How many of you have NEVER been betrayed by a man? Any hands raised?
I don’t think ANYONE reaches this stage in life without having been betrayed multiple times.
The stakes get higher as you get older.
When you’re young, betrayal means heartbreak, but you’re usually able to pick up the pieces and love again.
When you’re older, betrayal can destroy your life. Because now there may be assets involved… children involved… maybe even the courts involved.
And bouncing back from THAT is an entirely different story.
If you’re here because you’ve recently suffered a betrayal, know this:
What happened to you NEVER should have happened.
It’s horrible to think there are people out there who would do what was done to you.
And yet it happened. This is what you have been given to deal with. You didn’t deserve it, but it is yours now.
And what you choose to do with it will change EVERYTHING.
“But I Did Everything Right”
Growing up, I was told that all I had to do was do everything right—be a good housewife, a good partner, a good woman—and then I would get picked by a man. For the rest of my days, he would take care of me.
Even though I knew better, I still found myself influenced by that old programming…
Until I learned the hard way that doing everything right didn’t guarantee anything.
Maybe you, like me, thought that you were making an agreement when you vowed to devote yourself to the man you loved. You thought the agreement was mutual. He would accept your devotion and take care of you in return….
And it didn’t turn out that way.
It REALLY didn’t turn out that way.
Because he betrayed you. He took your love and threw it back in your face. Then he claimed it was all your fault. He wouldn’t have done what he did if YOU had been a better girlfriend or wife.
This thing you had that was so beautiful—so innocent and open and trusting and hopeful—became dark and ugly and twisted.
A shadow fell on the world. You stopped believing in love stories. You started to wonder if this is happening everywhere behind closed doors.
And now here you are, reading this, wondering how you’re ever going to heal.
Here’s the bad news:
Your heart will never go back to the way it was before you met him.
Our experiences change us. We can’t reverse the clock. But we can reframe our experiences.
It’s not that we were once whole and now we are broken.
Rather, it’s that we once didn’t know the mysteries of the human heart, and now we are wise.
Tragedy slices through our illusions, but it also allows us to start over. What wasn’t working? What could you do differently? What do you really want?
And go gently on yourself as you move through these 3 stages of healing.
Stage 1. Grieve
When something terrible like this happens to you, your friends and family aren’t always much help.
They may tell you that you should just get over it. They may say things like, “Don’t tar all men with the same brush.” “If you keep holding onto that anger and resentment, it’s going to poison your next relationship.”
If you’ve been getting a lot of that, I want you to go online and do a search for “betrayal trauma.”
Betrayal trauma happens “when the people … on which a person depends for survival significantly violate that person’s trust or well-being.”
When you depend on someone for love and support, and that person turns around and betrays you, it’s HUGE.
Because your life is entwined with theirs; you can’t just walk away.
The more you depend on this person, the more horrific their betrayal will feel.
Minor betrayals are like a flesh wound. You clean out the wound, you wrap it up, you rest it, and in time it’s as good as new.
But betrayal trauma is like a life-threatening gash. You need medical attention.
You need someone to support you until you can get back on your feet again. You need crutches and physical therapy. You do NOT want to slap a Band-Aid on it and assume time heals all wounds, because it won’t.
You have to deal with your grief in a way that honors and respects everything you’re going through. And you may not be able to do that on your own. You may need a therapist or a trusted support person to hold space for you.
Don’t stuff down your grief and expect it to go away. Honor it. Tend to it. Healing is hard.
Stage 2. Find the Invitation
Betrayal feels like something DONE TO you…
Something that’s destroyed your innocence and trust.
Betrayal breaks something inside of you.
It takes away the hopes and dreams that made life worth living.
Betrayal makes you feel powerless.
Like it was just an illusion that you had any control over your life.
No wonder we feel so terrible about ourselves, even though we didn’t do anything wrong.
Part of us believes that if we’d made the “right choices,” none of this would have happened.
There’s another way to look at betrayal…
And that is to see it as Warrior Training.
As a Relationship Warrior, you go into love knowing that you’re both wearing swords—you can hurt each other. You’re both wearing shields—you’ve both got walls up to protect yourselves.
And that’s OKAY.
This is the work of relationships.
Getting close to another human being is the most dangerous thing we can ever do… AND the most beautiful.
None of us wants to be a warrior in love. We just want to show up with an open heart and trust and be vulnerable, having faith that our good heart will attract a prince.
But in the real world, our princes are just ordinary guys who are as broken and in need of healing as we are.
They can’t give us everything we need. They can’t be the person we wanted them to be. They will make huge mistakes that hurt us.
That’s not an exception to the rule. That IS the rule.
It’s up to us to learn how to handle ourselves when things fall apart.
That’s the invitation. How are you going to learn from this?
How are you going to be stronger next time?
What will you take from this, moving forward?
Because if you don’t learn the lesson, you may end up repeating it.
Stage 3. Own Your Strength
Sometimes I think we get into these situations because we’ve been taught that our role is to make everyone else happy.
We relax our boundaries. We avoid saying no. We don’t want to complain. We let things go. We don’t own our power.
Betrayal is a wakeup call. You cannot be a bystander in your own life.
If you don’t make things happen, things will happen to you.
So own your strength.
Know who you are.
Know what you stand for.
Know what you will accept.
You’re not responsible for him. When a man betrays you, he often blames you for his behavior. Don’t take what’s his.
You are responsible for yourself. If there’s something you needed to do that you didn’t, you can do that now. If there’s something you need to change, you can do that.
Betrayal happens to you. But you have the choice to decide what you will do with it.
Promise me that you will heal from this… you will grow from this… and you’ll use your wisdom to create something beautiful.