How To Find Forgiveness After Betrayal
Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, started her podcast as part of her healing journey. Today, she says, “Even though my ex is still abusive, and I have to maintain the no-contact boundary, I feel freer and happier than I did when I started.”
Forgiving After Betrayal Is An Important Step Towards Healing
As difficult as the journey has been, Anne has finally found gratitude in her journey. She feels peace and hope. One of the things that has helped her to find that peace, hope and gratitude has been forgiveness.
Forgiveness isn’t always an easy thing to give, but it’s an important step in the healing process.
Forgiveness, once given, can have an extremely therapeutic effect. It can feel like an enormous weight is lifted off your shoulders.
“Forgiveness is the heart’s capacity to release its grasp on the pain of the past and free itself to go on.” -Jack Kornfield, author
This isn’t about forgiving the abuser. This isn’t about forgiving the pain that he’s caused you. This isn’t about forgiving the lies and abuse.
This is about forgiving yourself.
Often, we are so willing to have compassion and empathy for those that harm or offend us but find it very difficult to do the same for ourselves.
Most women in this situation don’t know what’s really been going on in their relationship.
Most women don’t know the extent of their husband’s addiction and acting out behaviors.
Most women don’t realize they’ve been abused.
Most women don’t know they’ve been traumatized.
It has nothing to do with how educated or wealthy they are.
It has nothing to do with how beautiful they are.
Addicts lie. They lie a lot, and they’re good at it.
They’re so good at it that, often, they believe their own lies.
People don’t know what they don’t know, and they operate on what they know.
Once D-day happens, whether it’s a discovery or a disclosure, a woman may start to ask herself, “Why didn’t I see it? Why didn’t I know? Why would he do that?” and many other “Why” questions.
The most painful of all those “Why” questions, however, is “Why wasn’t I enough?”
Of all these questions, this one causes the most pain and creates the most negative inner dialogue for a woman.
Many women start to think, “I should’ve been taller/shorter/thinner/fatter/stronger/weaker/less confident/more confident/more independent/less independent…” the list could go on.
Some women may go into trauma and not know it. They may have symptoms for years and not realize that’s what it is. For symptoms of betrayal trauma, please read here.
Some women may become someone they never wanted to become. They may not be present for their kids. They may keep a messy house. They may become “lazy” and constantly tired.
Then, one day, they find out that they’ve been in trauma all that time. It explains so much for them.
Through the trauma, there’s so much women can find to criticize and mentally beat themselves up for. For more information on betrayal trauma and what happens when we’re traumatized, please read here.
This makes forgiveness such a vital step in the healing process.
Forgiving your husband may come, eventually, but that isn’t the most vital part.
Why Should We Forgive Ourselves?
Why shouldn’t we?
As previously mentioned, we readily forgive others. We easily show compassion and empathy for others.
Anne had to realize that she didn’t know what she didn’t know. She had to forgive herself for whatever she needed to forgive herself for. She realized that she had been in an unusual and difficult situation, just like many other women.
“You are in a situation that is very difficult, with a man who has serious pathological issues. You are reacting in normal ways to betrayal and abuse. There is nothing wrong with you. You are just fine the way you are.” -Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Anne realized that she had to take her journey one step at a time and things would get better, but it had to begin with forgiving herself.
She’d been abused.
She’d been betrayed.
She’d been deceived.
But she didn’t know it.
When we learn to forgive ourselves, we realize that failing doesn’t make us a failure. If we screw it up today, we can try again tomorrow.
How Do We Forgive Ourselves?
While there’s no hard and fast process on how to forgive one’s self, here are some basic steps you can take to help yourself get there.
4 Steps to Forgiving Yourself
- Honor Your Truth
- Recognize what happened
- Acknowledge your feelings about what happened
- Consider how you feel at present about what happened, who did it, and the relationship
- Rewrite Your Self-Talk
- Identify when you are thinking negatively about the things you thought or did that you didn’t like
- Remind yourself that you were doing the best you could with the information you had and the circumstances you were in
- Remind yourself that you are working on boundaries and learning to keep yourself safe
- Practice Self-Care
- Be gentle with yourself, you’ve had a rough time, emotionally (and sometimes physically)
- Spend at least 20 minutes a day on self-care (Remember: Self-care isn’t selfish)
- Find support for yourself. Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is a great place to start
- Commit To Yourself
- You are valuable, you are worthy, you are enough
- You deserve love, especially from yourself
- Repeat the steps as needed
Remember that this can be a very difficult and painful process, especially the first step.
There is a difference between anger and anguish. It’s okay to be angry about what happened. It’s okay to be angry at your husband for what they did.
Eventually, that anger subsides and is replaced by anguish. Allowing anguish and grief to replace anger will lead to empathy and compassion.
Then, and only then, can forgiveness come.
Forgiving yourself can lead to the greatest healing.
Forgiving yourself can also help you learn to trust yourself again.
Forgiveness Can Lead To Trust
Many women may have had some “gut” or “nagging” feeling that something wasn’t right. They may have ignored or dismissed it because everything appeared to be normal and fine. They may have also been told that they’re feelings were completely wrong.
After a while, women stop trusting their “gut” or their intuition, which leads them to stop trusting themselves altogether.
Once a person can reach a point of forgiving themselves, they can start learning to trust themselves again.
Though others may push you to forgive your offender immediately, if you are not able to trust yourself, you are probably not ready to forgive them yet.
Some people need more time than others, and forgiveness should never be forced.
Some people need to be able to trust themselves before they can forgive someone who has hurt them so deeply. This forgiveness process may take a long time and should not be rushed.
As Anne has learned to forgive and trust herself, she’s been grateful for the work that she has put towards her own healing.
“I continued to do the right things, even when it was hard, even when I didn’t feel like it. Now, the peace and hope I feel is breathtaking.” -Anne Blythe, Founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Anne did not get through this process alone though. She had a lot of help from the Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialists at BTR and from God.
She says, “I’m grateful for the coaches at Betrayal Trauma Recovery. I get to interact with them every day. Because of them, and God, I’m feeling healed.”
Remember that you deserve peace and you deserve hope. You are worth it.
For more information on how the coaches at Betrayal Trauma Recovery can help you, please read here.
To schedule an Individual Session, please go here.
To schedule a Group Session, please go here.