When a loved one betrays you, it can feel earth-shattering.
It doesn’t matter whether a partner cheated, a family member committed a financial offense, or someone else did another wrongdoing altogether.
The effects of their misconduct can be long-lasting and devastating. And further still, sometimes the impact on your life is not what you expected. The impacted elements might seem unrelated or even over the top. It’s important to understand that a betrayal can be traumatic. And anytime you experience trauma, it affects your total being. Here are a few ways to better understand how it might impact you.
The World is Upside Down
It’s not uncommon to feel that your world just went head-over-heels, in the worst way. This topsy-turvy feeling can descend upon you like a bomb falling from an airplane. And it usually happens when you first learn of the betrayal.
Although the feeling descends quickly, it often sticks around for a while.
Through rose-colored glasses, the imperfect world appears more perfect. But trauma causes you to view the world differently. Almost like looking through gray-colored glasses.
Through these trauma-laden lenses, your world could now be a scary, ugly, and unpredictable place. You might feel hypervigilant or like you need to be on guard all the time. In short, you don’t trust the world. It’s not uncommon for victims of betrayal trauma to show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
For instance, it can impact your autonomic nervous system, making it more difficult for you to relax or feel calm. You might notice a disruption in your sleeping patterns or eating habits, too.
The Fog of Trauma
Along with the effects of the initial betrayal shock, you could feel like you’re lost in a thick fog. When someone betrays you, it forces you into a situation where you’re reevaluating your life. It could be a very “lost” kind of feeling.
The fog of trauma often means having a difficult time concentrating or focusing on a task. Focus and concentration are necessary to function at a job, care for children, or complete household tasks. Basically, trauma could take a huge toll on your daily productivity.
You might begin to doubt yourself and second guess your choices. This distrust in yourself often invites anger and irritability.
In these moments, depression can often take hold and influence your daily routine. You might feel like you don’t care about things the way you used to or that you’ve lost interest in activities you used to enjoy.
Many people who’ve experienced betrayal trauma recall a time where they doubted their own sanity because of how off-kilter they felt. Trauma has a way of making you feel abnormal and lose trust in yourself.
Your feelings are natural for what you just went through.
An Umbrella of Distrust
It might seem obvious to assume you’ll have trust issues after experiencing betrayal. Perhaps you assumed that all trust issues would be reserved for that one person who betrayed you in the first place. But that’s not the case.
When trust is betrayed in one relationship, the impact often overflows into other relationships. These could include co-workers, children, immediate or extended family members, neighbors, or a cashier at the grocery store.
You might notice that you question other people’s motives now. Even in simple situations. When you do have contact with someone associated with your betrayer, you probably feel intensely guarded. Sometimes you even speak harshly or behave out of character towards the people in your life.
Furthermore, your circle of friends could very well decrease. Mostly this happens because it’s hard to muster up the energy to trust anyone. So you might have a few friends that you trust, and that’s it.
The reach of betrayal trauma is undoubtedly far and wide. Knowing its dimensions often helps victims cope and recover more quickly.
Take the first step…
If you are ready to explore the impact of betrayal trauma in your own life or learn to trust again, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT