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If you have ever pondered on how to heal a betrayed heart, you’re undoubtedly aware that betrayal is a nasty monster bent on destroying its victims. It erodes our faith in others, snatches away at the bit of hope that keeps us alive, and drops us into the seclusion of loneliness. In that darkness, we discover that our perceptions have been dulled and strengthened in equal measure. We become like trapped animals, oblivious to anything positive in the environment around us but highly alert of any threat hiding in the shadows.

Betrayal trauma is a form of trauma that refers to the physical and emotional discomfort that comes when somebody’s trust is violated by a trusted loved one, institution, or intimate relationship. Betrayal trauma can occur in conjunction with other types of trauma, such as emotional manipulation, and can result in depression and anxiety.

Betrayal Trauma manifests itself in a variety of ways, but typically includes signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as:

  • Mental images, visions, and thoughts that are obtrusive
  • Flashbacks of Nightmares
  • Avoidance behavior
  • Extreme vigilance (constant scrutiny of your surroundings for potential harms)
  • Irritation or outbreaks of rage
  • Sleeplessness
  • Fearfulness
  • Withdrawal from society
  • Emotionally cold
  • Physical manifestations like migraines, tension headaches, and exhaustion

Betrayal Trauma is distinct in that it includes severe feelings of shame connected with being harmed or abused. As a result, if you have suffered from betrayal trauma, you may experience the following:

  • Embarrassment, self-blame, and guilt
  • Depression
  • Self-esteem and self-worth issues
  • Negative thoughts regarding ‘self’ and others, like “I am worthless,” “Everybody is untrustworthy,” or “No one could be entrusted”
  • Unforeseen mood changes
  • Difficulty with emotion regulation
  • Individuals who have experienced betrayal trauma frequently struggle with emotion regulation.

Additionally, you may feel suspicious and hyperaware about who you may rely on. This frequently results in the following:

  • A lack of trust
  • Difficulty sustaining relationships or enabling people to approach you
  • Intimacy issues
  • Difficulties in believing in your own ability to make sound decisions
  • Individuals who have been victimized by betrayal may also feel social disengagement and anxiety.

Furthermore, you may have evolved coping mechanisms to deal with the betrayal trauma, which may involve the following:

  • Dissociation at moments when you are very triggered/insecure
  • A sense of emotional separation may drive some individuals to close down during a flashback.
  • Issues with memory (for example, disrupted memories, false flashbacks)
  • Negative coping mechanisms such as binge eating, substance misuse, and so forth.

Triggers are sounds, pictures, scents, and feelings that bring the traumatic incident to mind. Betrayal trauma triggers can manifest in a variety of ways, based on your own experience.

Related: What is Fawning Trauma Response?

Betrayal trauma can be aroused when the original event of betrayal is brought to mind: what was done and said, how you felt and reacted, and so on. The persons concerned, particular places or seasons or times of the year, and encountering somebody who reminded you of the offender are all regular triggers of the trauma.

People commonly react subconsciously or without knowledge to memories of betrayal. You may experience an outburst of anger, defensiveness, or anxiety without completely understanding why.

Whatever the case, being aware of the likely triggers of betrayal trauma can help you to deal with your feelings and emotions more successfully.

What drives people to break the people’s trust in them? Three possible explanations can be given.

The first is an excessive amount of ambition, lust, passion, or greed. When a person loses control of these vices, he is prone to betray. People who are drug addicts, for instance, will betray because their addiction is so strong that it outweighs any sense of commitment, morality, or honesty that they may possess. A person’s desire to be affluent and live a luxurious lifestyle may drive him to steal, swindle, or misuse confidential information. The sexual attraction that is too strong may also induce a guy to violate his marriage.

The second motivation could be a conviction that betrayal is needed for the greater good to be achieved. In this case, betrayal is not viewed negatively but as a sacred deed. A person may believe that betrayal is acceptable in order to rescue another person’s soul/life.

The third explanation could be that people enjoy showing their smartness. Some people enjoy playing with other people’s thoughts and manipulating their lives in order to create havoc.

