I have been kind of silent the last few months because I have been working very hard at my own
recovery (I hate that word) coping skills. I have also been busy writing a book for you! I have been trying to come up with a healing plan that works for me, and possibly, it might work for you too. I am still trying to figure it all out, but I think I have it figured out well enough to start sharing what I have discovered. So from now on this journaling blog is going to have a different focus….
The focus on coping.
I was talking to my therapist the other day and she said something interesting. “I still have to get up every morning and start over in my recovery work. Sometimes it feels like sleeping undoes everything I did the day before. I wake up feeling anxious.” My question to her was, “even now, after 7 years?” “Yes,” was her reply.
It’s depressing, but, oh so true!
Recovery coping after betrayal trauma is something you will probably have to deal with everyday of your life for the rest of your life, at least on some level. Sorry to be the one to break the bad news to you. It’s the truth, and the truth will set you free. Just know, you will have to deal with this…for…the…rest…of…your…life. There is no complete and total healing from this. You will never wake up one day and say, “Yay! I’m healed!” It’s not going to happen. Ever. This is not like having someone die, a break up, losing your best friend, or even a “normal divorce.” In those cases you can go through the steps of grief and move on, eventually. The only way back from something that is so devastating and life changing like a soul destroying trauma is through COPING. You can call it “recovery” or “healing” or whatever you like, but what it really is, is just coping. You have to learn to COPE with what has happened to you in the same way you would have to learn to cope with, say, losing an arm. You would never be the same if you lost your arm, you could never grow your arm back, you would never recovery from losing your arm, you would never heal completely from losing your arm, but you would learn to cope with it. Betrayal trauma is the same thing. You don’t ever heal from it, you don’t every recover from it, but you do learn to cope with it.
What our selfish, mean, lying, cheating, gaslighting, unfaithful, Ex husband’s did to us changed us. Forever. You are forever changed. Your brain changed, your body changed, your emotions changed. You were changed at a cellular level. Betrayal trauma is, for the cheated on, the equivalent of PTSD or C-PTSD. Do you ever hear of war veterans “getting over it?” Nah, me either. What can happen is that you can choose to fight it, and learn to lived with it, or you can die, roll over, and succumb to a complete and total breakdown of epic proportions. Those are your only two options. But, I am not going to lie, it will be a struggle to overcome it. I know it will be. I struggle with it every damn day of my life! Even today; after 3 therapists, two recovery centers, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness classes, energy work, EMDR, and countless books, I still woke up with a giant panic attack. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen everyday, not anymore, but most days I wake up with a sense of foreboding, like something bad is about to happen to me. I feel unsafe, insecure, and anxious…for no particular reason whatsoever! Welcome to PTSD ladies! It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Now for the good news. You can learn to cope. Coping is very do-able. It’s hard work, I’m not going to lie! Lot’s of hard work. It’s like exercise, nobody really wants to do it, but it makes you feel better if you do. Coping skills are like that. What I resent the most is being MADE to do it, by someone who did not even stop to think of what he was doing to me. I resent having my life changed to this degree through the choices of someone else! I cannot live my life the way I want to, on my terms, because of the choices of someone else. Because of what was done to me I have to get up every morning and go through a routine that takes me hours, just to feel “normal.” I lose precious hours working on something most people never have to deal with. And then there are the things I cannot do anymore. I cannot watch anything on TV like I used to do, I cannot listen to the radio anymore like I used to do, and I cannot participate in politics, which I loved, like I used to do. All these things and others, too numerous to mention, bring me added stress, anxiety, and pain, which I cannot afford to bring into my life when I am working so hard to remove all stress and anxiety that I can. It just doesn’t make sense to add stress, when you are trying to decrease it. So I spend my days trying to achieve a “zen like” state JUST TO FEEL NORMAL! My kids think I am turning into a hippy, and they are right. Meditation, yoga, tai-chi, qi-gong, prayer, scripture study, affirmations, and others, are my new best friends.
Ladies, welcome to your new normal, whatever that is for you. What you thought was your normal in your old life will probably never be your normal, ever again. But a sense of “normal,” can be achieved again. It just won’t be that same normal. It will be different. Not necessarily bad, just different. I just want to help you set up realistic expectations for yourself. You have been through a war, of sorts, you are traumatized and your systems have been compromised or even shut down. It’s hard to wrap your brain around the severity of it because, physically, you are the same. You LOOK the same, you may even ACT the same, but you are not the same emotionally, spiritually, mentally, or even physically, to a certain extent.
Frankly, it would be easier if you had been hit by a truck (because emotionally you were). If you had been hit by a truck you would have been taken to the hospital, you would have probably been put on life support for a while, had surgery, maybe several of them, you would have spent time in the ICU, and maybe even sent to rehab after you left the hospital. Family and friends would have come to see you, taken care of you, helped you recover, and been there for you. Everyone would see that your recovery was going to take a very long time. They would have stood by your side as you learned to walk again, and helped you find new ways to cope with your new normal. Nobody is going to do that in this case, because nobody can see just how badly damaged you are. You look fine, so you will be expected to act fine long before you are ready. It’s not fair, but it is reality. That is why you have to find other systems of support for your
recovery coping. Unfortunately, you will have to set up your own triage, nobody else is going to do it for you. Under different circumstances it would have probably been your husband who helped you cope with this horrific experience! But now he is the one who did it to you! He is the one who hit you broadside by an emotional 18-wheeler! It’s not fair, but it is what it is, as my Ex used to like to say to me.
