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The aftermath of betrayal

May 15, 2023
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The result of betrayal is often post-traumatic stress syndrome. You may not have had a literal roadside bomb explode near you, but you might as well have. The aftermath of betrayal is as if you had had a roadside bomb destroy your life.  Betrayal affects you, your marriage, your children, your relationships with extended family and friends, your finances, your place of worship, your living arrangements, every aspect of your life. 

You most likely experience negative, intrusive, racing thoughts about your partner’s betrayal, whether he/she told you all the details, the truth about it all, and whether he/she will betray you again.  These thoughts can be triggered by your partner’s presence, memories of your partner, your partner being away from you, other people, places, movies, books, thoughts, almost anything.  The emotions that you may experience with such thoughts can be extremely intense.  They can range from severe depression, to fear and anxiety and panic attacks, to rage, to apathy.  Many betrayed individuals believe they are going crazy because their emotions fluctuate so much. Don’t be shocked if you find yourself trying to catch your partner red handed by searching through texts, emails, voicemails, monitoring when he/she leaves and comes home, where he/she goes.  Don’t be surprised if you try and keep your partner interested in you by having more sex or the kind of sex you think he/she wants, even when you believe it’s inappropriate. Don’t be surprised if you become curious and/or vengeful. Because your sex addicted partner watched porn, you may want to. Because your sex addicted partner cheated, you may want to. Because your sex addicted partner spent a lot of money, you may want to spend a lot of money. 

Let’s take a breath. That was a lot. Going through betrayal is a lot.  But that is not the end.  Take a break here if you need.  Gauge yourself and read as you can. 

The tough news for many of the betrayed is that betrayal is painful, and the healing process is, often, more painful. Because the betrayal itself was so intense, no betrayed person wants to experience more pain.  So, naturally, the healing process is avoided. There are not many betrayed people out there that truly want to go and see a professional, pray/meditate, read about recovery, attend support groups, and call support group members. And those that do often find their healing overwhelming and unhelpful, so they give up. 

Here’s what I have to say to you, and I hope this is helpful.  First, there is nothing wrong with you.  You are not crazy.  The reactions you are having are natural and many betrayed people can relate to you.  Second, if you believe your partner’s sex addiction has anything to do with you, it doesn’t.  Even when your partner blames you for it, your partner’s sex addiction is not your fault.  Third, you are an amazing person.  Anyone that can make it through betrayal is incredibly strong.  Fourth, know your recovery is your recovery.  You call the shots for your life.  You can choose to stay with your partner.  You can choose to leave your partner.  Either way, know you are making the best decisions you can with the information you have.  You can choose counseling, support groups, books to read, etc, etc, etc,….  or not.  You are free to choose.  Fifth, get to know yourself.  Learn how much emotion requires taking a break.  Learn when you can push yourself through difficult moments of recovery.  Learn what activities, thought processes, meditations, etc…  lessen your pain and which ones intensify it.  Learn to take some risks of trial and error so you can learn these things.  

And finally, although recovery can be additionally painful, I suggest doing it anyway.  However, do it at your pace.  Be flexible and graceful with yourself knowing you can stop at anytime and re-engage at any time.  You will be grateful you did.  Healing will come in its own time and in its own way.

Here’s to you.  I’m rooting for your healing.

Love you,