Moving Beyond Betrayal

Everyone feels scourged in the aftermath of betrayal. In an effort to work through the pain and humiliation and regain their equilibrium, people need to review the events, and that often includes talking about what happened, sometimes to anyone who will listen.

Speaking out about the person who hurt you can be tempting. Sometimes, though, while that can make someone feel better in the moment, it can cause greater trouble down the line and delay the journey back to personal peace and happiness.

Speaking out about The Other Woman (or Man) can feel like a chance to set the record straight by telling your side of the story, and it can feel like a way to fight back. against having been wronged. It isn’t always helpful and can just magnify the negativity. How to find a balance? It really all comes down to what you say, and whom you say it to.

The obvious place to vent such anger and frustration is to friends and family, since they are the people who know you and support you. They may encourage you by asking you to tell them what happened, or they may be more provoking by launching a missile and speaking badly about your ex-partner, thus throwing logs on the already flaming fire.

Even with family and friends, there’s a need to be careful about what is shared.. While the initial reaction to betrayal may be a desire to end the relationship entirely, sometimes cheating can actually help people reevaluate and overhaul their relationship to make it stronger and more resilient than before. There are enough times that people get back together. If in fact you and your ex do reconcile one day, you don’t want your friends and family members to have turned so completely against your partner and become so alienated that it makes it difficult for you to reconnect.

Also, there is always the matter of the people you shared while you were together. What if, during your relationship, your cousin became good friends with your spouse, or the wife of your college best friend is now best friends with your yours? These are hard connections to break, and speaking ill of a partner can put many people you love in a very tricky position. You may feel a need to rally as many people as possible to your camp, but drawing such lines can not only be very divisive, it risks magnifying your losses. Others may feel they have to choose sides—and it may not be yours.

Being able to vent and speak ill of your cheating spouse may be an initial reaction, but it should not be a subsequent one. To get beyond character assassination, start to shift focus to the impact of the betrayal on you and how you are dealing with it. To begin real healing, you need  to be in touch with all of your feelings, not just your anger. Eventually you need less rage and more self-awareness.

As i discuss in my book How Could You Do This to Me?: Learning to Trust After Betrayal, you need to know how much you contributed to developments by engaging in blind trust. Were you too trusting? Were there signs that you ignored—or completely failed to see at the time?

It is the reflection and understanding you gain from it that will enable you to learn how to trust your own judgement, so that you feel better equipped to protect yourself against future betrayal. You take yourself out of the role of victim, shift to moving forward and away from the fallout of the betrayal.

Being deceived is devastating at best. If not dealt with, the blow can keep you feeling low for a long time and can derail you from living your best life. For that reason, consider self-reflection in the wake of betrayal your emotional health insurance. It will help you go forward with your life.

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