The Mess Of The Trauma
Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, shares how she is doing in her recovery and healing process. Her divorce is final and now it’s real for her. She has realized what a mess her trauma is.
“Most of you know that my divorce was finalized in February. February was rough. I went through a frantic trauma mode, realizing that this is real, this is happening, and now I need a concrete plan to move forward.
“It's very interesting because God is telling me the opposite thing: to relax, to trust Him, and to just take one step at a time. I'm trying to take a step back and not try so hard and to trust that I am a lily of the field and He will take care of me.”
Anne’s Triggers Are A Mess
Anne is struggling with self-care and she is constantly being triggered. With lots of triggers and without good self-care, she’s become a mess.
“I'm struggling with living in the present. I'm disassociating frequently—where I get lost in my thoughts and zone out. Self-care is also a struggle. I don't get out of the house much."
“I take care of my kids, but I don't put makeup on or do my hair. Exercising has also been rough. I really need to start focusing on self-care because I think it would help my agoraphobia.
“I have a serious issue and that is I cannot stand to wear a bra! I can't stand it! I don't know if this is part of the trauma. I avoid leaving the house, so I don't have to put one on, or I wear a big coat!”
Self-Care: That’s A Big Mess Too!
Anne may be struggling with self-care, but that doesn’t mean she is codependent. She is also doing all she can to learn about her trauma.
In the book, Your Sexually Addicted Spouse, Barbara Steffens writes,
"A messy exterior does not equal co-dependency."
She also says, "We believe it can be extremely difficult for any professional to clearly assess a partner's personal empowerment, because her post-traumatic stress can trigger such extreme responses that the person may appear to exhibit co-dependency and erratic mental health.
“Such a person may look panicked, unkempt, hysterical, angry, depressed, impatient, and even abrasive as she sees her marriage, dreams, and life crumble, lost to a spouse's sexual addiction.
“Yet we have found that if we look under the surface presentation of a sex addict’s partner and seek to understand the motivation beneath her behavior, we can begin to more clearly understand where the person is coming from.
“Only then can we help her to determine what she needs to feel safe again, empower her to act in her own best interest and help her to begin to heal. Once this early ‘ER’ treatment and beginning steps of healing takes place, we find most partners are able to look at personal issues on which they need to work." (pg. 66)
Anne believes she is past the early “ER” treatment, and realizes she needs to work on self-care. She had the opportunity to interview Dr. Steffens. You can read or listen to that interview here.
How Anne Is Trying To Clean Up The Mess
Anne has decided to write a book about pornography use and trauma, as part of cleaning up the mess of her trauma.
“I've been working on my book, which will come out soon. It's in the revision stage right now.
“As I work on it, my trauma really flares up. I feel my heart clenching up, my stomach in knots, and not being able to really express my true feelings.
“Looking back at some of my past behaviors and the way I reacted to my husband's infidelity and abuse, I wasn't really ever able to clearly communicate what I needed and how I felt.”
Trying To Talk About The Trauma Is A Mess
Anne, like many women, had a difficult time trying to verbalize what she was really needing, safety. She has realized that when she is triggered, she has a difficult time communicating what she needs.
“Most of the time I was stuck in a constant loop of trying to defend myself and trying to gain safety in my home, through trying to make my husband change his behaviors.
“I've learned that any time I've come at communication from this place of trying to defend myself or trying to prove something, rather than coming to it from a place of sharing my feelings, I don't come at it the right way.
“I still don't really know how to do that. It's just something that I am now seeing that I need to work on.”
Flying Monkeys Are A Horrible Part Of The Mess
Anne talks about how she has had to deal with her ex’s continued lies and the abuse from his enablers.
“The trauma has caused me to be so defensive that I became detached from my own feelings. Since I don't have co-dependent tendencies, in the past, I don't believe that I was seeking control. What I was seeking was truth and safety. I think this is how many women are.
“We are looking for the truth and for safety. These desires may present themselves in different ways.
“I still have a no-contact boundary with him and his ‘flying monkeys.’ A ‘flying monkey’ is someone who enables an abuser. Here is a segment from an article called, How Narcissist's Get Away With It from pairedLife.com.
"Anyone in a relationship with a narcissist knows how much discord one person can sow. A fog of confusion descends, and the environment seems to become more toxic by the minute.
“That's because people with disordered personalities thrive on drama and division, which they create by spreading false rumors with a little bit of truth mixed in to make their story more plausible.
“They also recruit ‘flying monkeys’ whom they, artfully, manipulate to carry out their agenda. Meanwhile, because the air has become poison, no one is happy.
“However, it is very difficult to figure out what is going on. That's because an adult who suffers from a character flaw serious enough to bully another knows their number will be up if they do not use a lot of smoke and mirrors to deflect attention away from their own misdeeds.
“One tried and true trick is to blame everything on the innocent person who happens to be their target. Then they need to convince everyone else that things would improve if this person changed."