Think about it, did you have any idea how hard this was for other women until it happened to you? Did you have any clue? No, you did not, because nothing in any of our life experiences could possibly prepare us for the impact of betrayal! Nothing! You cannot fault or resent your family and friends for not understanding what, you yourself, could not have understood either. It’s not their fault they don’t “get it.” They can’t. So it is up to you to go find places and people that do get it. Support groups are everywhere, you just have to find one that fits your needs. Clinics that deal with betrayal trauma are popping up like dandelions! Let your family and friends love you the way they have always done. Let them tell you that “you should be able to move on by now,” and then go to your support group and complain to them about how they just don’t “get it.” Surround yourself with women who do “get it.” Unfortunately, there are way too many of them. Because of pornography and sex addiction there is an epidemic of men who cheat, abandon their families, and ruin their marriages, leaving a path of devastation and destruction in their wake! You are not the only one! There are hundreds, or even thousands, of women just like you in your city. Trust me. And WE get it! We are banding together in support groups all over this country to help you. And if you cannot find one in person, there are groups online. I personally belong to two facebook groups that deal with just this topic. Find one. You cannot do this alone! And you cannot expect your family and friends to do what they are incapable of doing.
This is what I am trying to tell you about a “new normal.” Being betrayed takes your whole world and dumps it on its head. You are left reeling and nobody is going to rescue you. You hope someone will come and rescue you, after all you are in pain so excruciating that you feel like you just might lay there and die! But nope, you have to get up and rescue yourself. It doesn’t seem fair, and it’s not, but knowing the alternatives, what are you going to do? So you have to ask yourself the following – are you just going to lay there and bleed out and die on the spot, or are you going to get up and fight like hell to rebuild your life? At one point in my journey I was suicidal. I did just want to die! I even ended up in the hospital. When I told that to one of my therapists, he said to me, “Well that would have been convenient for your Ex wouldn’t it?” His words shocked me! He then explained to me that if I had taken my life that it would have made my Ex’s life a whole lot easier. He would not have had to pay alimony or deal with me at all. If I took my life, the Ex would have been on easy street, and he would be silently rejoicing at my demise! Well ladies, it is not your job to make his life easier! It’s not your job to give him the satisfaction of ruining you. It’s your job to get up and to fight for your life! Nobody is going to do it for you. It’s hard. I know it’s hard. It’s not fair. It is a struggle for me every day! It’s true that your life will probably never be the same again, but it is also possible that it can turn out to be something better. There is a popular video going around where Will Smith explains the difference between fault and responsibility. This is not your fault, not your fault at all! But it is your responsibility to deal with it! That is the straight up truth! I wish my Ex would see what his actions did to me and the kids. I wish everyday he would Be 100% Responsible for his actions (like Elder Lynn Robbins describes in his talk), but he’s not going to, he could care less! I can wish for justice (the karma bus WILL pay him a visit, it always shows up, eventually) all day long for the rest of my life, but that doesn’t make my life any better, it just makes me bitter. I can either remain in victimhood, or I can thrive. I choose to thrive! “The road to power is taking responsibility!” It’s time to take the power back!
I can tell you now, after 4 years, the struggle to learn to cope with my new normal is worth it! It’s hard! But oh so worth it. Four years ago I never thought I would be where I am today. I still have a long way to go, but I am finally finding myself again. I like who I am again, life is worth living again, and coping is possible. I can finally see the light at the end of a very long tunnel. I have peace again, I have to work for it everyday, but it’s worth the effort. I have happiness again, I have to work for it everyday, but it’s worth the effort. I have joy again, I have to work for it everyday, but it’s worth the effort. Every good thing in life is work, it always has been! And, ultimately, it is worth it! I may have to work for it everyday for the rest of my life, but if that means I get to live a life of peace, joy, and happiness, then it will have been worth it!
Over the next few months I am going to document my personal journey of coping; what has worked for me, what doesn’t, how I am healing, what my daily routine looks like, etc. I am going to teach you my own healing modalities and how to do them for yourselves. Everything I have learned, I will share with you! This is ground breaking stuff! The journey through betrayal trauma is so new that the healing from it is also new. First of all, I think recovery is not the right name for it. Coping is what it really is. It is like learning to live with losing an arm – you learn to cope without that arm. I have learned some things that have really helped me cope. So I want to share them. My own journey through betrayal trauma becomes significant when I can turn around and share what I have learned with others who struggle to cope with their own lives. Suffering becomes meaningful when you can use it to help others. It helps me to feel like I didn’t suffer through this for nothing. So join me on my journey to of healing, of coping, of finding
my our new normal…
Be Sweet, Stay Strong!
The Cupcake Warrior