You were betrayed and the pain you feel is unbearable.
You, your relationship, and your life have been irreparably changed. Perhaps you are desperate to forget – to go back to a life where your illusions, trust, and heart have not been broken. Or perhaps obsessive thoughts fill your mind, and you alternate between sobbing on the floor, plotting your revenge, and desperately trying to make sense of it all.
My hunch is you want none of this to have ever happened and you desperately want to feel normal again. You want the truth. To get to the root of the betrayal and understand what was really going on, why it had happened, and to have it all make some sort of sense.
Even if you might not believe it now, you are capable of surviving betrayal and you will find happiness and flourish. Not in spite of the betrayal, but because of it. Because betrayal uncovers the truth of everywhere you’ve covered your truth and let your worth be chipped away. There is hope. There is healing. No matter how gutted you feel, you are not alone, you are not broken, and you are absolutely not to blame.
Your devastation is an invitation to reclaim your power, agency, and identity. That way you can develop unshakable confidence and rock-solid self-worth and finally have the courage to do for yourself all of the things you meant to do, or planned to do someday when, but got lost along the way. Because betrayal – as shocking and painful as it can be – is also a catalyst to help you come fully back to life.
HOW TO COPE WITH INFIDELITY AND BETRAYAL
First, you must tend to yourself. Surviving betrayal and true, lasting healing from infidelity begin by focusing on you—not on the other person or what they did to you.
During this time, you can:
- Honor the magnitude of your situation by taking time to be alone, in silence and stillness without expectation, until you find your bearings and begin to find some comfort in this uncomfortable new world
- Journal, cry, think, and attend to your own needs, until you remember what it’s like to feel supported, trusted, and well-attended to by you
- Start uncovering the stories, beliefs, or expectations you have carried with you about who you are, whether or not people can be trusted, how relationships turn out, and what you should get based on what you are worth, and untangle your betrayal
After your immediate mental and physical needs are cared for, you can begin to figure out how to move on with your life and start the work of surviving betrayal and rebuilding your life after your partner’s affair.
To do that you need:
- A direction in which to look. You need hope, inspiration, and something to hang on to that will keep you moving ahead into a future of your choosing—instead of falling into despair and ending up bitter, resentful, and filled with hate.
- Community. You need people who have been where you are and have flourished—whether that is an affair recovery group or the love of supportive friends and family. The pain of infidelity is unique and you need connection with people who will not judge you, shame you, or rush you as you pick up the pieces of your life and begin again.
THE EFFECTS OF BETRAYAL
Betrayal pulls the rug out from under you and upends every aspect of life—emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, and mentally.
Instead of choosing to rebuild one area of yourself or your life, you are forced to rebuild every area of your life and identity while struggling to survive betrayal and come to terms with the shock and pain of infidelity. And because nobody is practiced at rebuilding everything, all at the same time, you are going to feel overwhelmed, incompetent, victimized, and totally lost. Which is totally normal!
The gap between where you are now, and where you want to be, can seem too large to traverse. And sometimes, this can l make you want to either crumble and give up, or leap ahead into a new life, home, or relationship in hopes of feeling settled and normal once again.
But surviving betrayal means healing your relationship with your power, identity, and self-worth. Which is a journey and a choice that only you can make. There is no requirement or timetable for recovery, and surviving betrayal does not happen unless you decide you want to heal.
REBUILDING TRUST AFTER BETRAYAL
As a Betrayal Recovery Expert who works with women who’ve been betrayed by their intimate partner and are ready to let go of the grief, pain, and heartbreak, I am often asked, “How can I trust again?”
The concern expressed underneath this question is, “What if I get hurt again? What if I open myself up, and get hurt? I don’t think I can take that.”
Trusting again after surviving betrayal begins with a radical understanding and untangling of the multitude of ways you were betrayed. Too often, we characterize infidelity or betrayal as a single act, or if there was more than one partner, as multiple, yet still countable acts of betrayal.
However, each so-called “act of betrayal” involves multiple, yet difficult to define acts of betrayal that have nothing to do with infidelity. Instead, they have to do with culture, ideology, beliefs, and even your view of yourself.
Yes, betrayal involves the obvious breaches of emotional, financial, marital, and sexual trust, but there are also the less obvious violations of trust around how the world is “supposed to” work. What it means to be married, what a “good woman” or “perfect wife” is worthy of receiving, and what you thought you had “signed up for” or what your life was “supposed to” be like.
