Thursday, August 30, 2018

Institutional Abuse: Why Apologies Are Not Enough

*This post contains sensitive material appropriate for mature readers.

In light of the recent revelations of pandemic sexual abuse and assault within prominent faith-based organizations and their ensuing cover-ups, it is important to remind ourselves that apologies to the victims are not enough. Although this post focuses on examples from within our military, the consequences endured and the steps for moving forward are applicable for victims from any form of institutional abuse. 

Over the past several years, we are hearing more and more about assault and abuse cases within professional organizations, as well as social, political, educational, and spiritual institutions where the culture of bullying and of extreme cases of abusive conduct and sexual assault have not only been cultivated and condoned, but they have been concealed by the very leaders and/or members who serve within them.

It is within these Environments of Betrayal, that victims are frequently blamed for the aggressive acts imposed upon them, they are seen as being 'less than or cowardly' for not being able to endure the culture of violence, and their personal and professional lives are in jeopardy for speaking out against the very organizations or  institutions that have perpetuated these normative abusive behaviors.

In recent years, our attention has been drawn to high-profile bullying cases within professional sports organizations and educational systems as well as to horrific abuse cases within our spiritual and university  institutions.  More recently, we are being made aware of the wave of sexual assault, abuse, and rape that is sweeping through our military ranks.Within these Environments of Betrayal, it is a wonder that many victims find if difficult - if not almost impossible - to heal and to move forward with their lives.

The Invisible War
The documentary, The Invisible War, depicts and details the narratives of numerous military service women and men (representing thousands) who have been attacked and traumatized by fellow military members and/or their superior officers. And within the culture of their military organizations, these brave service members' injuries and injustices are magnified by multiple betrayals imposed upon them by the very institutions in which they have served and have risked their lives.

In 2009, after I spent a great deal of time analyzing, researching, and studying the anatomy of betrayal, my findings were published in a recovery book entitled Breaking Through Betrayal 2nd EditionAs with much of work that I do in clinical psychology, it was critical that I give readers two key concepts when recovering from a betrayal - of any kind:

 First, understanding what they are feeling and why.
 Secondly, how to move forward - step by step.

For the purposes of today's blog, it is my intention to share a couple of key principles about betrayal and how they relate to the victims' degree of injury and impact. There is more information on today's show on W4CY Radio -  Environments of Betrayal: What Victims Need To Know And Do. I hope you will take a listen.

So often former clients would say to me, "Holli, I don't know why I feel so betrayed? I thought I was getting past this, but I can't seem to move on."  Or, "Holli, I was doing fine, and then....something happened and I feel re-betrayed all over again. What's wrong with me?"  This is completely understandable. Let me explain.

The first key to understanding is the following:

1.  We feel betrayed because we have invested greatly into someone or something, or we have trusted profoundly into someone or something, or we have believed strongly in someone or something. When that investment is rejected, when that trust has been violated, and/or when that belief has been shattered, we feel betrayed.

And, the degree of our investment, trust, or belief is a predictor of our degree of injury or impact. 

Watching the documentary The Invisible War, it is clear that the women and men who shared their stories were extremely passionate about their careers in the military. Several came from military backgrounds where family members had served for years. Most felt the calling to serve and joined with enthusiasm, dedication, and pride.And thus, because of their unwavering commitment to their profession, to their fellow service members, and to their chosen military branch, the victims' degree of injury - physically, psychologically, and emotionally - from their betrayals is deeply embedded and ingrained within the core. It is to be expected that their inner beings are breaking, their foundations are faltering, and their spirits are suffocating.

The second important principle of betrayal is the following:

2. We feel betrayed or continue to feel betrayed because often we are exposed to our betrayer or our betrayal environments, or we are triggered by events/memories/symptoms from our betrayal experience. In other words, if we experience chronic (or on-going) betrayal, or recurrent (or episodic) betrayal, or multiple betrayals, or the manifestations of PTSD from any trauma, we will continue to feel violated.

Remember, the degree of exposure to our betrayer and/or our betrayal environment is a predictor to the degree of injury or impact.

In The Invisible War, a brave young woman named Kori described her horrific betrayal.  She was assaulted by a fellow service member while she was serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. Not only was Kori's face injured during the attack but she was brutally raped.  Along with suffering the manifestations of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Kori - today - is in constant pain from disk and bone damage done to her face during the attack. Not only must Kori live with these chronic reminders and triggers of her assault, but she is still fighting the VA which continues to decline her medical claims. Her ongoing and multiple betrayals make it even more challenging to move forward and to recover.  However, it is possible...

