None of us plans for a betrayal. Perhaps, if we could, it would be less painful because we would have the opportunity to prepare for it. However, that is part of the insidious nature of betrayal. It is completely unexpected, unimaginable, and undeserving. Thus, not only are we blindsided but we feel lost in its upheaval. What is going on? Why is betrayal injury so painful?
States of Being*
Many folks have heard of the "stages of grief." When we experience loss of any kind, we move through the stages of grief such as anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.* However, when we are betrayed, we move through three States of Being.* These three States of Being describe not only what we are feeling and experiencing but also define who we are. They are extremely debilitating.
In order to understand why betrayal injury is so painful, let's explore the three States of Being.
State of Being One - State of Confusion
When a betrayal occurs, the first few thoughts and words which immediately surface include the following:
- How could this happen?
- I don't understand.
- This just doesn't make sense!
- How could he/she/they do this?
- Anxiety, anxiousness, or general sense of panic
- Sadness or moodiness
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Resorting to compulsive or excessive behaviors to cope
- Returning to or relapsing into unhealthy patterns thinking, behaving, or feeling
State of Being Two - State of Worthlessness
The State of Worthlessness is horrific because it injures us at our core. The State of Worthlessness robs us from what we had, redefines us from who we were, and relinquishes us to a lesser place than what we knew before. In this well of worthlessness, we come face to face with several new realizations.
- We are not as important or valuable as we believed.
- We are not as important or valuable as another person, place, thing, opportunity, need, or desire.
- We are not important or valuable at all.
- Depression, feelings of isolation and withdrawal
- Anxiety and anxiousness
- Physical ailments or disturbance of current illnesses
- Anger and bouts of rage
- Relapse into unhealthy patterns of behaving, thinking, and feeling
- Using unhealthy coping mechanisms
- Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- Thoughts of suicidality
- Extreme guilt, self-blame, self-doubt, and shame
State of Being Three - State of Powerlessness
The State of Powerlessness is both polarizing and paralyzing. One minute, we feel completed controlled and changed by our betrayer. And we feel powerless to change our circumstances. The next minute, we want to do everything and anything in our power to change or control our betrayer. We find ourselves volleying back and forth between extreme emotions of vulnerability and volatility. With these prison walls of powerlessness, we are filled with frightening emotions and often present with a myriad of serious symptoms including:
- Increased depression, anxiety, anxiousness, panic, anger, rage, fear,hopelessness, helplessness
- Extreme self-blame, self-hatred, resentment, bitterness, shame, guilt
- Complete loss of worth and esteem
- Increase in use of substances or other self-soothing behaviors
- Relapsing or returning to inappropriate or unhealthy behaviors to regain a sense of control or to release yourself from being controlled
- At risk of harming self and/or harming other
I encourage readers to pick up a copy of Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness. Their empowering stories demonstrate how they broke through their betrayals, healed their wounds, and came to a place of peace and acceptance - first with themselves and then with their mothers. If they had waited for their mothers to "make it right for them," they would still be waiting.
In closing, part of healing from any injury is understanding what we are feeling and why. Betrayal is no different. Gaining insight into your injury by becoming acquainted with the three States of Being, learning that what you are feeling and experiencing is completely expected and "normal," and knowing that you are not along in your suffering is a step in moving out of your pain-field.
The next step involves working through the the States of Being. This takes time and it will require a strong commitment on your part.
A comprehensive recovery process is outlined for you along with activities and exercises in Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace Within.
- Section I "Knowledge and Awareness: Chapter One - What is Betrayal? And Chapter Two - What am I Feeling and Why?
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Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness
* Stages of Grief - Adapted from On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross