When a person undergoes such a deep traumatic event that is the betrayal of a loved one's trust in such a circumstance as mine, there are two realizations that occur. These realizations came so quickly for me, and they destroyed me to a point where I couldn't feel anything in the moment. I simply felt dreadfully numb.
The first gut wrenching realization was the betrayal itself. I felt like I'd been cheated on. It changed my entire relationship with him including all the happy memories that we had shared in the past. It made me feel worthless and unlovable. It made me feel like it was all my fault, and if I would have just done one thing or another differently, I could have changed something. The betrayal itself cut like a knife, but the second realization cut even harder.
My second realization was that someone I loved and cared for deeply had been expertly lying to me for the entire length of our relationship, and possibly longer since we had been friends for so long. All at once I was with a stranger instead of the person I thought I knew so well. In an instant I could never trust those lying eyes ever again. In order to lie to somebody that you spend such large amounts of time with, it takes expertise thought and effort to hide such a big secret. So not only did he lie, but he planned carefully how to lie and get away with it. And not once did it ever cross his mind how much that would hurt me. That fact stung. It stung deep, and it stung hard. All I ever wanted in a relationship was honesty, and it quickly occurred to me that the only honesty I'd known at that point in time was fake.
Neither of these deep realizations felt real to me at first. I woke up every morning for quite some time thinking that maybe it was just a sick joke and tomorrow would be better and back to "normal." It seemed so unreal to me, and I didn't know how I was ever going to live my life without him, or without my "happy wedding" going through. Along with everything else I was feeling, I felt dreadful loneliness deeper than I've ever felt before, or that I've ever felt since.
These intense feelings lasted for quite some time, and there were days that I wondered if I had lost my mind, or my sanity... or both. Nothing seemed to make complete sense to me as I was forced to navigate functioning in this cold and distant reality while everyone else went on with their lives in the present. I felt stuck as I learned that navigating this form of trauma was something I had to take one day at a time.
The first signs of healing were the greatest blessing to me. The first signs of healing were like a massive weight being lifted off my shoulders by some Power beyond my own. That first taste of healing came in the form of less tears and a clearer mind. At one point I had finally lost the constant feeling of needing to scream all the time, and that elephant that was sitting on me finally left my presence. When that occurred the tightness in my throat and the constant nausea lifted and I felt incredibly thankful. The first bits of relief made me feel like I'd been delivered into a place where I could function in the present again, and I began to find myself and navigate my new skin. What I didn't know was that navigating my new skin would not be an easy task.
My new skin... I didn't even know I had shed an old skin. I just felt awkward and uncomfortable most of the time, and I didn't completely understand why. I felt vulnerable at that time, and as I learned to navigate my new skin that vulnerability beamed a little too brightly.
First, I found myself talking too much. Up until then I'd spent most of my life like a little mouse too afraid to say anything in fear of "rocking the boat," or "offending someone." Now, as if in one fell swoop, I couldn't get myself to stop speaking my mind. It's like I woke up one day and realized that I had intelligent things to say, and then I resolved to not let anything stop me from saying them. I felt like I had a story to tell, and I was going to tell anyone and everyone who was willing to listen. I rolled the events in my life over in my head a million times, and as a result of that I probably rolled those thoughts over to a half a dozen random people. Some of those people left deep hand-prints on my heart as they played an incredibly important role in my healing process simply because they were willing to listen. Some are now some of my closest friends, to which I'm thankful for that unique time in my life.
After this odd phase of grief, I went through what I felt at the time was a relapse. I spent many long nights crying myself to sleep, grieving over what I'd lost, and trying to keep silent about it because I didn't want to burden anyone with past pain that very much manifested itself in the present moment. I told myself it was past and I had no reason to be hurting this greatly now. I learned later that what I was experiencing was completely normal, and you don't just overcome trauma in a few months time.
Believe it or not, that phase of grief passed as well, and little by little I started to feel like myself again. I suppose that brings us to the here and now. It's been one year, and I feel like a completely different person. It's funny how pain increases your capacity to feel both the good and the bad...
