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
You’ve been failed and let down..
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
“What if your betrayer shows remorse? Asks for forgiveness or another chance? Do you still walk away and never look back?”
Well, I guess that’s another story for another article
Lilly S. Mohsen