Betrayal & Recovery, Part 1 of 4

Free Yourself From The 5 Traps of Betrayal

By Holli Kenley

It is so easy to feel stuck in betrayal. Why? The very nature of betrayal tells us that you didn’t do anything wrong.  Someone else or something else wronged you!  Therefore, someone or something else needs to fix it or make it right. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is a trap and it will keep you stuck.  In order to start freeing yourself from betrayal, it is important to know five of the most common traps and how they are impacting you.

Free yourself from 5 traps

Trap #1: Waiting for someone or something else to fix it or make it right.

This is the biggest trap that victims of betrayal fall into.  As already mentioned, this is a completely natural feeling to have. Although this is not the case for everyone, most individuals wait for the betrayer to come to his/her senses, to apologize, or to make amends or restitution. Other victims of betrayal may wait for relatives, friends, or connections of the betrayer to side with them and to convince the betrayer of his/her wrongdoing. Freeing yourself from this trap means doing the hard work of righting yourself.

Consequence: Waiting for the betrayer puts your healing on hold. Waiting for the betrayer will not heal the hole in your heart.

Trap #2:  Gauging your wellness on what the betrayer does or does not do. 

This is another very common trap, especially when the betrayer is someone very important to you. It is prudent to observe the behaviours of the betrayer and gather information as to what his/her intentions  or motives may be in moving forward; however, it is also important to remember that the betrayer did not put your feelings or needs first and may not do so moving forward. The betrayer has much to account for and much work to do as well.

Consequence: Gauging your wellness on what the betrayer does or does not do keeps you and your healing tethered to the betrayer. In other words, you are holding your healing hostage to the betrayer.

Trap #3:  Victims to do not give themselves enough time tending to their own healing before making life-changing decisions. 

Because of the emotional destruction and damaging fallout associated with betrayal injury, it is only natural for individuals to make life-changing decisions in an attempt to mitigate their pain. At times this is necessary when victims must comply with court decisions, legal matters, or they are forced into the decisions by actions of the betrayer, etc. However, it is usually best to wait on making critical decisions until there has been ample opportunity for healing to take hold and for a strong support system to be in place.

Consequence: When individuals are navigating from a deeply injured mindset, they tend to make decisions which they regret and oftentimes their decisions invite additional re-injury from the betrayer. 

Trap #4: Victims turn to or relapse into unhealthy behaviours to cope or to self-soothe.

The horrifically debilitating States of Being* which are hallmarks of betrayal injury – confusion, worthlessness, and powerlessness – accompanied with  symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and hypersomnia, hopelessness,  etc. are often intolerable. Victims of betrayal are feeling extremely vulnerable and fearful; many feel their lives are spinning “out of control.” It is a frightening place to be and turning to or relapsing into unhealthy behaviours to cope or self-soothe appears to be the only solution or at the very least, an escape from chronic pain.

Consequence: Turning to or relapsing into unhealthy behaviours further injures victims and sabotages opportunities for healing to begin. This also may serve to provide the betrayer with detrimental information which could bring additional harm to and consequences for victims.

Trap #5: Victims don’t recognize or feel the need to do their own healing. 

The first four traps are all connected to Trap #5.  When individuals are betrayed, we typically hear statements such as:

  • Just give it time.  You’ll learn to trust again.
  • You need to forgive and move on.
  • You guys will work it out.  You love each other. 
  • They are awful. You’re better off being out of there.

Although there may some truth to such statements, they are also extremely damaging. When we are betrayed, we are injured. And as with any injury, in order to be whole again – to be well again – we must do the hard work of healing the hole in our hearts and the emptiness in our souls. We must invest into ourselves first.  We must trust in ourselves first. We must believe in ourselves first. When we do….

The healing we experience – not the betrayal injury – will take hold and serve to guide us on our path ahead. 

Consequence: Victims who do not recognize or feel the need to do their own healing most often become bitter and resentful.  Their betrayal injury continues to define them.

Are you ready to start freeing yourself? 

You know the traps. Now, get ready to do some work.

Help is here and waiting for you. Pick up a copy of Breaking Through Betrayal 2nd Edition.*

* States of Being – In order to heal from betrayal injury, it is important to understand what you are feeling and why.   Next time, we will learn about the three debilitating States of Being – Confusion, Worthlessness, and Powerlessness- and how to break through them.

Also, consider reading Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness.* Learn how Daughters who were wounded by their mothers chose wellness over victimhood. Read their powerful stories of doing the hard work of breaking through their betrayals, healing their wounds, and coming to a place of peace and acceptance – first with themselves and then, with their  mothers.

Others know your pain and your shame.  Others recovered. You can too.

Publisher’s Note: Holli Kenley is an American Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the author of “ Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving from Brokenness to Wholeness” and “Power Down & Parent Up!: Cyber Bullying, Screen Dependence & Raising Tech-Healthy Children”