Inadequate intimacy or connection might rekindle these past longings, resulting in a profound craving for love that is satisfied in the marriage.

There are different ways in which partners protect themselves, which results in a sense of deprivation in the marriage.

1. You refrain from expressing your emotions in order to prevent conflict.

At times, disagreement can be overpowering, and you may be hesitant to say something that would offend your partner. The inability to express one’s sentiments might result in feelings of humiliation, remorse, or rejection. As a result, you refrain from expressing yourself and suppress your emotions in order to prevent conflict.

Approaching another person and expressing one’s concerns might reactivate attachment stress, making it safer to withdraw when fearful of the other person’s reply.

2. You maintain a safe distance in order to avoid feeling wounded or rejected.

If you internalized the concept that your needs are unimportant and felt uneasy expressing them as a child, this can result in a permanent pattern of shutting it down and failing to communicate your feelings.

You may seem distant, detached, and stonewall in order to avoid feeling shunned for just how you feel. This may force you to withdraw from your relationship and isolate yourself, keeping your emotions locked inside. It may feel risky to express your emotions to your partner.

If your emotions get overwhelming, you may rely on another person who may understand. Then you develop affections for this other person who you think understands you, thus eroding your relationship with your spouse.

3. You’re feeling lonely and have reached a point of hopelessness.

Once you’ve removed yourself from your spouse, the end outcome is typically a sense of isolation and despair.

As your desire for a secure connection grows stronger, you attempt to meet your needs through another person.

4. You create a misleading impression that everything is good so your needs are neglected.

You may have alienated your partner by failing to communicate your feelings. You might be puzzled why they don’t pick up on your emotions when you have brushed them aside.

You may harbor latent resentment toward your spouse if the relationship appears to be all about them and not about you. When the connection becomes overpowering for you, you cannot hear how they are experiencing. It appears as though it becomes about another person’s needs rather than yours, prompting you to close down even more and desire to flee.

The partnership may feel depriving, prompting you to seek a safer refuge elsewhere. You may say the right things to avoid disagreement and maintain peace, but deep within there is a yearning for intimacy and a void that keeps you dissatisfied with your relationship.

5. You have unsatisfied emotional demands and a strong desire for love.

When you are unable to explain yourself or reach out to your partner, the affair is frequently a final choice for meeting your unmet emotional demands.

Related: What is Generational Trauma?

When you feel neglected and lack self-love on a deep level, you may find yourself looking for love outside of yourself, hoping to meet that particular person who will compensate for your unfulfilled wants, longings, and yearnings.

When you’ve spent your entire life searching for your perfect soul mate, you might invest everything in your marriage in order to experience the sensation of being loved. You can put your wishes and aspirations onto them, even to the point of sacrificing your own interests and becoming self-absorbed, in order to obtain the love you’ve always desired.

6. You sacrifice your identity and self-worth for the marriage.

At moments, it can feel as like you’re tending to everyone’s demands, until you realize your own aren’t being addressed and you fall out of love, trying to find someone who can fit your requirements from outside your marriage.

Regardless of how deeply you like your partner, you run the risk of losing yourself in the service of your family or marriage. You stifle your wants or give up on yourself in the assumption that making everybody else happy will bring you happiness.

Your defenses against feeling unwanted drive you to invalidate yourself. You can lose touch with your ‘self’ and become unsure of your wants or how to communicate them in your relationship. As a result, you make an automatic assumption that your spouse will match your needs without articulating them or revealing your most intimate sentiments. As a result, your needs are not addressed.

7. You point the finger at your partner when your needs are not met.

The reality is that you are disconnected from your true self and unable to communicate yourself to get your concerns met. Rather than that, you fixate on how your spouse is failing to meet your needs, leaving you feeling unwanted and abandoned.

8. You are unable to communicate yourself or your demands.

The more you criticize your partner for your sentiments, the further you withdraw from your spouse and fail to communicate your wants or feelings inside the marriage. As a result, you look for the fulfillment of your wants outside of your marriage.

