Bouncing Back (Better than Ever) after a Betrayal: PART 1

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How I Bounced Back after a pretty big betrayal... and landed on my feet...(only to be swept off of them. Look for PART II hehe)

Infidelity, dishonesty and betrayal all pack a heartbreaking punch. I can I ever heal? And how can I prevent this unfaithfulness from ruining my future happiness? 

Before I begin, I just want to remind everyone that I am NOT a certified, licensed, expert in anyway... I am simply a girl working to life her best life (out loud) and sharing lessons as I go.

I ALSO realize that there are THREE sides to every story. 

  1. Their Side
  2. My Side
  3. The truth 
I do not intend for this to be a witch hunt, to air a bunch of dirty laundry or disparage anyone. 
However...before I begin...I feel that it's important you at least have some context. I'm not sure what type of betrayal you may be healing from, but my hope is that no matter can pull from helpful lessons from my story.

Ok so here's the situation.... I was in a serious, committed, long term relationship. I intended to spend my life with that person.
I found out that person was seeking attention from several other women and ultimately moved to another state to start a life with one of these women.

While no relationship is perfect and there were many areas where I could improve, I was just as blindsided and shocked as everyone else when the truth came out.
There is no good way to hear bad news, but I am at least grateful I heard it from my best friend...who was straightforward, gracious and compassionate.

Suddenly your world turns upside down...

Whhhattt? How? When? Why? WHHYYYYY?

My head felt like it was swimming & swirling - completely overwhelmed with thoughts, fears, HURT, ANGER. I had a million emotions, images, thoughts and questions racing through my mind all at once.

You had a life planned with someone...and suddenly the rug is pulled out from under you...bruising and banging up your dissolves your trust and you question everything.
How could he do this to me? How could he do this to the DOGS - This might sound crazy, but I was more upset that he betrayed our "family unit" aka the dogs.

Then my rational brain kicked in and started thinking about everything from...who is going to take out the garbage? Or pick up dog poop?

I started ping ponging around the 5 Stages of grief

  1. Denial 
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining 
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance 
I would swing wildly between anger, sadness and not caring. This is NOT where I wanted to be...I wanted to be able to close the door on this chapter (in a healthy way) and move on.I had several unhealthy and very UNHELPFUL emotions surrounding this...I would wake up in the morning and realize this was NOT a bad was actually happening...

-- I rehashed the details over and over
-- Wanted to emotionally hurt him or punish him
-- I lost all love, respect and compassion for him
-- I felt resistant to even dealing with it
-- Denial - Is this really happening?
-- I wanted to know about her-- I had negative emotions about her (Never communicated with her but let him know I thought she was ugly, manly, gross, a B-word, a terrible mother, and a slew of other words I can't repeat LOL)
-- Outrage to find out he did this to his last girlfriend as well...and will do it again. But now 2 children are involved.

-- Reopened old wounds and ways he's hurt him
-- Became completely disgusted and repulsed by him
-- Became resentful & angry at how unfair it was (I took on the bulk of the bills/expenses...and do all of the "heavy lifting" around here...He never paid for much. So it was extra hurtful to feel like I'm carrying this person and they betrayed me).
-- I was angry that he wanted to lean on me to make him "feel like a man" (I kept gosh! I'm only human! I can't be everything to someone).
-- I was angry that we were supposed to be a team, a partnership but instead I felt abandoned (...and then betrayed). 

I hate even typing them & it makes me feel very vulnerable to share all of the yucky stuff... but I think it's important you guys know my state of mind. I've learned that for me, HURT quickly translates to ANGER.My gut reaction is to go into protection mode and seal myself off from potential harm...but doing so would also block my from anything amazing happening down the road. 

So how do you even proceed? Process, heal, move on?

My story of healing: 

Thankfully I am surrounded by GOOD women. In the past, I've hard a really challenging time connecting with my faith (that's a post for another day). But my friends have rock solid beliefs and have the most beautiful ways of expressing their faith.

