perspective about your own story.
Talk With A Therapist
It can be extremely healing to talk to a therapist, especially if they are trained in betrayal trauma. A good trauma therapist will know that trust might be difficult to establish and they will be patient and supportive wherever you’re at in the process. It’s important to feel comfortable and safe with your therapist, so don't hesitate to shop around for a good one.
Finding such a therapist can be challenging, so to aid you in that process, have a look at the following resources:
Get a Physical Exam
When infidelity or sex addiction is initially discovered, the full extent of high-risk behaviors is unlikely to be shared. Waiting for full disclosure is not in the best interest of your physical body due to the risk of having contracted an STD or STI without your knowledge.
Get a physical exam as soon as possible to protect your body from further health complications. While the idea of having an STD or STI as a monogamous spouse may be unsettling, it's in your best interest to meet with your doctor or gynecologist to conduct an exam and know for sure.
If your spouse is open to getting a physical exam as well, it would be wise and helpful to do so.
Betrayal trauma can be devastating and feel overwhelming. It's helpful to know that you're not alone and there are proven methods to heal. Those who faithfully use the methods suggested above report a decline in symptoms as well as increased confidence in their ability to heal.
By regularly implementing a growing number of the above techniques into your daily routine, you too will soon experience the same hope others have found in spite of their betrayal.
It will take commitment, hard work and time, but someday your trauma may simply be a part of your story and possibly even "the best worst thing that could ever have happened."
If that's an outcome you want, then enroll in the Conquering Betrayal course, where women who have survived betrayal trauma team up to help you overcome betrayal as well...
- Hear from female betrayal survivors who are now flourishing
- Learn which healing techniques they found most helpful and why
- Learn how to create healthy, enforceable boundaries
- Develop a Personal Recovery Plan to empower your healing
- Create a holistic approach to emotional and mental health post betrayal
As a special gift to betrayed women, we are offering 20% OFF Conquering Betrayal until the end of August!
Don't hesitate to empower yourself with the tools to radically help you overcome the betrayal trauma in your life.
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