With understanding these two principles about the anatomy of betrayal - how it works - I hope that readers will experience an initial level of healing. Because although the betrayers and the environments in which they cultivate their abusive cultures would like you to believe that you just need to 'toughen up' or 'be woman or a man enough to endure it' or that by 'voicing your betrayal you have turned against them', I want you to know that you have one powerful tool right within you - your truth.

  • You know your degree of investment, belief and trust....that is your truth.
  • You know your degree of exposure to your betrayer and/or your betrayal environment....that is your truth.
  • And, you know the degree of impact that the violation of each has had on you....that, too, is your truth.   

 No one can take that from you....
Now, it is your time to honor your truth and use it as you move forward.

For a step by step process for recovery from any kind of betrayal, consider...Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace Within 2nd Edition

For today's show Environments of Betrayal: What Victims Need To Know And Do

For our women and men who have bravely served in the military (or who are currently serving),  please go to Protect Our Defenders for support and healing.

Remember, although we each need to to our own work, we don't have to do it alone.
For more healing resources, please visit Holli Kenley
New Release & Amazon Best Seller
 Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness
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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Detached and Depressed: Rediscovering Meaningful Connection

Depression. It pops up in the news, especially when we lose celebrities like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. For a few days or a few weeks, there will be caring and compassionate conversation around their losses and the causal factors surrounding their suicides. News anchors, reporters, and experts are disclosing explanations around mental illness, past and present struggles with addiction, and various relational, financial, professional and personal life stress factors.  All of these are important. They should not be minimized. At the same time, as statistics illustrate a dramatic increase in depression and suicide rates since 1999, it is also important to consider environmental and social influences.

With our reliance and dependence upon electronic devices dramatically increasing for communication, entertainment, and social interaction, are we becoming more disengaged from one another - more detached from human connection - and thus more isolated and depressed?

Many experts say YES.

In Irresistible:The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked (2018), professor and researcher Dr. Adam Alter describes one of the consequences of increasing usage of mobile devices: "Up to 59 percent of people say they're dependent on social media sites and that their reliance on these sites makes them uphappy. Of that group, at least half say they need to check their sites at least once an hour. After an hour, they are anxious, agitated, and incapable of concentrating." Just recently,  well-known TV producer Simon Cowell , reported that after giving up his Smart Phone for 10 months, "It absolutely made me happier," and he was able to concentrate more fully.

Because of his strong ethical compass and his dedication to discovering healthier ways to interact in this digital age, former Google product philosopher Tristan Harris founded two organizations: Time Well Spent and the Center For Humane Technology. In Harris' words, with Time Well Spent, "We want technology that cares about helping us spend our time and our lives well - not seducing us into the most screen time, always-on interruptions and distractions." And in joining with Common Sense Media , the mission for  The Center For Humane Technology's is "To reverse the digital attention crisis and realign technology with humanities best interest." With both organizations, the goal is to help us all rediscover the health benefits of meaningful in-person interaction and human connection.

In Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy - And Completely Unprepared for Adulthood (2017), psychologist and researcher Dr. Jean Twenge reports: "Teens who spend more time on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy; and those who spend more time on non-screen activities are more likely to be happy.  There's not a single exception: all screens are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness" (page 77-78). In outlining the results of one of many studies (page 82-83), Dr. Twenge states: "...the link between screen time and mental health issues is distressingly clear: teens who spend more than three hours a day on electronic devices are 35% more like to have at least one suicide risk factor." Although Dr. Twenge is quick to recognize the benefits of teens feeling connected to one another even when they are apart, she has also uncovered that indirect connection "...doesn't assuage their loneliness; in fact, they are lonelier than they were just five years ago. A stunning 31% more 8th and 10th graders felt lonely than in 2011, along with 22% more 12th graders. Teens are now lonelier [more isolated] than at any time since the survey began in 1991" (page 97). 

Thus, it is not surprising that in February 2018,  the American Academy of Pediatrics announced new guidelines to screen children for depression: pediatricians are to screen all children 12 years and older for depression. In a recent article by Melanie Michael , "It turns out, teenagers are on the front lines when it comes to battling mental illness. According to experts, one in five teens is clinically depressed. In addition, two out of three teenagers with depression go undiagnosed."