Boundaries: Trying To Keep The Toxic Mess Out
Anne has a no-contact boundary with her ex-husband and with his family. She doesn’t want to allow toxic, abusive people into her life. She continues to be blamed for the abuse and the breakup of her family.
“My ex-husband's mother sent me a note that said, in a nutshell, "We know Christ can heal people and we know he can heal you, so you can do what’s best for the kids."
“I assume, from this, that they think that if I were accessing the Atonement of Christ, I’d want to talk to them?
“Actually, it’s the opposite.
"Christ is healing me and teaching me to set boundaries. I’m feeling the healing process work, mainly because I’m no longer being abused by my ex or his family.
“The reason why I cannot have contact is because they are too unhealthy.
“I've thought about all of the things I could write back, such as, ‘I hope that you can use the Atonement of Christ to heal you, so you can be a safe person to talk to.’
Anne has had to set a boundary for herself that she wouldn’t respond to her abusers. She has also had to let go of how she is perceived by them. To learn more about boundaries, read here.
“I wrote a couple different versions, and then I prayed and told God that I can't control the way she perceives me. I don't know what she wants. I don't know why she's writing.
“If I were to write back, at this point, it would be from a place of trying to defend myself (yes, I am accessing the Atonement of Christ, thanks) or trying to explain it to her (this is how I access the Atonement of Christ, you should try it).
“But I still haven't figured out how to communicate this in a clear way that does not include defending or explaining. I surrendered it and put the letter in my surrender drawer.”
The Trauma Mess Continues
Anne’s ex-husband filed for divorce but continues to abuse her and blame her for the end of their marriage.
“I think my ex thought the divorce would be the answer to his problems. I think he’s realizing that he has the exact same problems. I still have a no-contact boundary.
“He’s having financial problems—and they’re not nearly as bad as mine, so I'm not sympathetic at all—especially since he caused it himself.
“Divorcing didn’t solve his problems. I wonder if he thinks talking to me would solve his problems—which is, obviously, ridiculous. I talked to him for seven years and that didn’t solve anything.
“The only solution to his problems is genuine, honest recovery.”
Anne is going to continue to hold her boundary, unless she sees changes in her ex, as outlined in this post.
The Intrusive Mess Of Toxic People
“Someone commented on Instagram exactly what I would need to feel safe:
“The worst part about toxic people is how they feel the right to walk into your life at any moment, interrupting the healing process. It's always so casual and self-serving, feigning ignorance of the absolute havoc they have wrought on your life.”
“This is how it feels when my ex attempts any contact, without taking full and total accountability for his perceptions and behaviors over the last eight years. He’s not humble, honest, nor willing to surrender to God's will.
“I can see clearly that he has not changed, and he is using the same tactics over and over again. I'm done playing this game.
“He casually tries to come in here or there and I'm not interested in having a relationship in any way, shape, or form unless he is healthy—which would likely take years of active recovery and therapy.”
Trauma Recovery Is A Process: An Attempt To Clean Up The Mess
Anne continues to work on her own recovery. She continues to learn and grow each day, as she works on it.
“Recovery is a process. It's not linear. You don’t learn one concept and the next day you totally understand it and know how to apply it. It's circular and you're able to apply a part of a principle and then you learn more about it and apply more.
“You have ah-ha moments—things you've heard about for years and, finally, it makes sense.”
“This happened with boundaries, for me. I didn't understand what this meant for years and I'm still learning more about them. I incorporated boundaries when it finally made sense to me.”
Anne appreciates that you are on this journey with her, that you are learning along with her. She hopes you continue down this path with her, as she continues to learn and grow.
“I'm grateful for you and your listening to this process. I receive emails from you, saying you've cried with me and that you have felt some of the same things I have felt.
“I want you to know that I am so sorry for your pain. I'm sorry that you have been abandoned by the person who promised to love you. I'm sorry that, at times, it seems like there is no one there to help.
“I know that God can see us. Whether our path is the path of yoga—I think if we all did yoga the world's problems would be solved—or getting Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coach, who will provide an immediate support environment. A therapist or a recovery group, whatever you choose, know that God is there, and He will lead and guide you.
Cleaning Up The Mess of Trauma Can Bring You Joy Again
Anne hopes that you won’t give up easily. She hopes that you will continue working to find your joy again.
“One thing I have noticed with recovery is that it is important to choose something and give it a try for a little while.
“For example, I tried meditation and it felt good in the moment and then an hour later I felt terrible. If I made a goal to meditate every day for twenty minutes, and I actually did it, I started feeling consistently better.
“Similarly, if I did yoga every day, I would feel better. If I followed up with a coach every other week for three months, I’d likely see consistent progress.”
“I'm in this, just like you. My trauma is still intense when it gets triggered—which is, thankfully. less and less these days.
“I'm working through my insecurities and worries and fears. We’re all in this together, sisters!”
To learn more about finding your joy, read here.
To schedule an Individual Session with a BTR Coach, click here.
To join one of our Betrayal Trauma Recovery Groups (BTRG), find a session that works for you here.