I am now driven to tears so much easier than I used to be.
When others express their pain to me, I quite literally can feel their pain.
Fear is a constant companion of mine.
The thought of opening my heart up to someone again makes me feel sick and panicky.
I almost always feel suspicious of the people around me that I don't know.
The walls around my heart are stronger than ever and it's going to take a miracle to break them down.
I don't trust people. I just don't.
The problem with walls is that the resolve to have such a strong defense is lonely and isolating. But it's so much easier to resolve to never love again because if I stay on my own, I don't have to fear the cost of betrayal, or the cost of a broken heart. Such dilemmas as this are not things that I will even pretend to have figured out, because I have not. But... I do know that with the negative impact there have also been blessings...
I have discovered my strong will and determination to stand for what's right.
I now found the courage to speak my mind and the temperance to hold my tongue when necessary.
I have a new sense of resilience that rests in my heart at all times.
I have recognized that after such a deep wound to the heart comes the greater capacity to love those around me.
I have also identified the need that everybody has for compassion and the great ability I have to offer that love and compassion to those in my life who are going through difficult things.
I have gained a greater faith and hope in God's plan for me and for His eternal perspective of my life's purpose.
My trust in people my be slim to none, but my trust in God has increased ten fold and continues to sustain me through the pains that I still sometimes suffer from.
Betrayal trauma is real. It's long term effects are real. And the pain it causes is real. As a victim of betrayal trauma, you have every right to feel your pain at it's true capacity. And then once you've recognized the true capacity of that pain, it gives you the power to be able to shed it and then create something beautiful out of it.
I feel as though you've been writing about myself. I also had to end an engagement 2 years ago 3 weeks before the wedding was to happen, and I still feel sick to my stomach over it at times, and I've put up some crazy walls. It's hard to take those walls down and learn to trust, but it gets easier in time. Thank you for posting this. It's good to know I'm not alone in this as well. Thank you for sharing this. -Amanda
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and I wanted to give you a little bit of validation. I notice from the comments that you are getting a lot of trolls. Ignore them. I can't tell you how many couples and families I meet with that are affected very negatively by pornography use and the related subsequent deception. People will argue about whether or not porn use is good or bad (or gambling, or drugs, etc.), but the fact is that you were lied to by someone you were supposed to be able to trust completely. Problems like this in a marriage often take years of therapy to overcome. What you did was incredibly painful, but incredibly brave. Women deserve men who honor womanhood, not objectify it. I'm so sorry for your pain.
Hello, I would like to commend you on breaking off your engagement. I would not tolerate that either. I have met several men who had issues with that and won’t have a part in their delusions. It is degrading to women as they are treated as objects rather than a person. The bigger problem to me is women. If all women would just ban together and close their legs, cheating men would have a harder time. There will always be women for whatever reason will do this but perhaps it would just make it harder on them. Men get away with this behavior because they can. Women in a lot of ways are their own worst enemies. In reality, sex toys do a better job anyways and we as women know this, of course no man would want to hear this. Poronogrpahy is a sickness of the mind. It is a huge problem and is why a lot of younger guys become impotent at an early age cause it takes more and more excitement to get off and the everyday girlfriend/wife can no longer do it for them. I think pornography exists more for men than women but women are not exempt. Why can’t people just be normal, committed and faithful? I will never understand this. Isn’t there other things people can consume their time with than watching porn for those who do this? Porn is a lie. It breeds a sick society, that especially of men. I choose to exit out of the dating scene to concentrate on myself and do things I like. There is too much crap out their with all the social media, dating apps and porn shit. Everything is too easy and accessible. I don’t want to be in a position to have to ‘wonder’ if their secretly into this and invest my time and energy in the world of dating. I have been burned by a narcissistic sociopath and trust me girls, there are ALOT of them. I think all the lien addicted should be shipped off to another planet where they can all be naked, watch all the porn they want and beat off as much as they want. Maybe they can get the women who like this also to join them and get this disease off the earth. Wishful thinking I know.
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