On their website, Healthy Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics explains why overuse of digital media and screens may place your child or teen at risk of the following:
  • Obesity
  • Sleep problems
  • Problematic Internet use: Internet gaming disorder and increased risk for depression at both high and low ends of Internet use.
  • Negative effect on school performance
  • Risky behaviors
  • Sexting and privacy and predators
  • Cyber bullying 
The AAP outlines their recommendations for usage (from birth - teen years) and provides families with am amazing tool for creating healthy guidelines and balance in their media usage - Family Media Plan

In the past dozen years that I have been researching, writing, and speaking about cyber bullying and screen dependence, every expert agrees that although we cannot ban technology from our lives, we can learn to balance it.  However, it is not enough to reduce screen time. We must learn to replace our screen time with face-to-face interaction and activities which promote a sense of acceptance, belonging, and empathic connection. We cannot know if our children, family, loved ones, friends, or colleagues are hurting when we are so consumed with our phones that we do not "see" the other person. We must be willing to put down our phones long enough to look deeply into their eyes, converse with them, listen to them, and be available for them. Their lives may depend on it.

I leave you with a beautiful video which illustrates how individuals are starved for meaningful connection and how easy it is to rediscover it.

For parents, guardians, and for those entrusted with the care of our children, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Power Down & Parent Up: Cyber Bullying, Screen Dependence & Raising Tech-Healthy Children.

And take a listen to a powerful podcast on Insights Into Education  where we discuss screen dependence, its effects, and how to create and sustain healthy change in our digital lives - Screen Kids: An Audio Series!

We can do this.  Let's start today. 
Let's start now, rediscovering meaningful connection.

We can't change what we don't acknowledge. And we certainly can't change what we don't know.  I and others care about your children. I and others are here to help.  Parents and Teens: Are We Addicted To Our Screens?

For more resources, please visit Holli Kenley
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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

An Author's Tale From Bonehead English To Audiobook Beauty!

I always liked to write. But, I never considered myself a writer. I was a musician - first a pianist and then a flutist. From fifth grade on, my flute became my companion. I worked hard in my academics, but my flute was my future. I was going to play professionally, someday.

As I entered college, I was eager to advance my musical talents and feeling quite confident about my academic abilities. However, because I had scored quite low on my SAT's, I was required to take Bonehead English. I was actually quite embarrassed by this labeling of intellectual deficiency and a little confused. After all, I had really good English grades in high school.

I struggled through the class along with other students. The professor seemed to derive pleasure out of highlighting our inadequacies and shaming us further for falling below the University of California standards. I passed the class, but learned very little, if anything. I finished the next four years of college feeling quite academically disadvantaged, especially in English. My prowess on my flute assuaged my insecurities; however, not being able to write well made other classes more challenging.

As the ironies of life unfolded, after graduating with a Bachelors in French and music, I returned to school and obtained a K-9 teaching credential. My first teaching job? A fifth/sixth grade combination class teaching English, mostly writing. Ugh!  And, because of the way sixth grade was configured, I taught English to ALL sixth graders - all 100 of them!

After teaching sixth grade English for three years, I moved to middle school. I was hired to take over a position from a teacher who had experienced a nervous breakdown. Yikes! The position - 8th grade Gifted and Talented English and History! With three double periods a day, I once again taught between 100-120 students. I taught grammar and punctuation, and I was required to teach the four domains of essays: personal narrative, persuasive, problem / solution, and expository. Over the next seven years,  I corrected thousands and thousands of papers! Over the next seven years, I taught my students how to write. During those seven years, I learned from them as well.

In my twelfth year of teaching, the laws regarding credentials changed. If I wanted to continue teaching English at the secondary level, I was required to return to a school of education and obtain a Secondary Supplementary Credential in English.  I did just that. The first class I took - Expository Writing! Ugh!!  Professor Stevens was strict and scary. The tall imposing gruff teacher informed us the first night of class, "One third of you won't be here after the first mid-term. Another third of you won't pass the class." I was shaking in my boots. But, I was determined to not only pass the class, but this was going to be my opportunity to learn how to write!