Of course, it’s difficult to trust again after surviving betrayal, but it’s not impossible. You can untangle the many ways in which you were betrayed, reconnect to your authentic identity and self-worth, and start building trust in yourself and your life once again. Surviving betrayal does not hinder your ability to trust others. It teaches you to trust yourself.
Surviving betrayal and infidelity challenges you to understand yourself and the world differently. Whether you find self-compassion, explore different narratives, or develop the capacity to forgive, surviving betrayal and infidelity makes you sovereign and wise. You now know unequivocally that your life really is all about you. You are the only one who can validate your intuition, determine your beliefs, write your story, and choose who, what, and when to trust again. Most importantly, you now know the only way to trust others is to learn to trust yourself first.
HOW TO LOVE AGAIN AFTER SURVIVING BETRAYAL AND INFIDELITY
When a physical wound is too deep, it is stuffed with gauze and intentionally kept open. That’s because wounds need to heal from the inside out. When the surface level of the wound closes too fast, it can lead to infection and delay healing.
Broken hearts must also be mended from the inside out.
To love is to risk being hurt. There is nothing anyone can do to make loving safe or guaranteed.
Opening your heart means you are willing to:
- Accept a certain amount of risk. While there are things you can do to minimize risk, there are no guarantees what will or will not happen. And that’s okay! You can still choose to trust that your life is on the right path, even though there will be slip-ups.
- Declare yourself as someone who loves. Loving and receiving love are two very different things. You can love ice cream, pasta, puppies, or Jason Momoa, but they (probably) don’t love you back!
Loving feels good and brings joy all on its own. While it’s nice to be loved, love is not a tit-for-tat type of thing. When you declare yourself as someone who loves, you set yourself free to do just that – to love! If someone loves you back, it’s a bonus, but it’s not someone else’s right to determine if you are loving and lovable or not. That’s something you define and choose for yourself.
HOW TO RECLAIM YOUR IDENTITY AFTER BETRAYAL
Achieving long-term happiness means finding the freedom to express yourself comfortably and confidently as you are, not as you think you should be. In order to survive betrayal, re-discover your identity, and thrive, you must give yourself time to master your new habits, skills, and life.
Research shows that it takes a person approximately fifty times of doing an activity to feel comfortable and confident in that activity. It doesn’t matter if it’s repairing a car, managing finances, or learning to come home to an empty house—it’s going to take about fifty tries before you feel comfortable in your new life. Stay consistent, dedicated, and positive and before long your new life is going to feel comfortable and secure.
No matter if you are seeking to rebuild your identity, self-worth, or your entire life—let go of the idea that you can “fix” things after surviving betrayal. You are supposed to be uncomfortable right now. Allow yourself the compassion you would show someone who is just starting out with something new.
A glorious new life requires a strong foundation. Give yourself the time to build that now, so you don’t need to rebuild again a few years later.
Lean in to what you love – or what you might love. Now is your opportunity to reconnect to former passions or try new things and discover something new. Tune into your heart and listen to the rhythm of your soul. Separate who you are from who you think you are supposed to be. Check in on your mental, spiritual, and physical foundations and make all of the necessary adjustments.
And most importantly, remember that you’ve got your own back. You are entitled to change your mind at any time, you are capable of caring for yourself, and you have the power to make yourself feel better, despite what anyone else says or does.
Ready to take the next step?
Lora Cheadle is a Colorado-based speaker/trainer, attorney, and betrayal-recovery coach who works with women whose lives have been shattered by betrayal and want to:
- Overcome the shock, devastation, and pain, find their power, and reclaim inner peace
- Rebuild trust in themselves, their intuition, and the world
- Make sense of their story and begin rewriting their future on their own terms regardless of their partner’s participation, interest, or actions
- Reconcile the life they have now with the life they thought they had signed up for
- Overcome obsessive thoughts and move on with confidence, clarity, and excitement for the future
- Bring themselves fully back to life again, stronger, happier, and more self-expressed than ever before
Her 5-step betrayal recovery process shows women how to move from shattered to sovereign, so they can untangle themselves from the pain of the past, uncover the power that’s been inside them all along, and move confidently into a future of their own design.
Learn more about Lora’s services here.