The emotional pain caused by betrayal feels like a knife digging into your heart a thousand times. The sting of betrayal can leave an indelible mark on your soul that forever colors how you approach future relationships, crippling your ability to trust again and fully embrace someone new. Recovery is often a long and arduous process.
“Betrayal is anything that left you feeling betrayed, hurt, angry, and distrusting, with lingering aftereffects of painful memories … You do not have to justify your hurt or fit it into any kind of category … All that matters is that it hurt you, and you deserve to focus your enormous emotional resources on the difficult task of healing, recovery, and growth,” said Steven Stosny, PhD in Living and Loving after Betrayal.
However, with time, you can learn to let your guard down and enjoy a loving relationship again. Here are tips for bouncing back from betrayal.
1. Get a handle on your emotions
Learning that someone close to you has been dishonest will likely cause several emotions to rise within you and form a tangled mess that becomes hard to unravel. Before you can move forward, you’ll need to find a way to process these feelings. You can do this by talking to a trusted friend or therapist. Take time to work through the emotional flood of shock, sadness, and anger. Realize that the betrayal is a gift in disguise, revealing your betrayer’s true intentions.
“We need to grasp the gift in betrayal in order to experience it. We must grasp it intellectually — understand it, make sense of it, and learn from it. And we must do so physically — seize it, step into it, and make it our story,” said Dr. Eve A. Wood in The Gift of Betrayal.
2. Learn to forgive
Although it hurts, you’ll need to learn to forgive your betrayer so that you can enjoy your life again. Holding on to grudges will only serve to pull you back into the past and cause you to relive the betrayal. One key to getting on with your life is bringing yourself to the point where you can truly forgive. A lack of forgiveness can quickly turn into resentment and rob you of joy.
“Few among us can tolerate a long roller-coaster ride of intense anger, depression, intense anger, depression, and so on. We tend to cut off the peaks and valleys by staying a little resentful all the time. Low-grade resentment keeps us from getting very angry and very depressed … [but] chronic resentment gobbles up the emotional energy that would normally go into interest and enjoyment,” said Stosny.
3. Don’t blame yourself
Don’t be hard on yourself about the breakdown of your relationship. Remember that you deserve to be treated with respect and care. Release yourself from feelings of blame and guilt.
“Unresolved guilt can cause anger and resentment, not only at ourselves, but also toward others in order to justify our actions. For example, a passive-aggressive person feels goo guilty to be direct and say ‘no.’ Resentment builds up that is expressed through our behavior. Anger, resentment, and guilt sap our energy, cause depression and illness, and stop us from having success, pleasure, and fulfilling relationships,” Darlene Lancer said in Freedom from Guilt and Blame.
4. Practice self-care
If that means getting a massage or spending extra time at the gym, do it. Spend time and money on yourself so that you can heal. Self-care is of the utmost importance at this time.