Several months before the betrayal, my friend Lindsay started seeing a local Christian counselor and kept encouraging me to reach out to her. Of course I kept putting it off... but when it was evident that something wasn't right in my relationship...I finally made an appointment.

My experience with therapy/counseling was years & years ago... My younger sister was having a hard time so she started going. They pulled the whole fam into a tiny room for some family counseling. All I remember...lots and lots of tears but nothing felt resolved.

I was so anxious to walk back into the lion's den.  The fear of the unknown twisted my tummy in knots. I didn't know what she would be like...if she would try to hit me over the head with the Bible... or tell me I'm a bad person lol

But I was very pleasantly surprised. "K" is a very gentle soul- she has a soft voice and really intently listens when you talk. She also promised to ease me into the "God stuff"hehe

After the first session, I learned a few things...

1) He had a lot of resentment towards me
2) His infidelity had more to do with him than me
3) He was villainizing me- making me into a monster to himself & our friends
4) I have A LOT I need to work on
5) I have A LOT to learn

"K" my amazing counselor was very literally a Godsend. She helped me process everything and really gave me the TOOLS to overcome such a big hurt.

We met weekly for a couple of months...and went from focusing on this then being able to heal from other painful events in my past.

The eternal student in me loves ...LOVES... homework. Learning in the moment is great...but homework allows you to take the time to really STUDY the material and absorb it. It is no longer a passing moment, but instead the lesson is solidified in your mind (at least it is for me lol).

Each week, she gave me an assignment. It gave me something positive to focus on AND when those yucky feelings started to surface again...I was able to whip out my homework and center myself.

I wanted to share some of the assignments that had the BIGGEST impact on me and my healing.

So let's get to it!

  • Healing Homework: Assignment #1 Forgiveness & Release

    Forgiveness: At first, that word punched me in the stomach. So many (angry) emotions came to the surface. Forgiving felt like it was saying everything was all good (no harm done! Now let's be friends and you can ride off into the sunset!)  Umm, H.E.L.L. no haha
    I was still in the stage of wanting him to pay for his crimes...but my counselor helped me realize that forgiveness is NOT: forgetting, downplaying the pain, letting it happen over and over, reconciling and it's NOT about the other person.

    Instead, forgiveness is a choice that allows us to walk in freedom. It means you will no longer allow another person's actions to hurt and control you. When we are able to forgive and release someone, it gives us freedom from their toxic behavior.  It releases us from feelings of resentment whether or not that person deserves your forgiveness.

    Forgiveness is also a process, not a one time event. It's a choice that takes effort over time.

    Forgiveness is peace of mind. It empowers us to recognize the pain we've suffered through...without letting the pain define us. Which is critical if you want to move on and life a happy, healthy life.


    Think about the people in your life (past & present) who have caused you pain that is still affecting you today.

    Then write a letter to those who you feel you need to release painful emotions toward. Pour our your heart and share anything that comes to mind...expressing your anger, hurt, etc... (Do NOT send this letter to them!)

    Don't hold anything back- put it all in. Basically, do a SOUL dump! You want to spill everything out of you and into the letter (empty your soul from all of that garbage). Write until you feel like you are done.

    I had some LONG letters...and some short...But it felt good to get it off my chest.

    I wrote out my letters...and took them into my next session with K. She had me read them (ALOUD! omg! lol). And then we prayed over them.

    "Lord, on (insert date you wrote the letter), I choose to forgive and release (insert name of person) for (state the specific things you need to release) and these things made me feel (state the feelings their behavior caused).

    I ask you Lord to help me let go all the resentment, anger, unforgiveness and bitterness toward (_____). Lord Please heal me from pain, hurt and the damaged emotions that (_____'s) behavior or words caused me I ask you to help me walk in a place of freedom and forgiveness, no longer allowing the events of the past to affect my present or future"

    If you are interested in doing the whole exercise, I scanned in my homework and you can view it here.

    Afterwords, I took the letters home and burned them. Watching the smoke carry away all of those nasty feelings.

    The hurt and anger would still bubble up...and I would repeat the prayer over and over until the feelings went away....
  • "Lord, on (insert date you wrote the letter), I chose to forgive and release (insert name of person).
 Every time those feelings come up, remind yourself that you choose to forgive them and you will not pick up that offense again. Over time, those feelings become less and less until one day...they are gone.
As I mentioned before, I've never been really involved in my faith or church...but it was incredibly comforting to feel like I could turn to God and lean on his strength. The prayer softened my heart and made me feel like God has my back.  

This is simply one of the exercises that help remind me of the big picture. Being able to forgive was so much healthier than me dwelling, gossiping and re-living the hurt on repeat.
I will be sharing homework assignment #2 (my favorite) in my next post!

But for now, I wanted to leave you with some steps that helped me. I'll keep it short because this post keep growing! haha

  • Step Back to Gain Perspective. In the long run, you can use this experience to grow. At the time, it SUCKS and hurts and is so awful. But once I pushed that aside...I realize that in the big picture...I could use this experience to create a better tomorrow.
  • Make a Healing Plan - Seriously! Don't just sit at home and dwell. Ask friends and family for referrals and go talk to someone. Without a doubt, talking to my counselor was the BEST thing I did.
  • Allow yourself to Grieve - Accept your emotions. There is no shame in grieving the loss of a relationship...give yourself grace to go through the steps.
  • Don't wallow in the Grief-  While it's healthy to grieve, you don't want to get STUCK in one of the steps. This is why it's helpful to...
  • Seek Guidance - Talk to friends and family you trust. It's always helpful to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience...but I would caution you not to talk to tear the other person down *(I mean...get that out of your system! lol) But the course of your conversations should be leading towards healing.
  • Self Care! The last thing you want to do is stay at home in your sweats. Do things you enjoy. My friends encouraged me to get out of the house, try new things, WORKOUT, get a pedi, take a class, go somewhere NEW! It helped me focus on LIVING & put my attention on making new, positive memories.

    ((Starting to realize this is such an important topic because so many people experience this on some level... Be on the lookout for Part II and III) 

    1. Omg Kati I am so sorry. You are so very strong to survive this and share your story of healing. <3

    2. Oh my, I can't tell you how helpful this is. I would never wish you pain, but it's strangely comforting to know that I was not alone in the deluge of emotions that you go through. Thank you-I am grateful to you for sharing this very personal journey.

    3. Oh, Kati. I am so sorry to hear about this. I am, however, grateful that you're stepping out in faith to move on from this hurt. Praying for you<3

    4. Great post!
      I'm glad to hear you are staying strong through this tough time.

    5. This was so great. I forwarded this to a few people in my life who could use that homework. Thanks so much for sharing your story! <3

    6. Katie that was very beautifully written, I am so sorry you had to go through that. But I love how you are being such a positive and strong individual ❤️

    7. So inwent through a very similar thing when o was your age and honestly...I don't even think about it anymore. It was like a death and I went through all stages of DABDA and some all at the same time. I am while and complete and have an amazing life now and all I can say is the hurt does turn to anger naturally but over time it dissipates. It will someday be nothing but a fleeting thought of it is even that.

    8. Kati, he traded a "diamond" for a synthetic stone! <3

    9. I'm sorry your ex betrayed you. You've given great advice that will help many women going through this. Thanks for sharing. I may need to do this forgiveness homework myself, seriously.

    10. I'm currently going through this. Like 2 days in. My 5 year relationship with what I thought was the perfect man came crashing down when I accidentally found emails he sent calling someone else his wife and making plans to have kids. I'm so broken. He's playing it off like he didn't cheat but he had a full emotional relationship with this woman. I won't call her what I really think. She ended their relationship the night before I found out. Who cares. I'm stuck in anger mode and having a hard time finding myself again. Who are you when the person you love steps out?