I've never worked so hard for a class in my life. Professor Stevens made us write, and rewrite, and rewrite our papers. He placed us in groups and we edited each other's papers, learning from our individual weaknesses and strengths. I came in after class for tutoring. I reworked my essays. He marked them up.  I rewrote them.  He marked them up, less. At times, I cried (at home). But, Professor Stevens wouldn't settle for anything but exceptional. And, neither would I. I kept on. I learned.  I passed the class.  I earned an A-. After taking an English Language class (grammar) from a fairly good teacher,  I signed up for Analysis of Poetry from Professor Stevens. I knew I was going to learn from him.  I will never forget him. At age 38, I finally felt I was a "writer."

A few years later, I authored my first book, The PMS Puzzle (1993, Joy Publishing). Shortly after its publication, I entered Graduate School to obtain a Masters in Psychology. Because I knew how to write and I felt confident in my writing, I not only enjoyed school, but I eagerly embraced the plethora of essays, research papers, midterms, and final exams. I graduated with High Honors.

After earning my license as a Marriage and Family Therapist and practicing for over a dozen years, I authored my second book  Breaking Through Betrayal:And Recovering The Peace Within. Based on original research, it took me over a year to write this comprehensive recovery book. I did my homework, researching publishing companies which would be a good fit  for my genre and who were accepting unsolicited submissions. After several months, Loving Healing Press, Inc. accepted my manuscript, and Breaking Through Betrayal made her debut at the end of 2009.

Over the past nine years, I have authored seven more books (all published with Loving Healing Press, Inc.). I know there are millions of writers out there who are much more gifted than I am. I don't compare myself to others. I do what I am called to do. I write because I am driven to bring healing and hope to others. At the same time, I never stop honing my skills.

My most recent book, Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness, is the most professionally challenging but personally rewarding book I've written. It took two years of research and writing to complete the first rough draft. It took another six months to get to a final draft. A printed edition and a Kindle  edition were released February 14, 2018. An Audiobook was released May 2, 2018. It has been an Amazon #1 New Release in Recovery for several weeks.

Last week, my husband and I traveled to California and then back to Arizona. Driving to and from, we listened to the Daughters Audiobook. As I soaked in every beautiful interpretation by recording artist  Kristine Bowen, I couldn't help but return to that classroom of a lifetime ago - Bonehead English - and recall my feelings of embarrassment and inferiority.

However, I didn't stay there long. Hearing my words on Audiobook, I chose instead to focus on my purposeful journey, and on each and every path that prepared me for where I am today. 

The lesson I leave with you is not to allow "set backs" to set you back. Take stock of what you are supposed to learn from it. And then, do learn from it. Not every situation will benefit you in the ways you want, but how you approach the challenge and your commitment to seeing it through will advance your repertoire of skills. Don't give up or give in. Stay the course. Remain open. And then, prepare yourself for something far greater than you ever imagined!

Oh, and by the way, where is  my musical companion - my flute?  She is close by, bearing witness to the years and years of practice required to deliver a polished performance!

Please stop by for a visit Author Holli Kenley

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Betrayed? Why Do I Have To Make It Right? The Betrayal Whisperer Is Here To Help!

We are discussing Betrayal. In week one, we covered Feeling Stuck From Betrayal Injury?; in week two, we dug into the meat of  betrayal discussing Why Is Betrayal Injury So Painful? ; and in week three we uncovered three important principles in our discussion of How Long Will I Hurt From Betrayal?  If you have not already done so, please read those posts and then join us here as we discuss Why Do I Have To Make It Right? The Betrayal Whisperer is here to help!

If today's topic is sounding familiar, it is because we briefly discussed it in week one -
Trap #1: Waiting for someone or something else to  make it right.

Let's review why this thinking is a trap.

This is the biggest trap that victims of betrayal fall into and it is a completely natural feeling to have. Although this is not the case for everyone, most individuals wait for the betrayer to come to his/her senses, to apologize, or to make amends or restitution. Other victims of betrayal may wait for relatives, friends, or connections of the betrayer to side with them and to convince the betrayer of his/her wrongdoing.

