Tag Archives: pain

BETRAYED..

Have you ever been lied to by someone you trusted more than yourself?
Have you ever been so disappointed in a loved one, that you don’t believe anyone anymore?
Have you ever been betrayed by someone you’re reliant on? Someone who promised to always make you feel safe?

If your answer is yes, then I’m so sorry…
I’m so extremely sorry you had to experience such excruciating pain. I know what that feels like and I wouldn’t wish it upon my enemy, let alone my beloved readers.

If your answer is yes, come sit here beside me, and let me soothe your pain, coz chances are, the one who hurt you has lost the ability to heal you, and that alone is an agonizing realization.


What you’re going through right now is called ‘Betrayal Trauma’, like other forms of trauma, this one is especially damaging, for it shakes the core of your most solid belief systems, and can have long term impact on your mental and physical health. You probably can’t help but look back at the relationship you once cherished and wonder if it was all a lie. Not only does the person you trusted suddenly become unrecognizable and completely untrustworthy, you also starting questioning if you could trust yourself and your own judgement.
Don’t let anyone, including yourself, undermine what you’re going through. The pain is real and amongst the common effects of betrayal trauma are:

Physical Symptoms like panic attacks, continuous crying episodes, insomnia, vomiting, hair loss, rashes, acne breakouts and weight fluctuations.

Emotional Dysfunction including a whole array of emotions like anger, depression, anxiety, shame, suicidal thoughts and helplessness.

Cognitive Symptoms like extreme intrusive thoughts, obsessive behavior and shame, sadly resulting in an altered definition of love and trust..

Have any of these hit a chord?
Again.. I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I have this deep need to keep apologizing. Maybe it’s coz I know that you might have never received a proper apology from your betrayer, or maybe because I truly feel your pain and I know it’s not fair you’re left to deal with the damage alone.
Like a hit and run, except this one happens over the years in slow motion and the one driving the car is your beloved parent, partner, sibling or friend..

So now that you know the effects, let me walk you through the phases of what happens when you find out you’ve been lied to. I know, it’s like watching a horror movie, but I promise, the ending will hopefully be pleasant and soothing.

Phase One: Denial
You’ll refuse to believe it. In fact, you’ll come up with ridiculous excuses to escape facing the ugly reality of what had happened. You might even be grateful to your betrayer or unconsciously treat him or her like nothing happened. It’s what we call ‘betrayal blindness’. Your attachment system is activated and your brain goes into survival mode, working overtime to bury the trauma in a black box and push it far back in your mind where you can’t access it. After all, this person is your safe haven, you can’t afford to suddenly be emotionally homeless, so you hold on tight and pretend everything is okay..

Phase Two: Anger
But the truth is…. Everything is not okay..
Something horrible has happened to you and now the numbness turns to rage. You’ve been deceived. Someone you love and trust has made a fool out of you and if that doesn’t make you angry, I don’t know what will. The safe haven has been invaded from the inside and your ‘fight’ survival mechanism was bound to kick in.

Phase Three: Bargaining
Did they really betray you?
Maybe they had a good reason? Of course they did, right?
You surely didn’t fall for someone so evil.
She’s your soulmate for God’s sake, give her the benefit of the doubt!
He’s the love of your life, you couldn’t have been so wrong about him!
So you frantically search for answers. You’ll probably have a million questions or become hung up on every little detail you dig for, all the while screaming ‘WHY?’
Why would they repay your love with such cruelty?
Why would they upend your reality so brutally?
What did you ever do to deserve a stab in the back?
What was going through their minds as they lied to so casually?
Your cortisol levels skyrocket as you experience a new set of stress-related symptoms.
It’s a struggle that probably won’t yield any satisfying results, and for that again… I’m so sorry..

Phase Four: Depression
I don’t know how long it will take, but the blazing fire of your anger and anxiety will eventually turn to ashes. You’ll be huddled up in a corner, left with the debris of a relationship you thought was a blessing, but turned out to be your biggest nightmare.
That’s the sad thing about betrayal; it never comes from enemies. Something breaks inside you every time you allow yourself to absorb what happened. It’s the worst kind of pain.
You’ll have to feel it though.. There’s no other way around it..

Phase Five: Acceptance
This is the most difficult phase..
In our mind, acceptance means approval, and it’s why forgiveness seems impossible at times, because it means accepting the unacceptable. But that’s not what I’m asking of you or myself..
I need you to accept what happened. You’ve been betrayed and deceived
Accept it..
You’ve been failed and let down..
Accept it..
You’ve lost something you thought you could never lose.
Accept your new reality, because resisting it won’t change anything.
Accept there’s evil in this world, and accept that some people can do very bad things, even to the ones closest to them.
Accept the shame, humiliation and defeat. It will help you reach out for support, be it therapy or emotional support from loved ones, which is exactly what you need to heal.

