Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blindsided by the Betrayal Bandit? Free Yourself From Four Painful Traps!

We have been exploring an all-to-common and painful topic- injury from betrayal. If you have not had a chance, please read our first three blogs in this series: Help Is On The WayWhat Is Behind The Mask? , and Feeling Confused, Worthless, and Powerless? I want you to know that you are not alone in what you are experiencing. And just as importantly, by understanding what you are feeling and why, you begin the journey of recovering. Today, we are going to tackle a challenging topic - Blindsided by the Betrayal Bandit? Free Yourself From Four Painful Traps! 

When we are betrayed, it is our instinct to search outside ourselves for answers, for truth, and for some measure of control over our lives. Sadly, doing so lengthens our stay in the pain-field.

Let's identify four traps which keep us stuck and learn how to move out of them.

#1 Trap: Victims wait for the betrayer or for someone else to make them feel better, fix it, or make it right.

Many years ago, I was working with a couple - Mary and John. John had several affairs early on during their 15 year marriage. Mary forgave him over and over, but when this couple came in to see me, John was having another affair which he would not break off. Although Mary loved John and wanted to stay with him, she felt completely worthless. Mary wanted John to stop seeing the other woman and commit to her and their marriage. But what Mary was not able to face was whether John decided to commit to her or not, John could not make her feel better. John could not give Mary back her worth.
Mary rebuilds her sense of worth.
This is the trap which so many individuals fall into - believing the betrayer can or will make it right for them, or believing sooner or later the betrayer will come to his/her senses and make things better again. Not only does this waste time, but it actually invites additional injury and significantly negates any chance of healing on the part of the individual being betrayed. As Mary and I worked together, she began to detach her sense of worth from John and to rebuild her value based on her own identity.Gaining in her confidence and self-respect, Mary could evaluate her situation more clearly and begin moving out of the debilitating trap she was in.

#2 Trap:Victims put their healing on hold or don't recognize they need to do any of their own healing.

At first, Trap #2 may sound like Trap #1, but it is different.  Whether or not someone is waiting for someone else to make it right or better for them, so often victims don't feel like they need to do any work on themselves. After all, they are the victims. The problem with this mindset is victims usually remain victims (telling and retelling their betrayal narratives for years to come) and in their weakened or vulnerable states victims often unintentionally invite additional re-injury from unhealthy individuals or from themselves. 

When victims don't work on their own healing,
 they get stuck in their blame, anger, and shame.

I remember a client - Josh - who had a very high-powered position in his community. After years of service and outstanding performance on the job, Josh was suddenly let go. Part of this was due to the economic down-turn but also because of political maneuverings within the organization. Josh was completely ambushed by his dismissal and it threw him into an emotional tailspin. Not only was he terribly confused and angered by the betrayal from his boss, but Josh fell into a deep depression. Out of desperation, Josh tried everything he could to get his job back including some highly irrational measures which back-fired on him even more! By the time Josh came in to see me, his life was in a mess.
Josh heals his own injuries.
As we started working together, Josh began to see that he was powerless to change the betrayer but he was not powerless to change himself. Josh continued to heal his own injuries - step by step - and over time he was able to regain his voice and his respect. From there, he continued to move forward and make healthier decisions for himself and his family.

#3 Trap: Victims measure their healing according to what the betrayer is doing or not doing.

One of the most difficult traps to watch anyone fall into is when a person measures or gauges his healing according to what the betrayer is doing or not doing.  It is like watching a see-saw, teetering back and forth...back and forth...constantly out of balance. 

Sadly, many times I see this with parents/guardians. Much of their worth is tied up into their children, They measure their success as parents based upon how their children have "turned out", what their kids  are doing for a living, and how their adult children are living their lives. I recall a quote from a parent from years ago which illustrates this unhealthy view of healing.

I am only as happy and healthy as my least happy and healthy child.

I'll never forget a couple I was working with - Pam and Bob. Their older child Jasmine, a daughter in her early 30's, was a drug addict for many years. They tried everything with her: rehabs, moving her from apartment to apartment, helped her get and change jobs, moved her home endless number of times, and so on. When Jasmine was doing well, Bob and Pam were doing well. When Jasmine was using, Bob and Pam were a mess. I know this is understandable, but it is also a horrifically painful trap. 
Pam and Bob separate their healing from their daughter's.
As Bob and Pam continued to work on their own betrayal injuries, they began separating themselves from their daughter's choices and consequences. They began investing into themselves and rebuilding their lives based on other important factors such as their highly successful son and their own careers! Although Pam and Bob remained saddened by Jasmine's struggles, they no longer tethered their healing to her. 

#4 Trap: Victims resort to unhealthy behaviors to cope or self-soothe in dealing with the pain of betrayal injury.

As individuals realize there is sometimes little or nothing they can do to change the betrayer or they have been tragically changed or controlled by their betrayal experience, they often resort to drugs, alcohol, or other unhealthy behaviors in order to cope. This is a time where folks are at great risk for relapse of all kinds. 

Of course, no substance or unhealthy behavior can mitigate injury from betrayal. And in fact, doing so masks the issues which must be dealt with, lengthening our stay in the pain-field. 

Embracing healthy support systems, relationships, and programs
 are vital in moving out of and away from this destructive trap. 

In closing, recovering from betrayal injury is hard work. Moving out of its traps requires us to turn our energies and our focus inward - and to "right ourselves". Having lived through many betrayals in my life, I chose time and time again to "reclaim my voice, reinstate my self-respect, and make healing choices based on renewed strength and spirit". I would not have wanted it  any other way. The rewards of doing my own work have served me well. I encourage you to do the same.

"Right Yourself"
Enter to win one of 10 copies!! May 1st - May 8th, 2016!!
Goodreads Giveaway - Breaking Through Betrayal 2nd Edition

For more encouragement, I invite you to listen to a conversation with Michael Neeley as we explore healing from betrayal injury  - Betrayal and Recovery.

YouTube - How To Heal From BETRAYAL!
Live Interview on AZ-TV Morning Scramble with Sandy Moss

For more on how to heal from betrayal, please get your copy of 

Be brave. Take this journey with me!
And for more healing tools, please visit Holli Kenley - Therapist, Author & Speaker
Please visit and "like" us Author Holli Kenley
Follow us on Twitter Holli Kenley

* Note - names of clients have been changed to protect anonymity.

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