Freeing yourself from this trap means doing the hard work of righting yourself.
The consequences of not doing so include the following: 
  • Waiting for the betrayer puts our healing on hold. 
  • Waiting for the betrayer will not heal the hole in our heart.
  • If we do ask the betrayer for what we need or want, it often invites additional re-injury, rejection, or dismissal.
  • If we do get what we asked for from our betrayer, what work have we done or what growth and healing came from the quick fix?
  •  Lastly, if we settle for less than we deserve or need or what is healthy, what messages does that send to others about us and our worth? How do we feel about our worth?
Part of getting through and beyond betrayal injury is taking back our power to make choices; to determine our time-lines for recovering, and to make our lives the way we want them to be. Tethering ourselves to the uncertainty or the unhealthiness of others will not allow us to move forward. We must choose to right ourselves. *

One of the most beautiful discoveries from the Daughters' narratives in Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness  is that each daughter made the deliberate and intentional choice to right herself.  Each daughter did not wait for her mother to fix it, to make it better, to change, or to apologize.  Each and every daughter did the hard work of breaking through her betrayals, embracing diverse and long-term recovering programs, and each came to a place of peace and acceptance - first with herself, and then with her mother. And then, each daughter redefined herself and her life, taking back her power and determining what her relationship with her mother would be (or not be) by implementing strong healthy boundaries which would sustain her well-being.

This is important.

If the Daughters had waited for their mothers to make it better - to make it right - 
the Daughters would still be waiting. 

Read that again.

If the Daughters had waited for their mothers to make it better - to make it right -
the Daughters would still be waiting.

This is your challenge right now - righting yourself. If your mind is saying, "But he did...but she needs to....but they owe...". say it one last time and stop. It has not gotten you anywhere and it won't. It has not changed anything and it won't.*

Sadly, you won't get better.  You will stay broken. 

On the other hand, being willing to right ourselves gives us the freedom to reclaim and redirect our course in life. It gives us the opportunity to grow while doing so.

Although this concludes our series on Betrayal and Recovering, there is more help and healing available. Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace Within 2nd Edition is a compassionate guide and comprehensive self-help book designed for recovery from any kind of betrayal injury.

Wellness awaits us. It is ours for the choosing. Choose today. Choose now. 

*Excerpts from Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace Within 2nd Edition,           "Chapter 7 Recovering Part One: Right Yourself" are meant to encourage you on your recovering journey.

Regardless of the type of betrayal injury, consider picking up a copy of Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness.

Their stories of the power of choice, perseverance, and resilience
 will inspire you and empower you.  

You are not alone in your pain. 
Others know it.  Others recovered.  You can too. 

#1 New Release in Recovery on Amazon Audiobook!

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

How Long Will I Hurt From Betrayal? The Betrayal Whisperer Is Here To Help!

We are discussing Betrayal. In week one, we covered Feeling Stuck From Betrayal Injury? and in week two, we dug into the meat of  betrayal discussing Why Is Betrayal Injury So Painful?  If you have not already done so, please read those posts and then join us here as we discover How Long With I Hurt From Betrayal? The Betrayal Whisperer is here to help!

Before we dissect the anatomy of betrayal to understand how some individuals are able to recover from betrayal injury in a relatively shorter period of time while others carry their wounds with them for months and even years, it's important to remember two factors:

First, as we discussed in week one, many folks get stuck in the traps of  betrayal extending their stay in the pain-field. 

Secondly, each individual's betrayal injury in conjunction with surrounding circumstances and  his/her unique personality; ego strength; underlying disorders, illnesses, or vulnerabilities; and access to support systems and resources play a significant role into any victim's severity of symptoms and duration of manifestations. 

Thus, it is important not to compare one person's situation to another person's.
  In doing so, we tend to beat ourselves up for not being able to move through the betrayal as quickly as someone else, adding layers of shame and self-blame onto our wounded souls.

Let's get started - How Long Will I Hurt From Betrayal? Three Principles 

Principle #1 - Degree of investment, trust, or belief. *

The first principle is common sense.

The degree of investment, trust, or belief we place into someone or something
 is directly proportional to the degree of injury from betrayal.

Let's read that again.

The degree of investment, trust, or belief we place into someone or something
 is directly proportional to the degree of injury from betrayal.

As we think about the word degree, it is important to acknowledge its many connotations:

1. Length of time
2. How much we gave of ourselves, and/or what taken from us (trust, beliefs, truths)
3. What was lost: personal, relational, material, financial, spiritual, professional, or inner-personal (innocence, privacy, identity, reputation, etc.)

In other words, the longer we have invested into someone or something which was met with rejection or abandonment, the level of trust we have developed for someone or something which was violated, or the depth of our belief in someone or something which was shattered along with all the various accompanying losses are predictors of how deeply we will experience betrayal injury.

A good example of this principle is with children. Innately, children trust and believe their parents/guardians will protect and provide for them in the ways we associate with healthy parenting. When parents/guardians are unable, unwilling, and/or incapable of showing up for their children in healthy ways, and when children continue to reinvest into their parents hoping and believing things might change, their degree of injury from betrayal is deeply internalized and deeply destructive.

When interviewing daughters for Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness, all of the daughters wanted to believe that their mothers loved them. However, either their mothers did not nurture them, provide unconditional love, protect or keep them safe, or in some cases did not provide for their basic needs of belonging, acceptance, or food and shelter. Over the years, many of the daughters tried to earn their mothers love in different ways, only to experience further rejection and distrust, adding layers upon layers of injury to their brokenness.

Principle #2 - Degree of  betrayal occurrence is a reliable predictor to the degree of injury*

This is a tricky principle to discuss. It can be misunderstood. Let's take a look at it.

The degree of  betrayal occurrence  is a reliable predictor to the degree of injury.

Once again.

The degree of  betrayal occurrence is a  reliable predictor to the degree of injury.

In breaking down degree of occurrence, it too has several connotations:

1. Acute or short term
2. Chronic or ongoing
3. Recurrent or episodic
4. Multiple betrayals

If a betrayal is a short term or one time occurrence, it is possible that recovery may take less time and may be less painful.  The explanations for this include the following: there has not been much of an investment; there was not a large degree of trust developed; or there wasn't a deep belief in or attachment to the person or thing.

On the other hand, acute or short term betrayal can be horrific. An employee is assaulted or harassed. A partner or spouse is attacked, beaten, or raped.  A family member is belittled or berated by another family member. These abusive acts may have been short term in nature, but their degree of severity with their ensuing injuries are reliable indicators of the level and span of pain incurred.

One of the most significant findings in Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers was that all the daughters experienced chronic or ongoing betrayals.  For a few of the daughters, there were short reprieves from the betrayals, but often unhealthy family members sided with their betrayers - their mothers. The daughters' chronic betrayals were internalized in their life messages such as:

I am not enough.
I am not lovable.
I do not matter.
I do not feel important. 
I do not feel valuable.
I felt invisible.

When the betrayals are ongoing (chronic), recurrent or episodic, or if there are multiple betrayals (by other family members and/or those who support the betrayer), the degree of injury can be horrific and it requires a strong commitment to ongoing recovery work.

Principle #3 - Degree of exposure to the betrayer or to the betrayal environment is a reliable predictor the degree of injury*

Principle #3 is extremely important when it comes to understanding why some individuals are not able to move through their betrayal injury and/or continue to experience further betrayals.

The degree of exposure to the betrayer or the betrayal environment 
is a predictor to the degree of injury.

Let's read it again.

The degree of exposure to the betrayer or the betrayal environment
 is a predictor to the degree of injury.

Because betrayal injury falls into the categories associated with abuse, trauma, harassment, exploitation (an intimate assault on one's being or character or a profound violation of one's truth, belief, and trust), there is constant risk of re-injury and the triggering of health related symptoms. When victims are exposed to the betrayer or betrayal environment, many report the presence of symptoms associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, and panic attacks. Some individuals report depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

For victims who willingly or unwillingly stay in relationship or in contact with the betrayer or who remain in the betrayal environment, it is far more difficult to move through the 3 States of Being: confusion, worthlessness, and powerlessness and to sustain healthy ways of being. It is not impossible; however, it requires tremendous commitment towards one's recovery work as well as a myriad of support systems in place.

In the Daughters' study, all of the daughters moved away or chose to remove themselves from their mothers and their betrayal environments as their circumstances permitted. Most were able to do so after finishing high school. Although the daughters faced years of recovering work, their decisions to distance themselves from their betrayers provided them with the necessary conditions to begin Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness.  

For individuals who have been able to distance themselves from their betrayers and their betrayal environments, their recovery is still hard work.  However, without the constant threat of further injury and with the ability to create a safe space for healing work to take place, victims are not only able to tend to their wounds, but they learn how to set boundaries and implement a myriad of supportive structures.

In closing, by understanding  the principles of  degree of  investment, degree of occurrence, and degree of exposure, we can move forward knowing that there are sound reasons why some individuals heal from their betrayals - perhaps not more easily - but more quickly than others. And, we can give ourselves permission to take the time we need to move through ours given our unique circumstances.

What is not negotiable, is to keep moving, recovering one step at a time. 
One day at a time. 
If needed, one breath at a time.

* Principles of degree of investment, trust, and belief; degree of occurrence; and degree of exposure are excerpts from Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace Within 2nd Edition.  Please consider picking up a copy and breaking through your betrayals. You deserve to recover the peace within.

For additional healing from maternal betrayal or any kind of parental betrayal, consider picking up a copy of   Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness.                                             . 

It is a #1 New Release in Recovery on Amazon: Audio, Kindle, and Paperback!

Audio book is currently #1 New Release in Recovery:
ACOA  - Relationships - Parenting  - Codependency - Health & Wellness

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Next Time: Why Do I Have To Make It Right?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Why Is Betrayal Injury So Painful? The Betrayal Whisperer Is Here To Help!

We are discussing Betrayal.  In Week One, we discussed "Feeling Stuck in Betrayal? The Betrayal Whisperer Is Here To Help!! Please read Betrayal Week One and then join us in our discussion here.

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? The Betrayal Whisperer is here again to help!

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:
  • Why? 
  • How could this happen?
  • I don't understand.
  • This just doesn't make sense!
  • How could he/she/they do this?
In the State of Confusion, we desperately try to make sense out of something which does not make sense. We can't find any answers. We are not able to reason or rationalize the behaviors of others. And, we feel lost in the chaos of confusion. Because our lives have been turned upside down and we aren't able to make any sense of out the destruction which has taken place or continues to take place, we experience a number of debilitating emotions and symptoms including:
  • Depression
  • 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
There is no specific time period or length of stay in the State of Confusion. Each person's betrayal experience combined with other forces relating to the betrayal injury along with an individual's support systems and recovering tools all factor into its longevity. However, shortly after a person experiences the State of Confusion, she will enter into the State of Worthlessness.

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.
Thus, when our role, identity, and purpose have been stripped away, we don't know who we are. Our beliefs have been shattered, our truths have become lies, and our trust has been profoundly violated. In this weakened place, we experience either onset or exacerbation of painful emotions and serious manifestations including:
  • 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
When we enter into the State of Worthlessness, our defense mechanisms kick into high gear as an attempt to mitigate our pain. Not only do we find comfort in our denial, but often we hold ourselves responsible for the betrayer's actions. We find ourselves saying things like, "If only I had. I  should have done....  If I could, I would have...Maybe if I, perhaps he will...."  We may even reach out to the betrayer, trying to convince him/her/them of our worth. Many times, this invites additional betrayal injury and lengthens our stay in the State of Worthlessness.  Depending on each person's unique circumstances, as individuals begin to climb out of the well of worthlessness, they enter into the State of Powerlessness.

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 
Being thrown into the prison wall of powerlessness is crazy-making.  And, it is during this time that rational, reasonable, and right-thinking individuals find themselves in a desperate place. As is the case for the State of Confusion and the State of Worthlessness, our natural instinct is to want the betrayer, or someone or something else to make it right, to fix it, and to ease our pain. Do we deserve that? Yes, we do. But, in most cases that is never going to happen.  And even it it does, having someone else try to repair the damage will rob us of the opportunity to do the recovering we need to do and heal the deep hole in our heart.

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.

*Stages of Grief - Kubler-Ross, E. & Kessler, D. (2005) On grief and grieving: Finding meaning of grief through the five stages of loss. New York: Scribner.

*State of Being - Kenley, Holli (2016). Breaking though betrayal: And recovering the peace within. Ann Arbor, MI: Loving Healing Press, Inc.

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?

Next time: How Long Will I Hurt From Betrayal?  The Betrayal Whisperer Is Here To Help!

* States of Being - Adapted from Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace Within 2nd Edition

* Stages of Grief - Adapted from On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Feeling Stuck From Betrayal Injury? The Betrayal Whisperer Is Here To Help!

It is so easy to feel stuck in betrayal. Why? The very nature of betrayal tells us that you didn't do anything wrong.  Someone else or something else wronged you!  Therefore, someone or something else needs to fix it or make it right! Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is a trap and it will keep you stuck.  In order to start freeing yourself from betrayal, it is important to know the traps and how they are impacting you.

