HEALING FROM EMOTIONAL TRAUMA

By Kristen Mae Lee February 4, 2009

The Phases of Emotional Trauma Regarding Betrayals (Being Cheated On, Lied to, Used, etc.)
{ This article can also be used for other traumas and losses. I just wrote it for this purpose because that is what I was going through at the time. }

 

The Shock Stage –

When a person first learns that they have been cheated on, their immediate instinctive reaction depends on a few different things:

á      How surprised they are by it (did the victim already suspect it or not),

á      How the victim feels about the cheater and the other person involved in the affair (relationship length, feelings, the type of relationship they had, who the cheating was done with, how much the victim trusted the cheater in the first place, future plans or intents, etc.),

á      How they react to bad news, drama, trauma, grief (venting, crying, yelling, physical outbursts, violence, withdrawing).

 

People experience things differently and circumstances are a factor, so not everyone will experience all of these phases and/or the order may be different. Furthermore, some may go through phases very quickly while others may go through the stages or certain stages slowly. This happens because of difficulties or blockages in certain aspects of the personŐs desire or skills at that time to cope with and overcome that particular stage. If this is happening to you, explore the subject in depth to find solutions that improve your life in that area. Creating healing and self-worth is your objective after a betrayal.

 

The Pain Stage –

 

Accountability is what creates better people. Without that discipline, we would all be running around do whatever we want without regard to others. You are responsible for yourself and your behavior. They are responsible for theirs. When someone hurts you, you have a right to tell them about how they hurt you and how it makes you feel. Now, sometimes, people get sick of listening and maybe you still feel that you need to vent or talk about it. That is when it is helpful to have more people to talk to, like friends, family, therapy professionals, and groups, so that you donŐt overwhelm one person while you still get what you need to get through it.

 

Additionally, The best thing to do throughout all of these phases is to write in a journal. It will be very helpful for you as you go through the different stages to have a journal to look back at and see your progress, as well as to help you keep a clear mind, which will help in the healing and re-growth processes.

 

Anger

As a victim, anger is a necessary and constructive emotion to experience after a betrayal. All emotions are useful and necessary. At this moment, anger is necessary to recognize and discern truth, and to release the energy that this trauma created in your energy field. The important thing is to use the anger in a positive manner. Hitting a wall is bad. Hurting yourself or other is bad. Exercising is good. Talking to a friend is good, as long as they are ok with it, and as long as they have their own release of the negative energy they will experience too. In this situation, the betrayer is the appropriate person to get the brunt of your anger. This person deserves to hear your feelings, thoughts, and see how hurt you are by their betrayal. and the person who hurt you fully expects to be punished. Without punishment, that person will feel like they got off to easy and they will be confused, setting off a series of their own stages of behavior. Using anger to yell when it is appropriate is ok. Do not ever let anyone try to tell you it isnŐt. That is their own issue to deal with if they want to think that.

 

Blame

A time will come when you start blaming the betrayer, other people, and perhaps yourself for the betrayal and other things associated with it. That is normal. Use your time during this phase to try to be logical and evaluate what you honestly believe to be true.

 

Numbness

Numbness sets in when you canŐt deal with anything more and you feel so exhausted and full to the brim with stress, anxiety and emotions that you just canŐt handle any more.

 

Internalizing with Hypercritical Insecurity

We all feel self-doubt and go through times when we think we are to blame because we have flaws. That is healthy and constructive because we can change for the better out of what we realize during this phase. Just try to keep it in perspective. You are not to blame for others bad behaviors. You may be this or that, but you are you and that means that you are a whole entire person filled with great qualities, good qualities, ok qualities, not-so-great qualities, and bad qualities, and so are all others. And that is ok. Just live and learn.

 

Confusion

There is a period of time when replaying all the things that could have led up to the betrayal occurs and you are dealing with all the emotions and thoughts regarding how you could have prevented it from happening. The only advice I can give to help you during this time is that this experience happened for a reason. It needed to happen so you could cross a bridge in your life. Evaluate any mistakes you may have made along the way and write them in your journal with everything else so that hopefully in the future you have more skills to protect yourself from people that willingly want to cause you harm, but also understand that most people donŐt really think before they act as well as they should and most people donŐt intentionally cause irreparable damage to their lives or others lives out of malice. Things happen and while they may be unforgiveable, they happen for a reason, to teach us and others how to live and treat others better.

 

 

The Depression Stage –

After all of the external emotions are released outwardly, the internal damage starts to sink in and causes a period of time when you lose interest in much else besides feeling an intense loss of hope and feeling awful about yourself and your future. This is natural and it too will pass. If it lasts more than a couple weeks, or if it affects your work or your ability to take care of people and/or responsibilities, then you need to go to see a doctor because they can help you through it, with a variety of options in how to help you through the depression. There is no shame in needing help to get over trauma to your personal life any more than there is after a car accident or a death. You have experienced a loss. A loss of your innocence, ability to completely trust another person, companionship with that person, whether temporary or permanent, and all that goes along with that loss affects your life in profound ways. Just try to understand that what you are going through is what everyone goes through in one way or another at some point in their lives and since it has been happening to people for that long, that means that you too can get through it.

 

Experiencing the Depth of the Betrayal

Journal and talk to someone about your feelings You need to let out the thoughts and feelings, for two reasons: 1) in order to heal from trauma, you need to let go of how thinking about it makes you feel inside, and 2) you canŐt move forward until you deal with how you think about your past. This is a time of intense introspection to get to the bottom of any unresolved issues and heal them once and for all so that you can live a better future. Take a healing workshop (for example The Seven Steps of Healing Charkas and/or the Twelve Steps), which goes through the steps of your entire life, from childhood through the present and offers meditations to let go of all the pains and troubles of every phase of your life. Trauma has a way of stirring up other non-related emotional pains that are yet unresolved, so trauma creates a lot of layers of painful feelings and painful memories. Deal with them head on inside yourself and change your own life, because you cannot change others or what they already did. You canŐt change the past, but you CAN change the way your past makes you feel, and what you think about.

 

Recognizing the Depth of the Loss

You lost your innocence and it is ok to recognize the depth of how awful that makes you feel. It IS healthy to cry. Crying is an emotional release. Without crying your body would need another way to release negative emotions and crying is something you can do for yourself in private that releases energy for you without affecting anyone else. Crying is a great tool our physical bodies have for a reason. Utilize crying as a tool to recognize the depth of your loss so you can move on to a better future.

 

The Acceptance Stage –

 

Release

Keep letting go of the negative feelings and negative energy you have from your negative experience. Let off steam in healthy ways, like through physical exercise. On a physical level, your adrenaline is pumping when you are processing negative things, so you need to give yourself a an emotional and physical release in healthy ways that are good for you. Running is a great way to accomplish this step because psychologically you can use the imagery as if you are running from your problem toward something better. If you canŐt run, as many people cannot, then find another way to experience the same type of psychological goal. Go for a passenger drive with the wind in your hair. Go horseback riding in an open field. Allow yourself to experience emotional freedom on a whole new level.

 

Renewal

Allow yourself to put the past in the past and renew your mind for better things to come.

 

 

The Rebuilding Stage –

 

Rebuilding Strength and Sense of Self

It is crucial that you explore and experience positive things to bulid yourself back up. Take classes, go places and do things that you enjoy. Join a social group, like Meetin.com and Meetup.com. Make new platonic friends and do not participate in drama in your new relationships. Allow yourself to go out into the world as it is a playground and play! Have fun. Laugh. Enjoy something every day of your life and you will find that after a while you will enjoy your life again.

 

Healthy Analysis of the Relationship

At this point, you are ready to emotionally handle the difficult process of analyzing what you did wrong and what was done wrong to you from an unbiased perspective. It is important that you correct your mistakes so that you do not make the same mistakes in your next relationship. Actively work out your areas of improvement while learning from experience. Learning from your relationship is the purpose of the relationships that donŐt last. Make the most of the opportunity.

 

Developing New Skills

Read, educate yourself in various ways you have perhaps always thought of doing but never actually did. Take a martial arts class. Join a gym.  Take a workshop through the local adult education programs at your local high school and church. Learn how to live a healthy happy life.

 

Releasing the Emotions of Grief

Release is vital to your personal growth. Once you have grown from what happened to you by building positives on top of the experience of what happened to you, you can release the negative feelings surrounding the experience because they are no longer necessary. You now have strength, skills, fun, and happiness to reflect upon learning from your experience. This allows you to accept what happened as a life experience meant to create a better version of you that you could have been without that experience.

 

Reinvesting Emotional Energy in the Present

Accumulating all of these elements of the rebuilding stage allows you to focus on the present. Your present life is better than your life was before the trauma, so you can focus on the here and now quite easily.

 

 

The Hope Stage –

 

Opening to New Experiences

At this point, now you are ready to think about getting back out into dating, walking or driving in the same area the trauma happened, trusting people, etc.  You needed to allow yourself the time to heal and grow, but you also need to open yourself again to the joys that life has to offer. Find someone else who needs your help and help them. Take care of plants and pets to help things that are living and healthy in your life. Wake up and be grateful for the great day today that is NOT a day of emotional trauma. Today is a great day no matter what today brings because today is not yesterday!

 

Feeling Good About the Future

You have so many more life skills now that the next time anything bad happens to you, you can recognize it as a learning experience and grow from it quicker, and go through these stages much more efficiently. You will find that you are able to go through bad things with a vitality that others respect and you respect in yourself. You can enjoy your life on a much higher plane of existence when you start from a higher level in your perspective of the events occurring around you, not TO you. Your physical body is only a vessel you experience your life in, like a car. What happens in your life is all able to be viewed as scenery on the road to your personal best version of you!