But Now What..?
Now your life has temporarily changed and that’s okay..
Dealing with the aftermath of betrayal trauma can be an isolating experience but please don’t succumb to it. Take your time to regain your strength, and learn your lessons
There’s a beautiful Hadith that I somehow chose to ignore in the past, but in fact it’s the ultimate shield against betrayal and deceit…

Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said: Love your beloved moderately, perhaps he becomes hated to you someday. And hate whom you hate moderately, perhaps he becomes your beloved someday
(Jami’ al-Tirmidhi, 1997)

You’ve loved. You’ve lost and now it’s time to dust yourself off and start anew.
Just as long as you remember to not carry this huge burden on your back as you walk away. What happened was not your fault.
Please read that again: What happened was NOT your fault. There is absolutely no excuse for betrayal, cheating or deceit. So leave that baggage behind for your betrayer to carry, and trust that Allah doesn’t let sins go unpunished, especially when the sin harms and scars one of His innocent slaves.
It might not be the solace you’re seeking and it doesn’t fix what was broken. I just know that feeling broken isn’t the end of your story.
It’s a new beginning..
And don’t ever think God will let you walk it alone…

Okay so I was just about to commence with my grand finale about hope and love but someone just stopped me to ask a question
“Yes?”
“What if your betrayer shows remorse? Asks for forgiveness or another chance? Do you still walk away and never look back?”

*Awkward silence

Do you?
Well, I guess that’s another story for another article
Stay tuned….

Lilly S. Mohsen

Episode 6: Fantasy and Conversion As Self Defense Mechanisms

Defense Mechanism

Self defense mechanisms

 

“And then what happened?” I asked Giselle, the housekeeper.

“After dessert, Alfred said madam needed to see me at once. When I went upstairs she yelled and said she never asked for me. She went off to see her guests, and I stayed behind to straighten out before following her down.”

“Did you see her diamond necklace?”

“No! I mean I did. After she was done yelling, she asked me to get her a cup of water. I saw her put the necklace on the dresser, but when I came back, it was gone and so was madam.” Giselle replied. Her eyes began to twitch suddenly and I could see beads of sweat sliding down her forehead.

“So tell me, who’s your favorite member out of the Zahir family? I won’t tell anyone I promise.” I smiled.

“I like them all equally” Giselle lied. She closed her eyes for a brief moment and drew in a long, deep breath.

 

The night of the dinner party….

“You look yellow, hon. You okay?” Alfred asked Giselle when she walked into the kitchen, only she stumbled helplessly to the ground before she could even reply.

“This isn’t the first time this happens” Alfred said as he handed her a cup of water after she regained consciousness an hour later. “You’ve been fainting a lot lately. You should probably ask Mrs Zahir to take you to the doctor.”

“I asked her once but then she had an appointment to get her brows shaped and I guess after that she forgot all about it.” Giselle whispered weakly.

“Then ask Mr. Zahir or Hamza. Lazy bums! They’re the reason you’re so overworked and exhausted, the least they could do is treat you with some kindness.”

“It’s no big deal. I’ll get some rest and be as good as new in the morning.”

She made Alfred promise not to disturb her sleep. He agreed and told her to holler if she needed anything then went off to finish his work, leaving Giselle to relive the same dream she’s been dreaming about for the past three years:

One day the Zahir’s will have a huge party for their affluent friends, and when it was over, Giselle would sneak outside for fresh air. One of the male invitees will come back looking for his keys. Not knowing who she was, they’ll get to talking, fall in love, and later when she confesses she’s only a housekeeper he’ll love her even more. They’d soon get married and live happily ever after and of course if the Zahirs by that time end up bankrupt, living in a dumpster behind Giselle’s palace, well that would just be gravy.

 

“Giselle?” I tapped her lightly on the shoulder.

“Oh sorry, I must have dazed off for a second.” Giselle cleared her throat.

“What were you thinking about?”

“Nothing. I don’t know why I remembered that story, Cinderella”

“Maybe you relate to her at times when you feel you’re not being treated very kindly?”

“Or maybe I’m waiting for my fairy godmother to appear with a magic wand.”

I smiled at her and there was a sudden awkward moment of silence.

“Anyways, so I hear you’ve been having some health problems”

“Dizziness, numbness… nothing major.” Giselle fidgeted nervously with her apron strings.

“Alfred mentioned something about the night the necklace went missing. Something he hadn’t mentioned in the earlier investigation with the police.”

“What? What did he say?” Giselle went snow white pale.

“When suspicion moved on to him, he was impelled to tell the whole story about the incident of you passing out that night. You evidently went to rest in your room and when he came back to check on you, your window was open and you were nowhere to be found.”

“I ummmm… I was just….. ummmm…. Oh I’m so sorry ma’am. I don’t think I can do this, I’m feeling so…” Giselle held her head and then crumbled to the floor like a house of sand.

“Help!”

 

Later that evening…

“She’s faking it! I know she is” Jenna, my keen assistant, slammed the desk a little too hard.

“Why would you assume that?” I asked with one eyebrow up.

“Duh! It’s crystal clear. She’s the thief and she’s using her illness as a distraction defense mechanism”

“I must admit you’re really talented in solving mysteries, Jenna!”

“Oh my God, really?”

“Ah NO!” I laughed. “She’s not faking the illness, she’s unconsciously using conversion as a self defense mechanism.”

“Before you elaborate let’s just recap real quick. Amy is dissociating in La La Land. Hamza is the angry bird always acting out. Sameera projects her insecurities unto others and her husband Nader displaces his feelings unto innocent victims. Who else? Yes Alfred is two faced.”

“Jenna!”

“Fine. Alfred uses ‘Reaction Formation’. Now tell me about Giselle’s defense mechanism.’

“It’s called conversion because you convert your anxieties and internal emotional conflicts into physical symptoms. Like in Giselle’s case, she blocks out those feelings that bothering her, and since feelings don’t go anywhere, they’re released in a different form, like dizziness, coughing or in some extreme cases they can cause temporary blindness and even paralysis.”

“Why would anyone use this destructive mechanism?!” Jenna gasped.

“People don’t choose self defense mechanism from the menu of the day. It’s involuntary.”

“So how do you treat that?”

“Distraction always works, and of course explaining the concept can help them try to face their feelings instead of converting it. But you know, that’s not the only self defense mechanism Giselle’s using. I think she’s retreating into a fantasy to avoid coping with her hardships. She feeds off her imagination of a dream that’ll probably never come true.”

“Oh come on. We all do the ‘fantasy’ thing. Almost everyone I know is waiting for something that will never happen, yet they wouldn’t go around stealing diamonds to make their dreams come true.” Jenna said. “Or would they…..?”

 

The next day….

“I hope you’re feeling better” I said as I sat Giselle down for another talk.

“I am, thank you ma’am” She hesitated.

We talked for a quite some time, in which she was determined to remain vague and unyielding, so I had no choice but to bluff to take a short detour.

“Giselle I’m trying to help you here. I have witnesses who can testify they saw you sneak out of your window in the middle of the night, wearing one of Mrs. Zahir’s expensive gowns.” I fibbed.

“It wasn’t Mrs. Zahir’s it was mine. I bought that dress with my own money” Giselle steamed out. She fell silent for a moment, her eyes doubling twice their size as she realized she had just semi-confessed to a crime.

“Did you sneak out to hide the necklace?” I asked straightforwardly.

“No! I swear. I’m not a thief. I only stepped outside to sit in the swing in the garden. I do that sometimes.” Giselle cried. “I just…. For a couple of minutes I get to be me, not the docile housekeeper everyone uses as a punching bag.”

“Giselle, why didn’t you mention any of this to the police in the first investigation? Now that your story doesn’t add up, I’m afraid you’ve become a prime suspect.”

“I was scared to lose my job. I’m the sole provider to my family back home. I didn’t know what would happen to them if I had told the truth.”

“What truth are you talking about?”

“I saw someone that night coming out of the secret garden. He didn’t see me, but I definitely saw him.”

“Who was it?” I asked.

 

To be continued in the last episode….

 

Author’s Commentary

I’d give anything to see the look on your guys’ faces right about now.

Anyways so ‘Fantasy’…. Sounds like a cool defense mechanism, no?

I mean we’ve all been there, believing ourselves to be undercover agents, lost members of the royal family or convincing ourselves we have super powers. (Wait, or is that just that me?!)

It’s okay to use wild imagination as crutches to get us through a tough time, but only as a temporary solution. Waiting for something that’s never gonna happen and revolving your life around it is self-abuse (trust me, I should know). At some point we all must draw the line between positive thinking and complete avoidance. We must learn to merge reality with dreams instead of having to choose only one to sink in. You get what I mean?

As for conversion, I also think it’s an even harsher form of self abuse, since your body pays the price for your heart’s fear of facing ugly emotions, and that’s just not fair. Listen to this:

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “He who is deprived of tenderly feelings is in fact deprived of good.” (https://sunnah.com/muslim/45/97)

You can’t give what you don’t have, and if you have no mercy on yourself how on earth would you feel it for others? If you can’t handle your own emotions how will you ever help anyone else deal with theirs?

Conversion is basically the refusal to feel your feelings and letting it take a toll on your health instead.

You don’t cry it out… so you get a severe headache.
You don’t deal with guilt, so you get heart and chest pains.
You won’t absorb the frustration, so your shoulders stiffen up.
What you block out comes back in a different form…
And I wish…
Oh I really wish you wouldn’t do that to yourself anymore…
Be mindful and don’t try to escape your problems
Once you accept what’s happening, you’ll finally be ready to change it.
Your life will finally come to life….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen