Loss of Trust vs. Betrayal
This has been a hot topic on my mind for---oh---the past 7 years of my life. It started out as something I didn't understand and wanted to learn about. But somewhere down the road, I started to figure out how these particular labels are applied to my own life. How does loss of trust affect me versus being betrayed by someone?
When someone is dishonest, our first reaction is to lose trust in them. This seems like the obvious reaction, no matter how long it may last. I think of this as a chain breaking. One of the links snaps and the chain separates.
Although it takes some work, a broken link of a chain is fixable. Depending on how many links have broken, it may take a while but it isn't hopeless.
You can reattach links and even work hard to make them stronger than the last time.
Betrayal throws reason out the window.
Betrayal always involves a loss of trust. But a loss of trust does not always involve betrayal.
Betrayal is an action, a verb. The dictionary defines it as "to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to". According to the dictionary, betrayal goes far and wide beyond lying. It is deceit. It is telling someone you're going to be loyal and directly contradicting your words by your actions.
A few months ago, a friend was asking me a series of hard questions, most of which I refused to fully answer. Questions like, "Should I stay? Should I go? Do you think there's a betrayal 'point of no return'?" Each of these questions has individual answers---not individual to the question but individual to the person asking.
Should you leave him?
I don't know.
That all depends on how much you can handle. If you've lost yourself and are miserable, maybe you should. But maybe you have hope that you can trust him again if he is willing to make changes.
Betrayal seems like the definition of GREY. It isn't black and white ever. Ever ever.
Everyone who has felt a form of betrayal has their own unique experience.
For me, betrayal caused anxiety. I had never dealt with anxiety of this magnitude ever before in my life. Betrayal caused me to need medication to function for a while---which I am completely ok with. In fact, I'm grateful for it.
I can remember a time at the beginning of this past school year when I was waiting in the pick-up line for my daughter. It was the first time of the day where I had a quiet 20 minutes to myself and each day, as I would dwell on things I needed to get done and people I needed to see and places I needed to go, a surge of anxiety would take over my chest and I would have to close my eyes and take deep breaths.
Most of the time, I would tell myself, "Suzanne, calm down. You know nothing is wrong right now. Nothing bad is happening. You shouldn't be getting anxious." but every once in a while, I'd get impatient and angry with myself.
As I was telling my counselor this last week, kind of proud of myself for usually being patient but also recognizing that I wasn't always dealing with it very well, she asked me if my words were self-honoring to my anxiety.
She said those words and for a while, I wasn't focused on anything else she said (Sorry, therapist...) because those words were the perfect label for what I was trying to make sense of in my head.
I wasn't honoring the fact that I am dealing with a lot of betrayal trauma. I wasn't allowing myself to feel anxious without trying to shut the feelings down as quickly as I could.
I have a strong belief that betrayal trauma is real. I am trying to be more accepting of the thoughts in my head and the feelings in my heart---the good and the bad---because each thing I think and feel has a purpose. Each reaction I have, even if it doesn't make sense to anyone else in the world, is a part of my reality.
And it's ok.
It's ok to work through trauma and act super crazy sometimes. It's ok to have fears and anxiety. Because I have been betrayed and I understand why those feelings come and go. I understand why I get anxiety. If I looked at my story as someone else's, I'd tell that girl, "Give yourself a break. Don't get upset when you get anxious. You have been through a lot. It is scary. And you're doing the best you can right now."
Because I am doing the best I can. I am hanging on by a thread sometimes and thriving other times. I stay up until 2am and I go to bed at 8pm sometimes. I cook my kids a healthy dinner sometimes and other times, I hand them a piece of bologna and a banana and call it a night.
Each and every day, all we can do is try to do the best we can---not the best our sister or neighbor or best friend can---just the best we can be.