When a woman discovers that her husband is a sex addict and her life is not what she thought it was, she experiences betrayal trauma.
At times, she can feel like she’s drowning and life can seem unmanageable.
Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, shares her experience of trying to manage the unmanageable, and how she finally found some peace amidst her trauma.
Self-Care Can Be a Life Preserver In Trauma
Something that Anne does as part of her self-care is to study her scriptures.
One morning, she was studying Matthew Chapter 9 in the Bible. In verse 18 of this chapter, a man humbly approaches Jesus and says, “My daughter is even now dead; but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.”
This scripture reminded Anne of her then soon-to-be-ex-husband. He had filed for divorce and made no effort to reunite with his family. This grieved Anne greatly.
She knelt and prayed, “God, my husband is even now dead, but come and lay thy hand upon him and he shall live.”
By this time, she felt her husband had died spiritually and, since he refused to attempt reconciliation and she had no contact with him, she also felt he had physically died from her life.
As much as she desired her husband to be whole and return to his family, she realized that he was not in a mindset to do so. This brought her great sadness and grief.
“It is unlikely that my husband will allow himself to be healed in his current mindset. I have no idea. But I am seeking healing, so I can be healed.” -Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery
She found comfort in verses 20-22 of the same chapter in Matthew.
20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
As she prayed, Anne realized that these scriptures weren’t about her husband this morning, but for her.
“I can be made whole from the pain and trauma I’ve been experiencing by touching the hem of Christ’s garment.” -Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery
She felt a warm and comforting peace wash over her. This peace seemed to say, “All will be well. I will keep you safe.”
As she felt this peace, she reflected on her pre-marriage days.
Drowning At Sea, Reaching For A Life Preserver
“Since I didn’t get married until I was 31, I was single for a long time. During that time, I would date people and it wouldn’t work out. Sometimes, I could imagine myself drowning in a stormy sea.” -Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery
The Analogy Of The Drowning Swimmer
In this image, Anne could feel the choppy water splashing in her face, as she struggled to keep her head above water.
In the distance, she could see God in a boat.
In His hands were the end of a rope. Attached to that long rope was a life preserver.
She could see Him throw it to her, but each time she reached for it, it seemed He would pull it away from her. Each time it was pulled away, her head dipped under the water.
Again, she would struggle to the surface, gasping for air, reaching for the life preserver.
It seemed it was always just out of her reach.
Anne panicked, wondering if she would ever reach safety. This is how she felt every time she felt things were becoming unmanageable.
Trauma Can Make Life Seem Unmanageable
Soon after reading these scriptures, Anne was talking to her coach about how unmanageable she felt everything was. Her coach suggested she reexamine some of the things she was doing.
Anne did just that.
“I took a break from BTR and I fasted from the internet for three days to get back on track and get God in my center. My soon-to-be-ex-husband had recently posted about me on Facebook, gaslighting everyone, saying that I was the cause of the divorce. I needed to get God back in my center.” -Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery
After her break, Anne’s coach suggested she make a list of everything she felt was unmanageable in her life.
“It was quite the list: my housework, my children’s behavior, my hair, working out, eating vegetables—what wasn’t unmanageable! At the top of the list was the consequences of my husband’s abusive behaviors and his choices.” -Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery
After making her list and talking to a friend about how unmanageable her life felt, she meditated on the image of her drowning and God pulling away the life preserver.
God Sends Angels And Throws You Life Preservers
She wondered why she could see Him, but He was only sort of helping her, so she asked Him, “Why do I feel this way?”
Then, as she meditated on this, she felt her eyes being opened and she was given a wider perspective on the scene.
She realized the water was so choppy from her own kicking and flailing about. It seemed to be attacking her because she was attacking it!
Then she understood.
God wasn’t pulling the life preserver away from her!
“Every time I desperately tried to reach the life preserver my own movements pushed it farther away from me.” -Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery
As she imagined this scene, she had the impression to stop moving and float on her back.
As she did, she could see herself resting quietly on the water. The life preserver floated close enough for her to easily grasp, but she no longer needed to.
It was then that she saw them.
Anne realized she was surrounded by life preservers and boats.
There were angels in the boats, just waiting to help her.
Christ was also there.
She had all the help that she needed.
That’s when God seemed to tell her, “I’ve given you this water to support you and the air to breath. I’ve given you everything you need.”
He was right, Anne did have everything she needed. He had sent angels, mortal and immortal, to help her, she just hadn’t realized it.
Labeling The “Problem” Doesn’t Help You Reach A Life Preserver
Anne thought back to when she first realized her marriage wasn’t what she thought it was going to be. She thought back even to before they were married.
“When I first observed my husband’s abusive behaviors before our marriage, I responded by trying to figure out what was happening. I could describe my entire philosophy of life as, ‘Let’s get to the root of this. Together we can solve anything.’” -Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Her efforts to find safety in her marriage, by “solving” “their problems,” failed miserably. She’d tried so hard to fix it herself. Anne wanted a diagnosis, so she could find a cure.
“I wanted labels for everything when I first started. But now, the labels don’t matter as much.” -Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery
She sought long and hard for the right label. Pornography addict, narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, sex addict, any label that would help her fix her husband and marriage.
When it was all over and she came to grips with the reality of her situation and saw the truth, she could finally see that it was all abuse. And it was bad, beyond repair, completely unmanageable.
All Anne felt she had left was the wreckage her husband had left. The catastrophic financial loss, anxiety, and fear for her children. This too was unmanageable.
“I’ve been regretting my thrashing around and my lack of trust. When my life became unmanageable, that’s what I did. I didn’t know what to do, I just wanted to save my family.” -Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Providing A Way To Safety Is God Sending You A Life Preserver
These days when Anne feels like life is becoming unmanageable, she remembers how it felt when she was thrashing around in the sea. She realizes she didn’t know what to do and just wanted to save her family, but now she knows.
Now, Anne realizes she did have more. She had God, and all she needed to do was keep herself and her children safe and put her trust in Him.
“God is telling me to relax and He will take care of me and provide for me. Like the children of Israel, He split the Red Sea for me, and I walked to safety on dry ground. Then I started complaining. Instead of being peaceful and trusting, I started thrashing about. I’m learning to live one day at a time and trust the daily manna God is sending me to take care of my three children.” -Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Anne is grateful for the inspiration from God to start the Betrayal Trauma Recovery podcast. The podcast and other services provided by BTR have been a driving force in Anne’s healing from her own abuse and betrayal trauma.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery wants all women who have been betrayed and abused to find safety and healing.
One way we can help is by providing a safe place to share. With more than 15 sessions a week, it’s easier than ever to find a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group session that fits your schedule without having to leave your home. Each session is led by a Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialist. Schedule your session today.