9. You wish to liberate yourself from the emptiness within.

Oftentimes, the misery and despair associated with falling out of love are caused by the shattering realization that not just your partner, but also no one else, can satisfy those unmet longings or needs.

Rather than addressing the source of the grief, the seek for love persists outside of the relationship. Nothing ever feels sufficient to fill the void and desolation left by a love-deprived inner child.

Individuals who have been betrayed by their beloved exhibit symptoms comparable to those associated with a traumatic incident. However, there is a far profound level of pain associated with a betrayal that can have long-lasting consequences in addition to posttraumatic stress symptoms. If you have been the victim of betrayal, you may be perplexed as to why this pain is so severe and difficult to bear.

To appreciate the depths of your anguish and the profound effect it has on your life, consider the following causes why betrayal hurts so much:

  1. Betrayal is context-dependent. When somebody is close to you, it seems more heartbreaking if they betray you. For example, you would not experience the same sense of despair if a colleague lied to you as you would have if your husband did. When somebody you care about and trust injures you, it’s tough to avoid generalizing the incident and fearing that other friends and family may easily do the same thing. This belief is disturbing and may have an adverse effect on your capacity to be transparent and open with others.
  1. Betrayal jeopardizes our senses and instincts. We are built for belonging and connection. After we choose a mate and develop an emotional connection with them, we naturally feel they would never harm us. When we are betrayed, our intuition and judgment regarding this individual become questionable. It’s frightening to lose faith in your instincts.
  1. Betrayal is a horrible experience. Nobody anticipates being betrayed. You’re in a relationship since you believe your partner is trustworthy, reliable, and will not harm you. When betrayal happens, these preconceptions are destroyed in a second, compelling you to reevaluate your perceptions of yourself, your world, your reality, and the people that inhabit it.
  1. Betrayal is perplexing. When interpersonal betrayal is something you would never do and thus goes against your principles, it’s difficult to fathom how anyone can do such a thing. Attempting to make meaning of another person’s betrayal is tiring and might lead you to assume it is your responsibility in some way. Our mind seeks clarity, and sadly, the shortest solution drives us to accuse (or doubt) ourselves, even when we are not to blame.
  1. Betrayal has a personal dimension. When you have been betrayed, the situation becomes personal. When it is about somebody else, we’ll find any reason to avoid making it about them. While irrational, this personal prejudice serves a purpose. When confronted with intense pain, our minds want to swiftly make sense of it in order to recover safety – the rationale being that if I can sort this out, I will feel less pain. Without a plausible explanation, we fall back on the simplest answer, which is that it must be something to do with me.

There are several forms of betrayals in relationships. If your spouse has betrayed you, you may be thinking about how to recover from relationship betrayal and why it hurts so much.

So, how do you overcome betrayal and how do you recover from the trauma it inflicts? The following is a step-by-step method for overcoming marriage betrayal trauma:

  • Confirm and Recognize the betrayal
  • Identify your emotions
  • Avoid self-blame.
  • Disconnect for a while
  • It is natural to lament the violation of trust
  • Resist the urge to react
  • Be vulnerable with somebody you trust.
  • Devise a plan for overcoming betrayal with your partner
  • Evaluate your actions.
  • Engage in a discussion with your partner
  • Make an attempt at reconciliation and forgiveness
  • Sit back and ponder on your life ahead
  • Restore your capacity for trusting.
  • Regain your confidence in yourself
  • Care for yourself

Reconciliation after betrayal takes time. Various challenges and emotions can develop during the process of healing. You and your spouse/partner are very likely both in pain, and reaching a point of common understanding might take time. Communicating effectively, reestablishing trust, and cultivating empathy are critical components of determining how the betrayal occurred and jointly healing the relationship.

Entering couples therapy following the discovery of betrayal can be a natural progression for many couples. Couples can have difficulty communicating their emotions and needs. A couples’ therapist can be an invaluable impartial person who can assist you in navigating your unique treatment goals and plan of action.

Mindfulness and individual therapy, on the other hand, can assist you in healing in person from this trauma and moving forward to form healthy relationships in the future.

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