Let's get started.  Feeling Stuck From Betrayal Injury?The Betrayal Whisperer Is Here To Help!

Five Common Traps!

Trap #1: Waiting for someone or something else to fix it or make it right.

This is the biggest trap that victims of betrayal fall into.  As already mentioned, this is a completely natural feeling to have. Although this is not the case for everyone, most individuals wait for the betrayer to come to his/her senses, to apologize, or to make amends or restitution. Other victims of betrayal may wait for relatives, friends, or connections of the betrayer to side with them and to convince the betrayer of  his/her wrongdoing. Freeing yourself from this trap means doing the hard work of righting yourself.

Consequence: Waiting for the betrayer puts your healing on hold. Waiting for the betrayer will not heal the hole in your heart.

Trap #2:  Gauging your wellness on what the betrayer does or does not do. 

This is another very common trap, especially when the betrayer is someone very important to you. It is prudent to observe the behaviors of the betrayer and gather information as to what his/her intentions  or motives may be in moving forward; however, it is also important to remember that the betrayer did not put your feelings or needs first and may not do so moving forward. The betrayer has much to account for and much work to do as well.

Consequence: Gauging your wellness on what the betrayer does or does not do keeps you and your healing tethered to the betrayer. In other words, you are holding your healing hostage to the betrayer.

Trap #3:  Victims to do not give themselves enough time tending to their own healing before making life-changing decisions. 

Because of the emotional destruction and damaging fallout associated with betrayal injury, it is only natural for individuals to make life-changing decisions in an attempt to mitigate their pain. At times this is necessary when victims must comply with court decisions, legal matters, or they are forced into the decisions by actions of the betrayer, etc. However, it is usually best to wait on making critical decisions until there has been ample opportunity for healing to take hold and for a strong support system to be in place.

Consequence: When individuals are  navigating from a deeply injured mindset, they tend to make decisions which they regret and often times their decisions invite additional re-injury from the betrayer. 

Trap #4: Victims turn to or relapse into unhealthy behaviors to cope or to self-soothe.

The horrifically debilitating States of Being* which are hallmarks of betrayal injury - confusion, worthlessness, and powerlessness - accompanied with  symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and hypersomnia, hopelessness,  etc. are often intolerable. Victims of betrayal are feeling extremely vulnerable and fearful; many feel their lives are spinning "out of control." It is a frightening place to be and turning to or relapsing into unhealthy behaviors to cope or self-soothe appears to be the only solution or at the very least, an escape from chronic pain.

Consequence: Turning to or relapsing into unhealthy behaviors further injures victims and sabotages opportunities for healing to begin. This also may serve to provide the betrayer  with information which could bring additional harm to and consequences for victims.

Trap #5: Victims don't recognize or feel the need to do their own healing. 

The first four traps are all connected to Trap #5.  When individuals are betrayed, we typically hear statements such as:
  • Just give it time.  You'll learn to trust again.
  • You need to forgive and move on.
  • You guys will work it out.  You love each other. 
  • They are awful. You're better off being out of there.
Although there may some truth to such statements, they are also extremely damaging. When we are  betrayed, we are injured. And as with any injury, in order to be whole again - to be well again - we must do the hard work of healing the hole in our hearts and the emptiness in our souls. We must invest into ourselves first.  We must trust in ourselves first. We must believe in ourselves first. When we do....

The healing we experience - not the betrayal injury -  
will take hold and serve to guide us on our path ahead. 

Consequence: Victims who do not recognize or feel the need to do their own healing most often become bitter and resentful.  Their betrayal injury continues to define them.

Are you ready to start freeing yourself? 
You know the traps. Now, get ready to do some work.
Help is here and waiting for you. 

* States of Being - In order to heal from betrayal injury, it is important to understand what you are feeling and why. In Part One of  "Breaking Through Betrayal," learn about the three debilitating States of Being - Confusion,Worthlessness, and Powerlessness- and how to break through them! 

Learn how Daughters who were wounded by their  mothers chose wellness over victimhood.
 Read their powerful stories of doing the hard work of breaking through their betrayals,
 healing their wounds, and coming to a place of peace and acceptance -
 first with themselves and then, with their  mothers.

Next time:  Why Is Betrayal Injury So Painful?  The Betrayal Whisperer Is Here To Help!

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